Tag Archives: Papal States

April 6th

On this day in 1896 King George I of Greece opened the first modern Summer Olympic Games in Athens after no one having bothered with them for a couple of thousand years or thereabouts.


Form an orderly queue, laydeez

The bloke who was the guiding force behind it was Baron de Coubertin who most of you will have heard of. His original plan was to have the first games in Paris in 1900 to coincide with the World’s Fair, but as they were starting all the planning and stuff in 1894 him and his mates reckoned that everyone might get bored with the idea if they had to wait six years, so someone came up with the idea of having the first one in Athens in 1896. They were all a bit iffy about the date, what with it not being auspicious or anything, but everyone agreed that Athens was a top place to have it what with the original Olympics being Greek and that. So they got in touch with the king who said “Yeah, that sounds like a plan, we’ll build some stuff and you make sure we get people to come and see everything.”


It was really that simple.

Nowadays the Olympics go on for about three months, but back then they didn’t have so many events so it was only on for nine days and over that period there were nine series of events. Unfortunately for posterity, there were no stupid events, just the sort of stuff we have today but done by mustachioed men in baggy sports clothes and leotards. They had:

  • Athletics, which included the discus, 100 and 400m, the marathon and the shot put. Starting off as they meant to go on, team America won most of these apart from the marathon which was won by  Greek chap
  • Cycling, both on the road and in a specially built  velodrome. These were won by  variety of nationalities
  • Fencing, which was done at another nice new stadium. There was no épée event as these swords got lost, but a nice French chap won the foil event (n.b. this is a type of sword and not the tinfoil you wrap meat in when you want to roast it), and the sabre and master foil events were won by two amiable Greek gentlemen
  • Gymnastics, these were extremely dull, performed mostly by very unlikely looking gymnasts and mostly won by the Germans who sent an eleven-man team. In fact in the horizontal bars event they were the only team who entered. There was also a rope climbing event in this discipline which is at least a little bit silly
  • Shooting, which was done with rifles and pistols. Despite trying very hard, nobody managed to kill a fellow competitor and some medals were won
  • Swimming was all done in the sea with one special event for Greek sailors. They would have happened in a pool, but the organisers were too cheap to build one. Nobody drowned
  • Tennis, although both the singles and doubles were won by a chap representing the UK, he was in fact a proper Irishman

    The man with the comb over did not score well in the sexing the pummel horse event

    named John Mary Pius Boland. Yes, that’s right “John Mary”. What was  his (obviously very seriously Catholic) mother thinking

  • Weightlifting. Some of the competitors wore only pants and looked utterly minging as they grunted and groaned and lifted heavy shit. No change there then
  • Wrestling was all done in the old homo-erotic Graeco-Roman style

In later Olympics there were some great events, like architecture, tug-of-war, club swinging, live pigeon shooting and duelling with pistols. Unfortunately the contestants had to shoot at a dressed up dummy and not a real life person. Oh and a really great one. The horse long jump, which an event solely for horses.

And that, laydeez and gennelmens, is what happened on this day in 1896. Not all of it. Mostly what happened then was an opening ceremony with a bit of dancing and then home for tea, but, the rest all started happening that day. Sort of.


Today was the birthday of the British painter John William Waterhouse, who was a sort of pre-Raphaelite, but not really one at all.

He was born in Rome in the Papal States. I’m guessing they mean the Vatican City. His mum and dad were both artists, so J.W. took the path of least resistance, noticed  he had some talent himself and put brush to canvas and voila!


Please tell us which of us has the nicest tits!

He’s not my cup of tea on the whole, but he did paint some pretty pictures and he was very popular in his day. He still is with quite a few people and apparently Andrew Lloyd-Weber has some of his paintings in his collection. Then again, it used to be thought that ALW  had a big cock, but apparently this is just another lie. His most famous paintings are his various Ophelias (also a loved by the Pre-Raphaelites. Seems Victorian artists loved to paint suicidal blondes who were all pathetic and stuff), The Lady of Shalott (in a row-boat) and Hylas and the Nymphs.


