Sunday, February 28, 2021



WE DIDN'T START THE FIRE, continued: Brigitte Bardot


Continuing a brief look at the events and persons listed in Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”.


Each two lines represent a year.

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc
Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, "Rock Around the Clock"
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, "Peyton Place", trouble in the Suez

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, "Peyton Place", trouble in the Suez



Brigitte Bardot (1934 - )


French animal rights activist and former actress and singer Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot made her name as one of the best known sex symbols of the 1950s and 1960s. Although she withdrew from the entertainment industry in 1973, she remains a major popular culture icon.

Relevance to 1956:

Although she started her acting career in 1952, BB (as she became known) achieved international recognition for her role in the 1956 film And God Created Woman.

Facts and Trivia:

Born and raised in Paris, Bardot was an aspiring ballerina in her early life

Bardot's childhood was prosperous; she lived in her family's seven-bedroom apartment. Her father demanded she follow strict behavioural standards, including good table manners, and that she wear appropriate clothes. Her mother was extremely selective in choosing companions for her, and as a result Bardot had very few childhood friends.

Bardot cited a personal traumatic incident when she and her sister broke her parents' favourite vase while they were playing in the house; her father whipped the sisters 20 times and henceforth treated them like "strangers", demanding them to address their parents by the pronoun "vous", which is a formal style of address, used when speaking to unfamiliar or higher-status persons outside the immediate family. The incident decisively led to Bardot resenting her parents, and to her future rebellious lifestyle.

Although having studied ballet for years, she attended a film audition at age 15 where she met Roger Vadim. They subsequently fell in love but her parents fiercely opposed their relationship; her father announced to her one evening that she would continue her education in England and that he had bought her a train ticket, the journey to take place the following day. Bardot reacted by putting her head into an oven with open fire; her parents stopped her and ultimately accepted the relationship, on condition that she not marry Vadim until the age of 18.

In 1952, When Bardot turned 18, she married Vadim, who was 6 years her senior. According to Bardot: "He looked at me, scared me, attracted me, I didn't know where I was anymore.”

Vadim made his directorial debut in December 1956 with And God Created Woman, starring his wife. On set, however, Bardot fell in love with her co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant and, after only four years of marriage, she and Vadim divorced.

According to Ginette Vincendeau, the author of the book, Brigitte Bardot: The Life, The Legend, The Movies., after her affair with Trintignant, she went on to bed as many as 100 men and women.

She eventually met and married her second husband, French actor Jacques Charrier, with whom she had her only child.

Bardot has been vocal about not wanting to be a mother and resenting her pregnancy. In her memoirs Initiales BB, she describes her horror at finding herself pregnant in 1959, aged 25: "I looked at my flat, slender belly in the mirror like a dear friend upon whom I was about to close a coffin lid." She revealed, in an attempt to abort the child, repeatedly punching herself in the stomach and begging her doctor for morphine.

The revelations lead to a lawsuit by her ex-husband and son, Nicolas, who was raised by Charrier after their three-year marriage ended. Bardot was ordered to pay her son damages for the hurt inflicted by the book, in which she referred to her unborn son as a "cancerous tumour" and said she would have "preferred to give birth to a little dog".

On her 26th birthday in 1960, shortly after Nicolas was born, Bardot tried to take her life again, downing a bottle of sleeping pills and slitting her wrists at her villa in France, according to Vincendeau’s book.

Bardot has had a deeply troubled relationship with Nicolas. She was not invited to his 1982 wedding and did not see him for a decade, but they are believed to have reconciled recently after she became a great-grandmother for the first time. "I'm not made to be a mother," Bardot confessed years later. "I'm not adult enough – I know it's horrible to have to admit that, but I'm not adult enough to take care of a child."

After more suicide attempts and more husbands (her third husband, German playboy Gunter Sachs shot himself in 2011), Bardot turned her attentions to animal rights activism and established a foundation to care for "suffering animals" in 1986. "I gave my youth and my beauty to men, I am now giving my wisdom and my experience, the best of myself, to animals," Bardot is quoted as saying.

Bardot married her fourth husband, politician, Bernard d'Ormale in 1992. The couple live together, along with a menagerie of stray animals, at a secluded property in St Tropez. "I can no longer walk. I can no longer swim. But I'm lucky when I see how animals suffer. Suddenly, I discover that I have nothing to complain [about]."


