Thursday, 25 June 2009

Looking Back -Christie To Hang For Wife's Murder

On this day in 1953, John Christie, 54, was sentenced to hang for murdering his wife and then hiding her body under the floorboards of their Notting Hill home in London. Christie had admitted murder but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
John Christie was an English serial killer in the 1940s and 1950s. He murdered at least six women and was implicated in the murder of two other victims. Prior to his arrest, he was involved in another murder trial, as a principal witness for the Crown in the trial of his fellow tenant, Timothy Evans. Evans was executed for the murder of his wife and daughter. However, Christie confessed to the murder of Beryl Evans prior to his execution.
During his trial the court had been told that eight female bodies, including that of a baby girl, had been found at Christies home at 10 Rillington Place. They had all been strangled. The bodies also included Christie's wife, Ethel.
Christie was hanged at Pentonville prison on 15 July 1953. According to newspaper reports, there were 200 people waiting outside the gates to see the notice of execution posted.
Christie's Notting Hill home was torn down and the whole decrepit street was rebuilt in the 1970s as Bartle Road.


Today's brainteaser is probably the hardest to appear in the Journal so far! Have a crack at it and see if you can come up with an answer.

There is a common English word that is 9 letters long. Each time you remove a letter from it, it still remains an English word - from nine letters right down to a single letter. What is the original word, and what are the words that it becomes after removing one letter at a time?

If you think you know the answer, please email it to me!

Comfort Before Speed!

A C-130 was lumbering along when a cocky F-16 flashed by. The jet jockey decided to show off.

The fighter jock told the C-130 pilot, "Watch this!" and promptly went in to a barrel roll followed by a steep climb. He then finished with a sonic boom as he broke the sound barrier. The F-16 pilot asked the C-130 pilot what he thought of that.

The C-130 pilot said, "That was impressive, but watch this!" The C-130 droned on for about five minutes and then the C-130 pilot came back on and said, "What did you think of that?" Puzzled the F-16 pilot asked, "What the heck did you do?" The C-130 pilot chuckled. "I stood up, stretched my legs, walked to the back, went to the bathroom,then got a cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun."
When you are young and foolish - speed and flash may seem a good thing!
When you get older and smarter - comfort and dull is not such a bad thing!

Poem - Cornwall In Childhood (John Betjeman)

Today's poem by John Betjeman is written in 'blank verse', as opposed to the more traditional rhyming verse. To bring the poem alive it should be read as if it were prose, that is to say it should be read, not to the end of each line, but according to the punctuation, much the same as reading a story book. Two of Betjeman's great qualities were his story telling and his ability, even as an adult, to see the world through the eyes of a child. The following poem is a great example of this, and as you read the lines you feel yourself being transported back to your own youth and recalling the world as it seemed then. This is a very long poem - but all the better for that.

