Dead Pool 26th November 2023

Last week I threatened to send out the Flying Monkeys, and they didn’t disappoint. Even diplomatic immunity couldn’t spare Joss Ackland his chance to meet his maker.   

Look Who You Could Have Had:

 In Other News

One of the fattest men in the world has been found dead in his home just days after he vowed to shed the weight. Leonid Andreev, 60, weighed more than three baby elephants and had been trapped in his own home for five years. The 44-stone man was found at home in the village of Armizonskoye, Russia, only a day day after he told local media how he was planning a new life of losing weight and moving apartments. But on Friday, he was found dead in his home after reportedly suffering from a heart attack. He said he planned to start a new diet with just a cup of light soup for lunch. It came after a doctor warned him he had to lose at least seven stone in order to live normally again. Andreev said: ‘I tried to lose at least a little weight – I ate less and did not indulge in flour products.’ The 60-year-old was married and divorced twice and had no children. He also shocked reporters by revealing that he used to be an athlete and weighed just 11 stone. Tragically, just ten years ago Andreev was a hunter who ran his own farm and took part in harvesting the crops. Andreev said his weight problems began when he left a career in the army and in just three months, his weight nearly doubled to 16 stone and never stopped rising. His weight gain was caused by a metabolic disorder and five years ago his size was so much that he had to quit work. Then he began his reclusive life on the sofa where he lived and slept while watching TV all day as his neighbours helped clean and take care of his house. At one point, Andreev’s blood pressure soared so high that he called for an ambulance. However, after controlling his symptoms, paramedics refused further aid because of his weight. He said: ‘In the morning, I get up, cook food, eat a little, watch TV. Tried to move here, move there. I used to have porridge – the heaviest, well, and buns, potatoes, bread. That’s how I got fat, probably.’ Even though Andreev was extremely heavy, there have been fatter people in history. American Jo Brower Minnoch was the fattest man who ever lived and weighed 100 stone (see below).  

Each year, fans are left scratching their heads when I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here contestants are excused from some of the trials. Before the series kicked off, former UKIP leader Farage was asked about the trials he could avoid due to his severe injuries from a plane crash in 2010 that he sadly survived. He said: “Anything involving weightlifting, I’d be out. I’ve obviously had some quite serious physical injuries and neck reconstructions, and goodness knows what else. So they are fully aware that I’m a little bit damaged when it comes to bodily structure. But having said that, I can still do most things. I doubt any of the trials are actually going to kill me, although I don’t think they’ll all be a bag of fun. But look, I signed up for this. It’s in for a penny in for a pound. So let’s go.” Farage suffered long-lasting injuries after an aeroplane he was flying, displaying a banner with the slogan ‘Vote for your country – Vote UKIP’, crashed on polling day for the general election in 2010. He managed to escape the wreckage but suffered from a punctured lung, two chipped vertebrae, several fractured ribs and a fractured sternum. Three years later, he underwent an operation to help with the health problems caused by the crash, and told the Flying Monkeys that he had a “couple of discs removed and replaced” in his back. In 2015, he admitted that he was experiencing tremendous pain in his shoulder and back and had been prescribed the strong sleeping pill Temazepam. He had been visiting the hospital twice a week for treatment and was struggling to raise his arms above a 45-degree angle. He added: “I think I am going to have to have medical treatment for the rest of my life.” Before the accident, the 59-year-old also had a serious car crash in his 20s, and problems from the accidents combined have left him with the ‘body of a 70-year-old’. Let’s hope he does the decent thing and dies on the show. 

On This Day

  • 1820 – An 80-ton sperm whale attacks and sinks the Essex (a whaling ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts) 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) from the western coast of South America. (Herman Melville‘s 1851 novel Moby-Dick was in part inspired by this incident.)
  • 1947 – The Princess Elizabeth marries Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, who becomes the Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey in London.
  • 1974 – The first fatal crash of a Boeing 747 occurs when Lufthansa Flight 540 crashes while attempting to take-off from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 59 out of the 157 people on board.
  • 1985 – Microsoft Windows 1.0, the first graphical personal computer operating environment developed by Microsoft, is released. Windows has now been shit for 38 years.
  • 1990 – Andrei Chikatilo, one of the Soviet Union’s most prolific serial killers, is arrested; he eventually confesses to 56 killings.


  • 1910 – Leo Tolstoy, Russian author and playwright (b. 1828).
  • 2003 – Robert Addie, English actor (b. 1960).
  • 2006 – Robert Altman, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1925).

The Heaviest Man Who Ever Lived

Jon Brower Minnoch was an American man who was the heaviest recorded human in history, weighing approximately 635 kilograms; 100 stone at his peak. 

Minnoch was born in 1941 in Seattle, Washington, as the only child to John Minnoch and June (née Brower). Minnoch’s father worked as a machinist and died of a heart attack in 1962. Minnoch’s mother was a graduate of Seattle Pacific University and worked as a registered nurse at Providence Hospital and later as a telephone operator. June died in 1986, three years after her son. 

Minnoch suffered from obesity since childhood. At the age of 12, he weighed 133 kilograms (21 stone). By age 22, he weighed 178 kilograms (28 stone) and became 320 kilograms (50 stone) in 1963. Minnoch stood 6ft 1in in height and had a body fat percentage of about 80%. Minnoch said water retention was the primary cause of his obesity, however British obesity specialist David Haslam contends Minnoch’s water retention was a consequence of his severe weight, not the cause of it. 

Despite his condition, Minnoch tried to live a conventional life and stated that he was “in no way handicapped”. He drove taxi cabs for 17 years and married his wife, Jean McArdle, in 1963. The couple operated the Bainbridge Island Taxi Co. together, the only taxi cab on the island at the time. According to a friend, Minnoch had a reputation as a “warm and funny family man” on the island. In March 1978, Minnoch weighed twelve times his 50 kilograms; (8 stone) wife, breaking the record for the greatest weight disparity between a married couple. Minnoch and McArdle divorced in 1980 and he married Shirley Ann Griffen in 1982 and fathered two sons, John and Jason. 

Minnoch eventually “got so tired” of being heavy that he decided to cut his food intake to “almost nothing”. Under a doctor’s prescription, he went on a 600-calorie-a-day diet of only vegetables. He also took large doses of a diuretic that failed to eliminate excess fluid in his body. After about three weeks of weakness and being bedridden, he listened to his wife’s pleas to enter a hospital. Minnoch was admitted to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle in March 1978, suffering from heart and respiratory failure. Firefighters were forced to remove a window at his home and place him on a thick piece of plywood. By now Minnoch was unable to move or speak. It took over a dozen firemen, rescue personnel, and a specially modified stretcher to transport him to the hospital. There, he was placed on two beds pushed together, and it took thirteen attendants to roll him over. 

At the hospital, Minnoch was diagnosed with a massive oedema, a condition in which the body accumulates excess extracellular fluid. Due to his poor health, measuring his weight with a scale was impossible. However, endocrinologist Robert Schwartz estimated his weight to be about 635 kilograms (100 stone). According to Schwartz, he was “probably more than that. He was by at least 300 pounds the heaviest person ever reported”, and “probably the most unusual thing about Minnoch’s case was that he lived”. He reached a peak body mass index (BMI) of 186kg/m2 and spent several days on a respirator. His doctors described his medical state as “critical”. Schwartz said Minnoch displayed symptoms of Pickwickian syndrome, where insufficient breathing causes one’s level of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream to rise. 

Minnoch remained in the hospital for two years and was put on a diet of 1,200 calories day. When discharged from the hospital, he weighed 216kg (34 stone), having lost 419kg; (66 stone), the largest human weight loss ever documented at the time. He hoped to eventually reach a weight of about 95 kilograms (15 stone), stating, “I’ve waited 37 years to get this chance at a new life”. Despite this, he soon started to gain weight again. He was readmitted to the hospital just over a year later in October 1981, after his weight increased to 432kg (68 stone); he had managed to gain 91 kg (14 stone) in just seven days!!!

He died 23 months later on September 4th 1983, aged 41. At the time of his death, he weighed 362kg (57 stone). According to his death certificate, Minnoch’s immediate cause of death was cardiac arrest, with respiratory failure and restrictive lung disease as contributing factors. He was buried in a wooden casket made of plywood 34 inch thick and lined with cloth. The coffin took up two cemetery plots, and eleven men were needed to transport his casket to his burial place at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Rita Ora (33), Kristin Bauer (57), Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (35), Christina Applegate (52), John Larroquette (76), Kristian Nairn (48), Bruno Tonioli (68), Sarah Hyland (33), Katherine Heigl (45), Colin Hanks (46), Stephen Merchant (49), Denise Crosby (66), Billy Connolly (81), Conleth Hill (59), Dwight Schultz (76), Kayvan Novak (45), Michelle Gomez (57), Miley Cyrus (31), Scarlett Johansson (39), Mark Ruffalo (56), Mads Mikkelsen (58), Jamie Lee Curtis (65), Terry Gilliam (83), Goldie Hawn (78), Alexander Siddig (58), Björk (58), Sean Young (64), Ming-Na Wen (60), Joe Biden (81), and Bo Derek (67).

Dead Pool 12th November 2023

I think we can all be forgiven for not knowing anyone on this weeks death list. Quite a feat really, considering the amount of killing going on around the world…  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A skull that was on sale in a thrift store as a Halloween decoration turned out to be the real deal, after an anthropologist recognised it as belonging to a human. The anthropologist, who happened to be shopping in the store in the North Fort Myers area of Florida, spotted the human skull casually on display waiting to be purchased in the Halloween section of the store. Recognising it as the real article, authorities were called to the store. Lee County Sheriff’s Office said that detectives responded and recovered the skull, later confirming that the item was indeed human. The store owner told police that the skull had been found in a storage unit that they had bought years ago. While the police do not believe the case is suspicious, they will be working with the local medical examiner’s office to conduct further tests on the skull. In Florida, it is illegal to knowingly sell or buy any human organ or tissue for valuable consideration; this also includes bones. In September, another human skull was found by store employees in a Goodwill donation box in Arizona. That skull, which had a false eye in its left socket, was seized by police, but they concluded it was not associated with any crime. 

Tributes have poured in for Raymond Calvert, Britain’s oldest father who passed away aged 91 after having a baby at 78 with his 25-year-old lover. The former shop owner became a father for the seventh time in 2010 when son Jamie Rai was born to partner Charlotte, who was 54 years his junior. The pensioner described the little boy, who weighed 7lb 1oz at birth, as a ‘gift from God’. Mr Calvert passed away on December 1st last year, at Royal Preston Hospital on following a fall, with his family left ‘heartbroken’. His funeral was held just four days before Christmas at Skipton Crematorium. His former lover Charlotte, now 38, who took his surname but never married him, currently lives with their son Jamie Rai, aged 12, in his cottage in Colne, Lancashire. After the birth of his seventh child, he told the Flying Monkeys at the time: ‘I am the most fortunate man in the world. It makes me feel 10ft tall. The baby was planned and I did not use Viagra or anything like that. I didn’t actually think at my age that it would be possible to have a child, but he’s a beautiful little fella. I feel blessed. I look at that baby and I think, ‘He’s so bloody healthy and good-looking – how did I make that?’’ Mr Calvert has six other children who are all older than his partner and range in age from 51 to 64. He raised them alone after his wife died 41 years ago. He told the Flying Monkeys he first met Miss Calvert following a three-year relationship with her mother. She was 16 at the time and joined him on caravan holidays with his children. The pair only saw each other occasionally until she became friends with his daughter Denise. Five years later, romance blossomed. Mr Calvert, from Winewall, Lancashire, told the Flying Monkeys that the age gap was never an issue. He said: ‘As time went by, Charlotte said she wanted a baby – and that she wanted it with me. I was delighted when Charlotte told me she was pregnant. It was a wonderful, wonderful feeling.’ Raymond noted that he’s always gone out with women who are 20 to 25 years younger than him. Charlotte left school with three A-levels and was on a childcare course before falling pregnant. Recalling the moment she realised she wanted the baby, she said: ‘I realised it would be nice to have a baby with Raymond. He has such a lot of nice qualities.’  

Brazilian singer Darlyn Morais died on Monday of complications from being bitten in the face by a spider! Morais fell ill after he was bitten by the spider at his home in the northeastern city of Miranorte on October 31st. His 18-year-old stepdaughter also suffered a spider bite and is currently hospitalised and in stable condition, Morais’ wife Jhullyenny Lisboa told our Brazilian Flying Monkeys. Lisboa said that Morais experienced body fatigue and that the colour of the bruise on his face started to change as a result of the bite. Morais developed allergic reactions later during the week and visited a hospital in Miranorte, where he was treated and discharged Friday. ‘He felt weakness in his body and his face started to darken on the same day,’ Lisboa said. ‘He went to the hospital and was admitted to Palmas General hospital this Sunday.’ Morais immersed himself into the music world at the age of 15 and sang forró, a popular genre of music in Brazil’s northeast region that is based on a combination of the accordion, zabumba and metal triangle. His small, three-man band included his brother and a friend. Morais, who had six-year-old girl and one-year-old year boy with his wife, was planning planning a live show in January 2024 that was going to be recorded  and released on DVD. 

On This Day

  • 1961 – Terry Jo Duperrault is the sole survivor of a series of brutal murders aboard the ketch Bluebelle.
  • 1970 – The Oregon Highway Division attempts to destroy a rotting beached sperm whale with explosives, leading to the now infamous “exploding whale” incident.
  • 1990 – Tim Berners-Lee publishes a formal proposal for the World Wide Web.
  • 2021 – The Los Angeles Superior Court formally ends the 14-year conservatorship to pop singer Britney Spears


  • 1981 – William Holden, American actor (b. 1918).
  • 2014 – Warren Clarke, English actor, director, and producer (b. 1947).
  • 2018 – Stan Lee, American comic book writer, editor, and publisher (b. 1922).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Ryan Gosling (43), Anne Hathaway (41), Wallace Shawn (80), Max Grodénchik (71), Neil Young (78), Leonardo DiCaprio (49), Stanley Tucci (63), Demi Moore (61), Richard Dormer (54), Calista Flockhart (59), Taron Egerton (34), Hugh Bonneville (60), Neil Gaiman (63), Tracy Morgan (55), Robert Duncan McNeill (59), Lou Ferrigno (72), Tara Reid (48), Parker Posey (55), Gretchen Mol (51), Matthew Rhys (49), Richard Curtis (67), Jack Osbourne (38), Gordon Ramsay (57), Adam Devine (40), Emma Stone (35), Ethan Hawke (53), Rebecca Romijn (51), Sally Field (77), Thandiwe Newton (51), and Nigel Havers (72).

Dead Pool 5th November 2023

Not a lot to say this week, so let’s crack on!  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Michael J. Fox has revealed he’s not afraid of death in a candid interview about his health. The Back to the Future star was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, and in a recent interview on Thursday, he has discussed his relationship with death, saying he ‘doesn’t fear it’. Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged. The main symptoms of the condition usually revolve around movement, with the person experiencing tremors in the hand or arm, slowness of movement and muscle stiffness. In his documentary, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, the star recalled the first time he noticed the signs of the disease. He recounted waking up one morning to find his pinky finger twitching uncontrollably, and described the finger as ‘auto-animated.’ However, Fox didn’t open up about his diagnosis until several years later in 1998. In the documentary, he also added that ‘no one outside of the family knew’ about his diagnosis. And now, in an interview with the Flying Monkeys, he’s discussed his ‘complicated’ view of Parkinson’s. He said: “It’s very complicated. I’ve said Parkinson’s is a gift. It’s the gift that keeps on taking, but it has changed my life in so many positive ways.” The 62-year-old previously spoke about how life was ‘getting harder’ since his diagnosis – with him breaking bones in his body and almost losing a finger due to an infection. He’d told us in April that he didn’t think he’d live to be 80. “Its banging on the door. I’m not gonna lie. It’s gettin’ hard, it’s gettin’ harder. It’s gettin’ tougher. Every day it’s tougher. But, that’s the way it is.” he said. Adding: “You don’t die from Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s. So I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it … I’m not gonna be 80. I’m not gonna be 80.” However, it seems that Fox has accepted the possibility of death. “One day I’ll run out of gas,” he said. “One day I’ll just say, ‘It’s not going to happen. I’m not going out today. If that comes, I’ll allow myself that. I’m 62 years old. Certainly, if I were to pass away tomorrow, it would be premature, but it wouldn’t be unheard of. And so, no, I don’t fear that.”  

Linda Nolan has bravely opened up about her fear amid living alongside incurable cancer and shared her memory is beginning to deteriorate. The Nolan Sisters singer, 64, was first diagnosed with cancer nearly 20 years ago. She’s had incurable secondary breast cancer since 2017 which has since spread to the brain and caused her to experience hair loss for the fourth time in her life. Writing in her latest column this week, Linda reveals her nephew and his family are moving overseas – something that has proven to be difficult and bittersweet for the singer, as she knows she may never seem them again. “You’re over the moon for them and yet, when I say goodbye, I know I might not see them again,” Linda writes. “That’s the elephant in the room.” Linda continues to share with readers her fears about living alongside her cancer diagnosis, admitting: “I’m not going to panic because, if I panic, cancer wins.” She realises she needs “to be realistic” as “the reality is, my memory seems to be getting worse.” She adds: “My memory has been lapsing for a while. You can imagine the comments about my age… But I didn’t, because deep down it doesn’t feel right. As I said, I won’t panic. My balance is still better than it was, I’m not having headaches. I have some scans arranged and I’ll wait for them. Alone sometimes in my bedroom I’ll just lie there and think I wonder if I’ll be here in a month? Will it all happen very quickly?”   

Comedian Mark Steel has shared an update with his followers, sharing that he’s now using a tube to feed himself through his nose. Last month, Mark announced he had been diagnosed with a cancer that “can be got rid of”. At the time of sharing his news, he said he had noticed that his neck was “looking much bigger than normal”. Now, he has shared an update with his online followers regarding his condition. Taking to Instagram, Mark was seen in the kitchen of his home and said: “Now, because of something to do with an epiglottis which has gone wrong during some surgery for the time being, I’ve got to feed myself through this tube, with this peculiar drink.” Demonstrating how the contraption worked, he added: “It goes in there and I’ve learnt how to do it, I have to do it every three hours. “And this is me eating, this is me having a meal. I’ve never felt so English. I’ve had a couple of people come round while I was doing it and I was thinking ‘Oh it’s quite rude not to offer them any, ain’t it.’ All I’ve got to do is fix you up with a tube that goes down through your throat and oesophagus and into your stomach and then get the syringe, you’ve got to flush out the pipes first, lock that off, there’s all techniques to doing it, squirt it out, pump it into your tube and directly into your stomach. It’s no trouble honestly, honestly, there’s plenty to go around, I felt really, I’d had a couple of mates round and I felt really bad, you can’t eat and not offer your guests any food.” Mark added: “They don’t tell you that do they? When they say you’ve got cancer.” His upload which has raked up hundreds of likes was soon flooded with support.  Having visited his doctors for an initial check-up, Mark was sent for a biopsy on his ever-growing swelling. Following his biopsy, he was told he would hear back from them within a week. However, there were no updates after almost 14 days and the hospital explained they lost the biopsy in transit. Not long after, he received a phone call about his cancer diagnosis. Mark said: “Then a completely new person called me, and said I had to go in for a repeat biopsy the next day ‘to see what stage of cancer you have’. ‘Hang on,’ I said, ‘No one has said it’s definitely cancer, are you saying it’s definitely cancer?’ She paused. ‘Yes. Had no one told you?'” Despite this, he urged his blog readers to be polite to NHS staff due to their increased workload and “appalling” salaries.

On This Day

  • 1605 – Gunpowder Plot: Guy Fawkes is arrested in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament, where he had planted gunpowder in an attempt to blow up the building and kill King James I of England.
  • 1925 – Secret agent Sidney Reilly, the first “super-spy” of the 20th century, is executed by the OGPU, the secret police of the Soviet Union.
  • 1940 – Franklin D. Roosevelt is the first and only President of the United States to be elected to a third term.
  • 1983 – The Byford Dolphin diving bell accident kills five and leaves one severely injured.
  • 2006 – Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, and his co-defendants are sentenced to death.
  • 2007 – The Android mobile operating system is unveiled by Google, causing 16 years of frustration.


A dinner party for dead guests

My friends came to a silent supper with their dead friends and relatives so that we could grieve our loved ones together.

I don’t normally feel worried about having my friends over for dinner. Usually, I’ll be covered in splashes of soup and partially dressed when they arrive, but tonight I feel nervous.

Figuring out who to invite was complicated. Not only did they have to be available at short notice, but they had to be up for it, open to something different. Because this evening everyone has been asked to bring a plus-one … someone who has died.

As my living guests begin to arrive, bringing in the dark and subtle nip of the October air, I have the strong sense that they are not alone. I take their coats and ask them for the photo of their guest. Out of their pockets come snapshots. Smiling portraits, a moment of laughter on the stairs, a child on the beach, the ruffled ears of a French bulldog, a matriarch blurred by clouds of cigarette smoke.

In the other room, it’s quiet. The table is laid with candles, autumn leaves from the park and bright flowers, and there are twice as many plates laid at the table as there will be people in the room. I put each photo in its place. Because this is where we will serve food to the dead. We will eat, sometimes in silence, but we’ll talk and remember and, probably, cry. This is a silent supper. A feast for the dead.

It isn’t something I’d even have thought to do if I hadn’t been hanging out with witches for the series Witch for BBC Sounds and Radio 4. I’ve rarely felt comfortable or at ease talking about the dead or talking to someone who’s grieving, but for witches this seems to be different. Over the past year I’ve taken part in seances, been to an ancestor ritual and made an ancestor bottle for the spirit of a loved one. Most witches have regular rituals and altars for their ancestors and, of course, they have a dedicated season for remembrance. Witches believe that on 31 October, or Samhain, the “veil” is thin. It’s a skin between life and death that becomes more porous throughout October until, on this night, life and death can pour into each other – a lot like the world we see around us.

There are twice as many plates at the table as people in the room.

This is the idea we play with at Halloween when ghouls and night terrors come knocking at our door. There’s a playfulness and joy at the idea of the afterlife being present, but in reality it’s so far out of reach. This year, I’ve decided to search for meaningful ways to remember the dead.

I decided that hosting a silent supper – historically known as a “dumb supper” – could be a good start. Eating in silence and feasting for the dead has been part of life for centuries. In England, there used to be a tradition called “chesting”.

Prof Diane Purkiss, author of English Food: A People’s History, explains: “This was even more of an Irish wake than an Irish wake. It involved having a feast that was laid out on the coffin of the deceased person. A massive blowout meal with huge treats and sugary goo. It’s honouring the dead, but it’s also quite visceral because you’re doing it on the coffin and it almost brings them physically into the feast.”

A silent supper is one step further. “What you’re describing is a ritual around the scariest and most taboo thing, which is the dead,” she says, “and this is because witches have a very special relationship with them. I define a witch as someone who doesn’t see the dead the way other people do.”

That’s certainly true. Last year my friend, colleague and witch Tatum Swithenbank reached the age at which a much loved and needed auntie had died. So their coven held a silent supper. “Sometimes we just want a space to talk about the people who have passed and there’s not really any great comfort you can give in words,” they told me. “What’s better than listening in a neutral space? That was the power of it. I don’t think you have to be a witch or be practising to do that.” They ate cheese, skull-shaped pizzas and a pumpkin pie.

Feeling under-qualified to host my own silent supper, I ask for advice. “Making it dark, with only candles, really helps because people feel they are not as exposed,” says Tatum. “And it’s important to say something at the beginning. I acknowledged that grief is messy and complicated.” Another witch who loves a silent supper is Emma Griffin, who shares the ritual with her children. “It’s really nice for them to know their heritage,” she says. “We’ll have supper and talk about death, look through photos and also talk about death bringing changes. This year we are making food that my dad would like – meat and potato pie, mash and gravy.”

She advises me to make the space sacred and gentle. “I suggest giving people a dress code. When they come over your threshold, give them a little tea-light. Remember, it’s a celebration of life. And you want to burn myrrh,” she says, gently but firmly as she talks me through my first ever online myrrh purchase. “It will smoke a lot, so don’t panic.”

The most pressing question of all is what on earth am I going to feed the dead? “Traditionally, the dead seem to want luxury foods,” says Purkiss. “They tend to eat dessert first, you know, life is short, eat dessert first. The dead always feel undervalued and in a way it makes them shirty so you are trying to get them to a position where they feel you value them.”

So, before the event, I threw myself (and my partner) into planning a six-course feast, my guests constantly in mind, especially the dead ones. What would they want? What would we give them if we had the chance again?

I bring Grandma Suzette. The family rarely talks about her

Purkiss approves. “Isn’t that what we all want?” she says. “When someone dies, virtually the first thing you feel is, ‘Oh, if only. If only I’d done this, or if only I’d found the time’. And the whole point of the ceremony is to give yourselves the healing chance to show great aunt Sarah you did really care.”

On the night itself, I choose to bring Grandma Suzette, who I have never met. She died when my dad was a baby. The family rarely talk about her. As my own son turned one, the loss of her for my dad and his siblings, and for me, started to ring loudly in my body. I am desperate to grieve for her.

And that’s what we’re here to do tonight. There’s a lot of normal party noise in the kitchen, but when we enter the dining room, absolutely brimming with myrrh smoke, everything softens. First, we light a candle and welcome our dead guests to the table. It feels a little strange, but maybe it should be normal. After all, eating for – and even with the dead – was once a living tradition, one that’s been purposefully rubbed away.

“There was this way of seeing the dead as beings that you interact with,” says Purkiss, adding that Catholic death rituals, such as kissing ornately decorated bones of saints, or praying in huge ossuaries stacked with bodies, went out during the Reformation. “Protestants threw all of that out, partly because they thought it had become a bit of a scam and it probably had in some cases. But the phrase throwing out the baby with the bathwater comes powerfully to mind.”

And she might be right, because it’s only minutes into the evening when it becomes painfully, joyfully clear that everyone around the table needs this communion with the dead. The phrase “I haven’t allowed myself to grieve” comes up time and again. One friend hasn’t allowed herself to grieve for her mum for 11 years. Another drifted from someone she adored and never felt she had permission to mourn them. A pal describes her love and grief for her dog Buddy as tied up with her longing for a baby. We also share joy and memories. My sister brings my other hilarious, powerful granny. A friend shares the story of a grandad who brought him pure and uncomplicated joy.

