Suzy Dent - A Timeless Beauty

Whilst watching Countdown today, the author of these words was once again struck by the timeless beauty of Britain's best looking lexicographer, Suzy Dent.

Seated next to Des Lynam and Rick Wakeman, she looked like a rose between two thorns.

Not surprisingly, a quick search on Google reveals that many others may also have had impure thoughts about her.

Sadly for many, but happily for her, Suzy's Wikipedia page reveals that she is married.

It is the opinion of the author of these words that Suzy's pulchritude goes far beyond that of Carol Vorderman, who is starting to show her age.

The World's Greediest Karaoke Band

In his younger years the author of these words used to like to relax by listening to the music of The Dead Kennedys, their left wing, frenetic, vitriolic punk songs were a refreshing change to the mainstream mediocrity of the era.

Their lead singer, the great Jello Biafra, quit the band in 1986 going on to pursue solo projects. As is the case with many other bands who have split up, legal arguments arose as to how much royalties each band members should be receiving. The legal case was bitter and Biafra was cast against his three ex band mates, accused of underpaying them over a number of years. He lost the dispute and the end result of the case saw the rights to the albums turned over to the other band members. This is in spite of the fact that Biafra was credited as sole songwriter for most of their songs.

The remaining band members then acted less than honourably by selling the rights to other record labels. Biafra, fiercely anti capitalist and loyal to the band's original left leaning philosophies was horrified when he discovered that the rights to one song "Holiday In Cambodia" might have been sold to make a Levi jeans commercial.

If this wasn't enough, The Dead Kennedys then reformed, with Brandon Cruz replacing Jello Biafra on vocals. They then embarked on a tour, using some of the most fraudulent marketing ploys in musical history. From the Alternative Tentacles site:

"The booking agency which represents Biafra's former band mates is reportedly selling the band as Dead Kennedys, asking $10,000 guarantees, and "forgetting" to tell promoters that Biafra is not in the band, unless specifically questioned. The band photo that the agency has circulated features Jello Biafra instead of the...singer Brandon Cruz. Most of the tour dates have been sold to the public as "Dead Kennedys", with at least one advertisement featuring the photo which contains Biafra. Another tactic reported is that venues such as the Gothic Theater in Denver (and their sponsor, Twist & Shout) start out advertising the show as Dead Kennedys then downgrade the ads to "DK Kennedys", with members listed, two or more weeks after tickets have gone on sale.

Jello Biafra states, "In my opinion, this is the real great rock and roll swindle. They have a right to play cover versions of Dead Kennedys songs. Everyone does. But I feel really badly for all the people paying ticket prices, reported to be as high as $25, thinking it's the real Dead Kennedys, and wind up getting stuck with the world's greediest karaoke band."

On top of that, those who paid to see the band were far from impressed. Aside from the inept music and singing from a band who by their own admission had not rehearsed for 13 years, spectators were horrified to see the Cruz introduce "Holidays In Cambodia"by saying

"This song goes out to all the U.S. troops overseas in Afghanistan. We support President Bush's actions in Afghanistan."

For the song's vehemently anti war and anti Bush author, Jello Biafra, this must have felt like a stab in the heart.

The Dead Kennedys are still preforming and selling out each week. The author of these words is of the opinion that any Dead Kennedys release on a new label is unworthy of purchase and that money spent on attending one of their concerts would be better spent in assisting Jello Biafra's legal challenge.

Man Flu

The author of these words is suffering from a dangerous and highly virulent form of man flu.

His demise is unlikely, with strength and fortitude combined with sympathy and spoiling he might overcome this malady and recover for work on Thursday.

High Tides

Tonight is a full moon, some of the highest tides in recent years are expected over the next few days. The author of these words predicts widespread disruption. Fifty mile an hour winds are expected, these combined with the high tides could create a storm surge and cause terrible floods, the like of which we have not seen before.

Demise Of The Miracle Man

An old man who lives locally died today. He'd been ill for a very long time and had amazed doctors by surviving as long as he did. The author of these words was privileged enough to have many conversations with him over the last few months and was always struck by this individuals acceptance of his impending mortality.

