Friday, June 18, 2021





The first item in the Friday Funnies below is dedicated to father in law Noel and son Thomas, who like their chilis hot and who take a perverse pride in so doing. Not I, good sirs – once it becomes an ordeal to eat, the enjoyment of the food is lost. Noel once purchased some bottles of a local chili sauce, shown below, for his grandson Thomas, with both of them making delighted groaning sounds as they ate it:

No doubt both will have a laugh at the item below.

Stay well readers.



Notes from an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who was visiting Texas from the East Coast:

Recently I was honoured to be selected as an outstanding famous celebrity in Texas, to be a judge at a Chili cook-off, because no one else wanted to do it. Also the original person called in sick at the last moment, and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking for directions to the beer wagon when the call came. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy, and besides, they told me that I could have free beer during the tasting. So I accepted.

Here are the scorecards from the event:


JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.

JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavour. Very mild.

FRANK: Holy Shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway with this stuff. I needed two beers to put the flames out. Hope that's the worst one. Those Texans are crazy.


JUDGE ONE: Smokey, with a hint of pork. Slight Jalapeno tang.

JUDGE TWO: Exciting BBQ flavour. Needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

FRANK: Keep this out of reach of children! I'm not sure what I am supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave of two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich manoeuvre. They had to walkie-talkie in three extra beers when they saw the look on my face.


JUDGE ONE: Excellent firehouse chili! Great kick. Needs more beans.

JUDGE TWO: A beanless chili. A bit salty. Good use of red peppers.

FRANK: Call the EPA, I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting shit-faced.


JUDGE ONE: Black Bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

JUDGE TWO: Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods. Not much of a chili.

FRANK: I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Sally, the barmaid, was standing behind me with fresh refills; that 300 lb bitch is starting to look HOT, just like this nuclear-waste I'm eating.


JUDGE ONE: Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.

JUDGE TWO: Chili using shredded beef; could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

FRANK: My ears are ringing, and I can no linger focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly from a pitcher onto it. It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Freakin' Rednecks! ! !


JUDGE ONE: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spice and peppers.

JUDGE TWO: The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions and garlic.

FRANK: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulphuric flames. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that slut Sally. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone!


JUDGE ONE: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

JUDGE TWO: Ho Hum. Tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. I should note that I am worried about Judge # 3.

FRANK: You could puta #)$^@#*&! Grenade in my mouth, pull the #)$^@#*&! pin, and I wouldn't feel a d@&$ thing. I've lost the sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my X*$(@#^&$ mouth. My pants are full of lava-like shit, to match my X*$(@#^&$ shirt. At least the during the autopsy they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing, it's too painful. I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the four inch hole in my stomach.


JUDGE ONE: A perfect ending. This is a nice blend chili, safe for all; not too bold, but spicy enough to declare its existence.

JUDGE TWO: This final entry is a good balanced chili, neither mild now hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge # 3 passed out, fell and pulled the chili pot on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor Yank.

FRANK: - - - - - Mama?- - - (Editor's Note: Judge # 3 was unable to report).




A man in Melbourne walked into the produce section of his local supermarket and asked to buy half a head of cabbage. The boy working in that department told him that they only sold whole heads of cabbage. The man was insistent that the boy ask the manager about the matter... 

Walking into the back room, the boy said to the manager, "Some old bastard outside wants to buy half a head of cabbage." 

As he finished his sentence, he turned around to find that the man had followed and was standing right behind him, so the boy quickly added, "...and this gentleman kindly offered to buy the other half." 

The manager approved the deal and the man went on his way. 

Later, the manager said to the boy, "I was impressed with the way you got yourself out of that situation earlier, we like people who can think on their feet here, where are you from son?" 

"New Zealand, sir." the boy replied. 

"Why did you leave New Zealand?" the manager asked. 

The boy said, "Sir, there's nothing but prostitutes and rugby players there." 

"Is that right?" replied the manager. "My wife is from New Zealand!" 

"Really?" replied the boy. "Who did she play for?"


