Tag Archives: Rome

January 10th

On this day in 236 a bloke called Fabian became the Pope.

Does this seem a little dull? I’m sorry about that, but all the stuff I could find for this day more or less bored the arse off me, so in the end I just went with Fabian because it was that or write about four paragraphs about how bloody boring January 10th is. Which I might still end up doing anyway, but meanwhile, back to Fabian.

Jesus the Dove flies into JPII face. The message being "why did you make this idiot pope?!"

There is one interesting thing about him becoming pope. You see, it is said that he wasn’t a bishop or a priest, or anything like that. He was a a simple layman who just happened to be in Rome when all the bishops had got together to elect a new pope (Anterus, the previous pope had died about a week before after being pope for only one month and ten days. It’s almost certain that he was murdered for being more trouble than he was worth. Cf. Pope John Paul I who might turn up here one of these days). They were all up for electing a Bishop, as was the usual way of things, but as they all stood around nattering about who’d make the best pope and comparing frocks and jewellery and stuff like that, a dove came along and sort of fluttered about over Fabian’s head.

Well, being religious sorts who knew their bible and all the stories it contained they all went “Bloody Nora! That dove is totally like Jesus innit! He’s telling us to elect Fabian! Er, do we have to do that? Really?”

The dove did not move while they were all prevaricating, so they decided

Fabian's deadly poo. Bishops look on and are heard to say "that turd will kill him!"

they’d better do what Jesus was telling them to through a bird, the big thickos. To be honest, it wasn’t that difficult for them to decide to go along with the dove, because even though being pope was a top job with well nice frocks and the best jewels in Christendom, given that Anterus had probably been murdered and they reckoned that the next pope would probably be done in as well, none of the bishops were that keen on being pope as they preferred being alive.

As it happened, Fabian turned out to be quite a good pope, sending people to places like France to tell them how nice it was to be a Catholic and doing some nice building and stuff around Rome. Oh and he also did something with Chrism, which wasn’t as rude as it sounds. So, he wasn’t murdered and got to be pope for fourteen years. He wasn’t murdered to death, he died of bursting a vein in his head when struggling to have a poo, just like Elvis.

And that is the story of Pope Fabian. Oh he got to be a saint as well, which given what we read about yesterday, doesn’t mean much of anything at all.

Still, nice as it was to talk about bishops in pretty frocks, doves and getting to be pope in olden times, I bloody hope there’s something more interesting to rabbit on about tomorrow. Let’s hope there’s a semi-interesting birthday for today. Fingers crossed, I’m off to have a look now.

Today is the birthday of Roderick Stewart. I mention this not because I give a flying fornication about Rod the Mod, but because until today I had no idea that his given name was Roderick and it amuses me no end.

Imagine having that face looming over you?

I’m not totally anti-Rod. The man’s done some good songs and stuff, but anyone who can sing “do you think I’m sexy” whilst wearing the most hideous leopard print tight trousers in the world is a bit of a joke. That and the fact that he keeps marrying the same blonde woman, just changing her for a slightly younger model every few years or so, which is just too icky for words.

But, blah, it’s Rod’s birthday. He will probably put on a kilt and a tartan hat and go on about how Scottish he is, despite being from North London and being a plastic Jock. Or joke, whichever you prefer.

It was also the birthday of Mary Ingalls, the older sister of Laura Ingalls

The real Mary Ingalls.

Wilder who wrote all the “Little House” books. Unlike the pretty crazily blue-eyed girl in the tv series of Little House on the Prairie, Mary never married, although she did go blind and did go to the blind school that the TV Mary went to. But there was not crazily blue-eyed teacher for her to fall in love with and get married to and so her non-existent husband did not fall over and get concussion and magically get his eyesight back and take her to NYC where he could finally be a lawyer and not a crappy old teacher. Her life was slightly less dramatic than that.

When she finished school, she went back home to live with Ma and Pa, made fly nets for horses and when her parents died went to live with her sister Grace and then with Carrie, before dying herself. I note that she did not live with Laura, who was probably to high and mighty to let her blind sister live with her by then.

Despite her dull life, it’s fair to say that Mary was probably more worthy of inclusion in this little blog than Roderick the Mod, because while she never accomplished much, she also never put her flabby arse into stupid trousers and pretended to be a bit half gay when she thought it was trendy. All in all, Mary the bland trumps Rod the twat.

Happy birthday to them both! Sort of.

Leave a comment

Filed under Almanac

January 9th

On this day in 1493 Columbus sailed the ocean and stopped to do a pee.

Do I look like a pretty mermaid, you twat?

That is a lie, although I’m sure that he did at least one pee on this day, but he didn’t stop to do it. What happened was that as he was sailing near the Dominican Republic, or to be more precise about the name of the Island itself, Hispaniola, he was one of the first people to see not one, but three manatees. What did he have to say about this sighting? that they were “not half as beautiful as they are painted.”

Yes, that’s right, Christopher Columbus was an idiot who thought that the manatees were mermaids. Thankfully, for the sanity of the manatees, as far as we know neither Columbus nor any of his sailors attempted to have sexual congress with the manatees. Not because they weren’t all a bit sexually frustrated, but because as they thought they were mermaids, they had no idea where they should put their willies and were too embarrassed to ask.

