The Edmondson Blog


In July 1900, Kaiser Wilhelm II delivered a speech to troops leaving to suppress the Boxer Rebellion, an effort by Chinese forces to stave off foreign influence and the dismemberment of their country by the Great Powers.

Addressing his forces, the impulsive Kaiser stated:
“When you come upon the enemy, smite him. Pardon will not be given. Prisoners will not be taken. Whoever falls into your hands is forfeit. Once, a thousand years ago, the Huns under their King Attila made a name for themselves, one still potent in legend and tradition.

“May you in this way make the name German remembered in China for a thousand years, so that no Chinaman will ever again dare to even squint at a German!”
This speech, invoking the memory of the 5th-century Huns, coupled with the Pickelhaube, or spiked helmet, worn by German forces until 1916 – reminiscent of ancient Hun helmets – was seized upon by enemy propagandists during the Great War. The Germans quickly became associated with the barbaric Hun.

Abandon Ship!

Oceanos was a French-built and Greek-owned cruise ship which sank off South Africa's eastern coast on 4 August 1991. On its last cruise the Oceanos was in a state of neglect, with loose hull plates, return valves stripped for repair parts after a recent trip, and a 4” hole in the "watertight" bulkhead between the generators and sewage tank.

On 3 August 1991, the Oceanos set out from East London, South Africa, heading for Durban, into 40-knot winds and 30 ft swells.

That evening, a muffled explosion was heard and the Oceanos lost her power. The ship's engineer reported to the captain that water was entering the hull and flooding the generator room. The generators failed, stopping the auxiliary electrically powered equipment which ran the engines, so the engines came to a stand and the ship was left floating adrift.

The water steadily rose, flowing through the 4” hole in the bulkhead and into the waste disposal tank. Without valves to close on the holding tank, the water coursed through the main drainage pipes and rose like a tide within the ship, spilling out of every shower, toilet, and waste disposal unit connected to the system.

Realising the fate of the ship, the crew fled in panic, neglecting to close the lower deck portholes, which is standard policy during emergency procedures. No alarm was raised. Passengers remained ignorant of the events taking place until they themselves witnessed the first signs of flooding in the lower decks. At this stage, eyewitness accounts reveal that many of the crew, including the captain, were already packed and ready to depart, seemingly unconcerned with the safety of the passengers.

Nearby vessels responded to the ship's SOS and were the first to provide assistance. The South African Navy along with the South African Air Force launched a massive seven-hour mission in which 16 helicopters were used to rescue the remainder of the passengers and crew.

All 571 people onboard were saved.

The following day, the Oceanos rolled over onto her side and her stern rose upright and sank. The bow struck the sand 300 ft below the surface, whilst more than 200 ft of her stern remained aloft a few minutes before also slipping below.

Captain Yiannis Avranas was accused by the passengers of leaving hundreds behind with no one other than the ship's onboard entertainers to help them evacuate. Avranas claimed that he left the ship first in order to arrange for a rescue effort, and then supervised the rescue effort from a helicopter.

The year after the sinking, Avranas and several members of his senior crew were found guilty of negligence by the Greek Maritime Board.

Can I Borrow The Car, Please, Daddy?

A new Ferrari for Dad - $1,000,000 and a two year wait. Then darling daughter comes a-wheedling, "Daddy, oh Daddy, dear, can I borrow the car, ple-e-e-e-ese? I'll be ever so careful, I promise!"

And so off she sets and whoops! Darling daughter hits an electricity pole doing a modest 200mph. The car only had nine miles on the clock, including the mile or so it took to stop after the impact.

The lucky driver only had some bruising (from the seat belt) and two small cuts.

The Hard Sell

Brain Drain

Graham Todd had to be rescued by firemen when he became stuck in a drain while trying to recover a dropped set of keys. He had sripped down to his jeans, removed the drain cover and squeezed himself into the drain when a girlfriend of a friend accidentally dropped her keys down the drain.

He became stuck.

Friend and neighbours tried to help him out, but to no avail. The fire brigade were called who were able to hoist him out.

Anne-Marie Jones, whose keys he was searching for, said, "It was hilarious, but he is mad! When he came out all the kids in the street said that he stank but I didn't get close enough to find out."

A fire brigade spokesperson said, that while the situation was quite critical, "We would urge people to think about the consequences of placing themselves in dangerous positions to retieve items."