The talking is a release, but so is acknowledging the empty places. “People did that a lot after the First World War,” Purkiss says. “They would lay places at Christmas dinner for people who had died. It makes sense.” There are three mini courses that we eat without speaking. We reflect or we write, and then we burn things we wished we could say to them.

As the courses continue to roll out, my guests talk about how much their plus-ones would have loved the feast, the wine. The chance to eat dessert again and again. We make them feel loved through food. Buddy the dog would have had a field day.

We eat too much, raise glasses of sweet mead to everyone, say the names of people out loud many, many times. We look each other straight in the eyes. No one shies away from death. By the end we all stink of myrrh, but it is as though something had shifted, for all of us. For me, I know how to talk about my grandma now, and I cannot wait to keep celebrating the people I miss in my life.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Famke Janssen (59), Tilda Swinton (63), Sam Rockwell (55), Robert Patrick (65), Elke Sommer (83), Armin Shimerman (74), Tamzin Outhwaite (53), Matthew McConaughey (54), Olivia Taylor Dudley (38), Ralph Macchio (62), Dolph Lundgren (66), Kate Capshaw (70), Roseanne Barr (71), Dylan Moran (52), David Schwimmer (57), Stefanie Powers (81), Toni Collette (51), Peter Jackson (62), Stephen Rea (77), Clémence Poésy (41), Fiona Dourif (42), Henry Winkler (78), Juliet Stevenson (67), and Jessica Hynes (51).

Dead Pool 29th October 2023

The shocking news this week is the passing of Matthew Perry. Although he had his personal  demons, I don’t think anyone expected to wake up this morning to hear of his death. As the outpouring of grief unfolds, we can at least look back at his career with great joy. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

The world’s oldest dog ever has died at the age of 31 years and 165 days. Guinness World Record holder Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, passed away at his home in Portugal on Saturday. His death was announced on social media by a veterinarian who met Bobi several times. “Despite outliving every dog in history, his 11,478 days on earth would never be enough, for those who loved him,” wrote Dr Karen Becker. Bobi became both the world’s oldest living dog and the oldest dog ever in February, beating an almost century-old record for the latter title. The previous oldest dog ever was Australia’s Bluey, who died in 1939 at the age of 29 years and five months. Bobi’s grand old age was validated by the Portuguese government’s pet database, which is managed by the National Union of Veterinarians. The identity of Bobi’s successor to the title of world’s oldest living dog has not yet been revealed. Bobi lived his whole life with the Costa family in the village of Conqueiros, near Portugal’s west coast, after being born with three siblings in an outbuilding. Leonel Costa, who was eight years old at the time, said his parents had too many animals and had to put the puppies down, but Bobi escaped. Mr Costa and his brothers kept the dog’s existence a secret from their parents until he was eventually discovered and became part of the family, who fed him the same food they eat. Apart from a scare in 2018 when he was hospitalised after suddenly collapsing due to breathing difficulty, Mr Costa said in February that Bobi had enjoyed a relatively trouble-free life and thought the secret to his longevity was the “calm, peaceful environment” he lived in. However, he had experienced trouble walking and worsening eyesight prior to his death. Bobi was not the only dog owned by the Mr Costa to live a long life. Bobi’s mother lived to the age of 18 while another of the family’s dogs died at the age of 22.  

Comedian Rhod Gilbert has received his first clear cancer scan after undergoing treatment. The 55-year-old Welshman announced in July that he had cancer and was being treated at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, where he had been a fundraising patron for a decade before the diagnosis. He underwent surgery for metastatic cancer of the head and neck, followed by sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Gilbert told the Flying Monkeys discovering his cancer hadn’t spread was “the best day of my life”. “I was back on the road earlier this year, I got a call to say my latest scan had shown the cancer was in the areas they knew about, but it wasn’t in my lungs or my brain,” he said. The news was later followed by his first clear scan, to which Gilbert said: “The best thing was that the tumour had gone, and it was once again an ordinary blood vessel.” Days before his treatment was set to begin, Gilbert approached a documentary team to film his experience. “I was lying in bed on the Friday, with my treatment due to start the following Monday, I rang the team I knew – there was no broadcaster on board, it was all on spec – and I asked, ‘How would you fancy joining me on this journey?’ It was partly for me. I’d cancelled all my TV work and tours, and I wanted to have something other than ‘cancer’ in my diary. I knew I wouldn’t be well enough to go on stage or TV, but I thought I might be well enough to lie in bed and talk to a documentary team about how ill I was. I thought, ‘It will give me something to do’.” Gilbert said it all began when “a tumour popped up on my neck” on the day of a fundraising walk for the Velindre Cancer Centre, and the following months of treatment meant he “wasn’t well enough even to read or watch television”.  

Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin may have suffered a “cardiac arrest” on Sunday evening according to a statement posted on a Telegram channel which regularly says the war-mongering leader is terminally ill. The channel – General SVR – suggests all recent appearances by the Russian dictator, including foreign visits, have been carried out by a body double or doubles. It claimed that doctors had to resuscitate Putin before taking him to a special intensive care facility located within his official residence. “Doctors performed resuscitation, having previously determined that the president was in cardiac arrest,” reported the channel. “Help was provided on time, the heart was started and Putin regained consciousness.” There was no immediate response from the Kremlin to the claim but officials have previously strongly denied Putin, 71, suffers from health problems. The post on General SVR – which claims, without having ever provided any proof, to have an inside source on his entourage – continued: “At about 21:05 Moscow time, security officers of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who were on duty at the residence, heard noise and sounds of falling coming from the president’s bedroom. Two security officers immediately followed into the president’s bedroom and saw Putin lying on the floor next to the bed and an overturned table with food and drinks. Probably, when the president fell, he hit the table and dishes and knocked them onto the floor, which caused the noise. Putin convulsively arched while lying on the floor, rolling his eyes. The doctors who were on duty at the residence and located in one of the adjacent rooms were immediately called.” The channel alleged that “the president was moved to a specially equipped room in his residence, where the necessary medical equipment for resuscitation had already been installed”, adding that the president’s condition was “stabilised” and he is “under constant medical supervision”. It said: “We have already repeatedly talked about the deterioration of Putin’s health due to oncology and a number of other diseases. This case of cardiac arrest seriously alarmed the president’s inner circle, despite the fact that the attending doctors had already warned that Putin was very ill and was unlikely to live until the end of autumn. Recently, all official meetings and events have been conducted by the president’s double. After news of the evening incident, several people close to Putin contacted each other by telephone and agreed to hold consultations on Monday regarding possible actions if the president dies in the coming days.” Adding weight to the claims, footage of an unexplained late-evening dash to the Kremlin – the seat of Russian power – by Putin’s motorcade on Sunday evening, have surfaced. The president normally resides outside of Moscow and not in his official apartment in the vast government building. The channel is supposedly run by a former Kremlin lieutenant-general, known by the alias Viktor Mikhailovich. It claims his top apparatchiks and security henchmen control the activities of the doppelgängers. A recent Japanese TV report used AI to analyse Putin’s face, walk and voice in multiple appearances, and concluded that he does use body doubles. The head of Ukrainian military intelligence Lt-Gen Kyrylo Budanov has made the same claim, alleging the real Putin has not been seen since June 2022. He alleged last month: “The one, who everyone used to know, was last seen around June 26, 2022.” Putin was recently reported to have made trips to Kyrgyzstan and China, and to have been unusually active in travelling inside Russia. Last week he visited Perm, and held talks with his war commander General Valery Gerasimov in Rostov-on-Don after making a “detour” to visit the military headquarters. The channel says all these are by body doubles who underwent plastic surgery and years of training by Russian secret services to perform as Putin stand-ins. The claims were reported by the Ukrainian media.

On This Day

  • 1618 – English adventurer, writer, and courtier Sir Walter Raleigh is beheaded for allegedly conspiring against James I of England.
  • 1901 – In Amherst, Massachusetts, nurse Jane Toppan is arrested for murdering the Davis family of Boston with an overdose of morphine.
  • 1969 – The first-ever computer-to-computer link is established on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet.


  • 1618 – Walter Raleigh, English admiral, explorer, and politician, Lieutenant Governor of Jersey (b. 1554).
  • 1911 – Joseph Pulitzer, Hungarian-American publisher, lawyer, and politician, founded Pulitzer, Inc. (b. 1847).
  • 2011 – Jimmy Savile, English radio and television host, nonce (b. 1926).

The Godfather of Bungee

The maverick godfather of bungee jumping, who took the world’s first leap clutching a bottle of champagne and without testing the rope, has died peacefully in his bed. 

Born in 1945 as the eldest of seven children, David Kirke birthed the worldwide phenomenon some 34 years later on April Fool’s Day, when, dressed in a top hat and fresh from all-night party, he and his friends decided to bungee jump from Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. 

Describing Kirke as an “anarchic buccaneer” who was “Byronesque in thrall of living life to the full”, a friend of the family told The Independent that the septuagenarian “would have been shocked that he died quietly in his own bed”. 

But while undoubtedly his most influential exploit, bungee jumping was but one extraordinary stunt pioneered by Kirke and his friends in the name of good fun. 

Against the bleak backdrop of 1970s Britain, Kirke and several friends co-founded the Dangerous Sports Club, a group largely based in Oxford and London that gained notable attention in the ensuing decade for their daredevil activities, often donning top hats and coattails, and swigging champagne. 

The idea for their bungee jump had been inspired by a rite of passage on the island of Vanuatu known as “land diving”, which saw young men leap from high towers and use vines to break their fall before landing on the ground. 

While a demonstration of land diving for the late Queen during her visit to the Pacific island in 1974 went fatally wrong, that same year Kirke and his friends decided to attempt a similar feat, instead using elastic ropes used to help fighter jets land on aircraft carriers. 

“We hadn’t tested it, or anything like that,” Kirke told the Bristol Post in 2019. “We were called the Dangerous Sports Club, and testing it first wouldn’t have been particularly dangerous. 

“I was confident though. We had some very clever guys with us – Alan Weston went on to be head of development at Nasa – and they told me it was going to be okay, they had worked out the false extension curves of these ropes.” 

Being the first of his friends to jump that morning, while police officers staking out the bridge on the advice of concerned friends and family members had briefly “wandered off”, Kirke later recalled to ITV: “When the other guys came down, I thought, ‘whoopee, nobody’s dead’. 

“It was a sort of fairly casual easy-going recklessness. American novelists would call it the insouciance of youth, but there it was.”

While police arrested the group and took them to the cells, Kirke recalled that the “bemused” officers had “brought us in the half-drunken bottles of wine we’d left at the bridge,  and we were fined or something”. 

Soon afterwards, the Dangerous Sports Club carried out bungee jumps from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and performed a televised jump from the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge in Colorado. 

Never lacking in imagination, Kirke and the growing membership of the Dangerous Sports Club would go on to perform a host of mind-bending stunts in locations across the world.

These would include Kirke sliding down the slopes of Saint-Moritz on a grand piano and an aborted bid to fly a car across Tower Bridge’s open drawbridge.

“The DSC began when I went with a fellow Oxford graduate chum, called Ed Hulton, to Switzerland to watch the Cresta Run and the bobsleigh,” Kirke told The Flying Monkeys in 1998. 

“We’d previously built a hang-glider from a 1903 design, which had crashed and smashed to pieces so we wanted to try the Cresta and the bobsleigh. We found they were a bit exaggerated so we thought we’d start something new.”

Members of the group catapulted themselves off cliffs, jumped off Cheddar Gorge, and hang-glided into 5,000ft of cloud over Mount Kilimanjaro.

“It was all just a giggle. We were the first people to ever fly off Mount Olympus on a hang glider,” said Kirke, whose father was a schoolmaster and mother was a concert pianist.

“It was amazing. We were standing at the top of the home of the Gods and as I flew down I asked myself, ‘Is this better than sex?’ It possibly is but may not be quite as good as the best passage in a Joseph Conrad novel’.”

While the club’s membership peaked in the 1980s, Kirke and his friends continued to push boundaries. In 1986, he was sponsored by Foster’s lager to fly across the Channel tied to a kangaroo-shaped cluster of helium balloons, leading to him being prosecuted for flying without a pilot’s licence. 

In a more tragic turn of events, two of Kirke’s friends were charged with manslaughter and later acquitted over the death of 19-year-old Oxford biochemistry student Kostadin Yankov, who died in 2002 after volunteering to be launched from a trebuchet and missing the safety net.

While not personally involved in the case, Kirke told the Flying Monkeys in February 2004 that it was “an extraordinary test case, about the right to experiment, at personal risk, versus social responsibility”.

Himself a student of psychology and philosophy, Kirke said: “We’re interested in new things. You make a fool of yourself, your girlfriend leaves you, you lose money, but you may have advanced things a tiny little half-inch. It’s a vocation, strangely enough, not that different from a Catholic priest.”

On Sunday, a friend of the family told The Flying Monkeys: “David upturned apple carts, always. He wanted to do things that diverted and disrupted and stretched imagination. He dared and he sometimes dare-devilled and paid the price. 

“What was non-negotiable was loyalty to his friends, and an unmovable desire to make art and literature pivotal to adventure and life.

“He was an anarchic buccaneer who left the world suddenly but he bequeathed a high bar for stretching imagination and adventure; he was Byronesque in thrall to living life to the full. He would have been shocked that he died quietly in his own bed.”

Last Week’s Birthdays

Winona Ryder (52), Rufus Sewell (56), Cleopatra Coleman (36), Ben Foster (43), Richard Dreyfuss (76), Dan Castellaneta (66), Joaquin Phoenix (49), Annie Potts (71), Julia Roberts (56), Gwendoline Christie (45), Matt Smith (41), Caitlyn Jenner (74), John Cleese (84), Robert Picardo (70), Kelly Osbourne (39), Cary Elwes (61), Seth MacFarlane (50), Jon Heder (46), Tom Cavanagh (60), Keith Urban (56), Katy Perry (39), Glynis Barber (68), Nancy Cartwright (66), Kevin Kline (76), F. Murray Abraham (84), Ryan Reynolds (47), Emilia Clarke (37), Sam Raimi (64), and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (64).

Dead Pool 22nd October 2023

Lets dish out the points!!! With Bobby Charlton kicking his last ball, Iwan, Shân, Mark and Fiona get 64 points, however Debbie gets 164 points for listing him as a Cert. Well done everyone! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Sam Neill has been warned by doctors that his cancer treatment drug will stop working at some point, the actor said as he provided a health update months after revealing that he had been diagnosed with stage-three blood cancer. Earlier this year, the Jurassic Park star released his memoir Did I Ever Tell You This?, in which he revealed that he was being treated for Angioimmunoblastic T-cell Lymphoma. At the time, Neill shared that he had originally undergone chemotherapy, but that the cancer had soon stopped responding. He then went onto an experimental anti-cancer drug. In a new interview, Neill, 76, shared that he’d upped his dosage of the “grim and depressing” drug from once a month to every two weeks. However, he said, he has now been in remission for 12 months. Neill told the Flying Monkeys that while he would be on the treatment indefinitely, doctors have told him that, at some point, it will stop working. “I’m prepared for that,” he said, adding that he is “not remotely afraid” of death. The star said that he had first found lumps in his neck in early 2022, and soon learnt that he had cancer. “I started to look at my life and realise how immensely grateful I am for so much of it,” Neill said. “I started to think I better write some of this down because I’m not sure how long I have to live. I was running against the clock.” First sharing his cancer diagnosis in March, the New Zealand actor – who is best known for playing palaeontologist Dr Alan Grant in the Jurassic Park franchise – said that dying would “annoy” him. “I’d really like another decade or two, you know?” he said. “We’ve built all these lovely terraces, we’ve got these olive trees and cypresses, and I want to be around to see it all mature. And I’ve got my lovely little grandchildren. I want to see them get big. But as for the dying? I couldn’t care less.” In an interview with the Flying Monkeys earlier this year, however, Neill threw out the idea of retiring. “The idea of giving up my day job? Intolerable!” he said. “I love acting. It’s really good for me to keep walking onto new sets with young actors and all that stimulation. New words, new ideas, there’s nothing like it. I never want to give that up. The idea of retirement, of having to play golf, fills me with untold dread,” he said.  

Slade star Noddy Holder has revealed he has been battling throat cancer for five years and was given six months to live when he was diagnosed.  His wife Suzan Price, 57, detailed Noddy’s secret health battle in an emotional piece written for Great British Life on Thursday. The musician, 77, started a new trial of chemotherapy which has helped to keep him alive. Suzan wrote: ‘Five years ago we were given the devastating news that he had oesophageal cancer and only had six months to live. I’m sorry if that comes as a bit of a shock; it came as a total bombshell to us too. We coped with it the only way we could, by hunkering down, sticking together and doing everything we could to survive it. We told only immediate close family and friends and I will never apologise to those we did not confide in, only to those who were forced to suffer pain and anguish alongside us as we attempted to navigate our way through this new and horrifying world.’ Suzan married Noddy in 2004 – they have a son called Django. Noddy married dress designer Leandra Russell in 1976 and they had two daughters, Jessica and Charisse. They divorced in 1984. Suzan said the Merry Xmas Everybody singer has managed to keep a positive outlook despite his health woes.  He received treatment at The Christie Hospital in Manchester and underwent a groundbreaking new form of chemotherapy which has helped keep him alive.  Suzan wrote: ‘There were no guarantees, no one knew if it would have any effect, let alone work miracles, but he responded well. As anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis will know, the experts never like to use the word “cure”, but here we are five years later and he’s feeling good and looking great.’ Noddy has been in fine form and was able to perform on stage this summer after being invited on stage by Cheshire musician Tom Seals.  Slade earned themselves six UK Number One singles during their 25-year career. Their biggest hit was Merry Christmas Everybody in 1973, with its memorable chorus. The song is reported to bring in £500,000 in royalties alone each year. 

Former Playboy model Tabby Brown has been laid to rest  after she died aged 38. The model and dancer – who grew up in South London and was said to have dated footballer Mario Balotelli – died suddenly earlier this week, with her agent confirming the news. Brown had worked for Playboy and took part in Channel 5’s reality dating show, The Bachelor, alongside appearing in a plethora of ads – including Canon, Virgin Atlantic, Lynx and AXE. She was reportedly laid to rest on Wednesday, after what her family described as her ‘sudden’ death due to an unexplained ‘heart attack.’ A source close to her agent Richard Pascoe reportedly told the Flying Monkeys: ‘It was her funeral on Wednesday. She was Muslim so the burial was very quick as per their tradition. She died from a heart attack. That’s all we know for the moment. It’s very sad. She was loved and liked by so many people.’ A family member went on to describe her as a ‘beautiful person’ and explained their shock as she was ‘very fit and healthy.’ The funeral, said to have taken place at London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park Mosque, had a ‘very large turnout,’ according to her family, who expressed their appreciation for the outpouring of support they’ve received in recent days. Initial reports claimed Brown went out with England footballer Raheem Stirling, but the family have dismissed that, saying they ‘don’t know where that came from.’ News of her death spread on Instagram with shocked friends and family leaving their condolences underneath recent pictures of the late star.

On This Day

  • 1844 – The Millerites (followers of Baptist preacher William Miller) anticipate the end of the world in conjunction with the Second Advent of Christ. The following day becomes known as the Great Disappointment.
  • 1910 – Hawley Harvey Crippen (the first felon to be arrested with the help of radio) is convicted of poisoning his wife.
  • 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis: President Kennedy, after internal counsel from Dwight D. Eisenhower, announces that American reconnaissance planes have discovered Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba, and that he has ordered a naval “quarantine” of the Communist nation.


Last Week’s Birthdays

Bob Odenkirk (61), Christopher Lloyd (85), Jeff Goldblum (71), Derek Jacobi (85), Catherine Deneuve (80), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (48), Kim Kardashian (43), Ken Watanabe (64), Doja Cat (28), Viggo Mortensen (65), Snoop Dogg (52), Rebecca Ferguson (40), John Lithgow (78), Zac Efron (36), Jean-Claude Van Damme (63), Pam Dawber (72), Felicity Jones (40), Michael McKean (76), Mark Gatiss (57), Eminem (51), George Wendt (75), and Tim Robbins (65).

Dead Pool 15th October 2023

Another week flies by, Michael Caine retired, and we all know what happens to active people when they retire…

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Mark Steel has been diagnosed with throat cancer, the stand-up comedian has revealed in a first-person piece published on Monday 9th October. Steel, 63, described the moment his diagnosis was confirmed as “one of the happiest moments in my life” as it preceded an agonising wait for his biopsy results that were initially “lost in transit”. He shared that, while the cancer had spread to his lymph glands, it is “very treatable” and no longer “as final as being beheaded”. Steel added he hopes to return to performing onstage in around six months, in an article first shared on his website. He wrote: “I’m writing this a few days from an operation that I hope will confirm the location of the cancer, from which a programme of treatment can begin. The current estimate is that I should be able to start performing again in about six months.” The English presenter recalled he first noticed how one side of his neck was “looking much bigger than the other” somewhere around the middle of June. “I Googled ‘Why is one side of my neck suddenly much larger than the other?’” he continued. “Most of the answers suggested there’s nothing to worry about “unless it hasn’t gone down after two weeks”. After two weeks I told myself it had sort of gone down, in that it was only a bit bigger.” After an initial consultation with his doctor, Steel was booked in for a scan before being advised to undergo a fine needle aspirational biopsy – as he grappled with the fear that “that’s how cancer starts”. He continued: “A few days later I had a phone appointment with a doctor. He asked if I’d suddenly lost weight, if I had night sweats, couldn’t swallow properly, was out of breath, had blood in my mouth, did I smoke, how much did I drink? These were unsubtle cancer questions, as obvious as a detective leaning towards you in a cell and asking if you have any evidence you were alone at home on the night of the murder.” After his biopsy, Steel was told its results would be shared in “around seven days”, with the podcast host growing more optimistic that the lump wasn’t cancer when he still hadn’t heard back from the doctor’s office in five days. “Several people had told me that if the results were ominous, I would hear quickly. So when five days passed, I felt confident. When it got to 12 days, I rang the hospital cheerily and was told the biopsy was still being checked,” he said. Shortly after, he was informed that the results of his biopsy had been “lost in transit” and he would need to undergo a repeat biopsy to determine what stage of cancer he has. “’Hang on,’ I said, ‘No one has said it’s definitely cancer, are you saying it’s definitely cancer?’ Steel asked a member of the hospital staff.’ After the biopsy was found at a different hospital, Steel learned he had secondary cancer – meaning he had cancer in two places. Eventually, he learned that the primary cancer is a lump in his throat, which he had initially discovered while shaving in June. “The results of the PET scan, the Rolls-Royce of scans, showed there was no cancer in me outside the neck and throat area, so there should be no reason why a combination of treatments wouldn’t cure it all,” he concluded, adding that “it’s a cancer that can be got rid off”.  

Sharon Osbourne has reminded her children of her and husband Ozzy Osbourne’s plan to die by assisted suicide, if their physical and mental health takes a severe decline. The former music manager, 71, initially discussed her end-of-life plans while promoting her 2007 memoir Survivor: My Story – The Next Chapter. In an interview at the time, Sharon said that she and Ozzy had come to the decision to visit a euthanasia facility in Switzerland, where the practice is legal. “Ozzy and I have absolutely come to the same decision,” she told the Flying Monkeys. “We believe 100 per cent in euthanasia so have drawn up plans to go to the assisted suicide flat in Switzerland if we ever have an illness that affects our brains. If Ozzy or I ever got Alzheimer’s, that’s it – we’d be off.” Sharon confirmed that their position on the matter hadn’t changed on the most recent episode of The Osbournes Podcast, hosted alongside Ozzy, 74, daughter Kelly, 38, and son Jack, 37. “Do you remember when Mum and Dad did that interview, talking about how they were gonna go and die through assisted suicide, and we were like ‘What the fuck is this?’” Kelly asked Jack. Jack replied: “They were like, ‘If we get terminally ill, we’re going to go to Switzerland and assisted suicide ourselves.’ Is that still the plan?” “Do you think that we’re gonna suffer?” Sharon asked, before laughing. To Jack’s proposal that “we’re already all suffering”, she continued: “Yes, we all are, but I don’t want it to actually hurt, as well. “Mental suffering is enough pain without physical. So if you’ve got mental and physical, see ya.” She then clarified that if she had the chance to live longer while struggling with mental and physical issues, she’d decide against it. “What if you survived and you can’t wipe your own ass, you’re pissing everywhere, shitting, can’t eat,” Sharon said. “So, what’s different about your life now?” Kelly joked. Sharon’s strong view on having an assisted death is largely influenced by watching her father, music manager Don Arden, suffer from Alzheimer’s disease before his death in 2007. Then, in 2014, Ozzy spoke of his desire to die by medically assisted suicide in the case of any “life-threatening condition.” “If I can’t live my life the way I’m living it now – and I don’t mean financially – then that’s it…Switzerland,” he told the Flying Monkeys. “If I can’t get up and go to the bathroom myself and I’ve got tubes up my ass and an enema in my throat, then I’ve said to Sharon, ‘Just turn the machine off.’ If I had a stroke and was paralysed, I don’t want to be here. I’ve made a will and it’s all going to Sharon if I die before her, so ultimately it will all go to the kids.”  

Dorothy Hoffner, a 104-year-old Chicago woman whose recent skydive could see her certified by Guinness World Records as the oldest person to ever jump from a plane, has died. Hoffner’s close friend, Joe Conant, said she was found dead on Monday morning by staff at the Brookdale Lake View senior living community. Conant said Hoffner apparently died in her sleep on Sunday night. Conant, who is a nurse, said he met Hoffner – whom he called Grandma at her request – several years ago while he was working as a caregiver for another resident at the senior living centre. He said she had amazing energy and remained mentally sharp. “She was indefatigable. She just kept going,” he said Tuesday. “She was not someone who would take naps in the afternoon, or not show up for any function, dinner or anything else. She was always there, fully present. She kept going, always.” On 1st October, Hoffner made a tandem skydive that could land her in the record books as the world’s oldest skydiver. She jumped out of a plane from 13,500ft at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, 85 miles southwest of Chicago. “Age is just a number,” Hoffner told a cheering crowd moments after landing. It was not her first time jumping from a plane – that happened when she was a spry 100 years of age. Conant said he was working through paperwork to ensure that Guinness World Records certifies Hoffner posthumously as the world’s oldest skydiver, but he expects that will take some time. The current record was set in May 2022 by 103-year-old Linnéa Ingegärd Larsson of Sweden. Conant said Hoffner didn’t skydive to break a record. He said she had so thoroughly enjoyed her first jump that she just wanted to do it again. “She had no intention of breaking the record. And she had no interest in any publicity or anything. She wasn’t doing it for any other reason than she wanted to go skydiving,” he said. Skydive Chicago and the United States Parachute Association celebrated Hoffner in a joint statement Tuesday. “We are deeply saddened by Dorothy’s passing and feel honoured to have been a part of making her world-record skydive a reality. Skydiving is an activity that many of us safely tuck away in our bucket lists. But Dorothy reminds us that it’s never too late to take the thrill of a lifetime. We are forever grateful that skydiving was a part of her exciting, well-lived life,” they said. Conant said Hoffner worked for more than four decades as a telephone operator with Illinois Bell, which later became AT&T, and retired 43 years ago. The lifelong Chicago resident never married, and Conant said she had no immediate family members.

