Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Science of Peer Pressure

The following infographic defines and illustrates both the negative and positive aspects of peer pressure.  It provides you with tips on how to help your child deal with the demands of these everyday pressures.  It serves as a guide on how to recognize these situations and it demonstrates how making the best decisions for you and your child is a skill that can be learned.  The purpose of this infographic is to make you feel more comfortable when peer pressure occurs. I hope you find it useful and informative.

- Joanne

The Science of Peer Pressure
The Science of Peer Pressure by Wooden Toy Shop

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Phyllis Gates: The Woman Who Married Rock Hudson

In the multitude of misused Hollywood women, Phyllis Gates, who has died aged 80, must rank among the saddest. She never made a film, or even auditioned for one. But she married Rock Hudson, one of the movie industry's biggest stars. Unknown to Gates, their union, in 1955, was fixed. She always said the marriage was for love but - like most of the world - she did not know the truth about her husband: that he was gay and risked possible exposure in a scandal magazine. 

- Christopher Reed
The Guardian, March 16, 2006

Phyllis Lucille Gates was born in Dawson, Minnesota on December 7, 1925 and was raised on a farm.  After working as a secretary for New York City theatrical agent Maynard Morris, Phyllis decided to relocate to Los Angeles  In Tinseltown, she became the secretary for influential Hollywood talent agent Henry Wilson.  Wilson was the agent for some of Hollywood's greatest stars and had played an integral role in elevating the careers of Lana Turner and Natalie.Wood.

However, there was much more to Henry Wilson.  He was largely responsible for the "beefcake" craze of the 1950s and presided over a stable of attractive male clients with stage names such as Tab Hunter, Rory Calhoun, Troy Donahue and Guy Madison.  Wilson was homosexual and many, but not all, of his clients were also gay or bisexual. They were expected to keep this aspect of their life hidden from the public.  One of Wilson's  most prominent clients was a Chicago-born truck driver named Roy Fitzgerald.  Wilson changed the truck driver's name to Rock Hudson and transformed him into a Hollywood leading man.

After his first leading role in 1954's Magnificent Obsession, Rock Hudson's popularity began to soar. However, he was hiding a secret that would most certainly have put an end to his career back then. Unknown to his film-going fans, Hudson was gay. Confidential magazine, a widely-read scandal tabloid, had threatened to expose his covert homosexual life at a time when such a revelation would have ruined the Hollywood heartthrob's success (By 1955, Confidential had a circulation of five million copies per issue).

According to Robert Hofler, author of The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deeds of Henry Wilson, Wilson managed to stave off the tabloid by disclosing information about Rory Calhoun's years in prison and Tab Hunter's arrest at a gay party in 1950.  It wasn't long after the Confidential incident that the talent agent began promoting a romance between Phyllis Gates and Rock Hudson. Wilson invited the pair to join him for drinks and dinner and with her boss's encouragement, Phyllis eventually found herself dating the handsome film star.  She lived with Rock for a while and then he suddenly proposed marriage to her in Wilson's office. His proposal was immediately accepted.

In October, 1955, Life magazine published a cover story about Rock Hudson entitled "Hollywood's most eligible bachelor."  The article proclaimed that "Fans are urging 29-year-old Hudson to get married - or explain why.not."  With so much pressure on Rock to tie the knot, Henry Wilson soon organized a private wedding for him and Phyllis, Wilson, of course, took care of all the arrangements.
On November 9, 1955, Phyllis and Rock were married in a private ceremony in Santa Barbara, California. Only a few friends and Henry Wilson were in attendance.  At Phyllis' behest, a Lutheran minister was called in at the last minute to perform the ceremony.  Immediately after the ceremony, Wilson called Hollywood gossip columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons.

Phyllis and Rock Hudson on their wedding day

Phyllis always denied that she married Hudson to cover up his homosexuality.  “I was very much in love,” she told Sara Davidson, co-author of the autobiography Rock Hudson: His Story,  “I thought he would be a wonderful husband. He was charming, his career was red hot, he was gorgeous. How many women would have said no?”

The nuptials occurred soon after the Hudson had finished filming Giant with Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean.  Giant, George Stevens' sweeping epic about wealthy Texas cattle rancher Jordan "Bick" Benedict Jr. (Hudson), was released in 1956.  It was a smash hit at the box office and received ten Academy Award nominations,  Hudson and co-star James Dean were both nominated in the category of Best Actor Actor in a Leading Role.

The newlyweds had a brief honeymoon in Jamaica, after which their marriage began to deteriorate. Phyllis claimed in her biography that the breakup occurred due to Hudson's moodiness, sudden depression and childish tantrums.  She also claimed that he struck her when she referred to a friend of his as a "fruitcake."  In addition, she blamed Henry Wilson's scheming for the failure of her marriage.

