Monday, 31 August 2009

Looking Back - Princess Diana Dies In Paris Crash

On this day in 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in Paris. She was taken to hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning where surgeons tried for two hours to save her life but she died at 0300 BST.
The accident happened after the princess left the Ritz Hotel in the French capital with her companion, Dodi Al Fayed - son of Harrods owner, Mohammed Al Fayed. Dodi Al Fayed and the vehicle's driver were also killed in the collision in a tunnel under the Place de l'Alma in the centre of the city.The princess' Mercedes car was apparently being pursued at high speed by photographers on motorbikes when it hit a pillar and smashed into a wall. Mr Al Fayed and the chauffeur died at the scene but the princess and her bodyguard were cut from the wreckage and rushed to hospital.
In a statement Buckingham Palace said the Queen and the Prince of Wales were "deeply shocked and distressed." Prince Charles broke the news of their mother's death to Princes William and harry at Balmoral Castle in Scotland where the royal family had been spending the summer.
The French authorities began a criminal investigation and questioned seven photographers.
Tributes poured in from around the world. Speaking from his home in South Africa, the princess' brother, Lord Charles Spencer, said his had been "unique." While it was not the time for recrimination there was no doubt the press had played a part in her death, the earl added.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at the princess' London home, Kensington Palace and many laid flowers at the gate.
Only Princess Diana's bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, survived the crash. Blood tests showed the driver, Henri Paul, had taken both drugs and a large amount of alcohol before the accident.
The royal family was criticised for its reserve during a time when there was an unprecedented national outpouring of grief. Around one million people lined the streets to see the princess' funeral cortege as it made its way to Westminster Abbey in early September.
No charges were brought against the paparazzi who had been pursuing the princess' car.

Just Nails

Fancy a new hobby? Well, get out your little
hammer and a very big bag of nails and start
banging away.
Before you start you might want to take a quick look
at how it' done.
Just follow the seven easy steps set out in the
following instructions.
Step 1: Use a large piece of board.
Step 2: Always work from a picture of the subject.

Step 3: Work from right to left across the board.

Step 4: When you hit your thumb. Stop and count to 10.

Step 5: It's easier to work with your board on its side.

Step 6: Work with board turned in both directions.

Step 7: When your work is complete. Don't forget to show off.

Fans Party On Jackson's Birthday

It would have been Michael Jackson's 51st birthday last Saturday, and fans around the world marked the occasion with parties and mass dances. In Mecico City organisers said they had broken a record for the most people dancing to 'Thriller' at the same time, reporting that 12,937 people turned up.

To join in the celebrations, click on the video link below:

News Roundup

News Roundup takes a quick look at items of interest seen in the news during the last 7 days.

Artificial Lifeforms

A US team of scientific researchers under the direction of controversial team leader Dr Craig Ventner are just months away from making a synthetic organism. The first artificial life form is likely to be a simple man-made bacterium that proves the technology can work.
Researchers at the J Craig Ventner Institute in Maryland claim this would lead to more complex bacteria that turns coal into clean natural gas, or algae that can soak up carbon dioxide and convert it into fuels. Mind boggling stuff!

Hidden Cost Of School Uniforms

Schools minister, Ian Wright, has accused some schools of inflating the cost of school uniforms by forcing parents to buy from from one supplier. Research suggested parents are paying £45 million a year over the odds because of 'sweetheart' deals between schools and suppliers, whereby the school get a share of the profits.
I think we shall hear more on this scandal.

The Other Side Of The Law

Clarissa Dickson-Wright, one half of the motorcycling cookery duo, the 'Two Fat Ladies', together with race horse trainer Sir Mark Prescott, have been charged with attending events where hare coursing takes place and will appear in court tomorrow.
The action has been brought by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Clarissa, who was the youngest woman ever to be called to the Bar, will now find herself on the opposite side of the law.

Enough To Drive You To Drink

Polish lorry driver Slawomir Jablonski swigged so much vodka as he drove along the M20 motorway from Dover to London that he was 'comatose' when police found him.
Motorway police went to the stationary lorry thinking it had broken down, but reeled back from the stench of alcohol as they opened the cab door.
Mind you, Britain's motorways are enough to drive anyone to drink.

Why Boys Need Parents

Thought For Today

Be Careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
Mark Twain


Today's brainteaser is a general knowledge 'Trivia' to test your Bank Holiday brain cells. Fairly easy, see how you get on.

