A man who bet £100 ($240) a decade ago that he would live to be 100 is preparing to pick up his £25,000 ($60,000) winnings.
So confident was bookmaker William Hill in 1997 that it gladly offered Alec Holden odds of 250/1.
But the retired engineer, born April 24, 1907, celebrates his century - to the bookies' dismay.
Mr Holden, from Epsom in Surrey, joked: “I've been very careful about what I've been doing in recent months. If I saw any hooded groups from William Hill standing in the street, I avoided them.”
“Forty birthday cards came for me this morning, including one from the Queen - in fact, I think I saw her delivering it on her bicycle this morning.”
The bet was placed on December 10 in 1997 when Mr Holden was 90.
Mr Holden, who has two sons aged 70 and 60, puts his longevity down to porridge for breakfast and “remembering to keep breathing”. He also plays chess every day..
April 23, 2007
April 21, 2007
The piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes an abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves...
Private rites of magic send
The temple prostitutes to sleep;
All the literati keep
An imaginary friend...
Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.
April 19, 2007
The Constitution of the United States, Art. III, defines treason against the United States to consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort. This offence is punished with death.
John Hinderaker of Powerline has assembled an efficient refutation in a single post. It's short enough and long enough and relevant enough to show in one place the truth of the SBV campaign and to discredit the meme that it's been discredited. The LSM is a numerous, agile, motivated swarm. If they say black is white and swarm over the shades of gray for imputed inconsistencies in the idea that black is black, then it takes an accurate, elegant mind to shove the big lie back down their throats.
To paraphrase Lincoln "If partial birth abortion is not wrong, nothing is wrong."
April 16, 2007
That's the least of it anymore. It's not pleasant, but it's not that important anymore because you're straight with your family, you have a level of understanding and knowledge about your family, and they with you, and with the man upstairs, and that's that. You know, ain't really much past that. And it kind of frees you up in a way.
April 15, 2007
In this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others - Voltaire, Candide.Voltaire refers to the execution of John Byng, Admiral of the Royal Navy, in 1757 for "failing to do his utmost" to engage the enemy, the French. 1 month ago on the 250th anniversary of Byng's death the Ministry of Defence refused a posthumous pardon petition from Byng's descendants. There is a view that Byng's death was unjust, but...
there was more truth in [Voltaire's] epigram than perhaps he knew, for the execution of Byng had a profound effect on the moral climate of the navy … the fate of Byng taught [officers] that even the most powerful political friends might not save an officer who failed to fight. Many things might go wrong with an attack on the enemy, but the only fatal error was not to risk it. Byng's death revived and reinforced a culture of aggressive determination which set British officers apart from their foreign contemporaries, and which in time gave them a steadily mounting psychological ascendancy. More and more in the course of the century, and for long afterwards, British officers encountered opponents who expected to be attacked, and more than half expected to be beaten - NAM Rodger, A Naval History of Britain.I sentence the Minister of Defence, the First Sea Lord and the commander of HMS Cornwall, to be besuited by an Iranian tailor and be taken from this place to the quarterdeck of HMS Cornwall, which shall be berthed by Tower Bridge to permit spectators to pelt them with rotten vegetables, and then be executed by a firing squad of Royal Marines. The bodies shall be gibbeted from a gallows at Wapping to be washed over by 3 tides pour encourager les autres.
April 12, 2007
For an excruciatingly funny first-hand account of Grub Street in recent times, I recommend The Insider by Piers Morgan, editor of the Mirror, fired for publishing faked photos of British soldiers torturing Iraqis. His caddish, intimate witness to Murdoch, Diana and the Blairs will define them down the ages.
I have to link to this. As Apple is the least green (most black?) company in the demonology of the Church of Climate Change, Steve Jobs has been hanging upside down in his gravity boots to dream up some answers, such as:
Well, we can use more low-power-consumption chips from Intel. That's not exactly a big breakthrough. We can put a hand-crank on our MacBooks like the One Laptop Per Child machine.Dung-powered laptops was another suggestion. Or how about a Difference Engine built from green Meccano?
Baby seal silhouettes dancing with iPod cords on their heads ?
