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new internationalist
issue 256 - June 1994

...that have always intrigued you about the world will appear in this,
your section, and be answered by other readers. Please address
your answers and questions to ‘Curiosities’.

Can anyone tell me where I can find information about a drug called ‘Filon’
which was withdrawn by the National Health Service in Britain around 1974/5?

I suggest that the questioner go to a large public library, such as the new British Library in London’s Euston Road, and seek the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries (ABPI) data sheet compendium for the years when the drug might have been in use. The Data Sheet compendia are collections of data on all generally available drugs in a given year. The task will be rendered much easier if you know which drug company manufactured Filon. The company will still hold data sheets for the drug – even if the company has been merged with others since the 1970s.

Dr JS Barrett
London, UK

Has anyone published a list of products and services that can be bought
without doing harm to babies, animals, human rights and so on?

Publications produced by the charity New Consumer are very useful. Their titles include Changing Corporate Values (Kogan Page, 1991), a widely acclaimed and very detailed reference book on business and social responsibility. Shopping for a Better World is cheaper and handier (Kogan Page, 1991). Their Good Employers Guide (Kogan Page, 1992) is specially for those thinking of taking their first job in industry, the professions or public service but wondering how their personal values will fit in with the ethos of the organization they are hoping to join. New Consumer’s address is: 52 Elswick Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE43 6JH.

Jill Hancock
Bristol, UK

Why are Australians called ‘diggers’?

I have an alternative explanation to those already published in NI. Australian soldiers began to refer to themselves as ‘diggers’ soon after the Gallipoli landings in 1915. The Allied Forces were suffering very heavy casualties as they crossed open beaches and advanced up bare inclines to attack the fortified and prepared Turks. General Sir Ian Hamilton, realizing that his forces would be wiped out unless they entrenched themselves, similarly exhorted them to: ‘Dig, dig, dig until you are safe’. Since that time the term has become synonymous with the Australian soldier, but much less so for the general population. In ordinary usage in Australia the term is about as common as, I imagine, ‘me old cock-sparrer’ in England.

Ric Boyd
Jolimont, Australia

Awaiting your answers...

Cartoon by POLYP I’ve heard the hole in the ozone layer is getting smaller. Is this true?

Becky Arkwright
Vancouver, Canada

Is it true that during mating the male duck will sometimes drown – and kill – the female?

Rhona Mathews
Cardiff, Cymru, UK

Can anyone explain to me why we have managed to have women prime ministers in India and Pakistan and still have deplorable treatment of women?

Ashoni Arora
Queensland, Australia

Where is Judy Chicago’s installation The Dinner Party now?

Alison Reid
Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada

Is there an index on charity organizations which rates them according to political bias, bureaucracy, mismanagement, wastage, quality of information and the like?

Andrew Young
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

If you have any questions or answers please send them to Curiosities,
New Internationalist, 55 Rectory Road, Oxford OX4 1BW, UK,
or to your local NI office (click here for addresses).

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