On This Day

  • 1888 – The “From Hell” letter allegedly sent by Jack the Ripper is received by investigators. 
  • 1956 – FORTRAN, the first modern computer language, is first shared with the coding community. 
  • 1970 – During the construction of Australia’s West Gate Bridge, a span of the bridge falls and kills 35 workers. The incident is the country’s worst industrial accident to this day


  • 1917 – Mata Hari, Dutch dancer and spy (b. 1876). 
  • 1946 – Hermann Göring, German general and politician (b. 1893). 
  • 1964 – Cole Porter, American composer and songwriter (b. 1891). 
  • 2011 – Betty Driver, English actress, singer, and author (b. 1920). 
  • 2021 – David Amess, British politician, M.P. for Southend West (b. 1952). 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Ncuti Gatwa (31), Dominic West (54), Lori Petty (60), Steve Coogan (58), Cliff Richard (83), Sacha Baron Cohen (52), Christopher Judge (59), Himesh Patel (33), Chris Carter (67), Paul Simon (82), Josh Hutcherson (31), Hugh Jackman (55), Hiroyuki Sanada (63), Les Dennis (69), Robin Askwith (73), Angela Rippon (78), Dan Stevens (41), Rose McIver (35), Charles Dance (77), Sarah Lancashire (59), Manu Bennett (54), Martin Kemp (62), Guillermo del Toro (59), Scott Bakula (69), Tony Shalhoub (70), Chris O’Dowd (44), Brandon Routh (44), Brian Blessed (87), Sharon Osbourne (71). 

Dead Pool 8th October 2023

Short and sweet this week, seeing that the notable deaths were a bit thin on the ground.  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A man has appeared in court after an alleged plot to kidnap Holly Willoughby. Gavin Plumb, a 36-year-old man has been charged over an alleged plot to kidnap and murder the TV personality. On Friday Gavin Plumb, 36, of Potters Field, Harlow, had been charged with soliciting to commit murder and incitement to commit kidnap. Superintendent Tim Tubbs said: “This was an extremely fast paced investigation, with many of our officers and national partners working overnight to secure these charges. The safeguarding of any victim is paramount and we will continue to prioritise this as the investigation proceeds.” The star’s £3 million home in London is currently under police guard and she has reported to have been left “shocked and distraught” after learning she was the subject of dark messages that threatened to kidnap the mother-of-three. 

Kevin Spacey was rushed to hospital from a film festival in  Uzbekistan after he felt his entire left arm ‘go numb for about eight seconds’, it has emerged. The House of Cards star, 64, was feared to have suffered a heart attack but after undergoing a series of tests, including an MRI, was given the all-clear by doctors. He fell ill in the ancient city of Samarkand on Monday while on a tour of the Afrasiyab Museum and was rushed to the Innova Diagnostic Clinic where he was ‘treated professionally by doctors and staff’. Mr Spacey later returned to the Tashkent International Film Festival, appeared on stage and told the audience his health was ‘normal’. The Oscar-winning actor added that the incident ‘made me really take a moment and think about how fragile life is’. Mr Spacey talked about his ‘unexpected’ health scare during his speech at the festival’s closing ceremony on Monday, festival organisers revealed. ‘I was looking at these extraordinary murals on the walls and I suddenly felt my entire left arm go numb for about eight seconds,’ he told the crowd. ‘I shook it off, but I immediately told the people I was with and we went immediately to the medical centre.’ He shared how he spent the afternoon undergoing a ‘variety of tests’, adding that ultimately ‘everything turned out to be completely normal’. The actor said he is ‘grateful’ that it was not ‘anything more serious’, adding that he was ‘pleasantly surprised’ that Samarkand had ‘such qualified doctors’. ‘Human life is very fragile and short, so everyone should live together and support each other,’ he told the audience.

Lady Cathy Ferguson, the wife of the former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and the woman he called his “bedrock”, has died at the age of 84. A Glasgow native, Cathy Holding met her husband-to-be while they were working together in a typewriter factory in 1964. They were married two years later and went on to raise three children and 12 grandchildren over the course a relationship that endured for more than half a century. The Ferguson family confirmed the news in a statement released on Friday afternoon. “We are deeply saddened to confirm the passing yesterday of Lady Cathy Ferguson, survived by her husband, three sons, two sisters, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild,” the statement read. “The family asks for privacy at this time.” Lady Ferguson once said she had feared that the man who went on to become the most successful manager in the history of British football was a “thug” when she first met him, as he was sporting a plaster on his face due to a football injury. She also recalled their first date, a trip to the cinema and a gift of a box of liquorice allsorts “of which he ate all of them”. A Manchester United club statement said: “Everyone at Manchester United sends our heartfelt condolences to Sir Alex Ferguson and his family … Lady Cathy was a beloved wife, mother, sister, grandmother and great-grandmother, and a tower of strength for Sir Alex throughout his career.”

On This Day

  • 2005 – The 7.6 Mw  Kashmir earthquake leaves 86,000–87,351 people dead, 69,000–75,266 injured, and 2.8 million homeless.
  • 2014 – Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with Ebola, dies.
  • 2016 – In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, the death toll rises to nearly 900.


  • 1967 – Clement Attlee, English politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1883). 
  • 2002 – Phyllis Calvert, English actress (b. 1915).
  • 2015 – Jim Diamond, Scottish singer-songwriter (b. 1951).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Matt Damon (53), Sigourney Weaver (74), Chevy Chase (80), Kristanna Loken (44), Ardal O’Hanlon (58), Paul Hogan (84), R.L. Stine (80), Bruno Mars (38), Aaron & Shawn Ashmore (44), Simon Cowell (64), Tim Minchin (48), Elisabeth Shue (60), Emily Mortimer (52), Ioan Gruffudd (50), Britt Ekland (81), Kate Winslet (48), Guy Pearce (56), Karen Allen (72), Jesse Eisenberg (40), Diane Morgan (48), Clive Barker (71), Stephanie Cole (82), Neil deGrasse Tyson (65), Alicia Silverstone (47), Dakota Johnson (34), Susan Sarandon (77), Christoph Waltz (67), Melissa Benoist (35), Liev Schreiber (56), Nick Mohammed (43), Neve Campbell (50), Lena Headey (50), Clive Owen (59), Seann William Scott (47), Gwen Stefani (54), Tommy Lee (61), Lorraine Bracco (69), Avery Brooks (75), and Sting (72).

Dead Pool 1st October 2023

Last week brings us the passing of two great actors and a senseless felling of a wonderful tree. Plus some points to award! Well done Vic, 68 points for correctly guessing Michael Gambon would pass away this year. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Sir Billy Connolly’s wife Pamela Stephenson has spoken out about the star’s health troubles, revealing the comic had ‘a couple of serious falls’ after they noticed his balance was deteriorating. Scottish comedian Sir Billy, 80, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a decade ago on the same day he found out he had prostate cancer, for which he was later given the all clear. The comic spoke about the degenerative disease and said: ‘It’s very difficult to see the progression exactly, because a lot of things come and go. Recently I’ve noticed a deterioration in my balance. That was never such a problem before, but in the last year that has come and it has stayed. For some reason, I thought it would go away, because a lot of symptoms have come and gone away … just to defy the symptom spotters. The shaking has reappeared…’ Pamela added: ‘The balance issue has been most significant, hasn’t it? Especially since, unfortunately, it resulted in you having a couple of serious falls …’ Sir Billy said he had a fall which reminded him of a joke he used to make on stay, explaining: ‘I used to say, “I fell out of bed, but luckily my face broke my fall…”‘ However, the funnyman admitted his falls add ‘to the list of things that hold me back’. He said he often wants to go for a walk but after 50 yards he feels tired and wants to return home, admitting he’s ‘being encroached upon by this disease’. ‘It’s creeping up behind me and stopping me doing things. It’s a cruel disease,’ he said. While Pamela said the disease has been ‘pretty slow-moving’, Sir Billy insists it ‘doesn’t make it any more pleasant’. The couple spoke about how their relationship has changed since the comedian was diagnosed and Sir Billy said that his wife now dresses him in the morning, mentioning that he has ask for lifts everywhere as he is unable to drive anymore. ‘I don’t let the Parkinson’s dictate who I am – I just get on with it. I’ve had a very successful career and I have no regrets at all.’  

Bob Mortimer will be absent from this Sunday’s episode of Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing. In the forthcoming penultimate episode of series six, Mortimer, 64, calls his costar Paul Whitehouse, 65, to let him know that he can’t make the trip due to illness. In his place, Mortimer has arranged for fellow comedian Lee Mack, 55, to fill in. The fishing then takes place on the tidal outcrop of Burgh Island on the south coast of Devon. Gone Fishing follows the pair of comedians on various fishing trips around the UK as the pair discuss their respective heart problems. Mortimer had a triple heart bypass operation in 2015 after he was diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Whitehouse, who was also diagnosed with heart disease, has had three stents inserted to help widen his coronary arteries. The series was born when Whitehouse, who has known Mortimer for over 30 years, invited his longtime friend fishing to get him out of the house after his heart surgery. “That’s how we sold the show. We’ve got this show and we’ve both got heart disease, so with a bit of luck, the jeopardy is that one of us will drop dead on the riverbank, and that’s TV gold. So far it hasn’t happened. We keep dragging it out.”  

Sophia Loren has been rushed to hospital to undergo emergency surgery after suffering a bad fall at her home in Geneva, Switzerland. The Hollywood star, 89, was left with several fractures to her hip and and a series fractures to her femur after she fell in the bathroom of her home this weekend. Sophia’s sons, Carlo Jr., 55, and Edoardo, 50, have been by her side throughout the ordeal and her time in hospital. News about Sophia’s condition was shared by the team at her self-titled restaurant chain, who shared the news on their Instagram page. The statement read: ‘A fall at her home in Geneva today caused Ms Loren hip fractures. Operated with a positive outcome, she will now have to observe a short period of recovery and follow a road to rehabilitation. Thankfully everything worked out for the best and the Lady will be back with us very soon. The whole team at Sophia Loren Restaurant takes this opportunity to wish her a speedy recovery.’ The post announcing Sophia’s surgery news was flooded with support from her devoted fans, wishing the star a speedy recovery. Sophia had been due to open a fourth branch of her restaurant chain in Bari, Italy, on Tuesday. The Italian native was also due to receive honorary citizenship from the city. The events have been cancelled along with her other upcoming public engagements, according to the publication.  Sophia most recently appeared in the 2020 Netflix film The Life Ahead, directed by her son Edoardo, which won her a David di Donatello Award for best actress. Sophia plays a Holocaust survivor who bonds with a 12-year-old Nigerian immigrant. Speaking to Ew.com, she explained: ‘I love cinema so much. I want to keep doing it forever. I know it’s difficult to find good stories, but sometimes I fall in love with the right ones. I intend to make movies forever.’  Earlier this year, Sophia was named as one of the AFT 50 greatest movies of classical Hollywood cinema. She is the only living actress on the list.

On This Day

  • 1861 – Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management is published, going on to sell 60,000 copies in its first year and remaining in print until the present day.
  • 1908 – Ford Model T automobiles are offered for sale at a price of $825.
  • 1964 – Japanese Shinkansen (“bullet trains”) begin high-speed rail service from Tokyo to Osaka. 60 years later, the UK are still struggling to complete HS2.
  • 1969 – Concorde breaks the sound barrier for the first time.
  • 1982 – Sony and Phillips launch the compact disc in Japan; on the same day, Sony releases the model CDP-101 compact disc player, the first player of its kind.
  • 1989 – Denmark introduces the world’s first legal same-sex registered partnerships.
  • 2017 – Fifty-eight people are killed and 869 others injured in a mass shooting at a country music festival at the Las Vegas Strip in the United States; the gunman, Stephen Paddock, later commits suicide.


  • 1985 – E. B. White, American essayist and journalist (b. 1899).
  • 2013 – Tom Clancy, American author (b. 1947).
  • 2014 – Lynsey de Paul, English singer-songwriter, pianist, and actress (b. 1948).

The Last Godfather

Ruthless mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro who spent 30 years on the run for allegedly murdering 50 people including a boy dissolved in acid has died of cancer aged 61 – eight months after he was captured by Italian police.

The mafia godfather, who once boasted he could ‘fill a cemetery with his victims’, was suffering from colon cancer when he was captured by armed police at a medical facility in Palermo, Sicily, in January. But his condition deteriorated in recent weeks and he was transferred to a hospital from the maximum-security prison in L’Aquila in central Italy where he was initially held.

Messina Denaro, dubbed the ‘last godfather’ of the notorious Cosa Nostra gang and nicknamed ‘The Devil’ following a string of brutal murders, died in the hospital, L’Aquila Mayor Pierluigi Biondi.

The mafioso had been forced into hiding 30 years ago after he ordered a series of deadly attacks, including the murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, as well as a series of car bombs in Florence, Milan and Rome that left 10 people dead and 93 injured in 1993.

And children were not off limits for Messina Denaro. In the same year, ‘The Devil’ helped organise the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, in an attempt to dissuade his father from giving evidence against the mafia, prosecutors say. The boy was held in captivity for two years before he was brutally strangled to death and his body dissolved in acid.

L’Aquila Mayor Pierluigi Biondi confirmed the mobster’s death in hospital ‘following a worsening of his illness’ in a statement to the ANSA news agency, which had earlier broken the news. His death ‘puts the end to a story of violence and blood’, Biondi said, thanking prison and hospital staff for their ‘professionalism and humanity’. It was ‘the epilogue of an existence lived without remorse or repentance, a painful chapter of the recent history of our nation’. 

Denaro is not believed to have given any information to the police after he was seized outside a private health clinic in the Sicilian capital, Palermo, on January 16th. Denaro had requested no aggressive medical treatment, ANSA reported, adding that medics had stopped feeding him after he was declared to be in irreversible coma.

According to medical records leaked to the Italian media, he underwent surgery for colon cancer in 2020 and 2022 under a false name. A doctor at the Palermo clinic told La Repubblica newspaper that Messina Denaro’s health had worsened significantly in the months leading up to his capture.

Preparations are already under way for his burial in the family tomb in his hometown of Castelvetrano alongside his father, Don Ciccio, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Messina Denaro was captured in January when armed police swarmed the private medical facility in Palermo where he was undergoing treatment. The then 60-year-old had tried to outrun the police officers on foot and pushed his way through a series of hospital doors – but he only made it as far as a bar that was part of the same building where he had been seeing doctors for colon cancer checks. As the officers cornered the frail mafia boss, Messina Denaro meekly gave them his name before they bundled him into a waiting black minivan in front of shocked patients and medical staff.

The Mafia boss, who had not been seen in public for three decades, was pictured sitting in a police van wearing a brown leather shearling jacket, a white skull cap and his trademark tinted glasses shortly after his arrest.

A trigger man who once reportedly boasted he could ‘fill a cemetery’ with his victims, Messina Denaro was a leading figure in Cosa Nostra, the real-life Sicilian crime syndicate depicted in the Godfather movies. 

For a mafia boss who evaded arrest for over 30 years, it was his frequent visits to a private clinic that led to his arrest. Messina Denaro had been sitting in the private clinic waiting to see a doctor for colon cancer tests when he was surrounded and chased by a swarm of armed police officers. A member of staff who asked to remain anonymous told local media at the time: ‘He’d been coming here on and off for about a year. He’d had an operation a few months ago and was back for more tests and chemotherapy. When I turned up for work this morning at 6am it was all quiet and then he arrived to do his Covid test. A few minutes later a police officer wearing full body armour as if he was going to war came in and said he was looking for a patient. He said to remain calm and that armed officers were on every floor of the clinic. We had no idea who he was or what his background was. The guy actually managed to get out and ran into a local bar but they tracked him down and that’s when all hell broke loose.’ 

As news of his arrest spread across Palermo, local residents had emerged to applaud and shake the hands of the Italian paramilitary police officers involved in the operation. The residents were seen cheering and wiping away tears as they felt a wave of relief that Messina Denaro, who had coordinated years of terror in Italy, had finally been detained. 

Messina Denaro lived a playboy lifestyle. He was known for driving expensive cars and for having a taste for wearing finely tailored suits and Rolex watches. As a rising-star in the mafia in the 1980s, he dressed in designer brands Versace and Armani. His womanising ways raised eyebrows among the clans more conservative members. He fathered a daughter in 1995, which was seen as not being in keeping with Cosa Nostra’s more traditional family values.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Brie Larson (34), Rupert Friend (42), Julie Andrews (88), Zach Galifianakis (54), Randy Quaid (73), Larry Lamb (76), Monica Bellucci (59), Ezra Miller (31), Kieran Culkin (41), Omid Djalili (58), Al Leong (71), Zachary Levi (43), Ian McShane (81), Erika Eleniak (54), Mackenzie Crook (52), Matt & Luke Goss (55), Naomi Watts (55), Hilary Duff (36), Jeffrey Jones (77), Brigitte Bardot (89), Dita Von Teese (51), Bam Margera (44), Jenna Ortega (21), Gwyneth Paltrow (51), Indira Varma (50), Denis Lawson (76), Avril Lavigne (39), Linda Hamilton (67), Lysette Anthony (60), Ricky Tomlinson (84), Serena Williams (42), Will Smith (55), Catherine Zeta-Jones (54), Mark Hamill (72), Bella Ramsey (20), Michael Douglas (79), Michael Madsen (66), and Heather Locklear (62).

Dead Pool 24th September 2023

A quiet week for celebrity deaths, if it wasn’t for the whistling wonder that was Roger Whittaker passing away, the very brief list of deaths would be non-existent!  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

National treasure Stephen Fry was reportedly rushed to hospital after falling “two metres” from the stage at the O2 in London, where he was delivering a speech on Artificial Intelligence. The Golden Globe-nominated actor, author and narrator, 66, was speaking on the final day of the CogX Festival technology conference when he took a tumble as he was exiting the stage. Eye witnesses claimed the Blackadder star fell two metres from the stage to the ground below and sustained injuries to his ribs and leg. He was then rushed to hospital for treatment. “It looked like it was too dark and there didn’t look like there was a handrail,” a source told the Flying Monkeys. “He looked to have been hurt as he had to leave in a wheelchair.” It is unclear whether Fry remains in hospital. A spokesperson for CogX told the Flying Monkeys: “We were deeply concerned to hear of Stephen’s accident after giving his inspirational speech on the impact of AI. We are thinking of him and wishing him a swift recovery. We have opened our own enquiry and until then we are not able to share any further details.” A spokesperson for Greenwich Council added: “The council has received an accident report following an event last week at the O2, and is considering whether any further investigations are needed.” 

Voyager singer Danny Estrin, whose band represented Australia in Eurovision this year, has been diagnosed with cancer. The 41-year-old musician co-founded the prog rock band in 1999, and has performed with them since. In 2023, Voyager placed ninth in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest with their final “Promise”. On Thursday morning, a statement was shared on the band’s social media where Estrin wrote that the band would be postponing their forthcoming European tour while he underwent “immediate treatment”. “Hi everyone, Danny here,” Estrin wrote. “Last week I was dealt some life-altering news: I’ve been diagnosed with cancer that requires immediate treatment… I am on strict doctors’ orders to not take this lightly, put my health first and get this sorted so we can be on stage again as soon as possible.” Estrin said that cancelling the tour had been “an extremely hard decision to make, but one that everyone will hopefully understand. Voyager will perform our last show for a while at the America’s Cup Event in Fremantle, Western Australia this Sunday, so come and party with us before I start treatment,” he continued. “In the coming weeks I will focus on my health and family and ask that everyone please respect our privacy. I truly value and appreciate everyone’s support and understanding during this time. I’m surrounded by my incredible bandmates and team who are navigating all things Voyager whilst I am out of action. Love, your fierce friend Danny!” 

A winemaker has been found dead face down in a huge vat of Prosecco after he passed out from toxic fermentation gas while rescuing a workmate. Heroic Marco Bettolini leapt into the tank when he saw co-worker Alberto Pin had fainted at the Ca’ di Rajo winery in the province of Treviso, in the Italian region Veneto, on Thursday last week. But Mr Bettolini was also quickly overcome by the same fumes and collapsed in the tank after rescuing his pal, local media reported. Both winemakers fell into the vat but only Mr Bettolini died. He was reportedly found dead at the bottom of the tank while Mr Pin was taken to hospital. Toxic fumes like carbon monoxide and nitrogen produced during winemaking can be deadly in enclosed spaces, especially when produced in large quantities. Neither man had been wearing an oxygen tank and respirator as the time of the incident, it emerged. Accident investigators believe Pin had entered the tank when he spotted a fault in one of the tank’s meters. An autopsy is set to determine whether Bettollini died from drowning or asphyxiation. Wineries generally have necessary ventilation systems that allow the toxic air to escape and prevent any serious incidents. Chief Prosecutor Marco Martani said: ‘From the information gathered so far by the police, no one should have entered that vat, as maintenance work is entrusted to an external specialised company equipped with masks and systems that would have prevented the risk of intoxication.’ The winery’s owner, Simone Cecchetto, expressed their condolences, adding: ‘We are devastated by grief; for us, they are like two brothers, two sons. My thoughts are only with these young men who grew up with us and their families. We pray that Alberto recovers as soon as possible.’ Pin remains in hospital in an intensive care unit. The investigation is ongoing. The local Health Authority is also examining the case. 

A legendary Merseyside comedian who became a household name in the industry has died aged 95. Born in 1927, Stevie Faye grew up in Dingle and like many other local comedians of his time found fame on talent TV shows The Comedians and Opportunity Knocks. In the 1980s Stevie also starred in BBC’s Boys from the Blackstuff.  A household name who rubbed shoulders with big names across the industry, the stand-up comic prided himself on his “clean material” and drew crowds when he performed on stages across the country. Upon his retirement, told the Flying Monkeys: “I am proud that I never told a dirty joke. I have gone down well in places like Glasgow and prisons; it just shows you don’t have to use that sort of material. I will take a lot of memories with me and want to thank the audiences and all my friends in the business for their support.” Before his days in the spotlight, Stevie was an amateur boxer and had all kinds of jobs, from club kitchen porter to candle worker stints in Llandudno. But he became a household name thanks to one show in particular and previously thanked producer of The Comedians Johnny Hamp for his start in show-business and giving other local comedians their television debuts.

On This Day

  • 1929 – Jimmy Doolittle performs the first flight without a window, proving that full instrument flying from take off to landing is possible.
  • 1960 – USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is launched.
  • 2015 – At least 1,100 people are killed and another 934 wounded after a stampede during the Hajj in Saudi Arabia.


  • 1945 – Hans Geiger, German physicist & academic, co-invented the Geiger counter (b. 1882).
  • 1984 – Neil Hamilton, American actor (b. 1899).
  • 1991 – Dr. Seuss, American children’s book writer, poet, and illustrator (b. 1904).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Kevin Sorbo (65), Sven-Ole Thorsen (79), Anthony Mackie (45), Rosalind Chao (66), Karl Pilkington (51), Tom Felton (36), Billie Piper (41), Ruth Jones (57), Joan Jett (65), Nick Cave (66), Bill Murray (73), Stephen King (76), Luke Wilson (52), David Wenham (58), Alfonso Ribeiro (52), Ricki Lake (55), Jon Bernthal (47), Asia Argento (48), Moon Bloodgood (48), George R.R. Martin (75), Danielle Panabaker (36), Jeremy Irons (75), David McCallum (90), Jimmy Fallon (49), Twiggy (74), Christina Chong (40), James Marsden (50), Jason Sudeikis (48), Jada Pinkett Smith (52), Babs Olusanmokun (39), Keeley Hazell (37), Tim McInnerny (67), and Adeel Akhtar (43).

Dead Pool 17th September 2023

A relatively quiet week for us which included the sad passing of Maddy Anholt at the age of 35 to brain cancer.  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Sum 41 singer Deryck Whibley has been admitted to hospital with pneumonia, his wife has told fans. In a post shared on Instagram on Friday, Ariana Cooper Whibley – who has been married to the “In Too Deep” rocker for eight years – updated fans on Whibley’s health. Posting two photos, one showing the 43-year-old being stretchered into an ambulance and the other of his hand wearing a medical bracelet, Cooper Whibley explained that the incident had occurred on their wedding anniversary. “ Deryck and I were suppose to be in Chicago right now, celebrating our eight year wedding anniversary but the universe had a different plan for us,” the model wrote. “We spent the entire night in the ER and will now be spending the next few days here in the hospital as he fights through pneumonia. The scariest part is that there is a lot of strain on his heart and they are telling us that there is a possibility of heart failure.” She continued: “This is obviously not our first time in a situation like this but it brings back a lot of really difficult memories seeing him back in a hospital bed connected to wires and IVs. I know how strong he is because I have witnessed what he has been able to overcome but that doesn’t make it any easier to see. I’ll do my best to keep everyone updated but if you could keep him in your heart over the next few days, we could really use it.” Whibley, who is a founding member of Sum 41, has suffered a number of health issues over the last decade. In 2013, Cooper Whibley rushed the Canadian musician to hospital after he collapsed in his kitchen. There, he learnt that his liver and kidney had failed due to alcohol abuse. He was placed in a coma for a week and has been sober since. In an interview with the Flying Monkeys, Whibley said that he had been “very touch and go” in hospital and had “almost died”.  

