31 May 2012

Urban Guerilla and The Days of the Underground

I'm going to Gitmo......

It could be described as character assassination, the unprovoked attack on Arthur Scarrot,  the man responsible for  domestic security arrangements for the village of Drill.

"The papers claim I take no exercise and call the cops for assistance in dealing with the slightest law enforcement problem. This is plainly untrue and I have in place an arrangement with the proper authorities for all matters right up to Disaster Management and Disaster Assistance. I have a group of part time and volunteer DNDOs (Domestic Neighbourhood Disturbance Officers) working for me.Each of these is trained to the national preparedness standardand is fully able to handle virtually any eventuality be it the prevention or response to crime and the recovery of stolen goods. In mitigation though I would not expect them to deal with a Dirty Bomb or conduct Domestic nuclear detection - although several homes have been issued with Geiger counters.

"Myself and my team are the first responders to any incident in the village and thus are responsible for emergency response and emergency management You could call my team a mini Department of Homeland Security! Since we are on the coast we have undertaken course in Maritime Domain Awareness, but the only call that has been made on us in this area was a suspicious looking dinghy. Still we are a small but iportant part of the national preparedness initiative even if organised crime, riots, looting, gangs militias, shootings  -the only shots fired and explosions are caused are by the Anglo Zanzibar war Recreationists are rarer than hen's teeth!

"We also have a Taliban Hostage Recreations Society. They are weird but harmless. Every year they kidnap a number of prominent local citizens and hold them in the local pub issuing a threat that if their ransom are not paid they will be force fed pork scratchings. Meanwhile my men and women dress as a police SWAT team and lockdown the neighbouring area. Amid the explosion of  pipe bombs the "police" team makes a breach in the hostage takers' security, screening the hostages from the takers, and then undertaking an evacuation. There have never been any deaths among participants although our volunteer Disaster Medical Assistance Team remains on standby. It's a great way to test national security on a local basis without declaring a state of emergency!

That's exhausted most of page one of the watch word list. I really do have far too much time on my hands!

Snake Handling pastor, killed by snakebite......

I very rarely attend church services these days except for the occasional wedding or funeral and have no intention of doing anything otherwise for the rest of my life.

The catholic services of my youth were tedious affairs, conducted by Italian priests (the local church was run by the Verona Fathers). While I actually did like the parish priest, a father Toninello.

But I digress. For an utterly strange type of church service, you need to go to the Appalchian mountains, the heartland of those  Pentecostalists known as snake handlers.

To be honest there is no way on earth that I would want to handle snakes and drink strychnine even if the church music is pretty good!

I suppose it should come as n surprise whatsoever, that the wges of snakehandling can be death as this report from West Virginia

 Mack Randall Wolford,  pastor of Full Gospel Apostolic House of the Lord Jesus in Matoaka  died Monday as a result of a snake bite incurred during a homecoming service.

Lauren Pond, a freelance photojournalist,  who had been woring on a prject with Wolford for the past year, said that about 25 people were in attendance at the homecoming service at Panther State Forest. Wolford was bitten in the thigh by a timber rattlesnake during the Sunday service.

“I didn’t expect it to happen,” she said. “I don’t think anyone necessarily expected it, but they’ve dealt with it before so it’s not such a huge shock maybe.”

Wolford was taken to Plainview Mobile Home Park off Airport Road in Brushfork. It is not known how long Wolford was there before emergency personnel were called.

Reports indicate Wolford died Monday as a result of the injuries sustained at the Sunday service.

 Although illegal in many states Snake handling is a “constitutionally protected religious service” in West Virginia

 Snake handling as a movement was started by George Went Hensley (who died form a snakebite in 1955...). The basis of the faith are two passages in the gospels:

And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:17-18)
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)

 Hmm clearly nothing shall by any means hurt you...... except the snake. To be honest if these people want to handle snakes, it is no skin off my nose but I would suggest having anti-venin close to hand!

30 May 2012

Get more visitors (from DHS) to your blog.....

A few days ago a list of Department of Homeland Security watchwords was released following an Freedom of Information request by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The list contains a number of strange entries,including pork, stranded and smart. Here is the full list

Make of this list what you will, but if your visitor numbers are flagging, like mine are, then perhaps a sprinkling of the above phrases into innocuous posts will ring a few alarms and have the DHS visiting your blog. The more watch words, the more visits... well that's the theory!

If this list is correct, though I dread to think how many millions of false positives they throw up,,,

Soon to be a rose

More future Foxgloves

29 May 2012

Yet another Al Qaida number two meets his demise

Today's Independent reports the death of yet another  al-Qa'ida second-in-command. This time The organisation's number two in Afghanistan was killed in a NATO air strike.