01 In which country did golf originate?
02 Where is the Grand Canyon?
03 With what campaign is the name of Mrs Pankhurst associated?
04 What was the title of the ruler of Persia?
05 On what day of the year are pancakes usually eaten?
06 To whom was Shakespeare's character Desdemona married?
07 Who sailed to America in the 'Mayflower'?
08 What do the initials G.M.T. stand for?
09 Which is the earths smallest continent?
10 Which building besides the River Thames was once a royal residence and has a famous maze?

Good luck! Answers in tomorrows Journal.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Looking Back - Notting Hill Carnival Ends In Riot

On this day in 1976, more than 100 police officers had to be taken to hospital after clashes at the Notting Hill Carnival in west London. Most were released after treatment bbbut at least 26 have been detained overnight for observation or further treatment. Around 60 carnival-goers also needed hospital treatment after the clashes which led to the arreast of at least 66 people.
The trouble is belived to have started after police tried to arrest a pickpocket near Portobello Road on the main carnival route. Several blakyouths went to the pickpocket's aid and within minutes the disturbance escalated.
The police were tacked with stones and other missiles. They armed themselves with dustbin lids, milk crates and wire fencing and charged the rioters. At one stage a group of black youths were seen moving up Westbourne Park road smashing windows. Gangs of white youths were also said to have been involved in the violence.
One witness, Raymond Hunter, who lives in Westbourne Park road, said he saw a police van set alight. "The two policemen managed to get out of the van and fled. The gang then turned the van over and set fire to it," said Mr Hunter.
The disturbance effectively put an end to the annual celebration of Caribbean culture. In the past 10 years the event had been largely peaceful in spite of tensions with the police.
A member of the Notting Hill Carnival Development Committee, Selwyn Baptiste, said they had been optimistic after the first day of the festival passed off peacefully. "WE had no reason to suppose it would be any different today. This was supposed to be about fun and love - not violence," Mr Baptiste said.
In a subsequent trial 17 black youths faced 79 charges. However, only two were convicted of carnival related offences after the court case which cost a record £250,000. In 2000 there were two murders during the carnival
The London district of Notting Hill had a history of racial problems. In 1958 it was the scene of race riots instgated by the fascist British Union whose "Teddy boys" clashed with local black people. Relations between the black community and police had also been prblematic over the years.

To watch a video clip of the events, click on the following link.

Today's Smile

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body totally used up, totally worn out, and screaming, "WOO HOO what a ride."

Granny Knew Best

Today we take a look at some of the medications used by our great grandmothers. Many of these treatments were very effective, the contents of some will shock you.
Bayer's Heroin
Between 1890-1910 heroin was sold as a non-addictive substitute foe morphine. It was also used to treat children with strong cough.
Coca Wine
Mariani Wine

Mariani wine (1875) was the most famous Coca wine of its time. Pope Leo XIII used to carry one bottle with him all the time. He awarded Angelo Mariani (the producer) with a Vatican gold medal.

Living With Computers

Funny Signs

In a Texas funeral parlour: Ask about our layaway plan.
In the vestry of a New England church: Will the last person to leave please see that the perpetual light is extinguished.
In the window of a Swedish furrier: Fur coats made for ladies from their own skins.
Swiss mountain inn: Special today - no ice cream.
Notice in a Norwegian cocktail lounge: Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

Who Am I ? - Saturday's Answer

The answer to Saturday's
Who Am I? puzzle
Alistair Darling

Signs Of Growing Old

You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.
"I just can't drink the way I used to" is replaced by "I'm never going to drink that much again."
90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.
You drink at home to save money before going to the bar.
When you find out your friend is pregnant you congratulate them instead of asking "Oh shit, what the hell happened?"

