Monday, February 22, 2021

"Smooth Runs The Water Where The Brook Is Deep And In His Simple Show He Harbours Treason"

Welcome you very much are, dear blog reader, to the latest From The North bloggersationisms update in the area. It's bona t'vada yer dolly-old eek and all that.[*] And, it's also nice to see some new faces in church this evening. Pull up a pew. 
[*] Ceefax subtitling is available on Page 888 for those of a nervous disposition.
And on that bombshell, dear blog reader ...
Infamous. This blogger is with From The North favourite Mark Kermode on the subject of Toby Jones's performance in this movie. Infamous may not be a better movie, per se, than Capote, that's an entirely legitimate argument. But Jones's Truman is - fractionally - more Truman-like than the late Philip Seymour Hoffman's extraordinary Oscar-winning turn in the latter. And, Sandra Bullock's a far more Harper Lee-like Harper Lee than Catherine Keener's Harper Lee as well. So there. 
Callan. One of the finer TV-big screen transfers.
In The Heat Of The Night. Stumbled across, late one night, on the - rather obscure - Sony Movies Channel (immediately after Callan as it happens). A broadcast which kept this blogger awake till gone 1am and, in doing so, reminded this blogger what an utterly superb film In The Heat Of The Night is. Great Quincy Jones soundtrack too. 
The Man Who Fell To Earth. And, speaking of great soundtracks ... 
Star Trek. Which never seems to be off TV these days but it is always a olly welcome distraction, nonetheless. 
To Kill A Mockingbird. Because, a week simply isn't a week without watching To Kill A Mockingbird at least once if one gets the opportunity. Plus, it's the rat-faced loathsome wretched odious nasty slavver-merchant, George Formby lookalike (and tit) Gove's favourite movie, allegedly.
Double Indemnity. Still a twenty four carat masterpiece. 
The Be-Atles (A Popular Beat Combo Of The 1960s, You Might've Heard Of Them): Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years. Cos everybody needs a good, hard scream every now and then.
The Blacklist. This blogger watched the latest three episodes of The Blacklist back-to-back upon their arrival at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House over the weekend when he was almost, once again, on the verge of giving up on the series. As he has been on the verge of so many times over the last eight series. And, just as he has done on so many occasions over the last eight series, something always seems to come along in the nick of time to stop him from doing so and pulling the actual plug. Which can be bloody annoying at times. Nevertheless, this blogger particularly enjoyed the episode with (a News-less) Huey Lewis in it. That's the power of love. 
NCIS. On a similar theme, this blogger tends to have something of an off-on relationship with NCIS with periods of considerable binge followed by lengthy spells of aridity. Having spent much of the last year knee deep in the latter, Keith Telly Topping ended up watching about a dozen episodes from the last two series over recent days and, to quote Al Pacino in The Godfather Part III, 'just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!' It's all that there Emily Wickersham's fault, obviously. 
American Gods. There was a really nice use of Siouxsie & The Banshees' 'Hong Kong Garden' in the latest episode. That's one reassuring thing about American Gods, no matter how bonkers it gets, the soundtrack is always impressive.
Raiders Of The Lost Past. It's never-less-than-great to see From The North favourite Doctor Janina Ramirez back on the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House widescreen tellybox doing her 'effortlessly enthusiastic and learned' thing all over us viewers. Dangerous stuff, this, dear blog reader - you might just learn something from it.
I Care A Lot. Released this very week this may well be From The North favourite Rosemund Pike's finest one hundred and eighteen minutes.
Manchester By The Sea.
Two Mules For Sister Sara. Sunday afternoon at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House, a big filling roast dinner and a Clint Eastwood movie on telly. Sorry, when exactly did this blogger step into the TARDIS and travel back to 1976?
Things this blogger really should have known but didn't and discovered, last week, completely by accident: The minor planet 7345 Happer (which is in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter just in case you didn't know) was named by NASA after the character of Felix Happer (played by the late Burt Lancaster) in From The North favourite Local Hero; he was the oil executive in Bill Forsyth's movie who was also an amateur astronomer and wanted to have a comet named after him. Why did this blogger not know this fascinating factoid until recently? 
And, speaking of From The North's favourite movies, the greatest film ever made, bar none, A Matter Of Life & Death was on BBC2 last weekend. Presumably because someone perceptive in the scheduling department at Auntie felt that what everyone in Britain really needed in a country suffering from The Plague, lockdown, Brexit, freezing weather and the continued existence of Piers Morgan was a damned good cheering up. Good call, mate.
