William Lyon MacKenzie King (1874-1950), Canada’s 10th and longest serving Prime Minister was a devoted dog owner in life and in death.While active in politics King had an achingly dull public image, which was certainly at odds with the goings-on in his private life. What the Canadian populace wasn’t aware of was his séances, his consultations with spiritual mediums, table-rapping sessions, tea-leaf readings and communing with the spirits of the likes of former PM Wilfrid Laurier, his long-deceased mother, and of course his dear ghost dog, Pat. That he owned and frequently used both a Ouija board and a crystal ball was published in Time Magazine in 1953, news that shocked the nation. Rampant rumours circulated about King’s oddities, some true, most false. That King had Pat stuffed by a taxidermist so that the little dog would always be by his side turned out to be untrue. King’s detailed diary entries, published after his death in 1950 revealed that King consulted the dead Pats during these séance sessions in manners of international political policy, conscription, and Liberal Party Leadership.
King, obsessed with death and the afterlife, often expressed his wish to communicate with the living after he died, just as he hoped to be reunited forever in the spirit world with his three Pats; “we shall all be together in the Beyond,” he wrote, “of that I am perfectly sure”.
German travelers in the 1950s complained that beautiful women were routinely being singled out for strip searches by guards at border crossings. The pretext for these searches was usually something trivial, such as a few Swiss francs undeclared. Sounds like the TSA learned some lessons from these guys.
Source: The Corpus Christi Caller-Times - Dec 6, 1951
Residents of the English town of Castleford in Yorkshire were probably delighted to hear that UK TV station Channel 4 was to film a documentary of the ongoing urban regeneration scheme, up until their local council decided to rename a local landmark ahead of filming. The popular local landmark had been known as “Tickle Cock Bridge” since Victorian times - probably due to its popularity as a trysting place according to one local historian – but prudish council members decided to put up signs for the more polite “Tittle Cott Bridge” for the cameras. However local objections have been so vocal that the officials have been forced to back down and restore the feature’s original “rude” name (Metro).
And if you fancy taking a trip to Tickle Cock Bridge, why not make a grand tour of it and take in some more of Britain’s rudest place names (Telegraph).
It’s always worth making sure you have plenty of the local currency on holiday, but for one German tourist this became more of a life-saver than a simple convenience. Dominik Podolsky was just riding the ski-lift back down in Hochzillertal in Austria as darkness fell when it was suddenly switched off, as it is every dusk, leaving him stranded. As temperatures dropped to minus 18° Celcius (0° F) Mr. Podolsky began to set light to whatever was to hand to attract attention, starting with paper napkins and some business cards before in desperation he was forced to set fire to his money. He had just burned his last euro when he was finally spotted by a cleaning crew and rescued (Orange).
Perhaps he would have done better to visit the Swiss side of the Alps instead. If not on the mountains, at the very least he would have been better looked after in that country's brothels. Principally because, with an increasing number of elderly clients packing a well-known anti-impotence treatment, Swiss brothels are training their staff in the use of defibrillators in an effort to stop the pill-popping pensioners become clog-popping corpses. "Having customers die on us isn't exactly good publicity" said one sex-club owner. Funny, I would have thought the opposite was true (Telegraph).
But trained as they may be, Swiss working girls will never have the edge on their American competitors. At least that’d be the conclusion you might draw from the results of a recent poll which placed America at number one on the list of countries with the most attractive people (Switzerland didn’t even make the top 20). So rejoice America, from the wild and wanton women of Walmart to the sultry street-girl sirens of Chattanooga, your beauty is unsurpassed (Herald Sun).
A would be bank-robber in Austria was foiled in his robbery attempt when the bank closed early for a staff training session. The man came equipped with a Barack Obama mask and gun but was stopped at the first hurdle when the locked door refused to open for him. Staff inside initially thought it was part of the training or a joke, and their laughter aggravated the criminal until he eventually fled empty-handed (Digital Spy).
More successful were the thieves that managed to steal several US landmarks, including the Palace of Fine Arts, USS Pampanito and Ghirardelli Square. Models of course, part of an exhibition of Mark and Jannet Benz’s Lego creations on display at the Palo Alto Museum of American Heritage, and worth several thousand dollars. A reward of $500 has been offered by the Benzes (SF Weekly).
But if Jan and Mark are thinking of upping their home security, they should perhaps avoid following the example of Alexander Skopintsew of Primorye in Russia, who decided to deter intruders by planting homemade landmines around his garden. He was inevitably found out when a trespasser was injured when setting off one of these devices, and charged with possession of illegal weapons, receiving a suspended sentence (ABC News).
Of course another alternative might be to have nothing worth stealing. Perhaps something similar occurred to retired lorry driver Ken Strickland, who amassed a collection of over 3000 watering cans, each meticulously documented. Sadly Mr. Strickland died last month aged 78, bequeathing the entire assortment to his niece, who is at a loss as to what to do with them and may in fact sell them on behalf of a charity. One watering can however will not be up for sale, it contains her uncle's ashes (Metro).
Meanwhile hundreds of other women up and down the UK might be feeling a little let down this Monday, after British department store Debenhams recorded a 76% surge in sales of their range of “anatomy boosting” underwear for men ahead of Valentine’s day. Turn around is fair play, I say (Reuters).
It’s an election year in the UK, and politicians there are suddenly more image conscious than ever. None more so than incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who - at his wife’s suggestion - has swapped his regular Kit-Kat munching habit for a diet of bananas in an effort to slim down a bit. While it’s nice to know that the British PM’s wife is perhaps a reader this blog, she’s obviously not a regular one, or she’d have known that portly politicos are more trusted. Now if only he’d show the common touch by going on a bacon binge (Orange News).
Mind you, Mr. Brown is not the only statesman trying to avert a bleak future this week, an unnamed Arab ambassador got the shock of his life when he finally lifted his new bride’s niqab, only to find she had cross-eyes and a beard. The groom immediately went to court to have the marriage annulled, claiming he had been tricked into the marriage and that the bride’s parents had used pictures of her attractive older sister to deceive him. The court found for the groom and dissolved the marriage, but turned down his demand for $150000 compensation (Daily Mail).
But perhaps he’s been a bit quick to judge by appearances. Two Chinese men certainly were when the found a hoard of 20 clay artefacts in an old tomb they discovered in a field near their home, only to later sell the whole lot to a collector for less than $2000. Unfortunately for the pair, theirs were rare finds from the Sui-Tang Dynasty, making the collection over 1000 years old. One item alone, a pottery figurine, recently reached $150,000 at auction (Daily Times).
More fortunate was Wendy Jones of Aberglasney in Wales, who took the old plate she’d had perched on her sideboard for years – except on those odd occasions it had fallen off it - to a TV antiques show, in a plastic carrier bag, only to be told it was part of a rare, Prussian royal service worth over £100000 (Telegraph).
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Dave Snarr, the Mayor of Murray, Utah may be losing his trademark handlebar mustache. Mr. Snarr has put the fate of his mustache up for a public vote and so far, it is not looking good for this favorite facial feature.
According to the letter, written by American Mustache Institute CEO Dr. Abraham Jonas Froman:
"...you represent a community of downtrodden Americans - Mustached Americans - for whom you stand as a sign that we are not only fit to hold positions in waste collection, motorcycle repair, and hospital equipment maintenance. You are proof that a Mustached American can be a mayor, a leader, a respected beacon of excellence."
The Mayor's response? "...whatever you do, you're damned".
Voting for the fate of the mustache is open until May 16th.
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Who We Are
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
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