Author Archive

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.

Deaths

  • 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.

Deaths

  • 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.

Deaths

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.

Deaths

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.

Deaths

  • 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.

Deaths

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.

Deaths

  • 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.

Deaths

  • 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.

Deaths

  • 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.

Deaths

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.

Deaths

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.

Deaths

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. 

Deaths

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.

Deaths

  • 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.

Deaths

  • 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).


Dead Pool 4th June 2023

A very quiet week indeed! As the continued hounding of Philip Schofield for being gay continues, I stand here quite surprised that he’s not listed! Well, there’s plenty of time for that, I doubt the media have had their pound of flesh just yet. Since no-one worthy of note has died in the last week, I’ll keep this edition very short.

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A woman won the cheese rolling competition despite knocking herself unconscious during the event. 19-year-old Delaney Irving fell whilst pursuing a 3kg Gloucester cheese wheel down Coopers Hill in Brockworth, near Gloucester. Irving said she didn’t realise she had won the race until she woke up in the medical tent. Speaking to the Flying Monkeys, the 19-year-old said “I remember running, then bumping my head, and then I woke up in the tent. I still don’t really believe it, but it feels great.” Hundreds took part in the event during the last bank holiday, coming from all over the world. Irving, who is from Vancouver Island in Canada said that the race was “good… now that I remember it.” Matt Crolla, 28, from Manchester won the first race of the day, telling the Flying Monkeys that there is no way to “train” for the sport, saying “it’s just being an idiot.” Some viewers called participants “mad,” whilst others congratulated Irving on her win, seeing the fun side of the sport. Contestants suffered injuries including broken ankles, a concussion, a broken leg, and a suspected seizure. The Tewkesbury Borough Safety Group (SAG) said police and fire services would no longer staff the event until organisers came up with a safety plan, which sounds a bit churlish as there’s nothing safe about the event, so one could argue that they themselves put more people at risk by refusing to attend the event. Double-crewed ambulances and rapid response vehicles needed a police escort to gain access to the site, in order to clear a path through the crowds, which could have been avoided if SAG pulled their heads from their arses. “This put a strain on the resources of both Gloucestershire Constabulary and South West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust for a considerable time,” the SAG added. The group, which advises on safety at events, said it had “no desire or power” to stop the event but called for organisers to come up with a decent safety plan. “In the interim, police, fire and ambulance services will not be in attendance at the event, though of course will respond to any emergencies,” the SAG statement added. The annual event attracts thousands of spectators, including some from across the world. 

Jonnie Irwin has revealed that he has been admitted to hospital as he deals with terminal cancer. The Escape to the Country presenter, 49, said in November that he “doesn’t know how long” he has left to live, after first being diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2020, which later spread to his brain. He went public with his diagnosis in November 2022, after keeping it a secret from his fans for more than two years. Since his announcement, Irwin has been keeping his social media followers up to date with his condition. In the latest update, the father-of-three revealed he has gone into hospital to be “monitored” but hopes to be released in time for a scheduled appearance at A Place In The Sun Live in London this weekend.. He wrote in an Instagram post: “In hospital this week monitoring a changeover in my pain management regime. Fingers crossed I’ll be out in time to make an appearance on Sunday for this weekends @aplaceinthesunofficial LIVE event at @olympialondon in Kensington.” If he is released from the hospital and attends the event, Irwin will be joined on stage by fellow presenters Jasmine Harman, Ben Hillman and Laura Hamilton. He concluded the post: “Hope to see you there…x.” In a new podcast OneChat released last week, Irwin said that he was living under a “dark cloud” for the two years he hid his cancer from the world, adding that he kept his condition a secret so that he could continue working and “provide” for his family. Irwin and his wife Jessica have three children; three-year-old son Rex and two-year-old twins Rafa and Cormac. Elsewhere in the interview revealed that he had been close to death’s door “at least twice”, emphasising that he prefers to think of his situation as “living with cancer, rather than dying from cancer”. Irwin explained how he began to feel “alive” again after going public with his illness, but noted that didn’t mean his journey had been easy. “I have been close to death’s door, twice at least,” he said. He added: “You lose your memory, you lose your patience. I have got a very short temper. It’s not made me a better person, that’s for sure.” In March, Irwin gave a health update, telling The Flying Monkeys: “I’m weak now, fragile and my memory is terrible… but I’m still here.”

On This Day

  • 1784 – Élisabeth Thible becomes the first woman to fly in an untethered hot air balloon. Her flight covers four kilometres in 45 minutes, and reached 1,500 metres altitude (estimated).
  • 1913 – Emily Davison, a suffragist, runs out in front of King George V‘s horse at The Derby. She is trampled, never regains consciousness, and dies four days later.
  • 1940 – World War II: The Dunkirk evacuation ends: the British Armed Forces completes evacuation of 338,000 troops from Dunkirk in France. To rally the morale of the country, Winston Churchill delivers, only to the House of Commons, his famous “We shall fight on the beaches” speech.
  • 1977 – JVC introduces its VHS videotape at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago. It will eventually prevail against Sony’s rival Betamax system in a format war to become the predominant home video medium.
  • 1989 – The Tiananmen Square protests are suppressed in Beijing by the People’s Liberation Army, it leaves an estimated 10,000 dead.

Deaths

Last Week’s Birthdays

Angelina Jolie (48), Bruce Dern (87), Noah Wyle (52), Russell Brand (48), Sean Pertwee (59), Bradley Walsh (63), Imogen Poots (34), James Purefoy (59), Bill Paterson (78), Suzi Quatro (73), Awkwafina (35), Morena Baccarin (44), Jewel Staite (41), Justin Long (45), Wentworth Miller (51), Zachary Quinto (46), Dominic Cooper (45), Dana Carvey (68), Liam Cunningham (62), Brian Cox (77), Tom Holland (27), Morgan Freeman (86), Jonathan Pryce (76), Heidi Klum (50), Amy Schumer (42), Alanis Morissette (49), Robert Powell (79), Clint Eastwood (93), Colin Farrell (47), Brooke Shields (58), Lea Thompson (62), Tom Berenger (74), Sharon Gless (80), Colm Meaney (70), Stephen Tobolowsky (72), Keir Dullea (87), Harry Enfield (62), Ted Levine (66), Annette Bening (65), Laverne Cox (51), and Danny Elfman (70).


Dead Pool 28th May 2023

Let’s dish out the points! With the celebrated passing of Rolf Harris, I can award 157 to Liz who had him listed as her Cert, and 57 points to Ian, Lee, Paul G, Paul C, Neil, and Abi. Well done all of you, certainly makes the top of the league table look very interesting. Unsurprisingly, nobody had Tina Turner, as much-loved celebrities are rarely listed, probably why so many of you had Rolf ‘The Destroyer of Childhoods’ Harris on your lists.

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A Chinese live-streamer was found dead in his house hours after he live-streamed himself drinking an excessive amount of alcohol on the Chinese TikTok-like app Douyin. The Douyin user named Brother Three Thousand drank at least seven bottles of alcohol on the 16th May in his last livestream before he was found dead. The man, who was identified as Wang Moufeng by local media, was a 34-year-old resident of Lianyungang, in Jiangsu province. A video going viral on social media showed him drinking several bottles of baijiu spirits, a traditional clear grain spirit that contains up to 60% alcohol. The man was seen pouring out a small amount on the table and lighting it on fire to prove that it was indeed alcohol and not any other liquid. Unsurprisingly, he was found dead after 12 hours of the live broadcast, a funeral for him was held on Saturday. A man named Zhao, who knew about the incident, told the Flying Monkeys: “When his family found him, he was already gone, he didn’t even get a chance for emergency treatment.” The incident was widely discussed on Chinese social media, with people debating the safety regulations of apps that have billions of users. Mr Wang, who had 44,000 followers, was earlier penalised for posting drinking videos. The app prohibits content that shows drinking, with penalties including a ban following warnings. He had previously shared similar videos of drinking Chinese alcohol. On 16th May he took on a challenge in which users competed with each other by drinking alcohol to earn gifts. 

Television legend Esther Rantzen, 82, has revealed that her lung cancer has reached Stage 4 after announcing her diagnosis in January – but says she is ‘grateful’ for her long life and six-decade career. The mother-of-three and grandmother-of-five said at the time she had decided to announce the news because she found ‘it difficult to skulk around various hospitals wearing an unconvincing disguise. She is currently being treated with a new cancer medication and is due to have a scan ‘soon’ which will show whether or not the treatment is working. Dame Esther became a household name as she blazed a path for female broadcasters, most famously as presenter of That’s Life! from 1973 to 1994. Speaking for the first time about her cancer treatment, she told the Flying Monkeys: ‘I’m on one of the new medications, and nobody knows if it’s working or not. But I will have a scan fairly soon which will reveal one way or another.’ She added that her stage four diagnosis has made her realise ‘how very lucky I’ve been in my life’. She continued: ‘I’m not good at regrets. What I treasure most are the fantastic friendships I have made thanks to That’s Life! during the last 50 years, the people I met, and the team who worked so hard, and laughed so hard, together for so long.’  

 

Former tennis star Annabel Croft has been left devastated by the sudden death of her husband, a few weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer. Broadcaster Ms Croft, 56, married former professional yachtsman Mel Coleman in 1992. Around eight weeks ago after complaining of stomach pain, Mr Coleman was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. He died earlier this week, aged 60. Mr Coleman, a successful investment banker who took part in the America’s Cup and more recently ran a tennis school with his wife, was noted for his apparently perfect health and, like Ms Croft, enjoyed an active outdoors lifestyle. After Covid lockdowns, the two of them converted an old delivery van into a mobile home and took it around the country and into Europe on walking holidays. Last night, Ms Croft said: ‘My beloved husband Mel passed away peacefully on Wednesday morning after a short battle with cancer. My family and I are completely heartbroken and ask for privacy at this very sad time.’ A friend said: ‘This has come as an extreme shock to everyone – the diagnosis was out of the blue and Mel did not seem unwell at the time. Sadly the cancer progressed brutally… and he passed earlier this week. Everyone is devastated and horrified, and Annabel is absolutely shattered. The two of them have been together forever and were a wonderful couple.’

