How many of us have put things down and then cannot find them again just a few minutes later? This is not a modern phenomenon and I'm sure that many readers will have sympathy with the predicament in which Lowestoft teenager, James Bishop, found himself during the long, lonely Winter of 1725.
For several months James, an apprentice ship's-carpenter, found himself in agony with stomach pains. The abdominal cramps became increasingly severe and when after 6 months of agonising torment, he began to urinate blood, James finally plucked up the courage to consult a surgeon Mr. Robert Payne. Mr Payne carried out a thorough examination but could find no evidence of intestinal disease and no obvious cause for the pain. He therefore came to the conclusion that young James must be suffering from a bladder stone and prescribed a physic accordingly.
However a month later, James returned to the doctor in even worse pain and with a mysterious swelling which had appeared on his left buttock. It had the appearance of a hard tumour and sat proud about 3 inches from the anus. For several days James was in torment and passed all manner of noxious substances in his 'doings'. During an examination by the increasingly perplexed Mr. Payne, three prongs of metal burst through the swelling followed by a large quantity of pus and foul-smelling matter. James's pain was instantly relieved and with his backside in the air, Mr. Payne cut a circle around the metal prongs and grabbed hold of them with a strong pair of forceps and began to pull the object out. James screamed in agony as the doctor wrestled for several minutes to remove the stubborn object. Finally with James lying flat out gasping with relief, the object was dropped, clattering into an enamel kidney dish. The fetid, fecal matter was rinsed off the mysterious object and revealed to be.... a 7 inch long ivory-handled fork!
The doctor looked incredulously at the somewhat sheepish James, who did not seem to be conveying the quantum of surprise that he would have expected, having just had an item of cutlery extracted from his buttocks.
James then 'remembered' that several months previously he had suffered a bout of 'constipation' and in the absence of any other remedy had decided to poke around his rectal passage with the smooth ivory handle of one of his mother's best forks. Unfortunately it had slipped up so far into his fundament that he had been unable to retrieve it. He then forgot all about it and even a month later when the stabbing stomach pains began, he never associated them with the misplaced tableware.
Mr. Payne found the case so remarkable that he wrote up the case for a prestigious medical journal, no doubt with a wry smile making a mental note not to stay for a meal next time he paid a house call to old Mrs. Bishop.
In a shock announcement Duncan Bannatyne has revealed that he and Lady Colin Campbell are set to marry in the New Year.
The dour Scottish entrepreneur disclosed the couple had kept their hot jungle romance a secret for the sake of Ant and Dec. The former ice-cream man mumbled gruffly;
“It was love at first sight. Once I saw her chowing down on those testicles I knew she was the woman for me. It was an instant attraction and away from the cameras we couldn’t keep our hands off each other.”
He added; “We had to keep the banter going for the sake of the ratings. Ant and Dec had worked so hard on their scripts, it was a shame to let them down but I think the public may have smelt a rat. It’s hard to hide desire that intense.”
Sharp-eyed fans of I’m a Celebrity had tweeted throughout the show that Duncan was rarely seen without his hat covering his loins when in the presence of the lofty potty-mouthed socialite.
Constipated ghost-botherer Yvette Fielding let slip that fellow celebrities were forced to share the dunny with the amorous couple who used the camp khazi for their love trysts. “It was quite off-putting trying to curl one down with a pair of panting pensioners heavy-petting in the corner” she winced uncomfortably.
Lady C. speaking from her penthouse suite at Claridges, remained coy on her future plans with the elderly multi-millionaire Glaswegian who suffered a heart-attack in 2012, stating simply;
“Normally I refuse to confirm or deny anything the oiks say, but suffice it to say that Duncan has everything I look for in a man.”
It is understood that the couple have negotiated a seven figure sum with ‘Hello’ magazine for exclusive rights to their unconventional honeymoon which will begin with a return to Croc Creek and a recreation of the genital-based bush-tucker trial which so captivated the twice-married tycoon.
Curried old goat is almost certain to feature on the menu, whilst it is believed a spectacular Jamaican ginger wedding cake topped with chocolate flakes and sugar strand sprinkles is currently under construction at the six star Palazzo Versace hotel.
“The symbolism of their respective roots is obvious” said an insider close to the couple, “Everyone knows Lady C. loves nothing more than hundreds and thousands.”
Monocled middle-weight ‘buffoon’ Chris Eubank denied any knowledge of the imminent nuptials. “I haven’t been asked for counthel” joked the colour-blind puglist, tipped to be Lady C’s best man.
‘Pretentious Piffler’ Tony Hadley also remained tight-lipped on whether Spandau Ballet had been booked to perform at the wedding, “They’ve been in touch with my agent- I know that much is true” quipped the Old New Romantic.
A spokesman for Ant and Dec refused to be drawn on reports that the pint-sized funsters were spotted in the Newcastle branch of Mothercare admiring page-boy outfits.
