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March 20th

On this day in 2003 the US,  the UK, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and so started the Iraq war or the conflict or Operation Iraqi Freedom or “That fucker dissed my dad and he’s got oil,we’re going in!”

 

The Black Death turned doctors into scary bird creatures

The war itself was declared the day before, despite the fact that most of the world said it was wrong and we should all take a chill pill and do a bit more looking for those alleged weapons of mass destruction, despite the fact that UN Resolution 1441 was in no way a permission to go to war and despite the fact that somewhere between six and ten million people in 800 cities across the world had protested against the will to go to war against Iraq. Basically George W Bush and Tony Blair had made their minds up that they would do what they wanted to do and to hell with what anyone else thought. Most of us knew at the time that the reasons for us going in were a lie and if we didn’t know then we know now. Some thought that the lie was fine because Saddam Hussein is no more and that matters more than legality, truth, honest, morality and anything else you’d like to throw into the pot. Others of us think that getting revenge for your dad, lying to the people who elected you and thinking that you have the right to decide which alleged human rights abuses you’ll get all fighty about based on oil is a fucker’s trick. And never the twain shall meet. Probably.

 

Now, we could explore this in minute detail, but you all know what happened and what’s still happening, so instead we’ll look at another, well it’s not so much a lie as the result of a bunch of academics – albeit olde worlde ones – putting their heads together and coming up with a clusterfuck of stupidity.

This day in 1345 is the day when the Black Death was created. Allegedly. That’s right, learned scholars from the University of Paris came to this conclusion because on March 20th 1345 there was a triple conjunction of the Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in the 40th degree of Aquarius. To be fair to them, I looked this up in my Dummies Guide to Astrology and it does confirm that when Saturn, Jupiter and Mars get all conjuncted up, there will be an outbreak of the sniffles, and if they do it in the 40th degree of Aquarius, then those sniffles will turn into the black death. If they do it in the 42nd degree we all get over it within a couple of days but have to be wary of a rather explosive dose of the trots.

The thing is that along with the planets doing their righteous dance, the black death also required the existence of rats and fleas

Matthias Grunewald seems to have thought that one of the symptoms of plague was "turning into a frog"

aplenty and as luck would have it, there were shitloads of the fuckers around in the fourteenth century.  Disease probably spread along the Silk Road and then the rats got on ships to go on their holidays and spread it all around Europe. There was a delightful Schadenfreude in this spread and it went as follows. Italy finds itself all infected with people dropping dead in the streets, throwing up blood and being covered in buboes (swellings, hence bubonic plague) and black spots. The Italians are, as one can imagine, shitting it, and over in Spain they’re laughing at them. “Ooh look at you! If you were good like us God wouldn’t kill you with the Black Death!”. And then what do you know! Oh dear, the Spanish are dying. Now the French are laughing and then, merde! They’re all carking it and the English are … etc.

 

Basically the Europeans all thought they were too pious and good to get it and enjoyed the suffering of other countries and regions until of course they got it. It was a bastard of a pandemic. We don’t for sure how many people died, but scholars (not the shitehawks who were all “oh when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars”) estimate somewhere between 75 and 200 million. It took Europe 150 years to recover from it in terms of social demographic losses.   It was awful in other ways. People in olden times were all about being punished by God, so rather than see the disease for what it was, they saw it as God’s judgement and as such they had to find someone to judge themselves. Enter the beggars, the lepers, the so-called witches and of course the Jews. There were persecutions, murders and torture. What was so nice about this was that even if you escaped the plague you had a really good chance of being different enough to be murdered anyway. Ain’t life grand!

The plague hung around for centuries, popping up every now and then to keep the population on its toes. The last great outbreak in England was in 1665 and we all know that the next year Samuel Pepys got rid of it by getting drunk as a skunk and burning London down.

So there we have it, boys and girls. March 20th is a day for lies and nonsense!

 

Today is the birthday of Little Miss Firecracker, Holly Hunter. She is probably best known for her role as a mute piano player in The Piano where she plays the piano and has sex with Harvey Keitel, but for me she shines brightest in the aforementioned Miss Firecracker, Raising Arizona, Broadcast News and O Brother Where Art Thou.

She’s tiny, quirky, sweet, funny and every bit of her Georgia upbringing is still present in her voice. I like her because she’s tiny (5’2″ apparently) and feisty and sometimes I’d like to be her. She is also a woman who lives her private life out of the public eye. She has

Cute little policewoman

two children, probably twin boys, but their names and ages and in fact anything about them is not up for public discussion. There are a lot of people in the public eye who could learn a bloody lot from her.

 

She’s been around as an actress for 30 years and yet manages to still give off a youthful feel, not through the sleight of hand of cosmetic surgery, but through being full of life and spirit. She may actually be some sort of pixie or elf. I am almost certain that she s a minx.

And that is all really. I just like her and I like watching her in films where I don’t have to see Harvey Keitel’s bare arse going up and down. Happy birthday Holly Hunter. I think you’re just lovely!

