Monday, April 25, 2011

Only a few hours to go now


I am beginning to hyperventilate.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sinclair's Bay

When I think of the top 10 beaches in the world that the travel magazines tout, I usually think of the Caribbean, the South Pacific, or, at least, the French Riviera. Not this one.

White sands and blue seas and 16th century castles. Plovers, dunlins, porpoises and your occasional Orca. (I know what the latter two are.)

I'm ashamed to admit I wouldn't have ever thought that number nine in the world is down there at the bottom of these cliffs, only 8 miles South of John O'Groats.

What a view from your back castle-porch, eh?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A few minutes with the lord of curmudgeoness

Andy is 92 now. He's been with CBS News now since 1949, and curmudgeoning on 60 Minutes since 1978, though no longer every week. He closes the show with "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" bellyaching about something less than earthshaking, but I like him. He's as liberal as they come, but I still like him. He was against WWII because he was/is a pacifist, but still was in a bomber dropping bombs on Germany. (His account of that is shown below.) One of the main reasons I like Andy is because his eyebrows look like he could fly off if he wanted to just wriggle them a little faster. Or maybe it is because he is 92 and still alive and I know I will never know what that feels like.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

ANDY ROONEY:
How it Feels to Bomb Germany...
Originally published in The Stars and Stripes, European Edition, Sunday, February 27, 1943.

A U.S. BOMBER STATION, Feb. 26 — From the nose of Lt. Bill Casey's Banshee, I saw American Fortresses and Liberators drop a load of destruction on Wilhelmshaven today.

We flew to Germany in the last group of a Fortress formation and Banshee was in the trailing squadron.

Soon after dawn the bombers thundered down the runway. Lt. Casey's windshield was splattered with mud on the way. It really was a blind take-off.

Like a pickup football team on a Saturday morning, we grew in strength as we flew, until all England seemed to be covered with bombers.

Everything was quiet — almost monotonous — for an hour after we left the English coast.

Sees First Enemy Plane

Then the trouble began.

Peeling out of the sun came shining silver German fighter planes, diving at one bomber in the formation and disappearing below the cloudbanks as quickly as they had come. They seemed tiny, hardly a machine of destruction, and an impossible target.

My first glimpse of a German fighter came when the navigator, 2nd Lt. William H. Owens, of Tullahoma, Tenn., nearly knocked me into the lap of 2nd Lt. Malcolm A. Phillips Jr., the bombardier, whose home is in Coffeyville, Kan. Owens swung around at what appeared to be an Me109 as it whipped down through the clouds on our left.

From that time until three and one-half hours later, when we were half way home, no one had to look far to see a German fighter. They were all over and they were all kinds of planes — Me109s, Ju88s and Me110s. There were no FW190s, by far the best plane Jerry has to fight the Forts. Their absence strengthened Allied contentions that Germany is desperately short of fighter planes.

From a vantage point in the pilot's cabin Lt. Casey and his co-pilot, 1st Lt. Kelly G. Ross, were calmly giving information over the inter-com.

"Here comes one at 2 o'clock, Elliot. Get the son-of-a-bitch."

T/Sgt. Wilson C. Elliot, of Detroit, Lt. Casey's top turret man, is the only man from the original Banshee crew left.

Before we were very deep into Germany deadly black puffs began to appear around us. It seemed as though they were "air mines" that were touched off as we came to them. A puff would appear to our right and then in quick succession a row of five more black splotches flowered out, each one closer as they caught up to us.

Lt. Casey zigged, and the puffs appeared in the tracks of our zag. He was one jump ahead of the flak. All but once he was one jump ahead.

Thought Plane's Nose Torn Off

Lt. Phillips was leaning far forward in the nose, between his guns and bomb-sight, when suddenly the whole nose seemed to break out of the ship. My first impression was that they had given up the flak and had thrown the gun at us.

Lt. Phillips sat back on his heels and covered his eyes with his hands. Splinters of flexiglass formed coating over his helmet. It was a minute before he recovered from the shock to open his eyes and find that he could see and was unhurt.

