Notes and Explanations

Each sneeze has its own entry, including the time and date, location, strength and, with very few exceptions, a comment.


The title of each sneeze is its number, written in full. This not only looks nice and gives each sneeze the respect that it deserves, but it also serves to help learners of English with the (often overlooked) correct written form of cardinal numbers, hyphenation and all. I don’t know why I decided not to use a capital letter for the first word of the number – possibly because it is not actually a sentence, though it is a name. In any case, it’s too late to go back and change it now, and a modicum of idiosyncrasy, I would argue, sort of goes with the territory.

Time and date

All sneezes are timed and dated. All times are GMT. I enjoy a relationship with Greenwich Mean Time approaching very mild religious affiliation. In this case, the use of GMT is necessary, on account of the documentation of sneezes across time zones. For example, I might sneeze on one side of the International Date Line, then cross the International Date Line, and then sneeze again. Using local time, the second sneeze would have occurred the day before the first sneeze, generating confusing and nonsensical data. By using one standard time (and what better standard time is there than Greenwich Mean?) all sneezes can be recorded in correct chronological order. While this throws up some curiosities – wake up sneezes in Australia apparently occurring at 9 o’clock in the evening, for example – it is clear from the location field that I am in a very different time zone, and anyone so drawn to it can work out the local time with only moderate effort. Times are as accurate as I can make them, using whatever timepiece happens to be available. Some times are more approximate than others. When the recording of the time has necessitated what can reasonably be referred to as wild guesswork, this fact is recorded in the comments.


This is a simple indication of where I was at the time of the sneeze. Shortly after starting Sneezecount, I stopped recording the city I was in when the sneeze occurred in my own house. In these cases, the location will be simply “Office/spare bedroom”, or “Kitchen”. In other locations, I have sometimes included the city, to avoid ambiguity, and at other times I have let myself off the leash a bit, and left it at “Bloomsbury” or “Edgbaston”, where readers might use their skill and judgement. Failing that, they can use Wikipedia.


This is a highly unreliable and subjective indication of the strength of each sneeze. The options are: Mild, Moderate, Moderate to strong, Strong, Very strong. Very mild remains a theoretical possibility, though realistically highly improbable. Statisticians please note: the most common recorded strengths are Moderate, and Moderate to strong, creating a more or less normal distribution, should I ever get around to plotting the sneezes on a graph. Scientists please note: (and I repeat) these strength levels are completely subjective impressions, and almost certainly not consistent, or independently verifiable. Seismologists please note: this scale is non-exponential.


Perhaps the most free-form of these already fairly loose sneeze data, the comment could be a prosaic record of what I was doing at the time, or an observation, thought or overheard remark coinciding with the sneeze. These are sometimes, though probably not often enough, willfully obscure. It seems that, at first, I considered the comment to be an optional field, as some of the earlier entries did not include one. All sneezes numbered thirty or higher, however, include a comment. Finally, the comments include more references to glamorous literary award ceremonies than I had any hope of expecting when I started.

Further reading

Reflections on the Counting of Sneezes

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