Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Gissa Job

From a variety of evidence "you get to more than fifty ways of making a living in Pompeii: from weaver to gem-cutter, from architect to pastry cook, from a barber to an ex-slave woman called Nigella, who is described on her tomb as a 'public pig-keeper' (porcaria publica)."

Mary Beard, Pompeii, 2010 p168

Also, Roman matrons told their daughters to call their tendrest part porcellana, little piggy, hence porcelaine.

These are the only Imperial Roman Pig-Related Facts that I know, or at least that I know I know. Yet there must be more; there must be, there must be: more.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Either Neither Both?

Carlin A. Barton "The Sorrows of the Ancient Romans: the Gladiator and the Monster" (1992) p81

The skeletons of seventeen men who perished in the Vesuvian holocaust have been recovered from the ashes of the gladiatorial barracks of Pompeii. They were trapped in a cell in which weapons were stored. Several had no possibility of escape; their legs were bound in stocks. With them was found the skeleton of a woman richly adorned with gold jewelry - a necklace of emeralds, two armbands, rings, and other ornaments - and carrying a cameo in a small casket. A lady, we will never know what brought her to the barracks. She can only tease our imaginations. Was she a ludia, one of the "groupies" who attended the "families" of gladiators? Was she like Eppia, mocked by Juvenal, the senator's wife who fled to Alexandria with her scarred "Sergiolus" and his family of fellow gladiators? Was she like those men and women whom Tertullian disdained for giving their bodies and souls to the gladiators, the actors and the charioteers? Was she like those scorned by Petronius for being "inflamed by the arena, or by a muleteer mired in dirt, or an actor disgraced by his exposure on the stage"? Did she kiss the tracks of the whips?

Mary Beard "Pompeii: the Life of a Roman Town" (2010) p5

And then, of course, there was the richly jewelled lady found in one of the rooms in the gladiators' barracks, This has often been written up as as a nice illustration of the penchant of upper-class women for the brawny bodies of gladiators. Here, it seems, is one of them caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, her adultery exposed to the gaze of history. It is, in fact, a much more innocent scene than that. Almost certainly the woman was not on a date at all, but had taken refuge in the barracks, when the going got too rough on her flight out of the city. At least, if this was an assignation with her toy-boy, it is an assignation she shared with seventeen others and a couple of dogs - all of whose remains were found in the same room.

Is this a case of Carlin Barton getting all superheated-steam over the extreme psychic paradoxes tormenting the Romans of the late Republic and early Empire? Or of Mary Beard channelling Joyce Grenfell at her bluestocking best (date???)?

As Mary Beard remarks elsewhere (p15), there is "what we might call the 'Pompeii paradox': that we simultaneously know a huge amount and very little about ancient life there".


Both books get a demi-Satchmo from this reader (ie me) and it's very hard to do better than that.

 Carlin A. Barton (Prof. History UMassAmherst) doesn't appear to run a blog.
Mary Beard (Prof. Classics Cantab) does: A Don's Life.

Brrroken Brrroadband Brrritain.

Hello. You'd think in 21st Century Britain that broadband, fibre-optic cable and ultra-fast internet communication could be taken for granted as a vital underpin to our economic future.

Well, you'd be wrong. We present Broken Broadband Britain, a nation where modern telecomms is limited to a few city centres and shocking swathes of the country are still forced to live in the olden days of yore.

Our first vistit takes us to Rockall in the deprived North West, and we meet Tavish McTavish McGonagall, who has established his hi-tech business hub in a disused Cold War bunker 100 feet below the surface.

To protect his anonymity we've changed his name and he spoke to us in Morse by banging a rock on the lower rungs of the access ladder. His code is transcribed by an actor.

"I had a good job and a big house in Manchester but the pace of life was just too slow and the city completely stifles innovation so I moved here to start up a truly dynamic future enterprise. It's just ridiculous. Fibre-optic hasn't even arrived yet and the wi-fi signal is intermittent to non-existent. No, I haven't called BT to complain. I don't have a mobile and how can I order one when I don't even have internet access? Well no I don't have a computer, how can I order one when I don't even have internet access? How am I supposed to build a dating-to-fux website without internet access? It's ridiculous in modern-day Britain and the Government should act immediately. Action this very day! What do you mean, there's no Government? What election?"

Tragically it's not just in  the North West that the Broadband Deficit is stalling enterprise and growth. Our next visit takes us to the vibrant South West and a buzzing new Silicon Valley on Bodmin Moor, and we meet Rupert St John Halibuthead, whose thrusting hi-tech business is run from a converted sink-hole.

To protect his anonymity we've changed his name and he spoke to us from behind a large stack of empty gin bottles using a scrambler device of his own invention which rendered his speech incoherent to avoid giving away tell-tale details. His ramblings are interpreted by an actor.