What appeared to be the nose being ripped off actually was only a small hole the size of a man's fist.

The formation was perfect, and the German sky dotted with Forts in front of us and Liberators behind us was comforting. Below, the land seemed to be farmland for the most part. Even that was divided into aggravatingly square plots. It looked German and unfriendly. You had the feeling you would have known it was Germany even if you hadn't attended the briefing.

German flak didn't seem to bother German fighter planes. They poured in even when their own flak was thickest.

Approaching the bombing run, the doors of the ships in front of us could be seen swinging open, and not far above us the yawning bomb bay of a Fort revealed more bombs, hanging by some mechanical hairpin, waiting for the bombardier to push the tiny button that sends them to the target.

Lt. Owens was having trouble with his oxygen and Lt. Phillips' fingers were nearly frozen. I was healthy but helpless. Finally the valve of the navigator's air intake froze completely and the next thing his head had dropped to the top of his caliber .50, and his face was an unlovely greyish purple. Both of them had work to do in the nose. I was strictly cargo. The oxygen on my side was okay. We fitted the mask to Lt. Owens' face, revived him and I started back for the pilot's cockpit.

By the time I struggled back without oxygen, with a backload of equipment that would make Santa Claus look sick, I was almost out. Lt. Casey almost yawned at what I was sure was a major crisis in my life.

He fixed me up with oxygen and the remainder of my brief first glimpse at the war was from the pit behind the pilot.

As we started the bombing run I was up in the nose of the ship, standing over to the right trying to keep out of the way of the navigator and bombardier. I had a camera, and that was probably the greatest underestimation, or something or other, of the Germans anyone ever made. I definitely did not feel like taking pictures. I made an effort once or twice and I got a couple of pictures of a small bunch of six little ships down on the water, but it's elementary that you have to be able to hold a camera still to take pictures.

We were well into the run and the flak was puffing to the right and left. The boys said it was not nearly as intensive as over St. Nazaire, but there was more of it, spread out in different places, they said.

Fighter planes were always there while we were making our run. They come in so fast it's hard to tell where they're coming from, but frequently you could see a vapor trail start to form, like a cloud standing on end. You knew that was a fighter starting a run.

As the bombardier crouched low over his sight, I was just in back of him, trying to take a picture of the bombs falling from the plane ahead. They dropped theirs, and I guess we must have the next second but I couldn't feel it.

Behind the tail gunner, T/Sgt. Parley D. Small, of Packwood, Iowa, reported that he had seen a Liberator go down with one engine flaming. Although on fire he said it was under control for a crash landing. Small himself picked off one German plane as it tried to tie a stream of machine-gun bullets on our tail. He described the end of another German fighter.

Jerry Stopped Cold

"It looked like a piece of cardboard that had been thrown out of a plane," he said. "It came up under the belly of a B24 and someone let him have it right on the nose. He stopped dead and fell away. The plane didn't seem to be burning. It must have killed the pilot."

As Nazi planes kept nipping at the formation, far away from the coast of Germany, they probably picked us up from the French coast. It is improbable that German-based fighters followed the USAAF bombers that far, even though many of them seemed to be twin-engined planes.

Almost half way home, three Ju88s could be seen diving at a B24 that had fallen out of formation and was in distress.

After 20 minutes without sign of Jerry, things began to look more pleasant

Song of Triumph

Lt. Casey and the crew began to sing over the intercom. Casey had the bends and was squirming in his seat — but smiling and singing. Next to him, Lt. Ross had to do most of the flying on the way home. Finally England was sighted and believe me, whatever you think, it is one of the most beautiful islands in all the world.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Corrections


My last couple of posts have drawn some criticism as to the accuracy of the maps. I have made the suggested changes accordingly. I hope the new map is more satisfactory. Region posts resume on Monday. Thank you.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"Ear all, see all, say nowt. Eat all, sup all, pay nowt. And if tha does owt fer nowt, allus do it for thissen."

