Friday, 27 November 2009

Will your partner be faithful?

I’m doing a Shakespeare module at Uni at the moment, and one of the key themes is imagined infidelity.
Poor Othello is duped into thinking his wife is a strumpet, and is driven nuts by the evil Iago. He commits a brutal act of misogynistic violence with tragic consequences.
In The Winter’s Tale Leontes develops delusional jealousy at the sight of his wife talking to his best mate, but I won’t spoil the ending if you have not finished reading it yet.
Sadly, these misguided gentlemen did not have the benefit of the Metro.

According to an article in the Metro (the free newspaper that helps to offset the pain of astronomical rail fares, and astronomical parking charges) a person is likely to stray if their ring finger is longer than their index finger. So, have a quick look if you have doubts about the potential loyalty of your partner.

If you are still unsure then why not do the psychological questionnaire on infidelity on the BBC web site, (and get the suspect partner to join in).

Poor Leontes and Othello did not have the benefit of all this modern technology, but I suspect they would have just used it to confirm their worst suspicions.

Here is the link to the adultery test:

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Summary of Student Meeting

Last night we had a meeting for all students. I will not bore you with minor issues, but focus on the things that got people upset and annoyed.

Jane Nelson told us about the curriculum changes. The 6 x 20 credit modules look like a fait accompli – so I don’t think that we can do anything about this. Ditto - the plan to claw back £8m by making staff redundant. Note the slippery language: ‘2 Big Projects’ and ‘repositioning’.
Apparently our university has not had an increase in applications like other places, and in the student survey apparently said we wanted more consistency in modules, and the new 6 x 20 thing will give us this wonderful new learning experience.

The big question from the students was: ‘will we be paying more for less ?’

This was answered by Aaron Porter, the vice-president of the NUS. He is an excellent speaker.
Aaron has been involved in meetings with Peter Mandelson and David Lammy. There is a plan by government to increase tuition fees once the election is over (irrespective of which of the three main parties gets elected). Universities could have a mandate to charge what they like, and prestigious universities could charge astronomical amounts. Figures bandied around for average universities are £5 -10K a year - resulting in a system of higher education based on the ability to pay, which excludes talented people who can’t afford it.
The body looking into tuition fees is comprised of business people (who must live on another planet). There is a token student rep, with no power on the committee. Aaron was told by Mandelson that he would have to resign from the NUS if he wanted to be on this committee.
Write to your MP about tuition fees – bet you don’t get a straightforward answer though.

There is also a protest meeting about tuition fees arranged for 3rd December outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office at Birmingham University.

Just to end these jolly tidings – staff at the useless SLC were paid £2 million in bonuses for cocking up people’s loans.

We live in a mad world!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Who’s been on the fiddle?

The Higher Education Funding Council for England has called for the mass resignation of governors at a university accused of misusing public funds.
The University in question is the London Metropolitan University. The university falsely claimed for thousands of students, and has to repay £36m. This will result in innocent staff losing their jobs in an attempt to claw back the cash.
London Met takes students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and has a 16.6% drop out rate for first years, putting it eighth from the bottom in league tables.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Congratulations Herman

I knew you would win.

In response to your fellow Belgians slagging us off this week, I thought I would do the same.
Sadly I have nothing derogatory to say about Belgium, having spent many happy hours there as a child.

I think you have:

Great beer – nothing nicer than a tin of chilled Stella
Your chips with mayonnaise are to die for
Your smoked prawns ditto
As for your chocolate – yummmmmmmmmmmmm
You also created one of my favourite childhood heroes – Tintin
And no, we are not offended that you think we are a load of ignorant drunks.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Ha Ha Tony’s got a rival

Poor old Tony - and I must say he is looking a wee bit stressed these days – No wonder - he has a rival for the hottest job in Europe.
Yes Herman Van Rompuy – no I had not heard of him either until this week. Apparently he is the Belgian Prime Minister (yes, those folk who were slagging off the British in yesterday’s blog posting).
Mr. Rompuy is a closet poet, and a shrewd economist. He sounds like a steady sort of chap for the job. It will all be over soon. The powers that be in Europe will be deciding tonight.
I think it will be ….

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

What our EU mates really think about us

Apparently the Belgians egged on by the French have been slagging us off. According to them we have:
- the worst food in the world
- Britain is inhabited by drunks who actually like warm beer
- our tabloids are obsessed with scandal
- our climate is atrocious
- we drive on the wrong side of the road
- we think Britain is the centre of the universe
- we think English is the only language.

This all seems a bit harsh. We don’t all fall into this stereotypical pattern.