On This Day

  • 1588 – The Spanish Armada, with 130 ships and 30,000 men, sets sail from Lisbon, Portugal, heading for the English Channel. It doesn’t go well…
  • 2002 – The last steel girder is removed from the original World Trade Centre site. Clean-up duties officially end.
  • 2016 – Harambe, a gorilla, is shot to death after grabbing a three-year-old boy in his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, resulting in widespread criticism and sparking various internet memes.

Deaths

Last Week’s Birthdays

Kylie Minogue (55), Michelle Collins (61), Joseph Fiennes (53), Paul Bettany (52), Louis Gossett Jr. (87), André 3000 (48), Helena Bonham Carter (57), Pam Grier (74), Bobcat Goldthwait (61), Laurence Fox (45), Lenny Kravitz (59), Philip Michael Thomas (74), Stevie Nicks (75), Cillian Murphy (47), Mike Myers (60), Ian McKellen (84), Octavia Spencer (53), Frank Oz (79), Ann Robinson (94), Daisy Edgar-Jones (25), John C. Reilly (58), Alfred Molina (70), Doug Jones (63), Jim Broadbent (74), James Cosmo (75), Eric Cantona (57), Gary Burghoff (80), Tommy Chong (85), Bob Dylan (82), Joan Collins (90), Melissa McBride (58), Richard Ayoade (46), Ginnifer Goodwin (45), Maggie Q (44), and Naomi Campbell (53).


Dead Pool 21st May 2023

Another week passes by, yet more stars pass away. Short and sweet this week, let’s crack on! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Dead Pool favourite Rob Burrow has shared that the marathon held in his honour was ‘one of the best days’ of his life after emotional scenes captured the moment he was carried over the finish line by his ex-teammate. The rugby league legend, 40, who has motor neurone disease, described the inaugural Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon as ‘one day in a million’. He and former team-mate Kevin Sinfield were raising money for motor neurone disease (MND) charities and used a specially-adapted chair to join 12,500 other runners in the first Leeds marathon in 20 years. Rob was pushed around the 26.2 mile route but when it came to the finish line, rugby coach Sinfield, who has raised over £8million for MND charities since his former Leeds Rhinos team-mate Burrow was diagnosed with the condition in late 2019, lifted him from the chair to carry him across. The 42-year-old, who pushed Burrow around Sunday’s course, completed his Ultra 7 in 7 Challenge in November when he ran seven back-to-back ultra-marathons, running around 40 miles each day. Sinfield gave his former teammate a kiss of affection to mark the moment they crossed the line, leading Rob to joke with the Flying Monkeys that it could make people jealous.

The mother of Lauren Harries has issued a  plea for help after doctors were unable to diagnose her daughters’ troubling medical symptoms. Harries, 45, is still in hospital after undergoing emergency brain surgery last month. On her daughter’s Twitter account, Harries’s mother wrote: “Please help: Lauren has had a number of blackouts after which the right side of her face droops. This is incredibly scary for Lauren and us. She also has a consistent headache. “Doctors haven’t been able to explain what is causing these. Have you or someone you know been through this? Any ideas or help you could give will be so helpful.” She also credited the NHS with saving her daughter’s life, but expressed concern over the “scary” new symptoms. “@NHSuk have saved Lauren but they can’t find any answers for this and it is so scary when it happens, it happened again yesterday,” she wrote. “Please help find out what’s causing these!” Harries is the TV personality who found fame as a child through appearances on Terry Wogan’s chat show Wogan, featuring as a precocious antiques specialist. She later competed on the 2013 series of Celebrity Big Brother, ultimately finishing in third place. Her mother has kept fans updated as her daughter was rushed to hospital for surgery. “Thank you for your prayers & good wishes and cards & flowers!” she wrote. “Lauren is still recovering from neurosurgery, & a chest and throat infection. Lauren would also like to thank the NHS Nurses & Doctors. Physiotherapy next, while she is fighting a permanent headache. ‘Peace and light’.”  

A private ambulance has been pictured outside the home of “gravely ill” convicted paedophile Rolf Harris. The 93-year-old disgraced star, who is suffering from neck cancer, is understood to rarely leave his home. He and his wife Alwen, 91, apparently also “very frail” and wheelchair-bound due to Alzheimer’s disease, now rely on carers and nurses on a daily basis. The ambulance, often used by undertakers, left the couple’s £5million Thameside mansion in Berkshire at 6pm on Wednesday. Harris has been living almost like a recluse since he was released from jail back in 2017, after serving time for sex offences. His daughter Bindi had no comment to make when the Flying Monkeys contacted her.e. Her husband Craig also refused to comment. Daniel Burke, the Harris family solicitor lawyer, told us he has not spoken to Rolf’s only daughter Bindi and that he had not been given any instructions to prepare or issue a statement concerning his health. Last year, neighbour Portia Wooderson told the Flying Monkeys: “Only carers and nurses, who care for him 24 hours, come and go. I’m told he can’t eat anymore.” Author William Merritt confirmed Harris was “gravely sick” and claimed it was difficult to understand him when he communicates. Rolf was found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault (one was overturned in 2017) and sentenced to five years in prison. The disgraced star, whose victims included two girls in their early teens and his daughter’s friend, was released after three years in prison under licence. After being found guilty of crimes spanning nearly two decades – 1968 to 1986 – at London’s Southwark Crown Court, he was also stripped of his CBE.

On This Day

  • 1792 – A lava dome collapses on Mount Unzen, near the city of Shimbara on the Japanese island of Kyūshū, creating a deadly tsunami that killed nearly 15,000 people.
  • 1927 – Charles Lindbergh touches down at Le Bourget Field in Paris, completing the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 1932 – Bad weather forces Amelia Earhart to land in a pasture in Derry, Northern Ireland, and she thereby becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 1936 – Sada Abe is arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover’s severed genitals in her handbag. Her story soon becomes one of Japan’s most notorious scandals.
  • 1991 – Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated by a female suicide bomber near Madras.
  • 2011 – Radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicted that the world would end on this day.

Deaths

Last Weeks Birthdays

Fairuza Balk (49), Judge Reinhold (66), Mr. T (71), Noel Fielding (50), Jack Gleeson (31), Cher (77), Owen Teale (62), Louis Theroux (53), Grace Jones (75), James Fox (84), Amanda De Cadenet (51), Miriam Margolyes (82), Tina Fey (53), Chow Yun-Fat (68), Toyah Willcox (65), Ginger Gonzaga (40), Paul Whitehouse (65), Megan Fox (37), Pierce Brosnan (70), David Boreanaz (54), Danny Trejo (79), Janet Jackson (57), and Stephen Mangan (55).


Dead Pool 14th May 2023

In the week where we all preferred to Cha Cha Cha, we also heard that Ricky Gervais is going through the “worst illness of his life.” “I’m not well today,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning. “In fact I’d say I just lived through the worst 8 hours of illness of my life. Severe abdominal pains, vomiting every time I moved, (but only tiny bits of bile), hot sweats and chills, oh, and I really want to know who planted the 12 gravy bombs up my arse.” Let’s hope the 61 year old doesn’t actually get a real illness or he’d be bitching for real. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Rocky IV actor Dolph Lundgren has revealed an eight-year battle with cancer that was considered terminal prior to what he says was a more successful round of treatment. In an interview with the Flying Monkeys, Lundgren says he was first diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2015, information he’s sharing now for the first time. After surgery, he remained symptom-free for about five years but during a doctor visit during a trip to Sweden in 2020 was found to have additional tumours in the kidney and liver areas. At that point, the actor says, he was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer with only 2-3 years to live. He says that at the time he thought, “I’ve had a great life. I’ve lived like five lifetimes in one. So it wasn’t like I felt bitter but I felt sorry for my kids and my fiancé.” Eventually Lundgren sought an additional opinion from oncologist Dr. Alexandra Drakaki of UCLA Medical Center, and was placed on a more recently-developed medicinal treatment. Lundgren says the treatment, which he underwent while filming both The Expendables 4 and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, has proven effective in reducing the size of the tumours by 90%. According to Lundgren, he now needs to have an additional surgery, but he’s optimistic that after the operation he’ll have “no cancer activity.” Dr. Drakaki now hopes Lundgren’s survival rate will be measured in “years” rather than “months.” She continued, “My hope and goal is to try to keep him on this medication as long as possible and just keep getting biopsies as things change within his body to try to identify newer targets for treatment,” she said. Asked about his outlook now, Lundgren says, “You just appreciate being lucky enough to be alive.”

Miriam Margolyes, who played Professor Spout in the second Harry Potter film, recently announced she had been hospitalised after undergoing cardiac surgery. Margolyes, 81, gave fans an update on her health condition in separate Facebook posts. Last Friday, the veteran actor said she was being kept overnight at London’s The Royal Brompton Hospital. Her social media post reportedly read: “Have to stay overnight for Observation in the High Dependency Unit. BORING.” The following day, she informed fans she had undergone a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI), a minimally invasive procedure to replace a narrow aortic valve after it fails to open properly, adding that she would remain at The Royal Brompton “certainly till Sunday”. Alongside a photograph of herself in a hospital gown, Margolyes wrote: “I am growing energy but it’s still not quite me. I am putting this so you know how grateful I am for lovely messages.” She also expressed her desire to return to work, including embarking on a 22-city book tour later this year. The UK tour marks the release of her second book, Oh Miriam! Stories from an Extraordinary Life. Finally, on Monday, Margolyes said she had developed a chest infection and “can’t come home yet”. She added: “Probably tomorrow. But at least I’m resting. Love to all. Thank you for your lovely messages.” 