It was my original intention to try to familiarize myself with the main regions of England before I ventured out into the wonderful cities and lovely villages, but I got sidetracked. Some might say I was sucked in by the bright lights of Grimsby. I now return to my original project of exploring regions, and will show more restraint in the future. Once one has experienced the blood-rush exhilaration of Grimsby, though, I'm sure Liverpool and London would have been letdowns anyway. I'm going to trot back up to the Northeast region, also known as Yorkshire and Humberside (the GOOD side of the Hummer, it has been hinted) and continue my original exploration.

[With your permission, I will also sprinkle in some Yorkshire-Speak, along with approximate translations, here and there at inappropriate times in this post, just for a bit of flavor.]

---------
"A more jammy so and so ah nivver met." (That person is inordinately lucky)
---------

Yorkshire is simply grand! Oh, my! Indeed, those of you who envision only pudding and terriers are in for a pleasant surprise indeed.

First of all, I present technical specifications, and some very interesting factoids, for the vast masses of Americans reading this and taking notes:

1. Hugicity. Yorkshire is the largest county in England. It is so large, in fact, that it has, over the years, been broken up into more bite-sized morsels by an envious London government who undoubtedly had begun to fear overthrow by the behemoth of the north. Some assert this willy-nilly chopping up of a once-proud giant was done with the consent of the residents, but, really, who's to know? Anyway, none of this is in Wikipedia, so bear with me as I venture into uncharted extrawikipedian waters here. If ONLY I had had someone who has actually BEEN there as a guide. Make no mistake, though, Yorkshire has continued to retain it's identity as an unique cultural region. Except, perhaps, for food, language and politics.

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"A reet ding dong." (A big argument)
---------

2. Pastoralacity. Yorkshire is probably the greenest part of England. The green belt. The Yorkshire Dales. The castles and ruins. Even many of its cities have dedicated green areas they preserve. Compared to Yorkshire, I get the impression the rest of England is a faded dull bronze. It brings to my movie-oriented American mind visions of Dorothy on the Yellow Brick road and seeing Green Oz in the distance. Shiver me timbers, but I'd love to visit Yorkshire! Too bad Obama put the quaeetus to me passport. Arrrrr! But instead of regaling you with the parts of the movie Yorkshire reminds me of, green-wise if not Kansas-wise, I'll just tell you an apt little story I remember our teacher telling our class in 4th grade....

As I recall, there was this yellow toad wandering around in the forest kinda ticked off because he doesn't want to be yellow. Life would be easier if he were green like the other toads. He'd sure be less visible to predators for one thing. Anyway... This yellow toad bumps into a fairy godmother. He begs her: "Fairy godmother, please make me green like the other toads. I am tired of being so visible to predators and suchlike." The fairy godmother whips out her magic wand and says, "Toadra-capokus! You're green!" The toad looks down and sees that he is green except for his package, which is still yellow. He says to the fairy godmother: "Wait a minute! My pecker's still yellow!" To this the fairy godmother replies: "I don't do johnsons. You will have to go see The Wizard of Oz for that." The toad thanks her and hops off on his way. There is a purple bear wandering about the very same woods. As luck would have it, he also encounters the very same fairy godmother. He implores her: "Fairy godmother, please make me brown like all the other bears. None of the lady bears want to be seen with me on account that the hunters can spot me from a mile off." She, being a nice fairy godmother, takes out her magic wand and says:"Bearus-cadabra! You're brown!" The bear looks down and sees that he is, in fact, brown with the exception of the ole twig and berries. They remain purple. He says: "My Wang is still purple!" She says: "I don't do units, you will have to go see The Wizard of Oz for that." To this the bear replies: "Well that's just dandy, but how the hell do I find The Wizard of Oz?" The fairy godmother answers: "That's easy... Just follow the yellowdick toad!"