In April of 1958, Phyllis filed for divorced, citing mental cruelty.  Hudson did not contest the divorce and Phyllis received $250 a week in alimony for a decade.  She never remarried, but remained in Los Angeles and became a successful interior designer.

After the 1960s, Rock Hudson's popularity on the big screen declined.  However, he did find success on television.  He starred in a number of TV movies and in the hit detective series McMillan & Wife (1971-1977), alongside Susan Saint James.  He also starred in the short-lived drama series The Devlin Connection, which aired in 1982.  

From December 1985 until April 1985, Hudson played the role of  Daniel Reece, a wealthy horse breeder, on the hit prime time soap opera Dynasty. Television viewers were shocked at his frail and gaunt appearance. It was evident that he was very ill. The nature of his illness, however, stunned his fans at a time when AIDS was first coming into public consciousness.  Only Hudson's business manager and a few of his closest friends and companions, including Doris Day and Elizabeth Taylor, knew of his diagnosis.

Rock Hudson during his illness

On October 2, 1985, Rock Hudson died of AIDS-related complications.at his home in Beverly Hills, California.  He was 59 years of age at the time of his passing.  Hudson was the first internationally known star to fall victim of a disease that people knew little about at the time.

In 1986, after,Hudson's death, Phyllis published a memoir entitled My Husband, Rock Hudson.  In her autobiography, she asserted that the was in love with Hudson when they married, and that she was unaware of his homosexuality.  She also denied any involvement in his deception.

In 2003, Phyllis agreed to appear on CNN's Larry King Live.  Larry asked her to describe the first time she set eyes on Rock Hudson.  Here's her exchange with King about their first meeting in Henry Wilson's office:

PHYLLIS: Rock walked in and he said, "Is Henry here?"  And I looked up and up and up and I said, "Yes. Rock, he is."  ]"Okay, I'm gonna go in and see him," he said.  "Okay," I said.  He walked through the door.  I was in love!"

LARRY KING:  But you had an immediate attraction.

PHYLLIS:  Well, who wouldn't?

LARRY KING:  Yeah, who?  You're not kidding.

PHYLLIS:  You bet I did!

On Larry King's show, Phyllis revealed that Rock Husdon's nickname for her was "Bunting."  When King asked her when things started to go wrong in her marriage, she said the problem was Hudson's disinterest.  He would leave home in the middle of the night with friends and he spent months in Europe without her.

Phyllis told King that Rock wanted children and that he gifted her with a great deal of jewellery.  She also told King that she had no inkling of Rock Hudson being gay until after their divorce.  After their divorce, friends told Gates about his homosexuality.  According to Phyllis, Hudson never contacted her after their union was dissolved.

At the time of the Larry King interview, Phyllis had been diagnosed with cancer but felt good and thought she had beaten the disease. On January 4, 2006, however, Phyllis Gates succumbed to lung cancer at her home in Marina del Rey, California.  She was 80 years old at the time of her passing.


* Henry Wilson passed away on November 2, 1978 at the age of 67.  After he was "outed," many of his clients, both gay and straight had abandoned him for fear of being labelled homosexual.  Wilson died of cirrhosis of the liver after struggling with alcoholism and paranoia.  He lived his final days at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital and was so destitute that there was not enough money to pay for the cost of his gravestone.

Henry Wilson
SourcesMy Husband, Rock Hudson, by Phyllis Gates; Larry King Live 2003 interview with Phyllis Gates; The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deeds of Henry Wilson, by Robert Hofler; various newspaper articles and Phyllis Gates' obituaries.

- Joanne

Monday, May 15, 2017

Is the dinner party dead?


There once was a time when a small side plate for your bread roll at the dinner table was considered very chic. It was a time when white napkins and prawn cocktails were classic and hostess trolleys an essential home item. Ahhh yes, do you remember the dinner party? With numerous articles on its demise in recent years, you could be forgiven for thinking it something from a more elegant era and that it only exists in your great aunt’s memories. Is the classic dinner party really really dead, though? Terry's Fabrics, a British company, conducted a survey of 1,500 women and has happily revealed that the dinner party is definitely not extinct. The results of the survey appear in the graphic below.

- Joanne

Dinner Party Survey
by Terrys Fabrics.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

World Press Freedom Day: Rise up and support freedom of the press!

                                                                  Banner vector created by Freepik

The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. 

- Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States
Letter to Edward Carrington, 1787

Today is World Press Freedom Day and I would like to express my unfailing support for the media. The press, of course, is not perfect and it is certainly not above criticism.  However, freedom of the press is a necessary component of democracy.  In fact, there is no democracy without it.  The French author and philosopher, Albert Camus (1913-1960), put it this way in Resistance, Rebellion and Death (1960): "A fee press can of course be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom it will never be anything but bad . . ."

One of the first actions of dictators and tyrants is to suspend freedom of the press.  The media may not be armed with guns and bombs, but it is one of the greatest obstacles to dictatorship and totalitarianism.  It's no surprise, therefore, that Adolf Hitler had a very hostile attitude toward the press.  In his 1925 autobiographical book, Mein Kampf, the Nazi leader wrote the following:  "It is the press, above all, which wages a positively fanatical and slanderous struggle, tearing down everything which can be regarded as a support of national independence, cultural elevation, and the economic independence of the nation."

Every day, journalists risk their lives to uncover the truth.  Many die or sustain injuries in war zones. Of course, media outlets are unfairly bias.  Of course, some journalist lack integrity.  Yet, there are many Woodwards and Bernsteins out there.  We need them to uncover scandal and wrongdoing. Their sources should be protected so that they can do their job properly.

Here in Canada, we are not immune to interference with a free press.  It recently came to light that seven Quebec journalists have been under surveillance by the Sûreté du Québect (the Quebec Provincial Police).  South of the border, U.S. President Donald Trump has been demonizing the press at every opportunity.  In February, Trump called the news media "the enemy of the American people."  That is extraordinary language for the President of the United States.  It is the language of a dictator.  It elicited a response from former U.S. president George W. Bush.

Although I strongly disagree with Bush's politics, he was absolutely correct in his reaction to Trump's comments.  He told Today's Matt Lauer that a free press was "indispensable to democracy."  "We need the media to hold people like me to account," he said in his exclusive interview with Lauer.  "Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it's important for the media to hold people like me to account."  After noting that he spent a large amount of time during his two terms in office trying to persuade Russian leader Vladimir Putin to nurture an independent press, Bush went on to say,, "It's kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we're not willing to have one ourselves"

Donald Trump has expressed nothing but contempt for the New York Times and only approves of media outlets that are favourable toward him, such as Fox News.  Trump doesn't seem to comprehend that the press is not supposed to be a cheering leading team for his administration.  That's why he refers to any news story that he doesn't like as "fake news."

On January 6, 1941, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt articulated his famous Four Freedoms in his State of the Union Address.  In his speech, FDR proposed four fundamental freedoms that "everyone in the world" should enjoy: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, From From Want and Freedom From Fear.  Without freedom of speech, which includes freedom of the press, the other three freedoms could not exit.

Sadly, however, freedom of the press is in jeopardy around the world.  Donald J. Trump is sitting in the Oval Office fight now. and America sorely lacks the leadership of a Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The United Kingdom is preparing to leave the European Union. Vladimir Putin is ruling Russia with an iron hand and the far right is in ascendance in Europe. Undoubtedly, we are living in challenging times.  That is why, more than ever, we need freedom of the press.

Freedom of the press is the linchpin of freedoms.  It is precious and must never be taken for granted. It must be cherished as a pillar of democracy.  As such, it should be protected and defended with steadfast vigilance. We can not afford to be complacent.  On this World Press Freedom Day, give a thought to the importance of a free press.  Ask yourself if you would would wish to live in a country without it.

I will leave you with one more quotation, from American author and commentator Dr. DaShanne Stokes:

Fascism thrives in obscurity and darkness.

- Joanne

How to Build a Lego Bedroom

Here is an infographic that will highlight some bedrooms with a Lego design.  Included are a number of creative ideas for beds, wall art, customized items, and accessories.  I hope you find them interesting and useful.

- Joanne

Lego Bedrooms
Lego Bedrooms by Terrys Fabrics.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Feds abolish tax credit on transit passes

In its 2017 budget, the federal government turned its back on frequent transit riders by doing away with a 15-per-cent tax credit on transit passes.  This is a serious error and it sends the wrong message to Canadians.  Our government should be be supporting transit use, not discouraging it.  What a bonehead decision!  Does this government really want to create more traffic congestion in Canada's largest urban centres?  Does it wish to increase air pollution levels in our major cities?  Does it intend to place more financial burden on middle income and lower income people?  This doesn't make sense. It's not logical and its not reasonable.
In Toronto, where I live, the cost of a TTC Metropass is currently $146.25 per month.  Residents of Canada's largest city must pay $1,755.00.for 12 monthly passes a year.  That's a hefty sum for low income earners.  It is simply not affordable for many.  The tax rebate, introduced in 1996 (ironically by a conservative government) has been of much benefit to frequent transit users.  It means a saving of $21,94 for one pass and a saving of $263.25 annually.  Why then. has a more progressive government decided to abolish it?

