Nelson made turning a blind eye an acceptable, even heroic, option when he placed the telescope to his unsighted eye at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801. Had Nelson been absent from history this famous incident wouldn’t have occurred and turning a blind eye would have been nigh on impossible for future generations to do.
J.H. Dillinger, gunslinger, escape artist, bank robber and the FBI’s public enemy number one wouldn’t have been famously cut down by a hail of bullets in an FBI ambush outside the Biograph Movie Theater in Chicago in July, 1934. Instead, in a world without Nelson, this would’ve happened:
DILLENGER LIVES ON
Public Enemy No.1 Saved Outside Movie Theater.
J.H. Dillinger dramatically escaped an FBI trap last night outside the Biograph Movie Theater in Chicago last night. He was on his way out when he passed an agent of J. Edgar Hoover’s new law enforcement agency who signalled to his fellow officers by lighting a cigar. Dillinger was immediately suspicious and reached for his gun but was surprised when a man in the street ahead of him, who’d wantonly dropped some litter, was cut down in a hail of bullets. Dillinger was then able to make his escape as the scene descended into chaos accompanied by the screams of shocked onlookers and much spilled blood.
It’s believed that the dead man is a Chicagoan called Darby Cincantona and that the scrap of litter he’d dropped was the stub of his theater ticket. Late last night an FBI spokesman said that they deeply regret allowing their Public Enemy Number One to escape their ambush but they could not turn a blind eye to the public nuisance caused by littering.
Aready, the failure of the FBI to turn a blind eye has caused consequences:
Overnight the USA has become virtually litter free.
The Federal Bureau of Investigationhas now been re-christened as Forthwith Bin It.
Bookmakers have installed Dillinger as favourite to hold the Christmas Public Enemy Number One spot.
In a world devoid of Horatio Nelson, Napoleon would’ve led a successful invasion of Britain. Bonaparte had disparagingly referred to Britain as ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ and would’ve sought to address this by issuing the following proclamation:
A’ll shopkeepers shall relinquish their places of business and hand them over to Napoleon Bonaparte and the Committee of Conquest for Britain Provisions Sub-Committee. Thereafter, the following laws will apply:
Anone, other than members of the Provisions Committee, caught in possession of a till shall have its contents confiscated and then they will be beheaded by guillotine.
Anyone suspected of harbouring price labels shall be submitted to torture and once their confession is extracted, be taken to the nearest guillotine and have their treacherous head lopped from their neck. A label shall then be attached to the remainder of their body saying ‘25% OFF’, as a deterrent to others.
Saying ‘Can I be of assistance?’ will only assist in the perpetrator’s speedy conveyance to the guillotine.
If someone rings a bell when another enters a building, a bell will instead toll as the perpetrator enters the kingdom of Hell via the guillotine.
Remaining in a shop for more than 15 minutes without purchasing any goods shall henceforth be classed as ‘Loitering with intent to become a shopkeeper’, and be punishable by execution by the guillotine.
A’ll capital offences previously punishable by hanging shall henceforth be punishable by the guillotine. By these means I shall transform Britain from being a nation of shopkeepers to being a nation of chop-weepers instead.
The book starts with a submission to The OMPHALOS – a computer programme designed to calculate what would happen in the event of a historical figure straying from their path of Destiny, or not being born at all – It is a typo from The Barnstaple Gazette calling Boudicca the Queen of the Ancient Grits.
THE OMPHALOS REPORT appears in full containing the following sections: **1. A POTTED HISTORY OF BOUDICCA
Boudicca is born in Norfolk with striking red hair. She is instantly taken to the industrial arbitration council in the hope mitigation will leave her with just straightforward red hair.
Boudicca meets Prasutagus while out shopping in King’s Lynn. It is love at first sight. A match made in heaven (unlike the matches Boudicca will later favour which are made in Bootle by Swan Vesta).