All in all, this sighting tells us a lot about sexual frustration, being at see

There are no photos of Mermaids, only paintings. This is because they are not real, dirty sailor boys!

for months on end and how desperate sailors must get if they can see a manatee – not the prettiest of animals – and actually think that it is a woman, albeit a half fish, half human woman. We should note that Columbus said they weren’t half as pretty as they were painted, not, as any sane person would say “they’re a bit bloody ugly”. Actually that’s unfair to sane people. Sane people would not think for one second that a manatee was a laydee. Ergo, sailors are mentalists who would probably shag anything that stayed still for long enough. What a bunch of dirty boys they are.

Today was the birthday of a chap called Josemaría Escrivá. Since 2002 he’s been known as St Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer y Albás. He was a Spanish priest, the founder of Opus Dei and according to Pope John Paul II who canonised him he should be “counted among the great witnesses of Christianity.”

Like buggery should he. Opus Dei is a well dodgy movement. Of course the members would say that they are not and anyone who says they are has an agenda. But given that in the late sixties all c.50 male members of Opus Dei had volunteered to join the “Blue Division” in 1941, one might poke ones tongue out at the Opus Dei bunch and say “yeah, well what about your agenda, ha!” The Blue Division was a collection of Portuguese and Spanish volunteers who joined the German army in their fight against the Soviet army in the Eastern Front.

Opus Dei say they are not political, as did Josemaría, but the evidence is that for all their claims of apolitical holiness, they are extremely anti=communist and have got into bed with some rather dodgy people as a result of this.

Some of you might say that there’s nothing wrong with anti=communism, but being chummy with Franco? Allegedly claiming that Hitler wasn’t so bad as he was anti-communist and probably didn’t kill 6 million Jews (only 4 million, which is but a tiny amount. Not!) and popping over to stick your tongue up Pinochet’s arse? In short, it’s difficult to see either Josemaría or the whole organisation are as neutral as they claim.

This man was dodgy as fuck

It’s also clear that Josemaría was a bit of an elitist, thought he was above the Vatican and basically did not live the life that one might expect of a man who’s now a saint. He lived in luxury and he was a stranger to compassion and charity.

So, how did he get made into a saint if all this is true? I dunno, maybe the fact that JPII was also not all that fond of the communists had something to do with it. That and the fact that try as they might to be decent, a lot of the Catholic church and the whole of the Vatican are as bent as a 10 bob note.

Should we celebrate his birthday with joy? Should we fuck. He was a vile man and when he got made a saint, the RC church might as well have been seen kneeling down to suck Hitler’s dead cock. That’s how bad it was. So screw him and his happy birthday. He sort of makes me want to believe in heaven and hell, because I like the idea of a saint being poked in the arse by a laughing Satan in a pit of fire.

Please note that any offence given to Opus Dei or it’s batshit nasty members is totally non-accidental. Thank you.

Oh! Just a wee bit more. Opus Dei is well secretive, which is probably because it’s a cult. And old Josemaría had some super cool stuff to say about women. He told wives that it was their job to look purty for their husbands at all times and not try to be all clever and shit as that wasn’t very feminine of them. In short Opus Dei hates women. That hasn’t stopped Madonna from allegedly joining up with them, but then she is, much as I love/hate her, a bit of a stupid cow.

1 Comment

Filed under Almanac

June 6th

On this day in 1654 Queen Christina of Sweden abdicated her throne and converted to Catholicism.

Queen Christina liked to have some sort of bird on her horse's bum when she was riding

While she’s known as Queen Christina, she was more properly a king. She took her oath as a king and she was brought up as a prince by the order of her father. Apparently when she was born she was so hairy that at first everyone thought she was a boy, which sounds odd to me. Surely if she was that hairy they’d have thought she was a monkey or a werewolf or something, but no, clearly they thought it was normal for a baby boy to be born covered in hair. Anyway, they noticed she didn’t have a winky and realised she was a boy. Her dad, Gustav II didn’t care, he was just overjoyed that she was bonny and healthy because four children had died before her and he wanted an heir. Her mother didn’t like her so much and spent the first six years of Christina’s life giving her a hard time for being a girl and causing her mother pain when she was born.  Then Gustav II was killed in battle and suddenly Maria, Christina’s mother, was all over her like a rash, clinging to her like a limpet and basically being a huge pain in the arse. Christina didn’t want to hurt her mother, but she did want her to eff the eff off. In fact she was such a pain that eventually she was sent off to live in another castle and Christina was brought up for a few years by her aunt Catherine, as per her father’s wishes.

Apart from having the mother from hell and losing her beloved father so young, Christina had a fairly good childhood and was an intelligent and capable young woman. She spoke many languages fluently, rode well, was well-versed in history and politics and was much admired throughout Europe. She remained in the background politically until she was 18 and then became Queen regnant proper. It’s fair to say that she wasn’t the best of queens, but that was as much due to circumstances as any shortcomings on her behalf. She steered clear of marriage, saying privately that she found the whole thing distasteful and while she enjoyed the company of men, her closest relationships and truest affections were directed toward the women in her life. Was she a lesbian? It’s hard to say for sure, but given her distaste for the institution of marriage and all it entailed, it’s fair to say that if she ever did have sex it was far more likely to have been with a woman than a man. She reigned as queen proper for a decade, but she never really enjoyed it. She had wanted to abdicate long before 1654 but kept agreeing to stay on because parliament begged her. She felt a bit of a hypocrite, ruling over a Protestant country when she was secretly a Catholic, but it also made her a very tolerant woman. She did not discriminate against anyone based on religious distinctions and believed that everyone should be allowed to worship as they saw fit. These were very liberal views for the time.

