DID you know that cats were once used to deliver post in Belgium? Well, you do now. It's the kind of useless fact you never thought you would need to know... but it always helps to have a conversation starter. We've picked the funniest facts from a new book called The Utterly, Completely and Totally Useless Fact-O-Pedia.

DIET- The earliest recorded food fad was followed by William the Conqueror (1028-87). He got so fat he confined' himself to his bedroom with no food. He did drink- but only alcohol.

ICE CREAM - In 1AD, Roman Emperor Nero ordered runners to pass buckets of snow from the mountains along the Appian Way down to Rome to be flavoured with red wine and honey.

OLYMPICS -In ancient times, females were forbidden from watching the Olympic Games - and if caught doing so could be put to death.

PASTA - Records indicate that the Chinese were eating pasta as early as 5,000BC.

RAINFOREST- Every second of every day, an area of the rainforest the size of a football field is destroyed.

SLEEP-The record for the longest duration without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The winner suffered hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision and slurred speech.

TENNIS - In the 11th Century French monks began playing a game around the monastery using a crude handball and a rope strung across the courtyard. As the game evolved, it became popular with royalty before catching on in England in the 13th Century.

UNITED NATIONS - The UN has its own post office and its own postage stamps.

VALENTINE'S DAY - In 270AD, Roman emperor Claudius II believed marriage turned his men into bad soldiers and decreed that all young men were barred from marriage. Ignoring the emperor, Bishop Valentine continued to marry young lovers in secret until his disobedience was discovered and he was sentenced to death.

LANGUAGES - Aramaic, the ancient Biblical language, is today spoken in only three remote villages near Damascus, Syria.

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