An old lady wakes up one morning to find that there's a gorilla in the tree in her back garden. She looks in the yellow pages and sure enough, there's an ad for "Gorilla Removers." She calls the number and the gorilla remover says he'll be over in 30 minutes. 

The gorilla remover arrives with his truck which contains a ladder, a pitchfork, a shotgun, a set of manacles, a winch and suspended metal cage, and a large snarling dog with big teeth, wearing a muzzle. 

He sets up his equipment in the back yard, removes the muzzle from the dog and says to the old lady "I'm going to climb the tree using this ladder, then I work my way along the branch and give the gorilla a poke with the pitchfork. This will force the gorilla to jump down, whereupon this specially trained dog runs up and grabs him by the testicles, holding him immobile until I get down. I then put the manacles on him, drop the cage over him and take him to the zoo. They give me a donation and it doesn’t cost you anything.” 

“That would be lovely,” she says. 

“All you have to do is hold the shotgun,” he says. 

“What do I do with the shotgun?” she asks. 

“Lady,” he responds, “If I fall off the ladder, shoot the fucking dog!”



There was a young man named McNamiter
With a tool of prodigious diameter.
But it wasn't the size
Gave the girls a surprise,
But his rhythm---iambic pentameter.






Sometimes I experience both amnesia and dejà vu at the same time, and I'm like: "Yep, I've forgotten this before ".

Yoda asks Luke “why is 5 afraid of 7?”
“Because 6, 7, 8.”

"What do we want?!?"
"Hearing aids!"
"When do we want them?!"
"Hearing aids!"

How do you measure the heaviness of a red hot chili pepper?
Give it a weigh, give it a weigh, give it a weigh now.


Thursday, June 17, 2021


"I rather think the cinema will die. Look at the energy being exerted to revive it - yesterday it was colour, today three dimensions. I don't give it forty years more. Witness the decline of conversation. Only the Irish have remained incomparable conversationalists, maybe because technical progress has passed them by."

- Orson Welles



Continuing a look at the winners of the 2021 BigPicture Natural World Photography contest., held annually by the California Academy of Sciences. Part 1 appeared in Bytes on June 6 2021 and can be viewed by clicking on:

The competition is centred largely around conservation and humans’ impact on the environment.

Following are the further winning shots and the finalists, together with text and photographer bios, from the competition’s site at:

Winged Life Winner:

Beak to Beak
Mount Seymour Provincial Park, Canada

After preening each other's feathers, the ravens took turns inspecting every nook and cranny in each other's beaks—talking to one another throughout the process. In three winters of observing the gift-sharing, grooming, and singing courtship behaviors of ravens on the mountain, the photographer had never witnessed anything like this.

Shane Kalyn
Vancouver, Canada
Shane Kalyn is a self-taught photographer who works as a fisheries technician with the Canadian government—a job that takes him to some amazing and remote corners of British Columbia. He has travelled to 47 countries and counting, and is a Lead Photography Co-Instructor of conservation photography workshops offered by the Canid Project.

Other finalists in this category:

‍Kurt Bertels | Nicosia, Cyprus
Stages of Life
Nicosia, Cyprus
This camera trap image caught three young barn owls as they practiced flying from the top of an ancient well—while their parents were out catching rodents.

Anja Brouwer | Ameland, Netherlands
Red Knots, Red Knots and More Red Knots...
Ameland, Netherlands
Thousands of red knots were packed together in a high-tide refuge on the edge of the Wadden Sea, one of the most important stops along their migration route. The photographer captured the moment after a young peregrine falcon came to hunt and the sandpipers took to the air en masse.

‍Ashane Marasinghe | Kadawatha, Sri Lanka
Orange Tint
Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan junglefowl, the national bird of Sri Lanka, is a flightless bird with colorful feathers whose ancestor is closely related to domestic chickens. Not to be upstaged, the blood-sucking batfly has evolved to maneuver through such feathers.

‍Nicolas Reusens | Barcelona, Spain
Papallacta, Ecuador
After six days of shooting, the photographer caught a speckled hummingbird balancing on the beak of a sword-billed hummingbird—a behavior that he had not previously seen in ten years of observing hummingbirds. This stunning feat was his most extraordinary photographic moment.