Cornwall In Childhood

Come, Hygiene, goddess of the growing boy,
I here salute thee in Sanatogen!
Anaemic girls need Virol, but for me
Be Scott's Emulsion, rusks, and Mellin's Food,
Cod-liver oil and malt, and for my neck
Wright's Coal Tar Soap, Euthymol for my teeth.
Come, friends of Hygiene, Electricity
And those young twins, Free Thought and clean Fresh Air:
Attend the long express from Waterloo
That takes us down to Cornwall. Tea-time shows
The small fields waiting, every blackthorn hedge
Straining inland before the south-west gale.
The emptying train, wind in the ventilators,
Puffs out of Egloskerry to Tresmeer
Through minty meadows, under bearded trees
And hills upon whose sides the clinging farms
Hold Bible Christians. Can it really be
That this same carriage came from Waterloo?
On Wadebridge station what a breath of sea
Scented the Camel valley! Cornish air,
Soft Cornish rains, and silence after steam......
As out of Derry's stable came the brake
To drag us up those long, familiar hills,
Past haunted woods, and oil lit farms and on
To far Trebetherick by the sounding sea.
Oh what a host of questions in me rose:
Were spring tides here or neap? And who was down?
Had Mr Rosevear built himself a house?
Was there another wreck upon Doom Bar?
The carriage lamps lit up the pennywort
And fennel in the hedges of the lane;
Huge slugs were crawling over slabs of slate;
Then safe in bed, I watched the long-legg'd fly
With red transparent body tap the walls
And fizzle in the candle flame and drag
Its poisonous-looking abdomen away
To somewhere out of sight and out of mind,
While through the open window came the roar
Of full Atlantic rollers on the beach.
Then before breakfast down toward the sea
I ran alone, monarch of miles of sand,
Its shining stretches satin-smooth and vein'd.
I felt beneath bare feet the lugworm casts
And walked where only gulls and oyster-catchers
Had stepped before me to the water's edge.
The morning tide flowed in to welcome me,
The fan-shaped scallop shells, the backs of crabs,
The bits of driftwood worn to reptile shapes,
The heaps of bladder-wrack the tide had left
(Which, lifted up, sent sandhoppers to leap
In hundreds around me) answered "Welcome back!"
Along the links and under Cold Bray Hill
Fresh water pattered from an iris marsh
And drowned the golf-balls on its stealthy way
Over the slates in which the elvers hid,
And spread across the beach. I used to stand,
A speculative water engineer-
Here I would plan a dam and there a sluice
And thus divert the stream, creating lakes,
A chain of locks descending to the sea.
Inland I saw, above the tamarisks,
From various villas morning breakfast smoke
Which warned me then of mine; so up the lane
I wandered home contented, full of plans.,
Pulling a length of pink convolvulus
Whose blossoms, almost as I picked them, died.
Bright as the morning sea those early days!
Though there were tears, and sand thrown in my eyes,
And punishments and smells of mackintosh,
Long barefoot climbs to fetch the morning milk,
Terrors from hissing geese and angry shouts,
Slammed doors and waitings and a sense of dread,
Still warm as shallow sea-pools in the sun
And welcoming to me the girls and boys.
Wet rocks on which our bathing dresses dried;
Small coves, deserted in our later years
For more adventurous inlets down the coast:
Paralysis when climbing up the cliff-
Too steep to reach the top, too far to fall,
Tumbling to death in seething surf below,
A ledge just wide enough to lodge one's foot,
A sea-pink clump the only thing to clutch,
Cold wave-worn slate so mercilessly smooth
And no one near and evening coming on-
Till Ralph arrived: "Now put your left foot here.
Give us your hand" ..... and back across the years
I swing to safety with old friends again.
Small seem them now, those once tremendous cliffs,
Diminished now those joy-enclosing bays.
Sweet were the afternoons of treasure-hunts.
We searched in pairs and lifted after showers
The diamond-sparkling sprays of tamarisk:
Their pendant raindrops would release themselves
And soak our shirt sleeves. Then upon the links
Under a tree-box lay a baffling clue:
A foursome puffing past the sunlit hedge
With rattling golf bags; all the singing grass
Busy with crickets and blue butterflies;
The burnet moths, the unresponsive sheep
Seemed maddeningly indifferent to our plight .....
"Oh, hurry up, man: why, we're third from last."
And in the Oakleys' garden after tea
Of splits and cream under old apple boughs,
With high tide offering prospects of a bathe,
The winners had their prizes. Once I won-
But that was an unfortunate affair:
My mother set the clues and I, the host,
Knew well the likely workings of her mind.
Do you remember, Joan, the awkward time
When we were non-co-operative at sports,
Refusing to be organized in heats?
And when at last we were, and had to race
Out to low-tide line and then back again,
A chocolate biscuit was the only prize?
I laughed. Miss Tunstall sent me home to bed.
You laughed , but not so loudly, and escaped.
