"A subterranean railway under London was awfully suggestive of dank, noisome tunnels buried many fathoms deep beyond the reach of light or life; passages inhabited by rats, soaked with sewer drippings, and poisoned by the escape of gas mains. It seemed an insult to common sense to suppose that people who could travel as cheaply on the outside of a Paddington bus would prefer, as a merely quicker medium, to be driven amid palpable darkness through the foul subsoil of London." —The first stretch of London's Metropolitan Line opened on January 9th, 1863. That's 150 years ago today, which, if you've been on an A train here in [...]
"For those of us who have any active associations with wassail, they are probably musical. 'Here We Come a-Wassailing' is about as likely to turn up on your supermarket’s holiday Muzak loop as 'The Christmas Song' or 'Frosty the Snowman.'" —Today in the Times' Dining section, Rosie Schaap provides a recipe for and history of the traditional holiday drink wassail. Wassail is a warm punch made of cider and ale and spices that is enjoying a comeback in Brooklyn cocktail bars. It is intended to enliven spirits and lower inhibitions so as to encourage people to join in a Yuletide sing-along. But Wassail comes from England, which [...]
"My rule of thumb is that if you wake up not with a massive hangover but with enough of a feeling to think 'I drank too much last night', you will have drunk enough to damage your brain cells." —Some doctor, who hates fun, happiness and probably himself, is all "blah blah blah drinking is bad." Whatever, as if LIFE doesn't damage brain cells in a million other ways. Anyhow, this article includes the alcohol diaries of a cross-section of Britons; a surprising amount of rose gets drunk on that benighted island.
"Britain is in the grip of a winter vomiting outbreak which has already seen many thousands fall victim to the debilitating virus." —It seems like Britain's winter vomiting epidemic starts earlier each year.
English stabbies are so bored with their usual bedlam that they've begun robbing famous prisons. The Tower of London, the British Empire's beloved historical place to torture its political dissidents, was the target of a bold thief who stole the Tower's keys on Guy Fawkes Night. The keys open not only the locks on the drawbridges, but also the doors to the tourist restaurant and a conference room—perhaps the very conference room where Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn executed in 1536.
In case you missed it, this is pretty great: "The short video captures young Gabriel deep in thought as he takes in some sage sisterly advice on the perils of spitting, fighting and disobeying one's parents. Defying her own youth, Gabriel's sister delivers a minute-long park bench lecture, telling him in no uncertain terms that he should 'toughen up a bit' before walking off and leaving the words 'think about it, Gabriel' ringing in her brother's ears."
"In the east Midlands a man rang to ask for help with a pigeon suffering from breathing difficulties; another said he'd been bitten by a snake but turned out to be high on drugs. Other cases among the 1,800 hoax or inappropriate calls last year include the caller who said he hadn't slept for two days, the man bleeding because he had squeezed a spot, and the incompetent person wanting help to change a battery in a remote control." —It turns out making dumb calls to emergency services is not just an American thing.
"Nearly a fifth of Britons fail to change their sheets at least one a month, startling new figures suggest." (This news is startling only if you don't recall that a) this is an annual feature and b) it is a well-established fact that Britons are the most verminous, filth-encrusted hominids to roam the earth and that they recoil from the idea of washing up even more quickly than they do from the glint of a blade wielded with menacing intent which, to be fair, they are probably desensitized to by now. )
"London fish monger Muhammad Shahid Nazir, who is better known as the £1 Fish Man, has released a song in the hopes of securing the coveted Christmas number one slot. The fish monger, who was born in Pattoki, near Lahore in Pakistan, became a viral sensation after footage of him singing his distinctive trader’s call "come on ladies, come on ladies, one pound fish" was posted on YouTube." Will this tribute to piscine economy surpass "Baby" and "Gangnam Style" as the most viewed video on YouTube? Sure, why the hell not.
Cheesy name for a baby. RT @mikeallenLONDON, December 3, 2012 (AFP) – Britain's Prince William and Kate expecting a baby: palace
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) December 3, 2012
Hahahah! What would you name the possible baby who might someday rule whatever slashed-up crater remains of Britain? London? Palace? Adele? Tell us in the comments! Actually, go talk about it on Tumblr, I hear there's something fun going on over there.
"A plague of mutant 'super rats' has invaded the upmarket town of Henley-on-Thames, the host of the annual Royal Regatta, a new study has disclosed. Researchers found the picturesque riverside Oxfordshire area has been inundated with dozens of the pests, which carry a poison-resistant gene. Having migrated from parts of Berkshire and Hampshire, the brown rats, and their life-threatening diseases, are spreading after being found on several unidentified farms."
America's favorite British spy/murderer is back in the new blockbuster Skyfall, and once again we are all wondering what it is about playing James Bond that makes actors get very old almost immediately. Is it some kind of English curse? Just look at Daniel Craig. Yes, a very handsome man with very blue eyes and very pronounced biceps in a state of "perpetual plyometric engagement," but the dude is only 44 years old! He's six years younger than Tom Cruise, who still looks about 25. Anyway, this so-called English Curse That Makes Bond Actors Super Old is a real thing, which can be documented with photographs, so that is [...]
"The next time an American 'mate' asks you to 'ring' her on her 'mobile' about renting your 'flat' during your 'holiday,' it’s fair to ask, have we all become Madonna?" —If this ever happens, you have our permission to stab your imaginary friend right in the neck, Briton-style.
Apparently British Prime Minister David Cameron did not exactly cover himself with glory when he appeared on David Letterman's show last night.
"One in four adults has the maths skills of a nine-year-old or worse and struggles with the most basic everyday sums. According to a shock report, more than eight million adults in England are considered to lack even basic numeracy." Hahahaha, England! 1 in 4 adults! That's like 50% or something!
"Hollywood Fish Bar owner Chris Christoforou has created a battered Christmas dinner consisting of a turkey, roast potatoes, stuffing, brocolli, carrots, pigs in blankets and brussel sprouts – all indidually dipped in batter and deep fried. If you haven't had enough crispy batter by that point, he also offers a battered Christmas pudding followed by crispy mince pies." Why, yes, there is video.
Okay, there's probably not gonna be a more evocative headline than this today: "Love-rat dad of nine children to eight women who headbutted ex-girlfriend in row over cheese toastie jailed for just 20 days"
If it's the middle of October it is time for an annual reminder of just how vile and unsanitary the British people are. Also, they don't wash their hands.