Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cannabalism in Scotland: the legend of Sawney Bean

The soccer team that once crashed on the mountaintop in South America. The American Donner Party. Dickens' Sweeny Todd.

The fine art of chowing down on one's fellows.

Well, it seems in 15th century Scotland, one Alexander Bean (or "Beane") was executed for "mass murder" when he and his 48-member clan took a fancy to human pancreas and the like, precursing Hannibal Lecter, and put the bite on over 1000 people. (Other clans, of course.)

His father, an educated INTP, I think, was a ditch digger and part-time hedge trimmer who tried to pass the family trade, shovel and all, down to his son, but Alexander (Called "Sawney" for some inexplicable reason fathomable only to Scots) would have no truck with honest labor; not with so many delectable upright rump roasts walking around, free for the frying. As it were.

Now, your normal everyday ne'er-do-well who has just turned down a steady hedge trimming gig would probably just look for some other line of work. But Sawney? Goes to his state of mind, your honor.

To this day, the hedges of Scotland are only sporadically and crookedly trimmed. I'm sure you've noticed, though probably you haven't made the connection between this and chewing one's fellow-traveler's fingernails and more. If you get my drift.

Incest? Those Scots had a a patent on it. Jesus. Well, there were only 48 people in the whole clan, so that DOES make one's eye wander to one's sister. Sawney, though, hooked up with an outsider - a vicious woman, they say - who shared his inclinations. And I'm not talking about ditch-digging inclinations.

Most young couples would be looking to build a modest home and start a family, but these two beauties found them a cave on the coast. The cave was fine enough as caves go, some 200 yards deep. Fine enough if you overlook the fact the entrance disappeared at high tide. They had to make allowances for that in their Daily Planners. The cave is still there today. Well, duh.

As you probably know, quirky Relax Max is the kind of little doggie who always reads between the lines, so I was wondering how the interior of that cave smelled (smelt to you) when one was trapped inside on a hot summer's day at high tide with a pile of human feet and viscera. Did I mention she was a vicious woman?

History tells us, if you are one of the 8 or 10 people in the world who believes Scots oral history, that the lovely couple's many children and grandchildren were "the products of incest and lawlessness." Even Relax Max can't quite conjure up how one has children by "lawlessness" (or doesn't want to even try to conjure it up) but the incest part is another duh.

"Lacking the gumption for honest labor, the clan thrived by laying careful ambushes at night to rob and murder individuals and small groups. The bodies were brought back to the cave where they were dismembered and cannibalized. "Leftovers" were pickled. Discarded body parts would wash up on nearby beaches." — Wikipedia

So we can deduce from this they didn't have regular trash pickup in those days.

Pardon me while I retch on my keyboard.

Ok, I'm back now.

You will note in the picture at the top of this post that the woman in the background is carrying legs into the cave. In case you missed the details.

You may be wondering why the neighbors didn't notice the parts on the beach or the stench in the air - at least Max wondered - but the Scots tend to mind their own business unless situations become intolerable.

The situation did become intolerable.

Not ones to bother with serious criminal investigations, the local townspeople first lynched several innocents. (History doesn't tell us whether these unfortunates were simply left hung out for the birds to peck, or whether the clan munched them. Max, of course, thinks of things like that.)

To make a long story short... well, I suppose it is already too late for that, but nevertheless... King James VI of Scotland finally got wind of the carnage and sent down 400 searchers and a bunch of bloodhounds. It didn't take the bloodhounds long to find the stinking cave the neighbors had missed, which, the narrative says, was "rife" with human remains. Rife. Holy Macaroni, how does one SLEEP in such a cave?

Relax Max is always reluctant to mention King James VI of Scotland, because there is an unwritten law (or maybe it IS written) that one must always obligatorily add "Later King James I of England" to the mix. I don't know why. It just has to be done, and I've done it.

The clan was captured and taken (in chains - Wikipedia states the obvious) to Jail in Edinburgh, then later transferred to Leith or Glasgow where they were executed without trial. Never one to complain, Relax Max nevertheless cannot help but wonder if you are going to execute people without trial (Even Florida and Texas give trials) then why not just off the crud right next to the cave and be done with it? Let the bloodhounds have a go at them? I suppose there would be more of an audience in Glasgow, though.

But a nice show it was, well worthy of any admission that may have been charged. May I describe it to you? Yes? Then I shall.

The men had their genitalia cut off, hands and feet cut off, and left to bleed to death. The women and children were given the pleasure of watching this, then they were burned to death. (James was Catholic, remember.)

Ayrshire is noted for its dark folklore, so none of this may be true. Let's hope.
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Have you ever tasted "Vienna Sausages" - those little mushy weiner-like things in little cans at your grocer's, next to the deviled ham? Those are reportedly what pickled pancreas tastes like.

