Caught Short (Urban Legends)

A fantastic little tale of a young (nameless) man, the son of a wealthy influential London bookmaker. One day his father gave a summer party at his offices on Piccadilly in the heart of London’s West End. The lad, fresh out of college, duly attended prior to a date with his new girlfriend later that evening. A little nervous of both events our hero spent the first hour mixing whisky and champagne, a calamity in the making. Wet behind the ears and at that time ignorant to the danger of alcohol in great quantities, the lad was not expecting to lose control of his bowels and soil his trousers before five in the afternoon.

In blind panic the hapless chap minced along to Simpson’s of Piccadilly and asked the first assistant he saw for a pair of trousers. ‘What sort of trousers?’, enquired the assistant. ‘Any sort at all’ he said, ‘The first pair in my size you can find’. With that he paid for his purchase, grabbed the bag and ran out into the street to hail the first cab he could find to take him to the station.

Once safely on the train home, he telephoned his new girlfriend and arranged to meet her at the station and then went along to the lavatory to clean himself up as best he could. Carefully removing his belt and the contents of his pockets he was relieved to throw his dirty trousers and underwear out of the window as the train sped through the countryside. Breathing a long sigh of relief he then turned to the Simpson’s of Piccadilly bag, reached in and drew out a smart cashmere V neck sweater. In his haste he had grabbed the wrong bag.

This is all we know of the story but there is much more fun to be had with it. For example, we now know he is in the toilet of a fast moving train, naked from the waist down with little hope of covering his modesty. Now, he could squeeze his legs into the arms of the sweater but which way round does the V go, to the front or to the rear?. I suppose he would have to choose his best side and leave that exposed, whichever side he thought that was.

Even then he had his new lady to confront. Did he get off a stop early or a stop later – and how does he explain not meeting her. Also, what would the ticket collector or other passengers make of him. He is probably a broken man by now and I doubt he drinks much whiskey. I don’t know if this legend is true, but I am afraid I rather hope it is.

Extract from The President’s Brain is Missing

Albert Jack books available for download here

The Drunken Sailor (Urban Legends)

During the early 1900s Major and Mrs Haversham bought a one-hundred year old farmhouse located on the edge of the New Forest. The Major was a keen wine and spirits collector and was intrigued to find a 112-gallon oak barrel tucked away in the corner of the cellar. Haversham tested the contents and discovered the barrel was full of the finest naval rum.  Experts agreed the unusual tasting rum had benefited from years of ageing in the old oak barrel and was among the best they had ever tasted.

The rum became the talk of the village, with neighbours and friends often toasting national events at gatherings held at the Haversham’s farmhouse. After five years the major decided to decant the rum into a smaller and more modern barrels and his wife suggested cutting the old one in half to use as flower beds on either side of their front door. However, when workmen carried out the task they found, inside, the perfectly preserved body of an 18th century sailor.

It is well documented that when ordinary sailors died at sea they were stitched into their hammocks with a cannonball and thrown overboard. However, officers were often preserved in rum for the return journey before being buried on land with full naval honours. Lord Nelson’s body was famously preserved in this way and brought back from Trafalgar for burial.

This is, incidentally, where the expression Tapping the Admiral comes from, meaning ‘take a small strong drink’. Therefore, as unlikely as this story seems, it is entirely possible that, after many months at sea, any vast ship being unloaded could easily have had a few barrels of rum stolen and sold on the black market to a buyer unaware of its shipmate flavouring.

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

Albert Jack books available for download here

Nobby’s Nails – Urban Legends

One story I am certain is untrue but is still a good story. In Australia (although I have heard it set in America, Africa and Europe) a well-known nail and screw manufacturer called Nobby’s Nails had decided on a renewed advertising campaign. The owners of the company were a particularly religious family and were well-known for only employing those who shared their beliefs.

As a result the instructions to their advertising agency were that they wanted a religious feel to the campaign and this had proved to be a problem for the usually creative company. However, one particularly bright spark felt he had solved the dilemma and the new advert was created.

On the Sunday it was to be first aired on screen the managing director invited all of his fellow churchgoers over to his house for lunch and watch the national screening of the advert. The first shot was a magnificent scene depicting Jesus standing on a hilltop and looking out across the plain.

Then, on seeing dust on the horizon he turns and starts to run. The scene then turns to two Roman Centurions running along in the sand and one turns to the other and says ‘I told you, this would never have happened if we used Nobby’s Nails.’ It can’t be true, can it?

