Renowned British cat burglar Peter Scott warned the Telegraph in 1994 that he would consider it “a massive disappointment” if his passing were to be overlooked by its obituary writing staff. The Telegraph did not disappoint him.
Scott stole jewels, furs and artworks worth more than £30 million. He held none of his victims in great esteem (“upper-class prats chattering in monosyllables”). The roll-call of “marks” from whom he claimed to have stolen valuables included Zsa Zsa Gabor, Lauren Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor, Vivien Leigh, Sophia Loren, Maria Callas and the gambling club and zoo owner John Aspinall. “Robbing that bastard Aspinall was one of my favourites,” he recollected. “Sophia Loren got what she deserved too.”
Scott stole a £200,000 necklace from the Italian star when she was in Britain filming The Millionairess in 1960. Billed in the newspapers as Britain’s biggest jewellery theft, it yielded Scott £30,000 from a “fence”. After Miss Loren had pointed at him on television saying: “I come from a long line of gipsies. You will have no luck,” Scott lost every penny in the Palm Beach Casino at Cannes.
In the 1950s and 1960s he pinpointed his targets by perusing the society columns in the Daily Mail and Daily Express. Nor did he ease up with the approach of middle-age; in the 1980s he was still scaling walls and drainpipes. In one Bond Street caper alone he stole jewellery worth £1.5 million, and in 1985 he was jailed for four years. On his release he expanded his social horizons by becoming a celebrity “tennis bum”, a racquet for hire at a smart London club where — as he put it in his autobiography — he coached still more potential “rich prats”.
By the mid-1990s, Scott had served 12 years in prison in the course of half a dozen separate stretches, and claimed to have laid down his “cane” [jemmy] and retired from a life of crime.
But in 1998 he was jailed for another three and a half years for handling, following the theft of Picasso’s Tête de Femme from the Lefevre Gallery in Mayfair the year before. To the impassive detectives who arrested him, Scott quoted a line from WE Henley: “Under the bludgeonings of chance, my head is bloody but unbowed.” He often drew on literary allusions, quoting Confucius, Oscar Wilde and Proust.
Scott was also a past-master in self-justification of his crimes and misdemeanours: “The people I burgled got rich by greed and skulduggery. They indulged in the mechanics of ostentation — they deserved me and I deserved them. If I rob Ivana Trump, it is just a meeting of two different kinds of degeneracy on a dark rooftop.”
In his memoirs, Gentleman Thief (1995), Scott admitted to an even stronger motivation than fear as he contemplated another “job”: “Even now, after 30 years, it was a sexual thrill.” There was the additional satisfaction in his assumption that the millions reading about his exploits in the papers were silently cheering him on.
Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, played field hockey during her visit to St. Andrew’s School, where she attended school from 1986 till 1995, in Pangbourne, Berkshire, England, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. Kate told teachers and students at the private school that her 10 years there were “some of my happiest years.”
As someone married to a brunette field hockey player, I was amused to see photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge girlishly waving one of those field hockey sticks during a visit to her former school.
The Duchess of Cambridge has gone back to school. The royal, formerly known as Kate Middleton, played hockey and revealed her childhood nickname — Squeak — when she returned to her elementary school for a visit Friday. ...
Kate, who captained the hockey team at her high school, joined a group of 12-year-olds for a training session in a green-and-blue Alexander McQueen tartan coat and three-inch-high boots.
“Swan Upping in 1875” from Life on the Upper Thames
The Guardian reports that the Thames is currently in flood, and there will be no swan upping this year.
Queen’s swan marker says water is too high and too fast to safely carry out annual census dating back to 12th century
The ancient ceremony of swan upping, the annual census of the bird by the Queen’s official swan marker on the Thames, has been cancelled, possibly for the first time in its history, owing to flood conditions. ...
David Barber, the Queen’s swan marker for 20 years, said he informed the palace that the water was “too high, and too fast” for the upping to be conducted safely.
“As far as we know it has never been cancelled before, maybe not for hundreds of years,” he said. “It is a real disappointment. We will now have to miss a year, which is diabolical for us.”
The census is seen as a useful conservation activity as checks are made on the health of the birds, especially cygnets which are weighed and measured. The young birds are at particular risk of being caught in fishing tackle, and the cancellation meant extra vigilance would be required to ensure no cygnets suffered as a result, Barber said.
The swan upping ceremony was originally a way of marking ownership, at a time when the birds were regarded as a delicious dish at banquets and feasts.
Each day of the week-long event, the boats seek out broods. The first to sight a brood shouts “all up!”, the traditional call warning all the boats to get into position to catch the swans. When the birds are caught, the marks on the parent swans’ beaks are examined to establish ownership.
As the swan uppers pass Windsor Castle, they stand to attention in their boats with oars raised to salute “Her Majesty the Queen, seigneur of the swans”.