Well Known Lines From Films

I’ll be back.

E.T. phone home.

It's alive! It's alive!

I want to be alone.

Bond. James Bond.

Shaken, not stirred.

Hasta la vista, baby.

H-e-e-e-r-e’s Johnny!

Go ahead, make my day.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

I’ll have what she’s having.

May the Force be with you.

Houston, we have a problem.

Made it, Ma! Top of the world!

After all, tomorrow is another day!

Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.

Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?

I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.

Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!

Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?

Surely you can’t be serious! – I am serious … and don't call me Shirley.

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

You've got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?

Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

Far Away And Long Ago

When a person endeavours to recall his early life in its entirety he finds it is not possible: he is like one who ascends a hill to survey the prospect before him on a day of heavy cloud and shadow, who sees at a distance, now here, now there, some feature in the landscape – a hill or wood or tower or spire – touched and made conspicuous by a transitory sunbeam while all else remains in obscurity. The scenes, people, events we are able by an effort to call up do not present themselves in order; there is no order, no sequence or regular progression – nothing, in fact, but isolated spots or patches, brightly illumined and vividly seen, in the midst of a wide shrouded mental landscape.

It is easy to fall into the delusion that the few things thus distinctly remembered and visualized are precisely those which were most important in our life, and on that account were saved by memory while all the rest has been permanently blotted out. That is indeed how our memory serves and fools us; for at some period of a man’s life – at all events of some lives – in some rare state of the mind, it is all at once revealed to him as by a miracle that nothing is ever blotted out.

It was through falling into some such state as that, during which I had a wonderfully clear and continuous vision of the past, that I was tempted – forced I may say – to write this account of my early years.

From Far Away and Long Ago by William Henry Hudson.

Some More Grave Humour

Vitaï Lampada

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night
Ten to make and the match to win
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play, and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat.
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

The sand of the desert is sodden red -
Red with the wreck of a square that broke
The gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed its banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks -
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the school is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind -
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

Vitaï Lampada, Henry Newbolt's most well known poem, was written in 1897. The Close, is of course, the famous Close at Clifton College.

The phrase Vitaï Lampada is from a quotation from Lucretius' De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of the Universe) and means literally the torch of life (lampada = the torch and vitaï = of life).

The complete quotation goes:
Augescunt aliae gentes, aliae minuuntur,
inque brevi spatio mutantur saecla animantum
et quasi cursores vitai lampada tradunt.
Which translates as:
Some races increase, others are reduced,
And in a short time the generations of living creatures are changed
And like runners they pass on the torch of life.

An Unfortunate Coming About Of Circumstance

Epitaph of John Laird McCaffery

Free your body and soul
Unfold your powerful wings
Climb up the highest mountains
Kick your feet up in the air
You may now live forever
Or return to this earth
Unless you feel good where you are!

Mr. McCaffery (1940 - 1995) is buried in Montreal's Cimetiere Notre-Dame-des-Neiges. The epitaph is an acrostic poem, in that the first letters of each line spell out an additional message. Like most cemeteries, there are rules governing what may be engraved upon a tombstone, so pejorative sentiments like the one expressed here can only be expressed surreptitiously.

The motive of his friends is unknown. However, the Montreal Mirror quoted the gravestone's engraver as saying that the stone was ordered jointly by McCaffery's ex-wife and his mistress... They said the message represented him. It was a thing between the three of them.

How Other People Do These Things

(The condom's a bit short -isn't it?)

How To Deal With Cold Marketing Calls

In Our Local Paper...

Oh! The Irony Of It All!

Sexual Confusion: Researchers from the University of British Columbia Nursing School reported in December that lesbian and bisexual high school girls are seven times more likely to get pregnant than other girls. A leading hypothesis is that those girls may try to disguise their sexual identity by uninhibited heterosexual behavior.

Addressing a conference in Hobart, Australia, in May, professor Julie Quinlivan, dean of the University of Notre Dame, Australia's medical school, said that for disadvantaged teenage girls, becoming pregnant is a good thing, teaching a sense of responsibility that may otherwise not develop. Such teen mothers were more likely to stop smoking, stay in school and find jobs.

The RSPCA In Africa

Friday 13th In Africa

Good Housekeeping Award (Runner-Up)

Remember when you last said to a visitor, "Sorry about the mess, I haven't had a chance to clear up after last night"?