Oh, I also like her in Crash, but that’s because it’s a films for perverts.

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March 15th

On this day in 44BC something happened that I really had no intention whatsoever of talking about, but after perusing the ledgers of history, I realised it was that or some event so boring that all our eyes would bleed in reading about it, so here we are. What was this event? Well, it’s the fifteenth of March or, as it was known in the days of Rome, the Ides of March which should be more than clue enough. That’s right. Today’s the day that Julius Caesar was done in by a bunch of senators.

Gerroff me you fuckers!

Far be it from me to turn this into a tragedy or a farce, that’s already been done by some bloke called Shakespeare and those risible wags who made the Carry On films, but there is a problem with talking about an event that’s been represented so iconically in fiction. How on earth does one bring it to life without referring back to those previous representations? The answer is one doesn’t, one looks them straight in the face and deals with them and that’s just what we shall do.

We tend to get the notion that Caesar was a dreadful dictator and that’s why his young mate Brutus and a group of senators wanted to do him in, but the truth isn’t quite as simple as that. It is true that they were worried he’d become king, the senate would lose its power and Rome would stop being a republic, but it’s far from clear that old JC was keen to become king and do away with the republic. At the time of his death he held the title dictator perpetuo, which meant much what it looks like, dictator in perpetuity, but it was the senate itself that had bestowed this title on him. He accepted because he sort of had to. He’d been offered a crown more than once and each time he had refused it. There was also a story spread by the conspirators who called themselves liberatores (liberators), that he had dismissed two tribunes because they had taken laurels off a statue of him – we know laurels now as something given to victors or in fact worn by emperors, but at this time they were seen as the preserve of Jupiter who was the king of the gods – but the story was a little different to that. The laurels had been placed on the statue by some plebeians who the tribunes arrested. Later some more plebeians chanted “Rex!” (king) at Caesar and they too were arrested by the same tribunes. They all complained that they weren’t allowed to speak their minds, so Caesar put the matter to a vote before the senate, the senate and he decided that the tribunes had been a bit previous and they were then dismissed.

Basically, what you’re really seeing is a group of blokes who almost certainly did want to preserve the republic, but who were also well jealous of Caesar and so could see no good in him for seeing bad. They killed him when they did because he was about to go on a campaign in Parthia where he would almost certainly have won and become more powerful and popular. The popularity thing is important. The people of Rome who didn’t give a flying fiddle about the senate loved JC.  The night before they were going to lure him to his death at the Theatre of Pompey (nb, not the senate, so ya boo sucks to Shakespeare and Sid James and that lot), Mark Antony found out about the conspiracy and the next morning he tried to get to Caesar to warn him. He was too late. The conspirators had got to Caesar, surrounded him and stabbed him 23 times. It might be a little subjective of me to say they acted like frenzied maniacs, but fuck it, you know what? They did.

Caesar was reported by some to have said “You too, child?” to Brutus, who was very close to Caesar and therefore a treacherous little bastard, but Plutarch, who was quite the reporter, said that Caesar said nothing at all. Given that he was being stabbed to death by a bunch of mentalists, I’d go with Plutarch. After they’d murdered him the senators ran through the city shouting out to all and sundry that they were free and the republic had been saved. Well, they would have been shouting to all and sundry if everyone hadn’t shat it on hearing that Caesar had been murdered and locked themselves up in their houses. The people of Rome weren’t much impressed by Brutus, Cassius and their merry band of murderers.

In the immediate aftermath, Caesar was left dead for three hours before anyone went to pick him up and do the decent thing. After that things got very hairy for the conspirators. The plebeian class was frankly furious that a bunch of la-di-da snobs had murdered a man they admired and Mark Antony used them for all they were worth to scare the bejesus out of the conspirators. Caesar left everything to his grandnephew Octavian, including his name which pretty much pissed Mark Antony off. There followed five civil wars, armies, jealousy, death, fighting, suicide and eventually the loss of the very thing the conspirators claimed they’d gone and got a bit killy to preserve: the Roman Republic. Octavian became Augustus and it was he, not Julius who became the first emperor of Rome.

And that’s how it happened. There were no presages à la Shakespeare, no “Et tu, Brute?”, no Brutus being all torn apart by the position he found himself in. Neither did Caesar say “Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy?” although it would have been great if he had, Julius was not a camp man with bottom ailments and Mark Antony did not look a Sharpei’s scrotum, that is, he was not Sid James.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you will go around killing leaders who get on your tits, you’ll probably end up with someone far worse than the person you killed. Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were a lot easier to get along with than Robespierre and his lust for the guillotine,  Tsar Nicholas II (who abdicated today in 1917, btw) was less of a paranoiac killer than Stalin, er JFK was better looking that LBJ … Anyway, assassination is a bad idea, so just don’t do it, okay!

 

Today is the birthday of Fabio Lanzoni, or just plain old Fabio. For those of you who have no idea who he is, I envy you, but I’m about to invite you into our misery. Fabio is a model and allegedly also an actor. His fame arises from having been the cover model for a shitload of romance novels in the 80s and 90s with his long blonde hair, vapidly handsome face and ridiculous man-tits.