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Looking Back - UK's Oldest Twins Turn 100

On this day in 1986, twins May and Marjorie Chavasse celebrated their 100th birthday. They were Britain's oldest surviving twins and both received a telegram from the Queen. Among the guests at their joint birthday party were four generations of their family. They included five-year-old William and Vivian Hall - the first twins to be born in the family since May and Marjorie.
The chances of identical twins both living beyond the age of 100 are about 700 million. But the Chavasse twins were said to be determined from an early age to reach 100.
Neither sister married but both had distinguished careers. Marjorie worked for the Dr Barnados charity setting up children's homes. May became a nurse and cared for wounded soldiers in France during World War I. She subsequently received a military honour for her work.
Marjorie still lives in her own home in Windsor, Berkshire while May lives in a home for retired nurses in Buckinghamshire.
The twins came from a distinguished family in which their elder brothers were twins. One of them, Noel. was a war hero and one of only a few men to twice be awarded Britain's highest military honour - the Victoria Cross. The other twin brother Christopher, followed in their father's footsteps by becoming a Bishop in the Church of England.
May Chavasse died before her 101st birthday but Marjorie lived to the age of 103.
According to the Guinness Book of Records the worlds oldest female twins were Kin Narita and Gin Kanie of Japan who celebrated their 107th birthday in 1999. Kin the elder by 20 minutes died the following year.

If you wish to watch the twins celebrating their centenary with a birthday bash, click on the following link:

Sometimes Size Does Matter

Ketchup With The Latest News From Spain

Last Wednesday the Spanish town of Bunol held its 64th annual 'Tomatina', a food fight in which participants throw over 100 tonnes of over-ripe tomatoes at each other. Around 40,000 people, from all over the world, descend on Bunol to take part in the festivities
The festivities last for a week and feature music, parades, dancing and fire works. On the night before the tomato fight participants of the festival compete in a paella cooking contest. It is tradition for the men to wear no shirts and women to wear all white. The festival started in a casual way in 1945, but wasn't officially recognized until 1952. Shopkeepers cover their store fronts prior to the commencement of the messy battle that follows.
The first event of the 'Tomatina' is to climb up a greased pole with a ham at the top. While this is happening the participants work up a frenzy singing and dancing whilst being showered with hoses. Once the ham has been released from the pole trucks haul the bounty of tomatoes into the town centre, Plaza del Pueblo. The tomatoes come from Extremadura, where they are less expensive and are grown specifically for the festival. they are poor quality, not considered good enough for consumption. The fight is started by the firing of water cannons, lasts for one hour, and is finished by a second firing of water cannons. Competitors are urged to wear safety goggles and gloves and tomatoes must be squished before being thrown to make them softer. Following the fight fire trucks move in to hose down the streets, with water provided from a Roman aqueduct.
The festival is in honour of the town's patron saints, St Louis Bertrand (San Luis Bertran) and the Mare Deu dels Desemparats (Mother of God of the Defenseless) a title of the Virgin Mary. It is not certain how the festival started, but one theory suggests it arose out of disgruntled townspeople attacking city councilmen with tomatoes during a town celebration. The holiday was banned during the Spanish State period under Francisco Franco for having no religious significance, but returned in the 1970s after his demise.



Basically we were in fear our lives, but it wasn't because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat! But we survived because their love was greater than the threat.

As well as summers filled with bike rides, cricket, hula hoops, skate hockey and visits to the pool, and eating lemonade powder or liquorice sticks.

Didn't that feel good just to go back and say "Yeas, I remember that"?

We were entertained by Mr Pastry, Six Five Special, The Army Game,
Sunday Night At The London Palladium, Emergency Ward 10,
The Lone Ranger, Hancocks Half Hour, Trigger, and Sgt. Bilko

Sweet Cigarettes

Coca Cola in bottles

Your never alone with a Strand

And Coffee Shops with Jukeboxes

Who Am I?

Today we have another ' Who Am I' puzzle for you to solve.' The usual 10 clues are set out below, which famous person do they lead you to?

01 I was born 28 November 1953.
02 My place of birth was Hendon, London.
03 I was educated in Kirkaldy, then Loretto School, Musselburgh.
04 I later attended Aberdeen University.
05 I was a supporter of the International Marxist Group.
06 In 1978 I became a solicitor.
07 I entered parliament at the 1987 General Election in Edinburgh Central.
08 In 1996 I became Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
09 My wife's name is Margaret Vaughan.
10 I have a son Calum and a daughter Anna.

Can You Believe Your Eyes

Have a look at this increible video of German engineer Bruno Kammerl testing out his longest and most exciting waterslide in the world, the Megawoosh:

Well! Can you believe your eyes? Unfortunately not. Whilst this may be an incredible and exciting video, the truth is, it is a fake. The sequences wer filmed separately and cobbled together to create what looks like a genuine video clip. There is an old saying that says; "Believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see." What a wise old adage that is!