Watching the end of an episode of Whitehouse & Mortimer: Gone Fishing on Dave, recently, this blogger was wholly unprepared for the sudden and unwelcome appearance across the credits of the voice of That There Mel Giedroyc. She was plugging a forthcoming episode of her turgid and appallingly rotten new format, Unforgivable. The inequities of which his blogger has already mercilessly (and with great vengeance and righteous anger) slagged off on From The North. 'Join me on Tuesday where my guest will be Tom Allen, Gemma Collins and Darren Harriott ...' begged Mel in her perky - not entirely unappealing - 'will you come and get it like a big funky sex machine'-style voice that we all know so well from Bake Off. This blogger merely has time to bellow at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House widescreen tellybox 'no thanks, Mel, I'd sooner stab me own eyes out with two toasting forks and bleed to death instead of watching that tripe' before he found the remote control. And thence, changed channel to something less effing worthless. Which, trust yer actual Keith Telly Topping dear blogger, was every bit as much of a relief to this blogger as a nice healthy dose of Bicarbonate of Soda when he needs a short-term cure for severe indigestion.
Social media posts by Gina Carano, who used to play Cara Dune on The Mandalorian, have been described as 'abhorrent and unacceptable' by Lucasfilm shortly after they sacked her ass. In a statement, a spokesperson said: 'Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future.' The hashtag 'Fire Gina Carano' had trended on Twitter for hours following a story shared on her Instagram page, that many people considered to be anti-Semitic. The post has since been deleted. But, not before it was screengrabbed and widely seen - another classic example of people who use the Interweb, seemingly, not actually understanding that once you've said something you can't simply wish it out of existence. In the post, the former MMA fighter compared 'hating someone for their political views' in the US to the treatment of Jewish people during the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. A spectacularly crass and ill-considered example of hyperbole to which more than one person replied, wearily, that if you see one political group being murdered in their millions by another the two situations might, just, be analogous but, till then, it really might be an idea to keep such disgraceful overstatements to oneself. Just, you know, this blogger's view concerning a far more complex and nuanced world than can be reduced to simplistic and, frankly unhelpful, examples of rhetoric. Something which, one imagines, Gina Carano her very self will have much time to reflect upon as she signs on for her unemployment benefit in the coming days, weeks months and years.
Now, dear blog reader, can anyone answer this blogger a simple question? Why is it that Facebook - which this blogger does like far more than most of the other social media he's had (brief) interactions with - nevertheless contains, seemingly, just as many twenty four carat Duck Eggs as the rest of the Interweb? Case in point: This blogger happened to be scrolling through his home page last week and he came across a post from someone whom he only knows vaguely but she seems like a very nice lady; she was mentioning, in passing, that she had been feeling a bit run-down recently. No specifics, no other symptoms mentioned, just 'a bit under the weather.' Within seconds - and this blogger means about as quickly as it takes to type these very words - she'd had a reply from one of her own Facebook fiends (not this blogger hastens to add, anyone who frequents Keith Telly Topping's Facebook page ... and, believe me, dear blog reader, this blogger has checked) with the following pearl of wisdom: 'Ooo, you want to be careful with that' [no shit, dear? One is sure she'd never have thought of that if you hadn't mentioned it]. Followed by: 'Someone I know had the same symptoms' [what symptoms? She didn't mention any] 'and it turned out to be Covid.' Well, great, one is sure that the original poster now feels absolutely brilliant having had a worst-case-scenario crowbarred into her skull without her wanting it there in the first place. This blogger has seen this sort of thing so many times over the years and he's even had a few examples of it in the past directed towards his very self. 'I've just stubbed my toe,' this blogger may have said. To which some well-meaning-but-clueless glake will invariably reply 'ooo, you wanna be careful with that, my auntie's fifth cousin's brother-in-law's nephew's girlfriend had the same thing and it turned out to be cancer of the arsehole.' Maybe it's just the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House cabin fever talking but this sort of thing really grates this blogger's effing cheese. If people are in need of a medical diagnosis for some real - or imagined - ill, then they should visit a medical professional and seek their advice; not listen to 'some plank on the Interweb.'
