Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A Very Modest Hero

     Anzac Day is on the way, so now might be the time to tell the story of a man who combined extreme bravery with modesty. War may be hell, but at least it can be said about large-scale conflicts such as the World Wars, they allowed average Joes to channel their inner hero. As one commentator put it: when you hear about lone volunteers sneaking onto the Normandy beaches at night to make reconnaissance, or the members of Z Force sabotaging Japanese warships in Singapore Harbour, the question arises: what would these people have been doing if the war had never broken out? Probably catching the bus every day to a boring workplace, the same as everybody else.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Edison Executes an Elephant

     Did you know that Coney Island, in New York, once featured a hotel in the shape of an elephant? The Elephant Hotel stood 122 feet [37 metres] high and, to quote P. V. Bradford,
it had circular stairs in hind legs 60 feet in diameter each, glittering glass eyes four feet wide, telescopes on top and rooms scattered throughout its body, thighs, and trunk.
     It burnt down in the 1890s, but Coney Island also had a herd of real elephants, one of which was executed in a spectacular manner.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Solomon Wouldn't Have Cut It In Nigeria

     It's obvious, of course, that government was simple in the early days of civilisation. They didn't have to worry about fiscal policy, for example, or social welfare, health, or education. Let's face it: the only reason people agreed to follow a king is because they needed someone to do two things: lead them in battle, and administer justice. Thus, we find that the King of Israel spent a lot of time at the city gates settling his subjects' quarrels. Fast forward twenty-nine centuries, and in the British Empire we find the King's representative, the District Commissioner spending a lot of time at the bench settling his subjects' quarrels. And that is how a certain Frank Hives almost came a cropper in a situation made famous by the most famous of Israel's kings.