In a world without Sir Walter Raleigh potatoes wouldn’t have become popular.As a consequence, Lee Copeman wouldn’t have invented the potato masher in 1847. Instead, he would’ve had to apply his invention to the smoothing of concrete instead, removing the lumps with his hand held device.
One of several thousand letters of complaint received by Lee Copeman inventor of the concrete masher:
Dear Lee Copeman (we hope you rot in Hell where you won’t be able to cope man!)
We spent years raising funds here at the Michigan Athletics Association to build a state of the art concrete running track at our new stadium in Detroit. Just as the lanes – our pride and joy – were being laid our chief architect read about your new product, the concrete masher, designed to remove lumps from concrete. For an extra outlay of $1.25 per masher it seemed we’d be guaranteed to possess the smoothest and most envied running track in the world and attract the best athletes on the planet to compete upon it. Nice to dream, isn’t it?
Instead, Copeman, that $1.25 per masher has bought us a ticket to a nightmare. Your invention has completely ruined this stadium and instead of being the envy of the World, we are the laughing stock. In mashing out the lumps in the laid concrete, following your product’s instructions, our construction workers found that as the cement dried the masher became firmly stuck in it. So now instead of having the smoothest concrete running track on Earth, we have something that wouldn’t look out of place on an assault course for the marines. Copeman, there are masher handles sticking out all over the place. From a distance it looks like a cemetery, and it sounds like it too because any athletes who venture inside are struck dumb and then burst out in tears.
We have tried to remedy the problem. We have tried removing them, but they’re embedded so firmly that King Arthur would not be able to extract the dratted things. Due to all yhe complaints, the company producing your confounded mashers has laughingly issued a product recall. How the heck do they expect anyone to be able to return them? Unless they sold a batch to Hercules, of course! So we have to try and make do. Let metell you some of the things that have occurred.
In the 100 yards dash Leopold Montgomery was on course to smash the world record when after 92 yards he was tripped by the protruding handle of one of your mashers and ended up smashing his ankle and hip instead. We also tried introducing a new event called the 400 yard hurdles, in which athletes ran around the track and jumped over the handles. But unfortunately the mashers are not uniformly or equally spread. Their distribution is totally arbitrary. For instance, in Lane 3 there are 16 concrete mashers embedded in the track whereas alongside it in Lane 4 there is only one! This has led to fights amongst the athletes at the starting line when it has been announced what lane they’ve been drawn in, and several athletes have pulled out when they’ve received an unfavourable draw. I wish they could pull out your damned mashers instead!
We intend to sue your backside, Copeman. I’d also like to kick you there too. If you choose to run away I hope you are in Lane 3!!!!
Wendell Fellucci, Secretary of The Michigan Athletics Commission.
DEAD or alive
For inventing the most annoying product of all time. North American architecture cannot now hope to compete with that of our European cousins with masher handles sticking out all over the place.
An extra $5,000 will be awarded if you kill him using one of his own mashers. We don’t really want him captured alive as the prisons now have easy escape routes because the high walls have mashers sticking out like steps every few feet!
If Brunel was subverted from his true calling, then Bristol Temple Meads Station wouldn’t exist. All sorts of solutions would be applied to getting passengers off safely from a moving train once it was within the city’s environs. As this following advert from The London Evening Comet testifies:
ARE YOU TRAVELLING TO BRISTOL BY RAIL?
Do you fear possible fatal injury when you attempt to jump off?
Then your worries are at an end.
Loak out for Jacob Wrenthrow’s Farm near Keynsham on the outskirts of Bristol.
There, adjacent to the track, has been placed three different piles to soften your landing.
HERE ARE YOUR OPTIONS:
HAY. Land in our soft bales of hay for just sixpence. A first-class experience.
MUD. Soften your landing by jumping into our mud heap for just threepence. Good quality Somerset mud. You will not be disappointed.
DUNG: Jump into our dung heap and be charged just a penny. A third-class experience to complete your journey.
JACOB WRENTHROW’S FARM: Guaranteed to bring you down to earth with a soft landing.
The success of this enterprise is measured by the appearance, a few months later, of this advert:
SHERBOURNE & HEATHERSMIRE SOLICITORS.
Have You Suffered Injury That Wasn’t Your Fault?
Did you pay out for a MUD landing at Jacob Wrenthrow’s Farm but find yourself covered in DUNG instead?
As a consequence did you suffer the INJURY of losing your friends, business and your appetite?
Then contact SHERBOURNE & HEATHERSMIRE SOLICITORS (preferably by post at 129 Baker Street, London) and tell us that you’ve been dung.