But la! She had a nice abdication ceremony and then buggered off through Denmark and down to Rome, where they were well happy to

She wasn't much of a looker

see her what with her being all famous and a Catholic convert. They didn’t even seem to mind too much that she’d made most of her journey dressed as a man. That was another thing about her: she did like men’s clothes. She made quite the impact among the gentle ladies of Italy who were astonished by her manners and the ease with which she comported herself. She got invited to loads of parties and everyone was keen to have her in their home because she was such a big celebrity. The rest of her life was spent between Paris and Rome with short trips back to Sweden and elsewhere before she eventually died in Rome and was buried in St Peter’s Basilica, which is well posh.

The thing that makes her stand out in history is that she wasn’t like others around her. She dressed how she pleased, she did what she wanted and she wasn’t at all bothered by the constraints of class and gender. That she managed to do this whilst still being accepted by the establishment of Europe and the Roman Catholic church, which was even more Conservative with a capital C and a “don’t you be  poof or a Jew or one of those funny laydeez around us, you fucking weirdos!” then than it is now. So much was her masculine demeanour and her deep voice noted at the time, that in the 60s her body was exhumed so that scientists could figure out if she was intersex and/or had a winky and a lala. They weren’t able to discern from her bones whether or not this was the case, but as there are diary entries along the lines of “Fuxace!!!!1 On the rag. Again!!!!111!1”, we do know that she menstruated, so she did have a lala even though she looked a bit like a man.

 

Today was the Birthday of the novelist, Virginia Andrews.

She may mean nothing at all to a lot of the men out there. To be fair a lot of women may also be going “Who?” But there are a lot of us who remember reading Flowers in the Attic and then if were obsessed nutters, the whole series of Dollganger novels. It’s fair to say that her books were the crack cocaine of trashy literature and we were her desperate little junkies all wanting just a little more of her sick and twisted little world.

Like Village of the Damned with added incest

If you’ve never read these books, here’s the story. In Flowers in the Attic we first come across the Dollganger children, Chris, Cathy, Cory and Carrie. Their parents are Christopher and Corrine. Christopher dies in a car accident and Corrine who is afraid of being destitute asks her mother, Olivia, if the children can live with her while she tries to get work, etc. Olivia is all “yeah, that’s fine, but your father cannot know about them, so we must hide them in the attic.” The kids are all “Do we have to?” and Corrine is all “Yeah, your grandfather didn’t like it when I married my half-uncle and he’d have a fit if he knew we had children, but he’s going to die soon, so I’ll be nice to him, he’ll leave me lots of money and then we can all live together.” and so the kids have to live in the attic. It’s horrible up there, Grandma’s a bitch, Mum pretty much reneges on her word, there’s arsenic, drinking blood out of hunger,one of the twins dies and Chris and Cathy end up doing sex. They escape when they realise that their mother is trying to murder them and head out to an unknown future.

Petals on the Wind, is even more batshit mental. The other twin dies, Cathy gets to be a ballet dancer and Chris a doctor. She tries to stay away from him, but he still loves her. She wants revenge on her mother. There’s death, love,madness, a fire, more death and then Chris and Cathy give in and pretend to be husband and wife. Onto If There Be Thorns which again ups the mentalism. Cathy and Chris are together with “their” children, except they’re not, they’re Cathy’s with her first husband and her mother’s husband. She’s nothing if not prolific when it comes to inappropriate relationships. They adopt a little girl. Everyone’s happy then Bart starts visiting the old lady next door who is … oh come on, she’s Corrine the evil mother with her evil butler and Bart gets made all mental by the pair of them and there’s another fire and more death and at the end, Cathy and Chris are safe and Bart’s a bit less mental.

Seeds of Yesterday concentrates on the children, Bart, Jory and Cindy. Bart is still mental, Cindy’s a bit of  a strumpet and Jory, a ballet

This is the woman who came up with this crazy web of incestuous madness

dancer, has an accident and ends up in a wheelchair. Much mentalism ensues. Chris is killed in a car crash just like his dad and Cathy goes up to the attic and dies. As you do. This is the end of the series, but then – oh joy (really, I wish I was being sarcastic, but I’m not) – there’s Garden of Shadows,  a prequel wherein the madness begins to make some sort of sense. Not in a real “oh well that’s all right then!” way, but more “Well bugger me with witch’s broomstick, the whole damn lot of them are a bunch of incestuous mentals!”

By this time, Virginia Andrews had died of breast cancer. The last book was partly written by her and partly by a ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, who was hired by her estate. He is still writing books as Virginia Andrews, which brings a nice touch of real-life mentalism to her literary heritage. Not as crazy as the plots of the books she actually wrote, but pretty strange all the same.

Anyway! I’m sorry, I have introduced you to a strange world of wrong, or maybe reminded you of it, if like me you wallowed in this filth. I should have chosen a more worthy subject, but if it’s any consolation, going back through the plot summaries of these awful, trashy, outrageously schlocky books has made me want to read them again. Surely that is penance enough?

1 Comment

Filed under Almanac

June 3rd

On this day in 1140 a chap by the name of Peter Abelard was found guilty of heresy.  He probably would have been sentenced to death, but he got past that by heading off to Rome to plead for clemency and dying on the way. Smart move.

