Headstones with unusual stories to tell: The soldier whose beer was too weak



In Winchester, there is a grave which pays homage to a 26-year-old grenadier in the North Regiment of the Hants Militia. Thomas Thetcher died after drinking contaminated small (weak) beer when he was hot.

Before the invention of modern sanitation, people would drink small beer when fresh water was unavailable. This was because the alcohol was toxic to water-borne pathogens.

However, it was not enough to prevent Thetcher catching a fever and dying.

Following his death in 1764, his comrades arranged for a jocular headstone inscription warning of the dangers of drink. It read:

Here sleeps in peace a Hampshire Grenadier,

Who caught his death by drinking cold small beer,

Soldiers be wise from his untimely fall

And when ye're hot drink strong or none at all.

In 1918, the tombstone caught the attention of a young American soldier called Bill Wilson, who was camped nearby with his US Army unit.

Twenty-one years later, following a battle with alcoholism, he founded Alcoholics Anonymous and in 1939 published a book about his experience.

In it he claimed the gravestone had been an "ominous warning which I failed to heed", and printed the first two lines of the verse in the front of his book.

However, it appears he misunderstood the headstone, as he missed out the crucial advice about only drinking strong beer.

On 12 May - the anniversary of Thetcher's death - people gather at the grave to drink (strong) beer and raise a glass to the grenadier.

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Headstones with unusual stories to tell: The diver who saved a cathedral


William Walker was a deep-sea diver who, in 1905, was employed to help repair the foundations of Winchester Cathedral.

Large cracks had appeared in the cathedral's walls and vaulted ceilings, some of which were wide enough for owls to roost in.

Because Winchester has a high underlying water table and the cathedral is built on peaty soil, trenches dug below filled with water before any reinforcing work could be done.

So Walker, who usually worked at Portsmouth dockyard, was recruited.

A tunnel was excavated beneath the building and for six years he spent nearly six hours a day underwater, in darkness, replacing and shoring up the foundations with his bare hands. He worked entirely by touch. Eventually he propped the cathedral up with 900,000 bricks, 114,900 concrete blocks and 25,800 bags of cement.

Because it took him so long to put on and take off his heavy diving suit, when he stopped for a break he would just take off his helmet in order to eat his lunch and smoke his pipe.

As if that was not enough effort, each weekend he cycled 150 miles - home to Croydon, south London, before returning to work on Monday.

He died aged 49 during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. His grave, at Beckenham Cemetery in Bromley, south-east London, bears the words: "The diver who with his own hands saved Winchester Cathedral."

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Headstones with unusual stories to tell: The barmaid who taunted a tiger



In 1703, Hannah Twynnoy became Britain's first recorded victim of a tiger.

She was a barmaid at the White Lion in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, when a travelling menagerie set up in the pub's large rear yard, ready to attract paying crowds.

Hannah was warned against upsetting the tiger but she enjoyed bothering and poking at the big cat - until one day it discovered the cage door was open. Fed up of the pesky barmaid, the tiger launched itself on the unfortunate servant and mauled her to death.

The stone, in Malmesbury Abbey has the epitaph:

In bloom of life

She's snatched from hence

She had not room to make defence;

For Tyger fierce

Took life away

And here she lies

In a bed of clay

Until the Resurrection Day.

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Dream of Venus: Inside Salvador Dalí‘s spectacular & perverse Surrealist funhouse from 1939 [via NIna Reznick]

The fabled entrance to the “Dream of Venus” pavilion created by Salvador Dalí for the World’s Fair in 1939.


Salvador Dalí was asked to create a pavilion for the World’s Fair to be held in Summer of 1939 in Flushing Meadow, Queens, NY. Given a canvas this big, as you might imagine, Dalí‘s concept for what was called “Dream of Venus” was just as over-the-top as the wildly eccentric Surrealist himself. In a letter written to his friend, Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel, Dalí reported that the pavilion would include “genuine explosive giraffes.” That never happened during the eight weeks it took to set up and construct what has been referred to as Dalí‘s “funhouse.”

