Once upon a time, many years ago, in the East, there lived an Emperor. He was a very wealthy and happy man. He had six hundred wives who had borne him many children and he loved them all. All his children were girls and so he had no heir, which was perhaps the one thing in life which disappointed him. So imagine his surprise and delight when, one day, one of his wives presented him with a new-born son.

Over the years he watched his little boy grow and became increasingly devoted to him. Just before his son’s fifth birthday he took him to one side and said, “Son, you are the joy of my life, I cannot do enough for you. What would you like? Say what you want and you shall have it”.

The boy replied, “Daddy, I’d like an aeroplane”.

So the Emperor, who was not stuck for cash and not wishing to do things by halves, bought Delta Airlines.

As his son grew the Emperor loved him all the more and when his sixth birthday approached the Emperor took him to one side and said, “Son, you are a delight to behold, nothing is too much for you. What would you like? Say what you want and you shall have it”,

to which the boy replied, “Daddy, I’d like a car”.

So the Emperor, not wishing to do things by halves, bought General Motors.

The boy grew bigger and stronger each day and ever-more wonderful in the eyes of the Emperor so, before his son’s seventh birthday, the Emperor took him to one side and said, “Son, you are the apple of my eye, you cannot imagine the happiness you give to me. What can I give you? Say what you want and you shall have it”.

The boy replied, “Daddy, I’d like to see a film”.

So the Emperor, not wishing to do things by halves, bought the MGM studios and the rights to all the films produced there.

Nearing his son’s eighth birthday the Emperor took him in hand and said, “Son, you are an inspiration to us all, what can I do for you? Say what you want and you shall have it”.

The boy had been watching western movies for the previous year so it should be no surprise that he replied, “Daddy, I’d like a cowboy outfit”.

So the Emperor, not wishing to do things by halves, bought Halliburton.

Bicycle curves do not sag.

Bicycles don’t care if you have ridden other bicycles.

You don’t have to take a shower before you go riding.

You can go cycling at any time.

You can borrow your friend’s bicycle.

Bicycles don’t insult you if you are a bad rider.

If you say anything bad to your bicycle you don’t have to say you’re sorry before you go riding again.

When you go riding the bicycle wears the rubber, not you.

You can keep cycling until you are sore.

If you get a new bicycle you don’t have to keep sending money to the old one.

If you think fairy stories are just harmlessly entertaining tales which are ideal for teaching children good wholesome moral values take a look at this posting on the mental floss website. Here are the summaries of a few medieval fairy tales with their original plots and endings. Some are quite well-known in their modern format, such as ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Snow White’, and others are less well known, but what they all have in common is that these are the original stories which abound with murder, treachery, incest, cannibalism, torture and, this is bad news for those who like a neat and tidy ending, there are very few ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ conclusions.

Click here and enjoy, but don’t read them to your kids.

If you want to go swimming in Sunderland [Wear] you can can go and splash around in their spanking brand new rain puddle. It has taken a a few years to build and a few million pounds in bottle tops and washers to pay for it, but Sunderland now have the only 50 metre swimming pool in the North East of England [apparently Berlin has 11 of them]. It’s a truly modern construction with movable booms and floors so it can be adapted for almost every water activity, diving. competitive swimming, synchronisd swimming and a bit of good old-fashioned fun.

It’s quite a lavish creation but also very ‘green’ in that it has been designed for maximum fuel efficiency and minimum waste of resources. The water is collected from the roof, treated and cleaned in the downstairs water plant, so every time you jump in you are swimming in the rain . .

It’s uncertain which of the three schools of thinking, creationist, intelligent design or natural selection, if any at all, would claim John Darwin, the undead canoeist, as the final proof of their theory, maybe no one at all, as he doesn’t seem to do much credit to any of them.

 

It is a while since we last heard of Mr. and Mrs Darwin but on Thursday, 13th March 2008, a hearing was held at Leeds Crown Court at which they both entered pleas to the various charges brought against them. Mr Darwin pleaded guilty to seven charges of obtaining money [possibly as much as £250,000] by deception and one of obtaining a false passport and not guilty to nine other charges. Mrs Darwin pleaded not guilty to all of the charges brought against her. That’s the dry bit of the tale over with, and summarised here in this article on The Times website.