Fulbert catches Abelard trying to tit Héloïse up the armsleeve

The name may be ringing a bell with you. If so, yes, you’re right. This is Peter Abelard of Abelard and Héloïse, the couple who had the great love affair. Apparently. I have my doubts about this. Is it really true love when, after popping his lady love’s cherry, the popper goes around bragging about it to his mates? See, I don’t really think so. To me, it’s more the medieval equivalent of pulling in a nightclub, going back to hers, making her sleep in the wet spot and then leaving before she wakes up and, of course, not leaving your phone number.

That said, he didn’t leave her. The continued their illicit relationship, but were found out by Héloïse’s guardian, Fulbert and forced to separate. They did, but were still getting up to their filthy shenanigans in secret. So much so that Héloïse got pregnant. Abelard, ever the gentleman, sent her off to a convent to give birth. Here, again, we can find parallels with modern behaviour. You know how people love to laugh when celebrities give the fruits of their loins unusual names like, Apple or Fifi Trixibelle, or Dweezil or even Moon Unit. These slebs are so far behind the times. Héloïse called her son, Astrolabe after the scientific instrument. Nice.  Anyway, by this time Fulbert the guardian is a bit pissed off, so Abelard suggests they have a secret wedding. Héloïse isn’t too keen, but somehow she gets talked into it. Why secret? Well, it wouldn’t be good for Abelard’s career as king of all the philosophers and the best teacher in all the world, if he were married and anyway, all the sex is having a deleterious effect on that career. Yet again, Héloïse finds herself  carted off to a nunnery and this time Fulbert decides that Abelard is abandoning her, so he decides that he’ll put a stop to the whole thing, which he does by hiring some blokes to attack him in the middle of the night and to, well not to put too fine a point on it, cut his nuts off. That’s right, Abelard was to spent the rest of his life castrated and nutless.

That pretty much put the kibosh on the love affair and Héloïse stayed in the nunnery, eventually becoming prioress, even though she hated being a nun, and Abelard joined a monastery and became a monk. The legend of  their “romance” is held in the letters they then wrote to each other, but frankly, some of those letters just tell the story of Abelard taking advantage of a young woman, being a bit of a dick, getting her pregnant, abandoning her and always putting  his career first. On those grounds an awful lot of women are having great love affairs these days and they should stop being so bloody miserable about being taken for granted and be happy that in  a thousand years time someone will be writing about them and being all “Aw, isn’t it romantic!” or some bitch will blog about them saying “what a shit relationship that was!”

Anyway! None of this was the reason that Old Peter the porker got convicted of heresy, although it does show some of the character

Abelard teaching a class shortly before he parted company with his balls

traits that made him enough of a dick to make powerful enough enemies to get him to a place where they decided to take the fucker down. The thing is, Abelard was a brilliant man (and for the record, Héloïse was a brilliant woman who was far too good for him). He was a genius philosopher and changed the direction of western philosophy. He was also a  sought after teacher and famous throughout the known world. All of this stuff went to his head and he thought that he was King Cock of Christendom. This sort of arrogance is bound to make you a powerful enemy or several and his particular nemesis was Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernard was one of those dead holy blokes who gets all “you can’t say that” if people get a bit rational and all about the human reason. When Abelard used this method to discuss the Trinity, Bernard was not a happy chappy. What followed was basically twenty years of recriminations, Abelard being all “I know you are but what am I?” until finally, Bernard got his wish and a Council of Bishops decided that Bernard was right, Abelard was a heretic and whatever. Personally, I think that the bishops had just had enough of two old men going at it over and over and over again, so they just decided to go along with Bernard, who was the one giving them the most earache. Historic decisions have been reached for far more flimsy reasons.

And then, dear readers, Abelard ended up in Cluny  and died. Apparently his dying words were “I don’t know”. What is less well publicised is that they were the answer to the question “If you had to shag one of them or die, would you do Hale or Pace?”

Today was the birthday of  Tony Curtis, but do you know what? I think he was an utter prick, so that is all we will say about Mr so-called Curtis today.

Josephine in the 1920s

Instead, I’d like to talk about another birthday person: Josephine Baker. Ms Baker was, to put it succinctly, an amazing woman. She grew up dirt poor, she worked as a servant for a while, but she was abused by the women she worked for and left to live on the streets when she was still a child. She made money by dancing on street corners and that’s how she was discovered. She went on to be the best paid chorus girl in Vaudeville and then a company she was with toured Europe starting with France. She pulled out of her US contract, went to work at the Folies Bergères and became one of the biggest stars in the world.

Starting out as a dancer who sang a little, she became a singer with a big and powerful voice. She was the muse to many artists at the time including Hemingway, Langston Hughes, Picasso and Christian Dior. She made three movies, becoming the first ever black leading lady and she was adored.

The adoration grew during the war. She was such a big star that even the Nazis were loath to treat her badly. She, however, hated them and worked for the resistance, helped refugees and was an all round top woman. For her efforts she won the Croix de Guerre, the Rosette de la résistance and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by Charles de Gaulle.  Unable to have children, she adopted her rainbow tribe, twelve children of differing nationalities and ethnicities. She continued to perform and although no longer an American citizen she became active with the NAACP and the Civil Rights Movement in the US. She spoke at the March on Washington in 1963 and in 1968,

Josephine with 9 of her 12 adopted children

when Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, his widow asked her to take over leadership of the movement. Josephine eventually turned the offer down because her children were too young and still needed her.

After one final performance, which received rave reviews, Josephine suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and died peacefully a few days later. She left behind a fine legacy. Her talent will long be remembered, but more importantly, her humanitarian work, her generosity, her fearlessness and the fact that she made it on her own in a time when that was hard for any woman, let alone a dirt poor black woman. She was a damn fine woman and it’s a shame that she had to travel to another country for this to be appreciated. But she did, it was and there ain’t many of us can say that.