There will be various means tried to bring the express train from London to a stop in Bristol to allow loved ones to disembark safely as this report from July, 1878 testifies:
INQUEST INTO DEATH OF MISS PRISCILLA GARBUTT
The inquest was held yesterday at Bristol of local woman Miss Priscilla Garbutt, 20, who met a most unfortunate end when she was run over by a train that had travelled from London as she lay upon the tracks in Bristol in an attempt to stop the engine to enable her acquaintance, Mr David Robey, to safely depart from it.
Her mother, Mrs Muriel Garbutt in her evidence to the court revealed that in the days leading up to the arrival of her suitor she’d entertained a melancholy as she fretted about his safety when leaping from the moving train upon arrival in Bristol. As she was an avid reader of adventure novels, Miss Garbutt devised the idea of lying upon the track, like a heroine trying to escape being tied up on one, in an attempt to bring the engine to a halt in Bristol and thus allow Mr Robey to disembark safely.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t often parallel adventure novels and this attempt at the recreation of one was doomed to failure. Miss Garbutt had hoped that not actually being tied to the track would ensure her safety, but in attempting to roll away from the track as the engine was almost upon her, her dress caught upon it and she was killed instantly, her body being distributed in various pieces along the track. The engine driver, Mr Harold Stropp of Maypole, Birmingham, brought the train to a halt and GWR staff left their duties to gather the pieces of the unfortunate Miss Garbutt. Her identity was also established by means of a letter addressed to her carried in a pocket of her dress. A request was made for anyone who knew Miss Garbutt aboard the train, whereupon Mr David Robey made himself known to the staff.
Mr David Robey informed the court that he was told by the porter, Jeremiah Sackville-South, to take a seat in the second-class carriage he had occupied. He replied that he had already tried but they were screwed in too well. He then explained that he was travelling to Bristol with the intention of asking Miss Garbutt’s father for her hand in marriage. It was at that point that the porter broke the tragic news and then, in an attempt to cheer the grief-stricken passenger, said that if it made him feel any better he could have her hand in carriage instead and promptly left to fetch it.
Rchard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (aka Warwick The Kingmaker)
Born Richard Neville on 22 November. It is unknown exactly where he was born but it was likely to have been in the vicinity of his mother in Bush an, Berkshire.
Richard, aged six, betrothed to Anne Beauchamp, daughter of the 13th Earl of Warwick. The best man tells a cracking story at the reception, although Richard confesses that he would’ve preferred the one about the three little pigs.
Anne redesigns the Neville family’s ‘Bear & Ragged Staff’ emblem during needlework class. She calls the new smartened image ‘The Bear & Immaculate Staff’. But Richard is furious and says that he is having none of it. Anne replies that when they’re a fair bit older he can start having some of it then.
Richard is knighted
The Duke of York leads an unsuccessful uprising against Henry VI (House of Lancaster). Richard (Warwick) is on the side of the King. This he considers safer than being in front of him.
Hentry VI becomes insane. Warwick isn’t at the King’s side anymore, mainly because the King thinks himself to be a crab. Henry VI’s wife, Margaret of Anjou, takes the reins with the Duke of Somerset. Despite pulling quite hard on them, they can’t get Henry VI to budge, not even in a sideways direction, as he withdraws into a catatonic state. It is thus decided that Margaret of Anjou and the Duke of Somerset should rule the country and Henry VI just pose for coins.
Warwick is no fan of Somerset, possibly because he endured a soaking at Glastonbury one summer, so sides with the House of York (White Rose) in their dispute with the House of Lancaster (Red Rose) over the claim to the throne.
The first battle of The Wars of the Roses takes place at St Albans. The Duke of Somerset is killed. It’s decided to cancel the 1455 Chelsea Flower Show in case anyone else important gets the chop.
Henry VI becomes a virtual puppet king (aided by his catatonic state), his strings pulled by Margaret of Anjou. This is kept a secret from the people. The truth only emerges in the 1960s when he makes a guest appearance on The Woodentops.
Warwick and Salisbury’s forces capture London for the House of York. Warwick then captures Henry VI at Northampton. Henry VI is allowed to remain king for the rest of his life and the Duke of York act as protector and succeed him upon his death.
The Duke of York is killed at the Battle of Wakefield. Warwick joins forces with his son, Edward of York, the new claimant to the throne of England.
Warwick and Edward march on London and are accepted by the citizens of the capital who are anti-Lancastrian. The Prince is proclaimed King Edward IV. The two head north to engage in battles at Ferrybridge – where Warwick picks up a leg injury – and Towton, rated the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil which Warwick misses due to failing a late fitness test. The Yorkists are triumphant. Margaret of Anjou flees to Scotland.
