The Edmondson Blog

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On A BIG Production Line

Questionable Food

Meanwhile, Down The Local Old Folks' Home...

Fran and Marlo Cowan have been married for 62 years, he is 90 and she 84. Here they are playing an impromptu recital together in the atrium of the Mayo Clinic. The song is Old Grey Bonnet.

An Audience With HMQ

Church Wars


Dear Iceland,

We said, "Send Cash"!!

Proving Romance Isn't Dead, After All

School Busses

School bus in Japan.

School bus in India.
But which country do you get connected to, when you
have a technical problem with your computer?

Dueling Banjos

Dueling Banjos played by Billy Redden on banjo and Ronny Cox on guitar from the 1972 film Deliverance.

Redden was then sixteen. To add authenticity to the film, the filmmakers needed Redden to fit the look of the inbred and mentally retarded banjo boy called for by the original book, although Redden himself is neither. His distinctive look was enhanced using special makeup. Redden could not actually play the banjo. A musician reached around from behind Redden which was disguised using careful camera angles.

In 2003, Tim Burton searched out Redden, who hadn't appeared in a film since Deliverance, and he appeared in the film Big Fish. Burton was intent on getting Redden to play the role of a banjo-playing welcomer in the utopian town of Spectre. Burton eventually found him in Clayton, Georgia, where he is part-owner of the Cookie Jar Café.

Jeanne Calment

Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment lived in an apartment in the small town of Arles in France. In 1965, aged 90, she signed an en viager agreement to sell her apartment to lawyer François Raffray. En Viager agreements, which are common in France, are an arrangement whereby an owner transfers ownership of their home but are allowed to continue to live there until they die. The purchaser does not pay a lump sum as with a conventional sale, but, instead, agrees to make a monthly payment to the seller until they die, at which point the purchaser takes possession of the home for no additional payment. At the time of the agreement, the value of Madame Calment’s apartment was equal to ten years of payments.

Unfortunately for Raffray, who was age 47 at the time of the agreement, Madame Calment went on to become the oldest living person ever, eventually dying in 1997 at the age of 122 years 164 days. Raffray never gained possession of the apartment. He died of cancer in December 1995, at the age of 77, leaving his widow to continue the payments for twenty more months.

In 1990, the centenary of the death of Vincent van Gogh, who had lived in Arles, Madame Calment made the news as the last person to have actually met him. In 1992 she gave up smoking but then restarted a year later, simply because, “Once you've lived as long as me, then they can’t tell you not to smoke.”

The Menin Gate

The Menin Gate Memorial is dedicated to the 54,896 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the fierce battles around the Ypres Salient area who have no known grave. All of their names are incised into vast panels set into the wall of the Memorial.

Following the dedication of the Memorial in 1927, the citizens of Ypres wanted to express their gratitude towards those who had given their lives for Belgium’s freedom. As such, every evening at 8pm buglers from the local fire brigade close the road which passes under the Memorial and play the Last Post. Except for the occupation by the Germans in World War II (when the daily ceremony was conducted at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey) this ceremony has been carried on uninterrupted since.

On the very evening that Polish forces liberated Ypres in the Second World War, the ceremony was resumed at the Menin Gate despite the fact that heavy fighting was still taking place in other parts of the town. The ceremony continues every night to this day.

Joseph (Of Coat Of Many Colours Fame)

We all know the biblical story: Joseph was Jacob’s favourite son. One day Joseph’s brothers went out early to tend their flocks and Joseph later followed on but could not find them. A man stood in a field pointed out to Joseph the way his brothers had gone. When Joseph caught up with his brothers they sold him into slavery and then went home and told Jacob that Joseph was dead.

Joseph was taken to Egypt where eventually he interpreted the pharaoh’s dream of seven fat cows and seven thin cows as meaning there were to be seven years of good harvests followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh gave Joseph the job of collecting sufficient grain in the good years to see everybody through the bad years. When the famine came, Jacob and his family were able to buy Egyptian grain and were saved from starvation.

God had told Jacob to change his name to Israel. The families of Jacob/Israel’s twelve sons made up the twelve tribes of Israel and are the foundation of Judaism and therefore Christianity.

All pretty serious stuff and one of the key elements of the world we live in. And all because of an unknown man stood in a field. We don’t know who he was, but his directions changed the entire course of history.

