Smoke signals

Scotsman Holy smoke! Why heat was on the cardinals

…The truth behind the confusing smoke signals from the Vatican chimney has been revealed by one of the 115 cardinals who helped choose a successor to Pope John Paul II.

Adrianus Simonis, from Holland, said: "We needed two goes to get the white smoke going because the chimney just wouldn't draw. At one point the entire Sistine Chapel filled with smoke."

Simonis's comments revealed why there had been uncertainty and confusion, when the first puffs of smoke last week appeared to be black. Then, after several minutes, it turned grey and, finally, white.

White smoke
Habemus papam!

It seems to me, what the vatican needs is a simple garden incinerator.

I've been doing some experimenting. Here are my findings:

  • dry paper—white smoke
  • dry garden waste—white smoke
  • damp garden waste—copious white smoke
  • soaking wet garden waste—no smoke
  • smelly old rug—black smoke
  • oily rag—black smoke
  • christmas tree—whooooooosh!
  • petrol—VOOOOOOOOM! No eyebrows

It isn't exactly rocket science.

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. My German uncle tried to lively up a reluctant barbeque using the last solution: direct application of petrol straight from the five litre can. He is now head civil servant for education in a German region, and looks permanently surprised.

  2. burning rubber tyres....aaah, reminds me of my time in the Rhodesian police force!

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