The Edmondson Blog

Steamboat Willie

Walt Disney's first successful cartoon character was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but he did not own the rights to the name and he lost the contract in 1927. He realised he needed a character of his own and came up with Mickey Mouse, based upon a mouse he had adopted as a pet while working in a Kansas City studio. The first, silent, cartoons were not successful, but with the first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie, Mickey Mouse became famous.



Those of us who aspire to a modern non-discriminatory English language can only applaud the efforts of Chichester council to replace the pejorative and offensive man in their official documentation.

However, merely substituting human for man is clearly unsatisfactory as it still contains the overtly sexist suffix -man. The word person is often used as an alternative. However, this contains the equally male-biased element -son.

The only satisfactory word for our species as a whole would therefore be huperoffspringkind.

Yours etc.
John Philips

Tall Children

We are surrounded by evidence that we are taller and bigger than our ancestors – old buildings have low ceilings and low doors; over the years children’s clothe sizes have crept up and the narrower shoe sizes are no longer available.

During the 20th century, as society became more aware of good nutrition, children became taller and it was considered normal for children to be taller than their parents.

Interestingly, the children of the original taller children are even taller still, despite both generations sharing the same sort of nutritious diet. Indeed, in many cases, very modern children have a worse diet than their well-nourished parents but are still taller. There seems to be two reasons for this.

The first is that modern children sleep in the warm. Many older folk, including those who had the benefit of the better diet, will recall waking up on winter mornings with Jack Frost – ice – on the inside of their bedroom window.

Children grow most while they sleep at night. In the fourteen or fifteen years – say 5500 days – from being born until a child stops growing, they will grow in height by about 55 inches, so about a hundredth of an inch each night. If the bedroom is cold, the body has to expend energy in keeping warm before it can grow, so, on a particularly cold night growth is restricted or may even not take place. This potential is then lost for ever. One or two cold nights is not a problem, but a couple of hundred over childhood can reduce height by a couple of inches.

Secondly, society is more well. We are healthier and understand the nature of hygiene. In the same way as needing a warm place to sleep, the body needs to be well to grow.

A couple of generations ago few people washed their hands after a visit to the lavatory. Food was not as fresh then as it is now – there were no refrigerators and society was not rich enough for many people to be able to throw away old food. This did not normally bring serious illness but people would often casually complain of having an upset tummy and think nothing more of it, but on nights that a child went to bed slightly ill, they might not grow that night. Again, one or two nights over a lifetime is not a problem, but over hundreds can reduce height by a couple of inches.

Paradoxically, the circumstances leading to taller children are making us less well. Our body’s natural immune systems require to be activated and stressed by being confronted with illnesses to combat. This works best as a child than later as an adult. The more well and cleaner we become as children the less stress our immune system receives and so the less able it is to combat illnesses when we are older. This has started to appear as an increasing prevalence of allergies such as asthma.

Historically, noble and wealthy families tended to be taller as their children tended to sleep in warmer bedrooms, lived in more hygienic conditions and ate fresher food.

The Ruined Maid

The Ruined Maid by Thomas Hardy

“O ’Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!
Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?
And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?”
“O didn’t you know I’d been ruined?” said she.

“You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,
Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;
And now you’ve gay bracelets and bright feathers three!”
“Yes: that's how we dress when we’re ruined,” said she.

“At home in the barton you said ‘thee’ and ‘thou,’
And ‘thik oon,’ and ‘theas oon,’ and ‘t’other;’ but now
Your talking quite fits ’ee for high compa-ny!”
“Some polish is gained with one’s ruin,” said she.

“Your hands were like paws then,
your face blue and bleak
But now I’m bewitched by your delicate cheek,
And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!”
“We never do work when we’re ruined,” said she.

“You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,
And you’d sigh, and you’d sock; but at present you seem
To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!”
“True. One’s pretty lively when ruined,” said she.

“I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,
And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!”
“My dear a raw country girl, such as you be,
Cannot quite expect that. You ain’t ruined,” said she.

How other people do these things

Things My Mum Told Me

I said now!

Just because.

Sit up straight.

Chew your food.

This is not a hotel.

Red hat, no drawers.

Wash behind your ears.

I’ll tell you when you’re 21.

Don’t do as I do, do as I say.

All the goodness is in the skin.

I’m not everybody else’s mum.

Don’t talk with your mouth full.

I’m not doing this for my health.

I’m doing this for your own good.

I’m not asking you – I’m telling you.

Don’t sit on radiators, you’ll get piles.

The best sleep is that before midnight.

Don’t stand there dripping on the lino.

The crust is the best part of the bread.

Nothing decent happens after midnight.

Don’t eat raw pastry or you’ll get worms.

Don’t sit too close to the TV, you’ll go blind.