In Anglesey, the Druid Council, the religious branch of the Celts, hatch a secret plan to disrespect the Roman gods imposed upon them by peeing on their statues. But the Romans discover the plan through a leak. The Roman Governor in Britain, Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, takes a crack legion to eliminate the Druids in their Anglesey stronghold. Roman soldiers are issued with an instruction to kill anyone in a white garment with a hood. For this reason, Millicent Treesagurus decides to postpone her wedding to Bugsy Racketus, the top gangster in the whole of Wessex.
The emperor Nero hears of Boudicca’s destruction of Roman settlements by fire and immediately demands two things:
That Boudicca’s name be removed from the list of those chosen to carry the Olympic torch when it is next in Britain.
That he be given advance warning if Boudicca ever intends to visit Rome, so he will have enough time to buy a fiddle.
**2. BOUDICCA’S CV
**3. IF BOUDICCA HAD AN AGENT
Memo to Boudicca from Comet Bros Showbiz Agents, AD 60.
Can I request that you hold fire on the wholesale destruction of Verulamium you have planned as there is a good chance that I can get you a booking as the star turn in the panto there this coming festive season. The location would be the town theatre and I’m sure it would be one of the first places to be reduced to rubble when you set upon Verulamium.
I am close to securing you the lead role in Aladdin six nights a week and one mid-week matinee for a five week period over Christmas and the New Year. There will be a lot of jokes regarding your recent activities that should bring the house down, metaphorically of course, before you do raise it to the ground. A couple of examples:
Aladdin (You, Boudicca) rubs lamp and Widow Twankey will say ‘Don’t rub istol hard you might start a fire!’ Then, later, you almost knock over an oil lamp but you catch it just in time before it hits the ground. ‘Phew,’ you say, wiping your brow, ‘that’s how Londinium bit the dust!’
So please hold fire on the destruction of Verulamium until the panto season is over.
Yours In Showbiz
**4. PUSHING BOUDICCA OUT OF THE PICTURE
Detailing events that could’ve happened to thwart Boudicca and shove her out of the historical picture.
A crack Roman legion isn’t sent to Anglesey to destroy the Druids as instead a compromise is reached between the two factions. The Druids agree to respect the Romans and their Gods in return for a half hour slot at the gladiatorial games each Sunday.
A team of heir hunters discover that their are relatives of Prasutagus who have a better claim to be the beneficiaries of his will than Boudicca.
The Iceni become a conscientious tribe and encourage their members to take courses in First Aid. Thus Prasutagus doesn’t die as he is revived by CPR. This strengthens his position compared to being dead as it now appears that he has returned from the dead. When asked by leading Iceni what the afterlife is like Prasutagus says that there weresweet smelling people wearing laurels, plenty of sex, fresh running water and luxurious surroundings. His clansmen become disgruntled as it sounds like the Romans have taken over there as well.
**5. BOUDICCA OPTS FOR SECOND BEST
Boudicca chooses a different career path involving her next favourite option. Working with her beloved hares as a hare-whisperer.
**6. BOUDICCA DOES SOMETHING SIMILAR INSTEAD
An examination of Boudicca as Queen of the Ancient Writs, Queen of the Ancient Grits and also as a Worrier Queen.
Extracts from Boudicca Worrier Queen:
● Boudicca objects to the proposal to cut off the breasts of noble Roman women and sew them into their mouths. She fears it could jeopardize her invite to be guest speaker at the Women’s Institute annual conference.
● Boudicca puts her planned sacking and conflagration of Londinium on hold as she is behind with her Christmas shopping.
**6. BOUDICCA DOES THE OPPOSITE
Instead of becoming a wholesale destructor of property, Boudicca becomes a building preservation retailer.
**7. BOUDICCA IN THE 21ST CENTURY
How she would conduct herself if she was around in the present day instead of nearly 2,000 years ago.
Boudicca on Social Media
Boudicca tweeted this 48m ago:
Anyone into model making? I’ve thousands upon thousands of unused matches.