So next time someone asks you for directions, tell them your name, so if it’s really important, we’ll all know it was you.

Happy Ending

Royal Mail Recall

As you may know, earlier this year Royal Mail created a stamp with a picture of our esteemed Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. It soon became clear there was a fault with the stamps in that tey would not stick to envelopes.

This enraged the Prime Minister, who demanded a full investigation.

After a month of testing and spending of £1.1million, a special commission presented the following findings:
  1. The stamps were in perfect order.
  2. There was nothing wrong with the adhesive.
  3. People were spitting on the wrong side of the stamp.

Where Do you Go To, My Lovely?

You talk like Marlene Dietrich
And you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire.
Your clothes are all made by Balmain
And there's diamonds and pearls in your hair, yes there are.

You live in a fancy apartment
Off the Boulevard Saint-Michel
Where you keep your Rolling Stones records
And a friend of Sacha Distel, yes you do.

But where do you go to my lovely
When you're alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

I've seen all your qualifications
You got from the Sorbonne
And the painting you stole from Picasso
Your loveliness goes on and on, yes it does.

When you go on your summer vacation
You go to Juan-les-Pins
With your carefully designed topless swimsuit
You get an even suntan on your back and on your legs.

And when the snow falls you're found in Saint Moritz
With the others of the jet-set
And you sip your Napoleon brandy
But you never get your lips wet, no you don't.

But where do you go to my lovely
When you're alone in your bed
Won't you tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do.

Your name, it is heard in high places
You know the Aga Khan
He sent you a racehorse for Christmas
And you keep it just for fun, for a laugh, a-ha-ha-ha.

They say that when you get married
It'll be to a millionaire
But they don't realize where you came from
And I wonder if they really care, or give a damn.

Where do you go to my lovely
When you're alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do.

I remember the back streets of Naples
Two children begging in rags
Both touched with a burning ambition
To shake off their lowly-born tags, so they try.

So look into my face Marie-Claire
And remember just who you are
Then go and forget me forever
But I know you still bear the scar, deep inside, yes you do

I know where you go to my lovely
When you're alone in your bed
I know the thoughts that surround you
'Cause I can look inside your head.

- - - - - - - - -

Peter Sarstedt wrote the song in Copenhagen about a girl he fell madly in love with in Vienna in 1965, but who later died in a hotel fire.

Jack McCall

Above, Jack McCall
On 1st August, 1876, Wild Bill Hickok was playing cards at his favourite table in the corner near the door of Nuttall and Mann’s No. 10 Saloon in Deadwood Gulch, South Dakota. When one of the players dropped out a bystander, Jack McCall, took his place. McCall kept losing and, at the end of the evening, was broke. Hickok gave him back enough money to buy something to eat, but advised him not to play again until he could cover his losses. McCall felt humiliated.

The next day, on 2nd August, Hickok returned to the No. 10 and joined in a game of cards but, because Charlie Rich was sitting in his usual seat, Wild Bill, unusually, sat with his back to the saloon. Jack McCall had already been drinking heavily at the bar and saw Hickok enter the saloon and sit down.
Above, Wild Bill Hickok.
McCall slowly walked around to the corner of the saloon to where Hickok was playing his game. From under his coat, McCall pulled a double-action .45 pistol, shouted “Damn you! Take that!” and shot Wild Bill Hickok in the back of the head, killing him instantly.

Wild Bill was holding two black aces and two black eights, known ever since as the Dead Man’s Hand. The fifth card has been held up for speculation but was probably the queen of diamonds.

McCall ran out of the saloon and attempted to escape on a horse that was tethered nearby, but the saddle had been loosened, and he fell to the ground. McCall ran down the street and hid in a butcher’s shop where he was captured by a large crowd.

The next morning, McCall was tried by a hastily-assembled group of miners in McDaniel’s Theatre. McCall defended himself by stating that he was avenging his brother whom Hickok had murdered. It was later discovered that McCall never had a brother. Despite overwhelming evidence of premeditated murder, McCall was acquitted.

McCall was released but told to leave Deadwood immediately. He headed to Cheyenne and then to Laramie. He boasted in saloons along the way that he had killed Wild Bill. An authority who overheard McCall arrested him on 29th August. He was then taken to Yankton, Dakota Territory for trial. Jack McCall was found guilty on 6th December 1876. He was hanged on 1st March 1877 for his crime and buried in the southwest corner of a Catholic cemetery.