Animal Crackers

Friday, 28 August 2009

Looking Back - Martin Luther King

On this day in 1963, The fight for racial equality in the United states moved a step closer to victory as Martin Luther king spoke of his dream for freedom in an address to thousands of Americans.
Reverend King was greeted with rapturous applause as he delivered his heart-felt words to a 250,000 strong crowd of civil rights protesters at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
He spoke of the need "to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice."
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character."
Martin Luther King
He promised that the struggle for equality would continue until "justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."
Reverend King, who had worked tirelessly for an end to to racial discrimination through non-violent means, spoke repeatedly of his dream for equality.
"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be engulfed, every hill shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
Dr King who is president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) first came to prominence in 1955 when he led a 382-day bus boycott in an attempt to end segregation on city buses.Since then he has endured numerous arrests, violent harassment and a bomb attack on his home. But his struggle continued and it was believed his speech would have a lasting impact on all who heard it.
The Rev. Martin Luther King spearheaded the campaign against segregation and racial discrimination in the United States. But his crusade was cut dramatically short, when he was assassinated on 4 April 1968 in the southern US city of Memphis, Tennessee, aged 39. He was shot in the neck by a rifle bullet as he stood on a balcony from where he was to lead a march of sanitation workers protesting against low wages and poor working conditions. James Earl Ray was convicted of his murder and sentenced to 99 years in prison. But he later retracted his confession and said he had been only a minor player in a conspiracy. However, his appeals for a new trial were rejected and he died in prison in 1998.

Bear With Me While I Get Outa Here

A bear was discovered stranded in a skateboarding
park in the Colorado town of Snowmass. Park staff
believe it stumbled in overnight and was unable to
climb the steep sloping concrete walls to escape.

Staff from the Parks and Recreation Department
placed a ladder for it to use - which it did eventually.

Bear sightings have been common in Colorado
mountains during this summer.

The bear wandered off, and no injuries to people
or bear were reported.
We like to bring you happy endings
through the pages of the Journal!

Brainteaser - Thursday's Answer

Below are the answers to Thursday's brainteaser puzzle. You were asked to work out the names of the birds using the ten codes. How did you get on?

01 R4 = Rook
02 P6 = Plover
03 S11 = Sparrowhawk
04 M7 = Mallard
05 C4 = Crow
06 B9 = Bullfinch
07 W4 = Wren
08 G5 = Goose
09 C9 = Cormorant
10 S4 = Swan

9/10 Excellent 7/8 Very Good 5/6 Good - Below 5 Not a natural naturist I'm afraid!

Today's Smile

( Click on image to enlarge)

Funny Signs

In a New York restaurantBold: Customers who find our waitresses rude should see the manager.


In the window of an Oregon general store: Why go elsewhere to be cheated, when you can come here?


In an advertisement by a Hong Kong dentist: Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.


Notice in a Paris hotel elevator: Please leave your values at the front desk.


An advert in the 'Missoulian' by Orange Street Food Farm: Golden, Ripe Boneless Bananas.

Animal Crackers

Did You Know

'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog'
uses every letter in the alphabet.

The words 'racecar' 'kayak' and 'level'
are the same whether read right to left
or left to right (palindromes).
A cat has 32 muscles in each ear
There are only four words in the English
Language that end in 'dous'
[tremendous, horrendous
stupendous and hazardous]
Is the longest word that can be made using
the letters only in one row of the keyboard.
Not many people know that!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Looking Back - Beatles' Manager Epstein Dies

On this day in 1967, the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein pictured (far left) was found dead at his Belgravia home in London. It was not clear how he died. Friends found his body in bed after his housekeeper raised the alarm.
Mr Epstein, 32, was due to travel to Bangor in north Wales the following day to join the Beatles at a meeting of the International Meditation Society. Brian Epstein's housekeeper became worried when she did not get an answer after knocking on the door of his bedroom in the middle of the afternoon. Friends, who had called round to see him broke into the room and found him dead. The police were called.
Paul McCartney and his girlfriend, Jane Asher, drove back to London in a chauffeur-driven car after hearing the news. The other Beatles were also returning to London.
A concert scheduled for later that night, at the Saville Theatre, London headed by Jimmy Hendrix was cancelled in tribute to Mr Epstein. He owned the theatre's lease. Mr Epstein brought a number of singers to fame. Apart from the Beatles, his other proteges included Cilla Black, Billy J Kramer, The Dakotas and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
Mr Epstein discovered the Beatles when they were still performing in blue jeans and leather jackets at the Cavern Club in Liverpool. He encouraged them to smarten up their image, wear suits and stop swearing and smoking in public - in order to broaden their appeal.
In January 1962, the band agreed a five year contract with Epstein, although he refused to sign it, saying their mutual regard for one another was enough. He got them their first record deal with EMI in October 1962 and by autumn 1963, Britain was engulfed by Beatle mania.
A post mortem examination showed Brian Epstein died of an overdose of sleeping pills. The death was officially ruled as accidental, although it has often been speculated that it was suicide.
Brian Epstein started out in the family business as a furniture salesman, before spending a year at RADA. He returned to the family business and began to sell gramophone records and the new department was so successful he opened a separate branch, which became known as NEMS. The shop was just around the corner from the Cavern Club.
He looked after every aspect of the Beatles' careers and after he died their business affairs rapidly crumbled. By 1970 they had split up.