Boudicca @Boudicca 100,000 followers
**8. BOUDICCA SCALED DOWN
Boudicca reduces the scale of her destruction.
**9. LIFE WITHOUT BOUDICCA
How different history and life would be if there was no Boudicca at all.
Queen Victoria chooses a different name
When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, she opted not to be called by her first name, Alexandrina, but by her second name Victoria as it held etymological links to the Ancient word Boudicca, meaning ‘victory’. Without Boudicca, Queen Victoria would’ve had to adopt an entirely different name, thus, Victorians and the lustre we ascribe to them would never have graced the history books replaced by perhaps:
Marthans named after Queen Martha 1837-1901
Marthans would be viewed as Martians with a speech impediment. Marthans would differ greatly from Victorians in their choice of hobbies. The Victorian middle-class were fond of painting, making brooches and gardening. The Marthan, however, would give vent to their creative side by making crop circles.
Patricians named after Queen Patricia 1837-1901
Patricians, aka Aristocrats, would cause all sorts of problems to British mid- to-late-19th century society. Much of Victorian wealth derived from exploiting the impoverished proletariat. In a land where everyone was a Patrician there would be no lower classes to mine. Maternity clinics would be situated at the top of steep hills or near the summit of mountains so that every Patrician could prove they were of high birth.
Avians named after Queen Ava 1837-1901
Avians would, of course, adopt birdlike traits. Successful Victorians were politically right-wing. Avians would be in the middle, between the right and left wing. Furthermore, if Britain was at war the Avians would collaborate with the enemy, anathema to a Victorian, as the Avian would enjoy the prospect of reprisals in the form of being tarred and feathered.
**10. BOUDICCA REINCARNATED
The possibility that after her death Boudicca regrets not having accomplished the things she seemed destined to do is explored here along with how she endeavours to redress this through reincarnation.
To make up for not having cut off the breasts of noble Roman women and sew them into their mouths during revolts that no longer occur and thus she doesn’t lead, Boudicca is reincarnated in 1944 as a girl with an artistic bent. In the wimps she is in the vanguard of a new movement called ‘Anatomical Abstract Art’.
To compensate for not becoming Queen of the Iceni, in AD 90 Boudicca is reincarnated as a Queen Bee in a hive of buzzer near Harrogate. She thus becomes Queen of the I Sting ‘e.
**11. BOUDICCA COMMEMORATED
How memorials to Boudicca would have to be reinterpreted in a world she no longer plays a role I forging.
The final third of the book involves sending appropriate holograms back to Boudicca’s time to encourage her to take the path history designed for her to ensure that the wholesale disruption to the lives of countless succeeding generations that The Omphalos forecasts does not occur. The hologram chosen for this important mission is of the Victorian Music Hall entertainer Dan Leno with the French mime artiste and film comedian Jacques Tati and the notorious England Bodyline cricket captain Douglas Jardine in reserve.
BOUDICCA Queen of the Ancient Grits by Jonty Morgan
Back Row: Dewhurst, Drummond, A. Goodall, J. Goodall, Mills-Roberts, Trainer, Robertson, J. Graham, Whittle, Edwards.
Front Row: Gordon, Inglis, Howarth, Ross, Sudell (manager), Russell, Holmes, W. Graham, Thompson.
In 1883, Billy Sudell created professional footballers when he imported many Scottish players to the club he owned, Preston North End. Unfortunately, Sudell didn’t sign Tar Macadam because initially things didn’t run smoothly. Antagonism towards professionalism came from the Southern-based amateur clubs, who dominated the FA. In their dictionary amateurism was seen as clean and pure, while professionalism was considered dirty. This was because their dictionary had fallen into a muddy puddle which soaked the second half, from the letter ‘M’ onwards.
In the 4th Round of the 1884 FA Cup, Preston played the London amateur club Upton Park. The match finished 1-1 with North End having two perfectly legit goals disallowed simply because the ref was biased against professionals (he’d been overcharged for a solicitor’s services earlier in the week). Then, before a replay could be arranged, Preston were thrown out of the cup for being professionals and not readmitted for another four seasons.
