Dead Pool 9th July 2023

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

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

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

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

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

On This Day

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


The Joy of Lightning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last Week’s Birthdays

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

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