So, dear bog reader, on a related note yer actual Keith Telly Topping was awakened from his peaceful kip one morning pure dead early due to a nasty stabby Ronnie Lane in his Gulliver (the second such occurrence in about five days as it happens). 'Oh no,' thinks this blogger, 'I was supposed to be doing the weekly shop this morning - highlight of the week, that, since it's about this blogger's only interaction with anyone else that isn't a TV or a computer screen. Guess I'd better go back to my stinkin' pit and watch half-a-dozen more episodes of NCIS on FOX.' However, there was a need to transfer some money from one Stately Telly Toing Manor bank account to another (and, also, for the purchase of necessary supplies - bread, milk, eggs, hot dogs, Turkish Delight, et cetera) so yer actual was forced to get the Twelve up to Lloyds in Byker and then, have a nice, leisurely walk down Shields Road to the supermarket to buy something for Us Tea at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House. And, it was whilst yer actual Keith Telly Topping was idly browsing in the Spices and Condiments aisle that the pain suddenly - and without warning - disappeared as quickly as it had first come. This blogger has no idea what Morrisons pump into the air which has such healing qualities but, whatever it is, they really ought to mention it in those adverts they do featuring Ant and/or Dec. 'Morrisons Makes It ... and we heal the sick, too!' As marketing slogans go, it has some potential.
Some sage word from the pages of Viz, now, dear blog reader.
'Cor! Sid The Sexist just said "tits"! Fnaar Fnaar ...'
This blogger is also grateful to his old mucka Ben Adams for alerting him to yet another comic first, Valkyrie's Mister Horse telling Marvel readers 'Never trust a Tory.' Wise advice.
More than twenty six thousand people have, reportedly, signed a petition protesting at a Cadbury's Creme Egg advert, which features two men kissing. The petition's creator has claimed - not particularly persuasively - that the advert's 'sexualised content' was 'offensive' to Christians and that casting two men in the advert was a way of evading criticism by hiding 'under cover of LGBT rights.' All of which proves but two things, dear blog reader. Firstly, that many Christians have, seemingly not bothered to read Matthew 7:1 ('judge not, lest ye be judged') or, if they have, are too much of a bone-shit thick bigot to actually understand it. And, secondly, that there are - at least - twenty six thousand ignorant homophobic louse scum walking the streets in the UK. Truth be told there are probably far more, but it's good to at least have a number in ones head when one ventures out-and-about so one can avoid ... people, basically. When contacted by the Independent, a spokesperson for Cadbury said that it was proud of the advert and its message of inclusion. Good for them. 
This blogger has already spoken in past, at some length, of his long-standing love affair with the band The Go-Go's - whom he first saw supporting Madness and The Specials in Sunderland forty years ago. So, he would like to draw all dear blog reader's attention to a piece the divine Goddess that is Belinda Carlisle recently did for the Gruniad Morning Star in their Teenage Kicks strand. Check out Belinda Carlisle's Teenage Obsessions: 'I Was Going To Be Anita Ekberg In Rome, But Ended Up In A Band' dear blog reader, you will not regret it.
The Masked Singer's second series finale was watched by an average audience of 8.6 million overnight viewers. That was the largest live TV audience for any programme so far in 2021, outside of news and sport and is final and conclusive proof, dear blog reader, that there is no God. The series culminated last Saturday with a pregnant Joss Stone, who had been cunningly disguised as a sausage - yes, dear blog reader, a sausage - revealed as this year's competition winner. The final attracted two million more gullible punters than the overnight viewing figures for last year's final, which saw Nicola Roberts emerge victorious. And, which won the coveted runner's-up slot in From The North's Worst TV Shows Of 2020 list. Well-deserved it was, an'all.