Bardot at age 12, ballet class

This film launched Bardot into the public spotlight and immediately created her "sex kitten" persona, making her an overnight sensation.  When the film was released in the United States it pushed the boundaries of the representation of sexuality in American cinema, and most available prints of the film were heavily edited to conform with the prevailing censorial standards.

Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman.

1958 Venice Film Festival

Bardot, 1965

Bardot as a ballerina, 1959

With son, Nicholas, 1960

When Nicolas was 12, he came to his mother to stay with her for a while. However, Bardot returned him to his father, explaining that she could not take care of him because she had a social event that evening. After that incident, Nicolas did not want to see his mother for several years.

For the last 62 years Bardot has lived in a home in the French coastal town of La Madrague. Her house is situated directly on the waterfront, but is closed off from the outside world by a high wall, fences and large plants and trees. 

Bardot stopped acting at the height of her fame in 1973. She turned her back on the film world and finally started, as she calls it, ‘her real life’. “My whole life, before and after And God Created Woman, I was never what I wanted to be, which was direct and honest. I wasn’t outrageous at all and I didn’t want to be. I wanted to be myself, just myself.”

Saturday, February 27, 2021



READERS WEEK: Ghost Hoaxing

Both Sue P and Brett B have sent me suggestions for a Bytes post, an article in Atlas Obscura, a site the bills itself as “The definitive guide to the world’s hidden wonders.” The home page for that site is at:

Thanks Sue, Brett.

Before reprinting that article, let me mention that French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr coined the saying “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

In a similar vein, someone once wrote on a toilet door that people were writing the same things on the walls of Pompeii 2000 years ago, so that progress is a felt tip pen.

You know the various fads and challenges that sometimes sweep the world, in particular the one where people dressed as creepy clowns and would then stand in places where people would see them? The clowns were called Killer Clowns and they reappeared in 2020.

This type of activity is not new, people were doing it back in the 1800s. 

I recall that when I first started university, the student newspaper published an  alphabetical guide to university life. G stood for the phrase “Good God, there’s someone doing something original.” This was followed by the advice: “Forget this sentence, you will never have occasion to use it.”

Here is the story of the ghost hoaxers . . .

The article is headed as follows:

The Mischievous ‘Ghost Hoaxers’ of 19th-Century Australia

To stave off boredom, some people donned sheets and menaced the public.
OCTOBER 29, 2019


In the late 19th century, "ghost hoaxers" wore costumes to terrify unsuspecting victims.

IN 1882, IN THE SOUTHEAST Australian state of Victoria, repeated attacks on the general public were carried out by a figure known only as the “Wizard Bombardier.”

This individual was known for wearing an ostentatious outfit of white robes and a sugarloaf hat. The Wizard’s strategy involved disorienting people with loud screams before hurling stones and other sorts of missiles at them. Then the ghoulish individual made a quick dash and was gone.

Attacks like these, in which pranksters disguised as ghosts would wreak havoc, came to be known as “ghost hoaxing.” There were many cases and perpetrators in Australia from the late 19th century to the First World War—to the point that rewards were offered for the apprehension of ghost hoaxers.

In this era, Australia was the perfect location for villains and rogues who wished to imitate apparitions for their own ends. David Waldron, author of the article “Playing the Ghost: Ghost Hoaxing and Supernaturalism in Late Nineteenth-Century Victoria,” says that the lack of professionalized police meant that Australia had a particular “lawlessness.” That, along with an abundance of leisure time and a lack of affordable entertainment options, created an environment ideal for ghost hoaxers, who often used their own theatrics to entertain themselves.

An article from the Australian Sunday Times, dated November 27, 1898, about a ghost hoaxer who "surrendered on being bailed up by a revolver."

Technology helped make the ghost pranksters look spooky. As Waldron writes, the recent invention of phosphorescent paint meant that individuals could glow in the dark as they menaced others, which made their outfits all the more believable and gave them an otherworldly appearance. Ghost hoaxers sometimes fashioned elaborate disguises: In 1895, for instance, one prankster created a costume to resemble a knight and emblazoned the phrase “prepare to meet thy doom” on his armor. To ratchet up the threat factor, this “knight” also threatened people with decapitation.

Australia during this period was very concerned about the threat of “larrikins”—rowdy youths out to cause mischief. Some of these larrikins regarded ghost costumes as suitable devices with which to commit crimes and violence. A sort of urban warfare was fought, with ghost hoaxers on one side and, on the other, vigilantes and armed guards determined to shoot the pranksters with buckshot, as a way to end their mischief.