Happy birthday, Josephine.

1 Comment

Filed under Almanac

May 26th

On this day in 1328 there was quite a flurry in Avignon when a bunch of Franciscan friars did a midnight flit to escape from Pope John XXII who was totally up for having their guts for garters, or at the very least cutting their heads off for getting right on his tits.

William giving the J Dog evils

A couple of explanatory points. Those of you not aware of the intricacies of Catholic and Papal history are probably wondering what the pope was doing in Avignon. It’s all rather tiresome really. In 1309 Pope Clement V, who was a Frenchman, said that he wasn’t moving to Rome and set up a papal enclave in Avignon. This was partly because he was really lazy and partly because at this point in time there was all sorts of bother going on between the French kings and the papacy. Then for the next 68 years the succeeding popes, all seven of them and all French, stayed in Avignon, getting cosier and cosier with the French monarchy, until in 1377 Pope Gregory XI was all “sod this for a game of soldiers” and moved back to Rome. There then followed a brief period of the proper pope being in Rome and a couple of anti-popes in Avignon and then everything went back to normal and la!

There’s your background and now you’re wondering why John XXII wanted a bunch of Franciscan friars dead. Well, one of them was Father William of Ockham and if his name rings a bell, it’s because of Ockham’s (Occam’s) razor. Ockham’s razor is the philosophical principle that we should tend toward simpler theories. It doesn’t mean that the simplest theory is always right, but that we shouldn’t tit about with really complicated theories, using stuff that is a bit esoteric and not very well-known, unless it’s really, really necessary, because tried and trusted simpler routes will often be the right ones to take. Nothing particularly contentious about that, but it had John XXII absolutely raging. He liked to be all fancy-Dan with his theories and didn’t like some English monk coming over and telling him how he should think. He also really resented William getting a principle named after him while he, the Pope, FFS, got nothing.

J-Dog just before he threatened to "cut those bitches with a knife"

In one of their meetings, William explained to John that the only reason it had happened was because one day while he was shaving his tonsure with a Gillette Fusion ProGlide Gamer Mach 79 razor, he’d realised that there was no need for such a stupidly bladed razor, so he got out some old razor with just the one blade and found it did just as good a job. This just made John even angrier and he got all sweary in French, shouting about not having a tonsure, not having a principle, and this that and the other, like a big old baby in a frock. William had brought his mate Michael of Cesena along for a bit of moral support and at this point Mike made a really big error. He turned to John and said “Yeah, but you get to be the Pope, God’s representative on earth. You get all the jewellery, a nice palace and nearly everyone in the world has to do what you say, so, you know, you’ve got it pretty good.” John threw a total shit fit.

The exact nature of John’s shit fit isn’t known for sure, but in the Secret Diary of Michael of Cesena aged 61½, written a few years after the event he wrote:

J went all red in the face and I knew he was pissed off because I’d been going on about all the nice gear he had and he was already on my case ‘cos I was on at him to tone down the bling and be a bit more of an example to the poor. Me and Willy standing there with our baldy heads and brown robes just made him lose it big stylee and I reckon if he’d had an axe on him there, he’d have had our heads off on the spot. As it was he was all “Fuck you, you’re so dead with your poxy razors and all this shit about ecclesiastical poverty. I’ve had it with you” and I was all “Calm down, J, it’s only words, keep the rings and stuff if you want, cuz.” But Willy had a bit more about him than me and he was all “Just shut it, Mike, Big Papa J is well angry, innit. We better get out of here.” and then J was all “Yeah, fuck off, but I’m having you two and your mates, so think on that, you slags!”

So they went back to the monastery and got their posse together. William packed up his books, some spare underpants and a razor and they all crept out of Avignon and went to live in Munich. John couldn’t execute them, so he excommunicated them, but they were so not bothered. As it turned out, William got un-excommunicated by Innocent VI in 1359, 11 years after his death,which meant that he got to go to heaven. Probably.

Ah birthdays. I’m still not in a good birthday place and I really don’t know why this is. But I do have to big up Miles Davis who was born on this day and is a genius of 20th century music, whose influence is so huge and wide that most people probably don’t even realise that a lot of the music they love was inspired and made possible by this jazz trumpeter, this band leader, this composer, this master of musical theory. If you don’t have a copy of Kind of Blue, you are missing out on one of life’s most sublime pleasures, so get out and buy one now!

My name is Henry and I am a total knobend

It is also the day that Peter Cushing was born. He was such a lovely chap who could be recommended to bring a touch of class to whatever film he appeared in. I would highly recommend watching Blood Beast Terror, which is undoubtedly one of the worst films ever made and one in which Cushing mostly just wanders through while smoking endless fags. It is utterly brilliant in its ineptitude and I highly recommend it.  Here’s the trailer.

And finally, it is also the day that Henry Holland was born. Most of you will be all “who?” and that’s the way it should be. He is a so-called fashion designer who is shit and he is only famous because he hangs around with that model Agyeness Deynesesnsne or whatever TF she chooses to call herself. He is an utter twat and a big fat ponce of a poncing ponce. His clothes should be burned or put on scarecrows. That is all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Almanac

April 8th

On this day in 1820 a French soldier and a farmer were digging about on an island in the Aegean when they found some bits of a statue, the two main bits were the legs and the torso and head of a statue that we now know as the Venus de Milo.