Never mind, they do think that we have nice gardens and they have not forgotten that we rushed to their aid in the war.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Jack the Ripper – the victims

In 1888 five prostitutes were murdered in Whitechapel over an eleven week period. In JtR films the victims are usually played by beautiful young actresses in glamorous Victorian gowns.
On the tour Lesley pointed out that four of the prostitutes were in their forties and only the last victim was in her twenties. Most prostitutes at that time would have been in their 40s to 60s. They would have been filthy, riddled with sexually transmitted diseases, edentulous, pock marked, and most of them were homeless alcoholics – so far from the image portrayed in the media. They were poor and desperate. They would have charged 4d. for the full works, but would have settled for less. A single bed for the night in a doss house cost 4d. Most homeless people however, would pay 1d. to lean over a canvass hammock with several others in a doss house room.
Prostitutes often congregated around the area of St. Botolph’s church where they met their customers. They were easy targets for JtR.
(1) Mary Ann Nichols: died aged 43 on 31.8.1888. She had been married at 13 to a Fleet Street printer. She left her husband in 1888. On the night she died she had been in the area of the docks looking for doss money. She had a new bonnet which she had been showing off. Her mutilated body was found in Buck’s Row. Her throat had been slit
(2) Annie Chapman: aged 47 with three children. She was last seen alive 8th September 1888. Her body was found in a garden. Her throat had been slit and she had been disembowelled. Her ovaries, spleen and uterus had been taken away. People reported seeing her with a man who had dark hair and a moustache, 5’6” tall, aged 30 – 40, with a black frock coat. Someone thought he wore a deerstalker hat.
The police sent officers dressed as women to pose as prostitutes I the area, but they refused to shave off their moustaches and beards, so not surprisingly none of them got picked up by the ripper.
(3) Elizabeth Stride: she was tall – 5’6” and Swedish. ‘Long Lizzie’ was last seen alive on 30.9.1888. Her throat had been slit but she escaped the mutilation suffered by the other victims. It is thought the ripper was disturbed because he murdered again the same night.
(4) Catherine Eddowes: she was 46, and from Wolverhampton. She had been arrested that night for impersonating a fire engine. After being turned out of the police station she met her death in Mitre Square. A bloodstained apron was found on a stairway leading to 108-119 Wentworth Model dwellings, Goulston Street. A message was written in chalk on the wall above the apron ‘The Juwes are the men That Will not be Blamed for nothing’. Catherine’s throat had been slashed, she had been disembowelled and mutilated, and one of her kidneys had been taken away. V shaped marks had been cut into her face; parts of her nose and ear had been sliced off.
(5) Mary Jane Kelly: aged 25. This murder took place in the victim’s house. The ripper completely mutilated her over a period of hours. Her throat had been cut, and pieces of her body had been removed and placed ritualistically around her. A witness reported seeing a dark haired aristocratic sounding man in the vicinity.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Jack the Ripper - The Suspects

‘Jack the Ripper’ continues to fascinate people because he was never captured. His acts were shocking and horrific, generating an atmosphere of terror on the streets of London.
Today there is a multi million pound industry in ‘Jack the Ripper’ because of the mystery that surrounds his barbaric deeds, and all we can do is continue to speculate about who he/ she /it was.

Many people have been put forward as possible suspects. The ones Lesley talked about on the walk were:

Aaron Kosminski – he was a Polish Jew. At the time people were suspicious of Jews and ‘foreigners’ anyway, and may have preferred to blame someone fitting this profile. Kosminski was a local butcher and a back street abortionist. He had a major problem – he hated women, and was known to be violent to them. He ended up in an asylum for the insane, but escaped during August 1888 and was captured in November 1888, shortly after Mary Kelly was murdered.
Is this a coincidence?
Kosminski had paranoid schizophrenia, but he did not fit the physical description of the ‘ripper’ suspect.

Montague Druitt – He fits the physical description of the ‘ripper’.
Blood stained clothes were found in his rooms, and he had written a note saying he was ‘going the same way as his mother’. She committed suicide. So, there was a history of mental instability in his family. His cousin was a Dr. Druitt, and Montague lodged with him for a time, giving him access to surgical knives, and anatomical text books etc.

Francis Tumblety – he was a visiting ‘quack’ from the states, and was in London at the time of the murders. He was a liar and a fantasist who also hated prostitutes. He kept female sex organs preserved in jars. He moved to France and then back to the states where he died nineteen years later.

The Duke of Clarence was also a suspect.

We cannot use modern forensic testing on the victims as most of them were buried in mass graves.

My preferred suspect is Kosminski, but we will never know who did it - will we?