"I han a good job and a big flat big flat in Cam'n Town but the pace of life was jus too slow an the city completely stifles innovation. I moved here to.... yes. Yes. I moved here. Iss a taxi service bit like Über only the drivers have to be whores and there's a funh fleeen fully-stock minibar in every vehicle. Bloody good idea 'f you ask me. 'S jus farcical. I can't find the firbror firebrobole fibre-optic and I haven't even seen a broadban. The Government mus act immediately today not tomor today. Iss jus farcical. Whass you mean there's no Government?"

Next week we talk with a consortium of rail engineers whose plans for a hi-speed maglev train tunnel linking South Uist to the Scilly Isles, essential for Britain's economic survival into the 2020s, have so far been ignored by the authorities. Time is running out. More then.

Blogger's note: there hasn't been a run recently of utter retards hi-tech entrepreneurs who've relocated to places called St Leonard-under-Armpit or Grunty Hogben and are calling Radio 4 to whine about how feeble telecomms are thwarting their development projects and how the taxpayer ought to shell out and fix it. No, there hasn't. Because obviously your bleeding-edge telecomms wizard is no more going to set up business in an area known for shite telecomms than a boatbuilder is going set up shop in the middle of the Sahara.

Breaking News: Whispering Dunes BoatResh demands £38bn canal project to ensure survival of British economy into the 2020s. "It's just ridiculous in this day and age" spokesperson says.

Friday, 27 February 2015

The Very Thin Red Line

The Prime Minister today announced a "tactical withdrawal" in defence spending, claiming that "this most difficult of military manoeuvres" had been carried out with "consummate skill".

"We will spending less little on Defence as a percentage of GDP than any other nation of Europe except those who are spending more. Let no-one call the British 'pussy'. Mark my words and mark them well: any aggressor, Mr Putin, can look forward to a nasty poke up the nostril like... this."

Later he unveiled the latest addition to the nation's battlefield might.

BAA Systems Integrated Systems System (United Kingdom, 2015)
Note the forward-mounted eye prod and the Breville custard pie silo over the engine hatch. Planned upgrades include the addition of an Automatic Pie Hurler which will leave the crew's hands free to operate the Squirty Flower point defence solution.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Mince Pie Salesman in February

COMING SOON!!! to a blog near you

Readers: Soooooooooooon!Sooooooooooooooooooooooon!

Blogista: Yes, that'll be something to look forward to.

Readers: Oh yes, we do look forward to having something to look forward to!!!

Sunday, 15 February 2015


Gladly the cross-eyed bear...

...and I've been laughing like a drain ever since I heard it. About forty years ago that was. Bloody good value, those mondegreens.


Now back to the day job.


Vickers-Armitage Battlefield Crapper Mk I (Great Britain, 1936)
Note the forward-mounted straining handle and the Izal drum over the engine hatch. Both proved vulnerable in battle conditions and for the Mk II (1941) were fitted inside the crew compartment.

Palivec P-45 Divisional Toasted Sandwich Maker (Czechoslovakia, 1963)
A powerful turbofan power plant gave the P-45 a distinct edge over any NATO equipment then in service. However, advances in Soviet nuclear technology saw this vehicle redeploying to reserve units as early as 1965.

Monday, 19 January 2015

worse job i ever had

was being the mole in the whack a mole and i aint even finished my breakfast and the boss is tek that fing vest off and im its a cold day boss and tek that fing hat off too and then its a day like any day i put my head out the hole and they hit me with a mallet no matter what hole i guess at and after a hard day theres the stage door johnnies out the back wanting the special it really is not a good job

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Stripey Pajamas

Max Mosley clearly did not indulge in erm... any fantasy to do with any extermination camp, fictional or otherwise.

And is clearly not a Nazi, fantasist or otherwise, or otherwise.

No, REALLY NOT, and Google's removal of


Saturday, 10 January 2015

Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Tarnhelm

Blogberich: I went and renounced Love the other day.

Readers: What you get?



Blogberich: Not even a hat.

Readers: What, like Kiss Me Quick like you used to.

Blogberich: No, you don't even get a hat nowadays, apparently.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Ohh I Feel So Oooold

Sir Dave Attenboro sounding off about Glooobal Warning here:

"Never in the history of humanity in the last 10 million years have all human beings got together to face one danger that threatens us - never."

Well, you might push back the clock to the earliest hominids around 7 million years ago, australopithecines say 4 million years ago, Homo habilis about 2.3 million years ago, Homo sapiens 200,000 years ago... but 10 million?

And for how long have all human beings had the capacity to get together for any reason at all? A few hundred years? A century or two?

Smallpox, anyone?