[T]he Monarch of the United Kingdom retains the right to ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, but only exercises ownership on certain stretches of the River Thames and its surrounding tributaries. This dates from the 12th century, during which time swans were a common food source for royalty. Swan upping is a means of establishing a swan census, and today also serves to check the health of swans. Under a Royal Charter of the 15th century, the Vintners’ Company and the Dyers’ Company, two Livery Companies of the City of London, are entitled to share in the Sovereign’s ownership. They conduct the census through a process of ringing the swan’s feet, but the swans are no longer eaten.
Swan upping occurs annually during the third week of July. During the ceremony, the Queen’s, the Vintners’, and the Dyers’ Swan Uppers row up the river in skiffs. Swans caught by the Queen’s Swan Uppers under the direction of the Swan Marker are unmarked, except for a ring linked to the database of the British Trust For Ornithology (BTO). Those caught by the Dyers’ and Vintners are identified as theirs by means of a further ring on the other leg. Today, only swans with cygnets are caught and ringed. This gives a yearly snapshot as to how well (or not) Thames swans are breeding. Originally, rather than being ringed, the swans would be marked on the bill — a practice commemorated in the pub name The Swan with Two Necks, a corruption of the term “The Swan with Two Nicks”.
On 20 July, 2009 H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, as “Seigneur of the Swans,” attended the Swan Upping ceremony for the first time in her reign, and the first time that a monarch has watched the ceremony in centuries.
The issue of Edward IV’s legitimacy was revived, after more than 500 years, by a British television documentary, titled Britain’s Real Monarch, which aired in 2004 and which produced documentation from Rouen Cathedral to Richard Plantagenet’s absence during the relevant period.
Theoreticians of this sort of thing exclude female claimants from the hypothetical Clarentian Succession, as the possibility of female succession was a creation by Henry VIII, who by this theory was never king anyway. By their calculations, Michael Abney-Hastings, 14th Earl of Loudoun, who passed away recently in Australia, was the 19th successor to the British throne in descent from George I, former Duke of Clarence.
The 14th Earl of Loudoun and Jerilderie councillor Michael Abney-Hastings died on Saturday morning at the age of 69.
Mr Abney-Hastings is well known in the Jerilderie Shire but is most famous for the 2004 documentary Britain’s Real Monarch, which suggests he should be the King of England in place of Queen Elizabeth II. Mr Abney-Hastings had been battling a debilitating illness and had been in and out of hospital in the lead-up to his death.
But he continued to serve Jerilderie Shire Council to the end and council general manager Craig Moffitt yesterday paid tribute to the “much-loved guy”.
“It is very sad,” Mr Moffitt said.
“He was quite a character around the town.”
Mr Abney-Hastings was born in Sussex in 1942 and attended a private school in Yorkshire before moving to Jerilderie with his family.
His parents were Captain Walter Strickland Lord and the 13th Countess of Loudoun Barbara Abney-Hastings, making him the 14th Earl of Loudoun.
He made world headlines in 2004 when Britain’s Real Monarch explained King Edward IV was conceived illegitimately, and therefore as the direct descendant of the 1st Duke of Clarence he should be the rightful King.
But Mr Abney-Hastings was voted onto Jerilderie council that same year and decided to focus his energy on that.
“He didn’t take his royal position too seriously, at least here in Jerilderie,” Mr Moffitt said.
“He would go over to England for royal ceremonies which he took seriously, but he always found it quite funny.”
Michael Edward Abney-Hastings, 14th Earl of Loudoun (22 July 1942 – 30 June 2012)
Lord Montararat, in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe, opposes reforming the House of Lords alleging the existence of some mystical connection between the conservative nature of the institution and Britain’s historic greatness:
When Wellington thrashed Bonaparte,
As every child can tell,
The House of Peers, throughout the war,
Did nothing in particular,
And did it very well:
Yet Britain set the world ablaze
In good King George’s glorious days!
He may very well have been right. Certainly, Parliamentary Reform in 1911, and afterwards, has been a hallmark of a period of astonishing decline.
The Independent, on Friday, remarked on the remarkable abilities of some hereditary peers to bring levels of practical experience and unusual expertise on subjects and in forms never found among professional politicians.
The main argument against reforming the House of Lords is that there are people in it who would be unlikely to get elected but bring a specialised knowledge that the average politician lacks. The truth of this was brought home by a question printed in yesterday’s edition of Hansard from the Countess of Mar, who is in Parliament because she is the elder heir proportionate of her father, the 30th Earl of Mar, who died in 1975. He inherited the title from his second cousin once removed, both being descendants of the sister of the 27th Earl – as you probably already knew. The Countess is a farmer. Who else would table a question asking: “What testing is carried out in addition to Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Borrelia afzelii for tick-borne diseases including Bartonellosis, Ehrlichiosis, Borrelia garinii, Babesiosis, Louping ill and Q-fever, and for other zoonoses such as tick-borne encephalitis, Boutonneuse fever, Tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever…”? The minister’s answer was quite long, but can be summarised as “it depends”.