Famous London Pubs - Ye Olde Watling

Watling Street, built by the Romans in perfectly straight sections and the first direct highway from the Kent coast to North Wales. Watling Street's route through the City of London is punctuated by St Paul's Cathedral, which virtually blocks its path.

In the shadow of the worlds second largest dome, where Bow Lane intersects Watling Street, sits Ye Olde Watling. The pub was allegedly built by St Paul's architect, Sir Christopher Wren, to accommodate labourers building the Cathedral and incorporates the timber of the old ships.

Reproduced by kind permission of Knowledge of London.


In today's brainteaser you are asked to work out the names of British birds. Each bird is represented by a code consisting of a letter, representing the first letter of the birds name, followed by a number, representing the number of letters in the answer. For example: R5 = ROBIN.

01 R4
02 P6
03 S11
04 M7
05 C4
06 B9
07 W4
08 G5
09 C9
10 S4
Good luck with this challenge!

India's Telephone Network At Breaking Point

With so many British companies transferring their Call Centres to India, the Indian national telephone service is at breaking point.

Signs Of Growing Old

Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.
You take Naps.
Dinner and a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.
Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 a.m. would severely upset, rather than settle your stomach.
You go to the drug store for ibuprofen and antacid, not condoms and pregnancy tests.
A £4 bottle of wine is no longer "pretty good shit."

Animal Crackers

Thought For Today

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Billy Butlin

Sir William Heygate Edmund Colborne ("Billy") Butlin, (29 September 1899 - 12 June 1980), was the founder of Butlins Holiday Camp.

Billy Butlin was born in South Africa. His father, also called William Butlin, was the son of a clergyman but his mother, Bertha Hill, was a member of a family of travelling showmen. They lived in Stanley, Gloucestershire, before emigrating to South Africa.The marriage failed, Billy's mother returned to England with her children and rejoined her own family in Bristol.

For a time Billy joined his mother in travelling around the fair circuit but, in 1911 his mother remarried and emigrated to Canada. Billy was boarded with a widow in Bristol. Later Billy joined his mother and step-father in Toronto, Canada. At school in Canada Billy was mocked for his English accent and left at the age of 14. His first job was messenger boy at Eatons, Toronto's largest department store. One of the best aspects of working for the company was that he was able to visit their summer camp, which gave him his first taste of a real holiday, indeed a taste of what was to become a vet big part of his life.

After a spell in the Canadian Army, Butlin returned to England and for a while ran a hoopla stall for his mother's family. He moved to London and set up a very successful stall in Olympia outside the Christmas Circus run by Bertram Mills. By the end of the season Billy had made enough money to bring his mother (now widowed) from Canada.

After a few years touring with Hills Travelling fair, leaving his mother to run the stall at Olympia. In 1927 he leased a piece of land from the earl of Scarborough at the seaside town of Skegness. He set up a holiday fun park with hoopla stalls,a tower slide,a haunted house ride and, in 1928, a scenic railway and dodgem cars - the first in Britain.

Later on he rented disused bus garages in Whitechapel, Brixton, Tooting, Putney, Hammersmith and Marble Arch in London and turned them all into funfairs. His mother, Berta, died in 1933 and so never saw his first holiday camp.