The once-proud Brit military has collapsed to a sorry state when its Royal Marines surrender without a fight, then apologize to their captors (praising their gentle natures!) while criticizing their own country. Pretty sad to think that the last real warriors fighting under the Union Jack are soccer hooligans.
A few miles away from from where the British sailors (rightly) surrendered, Michael Yon is embedded in the British Army:
..the Brits were going into extremely hostile terrain, outnumbered, without helicopter support, relying instead upon timing, terrain, maneuverability, firepower, and sheer audacity.Thanks, Dean Barnett:
The British soldiers he’s embedded with notched 26-27 kills and suffered no casualties of their own while engaging the enemy in a major gun battle. Michael said to me in an email about the Brits he’s riding with, “These guys fight like animals!”
April 11, 2007
Maybe this clip isn't quite as funny as '300', but it does show how sex, sandals and sixpack movies should be done:
April 10, 2007
Our two interviewees should take the money and go off and do something else. They clearly aren't cut out for the armed services.
LS Turney? You tell it how it effing is. How about manning the checkout at Tesco .. or mucking out stables?
OM Batchelor? You're a chirpy, sensitive chap. Maybe you could work in a pet grooming salon or start a window-cleaning service - if you're not afraid of heights.
And the Navy? Back to the drawing board, I'm afraid. As a former naval officer and lieutenant on board HMS Cornwall, it gives me no pleasure to say that it will take a decade or two for the Senior Service to live this one down.
The British Army has had its own setbacks in Afghanistan as this clip from Carry On Up The Khyber illustrates:
April 09, 2007
3rd in line for Commander-in-Chief.
What's her excuse?
April 07, 2007
..tells the life of Christ as if a documentarian on a low budget had been following him from birth. The movie was made in the spirit of Italian neo-realism, which believed that ordinary people, not actors, could best embody characters -- not every character, but the one they were born to play.
April 06, 2007
... I don't hold the hostages responsible for what happened to them, or how they responded while in captivity. They and thousands more like them do a brave, thankless job on our behalf.
But I despair at what their ordeal and the response to it tells us about the kind of country we have become.
After ten years of Tony Blair, Britain is now a neutered, international laughing stock. The United Nations and our EU 'partners' hold us in contempt.
The feminisation of our entire society has utterly destroyed whatever credibility and moral fibre we ever had. The emotional incontinence which flooded the country at the time Lady Di popped her Jimmy Choos is now our stock in trade.
I wanted to retch when I saw the father of one of the captured marines cuddling his wife and sobbing on live television in front of a tree festooned with yellow ribbons.
Of course he's got every right to be upset, but he shouldn't be sharing it with Sky News. His other son looked deeply embarrassed, as if a dog had just peed up against his leg. It was the most skin-crawling moment I have seen since The Mellorphant Man paraded his family in front of a five-bar gate.
And What about the outside broadcasts from assorted pubs around the country, as various friends and relatives showed their solidarity by drinking themselves senseless?... The broadcast media covered the whole affair as if it were an episode of Big Brother. Gormless women cackled away about the hostages in the same silly psychobabble as they discuss 'relationship ishoos'.
I'd add that the British were right to surrender to overwhelming and unstable forces. The mock execution by the Iranians was a nice touch. Thanks. We'll remember.
And this in case you think Littlejohn's exaggerating:
As for Britain's government, perhaps the harshest comments issued during the entire fiasco came from British Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt. The object of her ire? Prisoner Turney's smoking. "It was deplorable," Hewitt tut-tutted. "This sends completely the wrong message to our young people."
But the fatuousness of Hewitt's comment perfectly echoed that of new U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, who also "thanked" Ahmadinejad.
April 05, 2007
In 1938 the English football side, including the great Stanley Matthews, gave the Nazi salute in Berlin as instructed by the Foreign Office. Now British Royal Marines apologize and smile to the Iranian hostage-taker-in-chief. In 1939 war broke out.
Update: A different angle -
April 04, 2007
The one female crew member, Faye Turney, wore a blue headscarf and jacket.
An unidentified crew member said: "I'd like to say that myself and my whole team are very grateful for your forgiveness. I'd like to thank yourself and the Iranian people... Thank you very much, sir."
What is honour? A word. What is in that word honour? What is that honour? Air - a trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died a Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. 'Tis insensible then? Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? Detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I'll none of it.