Warwick repels uprisings in the north orchestrated by Margaret of Anjou. The Last Night of the Proms is cancelled as Warwick doesn’t want to provide her with the chance to orchestrate anything else.
Warwick negotiates with French royalty to marry Edward IV to a princess.
Edward IV marries the widowed commoner Elizabeth Woodville behind Warwick’s back. Warwick only discovers the truth because Elizabeth, in her excitement, says ‘I do,’ too loud which causes Warwick to turn around.
The Woodville family become increasingly powerful at court at the expense of Warwick’s family, the Nevilles.
Prespects look increasingly bleak for Warwick as he receives a Christmas card from Edward IV with the ‘Happy New Year’ bit crossed out.
Warwick devises a plan to install Edward IV’s younger brother, George, Duke of Clarence, as king. George marries Warwick’s daughter, Isabel, to cement the union. Warwick laments the fact there isn’t enough left over to cement his patio as well.
The forces of Edward IV suffer defeats and the King is captured by Warwick’s brother Archbishop Neville of York. To celebrate the Archbishop designs a new range of monastery wear for his monks incorporating a caged white rose motif. Warwick decrees that it will be acceptable for the monks to wear their new outfits occasionally, but not to make a habit of it.
Edward IV is released from captivity. He isn’t that grateful as he thinks he should’ve only got community service anyway.
Warwick and the Duke of Clarence flee to France where they are accepted by King Louis XI.
In the surprise move of transfer deadline day, Warwick moves from the House of York to the House of Lancaster for an undisclosed fee. He promises Margaret of Anjou that he will get her husband, Henry VI, back on the throne.
Warwick and Clarence land in Devon with an army. Lancastrian forces also assemble in the north. Both armies head for London. Edward IV, finding himself surrounded, flees to the Netherlands.
Warwick frees Henry VI and restores him as King, though takes on the responsibilities of ruler himself.
The Royal Mint ask Warwick who he intends to make king next, as they are in the process of designing their coins for the next five years.
Edward IV gathers forces and lands in England. The Duke of Clarence rejoins his brother Edward IV citing lack of opportunity under Warwick. His brother later rewards him by having him drowned in a barrel of wine.
At the Battle of Barnet Warwick The Kingmaker is killed. Henry VI is bumped off in the Tower of London after the Battle of Tewkesbury in which Edward IV is triumphant.
Anne Neville, Warwick’s daughter, widowed at the Battle of Tewkesbury when the Prince of Wales is killed, marries Edward IV’s youngest brother Richard Duke of Gloucester, later to become King Richard III. Thus Warwick was not only a Kingmaker but quite literally a Queen-maker too.
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
A daughter is born to Fanny and William Nightingale on May 12th at 5.37pm. The lamp follows at 5.44pm and the afterbirth at 5.51pm. She is named after the city of her birth, Florence in Italy.
The affluent Nightingales return to England. Florence is raised in two houses, one in Derbyshire and the other in Hampshire. Both have massive cesspits, which makes them the effluent Nightingales too.
Florence is considered ‘a bright pupil’s although this impression is considerably assisted by her lamp.
Young Florence displays a gift for mathematics. This angers her father who bought her the calculating machine on the proviso that she kept it to herself.
In February, Florence gets her first call from God. This has to be considered a miracle because the telephone isn’t invented by Alexander Graham Bell for anot￼her four decades.
Florence goes against the wishes of her mother and sister, Parthenhope, by rebelling against the role expected of her as a woman of breeding and status, that is, to simply become a wife and mother. Fanny and Parthenhope, considered pillars of the community, take solace from the fact Florence isn’t male because if her bladder was full at any time in the community, she’d have gone against them as well.
Miss Nightingale becomes a great advocate of the pie chart, believing statistics are easier to present to the public if displayed in pie chart form. This was a slight variation on Sweeney Todd who presented his Chartist customers to the public in pie form.
Florence is considered attractive and is romantically pursued by the politician and poet Richard Monckton Milnes. He worships the ground she stands on: this is because Miss Nightingale likes walking over the rubble of demolished churches. They have a nine year courtship during which he wages a fruitless battle to win her over from her calling of nursing.
This poem, composed by Milne towards the end of their courtship in 1851, encapsulates his frustrations:
FLORENCE by Richard Monckton Milnes MP
Florence, Florence, then love of my life, I’d give you my heart if you would be my wife. I’d present you my vessel of dedicated devotion, Though you’d prefer a bottle of calamine lotion. For nigh a decade I’ve striven to be your master, But you value more the staying power of a plaster. You profess the desire to treat strange men in bed, Though only if they be half dead!