For some time Butlin had nurtured the idea of a holiday camp. He had seen landladies (sometimes literally) push families out of their lodgings between meal, irrespective of the weather. Butlin toyed with the idea of providing holiday accommodation that encouraged holiday-makers to stay in the premises and even provide entertainment for them between meals. He opened his first Butlins camp at Ingoldmells, adjoining Skegness on 11 April 1936 (Easter Eve). It was officially opened by Amy Johnson from Hull, who was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia. An advertisement in the Daily Express invited people to book for a week, enclosing ten shillings as a registration fee. The holidays offered three meals a day and free entertainment. A week's full board cost between 35 shillings and three pounds according to the time of the year.

The camp was a huge success and other camps soon followed at Clacton (1938) and Filey (1945), Pwllheli and Ayr (both in 1947), and still more at Mosney(1948), Bognor Regis (1960). Minehead (1962) and Barry Island (1966). The growth of his business was spurred by World War II when a number of camps were requisitioned for use as military training camps, generating revenues for a post-war boom.

In the 1950s Butlin began acquiring hotels in Brighton, Blackpool, and several in Cliftonville. In later years they were joined by further hotels in Scarborough, Llandudno, London and Spain. The camps at Ayr and Skegness also had separate self-contained hotels within the grounds.

In 1972 the company was sold to the Rank Organisation for £43 million. Butlin was knighted in 1964 and retired in 1968. Billy Butlin was not the first Butlin to have been knighted as his great uncle, who lived from (1845-1912) was the eminent surgeon , Sir Henry Trentham Butlin.
Billy Butlin died on 12 June 1980, aged 80.

The Wailing Wall

Israel - Jerusalem: Wailing Wall/Western Wall
A female CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time.
So she went to check it out, she went to the Western Wall and there he was, walking slowly up to the holy site.
She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.
"Pardon me, sir, I'm Rebecca Smith from CNN. What's your name?"
"Morris Fishbien," he replied.
"Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?"
"For about 60 years"
"60 years! That's amazing! What do you pray for?"
"I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and Muslims."
"I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop."
"I pray for all our children to grow up safely, as responsible adults, and to love their fellow man." "How do you feel after doing this for 60 years?"
"Like I am talking to a brick wall."

Poem - John Betjeman

John Betjeman's existence really became alive from the moment he started at Oxford. Today's extract from Summoned By Bells reveals his elation at finally being free from the restrictions imposed by public school, free to enjoy his longed for independence. (Written as Blank Verse, to be read as prose, by following the punctuation).

Balkan Sobranies in a wooden box
The college arms upon the lid; Tokay
And sherry in the cupboard; on the shelves
The University Statutes bound in blue
Crome Yellow, Prancing Nigger, Blunden, Keats.
My walls were painted Bursar's apple-green;
My wide-sashed windows looked across the grass
To tower and hall and lines of pinnacles.
The wind among the elms, the echoing stairs,
The quarters, chimed across the quiet quad
From Magdalen tower and neighbouring turret clocks,
Gave eighteenth-century splendour to my state.
Privacy after years of public school;
Dignity after years of none at all-
First college rooms, a kingdom of my own:
What words of mine can tell my gratitude?
No wonder, looking back, I never worked.
Too pleased with life, swept in a social round,
I soon left Old Marlburians behind.
(As one more solemn of our number said:
"Spiritually I was at Eton, John.")
I cut tutorials with wild excuse,
For life was luncheons, luncheons all the way-
And evenings dining with with the Georgeoisie.
Open, swing doors, upon the lighted 'George'
And whiff of vol-au-vent! Behold the band
Sawing away at gems from Chu Chin Chow,
As Harold Acton and the punkahs wave:
"My dears, I want to rush into the fields
And slap raw meat with lilies."
But as the laughter grew long and loud I heard
The more insistent inner voice of guilt:
"Stop!" cried my mother from her bed of pain.
I heard my father in his factory say:
"Fourth generation, John, they look up to you."
"Harry Strathspey is coming if he can
After he's dined at Blenheim. Hamish says
That Ben has got twelve dozen Bollinger."
"And Sandy's going as matelot."
"I will not have that Mr. Mackworth Price;
Graham will be so furious if he's asked-
We do not want another ghastly brawl" ....
"Well, don't ask Graham then." "I simply must."
"The hearties say they're going to break it up."
"Oh no. they're not. I've settled them all right,
I've bribed the Boat Club with a cask of beer."
Moon after parties: moon on Magdalen Tower,
And shadow on the place for climbing in .....
Noise, then the great, deep silence again.

Extract from Summoned By Bells (Chapter IX)
John Betjeman

Hyphenated Faux Pas