Made in Chelsea’s Spencer Matthews was similarly unavailable for comment ‘on medical grounds’ to answer rumours that he has been commissioned to provide ‘entertainment’ at the glittering ‘A’-list celebrity event.
Poor Henri the Hound (aged 15¾) has had a miserable week having fallen victim to a mystery illness which has turned him off his food and caused him to have dreadful diarrhoea followed by wretched rectal bleeding.
He was whisked off to the vets on Monday and has spent all week there being probed, prodded, jabbed and intimately searched.
Fortunately he was allowed home each evening to see his family and allow him to the opportunity to decorate the floor with a variety of richly coloured body fluids overnight but had to be returned to doggy hospital each morning.
The poorly pooch didn’t eat for 6 days and had a thoroughly awful time. Despite numerous blood tests and X rays, the vets were still scratching their heads on Friday when the kennel-maid appeared with a blood-filled kidney dish containing an enormous worm which Henri had just passed after being given a powerful emetic.
The sight of the mini-serpent seemed to create jubilation amongst the veterinary team who took great delight in high-fiving around the surgery. Henri didn’t seem so amused.
The biggest surprise however was the revelation provided by the X rays, that Henri had broken his back earlier in his life and his spine was being held together by 5€ worth of Phillips head screws! The vets expressed surprise that he had survived whatever the injury had been. The picture below is not the river Thames taken from the opening titles of Eastenders, but Henri's colon showing the passage of his barium meal. The Battersea Power Station-like structure north of the river is the cluster of surgical hardware that would put Evel Knieval to shame.
Henri turned up on our doorstep 5 years ago after being abandoned when his owner died prematurely. He had lived as a hobo for several months going from door to door for scraps. He came in for a meal one day and stayed. Although he was a scruff when he arrived, underneath his matted fur, he turned out to be a rare Briquet Griffon Vendéen with a lovely kind nature. He was welcomed by our army of rescued cats who now adore him as much as do we.
Henri was so full of life when he arrived that we assumed he was about 2 years old and we were mortified to discover that he was actually a 10 year old. During the past 5 years he has proved himself to be a loving, faithful and obedient companion, although his propensity to accidents has been a vets dream.
His treatment has included:
...but otherwise no problems!
Surprisingly Sebastien the vet has started having more exotic holidays in recent years.
Henri seems to have perked up over the past couple of days and is now back at home with a healthier appetite. His body fluids seem to be staying where they should be and fingers crossed he’ll see his 16th birthday in February.
He’s back for a check-up on Monday when I need to settle up with Sebastien for Henri’s week of intensive treatment, although I was a little disturbed to see a pile of Caribbean cruise brochures have appeared in his surgery!
In June 1764 after a day at Ascot races, the Duke and his aristocratic gaming companions began to speculate on who would win in a fight between a stag and a tiger. As they could come to no agreement, the Duke declared he would put it to the test. At midday on Saturday 30th June, just a few hundred yards from Ascot High Street he had a compound created encircled by 15 foot high fencing in which he placed an elderly stag captured from Windsor Great Park. News of the event quickly spread and a crowd of spectators from the Duke's inner circle gathered in the Park eager to gamble on the gruesome sport. He then had two Indian servants bring in a tiger from the Royal menagerie which he had created at Sandpit Gate. The tiger was blindfolded (a remarkable task to achieve in itself!) and led into the compound where its blindfold was removed.
Sensing his 'spectacle' was descending into farce, the Duke sent the two servants back into into the compound with pointed sticks to provoke the tiger by goading it. They nervously prodded and poked the tiger, whilst the Royal entourage cheered and bayed for blood- but the tiger was having none of it. Then with a single deafening roar the mighty tiger leapt up at the fencing and clambered over the top, springing down amongst the assembled throng. The Duke and his party of fine gentlemen scattered in all directions screaming in terror.
Fortunately for the audience, the tiger was more interested in escape than attack, and bounded off into the nearby woodland, leaving the bewildered Duke and his entourage dusting themselves down and straightening their wigs. The two poor servants were again summoned and instructed to chase and recapture the recapture the tiger. armed with no more than armed with no more than a hood and a length of chain.
Armed with no more than a hood and a length of chain the Indian servants reluctantly followed the big cat into the woods. After nervously searching for several minutes they found that the tiger had come upon a herd of fallow deer feeding in Windsor Great Park and had just pounced and killed one. Incredibly, they took the opportunity, while its mouth was full, to leap on the tiger and blindfold it, but were unable to extricate the deer from its jaws. They had to cut the haunch from the dead deer, which the tiger steadfastly refused to let go of, before securing the animal and leading it back to the menagerie.
By now the Duke had dispersed, no doubt embarrassed by the shambolic events which unfolded and the crowds were departing, shaken by their close encounter with a savage beast. The incident may have been all but forgotten, had it not been for one of the spectators present.
One of the witnesses to the Ascot non-event was believed to be Lord George Pigot, the Governor General of Madras who had recently returned for India. He had apparently brought back with him a tiger and two native keepers as a present for King George III, but George having little interest in such matters, had them installed in his uncle's Royal menagerie at Windsor. It is believed that it was the recent addition of the tiger to his collection which had prompted the peculiar match.