The attack in the easter Kunar province killed Sakhr al-Taifi , who frequently travelled between Afghanistan and Pakistan, carrying out commands from senior al-Qa'ida leaders.

The coalition said al-Taifi was responsible for commanding foreign insurgents in Afghanistan and directing attacks against coalition and Afghan forces. He also supplied weapons and equipment to eastern insurgents and transported fighters into Afghanistan.

The report goes on to say that al-Qa'ida's is believed to have only a nominal presence in Afghanistan.

Once again I must wonder how many number twos does Al Qaida get through? Given the number killed over the last ten years or so it must be the most perilous job on the planet! On the other hand the expression dead man's shoes does not mean a long wait for a lift up the career ladder.

Afghanistan's next number two is a small rock 3km north east of Kandahar

Greatest Olympians?

Every time the Olymics come round there will be more than a few subjective lists of the greatest olympians of all time. The lists will inevitably, but rightly include the likes of Jesse Owens, Fanny Blankers-Koen, Nadia Comaneci, Michael Pehlps, Mark Spitz, Steve Redgrave, Paavo Nurmi and so on. Choosing the greatest out of the contenders is pointless. Comparing an athlete, to a rower, to a gymnast or whichever sport  and so on is like comparing apples, oranges and lychees. Personally I would treat the greats as a pantheon rather than try to rank them. All of the above deserve their place in the pantheon without doubt

On criterion which is sometimes overlooked when writers complie their list of greats is longevity. Admittedly some sports are more amenable to longevity than others:  fencing, sailing, shooting and equestrian sports in particular.

That said staying at the top in these events is a major achievement and just two sportsmen have managed to compete at nine olympic games: Austrian sailor Hubert Raudaschl and Canadian show jumper Ian Miller

Raudaschl on an Austrian phonecard

Born in 1942 Hubert Raudaschl competed at the Tokyo, Mexico, Munich, Montreal, Moscow, Los Angeles, Seoul, Bacelona and Atlanta games. He  won silver medals at the Mexico and Moscow games.

Millar at the Beijing Olympics - pic from CBC

Born in 1947, Ian Millar has competed at the Munich, Montreal, Los Angeles, Seoul, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing games. His only medal, a silver, came at Beijing when the Canadian took second place in the show umping event. He is on course for a place on the Canadian team at London, possibly with his son and daughter

Neither sportsman has been showered with Olympic glory but their sheer persistence in the top flight of their respective sports is more than just commendable.

More to follow

Olympic Stadium

There are now just 59 days to go until the 2012 Olympics start. My daily rail commute into work took me past the main Olympic sites in Stratford so I got to see how construction progressed.

I must admit that the main stadium itself never looked that imposing, but that may be due to the fact that it is constructed in a bowl.

One thins for certain is that wild horses will not get me using the rail line from Romford into central London for the duration of the games. Add commutes to visitors and you have a recipe for very, very crowded trains. Although I do enjoy watching the Olympics on tv and have done religiously since 1972 (although I vaguely remember the 1968 games) I was not too bothered by the prospect of actually attending. I most definitely be watching from the comfort of my home, particuarly the athletics, cycling, rowing and the canoeing.

As for how the British team does, I hope they do as well or better than the last games. I most certainly hope they do not emulate the Canadian team at the Montreal Games and win no gold medals.

27 May 2012

Future Foxgloves

Couch potatoes mourn the death of a hero

I am sorry to say that I missed this when the news was first announced but
  Your Telly or your life!

Eugene Polley, the inventor of the television remote control, died last week at the age of 96. His former employer, Zenith Electronics said Polley died of natural causes last Sunday.

His 1955 invention, the Flash-Matic, pointed a beam of light at photo cells on each corner of the TV, turning it off and on and changing the channels. However, because the Flash-Matic used light to operate the television, it was temperamental and other lights could interfere with its operation. It was followed by sonic-controlled remotes and then infrared and radio frequency models.

Before Polley's invention, Zenith's first remote was connected to the television by a wire cord.

Polley was rightly proud of his invention and was honoured in 1997 with an Emmy for hiscontribution to television. Like millions the world over his invenstion freed us lazy git from the hell that was getting up and walking  the few paces to television. For that he will be sorely missed.

RIP Eugene!

Anarchists "Smash the System"

Friday's Guardian reported that an anarchist organisation has claimed responsibility for two "attacks" on railway signalling in Bristol which caused severe delays and the cancellation of services.

British transport police and Network Rail confirmed that signalling cable was destroyed on Tuesday morning in two separate incidents of arson which caused "extensive damage" and substantial delays to passengers.

The group – calling itself the Informal Anarchist Federation – has warned of further "guerrilla" attacks and sabotage to "hurt the national image and paralyse the economy however we can". On Wednesday the group posted a statement on the Indymedia Bristol website saying it had "struck two points on the railway routes into Bristol", adding that members had "lifted concrete slabs running alongside the tracks and burned out the signalling cables found in the trench underneath".