I had a very interesting 4th grade teacher. She also taught us to sing ancient civil war songs like "Tenting tonight on the old campground" and "Columbia the gem of the ocean" and made us learn our multiplication tables up to 12 instead of only 9. But that was in the old days before American children started being denied a proper education for reasons that would be un-pc to go into, and which are unrelated to Yorkshire anyway.

---------
"As 'appy as a pig in't'trough." (Sublimely happy)
---------

3. Coalacity. Yorkshire, I'm told, (and you must understand when I say "Yorkshire" I am speaking of "Yorkshire and Humberside" as a region, and am not meaning to leave any non-Yorkshire Hummers out; it is just awkward to say all those words every time I mention the region) used to produce a really lot of coal to feed the heavy industries of Northern England. I'm guessing that would be pre-Margaret Thatcher if you are talking about heavy industry and lots of jobs in the north of England. The book didn't say. It only said they don't produce coal that much anymore. Coal has reverted to ever more pastoral green-ness, and the main industries today in the vast region are the production of textiles and engineers. Textiles are mostly grown in the south, while engineers are grown mostly in West Yorkshire. The main cities in West Yorkshire are Bradford and Leeds. The hardy people in this region of the region are rugged individualistic folk, whose rugged individualism often finds expression in a tough style of humor. Yo.

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"Ee'd eat t'oven if t'were buttered." (He seems hungry)
---------

4. Languagacity. The language of Yorkshire ranges (due to its size) from partly understandable in the south, to completely incomprehensible in the north. One would be wise to hire a Scots interpreter as a guide, just in case. This would be mandatory if you are from West Texas.

5. Recreationacity. One can go hiking along the beautiful seashore. North Yorkshire Moors National Park, Gorgeous beaches. Marvelous rocks. Dinosaurs all dead in most areas. Further inland, don't forget the picturesque villages and breathtaking beauty of Yorkshire Dales, whose streams empty into the Humber. Not much competitive football or cricket or rugby in Yorkshire, that I could find mention of. Turning southward you enter the cradle of cutlery, and well worth the visit. An entire future post is devoted to Sheffield, though, so we'll keep the eating aids discussion to a minimum here.

---------
"Thas getten reyt bogbellied." (You have put on weight)

6. Historicalacity. History buffs will literally cream with delight in Yorkshire. Roman stuff of all sorts oozing out the ears, still lying on the ground for the taking (if no one seems to be watching.) Constantine the Great. Heady stuff. And that ruler's wife who ran off with his armor-bearer and then became ruler herself. I can hardly sit still as I type this. Then there was the War of the Roses, but I've received complaints about already writing too much about King Dick III in other posts, so I will just remind you that the York in Yorkshire is for the House of York which was a grand city of old to which the word "shire" denotes the land mass ascribed to same city. This was all also before Margaret Thatcher, I hasten to add. A white rose on a blue background. (Not Thatcher. The Standard of the House of York, I mean.)
---------

I realize that many of you will feel disappointment at the shortness of this post, and, indeed, there is MUCH more that could be told of this beautiful region of England. But to try to tell of all the wonder and lore of Yorkshire and Humberside would fill many books.

The movies always say it best, so I will leave you with the words of the great past California Governor, Conan the Barbarian: "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."

Perhaps not as apt as I had hoped.

---------
"So, it's come to this, 'asit? Ah'm not wanted any longer? Ah worked for thi dad. thi grandad and 'is dad an' all. Ah tell thi what lad, if Ah'd known this job weren't going to be permanent, Ah'd nivver 'ahe tekken it on." (So, it's come to this, has it? I'm not wanted any longer? I worked for your dad, your grandad and his dad also. I'll tell you what lad, if I had known this job was not going to be permanent, I would have never taken it on.)
---------

I wish to acknowledge and thank these two websites, especially the latter, and encourage you to visit both of them.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"The Great Grimsby" by F. Scott Maxgerald

This is one of those posts that started out to prove I know what I'm talking about, but soon fall flat on my face. Later on in the post, I will try to pick myself up and recover my dignity. This is one of those kinds of posts I mentioned before, where I try to write down what I learned in my studies and hope you will pitch in and correct any faulty information.

