The media is (or are, if you're feeling particularly pedantic) full of scare stories. If it's not global warming, it's antibiotic resistant bacteria; and if it's not them it's the threat of your woolly jumpers forming bobbles:
No, I don't know why this matters, either, but some people seem to worry. You can even buy special razors to snip off the little balls of wool. On the other hand, some of us have a life.
Anyway. Bobbles. They most commonly come on the top of hats:
photo by GT1976
and I've spent far too long this morning wondering why.
Is it to make people look taller? Is it to cushion the head from the impact of falling objects? Is it simply that the human psyche is unable to resist anything that looks even remotely like a kitten?
I'm going to plump for the kitten option, myself. I mean, human young tend to get dressed up to look as round and fluffy as possible:
photo by Andrew Vargas
and I think that's the kitten thing coming out, too:
photo by Nicolas Suzor
Perhaps we humans, in our distant past, had very fluffy, fat offspring, and the need to care for them has left some lingering trace.
...sorry I seem to have got off the subject a bit. Anyway, bobbles can also be found on cushions and lampshades and key rings and even attached to ribbons bearing slogans.
When you see one, try to work out if it makes you feel all warm and protective.
Because if it does, we may be able to tweak soldiers' uniforms a bit and thereby solve the problem of war.*
Spot the Frippet: bobble. This word comes from the verb bob, because that's what bobbles do. The word bob has been around since the 1200s, but no one's sure where it came from.
*I mean, you put them on buildings, too, couldn't you.