how the rich party and do business

Ron Rosenbaum did some great interviews back in the 1980s. Here’s an excerpt from a lunch interview with Malcolm Forbes.

“We’re in Forbes’s baronial drawing room having drinks and getting into the intricacies of investigative yachting. To hear Forbes tell it, the yachting experience is a powerful investigative tool.

“If you spend all day with a man and his wife on a boat and see their interplay with other CEOs on the boat, you get a gut feeling….”

Every year Forbes targets about 150 CEOs who are ripe for an investigative cruise. In a veritable investigative blitz, invitations go out to up to 25 CEOs for 6 weekend cruises with the Forbes family up the Hudson.

Malcolm’s toy boat collection

Then there’s the wine cellar which is the inner sanctum of investigative lunching at Forbes.

“All four walls are lined from floor to ceiling with racks of ageing bottles in repose. And hung from the ceiling are dozens of silver wine cups with dangerous looking silver antlers projecting from the rims.


“We bring some CEO here who likes wines. Sometimes we’ll give him a bottle of the year of his birth. The only promise we extract from him is that if he opens it and it’s vinegar, he won’t tell us. We engrave two of these silver wine cups with the date of his visit, then a year later we send him one and keep the other here. The idea is we tell them if their cup is in the wine cellar, anytime they’re in the neighbourhood they’re entitled to come down here and open any bottle of wine they want.”

Forbes Wine Cellar

Forbes chose the Palais Mendoub in the northwestern city of Tangier, Morocco to host his 70th birthday party. Spending an estimated $2.5 million, he chartered a Boeing 747, a DC-8 and a Concorde to fly in eight hundred of the world’s rich and famous from New York and London. The party entertainment was on a grand scale, including 600 drummers, acrobats and dancers and a fantasia (a cavalry charge which ends with the firing of muskets into the air) by 300 Berber horsemen.


Thursday’s child has far to go

Thursday Island is at the northerly tip of Australia.


Anyone who has spent more than a few days on Thursday Island knows the expression “Kubalah wah?”. Politely translated it means “Would you like to have sex?”. In response to this question there are only two possible answers and both of them are “Yes”.

The first means “Yes I would like to” and the second means “Yes but not with you. You are not man (or woman) enough to please me.” A favourite sport among the men, according to Eric Hansen’s book “The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer”, was to sleep, at different times, with the daughter, her mother and her grandmother. This feat was known as the Grand Slam, and according to several men and women it was a common activity enjoyed by all participants. They talked about the Grand Slam in the way that some people talked about golf.


While staying at the Grand Hotel in the early 1980s, Hansen was introduced to the Thursday Island handshake. This is a traditional form of greeting practiced by the young and sometimes not so young island women. The “handshake” when properly executed, takes place when a stranger, dressed ideally in loose shorts without underpants, is momentarily distracted. At that precise moment the woman reaches up the man’s shorts and gives his penis a friendly tug.


You might find this knowledge handy if you ever visit Thursday Island.

Published in: on January 27, 2011 at 9:40 am  Comments (56)  
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belching, farting, twitching and drooling

Arthur Orton, (also known as Tom Castro) was born in London in 1834. Obese, near illiterate, unabashedly belching and farting at will, afflicted with a twitch and a tendency to drool, he emigrated to Australia where he found work as a butcher in Wagga Wagga.


His letters homeward at this time show Orton as fond of dogs and children and affectionate towards his Wapping girlfriend. Other evidence suggests heavy drinking, and he appeared before magistrates for minor trade malpractices.

image found here

In January 1865 he married Mary Ann Bryant, a second generation Australian, already a mother. Later that year, encouraged by a local solicitor, William Gibbes, he responded to world-wide advertisements seeking one Roger Tichborne, heir to an ancient Hampshire baronetcy. Roger evidently had drowned off South America in 1854, but his grieving mother refused to accept this, hence the advertisements. Orton decided to claim to be Roger.


Consequently, he returned to Britain late in 1866, to begin a period of fantasy. Apart from Roger’s mother, the Tichborne family disputed the claim and commenced a civil action against him.

The whole matter could have been resolved in an instant. Roger Tichborne had tattoos on both arms. Athur Orton had none. Inexplicably, nobody thought to ask the Tichborne claimant to bare his arms.

Russell Crowe in Romper Stomper

Also, Roger had been born in Paris and spoke French as his first language. Arthur was educated at Wapping and spoke with a pronounced Cockney accent.