Waldron writes that despite the ghost pranks being associated with the working class, once the ghosts were apprehended, “many if not most of those arrested” were in fact “school teachers and clerks and the like and a small number of middle-class women.”

"Ghost with a Revolver," Illustrated Police News, October 10, 1885.

One unexpected ghost hoaxer was Herbert Patrick McLennan, who in 1904 equipped himself with a glowing outfit that included a top hat, frock coat, and boots. Most menacingly, McLennan carried a cat o’nine tails whip and used it to assault women he encountered. When a bounty of £5 was placed on McLennan, he proceeded to declare war on the authorities, threatening to shoot anyone who came after him in a letter addressed to local leaders, in which he referred to himself as “the ghost.” When McLennan was arrested, however, he turned out to be a powerful, influential clerk and public speaker. McLennan was sent to jail, but he was soon back out again.

Some ghost hoaxers made their own custom disguises—such as wearing a coffin strapped to their backs, so as to give the appearance of having risen from the dead, as in one case in 1895. A female ghost hoaxer even incorporated music by playing a guitar while she skulked around near a hotel, according to reports in 1880 and 1889.

One theme common to ghost hoaxers was the use of pre-existing superstitions and locations that were regarded as haunted or associated with death, such as cemeteries, in order to double down on fear. Some hoaxers even painted a skull and crossbones in a particular location, to create a sense of fear before they arrived to wreak havoc.

An article headlined "Some True Stories About Ghosts" was published in the Illustrated Police New on October 29, 1881.

To the wider community, ghost hoaxers presented a threat not just through fear but also via crime and violence, such as indecent exposure, sexual assault, or even just egg theft. Not all citizens were prepared to stay helpless in the face of this threat. In 1896, an ex-soldier named Charles Horman seemed to be a one-man army against the spectral impersonators. He opened fire with a shotgun on one youth who was pretending to be a ghost, while using a cane to attack another hoaxer who was assaulting a woman.

Parents whose children had been physically attacked by ghost hoaxers also took the law into their own hands. One woman unleashed her pit bull on a hoaxer who had assaulted her daughter. In 1913 a mob of vigilantes chased and beat a man wearing a glowing ghost outfit who had terrified an old man.

Eventually, the phenomenon of ghost hoaxers ended, hastened by the arrival of World War I, which took the lives of over 60,000 Australian soldiers. As Waldron says, the war showed that there were “far bigger issues at stake, and the symbolism of death [became] less amusing.” With human mortality no longer a premise for pranks, ghost hoaxers lost their spirit for good.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Thought for the Day




Today’s Funny Friday is dedicated to Scottish lassie Janice . . .

Janice, lang may yer lum reek!

(For the sassenachs and other non-Scots, myself included, that translates to ‘Long may your chimney smoke’, which is a toast to one’s health, wishing the person a long and healthy life.)

A wee word of warning: there be some risquรฉ content ahead . . .



An Englishman is hiking in Scotland and he pauses to drink from a stream. A passing shepherd calls out "Dinnae drink frae that, it's all fulla coo piss an shite!"

The Englishman says to him in a cut-glass accent "I'm terribly sorry, my good fellow, would you very much mind repeating that in the Queen's English?"

The shepherd says "I'm terribly sorry sir, I was only asking if you would like to borrow this tin cup and get a proper drink?"

What is the difference between a Scottish sheep farmer and a Rolling Stones song?

One says, “Hey you, get off of my cloud!”, and the other says, “Hey McCloud, get off of my ewe!”

After announcing he was getting married, a boy tells his friend he will be wearing the kilt.

“And what's the tartan?" asks his mate.

"She'll be wearing a white dress.”

A Dundee woman in hospital giving birth.

"Well done, it's' a boy, what are you going to call him?" the midwife asks.

The woman replies "Nathan."

The midwife says "Aw come on, you have to call him something."

A Scottish man was asked why it was called a kilt.

He replied “The last guy that called it a skirt got kilt”.

Jock said to his girlfriend “Put your hand under my kilt, lass.”

She did and withdrew it quickly, saying “Jock, that’s gruesome.”

“Aye, lass,” he replied.

A kilted Scotsman was walking down a country path after finishing off a large amount of whisky at a local pub. He felt quite sleepy and decided to nap against a tree.

As he slept, two female tourists heard his loud snoring. When they found him, one said, "I've always wondered what a Scotsman wears under his kilt."