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

Albert Jack books available for download here

Albert Einstein’s Chauffeur

Soon after Albert Einstein had produced his theory of relativity he set about a university tour of lectures from coast to coast in America. He was reasonably unknown at the time and students flocked to meet the scientist with the rapidly growing reputation and lecture halls were filled to the rafters each time Einstein spoke. Among the audience was his faithful chauffeur Harry who attended every lecture and once proudly announced to Einstein that he had learned his presentations word for word. The two had become great friends and Einstein suggested they exchange places for one lecture and find out if this was true.  He would drive Harry to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and the driver would deliver his lecture.

Harry performed brilliantly and delivered Einstein’s lecture word perfectly whilst the great man sat in the back row wearing a chauffeur’s uniform and dozing off. But disaster was about to strike. As Harry was leaving the speaker’s platform to great applause one of the college officials asked him a complex question on the theory involving many equations and detailed calculations. Harry listened carefully and thought about his reply before announcing, ‘The answer to this is simple, in fact it is so simple I am going to let my driver answer it for you.’ The fast thinking chauffeur then left the hall leaving Einstein to deal with the officials.

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

Albert Jack books available for download here

Big Cats on the Loose Again in Britain?

The Beast of Bodmin Moor

Stories and legends have been told about a mysterious cat like beast roaming wild on Bodmin Moor since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published his Sherlock Holmes adventure The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1901, which was then serialised in The Strand magazine. The story centred on the fictional Baskerville Hall, which was located on Bodmin Moor in Devon, a bleak and sweeping expanse of open moor-land peppered with marshes, bogs, valley’s and caves. Bodmin Moor has inspired storytellers for generations and provides the backdrop for many a folklore and legend. Conan Doyle used this to create his tale of a wild hound who set about eating his way through the Baskerville family and Sherlock Holmes was dispatched to solve the mystery.

Since then the legend continued with farmers, who would report livestock slaughtered by a mysterious large animal and since 1983 hundred of reported sightings have been made of a large cat like creature roaming wild on the lonely moor. In 1996, as media attention increased, over 300 sightings were recorded and the subject was hot news in the gossip magazines of the time. Locals are convinced there are one or more large panther or puma like creatures loose on the moor yet no solid evidence has ever been found. Although that in itself is not conclusive as an army could hide on Bodmin moor, but you would think at least the odd carcass or dead body would have been found over the many years this legend has perpetuated. However, a local farmer sold her entire flock of sheep after four ewes were mysteriously ripped to death during one night in 1994. Despite the fact they were not eaten, as it is fair to expect a hungry wild cat to do with its kill, the farmer has now become one of many dedicated to finding the Beast of Bodmin Moor.

Hunting ABC’s (alien big cats) has become an obsession for many in Britain and is reminiscent of the hunt for the Loch Ness Monster but, like Nessie, the ABC’s remain undetected. During the mid 1990’s, as reported sightings around Bodmin Moor increased, the government dispatched the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) to investigate but their report, published on July 19th 1995 concluded the was ‘no verifiable evidence to be found to support the theory.’ Although the report conceded that ‘the investigation could not prove that a big cat is not present.’ So that was a waste of money then. Less than week later, on July 24th, three brothers were walking by the River Fowey on the southern edge of the moor and found, what turned out to be, a large cat skull bobbing in the water. The skull was over seven inches long complete with two large prominent incisors and the discovery made the national news, particularly as it came just a week after the government report. However, the British Museum later confirmed that a tropical cockroach egg was found in the skull that could not possibly have been laid in Britain. They concluded the skull must have once been part of an old leopard skin rug that had once been imported to Britain.

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In 1997 staff at Newquay Zoo identified tracks found to the south of the moor as the fresh tracks of a puma and shortly afterwards a now famous photograph was produced of a large black cat like creature, although the authenticity of this piece of evidence has not been confirmed.

Then, in 1999, the government sent in The Royal Air Force equipped with the latest military night vision equipment and thermo heat seeking cameras, but bad weather hampered their operation and nothing was found at all. Presumably they didn’t think sending them in on a warm summer’s night instead of an October evening would be a better idea. It wasn’t and more money was wasted.

The county of Surrey has also been the centre of ABC activity with twenty-one recorded sightings in 2005 alone. Villagers in Abinger Common claim to have spotted the Surrey Puma that is supposed to have prowled the villages south of Dorking several times in their area.  Surrey has been a favoured Big Cat hunting ground for many years and sightings since 1959, when the first reports were made of ‘strange big cats’ on the Surrey and Hampshire boarder. The local constabulary ignored the reports at the time as they would dismiss reports of car theft and many other crimes these days but those involved were convinced.

One of the most graphic accounts came from a Mr Burnigham who, when driving along a secluded country lane one evening saw what he described as an enormous great cat crossing the road about forty yards in front of him. About the size of a Labrador dog, but with a ‘definite feline gait’, Mr Burnigham stopped and watched as the cat crouched in woods watching lambs in a nearby field. After several minutes the big cat moved out of sight and Burnigham drove away, only reporting his exchange the local press highlighted years further sightings a few years later.