Chris Evans has shared a positive update on his health, after it was reported he was diagnosed with skin cancer last month. In August, the DJ revealed that doctors had discovered a malignant melanoma on his leg, during a live appearance on his Virgin Media radio show. “We need to discuss what’s going on with this issue. It is a melanoma,” Evans, 57, told listeners. “There’s this phrase called a malignant melanoma – you know once you get something and you find out all about it – that is a redundant phrase because if it is a melanoma, it is malignant.” On Thursday, the presenter revealed that the procedure to remove the melanoma mole had been successful by posting a picture of his healing leg on social media. The image shows Evans’s calf on an operating table, with the site where the melanoma was previously visible now replaced by stitched-up skin. “And that’s a W.R.A.P,” his caption began, adding that he was celebrating with a “cuzza” – a curry – and a non-alcoholic beer. Evans ended his message with: “#getyourselfchecked/checkafriend Peace&Love people. HAPPY THURSDAY”. Evans has spoken about his health publicly on several occasions throughout his career. In 2009, he had a skin cancer scare and spoke at the time about visiting the doctor to investigate some unusual marks he’d discovered on his body around Christmas. In 2011, he spoke about undergoing his first colonoscopy due to instances of cancer in his family. In an interview with the Flying Monkeys, he revealed that some pre-cancerous “nasties” were discovered and removed. “The doctor said the only thing I could have done wrong was not come to see him,” Evans added. Then, in 2015, Evans had a prostate cancer scare but was given the all-clear. 

On This Day

  • 1908 – The Wright Flyer flown by Orville Wright, with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge as passenger, crashes, killing Selfridge, who becomes the first airplane fatality.
  • 1976 – The Space Shuttle Enterprise is unveiled by NASA.
  • 2001 – The New York Stock Exchange reopens for trading after the September 11 attacks, the longest closure since the Great Depression.


  • 1985 – Laura Ashley, Welsh fashion designer, founded Laura Ashley plc (b. 1925).
  • 1999 – Frankie Vaughan, English singer and actor (b. 1928).
  • 2020 – Robert W. Gore, American engineer and businessman, co-inventor of Gore-Tex (b. 1937).

 New Dimensions of Reality

Cardiac arrest patients may experience “new dimensions of reality” once they are revived by performing CPR up to an hour after their hearts stop, suggests a new study.

Recent research on the brain activity of dying people has shed light on the dream-like state some individuals appear to experience before they expire. These studies, including one published in February last year, seem to provide explanations for reports of people vividly recalling their lives in near-death experiences.

Now, a new study, published in the journal Resuscitation, adds more evidence that people may experience life’s memories flash before their eyes during the near-death experience following cardiac arrest.

The research, led by those from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, assessed reports from survivors of cardiac arrest who described lucid death experiences that occurred while they were seemingly unconscious. 

Fewer than 10 per cent of the 567 patients studied, who received CPR in the hospital, recovered sufficiently to be discharged, scientists said. Four in 10 patients who survived, however, recalled some degree of consciousness during CPR that could not be captured by standard measures. In a subset of these patients, about 40 per cent had brain activity that almost returned to normal from a “flatline” state at points even an hour into CPR. 

EEG scans of these patients reveal gamma, delta, theta, alpha and beta brain waves associated with higher mental function, indicating they may be having a recall of memories. 

Cardiac arrest survivors have long recalled having heightened awareness and powerful, lucid experiences.

In popular literature, this has included “out of body” experiences, observing events without pain or distress, as well as a meaningful evaluation of their past actions and relationships.

The new study finds these experiences of death could be different from hallucinations, delusions, illusions, dreams or CPR-induced consciousness.

Researchers suspect the brain’s processes in such people during this state may be opening access to “new dimensions of reality”, including a lucid recall of all stored memories from early childhood to death.

These new dimensions, according to the study, include experiences of people’s deeper consciousness such as all their memories, thoughts, intentions and actions towards others “from a moral and ethical perspective”.

The latest findings, according to scientists, “opens the door to a systematic exploration of what happens when a person dies”.

“Although doctors have long thought that the brain suffers permanent damage about 10 minutes after the heart stops supplying it with oxygen, our work found that the brain can show signs of electrical recovery long into ongoing CPR,” said study author Sam Parnia from NYU. “This is the first large study to show that these recollections and brain wave changes may be signs of universal, shared elements of so-called near-death experiences,” Dr Parnia said.

These near-death experiences can provide a glimpse into a real, yet little-understood dimension of human consciousness that becomes uncovered with death. 

Researchers said such experiences may also guide the design of new ways to restart the heart or prevent brain injuries and also hold implications for transplantation, raising questions related to the timing of organ donation.

However, scientists agree that research until now has “neither proved nor disproved” the meaning of patients’ experiences and claims of awareness in relation to death. 

They called for further studies on the recalled experience surrounding death and the need to further study psychological outcomes emerging out of cardiac arrest as part of the broader post-intensive care syndrome.

“The recalled experience surrounding death now merits further genuine empirical investigation without prejudice,” scientists wrote in the study.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Ella Purnell (27), Cassandra Peterson (72), Bruce Spence (78), Mickey Rourke (71), Jennifer Tilly (65), Madeline Zima (38), Amy Poehler (52), Nick Jonas (31), Danny John-Jules (63), Tom Hardy (46), Tommy Lee Jones (77), Oliver Stone (77), John Bradley (35), Brendan O’Carroll (68), Prince Harry (39), Sam Neill (76), Andrew Lincoln (50), Lolly Adefope (33), Walter Koenig (87), Alfie Allen (37), Linda Gray (83), Tyler Hoechlin (36), Virginia Madsen (62), Roxann Dawson (65), Elizabeth Henstridge (36), and Johnny Vegas (52).

Dead Pool 10th September 2023

This  week saw us saying Auf wiedersehen to Joe Fagin amongst others, however nobody has scored any points. After last weeks epic newsletter, this weeks is a bit shorter, mainly because I couldn’t be bothered 🤣

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Britain’s longest-serving newsreader Alastair Stewart has revealed he has been diagnosed with dementia. The 71-year-old news anchor announced his retirement in March after spending 47 years working as a journalist on local and national television in the UK. Speaking on GB News this morning, he explained that ‘very short-term memory is tricky’ and that ‘motor skills are very tricky’. He admitted that around ‘six to nine months’ ago he began to feel ‘discombobulated’, prompting his decision to step back from presenting. Alastair’s concerns led him to contact his GP and relayed his fears that he may have early-onset dementia. After having scans at the doctors, he discovered he had suffered a series of strokes and was diagnosed with the disease. The presenter acknowledged that the disease is “incurable” but he is taking numerous steps to try and alleviate the condition. Alastair revealed he’d stopped smoking and is taking his dogs out on longer walks as well as taking on word puzzles to keep the brain active. The presenter said the thing has has “found most difficult to deal with” is seeing his wife being “reduced to a carer”. “I find it tricky, because your health through no fault of your own is reducing this person who is the single most important person in your life to the role of a carer. And so if you do think there is something wrong with you, then go and see the GP and listen to what he or she says but also do remember that the people you work with and the people you live with and share your life with are the most important people in the entire world.”  

Supermodel Linda Evangelista has revealed that she has been secretly treated for breast cancer over the past year, and that it’s the second time she’s been diagnosed with the illness. The Canadian beauty told us that she underwent a bilateral mastectomy after an annual mammogram detected the cancer in December 2018. She thought she “was good and set for life”, she explained, but last July she discovered a new lump on her chest, leading her to declare: “I’m not dying from this”. Now, she says, her prognosis is “good” having undergone more surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. On her cancer prognosis being “good” but not “great” moving forward, she said: “I know I have one foot in the grave, but I’m totally in celebration mode. Only a handful of people knew,” she added. “And I’m just not one of those people who has to share everything. I thought to myself, ‘I will share this one day but while I am going through it, absolutely not’. I don’t want the Daily Mail waiting outside my door like they do every time something happens.” 

On This Day

  • 1961 – In the Italian Grand Prix, a crash causes the death of German Formula One driver Wolfgang von Trips and 15 spectators who are hit by his Ferrari, the deadliest accident in F1 history.
  • 1977 – Hamida Djandoubi, convicted of torture and murder, is the last person to be executed by guillotine in France.
  • 2001 – During his appearance on the British TV game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, contestant Charles Ingram reaches the £1 million top prize, but it was later revealed that he had cheated to the top prize by listening to coughs from his wife and another contestant.
  • 2008 – The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in history, is powered up in Geneva, Switzerland. The world didn’t end.
  • 2022 –King Charles III is formally proclaimed as monarch at a meeting of the Accession Council in St James’s Palace.


  • 1938 – Charles Cruft, English businessman, founded Crufts (b. 1852).
  • 2007 – Anita Roddick, English businesswoman, founded The Body Shop (b. 1942).
  • 2014 – Richard Kiel, American actor (b. 1939).
  • 2020 – Diana Rigg, British actress (b. 1938).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Guy Ritchie (55), Colin Firth (63), Adam Sandler (57), Hugh Grant (63), Henry Thomas (52), Jeffrey Combs (69), Eric Stonestreet (52), Julia Sawalha (55), Martin Freeman (52), Gaten Matarazzo (21), Heather Thomas (66), Pink (44), Rachel Hunter (54), Miles Jupp (44), Evan Rachel Wood (36), Toby Jones (57), Julie Kavner (73), Doug Bradley (69), Freya Allan (22), Idris Elba (51), Michael Keaton (72), Rose McGowan (50), Carice van Houten (47), Paddy Considine (50), Bob Newhart (94), George Lazenby (84), Michael Berryman (75), Beyoncé (42), and Damon Wayans (63).

Dead Pool 3rd September 2023

We have a winner! With the passing of Mohamed Al-Fayed, Nickie scores 56 points! Well done her! Also my apologies, as this weeks edition has somewhat grown into epic proportions! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Elton John has been treated in hospital following a fall at his French riviera home. The 76-year-old singer was treated overnight for minor injuries at the orthopaedic department of Princess Grace hospital centre in Monaco, close to his home in Nice. A spokesman told the Flying Monkeys that the 76-year-old was admitted “following a slip yesterday at his home in the south of France”. He added: “Elton visited the local hospital as a precautionary measure. Following check-ups, he was immediately discharged this morning and his now back at home and in good health.” The I’m Still Standing singer has been in France this summer with his husband David Furnish and their two sons, having completed his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour. 

A caterer who pretended to be a plastic surgeon has been arrested after performing a fatal penis enlargement on a ‘patient’. Torben K, a 46-year-old man from Solingen, Germany, administered silicone injections into the victim’s penis and scrotum area. He reportedly refused to disclose the type of silicone oil. The 32-year-old patient died from sepsis seven months after the procedure in July 2019. An investigation found that  Torben had no medical qualifications and previously carried out the same procedure on another man earlier in the year. Judges in Wuppertal District Court found Torben guilty of causing death by grievous bodily harm. The sister of the unnamed victim said her brother had doubts about the treatment but Torben convinced him to go ahead. He was said to experience breathing difficulties as soon as he returned home. The man reportedly visited several hospitals but later died of blood poisoning and liver and kidney failure. Speaking to local media, High State Prosecutor Wolf-Tilman Baumert said: “Unfortunately, the silicone oil ended up in the person’s bloodstream. This led to severe health complications and, eventually, to his death.” Torben claimed he had only done what the patient requested, to which Baumert responded: “The fact that the man asked for the treatment is irrelevant from our point of view. The defendant acted in a highly immoral manner.” Torben was jailed for five years, though the verdict is not yet legally binding.  

For the second time in just over a month, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell appeared to freeze while speaking to reporters. At a press event in Covington, Kentucky, the 81-year-old paused for more than 30 seconds when asked whether he would run for-re-election in 2026. Aides attempted to prompt the senator, but it took several more seconds for Mr McConnell to recover. He then answered two more questions, which had to be repeated by staff. He made no comments about his health, before leaving with aides. “Leader McConnell felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today,” a spokesperson said after the incident. A staffer later told the Flying Monkeys that the lawmaker “feels fine” but “will be consulting a physician prior to his next event”. Mr McConnell’s first verbal lapse occurred during a press conference at the US Capitol in Washington DC on 26th July. There, he paused mid-sentence for approximately 20 seconds, before being ushered away by his fellow Republican senators. He later returned and told reporters he was “fine” and had felt “lightheaded”. Mr McConnell, who leads the Republican party’s narrow minority in the upper chamber of Congress, was admitted to hospital for a week after suffering a concussion and a fractured rib following a fall outside a Washington area hotel in March. He was transferred to a rehabilitation facility and did not return to the Senate until mid-April. After the freezing incident in July, US media reported that Mr McConnell has endured at least three other falls since February. This latest episode will again raise questions about the health of the Kentucky senator heading into what will be a busy autumn legislative session. Concern over Mr McConnell’s health follows questions about the condition of 90-year-old California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who was absent from the chamber for months after being diagnosed with a severe case of shingles. Unbelievably, the average age for members of the US Senate is 65!!!  

A Texas man known as “Polio Paul” has now spent more than 70 years living inside an iron lung. Paul Alexander contracted polio in 1952 when he was just 6 years old, just three years before the vaccine was invented. As polio attacks motor neurons in the spinal cord, Alexander was left paralysed from the neck down and was unable to breathe without assistance. Alexander was named as the longest-running iron lung patient by the Guinness World Records earlier in 2023. Alexander underwent an emergency tracheostomy after his diagnosis and was placed into an iron lung, an airtight machine that covers the entire body except for the head and allows the patient to breathe by using negative pressure to draw in oxygen and expand their lungs. For the most part, iron lungs are no longer in use and have not been manufactured since the 1960s due to more modern technology, but Alexander plans to stick with the machine due to its familiarity and because he does not want to undergo the procedures necessary to use more modern treatments. Instead, he learned a technique called “frog breathing,” where he uses the throat muscles to swallow oxygen and push the air into his lungs, enabling him to breathe outside of the iron lung. The technique allowed Alexander to live for a couple of hours at a time outside of the iron lung. He completed high school and graduated from college and law school, practicing law for several decades. He has outlived his parents, his older brother Nick, and several of his friends. Polio was eradicated from the United States in 1979. The World Health Organization declared that the western Pacific region and all of the Americas were polio-free by the year 2000. Now, there are only several dozens of cases in three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.    

With unconfirmed reports of his death, the man known as “Purple Aki” who slowly gained notoriety in the North-West of England and became an urban legend for his strange compulsion’s, may be dead! Akinwale Arobieke’s notoriety began throughout the 80s, Aki had been seen stalking young rugby players, asking to touch their muscles to pose for him and even offering exercise advice. While this appeared harmless and humorous to start, it quickly turned sinister, after several incidents where Aki reportedly prayed on both teens and professional rugby players alike. For those growing up in the Northwest of England in the 1990s, ‘Purple Aki’ became an urban legend, where teenagers would share stories of a man who’d ask to feel your muscles. Aki was often seen travelling between northern train stations with his signature plastic bag in hand and soon Aki became little more than the butt of an inside joke across Liverpool, Manchester, and North Wales. Aki would occasionally resurface in local papers after various encounters with the law. In 2006, he was banned from touching, feeling and measuring muscles, and asking strangers to perform squats for him. Aki spent a lot of time in and out of prison due to his compulsions, having been charged and convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a young man he was pursuing died trying to escape from him. In 2010, Aki was arrested and sentenced to two and a half years for touching a 16-year-old boy’s muscles, then the judge referred to him as a “sexual predator”. The name Purple Aki is a name for someone who has been categorised as a ‘nonce’, which is a slang word for ‘paedophile’, according to the urban dictionary. However, for Purple Aki, it is believed to be referring to his dark skin tone.

On This Day

  • 1883 – Eruption of Krakatoa: Four enormous explosions almost completely destroy the island of Krakatoa and cause years of climate change.
  • 1893 – The Sea Islands hurricane strikes the United States near Savannah, Georgia, killing between 1,000 and 2,000 people.
  • 1955 – The first edition of the Guinness Book of Records is published in Great Britain.
  • 1956 – The nuclear power station at Calder Hall in the United Kingdom was connected to the national power grid becoming the world’s first commercial nuclear power station to generate electricity on an industrial scale.
  • 1979 – The Troubles: An IRA bomb kills British royal family member Lord Mountbatten and three others on his boat at Mullaghmore, Republic of Ireland.


Whole Life Orders

The worst child serial killer in modern British history, Lucy Letby, has been sentenced to a whole life term in prison. Just three other women have ever received whole-life tariffs – Myra Hindley, Rosemary West and Joanna Dennehy.

The sentence means the former neonatal nurse, who was found guilty of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six more, has no chance of parole and will die in prison. Others to receive such a sentence include some of the most infamous killers in criminal history.

Home secretaries have had the power to impose whole-life orders since 1983. Judges were then given the power by the Criminal Justice Act in 2003. Since then it has been judges who have passed such sentences. Currently there are 75 prisoners serving whole-life sentences in the UK, lets take a look at a few… 

David Fuller: In 2021 former hospital worker David Fuller received two whole-life tariffs for murdering Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce in 1987. He had also been sentenced for sexual offences against the corpses of 78 dead women and girls between 2008 and 2020. Fuller abused female corpses over a 13-year period at hospitals in Kent and Sussex. 

Wayne Couzens: Met Police officer Couzens murdered Sarah Everard, 33, after kidnapping her under the guise of an arrest. He abducted her as she walked home from a friend’s house in south London in 2021. Couzens admitted murder, kidnap and rape. In 2022 he lost an attempt to overturn his whole-life term. 

Damien Bendall: Bendall used a claw hammer to kill his daughter Lacey, 11, her brother John, 13, their pregnant mum Terri, 35, and friend Connie, 11, at their home in Derbyshire. He admitted the murders as well as raping Lacey. After calling police to tell them he had murdered four people, he met them outside the home to ask for a cigarette. He was given a whole-life tariff in 2022. 

Robert Maudsley: Also known as Hannibal the Cannibal, has been in jail since he was 21, after he was found guilty of murdering convicted child molester John Farrell in 1974. Following his imprisonment he killed three inmates. Initial reports claimed Maudsley ate part of the brain of a man he killed in prison, but a post-mortem report found the allegation was untrue, although it still led to the Hannibal nickname. He has spent more than 16,500 consecutive days in isolation, which the Flying Monkeys described as a world record. 

Arthur Hutchinson: Hutchinson crashed a wedding reception in 1983 and murdered the bride’s father, mother and brother, before raping her sister at knifepoint. He was issued with a whole-life tariff by Home Secretary Leon Brittan. 

Rosemary West: In 1995, Rose West was convicted of the murder of ten women and girls at her home in Gloucester. The victims included one of her daughters and a step-daughter. Her husband Fred West committed suicide in jail before he could stand trial for 12 murders. 

Mark Hobson: In 2004, Hobson murdered his girlfriend at their home before luring her twin there and killing her too. He fled, then killed an elderly couple a few miles away before going on the run. He was given a whole-life tariff in 2005. 

‘Suffolk Strangler’ – Steve Wright: Wright was handed a whole-life prison term in 2008 after being found guilty of murdering five prostitutes in the Ipswich area during December 2006.  

‘The Bus Stop Stalker’ – Levi Bellfield: Now calls himself Yusuf Rahim, received a whole-life sentence in 2008 for murdering two young women and the attempted murder of another in random night-time attacks. In 2011 he became the first person to receive two whole-life sentences, after being found guilty of the 2002 murder of 13-year-old Milly Dowler. He was also linked to the murder of Lin and Megan Russell. 

‘Crossbow Cannibal’ – Stephen Griffiths: Griffiths was convicted of murdering three woman in Bradford. One of the killings involved a crossbow. He dismembered his victims and dumped their remains. He also claimed to have cannibalised them, though this was never proven. Griffiths was sentenced to a whole-life term in 2010. 

‘The Bullseye Killer’ – John Cooper: Cooper was given four life sentences in 2011 for the double murder of brother and sister Richard and Helen Thomas, and the 1989 double murder of married couple Peter and Gwenda Dixon. Cooper shot the Thomases at their remote mansion near Milford Haven in 1985. And in 1989, he shot the Dixons at close range as they strolled along the Pembrokeshire coastal path near Little Haven. For nearly three decades, their murders were left unsolved before a cold-case review brought Cooper to justice. He earned his nickname ‘The Bullseye Killer’ after appearing on the ITV darts-based quiz show hosted by Jim Bowen. 

Dale Cregan: Cregan killed police officers Nicola Hughes, 23, and Fiona Bone, 32, while on the run for two other murders. He was given a whole-life order in 2013. 

Mark Bridger: Five-year-old April Jones was abducted and killed in 2012 by paedophile Mark Bridger, who was jailed for life the following year. She had been playing on her bike outside her home on the Bryn-y-Gog estate in Machynlleth when she was snatched by the killer. Her body has never been found. 

Jamie Reynolds: Pornography-obsessed Jamie Reynolds hanged 17-year-old Georgia Williams before filming himself carrying out sexual acts on her lifeless body in May 2013 in Shropshire. He dumped her body in Wrexham and went on the run but was caught by police. Reynolds had previously tried to strangle a girl but had only been given a police caution.

Michael Adebolajo & Michael Adebowale: The murderers of soldier Lee Rigby in south-east London 2013. They spotted Lee wearing a Help for Heroes hoodie and mowed him down in their car. They then jumped out and attacked him with knives and a meat cleaver, near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich. Religious extremist Adebolajo tried to behead the ­fusilier. He was given a whole-life sentence, while Adebowale was sentenced to a minimum jail term of 45 years. 

Joanna Dennehy: She’s serving a whole-life sentence for the killing of three men in the space of 10 days in 2014. She was later reported to have described herself as a “fully committed psychopath” to her prison fiancée. 

Thomas Mair: Mair was convicted of murdering Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016. The MP for Batley and Spen was on her way to meet constituents at a routine surgery when Mair shot and stabbed her. A judge said he had no doubt Mair murdered Cox to advance a cause of violent white supremacism. 

Arthur Simpson-Kent: Brutally killed former EastEnders actress Sian Blake, 43, and their children, Zachary, eight, and Amon, four, after finding out she planned to leave him. In 2016 he was given a whole-life sentence after he pleaded guilty to the murders. 

‘The Grindr Killer’ – Stephen Port: Serial killer Port was given a whole-life sentence in 2016 after he drugged, raped and killed four gay men in east London. He had met his victims on the gay dating app Grindr. He was also convicted of raping four others. 

Leroy Campbell: Despite being jailed for attacking three women and being assessed as having “lifelong risk factors”, Campbell was released from prison in 2016 and four months later raped and killed Lisa Skidmore. He was handed a whole-life sentence after pleading guilty to murder, attempted murder, rape and arson with intent. 

John Taylor: Taylor was jailed for a minimum of 30 years for the 2000 murder of schoolgirl Leanne Tiernan. He is thought to have stored her body in a freezer for nine months before dumping it in woodland. Taylor was subsequently linked to a string of historic sex attacks in Leeds from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, which he admitted. He was handed a whole-life sentence in 2018.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Aaron Paul (44), Peter Stormare (70), Reece Shearsmith (54), Peter Mensah (64), Chris Pine (43), Melissa McCarthy (53), Macaulay Culkin (43), Alexander Skarsgård (47), Blake Lively (36), Tim Burton (65), Rachel Bilson (42), Joanne Whalley (62), Tom Skerritt (90), Gene Simmons (74), Billy Ray Cyrus (62), Jared Harris (62), Stephen Fry (66), Rupert Grint (35), Steve Guttenberg (65), Dave Chappelle (50), Ray Park (49), Charley Boorman (57), Dua Lipa (28), Kristen Wiig (50), Richard Armitage (52), Ty Burrell (56), James Corden (45), Alicia Witt (48), Kim Cattrall (67), Hayden Panettiere (34), Carrie-Anne Moss (56), and RJ Mitte (31).

Dead Pool 27th August 2023

Welcome again to another edition of the newsletter, and this week we are dispensing a whole lot of points! Mark, Laura and Dave each score 51 points with the passing of Bob Barker, well done them! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Radio presenter Chris Evans has announced live on air that he has been diagnosed with skin cancer. Evans, 57, revealed on his Virgin Radio show on Monday morning that his doctors broke the news to him just recently. However, he reassured listeners that the disease was discovered in its early stages and he is hopeful he will have a full recovery after he undergoes treatment next month. Evans said on his breakfast show: “We need to discuss what’s going on with this issue. It is a melanoma. There’s this phrase called a malignant melanoma – you know once you get something and you find out all about it – that is a redundant phrase because if it is a melanoma, it is malignant.” He added: “But it’s been caught so early, just so you know, that it should be completely treatable.” According to The Flying Monkeys, the broadcaster said his treatment is scheduled to begin on 14th September. Evans, who is a running enthusiast, joked that he won’t be able to run for “a month afterwards”, adding: “So I’m going to do nothing but run until then. Is that OK?” He previously had a cancer scare in 2019 and revealed at the time he took a skin cancer test after finding unusual marks on his body before Christmas. That year, the radio presenter said: “I went and had a few marks on my body inspected by a skin expert before Christmas and she said. ‘You need to come and see me again, just because of your complexion’. The expert advised him to get checked once a year. Evans has also previously had a prostate cancer scare in 2015, but received the all-clear from his doctors. In 2011, he spoke about undergoing his first colonoscopy exam due to his family having a history of cancer. He told the Flying Monkeys at the time that he had gone for a routine check-up, during which doctors found “some nasties up there” and removed them. “They were pre-cancerous, not malignant – at least we don’t think so, they’ve been sent for a biopsy.

BBC Radio 2 DJ Tony Blackburn has finally opened up about his terrifying health battle after spending two months in hospital this year. He initially thought he had a chest infection but it was in fact pneumonia, which saw him pull out of his popular Sound of the 60s Tour and Radio 2 show earlier this year. He has shared just how serious his hospital stay was. The DJ was in fact suffering from sepsis, pneumonia and blood poisoning. Tony, 80, has said he has only just recovered, after being discharged from hospital in May. He still had to have daily injections upon his return home. According to the NHS, Sepsis is a life-threatening reaction to an infection that happens when your immune system overreacts to an infection and starts to damage your body’s own tissues and organs. Blackburn shared that he didn’t realise how unwell he was until his family gathered by his beside in hospital. He had been on tour before and after the pandemic with his music and chat show, confessing he overdid it and became ill. He said: “I was doing three a week at one time forgetting that I’m now a little bit older, so I ended up in hospital for two months with sepsis and pneumonia and blood poisoning.” Tony added: “And I didn’t realise how unwell I was until one day in the hospital my whole family were gathered around the bed. And I thought ‘this isn’t good’. A couple of weeks ago I went to see my specialist and he said ‘you are cured’, so that was a nice thing to hear.” Following his hospital stay, Tony has now returned to his tour but has limited himself to just one show each week. He said: “I haven’t been doing the show for about three months because I was told to rest a little bit. Now I’m back in form and we’re selling out. Instead of doing three a week I’m just going to do one a week.” Tony has also made his return to Radio 2 after Johnnie Walker filled in for him. In April, Tony also revealed he would have to reschedule his tour, as he required more treatment than he initially thought. He told his fans: “I wanted to give a little update on my health and let you know that I won’t be on the radio or in theatres for a little while yet. The infection I have is requiring more treatment than initially thought and it means I am having to reschedule the Sounds of the 60s Tour for the moment in order to recover fully.  He said: “I hope to be back on the radio as soon as possible but it might be a few weeks before I am able to get back in the studio. As you know, I am passionate about my radio shows and I will be back as quickly as I safely can. I want to thank all of the listeners who have sent their well-wishes and messages of support. I do read them all and it really means a lot.”

