Dead Pool 28th February 2016
Not much to report this week, no points awarded due to a lack of notable deaths. However, plenty to read and comment upon if you wish.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Douglas Slocombe, 103, British cinematographer (Indiana Jones, The Lion in Winter, Jesus Christ Superstar), complications from a fall.
- Johnny Murphy, 72, Irish musician and actor (The Commitments, Into the West, Angela’s Ashes), respiratory failure.
- Ramón Castro Ruz, 91, Cuban farmer and quartermaster (Cuban Revolution).
- Tony Burton, 78, American actor (Rocky, Assault on Precinct 13, The Shining), pneumonia.
- Frank Kelly, 77, Irish actor (Father Ted, Emmerdale).
In Other News
The artist Yoko Ono, the widow of the late former Beatle, John Lennon, has been admitted to a New York-area hospital after complaining of severe flu-like symptoms, her West Coast-based spokesman, Elliot Mintz, said on Friday. But Mintz denied US media reports that Ono, 83, had suffered a possible stroke or heart attack. He said he understood she would be released from the hospital on Saturday. Ono, 83, was married to former Beatle John Lennon until he was murdered in 1980 outside New York’s Dakota Building, where she still lives. An ambulance was called to the building at 21:00 on Friday, a Fire Department spokesman said. Her son Sean Ono Lennon also tweeted that his mother was doing well. Ono, also an experimental musician and film-maker, was once described by Lennon as “the world’s most famous unknown artist: everybody knows her name but nobody knows what she does.”
Golfer Jason Bohn is in a stable condition in hospital after suffering a mild heart attack during the second round of the Honda Classic in Florida. The 42-year-old American, a two-times PGA Tour winner who is ranked 71 in the world, called for a doctor when he experienced chest pains after putting out on the 18th hole at PGA National. A report on pgatour.com said: “He was taken by ambulance to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, where tests revealed a mild heart attack. Bohn was in stable condition and will remain hospitalised overnight before undergoing more tests on Saturday. His wife was home in Atlanta but his in-laws joined him at the hospital, as did fellow player George McNeill, who said Bohn was “in good spirits”. Who knew that golf was so demanding!!
Benidorm institution Sticky Vicky has announced she is retiring after 35 years entertaining British tourists with her risqué magic show. The 72-year-old who has appeared in the hit ITV show named after the resort, was intending to return to the stage after a hip operation but decided to call it a day after being diagnosed with cancer. Grandmother Vicky, who used to perform a series of X-rated tricks in front of stupefied holidaymakers with ping-pong balls, razor blades and beer bottles, announced her decision on Facebook. ‘Just to let everyone know that the Legend Sticky Vicky Leyton and her real daughter Demaria Leyton have both retired from sexy magic shows. ‘Vicky at the age of nearly 73 has retired to spend more time with her family and her daughter has other projects that have nothing to do with sexy magic shows.’ She was once described by a guide to Benidorm as such a ‘must-see’ that leaving without experiencing her show would be like buying fish without chips or turning on the TV to see Ant without Dec.
Pauline Cafferkey, the do-gooder British nurse who contracted Ebola in west Africa, is being transferred to the specialist unit at the Royal Free hospital in London for the third time since her return. Cafferkey, 39, who is said to be in a stable condition, had been admitted to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University hospital but on Tuesday afternoon an RAF aircraft landed at Glasgow airport to transport her to London at a vast cost to the NHS. A spokesman for the Royal Free said: “We can confirm that Pauline Cafferkey is being transferred to the Royal Free hospital due to a late complication from her previous infection by the Ebola virus. She will now be treated by the hospital’s infectious diseases team under nationally agreed guidelines. Cafferkey was infected while working with victims of the virus in Sierra Leone in December 2014. She spent almost a month in an isolation unit at the Royal Free, where she was treated with a survivor’s plasma and an experimental antiviral drug. She fell ill again in October last year and was readmitted to the same hospital with meningitis caused by the lingering virus. After coming close to dying, she was discharged in November and transferred to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University hospital to continue her recovery before returning home to be forever known as the new Typhoid Mary.