The appeal of professionalism was growing, however. In an effort to stem the tide, the amateur section of the FA made a grievous error. They sent a letter to Queen Victoria’s new man friend Abdul Karim appealing for him to bring their stark message against payment of players to Her Maj. Their warning was simply this: ‘Fair Play Goes Out the Window’. Unfortunately, Abdul Karim suffered from mild dyslexia and read it as: ‘Fair Play He Goes Out with a Widow’. Once informed, Queen Victoria was outraged. She tore up her Cup Final tickets in a fit of rage. Upon hearing this the powerful amateur arm of the FA quickly did a runner, and thus professional football came in via the back door. Coincidentally, that was also how Abdul Karim gained access to Buckingham Palace.
In their FA Cup exile, Billy Sudell made Preston even more professional. They became the first club to use diagrams as part of pre-match planning and instilled a vigorous fitness regime. But their greatest innovation that transformed them into the most powerful club in the land was the adoption of camouflage in their kit designs. For most of the season the PNE outfield players wore green shirts, knickers and stockings in the pattern of blades of grass with added bare patches of mud. An all white kit was worn whenever it was snowing. These measures rendered the Preston players invisible on the pitch. As they began to sweep all before them, North End simply became known throughout football as The Invisbles.
Other teams tried to counteract this tactic by various means, one club even calling themselves Hyde to make it difficult to find their players too. But Preston dispatched them by the still record score of 26-0 to register their contempt.
It was inevitable that when the first Football League season commenced in 1888-89, that Preston would win it. Being invisible enabled North End players to stand less than ten yards away when defending free-kicks. Indeed, it was rumoured, judging by the amount of PNE players who finished the season with high-pitched voices, that they barely stood ten inches away. It also enabled them to break the offside rule. The only major disadvantage to wearing invisible kit was that it proved a right bugger trying to attract shirt sponsorship.
Such was the widespread fame of these foliage attired players as they took the First Division by storm that it became commonplace for a rhododendron bush in London’s Hyde Park to be asked for its autograph as it bore a marked resemblance to Jack Goodall, the league’s top marksman. On the pitch itself when Jimmy Ross scored against Burnley in April, he cracked such a broad smile that it became the only thing visible of him and so he was promptly sent off by the ref for impersonating the Cheshire Cat out of pantomime season.
Preston became the first Football League Champions. They negotiated all 22 league matches without defeat (from the observations of their fans they also seemed to negotiate them without dehands, dearms, delegs and deheads too).
Preston then went on to win the FA Cup that season without conceding a goal, thus becoming the first club to do ‘The Double’. The Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, remarked that it was a good thing that Preston hadn’t been so dominant seventeen years earlier otherwise the explorer David Livingstone would’ve been wearing their replica kit and Stanley would never have found him.
The Invisibles were only brought back to earth, quite literally, with the invention of the penalty kick in 1891. This gave opposing players free reign to dive in the penalty area without being touched and successfully claim that they’d been felled by one of The Invisibles.
The above is an extract from The Humorous History of English Football Vol.1 by Jonty Morgan available on kindle via Amazon.
In 1889 cinematography was invented by a Bristolian called William Friese-Greene. He first experimented with moving pictures in 1876 when he exhibited a series of still photographs on the theme of homeless people in Staple Hill. One critic called them ‘very moving pictures indeed’. This inspired the pioneering photographer. He thought it would be a splendid idea to make the pictures themselves physically move. So to this end he next staged the exhibition in San Francisco and waited for the next earthquake.
In 1888 it was announced that Friese-Greene had invented a machine that could take twenty-four frames per second. For this reason he was barred from entering the National Art Gallery. Removals firms also took a dislike to him. They feared that moving pictures would be the tip of the iceberg, with moving furniture next on the agenda, followed by moving ornaments, rendering them obsolete.
