It is about time this series was resurrected – a collection of gruesome but, it has to be said, amusing ways in which some poor unfortunates met their maker, whoever she may be. The only rules are – they have to be unusual, amusing and true.
The first up is the sad fate that befell Sam Wardell who was a lamplighter in the (ironically named, as it turned out) Flatbush district of New York. As you would imagine from his job description Sam needed to be up with the lark (or possibly even before) to extinguish the lights he had lit the previous evening. The mid 1880s were in the those antediluvian times before the mobile phone and so there was no app to summon him from the arms of Morpheus of a morning. Showing ingenuity beyond his station Sam adapted a standard alarm clock by connecting a wire to it the other end of which he fitted to a shelf. He placed a 10lb weight on the shelf.
When the alarm struck, the shelf would fall and the weight would crash on to the floor. The noise would be sufficient to wake the sleeping Sam.
All worked well until, as is often the way with those with an inventive streak, Sam couldn’t resist tweaking his creation. Around Christmas time he was proudly showing his friends his ingenious invention. Unfortunately, after a few sherberts he was not quite so punctilious in rearranging the contraption as he might have been.
Proving that Bacchus and Morpheus are not good bedfellows, the alarm struck at 5 o’clock and the stone fell – straight on to Sam’s head and that was the end of him.
The presence of a mouse seems to induce a hysterical and illogical reaction in many people and the sight of females in distress encourages many a red-blooded youth to ride to their rescue irrespective of the danger to themselves. This story from the Manchester Evening News details a tragic event that was played out on the shop floor of a factory in south London in 1875.
A mouse dashed across the work table to the consternation of the female workers present. Our hero stepped forward and seized the rodent. Alas, the rodent slipped from his grasp, ran up the lad’s sleeve and scurried towards the open neck of his shirt. The lad, mouth agape in horror, was further traumatised when the mouse shot into his mouth. The lad swallowed the creature. Being a small creature a mouse can survive a surprisingly long while on little air. Whilst it ultimately expired, the mouse put up a fierce resistance as it sought to escape, tearing and biting the inside of our hero’s throat and chest. The would-be hero, felled by a mouse, died of his wounds in terrible agony.
The lesson is clearly that discretion is the better part of valour!