In 1881, when the cemetery was moved, his body was exhumed. It was discovered that he had been buried with the noose still around his neck.

Meanwhile, Down Amongst The Fishes...

In 2000, a Russian tank from the Second World War was discovered in a lake near Johvi in Estonia.

From February to September 1944 there was heavy fighting between the Russians and Germans in this part of northeastern Estonia, with over 100,000 men killed and 300,000 wounded.

During battles in the summer of 1944, this tank was captured from the Soviet army and used by the Germans, this being the reason that there are German markings painted on the exterior. On 19th September, 1944, German troops began an organized retreat. It is believed that the tank was then purposefully driven into the lake to conceal it when its captors left the area.

At that time, a local boy walking by the lake noticed tank tracks leading into the lake but not coming out anywhere. For two months he saw air bubbles emerging from the lake. This gave him reason to believe that there must be an armored vehicle at the lake's bottom. Over 50 years later, he told the story to the leader of the local war history club who organised diving expeditions to the bottom of the lake. At the depth of 7 metres they discovered the tank resting under a 3 metre layer of peat.

They decided to pull the tank out.

After the tank surfaced, it turned out to be a Soviet-built T34/76A tank that had been captured by the German army in the course of a local battle about six weeks before it was sunk in the lake. Altogether, 116 shells were found on board. Remarkably, the tank was in good condition, with no rust, and all systems (except the engine) in working condition but even the engine started after a clean and a little tinkering. This is a very rare machine, especially considering that it fought both on the Russian and the German sides.

The restored tank is now on display at a local war history museum.

Holiday Destination

With the next two villages to where we live called Pratts Bottom and Badgers Mount, we get pretty used to people commenting.

Anyway, here are some other good folk who live just off the side of Interstate 5 in Oregon, USA, just to the south of Portland.

Parable Of Our Times

An old priest lay dying in Guys Hospital in London. He had faithfully served the people of the nation's capital for many years. He motioned for his nurse to come near. "Yes, Father?" asked the nurse.

"I would really like to see Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling before I die," whispered the priest.

"I'll see what I can do, Father," replied the nurse.

The nurse sent the request to the Downing Street and waited for a response. Soon the word arrived; Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling would be delighted to visit the priest.

As they drove to the hospital, Brown commented to Darling, "I don't know why the old boy wants to see us, but it certainly will help our images and might even get me re-elected."

Darling agreed that it was a good thing.

When they arrived at the priest's room, the priest took Brown's hand in his right hand and Darling's hand in his left. There was silence and a look of serenity on the old priest's face. Finally Gordon Brown spoke: "Father, of all the people you could have chosen, why did you choose us to be with you as you near the end?"

The old priest slowly replied, "I have always tried to pattern my life after our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ."

"Amen," said Brown.

"Amen," repeated Darling.

The old priest continued: "Jesus died between two lying thieves; I would like to do the same..."

The Institute for The Development of Innovation-Orientated Teaching Skills (IDIOTS) have issued a report laying out forthcoming far-sighted and progressive intiatives. Here are the highlights:
  • Teachers must discontinue their antiquated practice of penalising pupils who do not give so-called "correct" answers. The concept of "correct" answers is elistist as it discriminates against pupils who do not know them. Instead, pupils ahould be rewarded for demonstrating qualities such as imagination (for example, imagining 6 x 4 = 32) and original thinking (for example, the capital of France is Africa, or that Winston Churchill invented the potato).
  • The custom of grading pupils according to the merit of their work is devisive, as it fosters the outdated belief that it is better to be "clever" and "hard-working" than "stupid" and "lazy". All pupils should be awarded identical grades irrespective of ability.
  • To avoid stigmatising pupils, teachers should refrain from employing negative terminology. Instead of telling a pupil that his answer is "wrong", the teacher should tell him that it is "factually divergent from the norm". Instead of calling a pupil "disobedient" the teacher should call him "behaviourally unorthodox". Instead of writing in the register that the pupil was "late", the teqacher should write that the pupil's attendance was "deferred". And instead of telling a pupil he has "failed", the teacher should tell him that he has "passed".
  • The teaching of history will be abolished, on account of its backwards-looking focus on the past. In its place will be a new up-to-date and relevant subject knows as The Present, the study of which will consist of the continuous monitoring of Twitter feeds.
  • Pupils found to have plagiarised essays from the web will be awarded bonus marks for having demonstrated technological expertise.
  • Finally, teachers should not inhibit pupils' creativity by insisting that they follow arbitrary and obselescent rules; for example, punctuation, spelling, homework deadlines or the law.
Hat tip to Michael Deacon, writing in The Daily Telegraph.