The fact is that fare increases discourage people from using public transit.  The removal of the tax credit will discourage them further.  So, what is the government trying to achieve with this unexpected and unwelcome measure?  Why is it penalizing transit users when it ought to be rewarding them?

The federal government must rethink and reverse this egregious measure.  Its budget allotted money for affordable housing and child care.  Yet, it dealt a blow to frequent transit riders, particularly in Canada's two most populous cities, Toronto and Montreal, whose combined metro populations account for over 10.4 million of Canada's 36 million people.

More than 6.4 people live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).  Our federal government's decision will affect public transit agencies across the GTA, not just in the City of Toronto.  It's important to to remember that the large number of transit riders who reside in the region surrounding Toronto will also be ineligible for the tax rebate on the passes they purchase.

Along with the GTA, the population of Metropolitan Montreal is also expanding and has surpassed the four million mark. Monthly STM passes cost $82 dollars and weekly passes sell for $25.50, significantly less than Toronto's Metropass.  Public transit patrons in Ontario pay an inordinate amount of the cost of operating their transit services.  Now the government is taking away their much-needed tax credit.  Instead of abolishing the public transit tax rebate, it should be increasing it
to 20%.  

For low income Canadians, many of whom are job seekers, the cost of a public transit pass is already unaffordable.  The federal government is making it more difficult for middle class transit users by cancelling their transit tax break.

As a Toronto resident and a strong supporter of public transportation, I am extremely disappointed in the TTC.  Its standard of service is unacceptable.  It does not deliver on two of the most important criteria of a public transportation.  The TTC is not reliable and it is not affordable.  There are constant delays and service disruptions and fares are exorbitant.  In addition, there are not enough stations with washrooms.  I am a Metropass holder and use the system quite often.  I'd like to invite some Members of Parliament, especially cabinet ministers, to join me on a ride on the TTC, the Prime Minister too.  Hey Justin, want to ride the subway with me (incognito of course)?  Then you'd catch a glimpse of how ordinary Canadians live.  I'll even show you the homeless people in the subway stairwells.  You can wait for a shuttle bus with me when service is shut down at several stations.

- Joanne

Monday, April 17, 2017

Top Homes in Movies

Here is an infographic on some of the most prominent homes in films   The Tara Plantation from Gone With the Wind. is just one example of the iconic movie houses profiled in this graphic.  The homes are profiled according to their outstanding features, their worth and the success of the film. I hope you find this informative and entertaining.

- Joanne

Top Movie Houses by Cast Iron Radiators 4u
Top Movie Houses by Cast Iron Radiators 4u.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Some Easter musings and quotations

“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.” (Romans 6:9)

Today is Easter Sunday, a much-needed day of joy and renewal.and hope. It is also a time of of joy and hope for those of the Jewish faith as they celebrate the feast of the Passover.  The divisions in the world today are of grave concern.  The rise of far-right movements that spread hate and bigotry is deeply troubling.  The very future of our planet is at stake. Climate change deniers must be challenged, as must politicians who build fences, not bridges.  These are serious moral issues not just for Christians, but for those of every religious persuasion, and for non-believers too.

Just as winter gives way to spring, death must give way to new life.  That is why Easter and Passover are spring feasts.

Easter is…
Joining in a birdsong,
Eying an early sunrise,
Smelling yellow daffodils,
Unbolting windows and doors,
Skipping through meadows,
Cuddling newborns,
Hoping, believing,
Reviving spent life,
Inhaling fresh air,
Sprinkling seeds along furrows,
Tracking in the mud.
Easter is the soul’s first taste of spring.

- Richelle E. Goodrich, American author
From Making Wishes: Quotes, Thoughts & a Little Poetry for Every Day of the Year

Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush.

- Doug Larson (1926 - ), American journalist

Then came the healing time, hearts started to shine, soul felt so fine, oh what a freeing time it was.” 

- Aberjhani (1957 - ), American-born author. poet, novelist and historian 
From Songs from the Black Skylark zedPed Music Player

The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world.  Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice.  But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice.  

~Henry Knox Sherrill (1890-1980), American Episcopalian clergyman

If Easter says anything to us today, it says this: You can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there.  You can nail it to a cross, wrap in winding sheets and shut it up in a tomb, but it will rise!

- Clarence W. Hall, Christian author

Every parting is a foretaste of death, a every reunion a foretaste of resurrection.

- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), German philosopher

I think of the garden after the rain; 
And hope that my heart comes singing.  
"At morn the cherry-blossoms will be white,
And the Easter bells be ringing!"

- Edna Dean Proctor (died 1923), American poet
From the poem Easter Bells

Happy Easter from Number 16 and a Happy Passover to those of the Jewish faith.

- Joanne

Monday, April 10, 2017

Easter Quiz

How much do you know about people, things and events associated with the great feast of Easter. Test your knowledge by completing the 11-question quiz below.  Good luck.


1.  What date does Easter Sunday fall on in Western Christianity?

A.  Easter falls on the same day every year.

B.  Easter falls on the second Sunday of April.

C.  Easter falls three days after the Jewish Passover.

D.  Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after March 21st, and no later than April 25th.

E.  Easter falls on even numbered dates between March 21st and April 25th; that is March 22, March 24, March 26th etc.  After April 24th, it reverts to March 21st.

2.  Where is Easter Island?

Easter Island

A.  New Zealand

B.  Mozambique in Southeast Africa

C.  Southeastern Pacific Ocean

D.  Galápagos Islands, Ecuador, South America

E.  The Philippines

3.  According to the Gospel of Matthew, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for what price?

Judas Iscariot
A.  30 pieces of gold

B.  30 pieces of silver

C.  50 pieces of gold

D.  50 pieces of silver

E.  A gold ring and a piece of land

4.  What prisoner was released instead of Jesus?

A.  Bartholomew

B.   Matthias

C.   Barnabas

D.  Barabbas

E.   Malchus

5.  Who starred in the in the 1948 film Easter Parade?

A.  Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

B.  Fred Astaire and Judy Garland

C.  Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland

D.  Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney

E.  Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds

6.  Who wrote the song Easter Parade?

A.  Irving Berlin

B.  Cole Porter

C.  George Gershwin

D.  George M. Cohon

E.  Richard Rodgers

7. According to the Gospels of the New Testament, which one of the twelve Apostles denied Jesus three times?

A.  Andrew

B. Judas

C.  John

D. Thomas

E.  Peter

8.  What was the name of the hill where Jesus was crucified?

A.  Golgotha

B.  Gethsemane

C.  Gideon

D.  Ararat

9. What is a hot cross bun?

A.   A special pastry roll that is traditionally eaten on Good Friday.  It has little crosses etched into it.

B.   A thick pretzel in the shape of a cross that is eaten during Lent.

C.  A spiced sweet bun, traditionally eaten on Good Friday.

D.  The term is used in a riddle.  The answer to the riddle is "an angry Easter bunny."

E.   None of the above

10.  What is the name of the Charlie Brown Easter television special?

A.  Happy Easter, Charlie Brown!

B.  It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown

C.  Charlie Brown's Great Easter Egg Hunt

D.  A Charlie Brown Easter

E.  Charlie Brown's Easter Parade

11.  Who wrote the Easter hymn "Christ the Lord is Risen Today."

A.  Martin Luther

B.  John Calvin

C.  Charles Wesley

D.  John Knox

E.  John Wesley


1.  D

Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox (March 21st.)  Easter is delayed by one week if the full moon is on Sunday, which lessens the chances of it falling on the same day as the Jewish Passover.  According to the Bible, Jesus’ death and resurrection occurred around the time of the Passover festival, which was celebrated on the first full moon following the vernal equinox.

The earliest date that Easter can occur is March 22nd and the latest is April 25th.  Easter last occurred on April 25th in 1943 and will next occur on April 25th in the year 2038.

2.  C

Easter Island is a remote island in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean.  It is a territory of Chile and is inhabited by a population of 5,800 (2012 Chilean Census), The 2016 projected population was 6,600).  It was named Easter Island by Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen.  Roggeveen landed there on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1722

The majority of Easter Island's inhabitants are descendants of the Aboriginal Rapa Nui.  The island is famous for its monumental statues, called moai. The statues were created by the early Rapa Nui people.  Easter Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3.  B.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Judas accepted a bribe of 30 pieces of silver.

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?"  And they paid him 30 pieces of silver.  And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26: 14-16)

4.  D.

"Give us Barabbas!", from The Bible and its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons, 1910

Barabbas was freed rather than Jesus.  According to the New Testament gospels (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 18), it was a Jewish custom to release a prisoner at Passover time.  Given the choice of freeing Barrabbas, a convicted criminal, or Jesus, the Jerusalem mob chose to release Barrabbas.  Mark writes that Barabbas "had been guilty of murder during the rebellion."  Luke says that "Barabbas was a man who had been thrown into prison for raising a revolt in the city."  John refers to Barabbas as "a robber."

