THE WRITER’S LIFE
This one goes out to my brother by another mothership, who set sail today when he reached his expiry date of best before 56. What’s quite disquieting is how my life has suddenly become normal.
In fond memory of Sundays spent tearing up News of the World colour supplements and ripping gender-specific glossies apart, when the grown-ups were inside with the kids and we were out the back, smoking, drinking, and talking at ease, observing the obscure and often floating on a tangent into absurdism, like Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman on Pointless, like Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse on a fishing trip, people like us being people like we were…
‘Swimming saved my sanity’: Gym-phobic Claudia Winkleman reveals why she’ll be swimming a mile for Sport Relief (2016). Photo: Jay Brooks (Daily Mail)
Claudia Winkleman has confirmed what many have suspected for years: That she’s part-dolphin. In an article not appearing in this month’s National Enquirer, the Head and Shoulders advert and minor national treasure reveals how researching her family tree helped her understand a rare genetic mutation.
“I’ve known all my life,” Winkleman says, “but my fringe covers by blowhole, so only my close friends and family knew until now.” I decided to come out after my trip in the TARDIS, she adds, referring to her previous appearance on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing as a dolphin.
Claudia uncovered the origin of her quirk while filming for a cancelled edition of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? “I got hooked on genealogy,” Winkleman says, “and I just kept going back further and further through time. My ancestors were winklers, who harvested molluscs from the sea. I traced my family line back to the first humans, then even further.
“Eventually I arrived at a common ancestor we all share, about 60 million years back. My 3 million times great grandmother was a flatworm, and her species followed many evolutionary paths, creating such diverse creatures as dolphins, octopuses, and humans.
“We still share 90% of our DNA with that common ancient ancestor, and even though the Human Genome Project unlocked our genetic code, we’re only just on the threshold of understanding.
“At a sub-atomic level, a single strand of DNA can store more information than is held in all the world’s libraries. We only just understand which bits do what general things. Deeper within the code though, beyond the 10% which is pure-human, ancient history lies dormant, in all the DNA programming which went on to evolve separate from us into things like the octopus and the dolphin.
“So what I have is a genetic blip. For some reason, that part of my family’s DNA which has slept for millions of years has stirred. I haven’t spoken about it before now, because I feared the reaction. Perhaps a part of me was worried I’d be used for experiments. But I believe in being me, and I think everyone should be free to be themselves and to express that. We are all part-dolphin.
“And I think it’s a gift. If it’s a trait I pass on further down the line, then perhaps I’ve helped kick start a tiny revolution in human evolution. Because the more I thought about the blowhole under my fringe, the greater I became aware of other people’s thoughts. And many scientists agree dolphins might be telepathic.
“I’ve learned how to manipulate the blowhole like a mouth, and it’s operated by a different part of my brain to the one which controls the mouth below my nose. With my upper mouth, I can speak another language without really thinking about it.” Claudia blew her fringe from her face. “Mais non, je ne vais pas me couper la frange. Merci.”
Safe journey Si, a kindred inner spirit floating in a tin can, out there where surrealism is part of normal life x