 

There has been much speculation about the whole story but in particular around the possible motivation. As might be expected, the investigative journals of the world have been digging deep to see what insightful nuggets of muck can be found. One novel theory as to why he gave himself up to the police is that by so doing he would force his wife into giving herself up, but this has is its variations – and drawbacks. The first story, posited by the Glasgow Daily Record, is that he believed his wife was being unfaithful to him but The Sydney Morning Herald goes further than this saying that Darwin believed his wife was about to leave him for another man and leave him penniless, further details here. While this may be plausible, doesn’t it seem a little OTT to put yourself at the mercy of the fuzz, especially after committing a string of frauds, just to stop your spouse having an affair? Would this fit in with Darwin’s previous patterns of behaviour? If other stories are to be believed he regularly indulged in affairs himself so would he be bothered if his wife did the same. Maybe, but maybe not. Does this fit in with the initial story heard last December when he entered a London police station? To all intents and purposes he seriously expected to get away with his amnesia story, although a moments serious thinking might have told him otherwise.

 

The News of The World has another story to tell, not of any planned scheme but of a penpal affair between Darwin and a female prisoner – someone had to find a seamy element to this sooner or later. How he met up with someone else while behind bars is left unexplained but if this is correct it will not be the first time he has been involved with other women or confused reality with fantasy as shown in this article in the the Daily Mail.

 

Guessing from these stories and allegations it would seem that John Darwin is more comfortable in a fantasy world than in the real world. Maybe he himself realises this and is looking forward to a long stir of porridge, it could be just what he needs to avoid getting himself knotted up in further harebrained antics. Or perhaps, as an ex-prison officer, he is feeling a little homesick and wants to return to more familiar quarters. Who knows?

 

But to return to the initial question of this article, if JD were presented as the ultimate proof of the theory of life then intelligent design would come a very poor third in the race JD having displayed a total absence of IQ, natural selection staggers home in second place after failing miserably to do its job in eliminating a seriously weak link from the gene pool and on the basis of all the stories and fantasies involved in this tale Creationism wins by a mile.

This is question close to the heart of many people.  Money and what happens after someone steals, embezzles or obtains it in a dishonest fashion and is subsequently caught. It seems that there is no simple answer to this; how society responds depends on a lot of rather complex, largely unwritten, rules. For instance, the type of crime you commit and how much you have stolen both have a bearing on the outcome but also where you have stolen it from, who you are and who you are connected with.

Take the recent case of the MP who allegedly misused Parliamentary allowances to feather his nest, reported here in The Times and here in The Independent. Over a period of 3 years he paid his eldest son, Henry, a salary as a research assistant, while he [Henry] was studying at Newcastle University. More recently he entered into the same scheme when his second son, Freddie, went to university. After the second time around someone blew the whistle and it was claimed that the money was being paid for no real purpose whatsoever. An enquiry was held into the matter and the committee could find no evidence of any work being done. The only supporting evidence was the say-so of the Conway family members.

Reports are a little fuzzy and confusing regarding how much money was involved, a lot depends on which newspaper you read, but so far as I can gauge the figures below are somewhere in the region.

HC £11,773 per year for 3 years, plus 4 £10,000 bonuses. Total £75,319
FC £10,000 per year for 3 years, plus pension contributions. Total £45,000

For siphoning off a sum of money in excess of £120,000 from public funds Derek Conway was suspended from Parliament for 10 days, must repay £13,161, and has now lost his place in the Conservative Party. No prosecution, no instant dismissal from employment, none of the of the penalties which would have applied automatically had a canteen worker or cleaner stolen a few supplies from the storeroom. Apart from the loss of party membership and the 10 days lost pay, it is now back to ‘service as normal’ for The Honourable Derek Conway, having made a net gain for his offspring of over £100,000.

A few articles covering this . . . . .
The Daily Telegraph
Guido Fawkes’ blog
The Guardian

Contrary to popular belief The Times isn’t every Englishman’s favourite newspaper but it does throw up interesting little articles now and again. While rummaging amongst some old copies recently I came across this item. The British, and English particularly, have always considered themselves kind-hearted and generous though perhaps not overly so. Within our isles there are many variations, as you might expect, and some regions are well-known for opposite traits; the Scots, Aberdonians especially, are reputed to be thrifty and Yorkshire people are careful, as they put it [or just plain tightfisted as others would say], for example, but behind our stoic outward-facing masks we all have beating hearts of gold. At least that is what we like to tell ourselves and anyone else who is listening. Unfortunately, as Richard Morrison points out this notion simply doesn’t square up with the facts collected by the Office for National Statistics. During the last 50 years we have been less and less willing to give to charity, and at the same time have become more and more uncaring for others. If you have the means and the opportunity it is OK to flaunt your wealth, preferably in the most contemptuous and shameless manner possible, it is perfectly acceptable to cheat others and to put down those less fortunate than yourself. Morrison pins everything down to an absence of ‘love’ in our society, I would use the word ‘care’ but otherwise, in essence, agree with what he says; if anything I would be even less charitable than he is in describing our society, we are simply a bunch of greedy and selfish, uncaring tightwads.