Wow them Annykists really smashed the system! I am sure that millions will flock to their cause and rain blow upon blow against the evil empire... that or a few thousand commuters will simply curse them as being a bunch of cretins.

The Informal Anarchist Federation, probably a small bunch of social inadequates one could count on the fingers on one hand really have a sense of their own self importance if their press release on Indymedia is anything to go by:

The purpose of guerrilla attack is to spread the struggle into different territories and facets of life. Finance, judicial, communications, military and transport infastructure (sic) will continue to be targets of the new generation of urban low-intensity warfare - the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI) / International Revolutionary Front.

The means for this struggle are always close at hand. On the morning of May 22nd we struck two points on the railway routes into Bristol.... By lifting the concrete slabs running alongside the tracks and burning out the signalling cables found in the trench underneath, before carriges (sic) came on the line... 

... The potential spread of such blockages in general poses a significant problem for the flow of commodites (sic) and for making sure that labour exploitation arrives on time... Such actions are a time-honoured method of disturbing the 'social peace' myth: from similar sabotages in France...to the iconic seizure and arson of the city bus in London last August (yeah right! I'm sure that this was the work of committed revolutionaries!)... Everywhere the bosses want us scurrying around their metropolis, like consignments of human flesh in alientating (sic)  containers on pre-determinated routes, in a frenetic hussle (sic) for survival, there is and will continue to be every reason to forcefully intervene in the smooth flow of the daily grind...

In the United Kingdom of clockwork control and domestication, we're some of the 'unpatriotic ones' who find the 2012 Olympics, with the ensuing spectacle of wealth... But no union or movement calls our shots, and we have no inhibition to use guerrilla activity to hurt the national image and paralyze the economy however we can. Because simply, we don't want rich tourists - we want civil war.

And come a civil war I am sure that these class  warriors would shit their collective underpants. In the meantime they can bask in the "glory"of a job well done.... Ha!

Personally I have always had a low opinion of anarchists. This opinion was formed by my first encounter with anarchists in my late teens (mainly upper middle class children spouting slogans) and very little have I seen since that has done much to make me thing much more of them...

Ah well I wonder what these wankers in Bristol will do next

25 May 2012

Towel Day - The Babel Fish

Towel Day - Disaster Area

Towel Day - Vogon Poetry

Towel Day

Thanks to Snoopy for reminding me that today is Towel Day, the anniversary of the death of Douglas Adams. This of course gives me an excuse to post various Douglas Adams related youtube videos!

The first is a favourite of mine and comes from a series starring Stephen Fry, where he and a companion retrace the journeys Adams made to write Last Chance to See

Luckily Douglas did not get rogered by a Kakapo in his original  journey. Still this clip must go down in tv history!

Ted enjoys a bath

Ted in an old bath we use for planting

24 May 2012

A small grey moth

Madam Alfred Carriere

Madame Alfred Carriere is a rambling rose that has conquered our Golden Rain tree )o called because it leaves a shower of small golden petals on the ground after it blooms and not because it gives succour to those enjoying, ahem, "water sports"

Normally the blooms are found well above ground so it is  pleasure to find one we can actually see and smell for once!

Ragged Campion (Sliene dioica)

A slightly worse for wear Silene (Campion) in my garden. Shirl loves to pant these flowers while all I do is remember carrying a version of this plant on my school blazer for five out of the seven years I attended the Campion School in Hornchurch

23 May 2012

Sweet Cicely

More Foxgloves

German POWs in Japan during WWII?

Several thousand (mainly Jewish) Germans and Austrians served in the British armed forces in WWII (The so-called King Own loyal Enemy Aliens), perhaps the most famous being Klaus Hugo Adam who served in the RAF (and became better known as Sir Ken Adam, the Oscar set designer of many of the early Bond films) and Horst Pinschewer (known as Geoffrey perry) who captured Lord Haw Haw.

Quite a few Germans served in the French Foreign Legion during WWII.This is no huge surprise as the Legion tends to attract recruits from nations in political or economic turmoil. One regiment, the 5eme REI was based in Indochina in 1940. Although the Vichy regime signed a treaty in September 1940 allowing the Japanese very limited basing rights in Vietnam, the Japanese tore up the agreement almost immediately and sent in a force to take at lest a part of the country. Fighting lasted for four days with a French defeat. The upshot was that the Japanese gained the right to base troops as they liked in the north f the country (and in the whole of the country the following year). All prisoners taken by the Japanese were released ecept fro 200 Germans in the 5eme REI.

I can find no reference to their subsequent treatment in Japan but I would be quite interested to find out. I have no idea whether they received the same treatment as allied POWs but I daresay that it was somewhat worse than that received by Germans captured by the Japanese in WWI.