It’s been one month since Jamie Foxx was hospitalised after suffering a “medical complication”. On Friday his daughter Corinne Foxx revealed that apparently the actor had been out of the hospital “for weeks” after certain media outlets reported that his family were “preparing for the worst”. “Sad to see how the media runs wild,” she wrote on Instagram. “My dad has been out of the hospital for weeks recuperating. In fact, he was playing pickleball yesterday!” Specific details about the 55-year-old Django Unchained star’s illness remain undisclosed. “We wanted to share that my father, Jamie Foxx, experienced a medical complication yesterday,” Corinne, 29, said in a statement posted on social media on 12th  April. “Luckily, due to quick action and great care, he is already on his way to recovery. We know how beloved he is and appreciate your prayers,” she added. “The family asks for privacy during this time.” Conflicting accounts of Foxx’s status emerged in the weeks since he was admitted to hospital. While most reports suggested that the actor was recovering, one source told the Flying Monkeys on Tuesday that his friends and family were “hoping for the best – but preparing for the worst”. Corinne rebuked the Monkeys report. Foxx broke his silence on social media on 3rd May, thanking fans for their support. “Appreciate all the love!!! Feeling blessed,” the actor shared on his Instagram Story. 

On This Day

  • 1796 – Edward Jenner administers the first smallpox inoculation.
  • 1878 – The last witchcraft trial held in the United States begins in Salem, Massachusetts, after Lucretia Brown, an adherent of Christian Science, accused Daniel Spofford of attempting to harm her through his mental powers.
  • 1939 – Lina Medina becomes the youngest confirmed mother in medical history at the age of five.
  • 1973 – Skylab, the United States’ first space station, is launched.

Deaths

  • 1987 – Rita Hayworth, American actress and dancer (b. 1918).
  • 1998 – Frank Sinatra, American singer and actor (b. 1915).
  • 2015 – B.B. King, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1925).
  • 2017 – Powers Boothe, American actor (b. 1948).
  • 2019 – Grumpy Cat, American cat and internet meme celebrity (b. 2012).

Smallpox

On the anniversary of the first inoculation against smallpox, I thought we’d have a look at the history of the virus. 

Smallpox is one of two infectious diseases to have been eradicated, the other being rinderpest in 2011. The term “smallpox” was first used in England in the 16th century to distinguish the disease from syphilis, which was then known as the “great pox”. 

Smallpox is an acute contagious disease caused by the variola virus, a member of the orthopoxvirus family. It was one of the most devastating diseases known to humanity and caused millions of deaths before it was eradicated. It is believed to have existed for at least 4000 years, with the earliest evidence of the disease dating to around 1500 BC in Egyptian mummies.

Early symptoms of smallpox include high fever, fatigue and severe back pain, and less often, abdominal pain and vomiting. Two to three days later the virus produces a characteristic rash with bumps full of a clear liquid, which later fill with pus and finally develop a crust that dries and falls off. The rash begins on the face and hands, then spreads to the rest of the body. Lesions develop in the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth and ulcerate soon after formation.

Smallpox is transmitted from person to person via infective droplets during close contact with infected people who have symptoms of the disease, or in some cases through contaminated clothing and bedding. It has an incubation period of 7–17 days after exposure and only becomes infectious once a fever develops. People remain infectious until the last scabs fall off. Smallpox was fatal in up to 30% of cases. 

The disease historically occurred in outbreaks. In 18th-century Europe, it is estimated that 400,000 people died from the disease per year, and that one-third of all cases of blindness were due to smallpox. Smallpox is estimated to have killed up to 300 million people in the 20th century and around 500 million people in the last 100 years of its existence. As recently as 1967, 15 million cases occurred a year.

The earliest procedure used to prevent smallpox was inoculation with variola minor virus, which likely occurred in India, Africa, and China well before the practice arrived in Europe. The idea that inoculation originated in India has been challenged, as few of the ancient Sanskrit medical texts described the process of inoculation. Accounts of inoculation against smallpox in China can be found as early as the late 10th century, and the procedure was widely practiced by the 16th century, during the Ming dynasty. 

The smallpox vaccine as we know it was created by Edward Jenner in 1796, was the first successful vaccine to be developed. He observed that milkmaids who previously had caught cowpox did not catch smallpox and showed that a similar inoculation could be used to prevent smallpox in other people. 

In 1959, the World Health Organisation announced an audacious goal, the eradication of smallpox. Although no human disease had ever been eradicated, smallpox was a good candidate: it was easily diagnosed, had an effective vaccine and did not live in any other animal host. The effort began slowly, but after a second resolution in 1966, international cooperation grew and the campaign accelerated. Technological innovations such as the freeze-dried vaccine and the bifurcated needle made vaccination more effective and simpler to administer. Initially, health workers conducted mass vaccinations, but over time they switched to a more targeted strategy. Teams would quickly track down new cases, isolate the infected, and vaccinate all of those who may have had contact with the infected person.  

In late 1975, three-year-old Rahima Banu from Bangladesh was the last person in the world to have naturally acquired variola major. She was also the last person in Asia to have active smallpox. She was isolated at home with house guards posted 24 hours a day until she was no longer infectious. 

Janet Parker was the last person to die of smallpox. In 1978, Parker was a medical photographer at England’s Birmingham University Medical School. She worked one floor above the Medical Microbiology Department where staff and students conducted smallpox research.

The global eradication of smallpox was certified, based on intense verification activities, by a commission of eminent scientists on 9th December 1979 and subsequently endorsed by the World Health Assembly on 8th May 1980.

Unbelievably, two live samples of variola major virus remain, one in the United States at the CDC in Atlanta, and one at the Vector Institute in Koltsovo, Russia. Research with the remaining virus samples is tightly controlled, and each research proposal must be approved by the WHO and the World Health Assembly.  The genome of variola major virus was first sequenced in its entirety in the 1990s. The complete coding sequence is publicly available online, in case you amateur scientists fancy a go at making it. 

The WHO currently bans genetic engineering of the variola virus, however the public availability of the variola virus sequence has raised concerns about the possibility of illicit synthesis of infectious virus. 

In 2016, a group synthesised the horsepox virus using publicly available sequence data. The researchers argued that their work would be beneficial to creating a safer and more effective vaccine for smallpox, although an effective vaccine is already available. The horsepox virus had previously seemed to have gone extinct, raising concern about potential revival of variola major and causing other scientists to question their motives. Critics found it especially concerning that the group was able to recreate viable virus in a short time frame with relatively little cost or effort. 

Famous historical figures who contracted smallpox include Lakota Chief Sitting Bull, Pharaoh Ramses V, Peter II of Russia, and Louis XV of France. Prominent families throughout the world often had several people infected by and/or perish from the disease. For example, several relatives of Henry VIII of England survived the disease but were scarred by it. These include his sister Margaret, his wife Anne of Cleves, and his two daughters: Mary I in 1527 and Elizabeth I in 1562. Elizabeth tried to disguise the pockmarks with heavy makeup. Mary, Queen of Scots, contracted the disease as a child but had no visible scarring. 

U.S. Presidents George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln all contracted and recovered from the disease. Washington became infected with smallpox on a visit to Barbados in 1751. Jackson developed the illness after being taken prisoner by the British during the American Revolution, and though he recovered, his brother Robert did not. Lincoln contracted the disease during his presidency, possibly from his son Tad, and was quarantined shortly after giving the Gettysburg address in 1863. 

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin fell ill with smallpox at the age of seven. His face was badly scarred by the disease. He later had photographs retouched to make his pockmarks less apparent. 

So there we are, a quick look at smallpox. We are all exceptionally lucky we don’t have to deal with it nowadays, but given that there are two examples of the virus sill around and that people are generally very stupid, we could easily be facing an outbreak soon enough. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Cate Blanchett (54), Tim Roth (62), George Lucas (79), Danny Huston (61), Francesca Annis (78), Greg Davies (55), Siân Phillips (90), Martine McCutcheon (47), Robert Pattinson (37), Samantha Morton (46), Harvey Keitel (84), Zoë Wanamaker (74), Iwan Rheon (38), Mark Heap (66), Stephen Colbert (59), Rhea Seehorn (51), Rami Malek (42), Malin Akerman (45), Emilio Estevez (61), Ving Rhames (64), Gabriel Byrne (73), Jason Biggs (45), Shohreh Aghdashloo (71), Tim Blake Nelson (59), Pam Ferris (75), Holly Valance (40), Jadyn Wong (38), Bono (63), Rosario Dawson (44), Grace Gummer (37), Glenda Jackson (87), Billy Joel (74), Stephen Amell (42), Vicky McClure (40), Phyllida Law (91), and David Attenborough (97).