Monday, 9 November 2009

Jack the Ripper Walk – London 8.11.2009

Staff, with students and their friends and families from our university went on a ‘Jack the Ripper’ tour in London yesterday.
I thought you might like to know about ‘Jack’ and his evil doings, so I will do a summary of the tour in daily instalments.
Our tour guide was Lesley, and she joined us outside Tower Hill tube station. We followed her to the ruins of the medieval wall that divided the paupers of the east end from the rich of the financial district. At the time of the ripper the east end was heaving with homeless people. There was high unemployment, and people were starving. The life expectancy of a man was 30 years and 55% of children died before the age of five. Women turned to prostitution to survive. Today there are 14 million people in London, and 5,000 – 6,000 prostitutes. In 1888 the population of London was 1 million, and there were 40,000 – 60,000 prostitutes, and one in seven houses were brothels. There were high rates of alcoholism, and many people drank ‘gin’ a grain based, 120% proof drink that killed 2/3 of its consumers. The east end was a site for ‘sex tourism’. It is possible the ripper was an outsider, but in 1888 the area where the murders occurred was a warren of alley ways dating from medieval times, and the ripper may have had local knowledge enabling him to slip away unnoticed…’like the London fog, he evaporated into the night’.
So you have an area of abject poverty, with lots of prostitutes and alcoholics.
The police force was unprepared for the ripper. The city police and the Metropolitan police were divided, and did not cooperate fully. Serial killers were not really known then.
Prostitutes charged up to a maximum of 4d. for a ‘knee trembler’. Many were 40+ years old and homeless alcoholics – filthy, and diseased.
The murders took place between 31st August and 8th November 1888.
The tour took us to the actual sites of two of the murders, and we stood on the spot in Mitre Square where Catherine Eddowes was murdered. We were taken to the area near St Botolph’s church where the prostitutes and customers congregated.
We walked along claustrophobic alleyways and finished the tour at ‘The Ten Bells' pub.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Ideas for next year’s Halloween

If you are the sort of person who likes to celebrate Halloween then you might consider copying the Halloween fun at Boulder in Colorado.
They really celebrate in style there by running round the streets naked with nothing but a pumpkin on the head. It adds a whole new dimension to the concept of meeting strangers at Masked balls.
The miserable police however decided to stop the entertainment this year and 100 officers were stationed around the town ready to pounce on anybody in an undressed state and do them for indecent exposure.
Disgruntled pumpkin people complained on their website about the violation of their rights.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Let us write your speeches Mr. Prime Minister

Dear Gordon,
I read in the Guardian today that you paid $40,000 out of your own pocket for some speeches by ‘West Wing Writers’.
Why go to the states for your speeches when you have a goldmine of writing talent here in the West Midlands.
Let me introduce you to ‘Wolverhampton Writers’. We could knock up as many speeches as you need.
There is the incredibly intelligent Dr. Vole. He knows everything about politics, and can extend a metaphor further than anybody else I know.
If you need something to mock the opposition parties, then Mr. Ewarwoowar is your man. He is a perceptive people-person renowned for his brilliant satires of the Shropshire Star.
It is comedy you want, look no further than Britain’s foremost comic genius Dr. Paul McDonald. He will have them rolling off their seats wetting themselves with his double entendres and slapstick.
We also have lots of creative writing students who would be happy to do it for nothing for a bit of writing practice.
So, what are you waiting for, contact Wolverhampton Writers today.

Sue xxx

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The new face at Tesco?

My favourite person just can’t keep out of the limelight.
No – honestly just ignore the rumours- I don’t keep writing about Tony Bliar because I fancy him, I write about him because he annoys me.
Now he’s trying to get a well paid job promoting Tesco in the Middle East. Is there no end to this man’s global meddling?
There is a word in Arabic for people like our Tony – ‘eghtina’ which means using your public status to rake in loads of money.
One expects capitalist types to be on the look out for a bit of profit, but historically Labour Prime Ministers have had more affinity with their voters and tended to be mindful of the less fortunate. How times have changed.

Monday, 2 November 2009

How do you fancy earning 80K?

There is a really prestigious and well paid job going if you fancy it.
I hear on the grapevine that Uncle Gordon is looking for a Downing Street spin-doctor - no sorry a media PR person.
A lot of high profile people have apparently shunned this tempting offer for various reasons.
Simon Lewis, Gordon’s current director of communications wishes to take a more backseat role after taking up a post as director of communications three months ago.
Poor old Gordon has not had much luck so far with his media representatives, and has got through five at least since moving to number 10 - Remember Damian McBride and his e-mails.

It would be brilliant if whoever gets this job could be given a magic truth telling drug – it would be fascinating to hear the absolute truth for once about politicians and policies – not a load of spin.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

What do you have for your lunch?

What do you like to have for lunch my lovely readers?

When I am at Uni I have peanut butter sandwiches. They are quick to make, especially when I have to leave the house by 7.25am to get to a 9am lecture. Peanut butter sandwiches are easy to transport, very very yummy and easy to scoff discreetly during lectures, when the lecturer is not looking. When I am not at Uni I have more time to make exciting sandwiches.

If you are lucky enough to have time for lunch would you fancy this?

White truffle carpaccio, veal Milanese, truffle tagliolini with extra parmesan cheese, accompanied by a few glasses of Chateau Petrus, Cristal rosé champagne, tawny port and a dash of Johnnie Walker Blue Label.
This is what oligarch Roman Abramovich and guests had for their lunch at Nello’s restaurant in New York. The whole lot, together with service charges, only cost £28,793.

Would you fancy that for your lunch?