If any visitor can guide me to more information on their fate I would be most interested.

Ivy Leaf Toadflax in white

21 May 2012

Dorothy O'Grady, fantasist spy?

I thought I knew who was convicted of treason and  treachery during WWII ut and article in today's  Independent provides information of another who I had never head of before.

The majority of those convicted under the 1940 Treachery Act, were nationals of Germany or occupied territories who where captured as spies in the UK - including Josef Jakobs Job, the last man to be executed at the Tower of London. Four were British - Duncan Scott-Ford, George Armstrong, Theodore Schurch, and Oswald Job, while Jose Estelle Key was from Gibraltar. A Portuguese citizen was also sentenced to death but his sentence was commuted and he was deported after the war's end.

The Indy adds an new name to this list (for me anyway): Dorothy O'Grady

Dorothy O'Grady, part-proprietor of Osborne Villa, Sandown, Isle of Wight, who was arrested and charged under the Treachery Act with being a Nazi spy. She gave the appearance of beig  a harmless middle-aged woman whose greatest pleasure was walking her Labrador. The authorities took a different view, concluding that exercising Rob was her alibi for intelligence collecting forays into restricted military areas.

 She made detailed maps; cut military telephone wires, and wore, on the underside of her coat lapel, a small swastika badge. How she communicated information about radar stations and gun emplacements to controllers in Berlin was never made clear, but that did not stop her being tried and convicted at Winchester of betraying her country. The judge donned a black cap, she was sentenced to death, and might very well have been executed had not her lawyer successfully won an appeal for misdirection of the jury. Instead, the mild-looking, bespectacled landlady was sent to prison for 14 years.

But, this being a spy story, nothing is entirely what it seems; and the saga of Dorothy O'Grady refused to lie down, especially after her release in 1950. She, for her part insisted in repeated interviews that her "spying" activities were something done to bring a little excitement into her hum-drum existence; a lark, as she put it, which got out of hand. And this apparently was the general view - a harmles fantasist,until, in 1995, the release of secret papers showed that wartime prosecutors thought the information she collected would have been vital to an invading enemy.

Author Adrian Searl has just written a book, The Spy Beside the Sea, which gives a full account o her ife and seeks to put to rest whether she was a dangerous spy or a harmles nut.

From an early age it seems that O Grady was a "bad 'un". Born to parents unknown in 1897 and adopted by a British Museum official and his wife, she grew up in  Clapham, and had a comfortable childhood. However, this seems to have ended with the death of her adoptive mother died when she was 10 years old. Her, George Squire, then married his housekeeper, who apparently subjected Dorothy to various cruelties.

By the age of 13, she was in a home where young girls were trained for domestic service. Events in her late teens and early twenties are unknown, but in 1918, she was convicted for forging bank-notes, and she was sent to borstal and prison. By 1920, she was in service with a lady in Brighton, but was convicted of stealing clothes and she was given two years' hard labour. After her release she moved back to London, and began collecting a string of prostitution convictions.

At the age of 28  she married a London fireman, Vincent O'Grady.and spent a number of years living quietly until Vincent retired and they moved to the Isle of Wight in the Thirties – ultimately setting up a boarding house in Sandown. At the outbreak of war Vincent went back to London on fire-fighting duties, the guest house was closed for the duration, and Dorothy and her dog were left to their own devices on an island which was soon awash with soldiers and military installations.

To troops guarding restricted areas she and her dog were a regular nuisance, wandering where they shouldn't. Eventually, the army tired of her, took her in charge, whereupon – as if determined to arouse suspicion – she offered the arresting squaddie 10 shillings,. She was also found to be wearing under her lapel a small swastika. Booked to appear before the Ryde magistrates on relatively minor charges, she failed to show up, and when police arrived at Osborne Villa they found it locked and Dorothy gone.
She was found three weks later  in a boarding house in Totland Bay, on the west of the island, under the assumed name Pamela Arland. While in Totland Bay, she had busied herself making more maps, cutting phone wires, and, unusually for an undercover agent, offering schoolboys small bribes to tell her about army gun emplacements. Once detained, she was taken to the mainland, grilled by MI5, and charged. The trial, with Dorothy kept from the witness box by her counsel, reached its expected verdict.

She served nine years, and her behaviour after her release in 1950 was as illogical as everything else to do with her. She went direct to Fleet Street and gave her story to the Daily Express, then rather more a paper of record than it is now. Her tale in this, and subsequent interviews, was that "the whole thing was a joke", and that she "looked forward to the trial as an immense thrill.... The excitement of being tried for my life was intense .... It made me feel somebody instead of being an ordinary seaside landlady."