Yet More Old School Reports

Teacher comments on old school reports, as reported in The Daily Telegraph Letters to the Editor:
  • “When the workers of the world unite it would be presumptuous of Dewhurst to include himself in their number.”
  • For Woodwork: “Give him the job and he will finish the tools.”
  • “At least his education has not gone to his head.”
  • “Unlike the poor, Graham is seldom with us.”
  • At the end of my first term at Radley the Warden wrote, “He may be the youngest in the school, but there is no need for him to be the worst behaved.” There is hope for us all, as I became a headmaster.
  • “The improvement in his handwriting has revealed his inability to spell.”
  • “For him all ages are dark.”
  • “He has an overdeveloped unawareness.”
  • “By the time he has mastered French he will be too old to cross the Channel.”
  • “I am sorry to have to tell you he is doing his best.”
  • “A happy soul and quite unconcerned at his own ignorance.”
  • For Religious Studies my report was, “Not very interested.”
  • I have kept none of my school reports. My mother’s maternity records judged me, “Feeble at birth with considerable moulding.”

Camels In The Desert

This is a picture taken directly above these camels in the desert at sunset. If you look closely, the camels are the little white lines in the picture. The black you see are just the shadows!
Hat tip National Geographic Society.

Pride Cometh Before A Fall

Meanwhile, Down At The Village Car Park...

500 Greatest Albums Of All Time

The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time is the cover story of a special issue of Rolling Stone magazine published in November 2003. The list was based on the votes of 273 rock musicians, critics and industry figures, each of whom submitted a weighted list of 50 albums. Various music genres were featured in the list, including pop, hip hop, rock, country, ska, punk, heavy metal, soul, blues, folk, jazz, and combinations thereof. The accounting firm Ernst & Young devised a point system to weigh votes for 1,600 submitted titles.

The top 10 albums are:
  1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles ,June 1967
  2. Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys, May 1966
  3. Revolver, The Beatles, August 1966
  4. Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan, August 1965
  5. Rubber Soul, The Beatles, December 1965
  6. What's Going On, Marvin Gaye, May 1971
  7. Exile on Main Street, The Rolling Stones, May 1972
  8. London Calling, The Clash, December 1979
  9. Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan, May 1966
  10. The White Album, The Beatles, November 1968
The artists with the most albums in the list are:
  • The Beatles (with 4 in the top 10) – 10 of their 12 studio albums along with U.S. exclusive Meet The Beatles!
  • Bob Dylan (with 2 in the top 10) – 10 of his 31 studio albums.
  • The Rolling Stones (with 1 in the top 10) – 10 of their 21 studio albums.
  • Bruce Springsteen – 8 of his 12 studio albums.
  • The Who – 6 of their 10 studio albums; 1 live album.
  • David Bowie – 5 of his 22 studio albums; 1 compilation album.
  • Elton John – 5 of his 27 studio albums; 1 compilation album.
  • Led Zeppelin – 5 of their 9 studio albums.
  • Neil Young - 5 of his 29 studio albums.
  • The Byrds - 4 of their 12 studio albums; 1 compilation album.
  • U2 – 5 of their 10 studio albums.
  • Bob Marley and the Wailers - 4 of their 15 studio albums; 1 compilation album.
Number of albums from each decade:
  • 1950s and earlier – 29 albums (5.8%)
  • 1960s – 126 (25.2%) (with 7 of the top 10)
  • 1970s – 183 (36.6%) (with 3 of the top 10)
  • 1980s – 88 (17.6%)
  • 1990s – 61 (12.2%)
  • 2000s – 13 (2.6%)

Funny Old World

Police have arrested two women after they tried to take the body of a dead relative onto a plane at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

Staff became suspicious when the women tried to check in the man, who was wearing sunglasses, for a flight to Berlin on Saturday.

The man is thought to have died the previous day and was in a wheelchair.

The women, aged 41 and 66, were arrested on suspicion of failing to give notification of a death.