On This Day
- 1784 – John Wesley charters the Methodist Church.
- 1935 – DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invents nylon.
- 1953 – James Watson and Francis Crick announce to friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA; the formal announcement takes place on April 25 following publication in April’s Nature.
- 1954 – The first color television sets using the NTSC standard are offered for sale to the general public.
- 1983 – The final episode of M*A*S*H airs, with almost 106 million viewers. It still holds the record for the highest viewership of a season finale.
- 1993 – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raid the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas with a warrant to arrest the group’s leader David Koresh. Four BATF agents and five Davidians die in the initial raid, starting a 51-day standoff.
- 2013 – Pope Benedict XVI resigns as the pope of the Catholic Church, becoming the first pope to do so since 1415.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Tyne Daly (70), Kelsey Grammar (61), Williams Baldwin (53), Jennifer Love Hewitt (37), Ellen Page (29), Jonathan Demme (72), Kyle MacLachlan (57), Jeri Ryan (48), Thomas Jane (47), Drew Barrymore (41), James Blunt (42), Peter Fonda (76), Kelly MacDonald (40), Dakota Fanning (22), Edward James Olmos (69), Billy Zane (50), Tia Leoni (50), Carrot Top (51), Sean Astin (45), Fats Domino (88), Michael Bolton (63) and Adam Baldwin (54).
The ‘Ghost Weddings’ of China
Grave robbers in rural China are stealing women’s corpses to feed a new demand for “ghost weddings”, an ancient ritual whereby elderly bachelors are given a “bride” to be buried with when they die. Under a rural tradition that began nearly 3,000 years ago, families in rural China consider it bad luck for a single man to pass into the afterlife without a female companion at his side. One way to prevent his spirit becoming restless is to provide a female corpse for him to be buried with. While the ghoulish practice has long been outlawed under communism, it has now revived as newly-wealthy country dwellers pay up to £10,000 per “bride”.
The village of Dongbao in China’s northern Shanxi province, which has suffered 15 corpse thefts in the last three years alone. At least 15 others have vanished from other hamlets across the region. “Who knows where they took my mother?” said Li Fucai, 53, standing over a tomb where his father now rests alone. “She is now ill-gotten gains for thieves.”
Ancestor worship is deeply-rooted in China, and many people will burn fake money and other tributes to the dead at this year’s annual Tomb Sweeping Festival in April. For those who have been the victims of grave robbers, the yearly festival visit to the family tombs can be a difficult one.
“My grandmother must now be wandering other villages, experiencing a painful afterlife,” said 43-year-old Jiang Chaohui, who also had the remains of his great aunt and great-grandmother stolen.
‘Ghost Weddings’ are said to date back to the 17th Century BC in China, and the superstition has persisted despite more than half a century of effort by the Communist authorities to stamp it out. The ritual involves the extra body being reburied and placed along the deceased in their tomb, usually with gongs and drums being played as relatives look on. Brides are more commonly sought by families because of China’s gender imbalance towards males. A deceased single man is also seen as making a family tree incomplete in the traditional Chinese social order. Some families will give such a man a “wife” in a form of a silver statuette or a dough mould of a woman, using black beans for eyes. But a handful of communities in inland backwaters still believe that if they fail to provide a real corpse, the dead relative could return to haunt the family and bring misfortune.
The black market in selling human remains is believed to have grown in recent years as China’s economic boom has seen the rural wealthy pay large sums to meet the needs of their deceased loved ones. Last October, police in Shanxi detained three people suspected of stealing a corpse which they aimed to sell as a bride. In 2013, a gang of four men were jailed after they made £240,000 yuan from the sales of 10 corpses in Shanxi and neighbouring Shaanxi. Remains of younger women and those who have recently died are more expensive on the black market, but decomposed female skeletons can be reinforced with steel wires before they are clothed and buried, according to Chinese media. Matchmaking agents provide the ghoulish service of pairing dead bachelors with the bodies of women from consenting families – which appears to be more tolerated by authorities than the illegal corpse trade.
The Last Word
All is lost. Monks, monks, monks! – Henry VIII, King of England, d. 1547
Next week peeps!