She expressed regret for the trouble she had caused, but at other times there was a relish at giving the authorities the runaround – ascribed to the resentment she felt at her jailing for prostitution, during which a treasured puppy died. She must have gone to her grave in 1985 content that this well-aired account was widely accepted.

A low-key campaign began for the release of prosecution papers which, it was thought, would support her case. When the papers were published 1995, they made plain just how serious a threat she constituted in 1940, saying that the maps she drew were "terrifyingly accurate", and "would be of very great importance to the enemy".

Some, like Adrian Searle, were sceptical about the official line and began digging into her past, coming to some sharp conclusions (she went on the run in 1940 because she was afraid her husband would learn, via the magistrates' court hearing, of her prostitution convictions), and a few years ago he uncovered the documents that, more than any other, supply the nearest we are ever likely to get to an explanation.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, he obtained the reports by the governor and psychologist at Aylesbury Prison where she served most of her sentence. Dorothy had sometimes, in interviews, wondered if she had a sort of "kink". What the reports made clear was that Dorothy was an intelligent (IQ: 140) but deeply troubled woman who regularly self-harmed, and had "attacks... in which she has to 'obey people' inside her who encourage her to do harmful acts to herself". She had enacted a pretend hanging by placing a chair on her cell bed, and sometimes slept naked under the bed. There was a palpable sexual dimension to her behaviour, which included tying herself in awkward positions for hours at a time. The prison medical officer Dr Violet Minster said Dorothy inserted an alarming collection of objects into her vagina: a light bulb, more than 50 pieces of broken glass, a small pot, and 100 pins.

This, then, was a disturbed woman with a long-held grudge against authority, who sought the limelight in an unusual, but effective, way. And, while there is no evidence she ever attempted to communicate her island gleanings to anyone in any way, it is not impossible that she was hedging her bets, calculating, perhaps, that if the Nazis invaded, she would be able to prove her loyalty to the new cause.

Well there you have it. I am surprised I had never heard of her before so I will be purchasing a copy of this book asap. Was she bad, or just crazy?It sounds like the latter is the case rather than the former.

Alan Oakley RIP

Ask anyone in the street who Alan Oakley was and you will almost certainly get a blank stare. However, if you re of a certain age, the chances are that you rode his most famous creation.

Alan Oakley, who has just died at the age of 85, was the designer of the famous, or infamous, Raleigh Chopper . 

Oakley created the Chopper, which is famed for its unusual appearance and car-like gear shifter, after a trip to America in 1967 to get to grips with the nation's youth culture. He drew the initial design for the Chopper on the back of an envelope while flying back from the US.

With an angular seat, a large back wheel and small front wheel, the Chopper was a huge success for Nottingham-based Raleigh in Britain and America, becoming a must-have bike for a generation of children.

Relating how her husband fine-tuned his design, Karen Oakley said: "Alan had been over to America looking to pick up a design for a bike. While he was flying back, he had an airmail envelope and just drew this bike on the back of it and that was that, the creation of the Chopper."

Well there you have it. I never owned a Chopper myself and never wanted one. I thought they were rather ugly  and the one time I tried to ride one I fond it , let's say, a painful experience. Still it was a definitely the bike most children wanted in the 70s and who can argue with that!

RIP Alan. You brought plenty of pleasure, and not a few bumps and grzes, to many of the kids of my generation!

19 May 2012

Glyphs of the Horizon

A bit of Mor Karbasi

Such a beautiful voice

And in sports news

Although I have pretty much lost interest in football, I am still pleased to hear that West Ham has won a place back in the Premiership. I can't get too enthusiastic

The Champions League final starts in 10 minute. I don't give a damn if Chelsea beats Bayern or vice versa,

Congratulations to Leinster on wining Rugby's Heineken Cup for the Third time. Only Toulouse, with four wins, has been more successful. 

This probably will be my only sports related post until the Olympics.

footage of Crab Spider in action

Regular readers will know that I love to photograph one of the more elusive residents of our garden - the crab spider, which waits in or on flowers for the arrival of a bee or other insect.

The footage is from the Attenborough documentary Life in the Undergrowth. I never saw it when if was frst shown only catching a repeat on Eden a couple of days ago.

And here once again is my favourite crab spider photo

18 May 2012

And on a sillier note...

Stan Carey has an excellent language blog called Sentence First.If you have an interest in the English language then Stan is truly your man.

I left a comment on his most recent post in which I used the expression pernicious conniptions. I was delighted to fin that I was the first person on the internet to put them side by side.

Not much of a story but little things please this little mind....

The Defiant One

Boris has learned how to get out of our bedroom window and excape to Izzy via the porch and the wall

But is it art? Austrian blows up giant willy

 The Austrian Independent reports that a three and a half tonne model penis work of art was blown up in Bad Blumau, Austria earlier this week.