There are eight traditional regions in England which derive from their geography and history. One of these eight official/unofficial non-political regions of England is called the Northeast region. It is also called Yorkshire and Humberside. Why not just "Northeast", you ask? Well, because (greater) Yorkshire is what pretty much makes up this region in the Northeast, and Yorkshire is next to a river called The Hummer. Humber. Sorry. Or perhaps "Northeast is just not descriptive enough or long enough.


Not to worry though, (I sense your worry) because in this post I am only going to talk about a place called Grimsby. I know, I know - the British ALWAYS use two names. And, if there is a nearby river, you may be sure the city is located ON the river. Often UPON the water. But that is cool. Try to move past it.

Now, there is just one tiny problem. The city of Grimsby, though on the Humber Estuary, is apparently not really in the Northwest Region (Or Yorkshire and Humberside, if you prefer, and you probably do.) "Humberside" apparently means only one side of the Humber. Sigh. Why do you make this so difficult.

Moving on. As I said, or should have said, one of these eight official/unofficial non-political regions of England is called the East Midlands region. Lincolnshire is in the East Midlands region. Grimsby is in Lincolnshire. So far so good.

Grimsby is no exception to the mandatory Two Names rule: it used to be called GREAT Grimsby. This was, one supposes, to clarify it from Small Grimsby (Wee Grimsby? Lesser Grimsby?) which was a smaller town a few miles to the south, and which (I must assume, since no REAL reason was given) people were always going to Teeny Grimsby and thinking they were in Great Grimsby, but they really weren't. I know what you are thinking, and I agree. If the English would simply use one name per city, this alternative naming system would not be necessary.

Before I forget it, there is another reason I am introducing Grimsby today, which has to do with the once-American frozen food company called Bird's Eye. This, along with the rumor that folks have been known to catch a fish or two in that area. But these things will be discussed (if not actually made clear) in a later post. MUCH later, probably.

Due to that uncertainty, please don't hold your breath on the frozen fish story.

Onward and upward. I want you to know how Grimsby got its name, so you can feel connected.

ODIN! ODIN!! ODIN!!!

None of you probably remember a movie called "The Vikings". Perhaps just as well. It was a story about Vikings who sailed to England and captured a prince's bride-to-be to use. ummm. To use as a hostage, I mean. As Vikings do.

The head guy was Kirk Douglas (of course, since he owned the production company) and his nemesis was Tony Curtis who got his hand chopped off by the English for letting Ragna die with a sword in his hand, when the English just wanted him to die and not go to Valhalla. As English are wont to do. Ragna (played by the venerable Ernest Borgnine) was the Viking King and was the father of Kirk Douglas' character. Which was quite a cinemagraphic trick, seeing as how Kirk is two years older than Ernie in real life. Ernest is in his nineties now, so Kirk is, like, maybe, a thousand. Tony's real life wife, the original Psycho shower lady, mother of Jamie Lee, played the captured/used royal bride-to-be (sans big blue sapphire ring) and, christ I can't think of her name right now. Lee. Leigh. Vivian Lee? No. Lee something. JANET LEIGH!!! Maybe that's where Jamie got her middle name -- Janet and Tony couldn't spell. You think? Anyway...

The part of the movie that is relevant to this post (if only to a LESSER degree) is the part when the Vikings get REALLY pissed at Tony Curtis and bury him in the sand at the edge of the water with only his head sticking out and the tide is starting to come in. Remember? Like, "If you are telling the truth, you won't drown, and if you are lying, well, at least you will never be thirsty again." It's night and the clouds are moving past the moon and Tony is very upset because the tide is getting higher and higher around his chin. And finally, in his despair, he cries out to ODIN! again and again. "ODIN! ODIN!! ODIN!!!. Well, by golly -- wouldn't you know it -- just as the water reaches Tony's nose, Odin finishes his supper and hears Tony's cries. Odin blows his breath on the water and blows the tide back. So everyone who comes in the morning knows Tony was telling the truth after all.