Not content with showing off his man-tits and swinging his hair about while bare-chested he’s also appeared in soap operas and had cameos in a few films. But even that wasn’t enough. He released an album called  After Dark or Fabio talks utter shite as I like to think of it.(please click the link if you want to laugh and spontaneously vomit at the same time) On the album he mixes his choice of music

Fabio straining to do a blow off

(mostly hideously shit) with his thoughts on romance, films, surprises and slow-dancing among other things. Needless to say he has nothing interesting to say and only reinforces the idea that the lesser of two evils is merely looking at the stupid lunk.

Fabio has also killed a goose with his nose. It happened when he was on a roller coaster and the goose flew into his face and died. So, not only is Fabio a waste of space, he uses the space he wastes to murder poor dumb animals.

Anyway, he’s 53 today, so it’s likely that his man-boobs are starting to sag and he’s probably starting to look like a decaying wildebeest. Such is life. Happy birthday, then, you great lolloping lump of sculpted lard and tendons, I never did buy a book with you on the cover because I HAVE TASTE!

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February 8th

On this day in 1750 there was a minor earthquake in London. In fact it was so minor it was almost micro. It measured 2.6 on the Richter scale, although at the time nobody knew that because Charles Richter had not yet invented his earthquake measuring system.

The Bishop of London was a secret transvestite

An earthquake of the magnitude (or microtude) is the sort that gets measured but not necessarily felt by that many people; in short as earthquakes go, it was a bit rubbish. However, some people must have felt it because exactly a month later on March 8th there was another one – a little stronger this time at 3.1, but still pretty shit – and then all of a sudden Londoners got all scared and “Ooh, bugger me sideways, what’s going to happen on April 8th!” The answer to this was: not a lot, but there was no telling the panicked populace that.

Of course, wherever there is panic you will find people who are happy to take advantage of it. In this instance, it was the Bishop of London who jumped into his pulpit at St Paul’s  and started getting all “God is angry with us! You’re all depraved and he is trying to smite you for your sin and reading that book what that Henry Fielding wrote what is called Tom Jones!” During these fulminations he spat a lot and got very red in the face, the better to show he was a bit cross. Many in the congregation were much in awe of his rhetoric, but there were some voices of dissent. It is reported that a learned fellow from Bishopsgate confronted the bishop with a question thus: “Your Grace, while I may accept some of thine imprecations on the general populace, I do find myself wondering why thou dost mention Tom Jones, when as any learned chap dost know, there were no earthquakes in 1722 when Moll Flanders was first read by the good people of London and the

Enlivened by his own sermon, the bishop wrote an imaginatively titled pamphlet

heroine of that story was a known short-heeled wench! Also, it doth also seem passing strange that our Lord and Father has sent upon us such piddling tremors if he is really as angry as all that. I do believe that the Gentleman’s Magazine hast got it right when they sayeth that yon tremors were more than likely the result of subterranean waters cutting new courses!”

The Bishop of London then thundered so hard, that the people in the front row of the congregation felt the earth move far more than they had during either of the two earthquakes. “Shut up!” he shouted, “What do you know about the ways of our Heavenly Father, young scamp!  For did not an angel visit a cobbler from Carnaby Market and tell him that the world would end on 8th April. You’ll be laughing on the other side of your face then. Ha!” It is thought that the learned young gentleman then protested that if the world did indeed end, he wouldn’t have a face to smile on the other side of, before being ejected from the cathedral by some burly rectors.

As it happened, a lot of people left London and went to Slough – thus turning it into the place that in later years John Betjeman wished friendly bombs on – and others slept out on hills on April 8th, though how they thought this would save them from the end of the world is not at all clear. Some of them were so stupid, that they did this for months to come on the 8th of each successive month, before going back to drinking shed-loads of gin and getting up to all sorts of jiggery-pokery in the streets and alleyways of London. The Bishop of London met his end eleven years later, in the manner of Elvis Presley.

Today is the birthday of tit grabber and alleged style guru Trinny Woodall, who found fame with Susannah Constantine (an ex-

Noted "style maven" and exuberant lip-pumper, Trinny Woodall

fiancée of a minor royal) by telling women “what not to wear”. Their fame continued for a number of years, despite the fact that they more or less put all the women in their show in the same clothes and spent far too long squeezing the tits and arses of their vapid victims. As their fame has waned, Trinny has had cosmetic surgery to give her lips that just punched in the face look and hung various hideous frocks on her increasingly skeletal frame. Still, one shouldn’t be overly mean to the poor woman. She’s hardly the only celebrity to do strange things to her face and wearing the wrong frock every now and then isn’t a crime – unless of course you’re one of the poor bitches she laid into on her show for not knowing that “sallow women should not wear that shade and why is it below your knee making your legs looks like tree trunks!”, so pax and all that. Happy birthday, Lippy Trinny! You don’t look a day over 58 48!

 

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