The giant penis artwork "Gaia" measuring over 4 metres was designed by Emmerich Weissenberge, but it has now been blown up during a controlled explosion - in the name of art.

The sculptor decided to do so as: "I wanted to express the message that you should not destroy art if you do not understand it, there should be an active dialogue about it."

The giant penis was originally designed for the Vienna 'Green Expo' in 2011 where it caused outrage amongst locals unhappy about out the large statue in the Austrian capital. It was then moved to Bad Blumau to the Blumau thermal spa resort as part of the 'Hundertwasser Reloaded' exhibition. The remains  will be buried in the gardens in Bad Blumau

Destroying art to show that it shouldn't be destroyed.... Ah well......

17 May 2012

And now some gratuitous swearing

Stephen Fry presented an entertaining (if not particularly scholarly) series about language last year called Planet Word. Here is national treasure (Brian Blessed in fact he is the only British actor to be included on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites) swearing gratuitously... well not gratuitously in that it was meant to show that swearing allows one to keep ones hand in cold water for longer than if you don't sear.

I like it because he says bollocks a lot

Ivy Leaf Toadflax

This is Cymbalaria muralis. The flower is tiny, just 8mm across


Bugles, Ajuga reptans in my garden

15 May 2012

Silene nutans (Campion the flower, not the bloody school I went to!))

Great Landmarks in History: 250 years of the Sandwich

Above is a portrait of John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich. He seems to have been in good mood when he sat for the painting, perhaps this is because he knew his name would forever after be associated with one the greatest creations in the history of food. 

About 250 years ago he made made history when he ordered beef to served to him between slices of bread and thus was born the noble sandwich!

According to the BBC the Earl asked for the particular serving so that he could eat while continuing to play cards and his friends asked "to have the same as Sandwich". The first written record of the sandwich was in 1762 and the Kent town of Sandwich, which is the earldom of the Montagu family, is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the meal.

It is fortunate that Sir Edward Montagu, a prominent naval commander, who became the first Earl of Sandwich when he was offered a peerage in 1660.
Sandwich not Portsmouth. Apparently  Sir Edward Montagu chose the title because "at the time Sandwich was the premier sea port in England" (Not sure if that would be the case but let's not ruin a good story). When he was offered the earldom he could have chosen Portsmouth but he chose Sandwich - today we could be eating a Portsmouth.

The current Lord Montagu added seems to follow his ancestor's preference: "My favourite sandwich is a traditional one: roast beef and hot horseradish on freshly baked bread," he said.

So there you have it once more. The chances are that people had been eating sandwiches for a long time before Montagu, but his name got assocaited with and the rest is a rather lucrative history. According to the British Sandwich Association the industry employs more than 300,000 people in the UK and has a commercial value of over £6bn.

One thing we should be thankful for is that he was no John Montague, Earl of Twatt now who on earth would want to eat a Twatt?????

Derek Acorah - Sick Bastard

  For those that do not know him, consider your selves lucky! Acorah is a soi-disant medium who used to host an atrocious programme on a cable tv called Most Haunted. Essentially he is a liar and a fraud who has been caught out more than once. Some years ago he channeled a A Kreed Krafer and a Rik Eedles, lines supplied to him which are anagrams of Derek Faker and Derek lies.

I thought we had seen the last of the charlatan but according to the Telegraph he has  ust hit the headlines  stating that the Madelaine McCann, a five year old girl who disappeared during a family holiday in Portugal in  five years ago, has passed over to the "spirit world" ”.

Acorah told the Sun in an interview that: “I know her parents are convinced Maddie is alive and I’m really sorry – but the little one has been over in the spirit world for some time.”  However, he tries to give a crumb of twisted comfort: “I don’t think it’ll be long before she reincarnates...

Unsurprisingly  the McCann family are sickened

“It’s incredibly distasteful and insensitive.”A spokesman for the couple added: “Kate and Gerry believe their daughter is alive and the Metropolitan Police are currently pursuing an investigation to that effect."

I have no idea if Maddie is alive or dead. I earnestly hope she is still alive and one day will be reunited with her family but it would not surprise me now if she were dead.

As for Derek Acorah though, he has once again shown himself as the twisted little charlatan he is. But then he claims to be a medium and all mediums are either liars, frauds or self deluded.
Better that he shuts the hell up and finds some work with some self respect and dignity. 

14 May 2012

Perhaps the Vatican should listen to some Maiden!

I've lived in filth, I've lived in sin
And I still smell cleaner than the shit you're in

Enrico De Pedis crypt opened in Emmanuela Orlandi search

Just when you think it could not get worse for the Catholic  church, another scandal may be about to break (or it may not...)

