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

Many are the tales the Chinese tell of the wonderful cures that ginseng has wrought. They will tell you that its roots are a remedy for every illness, that they are able to prolong life and even to restore it after death; and their legends recount how the wolf, tiger, snake, and panda protect this miraculous plant from harm, and how the roots save themselves from capture by moving from place to place underground. And so, although our own physicians regard it as of little value, Johnny Chinaman still buys it at any price.

The most valuable ginseng – sometimes worth £10 an ounce – comes from Korea and Manchuria, and an inferior quality is cultivated in Japan. Most of the wild ginseng has now disappeared, and a cultivated plant is taking its place.
But the wild variety always commands better prices, because of the Chinese superstition which prefers roots resembling a man or some grotesque being (ginseng means “form of man”) rather than the regular roots which cultivation tends to produce. As shown above, the most fantastic shapes of men, animals, and wild birds are often dug up.

Ginseng belongs to the genus Panax. Panax ginseng, a native of China, and Panax quinquefolium, of eastern North America, are the most noted species.

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

In many parts of England you may see a badger burrow. But, unless you are lucky, you may never catch sight of the badger itself, for it is a timid animal and rarely comes out, except at night. Even if you should surprise one away from its burrow, you might never notice it because of the extraordinary broadness and flatness of its clumsy body. When alarmed it will often flatten against the ground “like a doormat or a turtle”; and the animal might be mistaken for a clod of earth or a stone. But beware of the badger when it is cornered, for it will put up a stiff fight. The jaws are so hinged that dislocation is practically impossible, and hence they maintain their hold with great tenacity.

Badgers are common in the northern parts of Europe, Asia, and America. The head is pointed at the snout and the feet are armed with long claws used in digging and for defence. The thick fur is valuable, and the hairs are used in the manufacture of artists’ brushes.

The common badger is about two-and-a-half feet long and greyish in colour with irregular black bands on the back. The head is white with a broad black mark on each side starting from near the muzzle and passing back over the eye and round the ear to the shoulder, a marking which gives the face a clown-like appearance. The throat, chest, legs, feet, and belly are black. With its strong claws the badger lays open the burrows of rabbits, field-mice, etc., feeding upon these animals and on birds, frogs, small snakes, lizards, bacon, eggs, toast, marmalade, grasshoppers and other insects.

Badgers belong to the weasel family (Mustelidæ), which includes skunks, otters, minks, martens, wolverines. Scientific name of the common badger, Meles taxus.

Ming Ming, the world’s oldest panda, has died aged 34, Chinese state media say.

The Global Times reported Ming Ming died from old age and had kidney failure. She had been living at a zoo in Guangdong province.

The China Panda Protection Centre in Sichuan province said in a statement she died on 7 May, but it was reported only on Tuesday in local media.

The newspaper said wild pandas live 15 years on average, with captive ones typically living around 22 years.

Giant pandas are among the world’s most endangered species, with about 1,600 in the wild. More than 300 are in captivity in China, most in a breeding programme aimed at boosting the population.

The country also loans pandas to zoos worldwide.

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Samantha Fox: Soapy tits, no beaver

Former Page Three model and now reality TV star Samantha Fox is being treated for the potentially fatal disease rabies after being savaged by a cat.

The star – most recently on TV last year in I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Max Clifford – was bitten while holidaying on the paradise island of Koh Samui in Thailand with her partner and manager Myra Stratton.

Sam, 44, explained that she’d been feeding the stray cats that gathered around a restaurant they ate at, when one attacked her. She told the Sunday Express: “I love animals, especially cats, but over there they’re treated like rats and are left to fend for themselves. I ended up feeding a lot of them, giving them bits of shellfish after dinner. This one was laying on my feet and I thought we were getting on really well so I went to stroke him, but he bit me so hard, it went down to the bone.”

Sam continued that when she’d told the restaurant owner what had happened, she was told that the tabby and white feline – which she took a picture of – was known locally as a “crazy cat”, meaning it had rabies.

The star explained she was then immediately given anti-rabies jabs at the island’s Lamai Medical Clinic and is still getting injections, despite having flown back to the UK 10 days ago. She added: “The treatment for rabies makes you feel sick and horrible, though, really shaky.”

However, Sam, who lives in north London with Myra and their four cats, insists the experience hasn’t put her off animals. She said: “I’m still potty about animals, cats, dogs, foxes, whatever.”

There are too many pussy and hydrophobia jokes here.

Thirty years ago, I wasted so much of my seed wanking over pics of Samantha Fox, and any UK male my age who tells you that he didn’t is a liar or a gay. So if she is 44 years old now, that means that when I was cracking one off every day in the bathroom with a copy of Mayfair, she must have been …

Sam was one of the early feminists, she only ever showed her tits, no beaver shots.

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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