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(Taken from Alexander Wheelock Thayer’s monumental Life of Beethoven)

Vienna Pathological Museum, March 27, 1827

The corpse was very emaciated, especially in the limbs, and sown over with black Petechien; the Abdomen, which was unusually dropsied, was distended and stretched.

The external ear was large and irregularly formed, the scaphoid fossa but more especially the concha was very spacious and half as large again as usual: the various angles and sinuosities were strongly marked. The external auditory canal was covered with shining scales, particularly in the vicinity of the tympanum, which was concealed by them. The Eustachian tube was much thickened, its mucous lining swollen and somewhat contracted about the osseous portion of the tube. In front of its orifice and towards the tonsils some dimpled scars were observable. The principal cells of the Mastoid process, which was large and not marked by any notch, were lined with a vascular mucous membrane. The whole substance of the Os petrosum showed a similar degree of vascularity, being traversed by vessels of considerable size, more particularly in the region of the cochlea, the membranous part of its spiral lamina appearing slightly reddened.

The facial nerves were of unusual thickness, the auditory nerves, on the contrary, were shrivelled and destitute of neurina; the accompanying arteries were dilated to more than the size of a crow quill and cartilaginous. The left auditory nerve much the thinnest, arose by three very thin greyish striae, the right one by one strong clearer white stria from the substance of the fourth ventricle, which was at this point much more consistent and vascular than in other parts. The convolutions of the brain were full of water, and remarkably white; they appeared very much deeper, wider, and more numerous than ordinary.

The Calvarium exhibited throughout great density and a thickness amounting to about half an inch.

The cavity of the Chest, together with the organs within it, was in the normal condition.

In the cavity of the Abdomen four quarts of a greyish-brown turbid fluid were effused.

The Liver appeared shrunk up to half its proper volume, of a leathery consistence and greenish-blue colour, and was beset with knots, the size of a bean, on its tuberculated surface, as well as in its substance; all its vessels were very much narrowed, and bloodless.

The Spleen was found to be more than double its proper size, dark-coloured and firm.

The Pancreas was equally hard and firm, its excretory duct being as wide as a goosequill.

The Stomach, together with the Bowels, was greatly distended with air. Both Kidneys were invested by cellular membrane of an inch thick, and infiltrated with a brown turbid fluid; their tissue was pale red and opened out. Every one of their calices was occupied by a calcareous concretion of a wart-like shape and as large as a split pea. The body was much emaciated.

Concorde had three toilets

This enormous supersonic white elephant cost British taxpayers billions of pounds and was championed by the Conservative government of the day, led by Edward Heath, the most piss poor Prime Minister of the 20th century. No one was sad when he went off on the world’s longest sulk after the Conservatives, following two election defeats in 1974, chose a new leader in 1975 – Margaret Thatcher. Little did we know.

Anyway, Concorde. The initial mistake was to suppose that future progress in air travel must necessarily involve more speed.

In fact, progress was represented by anything which carried a greater number of people more cheaply. Jumbo jets and charter flights were the way forward, whilst Concorde, in this respect, was a mammoth jump backwards.

It was, and is, a fatal flaw in the Tory mentality to equate progress with anything which makes life easier for high-powered business executives.

Another revolting 1970s recipe from my complete set of Good Housekeeping cookery cards; beautifully photographed in full colour with wipe-clean surfaces, they are designed to help you in two ways: to provide you with a repertoire of delicious recipes selected from Good Housekeeping magazine’s famous Creative Cookery series, and also to simplify the complex business of planning perfect menus. For Good Housekeeping cookery cards have an extra value – each one includes ideas for two more suitable courses to make up a complete three-course meal, linking the recipes to other cards in the series.

You don’t have to be an expert cook to produce these superb dishes. All recipes have been double-tested. All are clear and easy-to-follow. All include oven temperatures, cooking times, and number of servings.

What makes this classic dessert are the canned pineapple cubes, or chunks, which make it look like a pile of fruity vomit.


1 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled
1 level tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp Kirsch
16 oz. can pineapple cubes
¾ pint double cream
1 egg white
1 oz. caster sugar


Slice all but a few of the strawberries. Put 1 level tbsp sugar and the Kirsch into a dish. Add the strawberries and leave them to marinate for 1-2 hours.

Drain the pineapple, reserve a few pieces for decoration and pulp the remainder.

Lightly whip the cream until it holds its shape.

Whisk egg white until stiff. Add remaining sugar and whisk again until stiff. Fold into the cream with pineapple purée.

Spoon most of the strawberries into the base of a serving dish. Top with pineapple cream. Chill for a short time only before serving decorated with pineapple pieces and sliced and whole berries. Serve sponge drops separately.

For those who don’t know, Tess Kincaid is a reclusive and enigmatic American poet and blogger (Life at Willow Manor) who lives, some say, in the glorious state of Ohio. A kind of 21st century Emily Dickinson, only without the epilepsy, and with more social skills, and a Land Rover, and electricity.

I was, therefore, honoured to receive her blessing, for this recording of her wonderful poem Modern Fugue:

We sing plain American
and play, achingly similar,
in a flux of singing telegrams.

Through well-tempered episodes
and false entries, we build
like a Midwest summer
fever, an infection
of synonymous tumors, ripe
with tonic chords
Gershwin would admire.

The house water runs
warm and loud until everything
goes silent; but it’s never
entirely silent, to be murdered
by a song.