The German woman who posed as a billionaire heiress in New York has been released from prison. Anna Sorokin, who pretended to be a wealthy socialite Anna Delvey, was released from The Joint last week, according to media reports. She was found extremely guilty in 2019 of theft of services, grand larceny and other assorted general naughtiness, having scammed more than two hundred thousand bucks from banks and luxury hotels. It is thought that Sorokin could now face deportation. Although the fact that there is, reportedly, a major Netflix movie in production telling her 'you couldn't make it up' story - and starring Julia Garner - might soften the blow of getting kicked out of the gaff somewhat. Sorokin's release comes months after she reportedly grovellingly apologised at a parole hearing for her bad, thieving ways. 'I just want to say that I'm really ashamed and I'm really sorry for what I did,' the New York Post, who obtained a transcript, quoted Sorokin as saying. 'I completely understand that a lot of people suffered when I thought I was not doing anything wrong.' A lawyer for Sorokin previously told Insider that she was trying to appeal against her conviction, despite her planned parole release. When Netflix first got in contact with Sorokin, she had not, at that stage, been convicted, but once she was, there were rules which needed to be followed. New York's 'Son of Sam' law kicked into play. The law's origins stem back to 1970s serial killer David Berkowitz amid concerns that he would profit from his notoriety by selling his story of his serial-killing malarkey. In response, New York state passed a law to prevent profiting from such fame and multiple states followed suit. However, publishers fought back. In the late 1980s, Simon & Schuster was working on a book in collaboration with the ex-mobster-turned-super-snitch Henry Hill, when the authorities came knocking over a ninety thousand dollars payment. The resulting dispute went as high as the Supreme Court, which ultimately struck the law down, saying it was in conflict with the first amendment right to free speech. The book, Wiseguy, went ahead, as did the royalty payments and it inspired the Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas, from which Hill reportedly earned a further four hundred and eighty thousand dollars. A reworked Son of Sam law was introduced in 2001. Today, a company is required to notify the Office of Victims Services if they are paying a convicted felon more than ten grand. The office will not seize that money, but it will freeze the bank account and notify the victims of the crime, who can then file their own lawsuits to make claims if they so wish.
This blogger thinks that one of his favourite lines concerning American politics of late came from the excellent Jon Sopel on the BBC's - always superb - Americast podcast on Friday (one of four rapid-fire episodes posted online covering Donald and the Giant Impeach II) quoting a joke which was, apparently, much told when the subject was running for President five years ago. 'Why do so many people instantly take a dislike to Ted Cruz?' 'Because it saves time!' Something which events of the following week in Texas proved to be remarkably prescient. As, indeed, a subsequent episode of the podcast was more than happy to highlight.
USA Today's article They Rioted At The Capitol For Trump. Now, Many Of Those Arrested Say It's His Fault - by Rachel Axos and Josh Salman - is worthy of a few moments of your time, dear blog reader. 'As the cases against nearly two hundred of the Capitol rioters begin to wind through federal court, many of the defendants blame the commander in chief they followed for the violence that left five dead during the insurrection [of] 6 January. In court documents, media interviews and through official attorney statements, staunch supporters of former President Donald Rump who carried out the attempted coup argue they were merely doing what they thought the nation's leader had asked, some citing a cult-like loyalty.' Presumably, in the hope that singing like a canary with save them from their own date up a'fore The Beak. Gotta level with you guys, this blogger believes that ship's already sailed. You may also like to have a good old butchers at NPR's piece, The Capitol Siege: The Arrested & Their Stories for further comedy genius. 'A group this large defies generalisation. The defendants are predominantly white and male, though there were exceptions. Federal prosecutors say a former member of The Latin Kings gang joined the mob, as did two Virginia police officers. A man in a 'Camp Auschwitz' sweatshirt took part, as did a Messianic Rabbi. Far-right militia members decked out in tactical gear rioted next to a county commissioner, a New York City sanitation worker and a two-time Olympic gold medallist.' Dagblog's 'exclusive' A Majority Of The People Arrested For Capitol Riot Had A History Of Finanical Trouble also spends time looking into the backgrounds of the conspiring insurgents, domestic terrorists and treasonous pond-scum. 'The financial problems are revealing because they offer potential clues for understanding why so many Rump supporters - many with professional careers and few with violent criminal histories - were willing to participate in an attack egged on by the President's rhetoric painting him and his supporters as undeserving victims. While no single factor explains why someone decided to join in, experts say, Donald Rump and his brand of "grievance politics" tapped into something that resonated with the hundreds of people who descended on the Capitol in a historic burst of violence.' In one specific case, highlighted by the Chicago Tribune, a man will serve four years in prison on a drug charge, but his alleged participation in the Capitol insurrection weighed heavily on the judge's and prosecutor's minds during his sentencing. Kash Lee Kelly was sentenced to four years in The Slammer and three years supervised release on conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana during his time as a Latin King gang member. He was first indicted on the charge in 2015. Kelly has also been extremely charged for knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority after authorities saw photos of him inside the Capitol during the insurrection on his Facebook page. But, during the hearing, Judge Philip Simon and Assistant US attorney David Nozick weighed Kelly's co-operation throughout the drug case and seeing photos of him inside the Capitol during the insurrection. Nozick said Kelly' choice to go to Washington, made the drug case 'extremely prickly now. I really wish he didn't get wrapped up in Washington,' Nozick said. 'Today would've been much easier.' During a debate on whether or not Kelly had 'accepted responsibility' in the drug case, Nozick said that by committing another crime Kelly had, clearly, not accepted responsibility. 'It's immaterial whether the new criminal conduct is related to this case or not,' Nozick said. 'He was part of a violent insurrection on our nation's Capitol.' Other recent arrests in relation to the seditious shenanigans having included a mother and son from Iowa, several Oathkeepers, two men from Missouri, a UCLA student who, reportedly, described fascism as 'epic', a man with a stick (and a cowboy hat) and a North Cornwall Township police officer. The majority of those arrested and charged thus far - who haven't either copped a plea and thrown themselves upon the mercy of the court or tried to blame their sorry position on the urgings of now extremely former President Mister Rump - deny any wrongdoing. One or two people even believed them.