It strikes me as odd that they should find the statue on the island of Milos, that it should be dated to somewhere between 130 and 100 B.C. , be modelled in the Hellenistic style and yet, they should insist on calling it Venus and not Aphrodite. It’s Greek, FFS give it the right goddess name, you bastards!

Anyway, the two guys who found it were Yorgas Kentrotos and Olivier Voutier. Given that Yorgas was only along for the ride, being paid for his digging and a peasant to boot, that’s pretty much the last we’ll hear of him. Olivier, however, was a bit of an art man and

She's got a right snotty face on her, but she's 'armless (gets coat)

realised immediately that he’d  happened on something a bit special. He got some French naval officers to come and have a look at it and one of them, Jules Durmont D’Urville, who got well excited when he saw the broken lady and wanted the French Ambassador to Turkey to buy it for the French. I have to say that it was nice of the French to want to pay for it. The English just found nice bits of old stuff they liked and took it. I guess this is why the Greeks want their Marbles back but are happy for the Louvre to keep the limb-deficient lady.

 

There are stories that she still had her limbs attached when they found her and they fell off in a fight. Not a fight that the statue was having, that sort of thing only happens in films where the great Ray Harryhausen does the special effects, but a fight over who could buy her/keep her/whatever. However, her arms were found with her. When she was carved, she had one arm on the drapes around her legs holding them in place and the other outstretched and holding an apple. Other facts  you might like to know are that she was originally carved out of about six pieces or marble. Two bits for the upper and lower body, a piece for each arm, one for the plinth and one for her feet. Bits of her were carved better than others, i.e. the bits that were going to be looked at, so by studying the quality of carving we can tell which way she was posed. The arms and hands are a bit shit, because they were well above eye level and wouldn’t really be looked at all that much.  There are also a few holes on her where jewellery would have been attached. She would, of course, have been painted and made to look as human as possible in that way.

It’s quite funny really. We think of the Greeks and Romans with all their classical style and “oh my, the lines, isn’t it just beautiful and so simple and not at all over the top.” Bollocks. A Greek or Roman temple full of statues would probably make a Baroque cathedral look a bit minimalist.

Anyway, she eventually ended up back in France after a bit of wrangling and King Louis XVIII gave it to the Louvre so anyone could go and see it. Now, she’s not a bad-looking statue, but the reason she got so famous is tied up with the French loss of the Medici Venus back in 1815. I say lost, the truth is Napoleon Bonaparte had stolen it when he’d been wandering around Italy duffing people up. Everyone in the world was a bit in love with this statue, mostly because it was a life-sized nudie woman and they could see tits and everything. The French were a bit sulky when they had to give her back, so when they got the Venus with no arms, they were all “Oh look, she’s even better than that Italian one. Look at her tits, way perkier!” and stuff like that. The fact is that she was all right, but nowhere near as great as everyone made out. Renoir, for example, thought she was shit. I think that’s a bit harsh, but she really isn’t all that.

 

Today is the birthday of Dame Vivienne Westwood, designer, eccentric, British treasure and gold-plated nutjob.

 

Over the top? Only if you say so

Vivienne was into art from an early age, but coming from a working class background she didn’t think she could make a living out of her work and so left art college (where she was studying fashion and silversmithing) went to work in a factory, took a teacher training course and became a primary school teacher. I would love to hear from people who were taught by her. I’ve a feeling it was quite the experience.

 

Throughout this time, she was making jewellery and selling it from a market stall. She also married and had her first son. The marriage ended when she met Malcolm McLaren and from thereon in it’s all very familiar history. In 1971 they opened “Let it Rock” which became “Too Fast to Live Too Young to Die”, “Sex” and “Seditionaries”. She still owns the shop which is now called “World’s End”. She started off creating the clothes that McLaren conceived, but blossomed into a designer in her own right. She remains interested in the punk sensibility, but her love of seventeenth and eighteenth century (especially the latter) cloth cutting and designs is also a huge and rather wonderful part of her work. Her tailoring is utterly stunning and her clothes remain as relevant now as they were back in the 70s. Not bad for a 70-year-old Dame who started out life as a primary school teacher.

Westwood is also a bit political, but in the way of many artists, it’s all a little removed from reality. That’s not to say she doesn’t get it right, but her politics can be as eccentric as he clothes, but with slightly less brilliant results. I don’t hold this against her, it just is what it is. She’s married to Andreas Kronthaler these days who is 30 years her junior and quite the honey. They’ve been together for about twenty years and are devoted to each other, which is just lovely.

 

Just beautiful

Oh and when she went to Buckingham Palace to collect her MBE, she went commando, which fact was captured by newspaper photographers when she left the Palace. The Queen, as far as we are aware, did not see her muff.

 

She’s great, her clothes are beautiful and witty, she’s bonkers, she sometimes look like  badly dyed bag lady and she is one of the greatest designers the world has ever seen. She dressed the Sex Pistols, Bow Wow Wow, Adam and the Ants in the early days. She was front and centre of synthesis of music and fashion in the seventies. She was, and is, a total fucking heroine. If I could spend an evening in one of her ball gowns, there’s every possibility that I might just faint with joy. (Please note, anyone wishing to buy me any Westwood, jewellery, shoes, clothes whatever, please go right ahead and do it. Really, get on to it right away. I won’t be shy about receiving lavish gifts. I promise).

Dearest Dame, I wish you happiness this year and for another seventy to come. You’re not allowed to die you see. We need you and they really and truly do not make them like you any more.