Dead Pool 7th May 2023

Short and sweet this week; I was holding space for the potential celebrity killing explosion at Westminster Abbey for HRH’s coronation, however the lack of body parts flying about means nobody gets to score a huge amount of points! You may have seen our representative there, ready to pounce, but all we got in the end was a yawning princelet and Katy Perry trying to park her arse. So here’s to a £100 million well spent at a time where most of us can’t afford to eat. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Actress Vicky Wright, the fiancée of comedian Bobby Davro and daughter of England footballer Billy Wright, has died. Last week, the comedian explained opened up about the “absolute agony” of watching Vicky battle the disease after he proposed to her in 2022, having been together for 12 years. Although not famous enough for our ends, Vicky, 63, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which is difficult to detect until it reaches an advanced stage. Discussing her battle, he said: “It’s extremely, extremely, extremely painful.” Taking to Twitter, Kelly Wright-Warhurst, Vicky’s daughter, penned: “Hello everyone. Some incredibly devastating news to share as my wonderful mum Vicky has sadly passed away this morning. I wanted to use this platform to let you all know, as I know how much she valued all your love and support in so many ways.” Vicky’s dad, Wolverhampton Wanderers and England footballer Billy Wright had also battled the disease, passing away in September 1994 aged 70, just months after his diagnosis. Fans have since flocked to Twitter to share tributes, with one writing: “This is incredibly sad news; I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Sending lots of love to you all.” Loose Women star Denise Welch penned: “So very sorry,” alongside three heart emojis. BBC Midlands’ Nick Owen commented: “Oh no. Shattering news. I had known Vicky for more than 40 years and loved her company. Her dad Billy gave me my first job in television. I feel terribly sad tonight. Thoughts with all the family.”  

MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo was secretly dealing with recurrent bowel cancer in the years before his death, it’s been reported today. The Flying Monkeys report that Zonfrillo, who was found dead by police making a welfare check at 2am on Monday in a property on Lygon St, Carlton, kept his cancer battle a secret and received treatment when MasterChef was not filming. Police said Zonfrillo’s death was not being treated as suspicious and a report will be made for the coroner. While there is no suggestion Zonfrillo died of cancer, the Flying Monkeys said that the much-loved TV chef was first treated for bowel cancer with chemotherapy and radiotherapy some years ago, before going into remission in 2016. The cancer was then reportedly detected again in May 2021, with Zonfrillo entering new rounds of chemotherapy the following month – which the outlet quotes an unnamed friend as saying he was “coping poorly” with. Zonfrillo made no mention of ever having had cancer in his 2021 memoir Long Shot. The Monkeys claim that he was receiving cancer treatment as recently as September last year, while on a sailing holiday in Italy. “I was told the reason why he hasn’t disclosed his medical condition was because he didn’t want people feeling sorry for him, or treating him any different,” a source told the outlet in 2021, a quote that went unpublished until today.   

Jamie Foxx is still in hospital after a sudden medical emergency three weeks ago – with family asking for fans’ prayers to help him through. The Spider-Man: No Way Home star, 55, was rushed to hospital in Atlanta, Georgia on April 11th following a “serious medical complication” while filming Netflix film, Back In Action. While the family have chosen not to disclose what exactly happened to the star, he has remained in hospital ever since. On Monday, close friend Charles Alston posted an update on Instagram asking for prayers as the star continues to recover. “We need you back Bro,” the message read. “As I always state a true champion isn’t the one that wins, it’s the one that meets & overcomes adversity!! You’re test becomes your testimony!! We all can’t wait to receive you back home to celebrate, laugh with and applaud you!!” The message comes after Jamie’s daughter, Corinne, confirmed her dad had been taken ill and was currently seeking medical attention. “We wanted to share that, my father, Jamie Foxx, experienced a medical complication yesterday,” she wrote shortly after the incident. “Luckily, due to quick action and great care, he is already on his way to recovery. We know how beloved he is and appreciate your prayers. The family asks for privacy during this time.” It’s since been reported by RadarOnline that it was “touch and go” for the star and that he was “very lucky to be alive” following the incident. A week after being first admitted into the hospital, it was claimed doctors were “stumped” over what caused the medical emergency. However, as of last week, it was claimed that he was doing well, awake and active, and being supported by his family while doctors run tests and ensure he is safe to be discharged.

On This Day

  • 1840 – The Great Natchez Tornado strikes Natchez, Mississippi killing 317 people. It is the second deadliest tornado in United States history.
  • 1915 – World War I: German submarine U-20 sinks RMS Lusitania, killing 1,198 people, including 128 Americans. Public reaction to the sinking turns many former pro-Germans in the United States against the German Empire.
  • 1946 – Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering (later renamed Sony) is founded
  • 1952 – The concept of the integrated circuit, the basis for all modern computers, is first published by Geoffrey Dummer.
  • 2000 – Vladimir Putin is inaugurated as president of Russia.

Deaths

Last Week’s Birthdays

Richard O’Sullivan (79), Adrianne Palicki (40), George Clooney (62), Naomi Scott (30), Pippa Haywood (62), Alan Dale (76), Henry Cavill (40), Lance Henriksen (83), John Rhys-Davies (79), Zach McGowan (43), Richard E. Grant (66), Adele (35), Marc Alaimo (81), Michael Palin (80), Will Arnett (53), Rachel Zegler (22), Pom Klementieff (37), Christina Hendricks (48), Bobby Cannavale (53), Rob Brydon (58), Sandi Toksvig (65), Ellie Kemper (43), Dwayne Johnson (51), Matt Berry (49), Kumail Nanjiani (45), David Suchet (77), Lily Allen (38), David Beckham (48), Engelbert Humperdinck (87), Jamie Dornan (41), and Joanna Lumley (77).


Dead Pool 30th April 2023

In the week where blow jobs have been proven to cause throat cancer, we also have points to award! With the death of Harry Belafonte, 54 points go to Fiona and Jamie. Well done both of you! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Barry Humphries is said to have secretly battled cancer in the years before his death. The legendary entertainer, who was best known for his alter ego Dame Edna Everage, died a week ago at the age of 89. It was originally reported he was in hospital due to complications with hip replacement surgery following a fall at his home. But now it has emerged that while he was admitted, doctors discovered his cancer was more advanced than they thought. Back in 2021, Barry revealed he had been diagnosed with Extramammary Paget’s Disease (EMPD), a form of skin cancer, after noticing something unusual on his testicles in the shower. The slow growing disease is a pre-invasive form of skin cancer that looks similar to a patch of eczema and is most common in people over 60, according to the NHS. Although Barry had surgery on the affected area three years ago, it is thought he was still battling the disease at the time of his death. Sources close to his family told the Flying Monkeys that after his recent hip operation doctors realised “the extent of the cancer that would end his life within six weeks”. Speaking when he first diagnosed with cancer, Barry explained his health issues in his column for The Oldies magazine. He wrote: “I had the rare Extramammary Paget’s disease, first noticed under the shower – so it was a general anaesthetic and the knife. Ladies sometimes get Paget’s on their breasts, but it rarely – if ever – assails a man’s front botty.” Poking humour at his situation, comedian Barry continued: “The scrotum is very forgiving. These comforting words were recently uttered by a distinguished surgeon before he deracinated a nasty excrescence in a dark part of my anatomy.” Further details surrounding the comedian’s death came to light as his family and friends gathered at a private funeral for the star on Friday. Reports claim guests were only given 24 hours’ notice to attend the service, which was held at the Bowral estate of his long-time friend, artist Tim Storrier in the New South Wales Southern Highlands. It is thought the funeral was held earlier than expected as Barry’s wife of three decades, Lizzie Spender, is flying to London this weekend. Film director Bruce Beresford said: “It was a small affair, just family and close friends. It was very touching, very warm. Everybody was either related or a great friend of Barry’s.” No speeches were made, but excerpts from some of Barry’s favourite poems were reportedly read, including three verses from The Heart of a Friend by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. As well as wife Lizzie and his children, Oscar, Rupert, Emily and Tessa, Barry’s close friend, British comedian Rob Brydon is thought to have attended, as well as writer Kathy Lette and Scottish journalist Andrew Neal. Barry was cremated earlier in the week. It is not known if any public service, such as a stage funeral, will be held in Australia at this time.    

Micheal J. Fox has opened up about his thoughts on mortality, death and Parkinson’s disease in a candid interview where he discussed living with – and realising he would die with – the condition. The 61-year-old Hollywood star makes the heartbreaking acknowledgement that he doesn’t expect to reach his 80th birthday due to the disease. Michael was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s back in 1991 when he was just 29-years-old – and he went public with the news nine years later. After decades of campaigning, raising funds and awareness of the condition, Michael is set to appear in a number of interviews to discuss how he has experienced life with Parkinson’s. A preview of his CBS Sunday Morning interview has shown him stating: “My life is set up so…I can pack Parkinson’s along with me if I have to.” The actor goes on to explain that the disease made him reassess his approach to life and states: “You don’t die from Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s.” He goes on to explain that those suffering from the disease at risk of injuries, like falling, choking, or getting sick with a cold which can in turn prove fatal. Heartbreakingly, he added: “I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it… I’m not gonna be 80.” Earlier this week, Michael explained to the Flying Monkeys that the work his Michael J. Fox Foundation does has been aiming to improve the lives of others at risk of the disease. He highlighted that his teams are working to devise new ways to detect and treat Parkinson’s. He said: “The idea of a biomarker… a way to identify the disease before the disease is present. “By the time I was diagnosed, I had a little twitch in my pinky but…with this, we can identify the disease really early and help progression and essentially cure ahead of the game.” He did explain that he does struggle with his own condition. He told the outlet: “I’m not going to lie, it’s getting hard, it’s getting harder. “Every day is tougher. But, but that’s — that’s the way it is.” 