A sensation occurred in the courtroom when a Dr Lipscombe, described as Sir Roger’s personal physician, gave evidence of a rare physical defect, that, he said, distinguished Sir Roger. The young aristocrat, he said, had an abnormal penis. It regressed, like a horse’s, into his body. The claimant, Arthur Orton, had that same abnormality.

image found here

Orton’s previous sweetheart was also called to the stand. She gave evidence that in the course of their courtship she had become acquainted with his penis, and she recalled at times it did indeed regress into his body.

Despite this ‘evidence’ Orton was charged with perjury and sentenced to fourteen years’ gaol in March 1874. Drink, food and lechery helped to sustain him: his weight rose to twenty-seven stone (171 kg). His very appearance seemed to change from that of a colonial rough to a debauched gentleman. When a popular movement developed in his favour, he responded as a true demagogue.

Released from prison in October 1884, Orton argued his case before the public as a music-hall turn. Drink and women were still major interests, and in his last years he was kept by publicans and their clients. He died in London on April Fool’s Day, 1898.

The costs of a moderate funeral were borne by the undertaker, and 5,000 people went to the cemetery, with many more lining the route to pay their respects.

The Claimant was buried in a pauper’s grave, without a headstone, but the coffin carried, with the permission of the Tichborne family, a plate which read ‘Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne’.

Published in: on January 25, 2011 at 7:45 am  Comments (42)  
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vito and joey

Hit man Vito Arena was a thief who started out by stealing cars for the Gambino family.


“Just before his 36th birthday Vito fell passionately in love with 17 year old Joey Lee, the son of an Irish chauffeur. After a few months Joey moved into Vito’s apartment and before he knew it, found himself keeping watch outside while Vito and his chums carried out a contract murder.

In June 1981, Vito and Joey were pulled over whilst driving a stolen Chevrolet. Officer Friedman found gloves, a knife, an ice pick, 3 bullets and a red photograph album in the car. The album contained photos of Vito and Joey in a variety of sexual embraces.

order your bullet ice cube tray here

“I realised then I’d met my first gay hit man. I didn’t even know they existed” said Friedman.

Vito offered to do a deal and bartered information for leniency for Joey. Vito got 18 years, but Joey only got one. The plea baragin also included fixing Joey’s overbite.

get your overbite fixed here

By July 1983, Joey had served 13 months. He might have stayed longer had prison authorities not realised they had the first convict on record to stay voluntarily past his term. Vito continued to make demands. He asked for a radio, Bruce Springsteen records and more hot water.

Bruce found here

He insisted on the return of his red photo album and requested a barber’s chair for his cell block. He also asked for an operation to have the fat sucked from his face. When asked why, he said “I felt my appearance was awful.”


If…. the name of the game

Queenwilly and I have been asking each other questions from “If … The Game of Life”. If you want to play along then leave your answers in the comments…..

If you could have chosen your own first name, what would it be?

image from xkcd

My real first name is Gaelic and it has a lot of consonants in it. I was forever having to spell it out for people when I was a child and by the time I was twelve, I’d shortened it by several letters to one that’s similar to my blog name. Growing up, I’d always wanted something simple and tomboyish like Billie or Rylie.

Billie Holiday

Queenwilly wanted to be called Violet. What name would you choose?

read about Violet Jessup here

If you were to have one famous person from history stranded with you on a desert island forever, who would it be?

The question prior to this was “if you were to be stranded on a desert island with one platonic friend only, who would it be?” So we have already discussed the merits of choosing someone capable of building a temporary shelter and a boat to get us off the island. When you choose your famous person, remember you are stranded with them forever…..


I chose Oscar Wilde because I want someone who will make me laugh. Queenwilly chose Charles Babbage. Who would you choose?


Published in: on January 21, 2011 at 8:55 pm  Comments (61)  
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Cecil’s girls

Cecil Beaton knew all the leading ladies of theatre though sometimes it was hard to tell if his descriptions of them were intended to be complimentary.


Isobel Elsom was a pale flaxen blonde with the mythical features of a unicorn. She was a dreamy young lady with junket-white complexion, strongly forward thrust chin, but inexpressive limbs.


Gertie Millar, who started her working life as a Lancashire mill girl, was a great favourite. Critics and audiences alike were bewitched by her Pekinese piquancy. But when she became too plump for the stage, she settled for the family emeralds and a cosy marriage to the Earl of Dudley.


