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.
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
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-
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!