On This Day

  • 1883 – Eruption of Krakatoa: Four enormous explosions almost completely destroy the island of Krakatoa and cause years of climate change.
  • 1893 – The Sea Islands hurricane strikes the United States near Savannah, Georgia, killing between 1,000 and 2,000 people.
  • 1955 – The first edition of the Guinness Book of Records is published in Great Britain.
  • 1956 – The nuclear power station at Calder Hall in the United Kingdom was connected to the national power grid becoming the world’s first commercial nuclear power station to generate electricity on an industrial scale.
  • 1979 – The Troubles: An IRA bomb kills British royal family member Lord Mountbatten and three others on his boat at Mullaghmore, Republic of Ireland.


Last Week’s Birthdays

Aaron Paul (44), Peter Stormare (70), Reece Shearsmith (54), Peter Mensah (64), Chris Pine (43), Melissa McCarthy (53), Macaulay Culkin (43), Alexander Skarsgård (47), Blake Lively (36), Tim Burton (65), Rachel Bilson (42), Joanne Whalley (62), Tom Skerritt (90), Gene Simmons (74), Billy Ray Cyrus (62), Jared Harris (62), Stephen Fry (66), Rupert Grint (35), Steve Guttenberg (65), Dave Chappelle (50), Ray Park (49), Charley Boorman (57), Dua Lipa (28), Kristen Wiig (50), Richard Armitage (52), Ty Burrell (56), James Corden (45), Alicia Witt (48), Kim Cattrall (67), Hayden Panettiere (34), Carrie-Anne Moss (56), and RJ Mitte (31).

Dead Pool 20th August 2023

Like him or hate him, the big one last week was Michael Parkinson. Surprisingly, nobody  had him listed, so sadly no points to award. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Rock legend Bruce Springsteen has cancelled two upcoming concerts after being “taken ill”. A statement on his Instagram account said two concerts with the E Street Band in Philadelphia last night and tomorrow have been “postponed”. The nature of his illness was not disclosed. The 73-year-old was due to play with his American rock band at the Citizens Bank Park stadium. “We are working on rescheduling the dates, so please hold on to your tickets as they will be valid for the rescheduled shows,” it added. Even at 73, he’s one of the hardest-working men in show business. The Born In The USA musician embarked on a mammoth tour, including 59 dates in North America and 31 in Europe totalling an impressive 90 shows—his first tour in six years. Earlier in the year, The Boss took a little tumble on stage while performing “Ghosts” in Amsterdam, but he quickly recovered. He got to his feet and joked “Goodnight, everybody!” Fans expressed their support and hope that The Boss would recover quickly. “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business needs a well-deserved rest,” commented one fan. Another wrote: “I think the Boss needs to rest that’s why he’s ill!!! Take care dear Boss!”  

On doctors’ orders, Sir David Jason will no longer be attending an upcoming Only Fools and Horses convention due to a scheduled operation. He has asked fans for their “cushty wishes” in a characteristically humorous statement about his health on Sunday. The 83-year-old said he was “very sorry for the disappointment”. He said in a statement on a Facebook supporter’s page: “Unfortunately I have just been advised I need a new bionic body part fitted. I won’t tell you which part it is, or you will all want one! And don’t worry it’s not being supplied by Monkey Harris, it’ll be the pukka gear. I really hope everyone will be able to make the new date (January 13th and 14th) and we can all have something cushty to look forward to!” Concluding the post, Del Boy added: “Hoping to be lovely jubbly when I meet you all in the new year.” A representative for David has since told the Flying Monkeys that his surgery will be a hip replacement. Last year, the actor was struck down by Covid-19 which resulted in his muscles not working properly. He said: “I collapsed and I fell against the radiator. I was so weak, I couldn’t get up. I tried for about a quarter of an hour, trying all sorts of things to stand up so I could walk about. But in order to do that, I had to use my head. So now I’m lying face down on the ground, and in order to get to the door – and the arms really weren’t working and the legs weren’t working – I was using my head to drag me to the door.” Back in 2017, the television veteran said he would never want to retire from acting.

On This Day

  • 1858 – Charles Darwin first publishes his theory of evolution through natural selection in The Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London, alongside Alfred Russel Wallace‘s same theory.
  • 1940 – Exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded with an ice axe by Ramón Mercader. He dies the next day.
  • 1940 – World War II: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill makes the fourth of his famous wartime speeches, containing the line “Never was so much owed by so many to so few”.
  • 1977 – Voyager program: NASA launches the Voyager 2 spacecraft.
  • 1989 – The pleasure boat Marchioness sinks on the River Thames following a collision. Fifty-one people are killed.


  • 1982 – Ulla Jacobsson, Swedish actress (b. 1929)
  • 2013 – Elmore Leonard, American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter (b. 1925)
  • 2017 – Jerry Lewis, American actor and comedian (b. 1926)

What Killed the King of Rock & Roll? 

This week marks the sad anniversary of Elvis Presley’s tragic passing after he died on August 16th 1977, at the age of just 43. But mystery has shrouded the King of Rock and Roll’s death for almost 50 years after his family remained tight-lipped on the results of his autopsy.

The Jailhouse Rock singer, from Mississippi, was found face down on the bathroom floor of his Graceland home, where he appeared to have fallen from the toilet close by, with his pyjama bottoms around his ankles. In the years leading to his sudden death, his health had taken a dramatic hit, after years of drug abuse catching up with him combined with a diet of junk food.

The once slender and sporty star went on to weigh 25 stone as he spent months barricaded in his bedroom indulging in cheeseburger platters. His condition was so fraught that he was in need of a full-time nurse, and as he reportedly refused to bathe throughout 1975, and developed sores across his body. 

As a consequence of his high-fat, unhealthy diet, Elvis suffered from chronic constipation and a post-mortem examination found he had four-month-old compacted stool sitting in his bowel. The singer was also on a cocktail of drugs and had been prescribed almost 9,000 pills, vials and injections in the seven months before his death.

And it was his girlfriend, Ginger Alden, who found the rock and roll star’s body with his pyjama bottoms around his ankles and his bottom in the air. Of the distressing scene, Ginger, who was just 21 at the time, wrote in her memoir: “His arms lay on the ground, close to his sides, palms facing upward.

“It was clear that, from the moment he landed on the floor, Elvis hadn’t moved. I gently turned his face toward me. A hint of air expelled from his nose. The tip of his tongue was clenched between his teeth and his face was blotchy. I gently raised one eyelid. His eye was staring straight ahead and blood red.”

An autopsy was carried out that same day but the report was immediately sealed for 50 years by the family, sparking a slew of speculation as to what killed him. Dan Warlick, chief investigator for the Tennessee Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner, attended the autopsy and fuelled the popular theory that Elvis died while straining to go to the toilet.

He once said: “Presley’s chronic constipation – the result of years of prescription drug abuse and high-fat, high-cholesterol gorging – brought on what’s known as Valsalva’s manoeuvre. Put simply, the strain of attempting to defecate compressed the singer’s abdominal aorta, shutting down his heart.” 

Others claimed he’d died from a drug overdose, but when the investigation was reopened in 1994, coroner Joseph Davis disagreed. He explained: “The position of Elvis Presley’s body was such that he was about to sit down on the commode when the seizure occurred. He pitched forward onto the carpet, his rear in the air, and was dead by the time he hit the floor.

“If it had been a drug overdose, Elvis would have slipped into an increasing state of slumber. He would have pulled up his pajama bottoms and crawled to the door to seek help. It takes hours to die from drugs.” The autopsy results are due to be unlocked in 2027, but until then, the biggest insight into the star’s mysterious death has come from prominent California physician, Forest Tennant, who actually reviewed the report while defending Elvis’ doctor, Dr. George Nichopoulos, who was later acquitted of over-prescribing drugs.

For Mr Tennant, one major clue was in the full-body  deterioration of Elvis, with almost every organ plagued by ill health. As a young man, Elvis had been extremely fit, playing football and practising martial arts. He did start abusing drugs including amphetamines, opioids and sedatives as a teenager and is known to have had an appalling diet.

But for Tennant, that wasn’t enough to explain the long list of maladies that afflicted the rock star from the late 1960s onwards. First he complained of vertigo, back pain, and insomnia, eye infections and headaches, and in 1973 he was rushed to hospital in a semi-coma and found to be suffering from jaundice, severe respiratory distress, marked swelling of his face, distended abdomen, constipation, a gastric, bleeding ulcer and hepatitis.

He was hospitalised again in 1975 with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a condition called megacolon, whereby the large intestine becomes distended and can allow toxins to flood the body. He also had at least four near-death overdoses that left him unconscious and in need of resuscitation, and his heart was double the normal size. 

And despite having never smoked, he also suffered from emphysema. So what had caused all of these disease processes in his stomach, liver, lungs, heart, spine, eyes and bowel? Forest believes it all stemmed back to a serious head injury he sustained in 1967 that triggered a progressive autoimmune inflammatory disorder.

In his opinion, as shared in a 2013 medical paper, when Elvis tripped over a television cord and knocked himself out on the bathtub, the injury was so severe that it caused brain tissue to dislodge and seep into his blood circulation. There, the body identified the matter as foreign and produced antibodies to destroy it, triggering hypogammaglobulinemia, a disorder of the body’s immune system.

At the time, little was understood about auto-immune conditions, but these days they are known to cause most of the symptoms Elvis displayed, from chronic pain, irrational behaviour, obesity and enlarged and diseased organs like hearts and bowels. And in 2016 Garry Rodgers, a retired homicide detective and forensic coroner, told the Huffington Post that with those findings in mind, he would have attributed Elvis’ death to a heart attack caused by heart disease and drug use caused by an autoimmune disease which was sparked by a brain injury.

He said: “I’d have to classify Elvis’s death as an accident. There’s no one to blame – certainly not Elvis. He was a severely injured and ill man. There’s no specific negligence on anyone’s part and definitely no cover-up or conspiracy of a criminal act. If Dr. Forrest Torrent is right, there simply wasn’t a proper understanding back then in determining what really killed the King of Rock & Roll.”

Last Week’s Birthdays

Amy Adams (49), Andrew Garfield (40), Ke Huy Quan (52), Ben Barnes (42), James Marsters (61), Misha Collins (49), John Noble (75), Ray Wise (76), Demi Lovato (31), Sylvester McCoy (80), David Walliams (52), Matthew Perry (54), Jonathan Frakes (71), Kevin Dillon (58), Diana Muldaur (85), Jim Carter (75), Ian McElhinney (75), Simon Bird (39), Edward Norton (54), Robert Redford (87), Christian Slater (54), Roman Polanski (90), Madeleine Stowe (65), Denis Leary (66), Robert De Niro (80), Austin Butler (32), Sean Penn (63), Belinda Carlisle (65), Taika Waititi (48), Steve Carell (61), James Cameron (69), Angela Bassett (65), Julie Newmar (90), Madonna (65), Jennifer Lawrence (33), Ben Affleck (51), Natasha Henstridge (49), Jim Dale (88), Tony Robinson (77), Steve Martin (78), Mila Kunis (40), Halle Berry (57), and James Buckley (36).

Dead Pool 13th August 2023

Last week saw the passing of the director of The Exorcist and the singer/songwriter of the Cha Cha Slide. Sadly no points to award but plenty of news to catch up on.  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

TV news presenter Nick Owen has revealed he has undergone surgery for prostate cancer. Owen, 75, well known for hosting shows including Good Morning Britain, said he had been diagnosed with the “extensive and aggressive” cancer in April, on “one of the worst” days of his life. “I was told that it was pretty serious and I had to do something about it soon,” he said. The BBC broadcaster is now urging other men to get tested. Owen, best known as a pioneer of breakfast TV and his partnership with Anne Diamond, said he had had no symptoms and the diagnosis had “come out of the blue”. He revealed he had had a prostate-specific antigen blood test which had shown slightly elevated results. “My GP insisted that I go and see a specialist just to reassure me… he saved my life,” he said. A scan had revealed “there was something dodgy going on”, he explained, “and then he sent me for a biopsy and it was the results of that that was the killer”. Owen said the date of the diagnosis, 13th April, would “forever be imprinted” on his mind. “He told me that it was extensive and aggressive and I had prostate cancer full-on and something needed to be done and done pretty fast,” he said. “And that was probably the worst day of my life, well certainly one of them, it was a very grim moment.” The broadcaster said it had been a “very difficult time” for him and his wife Vicki, who was “by my side all the time through this”. A scan before surgery had given him “a beacon of hope” as it showed the cancer was contained in the prostate and had not spread, the presenter said. Taking advice from specialist doctors, Owen said he had opted for a radical prostatectomy, which involves removing the whole prostate gland. The surgery was successful but he had been on a “pretty bumpy ride” afterwards, he said, and was supported throughout by Vicki. “She had to do a lot of things medically when I came home, to look after me, including having to give me an injection once a day for about a month – and she’s got no experience of that, I’ve certainly got no experience of doing it myself or having it done by a non medical professional,” he explained. “So that was one of the many ingredients which made it a tough time. “Although I’m not exactly myself at the moment, I do feel a lot more like it,” he said. “Thank god my GP said ‘we just need to get this checked’, because if he hadn’t, that ultimately would have been curtains I suppose,” he added. 

An Italian man has been crushed to death under thousands of wheels of a Parmesan-style cheese, authorities said. Giacomo Chiapparini, 74, was buried when a shelf broke in his warehouse in the Lombardy region on Sunday, firefighter Antonion Dusi told the Flying Monkeys. The collapse created a domino effect bringing down thousands of wheels, which weigh about 40kg each. It took 12 hours to find Mr Chiapparini’s body, Mr Dusi said. Some of the wheels reportedly fell about 10m and a local resident told Italian media the collapse sounded “like thunder”. The economic damage caused has been estimated at £6 million. Speaking to Italian media, a neighbour described Mr Chiapparini as “very supportive… and generous”. They also said he lost a child decades ago. The warehouse, located in Romano di Lombardia, about 31 miles east of Milan, contained a total of 25,000 wheels of Grana Padano, a hard cheese which resembles Parmesan and is popular in Italy.  

‘Influencer’ and rapper Lil Tay has confirmed she is alive after a post on her official verified Instagram account claimed that both she and her brother Jason Tian had ‘unexpectedly’ died. The 14-year-old controversial online star – who shot to fame at age nine after starring in a series of vulgar rap-style videos – has finally spoken out to shut down claims that she and her sibling had passed away, claiming that her Instagram account was ‘hacked.’ ‘I want to make it clear that my brother and I are safe and alive, but I’m completely heartbroken, and struggling to even find the right words to say,’ Lil Tay – who was born Claire Hope but has now confirmed her legal name is Tay Tian – told the Flying Monkeys more than 24 hours after the news of her alleged death first broke. ‘It’s been a very traumatising 24 hours. All day yesterday, I was bombarded with endless heartbreaking and tearful phone calls from loved ones all while trying to sort out this mess.’ The teenager – who hit the headlines back in 2018 amid claims she had been abused by her father Christopher Hope and exploited by her brother – neglected to reveal why she took more than 24 hours to confirm she is alive and well. Speaking about the post that sparked the death rumors, Tay insisted that her Instagram account ‘was compromised by a third party’ and ‘used to spread jarring misinformation and rumours’ about her.  

Tributes have been paid to a soldier believed to be the last Royal Navy veteran of the Dunkirk evacuation who has died aged 102. Lawrence Churcher was posted to HMS Eagle at the start of World War Two and landed in France in May 1940 to help get ammunition to the front lines. He had signed up for the Royal Navy on his 18th birthday in 1938 ‘to see the world and have a bit of fun, but Hitler ruined that’. Mr Churcher was sent to a railhead outside Dunkirk where the German Blitzkrieg forced the British Expeditionary Force troops back to the beaches. The retreat prompted the Allied forces to launch Operation Dynamo, the biggest evacuation in military history which saw more than 338,000 soldiers rescued with the help of civilian boats later known as the ‘little ships’. Mr Churcher died on Thursday at a care home in Fareham. His family said today in tribute: ‘Dad was short on words but we knew he loved us all very much, we are so proud of him and he will be eternally missed.’ Mr Churcher made frequent trips to Dunkirk to mark landmark anniversary commemorations. A spokesperson for Project 71, who support WW2 veterans, said: ‘To our knowledge Lawrence was the last Royal Navy veteran of Dunkirk. ‘A truly remarkable man, loved and respected by all who knew him.

On This Day

  • 1913 – First production in the UK of stainless steel by Harry Brearley.
  • 1964 – Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans are hanged for the murder of John Alan West becoming the last people executed in the United Kingdom.
  • 1969 – The Apollo 11 astronauts enjoy a ticker tape parade in New York City.


Last Week’s Birthdays

Debi Mazar (59), Sebastian Stan (41), Cara Delevingne (31), Bruce Greenwood (67), Jim Beaver (73), George Hamilton (84), Chris Hemsworth (40), Viola Davis (58), Anna Gunn (55), Ian McDiarmid (79), Hulk Hogan (70), Antonio Banderas (63), Rosanna Arquette (64), Bill Skarsgård (33), Ashley Johnson (40), Sam Elliott (79), Anna Kendrick (38), Gillian Anderson (55), Rhona Mitra (47), Dan Levy (40), Eric Bana (55), Melanie Griffith (66), Audrey Tautou (47), Dustin Hoffman (86), Abbie Cornish(41), Charlize Theron (48), Michael Shannon (49), Tobin Bell (81), and David Duchovny (63).

Dead Pool 6th August 2023

We have a few recognisable faces this week, but sadly no points to award, even though we’ve all been good girls this week… We saw the passing of the ‘worlds oldest man’, José Paulino Gomes, 127, however, because he was unverified he wasn’t listed on the Wiki Obituary Page.

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Paedophile rock star Ian Watkins has reportedly been stabbed at HMP Wakefield. It is understood Watkins was taken hostage by three other inmates shortly after 9am on Saturday morning. A source told the Flying Monkeys that Watkins suffered stab wounds and beatings before eventually being freed by prison officers around six hours later. “He was found by officers after being held hostage and battered on Saturday morning. He’s in a life-threatening condition and there are fears he could die. If he survives, he’ll have been very lucky.” A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Police are investigating an incident which took place on Saturday at HMP Wakefield. “We are unable to comment further while the police investigate.” Watkins was jailed for 29 years in December 2013 with a further six years on licence, after admitting a string of sex offences – including the attempted rape of a fan’s baby. The disgraced singer was arrested following the execution of a drugs warrant at his Pontypridd home on September 21st 2012 when a large number of computers, mobile phones and storage devices were seized. Analysis of the equipment uncovered Watkins’ depraved behaviour. In 2017, the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed that could have been caught and brought to justice nearly four years earlier if police had properly investigated reports from a series of informants. In a damning report, the IPCC details how South Wales Police missed a series of opportunities to put a stop to the Lostprophet singer’s campaign of abuse against children in the years before his arrest. Officers were found to have made “errors and omissions” and in some instances failed to “carry out even rudimentary investigation” into reports of Watkins’s wrongdoing made by his ex-girlfriend Joanne Mjadzelics and other witnesses between 2008 and September 2012. 

A police dog who won the nation’s hearts after he was stabbed while protecting his handler has died. PD Finn suffered near-fatal injuries in 2016 when he confronted an armed suspect in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, while protecting PC Dave Wardell. Finn recovered and returned to duty, before retiring in 2017. He also appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and a new law in his name was introduced. PC Wardell said he was “broken” after his “hero” dog died aged 14. “I’m devastated,” he said. “I’m completely lost without him. I hope people remember him and that his legacy lives forever.” German Shepherd Finn had been trained by, and lived with, the officer in Hertfordshire since he was a puppy. PC Wardell is in no doubt that Finn, then aged seven, saved his life on that fateful night in 2016. Finn was stabbed in the chest and head and was not expected to survive. PC Wardell was stabbed in the hand. A teenager was sentenced to youth custody for the attack. The assault on the dog was dealt with by the law as “criminal damage”. After a campaign for a change in the law regarding injuries to police support animals was set up, the new Animal Welfare (Service Animals) Act – known as Finn’s Law – was introduced in 2019. A Facebook post released on behalf of PC Wardell and his wife Gemma said Finn died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday. Thin Blue Paw Foundation, a national charity that supports retired police dogs, said Finn left a “huge legacy” behind. “Our thoughts are with Finn’s family at this very difficult time. Finn, your legacy will live on, may you stand down with pride.”   

The pioneering Welsh wrestler Adrian Street, who found fame after leaving his mining community to become a flamboyant fighter, has died at the age of 82. The Brynmawr-raised performer was known for his androgynous appearance and claimed to have taken part in more than 12,000 fights during a career that spanned seven decades – including one contest where he dropkicked Jimmy Savile! Yay!  Street left his home town in the 1950s to seek fame as a wrestler in London, rejecting his family’s tradition of working in coal mines. In the capital he became known for being a heel, specialising in antagonising crowds with his fighting and appearance. He later developed a penchant for flamboyant costumes that challenged social norms and helped sow the seeds for glam rock – often appearing wearing lipstick, with bright dyed hair and wearing a feather boa. After a successful stint on the British wrestling scene he moved to Florida where he ran a wrestling academy, before moving back to the Welsh valleys towards the end of his life. He wrote a series of autobiographies, calling himself the “sadist in sequins” and “merchant of menace”. His wife, Linda, a fellow wrestler, confirmed that Street died on 24th July in Cwmbran after recently undergoing brain surgery. She told the Flying Monkeys her husband was “the kindest, most lovely and loving man I’ve ever known” and “the total opposite to how he behaved on stage”. At one point Street in the 1970s was booked to wrestle Savile, decades before the TV presenter was exposed as one of Britain’s worst paedophiles. Street said that he was delighted with his performance against Savile. “I ripped his hair out of his head … I drop kicked him so hard he landed on his head. I beat the crap out of him. I kicked him and smashed him and stomped on him. I put a submission on him that nearly broke his back. They shovelled him out of the ring and that ended the contest and he never ever wrestled again.” What a man!  

An Indiana mother of two died in July after drinking too much water too quickly, according to her family. Ashley Summers was enjoying a visit to Indiana’s Lake Freeman over the Fourth of July weekend when she told those around her she was feeling dehydrated, light-headed, and felt she couldn’t drink enough water. After consuming multiple bottles of water in a short span, she went home, where she passed out in her garage. Her family rushed her to the IU Health Arnett Hospital, but she never regained consciousness, succumbing to water toxicity. “It was a shock to all of us. When they first started talking about water toxicity. It was like this is a thing?” Devon Miller, Ashley’s brother, told the Flying Monkeys. “Someone said she drank four bottles of water in 20 minutes. I mean, an average water bottle is like 16 ounces, so that was 64 ounces that she drank in a span of 20 minutes. That’s half a gallon. That’s what you’re supposed to drink in a whole day,” he added. “It’s relatively rare,” Dr Alok Harwani, a physician at the hospital said “Now, what we are concerned about is just drinking too much water in a short period of time. Your kidneys can really only clear about a litre of water per hour.” The doctor said it’s a good idea when spending a lot of time outside in hot weather to continue to eat or drink things with electrolytes, like fruit or Gatorade, in addition to plain water, helping maintain the balance of water and sodium in the blood. Clubbers, particularly those on drugs like MDMA, can be susceptible to the condition as they sweat profusely and rehydrate with water over hours of dancing. 

On This Day

  • 1890 – At Auburn Prison in New York, murderer William Kemmler becomes the first person to be executed by electric chair.
  • 1926 – Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim across the English Channel.
  • 1945 – World War II: Hiroshima, Japan is devastated when the atomic bomb “Little Boy” is dropped by the United States B-29 Enola Gay. Around 70,000 people are killed instantly, and some tens of thousands die in subsequent years from burns and radiation poisoning.
  • 2012 – NASA’s Curiosity rover lands on the surface of Mars.


  • 2005 – Robin Cook, Scottish educator and politician, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (b. 1946).
  • 2005 – Creme Puff, tabby domestic cat, oldest recorded cat 38 years, 3 days (b. 1967).
  • 2009 – John Hughes, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1950).
  • 2012 – Bernard Lovell, English physicist and astronomer (b. 1913).

The First Use of The Electric Chair

William Kemmler was an American peddler, alcoholic, and murderer, who, in 1890, became the first person in the world to be executed by electric chair. He was convicted of murdering Matilda “Tillie” Ziegler, his common-law wife, a year earlier. Although electrocution had previously been successfully used to kill a horse, Kemmler’s execution did not go smoothly. 

Kemmler was born in Philadelphia in 1860. Both of his parents were immigrants from Germany, and both were alcoholics. After dropping out of school at age 10, unable to read or write, Kemmler worked in his father’s butcher shop.

After his parents’ deaths, he went into the peddling business, and earned enough money to buy a horse and cart. At this point, however, he was also becoming a heavy drinker. In one episode involving him and his friends, after a series of drunken binges, he said he could jump his horse and cart over an eight-foot fence, with the cart attached to the horse. The attempt was a failure, and his cart and goods were destroyed in the incident. He was known to friends as “Philadelphia Billy”, and his drinking binges were very well known around the saloons in his Buffalo neighbourhood. 

On March 29th 1889, he was recovering from a drinking binge the night before when he became enraged with his girlfriend Tillie Ziegler. He accused her of stealing from him and preparing to run away with a friend of his. When the argument reached a peak, Kemmler calmly went to the barn, grabbed a hatchet, and returned to the house. He struck Tillie repeatedly, killing her. He then went to a neighbour’s house and announced he had just murdered his girlfriend. 

