Game Bird Of The Week

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, so they say and it seems that this is the policy that 21-year-old Brazilian model, Catarina Migliorini, is adopting.

Last year she auctioned her virginity via an internet auction and the winning bid of $780,000 sealed the deal for a Japanese millionaire. Unfortunately for Catarina, the winner didn’t come up with the goods – the moolah, you understand – and so the unfortunate lass still remains in a state of grace.

Undaunted, she has decided to try again and aspiring suitors can place their bids on her new website.

Here in some parts of Blighty, I’m told, a couple of glasses of lukewarm Blue Nun usually does the trick!

 

What A Way To Go – Part Fifteen

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Continuing our occasional series of unusual (and amusing) deaths

Sir Arthur Aston (1590 – 1649)

Sir Arthur, a native of Cheshire and from a prominent Catholic family, was a career soldier who prior to getting entangled in the English Civil War saw considerable service as a mercenary in the Polish-Swedish wars, being taken prisoner by the Swedes near Danzig in 1627. As is the way with mercenaries, upon his release he joined the Swedes and was contracted to raise an English army which he did in 1631 and which fought in Germany.

Although he was doubtless an accomplished soldier, when the English Civil War broke out, Charles I was reluctant to use his services because of Aston’s Catholicism but Prince Rupert interceded on his behalf and he saw service on behalf of the king during the Edgehill campaign. Then when Charles captured Oxford, which he made his capital, Aston was sent to command an outpost at Reading. There he became deeply unpopular with the locals because of his authoritarian behaviour and demonstrated a degree of misfortune which was to dog him through the rest of his life when he was struck on the head by a falling tile whilst the garrison was being besieged. He was then captured by the Roundheads but gained his liberty as part of a prisoner exchange.

In late 1643 Aston became governor of Oxford, a post he held until the following September when he fell off his horse, lost a leg and had to have a false leg fitted – see picture. This led to his discharge from the army and the receipt of a large pension from his grateful king.

Aston next came into prominence during the Irish rebellion and he was appointed governor of the strategic port Drogheda in 1648. The following year Cromwell’s troops put the port under siege in what became the most vicious episode of the campaign. Eventually storming the town the Roundheads massacred many of the defending troops and citizens, forcing Aston to agree terms for surrender. Unfortunately, Cromwell’s troops reneged on the deal and proceeded to slay the rest of the unfortunate townsfolk.

Aston himself perished in what can only be described as unusual and amusing circumstances. The Roundheads took him prisoner and spotting his wooden leg surmised that he was using his prosthetic to conceal treasure. They ripped the wooden leg from Aston and in an attempt to break open the leg started beating him around the head with it. Unfortunately for the troops it contained no gold and, unfortunately for Aston, being made of solid wood inflicted injuries on him from which he expired. And so his long military career came to an ignoble end!

What Is The Origin Of (39)?…

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Halcyon days

This phrase is a synonym for a calm and peaceful time.

Halcyon is the ancient Greek noun for what is now known as the European kingfisher, that small and beautiful sparrow-sized bird with blue plumage, orange underparts and a long bill which, if you are lucky, you might see by a river bank. It normally is seen as a blur of colour as it swoops to catch a fish.

The Roman poet, Ovid, tells a story of how the bird was able to calm the waves of the sea. Aeolus, the ruler of the winds, had a daughter called Alcyone who had married the king of Thessaly, Ceyx. The unfortunate Ceyx was drowned at sea and Alcyone , in despair, threw herself into the drink. However, instead of drowning she was transformed into a bird and was carried to her hubby by the wind.

The ancients believed that the Halcyon built its nest on the sea and needed a period of calm to hatch their eggs. A period of calm was anticipated when the Halcyon was nesting and the Halcyon days were a period of around fourteen days around the winter solstice commencing on 14th December.

The myth of the halcyon and its association with the calm weather needed by the bird to rear its young was well-known in mediaeval England and was recorded by John Trevisa in his translation of De proprietatibus rerum in 1398 thus, “In the cliffe of a ponde of occean, Alcion, a see foule, in wynter maketh her neste and layeth egges in vii days and sittyth on brood … seuen dayes.

By the time of Shakespeare halcyon had lost its specific association with the bird and had now come to represent calm as can be seen in Henry VI, Part 1, “Assign’d am I to be the English scourge/ This night the siege assuredly I’ll raise:/ Expect Saint Martin’s summer, halcyon days,/ Since I have entered into these wars”.

The kingfisher was ascribed other meteorological properties. It was popularly held in the mediaeval period that a carcass of a kingfisher which was hung out to dry would always point its beak in the direction of the wind – a sort of decomposing weather vane.

In modern times we associate halcyon days with times past and the phrase is generally used with some wistfulness as we reminisce upon warm summer days, probably when we were young, when life was carefree. In this context, the phrase has certainly lost association with the original period of halcyon days which were around the dead of winter.

So now we know!