The creation of the pavilion was the idea of noted architect, artist, and art collector, Ian Woodner. Woodner approached New York art dealer Julien Levy and together they quickly decided to give the gig to Dalí. As you entered the pavilion you had to pass between twin pillars that were fashioned in the image of female legs that were protruding from a skirt that had been pulled up above the knees. In various windows at the entrance, Dali placed a sculpture of a nude torso of a woman with another naked body of a woman in a window above who had a mermaid-like tail. There was also a large-scale image of Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.” Dalí had intended to remove the head of the goddess and replace it with a fish head. This was one of many conceptual ideas the artist had intended to incorporate into the pavilion that was soundly rejected by the Fair’s organizers and sponsors. Dalí was so incensed by the Fair’s requests for alterations to his fever-dream funhouse that he wrote a pamphlet called “Declaration of the Independence of the Imagination and the Rights of Man to His Own Madness.” The pamphlet condemned the Fair’s censorship of his work and with the help of a pilot and an airplane, he had copies of it dropped from the sky all over New York City.

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What a wonderful find!


Centuries Ago, a Cat Walked Across This Medieval Manuscript

While pawing through a stack of medieval manuscripts from Dubrovnik, Croatia, a student stumbled upon a familiar set of splotches marring the book’s page.

Fascinating talk about the early days of the iPhone

In his first public interview since leaving Apple in 2012, former head of iOS development Scott Forstall provided commentary on his background, the first iPhone and his relationship with company cofounder Steve Jobs.


Speaking with John Markoff, formerly of the New York Times, Forstall offered a timeline of events leading up to his contribution to "Project Purple," the secret internal initiative that ultimately resulted in the first iPhone.

Apple began "Project Purple" because Steve Jobs hated Microsoft exec, says Scott Forstall.


New York Times reporter John Markoff interviewed some of the original engineers who work on the first iPhone that was unveiled in January 2007. Hugo Fiennes, Nitin Ganatra, and Scott Herz all talked about their own experience working on this incredible project. Fast forward to: (1:06:56)


Every Day This Dog Rides The Bus All By Herself To Go To The Park

Meet Seattle’s celebrity dog, Eclipse, who takes a bus to a nearby park all by herself. “All the bus drivers know her. She sits here just like a person does,” fellow rider Tiona Rainwater told KOMO. “She makes everybody happy. How could you not love this face?”

It all started when the black Labrador and Mastiff mix was at a bus stop with her owner Jeff Young. Her human was taking too long to finish his cigarette. So, when the bus arrived, the pooch just got on it by herself and got off at the park. Since that day, the owner knows he can always catch up with her later in the park. The guy realized this smart girl can ride those 3-4 stops on the D line on her own and always knows where to get off.

Although some officers say that Eclipse should ideally be on a leash, King County allows dogs on public transport at the discretion of a driver. So, as this pooch causes no harm but only makes passengers smile, the drivers are always more than happy to give this four-legged miss a lift.

What about the doggie herself? Well, she seems to be proud of herself. Besides, her Facebook profile says: “I love my big city life and enjoy taking the D line daily to the Belltown dog park.” What a smart doggie!

More info: Facebook (h/t)

If you ride a D line bus in Seattle, you can meet this unexpected furry passenger named Eclipse…

Image credits: Sunday Post

“All the bus drivers know her. She sits here just like a person does”

Image credits: King County Dept. of Transportation

The doggie rides the bus all by herself, has a bus pass attached to her collar, and gets off at her favorite park

Image credits: Lindsay Cohen

It all started when the black Labrador and Mastiff mix was at a bus stop with her owner Jeff Young

Image credits: KOMO news

Her human was taking too long to finish his cigarette, so when the bus arrived…

Image credits: King County Dept. of Transportation

The canine just got on it by herself and got off at the park

Image credits: King County Dept. of Transportation

That’s when the owner realized this smart girl can ride those 3-4 stops on the D line on her own

Image credits: KOMO news

King County allows dogs on public transport at the discretion of a driver, and Eclipse makes people smile

Image credits: KOMO news

Therefore, the drivers are always glad to give this four-legged miss a lift

Image credits: KOMO news

“She makes everybody happy. How could you not love this face?”

Image credits: KOMO news

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