The American Jewess, Ethel Levey, had a ram-like profile, her nose was a perfect crescent, hair like a raven’s wing, violent black eyes and a lascivious mouth. She was a bird thin creature with a coal-heaver’s voice and animalistic high kicks which made her audience feel they were in the slipstream of an aeroplane belonging to her second husband, the pioneer aviator, Claude Grahame White.


Then there was the French beauty Gaby Deslys. Plump, pullet-like Gaby had a pear-shaped nose, cherry lips and bosoms like early melons. The King of Portugal gave her yards of pearls, Jean Cocteau wrote a poem about her and James M Barrie, that pipe-smoking elf from Thrums was also an unexpected victim of her beauty.


Gabrielle Ray was a high kicking dancer with a squeaky voice. She invented her own stage makeup where she made of her face a pointilliste painting with little dots of all colours to give highlights and shadows to her different features. Her greatest innovation was to arrange that her photographer should stretch an invisible thread of cotton in front of his sitter so that she could rest the tip of her small parrot’s beak nose on it, thus pioneering, in her own manner, the days of plastic surgery.


*Miss Ray married in 1912. Every Johnny of international fame, from Alfred Vanderbilt to King Manuel of Portugal, worshipped at this beauty’s feet. It was whispered that dukes and earls wanted to marry her, but she picked young Eric Loder, who had a fortune of $10,000.000.

The wedding day arrived, and every ornament of stage and peerage was waiting at the church. There, too, was the bridegroom. But the bride did not come, and the ceremony was deferred. People thought it was an exhibition of the beauty’s capricious ways. Closer investigation showed it was rather an exhibition of business sense. Loder had failed to sign the stipulated marriage settlement, securing her the income she needed. He pleaded that excessive prenuptial hospitality had caused him to overlook the formality. He signed up and the wedding took place three days later.

After barely a year of married life they quarrelled, and Gabrielle sought a divorce. It was said that the inconstant millionaire found perfect beauty a perfect bore, and sought consolation with one who was less beautiful but more amusing.


*Reproduced courtesy of Don Gillan (Copyright),

the tooth fairy grows a beard

Does your local dentist charge prohibitively expensive fees? Who cares if he went to University for 5 years and has a framed degree hanging on his wall? There are cheaper ways to obtain a mouthful of pearly whites.


“50-year-old West Virginia evangelist, Rev. Steve Jones, who describes himself as “an interdenominational Christian,” will pray for the sick and lame, but it’s cracked molars, crooked teeth, toothaches and amalgam fillings that he believes are his calling.

Since he began praying for teeth in 1987, the former coal miner and amateur boxer says he has seen crooked teeth straighten in slow motion, cracked teeth heal, and blackened amalgam fillings turn to silver and gold.


He has practiced his orthodontic ministry across North and South America, Europe and Asia. There is no charge to hear Jones preach, but assistants pass out envelopes and ask the worshippers to make a donation toward gas money.


“I have seen some things that would make science realize that there is a creator,” Jones told the crowd, his half-tenor, half-baritone voice now so loud that the speakers distort it. “Especially when you watch teeth move in slow motion and straighten; especially when you see God create things that wasn’t.”


Sarasota resident Leann Schlabach came to the revival hoping Jones would heal her cracked tooth. “It feels better now; it was very sensitive before,” she said afterward.

Another Parrish resident was sure something had taken place in his mouth. “I came expecting it to happen,” he said. “When he prayed for me, I felt the right side of my face go numb.”

Afterwards the crowd filed slowly out. For some of them, Jones said, a miracle may already be in motion. “Healing doesn’t always happen there and then,” he said. “But it could happen when they’re in McDonald’s the next day.”


Dr Willard Fuller also miraculously heals teeth, as shown by the testimonials below

For the past 43 years, this man of faith has traveled throughout all of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Russia and Australia, ministering to the needs of those who are seeking truth. 40,000 dental healings have manifested as a result of his ministry.


“During Rev. Fuller’s hands on healing services, I have personally seen teeth move, silver fillings turn to gold, facial bone structure of the jaw move and shift into alignment, gold crowns appear and existing fillings disappear. This healing experience comes with my highest recommendation.” -Barbara Waterhouse, Minister, Center for Creative Living, Ashville.

“We watched as cavities filled, old fillings turned to gold, crooked teeth became straight, and gums healed, right before our very eyes. Michael Beckwith, Minister, Agape Church of Religious Science, Santa Monica.