‍Keding Zhu | Shanghai, China
Fly Underwater
Port Saint Johns, South Africa
Every August, millions of sardines migrate north along the South African coastline, and are herded by dolphins into bait balls to become mouthfuls of prey. As the fish try to escape to the surface, cape gannets dive bomb into the water to feed—the air released from their feathers creating dense trails of bubbles.

‍Yang Jiao | London, Canada
Flamingo Flying Over Lake Magadi
Magadi, Kenya
These greater flamingos were photographed from a helicopter over Lake Magadi, a salt lake in the Great Rift Valley of southern Kenya whose mineral deposits reflect light in ever-changing patterns.

Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora Winner:

Another Planet
Fjallabak Nature Reserve, Iceland
What looked to be mountains from the ground turned out to be extinct volcanoes as captured by this drone shot taken on a cloudy day in June, at the time of the midnight sun. The unusual perspective of an inhospitable landscape stained by traces of iron oxide creates an otherworldly atmosphere.

Fran Rubia
Roquetas de Mar, Spain
Fran Rubia is an electrician who has studied photography via the Centro Andaluz de la Fotografía since 1997. His work has won numerous awards and he has contributed to many publications, exhibitions, and conferences. His most extraordinary photographic experience was his first view of the deep green sky of the Northern Lights on a frigid night in the Arctic.

Other finalists in this category:

‍Anette Mossbacher | Bergdietikon, Switzerland
Tree of Life
Ruacana Falls, Namibia
Light from the quickly setting sun highlights this cliff-dwelling baobab tree as shadows move up the valley. The waterfall is a surprising backdrop for this ancient tree, which has adapted to extremely arid conditions.

Justin Gilligan | Lord Howe Island, Australia
Ghost Fungi
Lord Howe Island, Australia
Ghost fungi grow in wet forests of endemic kentia palms in the southern mountains on this tiny volcanic island. At night, the luminescence attracts snails and slugs, which might eat the fungus or brush against it and carry the spores elsewhere.

Patrick Webster | Pacific Grove, United States
Fight of a Light-time in the Kelp Cathedral
Carmel Bay State Marine Conservation Area, United States
The bull kelp streams towards the rays of sun that penetrate the kelp forest in a unique convergence of kelp species in Monterey on a rare sunny day. This thriving scene may also become increasingly rare as the kelp is being decimated by sea urchins whose population is no longer being held in check by their predators—due to sea star wasting syndrome.

Nick Kanakis | Dallas, United States
Brunswick County, United States
In this macro shot, the detailed structure of the Venus flytrap is beautifully apparent, as is its technique—with a captured hoverfly. This plant species is endemic to a small stretch of wet longleaf pine habitat in the sandhills and coastal plains of the Carolinas.

Ivan Pedretti | Cagliari, Italy
Stokksnes Beach, Iceland
A colorless Iceland sky over the snow-covered Vestrahorn mountain helped create a startling contrast to the black sand and dry yellow grass of Stokksnes Beach.

‍Kazuaki Koseki | Yamagata, Japan
Beautiful Water
Inawashiro, Japan
Ten years ago, the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami struck the Pacific coast and triggered the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The photographer took this photo in Fukushima Prefecture, an inland area now covered with virgin forest.

Art of Nature Winner:

The Goblet of Fire
Toplepada, India
This mushroom, illuminated by a simple flashlight, was one of many fungi growing around the photographer’s house in the countryside. During the monsoon season, the mushrooms released thick, yellow-brown spores throughout the day for almost a month—a common but often ignored phenomenon.

Sarang Naik
Mumbai, India
Sarang Naik is a nature and wildlife photographer who specializes in creative and abstract photography. In recent years, he has been documenting the urban wildlife of Mumbai. He also works with Marine Life of Mumbai, a community-driven initiative that documents and raises awareness about Mumbai's marine biodiversity through shore walks and social media.