You can choose your friends but not your relatives.

Don’t stand there dripping on the carpet/lino/boards.

Always wear clean underwear in case you get run over.

If someone told you to put your head in the oven, would you?

'Arry Went To 'Ampstead

Everybody in the Edmo family know about 'Arry:

'Arry went to 'Ampstead,
'Arry lost 'is 'at.
'Arry's mother said to 'Arry
"'Arry, where's your 'at?
If it ain't 'anging on the 'anger in the 'all
I'll 'it you on the 'ead with an 'ard 'eavy 'ammer
And your 'owls will be 'orrible to 'ear."

We learnt it from Aunty Win (age 92 and still going strong) who learnt it from her future sister-in-law in the 1930s. She (the sister-in-law) was a Cockney, coming from the East End of London and would recite the doggerel with all the dropped letters in her normal voice, her joke being that she would pretend she couldn’t see anything funny in the way she spoke it.

The doggerel appears on the Pop Club web site and, amazingly, a few months ago, a Canadian Professor who was undertaking some research contacted us to learn about the history. His family version goes:

'Arry came from 'Ickman's Arbour*;
'Arry 'ad an 'at.
'Arry said to 'Arry's mother,
"Mudder! Where's me 'at?"
'Arry's mother said to 'Arry,
"Arry eef you look,
Yer 'at's out in de 'all,
'Angin' on an 'ook!"

*Hickmans Harbour is a tiny village on Random Island, Newfoundland, Canada.

Ealdgyth Swan-Neck

Ealdgyth Swan-Neck (also known as Edith Swan-Neck or Edith the Fair) lived with King Harold II of England for 20 years as his common-law wife. The church did not recognise this relationship, considering Harold to be officially married to Edith of Wessex, the widow of the Welsh ruler Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, who Harold had defeated in battle.

When Harold was killed at the Battle of Hastings, the Normans horrifically mutilated the body and would not hand it over for burial, even though his mother offered to pay Harold’s weight in gold for the body.

Ealdgyth walked through the carnage of the battlefield and identified Harold’s body by markings on his chest “known only to her.” It was because of this identification that Harold was given a Christian burial by the monks at Waltham. Although official history tells that the markings were tattoos spelling Ealdgyth and England, it has been speculated that the markings “known only to her” were actually love-bites from a passionate night of love-making on the eve of the battle.

One of Harold and Ealdgyth’s daughters, Gytha Haraldsdatter (i.e. Harold’s daughter) married the Grand Duke Of Kiev, Vladimir Monomakh. Phillippa of Hainault, the consort of Edward III, was a direct descendant of Vladimir and Gytha, and thus ironically Harold’s blood line re-entered the English royal line. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the 29th great-granddaughter of King Harold II and Ealdgyth Swan-Neck.

Choose Your Dance

I know everybody who reads this blog are super-cool and know all the right moves, but have you ever wondered where all those other people who clutter up the dance floor learnt their embarrassing and out of sync shuffles? Here's Judson Laipply giving a demo of every single step he knows.

English like wot it's spoke in Essex

Assa Communs: the building in which the lower chamber of Britain’s Parliament meets.
Arst: past tense of ask. “Jordan, I must’ve arst ya free fazzund times to clear up yer room.”
Banssa: a person employed to deny access or eject troublemakers at a club. “Dave’s got izself a job as a banssa.”
Choona: an edible fish purchased in a tin and usually prepared with mayonnaise.
Dan twerf: sensible, practical.
Danstez: on the ground floor, where the biggest telly is.
Evvy: a personal assistant to a local entrepreneur. “My name’s Kev and this is my evvy, Mad Frank. We’ve come for our dosh.”
Fingy: person or object whose name doesn’t immediately come to mind. “I ’ad it off wiv fingy last night.”
I-Beefa: a Spanish holiday island.
Ips: an area of a woman’s body to which chocolate travels. “That Mars Bar wiw go straight to me ips.”
Jafta: is it really necessary? “Oi mate, jafta keep doing that?”
Ma Blarch: a geographical feature and landmark near Hyde Park, London.
Oppit: please oblige me by continuing your present activity elsewhere. “Oi you, oppit.”
Pansan annsis: imperial weight system.
Reeband: period of recovery after rejection by a lover. “I couldn’t ’elp it. I was on the reeband from Craig.”
Saff: a direction of the compass, opposite norf.
Toobagga: extraordinarily unattractive. “Sharon’s mate was a right toobagga.” “Wozzat?” “She was sucha minger that not only did I ’ave to put a bag over ’er ’ed before givin ’er one, I put a bag over me own ’ed in case erz fell off.”
Zaggerate: to suggest something is better or bigger than is true. “Jordan, I must’ve arst ya free fazzund times to clear up yer room.” “Don't zaggerate, mum.”