Shortly after this incident, Lord Pigot commissioned the highly esteeemed animal painter George Stubbs to paint the encounter between the two animals as if it had taken place in India. Stubb's masterpiece 'Portrait of a hunting tyger' was unveiled at the Society of Artists in 1765. The image does however feature a cheetah rather than a tiger. During the 18th century, the term 'tyger' was applied to most big cats and so it may well have been a cheetah which was involved in the chaotic affair at Ascot. This might also explain how the servants were able to handle it so closely without fatality.
The extraordinary sporting wager was never repeated but the magnificent work of art which it inspired can still be seen today at the Manchester City Art Gallery.
Although the Royal menagerie at Windsor was added to by Prince Regent, later William IV as one of his many exotic playthings, it finally closed down in 1835.
The historic market town of Dumfries is best known as being the home of Robert Burns and Peter Pan author J. M. Barrie. What is less well known, is a weird occult occurence which took place at the hillside home of Donald Beamish in the late 17th Century
In 1672 the Scottish town was the scene of an inexplicable supernatural event which astounded the local population. What should have been a simple funeral transformed into an incredible paranormal phenomenon which remained a source of wonder for generations afterwards.
Although now long forgotten, the story begins in September 1672 when Donald Beamish, an old man, ‘of an ordinary fortune’ who lived on the outskirts of the town, was seized by a violent fever. His condition worsened until he became convinced he was going to meet his maker. Although his wife and neighbours tried to keep up his spirits, eventually they conceded that he would not recover and did their best to make his last days as comfortable as possible. The day immediately before his death the old man sat up in bed and made a strange announcement. He told his wife that she must bury him within three hours of his death otherwise she would not be able to bury him at all. His wife was somewhat taken aback at this statement but humoured him and put it down it to his wandering mind. The old man earnestly repeated it several times during that day to his wife and his bemused friends and neighbours who called to see him. He told them that if they did not comply, they would never be able to move his body. They questioned him as to why he believed this but he gave no reply other than “It would be so”. He would not settle however until they promised him that his wishes would be honoured.
The old man did indeed expire the following day on Wednesday 28th September. His friends recalled his strange appeal to them to bury him swiftly and as a mark of respect did their best to comply. They placed his corpse in a coffin and laid it on a table in the downstairs room as was the usual custom. All the preparations were hastily made for his burial that evening but despite their best efforts, the three hours had elapsed as the pall bearers arrived to take him to the churchyard half a mile away.
Four men took hold of the coffin and attempted to lift it off the table but they could not budge it. Mystified at their apparent sudden weakness, they called for others to help, but they too could not shift the simple wooden coffin from the table.
The strongest men in the village were sent for who could neither budge the coffin, nor the table on which it was standing. Witnesses described it as being rooted to the ground. For several hours attempts were made to move the coffin until all present were exhausted with the effort. A decision was made to leave the coffin where it was until morning. The poor widow and her children spent a restless night waiting for the undertaker and the burly men of the village to return the next day.
On Thursday morning the pall bearers and their helpers were met with the same astonishing inability to budge either the coffin or the table. By now the widow was becoming frantic as she recalled the last prophetic words of her departed husband. After another several hours, it was decided that drastic steps were necessary and that they would attach a team of oxen to the coffin to drag it outside. In order to allow the cattle access, one side wall of the house had to be completely pulled down. A team of oxen were attached to the coffin and the table and driven forward but even their immense pulling power could not shift it. They strained so hard that their tackle broke and yet incredibly they had not moved the coffin an inch.
Attempts were made to remove the old Donald’s body from the coffin and carry it away but found they found it impossible to open or even damage the coffin which seemed to be protected by an invisible force.
In despair, the villagers made the decision to remove the widow and children from the house and leave the coffin it where it was. It stood there exposed to the elements for three days. Word began to spread about this immovable coffin and a great many people flocked to see it, some of whom tried their hand at moving it or breaking into the coffin but none succeeded. Eventually the landlord, who lived some miles away heard of the situation and went to see for himself. He found the house in a state of virtual collapse and took the decision that he would never be able to rent it out again so ordered that it be burnt to the ground. All were in agreement as it would also resolve the problem of the funeral. The townsfolk gathered kindling and piled it all around the cottage and set it ablaze. They watched as the building was consumed in the inferno and the local minister held a makeshift service committing the soul of old Donald to the next world. As the flames subsided and the smoke began to clear, the horrified onlookers were aghast to see that the coffin and the table stood untouched amidst the ashes.
In desperation, friends and relatives of the dead man dug up the earth and piled it on the coffin. The rest of the townspeople joined in until it was buried beneath a huge bank of soil and rocks.
Although the precise location has long since been lost, somewhere in the hillsides around Dumfries lies the immovable coffin which proved to be the last resting place of old Donald Beamish- the man who could not be buried.
Tales from the