Other finalists in this category:

‍Angel Fitor | Alicante, Spain
Mar Menor, Spain
This unusual perspective of a barrel jellyfish—looking up through the tentacles and into the mouth, may be as close as we get to the fish-eye view as it is about to be eaten.

‍Manuel Ismael Gómez | Almería, Spain
The Sands of Time
Höfn, Iceland
Near the tongue of a glacier, several days of snow and ice had melted into puddles over very fine sand. The slow drainage of meltwater filtering through different levels of sand created fractal configurations similar to the flow of meltwater creating rivers over mountain terrain. But here it's on a surprisingly small scale: only 2–3 square yards.

‍Florian Ledoux | Tromsø, Norway
Melting Ice Cap
Svalbard, Norway
This drone shot reveals the alarming rate at which the Austfonna ice cap is melting due to climate change. A few weeks before this photo was taken in the summer of 2020, the temperature in Svalbard reached almost 70º Fahrenheit*—its hottest day on record.
* 21 degrees Celsius

‍Peter Juzak | Springe, Germany
The Beauty Hidden by Malic Acid
Springe, Germany
This unique moment was captured during the crystallization of malic acid, an organic compound that makes fruit sour. The malic acid, sprinkled on a slide, melted on a hotplate, and then cooled, was photographed under a microscope with polarized light. The fantastic patterns continually change as the crystallization progresses.

‍Alexey Korolyov | Protvino, Russia
Little Comets
Kremyonki, Russia
Snowflakes become comets flying through the air, and the dark trunks of birch trees sway lightly in the twilight of this painterly image. The enchanting illusion was achieved by combining an on-camera flash, high aperture, and intentional camera movement.

Petra Draškovič Pelc | Kočevska Reka, Slovenia
Cerknica, Slovenia
Lake Cerknica, the largest lake in Slovenia when full, disappears entirely during the dry season, which is typical of karst lakes (formed when caves collapse). As the lake begins to melt and ice skating gives way to hay mowing, the macro scale is revealed only by small bubbles in the ice.

Human Nature Winner:

Sign of the Tides
Monterey, United States
In this perfectly composed photograph, a discarded face mask in the shape of a sea turtle attracts a notoriously curious California sea lion. Shot in November 2020, this was the first time the photographer saw a mask underwater, but unfortunately he has seen many since. The effects of the pandemic will likely linger on our oceans for years to come.

Ralph Pace
Pacific Grove, United States
Ralph Pace holds a graduate degree from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he used surf economics and photography to stop construction that would have ruined a lagoon, a critical sea turtle nesting habitat, and a world-class surf break. His work is used by NGOs for educational, promotional, advocacy, identification, and enforcement purposes.

Other finalists in this category:

Ami Vitale | MIssoula, United States
A Daring Rescue
Ruko Community Conservancy, Kenya
Eight Rothschild giraffes were marooned as rising lake waters in Lake Baringo turned a rocky lava pinnacle into an island. During the ambitious rescue, the giraffes were hooded and transported on a makeshift raft across the lake to Ruko Community Conservancy. Saving the animals on an allegorical ark illustrates the extreme efforts required to keep endangered species alive.

Andrew Whitworth | Puerto Jiménez, Costa Rica
Why Did The Sloth Cross the Road?
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Getting to the other side of a vehicular road is a challenge, especially for a slow-moving sloth. Due to speed up is the movement to create arboreal bridges for animal crossings in biodiversity hotspots like Osa. Here, amidst stormy conditions, this beautiful moss-covered, three-toed sloth survived.

Jen Guyton | Mainz, Germany
Snipe Hawking
Midlands, Ireland
After the Irish red setter locates a snipe in the bog and points out its position, the unhooded peregrine falcon circles at the ready until the dog flushes the bird out of hiding. This form of falconry is a use of endangered Irish peat bogs that is more sustainable than the destruction wrought by harvesting peat for fuel, though hunting is a complicated approach to conservation.