Sometimes things are not quite what they seem...


Engrish as she is spoke in far-away places

Nothing else to say! More fun at

If God Had Meant Us To Fly...

Never take up a pastime where you can only ever have one accident!

Air Craft Accidents - More bloopers are a click away

The Turkish Ambassador

My Dear Reggie

In these dark days man tends to look for little shafts of light that spill from Heaven. My days are probably darker than yours and I need, my God I do, all the light I can get. But I am a decent fellow and I do not want to be mean and selfish about what little brightness is shed upon me from time to time. So I propose to share with you a tiny flash that has illuminated my sombre life and tell you that God has given me a new Turkish colleague whose card tells me that he is called Mustapha Kunt.

We all feel like that, Reggie, now and then, especially when spring is upon us, but few of us would care to put it on our cards. It takes a Turk to do that.

Sir Archibald Clerk-Kerr
H. M. Ambassador

Text of letter sent by the British Ambassador in Moscow to the Foreign Secretary in London, 6th April 1943.

Extreme Fare Dodging

Dear, Dear, Dear - the lengths some people will go so as not to pay their fare! (This video has had nearly 4,000,000 viewings.)

Extreme Trainsurfer - Click here for more home videos

Market Day In Bangkok

In the slums surrounding the main railway tracks running into the centre of Bangkok, there is very little spare open space and the local market has overflowed onto the railway tracks. The last 15 or so seconds of this video are the most amazing as the stallholders reset their stalls after the train has passed.

John Hewit and Sarah Drew

On the 31st July, 1718, John Hewit and Sarah Drew were in a field near Stanton Harcourt in Oxfordshire. They were rustic lovers; he about twenty-five years of age, and she a comely maiden a little younger. They were betrothed, and had, on that very morning, obtained the consent of the parents on both sides to their marriage, which was to take place on the following week. The poet, Alexander Pope, was a guest at Stanton Harcourt at the time; and he recorded the tragic incident of the day in the following words:

“Between two and three o’clock in the afternoon, the clouds grew black, and such a storm of thunder and lightning ensued that all the labourers made the best of their way to what shelter the trees and hedges afforded. Sarah was frightened, and fell down in a swoon on a heap of barley; John, who never separated from her, having raked together two or three heaps the better to secure her from the storm. Immediately after was heard so loud a crash as if the heavens had split asunder. Every one was now solicitous for his neighbour, and they called to one another throughout the field. No answer being returned to those who called to the lovers, they stepped to the place where they lay. They perceived the barley all in a smoke, and then spied the faithful pair; John with one arm about Sarah’s neck, and the other held over her, as if to screen her from the lightning. They were struck dead, and stiffened in this tender posture. Sarah’s left eye was injured, and there appeared a black spot on her breast. Her lover was blackened all over; not the least sign of life was found in either. Attended by their melancholy companions, they were conveyed to the town, and next day were interred in Stanton Harcourt churchyard.”

Pope wrote the following epitaph which was engraved on a stone in the parish church of Stanton Harcourt:
Near this place lie the bodies
An industrious young man
And virtuous young maiden of this parish;
Who, being at harvest work (with several others),
Were in one instant killed by lightning,
The last day of July, 1718.
Think not by rigorous judgment seized
A pair so faithful could expire;
Victims so pure, Heaven saw well pleased.
And snatched them in eternal fire.
Live well, and fear no sudden fate;
When God calls victims to the grave,
Alike ’tis justice soon or late,
Mercy alike to kill or save.
Virtue unmoved can hear the call,
And face the flash that melts the ball.
Another guest at Stanton Harcourt was Lady Mary Wortley Montagu who recorded in her diary that Pope had joked with her that he had also composed a somewhat less respectful epitaph:
Here lye two poor Lovers
Who had the mishap,
Tho very chaste people
Died of the Clap.

View From Above

Have a look at:

Rational Choice

The classical definition of drug addiction is a recurring psychiatric or medical compulsion to use particular drugs despite harmful consequences to the individual’s health, mental state or social life.

An alternative view denies that addiction is a psychiatric or medical problem at all, but one of rational choice that any rational adult would make if presented with the available alternatives. Normally, these choices are of stopping and feeling indescribably ill for several days, or repeating a drug induced wondrous euphoria and putting off the decision to stop for a few hours. Given these two alternatives the rational decision is to choose the euphoria.

People take drugs, not because of the pharmacology of the drug, but because they want to and because it makes sense for them to do so given the choices available. Consequently, the declaration, “I am addicted to drugs” is a functional statement, rather than a diagnosis.

Pulp Muppets

Shitt Family

Dear Mr Edmondson,

Thank you for your letter regarding the Shitt family.