“This man is a veritable traveling tooth fairy.” -The Toronto Star (Canada)


Don’t despair if Willard doesn’t have plans to minister in your neck of the woods though. Just send him a 3″ x 5″ index card with a list of your needs on it and he’ll heal you remotely.

Send the card, with a self addressed stamped envelope to:

Lively Stone’s World Healing Fellowship

P.O. Box 396

Lloyd, FL 32337

Expect good things to happen, plus a letter from the Lively Stone’s Fellowship.

coughing up an arm but no leg

Until 1986, Sydney’s Coogee Beach had a Palace and Aquarium. Bordered by Arden Street, Beach Street, Bream Street and Dolphin Street, the Palace included an indoor Swimming pool, an aquarium, a Great Hall that could be used as a roller skating rink, a Canadian toboggan run down the hillside for over 70 meters, a herd of 14 donkeys to ride as well as swings, whirligigs, rocking horses, toy boats, aviaries, flower beds, a bandstand and an open air bar.

On Anzac Day in 1935, something extraordinary happened in the aquarium.


A tiger shark which had seemed to be ailing for most of the afternoon caused a great commotion. It moved rapidly around the pool, up and down, and then suddenly it disgorged a human arm.

arm found here

The discovery of the arm caused a media sensation. A vital clue to its identity was a tattoo of two boxers shaping up to fight. After reading a newspaper report, Edwin Smith contacted police claiming the arm belonged to his brother who had been missing for several weeks. Because of its well-preserved state, police managed to obtain some fingerprints. These provided a match confirming that it had in fact belonged to Jim Smith, former boxer and small-time criminal. But there was another gruesome aspect to the discovery of the arm. Medical examinations revealed it had not been bitten off by the shark but had been removed from the body by a knife, and not in a surgical procedure.

image of Jim smith (on left) found here

The last time James Smith was seen he was in the company of his long-time friend Patrick Brady. They’d spent most of the afternoon in the Hotel Cecil in the middle of the town and then they came back to a cottage which had been rented by Brady and which was on the shore of Gunnamatta Bay.

image of Gunnamatta Bay found here

On the morning after Jim Smith was seen for the last time, Brady turned up at the cab driver’s home, and wanted a ride into Sydney. He was dishevelled, he had his hand in his pocket and wouldn’t take it out. He got in the cab, and, as the cab driver gave evidence later, it was clear that Brady was frightened. He kept looking out the back window, fearful that somebody was following him. At North Sydney he got the driver to pull up outside the home of Reginald Lloyd Holmes.

Read about the worst cab driver in Sydney here

Reginald Holmes ran a highly successful boat-building business on the harbour foreshore at Lavender Bay. But Holmes had a much darker side. He controlled a lucrative smuggling ring using speedboats built at his boatshed to pick up cocaine, cigarettes and other contraband thrown overboard from passing ships. Jim Smith was a sometime employee of Reginald Holmes, and often drove one of the speedboats during smuggling operations. They had fallen out over a failed insurance scam, and Smith had begun to blackmail Holmes using the boatbuilder’s position in society as leverage. All the evidence the police had collected so far against Brady and Holmes was purely circumstantial. The police were frustrated. They had no body, and their two main suspects refused to cooperate. They decided to charge Brady with the murder of Jim Smith, to maintain the pressure on him.

Lavender Bay by donnnnnny

Then a startling event took place. On May 20, Reginald Holmes got in one of the fastest speedboats in the country, pulled out a pistol and fired it at his head. A nickel-jacketed bullet splayed all around his forehead. It stunned him — he fell into the water, and a rope wound itself around one of his wrists as he fell. Falling into the water revived him. He crawled back into the vessel, started it up and drove the speedboat through the mid-morning ferry traffic, and then, for four hours, he was chased by the police down Sydney Harbour until, finally, he gave up just outside Sydney Heads.

Sydney Heads by Conrad Martens

After Reginald Holmes’s failed attempt at suicide, he made a statement to police, directly implicating Patrick Brady in Jim Smith’s murder. Holmes agreed to be the star witness against Brady. But at 1:20am on June 12, just hours before the start of the inquest into the death of Jim Smith, Reginald Holmes’s body was found slumped over the wheel of his car in the deserted docks area of Dawes Point, the victim of a gangland-style killing.