Only Fools and Horses actor, Patrick Murray, 66, shared his doctors are “optimistic” despite the fact that his cancer has “unfortunately” come back. He is best known for portraying Mickey Pearce in the hit series. Having previously been diagnosed with lung cancer, he was given the all-clear last year. He took to Twitter to reveal the update, as he shared his bid to stay upbeat despite the diagnosis. He shared: “I have been trying to avoid this tweet for a while, but I owe it to my friends to keep you updated. Despite all the wonderful efforts by the medical and nursing teams at Medway, Guys, and Kings College hospitals, the lung cancer has returned. I thought I had a painful groin strain a couple of months ago, unfortunately that turned out to be the cancer getting into my pelvis and leg bones.” He continued on the status of the cancer: “It has also entered my lymphatic system.” However, Patrick went on to share some better news: “I had radiology treatment last week and my oncologist is fairly confident this will stop the leg pain, and I will be up and about again. Another positive is my consultant. He is confident that the chemo will keep things in check for months and even years. His optimism comes not from kindness of which I know he has in spades but advances in cancer medicine.” He ended the long message by thanking his fans for their support. He added: “I am feeling positive with my good wifes awesome support . Luv’n’Hugs.” 

On This Day

  • 1661 – King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland is crowned in Westminster Abbey.
  • 1985 – Coca-Cola changes its formula and releases New Coke. The response is overwhelmingly negative, and the original formula is back on the market in less than three months.
  • 2005 – The first YouTube video, titled “Me at the zoo”, was published by co-founder Jawed Karim.

Deaths

The White Death 

Simo Häyhä, often referred to by his nickname, The White Death, was a Finnish military sniper in World War II during the 1939–1940 Winter War against the Soviet Union. He used a Finnish-produced M/28-30 (a variant of the Mosin–Nagant rifle) and a Suomi KP/-31 submachine gun. He is believed to have killed over 500 enemy soldiers during the Winter War, the highest number of sniper kills in any major war. Because of this, he is often regarded as the deadliest sniper of all time.

Häyhä estimated in his private war memoir that he shot around 500 Soviet soldiers. The memoir, titled Sotamuistoja (War memoirs), was written in 1940, a few months after he was wounded, and described his experiences in the Winter War from 30th November 1939 to 13th March 1940. Hidden for decades, the memoir was discovered in 2017. 

Häyhä was born in the Kiiskinen hamlet of the Rautjärvi municipality in the Viipuri Province of southern Finland near the border with Russia. He was the seventh of eight children in a Lutheran family of farmers. He was a farmer, hunter, and skier prior to his military service. 

Häyhä joined the Finnish voluntary militia Civil Guard at the age of 17. He was successful in shooting competitions in the Viipuri Province; his home was reportedly full of trophies for marksmanship. He was not keen to hog the spotlight, and accordingly in group photos from his youth he usually stood at the back, until his later successes forced him to take centre stage. 

In 1925, at the age of 19, Häyhä began his 15-month compulsory military service in the Bicycle Battalion. However, he did not receive formal sniper training until a year before the war in 1938. 

According to Major Tapio Saarelainen – who met Häyhä several times and has written five books about him, including his biography – Häyhä was able to estimate distances with an accuracy of 1 metre up to 150 metres. Saarelainen notes that during his Civil Guard training, Häyhä once hit a target 16 times from 150 metres away in just one minute. “This was an unbelievable accomplishment with a bolt action rifle, considering that each cartridge had to be manually fed with a fixed magazine that held together five cartridges.” 

All of Häyhä’s kills were accomplished in less than 100 days, an average of five per day at a time of year with very few daylight hours. His kill count as a sniper was based on his own reporting, with the confirmation of his comrades, and only those who were verified to be dead were counted. No count was taken when several snipers shot at the same target. Enemy soldiers killed with a submachine gun with Häyhä as a group leader were not counted.

Häyhä’s division commander Antero Svensson credited him with 219 confirmed kills with a rifle and an equal number of kills by submachine gun, when he awarded Häyhä with an honorary rifle on 17th February 1940. On 21st December 1939, Häyhä achieved his highest daily count of 25 kills. In his diary, military chaplain Antti Rantamaa reported 259 confirmed kills made by rifle and an equal number of kills by submachine gun from the beginning of the war until 7th March 1940, one day after Häyhä was severely wounded. Later in his book, Rantamaa credited Häyhä with a total  of 542 kills. Häyhä never discussed it publicly, but his own private memoir, discovered in 2017, states a number. He begins by stating that “this is his sin list”, and estimates the total number he shot to be around 500. 

Häyhä preferred iron sights over telescopic sights, as they enable a sniper to present a smaller target for the enemy (a sniper must raise his head a few centimetres higher when using a telescopic sight), and can be relied on even in extreme cold, unlike telescopic sights which tend to cloud up in cold weather. Another disadvantage of telescopic sights is that sunlight may reflect off the lenses and reveal the sniper’s position. Häyhä did not have prior training with scoped rifles, and therefore preferred not to switch to the Soviet scoped rifle. 

Häyhä dealt with the intense cold by dressing properly with multiple layers of clothing. He kept sugar and bread in his pockets, consuming them for the calories necessary to keep his body warm. His slight stature of 5 ft 3 in assisted him in disguising his position. Hidden in a snow pit, he could lie still and observe the enemy for long periods of time. It was Häyhä’s custom to move, well before daybreak, to the position he had prepared, and stay there until after sunset. He would frequently pack dense mounds of snow in front of his position to conceal himself, provide padding for his rifle, and reduce the characteristic puff of snow stirred up by the muzzle blast. He was known to keep snow in his mouth while sniping to prevent his breath in the cold air from giving away his position. 

On 6th March 1940, Häyhä was severely wounded after an explosive bullet fired by a Red Army soldier hit his lower left jaw. After the battle, as he appeared to be dead, he was placed on a pile of dead bodies. A fellow soldier, under orders from his commanding officer, searched for Häyhä, noticed a leg twitching among the pile and found Häyhä alive, although unconscious. He was evacuated by fellow soldiers who said that “half his face was missing”. The bullet had removed his upper jaw, most of his lower jaw, and most of his left cheek. 

Rumours of Häyhä’s death spread around in Finland and the Soviet Union. He regained consciousness a week later on 13th March, the day that peace was declared. He read about his own death in a newspaper, and sent a letter to the paper to correct the misunderstanding. He spent 14 months recovering from his wounds and endured 26 surgeries.  

It took several years for Häyhä to recuperate from his wound which required lengthy treatments and several surgeries. Although his face remained disfigured, he otherwise made a full recovery. After World War II, he was given a farm in Valkjärvi (“Whitelake”), Ruokolahti. He became a successful moose hunter and dog breeder. In addition to farming, he enjoyed hunting, and his hunting parties over the years included the President of Finland, Urho Kekkonen. 

Häyhä was known as a modest man who never boasted of his wartime merits. He rarely spoke of the war and his experiences.[ When asked in 1998 how he had become such a good sniper, he replied simply: “Practice”. He was asked if he felt remorse for having killed so many people. He replied, “I did what I was told to do, as well as I could. There would be no Finland unless everyone else had done the same.” 

Häyhä spent his last years in a war veterans’ nursing home in Hamina, where he died in 2002 at the age of 96. He was buried in his home town of Ruokolahti. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

John Cena (46), Dev Patel (33), John Hannah (61), Lee Majors (84), Gemma Whelan (42), Blair Brown (77), John Oliver (46), Jack Nicholson (86), Amber Heard (37), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (57), John Waters (77), Sheryl Lee (56), James McAvoy (44), Andie MacDowell (65), Toby Stephens (54), Tony Danza (72), Iggy Pop (76), Andy Serkis (59), Clint Howard (64), Veronica Cartwright (74), Jessica Lange (74), Ryan O’Neal (82), Carmen Electra (51), George Takei (86), Nicholas Lyndhurst (62), Michael Brandon (78), Hayden Christensen (42), James Franco (45), Tim Curry (77), Kate Hudson (44), Ashley Judd (55), David Tennant (52), Rick Moranis (70), Hayley Mills (77), James Woods (76), Eli Roth (51), Conan O’Brien (60), Jennifer Garner (51), Rooney Mara (38), Sean Bean (64), and David Bradley (81).


Dead Pool 23rd April 2023

With the sad passing of Barry Humphries, Sarai scores 61 points, well done her, although it was me who suggested him as she couldn’t think of another name… Sheesh! I do better on other peoples lists than my own! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Sir Michael Parkinson made a rare public appearance to celebrate his friend Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird’s 90th birthday. The broadcaster, 88, looked smart yet emaciated as he laughed and joked with pals at Leeds’ Headingley Stadium. The former BBC talk show host was one of 230 guests who joined Bird for a special lunch in the Howard Suite at Yorkshire’s headquarters to mark his milestone. ‘I was in hospital three weeks ago but I was determined to be here because he is my oldest friend,’ said 88-year-old Parky, who used to play cricket with Bird at Barnsley. ‘He is an extraordinary human being. He is one of the most remarkable men I have ever met. And he is the soul of cricket. I am proud to call him a mate.’ Former ECB and Yorkshire chair Colin Graves, the county’s interim chair Baroness Grey-Thompson, ex-Yorkshire captain Steve Patterson and former England spinner Jack Birkenshaw also attended the lunch. ‘Ninety not out — it’s a good age!’ Bird told the Flying Monkeys. ‘I’ll try to go on longer now. Get to 95. A hundred is a big haul but I’ll be trying! I’ve enjoyed the day very much. I would have liked to have gone round all the people and thanked them individually for coming. I was so delighted to see Parky because he’s been my friend all these years. I was so grateful that he came.’  