As a compliment to Canada, repeating a gesture made in 1897 at the time of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (“Royal” only since 1904) is being given the honor of replacing the Queen’s Life Guard for twenty-four hours.
In the late Montague Rhodes James’ memoir of his time at school and university, Eton and King’s (1926), James remembers in particular Mrs. Ann Smith, an elderly college servant at King’s College, who tidied up college rooms and made the students’ beds for them.
James describes her as “tall and austere in aspect,” but with a gift for “noteworthy speech” and prone to apply the mot juste. Mrs. Smith was also evidently capable of penetrating political acumen.
“Politics, I don’t think she studied much, but after a General Election she has said to me, ‘Well Sir, simple as I am, I’ve always heard there was never better times than when the Conservatives was in power.’”
The Daily Mail reports that the British police have chosen a bit of Punjabi slang from the Imperial attic to be used as the code word for the American president during his state visit.
More than one person has wanted to call Barack Obama a ‘smart alec’, and now British police will get the chance to do so without getting reprimanded.
That’s because Scotland Yard has tapped the codename ‘Chalaque’ to refer to the U.S. president for security reasons during his upcoming state visit to the United Kingdom May 24-26.
Indarjit Singh, a Punjabi speaker in the UK who is director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, told the Sunday Times the word ‘is sometimes used when we want to denigrate someone who we think is too clever for their own good’.
Another Punjabi speaker told the paper the word Chalaque is ‘not considered rude’, but could be ‘mildly offensive’.
It is also said to mean ‘cheeky, crafty and cunning’.
As the financial burden of the Welfare State is bringing the economies of Europe and the United States to their knees, the Telegraph reports that the results of a British think tank’s investigation of public opinion on the issue of fairness strikes at its moral foundation.
As we report today, Policy Exchange – supposedly the Prime Minister’s favourite ideas outlet – has done a brave and unusual thing. Rather than polling the public just on policy and voting intention, it has put a far more abstract moral issue before them. It instructed the pollsters at YouGov to find out precisely what the public thought the most powerful term of approbation in the political lexicon – “fair” – actually amounted to.
The quite unequivocal reply that was received (with breathtakingly enormous majorities in some forms) came as no surprise to this column. To most voters, fairness does not mean an equal distribution of resources and wealth, or even a redistribution of these things according to need. It means, as the report’s title – “Just Deserts” – implies, that people get what they deserve. And what is deserved, the respondents made clear, refers to that which is achieved by effort, talent or dedication to duty: in other words, earned on merit.
As I have written so often on this page, when ordinary people use the word “fair”, they mean that you should get out of life pretty much what you put in. Or, as the report’s authors put it, “Voters’ idea of fairness is strongly reciprocal – something for something.” By obvious inference, a “something for nothing” society is the opposite of fair. And this view, interestingly, is expressed by Labour voters in pretty much the same proportion as all others.
Imagine that. After all these years of being morally blackmailed by the poverty lobby, harried by socialist ideologues and shouted at by self-serving public sector axe-grinders, the people are not cowed. Even after being bludgeoned by the BBC thought monitors and browbeaten by Left-liberal media academics with the soft Marxist view of a “fair” society – from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs – they have not bought it. They do not believe that if people are poor, it is necessarily society’s fault, and therefore society’s duty to deal with the consequences.
No, they say, as often as not, poverty is a consequence of lack of effort or self-control – and, therefore, the individual must accept the consequences. And they do not believe that such character failings and their consequences should be disregarded in the apportioning of welfare or help from the state – help which they know is made possible by the efforts of those who do “the right thing”. They still have a firm and undaunted conception of the “undeserving poor” – a term so unfashionable that no politician would be capable of uttering it – and would like such people to be made to accept their reciprocal obligation to society in return for any assistance from public funds.
Dornier 17 bomber lying inverted in the Goodwin Sands.
A largely intact casualty of the Battle of Britain, a Dornier 17 fast bomber, referred to affectionately by the Germans as the Fliegender Bleistift “flying pencil,” was found two years ago when a fishing boat snagged its net on the wreck.
The RAF Museum plans to raise the aircraft and place it on display.
A rare German wartime bomber which was discovered on a sandbank 70 years after it was shot down during the Battle of Britain is to be raised, it was announced today.
The twin-engined Dornier 17 first emerged from Goodwin Sands, a ten-mile long sandbank off the coast of Deal, Kent, two years ago, a spokesman for the RAF Museum said.
Since then, the museum has worked with Wessex Archaeology to complete a full survey of the wreck site, usually associated with shipwrecks, before the plane is recovered and eventually exhibited as part of the Battle of Britain Beacon project.