Dawes Point toilet

On the afternoon before his death, Holmes went to his bank, took out £500 and arranged for it to be paid to a hitman who was then told that he had to kill Holmes that night to make sure that Holmes wouldn’t have to make an appearance at the Coroner’s Court in the morning. Incredible as it may seem, Holmes actually organised and paid for his own murder.

cover in sauce and no one will notice

Remember when I went to Hardys Bay? The house we stayed in contained some very odd items… like a small plastic bag of white powder hidden in a decorative box behind some books. Yes of course I tasted it. But it was only baking powder, probably put there as a joke by some bored teenager who had rented the house before us. Another interesting find was a selection of Handy Hints from a magazine published in 1979.

Irish Snow Blow found here

“You can make your own insulated picnic box by lining a biscuit tin with pieces of polystyrene. Pack the tin, leave it in the fridge until you are ready to leave, your food will be fabulously fresh when you arrive at your destination.

Polystyrene houses found here

Buy a cheap toothbrush. This you will find very handy for scraping celery clean. It gets the dirt off very quickly.

Toothbrush by Thomas Keeley

If the outside of your pudding is burnt, carefully cut away the burnt pieces, flame it then cover in sauce and no one will notice.

Germknoedel recipe here

When you are peeling onions, cut the end off a large transparent polythene bag and slip it over both hands like a muff. You can peel the onion inside it in no time, and without tears.

Muff Diver found here

Wash your stockings before you wear them and freeze while damp in a plastic bag. This makes them last longer, eliminates sagging and gives them more elasticity. Thaw and dry carefully before putting them on.


Make an attractive cover for your umbrella from a discarded tie. Cut the tie to the right length then stitch edges neatly.

umbrella-tie found here

A sheet of foam rubber, stuck to the back of the headboard on a bed, will save the wallpaper from being rubbed or marked during movement.


On wash day, clip clothes pegs all around an old belt and fasten this around your waist. It saves continually stooping into the peg bag whan you are hanging out the washing.

Clothes Peg sculpture found here

Cut bed making time by marking the centre of blanket with coloured wool.

Before going shopping, write your shopping list on a luggage label and tie it to the handle of your bag. Much easier than groping around in your handbag or pocket later.

label found here

Published in: on January 13, 2011 at 8:05 am  Comments (43)  
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the evils of pedestrianism*

Professional walking events were hugely popular in the 1870s.

1870s Yale rugby team found here

Typical of many pedestrians, Exilda La Chapelle was a young immigrant. According to her accounts, she was born in 1859 in Marseilles, France. By the age of thirteen Exilda was walking for a living. As a “pedestrienne,” she probably walked several hours a night, in taverns and small theaters throughout Canada and the Northern United States. Pedestrian performances were considered exciting entertainment, especially when spectators wagered on the contests. Large numbers of people came to see the girl walk. Yet many spectators and other citizens considered pedestriennes to be “fallen women.”

1870s French doll found here

An English woman in Brooklyn, Ada Anderson, attempted a seemingly impossible task, to walk 2700 quarter-miles in 2700 consecutive quarter-hours. Towards the end of her month-long endeavor, thousands of people, including well-heeled gentlemen and society belles paid up to $1 apiece to see the walk. Madame Anderson’s successful finish was reported as front page news throughout America. In New York, Boston, and Washington, women feverishly walked the sawdust rings.

Man heels found here

In Chicago, Madame La Chapelle resumed her walking efforts. Despite the fact that she looked like a young girl, Chicago newspapers called her “one of the greatest female pedestrians.” During Exilda’s month-long walk at the Folly Theatre, the newspapers reported extensively on her weight (which began at about 100 pounds and ended at 92 pounds), physical appearance (an assortment of tasteful dresses and leggings), mental disposition (ranging from happy to discouraged), and diet (raw oysters, eggs, beef tea, sherry).

not this kind of Sherry

From January 25 to February 22, 1879, Exilda walked a quarter mile every fifteen minutes. Despite the obvious pain of sore feet and lack of sleep, she never publicly complained. And somehow she gained a second wind. Women patrons presented her with expensive jewelry, and less affluent admirers presented her with bouquets and applause. At the finish, La Chappelle not only broke the previous record, but shattered it, making 3,000 quarter miles.

jewelry infused water bottles found here

Not everyone was pleased with Exilda’s performance, or similar feats. In New York, the Women’s Christian Temperence Union decried the evil of pedestrianism. The Washington Post, while favorably covering local pedestrienne contests, compared watching La Chapelle’s walk to viewing the Spanish Inquisition.

*From an article by Dahn Shaulis found here

Published in: on January 11, 2011 at 9:05 am  Comments (33)  
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