Monday, July 31, 2006

In the news...

From the Telegraph:
A man suffered bruising after a 110lb Saint Bernard was thrown from a first-floor window and landed on him as he walked down a street in Sosnowiec, southern Poland.
The year-old dog, Oskar, had been shoved out by its drunken owner and is now in an animal shelter.
"The dog escaped with just a few scratches and the man was more shocked than hurt," said Grzegorz Wierzbicki, a police spokesman.
The headline in the paper is Saint Bernard lands on man which seems to promise one of those extraordinary 'miraculous translation of relics' stories.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A curious pretender...

I suspect this story in the Telegraph will be of interest to some of my readers:
For a pretender to the throne it was an inauspicious place to raise his standard - 75 years ago on a rainy night in the Bull Ring, Birmingham.
But Anthony Hall managed to attract a crowd of more than 100 with his banner which read: "A New King, a New Country".
Hall, 33, was a former Shropshire police inspector who had served as an ambulance driver at the front in the First World War and been victim of a poison gas attack at Ypres.
He maintained that he was descended in a direct male line from Henry VIII, apparently through a secret son born to Anne Boleyn before she became the second of his six wives.
He regarded James I as an imposter and he was scornful of the claims to the throne of George V and his German ancestors.
As he attempted to rally support in Birmingham and West Bromwich he told his audiences, who numbered as many as 600, that he would have no hesitation "in shooting the King like a dog".
He added that the king was "of pure German descent and must have a skin as thick as a rhinoceros. He should have been kicked out in 1914 when the Kaiser decided to have a bid for the Crown of England.
"If the renowned King Henry VIII was here today and knew that £500,000 was given to German dukes, he would have King George working in his kitchen and would spit in his face."
King Anthony proposed to pay off the national debt while simultaneously building millions of homes for the working classes, providing free hospitals and dental treatment and electrifying the railways.
The houses would be of Tudor robustness and a stateliness fitting to the dignity of the first nation of the world. A serious effort would be made to popularise portrait painting.
A ministry of pleasure would revive public pageants and encourage the manly sports of wrestling and boxing.
It would be an offence to sell beer that was not made with pure malt and hops.
He told his audiences that he had been the first policeman in Shropshire to obtain a conviction on a fingerprint; he hoped to be the first policeman to become King; also to become the first policeman to cut off the King's head.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mafia Story in the Telegraph

From today's Daily Telegraph:
The Mafia made £61 million a day last year in Italy through protection rackets, bribes and illegal money lending, according to a new report.
The SOS Impresa report, which is compiled from government figures, showed that Italy's four major criminal syndicates even managed to collect £25 million a day from major companies listed on the Milan stock exchange.
Revenues for the Mafia, which is made up of the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, the Camorra in Campania and the Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia, were up 25 per cent in 2005 to £24 billion compared with 2004.
The new turnover - which excludes income from drugs and gun-running - puts the Mafia on a par with Fiat and Enel, two of the country's largest companies.
The criminal empire earns five times as much as Telecom Italia, the state telephone monopoly.
The majority of the extortion occurs in Italy's south and in Sicily 80 per cent of businesses pay protection money. In Palermo, the island's capital, a city-centre store can expect to pay up to £700 a month and supermarkets around £3,500 a month, according to the report.

Also, a fascinating obituary:
The Reverend His Honour Major Christopher Lea, who has died aged 88, fulfilled every Victorian father's traditional hope that his younger sons would join the Army, the Law or the Church by entering all three professions.
Lea made his mark as a soldier by earning an MC in the first commando raid of the Second World War, which successfully blew up an Italian bridge. After being captured he read Law in prison camp, which led to his being called to the Bar by Inner Temple in 1948. He practised as a barrister before being becoming a metropolitan magistrate and later a circuit judge. Then, on retiring from the bench, he was ordained priest, and became a much-loved assistant curate at Stratfield Mortimer, Berkshire, for the remaining years of his life.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Still on hiatus, but...

... I had to lower the tone and share a little learning.
Louis Bourdaloue SJ was one of the most noted French preachers of the 17th Century. He was summoned to Versailles on numerous occasions and his sermons were so popular that one had to arrive hours early to be assured of a seat. However, as I discovered in a museum today, his reputation as a preacher is not the reason that his name is still remembered. Because of the inevitable hours of waiting before hearing him the ladies of the court were, it would seem, frequently 'caught short' and therefore had to make appropriate arrangements. They would conceal about their persons a little portable urinal, an example of which I saw in a museum today, then and now known as a 'Bourdaloue'.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Folks, I am still alive, but am on 'blog-hiatus for the time being. I'll be back when I'm back.