Guido Villani | Pozzuoli, Italy
Mon Cheri
Naples, Italy
After a light storm drew a swarm of jellyfish and released a sizable amount of litter into the port of Bacoli, this mauve stinger carried off a discarded plastic chocolate wrapper in its tentacles. These beautiful little jellyfish, which phosphoresce when disturbed, are much feared for their painful stings.

Jaime Rojo | Seville, Spain
Dolphin’s Hug
Puerto Nariño, Colombia
To document the first-ever tagging event of an Amazon River Dolphin, the photographer joined the scientific team on a weeklong pursuit. After six days in pouring rain, they found one—and en route to the veterinary station for tagging, a concerned team member soothes the dolphin.

Peter Mather | Whitehorse, Canada
Whitehorse, Canada
A fox kit at its den in downtown Whitehorse, surrounded by other playful fox kits, photographed using a flash and patience. Urban foxes often den in fenced off areas, where they can quickly escape from coyotes and dogs.

Photo Story: Out of the Ordinary Winner:

Klukshu Ice Bears
Yukon Territory, Canada
Each winter, grizzly bears go fishing near Klukshu and other First Nations villages of the Yukon, delaying their hibernation to catch some of the late spawning salmon runs. Fishing in subzero temperatures, when the creek water freezes to their fur, the bears are covered in icicles that dangle as they walk, tinkling like chandeliers. But with winter arriving later each year, and rivers—which carry the salmon—disappearing due to receding glaciers, this extraordinary ice bear phenomenon may melt away.

Peter Mather
Whitehorse, Canada
Peter Mather is a photojournalist who focuses on long form stories about the wildlife, conservation, and people of the North. He is a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers, works with GEO Magazine, and is represented by Minden Images and National Geographic Image Collection. Peter has often been seen in BigPicture—his project on the caribou migration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was the 2019 winner of the “Pushing the Limits” Photo Story.

Full Photo Story:

‍An ice bear known to the locals as “The Mayor”— because he is the dominant male in the area—uses a fallen tree to cross Klukshu Creek.

‍The bears often hunt at night when the fish can’t see them, but the bears can sniff out the salmon spawning beds.

A small grizzly who ventures out in the less ideal daytime (to avoid bigger bears) is rewarded with a freshly caught salmon.

‍“The Mayor”—recognizable by his large size and unique blonde claws—finishes a salmon meal near the photographer’s remote camera.

Late December under the Northern lights, after the fish are finished, the bears move to the high mountains to dig their snow dens and begin hibernation.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021





A sampler of items of interest from various internet sites. Click on the links provided to access the items for a more detailed look . . .


1,000 year egg:

Ever heard of century eggs or thousand year eggs? They are Chinese delicacies made by preserving an egg, usually, from a duck, such that the shell becomes speckled, the white becomes a dark brown gelatinous material, and the yolk becomes deep green and creamy. The white supposedly doesn't have much flavour, but the yolk smells strongly of ammonia and sulfur and is said to have a complex earthy flavour.

I’ve tried it and the best thing I can say is, to quote Crocodile Dundee: “Well, you can live on it, but it taste like shit.”

Which is all by way of an introduction to an item in this week’s Smithsonian Magazine that scientists in Israel have discovered a 1,000 year old egg preserved in a shit pit.

According to Alla Nagorsky, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA): “We were astonished to find it. From time to time we find fragments of eggshells, but a whole egg is extraordinary.”

Apparently the egg remained unbroken for so long because it was pillowed in soft human waste in a cess pit, which created anaerobic, or oxygen-free, conditions and prevented its decay.

That however did not prevent the archaeologists cracking it in trying to remove it. I love this sentence from the report: “Luckily, Ilan Naor, director of the IAA’s Organic Materials Conservation Laboratory, was able to repair the crack. While much of the egg’s contents leaked out, some of the yolk remained, and the researchers preserved it for future DNA analysis.”

Smithsonian Magazine
June 11, 2021

But what of the big questions:

What is the big deal about an egg 1,000 years old?

Test the DNA for what?

What was the whole egg doing in the cess pit anyway?

Will Woolworths and Coles reconsider their current packaging?


Got asthma? Have a cigarette. . .