Still on the subject of naughty recidivists, Alison Durkee's article Dominion Had To Use 'Extraordinary Measures' To Serve Sidney Powell In Defamation Lawsuit for Forbes magazine is in a class of its own in terms of thigh-slapping hilarity. 'Ms Powell had no reason to evade service as she looks forward to defending herself in court, her attorney Howard Kleinhendler told Forbes. Once again, one or two people even believed that. On a somewhat related note, the Independent's Rump Can't Hang On To Lawyers After False Erection Claims should carry a government health warning over its comedy quota. 'Since losing the November erection to President Joe Biden, Rump has been haemorrhaging attorneys. Established firms backed away from his baseless claims of election fraud. Those he did retain made elementary errors in cases that were quickly rejected as meritless. His personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani was ridiculed for his performance before a federal judge during one erection-related case.' But, by far the funniest story about the fall-out from discredited claims of erection fraud The Washington Post's A GOP Donor Gave 2.5 Million Dollars For A Voter Fraud Investigation. Now He Wants His Money Back takes the biscuit. Good luck with that, mate. Seriously.
Johnny Rogan, the London-Irish music journalist best known for his biographies of The Byrds, Neil Young, The Smiths, Van Morrison and Ray Davies, has died at his London home. He was sixty seven. The author of more than twenty five books on music, by far his most successful was Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance, a book about The Smiths first published in 1992 five years after the band's break-up which prompted Morrissey (already, at that stage, turning into a mental bloke) to say: 'I hope Johnny Rogan ends his days very soon in an M3 pile-up.' Thankfully, he didn't. Rogan, whose parents emigrated from Waterford to Pimlico in the 1940s, divided his time between London and his second home in Tramore, Coty Waterford and his interest in music and second-generation Irish identity fused in a lengthy series he wrote for the Irish Post in the 1990s, Dislocation & Celebration, which explored the influence of their Irish roots on the likes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Morrissey, Oasis's Liam and Noel Gallagher, John Lydon, Kate Bush, Kevin Rowland and Shane MacGowan. Rogan revisited the subject in an essay for the Irish Times in 2016, Rebel Yell: How The Irish Dominated British Rock Music, which began: 'British pop music has been celebrated around the world for decades and rightly so. Rather less attention has been paid to an almost invisible strain of Irishness manifested in the work and characters of several of its leading proponents.' Ironically, although he lived close to the Kings Road in Chelsea, his childhood tenement home had no inside toilet or electricity so he first heard the music which would become his life's passion while on holiday in Waterford with relatives basking in the glow of rural electrification. 'I think 1965 was maybe the greatest year in music that there's been,' he told John Meagher in an Irish Independent interview in 2017. 'Virtually every week, one great song after the next was released. They're songs from The Beatles and The Stones and The Kinks that are revered today and it was the year that 'Eight Miles High' was released, too.' His early life was marked as much by tragedy as poverty. His father died of a heart attack, his brother drowned, and his sister died of a brain haemorrhage. In his introduction to Requiem For The Timeless, he wrote of 'what was left of my death-ravaged family.' His writing career was bookended by a passion for The Byrds. While still at university in 1980 he published Timeless Flight: The Definitive Biography Of The Byrds, which Record Collector named the rock and/or roll biography of the year, calling it: 'One of the best biographies ever written ... Expansive enough to rival War & Peace, Johnny Rogan's definitive