5.  B.

Fred Astaire and Judy Garland starred in the 1948 MGM musical Easter Parade.  The highly successful film won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Original Music Score.

6.  A
Irving Berlin

The great Irving Berlin (1888-1989) composed the music for Easter Parade.  Berlin also composed God Bless America and White Christmas.

7.  E

Peter denied Jesus three times.  Jesus had predicted that Peter would betray him three times before the rooster crowed.

8.  A

According to the Bible, Jesus was crucified at a mount called Golgotha, just outside of Jerusalem's walls.  Golgotha is an Aramaic word meaning "the skull."  The Latin form of the word is Calvary.

9.  C.

A hot cross bun is a spiced sweet buns containing dried fruit such as raisins or currants. Hot cross buns are marked with a cross on top.  In many countries, they are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. The cross. of course, represents the crucifixion of Jesus.  The spices represent the spices used to embalm Christ.

10.  B

It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown is a Peanuts TV special that first aired on April 9, 1974 on the CBS Network.  In the story, Linus informs the Peanuts Gang that they do not have to get ready for Easter.  He claims that the Easter Beagle will take care of everything.

11.  C

Charles Wesley
Rev. Charles Wesley (1703-1791) was an English theologian and one of the leaders of the Methodist movement. Wesley was also a prolific hymn writer.  He wrote "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" in 1739, in celebration of the first service of London's first Wesleyan Chapel. This chapel was called the Foundry Meeting House,

- Joanne

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Judas Iscariot: Was the man who betrayed Christ a revolutionary?

"Up until that moment of betrayal, Judas seems no better or worse than any of the other disciples.
But he has been defined by the worst thing he did.  What Judas did is not OK, but I think he holds up a very important mirror to our own human condition."

- Rev. Kate Bottley, Church of England cleric

Judas Iscariot is notorious for his betrayal of Jesus Christ, but what else do we really know about the man and his motivations. Was he a greedy, mercenary human being who sold his soul for financial gain, or is there much more to the story?  This Easter season, I decided to delve into whatever is known about Judas and try to find some answers.    

According to the Christian Bible, Judas was one of the twelve original apostles of Christ and he was the son of Simon of Queroth.  His surname, "Iscariot," may mean "Man from  Queroth, " a town many scholars believe to have been in the territory of Judea, based on a reference in the Book of Joshua.  That would mean make Judas an outsider, the only one of the Twelve from Judea. All the others were from Galilee, as was Jesus.

Encyclopaedia Britannica states that Judas' surname may be a variation of the Latin sicariou ("murderer"), rather than an indication of his family origin, the implication being that Judas may have belonged to a highly radical group of Jewish assassins - the Sicarii.  The Sicarri were a splinter group of Jewish Zealots who strongly opposed the Roman occupation of Judea.  Their aim was to expel the Romans and their supporters from the area and they were known for concealing scae (small daggers) in their cloaks.  They drew out their daggers to attack Romans and Hebrew Roman sympathizers in public places, then blended into the crowd to evade detection.

Some contemporary historians, however, have rejected the theory that Judas was a Siccarri.  They point out that Josephus, a first-century Romano-Jewish scholar and historian, in The War of the Hebrews, mentions the appearance of Sicarri as a new occurrence during the tenure of Felix (the chief financial officer of the province of Judea from 52 to 60 A.D.).  This was well after Judas' death (circa 30 A.D.).

According to Dr. Sean Martin, a biblical scholar at the Aquinas Institute in St. Louis, Missouri, "Iscariot sounds like sicarius, but it's not the same word,"  He points out that the Sicarii didn't reach their peak until the years after Jesus was crucified, making it improbable that Judas was one of them.

In the canonical Gospels, information about Judas is sketchy.  He is always presented last on the list of Apostles.  He was their treasurer, and according to the Gospel of John, a dishonest one.  In John 12:6, Judas is introduced as a thief,  He uses his trusted position to embezzle the resources of the disciples.

". . . as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it."

According to the Gospel of John, at the Last Supper, Jesus predicted that Judas would be his betrayer. (John 13:26).

 "Jesus answered, 'It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.  Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon."

According to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark and Luke, Judas betrayed Jesus by identifying him with a public kiss.  In Mathew and Mark, the kiss occurs in a place identified as the Garden of Gethsemane. In Mark:14, Gethsemane is described as an olive grove.  Although Luke does not name the Garden of Gethsemane, he writes that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, where the betrayal occurred.

