C-19 Who’s laughing now?

Looks good to me

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Microchipping humans in Russia

I taught myself biohacking,” 28 year old Vladislav Zaitsev told reporters in Moscow, “because I like the idea of expanding the capabilities of the human body. I estimate that about a thousand Russians are already microchipped, mostly with work passes or travel passes, although some people insert magnets or compass implants that vibrate when they turn north. I began in 2015, by taking the chip out of a Moscow metro pass, enclosing it in silicone, then inserting it into the back of my hand. Later I reprogrammed it with my bank card details. With clients, I use veterinary chips made in Taiwan. They’re about the size of a grain of rice and cost 500 rubles ($8) each.”

Funny Old World, Private Eye, 2nd April 2020 p24

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Book Review: Nigel Williams ~ The Wimbledon Poisoner (1990)

Williams, The Wimbledon Poisoner, is a black comedy, which is, of course, tasteless in the extreme. The focus is Henry’s desire to kill his wife Elinor. After some thought he decides that the only method he can do is poisoning. As an unassuming and stunningly boring man he imagines that he’ll never be a suspect and that administering poison is straightforward. He’s soon on a sharp learning curve.

Williams drops into wonderful bonkers mode by over-egging the pudding and introducing another poisoner in the shape of a police officer. Needless to relate they find themselves literally in competitive territory, which leads irresistibly to a scene where both claim to be The Wimbledon Poisoner!

A glorious moment.

Try This

Actually, thought Henry, as he checked himself in the mirror, no one, not even the police, would be stupid enough to imagine that Elinor could be the victim of a crime passionnel. The only passion involved in this operation was an overmastering desire to see her nailed down in a brown box.”


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A Lester Piggot* joke

Lester Piggot was discussing race tactics with his horse’s trainer. The trainer said that this is his absolutely worst horse. It had lost 23 races in a row.

After the race began Lester was 30 lengths behind after a furlong. He gave the horse an almighty backhander on the behind. Nothing! He then gave him a series of sharp slaps down the shoulder. Nothing!

The horse suddenly stopped. He turned round to Lester and says, “For Christ sake will you stop. I have to be up at half four in the morning delivering milk!”

  • Lester Piggott is probably the greatest jockey in British history with 4,493 winners
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Thornhill Road School: my first day in 1949

My first day in infant school in 1949 wasn’t the best. I wasn’t used to being bullied by adults. My two older brothers had told me horror stories in our shared bedroom.

You have to obey orders straight away… if you don’t – well you might be lucky to only get the cane. All teachers bark orders, as if they’re on a parade ground.”

Mum had explained the LCC (London County Council) had said all five year old children had to go to school. If I didn’t the school would tell ‘The School Board Man’ who’d be very disappointed and could charge her and Dad with breaking the law. She could even be sent to prison, if I didn’t go! She said I should go to school like my older brothers, and be a big boy. I really didn’t want to! She patiently explained, there’s no choice. In my childish way I tried to dissuade Mum from the idea but she was adamant – I had to go. Outside the gates of Thornhill Road School, that Monday morning, I made my last plea, Please Mum, please will you go to prison for me.” She smiled and I was going into the school.

Inside it was big. Bigger than any house I had ever been in and cold with green and brown tiled walls. I got to a hall with loads of other kids in it. We were told to sit on the floor with our legs crossed in front of us. I don’t think I was paying attention to what the Head-Teacher was saying as, in my mind, I was at home, listening to the light programme on the wireless. Back in the hall the droning voice fell silent. We all stood up and me and bunch of others were led by a teacher up concrete stairs, with the same green and brown wall tiles. We climbed two levels. I was lost. I remember the very long corridor with a fancy wooden floor and the classroom. We entered. It seemed enormous with high ceiling and big windows with wire over them.

I was told to sit at a double desk with a girl. Apart from my Mum I’d no understanding of girls. They were clearly frightening and beyond comprehension. The two desks (I had never seen one before) was a wooden plank seat across some iron framework, with wooden boxes in front. Each box had a lid hinged at the back, so the lid stood upright. The seat lifted for us to get into the desk. That’s when I and the girl next to me got told off, for letting the seat down with such a bang. It was a loud clang and made me jump. The teacher wanted to make an example of us both for making such a noise in her class. Her shouting was at a level that I felt my bladder threatening to leak wee into my trousers. She was a terrifying sight. But for the fact that there was a girl next to me and there were a good number of other girls in the classroom I felt sure I’d have wet myself.

That first day, started with the teacher shouting each child’s name and we replied, “Present Miss” and she’d mark her register. I can’t remember any of the lessons that day I was too busy trying to understand what was happening. It was an alien world where nothing made any sense.

It’s only now as an adult that I can describe that day as dystopian and truly horrendous for a five-year old boy.


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Remember when cigarettes were good for you?

smoking advert

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Book Review: Thomas Penn ~ The Brothers York: An English Tragedy (2019)

Thomas Penn’s day has come! Who’d have thought an academic work on the York brothers would be of the moment? Well he has Hilary Mantel to thank. She’s turbo-charged medieval history into a central position with her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Will Penn win the same glittering prize for his work on the York dynasty? No. However he’s in with a chance of a much wider readership than he might have had a few years ago.

Penn’s book focuses entirely on the three York brothers. Edward IV was the eldest and a 15th century version of Henry VIII. He looted, raped, murdered and was a consummate thief (he stole money collected for a crusade!). He had his brother, the duke of Clarence, murdered in a rigged court for treason using him as a visual aid for anyone else feeling unenthusiastic about him. Edward had two sons and therefore his youngest brother, Richard, was doomed to be thwarted in his ‘destiny’ to be king.

Needless to relate Richard didn’t take kindly to being thwarted. On Edwards’s death Richard consigned the two princes to the Tower of London – for their safety(?). They never emerged. Richard became king and a civil war erupted shortly afterwards. The battle of Bosworth Field is remarkable for Henry Tudor being successful but also for a breathtaking act of treachery. In full view, on the battlefield, Lord Stanley changed sides.

If you like the Soprano’s, Hilary Mantel and non-stop action this book is for you. It’s also lavishly illustrated and doesn’t have any staged conversations, which are designed for the TV series/film.

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