Grimsby was settled by Danish Vikings about 800 A.D. or thereabouts (not important to this post, but I think somewhere in that era, though others may have settled it earlier due to it's strategic position. Romans, probably. It's ALWAYS the Romans.) And "Grims" was the head Viking's name that settled it. So it was named after him. "by" is old Danish for "village." In modern Danish it means "town". So the meaning has changed a lot over the years as the Danish language has evolved. The 'GREATER" part we've already discussed. Probably more than we should have. So there you go: Greater Grims-by. Cool, no? Wait, there's more.

Some say (and this is a stone solid fact because I read it in Wikipedia) that this Grims feller was really.................... ODIN!!!!! They do! They DO say that! See, Odin used to like to come down and walk the earth among mortals. On Friday nights, I think. (That part wasn't in Wikipedia, so I'm assuming.)

I've not even got STARTED on this English regions thing, so if you miss my next post, you will be so distraught you'll probably go bury yourself in the sand.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Is England a country?

I alternate on this blog between finding out "British things," sharing my findings with fellow Americans, and feeding my British friends various tidbits about the U.S. which they think they already know but often don't, really. Mostly, I discover British facts and customs (much more than just language differences now) and write about what I think I've learned. I do that so you will correct my misunderstandings.

Is England a country, then? Of course it is. So are the other three. I'm still a little hazy about your dependencies or protectorates or whatever you call them. The islands. Anyway, I speak of this subject today because it is somewhat confusing to Americans. First of all, Americans know that your country is called The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland., or U.K. for short. Some of them do, anyway.

So.... if the name of your country is the United Kingdom, then how does England (and the others) get to be a country too? The answer, I think, lies in a history of distinct identities and cultures, the things that make up the definition of a country. Somewhere in my reading I have seen them called "home countries," but that doesn't really enlighten me. I am willing to accept that they all have their own unique identities which make them countries in their own right, not to mention they all were, at one time, in fact, separate countries. That makes the U.K. a Union of countries. E pluribus unum. Pluribus being four in this case.

I'm not trying to draw comparisons to the U.S. and the several states. I know better than to do that. Your countries have preserved their unique identities much more than the states have. So I would no more do that than I would compare cricket to... well, you know.

What I really wanted to talk about, though, and will do so in the next post on this blog, are the distinct regions of England. There are eight commonly-recognized regions in England, and I want to find out more about them and report back next time. These regions are not political entities, but rather areas which cling to their own customs and cultures (and sometimes languages.) They are mostly identified by the points of the compass, though different sources sometimes give the regions different names. More on this interesting subject next time.

I do. Oh, I do. I do I do I do I do I do.

It's true, it's true! Relax Max is SIMPLY FASCINATED by it all. Here's the deal — you folks can continue worshiping at the shrine of Barack Obama (of unknown origins, says The Donald) and I will pursue the headier delights of the upcoming (impending?) marriage of (be still, my heart) KATE. How could you claim to be utterly disinterested? I think you're all lying. Following is the fruit of the past week's tabloid dishes.

1. Kate prefers to be called Catherine.

2. Kate is related to both George Washington and George S. Patton.

3. Kate is the oldest bride in history.

4. Kate has been assigned 4 bodyguards from Scotland Yard to protect her clock.

5. Kate was a Brownie.

6. Is a morbidly moping Brad Pitt sleeping with an Angelina Jolie look-alike?

7. Teen unable to close mouth after yawning in class.

8. Kate is 6 years older than Prince William.

8a. Prince Charles is 20 years younger than Kate.

9. Kate set a high jump record in school. Dunno, that's what it said.
---------

Explanations and clarifications found necessary due to publication before proofreading:

(These are probably not in order. Makes it more interesting that way.)

1. Title of post is from an ABBA song. I'm thinking 1 or 2 of you might not get that without this prompt. It is also a double-entendre meant to refer to the weddi.... ah, never mind.