In 1889 came the awesome moment when Friese-Greene finally captured and displayed movement on film. It was a simple flickering movement, lasting barely ten seconds, of people strolling in a London park. He had moved to the capital because ten seconds wasn’t sufficient time to ever capture movement in Bristol. It was the birth of a new medium.
Instead of becoming a wealthy man, the new invention led to Friese-Greene’s ruin. The reason being that for several years he was the only person in the world making films. A Stroll in the Park swept the board at the Oscars ceremony in 1889. It cost him a bucket financially going to Cannes and California each year to receive all his gongs and it crippled him…because the mantelpiece collapsed on his foot under the sheer weight of all the awards it had to support.
It has been said that Friese-Greene’s films lack clarity because they are full of jerks and blurred people. Friese-Greene never liked to refer to his actors as jerks, and as for the blurred people, there just happened to be a lot more of them about back then. Indeed a law even had to be passed in parliament in 1885 to prevent blurred people from walking slowly, as other people were getting fed up with them appearing in the background in photographs. Friese-Greene was therefore the first director to bring social realism to the screen by using blurred actors. His most famous film was based upon the true story of Sam Whettens who had been blurred since birth and was sentenced to life imprisonment in America’s toughest prison for the offence of serial bar-hanging in an attempt to hit sells of alcohol. The film was called The Blurred Man of Alcatraz.
In 1711 an amazing incident occurred in Bristol Docks. A suicidal young lady jumped in, but instead of drowning she floated because her dress resembled the shape of the Mayflower. As a result of this bizarre event, women in Bristol did two things:
1. If they wished to commit suicide they no longer jumped into the Docks….they drank from it instead!
2. It became the fashion in Bristol to wear dresses that resembled ships, including cumbersome masts, sails and rigging.
It was not all plain sailing for Bristol’s fashion conscious women who chose to wear the new shipshape designs. The most common problem they encountered was constantly having seagulls and albatrosses hovering over them. For this reason fashionable girls in Bristol were barred from taking their GCSEs in Ornithology.
Women also found it more expensive to wear the new nautical style as before they were allowed onto the streets they had to be registered with Lloyds of London. They also had to keep a daily tab of how many hands they had on deck. This was particularly upsetting for Miss Lucy Latrix who plied her trade along the Cumberland Basin, as she could only count to ninety-three.
In 1713 the findings of a report were announced that showed that women who wore the shipshape designs were prone to go down with scurvy. More alarmingly, it was also discovered that shipshape women while window shopping or merely walking down the street were likely to be mounted by pirates. This actually made the design more popular in some quarters, to this day Bristol Rovers sport a pirate badge on their blue and white quarters to mark this period in history. Ladies wearing the dresses also found themselves being drawn towards port, even if they were teetotallers. The designs also gave men an excuse to tug at womens’ dresses.
There were two tragedies in Bristol which were attributed to the unfortunate victim’s penchant for wearing fashionable shipshape dresses. The first involved Mrs Olive Plinth of Redcliffe. On November 8th, 1720, while walking through town at full speed in her shipshape attire, she badly snagged her dress on some railings and then sunk with the loss of one soul in a large puddle in Baldwin Street. This tragedy was followed two years later by the case of Miss Livy Pine of St.George, who in attempting to dry her runny nose with a series of coloured handkerchiefs was completely unaware that she was conveying an aggressive message in semaphore. As a result she was blasted to death by heavy cannon fire from a Royal Navy frigate as she was using the pedestrian crossing on Two Mile Hill.
Between 1717-1721, the fashion was so popular that demand outstripped supply. For this reason it became perfectly legal for press gangs to pounce upon seamstresses in order to alleviate this problem.
Under Government safety regulations introduced in 1722, as a consequence of the official enquiry into Olive Plinth’s death, women wearing the shipshape fashions suddenly found they needed to carry at least three lifeboats around with them. Only one woman, Mrs Ffion Twyther of Clifton, remained in fashion after that. However, her joy was short-lived for she was swiftly commissioned by the Royal Navy to engage in battle with the Spanish fleet off the coast of Cadiz.