John's Gospel, however, records that Jesus entered a garden near the Kidron Valley with his disciples. John does not name the garden, but says that Jesus and his disciples frequented the garden and that Judas knew it well.  In John's account, no kiss is mentioned, only that "Judas came, accompanied by the guard, and officers sent by the chief priests and Pharisees, with lanterns and torches and weapons."

Below is a photo of The Arrest of Christ (Kiss of Judas) (1304-06), a fresco by Giotto.  It is currently located in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Judas bitterly regretted his betrayal of Christ for which he received thirty pieces of silver from the chief priests. Filled with remorse, he threw down the thirty pieces of silver in the temple and hanged himself.  Matthew relates that the chief priest retrieved the silver and purchased a Potter's Field.

And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.  The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.”  And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. (Matthew 25: 5-7).

Here is the account of Judas' death according to the Acts of the Apostles, written by St. Luke,

(Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)  (Acts: 1: 18-19).

Below is a photo of what is believed to be the "Field of Blood."  It is located in Jerusalem and its soil is composted of rich, red clay.  Until the 19th century, it was used as a burial place for non-Jews.

Some Biblical scholars argue that there is not contradiction between the two accounts of Judas' death. They contend that just because Luke writes that Judas fell headlong and burst open, doesn't mean that he died then.  He could have collapsed and split open after hanging himself.

Was Judas the traitor he has been made out to be?  Was he really a villain or was he misguided and misunderstood?  Some Church of England clerics have argued that he was misunderstood.  Reverend Kate Bentley, who has researched his life for a BBC documentary called In the Footsteps of Judas, was quoted in a March 16, 2016 article by Matt Payton in The Independent,  Rev. Bentley stated: "This is not to say ‘Oh Judas, he’s all right really’, what we are saying is perhaps there is something else to this character than that kiss and that betrayal.  I don’t think any of the other disciples were whiter than white - we just probably didn’t hear about it because they were all human and we are all a bit messed up."

The Right Reverend Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, views Judas as a staunch revolutionary whose goal was to help Jesus incite a popular uprising that would oppose Roman rule in Palestine.  In an interview with Radio Times, Bishop Baines admitted that "I feel a bit sorry for Judas."  "Judas had invested himself in the revolutionary leadership of Jesus of Nazareth … only to find himself let down, the bishop declared.  "Trying to force the hand of the Messiah didn’t work and, instead of provoking the ultimate uprising against Roman rule, the glorious leader simply let himself get nailed without resistance.  No wonder Judas got upset."

So, was Judas a radical who thought Jesus would assist him in liberating the Jewish people by ousting the Romans from Palestine?  Did he not realize until after Jesus' arrest and crucifixion that Jesus was not concerned with establishing a kingdom of this world?  Was he angry because Christ was not the Messiah he had counted on?  Was that the reason for his betrayal?

Some academics, such as Dr. Dennis Smith, who teaches New Testament at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, dismiss this theory of Judas as a revolutionary.  Dr. Smith considers it a legitimate theory, but he still can't accept it.  However, other scholars, such as Dr. N.T. Wright, a leading British New Testament authority, don't discount it entirely.   According to Dr. Wright, "There's an outside chance it's true - 25 percent at the most."

There is a lack of proof to to support the claim that Judas Iscariot was a radical or that he belonged to a terrorist group.  He very likely resented the Roman presence in Judea and he may have been disappointed that Jesus was not interested in earthly politics.

Biblical evidence suggests that even before his betrayal of Jesus, Judas was no paragon of virtue. Still, it is almost impossible to know the complete mindset of a person who lived over two thousand years ago.  Judas may not have been a saint, but he was certainly human.  He was guilty of the same faults that many of us have, such as greed and dishonesty.

- Joanne

Friday, March 24, 2017

Keeping children safe: Childproofing your home

Here is an inforgraphic with tips about childproofing your home.  It's a guide to arrange your home so that your child is kept out of danger.  It may remind you of something you hadn't thought about or missed.  This guide takes you room by room as it shows you ways to better protect your child from the moment he or she begins crawling.  I hope you'll find it useful and informative.

- Joanne

Childproofing Your Home by Radiator Valves 4u
Childproofing Your Home by Radiator Valves 4u.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Danging Plague of 1518: Why did people dance themselves to death?

The story of the Dancing Plague of 1518 is both mysterious and macabre.  It happened in the city of Strasbourg, then a part of the Holy Roman Empire (now northeastern France). The Dutch scholar,and social critic, Erasmus, visited the city in 1514 and described it as "a monarchy without tyranny, an aristocracy without factions, a democracy without disorder, prosperity without luxury, happiness without insolence."  However, despite Erasmus' favourable portrayal, of early 16th century Strasbourg, there was a much darker side to life in the city and its surrounding area.  Prior the dancing plague of 1518, the region was hit by a number of terrible afflictions that turned it into a place of misery.