Authoritative website, which examines whether news reports, urban myths etc are factual, BS or both, asked whether it is true that in the past, cigarettes were recommended as a treatment for asthma.

As Mythbusters would put it, we (or at least would have to call this one confirmed.

From the snopes item:


Symptoms of the respiratory condition known as asthma were once treated with cigarettes.


Asthma is a respiratory condition marked by spasms in the bronchi of the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing. Today, flare-ups of asthma are typically self-treated through the use of an inhaler that delivers a type of medication known as a bronchodilator (commonly albuterol) which relaxes and opens air passages to the lungs to make breathing easier.

Modern readers might be quite surprised to learn that a common remedy for asthma symptoms was once something that now seems the most unlikely of treatments — cigarettes:

This revelation isn’t so shocking as it might seem, though, because asthma cigarettes were very different than modern tobacco-based cigarettes — they were a delivery system for asthma medication used before the advent of albuterol and propellant-based inhalers.

Back in the early part of the 20th century, when very few effective medications existed for the treatment of most medical maladies, doctors could offer little to asthma patients other than adrenaline injections. In that void, asthma sufferers commonly turned to a type of inhalation therapy dating to the early 19th century, one which involved the use of stramonium leaves:

Products such as Page’s Inhalers — cigarettes containing stramonium leaves and other ingredients such as tea leaves, chestnut leaves, gum benzoin, and kola nuts — were therefore a common treatment for asthma symptoms in the early 20th century:

Despite the development of effective bronchodilating medications such as albuterol in the early 1970s, asthma cigarettes were still being recommended and used well into the 1990s.

June 11, 2021

As surprising as the above may have been, how much more shocking that doctors featured in pro-smoking advertisements from the cigarette manufacturers:

The tobacco industry’s use of doctors in their ads gave a none-too-subtle message that if the doctor, with all of his expertise, chose to smoke a particular brand, then it must be safe. Unlike with celebrity and athlete endorsers, the doctors depicted were never specific individuals, because physicians who engaged in advertising would risk losing their license. It was contrary to accepted medical ethics at the time for doctors to advertise. Instead, the images always presented an idealised physician wise, noble, and caring who enthusiastically partook of the smoking habit. All of the doctors in these ads were actors dressed up to look like doctors. Little protest was heard from the medical community or organised medicine, perhaps because the images showed the profession in a highly favourable light. These ads regularly appeared in medical journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association, an organisation which for decades collaborated closely with the industry. The big push to document health hazards also did not arrive until later.

Spot quiz:

Which was the first country to mount a nation-wide anti-smoking campaign.
Which leader and which government?
Some clues:
  • This country’s doctors were the first to identify the link between smoking and lung cancer.
  • Following that discovery, a strong anti-tobacco movement developed, which in turn led to the first anti-smoking campaign in modern history.
  • There were other anti-tobacco movements in other countries from the beginning of the 20th century but this country had the only success, the campaign having been supported by that country’s government.
  • The government condemned smoking and tobacco consumption.
  • The government sponsored research on smoking and its effects on health.
  • Anti-smoking measures introduced included:
        smoking being banned on public transport;

        health education being promoted;

        raising of tobacco taxes;

        restrictions on tobacco advertising;

        limiting cigarettes to the armed forces;

       restrictions on smoking in public places, restaurants, coffee houses, schools, hospitals and public offices;
  • Certain occupations were banned from smoking whilst on duty: teachers, police and midwives, as examples.
  • Pregnant women were encouraged not to smoke.
  • Films were made encouraging everybody, but especially women and children, not to smoke.

Click on the following link to a 2010 Bytes post which provides the answer:
It will surprise you.


A lovely feelgood story, words and pics from Amusing Planet . . .

The Maharajah’s Well

Kaushik Patowary

We think that charity always flows from the richer nations to the poorer ones, but sometimes it also flows the other way. When Ireland was starving during the potato famine in the 1840s, the Choctaw Nation of American Indians, despite being impoverished themselves and living in extreme hardship, donated an equivalent of $170 to the troubled nation. More recently, in the aftermath of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the Masai tribe of Kenya sent 14 cows to the United States. Although these gifts, rather than being actually helpful, were simply tokens of goodwill and solidarity, there was one charity they really helped.

