Casino (Urban Legends)

An attractive young lady was on a business trip to Las Vegas. Finding herself alone on her final evening she decided to go and try her luck in the hotel casino but had already been warned by colleagues that if she got lucky, and had a big win, not to return to her room alone, instead to call security who would escort her.  As luck would have it the young lady did indeed have a big win, but then was immediately worried at having such a large amount of cash in her hand.  She decided to go back to her room and place it in the safe and so she telephoned the security office.

Unfortunately the guards told her they would not be available for about half an hour and asked her to wait in the reception area. Instead, feeling vulnerable, she decided to take the first lift available and get to her room as quickly as possible. She was relieved to find the first one empty and got in but, just as the doors were closing, a black hand forced in and pushed them back open.

In walked two large black men wearing hats and dark glasses. One of them growled ‘hit the floor’ so she did, and cowered in the corner. The two men collapsed with laughter and one of them helped her up explaining he meant the button to his floor. Still shaking, the lady explained what she had been told, and about her win, so the two men offered to escort her to her room. She politely refused but they insisted, almost frog marching her along the corridor.  She was, by now, terrified of being robbed, or even murdered but, instead, they gently opened the door, escorted safely her inside and then left.

The following morning, at the reception desk, the lady discovered her room bill had already been paid but the clerk refused to tell her by whom. As she returned home she found 21 bouquets of flowers being delivered to her and again, the florist refused to tell her by whom. Obviously puzzled, and still a little dazed, she picked up a card attached to one of the bouquets, which read; ‘Thank you for the funniest thing that has ever happened to us’ signed Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall

It is a classic, and wonderful if only it were true.

Extract from The President’s Brain is Missing (And Other Urban Legends)

Albert Jack books available for download here


The Bitter Revenge (Urban Legends)

June was not a happy lady. Just before Christmas in 1998 her husband Mike had left her to start a new life with her closest friend. June spent the whole winter alone in the house until the day she received a letter from a divorce lawyer, asking for possession so that Mike and her old friend could move back in. That was when she planned her revenge. She replied, offering vacant possession, on the condition the house was sold and the proceeds split between the two. The evening before she was due to move out June invited her real friends around for a lavish ‘Last Supper’.  The following morning she carefully unscrewed the ends of the metal curtain rails in all the rooms and filled the cavity with half-eaten prawns, shells and spoonfuls of caviar, after which she picked up the rest of her belongings and left the home she loved.

A few weeks later the new couple noticed a lingering smell. It became worse as the days passed. They paid to have the house professionally cleaned from top to bottom, the air vents and floorboards checked for dead rats and air purifiers installed in every room, but still the smell grew worse. Before long the workmen were refusing to enter the house and, as potential buyers were failing to make it past the front door before they fled, the estate agents suggested taking the property off the market until the smell had been removed.

Eventually the couple had to retreat to a hotel before taking on a huge loan and buying another house. Soon afterwards, as chance would have it, June phoned Mike to enquire how the house sale was progressing and listened as her cheating husband made up a story about the depressed housing market and how he had been unable to find a buyer. He was amazed when his former wife offered to buy his share, for a substantially reduced amount. Seizing the chance to burden his ex with the mysteriously smelling house, he accepted a nominal payment for his half share, but not without one last act of meanness. On the day of the transfer June pulled up with her removal men just in time to find Mike’s men stripping the house of the last fixtures and fittings to be taken and installed at his new home down to the light bulbs, carpets, curtains and …..curtain rails. June’s plan had worked to perfection.

Extract from The President’s Brain is Missing (And Other Urban Legends)

Albert Jack books available for download here



Winston Churchill was a Druid  

When the Roman Army reached the shores of England in 43AD they encountered a fairly uncultured race of people with few skills, little intellect and virtually no compassion. Such as can be found on the average Friday night out in any suburban town nearly two thousand years later. The Romans swept away Celtic rule, which was largely held by their priests, the Druids, who wielded absolute power as soothsayers, mystics, scholars and ultimately judges. Druids would decide who would be banished for their crimes and when doubting guilt or innocence would subject the accused person to the Ordeals, which included being tied up and thrown into a river to see if he sank or floated. Or making them walk through fire to see if God protected them from burns. It was also the Druids who decided who would be sacrificed to appease the Gods and, as their belief was that the sun would fail to rise in the morning without an offering to the God of Sun, this happened on a regular basis throughout the land. The Romans knew otherwise and put a stop to this practice. Julius Caesar himself wrote of the Celtic rule;