Jack Shitt is the only son of Awe Shitt, the fertilizer magnate, and his wife, O Shitt. together they own Needeep N. Shitt Limited. They had one son Jack.

In turn Jack Shitt married Noe Shitt. The deeply religious couple produced six children: Holie Shitt, Giva Shitt, Fulla Shitt, Bull Shitt, and the twins Deep Shitt and Dip Shitt.

Despite her parents’ objections, Deep Shitt married Dumb Shitt, a high school drop out. After being married 15 years Jack and Noe Shitt divorced.

Noe Shitt later married Ted Sherlock, and because her kids were living with them she wanted to keep her previous name, she became known as Noe Shitt-Sherlock.

Meanwhile Dip Shitt married Loda Shitt and they produced a son with rather nervous disposition named Chicken Shitt.

Two of the other six children, Fulla Shitt and Giva Shitt were inseparable throughout childhood and subsequently married the Happens brothers in a dual ceremony. The wedding announcement in the local newspaper announced the Shitt-Happens nuptials. The Shitt-Happens children were Dawg, Byrd and Horse.

Bull Shitt left home to tour the world and recently returned from Italy with his new Italian bride Pisa Shitt.

Now when someone says, “You don’t know Jack Shitt,” you can correct them.

Yours sincerely,

Crock O. Shitt


Edmondson’s Rules of Ski-ing.

Rule 1: Never ski on snow you cannot see. (If you get right up to the edge and lean over as far as you dare AND still can’t see the snow, don’t do it. That way lies madness.)

Rule 2: Never eat yellow snow.

Rule 3: If, after years of practice, you think you’ve finally cracked it, you haven’t.


Proverbs, 16:18: Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Weight Loss

Edmondson’s Rules For Dieting.

Rule 1: Stand amongst fat people.

Rule 2: Food of the same colour has the same calories: for example, pistachio ice cream has the same calories as broccoli*.

*Which is just as well as your Editor subscribes to the sure knowledge that broccoli is the food of the devil and an abomination; and having an acceptably coloured alternative is an indication of how the world is in perfect balance.

Raubwirtschaft, or The Fall Of The Roman Empire

Raubwirtschaft is German for plunder or robber economy, a form of economy where the goal is to plunder the wealth and resources of a country or geographical area.

Raubwirtschaft is often used to describe some late 19th-century colonial and post-colonial practices during the Scramble for Africa. The Congo Free State of Leopold II of Belgium is frequently described as a raubwirtschaft.

Many believe that the economy of the Roman Empire was based on raubwirtschaft. Rome basically plundered the conquered territories and milked the provinces dry; there was little cash flow from Rome to the provinces. The internal economy was based on slavery, and unpaid work had no purchase power, which effectively also prevented the rise of a middle class and capitalism since there was no volatile capital to accumulate. Since there was no production of market goods for export, there was no cash flow into the empire either from outside. The economy could be maintained only as long as the Empire was expanding; once the era of conquests ended on Pax Romana, the empire was doomed.

Father Christmas

Look at you! That's the last time I let you go and see Prodigy!

Rutland Weekend Television

After Monty Python's Flying Circus finished the previous year, Eric Idle joined Neil Innes to produce Rutland Weekend Television, a spoof sketch show about a tiny, amateurish, underfunded and disorganised local rural television station. There were 13 episodes in all in 1975 and 1976. Here is the cast singing about Tunbridge Wells. Seriously sophisticated stuff.

Reader's Letters

SIR - Many years ago the telephone rang on Christmas Day in the porters' lodge at Jesus College, Cambridge.

"Hello, is that Jesus?" asked the undergraduates on the line.

"Yes," said the hapless porter.

They started singing Happy Birthday.

Yours, etc.

Reader's letter to the Daily Telegraph, Saturday 2nd August, 2008.

SIR - I am reminded of an Englishman visiting Australia who was asked at Immigration Control, "Do you have any criminal convictions?"

He replied, "I did not know they were still required."

Yours, etc.

Reader's letter to the Daily Telegraph, Monday 4th August, 2008.

Christopher Burraway

Here Lies The Body Of
Who Departed This Life
18th Day of October 1730
Aged 59 Years
And There Lies
Who By Her Life Was
My Sister
My Mistress
My Mother
And My Wife
Died February 12th 1729
Aged 76 Years
From the churchyard at Martham, Norfolk. Christopher was conceived from an incestuous relationship between Alice and her father. Christopher left home when he was very young and returned many years later. Unknowingly, he took Alice as a mistress and they later married. Shortly after marrying, Alice recognised an unusual birthmark on Christopher’s body and realised who her husband actually was.

© 2007 The Edmondson Blog