Anyway, he painted, he exhibited, his stuff got bought and he died at a reasonable age after doing the whole getting married thing and not being debauched. In many ways one could say he was boring, but that would be a very reactionary bourgeois thing to say. The artist who doesn’t die in a pool of his own vomit, with a syphilitic penis and a drug habit to rival Keith Richards’, is not boring, merely differently interesting.

Also, J.W. is the ancestor of a friend of mine, so happy birthday, dead Waterhouse, your great-great nephew (I think) is a credit to you. Probably



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February 12th

On this day in 881 Pope John VIII crowned Charles the Fat King of Italy and Emperor of whatever he fancied being Emperor of. The latter was because Fat Charlie rescued the Pope from a wicked duke by the name of Guy who was being quite the invader and walking into all the Papal States and bagsing them. Charles stopped him, by virtue of his bulk and the Pope, as we have seen, gave him a nice big reward.

Charles wore a corset for his coronation

Although Charles was the King of Italy, he was in fact a German by birth, although of course Germany didn’t exist, but despite this his dad was Called Louis the German. His mum was Emma the Welf, a Welf being the result of a mating between a wolf and an elf. She was famed for her beauty and her hirsuteness. Charles had two older brothers, Louis the son-of-a-Welf and Carloman the Bugger, both of whom very much disappointed their father and as a result were cut off and died in penury. Charles nearly disappointed his father when, as a wee thing, he had a funny turn, which was put down to demonic possession, but as he did not go the whole Linda Blair route, his father decided to forgive him, mostly because he’d run out of children who could inherit his lands. The German died in 876 and from that date onward Charles the Fat became King of Germania, which at the time was a little village in Bavaria with two half-decent pubs, a church and a post office.

His route to becoming Emperor of everything was not an easy one. He had many enemies, including Charles the Bald – name self-explanatory – and Engleschalk II who was not a bad lad at heart, but  had turned a bit vicious after years of being teased at school for having a very stupid name. Fatty had friends too, including Notker the Stammerer (a distant relative of our own George VI) and his best mate Richardis , who one day took off all his clothes, revealed he was a she, and married Charles in a private ceremony followed by a reception for close friends and any family members that weren’t dead, at their local Harvester.

In the years following his coronation by John VIII (who was not the so-called-Pope Joan, although he did look a lot like Larry

Pope John VIII

Grayson) life was not easy for Charlie. Richardis was not able to have children, probably because she really was a he who’d hidden her maleness under a large merkin, and she eventually left him to go and live with some nuns, who were less bothered by her beard than Charlie. Left alone, with only his cousin Ermentrude to keep him company, things went from bad to worse. His empire pretty much fell apart, Geoffrey Rush of Australasia cured Notker of his stammer which led Notker to rethink his options and leave Charles for a life of booze and loose women; Ermentrude was offered a starring role in a miracle play called The Magic Roundabout and Charles caught gout off of a peasant and died sad, alone and nowhere near as fat as everyone insisted he was.




Today was the birthday of three notable figures from history. Charles Darwin, who discovered evolution on  his ship The Beagle, which was named in honour of his love of Charles Schulz‘s Snoopy; Abraham Lincoln, the first giant to become President of the US

Anna has a bit of a dance while waiting for her meringues to bake

and the victim of a Jackass stunt that went horribly wrong; and Anna Pavlova, who successfully combined careers in dancing and patisserie and invented meringues and sugar plum fairies.

It is difficult to decide which of these three has had the most important impact on the world. One is minded to rule out Abraham Lincoln immediately, because while being a giant and popularising the stove-pipe hat is quite the achievement, if pretty much falls away in the face of evolution and meringues. Left with Charles and the lovely Anna, we have to decide which is more significant: inventing monkeys or discovering the secret of mixing egg whites and sugar. Hard as it is to choose and lovely as monkeys are, it is obvious that the meringue has had a more decisive impact on modern humanity than evolution, King Kong notwithstanding.

So, we celebrate the births of this stellar trio of illustrious worthies, remembering as we do that egg whites and sugar trump monkeys and giants and say to all three. Thank you. Thank you for the music, thank you for the four score years and seven, thank you for Every Which Way But Loose, and a very happy birthday to you one and all!


Darwin and Lincoln once had a Beard-off. Darwin won

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