Apr 27, 2010

His Partner Calls Him "Honey"

Yes, those are bees!  

I came across this picture while searching  Google for "Isle of Wight Disease" which allegedly "wiped out" Britain's bee population in the early years of the 20th century. First observed on the Isle of Wight.  A parasitic mite apparently infected the air passages in the bees' bodies. Does anyone remember parents/grandparents/greatgrandparents talking about this? Probably WW1 casualties and Spanish 'Flu dominated at the time. The disease is mentioned (in passing) in Seigfreid Sassoon's "Memoirs of an Infantry Officer." 
"Wiped out" seems a bit extreme.  More likely Britain's bees developed a chin-fetish, possibly attracted by particular brands of shaving soap. Another article tells how the monks of Buckfast Abbey bred a resistant hybrid honeybee(*), along with their mind-numbing liquor.

Mrs. Trellis tells me she will award points for the most far-fetched explanation of "Isle of Wight Disease"  And what do points mean?


(*) Said to have been a cross between a common bumble-bee and a shaving-brush, but personally I think that's a Very Silly idea.

Apr 14, 2010

Unlikely Pairings, Mostly.

Lance and Louis Armstrong

Lewis and Lady Emma Hamilton

Michael and Glenda Jackson

Andy and Jenni Murray

Ruby and Bill Murray

John and Barry Humphries

Sarah and Michael Palin 

Katie and Boris Johnson

Linford and Julie Christie

Serena and Rowan Williams

Sir Stanley and Jessie Matthews

Barbara and Sir Leonard Hutton

Scarlett and Ingemar Johansson

Miles and Bette Davis

Jackie and Charles Kennedy

Rowan and Gemma Atkinson

Esther and Robbie Williams

Barbara and Philip Winsdor

Lionel and Tony Blair 

Kate and George W.Bush

Dylan and Kristin Scott Thomas  

Hedy and The Dalai Lama(rr) (Oops!)  

Estée and Sir Harry Lauder.

Any more?  Suggestions for other Unlikely Pairings via "Comments", and FTSE will try to oblige!
Thanks to Jinksy, Deborah, Brokenbiro, C.J. Duffy and Victor for various suggestions 
(See "Comments")
Keep them coming . . . 


Apr 7, 2010


 . . . that we ain't facing up to!

Yesterday the postman brought the Annual Report from my professional pension provider - the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

The Payments Manager's Report pointed out that when he took up his post in 1989 (one year after I took early retirement and started drawing a pension from the scheme) he was sending payments to about 15,000 retirees and their dependents.  Now, 21 years later, that figure is over 55,000!  An increase of MORE THAN THREE TIMES in 20 years.  Not quite as unsustainable as it sounds, by reason of a big jump in the number of pensioners in the late 80's when the Universities offered very attractive packages to older staff so they could replace them with younger, cheaper staff. (Good academic economics or what?)

I suspect but cannot prove that the same sort of thing is happening at all levels of the Education Industry.  We hear of Heads and Assistant Heads retiring from schoolteaching at 50.  Ditto police, military, many levels of the public sector.

From time to time I take a trip to the Senior Common Room.  I sometimes run into former colleagues, whose company is never less than stimulating.  
"What are you doing here, Richard?" they sometimes ask.
"Gloating!" is my merry reply.  
"I'm thinking of Early Retirement myself," they sigh, "the endless form filling is driving us all crazy.  No time for teaching the little b*gg*rs, or doing a bit of research."  
"You can't retire!" I cry. "You must keep at it, laddie.  Your contributions to USS from your salary are needed to pay my pension!"
They fix me with a hard stare. "I would buy you another coffee and croissant, but . .  "
"I know!  I know!  I remember . .  you must dash for an 11 o'clock lecture!  HaHa!"

Apr 6, 2010

Sooooooooooooo . . . . .

It's Wall-To-Wall electioneering from now till May 6th!  How on earth will we fill the bleak and endless hours while the telly spews out unbroken Brown, Cameron, Clegg and Salmond making their unbreakable and soon-to-be-broken promises?   I suppose we could all blog a bit more . . . .

So What Will You Do . . .

. . .  between now and May 7th., when the Wall-to-Wall electioneering stops and the post-mortems start.

Apr 3, 2010

I suppose it had to happen, sometime, somewhere . . . . .