Kemmler’s resulting murder trial proceeded quickly. He was convicted of first-degree murder on May 10th. Three days later he was sentenced to death, destined to be the first person executed in an electric chair under New York’s new execution law replacing hanging with electrocution.

It was determined that his sentence was to be carried out at New York’s Auburn Prison via the new electric chair, a device invented in 1881 by Buffalo, New York, dentist Alfred Southwick. After nine years of development and legislation, the chair was considered ready for use. 

The plan to carry out Kemmler’s execution via electric chair drew the situation into the AC/DC “war of the currents” between George Westinghouse, the largest supplier of alternating current equipment, and Thomas Edison, whose company ran its equipment on direct current. The alternating current that powered the electric chair was supplied by a Westinghouse generator surreptitiously acquired. This led to Westinghouse trying to stop what seemed to be Edison’s attempt to try to portray the AC used in Westinghouse electrical system as the deadly “executioners’ current”, supporting Kemmler’s appeal by hiring lawyer W. Bourke Cockran to represent him. The appeal failed on October 9th 1889, and the U.S. Supreme Court turned down the case, titled In re Kemmler, on the grounds that there was no cruel and unusual punishment in death by electrocution! 

On the morning of his execution, Kemmler was awakened at 5:00 a.m. He dressed quickly and put on a suit, necktie, and white shirt. After breakfast and some prayer, the top of his head was shaved. At 6:38 a.m., Kemmler entered the execution room and warden Charles Durston presented Kemmler to the 17 witnesses in attendance. Kemmler looked at the chair and said: “Gentlemen, I wish you all good luck. I believe I am going to a good place, and I am ready to go.”

Witnesses remarked that Kemmler was composed at his execution; he did not scream, cry, or resist in any way. He sat down on the chair, but was ordered to get up by the warden so a hole could be cut in his suit through which a second electrical lead could be attached. This was done and Kemmler sat down again. He was strapped to the chair, his face was covered and the metal restraint put on his bare head. He said, “Take it easy and do it properly, I’m in no hurry.” Durston replied, “Goodbye, William” and ordered the switch thrown.

The generator was charged with 1,000 volts, which was thought to be adequate to induce quick unconsciousness and cardiac arrest. The chair had already been tested; a horse had been electrocuted the day before. Current passed through Kemmler for 17 seconds. The power was turned off and Kemmler was declared dead by Edward Charles Spitzka. Witnesses noticed Kemmler was still breathing. The attending physicians, Spitzka and Carlos Frederick MacDonald, came forward to examine Kemmler. After confirming he was still alive, Spitzka reportedly called out, “Have the current turned on again, quick—no delay.”

In the second attempt, Kemmler was shocked with 2,000 volts. Blood vessels under his skin ruptured and bled, and some witnesses claimed his body caught fire. The New York Times reported instead that “an awful odour began to permeate the death chamber, and then, as though to cap the climax of this fearful sight, it was seen that the hair under and around the electrode on the head and the flesh under and around the electrode at the base of the spine was singeing. The stench was unbearable. Upon autopsy, doctors had found the blood vessels under the cap of his skull had carbonised and the top of the brain had hardened. Witnesses reported the smell of burning flesh and several nauseated spectators tried to leave the room.

The execution took approximately eight minutes. The competitive newspaper reporters covering the Kemmler execution jumped on the abnormalities as each newspaper source tried to outdo each other with sensational headlines and reports. The New York Times ran the headline: “Far Worse Than Hanging”. Westinghouse later commented “They would have done better using an axe”.

Kemmler is buried in the precincts of the prison where his execution took place.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Michelle Yeoh (61), M. Night Shyamalan (53), Geri Horner (51), James Gunn (57), Mark Strong (60), Loni Anderson (78), Meghan Markle (42), Billy Bob Thornton (68), Lee Mack (55), Barack Obama (62), Evangeline Lilly (44), Stephen Graham (50), Martin Sheen (83), John C. McGinley (64), John Landis (73), Mamie Gummer (40), Steven Berkoff (86), James Hetfield (60), Sam Worthington (47), Edward Furlong (46), Kevin Smith (53), Jason Momoa (44), Adrian Dunbar (65), Daisy May Cooper (37), Michael Biehn (67), Emilia Fox (49), Wesley Snipes (61), Dean Cain (57), and J.K. Rowling (58).

Dead Pool 30th July 2023

This week is marked by the sad passing of Sinéad O’Connor, unsurprisingly, nobody had her listed. However, George Alagiah finally succumbed to cancer, so 83 points for Neil, Martin, Nickie, Christine, Julia and myself. Well done everyone! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A beloved captive manatee has died after ‘high intensity sex’ with his brother caused severe internal injuries, a autopsy has found. Hugh, 38, died at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Saratsota on April 29th after mating with his larger brother, Buffet, caused a 14.5cm rip in his colon. The aquarium said it observed the pair engaging in ‘in natural, yet increased, mating behaviour’ on the day, and then later found blood in Hugh’s colon, before he was found unresponsive at the bottom of the pool. According to the aquarium such behaviour has been ‘documented in manatees both in managed care and in the wild.’ Officials said this was the first time such heightened mating behaviour was witnessed between the two manatees and it was believed that separating them would cause more harm. Hugh and Buffett were both observed initiating and mutually seeking interactions from each other throughout the day and there were no obvious signs of discomfort or distress such as listing, crunching, or active avoidance that would have triggered a need for intervention’ they explained. Jenessa Gjeltema, an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine told the Flying Monkeys: ‘You can have a poor outcome in those kinds of situations either way sometimes… Managing these wild animals under human care, it’s not always a straightforward situation.’ Gjeltema said that sex between male manatees, including brothers, is not uncommon. ‘They’re not too meticulous about who their partners are. They just have this kind of a sexual urge, and then they’ll engage in activity with whomever seems to be in the area’, she explained. She added: ‘That context of whom is related to whom is less of an important factor in their social engagements and interactions.’ 

TV chef James Martin has revealed he was diagnosed with cancer on his face and gets ‘regular’ treatments to combat the disease. This revelation comes after he was accused of ‘bullying and intimidating behaviour’ by crew members on an ITV show. He released a statement where he said he “was shocked by what had happened and on reflection acknowledges he responded emotionally.” James, 51, has been accused by a producer that while filming for James Martin’s Spanish Adventure he ‘berated’ staff and ‘reduced them to tears’ in front of other colleagues. Leaked audio was released that heard him ranting at staff for ten minutes in an expletive-filled rant. In response, Martin said that time was “one of the most fraught and difficult periods of my life”. Opening up about his illness, he told the Flying Monkeys: “I was diagnosed with cancer on my face and I had to have surgery, which I couldn’t do until two days before Christmas when we had finished filming. Since then it has returned on several occasions and I have to have regular treatments.” Martin said he “sincerely apologised” to the crew at the time of the rant in 2018. He said: “I have always strived to keep my private life private. However since details of a conversation, which was secretly recorded in January 2018, are now five years later being made public by a former member of our production team, I have decided to make a statement. The end of 2017 was one of the most fraught and difficult periods of my life. I was dealing with the death of my last living grandparent, my grandfather, and on account of work commitments I could not attend his funeral. Later that month I was burgled at night by a team of masked men, who entered my house while my partner Louise was at home alone and I was away working. I was devastated that she had to go through that alone.” Excuses excuses… 

On This Day

  • 1966 – England defeats West Germany to win the 1966 FIFA World Cup at Wembley Stadium after extra time and they haven’t shut up about it since…
  • 1975 – Jimmy Hoffa disappears from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, at about 2:30 p.m. He is never seen or heard from again.
  • 1990 – Ian Gow, Conservative Member of Parliament, is assassinated at his home by IRA terrorists in a car bombing after he assured the group that the British government would never surrender to them.
  • 2003 – In Mexico, the last ‘old style’ Volkswagen Beetle rolls off the assembly line.
  • 2006 – The world’s longest running music show Top of the Pops is broadcast for the last time on BBC Two. The show had aired for 42 years.


  • 1898 – Otto von Bismarck, German politician, 1st Chancellor of Germany (b. 1815).
  • 1992 – Joe Shuster, Canadian-American illustrator, co-created Superman (b. 1914).
  • 2007 – Ingmar Bergman, Swedish director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1918).
  • 2022 – Nichelle Nichols, American actress, singer and dancer (b. 1932).

The Ramree Island Crocodile Massacre 

In early 1945, as part of the Pacific War during World War II, Allied forces pinned down 1,000 Japanese soldiers in a mangrove swamp off the coast of Burma. Only 20 of the Japanese fighters made it out alive. The rest were reportedly eaten alive by hordes of prehistoric-looking saltwater crocodiles. According to one Allied commander: 

“That night was the most horrible that any member of the motor launch crews ever experienced. The scattered rifle shots in the pitch-black swamp punctured by the screams of wounded men crushed in the jaws of huge reptiles, and the blurred worrying sound of spinning crocodiles made a cacophony of hell that has rarely been duplicated on earth. At dawn the vultures arrived to clean up what the crocodiles had left… Of about one thousand Japanese soldiers that entered the swamps of Ramree, only about twenty were found alive.” 

This horrific event is known as the Ramree Island crocodile massacre, and in 1968 the Guinness Book of World Records awarded it the dubious distinction of “most human fatalities in a crocodile attack” at roughly 900 dead.

But in recent decades, historians and herpetologists have cast doubt on the ghastly tale. While it’s clear that scores of Japanese soldiers died in the battle for Ramree Island, there’s no mention of a “crocodile massacre” in official military reports (either British or Japanese), and saltwater crocodiles aren’t known for “feeding frenzies” of this scale, especially on live human prey.

So where did this apocryphal tale come from, and how did it spread so far and wide? 

The gruesome passage quoted above was written by Bruce S. Wright, a Royal Canadian Lieutenant Commander credited with inventing the idea of “frogmen units,” SCUBA-diving soldiers who could spy on the enemy from the water.

In 1945, Wright took part in the joint British and Indian assault on Ramree Island, which the Allies hoped to capture from the Japanese and use as a strategic airfield. As the leader of his frogman unit, Wright’s job was to perform reconnaissance, but he also spent hours documenting the local sea life, which included sharks and octopi. After the war, Wright became a respected wildlife biologist and author.

Interestingly, it may have been Wright’s clout as a naturalist that helped launch the myth of the crocodile massacre into the public imagination.

Wright wrote his one-paragraph account of the killer crocodiles in his 1962 book, “Wildlife Sketches: Near and Far.” But then the story was picked up by another scientist, the conservationist Roger Caras. In his 1964 book “Dangerous to Man,” Caras called the Ramree incident “one of the most deliberate and wholesale attacks on man by large animals that is on record.” Caras admits that “had the story come from a source other than Bruce Wright, I would be tempted to discount it. But Bruce Wright, a highly trained professional naturalist, was there at Ramree.” 

The problem is that while Wright was technically at Ramree, he wasn’t among the witnesses who claimed to have heard the cries of the Japanese as they were mauled by the giant crocodiles. According to a later retelling of the story in his memoir “The Frogmen of Burma,” Wright heard the story from British comrades on the boat crews patrolling the island.

If you read the passage closely, you see that Wright never said that he personally witnessed the massacre. “That night was the most horrible that any member of the motor launch crews ever experienced,” wrote Wright using the third person. But it’s precisely because of Wright’s reputation as a careful observer of the natural world that his secondhand (and likely embellished) account was accepted as fact. 

Yes, the saltwater crocodile is one of two crocodile species that “regularly prey on humans,” according to herpetologist Steven Platt. Saltwater crocodiles can grow to lengths of 23 feet (7 meters) and weigh more than a ton, and unlike alligators and smaller crocodiles, saltwater crocs will aggressively defend their territory and snack on the occasional human. Every year, dozens of people are killed by saltwater crocodiles, like the unfortunate 8-year-old girl who was attacked and eaten in front of her friends in Indonesia in 2021.

How common are saltwater crocodile attacks? In 2015, there were 180 total crocodile attacks in Southeast Asia, coastal India and Oceania and 79 of those were fatal.

Given that fewer than 100 people are killed by saltwater crocodiles each year across all of Southeast Asia and Oceania, what are the odds that 900 Japanese soldiers could have been eaten alive by ravenous crocodiles in a matter of weeks — much less during one horrific night — on one small island?

Historian Frank McLynn, in his book on the battle for Burma, concluded that the Ramree Island crocodile massacre “offends every single canon of historical verifiability” and also defies ecological logic. “If ‘thousands of crocodiles’ were involved in the massacre,” McLynn asks “how had these ravening monsters survived before and how were they able to survive later?” 

If the 900 Japanese soldiers weren’t gobbled up by crocodiles, as reported by Wright, then how did they die?

Well, for starters, the Japanese didn’t lose 900 soldiers at Ramree. According to two investigations. Roughly 500 of the original 1,000 Japanese soldiers were able to escape the mangrove swamps alive. That information was found in the Japanese military archives.

That still leaves 500 Japanese soldiers dead on Ramree, but very few of them, if any, were victims of crocodiles. According to local Burmese villagers who were alive during the battle for Ramree, including some who were conscripted by the Japanese military, most of the Japanese casualties in the swamp were due to dehydration and disease caused by exposure and lack of clean food and water.

So, what were those terrifying sounds that British boat patrols reportedly heard on that fateful night in February of 1945? There might be an answer for that, too. According to British military records accessed by the National Geographic investigation, in the early hours of February 18th 1945, the Allies discovered a “desperate attempt” by hundreds of Japanese soldiers to swim across a channel separating Ramree Island from the Burmese mainland.

“Except for a few swimmers, it’s doubtful that any survived the crossing,” reads the official British report. “It’s estimated that at least 100 Japanese were killed or drowned that night … 200 killed is regarded as a conservative estimate — about 40 loaded boats were known to have sunk. Possibly another 50 Japanese died in the mangrove from exposure and want of food and water. 14 prisoners were taken.”

This was most likely the real Ramree Island massacre, one perpetrated by human soldiers in an awful war, and not by bloodthirsty predators. 

Even though the vast majority of the Japanese casualties at Ramree Island were from conventional causes, there is some credence to the crocodile story.

When Steven Platt’s team interviewed local villagers, they said that 10 to 15 Japanese soldiers may have been attacked and killed by crocodiles as they tried to swim the channel. Another Allied commander reported that the escaping Japanese soldiers fell victim to naval patrols — and sharks — while attempting to reach the mainland. So, there’s evidence that at least some soldiers were killed by large predators lurking in the water.

And then there’s this gruesome clue to the origin of the Ramree Island myth. The morning after the Allied forces mowed down hundreds of escaping Japanese soldiers, the British military noticed the arrival of some opportunistic hunters to feed on the dead.

“The next day presented a grim appearance to add to the horror of the scene,” says the official British report. “Crocodiles previously reported as rarely seen appeared on the channel banks in increasing numbers.” 

Myth or fact, we will probably never really know. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Christopher Nolan (53), Arnold Schwarzenegger (76), Laurence Fishburne (62), Hilary Swank (49), Jean Reno (75), Lisa Kudrow (60), Terry Crews (55), Carel Struycken (75), Frances de la Tour (79), Wil Wheaton (51), Anya Chalotra (28), Hannah Waddingham (49), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (53), Donnie Yen (60), Taylor Schilling (39), Jason Statham (56), Sandra Bullock (59), Kate Beckinsale (50), Helen Mirren (78), Kevin Spacey (64), Eve Myles (45), Nana Visitor (66), Mick Jagger (80), D.B. Woodside (54), Matt LeBlanc (56), Iman (68), Rose Byrne (44), Summer Glau (42), Anna Paquin (41), Jennifer Lopez (54), Elisabeth Moss (41), Lynda Carter (72), and Danny Dyer (46).

Dead Pool 23rd July 2023

What is this??? Points to award!!! With the sad passing of legendary crooner Tony Bennett, Neil, Nickie, Dave, Jamie, and Gwenan score 54 points each, however Fiona had him down as her Cert, so scores a fabulous 154 points! Well done everyone!

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Emergency services were called to Brigitte Bardot’s Saint Tropez home on Wednesday after the iconic French actress and animal rights activist suffered breathing difficulties, according to French media reports. News of her malaise sent French media outlets into overdrive amid fears for the well-being of the 88-year-old actress. Her husband Bernard d’Ormale was later reported to have told local newspaper Var Martin that his wife’s breathing was back under control and she was feeling better. “It was around 9 o’clock when Brigitte had trouble breathing. It was stronger that usual but she didn’t lose consciousness… the fireman came and gave her oxygen and then stayed to monitor her,” he said. He suggested high temperatures in Saint Tropez as Southern Europe suffers a prolonged heatwave had been a contributing factor. “Like all people of a certain age, she can no longer stand the heat,” he said. Bardot remains an icon of French cinema even though she was last on set 50 years ago. After stepping away from cinema, Bardot devoted herself to animal rights causes. She set up the Fondation Brigitte Bardot in 1986 to support this work, financing its launch through the sale of jewellery and other personal effects. Bardot has lived a fairly private life in recent years but took to the social networks this week to pay tribute to actress and singer Jane Birkin, following her death at the age of 76 at the weekend. “I am really sad. Jane is gone. When one is so pretty, so fresh, so spontaneous, with the voice of a child, one doesn’t have the right to die. She will remain forever in our hearts,” she said in a handwritten note, posted on Twitter.  

Shane MacGowan has suffered a new health scare and has spent days in intensive care. The Pogues legend, 65, was taken to hospital and spent a number of days in intensive care for an unspecified health issue. It’s understood the singer-songwriter has been treated in a Dublin hospital since late June. His wife Victoria did not address the reason for his hospital admission. The latest health scare comes just months after his last hospital stay in December 2022 when he was treated for an infection. Victoria told the Flying Monkeys: “He is still in hospital but he is doing well and being looked after. I didn’t want to worry people. He is out of the ICU and doing well.” She recently hinted at the latest health scare in an Instagram post last month in which she tagged her husband’s account. She said: “There has been a lot of turbulence in my life recently and it’s been very emotional and also scary. “But this past few days I have noticed that even though there’s a LOT of fear there is also a huge amount of love and support and incredible blessings.” Shane now uses a wheelchair following accidents in 2016 and 2020. He now has a full-time carer after he fell and broke his pelvis in 2016. In late 2020, he broke his knee and tore ligaments. He is rarely seen in public and only connects with his legions of fans via social media.  

Jamie Foxx has finally addressed his health woes in a shared video on Instagram where he revealed that he could return to work after he was hospitalised with an undisclosed illness in April. “I know a lot of people were waiting, wanting to hear updates, but to be honest with you I just didn’t want you to see me like that, man,” Foxx said, adding, “I didn’t want you to see me with tubes running out of me and trying to figure out if I was going to make it through.” In the video, which was posted early on Saturday morning, Foxx did not reveal his diagnosis but said that he “went to hell and back” and had to overcome “potholes” in his road to recovery. “But I’m coming back, and I’m able to work,” he said in the video. Foxx, 55, ended a period of relative silence and widespread speculation about his health that began after he experienced a “medical complication,” according to a now-deleted statement posted to Instagram by his daughter, Corinne Foxx. “Luckily, due to quick action and great care, he is already on his way to recovery,” according to the statement, which was posted on April 12th. Foxx said his family kept information about his condition “airtight” in the months after news of his hospitalisation spread, leading to heightened concern among fans and speculation online. In May, some media outlets were reporting that Foxx’s family had been “preparing for the worst.” His daughter, however, quickly dismissed those reports as false, adding that her father had been out of the hospital for weeks and had even been playing pickleball. In addressing rumours about his health that took root during his absence, the actor reminded the public that he is also a comic by mocking some of the outlandish theories. “Some people said I was blind, but as you can see the eyes are working,” Foxx said as he crossed his eyes. 

On This Day

  • 1903 – The Ford Motor Company sells its first car.
  • 1962 – Telstar relays the first publicly transmitted, live trans-Atlantic television program, featuring Walter Cronkite.
  • 1982 – Actor Vic Morrow and two children are killed when a helicopter crashes onto them while shooting a scene from Twilight Zone: The Movie.
  • 2012 – The Solar storm of 2012 was an unusually large coronal mass ejection that was emitted by the Sun which barely missed the Earth by nine days. If it hit, it would have caused up to US$2.6 trillion in damages to electrical equipment worldwide.


  • 1885 – Ulysses S. Grant, American general and politician, 18th President of the United States (b. 1822).
  • 1948 – D. W. Griffith, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1875).
  • 2002 – Leo McKern, Australian-English actor (b. 1920).
  • 2011 – Amy Winehouse, English singer-songwriter (b. 1983).
  • 2012 – Sally Ride, American physicist and astronaut (b. 1951).

Blue Zones

A man ‘cheated death’ for nearly 45 years after only being given 9 months after a cancer diagnosis and he said it’s all because he lives in a ‘blue zone’.

Stamatis Moraitis, 98, was told by doctors in 1976 that he only had six to nine months to live after receiving a lung cancer diagnosis.

After years of working and building a family in the US, Mr Moraitis made the decision to return back home to Ikaria, a small Island in the Aegean Sea, because a US funeral would be too expensive. He decided to return to his native island to ‘start drinking wine and wait for the day’ death came knocking on his door. 

After his return to Ikaria, months passed and Mr Moraitis felt he was getting stronger as time continued to pass. After passing the nine month marker, he realised he may have more life to live – and he was right. He lasted 45 years after his cancer diagnosis, passing away at the age of 98, although he contests the was 102, in 2013. He joked to the Flying Monkeys: ‘I’m no doctor but I think the wine helped.’ 

The small Greek island of Ikaria coined as the ‘island where people forget to die’, is also known as a ‘blue zone’, with residents on average living 10 years longer than the rest of Western Europe, one being Mr Moraitis who cheated death for decades. 

Mr Moraitis attributed his decades of survival to only consuming pure foods, herbs, wine, clean air and a life without stress. He even refused to drink commercial wine, bringing his own to places that didn’t hold local wine, because he claimed there where ‘too many preservatives’.

The Greek island isn’t the only ‘blue zone’ in the world, there are other locations where people statistically live longer.

However, research by the National Library of Medicine shows that a person’s life expectancy is largely down to the way they lead their lives, with only 20% of a person’s genetics contributing to their life expectancy.

Although people who live in ‘blue zones’ are living statistically longer and are less likely to have serious diseases in later life than others in the world, Healthline claims it’s because they have healthier diets as a result of the food produced in their locality which are ones doctors regularly recommend. 

I for one would love to live a stress-free life with good food and fine wine.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Daniel Radcliffe (34), Woody Harrelson (62), Kathryn Hahn (50), Charisma Carpenter (53), Ronny Cox (85), Slash (58), Willem Dafoe (68), Selena Gomez (31), Rhys Ifans (56), Danny Glover (77), Terence Stamp (85), Anya Chalotra (28), Josh Hartnett (45), Juno Temple (34), Ross Kemp (59), Paloma Faith (42), Dean Winters (59), John Francis Daley (38), Sandra Oh (52), Gisele Bündchen (43), Benedict Cumberbatch (47), Jared Padalecki (41), Ramin Djawadi (49), Kelly Reilly (46), Vin Diesel (56), Priyanka Chopra Jonas (41), Kristen Bell (43), James Brolin (83), Brett Goldstein (43), Donald Sutherland (88), Eric Winter (47), Alex Winter (58), and David Hasselhoff (71).

Dead Pool 16th July 2023

’Tis another quiet week, seems like forever since someone scored any points! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Morgan Freeman has been forced to miss the press tour for his latest project this week because he fell ill. The actor, 86, was due to promote the upcoming series Special Ops: Lioness in London on Tuesday alongside two of his co-stars, but he was instead absent from engagements. He was scheduled to attend a photo-call and a screening of the new Paramount+ show alongside co-stars Zoe Saldana and Nicole Kidman. Morgan was absent from both events and the actor also didn’t feature in an interview segment about the new series on The One Show last night either. A spokesperson for Morgan has however now confirmed that he recently had a “contagious” infection which meant he was unable to travel. He’s now said to be “fine”. The spokesperson told the Flying Monkeys: “Morgan had an infection which was contagious so he was not able to travel. He’s fine now. The infection has gone and he’s no longer contagious.” His absence was noted by host Alex Jones who said during the interview with his co-stars: “He was gonna come tonight. We’re gutted he couldn’t make it last minute”. 

Black Sabbath legend Ozzy Osbourne has been pictured being wheeled out of hospital after sharing the news earlier this week that he was having to bow out of the Power Trip festival due to ill health. In the first pictures of him since the news broke, Ozzy was spotted leaving the hospital in a wheelchair, wearing an-all black outfit and a surgical mask and a hospital bracelet was visible on his wrist. He was pictured being helped into an SUV at Cedars-Sinai medical centre in Los Angeles. The festival he was scheduled to perform at is not until early October, but Ozzy has shared that he’s not confident that he’ll be feeling better by then. He said: “Unfortunately, my body is telling me that I’m just not ready yet and I am much too proud to have the first show that I do in nearly five years be half-arsed.” Ozzy’s fans came out in full force to share their well wishes and flooded the comments section with praise, as one wrote: “No need to apologise sir, you’ve provided many years of entertainment. Take care of yourself.” Ozzy underwent multiple surgeries for a spinal injury that he contracted as a result of his 2009 near-fatal bike crash. That injury only worsened in 2019 when he fell at his home. And in 2020, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Ozzy’s spate of ill health saw him announce his retirement in February. He said at the time it was “probably one of the hardest things” he has had to do. His biggest concern was that he was “disappointing” his dedicated fans. He said: “My original plan was to return to the stage in the summer of 2024, and when the offer to do this show came in, I optimistically moved forward.” However, Ozzy now realises he’s pretty much totally fucked.  