He struggled on bravely, despite been diagnosed with lung cancer, an aneurysm on his brain, cirrhosis of the liver, crippling osteoporosis and suffering two severe stokes and three heart attacks. When he was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, he was given just nine months to live. Yet despite ignoring all medical advice and continuing to smoke and drink rather heavily, he refused to die. He used to sit in the local public house with a pint of ale and a roll up cigarette, joking about "the aneurysm in my brain - just waiting to explode"

Whilst he should have been dying in a hospice, he continued to tend his allotment, drive his car, and laugh in the face of anxious district nurses who warned him to slow down. He was known to everyone who met him as 'The Miracle Man' and some thought him to be virtually immortal.

The sword of time will always win and The Miracle Man passed away peacefully today, after a long struggle, bravely born.

Our community continues to shrink. He had lived here all his life and watched as farming gave way to tourism, his wife died years ago and his children left for pastures new. No doubt his picturesque cottage will now be snapped up by a rich Londoner looking for a holiday home in the country. For us though, the cottage will always be haunted by memories of The Miracle Man, his passing leaves the world a slightly emptier place.

Remixing George Bush

Many of George W Bush's speeches have been remixed and distorted. The results are often hilarious.

A very ironic version of John Lennon's imagine, as sung by George Bush can be found here. His 2006 State Of The Union address can be found here.

North Rona

North Rona, the most northerly isle in the Outer Hebrides is the remotest island in the British Isles to have ever been permanently inhabited. Due to the island's remote location and small area, it is omitted from many maps of the United Kingdom.

For many centuries a small isolated community clung on to life on a speck of land measuring little more than a mile across. In 1680 a boat was shipwrecked off the island, when the survivors struggled ashore, they were suprised that no one came to their aid. As they walked across the island to the only village, which comprised of a few thatched huts and a chapel, they were alarmed to see no smoke. Their calls for assistance were unanswered. One of the shipwrecked sailors, named MacLeod, later recounted the horror of arriving in the village only to find corpses.

There had been a calamity - "...A plague of rats had come ashore, but none knows how, and devoured the people's crop. No supply boat had reached the island that year. So those deceased persons ... died of want."

1000 years of civilization thus came to an end over one summer, not a single islander survived. It is likely that the rats, as well as eating the crops, harboured disease that the islanders had no immunity to. One can imagine the horrors of the summer of 1680 on North Rona.
The author of these words is minded of the previously recounted tale of Moho Tani. He dreams of living in a remote and inhospitable location like Rona, but is not sure about the idea of been so far away from help, should it be urgently required. An interesting paradox to mull over.

An Interesting Fact Or Two

The yolk in an unfertilised ostrich egg is the largest single cell found in nature.

In the UK alone, domestic cats kill more than 57 million mammals a year, 27 million birds and 5 million reptiles and amphibians.

The Life And Death Of Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) was a prolific writer in the early 1900's who focused on the "woman question." She believed men and women should share the responsibility of housework.

She influenced thousands of women through witty, provocative novels, studies, stories, poems and lectures. Her best known story, The Yellow Wallpaper, is about a woman who suffers a mental breakdown after the birth of her child.

When was in her early seventies, she was diagnosed with inoperable breast cancer. Before she was completely overwhelmed by the disease, she committed suicide by inhaling chloroform.

She left the following note:

"When all usefulness is over, when one is assured of an unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one."

The author of these words signs of for the evening, he feels that he would probably make the same choice if faced with such a dilemma. But whilst many people say they would end their own suffering, few actually manage to commit the deed.

The Butcher's Boy

The lyrics to the folk song "The Butcher's Boy", as sung by the late Kirsty McColl, are unbearably poignant.

In More Street where I did dwell
A butcher boy I loved right well
He courted me my life away
And now with me he will not stay

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain
I wish I was a maid again
But a maid again I'll never be
Till cherries grow on an apple tree

I wish my baby it was born
And smiling on its daddy's knee
And me poor girl to be dead and gone
With the long green grass growing over me

He went upstairs and the door he broke
He found her hanging from a rope
He took his knife and he cut her down
And in her pocket these words he found

"Oh make my grave large, wide and deep
Put a marble stone at my head and feet
And in the middle a turtle dove
So the world may know I died of love"