Byrds biography comes close to matching the emotional, if not geographical, range of Tolstoy's epic novel.' His last published book was Byrds: Requiem For The Timeless, Volume 2 in 2017, the afterlife of six Byrds after the band split - Gene Clark, Michael Clarke, Kevin Kelley, Gram Parsons, Clarence White and Skip Battin. It was a follow-up to 2011's Requiem For The Timeless, which Time Out said 'may yet prove to be one of the key works of rock journalism - it's certainly set to be the definitive book on The Byrds.' His book Starmakers & Svengalis: The History Of British Pop Management (1988) was adapted for a BBC radio series presented by Alan Freeman. He was also a rigorous and talented book reviewer, not least for the Irish Times. Rogan was famous for his forensic attention to detail and dogged approach to researching his subject, often over many years. For some, such as David Sinclair reviewing his deeply unflattering Van Morrison biography No Surrender in the Gruniad Morning Star in 2005, you could have too much of a good thing: '[while] the all-encompassing rigour of the approach is impressive, the narrative in the early stages tends to be swamped by an almost neurotic attention to detail.' Rogan was 'the Rottweiler of the music biography,' wrote Brian Boyd, who would 'hunt down his quarry with, as one reviewer put it, the relentlessness of a marching army of termites. Pedantic and painstaking in his research methods, he consistently provides incisive and illuminating accounts of his subjects. This is a man who, when working on The Smiths biography (the superlative Severed Alliance), found out that there were eighteen students in Morrissey's secondary school class - he interviewed all eighteen.' For Rogan, Kevin Courtney observed in an Irish Times interview with the author in 2011, being someone's biographer is 'a lifetime commitment' and he felt compelled to keep up to date with his subject long after the last chapter had been written. Rogan attended the 1996 court case when Smiths drummer Mike Joyce sued Morrissey and Marr over unpaid recording and performance royalties. 'I was the only person who went for the whole two weeks. The guy from the Manchester Evening News was there, but that was it. No fans, nothing. It was a very odd experience, because I knew most of the characters who were under oath, since I'd interviewed them.' Ironically, Morrissey referenced Rogan's book in court to help bolster his case, but it didn't do him any good. Ruling in Joyce's favour, the judge described Morrissey as a 'devious, truculent and unreliable' witness. 'Most biographers, when they've finished, they leave it behind and move on, Rogan said 'I keep boxes of material at home and they keep getting filled up with stuff. I might wake up in the middle of the night and write an essay about, say, is Jarvis Cocker the new Morrissey?' 'There's a lack of investigative journalism, it only seems to be done in the financial areas now,' Rogan noted. 'But nobody in the music press does it. You're more likely to see it in Vanity Fair or The Economist. The music-press tradition that I grew up with, they would, on strange occasions, go off and do these incredibly investigative pieces, simply for the reason that they liked this singer, this act, this phenomenon and wanted to know more about it. And some of my favourite pieces of writing have come from that. It's no use making a thesis about a particular artist or group or whatever, based on press cuttings or your assumption of what they're trying to do in the work. It's looking at sources, getting back to the sources and then applying your critical tools to them. When I write a book, I'm trying to bring all those different skills into it and get better at each of them.' As well as music, Rogan had a great love of literature and was very knowledgeable about Irish writing. His first degree was in English language & literature at Newcastle University and his MA was on Spenser's The Faerie Queene. He is survived by his partner, Jackie Taylor.