She boldly walked over to the sleeper, raised his kilt, and saw that he wore nothing at all. Her friend said, "Well, the mystery is solved! Let's thank him for sharing!" She took off her pretty blue hair ribbon and gently tied it around the Scotsman's endowment.

A while later, the Scotsman was awakened by the call of nature. He raised his kilt and was bewildered at the sight of the neatly tied blue ribbon. He stared for a minute, then said, "I don't know where y'been laddie... but it's nice ta see you won firrrst prrrize!"



While in China, an American man is sexually promiscuous and does not use a condom the entire time he is there.

A week after arriving back home in the States, he wakes one morning to find his penis covered with bright green and purple spots. Horrified, he immediately goes to see a doctor.

The doctor, never having seen anything like this before, orders some tests and tells the man to return in two days for the results. After two days, the doctor tells him, “I’ve got bad news for you, you have contracted Mongolian VD. It’s very rare and almost unheard of here in the US. We know very little about it."

The man perplexed asks, "Well, can’t you give me a shot or something to fix me up, Doc?"

The doctor answers, "I’m sorry, there's no known cure. We are going to have to amputate your penis."

The man screams in horror, "Absolutely not !! I want a second opinion... !!!"

The doctor replies, "Well, it’s your choice. Go ahead, if you want, but surgery is your only option.”

The next day, the man seeks out a Chinese doctor, figuring that he’ll know more about the disease. The Chinese doctor examines his penis and proclaims, "Ahh... yes, Mongolian VD. Very rare disease."

The guy says to the doctor, "Yeah, yeah, I already know that, but what can we do? My American doctor wants to cut off my penis!"

The Chinese doctor shakes his head and laughs, "Stupid Amelican docttah, always want operate, make more money that way. No need amputate!"

"Oh, thank God!” the man exclaims.

"Yes,” says the Chinese doctor. "Wait two weeks. Fall off by self."



In Scotland “Menzies” is pronounced “Ming-iss” . . .

A lively young damsel named Menzies
Inquired: "Do you know what this thenzies?"
Her aunt, with a gasp,
Replied: "It's a wasp,
And you're holding the end where the stenzies."



Don't you love the Herman cartoons? . . . 



Husband: "The doctor said I should touch myself whenever I feel like it.”

Wife: "No, he said you could have a stroke at any time."

If I had a dollar for every time I didn't know what was going on...

I'd be like, why am I always getting all this money?

A cold snap across the United States has seen Texas dealing with temperatures as low as -18

The demand for electricity has led to blackouts across the state, causing some people to go without Fox News for so long, they've stopped blaming the weather on Joe Biden.

When REM met The Queen, she held up an envelope and then said...

"That's me in the corner."

Woman to a Scotsman: “I’ve always wondered, what’s worn under the kilt?”

Scot: “There’s nae worn under the kilt, lassie, it’s all in perfect working order.”


Thursday, February 25, 2021



READERS WEEK: Collie Mural Trail

An email from Graham E:

Hi Mr O,

Came across this interesting story, thought you may like it as well.

The small town of Collie, south of Perth, is usually known more for its coal mining history than as an art destination, but not anymore. One of the world's biggest murals is taking shape on the wall of Wellington Dam in the picturesque Wellington National Park less than half-an-hour out of town. And in the town itself, contemporary art works have sprung up on the walls of public buildings, shops and signs, creating a trail of images which tell the story of the history and culture of the area.

Artist Guido van Helten's 8000 square metre mega-mural is the biggest dam mural in the world. Inspired by local stories and photographs, it comprises a series of images and reflects the area's connection to and reliance on its natural resources, including water.

Thanks Graham.

Below are some of the pics Graham sent with the above comments, plus extra.

Before I do, I have to say that I love the comment “the biggest dam mural in the world”. It reminds me of a classic funny . . .

One day a nun was fishing near a dam and caught a huge fish. A man was walking by and said, "Wow! What a nice goddamn fish!" The sister said, "Sir, you shouldn't use Lord's name in vain." The man said, "But that's the species of the fish, a dam fish because it was caught near a dam."

The sister said, "Oh, in that case, it's okay." The sister took the fish back home and said, "Mother Superior, look at the dam fish I caught." Shocked, the Mother Superior said, "Sister, you know better than that." The nun said, "That's the name of its species - a dam fish because I caught it near a dam." So, the Mother Superior said, "Well, give me that dam fish and I'll clean it."