An underwater side scan of a twin-engined Dornier 17 German wartime bomber, which has been discovered on a sandbank off Deal, Kent, 70 years after it was shot down during the Battle of Britainy
The spokeswoman said the aircraft – known as a Flying Pencil due to its sleek design and stick-like lines – was part of a large enemy formation which attempted to attack airfields in Essex on August 26, 1940 but was intercepted by RAF fighter aircraft above Kent before the convoy reached its target.
The plane’s pilot, Willi Effmert, attempted to carry out a wheels-up landing on Goodwin Sands but, although he landed safely, the aircraft sank.
He and one other crew member were captured but another two men died.
The spokeswoman said the plane was found in ‘remarkable’ condition considering the years it has spent underwater, and is largely intact with its main undercarriage tyres inflated and its propellers still showing the damage they suffered during its final landing.
The Telegraph’s perusal of the Wilkileaks leaked diplomatic documents finds that Barack Obama traded British defense secrets to Russia as part of the price for Russian agreement to the START Treaty.
Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week.
Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.
The fact that the Americans used British nuclear secrets as a bargaining chip also sheds new light on the so-called “special relationship”, which is shown often to be a one-sided affair by US diplomatic communications obtained by the WikiLeaks website. ...
A series of classified messages sent to Washington by US negotiators show how information on Britain’s nuclear capability was crucial to securing Russia’s support for the “New START” deal.
Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.
Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain.
Professor Malcolm Chalmers said: “This appears to be significant because while the UK has announced how many missiles it possesses, there has been no way for the Russians to verify this. Over time, the unique identifiers will provide them with another data point to gauge the size of the British arsenal.”
Duncan Lennox, editor of Jane’s Strategic Weapons Systems, said: “They want to find out whether Britain has more missiles than we say we have, and having the unique identifiers might help them.”
Anthony Calabrese, an American attorney working in London, felt obliged to remind his British friends that they had overwhelmingly rooted for Obama to win the presidency.
Well, you guys all wanted him and you got what you wanted. In my 18 months living in London (truly one of the World’s greatest cities BTW) I have met one person who did not want Obama to win the 2008 election (and most of my co-workers seem to be Tories). I have had these same Tories complain to me about something the administration has done (BP, the Churchill bust, the snubbing of the Queen) yet 15 seconds later react with horror when they find out I did not vote for him.
Look folks, you wanted him, you got him, now you are getting it good and hard. George Bush who you all revile would never have pulled that. John McCain would never have done that. But keep up your adulation of President Obama, maybe he will wave at you occasionally.
Holiday travelers found themselves stranded at Heathrow Airport, schools closed all over Britain, sporting events were canceled, and life generally ground to a halt due to snow-blocked highways, stalled train lines, and bitter cold.
How well did the Warmist Met Office and the East Anglia Climate Research Unit do in providing guidance for British officials, especially as compared to typically warming-skeptical meteorologists? Disastrously badly is the answer.
[A]s recently as late October the Met Office was predicting that we should expect an “unusually dry and mild winter”. This was news to every independent weather forecaster in the world from Joe Bastardi to Piers Corbyn who have been predicting a harsh winter for months.
But the Met Office of course knew better thanks to its spiffy new £33 million IBM supercomputer (90 per cent funded, of course, by the taxpayer) whose precognitive powers are so great, it is said that on a good day with a fair wind behind it and can very nearly match the track record of the dead celebrity Paul the Octopus. And of course, it’s this very same computer which is responsible for so many of the “projections” – not even “predictions”, note, but “projections” – of Anthropogenic Climate Doom so lovingly detailed on its taxpayer-funded website.
The Global Warming Policy Foundation posts a series of Met Office predictions and reality checks. The most amusing features a major reversal from late October this year.
Met Office 2010 Forecast: Winter To Be Mild Predicts Met Office
Daily Express, 28 October 2010: IT’S a prediction that means this may be time to dig out the snow chains and thermal underwear. The Met Office, using data generated by a £33million supercomputer, claims Britain can stop worrying about a big freeze this year because we could be in for a milder winter than in past years… The new figures, which show a 60 per cent to 80 per cent chance of warmer-than-average temperatures this winter, were ridiculed last night by independent forecasters. The latest data comes in the form of a December to February temperature map on the Met Office’s website.
Reality Check: December 2010 “Almost Certain” To Be Coldest Since Records Began
The Independent, 18 December 2010: December 2010 is “almost certain” to be the coldest since records began in 1910, according to the Met Office.
————————————————————————— John Hinderaker, at Power-Line, reminds us that, a decade ago, the experts at the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit were predicting sadly that snow in Britain would soon become only a memory.
Britain’s winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.
Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain’s culture, as warmer winters – which scientists are attributing to global climate change – produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries. ...
According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.
“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.