Much-loved radio legend, Tony Blackburn was absent from his show last week due to illness and has said it may be some time before he’s back. 80-year-old Blackburn, was unable to host his weekly Radio 2 show, Sounds of the Sixties due to a chest infection, and his old friend Johnny Walker, 78, stepped in to take over. In a tweet yesterday, he tried to reassure worried listeners that he was okay. The statement read ‘The infection I have is requiring more treatment than initially thought and it means I am having to reschedule the Sounds of the 60’s Tour for the moment in order to recover fully. All tickets booked will be automatically transferred to the new dates and you will be notified of this change by your ticket provider. I am sorry for the disruption, and I really am looking forward to getting back on the road with the band.’ Tony added: ‘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. I also want to thank @BBCRadio2, @7digitalCreativ and @BBC Local Radio teams for all their understanding and support. @senbla are the promoters of the tour and have been incredible as have the theatres who have been very understanding of the situation. Finally, to all the nurses, Dr’s and support staff at Barnet General hospital who I spent a few days with over the last week, thank you for looking after me. You are brilliant!’  

Sam Smith was forced to cancel his gig in Glasgow just hours before he was due on stage after being struck down with a mystery virus. The singer, 30, had been due to perform at the OVO Hydro Arena on Saturday night but pulled out, disappointing his two fans who were due to see him perform. Sam took his Instagram on Friday to deliver the devastating blow to his two fans, writing a heartfelt apology on his page. The pop star explained that he and his team were feeling “really unwell” and needed to reschedule. Sam wrote on Instagram: “Sailors, I’m so sorry to say but we have to reschedule the Glasgow show to 25th May 2023. Myself and a lot of my team have been hit with a virus, that’s made us really unwell. I want to give you the best version of Gloria the Tour and at the moment that’s not possible. It was also really important to me that we had another date to move this to straight away. We will celebrate Gloria together!! All previous tickets are still valid for the new date. For any more information go to my website. All my love, Sam.” Sam has recently sparked a heated conversation online once again thanks to another ‘controversial’ performance. While his fans who were in the audience seem to love his tour aesthetics and themes, critics have taken aim at the non-binary idiot – accusing him of giving ‘satanic’ and ‘sexualised’ performances. Sam – who uses they/them pronouns, mainly because he’s fat enough to be two people – dresses in a series of eye-catching looks for his latest tour, with red devil horns, sheer veils, wire crowns, nipple tassels and fishnets all making appearances throughout the performances. The Unholy hitmaker’s tour also includes the use of religious imagery and clips from Sam’s show circulating online have prompted many of the singer’s critics to slam the star and accuse him of seeking attention via his ‘sexualised’ performances.

On This Day

  • 1661 – King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland is crowned in Westminster Abbey.
  • 1985 – Coca-Cola changes its formula and releases New Coke. The response is overwhelmingly negative, and the original formula is back on the market in less than three months.
  • 2005 – The first YouTube video, titled “Me at the zoo”, was published by co-founder Jawed Karim.    

Deaths

The True Story Behind ‘The Amityville Horror’

The history of the horror genre is filled with movies based on actual events, for what is scarier than the evil found in reality. Psycho, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and Silence of the Lambs are all loosely based on the killer Ed Gein. The Conjuring and Annabelle films are based on the stories told by demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. The most famous horror film based on a true story, however, is the 1979 fearfest, The Amityville Horror.

The movie was so popular that it inspired a franchise of forgettable sequels, and even a Ryan Reynolds-led remake in 2005, but none could match the impact of the original. Starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder, and Rod Steiger, The Amityville Horror was a big box office hit thanks to its “too scary to be true” story. It pulls from the 1977 book of the same name by Jay Anson, a work itself that was very popular, but also controversial due to claims and lawsuits about what was true and what was made up.

So what is the true story behind The Amityville Horror? Simply put, the film is about a man and his wife and children who move into a house where another man once killed his family. They quickly come to find that the house is haunted and their lives in danger. While the supernatural aspects can be debated, what can’t be questioned is the inciting event. 

The film gets its name due to what once happened in Amityville, New York, a town on Long Island. On November 13th 1974, in a house that looks almost exactly like the famous one from the movie, a 23-year-old man by the name of Ronald J DeFeo Jr. murdered six members of his family with a rifle while they slept in their beds at night. Killed were his parents, Ronald Sr. and Louise, along with his young brothers and sisters, Dawn, Allison, Marc, and John.

At first, DeFeo claimed he had found their bodies after the murders, and even blamed the mass killing on a hitman, but by the next day, he confessed his sins and admitted that it was he who had killed his entire family. The “why” behind his crimes was never clear, as his story changed over the years. First, he said he heard voices. Later, he said other members of his family helped him. Many have tried to figure it out themselves. Was DeFeo after his father’s life insurance money? Did he have a psychotic break? Did his history of drug use play a role? Or was it something supernatural and unexplainable? It was a story that stuck with people. How could a man kill his entire family like that, and how could he do it all alone without the neighbours or any of his family hearing the gunshots! None of them got out of bed, or fought back! DeFeo was found guilty of the murders at trial and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. It was there he stayed until his death in 2021.  

While this is mentioned in the film, it’s what happens next that is the focus of The Amityville Horror. A year later George and Kathy Lutz (who would be portrayed by Brolin and Kidder), bought the house on the cheap, aware of the home’s grisly history, and moved in with Kathy’s three young children. The couple had the house blessed by a priest named Father Ralph Pecoraro, who claimed he heard a mysterious deep voice telling him to get out. It was then that he said he was slapped by an unseen force, and later blisters formed on his hands.

When the Lutzs moved in, the traditional haunted house tropes began. Doors slammed on their own. Beds moved. Ooze formed on the carpet. Strange smells came and went. And the house stayed extremely cold no matter how they tried to heat it. George said he would wake up at almost 3:15 am every night, the same time the murders happened. One night, he said he even woke to find Kathy levitating over the bed. Less than a month into living in their new home, the family bailed, leaving everything behind.

Naturally, paranormal investigators wanted to get involved and visited the house in droves. Among them were the famous couple, Ed and Lorraine Warren, of The Conjuring and Annabelle fame. Nothing out of the ordinary was ever noticed by those who visited the house, outside of a photo taken that claimed to be the ghost of one of the young murdered DeFeo children. Many, though, claim that it was most likely a member of the team and probably a hoax. While she didn’t see anything, Lorraine Warren said she could feel a presence, telling CNN in a 2005 interview that what happened in the house was, “the personification of evil, how evil can personify itself, how it can be attracted in certain situations.” 

It is true that the Lutzs only lived in the home for 28 days. It is true that investigators descended on the home. But what can’t be proven are the paranormal claims the family made. Many have determined that the Lutzs made it all up for financial claim, as the popular book is based on conversations with the family. Before speaking with the book’s author, George Lutz contacted DeFeo’s lawyer, William Weber, who was trying to get a book written about his client. Weber told ABC how Lutz got drunk when telling his story and how he was just “creating ideas.” When asked if Weber believed Lutz, he said, “Absolutely not, because they were making a commercial venture.”

It was indeed such a venture, for the Lutzs’ reportedly made $300,000 for Anson’s book. There are so many claims about the haunting all being a hoax for financial gain, from reports that the priest never visited the home to reports that the police were never called even though the book said that they were. It should be noted that no other family who has lived inside the home since (and a family lives there to this very day) have ever claimed to experience supernatural events there. 

You could go back and forth with those who believe in ghosts and demons and buy every aspect of the Lutzs’ story, and those who don’t believe and think it’s all BS. That controversy, after all, is part of the appeal over all of these decades, for a haunted house existing in reality is just too surreal for many.

Whether the Lutzs’ story is true or not doesn’t really matter. A book and movie came out of it, but no one was harmed. It’s the actual 100% true story with the DeFeos where the real horror is found. More frightening than things that go bump in the night is the reality of a human being giving into an indescribable madness and committing the most horrific crime imaginable. Ghosts and ooze and mysterious voices are all creepy, but it’s the news stories we hear about that keep us up at night. Only the Lutzs know if they’re lying or not. Ronald J DeFeo Jr. wasn’t lying about what he did. That really happened and there are six graves all together in a cemetery to prove it. The only mystery is the motive. DeFeo was always changing his story, and only he knew the real one from the lies. He took that with him to his own grave, leaving a mystery that has captivated millions for almost half a century.

Last Week’s Birthdays

John Cena (46), Dev Patel (33), John Hannah (61), Lee Majors (84), Gemma Whelan (42), Blair Brown (77), John Oliver (46), Jack Nicholson (86), Amber Heard (37), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (57), John Waters (77), Sheryl Lee (56), James McAvoy (44), Andie MacDowell (65), Toby Stephens (54), Tony Danza (72), Iggy Pop (76), Andy Serkis (59), Clint Howard (64), Veronica Cartwright (74), Jessica Lange (74), Ryan O’Neal (82), Carmen Electra (51), George Takei (86), Nicholas Lyndhurst (62), Michael Brandon (78), Hayden Christensen (42), James Franco (45), Tim Curry (77), Kate Hudson (44), Ashley Judd (55), David Tennant (52), Rick Moranis (70), Hayley Mills (77), James Woods (76), Eli Roth (51), Conan O’Brien (60), Jennifer Garner (51), Rooney Mara (38), Sean Bean (64), and David Bradley (81).


Dead Pool 16th April 2023

If you remember back in February, you all nearly lost your ‘first death of the year’ points, well, now you have. I had a bit of time on my hands last week to go through the lists looking for people I missed, and lo and behold I missed that I had Carole Cook, who died on the 11th January, thus trumping Lucile Randon who died on the 17th January. Sorry folks, got to steal your points back! 

But it doesn’t end there, on the off chance I double checked if they had got around to listing Amber McLaughlin, who was executed on 3rd January, and Fuck Me, they have!!! 