A 'highly significant' - and rare - carved Roman phallus has been discovered by archaeologists working on finds unearthed during a major road upgrade. The massive dong was found on a broken millstone by experts along the route of the A14 in Cambridgeshire between 2017 and 2018. However, it has only just been put back together, revealing the wanger. Archaeologists said the massive throbbing member was one of only four known examples of Romano-British millstones decorated this way, with an 'uge power tool. During work on Highways England's one-and-a-half billion knicker upgrade of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon, more than three hundred quern and millstones were recovered by archaeologists MOLA Headland Infrastructure, working with partners Oxford Archaeology. The stone which recently revealed its genital markings had been preserved by being reversed and adapted for use as a bedstone, after being initially broken. Decorated querns and millstones of any date are extremely rare, with only four such Roman millstones discovered from around a total of twenty thousand nationwide, said Steve Sherlock, Highways England's archaeology lead for the A14. He said the groinal images were 'seen as an important image of strength and virility in the Roman world, with it being common practice for legionaries to wear a phallus amulet, which would give them good luck before battle.' This cock-carved millstone is 'important as it adds to the evidence for such images from Roman Britain.' Plus it's a right good laugh, too. There were, already, known associations between images of the plonker and milling, 'such as those found above the bakeries of Pompeii, one inscribed with "Hic habitat felicitas" - "You will find happiness here"' he added. Doctor Ruth Shaffrey, from Oxford Archaeology, said: 'As one of only four known examples of Romano-British millstones decorated this way, the A14 millstone is a highly significant find. It offers insights into the importance of the mill to the local community and to the protective properties bestowed upon the millstone and its produce - the flour - by the depiction of a phallus on its upper surface. In the Roman world the phallic image was found all over the place. It was associated with good luck.' The cock-decorated millstone is the latest in a list of finds on the route of the upgrade to be made public by Highways England. They include the earliest evidence of beer-brewing in Britain, dating back to as early as 400 BC, only the second gold coin to be found in the country depicting Roman emperor Laelianus, who reigned for about two months in 269 AD before he was killed and woolly mammoth tusks and woolly rhino skulls.
From The North's latest Headline of The Week award goes to the BBC News website for Alaska Woman Attacked By Bear While Using Toilet. There's an 'Oh, I say, a bear behind' joke in there somewhere, dear blog reader. Shannon Stevens reportedly 'sustained a puncture wound while using a remote outhouse toilet at Chilkat Lake last weekend.' After hearing her scream, Ms Stevens' brother went to see what had caused the kerfuffle, only to find a bear's head in the hole of the toilet. Ms Stevens said that the wound was caused 'by either a bite or a swipe from the animal's claw.' She was spending the weekend in a yurt with her brother, Erik and his girlfriend when the incident occurred. Earlier in the evening they had cooked sausages on an open firepit. 'I got out there and sat down on the toilet and immediately something bit my butt as I sat down,' she told the Associated Press news agency. Ms Stevens told the Anchorage Daily News that she will practice a 'look before you sit' policy in the future.
Walkers were, reportedly, found 'wearing trainers and flimsy clothing' during 'blizzard-like conditions' and sub-zero temperatures in rural Northumberland recently. Rescuers on a training exercise came across a group of five people atop The Cheviot, which is over two thousand six hundred high, amid fading light two weeks ago. Rescue teams have warned people not to put themselves and others 'at risk' by indulging in numbskull glakery. This incident came shortly after a man suffered 'life-changing injuries' after a fall while helping a camper in the Lake District. Volunteers from the Northumberland National Park and North of Tyne Mountain Rescue teams have reported a number of people wearing 'unsuitable clothing for walking,' such as lightweight jackets, cotton jogging bottoms and wellies. People have been seen in the Simonside Hills near Rothbury and at Hedgehope Hill in The Cheviots dressed like they were out on a summer stroll in the meadows. The group of 'young adults' discovered at summit of The Cheviot at the end of January managed to get back to safety after rescuers, wearing helmets and crampons, spoke with them. Harshly, one imagines. 'Thankfully they got down safely, they lived to tell the tale,' said Iain Nixon, from Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team. 'They were younger individuals, probably new to the outdoors. There was half an hour's light and they had to get down from the highest hill down to their car. Even a reasonably fit walker, if you really pushed it, would take an hour and a quarter. We are training for these harsh conditions and we wouldn't want people to put themselves at risk. If something happened it puts our members at risk but that's what we train for. These are conditions which you would normally find on top of the Scottish mountains in the middle of the winter. You have whiteouts where you can't see where you are going, there is no distinction between the sky and the land.' Nixon said that there had been 'a significant increase' in people coming out into the hills since the first lockdown eased in 2020, many of whom are new to hill walking. Northumbria Police said it was 'extremely disappointing and concerning' to see people putting themselves and rescue teams at unnecessary risk.
And, finally dear blog reader, on Monday this blogger drew a phone call from a delightful young lady at the local medical centre to arrange yer actual Keith Telly Topping getting his first pandemic inoculation. Which will be on Wednesday afternoon. Thus, by the time you read this here bloggerisationism update, it is perfectly possible that this blogger will already have been well and truly pricked. This is, admittedly, the first time that this blogger has actually been looking forward to having a sharp piece of metal forced into his body. Normally, of course, you have to pay good money for that sort of thing.