Well, never feel guilty again! (But do wash your hands before using the lavatory.)


Wear The Fox Hat - An Oldy But A Goody

We Don't Want No Edukashun!

The Front Fell Off

Strokes (A Serious Bit For A Change)

There are some very serious illnesses that can be completely treated if the victim or bystanders realise what is happening. One of these are strokes, damage to the blood supply to the brain. If untreated they can kill or inflict severe brain damage, but if treated promptly, there can be a 100% recovery.

The first signs that someone has had a stroke are very sudden:
  • numbness, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body (signs of this may be a drooping arm, leg or lower eyelid, or a dribbling mouth)
  • slurred speech or difficulty finding words or understanding speech
  • sudden blurred vision or loss of sight
  • confusion or unsteadiness
  • a severe headache.
Very often the victim is unaware of the change. If you are with someone exhibiting these signs, use the Face Arm Speech Test (FAST). These three simple checks can help you recognise whether someone has had a stroke:
  • Facial weakness: Is the person unable to smile properly? Has their mouth or an eye drooped? If they poke out their tongue, is it crooked?
  • Arm weakness: Is the person unable to raise both arms?
  • Speech problems: Is the person unable to speak clearly, form a simple coherent sentence or understand what you say?
  • Test for the above three signs.
If you see any of these signs in anyone around you, call 999 immediately.

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by the suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Rupert Brooke


"After all these years, you still feel guilt? You should be ashamed of yourself!"

"I'm sorry Madam, you'll need to be a bit more specific."

"I wonder, sir, if you would indulge me in a rather unusual request?"

"The banquet was most delicious, and yet now,
somehow, once again I feel the pang of hunger."

More Interesting Articles


Turning down Sun Street and Crown Street, and crossing Finsbury Square, Mr. Sikes struck, by way of Chiswell Street, into Barbican: thence into Long Lane, and so into Smithfield from which latter place arose a tumult of discordant sounds that filled Oliver Twist with amazement.

It was market-morning. The ground was covered, nearly ankle-deep, with filth and mire; a thick steam, perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle, and mingling with the fog, which seemed to rest upon the chimney-tops, hung heavily above. All the pens in the centre of the large area, and as many temporary pens as could be crowded into the vacant space, were filled with sheep; tied up to posts by the gutter side were long lines of beasts and oxen, three or four deep. Countrymen, butchers, drovers, hawkers, boys, thieves, idlers, and vagabonds of every low grade, were mingled together in a mass; the whistling of drovers, the barking dogs, the bellowing and plunging of the oxen, the bleating of sheep, the grunting and squeaking of pigs, the cries of hawkers, the shouts, oaths, and quarrelling on all sides; the ringing of bells and roar of voices, that issued from every public-house; the crowding, pushing, driving, beating, whooping and yelling; the hideous and discordant dim that resounded from every corner of the market; and the unwashed, unshaven, squalid, and dirty figures constantly running to and fro, and bursting in and out of the throng; rendered it a stunning and bewildering scene, which quite confounded the senses.

From Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.

Recession? What Recession?

This gold plated Bugatti Veyron was spotted outside the Dorchester last week.

The Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 is a mid-engine grand touring car named after French racing driver Pierre Veyron, who won the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1939 while racing for the original Bugatti company. 200 examples of the Veyron are known to have been built and delivered since production began. There will be a total of 300 built.

The Veyron has many times been proclaimed the greatest car of all time. If you have to ask how much they cost, you clearly cannot afford one, but for the particularly poor among us, they cost €1,100,000 before any taxes. They consume more fuel than any other production car, doing less than 7 mpg in town driving. At full throttle, they do less than 2½ mpg - which would empty its 22 gallon fuel tank in just 12 minutes.

Amazing Grace

The lyrics to Amazing Grace were written by John Newton, born in 1725 in Wapping, London. After a brief time in the Royal Navy, Newton began a career in slave trading.

The turning point in Newton's spiritual life was a violent storm that occurred one night while at sea. Moments after he left the deck, the crewman who had taken his place was swept overboard. Although he manned the vessel for the remainder of the tempest, he later commented that, throughout the tumult, he realized his helplessness and concluded that only the grace of God could save him. Prodded by what he had read in Thomas à Kempis' Imitation of Christ, Newton took the first step toward accepting faith.

