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In 1968, in the Saint Denis section of Paris, an elderly White Russian female emigré, a former maid in czarist St. Petersburg, and later a follower and lover of the Siberian holy man Grigori Rasputin, kept a polished wooden box, 18 in. by 6 in. in size, on top of her bedroom bureau.

Inside the box lay Rasputin’s penis. It “looked like a blackened, overripe banana, about a foot long, and resting on a velvet cloth,” reported Rasputin’s biographer Patte Barham. In life, this penis, wrote Rasputin’s daughter Maria, measured a good 13 inches when fully erect (one might ask how she knew … indeed , one might ask why anybody would own up to being Rasputin’s daughter).

According to Maria’s account, in 1916, when Prince Felix Yussupov and his fellow assassins attacked Rasputin after unsuccessfully poisoning him with food and wine laced with arsenic (apparently Rasputin ate and drank heartily, declaring the meal excellent, which must have pissed them off), Yussupov first raped him, then fired a bullet into his head, wounding him. As Rasputin fell (remember, he was drunk, had ingested arsenic, been buggered and shot in the head), another young nobleman pulled out a dagger and castrated Rasputin, flinging the severed penis across the room.

One of Yussupov’s servants, a relative of Rasputin’s lover, recovered the severed organ and handed it over to the maid. She, in turn, fled with it to Paris.

Other versions of the death of Rasputin are available, but I like this one.

Albert Square, Manchester

(Source: Manchester Evening News)

Basques, stockings, and suspender belts were the dress code as Manchester hosted its first-ever ‘Slut Walk.’

Hundreds of protesters donned racy outfits as part of a global equality campaign.

Traffic ground to a halt as the column of scantily-clad demonstrators went along Deansgate.

Around 600 women, joined by a handful of men, braved the evening chill. Slut Walks are the response to comments by a Canadian police officer who advised schoolgirls to ‘avoid dressing like sluts’ in order to prevent sexual assaults.

In Manchester, stunned shoppers were halted in their tracks by protesters in barely-there clothing, who handed out sex-equality leaflets.

Organiser Carly Smith said she was amazed at the number of people who had agreed to take part after details of the event were posted on Facebook. She said: “We are controlled by patriarchy and the term slut is a term used to control and debase women.” Police closed a number of city centre roads while the group passed through the city centre with banners, tambourines, and drums. The crowd also chanted: ‘No Means No’ .

Clad in red, lacy underwear Helena Hyatt, 27, from Withington, said: “It’s totally ridiculous that women can’t be in control of what they wear without someone judging it.

“Rape is never justifiable and the idea that what a woman wears means that she is asking for it, or deserves it is ludicrous.”

Sam Priestley, who works as a volunteer at a domestic violence charity, said: “I’m nearly 40 and I’m astonished that this is still an issue. It’s horrendous that we are still fighting this abuse of power 50 years after the sexual revolution.”

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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