Leave a comment

Filed under Almanac

Grovelling Apology

Dear readers,

Some of you will have noticed late and lacking posts over the last week. I’m really sorry about this, but there are reasons:

  • Work that I get paid for got in the way at first
  • Then my birthday
  • Then the work I get paid for, again
  • Then a mild flirtation with cocktails and some minor inebriation
  • Then a rather less than mild reaction to some won ton soup
  • The above has left me rather er, explosive and rather tired

Mea culpa, etc.

I am hoping to feel like a human being tomorrow, when more work shall intervene. And then? Why then I am all yours again and posts will flow and I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I’m looking forward to writing them. I’ve been missing my history this week. I have new post subjects figured out and everything. It will be great! Or you know, fairly dull but with a few swears and stuff thrown in and a rant or several for good measure.

Yes please

In the meantime, my I recommend Source Code with lovely Jake Gyllenhaal (my future husband). If you’re ever in Brighton eat at Bardsley’s fish and chip shop It’s one of the best in the country. Their chips are to die for and my friend Mel who is not a fan of cod roe agreed that theirs was well lush. I also appreciated her battered saithe (a sustainable alternative to cod or haddock and frankly tastier than either) and eating them on a bench looking out to the setting sun over Brighton beach was rather lovely.

Also if you haven’t watched the first episode of The Crimson Petal and the White on BBC2, then do so now. It’s wonderful. Also read the book.

Please note that none of these are sponsored recommendations as I am not (yet) a corporate whore. I’m just trying to give you all a little something after being such an absent bitch for much of this week.

Right, back to the sickbed for me. More soon. Oh and for those who still remember/care, the vote for which year we’d use for a round-up of Marchian type stuff went to 1936. I intend to do this at some point next week when we’re all caught up and you’re all sick to death of reading me.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Almanac

March 16th

Another day another Roman, but this one is up there with the crème de la crème of psycho nutters, so no apologies for revisiting the same place two days in a row!

On this day in 37A.D. Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus became the Emperor of Rome. If the name doesn’t ring any bells with you, worry not. Gaius was far more commonly known as Caligula. Yes, the one they made that porno film about!

 

Bust of Caligula that looks a bit like Malcolm McDowell who played him in that porno

Before we get down to the nutjobbery, I have to get a few things out of the way and be scrupulously fair to Mr Caligula. There is a possibility that he wasn’t as much of a headcase as we’ve been led to believe. We don’t have much in the way of primary source material and it’s highly possible that the secondary sources got their information from now defunct sources that had an axe to grind. That said, he was almost certainly at least a bit of a nutter and as the “he did what now?!” stories are too interesting to ignore and we don’t actually have any evidence of him being a decent misunderstood little emperor,we’ll go with the loco in the coco angle.

 

We’ll be a little more fair to Caligula now. Given his early life, which was all pretty much conspiracies, his family being exiled or murdered and being sent hither and thither to this elderly relative and another, it’s not surprising that he grew up with strange ideas. Also  his adopted granddad – for future reference, Roman emperors, especially the early bunch, were great ones for “adopting” nephews and the like and making them their heirs. A sort of extended nepotism for when their own kids were either dead or a bit rubbish – Tiberius was hardly a great role model. He’d started out as a pretty good emperor, although he was a miserable bugger all his life, but for the last fifteen years of his life he was paranoid, killy and basically not in Rome much at all. He had Caligula come and live with him on Capri for the last six years of his long and miserable life. Consider what it was like for young Gaius. You’re there with your pretend grandfather , you’re 19, you know he orders the death of anyone he thinks is looking at him funny and you have to be well clever to be that close to him, that much of a perceived threat to him and to stay alive.

The fact that Caligula did stay alive says a lot for his ability to dissemble. There were rumours that he murdered Tiberius, but it’s unlikely as Tiberius was 77 when he shuffled off this mortal coil and pretty much desiccated by disease and grouchiness. In his will he left everything to Caligula and his actual grandson Tiberius Gemellus. Caligula did what anyone would have done in the same situation, had TG executed and claimed the lot for himself. Thus began his four years as Roman Emperor.

At first he was very popular. The populous had hated Tiberius, were glad to see the back of him and welcomed young-blood to the

Invictus reacts to the news that he's now a senator

throne. He made a few good decisions, like stopping all the treason trials Tiberius had been so keen on and commissioning a couple of aqueducts. Everyone thought they were in for a nice golden age, but they were wrong. Within two years Caligula decided the treason trials were  very good idea, mostly because he got to make lots of money from them by confiscating the estates of dead traitors and Caligula loved to spend money. He had bankrupted the state treasury within two years. He was also probably doing sex with his sister Julia Drusilla (as an aside, I used to have a cat called Drusilla), although to be fair to them, they were pretty much emulating the whole Ptolemaic thing where it was customary for brothers and sisters to get married. Anyway, when Drusilla died of a fever he was pretty much in bits and went even more batshit. Anyway, enough of that, we all know that he did it with his sister and that he made  his horse Invictus a senator, had his stable furnished with gold and stuff and also made him a priest. This is for finding out new things about Caligula to further cement our idea of him as the biggest insaniac ever to wear the laurel crown!

 

Okay, here goes. He killed an awful lot of people; he shagged other men’s wives and then mocked the men with that information; he let his people starve while he spent money on fripperies. So far so dull? You’re right. He also proclaimed himself a living god, demanded that people worship him and went about dressed up like a different god every day. More? Okay, the pièce de résistance. Once, when he was at the games, he got bored because there weren’t enough criminals to be prosecuted and killed during the interval, so he got his guards to throw a section of the audience into the arena where they were killed and eaten by animals.