On 22 June 1983  Emanuela Orlandi (above), the daughter of a Vatican Bank official, disappeared while on her way to a music lesson. Her disapearance remains unsolved and has been the subject of more than a few conspiracy theories.

On 2 February 1990 a piece of human shit going by the name of Enrico De Pedis (below) was shot by Mafia colleagues. Rather than being dumped in unconsecrated ground he was interred in the Vatican owned Basilica of St Apollinaire in Rome. There are allegations that a Cardinal Ugo Poletti accepted a "gift" of over £400k (for renovations and other "good" works) to authorise his burial in this church. Whether this is true or not is another matter.

One of the persons who is alleged to have been involved in Orlandi's disappearance is De Pedis. For some time there have been moves to open his crypt in the Basilica of St Apollinaire to determine whether Miss Orlandi's body is also hidden inside.

Today forensic teams and marble workers opened the scumbag's tomb. His body was found, inside a three-layer sarcophagus, well preserved and wearing a dark blue suit and black tie. Police took fingerprints and confirmed his identity. But also, tucked inside a niche of the ancient crypt were dozens of boxes containing unidentified human bones.

The city's chief prosecutor, Giuseppe Pignatone, said the findings would be inspected as part of the ongoing investigation into Orlandi's disappearance.
"It is impossible that a young 15-year-old girl could disappear just like that, without a trace," said Orlandi's cousin, Pasquale Lo Russo, outside the basilica. "Now, finally, with Vatican and state officials allowing the opening of this tomb, we hope it will help us to verify the truth."

"It is an enormous and fascinating story that interweaves the church and the criminal underworld in the political context of the cold war years in Rome," said journalist and author Rita di Giovacchino, who has been following the case from its beginning and was present outside the basilica as the crypt was opened. "It is better than a Dan Brown novel."
The opening of the De Pedis crypt marks a long-awaited step forward for the Orlandi family, who now await news of further DNA testing by coroners and forensic anthropologists at Rome's University of Sapienza.

"This is just one more step forward for the investigation," Emanuela's brother, Pietro, said outside the basilica. "We hope eventually it will bring us clarity."

The bones found may or may not include those of Miss Orlandi but I am sure a large number of cold cases are about to be reopened! That De Pedis was buried in a church normally associated with Princes of the Church should be scandal enough....

...But, if the bones include the remains of Miss Orlandi then the Vatican is going to face a scandal that hopefully will rock it to its rotten core.
As readers will know, I was born and raised a catholic but the Vatican and I parted company in my teens. The more I have seen of the church's hierarchy  in action over the years, the more and more I hate everything it stands for.  The heiratchy continually spits in the face of the many good and fine priests, nuns lay members who do sterling service in often terrible conditions. It is these persons who make the church, not a bunch of elderly megalomaniacs sitting in a small part of Rome.

But who am I kidding, the hierarchy will cling like death to the trapping of power and will still go on. Perhaps these revolting old men may learn from all of the scandals that it has faced of late and will face in the years to come, but I doubt it.

On the subject of the risible - Venezuelan crosswords

Crossword compiling is usually an inoffensive pastime (unless your name is Leonard Dawes and you inadvertently put the names of Overlord code names into the Telegraph crosswords in the run up to D Day!)but it looks as if it can be a dangerous undertaking in Venezuela.

Venezuelan crossword-writer Neptali Segovia has been accused of hiding a coded message to assassinate President Hugo Chavez's brother in a crossword and was interviewed by intelligence agents, following an accusation by state TV pundit Perez Pirela.

Segovia has denied any subversive intentions. and the case has caused laughter in some circles but Pirela, who uses an early evening TV show to lay into Chavez opponents, said a group of mathematicians, psychologists and others had studied the Spanish-language crossword and concluded it was a coded assassination plot.

Answers to clues included "Adan", "asesinen" (meaning "kill") and "rafaga" (which can mean either a burst of gunfire, or a gust of wind).
Six officers from Venezuela's intelligence service had visited the newspaper's editorial offices on Thursday asking for information about Segovia. After that, he went voluntarily to the intelligence service's headquarters to give a statement, it said.

"I am the first to want to clarify this. I have nothing to hide because the work I have been doing for the last 17 years has only a cultural and education intention, and is transparent," Segovia was quoted as saying.
"I was treated respectfully. They took down my comments and made a routine summary. Then they took me home."

Another newspaper, the militantly pro-opposition Tal Cual, lampooned the Chavez government last week with a front-page crossword highlighting the nation's ills. Clues included: "What officials do when they misuse public funds" (Corruption); Perhaps the most abused law? (Constitution); and "Name of supreme leader who governs our destiny? Bearded." (Fidel Castro).

Well there you have it..... make of it what you will

Satire is alive and well and available free on Amazon

I missed this when it was first published in the Guardian  last week but it did bring a few chuckles when I caught up with it!