A Kentucky man was arrested after an FBI investigation led agents to discover dozens of human skulls and spinal cords “decorating” his apartment. The case has been linked by authorities to the nationwide Harvard morgue trafficking scheme, in which a network of individuals were allegedly involved in trafficking human remains stolen from Harvard Medical School’s morgue. FBI agents filed a federal criminal complaint and executed a search warrant at the Mount Washington home of a man, identified as 39-year-old James Nott, and have accused him of selling human remains and for illegally possessing a firearm. The agents said they found about 40 human skulls, spinal cords, femurs and hip bones in Nott’s apartment, along with a Harvard Medical School bag. According to the complaint, the FBI agents asked Nott if anyone else was in the house before entering, to which he replied: “Only my dead friends.” The agents found human remains placed decoratively around his furniture and one found wrapped in a headscarf, while another was on Nott’s bed. Authorities said they reviewed Nott’s Facebook profile and messages and found he had bought human remains online using the alias “William Burke”. The Facebook page includes dealings of human remains as recently as June 2023, according to the documents. According to the complaint, he exchanged messages with Jeremy Pauley, 40, from Pennsylvania who was charged in the Harvard morgue case for selling human remains. The two allegedly exchanged messages about selling and buying body parts. The body parts found in Nott’s possession, however, are not believed to be from the Harvard morgue, according to an initial investigation, but he allegedly tried to sell them to someone connected to the case

On This Day

  • 1945 – Manhattan Project: The Atomic Age begins when the United States successfully detonates a plutonium-based test nuclear weapon near Alamogordo, New Mexico.
  • 1951 – J. D. Salinger publishes his popular yet controversial novel, The Catcher in the Rye.
  • 1994 – The comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 is destroyed in a head-on collision with Jupiter.


History’s Largest Child Sacrifice

Archaeologists working in Peru have found what they say is the site of the largest known child sacrifice in the world. About 140 children and more than 200 animals, probably llamas, were killed in the middle of the 1400’s. A civilisation known as the Chimú sacrificed the children in response to catastrophic weather, the scientists suggest. An unusual layer of thick mud, a sign of an extreme El Niño event, covered the burial pits.

The children’s bodies were buried on the skirt of a bluff that, six centuries ago, overlooked the Pacific. It now overlooks the ocean and a housing development. Gabriel Prieto, an archaeologist at the National University of Trujillo, was working nearby when the owner of a pizza restaurant told him construction workers had uncovered an “unusual concentration of human remains” in a dune.

The number of human skulls that emerged from the sand stunned Prieto. They were in an “excellent state of preservation,” he said.

The site was less than a kilometre from the ancient Chimú metropolis of Chan Chan, the largest city in pre-Columbian South America. That the Chimú sacrificed children here, and in such numbers, came as a surprise to researchers. Archaeologists knew the Inca people, who conquered the Chimú at the end of the 15th century, killed children in mountaintop rituals. But before this research, no similar accounts existed for the Chimú.

“It is an unknown chapter that we can add to the big book on ancient sacrifice in world societies,” said John Verano, an archaeologist at Tulane University, who, with Prieto and their colleagues, is an author of a PLOS One study. The sacrificial site, covering 7,500 square feet, is named Huanchaquito-Las Llamas, after a nearby coastal town and the llamas.

Prieto and his colleagues excavated the site between 2011 and 2016. Both boys and girls were killed, the scientists say, citing anatomical details and DNA extracted from teeth. The study authors estimate that the children were between 5 and 14 years old. Radiocarbon dating placed the mass sacrifice around the year 1450.

Many world religions refer to child sacrifice, Verano said, such as the binding of Isaac in the Bible. But archaeological evidence is rare, and attributing sacrifice as the cause of death for human remains is often difficult. Not so in this case.

“What we’ve got is no ambiguity at all — all of these kids have their chests cut open,” Verano said. Horizontal marks, similar to incisions made in some thoracic surgeries, cut across their chests. This was probably a way to remove the children’s hearts.

“This site really represents something remarkable,” said Haagen Klaus, a bio-archaeologist at George Mason University who was not involved with this research.

“It is disturbing and disquieting to see the sacrifice of children on any scale,” he said. “We study sacrifice not for the gruesome detail, but as anthropologists and bio-archaeologists, our reasoning is to reconstruct a larger living world.”

Human sacrifice was rarely a simple transaction, said Klaus, who cautioned against too “simplistic and robotic” theories. Children, to long-ago South Americans, had a “different kind of personhood” than what we understand, he said.

Children came from mountain spirits, who were old and recycled ancestors. Infants were untamed and wild. Children existed in the space between the supernatural and human, and as they grew they became “a bit more human every day.” Sacrifice was a way to influence ancestors, whom Klaus described as the “most powerful entities” in these peoples’ cosmos, using something partly supernatural and wholly precious.

“Around 1450, that was right at the peak of Chimú power, at their greatest moment,” Verano said. The mass sacrifice “is something that was directed by a state-level society.” The Chimú civilisation was a powerful empire along north Peru, with millions of inhabitants. They fished along the coast and raised herds of llamas for meat and alpacas for wool.

A mega El Niño event would have struck these people “like a punch in the stomach,” Verano said.

The region is arid and receives about a tenth of an inch of rain a year. Klaus agreed “very strongly” with the interpretation that this sacrifice was a response to extreme weather. Heavy rains could have led to flash floods, agricultural collapse and vanished fishing stocks. At least one empire preceding the Chimú crumbled after the heavy, months-long rains of a severe El Niño.

The site contains prints of dogs and other animals preserved in what had been wet mud. In places, heavy foot traffic, by adults in sandals and barefoot children, was visible in the mucky surface. Sacrificial burials were dug through the mud.

“The thick layer of mud, right on top of the clean sand, with evidence of footprints, shows the connection between the rains and the sacrificial event,” Prieto said.

Excavations continue in the area, Verano said. The researchers found a second sacrificial site, which may be as huge as the first, about 1,000 yards away. Most recently, they found what may be a third location as well.

“The story’s not over yet,” Verano said.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Phoebe Cates (60), Will Ferrell (56), Corey Feldman (52), Michael Flatley (65), Lana Parrilla (46), Travis Fimmel (44), Diane Kruger (47), Brigitte Nielsen (60), Forest Whitaker (62), Celia Imrie (71), Terry O’Quinn (71), Jesse Ventura (72), Adam Savage (56), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (38), Jackie Earle Haley (62), David Mitchell (49), Kyle Gass (63), Harrison Ford (81), Patrick Stewart (83), Michelle Rodriguez (45), Melissa O’Neil (35), Anna Friel (47), Cheryl Ladd (72), Tamsin Greig (57), Bill Cosby (86), Stephen Lang (71), Michelle Fairley (60), Caroline Quentin (63), Craig Charles (59), Sofía Vergara (51), Chiwetel Ejiofor (46), Fiona Shaw (65), Peter Serafinowicz (51), and John Simm (53).

Dead Pool 9th July 2023

Deaths were a little thin on the ground last week, perhaps we need to send out the Flying  Monkeys once again… 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

TV presenter Fiona Phillips has told how she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. The 62-year-old Mirror columnist was told she had the illness a year ago after suffering months of brain fog and anxiety. Fiona is now undergoing trials for a revolutionary new drug which scientists hope could slow or even reverse the illness for millions of sufferers in the years to come. The former breakfast TV host said: “This disease has ravaged my family and now it has come for me. And all over the country there are people of all different ages whose lives are being affected by it – it’s heartbreaking. I just hope I can help find a cure which might make things better for others in the future.” Deep down Fiona had long feared this moment was waiting for her. And yet it was still the most gut punching, shuddering shock when a doctor told her one afternoon last year: “Your results are back.. And yes, I’m afraid they do show early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.” “It’s something I might have thought I’d get at 80”, she says. “But I was still only 61 years old. “I felt more angry than anything else because this disease has already impacted my life in so many ways; my poor mum was crippled with it, then my dad, my grandparents, my uncle. It just keeps coming back for us.” Fiona has been carrying the secret of her illness for 18 months but has chosen to share the news with the Flying Monkeys. “No one has known because I haven’t been blaring out loud, ‘oh yeah, I’ve got Alzheimer’s’. And I have been so worried people will judge me or put labels on me. It’s a horrible bloody secret to divulge.” She hopes by telling her story she can help end the stigma which remains around the disease – and give comfort to others by sharing news of clinical trials in which she is taking part which could revolutionise future Alzheimer’s treatment.  

South Africa’s Zulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini has moved to reassure his people and dismissed stories that he had been poisoned. “I am not poisoned, I am well,” he said on a video released on Monday evening. At the weekend, the king’s traditional prime minister said he had gone to neighbouring Eswatini for treatment. Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi added that it followed the sudden death of one of the king’s senior advisers, also of suspected poisoning. But in response, the king’s spokesperson, Prince Africa Zulu alleged there was “an orchestrated agenda and a desperate narrative to communicate defamatory and baseless claims of His Majesty’s ill-health”. The dispute is a sign of how the relationship between King Misuzulu and Chief Buthelezi has fallen apart. But in a strongly worded statement on Tuesday, Chief Buthelezi said there was “certainly no growing rift” between him and the king. He did acknowledge that there were “disagreements on matters from time to time”, but this was “like any other family”. Chief Buthelezi added that he had not “acted in malice by making the announcement about his health”. In the video released on Monday, the king, looking well, explained that he had travelled to Eswatini for a regular medical health check – something that Chief Buthelezi continues to dispute saying that the king crossed the border to “urgently seek medical attention”. “I’m happy, everything is well-functioning, there is no poison whatsoever. So please people, mostly to the Zulu people, the Zulu royal family also to remind everyone to please don’t listen to everything that people say,” the king said. King Misuzulu was crowned in front of thousands of his subjects last October. But a vicious power struggle has been raging within the royal family over the 48-year-old’s accession, while tensions have also recently surfaced between the monarch and Chief Buthelezi. The Zulu king does not have formal political power and the monarch’s role within broader South African society is largely ceremonial, but he remains hugely influential with a yearly government-funded budget of several million dollars. King Misuzulu’s accession to the throne was sooner than expected and he has been at the centre of palace intrigue. His father died during the Covid pandemic in March 2021 of diabetes-related complications. He was the Zulu nation’s longest-reigning monarch, having served on the throne for almost 50 years. King Misuzulu’s mother, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini-Zulu, then became the regent, but she died a month later. She was the sister of Eswatini’s King Mswati III – Africa’s only absolute monarch. At the time, Chief Buthelezi dismissed rumours that she had been poisoned.  

It has now been over two months since Lauren Harries was admitted to hospital, with her latest operation being high-risk spinal surgery. The 2013 Celebrity Big Brother star, 45, has had a turbulent few months, having undergone emergency brain surgery back in April. Sadly, her recovery has been far from plain sailing, as Lauren had a stint in intensive care after contracting infections and is now struggling to walk without assistance. She also just recently woke up after being placed into a coma due to suffering seizures. In her latest update, Lauren’s mother shared that her daughter needed an operation on her spine which was ‘unsuccessful’. The surgery was required after an MRI found a split in Lauren’s spine. A tweet posted on Saturday read: ‘Lauren has had to have Spinal Surgery due to a split in her spine. This was very painful, It’s worrying as the spine is the most dangerous place to have an operation next to the brain. Unfortunately the surgery was unsuccessful so drs are looking into other options. She’s been in hospital now for over 2.5 months. Her spine is concerning for doctors and she will be staying for longer. We don’t know why or how this happened. She just wants to get home.’ The update on Lauren’s health comes after she suffered her ‘worst seizure yet’. ‘She said it was the most terrifying thing she’s been through. She is unable to walk and has curled toes due to a split in her spine an MRI has shown.’ It was added that the kind words from her fans were keeping Lauren’s ‘spirits high’. 

On This Day

  • 1540 – King Henry VIII of England annuls his marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves.
  • 1850 – U.S. President Zachary Taylor dies after eating raw fruit and iced milk; he is succeeded in office by Vice President Millard Fillmore.
  • 1893 – Daniel Hale Williams, American heart surgeon, performs the first successful open-heart surgery in United States without anaesthesia.
  • 1918 – In Nashville, Tennessee, an inbound local train collides with an outbound express, killing 101 and injuring 171 people, making it the deadliest rail accident in United States history.
  • 1958 – A 7.8 Mw  strike-slip earthquake in Alaska causes a landslide that produces a megatsunami. The runup from the waves reached 525 m (1,722 ft) on the rim of Lituya Bay; however only five people were killed.


The Joy of Lightning

TORRO maintains a record of the annual total number of reported incidents in the UK of lightning affecting people (both directly and indirectly), houses and other buildings, property, trees, animals and electricity supplies. This total is based on news and social media reports as well as TORRO’s network (and other networks such as the Climatological Observers Link) of national weather observers who send in details of lightning incidents in their area. Although there may be many minor incidents which go unreported, the variation in the number of significant lightning incidents each year is highlighted below with 2006 being a particularly harsh year. 

Analyses of lightning fatalities over the past 25 years in the UK shows that, on average, two people are killed by lightning each year and around 30 people injured. Prompt resuscitation of people who have suffered cardiopulmonary arrest due the electric shock of a lightning strike has, on average, prevented another death each year. 

At Ascot race course, on 14th July 1955, electric shocks were experienced by around 50 people when lightning struck the metal railings opposite the Royal Enclosure. Two people died, one a pregnant woman. 

Seventeen boys and adults were injured when a thunderstorm prompted the group to take shelter from the rain under a tree at a football match for under-10-year-olds around midday at Aylesford, Kent, on 2nd September 1995. Lightning struck the tree and side flashed to a large golfing umbrella that one man was holding. Fifteen were treated for minor burns, damage to their eyes and shock, with five detained in hospital. Four had to be resuscitated. Three had serious burns. 

During the night of 1st September 1994, 14 teenagers sleeping in tents in a back garden in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, suffered electric shocks when lightning struck the largest tent. Eight were treated for burns and/or shock, with three being detained overnight.  

In the past 25 years, when there have been a total of around 50 fatalities in the UK. Although more than one person has been killed on the same day in separate incidents, as happened on the Brecon Beacons in south Wales on 5th July 2015.

Only one incident during the past 25 years is known to have resulted in more than a single fatality. This took place on 22nd September 1999 at Hyde Park, London, when two women were struck and killed while sheltering beneath a tall maple tree. 

During the past 50 years, the years with the highest number of lightning fatalities were 1970 with 12 deaths and 1982 with 15 deaths. In comparison, some years in the nineteenth century resulted in a much higher number of fatalities. Official statistics are available only for England and Wales in the earlier years but they reveal the worst years as 1852 (45 deaths), 1872 (46 deaths) and 1895 (43 deaths). This was a period when the national population was around one-third of today’s population.  

The number of fatalities refer only to England and Wales as national statistics for Scotland did not begin until 1951 and Northern Ireland until 1964. Annual fatalities in Scotland and Northern Ireland were typically none, one or two a year. By far the most UK fatalities have occurred in the more thunderstorm-prone England during the past century and a half.

The reasons for a large decrease in the annual number of lightning fatalities since the 1850s include:

  • Reduction in the number of people employed in outdoor occupations, especially agriculture;
  • Many nineteenth century buildings lacked electrical and plumbing circuits which would otherwise have provided a route to earth for the lightning’s electric current in the walls and away from the occupants;
  • Movement of people from the countryside to urban areas where more people worked at indoor occupations where the buildings provided relative safety; More buildings were required by regulations to install lightning protection (lightning conductors, electrical surge protectors);
  • Strengthening of health and safety regulations for outdoor workers – requirement to stop work if thunderstorms approaching. Farm tractors had to have cabins fitted since the 1970s. These act as a Faraday Cage and keep the electric current from the lightning away from the driver before it discharges to the ground);
  • Improved technical and operational safety of aircraft including commercial aircraft, helicopters and gliders;
  • Lightning warning systems (klaxons) on golf courses;
  • Improved medical attention for lightning casualties, including more people knowing how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), paramedics and ambulances reaching casualties more quickly and being better equipped to give emergency treatment (carrying defibrillators), greater availability of community AEDs (automated external defibrillators), and using helicopters to transfer casualties quickly to hospital from remote locations such as mountains;
  • Increased awareness of the danger posed by lightning as a result of school and public education, and for people to take the necessary actions to reduce personal exposure to the lightning risk;
  • Individuals and organisations (e.g. sports clubs) responsible for their members are today more disposed to reschedule or discontinue their activities when thunderstorms are forecast or develop in their area;
  • Public confidence in thunderstorm forecasts has improved as their accuracy has increased and such forecasts have become more readily available e.g. smartphone apps which alert the user to the lightning risk and advise ‘seek shelter now’.

So you can now enjoy being outside in all weathers, with the full knowledge that you might possibly survive the 300 million Volts or about 30,000 Amps coursing through your eyeballs. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Tom Hanks (67), Kelly McGillis (66), Pamela Adlon (57), Scott Grimes (52), Raymond Cruz (62), Fred Savage (47), Jimmy Smits (68), Courtney Love (59), Richard Roundtree (81), Richard Wilson (87), O.J. Simpson (76), Maya Hawke (25), Kevin Bacon (65), Anjelica Huston (72), Jeffrey Tambor (79), Jaden Smith (25), Shelley Duvall (74), Jack Whitehall (35), Ringo Starr (83), Sylvester Stallone (77), Eva Green (43), Kevin Hart (44), Geoffrey Rush (72), Jennifer Saunders (65), 50 Cent (48), Burt Ward (78), Edie Falco (60), Huey Lewis (73), Post Malone (28), Neil Morrissey (61), Ronni Ancona (57), Tom Cruise (61), Patrick Wilson (50), Bolo Yeung (77), Kurtwood Smith (80), and Yeardley Smith (59).

Dead Pool 2nd July 2023

This week they finally found Julian Sands, his official date of death was 13th January 2023, so he could have been a contender. Lots to read, let’s crack on… 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Madonna has postponed her tour after being struck down with an illness that left her in intensive care. The US pop icon’s manager, Guy Oseary, said in a statement: “On Saturday, Madonna developed a serious bacterial infection which lead to a several day stay in the ICU. Her health is improving, however she is still under medical care. A full recovery is expected. At this time we will need to pause all commitments, which includes the tour. We will share more details with you soon as we have them, including a new start date for the tour and for rescheduled shows.” She was due to kick off the North America leg of her The Celebration world tour, to mark the 40th anniversary of her musical career, in Vancouver, Canada, on 15th July. Madonna’s condition was so serious that her relatives were ‘preparing for the worst,’ a family member told the Flying Monkeys. Apparently, the 64-year-old was found unconscious in New York on Saturday, and rushed to the ICU where she was reportedly intubated overnight. The unidentified relative told the Flying Monkeys they spent several traumatic days unsure if she was going to pull through. The shocking collapse was a wake-up call for Michigan-born Madonna, who believes she is ‘invincible’ and has been pushing herself extremely hard to prepare for the tour. “For the past couple of days, no one really knew which direction this was going to turn, and her family was preparing for the worst,” the relative said. “That is why it was kept a secret since Saturday. Everyone believed that we may lose her and that has been the reality of the situation.” Her daughter Lourdes was by her side throughout her hospitalisation. 

The family of an airport worker at San Antonio International Airport who reportedly threw himself into a jet engine as the plane was taxiing to a gate said there was “zero indication” he intended to die. The Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled that the worker, identified as David Renner, died by suicide by way of blunt and sharp force injuries. The incident occurred as Delta Flight 1111 arrived at the airport after leaving Los Angeles. The plane was on its way to a gate when “a worker was ingested into that engine at about 10:25pm,” according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Joshua Renner, David’s brother, said the man had reportedly attempted to die by suicide before, but noted that he had appeared happy in recent months. “David had been almost five months clean and living every day to the fullest, giving loved ones zero indication of his intentions.” Erin Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the airport, said “we are deeply saddened by this incident and are working with authorities as they begin their investigation.” Delta said it was “grieving” the loss of the ground worker. 

A billionaire who had vowed to make crime-riddled Chicago the safest city in the US has died in a tragic car crash at a race track in Colorado. James ‘Jim’ Crown was celebrating his 70th birthday at the members-only Aspen Motorsports Park on Sunday when his vehicle hit an impact barrier. ‘Mr. Crown was involved in a motor vehicle crash at the Woody Creek racetrack resulting in fatal injuries,’ said the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Deputy Coroner Audra Keith said an official cause of death is pending a pointless autopsy. However, ‘multiple blunt force trauma is evident’ and the manner accidental, she added. The business magnate was the CEO of Henry Crown and Company, which oversees Aspen Skiing Company that owns and operates the mountains and ski area facilities. The tycoon’s family was ranked the 34th richest in America by Forbes in 2020 with an estimated worth of $10.2 billion, maybe he should have invested in some driving lessons.  

A rodeo athlete and his horse died last week when the two were struck by lightning. The man was checking on cattle in a rural part of the US state of Nebraska when the incident happened, according to officials. Terrel Vineyard, 27, was on horseback when he was struck on Wednesday 21st June, the Garden County attorney’s office said in a statement. Officials received a call about the strike and arrived at the scene shortly after 2pm where they found Mr Vineyard dead. Another pointless autopsy found he had been struck by lightning. Mr Vineyard was one of six fatalities caused by lightning strikes this year, according to the National Lightning Safety Council. In a Facebook post, Mr Vineyard’s wife Stacey thanked the community for their support following her husband’s death. A GoFundMe page set up in his memory states Mr Vineyard bought Dose, the horse he was riding, a few years ago.”Terrel and Dose left for greener pastures together – Terrel with his rope in hand,” the page added.

On This Day

  • 1698 – Thomas Savery patents the first steam engine.
  • 1840 – A 7.4 earthquake strikes present-day Turkey and Armenia; combined with the effects of an eruption on Mount Ararat, kills 10,000 people.
  • 1937 – Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan are last heard from over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to make the first equatorial round-the-world flight.
  • 1990 – In the 1990 Mecca tunnel tragedy, 1,400 Muslim pilgrims are suffocated to death and trampled upon in a pedestrian tunnel leading to the holy city of Mecca.


Last Meals (If a cyanide pill can be called a meal)

Michael Marin was once an eccentric millionaire who flew his own plane, cruised around in a Rolls-Royce and even collected Picasso art. But his life ended suddenly and dramatically after he swallowed a cyanide pill, seconds after being found guilty of arson.

Marin, a 53-year-old dad and grandad, was facing up to 21 years in jail after deliberately burning down his own mansion. He had left his family a suicide note and shocking courtroom footage captured the moment he decided to end his life after being found guilty.

The ruined millionaire closed his eyes in despair before appearing to put something in his mouth. He washed it down with liquid and eight minutes later he was on the floor suffering convulsions. Eventually he was pronounced dead in hospital and it was later ruled as suicide after cyanide was found in his system.

Now, almost 13 years on, we take a look back at who Marin was and how the wealthy trader ended up taking his own life in court.

Marin was a graduate of Yale Law School and enjoyed a memorable career making millions while working across the globe for Wall Street investment banks. In an interview with the Phoenix New Times he once described himself as a “careful thrill seeker” who enjoyed trips to south-east Asian jungles.

He bought a $3.5million mansion in Phoenix in 2008 where the mortgage payments were $17,250 per month. However, by then he had been out of work for years and was no longer a high-flying Wall Street trader. He was quickly running out of money so he tried to sell his luxury property by raffling it off.

Marin even climbed Mount Everest to promote the raffle but it was later found to be illegal – leaving him stuck with the pricey mansion payments. He was facing financial ruin and felt like the world was collapsing around him. And in the early hours of July 5th 2009, he made the drastic decision to burn down his 6,600 sq ft home. 

Marin called 911 to report that his house was on fire and that he was going to escape using a rope ladder. He claimed he was asleep inside the house when he heard the smoke alarm. As he struggled through the thick smoke, he remembered that he had a scuba tank in his bedroom closet. He said he put on the tank and mask, climbed out a window and descended a rope ladder to escape. Media responded to his incredible escape. That evening, he did interviews from his hospital bed.

Arson investigators, and the insurance company that held Marin’s home-insurance policy, took a closer look. Marin’s prized paintings were not in the house when it burned, nor was his pet macaw. They found boxes full of old telephone books stacked end to end, as if to fuel the fire. And they claimed the fire had been intentionally started in four separate spots in the home. 

Prosecutors charged Marin with arson of an occupied structure, a crime with penalties as severe as second-degree murder, even though the “occupant” was Marin himself. He was arrested on August 19th 2009, and spent 10 days in jail before being released on bond.

His former attorney, Richard Gierloff, claimed that the fire had started in an electrical box and that the boxes of phone books were in such a position because Marin was only moving in, and the newsprint in the books was to be used in Marin’s decoupage artwork. Marin worked with resins, which could explain the open containers of acetone that the arson investigators suggested were accelerants.

But Marin was out of money. Prosecutors later showed that his bank account had dwindled from about $900,000 in 2008 to $42,700 just before the fire and he was facing new legal expenses. 

The opening arguments in Marin’s arson trial were on the morning of May 21st. Deputy County Attorney Chris Rapp said, “Michael Marin couldn’t pay his mortgage, so he burned down his house.” 

At trial, forensic accountants detailed Marin’s finances and arson investigators went through their findings. Marin did not testify, yet he was outwardly upbeat. Marin, however, fought with his court-appointed attorneys. He especially felt they didn’t understand relevant fire science that would exonerate him. 

The verdict was reached on the morning of June 28th. It was to be read at 1 p.m. The hearing began late. Marin sat at the defence table; Spicer sat behind him in the gallery. The jury entered; the clerk read the verdict. Marin closed his eyes in despair when he heard the word “guilty” and that the jurors found it to be a dangerous crime, which meant he would not be eligible for parole and would be taken immediately into custody to await sentencing.

He rubbed his hands up his face, with one hand cupped, and as he brought them back down, it appeared as if he opened his mouth and swallowed something.

The jury left the courtroom, and Judge Bruce Cohen was talking to the attorneys about how they would argue the trial’s next phase, when the jury would decide if Marin was eligible for a harsher-than-average prison sentence. Cohen would make the final decision: the usual, or “presumptive,” sentence was 10½ years in prison, but Cohen could have given Marin up to 21 years.

About seven minutes had passed since the clerk read the verdict. Marin looked to his girlfriend Susie Spicer and nodded. He mouthed the words “I love you,” and she said the same back to him. He reached out as his attorneys’ paralegal offered him a box of tissues, then put his head down. Spicer heard him say, “I can’t do this.” He began shaking. Suddenly Marin gasped like a man who had been holding his breath underwater and had finally breached the surface. He started to collapse forward, making a loud snoring noise as if his trachea were a balloon releasing air.

Abramson, his attorney, caught him as he buckled toward the floor. Nearly everyone in the courtroom froze, but Spicer rushed forward and she and Abramson laid Marin on his back and tore off his tie and opened his shirt collar. The judge stayed on the bench, watching in shock. The prosecutor stared blankly. Marin’s other attorney paced anxiously. Two dozen spectators sat numbly in the gallery, and a few laughed nervously. 

Sheriff’s deputies and even the fire captain who had investigated the arson attempted to administer first aid. When clear liquid began flowing from Marin’s mouth, they turned him on his side to keep him from choking. Spicer laid Marin’s cheek on her thigh and stroked his hair.