The pair, who are German nationals but live in Oldham, have been released on bail until 1 June, police said.

Officers are investigating reports that the body had been taken to the airport by taxi from Oldham, a spokesman said.


The two-letter word UP has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and is listed in the dictionary as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n] or [v].

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP, and why are parliamentary candidates UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call or look UP our friends, brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and fix UP the old car.

At other times this little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open UP a shop or office in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP !

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look UP the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP . When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it soaks UP the earth. When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP. One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now time is UP!

I'll shut UP.

Even More Old School Reports

Teacher comments on old school reports, as reported in The Daily Telegraph Letters to the Editor:
  • In one of my early prep school reports, my headmaster summarised my performance: "Live wire, low voltage."
  • The comment from my Latin master in 1944 reads: "About as energetic as an absentee miner."
  • "He has given me a new definition of the word stoicism: he grins and I bear it."
  • "Jane is a problem that we have not yet succeeded in solving."
  • A master at my school was convinced a boy was cheating but could not prove it. He got it off his chest by reporting: "Peter is steadily forging his way ahead."
  • When I taught at a school where all reports were on a single sheet, I came across a boy's swimming report which stated: "Lacks confidence when submerged." Above it, the maths teacher had later written: "For maths see swimming report."
  • Perhaps every bride should have access to her partner's school reports. My husband's housemaster wrote that he "should curb his animal instincts."

Why The Date Of Easter Varies

Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar, but is, in fact, linked to the Jewish Passover as the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus occurred at the time of those observances.

Early Christians relied on the Jewish community to determine the date, but by the late 3rd century some Christians began to express dissatisfaction with what they took to be the disorderly state of the Jewish calendar.

Eventually, the method of setting the date of Easter was established by the First Council of Nicaea, a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day İznik in Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in A.D. 325. This Council is historically significant as the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom.

The Council established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon.

The Paschal Full Moon refers to the first ecclesiastical full moon after the northern spring equinox. The name Paschal is derived from the Greek word Pascha which is itself derived from the Hebrew pesach, both words meaning Passover, the Jewish feast.

Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on March 21 regardless of the astronomically correct date, and therefore the Paschal Full Moon is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. Consequently, the date of Easter varies between 22nd March and 25th April. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar whose 21st March corresponds, during the twenty-first century, to 3rd April in the Gregorian Calendar, in which calendar their celebration of Easter therefore varies between 4th April and 8th May.

Paying For Sex

Apparently, one in three of us would sleep with a stranger for £1,000,000, according to a Durex survey - though surely that would depend on whether the stranger was Brad Pitt or John McCririck.

Fewer than 15% would sleep with a stranger for £100,000 and a mere but strangely likable 5% would sleep with a stranger for World Cup tickets. Two out of three people say they would never cheat on their partner, and the average Briton has slept with five people.

I don't understand this admirably frugal statistic, as everything I read or watch leads me to believe that we live in Sodom and Gormorrah and that girls obligingly lie down in the gutter every Friday night, drunkenly yelling: "Who's next?" But it's rather quaint and nice to know that the British are such continent sorts.

I like this survey, because I like anything that provides a snapshot of the under-reported Britain, where most people have nice lives and comport themselves well. I would like to say: we know you're out there, and we salute you.
India Knight in The Sunday Times.

Lady Mondegreen

Over 50 years ago, the writer Sylvia Wright proposed that a series of misheard words of a statement or song lyric should be called a mondegreen, after Lady Mondegreen, the tragic heroine from the well known Scottish folk ballad, The Bonny Earl of Murray. Sylvia had learnt the song as a child and recalled the first verse told:
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh! Where ha’e ye been:
They ha’e slain the Earl of Murray,
And the Lady Mondegreen.
Sylvia had often wondered about this poor lady who is not mentioned elsewhere in Scottish history. She discovered years later that the last two lines went:
They ha'e slain the Earl of Murray,
And they laid him on the green.
Other notable mondegreens
Good King Wences’ car backed out
On the feet of heathens.

Olive, the other reindeer
Used to laugh and call him names.

The train will run over us,
God Save The Queen!
Ray Edmondson, age 7.

Somewhere, over the rainbow, weigh a pie.

Send three and four-pence, were going to a dance.

Don’t cry for me, Sergeant Tina.

How They Do It In Oz

© 2007 The Edmondson Blog