"The oldest profession in the world"
gains a whole new meaning with this 57-year-old woman's spirited account, in The Spectator (est. 1858
) no less, of her successful new career as a prostitute. I must admit a part of me said "Hooray! There's hope for us thirtysomethings yet" but the rest remained highly suspicious or (to be honest) whispered "How pathetic!" Is this ageism or are (much) older women really more attractive nowadays?
posted by Schweppes Girl
on Nov 7, 2002 -
How gay panic gripped 1960s Royal Navy One sailor reportedly picked up a prostitute who he believed to be female. Realising he wasn't who she appeared to be, the sailor reportedly declared: "Blimey, you're all there!" Nevertheless, he apparently became "infatuated".
This kind of incident led admirals to argue that most of the men accused were only inadvertently homosexual, rather than dangerous "perverts".
Just-released documents from the UK Public Records Office
show some interesting attitudes among the Navy hierarchy at the time. The rationalising of the various activities uncovered is actually quite creative, and weirdly more tolerant than that in subsequent decades, when gay activity got people summarily thrown out of the forces. Even this particular 'crisis' eventually triggered a new 'education' programme on the evils of homosexuality though. In this instance, the pendulum seems not so much to have swung as to have careered wildly in all directions. A bit like the sailors.... (sorry).
posted by jonpollard
on Oct 31, 2002 -
City of London Churches
'The ‘Square Mile’ that constitutes The City of London is a world financial centre where 300,000 people work and nearly 500 foreign banks have an office. Less well known is that amongst the largely uninspired office blocks are hidden around 50 current or former churches and other places of worship, either complete, converted into offices, or in ruins. Once there were nearly 100 parish churches within the City boundaries but the Great Fire of London, the migration of residents to the suburbs, and Hitler’s bombs have done most to reduce that figure. Many of the surviving churches are, famously, Wren churches. After the Great Fire he had the unique opportunity of designing over 50 churches, and he gave full rein to his imagination ... '
A guide to 55 churches in London's financial district; best seen on a weekend, when the City is virtually deserted. Whilst the majority are Wren churches, there are some exceptions - St Bartholomew the Great
, which dates back to Norman times; the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue
, the oldest surviving synagogue in Great Britain; and the Dutch Church
, which was drawn by van Gogh
and important to the Huguenot community. Particularly worth a visit is St. Bride's
, the journalists' church; the design of the wedding cake is based on the shape of its spire.
posted by plep
on Oct 30, 2002 -
Actor Richard Harris dies
"Don't let it be forgot - that once there was a spot - for one brief, shining moment - that was known as Camelot..." Such a sad day all around. R.I.P., Richard.
posted by dnash
on Oct 25, 2002 -
Centre of Great Britain
The BBC (God bless 'em) are running a series of "Centre of ..." stories. No-one in the UK seems to care, do other nationalities care more about their country's centre of gravity?
posted by daveg
on Oct 21, 2002 -
, one of the UK's finest ever sports writers has retired from the Guardian. Mathew Engels appreciation concludes with links to ten of his finest pieces. This is brilliant writing which happens to concern itself with sport, so there is no need for any "doesn't this belong on Sportfilter" type snideness.
posted by Fat Buddha
on Oct 7, 2002 -
Blue man runs for Senate
Stan Jones, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in Montana suffers from argyria
, a condition in which the skin becomes stained a permanent shade of blue. How do you come down with it? You drink lots of colloidal silver
. Jones started mixing his own shortly before Y2K to help boost his immune system in the antibiotic-short apocolypse he was sure was coming. No word if he is now engaged in weird behavior
involving metal tubes.
posted by agaffin
on Oct 3, 2002 -
Anyone go to the anti war protest in London today?
The number of the people has been estimated from between 3000 (by the police) to 350,000 (by the organisers
). I reckon 200,000. Either way, its the largest peace protest ever in the country. Me and my friends sign was a great success, with many people commenting on it/photographing it. It was the only black one we saw, so easily stood out. It said 'Its all about the oil' on one side, and on the other there was a picture of Bush looking stupid, and 'No to War'. The protest was peaceful (or was when I left) and on the whole, a success. The only question is, will Bush and Blair take any notice?
posted by Orange Goblin
on Sep 28, 2002 -
Cooking the Books
The Office of National Statistics feels that the UK population is a little too small - so they're inventing one million people to fill the gap. Why did they do a census if they were going to make it all up?
posted by tabbycat
on Sep 23, 2002 -
have been talking about it for a while, but this Music Identification Service for British
(nyt) mobile phones is finally here. For 50p, you can place your mobile phone next to any machine playing groovy unidentifiable music, and within a minute, it'll text and tell you what's playing. So far, I've worked out that it's great at identifying Sheryl Crow and Bush tracks, but it's not so good at identifying
traditional Greek folk music.
posted by seanyboy
on Sep 17, 2002 -
The Bolan Tree
Today is the 25th Anniversary of the accident in which folk-singer turned glam pioneer Marc Bolan died. The tree
his car hit - driven by his partner, soul singer/producer Grace Jones
- has been purchased by a fan group [T-Rex Action Group], who have also contributed a bust sculpted by Canadian Jean Robillard
(with Quebec Government Cultural Attaché to Great Britain attending the unveiling today).