In 1962 there were two sightings of ABC’s in the Shooters Hill area of London, the first by a lorry driver and the second by an on-duty policeman who was startled by what he thought to be a cheater jumping over the bonnet of his patrol car. Other sightings in Surrey prompted a mass Cheater hunt across the county in 1963 but nothing was ever found to provide evidence of ABC activity in the area. However, in 1964 Surrey residents reported terrible howling noises one night, unlike anything they had heard before. A herd of cattle stampeded and the following morning a steer was found dead in nearby woods. The examining vet reported the wounds had been caused by ‘an animal, which was not to be found in this country.’ (SIC)

However, the authorities have denied the existence of wild animal roaming the countryside although the general belief was that a private collector had released two or three puma cubs into the wild during the 1950’s, either deliberately or by mistake, and these had accounted for the sighting during that decade and the following one. There is no doubt Surrey provides the perfect conditions being less harsh than Bodmin Moor, warmer, less windy and if stocked wild game and livestock that could keep an adult hunting cat alive for a long period of time. Also, the dense and remote woodland couple with the fact that this type of big cat is nocturnal and afraid of humans they are likely to remain undetected for decades, if not for all time.

A survey by the British Big Cats organisation supports the sightings in both Surrey and Bodmin Moor and stated ‘there is little doubt that big cats are roaming Britain.’ There were 2052 reported sightings in 2005 alone with the majority being in the south east and south west of England (Surrey and Bodmin Moor) but there are no reported attacks on humans

And so the hunt continues, but one thing is for sure. Like Nessie, Big Foot and the Abominable Snowman all the time we don’t find actual evidence of their existence we can never disprove such legends and many people will always believe in them. I feel it is time to bring in Sherlock Holmes again.

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

Albert Jack books available for download here

Breasts Can Help You Live Longer

It has been reported that tiny computer chips used for storing and cataloging music, like the ones used in many personal music systems, could soon be included in woman’s breast implants. Effectively one breast could hold an MP3 player or iPod and the other an entire music collection in what would appear to be some sort of mammary memory board. It is claimed that BT Futurology are currently developing the idea, which, they say, should be available within fifteen years. Silicone gel, used to make implants, is based on Silicon and can easily be developed for light computing tasks. BT Laboratories analyst Ian Pearson is quoted as explaining how a flexible plastic electronic panel could sit inside the breast relaying signals to a pair of headphones and controlled via blue tooth on a wristband. He was quoted in the Sun Newspapers as saying ‘It is now very hard for me to think of breast implants as just decorative. If a woman has to have something permanently implanted then it may as well do something useful.’

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It remains to be seen how the idea will fully develop but already I can imagine young men excusing their misbehaviour by using the old ‘I am just scrolling down to find your Beatles album or favourite Rolling Stones track’ argument in their defence. Or how long will it be before divorce cases are being heard where the next-door neighbour claims he was only listening to the news headlines, in stereo.

Using such technology would also apparently make it possible to warn of heart murmurs, increases in blood pressure and of impending illness such as breast cancer or diabetes. Ian Pearson suggests all sorts of technology could be developed in this way including mobile telephones and PDA’s and that the future for breasts is indeed a bright one. Which is fantastic news, because I have always been a big fan.

Whilst on that subject I am reminded of a true story published in the eminent New England Journal of Medicine. Recent research has proved that prolonged staring at ladies breasts can increase the length of a man’s life. Personally I think it depends on which lady as I expect there will be some circumstances where it could instead reduce it, down to the next few minutes if you are not careful. After lengthy research the gerontologist Dr Karen Weatherby has announced that ‘Just ten minutes of staring at the charms of a well-endowed female is roughly equivalent to a thirty minute aerobic work out’. This genius of a doctor and her fellow researchers at three hospitals in Frankfurt, Germany have reached their conclusions after considering the health of two-hundred male outpatients, half of whom were tasked with looking at busty ladies every day whilst the other half were told not to do so. Five long years of study revealed the lecherous legion to have lower blood pressure, slower resting pulse rates and there were fewer cases of coronary artery disease.

download (1)‘Sexual excitement gets the heart pumping’ explained Dr Weatherby in what must be an Olympic medal-winning example of stating the bleeding obvious. ‘That improves blood circulation’, she continued. ‘There is no question gazing at breasts makes men healthier. Our study indicates that engaging in this activity for a few minutes a day cuts the risk of stroke and heart attacks in half. We believe that by doing so consistently, the average man can extend his life by four to five years’. (Not being the average man – I have just calculated that by this reckoning I am to live until I am 345 years old and never need to go to the gym, which is more great news)
presbrainthExtracts 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

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