Apparently putting spoof reviews on Amazon is becoming a cult craze. I must admit I have come across one or two but then I was probably not looking in the right place.

Spoof reviews posted on Amazon have sent demand for the most unlikely merchandise soaring and are playing havoc with the online giant's famed algorithms, the complex formulas that recommend what else buyers of a particular product may be interested in purchasing.

The current must-have item heavily lauded by the spoof reviewers is a £50 canvas print of the TV presenter Paul Ross. Mugs with the same image costing a more modest £8.99 are selling well, with Amazon suggesting that customers also buy a particular bottle of methylated spirit attracting the sort of reviews normally associated with Ch√Ęteau Latour.

So far 471 people have enthusiastically reviewed the Paul Ross print, with one explaining: "I've ordered four of these now: one of them is above the fireplace and is naturally the pride of our entire home. On the second canvas I've cut out the section where Paul's face is, and when I drive to pick up the kids I wear the canvas and pretend that I'm a famous celebrity dad, the kids simply love it."

One reviewer of the Ross print purrs: "On first encountering this seminal artwork, one is reminded of the great depictions of the Christ in Renaissance paintings. The subject's gaze – warm, but penetrating; wise, but honest – harks back to such works as Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus."

Also popular is a print jigsaw of Manchester United's former finance director Nick Humby, currently selling on Amazon for £15.99.

"It simply doesn't matter how bad a day you may be having – knowing you have the Humby jigsaw to come home to just makes everything better," 

The Ross and Humby prints and mugs are sold by Media Storehouse, which turns more than 2m images, culled from several major photo libraries, into merchandise.

"Some of the reviews could have been written by professionals; they're really very funny," said Matt Hamer, the company's director, who became aware of how the spoof review trend was creating a market for unlikely products about three years ago. In the beginning there were a few hundred reviews driving demand, but Hamer says there are now thousands. "People are trying to outdo each other," he said. "Quite a lot is bought by students. It came completely out of the blue; there was no reason why the images should have been picked up. There was a picture of Su Pollard with a Kiss Me Quick hat which was popular for a while, but Paul Ross has been by far and away the biggest success."

Demand for the bizarre merchandise is the culmination of a trend that started almost a decade ago when a handful of spoofers targeted some unlikely products. A 75-metre roll of tinfoil has garnered 223 enthusiastic reviews and has become something of a cult forum. A typical reviewer extols the product as "sensational", explaining: "When you roll it out of the box it creates a smooth, silky feeling across my skin."
And so it goes. Perhaps my favourites are the reviews of Barrettine Methylated Spirit 

To be tempted by this heady brew to some seems strange. So much so that even I, a fourty year veteran of Barretine's finest seem unable to grasp at words for a suitable description that will do it justice. Indubitably it is the incandescent colour which first beguiles and draws you in, one glance and you are under its spell. Is it radiant eggplant or husky lilac? That's for you to decide.

Once in your hands you instinctively reach for the cap, fondling it, weighing it up, and cushioning it, ready to strike out a deadly blow as a gladiator would to the neck of a vanquished foe. You begin to apply torque. Easy now, savour the moment, you won't open a Barretine every day so make this one count. In a flash, a twist and yet more twisting is required. You wait patiently for that first sweet sound, that clickety clack of the childproof cap that overloads your eardrums as though someone has poured warm honey over and into your lobes. To dwell longer seems a waste as you hurriedly continue to turn the cap, like a modern day Aladdin you feverishly rub away at the lid until the genie is released. Then it hits you!

You feel giddy, dizzy and almost childlike as the opulent fragrance is released from its polyvinylchloride prison, you are now the liberator and soon to be vanquisher of this elixir. Your olfactory is overwhelmed as the fragrance dances over your senses like the fleetest of foot from the Russian Bolshoi.

The expectation is building as you desperately try to calm yourself before allowing your final sense to be courted by the Barretine, taste. You've been planning this for days, waiting for the Amazon delivery boy to pass this gauntlet to you not unlike a relay racer on the final leg and YOU ARE going to bring this baby home.

A glass would be too proper, in normal circumstances a well-used and chipped mug with its earthy glaze would be a fit but not today, oh no Barretine has seen to that. It's clear plastic shell not only lures you by acting as a window to the liquor within but today will suffice as the perfect vessel from which to decant this particular pick-me-up down your eager gullet.

No lollygagging, the first sip will be a generous one, at least four fingers worth and so it begins. It burns a deep burn that feels as though your organs are made of bone dry kindling and this drink is pure fire. Every fibre of your being begs you to stop but deep down you know you bought a one way ticket on a one way train. The journey maybe rough to start but the destination is pure heaven. Berratine, you have me like so many others in your spell, bravo Berratine, bravo!