Maharajah's well

In the mid-1800s, Edward Anderton Reade, a gentleman from Ipsden, in South Oxfordshire, when serving as the Governor of Benaras, struck a close friendship with the Maharaja of Benaras (now Varanasi), Ishree Pershad Narayan Singh. Reade would often tell the the Maharaja stories from the land he grew up in. One day, the conversation turned to water shortage problems and the frequent drought conditions in his home in Ipsden and the neighbouring parishes in the foothills of Chiltern Hills. Although the Thames run close by, the river is little more than a shallow stream at this place. Furthermore, the hills are dry and chalky, with very few springs that dry up in the summer months. During these long periods of drought, the people of the region relied on water collected in dirty ponds, or they needed to be fetched by hand from miles away.

One story in particular made a huge impact on the Maharaja. When Reade was a child, he came across a boy being beaten up by his mother for having stolen a drink of water in the village of Stoke Row, 3 miles from Ipsden. The story stayed with the Maharaja, and recalling how Mr. Reade had helped sunk a well in the village of Azamgarh, a few years previously, the Maharaja decided to return the favor by financing the construction of well in the parish of Stoke Row, where the incident occurred.

Maharaja of Benaras, Ishree Pershad Narayan Singh

The well, now known as the Maharaja’s Well, is 368 feet deep and 4 feet wide. It was dug entirely by hand under difficult and dangerous condition. To get to the water, workers had to dig through twenty-five feet of clay and gravel subsoil, followed by three hundred feet of chalk, interspersed with two layers of sand, each about eight foot deep. The sand layers were the most dangerous as they were susceptible to cave-ins. The final few feet consisted of a mixture of chalk and shells. The work took 14 months to complete. The Maharaja couldn’t travel aboard to see the work, but he kept track of the well’s progress through the photographs and information Reade sent him.

The well was surrounded by red brick base and iron columns leading up to an elaborate onion domed canopy topped by a gilded spear finial. A winding gear was installed to pull water, and this was adorned by a gold-painted elephant. In addition to the well, the Maharaja also planted a cherry orchard close to the well so that its upkeep could be funded from the sale of the fruit. An octagonal caretaker’s cottage was constructed next to the well, which has been a private home since 1999.

The caretaker’s cottage.

The gilded elephant decorating the winding mechanism of the well.

The Maharaja continued to make additions and modifications to the well, which were inaugurated or commenced on special occasions. A footpath was completed at the maharajah's expense when the Marquis of Lorne married Princess Louise in 1871. In 1882, when Queen Victoria survived an assassination attempt, he funded a ration of free bread, tea and sugar, as well as lunch for the villagers.

The well served the community well for some seventy years until piped water arrived in the 1920s, and that sealed its fate. Use of the well declined and the well fell into disrepair.

The well was restored in 1964 on the occasion of its one hundredth anniversary. The centenary celebration and the restored well’s inauguration was attended by Prince Philip and representatives of the Maharaja. A vessel containing waters from the Ganges was brought in and poured into the well.

Maharajah's well.

The construction of the Maharajah’s Well in Stoke Row inspired many more charitable acts by wealthy Indians in Britain, including drinking fountains in London park and a more modest well constructed at Ipsden by Raja Deonarayan Singh. These acts of charity are testimony to the strange relationship between the British and Indian aristocracies in the mid-19th century. Less than a decade before the dedication of the Maharaja’s Well, India’s first war of independence broke out resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of British officers, civilians and Indian rebels. The massacre committed at Cawnpore was particularly cruel. More than a hundred British women and children were hacked to death by the rebels and their bodies thrown down a nearby well. Stoke Row’s well might thus seem like a peculiar choice of construction project to patronage, especially when the wounds of the massacre were still fresh.

Today, the Maharaja’s Well and the surrounding landscape with the orchard and the cottage is a site of heritage in Stoke Row.

Amusing Planet
June 9, 2011