So a little bit of jiggery-pokery has to be undertaken to straighten out the scores. Apologies everyone, but got to do it right. So, Jamie now gets the first death bonus points and all of you who had Randon unfortunately lose 50 points. However, this does open up the league table as it gives a the rest of us a chance to catch up. Oh what fun!  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Gene Simmons was forced to take a seat when he became ill on stage during a recent Kiss concert in Brazil. The rock band performed in Manaus, Brazil on Wednesday. During the show, however, Simmons, 73, had to pause the show before sitting down for the remainder of the performance. In videos posted by fans, singer and guitarist Paul Stanley can be heard asking the crowd to show their support for Simmons. “Hold on, Hold on,” said Stanley, 71. “We’re gonna have to stop.” He continued: “We know how much you love Gene, and he’s obviously sick. We’re gonna have to stop to take care of him, because we love him, right? Let’s give Gene a really loud, ‘Gene!’ One, two, three – Gene!” The performance was paused for five minutes before Simmons returned to the stage with a chair. Staying seated, he continued to perform the band’s song “Say Yeah”. The Flying Monkeys  have reached out to a representative of Simmons for comment. Kiss are currently on their farewell tour, End of the Road, which was announced in 2018. Last month, the band announced they would return to the US from October till December. They plan to call it quits after two back-to-back shows at Madison Square Garden in New York at the end of 2023. 

An ex-Neighbours star has left fans bewildered after details of her recovery from aggressive stage four breast cancer have been shrouded in mystery. They rallied around Australian actress Kate Keltie, 37, when she revealed she had been diagnosed with the illness last November, and helped her raise almost $37,000 AUD on a GoFundMe appeal. However, last month, after she revealed her recovery on the website, her words were removed and the account was deactivated and deleted from public view. She has declined requests to tell her story, prompting former co-stars to appeal to the actress-turned-recruitment consultant to share her ‘amazing story of how she beat the cancer’. A Neighbours source said: ‘It would just be really nice to hear a little bit more about her story, it’s amazing. She was a big part of the Neighbours family and while not everyone is in touch any more, we all wish her well.’ Ms Keltie, who played Michelle Scully for five years from 1999 when she was 13 as the on-screen sister of Holly Valance’s character Flick, shocked fans when she revealed she had the disease last November. She said it had spread to other parts of her body, including her lymph nodes, blood and hip bone. She explained that she was about to start chemotherapy. Fans and her former colleagues immediately gave to her fund which was orchestrated by her financier cousin, Ebony Gilbert. Appealing to people to donate, she wrote: ‘Given the severity of the chemotherapy that Kate requires, her oncologist advised that working and maintaining her job during this time is not an option. She will lose her gorgeous hair and cannot carry children in the future.’ Ms Keltie went on to be treated at the Peter Mac cancer centre in her hometown of Melbourne. But just four months later friends and family were overjoyed when Ms Keltie updated her GoFundMe page to say she had to ‘share some incredible news’ that she was now cancer-free. She wrote: ‘I recently received results of my latest scan and was told that there had been a complete metabolic response to diseased areas. ‘The last six months have been the most challenging time I have ever experienced, to say the least… I couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you. Your support played a huge part in my navigating this horrible time.’

Sarah Beeny has revealed that she has been given the all-clear by doctors after being diagnosed with cancer last year. The TV presenter and property expert, 51, was  diagnosed with breast cancer in August. Appearing on Lorraine alongside her two sons, Billy and Raffy, the Help! My House is Falling Down star told host Christine Lampard that the last few months had been a “rollercoaster ride”. “But I feel very fortunate that I had the diagnosis that I did, and that I live in 2023 and that I’m the age that I am. So many things I’m fortunate for, so I feel very blessed,” she said. Asked how she feels after being given the all-clear, Beeny, who lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 10 years old, replied: “Weird. It’s good but it’s weird.” She continued: “They kind of go, ‘That’s it then, that’s the end of that’. And you kind of go, ‘How do you know?’ and they go ‘We don’t, we just kind of think so’.” Beeny, who received chemotherapy, said she would have to take medication for the next 10 years and remain “very vigilant”. “But, yeah, it’s been a weird ride that I wouldn’t wish on anyone else but I’m glad I did it rather than somebody else,” she added. Beeny also thanked the NHS and staff at Yeovil Hospital and the Royal Marsden Hospital for treating her. Her family will appear in a new series of Sarah Beeny’s New Life In The Country, which was filmed before her diagnosis. 

Approximately 18,000 cows were killed in a blast at a Texas dairy farm earlier this week, according to local authorities. The explosion, at South Fork Dairy near the town of Dimmitt, also left one person in critical condition. Authorities believe that machinery in the facility may have ignited methane gas (cow farts). Nearly three million farm animals died in fires across the US between 2018 and 2021. In a statement, the Castro County Sheriff’s Office said they received a report of a fire at the farm at about 7:21 PM on 10th April. Photos posted by the Sheriff’s Office show a huge plume of black smoke rising from the ground. When police and emergency personnel arrived at the scene, they found one person trapped who had to be rescued and flown to hospital in critical condition. While the exact figure of cows that were killed by fire and smoke remains unknown, a spokeswoman for the Castro County Sheriff’s Office told the Flying Monkeys that “an estimated 18,000 head of cattle have been lost”. Castro County Sheriff Sal Rivera said that most of the cattle were lost after the blaze spread to an area in which cows were held before being taken to a milking area and then into a holding pen. “There’s some that survived,” he was quoted as saying. “There’s some that are probably injured to the point where they’ll have to be destroyed.” Mr Rivera said that investigators believe the fire may have started with a machine referred to as a “honey badger”, which he described as “vacuum that sucks the manure and water out”. “Possibly it got overheated and probably the methane and things like that ignited and spread out and exploded,” he said. In a statement sent to the Flying Monkeys, the Washington DC-based Animal Welfare Institute said that – if confirmed – a death toll of 18,000 cows would be “by far” the deadliest barn fire involving cattle since it began keeping statistics in 2013. “We hope the industry will remain focused on this issue and strongly encourage farms to adopt common sense fire safety measures,” said Allie Granger, policy associate for AWI’s farm animal program. “It is hard to imagine anything worse than being burned alive.” According to the AWI, nearly 6.5m farm animals have been killed in barn fires since 2013, of which about 6m were chickens and about 7,300 were cows. Between 2018 and 2021, nearly 3 million farm animals died in fire, with 1.76m chickens dying in the six largest fires over that time period. You can say one thing about the Texans, they certainly know how to BBQ. 

On This Day

  • 1912 – Harriet Quimby becomes the first woman to fly an airplane across the English Channel.
  • 1943 – Albert Hofmann accidentally discovers the hallucinogenic effects of the research drug LSD. He intentionally takes the drug three days later on April 19th.
  • 1947 – An explosion on board a freighter in port causes Texas City to catch fire, killing almost 600.
  • 2016 – Ecuador’s worst earthquake in nearly 40 years kills 676 and injures 6,274.

Deaths

  • 1828 – Francisco Goya, Spanish-French painter and illustrator (b. 1746).
  • 1850 – Marie Tussaud, French-English sculptor, founded the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum (b. 1761).
  • 1991 – David Lean, English director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1908).
  • 2021 – Helen McCrory, British actress (b. 1968).

Heavenly Creatures 

With the death of Anne Perry this week, I thought it might be interesting to remind ourselves of her life. 

Perry (born Juliet Marion Hulme) was a British writer best known as the author of the Thomas Pitt and William Monk series of historical detective fiction.

In 1994, it became public knowledge that Perry had been convicted for murder as a teenager. In 1954, at the age of fifteen, she and her 16-year-old friend Pauline Parker had been convicted of the murder of Parker’s mother, Honorah Rieper in Christchurch, New Zealand. After serving a five-year sentence for the murder, she changed her name and returned to the United Kingdom. She was identified by journalists following the release of the movie Heavenly Creatures, directed by Peter Jackson, in which Kate Winslet portrays Hulme (Perry). 

Born in London, the daughter of physicist Henry Rainsford Hulme, Perry was diagnosed with tuberculosis as a child and sent to the Caribbean, South Africa, and New Zealand in hopes that a warmer climate would improve her health. She rejoined her family after her father took a position as rector of Canterbury University College in New Zealand. She attended Christchurch Girls’ High School. 

In June 1954, at the age of 15, Hulme and her best friend Pauline Parker murdered Parker’s mother, Honorah Rieper. Hulme’s parents were in the process of separating and she was supposed to go to South Africa to stay with a relative. The two teenage friends, who had created a complicated fantasy life together populated with celebrities such as Mario Lanza and James Mason, did not want to be separated.

On the 22nd June 1954, the girls and Rieper went for a walk in Victoria Park in the Port Hills of Christchurch. On an isolated path Hulme dropped an ornamental stone so that Rieper would lean over to retrieve it. Parker had planned to hit her mother with half a brick wrapped in a stocking. The girls presumed that one blow would kill her but it took more than 20.

Parker and Hulme stood trial in Christchurch in 1954 and were found guilty. As they were too young to be considered for the death penalty under New Zealand law at the time, they were convicted and sentenced to be “detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure”. They were released separately five years later. As of today, Parker and Hulme were not believed to have had any contact since the trial.

The events formed the basis for the 1994 film Heavenly Creatures, in which Melanie Lynskey portrayed a teenage Pauline Parker and Kate Winslet the teenaged Juliet Hulme. At the time of the film’s release, it was not generally known that mystery author Anne Perry was Juliet Hulme; her identity was made public after journalists tracked her down some months after the film’s release. Although some presumed Hulme and Parker’s relationship to be sexual, Perry stated in 2006 that, while the relationship was obsessive, the two “were never lesbians”. 