‘All the people of Gaul are completely devoted to religion, and for this reason those who are greatly affected by disease and in the dangers of battle either sacrifice human victims or vow to do so using the Druids as administrators to these sacrifices, since it is judged that unless for a man’s life a man’s life is given back, the will of the immortal gods cannot be placated. In public affairs they have instituted the same kind of sacrifice. Others have effigies of great size interwoven with twigs, the limbs of which are filled up with living people, which are set on fire from below, and the people are deprived of life surrounded by flames. It is judged that the punishment of those who participated in theft or brigandage or other crimes are more pleasing to the immortal gods; but when the supplies of this kind fail, they even go so low as to inflict punishment on the innocent’ (translated – Anne Lea, in Koch and Carey 1995. 22).

The Druids were slaughtered by the Romans, although lived on in spirit alone throughout the Middle Ages. However, The Ancient Order of Druids was re-established in London in 1781 as the new fashion of belonging to secret societies swept through English Society. Their subject for discussion, however, excluded politics and religion, unlike The Freemasons, (luckily they also excluded human sacrifice too) although their interests did include mutual assistance and companionship. Several branches of the new Druid movement sprang up in Britain, Europe and America with many of them emphasising the advancement of social ideas, science and the arts whilst also guaranteeing members’ financial assistance in times of business failure or other trouble. Like all good secret societies they knew when to close ranks.

Given the non-political nature of the modern Druid movement it is therefore a surprise to find one of history’s best-known politicians Sir Winston Churchill, was a fully paid up member of the Albion Lodge of the Ancient Order of Druids. Churchill’s father, Randolph Churchill, was a prominent British Statesman and leading member of the Freemasons and Winston only joined the Masons after his father’s death in 1895 and later rising to become Master Mason in 1902, a position he held until he left the society in 1912.
presbrainthIn the meantime, according to papers held by The Chartwell Trust at Churchill College, Cambridge, he joined the Albion Lodge of the Ancient Order of Druids, known as Lodge 59, at a specially convened meeting held at The Wheatsheaf Hotel, High Street, Oxford on 10th August 1908, the day before he famously proposed to his beloved Clementine in the grounds of nearby Blenheim Palace, his ancestral home. His Druid membership was proposed by A E Turner and seconded by the Duke of Marlborough, costing ten shillings and nine pence, which afforded Churchill the proud status of ‘Number 3095 of 59 Lodge in Albion’. Remarkable, given that his occupation at the time was listed as ‘President of the Board of Trade’.

Churchill’s association with the Ancient Order was as open secret at the time and the young politician is even shown in a photograph in Stuart Piggott’s book, The Druids, standing with a group of men wearing traditional druid robes, although their newest recruit wears only a morning suit.

By this time Churchill had been a Member of Parliament for eight years and only two years later was promoted to the position of Home Secretary, embarking on what would become a journey to the very top including two periods as British Prime Minister, the first famously during the Second World War. As a result, it would appear Churchill had little time for Druid activity and there is no record of him ever attending either the summer Solstice at Stonehenge or winter Solstice at the Rollright Stones in Oxford, dressed in robes or otherwise, there is also no record of him ever leaving the Ancient Order of Druids, but there is evidence of his lasting beliefs.

Firstly, during the Second World War Churchill became famous for his two-fingered V for Victory salute. For some people this is a Druid sign demonstrating the hidden 23 within the Law of Fives – two fingers up and three bent down signalling 23. Two plus three equalling five.  But for others this is simply confusing symbolism. (The Law of Fives states simply that: all things happen in fives, or are divisible by or multiples of five, or are somehow directly or indirectly appropriate to five.)

Secondly, Churchill is known to have considered astrology and the occult during the Second World War and had close links to leading occultist Aleister Crowley, once described as ‘the wickedest man in the world’ and even ’the beast’, by his own mother. Crowley is credited with creating Churchill’s V for Victory symbol and popularizing it among Satanists.

And finally comes the ancient belief of the Druids who firmly assumed that all the good and protective spirits in the world lived inside trees. Those in distress or in need of good fortune would always make their way to the spiritual tree to touch and hug it in search of peace and prosperity.  It is also recorded that Sir Winston Churchill once remarked that wherever he went in the world he always made sure he was within reaching distance of a piece of wood.