Don’t forget, she’s American, so she can’t spell tumours, yet that, I feel, is part of her charm. Poor spelling didn’t stop Emily Dickinson writing 900 fucking poems.

Edward Thomas here, in a series of thirty essays, roams England in search of the homes of some of our most famous writers. He quotes extensively from their works, illustrating how the landscapes, towns and cities of their youth and maturity influenced their art. As one would expect, no revealing detail of humour or character escapes Thomas’s observation, so the book is at once a series of exact biographies and a feast of evocative prose.

Edward Thomas was born in Lambeth, south London, in 1878. A Literary Pilgrim in England was first published in 1917, the year he was killed in action in Flanders.

Here is the first page of his pen portrait of Emily Brontë:

Emily Brontë’s country is that tract of the West Riding of Yorkshire which is the scene of “Wuthering Heights” and Mrs. Gaskell’s “Life of Charlotte Brontë”. She was born at Thornton in 1818, but by 1820 the family had moved to Haworth parsonage, where she was to die in 1848. Thornton was “desolate and wild; great tracks of bleak land, enclosed by stone dykes, sweeping up Clayton Heights.”

Haworth left nothing undone that Thornton may have commenced. From their earliest years the six little children “used to walk out, hand in hand, towards the glorious wild moors, which in after-days they loved so passionately.” Emily was seldom to leave this country, and never without learning how much she was part of it. When she was seven she was away with her sisters at school, “the pet nursling of the school”, at Cowan’s Bridge. After that home and the moors were her school. She and her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, “used to walk upwards towards the purple-black moors, the sweeping surface of which was broken by here and there a stone quarry; and if they had strength and time to go far enough, they reached a waterfall, where the beck fell over some rocks into the bottom. They seldom went downwards through the village.” She was “a tall, long-armed girl, taller than Charlotte, full of power, a strange figure – tall, slim, angular, with a quantity of dark brown hair, deep, beautiful hazel eyes that could flash with passion – kind, liquid eyes – features somewhat strong and stern, and the mouth prominent or resolute, extremely reserved in manner. I distinguish reserve from shyness, because I imagine shyness would please if it knew how; whereas reserve is indifferent if it pleases or not.”

She was happy with her sisters, or with her dog, walking on the moors. Three months away from them at another school, when she was sixteen, made her wretched.


Edward Thomas, Robert Frost and the road to war by Matthew Hollis

Kontra-punkte, one of Stockhausen’s less crazy compositions, dates from 1953, the golden age of total serialism.

The abstract painting is by Eva Ryn Johannissen.

(Taken from The Book of Knowledge, edited by Harold F.B. Wheeler)

The province of Ontario may well be regarded as the centre of Canada geographically and politically. Lying as it does between the provinces of Quebec and Manitoba, it connects the old part of Canada with the great new prairie regions of the West, and at Ottawa – an Ontario city and the capital of Canada – is centred the vigorous political life of the vast Dominion.

In wealth, Ontario stands first among the provinces, and it comes second in area (407,270 square miles) and population (2,933,000). In it live more than one-third of the Canadian people.

On the tongue of land between Lake Huron and Lakes Erie and Ontario great quantities of grapes, pears, peaches, plums, and apples are grown. Here also the farmers raise hay, oats, wheat, barley, maize, and flax, but they have found that it is more profitable to use their hay and grain as food for cattle and swine than to sell it, and so the region has become famous for its dairy and meat products. This district makes an enormous quantity of cheese, most of which is exported.

The region is also abundantly supplied with water-power, the chief sources being Niagara Falls, the rapids of the St. Lawrence River, and the falls of the Ottawa River and its tributaries. This cheap power with the abundance of raw materials and ample transportation facilities have made it the chief manufacturing province of the Dominion.

The southern portion is dotted with towns and cities, the most important being Toronto, the capital of the province, Ottawa, London, Kingston, and Hamilton. Numerous railways, both steam and electric, connect these places and form a network over the region. A splendid system of canals, chief of which are the Sault Sainte Marie and the Welland and the upper St. Lawrence, gives additional transportation.

In the part of Ontario north of Lakes Superior and Huron towns and cities are fewer. Until recently, people thought that this land was useful only to the fur-trader and the lumberjack, but now it has been discovered that the hardy grains can be raised, despite the long cold winter, and so this district is being settled by farmers.

But a more valuable source of wealth in this northern region has been found recently in the rich mineral deposits from which come nearly half of all Canada’s mineral production. In the Sudbury district north of Lake Huron three-fourths of the nickel supply of the world is mined. From the Cobalt region come great quantities of silver, making Canada one of the leading silver-producing countries. In the south are considerable wells of petroleum and natural gas. Copper, iron, gold – in fact, almost every useful mineral except coal – are all found in Ontario.

After the close of the War of Independence, which most Americans secretly regret, many British loyalists who suffered persecution as “Tories” in the United States settled in Ontario, because they wished to continue to live under the British flag. In 1841 it was reunited with Lower Canada, or Quebec. Then, in 1867, it was again set off as a separate province, under its present name, and became a part of the newly formed Dominion of Canada. Population, about 2,900,000.

I dedicate this post to Blog Princess G, a Brit in Toronto. Check out her blog, it’s rather good.

The Black Dog

R.A.D. Stainforth is unwell.

Market Street

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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