When a football mad kid goes to live with his grandpa, a former soccer coach who cannot give up the game, shouting such things as “Man On!” whenever he sees a crucifix, they make a significant impact on a club’s fortunes in the competitive but secret world of The Premhairy League.
(Statto, Coach’s grandson, realizes that he needs to decipher Coach’s mixture of football language and the English language to fully comprehend the wisdom he seeks to convey.)
COACH’S LEXICON OF FOOTENGBALLISH A-F
Added Time: If someone has had their life saved by medical means, or intervention by a Good Samaritan, Coach says that they are into added time.
Against the Run of Play: A harsh critic of a theatrical production.
Aggregate Score: Whenever Coach sees two adjacent gravel drives he scratches his chin as he assesses them and then declares which one he thinks is winning on aggregate.
Anchorman: If Coach observes someone choosing butter to spread on their toast instead of margarine he calls them this. If that same person is halfway through their meal at the time, he then calls them ‘a mid-filled Anchorman’.
Arrive at the Edge of the Box: Coach is most impressed when pallbearers do this.
At Full Strength: When Coach is in a supermarket he is prone to approach the deli counter, take a strong whiff and say that the Stilton is at full-strength for today’s encounter.
Attendance: If Coach notices five couples on the dance floor he says this. If it is at a ball for civil servants he calls it ‘The Official Attendance’.
Auto Promotion: Any advert for car sales gets called this by Coach.
Back Heel: Any old fashioned remedies. Leeches are a good example of what he’d call ‘back heels’.
Back Ten Yards: Directions given to a lorry driver, by Coach, who’d overshot his delivery location on an industrial estate by quite a margin.
Bicycle Kick: Anyone using pedal power is said to have this by Coach.
Between the Sticks: A rock star between two model girlfriends.
Bore Draw: A newspaper cartoon that doesn’t make Coach laugh.
Bottle: Whenever Coach hears a baby crying he always says that he or she ‘lacks bottle’.
Bundled into the Net: If Coach sees someone putting a calculator into a bag he says, ‘Bundled into the Net…Well, they all count’.
Business End of the Season: Coach says this when approaching the till at the supermarket if he has salt or pepper in his basket.
Byline: ‘See you soon,’ would be an example of this.
Centre-Half: A concessionary bus fare and destination.
Charity Shield: An item of clothing, such as a Real Madrid shirt with a big ZERO on the back, which tells charity collectors that he isn’t worth bothering with.
Copa America: Kojack is a very old example of this.
Counter Attack: If Coach hears that Start I has been told off by his math’s teacher he calls it an instance of one of these.
Creating Space: Refuse collectors impress Coach by doing this when they empty the bins.
Cup Final: This is what Coach calls his last cup of tea before retiring to bed for the night. The following morning he says that it’s time for the First Round of the Cup again.
Cup-Tie: A commitment to visit someone for a cuppa.
Cut Down the Angle: Whenever Coach watches a programme where an invading Viking thrusts his sword into a native of England, he says this. If the invading Norsemen are deliberately starving an Englishman he says that they are ‘Narrowing the Angle’.
Deadly Marksman: A gravestone.
Dive: When Coach observed the rubble being loaded onto a lorry from a sleazy nightclub in town that had been demolished he remarked, ‘He took a dive, there’.
Far Post: The British Ambassador in Australia.
Fifty-Fifty Ball: A celebratory event attended by an equal mix of men and women.
Flick-On: What Coach does with his light switches.
Football Hardman: Any statue of a soccer player.
Fresh Legs: Any new vertical parts of a table or chair.
Free Transfer: A concessionary travel pass that costs nothing.
Full-Time: The point where it’s best to stop eating.
When Saturday’s Gone by Jonty Morgan eBook available from the Kindle Books Store on Amazon.