So there you have it, Sir Winston Churchill, our most famous Prime Minister and voted in a national BBC poll as the Greatest Briton of all time, a fully paid up and practising member of the Ancient Order of Druids, albeit long after they ceased human sacrifice.

Extract from The President’s Brain is Missing (And Other Urban Legends) available for only £1 in Amazon’s Kindle online store

Albert Jack books available for download here


Three Sheets to the Wind (Phrase History)

When you find a person Three Sheets to the Wind they are roaring drunk and capable of very little. There are two suggested origins for this phrase, the first is that a windmill with only three sails (sheets) would rotate badly and wobble like a drunk. But the second is far more likely, especially as, like so many of our favourite phrases, it has a nautical origin.

The sails of a tall ship were controlled by rope (the rigging) and these ropes were called ‘sheets’. Two sheets controlled each sail and the story is that if one of the sheets wasn’t properly handled, then the other three (of the two sails) would be ‘to the wind’ and the boat would veer from side to side without being fully under control, much like a drunk trying to navigate his, or her, way home.

More Idiom History in Money for Old Rope Parts 1 & 2

Albert Jack books available for download here


Read The Riot Act (Phrase History)

To Read The Riot Act is an expression used when an individual or group of people are given a rollicking about their bad behaviour. The original Riot Act was passed by the British Government in 1715 as an attempt to increase the powers of the civil authorities when a town was threatened by riotous behaviour. The act made it a serious crime for groups of twelve or more people not to disperse within one hour of it being read out to the mob. The Act read:

Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons being assembled immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George for preventing tumultuous and riotous assemblies. God save the King.

Those failing to disperse risked penal servitude for not less than three years or imprisonment with hard labour for up to two years.  Actually reading it out took extraordinary courage and often, during serious disturbances, many didn’t hear it anyway. After the Peterloo Massacre near Manchester in 1819 many of the convicted demonstrators claimed not to have heard the act being read and the same defence was put during trials for the 1743 Gin Riots, 1768 St George’s Massacre and the 1780 Gordon Riots. A rowdy bunch weren’t they. The Act remained on the statute book until it was repealed in the 1970’s, but little use had been made of it for over a century by then, apart from when I come home late from the pub, singing too loudly.

More Idiom History in Money for Old Rope Parts 1 & 2

Albert Jack books available for download here


Heckling (Wonderful Word History)

A heckler is a person who can be found loudly interrupting a performance or speech with what he or she assumes to be hilarious or relevant commentary. The original hecklers were to be found in the textile industry, in which ‘heckling’ involved straightening out and removing the impurities from flax fibres, prior to spinning and weaving into linen, using a special combing device. And it was the hecklers of the politically militant Scottish city of Dundee who in the early nineteenth century developed the delicate art of heckling as we know it today. In the factory, the senior heckler, possibly the only literate one present, would read out the day’s news while the others toiled at their looms, shouting out their particular opinions and getting embroiled in furious debate with fellow workers.

By the nineteenth century, heckling had become a largely tolerated part of popular theatre performances: some vaudeville shows even had heckling written into the script. More recently, The Muppet Show famously featured two grumpy old hecklers, Conrad Waldorf and Jerry Statler, while any stand-up comedian worth his or her salt has had to deal with the odd heckler over the years. Billy Connolly is a master, once telling a heckler, ‘You should get an agent, pal, instead of sitting there in the dark handling yourself.’ The brilliant Bob Monkhouse knew how to deal with them too, once firing back at one particularly irritating member of the audience: ‘Half a million sperm and yours had to win.’

But the best responses to unwanted interruptions are usually off-the-cuff political ones that cannot be rehearsed. Nancy Astor, the first woman to sit as a Member of Parliament, once challenged Winston Churchill with the words: ‘Winston, if I were your wife I would poison your coffee.’ To which Churchill famously retorted: ‘Madam, if I were your husband I would drink it.’ Or take the celebrated riposte of Labour politician Dennis Healey, during a debate in Parliament in June 1978, in which he likened criticism by Conservative minister Geoffrey Howe – the mildest of hecklers – to ‘being savaged by a dead sheep’.

In the sporting arena there have been some great one-liners too. Cricketer Ian Botham once came up with a quick response when Australian batsman Rodney Marsh tried to put him off his stride with a well-aimed heckle. ‘How’s your wife and my kids?’ Marsh taunted. ‘The wife’s fine,’ Botham replied coolly, ‘but the kids are retarded.’

More History in Money for Old Rope Parts 1 & 2

Albert Jack books available for download here