He got away with this behaviour for nearly four years, but eventually enough was enough. No one knows exactly which straw broke the imperial camel’s back, but like Julius Caesar before him, he was attacked and stabbed to death by a group of men who couldn’t take any more of his lunacy. These men also hoped to bring the Republic back, but that ship had long sailed. Romans were delighted to see the back of Caligula, but happy enough to give his successor, his Uncle Claudius, a good crack of the whip. Claudius was one of Caligula’s only surviving relatives and he only got to live because of his stutter which Caligula liked to rip the piss out of. If I was Alanis Morrisette, I’d probably say that that was ironic, but it wasn’t so I won’t.

One last thing, for anyone who’s wondering. Caligula was a pet name meaning little boots. He got it when he was a wee lad who’d on campaigns with his father the general and wear a little replica of Roman army garb with his “little boots”. Alas even sweet little children can grow up to be tyrannical bastards. cf. Adolf Hitler.

 

Today is the birthday of a policeman called Eric Estrada. He used to be in a documentary about the California Highway Patrol, called CHiPs, but when that finished he found fame in reality  programmes and starring in stuff like The Bold and The Beautiful.

The documentary about the police was odd because although his name is Erica Estrada (One of the lecturers at my university was

Fake policeman bastard

called Erica Strata. She did not look like Eric Estrada) in the programme he pretended it was Frank Poncherello. My only guess on this is that he was undercover the whole time.

 

Eric Estrada has also turned himself into a cartoon to appear in things like King of the Hill and Family Guy where once again he gets to be a policeman like he is in real life and … hang on.

I’ve just done some more research and apparently CHiPs wasn’t a documentary and Eric Estrada is an actor. This is a shame because as an actor he makes a very good policeman. So, now I realise that he has spent his whole career  feeding off his fifteen minutes of fame in the early eighties and he’s not just an undercover police officer who made good. How tragic.

Anyway, I’ve nothing more to say about this faker  other than it’s his birthday today and he should be utterly ashamed  of himself!

3 Comments

Filed under Almanac

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!

Leave a comment

Filed under Almanac

February 13th

On this day in 1633 Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome to face the Inquisition. It was not the first time he’d been in trouble with Rome. Back in 1616, he’d narrowly escaped being called a heretic for insisting that they should all take a chill pill and read a bit more Copernicus, but somehow or other, they’d backed off from having him burnt at the stake for being a bit too much of a science bod and not enough of a proper religious man.

The Pope ordered Galileo to destroy all his Queen CDs

By 1633, things had got a bit more serious. As most of us know, Galileo was famous for being a scientist, for pushing the theory of heliocentrism over geocentrism, and more importantly, the muse of Freddie Mercury who wrote Bohemian Rhapsody for him. Back in the 17th century, these were all things that were frowned upon by the Papacy, but Galileo thought he was okay because the pope at the time, Urban VIII, was his mate. This  false sense of security led him to be a bit less careful than he should have been, given the unenlightened period he lived in. He began going around pubs saying “Anyone who thinks the sun revolves around the earth is just an idiot!” when warned by his fellow barflies that this was dangerous talk, he’d down another pint in one (he was a prodigious drinker) and give it large that the pope was his “besh mate” and continue on with his heretic talk. It was only a matter of time before he went too far and this happened on the eve of 13th February 1633, when, drunker than usual, he dissed Urban VIII to a large audience, including a papal spy.

Freddie sometimes dressed as a cleaning woman and helped Galileo out around the house

Called to appear in front of the Inquisition, Galileo regretted going quite so far and drinking quite so much, but still thought he’d be okay, given that Urban VIII surely wouldn’t go too hard on him; he was wrong. Urban had had enough of him and although Galilei escaped death by burning he was put under house arrest for the rest of his life, for the following crimes:

  • Insisting the sun was at the centre of the universe
  • Calling the Pope a bit of an arse
  • Boasting that the Pope was jealous that Freddie was singing “Galileo, Galileo” and not “Urban, Urban”.
  • Being too smart for his own good

Worst of all, he had to recant his views about the sun, which he did while muttering under his breath “Whatever, science rocks, you fucknuckles!” and promise never to go see Queen in concert again.

Galileo lived out the rest of his life under house arrest, secretly listening to Queen on the radio and sending jokey emails to his mate Freddie, who despite the fear of censure himself, never abandoned his muse and good mate. When Galileo Galilei died in 1642, Freddie sang at his funeral and Brian May did a nice guitar solo.

Today is the birthday of the best football referee the world has ever seen, Pierluigi Collina. The thing that helped him throughout his career was his incredibly scary face; Pierluigi looks like that scary thing off of The Hills Have Eyes, which meant that players would behave much better around him because they were scared he’d cannibalise them or something. He was also good at spotting

The Hills Have Eyes

when some big cry baby was just pretending to be hurt and he’d whisper things in their ears like “Get up or I will poo in your mouth”, which generally had the required effect. It was a very brave or very idiotic man who dared risk having the tall bald man come real on his threats.

Despite his scary face and faecal threats, Pierluigi was a much-loved figure in the world of football and  his retirement from the game is mourned by many. He now lives  a quieter life with his wife and children and his little Westie, Wallace. Happy Birthday, you scary, wonderful man, may none of your cards be red or yellow!

1 Comment

Filed under Almanac