Just saying. Max likes to finish the job properly.
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To Americans, smelt is just a little fish.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Most Hated American Words

Britain is being inundated with (apparently low-life) words used by Americans. The pristine language is threatened. These are the top 10 words or phrases that make British journalist Matthew Engels cringe, according to "The English Blog." Actually, these words are pretty tame. I have a few that would make Engels piss his pants, but I'll leave them until later. Here's his shitlist of American words that are sliming Britain's pure speech:

1. Hospitalise (or, worse, he says, "hospitalize.")

2. Faze

3. Movies

4. Truck

5. Hike (as in "raise.")

6. The finger

7. Math

8. Rookie

9. Outage

10. Monkey wrench

Now, besides the fact no American would spell hospitalize "hospitalise" (my spell-checker goes bananas at the mere thought) and despite the fact no American has used the words "monkey wrench" since Buck Rogers did in 1934, here are my own offensive top 10 British words that, thankfully, are NOT creeping into the American language:

1. Surgery (when what you really mean is "doctor's office.")

2. Whatever word you use instead of "faze."

3. Film (when you are talking about movies instead of crud on your teeth.)

4. Lorry (when you are not talking about a girl's name and just spelling it wrong.)

5. Whatever you would say instead of hike.

6. The stupid "V for Victory" finger sign backwards.

7. Maths. (You people never seem to get this, do you? "Math" doesn't mean we doltishly think there is only one discipline in that branch of science; it means the word "mathematics" has been shortened to only its first 4 letters. Try to think out of the box on this one.)

8. Birds called rooks. (Incidentally, where they live are called "rookeries" by Americans. And why a rook would be called a rookie is beyond me. Do you people REALLY call rooks that?)

9. Power cut. (The power hasn't been "cut." The lights have gone out because of an accident. The power is out. There is a power "outage." Don't be angry.)

10. Adjustable spanner. Jesus.

Dear readers: all the above snotty comments were meant for this Mr. Engels, not you. You know how I love your words.

Moving on.

Well, ok. This Mr. Engels (of the MailOnline) seems to be defending your language from the Americans like the French are guarding against you. There used to be a fag in L.A. by the name of "Mr. Black" who used to bitchingly hurt women's feelings about the way they dressed and their taste in clothing accessories (thank god he's dead now) and this gentleman at the virtual version of the Mail seems to be equally obsessed with ridiculing American words.

What is the "MailOnline" anyway? Sounds like an oxymoron. I thought Mail Online was called eMail.

I could go on, you know.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Breithl√° shona

Since the first post I made on this blog in March of 2008, she has been there - my first reader, my most loyal "follower." No matter how stupid the post, or how profane I get, or how boring my subject matter, she is always there to read my stuff and comment on it.

A. is "The Travelling Spouse" who runs a fine blog of her own. I want to wish her a happy birthday and thank her for her support.

She never seems to stop traveling from place to place. But wherever she finds herself, in England or France, in Prague or Rome or Monte Carlo, she always opens her laptop and comments on this blog. And she's never forgotten where she came from.

Thank you Ireland.

Happy Birthday, A.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Old money

I was speaking with a friend the other day and the subject of the old monetary system in the UK came up. I wonder if anyone still remembers the days of the shilling. Your old money was always unfathomable to me as an American when I read about it in books by Charles Dickens and Anna Sewell.

Mostly pounds and shillings. I thought 12 shillings to the pound but was corrected. (The 12 that stuck in my mind was the number of pence in a shilling; there were 20 shillings to the pound.)

Which reminds me, oddly, of Enid Blyton saying the dog's tail was wagging 19 to the dozen. I don't know why I always remember that, or what it has to do with the number of shillings to the pound. But if you have followed BritishSpeak since its inception, you know why an American is familiar with a British children's author. Back to money.

Anyway, the real questions I had were about what other money names meant, including slang. For example, Sherlock Holmes and H.G. Wells spoke of gold sovereigns, which I don't have a clue as to the value. I finally figured out what a quid was, but still don't know what a bob is or was or where the word came from. Ebenezer Scrooge gave the prize turkey boy half a crown for returning with the poulterer in less than five minutes, says Charles Dickens. I don't know what a crown is, money wise. If I did, I could surely figure out what half a crown was.

Let's not forget guineas. Nobody knows what those were.

I was force-fed a song in grade school about someone who had six-pence and seemed happy to have it.

The song "A Soalin'" (don't get me started on soul cake or carved turnips, please) mentioned a ha' penny. And my friend claimed to still have a farthing. What IS this stuff? What WAS that stuff, I mean.

We all agree that bobbies are named after Robert Peel, but I don't think bob the money is related. Whatever a bob is. Not my uncle, that's for sure.

I give up. I doubt if anyone remembers anyway.














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The Telegraph, June 6, 2010: "Enid Blyton beats Roald Dahl and JK Rowling to be voted Britain's best-loved author." The children's authors were ahead of Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, and Charles Dickens. Another children's author, Beatrix Potter, also appeared in the top ten. I think all but Rowling and Shakespeare were paid in the old money at one time or another. Maybe Shakespeare, too; I haven't researched Elizbethan lucre.

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