Florence visits a Lutheran religious community in Germany where the pastor and deaconesses do good work for the sick and deprived. Her stay there forms the basis for her first book the following year called The Institution of Kaiserswerth on the Rhine, for the Practical Training of Deaconesses, etc. The publisher is convinced that had the book had a more catchy title, sales figures might have reached double figures. Although, had the title been too catchy, Florence would’ve had it quarantined instead.
Nightingale takes the post of superintendent at the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Upper Harley Street, London. She is discovered and promises to return all the superintendent’s mail.
Reports reach Britain of the terrible conditions the wounded endure in the Crimean War. Nightingale prepares to answer the call. She buys the entire stock of a bandage salesman in Knightsbridge. Richard Monckton Milnes mishears this and thinks she has bought some stocks from a bondage salesman and curses himself for not having suggested S-&-M during their long courtship.
On October 21st, Florence Nightingale and a staff of 38 female volunteer nurses she has trained, leave for the Ottoman Empire. When they arrive some of the nurses are shocked to discover that it isn’t a huge furniture storage sales room as they’d envisaged. Nightingale discovers poor care and hygiene and a lack of medical supplies. She implements handwashing and other hygienic sanitary practices to cut the appalling death rates amongst the war wounded.
Florence also takes the radical step of using a lamp at night on her rounds and encourages other nurses to follow her lead.
Nightingale sends a plea to The Times for a Government solution to the poor facilities. This makes her name, and her lamp, well known and many say that they’ll get behind her. However, it has to be remembered that street lighting wasn’t that great so they might’ve had selfish motives.
The Government commission Isambard Kingdom Brunel to design a prefabricated hospital that can be shipped out to the Dardanelles. This results in Renkioi Hospital that, with its better sanitation and improved ventilation along with hygienic measures introduced by Nightingale, sees death rates become vastly smaller than had previously been the case.
On November 29th, The Nightingale Fund is started with the purpose of training nurses.
A year after the end of the Crimean War, the celebrated poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow immortalises Florence Nightingale and her lamp with his poem Santa Filomena. However, it came to pass that, although the lamp still lives on, Florence died in 1910, so really he only did half the job.
Nightingale writes Notes on Nursing aimed specifically at those who want to be a proficient nurse at home. In it she shares her acquired knowledge of how to combat the spread of disease through employing measures such as hygienic practices, good sanitation and quarantine. She further goes on to publish a sequel for those who don’t understand the swear words being hurled at them by a quarantined patient called Notes on Cursing.
£45,000 is used from the Nightingale Fund to start the Nightingale Training School at St Thomas’ Hospital. This project aimed to produce Nightingale Nurses as, so enamoured were the British public with their heroine of the Crimea, they wanted more of her like around. To qualify as a Nightingale Nurse the applicant needed to display such qualities as:
Speaking in a posh voice.
Carrying a lamp (preferably illuminated).
The ability to run other women down (a lot harder to achieve in 1860 before the advent of the automobile).
Being chaste (easily achieved by stealing something from a shop under the proprietor’s nose and then running away).
Forence Nightingale lobbies to strengthen the Public Health Bill to ensure that property owners are connected to the mains drainage system. This is later ammended to just connecting their properties as it’s easier because they’re more static.
The Public Health Act enshrines several of Nightingale’s social reform recommendations into law.
Florence Nightingale’s voice is recorded on the newly invented phonograph. It reaches Number One on the medical charts.
The Nightingale Pledge is created. Initially this was mistaken for a furniture polish. It soon became known as The Hippocratic Oath for newly qualified nurses to pledge their allegiance to the ethics and principles of the nursing profession and to always put the needs of the patient first. There is a sudden rise in male applicants for the role of nurses on the Nymphomaniac Ward of the Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
Forence Nightingale’s lamp is temporarily extinguished due to her protracted negotiations in switching energy providers.
Forence Nightingale dies on 13 August aged 90 in Mayfair. Her family declines the nation’s offer to bury her at Westminster Abbey. This was because Henry VII was also buried there and he had a thing about nurses so they weren’t confident she’d be able to rest in peace.
It becomes apparent that people are generally living twenty years longer than had been the case prior to the social and health reforms initiated by Nightingale as part of the Public Health Act 1874-75.
International Nurses Day is celebrated on what would’ve been Florence Nightingale’s birthday from this year onwards.
Tw/o images of Florence appear on the reverse of the Bank of England Ten Pound Note for the next nineteen years. For this reason, it was a good thing that she’d been born in Florence, Italy and not the Isle of Ust, as the notes would’ve then become confusingly known as The IOU Ten Pounds.
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.