You may not think you know his music, but if you've seen Velvet Goldmine
or Billy Elliot
, watched the NBA Playoffs on TNT [using 'Get It On/Bang A Gong'
], or ever wondered where the ubiquitous '20th Century Boy'
[with the definitive power chord + squeal opening burst] comes from, now you know.
Marc inspired devotion in his fans, and respect from the likes of Bowie, the Damned and Billy Idol in his own lifetime - and influenced musicmakers like The Strokes & The Red Hot Chili Peppers [according to this article in The Philidelphia Enquirer
Dandy's in the Underworld, indeed.
posted by dash_slot-
on Sep 16, 2002 -
A hot rod hamster
caused quite a stir when he was caught racing along the promenade – in his dragster car.
More Friday Funny.
posted by Grod
on Sep 6, 2002 -
Stalin, Hitler, Guilt, Finger-Pointing And Friendship: Timothy Garton-Ash
reviews, a trifle superciliously but fairly, a very lively and soul-searching polemic between two consummate, consuming and irresistible writers, Martin Amis
and Christopher Hitchens
- who also happen to be old friends. Funnily enough, I'd suggest reading Hitchens's review in the Atlantic Monthly first
; then the three
] extracts from
] Amis's book
] and, finally
, Hitchens's reply to them. All in all, it's that rare thing: a long, juicy, well-written and passionately argued polemic with plenty of insights into how generations come to terms with the honest indiscretions and oversights of their youth. Oh and there's a lot about communism, nazism, totalitarianism and the Sixties too...
posted by MiguelCardoso
on Sep 5, 2002 -
The British Empire in Colour
-- a three-part documentary series from the producers of the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award-winning Britain at War in Colour
will air this month. The series is supposed to include "a treasure-trove of early colour movies filmed before 'technicolour' transformed film making in the 1930s. Unique colour footage of the Edwardian splendour of 1906 British India, soldiers of the First World War and class divided Britain in 1926 as seen for the first time by a modern visually sophisticated audience."
Apparently, it also includes Horrifying footage of last days of Raj
posted by Bixby23
on Sep 2, 2002 -
Amina Lawal Must Not Face Death by Stoning
says UK Amnesty International. Nigerian woman, divorced & single, with 3 kids, to be executed by a Sharia Court for giving birth outside of wedlock. Other pregnant unwed mothers, such as this computer student
, are seeking asylum outside of Nigeria to avoid being stoned to death by a Nigerian Sharia Court in accordance with Islamic law principles.
Amina's whole convoluted and horrible story is laid out nicely here
. Sharia Courts, and their ilk, punish sexual and "moral offenders" through stoning, amputation
, crushing the victim with walls
or even rape
Meanwhile, in another universe, the Nigerian 419
scam has mutated into Amina Lawal's "barrister" spamming the net with pleas for cash.
Instead of that, sign the open letter to the President of Nigeria asking that death by stoning be stopped.
posted by filchyboy
on Aug 31, 2002 -
, who once assured us that "ridicule is nothing to be scared of"
, admits pub affray
& has been remanded on bail, after using a fake gun to take revenge on pub-goers that took the piss out of his clothes!
Adam seems to have suffered quite a lot - both before
and after - his heyday, and his behaviour has led to him being compulsorily detained on at least one occasion.
Quite apart from the fact that Police do not seem shy of killing anyone
who could be a threat and might be armed with a pistol
, has there ever been such an exact fall from grace for a celebrity - whose personal 'philosophy' came back to haunt him like a Shakespearean tragedy?
posted by dash_slot-
on Aug 13, 2002 -
Can Dumbing Down Save Our Libraries?
An intersting story from The Sunday Herald
that says libraries are facing a stark choice: modernize or die.
The author say we just can't win, if we put in a bank of computers
we are accused of dumbing things down, if we demand silence
in the reading rooms and purchase books that aren't "popular" we find ourselves charged with elitism
He says the public library has an altruistic purpose of making knowledge freely available through the printed word. The trouble is that those high principles
were undermined by the librarians
themselves. Facing a revolution in communications, they tried to become all things to all people
He focuses on England, but I think many of these issues are international. Are public libraries out of date?
posted by Blake
on Aug 12, 2002 -
Big Brother is here!