2. If you go all the way to 8th cousins, 11 times removed, I guess I am related to George Washington, too.

3. Make that the oldest "royal" bride in history. I find that hard to believe, though they do tend to rob the cradle more often than not. But she's only 29. Really? Could she REALLY be the oldest woman ever to marry a royal? I'm guess there is another caveat the tabloid left out.

4. Make that "protect her AROUND THE clock."

5. Not a faerie. A little girl scout. Pre- girl scout. Whatever.

6. Clicked on wrong link and got those ones about Brad and yawn.

7. Make that "she is 6 MONTHS older than Prince William."

8. In dog years.

Next post: "Inattentive future queen gets hand bitten by
deranged woman." See the actual video of the human
bulldog in action. Not for the squeamish.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Werewolves of London, Part Doo


[CAUTION, ROYAL WEDDING ALERT!]

SET YER ALARMS!!!

Warning: this post is not for those with weak stomachs.

Da Fox channel has just announced that it will begin boredcasting the at 4 a.m. on April 29. Not for nothing, but I say they are ALREADY broadcasting about it if they are running promos.

I don't know about you, but I am a sucker for this sort of thing. I still have VHS tapes of Diana's wedding where she forgot what the guy's name was. Ah, well. Just ONE TOO MANY names, I guess. Does anyone know what William's full name is? Bet there's an Albert in there somers.

Is it true they are auctioning off the FABULOUS BLUE SAPHIRE RING on eBAY for Japan relief? I hope that isn't just another april FOOL'S joke that's going around. I would feel pretty stupid if it is.

And I HATE to feel stupid.

Werewolves of London

Did you know there are over 1,000 medieval castles in England? God only knows how many in the whole of the U.K.

Do you know how many ghosts inhabit these castles? ::Shudder::

I don't know how many. But they say the MOST prolifically haunted castle in England (or all of Britain, for that matter) is Northumberland's Chillingham Castle.

Aptly named, no? (I mean the Chilling part.)

Chillingham is the home of the infamous "Blue Boy," who wanders Chillingham's nooks and crevices and makes scary noises 'round about midnight down the castle's passageways. (Castles have passageways, not halls.)

Chillingham also offers self-catering apartments, the brochure says. I don't know what that is.

Another is Old Wardour Castle in the south of England. West of England. Southwest of England. Wiltshire. (Wiltshire was named after the main street in downtown Los Angeles. Just a little trivia. Wait. That's "Wilshire". Never mind.) There is a lake nearby. The Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood was filmed there. That's pretty scary. By all that's holy, though, don't let the sun go down on you (like Elton John says) at Old Wardour! Lady Blanche Arundell is the ghost in residence at Wardour Castle. After a month-long seige, Oliver Cromwell imprisoned her, then executed her. (Seldom is it the other way around.) She walks from the castle to the lake at sunset. And rarely eats. (My assumption.)

Dartmoor National Park, or close to it, in that little bit of heaven, Devon, is Berry Pomeroy Castle. (I will spare you my Ronnie Dove imitation of "Little Bit of Heaven.") It is the haunted home of ... ummmm... (wait for it) Berry Pomery. Pomeroy Castle is a ruin, though. The brochure says "romantic" ruin. Sorry. Plenty of ghosties there, but the featured attraction is The White Lady. oooooEEEEEEooooo. Kinda un-pc to call someone just the White Lady in this day and age, don't you think? She hangs out in the dungeons. So YOU stay up in the kitchen or out on the ruined patio, if you know what's good fer ye. Arrrrh! Many think - and you may, too - that The White Lady (ooooEEEEEoooo) is really the spirit of Margaret Thatcher Pomeroy, whose sister imprisoned her in the dungeon until she starved to death. (Margaret, not her sister.) Wonder where Berry was at the time? Anyway, you'd think Maggs would haunt out in the kitchen since she starved to death.

The brochure says "slowly" starved to death. But that is probably always the way of starvation, and unnecessary to point out.

Happy haunting.

April Fool. Not. All of the above is true and unembellished.

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