This incident changed Newton significantly. On his slave voyages, he encouraged the sailors under his charge to pray. He also began to ensure that every member of his crew treated their human cargo with gentleness and concern. Nevertheless, it would be another 40 years until Newton openly challenged the trafficking of slaves.

The association with Highland bagpipes is relatively modern; for over a century, the tune was nearly forgotten in the British Isles until the folk revival of the 1960s began carrying traditional musicians back and forth between the British Isles and the United States where Amazing Grace had remained a very popular hymn.

Amazing grace (how sweet the sound)
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see.

It was grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already overcome
It was grace that led me safe thus far
And grace will bring me home.

When we've been there a thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we first begun.

On At Our Local Cinema

Ways Of The World

One day a florist goes to a barber for a haircut. After the cut he asked about his bill and the barber replies, "I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week." The florist was pleased and left the shop.

When the barber goes to open his shop the next morning there is a "thank you" card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a baker comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replies, "I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week.' The baker is happy and leaves the shop.

The next morning when the barber goes to open up there is a "thank you" card and a dozen doughnuts waiting for him at his door.

Later that day, a university lecturer comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his bill, the barber again replies, "I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week." The professor is very happy and leaves the shop.

The next morning when the barber opens his shop, there is a "thank you" card and a dozen different books, such as How to Improve Your Business and Becoming More Successful.

Then, a Member of Parliament comes in for a haircut, and when he goes to pay his bill the barber again replies, "I cannot accept money from you. I'm doing community service this week." The Member of Parliament is very happy and leaves the shop.

The next morning when the barber goes to open up, there are a dozen Members of Parliament lined up waiting for a free haircut.

Oh! The Injustice Of It All!

More Interesting Places For Your Granny To Visit

When two of the three roads to your own village pass through Pratts Bottom and Badger's Mount, you get a bit blasé about place names. Anyway, here are some more interesting places to take your granny:
Shitlingthorpe, Yorkshire.
Bastard, Norway.
Arsoli, Italy.
Muff, Northern Ireland.
Wankie, Zimbabwe.
Nobber, County Donegal.
Lickey End, West Midlands.
Fukum, Yemen.
Lord Berkeley's Knob, Sutherland.
Turdo, Romania.
Dongo, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Seymen, Turkey.
Brown Willy, Cornwall.
Wanks River, Nicaragua.
Wankendorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.
Fuku, Shensi, China.
Beaver Head, Idaho.
Fukui, Honshu, Japan.
Shag Island, Indian Ocean.
Fukue, Japan.
Middle Intercourse Island, Australia.
Chinaman's Knob, Australia.
Wet Beaver Creek, Australia.
Tittybong, Australia.
(What is it about Australia?)
Pis Pis River, Nicaragua.
Dikshit, India.
Wankener, India.
Sexmoan, Philippines.

In The News This Week

Tam O'Shanter And Nannie The Witch

As we all know, Cutty Sark is the clipper ship displayed at Greenwich.

The word clipper comes from the fact that these sleek, fast ships “clipped” time off the journey from far away lands back to English ports.

The name Cutty Sark was derived from Robbie Burns’s epic poem Tam O’ Shanter. The poem tells that Tam, riding his mare Meg, was on his way home after a heavy drinking session and came upon a gathering of warlocks and witches in the old Alloway Kirk (church). There were open coffins and even the devil himself in attendance.

As the company danced and threw off their clothing, Tam’s attention was taken by one of the witches, Nannie, who was wearing a cutty sark – a shift – that was far too small for her and left very little to Tam’s imagination.

In his enthusiasm Tam, shouted out, “Weel done, Cutty Sark!” Instantly, the music stopped and the warlocks and witches started to pursue Tam. Urging Meg to gallop her fastest, he flew for his life, pursued by the devilish horde, in the vanguard of which was Nannie.

Tam’s only hope was to cross the bridge over the nearby River Doon (the origin for the name Brigadoon), for witches cannot cross running water. Tam and Meg had almost reached safety, when Nannie threw herself at Meg, catching her tail. The mare leapt over the bridge to safety, but left her tail in Nannie’s hand.

To this day, if you go to Greenwich you will see that the figurehead of Cutty Sark is of Nannie the Witch, still clutching Meg’s tail, indicating that this ship was even faster than Tam’s horse, Meg.

It is interesting that Cutty Sark, built in 1869, the middle of the age of Victorian prudery, should have such a racy tale to her name.

© 2007 The Edmondson Blog