Close to a thousand Brirish schools have collected their student`s fingerprints via library scanners; all this without the consent or knowledge of the parents. Please commend my success in refraining from oversentionalizing the story. YES!
posted by ( .)(. )
on Jul 23, 2002 -
The Burqa Incident.
British freethinker Sarah Lawrence
dresses in a burqa to make a point at the US Libertarian Party Conference, and causes a hotel-wide security alert. Looks like one of those systemic sense-of-humour failures that conspire to spiral out of control these days. But isn't it a bit
worrying when even Libertarian Party
officials start threatening to report their own conference speakers
to the FBI for suspicious dress sense?
posted by ntk
on Jul 21, 2002 -
Best British Blog.
The Guardian has launched a competition to find the best British weblog. Is this another case of the mainstream media not really understanding what blogging is all about?
posted by crayfish
on Jul 18, 2002 -
Britain to Relax Laws for Millions of Dope Smokers.
The theory is that this move will free up officers and money to deal with more serious drug problems. As far as the classification goes, cannabis will now be grouped with anabolic steroids and growth hormones, two substances that I think are more dangerous than pot. What was it grouped with before?
posted by Miss Beth
on Jul 9, 2002 -
Have the anti-Euro lobby shot themselves in the foot?
A video promoting opposition to the UK joing the Euro has been critisized for including a spoof of Hitler praising the currency. It's attracted publicity for the campaign, all right, but has it unmasked the "No" campaign as anti-Europe "little Englanders"? (Guardian link)
posted by salmacis
on Jul 3, 2002 -
seem to be the only place we can find out what goes on in the US these days. Probably has to do with the liberal media, wouldn't you say?
posted by nofundy
on Jun 18, 2002 -
Spider-Man "too violent for kids"
The British Board of Film Classification has given the Spider-Man film (which opens here in the UK today) a '12' certificate because of its violence, meaning no one under that age can see it. Some local authorities have exercised their power to reclassify it as a 'PG' to open it up to younger viewers.
The BBFC's argument runs that "The violence is set in a modern urban setting with a clear message that the use of violence is the normal and appropriate response when challenged." In fact, I'd say, the film suggests that an appropriate response when challenged is to put on an armoured exo-skeleton and fly around on a jey-powered glider. How can the BBFC not get the concept that this is a fantasy
posted by jonpollard
on Jun 14, 2002 -
"British Liberty, RIP"
A leader article on the danger represented by the British Government's new Statutory Order and the need for Parliamentarians to step in and resist. (The Order will allow a wide range of organisations access to phone and internet records - The Guardian's own story with details is here
Ben Franklin has been quoted here many times before, but I have no hesitation quoting him again:
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
posted by jonpollard
on Jun 11, 2002 -
The Queen's Golden Jubilee in the UK
- did anyone see it? If you were in the UK, it's likely you would have seen at least some of the amazing celebrations of the Royal Family - four days of partying, including a huge pop/rock concert
with loads of famous names, a classical concert
, pomp and pagentry in a 4 ton gold chariot
and a huge carnival
drew 14 million TV viewers a night, and millions more went to see the royal knees-up, knocking the royal critics for six
. Even Ozzy Osbourne sang a number, bless him. The final royal flypast rounded off the most amazing scenes I've ever seen. Brits - does this show of affection make your bosom swell with pride? Others - are you jealous, or thankful you weren't there?
posted by wibbler
on Jun 5, 2002 -
Stephen Byers resigns
(finally). Here is a profile
of the man. Do politicians have to fall into the same pattern everytime
something like this happens? Press: You've done something wrong. Politician: No I haven't. I'll admit to no impropriety on my part. Prime Minister: I'll stand by my minister. Press: But we can prove he did something wrong. The Public: I'll go with what they say, and he should resign. Prime Minister: Look mate, it's about the voters. Politician: I still don't believe I've got anything to hide but save the government embarassment, I'll resign.
posted by feelinglistless
on May 28, 2002 -
such a mystery? Help needed! (old news, new information?)
OK, I'm going to try and do this without naming names...
The British troops in Afghanistan have been struck down by a mystery illness
recently, with an investigation finding that the illness was just a "winter vomiting
I've heard different.
The source may have been an Al Qaeda terrorist who had been captured.
The 'mystery illness' may have been caught when the British or US government used biological warfare to make it easier to find and capture members of Al Qaeda.
Can anyone help verify this? I should stress I only have word of mouth from a friend of a friend. All very speculative, but I've not been able to find anything else on this... yet...
posted by snowgoon
on May 21, 2002 -