After being released from prison in November 1959, Hulme returned to England and became a flight attendant. For a period she lived in the United States, where she joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1968. She later settled in the Scottish village of Portmahomack where she lived with her mother. Her father had a distinguished scientific career, heading the British hydrogen bomb programme.

Hulme took the name Anne Perry, using her stepfather’s surname. Her first novel, The Cater Street Hangman, was published under this name in 1979. Her works generally fall into one of several categories of genre fiction, including historical murder mysteries and detective fiction. Many feature recurring characters, most importantly Thomas Pitt, who appeared in her first novel, and amnesiac private investigator William Monk, who first appeared in her 1990 novel The Face of a Stranger.

After Perry’s identity as Hulme was revealed in 1994, she said: 

“It seemed so unfair. Everything I had worked to achieve as a decent member of society was threatened. And once again my life was being interpreted by someone else. It had happened in court when, as a minor, I wasn’t allowed to speak and I heard all these lies being told. And now there was a film, but nobody had bothered to talk to me. I knew nothing about it until the day before release. All I could think of was that my life would fall apart and that it might kill my mother.”

She continued writing and said that she was surprised that her friends stuck by her despite the revelation of her identity and the ensuing media attention.

In 2017, Perry left Scotland and moved to Los Angeles in order to more effectively promote films based on her novels.[ She had a heart attack in December 2022, and died at a hospital in Los Angeles on 10th April 2023, aged 84. Her final novel, The Fourth Enemy, was published the week before her death.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Anya Taylor-Joy (27), Gina Carano (41), Sadie Sink (21), Ellen Barkin (69), Claire Foy (39), Martin Lawrence (58), Luke Evans (44), Emma Watson (33), Seth Rogen (41), Emma Thompson (64), Maisie Williams (26), Adrien Brody (50), Sarah Michelle Gellar (46), Rob McElhenney (46), Robert Carlyle (62), Julie Christie (83), Peter Capaldi (65), Ron Perlman (73), Edward Fox (86), Peter Davison (72), Saoirse Ronan (29), Jennifer Morrison (44), Claire Danes (44), Ed O’Neill (77), Shannen Doherty (52), Andy Garcia (67), Nicholas Brendon (52), David Letterman (76), Tricia Helfer (49), Milly Alcock (23), Jeremy Clarkson (63), Matt Ryan (42), Daisy Ridley (31), Charlie Hunnam (43), David Harbour (48), Steven Seagal (71), Haley Joel Osment (35), and Peter MacNicol (69).


Dead Pool 9th April 2023

POINTS!!! With the death of Nigel Lawson, Paul G scores 59 points! Well done that man! Hope you’re all enjoying your bank holiday weekend! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is being treated for a type of chronic leukaemia, hospital doctors in Milan have confirmed. He was rushed to intensive care on Wednesday with breathing problems and doctors said he was suffering from a related lung infection. The four-time prime minister and media mogul, Mr Berlusconi, 86, still leads his party and is an elected senator. But he has had repeated health problems since he contracted Covid-19 in 2020. Colleagues have expressed hope that he will still be able to return to front-line politics as he continues to lead Forza Italia, a centre-right junior partner in Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s coalition. “We want to be optimistic,” said Antonio Tajani, Italy’s foreign minister and one of the most senior figures in Mr Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party. As Italians waited for more details, the billionaire media tycoon’s younger brother, Paolo, told reporters the family was now feeling confident: “We’re more relieved, there’s an improvement.” Mr Berlusconi also took phone calls from the prime minister and fellow coalition ally Matteo Salvini, reports said. He has combined politics with a business career at the helm of a media empire. He last served as prime minister in 2011, although his latter years in power became overshadowed by sex and corruption scandals. He was elected to Italy’s upper house, the Senate, last September but has repeatedly required hospital treatment. He returned to hospital in Milan on Wednesday only six days after he was discharged following days of check-ups. His personal doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, said his lung infection was related to a chronic blood condition that he had borne for some time but that it had not yet become acute. Earlier reports said he had begun chemotherapy to fight the leukaemia. “He’s stable. He’s a rock. He’s going to make it this time too.” said his younger brother Paolo Berlusconi earlier. His return to hospital has caused concern in Italy and politicians from across the spectrum have wished him well.  

A “drunk” skier has plunged 130 feet to his death in the French Alps after crashing through the window of a gondola. The 29-year-old and another man, aged 23, were filming themselves in the ski lift as they came down the mountain at the Deux Alpes just before it closed on Saturday evening, said Grenoble prosecutor Eric Vaillant. During the 12-minute journey, the older man, who was 6ft 2in tall and weighed more than 100 kilograms, smashed through the plexiglass window and fell to his death. “One option is that he was completely drunk and running for fun against the windows of the cabin,” French police told The Flying Monkeys. The Grenoble prosecutor’s office also confirmed reports that the man landed on a piste marker, and said it had asked police to investigate his death. “Two young men aged 29 and 23, drunk, were messing around in the gondola and the 29-year-old crossed the plexiglass wall and fell 40m to death. The scene was filmed by his friend with his phone,” said Mr Vaillant, in a statement issued in French. The gondola will be examined by investigators, Mr Vaillant said, as the resort’s director denied any responsibility for the incident. “These cabins are designed for 20 people!” said the director of the Deux Alpes resort, Fabrice Boutet. “If there’s movement caused by abrupt braking or something else, the entire cabin is designed to withstand any shocks that may occur … this stupid accident was caused by him gaining momentum and throwing himself against the plexiglass.” The man fell from the Jandri Express 1 ski lift, according to Grenoble-based newspaper Le Dauphiné libéré, which broke the news of the incident. The gondola was built in 1985 and is capable of carrying up to 1,800 people an hour as it travels nearly a kilometre to a height of 2,603 metres above sea level. Les Deux Alpes is France’s highest ski resort, boasting a summit of 3,600 metres. A total of 12 people died in the French mountains during the 2021-22 ski season, according to the French National Mountain Safety Observation System. More than 45,000 people were treated for injuries while emergency services attended around 50,000 incidents. Research by insurance firm Direct Line in 2019 suggested that more than 1,000 British people per day injure themselves on skiing holidays after consuming alcohol, with 3.8 million people reporting alcohol-related injuries on the slopes in the five years prior. You just can’t cure stupid! 

On This Day

  • 1860 – On his phonautograph machine, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville makes the oldest known recording of an audible human voice.
  • 1969 – The first British-built Concorde 002 makes its maiden flight from Filton to RAF Fairford.
  • 2017 – After refusing to give up his seat on an overbooked United Express flight, Dr. David Dao Duy Anh is forcibly dragged off the flight by aviation security officers, leading to major criticism of United Airlines.

Deaths

How to Live Beyond 100

Ever fancied living to be a supercentenarian?? Seems that living a clean life and staying off the fags and booze doesn’t make much difference. 

In a new scientific study, centenarians may possess a unique immune system that remains functional in extreme old age, helping them achieve exceptional longevity.

This rare population of individuals who reach 100 years or more have a distinct composition of immune cells that provides them with highly functional immune systems, said researchers, from the Boston University School of Medicine.

Previous studies have shown that one of the defining characteristics of ageing is a decline in the proper functioning of the immune system.

Immune cells are behind important mechanisms to recover from disease, promoting longevity.

In the study, published recently in the journal EBioMedicine, researchers performed single cell sequencing to assess the molecules in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) – a broad category of immune cells circulating in the blood – taken from seven centenarians. The centenarians were part of the New England Centenarian Study, one of the largest studies of individuals in North America who have lived longer.

Researchers then used advanced computational techniques to analyse how the proportion of different cell types and their internal activities change with age.

They identified cell type-specific composition and function changes that are unique to centenarians, reflecting normal immune response with age.

“We assembled and analysed what is, to our knowledge, the largest single-cell dataset of centenarian subjects that allowed us to define unique features of this population that support the identification of molecular and lifestyle factors contributing to their longevity,” explained study senior author Stefano Monti.

“Our data support the hypothesis that centenarians have protective factors that enable to recover from disease and reach extreme old ages,” said Tanya Karagiannis, another author of the study.

Scientists said that as people are exposed to infections and recover from them over their lifetime, their immune systems learn to adapt. This ability, however, usually declines with age.

“The immune profiles that we observed in the centenarians confirms a long history of exposure to infections and capacity to recover from them and provide support to the hypothesis that centenarians are enriched for protective factors that increase their ability to recover from infections,” said senior author Paola Sebastiani. 

Researchers believe the findings provide a foundation to better understand the mechanisms driving immune resilience with age – a factor that likely contributes to extreme longevity.

“Centenarians, and their exceptional longevity, provide a ‘blueprint’ for how we might live more productive, healthy lives. We hope to continue to learn everything we can about resilience against disease and the extension of one’s health span,” study senior author George J Murphy said.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Kristen Stewart (33), Elle Fanning (25), Dennis Quaid (69), Mark Pellegrino (58), Cynthia Nixon (57), Katee Sackhoff (43), Patricia Arquette (55), Robin Wright (57), Dean Norris (60), Russell Crowe (59), Ed Speleers (35), Jackie Chan (69), Francis Ford Coppola (84), Zach Braff (48), Paul Rudd (54), Michael Rooker (68), John Ratzenberger (76), Billy Dee Williams (86), Lily James (34), Mitch Pileggi (71), Pharrell Williams (50), Natasha Lyonne (44), Robert Downey Jr. (58), Hugo Weaving (63), Xenia Seeberg (55), Graham Norton (60), Sofia Boutella (41), Amanda Bynes (37), Paris Jackson (25), Eddie Murphy (62), and Alec Baldwin (65).