Paramedics arrived and started administering chest pressure. Minutes later, they wheeled Marin out of the courtroom on a stretcher. His cheeks were blue, and he was already dead.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Margot Robbie (33), Lindsay Lohan (37), Larry David (76), Jerry Hall (67), Peter Kay (50), Liv Tyler (46), Pamela Anderson (56), Dan Aykroyd (71), Jean Marsh (89), Debbie Harry (78), Vincent D’Onofrio (64), Katherine Ryan (40), Mike Tyson (57), Amanda Donohoe (61), Gary Busey (79), John Cusack (57), Kathy Bates (75), Mel Brooks (97), Alice Krige (69), Elon Musk (52), Tobey Maguire (48), Jason Schwartzman (43), Nick Offerman (53), and Ariana Grande (30).

Dead Pool 25th June 2023

Undoubtedly the weeks biggest news was a bunch of men being squished by 6500 psi whilst trying to see a shitty old sunken ship. Quite impressive, my car tyre is only 30 psi. Next week also looks interesting, I suspect there might be a few Russian knobs in line for assassination. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Amy Dowden has shared an update with fans about her future on Strictly Come Dancing after being diagnosed with breast cancer. In May, the professional dancer, who has competed on the competition series since 2017, shared that she was facing “another hurdle” in her life after receiving a breast cancer diagnosis. Dowden, who also suffers from Crohn’s disease, said at the time that she was staying “positive and strong”, adding: “I’ve got a really good chance of getting back out on the dance floor as soon as possible.” Last week, the 32-year-old underwent a single mastectomy, and is waiting to find out if she’ll need to have just radiotherapy or additional chemotherapy as part of her treatment. Speaking to the Flying Monkeys, Dowden said that Strictly was “leaving the door open” regarding her return to the show. One month before her diagnosis, Dowden had been named as one of the Strictly dancers returning to the series for 2023. “If I only have radiotherapy, I’ll be back on Strictly this season,” the Welsh dancer explained. “Once radiotherapy is done there’ll be nothing to stop me, there’s no pressure but Strictly is leaving the door open. It’s having something to work towards.” Dowden continued: “I’m visualising myself on that Strictly dance floor. Just being back in the  ballroom with the live audience, the adrenaline and the atmosphere. And the support from the whole Strictly family. We can choreograph around me doing things with lifting, putting ­pressure on my arm. You can adapt.” However, Dowden said that she would be involved in Strictly either way, saying: “If I have to have chemotherapy, I’ll be present in some way, even if I’m in a wig. I know amazing hair people with Strictly. Whether it’s on It Takes Two, or being up in Claudia’s area waiting for the scores, I’ll be there.” The dancer, whose mother had breast cancer, learned that she also had it after finding a lump in her breast one day before her honeymoon in the Maldives in April. Dowden married Ben Jones, her professional dance partner, in July 2022. She saw a doctor when she returned, and underwent a single mastectomy in May, with the surgeons removing two tumours, three cancer “specks”, and some lymph nodes from her right breast.  

Human remains have been found in the area of the San Gabriel mountains where British actor Julian Sands went missing more than five months ago while on a hike. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said civilian hikers had contacted authorities on Saturday morning after finding the remains in the Mount Baldy area. The finding comes a week after the search for the 65-year-old actor resumed on 17th June. Efforts to find the actor slowed around mid-February after rescue teams were repeatedly hampered by adverse weather conditions. The remains have been transported to the coroner’s office for identification, the department said. The identification process is expected to take about a week, said the police department. Earlier last week, his family released a statement saying they continued to keep him “in our hearts with bright memories”. “We are deeply grateful to the search teams and co-ordinators who have worked tirelessly to find Julian,” said a family statement, issued on Wednesday by the sheriff’s department. “We continue to hold Julian in our hearts with bright memories of him as a wonderful father, husband, explorer, lover of the natural world and the arts, and as an original and collaborative performer.” Sands, best known for his breakout role in the 1985 film A Room With a View, failed to return from a hike in the Mount Baldy area of the southern Californian mountains on 13th January. A longtime avid hiker and mountaineer, he had set out for a hike on the massive mountain more than 10,000ft high, east of Los Angeles, and that was pounded by severe storms during winter. Since Sands’ disappearance, the sheriff’s department has conducted eight searches and expended more than 500 hours of combined search time. 

Legendary record producer, songwriter and composer Quincy Jones was reportedly transported to hospital from his home on Saturday. The Soul Bossa Nova star is said to have suffered a medical emergency over the weekend, but luckily one that later wasn’t deemed too serious. His representative confirmed that the 28-time Grammy winner suffered a reaction to something that he had eaten. Out of an abundance of caution, paramedics were called to his house. He was taken to hospital to be properly checked over before later being released, according to the Flying Monkeys. His rep added to the publication that the music icon did not loose consciousness throughout the ordeal and that he was in ‘great spirits’. Quincy, who is a father to seven including Parks and Recreation actress Rashida Jones, 47, has the most Grammys of any living artist after taking home his 28th accolade in 2019 for best music film for his documentary Quincy. In his 70-year career the man has won across 10 categories, including producer of the year, album of the year and song of the year. A gifted trumpet player in his early days, Quincy has also worked with the likes of Frank Sinatra, wrote an Oscar-nominated score for Steven Spielberg’s film The Colour Purple and arranged music for singers like Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee and Ella Fitzgerald. He also produced Michael Jackson albums Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad.  

Online gamblers bet hundreds of thousands of dollars on whether the submarine that went missing on a recent expedition to the Titanic, in what online critics called a “dystopian” use of digital finance. Since Wednesday, people wagered at least $300,000 on the fate of the vehicle using the crypto platform Polymarket. On the site, betters buy and sell shares on the outcomes of events using cryptocurrency, and can redeem their shares for $1 each if their guesses are correct. “For the purposes of this market, the vessel need not have been rescued or physically recovered to be considered ‘found,’” reads the description page for the submarine bets. “If pieces are located, but not the cabin which contains the vessel’s passengers, that will not suffice for this market to resolve to ‘Yes.’” One user, asking only to be identified by his first name, Rich, told the Flying Monkeys that he made around $3,250 betting. He argued what he was doing was morally defensible because unlike the regular stock market, it had no impact on the fate of the entity being wagered upon. “My answer would be that markets are fundamentally immoral. There’s no ethical consumption under capitalism,” Rich said. Others weren’t so sure. Social media users racked up thousands of likes criticising such gamblers. “Actually insane,” one commenter wrote. “Imagine making money off of if someone is gonna die or not.” Polymarket defended its offerings on the submarine, arguing that it was a neutral way of calculating the likelihood of a rescue. “If the families were privy to Polymarket, they could use the market as a way to obtain the real-time, unbiased probability of the submarine being recovered,” the company said in an email to Gizmodo. “That is a far more valuable service to them than sensationalist media coverage: with our markets at least they understand the true probabilities.” Bookmakers take bets on nearly everything, from sports to sex tapes, but the industry does have some lines regarding poor taste. According to Betting Gods, a gambling industry tip site, most major bookmakers refused to take bets regarding the death of Queen Elizabeth. “Major bookmakers wouldn’t bet on the Queen dying as it would offend most of its regular customers. Whether they all agree with Britain having a royal family or not, most people would prefer to bet on a variety of other things such as sports,” the site wrote in an article. “When asked the question of why bookmakers won’t bet on the Queen, the spokespeople of all the major bookmakers were unanimous in saying that it was important that people understand where the parameters of bad taste bets can’t be crossed.” 

On This Day

  • 1678 – Venetian Elena Cornaro Piscopia is the first woman awarded a doctorate of philosophy when she graduates from the University of Padua. 
  • 1848 – A photograph of the June Days uprising becomes the first known instance of photojournalism. 
  • 1876 – Battle of the Little Bighorn and the death of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer. 


The Hillbilly from Hell

Ronald Gene Simmons Sr. was an American mass murderer and spree killer who killed 16 people over a week-long period in Arkansas in 1987 and wounded several others. A retired military serviceman, Simmons murdered fourteen members of his family, including a daughter he had sexually abused and the child he had fathered with her, as well as a former co-worker, and a stranger; he also wounded four others. He is the most prolific mass murderer in Arkansas history.

Simmons was sentenced to death on each of sixteen counts, and after refusing to appeal his sentence, was executed on June 25th 1990.  

Simmons was born on July 15th 1940, in Chicago. By the age of seventeen he dropped out of school and joined the U.S. Navy, and was first stationed at Naval Station Bremerton in Washington, where he met Bersabe Rebecca “Becky” Ulibarri, whom he married in New Mexico in 1960. Over the next 18 years, the couple had seven children. During his 20-year military careering both the navy and air force, Simmons was awarded a Bronze Star Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross for his service, and the Airforce Ribbon for Excellent Marksmanship. Simmons retired from the air force and military service in 1979, with the rank of master sergeant. 

In 1981, Simmons was being investigated by the Department of Human Services for allegations that he had fathered a child with his 17-year-old daughter, Sheila, whom he had been sexually abusing. Fearing arrest, Simmons fled New Mexico in late 1981 with his family, first to Ward, Arkansas, in Lonoke County, and then to Pope County near Dover, Arkansas in the summer of 1983. The family took up residence on a 13-acre tract of land 6.5 miles north of Dover that they would dub “Mockingbird Hill”. The residence was constructed of two older-model mobile homes joined to form one large home, neither of which had a telephone nor indoor plumbing, and  was surrounded by a makeshift privacy fence which was as high as 10 feet tall in some places. As a result of the home’s lack of plumbing, Simmons ordered his family to dig three cesspits, one of which would eventually be where he disposed of some of their bodies. 

Shortly before Christmas 1987, Simmons decided to kill all the members of his family. On the morning of December 22nd, he first killed his wife Rebecca and eldest son Gene by bludgeoning them with a crowbar and shooting them with a .22-caliber pistol. He then killed his three-year-old granddaughter Barbara by strangulation. Simmons dumped the bodies in one of the cesspits he had forced his children to dig previously. Simmons then waited for his other children to return from school for Christmas break. Upon their arrival, he told them he had presents for them, but wanted to give them one at a time. He first killed his daughter, 17-year-old Loretta, whom Simmons strangled and held under the water in a rain barrel. The three other children, Eddy, Marianne, and Becky, were then killed in the same way, and subsequently dumped in the cesspit.

Around mid-day on December 26th, the remaining members of the family arrived at the home, as Simmons had invited them over for the holidays. The first to be killed was Simmons’ son Billy and his wife Renata, who were both shot dead. He then strangled and drowned their 20-month-old son, Trae. Simmons also shot and killed his oldest daughter, Sheila (whom he had sexually abused), and her husband, Dennis McNulty. Simmons then strangled his child by Sheila, seven-year-old Sylvia Gail, and finally his 21-month-old grandson Michael. Simmons laid the bodies of his whole family in neat rows in the lounge. Their bodies were covered with coats except that of Sheila, who was covered by Rebecca Simmons’ best tablecloth. The bodies of Trae and Michael were wrapped in plastic sheeting and left in abandoned cars at the end of the lane. After the murders, Simmons drove to a Sears store in Russellville where he retrieved Christmas gifts that he had previously ordered for his family. That night, he went for a drink at a local bar before returning to the home where he spent the rest of the evening and the following day drinking beer and watching television. 

On the morning of December 28th, Simmons drove to a Walmart in Russellville where he purchased a firearm to use in the attack he was about to carry out. His first target was a law firm where he had previously met secretary Kathy Cribbins Kendrick. Simmons had been infatuated with Kendrick, but she had rejected him. After walking into the office, he shot and killed Kendrick. He next went to an oil company office, where he intended to kill the owner, Russell “Rusty” Taylor. Taylor was also the owner of the Sinclair Mini Mart from which Simmons had recently resigned. He shot and wounded Taylor before killing another person in the building named James David Chaffin; Chaffin was the only deceased victim who was a complete stranger to Simmons. Another employee in the building was shot at, though the bullet missed.

Simmons then drove on to Sinclair Mini Mart, shooting and wounding two more people. His final target was the office of the Woodline Motor Freight Company, where he shot his former supervisor twice, wounding her. He then ordered one of the employees at gunpoint to call the police. When they arrived, Simmons handed over his gun and surrendered without any resistance. Over the course of the 40-minute-long rampage, Simmons had killed two and injured four others.  

After his arrest, Simmons underwent a psychiatric evaluation where he was found fit to stand trial. He first went on trial for the murders of Kendrick and Chaffin, and was found guilty, being sentenced to death. He made an additional statement, under oath, supporting his sentence:

I, Ronald Gene Simmons, Sr., want it to be known that it is my wish and my desire that absolutely no action by anybody be taken to appeal or in any way change this sentence. It is further respectfully requested that this sentence be carried out expeditiously.

He next went on trial for the murders of his 14 family members, and was found guilty, again being sentenced to death by lethal injection. As to motive, a family friend told investigators that Simmons’ wife had been saving up money to divorce Simmons when the killings happened. Also, during the trial, Simmons had to be removed from the courtroom after the prosecutor, John Bynum, was punched by Simmons, and Simmons tried to grab a deputy’s handgun, when Bynum introduced a letter between Simmons and his daughter, Sheila, where Simmons expressed anger that Sheila had revealed that he was the father of her child, and that he would see her in Hell. He refused to appeal his death sentence, stating, “To those who oppose the death penalty – in my particular case, anything short of death would be cruel and unusual punishment.” The trial court conducted a hearing concerning Simmons’ competence to waive further proceedings, and concluded that his decision was knowing and intelligent. 

While on death row, Simmons had to be separated from other prisoners as his life was threatened constantly. This was because he refused to appeal his death sentence; the other prisoners believed Simmons was damaging their chances of beating their own death sentences.

On May 31st 1990, Arkansas governor (later President) Bill Clinton signed Simmons’ execution warrant, and on June 25th he died by the method he had chosen, lethal injection. None of his surviving relatives would claim the body, and he was buried in a potter’s field in Lincoln County, Arkansas.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Ricky Gervais (62), Sheridan Smith (42), Iain Glen (62), Erin Moriarty (29), Peter Weller (76), Nancy Allen (73), Joel Edgerton (49), Melissa Rauch (43), Frances McDormand (66), Selma Blair (51), Joss Whedon (59), Bryan Brown (76), Meryl Streep (74), Bruce Campbell (65), Lindsay Wagner (74), Kris Kristofferson (87), Cyndi Lauper (70), Stephen Chow (61), Tim Russ (67), Prunella Scales (91), Chris Pratt (44), Juliette Lewis (50), David Morrissey (59), Lana Del Rey (38), Nicole Kidman (56), John Goodman (71), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (34), Miles O’Keeffe (69), Wendy Craig (89), Zoe Saldana (45), Kathleen Turner (69), Aidan Turner (40), and Paula Abdul (61). 

Dead Pool 18th June 2023

We finally have a few names that everyone recognises! Technically nobody scored though, but Nickie had Glenda Jackson on her Dames list, which would have scored her 63 points, which is a shame as Nickie has yet to score on her main list 🥲

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Colin McFarlane has revealed that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. The Dark Knight star, 61, said he discovered the condition nine months after his brother was also diagnosed with the same cancer. McFarlane, also known for his roles in Doctor Who and Outlander, explained that both he and his brother found out about the cancer after taking a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which can be given to men without symptoms after a consultation with a doctor. The actor said that he has been regularly testing for cancer after a fellow actor who was treated for it 17 years ago told him about its prevalence among Black men. He said: “I was already aware of the risk to me, so had been having annual and then six-monthly regular PSA blood tests with my GP. Thankfully, just over a year ago, I had told my brother to get a PSA blood test otherwise he wouldn’t have been diagnosed, because he had no symptoms.” He added that he is “one of the lucky ones” as he has been “able to catch this very early. So, although I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, I do not require any treatment. I am being regularly monitored with PSA blood tests every three months and an MRI (or magnetic resonance imaging scan) once a year. As it’s a very slow-moving cancer I am in the best possible position to ascertain what treatment I would need in the future if that were ever deemed necessary, and currently that scenario is a long way off. It’s men who take no action and don’t know anything about their prostate health that are at the greatest risk.” His diagnosis arrived on the same day as his late mother Gwendolyn’s birthday. She died at the age of 94 earlier this year.  

Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme has announced that he was diagnosed with cancer last year. The California-born artist rose to fame after forming the rock band in 1996. He also founded the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures with Foo Fighters’ frontman Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones, and has collaborated with acts including Arctic Monkeys, Lady Gaga and Royal Blood. In a recent interview – his first since the pandemic – Homme, 50, divulged that he had undergone surgery to remove the cancer. He told the Flying Monkeys that the surgery was successful. He added, however, that he was “still healing”. Homme wouldn’t  divulge specific details about the diagnosis, but said that he gets the “occasional twinge of pain.” “Cancer is just the cherry on top of an interesting time period, you know?” he said. “I’m extremely thankful that I’ll get through this, and I’ll look back at this as something that’s fucked up – but will have made me better. I’m cool with that.” Homme continued: “There’s a lot of stuff I want to do. And a lot of people I want to do that with.”  

A 76-year-old woman from Ecuador who was pronounced dead last week started gasping for air and hitting on the insides of the coffin at her funeral, according to reports. Bella Montoya, who was admitted to a hospital on Friday after she suffered “a cardiac and respiratory arrest” and was later pronounced dead by local doctors, startled mourners when she started banging on the inside walls of the coffin as her relatives were preparing to change her clothes ahead of the burial. According to the country’s Ministry of Health, Ms Montoya “suffered from cardiac and respiratory arrest without responding to resuscitation attempts, after which the duty doctor confirmed her death”. The family was reportedly also given a death certificate. Now the authorities have launched an investigation to “determine responsibility” for the false death certificate that was issued to Ms Montoya. She was taken to the Martin Icaza Hospital in the central city of Babahoyo in Ecuador where she is currently on life support. A video posted on social media showed the woman lying in the open casket, opening her mouth and gasping for breath. She is seen surrounded by a few people whose identities couldn’t be verified. Local media quoted Ms Montoya’s son Gilberto Barbera as saying that his mother had been “admitted around 9am, and at noon a doctor told me she died”. He later said that she was “on artificial respiration and her heart is stable”. “I am slowly recovering from what happened,” Mr Barbera told the Flying Monkeys. “There were about 20 of us there at the funeral,” Mr Barbera said. “After about five hours of the wake, the coffin started to make sounds. My mom was wrapped in sheets and hitting the coffin, and when we approached we could see that she was breathing heavily.” He added that “now all I ask is that my mother’s health improves. I want her to be alive and by my side”. Ms Montoya’s condition remains serious at the moment. “It gave us all a fright,” Mr Balberan said.

On This Day

  • 1940 – The “Finest Hour” speech is delivered by Winston Churchill.
  • 1948 – Columbia Records introduces the long-playing record album in a public demonstration at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
  • 1981 – The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, the first operational aircraft initially designed around stealth technology, makes its first flight.
  • 1983 – Space Shuttle program: STS-7, Astronaut Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.
  • 1984 – A major clash between about 5,000 police and a similar number of miners takes place at Orgreave, South Yorkshire, during the 1984–85 UK miners’ strike.


  • 1928 – Roald Amundsen, Norwegian pilot and explorer (b. 1872)
  • 2007 – Bernard Manning, English comedian and actor (b. 1930)
  • 2020 – Vera Lynn, English singer who was the “Forces’ Sweetheart” in WWII (b. 1917)

Last Week’s Birthdays

Richard Madden (37), Carol Kane (71), Isabella Rossellini (71), Jacob Anderson (33), Paul McCartney (81), Will Forte (53), Jodie Whittaker (41), Barry Manilow (80), Arnold Vosloo (61), John Cho (51), James Bolam (88), Helen Hunt (60), Courteney Cox (59), Neil Patrick Harris (50), Jim Belushi (69), Ice Cube (54), Will Patton (69), Yasmine Bleeth (55), Alan Carr (47), Donald Trump (77), Boy George (62), Mike Yarwood (82), Chris Evans (42), Ally Sheedy (61), Stellan Skarsgård (72), Malcolm McDowell (80), Richard Thomas (72), Tim Allen (70), Mary-Kate Olsen & Ashley Olsen (37), Simon Callow (74), Kathy Burke (59), and Steve-O (49).

Dead Pool 11th June 2023

Another week flies by with little action happening on the celebrity death front. We really could do with a Flying Monkey intervention. I’m loath to let them fly as they almost always take a good un. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

GB News presenter Anne Diamond has revealed she has been battling breast cancer for the past few months. Diamond told the Flying Monkeys that she found out the news on the same day she was told she would be receiving an OBE for her campaigning work. She last presented her GB News weekend breakfast show on January 1st and will return to work on Saturday. “I haven’t been on a world cruise which is what I know social media has been saying,” she added. “It’s been a fight against breast cancer. It’s been a long journey. Five months later I’m not at the end but I’m through it enough to come back to work.” Fighting back tears, Diamond said she is “still going through it” and revealed she had a full mastectomy consisting of a nine-hour operation, along with weeks of radiotherapy. “This is the first time I’ve talked about it,” she added. The 68-year-old now presents GB News weekend breakfast with Stephen Dixon and is a former Good Morning Britain and Good Morning with Anne and Nick host. She was awarded the OBE for services to children’s health following decades-long campaigning for research into cot death. This came after her third son Sebastian died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 1991. The Back to Sleep campaign has been credited with a significant fall in cot deaths. Receiving the OBE news on the same day as her cancer diagnosis, Diamond said it took her back to her Catholic upbringing. “You’re often taught that if something good happens to you, something bad happens, to slap you back“, she added.  

Julie Goodyear, known for playing Bet Lynch in Coronation Street, has received a “heartbreaking diagnosis” of dementia, her husband has said. The actress had sought medical advice after “suffering forgetfulness” but there was now “no hope of a reversal in the situation”, Scott Brand said. Goodyear, 81, played the leopard-skin-loving barmaid from 1966 to 2003. “My darling wife and I have had to come to terms with this heartbreaking diagnosis,” Mr Brand said. “Unfortunately, Julie has been suffering forgetfulness for some time and we have been seeking medical advice and assistance – but we now know that there is no hope of a reversal in the situation and that her condition will get progressively, and perhaps speedily, worse. We have taken the decision to publicly announce the diagnosis as Julie still loves visiting friends and eating out. Inevitably, she is recognised and fans love to meet her – and she them – but she can get confused, particularly if she is tired. I hope people will understand.” Thanks to Goodyear, Bet Lynch became one of the ITV soap opera’s longest-serving and best-loved characters. The actress has also appeared on reality shows such as Celebrity Big Brother and Celebrity Fit Club. Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Our hearts go out to Julie Goodyear and her family, following the announcement that she is living with dementia. So many of us have such fond memories of watching Julie on screen, playing the iconic role of Bet Lynch. It is incredibly brave of Julie’s husband to share this news and help raise much-needed awareness of dementia, a condition affecting almost one million people in the UK today. With no treatments to slow or stop the diseases that cause dementia, a diagnosis is truly heartbreaking.”  

A British base jumper has died after plunging 400 metres from a mountaintop in Italy. Mark Andrews, 65, originally of Redruth, Cornwall, was killed instantly after falling down the rock face in Trentino, while wearing a wing suit. He is thought to have been wearing a parachute, however it remains unclear if he was unable to deploy it, while police said the exact circumstances were under investigation. The tragic accident occurred last Saturday morning at a popular base jumping spot in the Italian Dolomites at Paganella, near the city of Trento. Mr Andrews had reportedly gone to the site on his own, before a fellow base jumper called the emergency services after they watched the horrific incident unfold. It is understood that Mr Andrews died close to the spot where another British skydiver perished exactly a year before. The 65-year-old retired engineer is said to had been a relative latecomer to base jumping as a sport, however had completed nearly 600 jumps before his death. A mountain rescue helicopter was brought in to recover his body and he was later flown to a nearby hospital to await repatriation. A base jumper who knew Mark said: ‘He came to base jumping quite late. He’s only been doing it since 2014 but he packed a lot into those nine years. ‘He was fearless and will be missed. He was a regular in Italy at various base-jumping events, but had also base jumped all over the world off bridges and skyscrapers. Another base jumper said: ‘The area where the accident happened is one of the most dangerous and it’s considered only for experts as it’s quite tricky. It’s not a straight forward descent, there are rock and tree ledges for the first 400 metres before it then hits a straight 1500 metres straight down.

On This Day

  • 1509 – Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon.
  • 1770 – British explorer Captain James Cook runs aground on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • 1955 – Eighty-three spectators are killed and at least 100 are injured after an Austin-Healey and a Mercedes-Benz collide at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the deadliest ever accident in motorsports.
  • 1963 – Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức burns himself with gasoline in a busy Saigon intersection to protest the lack of religious freedom in South Vietnam.
  • 1964 – World War II veteran Walter Seifert attacks an elementary school in Cologne, Germany, killing at least eight children and two teachers and seriously injuring several more with a home-made flamethrower and a lance.
  • 1987 – Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Bernie Grant are elected as the first black MP’s in Great Britain.
  • 2001 – Timothy McVeigh is executed for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.


  • 1796 – Samuel Whitbread, English brewer, founded the Whitbread Company (b. 1720).
  • 1936 – Robert E. Howard, American author and poet (b. 1906).
  • 1979 – John Wayne, American actor, director, and producer (b. 1907).
  • 1998 – Catherine Cookson, English author (b. 1906).
  • 1999 – DeForest Kelley, American actor and screenwriter (b. 1920).
  • 2015 – Ron Moody, English actor and singer (b. 1924).
  • 2022 – Hilary Devey, English businesswoman, television presenter (b. 1957).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Shia LaBeouf (37), Joshua Jackson (45), Hugh Laurie (64), Peter Dinklage (54), Adrienne Barbeau (78), Jane Goldman (53), Elizabeth Hurley (58), Bill Burr (55), Jürgen Prochnow (82), Johnny Depp (60), Michael J. Fox (62), Natalie Portman (42), Eddie Marsan (55), Griffin Dunne (68), Ye (46), Bill Hader (45), Karl Urban (51), Liam Neeson (71), Anna Torv (44), Michael Cera (35), Helen Baxendale (53), Tom Jones (83), Bear Grylls (49), Iggy Azalea (33), Jason Isaacs (60), Robert Englund (76), Paul Giamatti (56), Sandra Bernhard (68), Josie Lawrence (64), Mark Wahlberg (52), and Mel Giedroyc (55).