14 January 2014
A familiar liff
From Jon Canter's Guardian tribute to Douglas Adams:
Your party of 12 finishes its meal. The bill is passed to the one among you who's the best at mental arithmetic. "Twenty-six pounds each, including service!" they shout – to which, inevitably, someone responds "Does that include service?" Then another inevitable thing happens. You all place notes and coins in the middle of the table. Some of you remove notes and coins as change. Then a volunteer counts the assembled money. Logically, since you've each put in 26, there has to be £312. But there isn't. There just isn't. Instead, there's a bodmin, as defined by The Meaning of Liff as Bodmin (n.) The irrational and inevitable discrepancy between the amount pooled and the amount needed when a large group of people try to pay a bill together after a meal.
The article continues:
The Big Man … Douglas Adams pictured at home in Santa Barbara in 2000. Photograph: Dan Callister/Getty Images