That was the summer Audrey, Joc and I
And all the rest of us were full of hope:
"Miss Usher's coming." Who Miss Usher was,
And why she should be coming, no one asked.
She came, a woman of the open air,
Swarthy and in Girl Guide-y sort of clothes:
How nice she was to Audrey and to Joc
How very nice to Biddy and to Joan .....
But somehow, somehow, not so nice to me.
"I love Miss Usher", Audrey said. "Don't you?"
"Oh yes," I answered. "So do I," said Joc
"We vote Miss Usher topping. Itchicoo!"
What was it I had done? Made too much noise?
Increased Miss Tunstall's headache? Disobeyed?
After Miss Usher had gone home to Frant,
Miss Tunstall took me quietly to the hedge:
"Now shall I tell you what Miss Usher said
About you, John?" "Oh please, Miss Tunstall, do!"
"She said you were a common little boy."
Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells
And sights, before the dark of reason grows.
Ears! Hear again the wild sou'westers whine!
Three days on end would the September gale
Slam at our bungalows; three days on end
Rattling cheap doors and making tempers short.
It mattered not, for then enormous waves
House-high rolled thunderous on Greenaway,
Flinging up spume and shingle to the cliffs.
Unmoved amid the foam, the cormorant
Watched from its peak. In all the roar and swirl
The still and small things gained significance.
Somehow the freckled cowrie would survive
And prawns hang waiting in their watery woods;
Deep in the noise there was a core of peace;
Deep in my heart a warm security.
Nose! Smell again the early morning smells:
Congealing bacon and my father's pipe;
The after-breakfast freshness out of doors
Where sun had dried the heavy dew and freed
Acres of thyme to scent the links and lawns;
The rotten apples on our shady path
Where blowflies settled upon squashy heaps,
Intent and gorging; at the garden gate
Reek of Solignum on the wooden fence;
Mint round the spring, and fennel in the lane,
And honeysuckle wafted from the hedge;
The Lynams' cess-pool like a body-blow;
Then, clean, medicinal and cold-the sea.
"Breathe in the ozone, John. It's iodine."
But which is iodine and which is drains?
Salt and hot sun on rubber water wings .....
Home to the luncheon smell of Irish stew
And washing-up stench from the kitchen sink
Because the sump is blocked. The afternoons
Brought coconut smell of gorse; at Mably's farm
Sweet scent of drying cowdung; then the moist
Exhaling of the earth in Shilla Woods-
First earth encountered after days of sand.
Evening brought back the gummy smell of toys
And fishy stink of glue and Stickphast paste,
And sleep inside the laundriness of sheets.
Eyes! See again the rock-face in the lane,
Years before tarmac and the motor-car.
Across the estuary Stepper Point
Stands, still unquarried, black against the sun;
On its Atlantic face the cliffs fall sheer.
Look down into the weed world of the lawn-
The devil's-coach-horse beetle hurries through,
Lifting its tail up as I bar the way
To further flowery jungles.
See once more
The Padstow ferry, worked by oar and sail,
Her outboard engine always going wrong,
Ascend the slippery quay's up-ended slate,
The sea-weed hanging from the harbour wall,
Hot was the pavement under, as I gazed
At lanterns, brass, rope and ship's compasses
In the marine-store window on the quay.
The shoe-shop in the square was cool and dark.
The Misses Quintrell, fancy stationers
Had most to show me-dialect tales in verse
Published in Truro (Netherton and Worth)
And model lighthouses of serpentine.
Climb the steep hill to where that belt of elm
Circles the town and church tower, reached by lanes
Whose ferny ramparts shelter toadflax flowers
And periwinkles.. See hydrangeas bloom
In warm back-gardens full of fuchsia bells.
To the returning ferry soon draws near
Our own low bank of sand-dunes; then the walk
Over a mile of quicksand evening-cold.
It all is there, excitement for the eyes,
Imagined ghosts on unfrequented roads
Gated and winding up through broom and gorse
Out of the parish, on to who knows where?
What pleasure, as the oil-lamp sparkled gold
On cut-glass tumblers and the flip of cards,
To feel protected from the night outside;
Safe Cornish holidays before the storm!

John Betjeman
Summoned By Bells

Climate Change



Quiz Show Howlers

Alex Trelinski: What is the capital of Italy?
Contestant: France.
Alex Trelinski: France is another country. Try again.
Contestant: Oh, um, Benidorm.
Alex Trelinski: Wrong, sorry, let's try another question.
In which country is the Parthenon?
Contestant: Sorry, I don't know.
Alex Trelinski: Just guess a country then.
Contestant: Paris
Anne Robinson: Oscar Wilde, Adolf Hitler and Jeffrey Archer have all written books about their experiences in what - Prison or the Conservative Party?
Contestant: The Conservative Party.
DJ Mark: For pounds 10, what is the nationality of the Pope?
Contestant Ruth from Rowley Regis: I think I know that one. Is it Jewish?

Petrol Prices

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