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Archive for December 16th, 2006

It seems inconceivable now, in the health and safety obsessed world of ours that this item could actually have been put on the market and sold to children. I quote from the website where I found this ‘toy’.

“In 1951, A.C. Gilbert introduced his U-238 Atomic Energy Lab. Gilbert had a dream that nuclear power could capture the imaginations of children everywhere. For a mere $49.50, the kit came complete with three ‘very low-level’ radioactive sources, a Geiger-Mueller radiation counter, a Wilson Cloud Chamber (to see paths of alpha particles), a Spinthariscope (to see ‘live’ radioactive disintegration), four samples of Uranium-bearing ores, and an Electroscope to measure radioactivity.”

Here are the 10 most dangerous toys of all time, those treasured playthings that drew blood, chewed digits, took out eyes, and, in one case, actually irradiated.

And if those Cabbage Patch dolls of some years ago irritated you – read this

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Let me introduce you to my Great Grandfather, Ebenezer Charon – a man who would reply when a beggar asked “Change?” – “No, I don’t need any, but thank you all the same.” (OK..OK… I read Private Eye… and I was ‘influenced’ by a very good cartoon in PEye – let’s be honest… I was heavily influenced.. but I have been a Private Eye reader since 1967… so… it has shaped part of my life)… But let me move on…

I’m reminded of him because, the other night, I woke early, at two o’clock, fully an hour and a half before I usually wake up. The room was cold, yet, when I touched the radiator, I could feel heat. I turned onto my right side. I sleep on a futon, close to the floor, and could see a light, an iridescent mist, seeping into the room under the door. A moment later the mist transformed into the shape of a man in a black frock coat, gray trousers, spats, leather shoes, wearing a black silk top hat.

“Good evening, Charon. No.. don’t get up. Stay where you are.”

The apparition seemed almost real, but pale. Only the eyes had colour. They were a piercing gray blue. I peered into the gloom, the only illumination in my bedroom coming from the ethereal figure standing but five or six feet from me.

“No..Charon. You did not have too much Rioja last night. I am your Great Grandfather, E. Charon Esquire of Muttley, Charon and Malbec, Solicitors of Cheapside London. Matt Muttley, of Muttley Dastardly LLP, is my great great nephew, although this particular genealogical information need not concern you – and it is of him I wish to speak…or rather, to commend to you as an exemplar of clean and industrious and conservative living. “

Just at that moment, my cousin, Cardinal Charoni di Tempranillo, who is staying with me, bursts into my bedroom – which he has never done before. He was dressed in his winter scarlet cassock and had a mitre on his head. I don’t think he had been out with The Bishop of Southwark; but it was clear, from his eyes, that he had been carousing and drinking grappa heavily. I could smell the grappa on his breath.

“Exorciso te spiritus romanum.” Charoni shouted, holding a silver hip flask out in front of him. The apparition gave me a look of disdain and said “I tried, Charon… believe me, I tried.” The mist cleared as rapidly as it had appeared. I flicked on the light. Cardinal Charoni staggered towards the door. “Have you any of that Rioja downstairs, Charon.?” he slurred. I smiled and told him that I had some excellent Rioja downstairs. I did not join him, but could hear the cork being pulled from the bottle.

I leaned back on my pillow. I had been saved from reform by ancestors by a turbulent priest… I turned on Sky. England v Australia. Monty Panesar was about to take five wickets – a record at The WACA. Perhaps I should send the Cardinal over to Perth? I fear that England may need his services to save The Ashes.

And…so to Christmas and a bit of Friday afternoon ephemera…


A mild diversion for you: Click here: ..because, I suspect, given that we are gradually frying our ozone layer, that we will not be seeing a white christmas this year. There isn’t even any snow in Lapland – much to the disgust of a merchant banker who took his family to Lapland so the kids could meet Santa and go for rides on sleighs etc etc.

I leave you with this thought. How did that tabloid journo find out about a merchant banker (soon to receive a bonus which would fund eye operations in a large part of sub-Saharan Africa) who just happened to be going to Lapland with his chidren.? It can’t be that much fun hanging around Luton airport waiting for merchant bankers who are about to get bonuses.

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