While she was cleaning the fish, Monsignor walked in and Mother Superior said, "Monsignor, look at the dam fish that the sister caught." Nearly fainting, Monsignor said, "Mother Superior, you shouldn't talk like that!" Mother Superior said, "But that's the species of it - a dam fish because the sister caught it near a dam." Monsignor said, "Well, give me the dam fish and I'll cook it."

That evening at supper there was a new priest at the table, and he said, "Wow, what a nice fish." In reply, the sister said, "Thank you, I caught the dam fish." Mother Superior said, "I cleaned the dam fish." And Monsignor said, "I cooked the dam fish."

The priest looked around in disbelief, quite shocked, and said, "I'm starting to like this fucking place!"

(And yes, I am aware there is a cruder version of it).


Wednesday, February 24, 2021



READERS WEEK: Some comments and some pics . . .


Steve M drew my attention to not having fully redacted Count P's full name in yesterday's Readers Write post about names. I have now corrected that . . . mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.



Whilst on the topic of Readers Writing, I also omitted to mention that Graham E had sent me a response to my gripe as to why no one had yet made a film out of the Isaac Asimov Foundation series of books.  Apparently it is happening.


Graham regularly sends me snippets of information and items of interest, so much so that I sometimes save them and post them in a group in a segment which, in his honour is designated The G Spot.

From wikipedia:

The Foundation series is a science fiction book series written by American author Isaac Asimov. First published as a series of short stories in 1942–50, and subsequently in three collections in 1951–53, for thirty years the series was a trilogy: Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation. It won the one-time Hugo Award for "Best All-Time Series" in 1966. Asimov began adding new volumes in 1981, with two sequels: Foundation's Edge and Foundation and Earth, and two prequels: Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation. The additions made reference to events in Asimov's Robot and Empire series, indicating that they were also set in the same fictional universe.

The premise of the stories is that, in the waning days of a future Galactic Empire, the mathematician Hari Seldon spends his life developing a theory of psychohistory, a new and effective mathematical sociology. Using statistical laws of mass action, it can predict the future of large populations. Seldon foresees the imminent fall of the Empire, which encompasses the entire Milky Way, and a dark age lasting 30,000 years before a second empire arises. Although the inertia of the Empire's fall is too great to stop, Seldon devises a plan by which "the onrushing mass of events must be deflected just a little" to eventually limit this interregnum to just one thousand years. To implement his plan, Seldon creates the Foundations—two groups of scientists and engineers settled at opposite ends of the galaxy—to preserve the spirit of science and civilization, and thus become the cornerstones of the new galactic empire.

One key feature of Seldon's theory, which has proved influential in real-world social science, is the uncertainty principle: if a population gains knowledge of its predicted behavior, its self-aware collective actions become unpredictable.


Here is Graham's email to me:

Hi Mr O,

Noticed you mentioned the Foundation series this morning......

Prayers answered

Foundation is an upcoming American science fiction television series based on the book series of the same name by Isaac Asimov and produced by David S. Goyer for Apple TV+. In January 2021, Goyer stated “...with Foundation we can tell the story, hopefully, over the course of eighty episodes; eighty hours, as opposed to trying to condense it all into two or three hours for a single film”. Foundation is set to premiere in 2021

On June 22, 2020, as part of its Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple released a teaser trailer for the series. Apple also announced that the series will premiere in Autumn 2021.


Mr G

Thanks, Graham, I am looking forward to watching it.  I remeber being right into Asimov sci fi in my uni days.


The following pics and text were sent to me by John P, thanks John . . . 


300-year-old library tool that enabled a researcher to have seven 
books open at once, yet conveniently nearby 
(Palafoxiana Library, Puebla).

350-year-old pocket watch carved from a single Colombian 

In 1955, this small electric narrow gauge train was installed in New 
York’s Holland Tunnel to monitor traffic speed.

A British couple sleeps inside a "Morrison shelter” used as 
protection from collapsing homes during the WWII 'Blitz' bombing 
raids. March 1941.

Philco Predicta Television from the late 1950s.

This car is a French 'Delahaye 175s roadster', introduced at the Paris 
motor show in 1949. Only one was ever made. it was recently sold at 
auction for around five million dollars.

Kodak K-24 camera, used for aerial photography during WW2 by the 

Motorised roller-skate salesman in California, 1961.

A rail zeppelin and a steam train near the railway platform. Berlin, 
Germany, 1931.

Soviet peasants listen to the radio for the first time, 1928.

One wheel motorcycle, Germany, 1925.

The open side view of an old adding machine.

FBI's fingerprint files, 1944.