According to John Waller, author of two books on the subject - A Time to Dance, A Time To Die: The Extraordinary Story of the Dancing Plague of 1518 and Dancing Plague: The Strange True Story of an Extraordinary Illness - hunger and disease were rampant.

In the decade before the dancing plague of 1518, famine, sickness and terrible cold caused widespread despair in Strasbourg and its environs.  Bread prices reached their highest levels for a generation, thousands of starving farmers and vine growers arrived at the city gates, and old killers like leprosy and the plague were joined by a terrifying new affliction named syphilis. (John Waller, The Psychologist, July 2009, "Dancing Plagues and Mass Hysteria")

In mid-July of 1518, Frau Troffea, a resident of Strasbourg, suddenly began dancing in the street for no apparent reason.  There was no music associated with her dancing.  Before long, however, she was joined by others and they were all dancing wildly in the searing summer heat. They danced for days without rest.  Within a week, 100 people were consumed with an uncontrollable compulsion to dance. Within a month, the number of dancers in the city had swollen to 400.  They were loaded onto wagons and brought to a healing shrine. Many died from exhaustion and heart attacks. the madness did not subside until early September.

Waller, a professor of the History of Medicine at Michigan State University, points out that this was not the first outbreak of a dancing frenzy in Europe.  There had been about ten dance epidemics prior to 1518.  One in 1374 swept over many towns located in present-day Belgium, northeastern France and Luxembourg. However, the 1518 outbreak is the best documented and probably the final one to occur in Europe.

The dancing plagues may seem quite bizarre and difficult to believe, but there is plenty of evidence that they happened.  Waller contends that there is documentation from "scores of physicians, chroniclers, monks and priests."  He says that during the time of the 1518 epidemic, municipal orders were written by nervous Strasbourg authorities.

How can the Dancing Plague of 1518 be explained. What was the the cause of such mass hysteria? Was a it a genuine illness?  Was it some kind of social phenomenon?  According to John Waller, one popular theory has been that the dancers had accidentally ingested ergot fungus, a psychotropic mould that grows on stalks of rye.  However, Walker dismisses this theory, pointing out that although Ergotism can cause delusions and spasms, it cuts off blood supply to the hands and feet, making coordinated movement very difficult.

Professor Waller thinks it is plausible that the dancing outbreak of 1518 was caused by mass psychogenic illness (MPI), a symptom of mass hysteria that is brought on by the horrific conditions that were experienced in Strasbourg at that time.  In a September 2008 BBC article entitled "Dancing Death," he asserts that "the poor of Strasbourg were experiencing famine and disease and spiritual despair on a scale unknown for generations."  According to Waller, the dancer were in a trance state. Otherwise, he argues, they would not have been able to dance for such lengths of time.

Trances more often occur in people who are in extreme psychological stress, as were the people of Strasbourg, and in people who believe in spiritual possession. Waller believes that those conditions were met in the city of Strasbourg in 1518.  He tells us that many people in the city were devotees of a saint called St. Vitas.  Christian legend holds that Vitas, a Sicilian, died as a martyr in 303 A.D during the persecution of Christians by co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian.  People in Strasbourg believed that if anyone aroused the anger of St. Vitas, he would take over their minds and bring down plagues of uncontrollable dancing.  Once they anticipated the St. Vitas curse, says Waller, it increased the chances that they would enter into a trance-like state.  One they entered a trance-like state, they played the role of the accursed and possessed, dancing crazily for days at a time.

John Waller sums up his conclusions about the Dancing Plague of 1518 with these words: " So the epidemic, I argue, was a result of both desperation and pious fear."


St. Vitus is regarded as the patron saint of actors, comedians and epileptics.  He is believed to have been only 12 or 13 at the time of his death.  During the Middle Ages, people in places such as Germany and Latvia danced before his statue.

- Joanne

Monday, March 20, 2017

Vera Lynn on her 100th Birthday

We'll meet again
Don't know where
Don't know when
But I know we'll meet again

Some sunny day

- Refrain from the song We'll Meet Again, written by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles

Dame Vera Lynn celebrates her 100th birthday today.  The English singer, songwriter and actress is a living treasure to those of the World War II generation.  Her recordings and performances were extremely popular during that era.  Her wistful tunes brought hope and comfort to the British people and their allies in their darkest days.  Vera was nicknamed "the Forces sweetheart" and her most well known songs include "We'll Meet Again," "The White Cliffs of Dover," "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" and "There'll Always Be an England."  Their sentimental lyrics and unabashed patriotism resonated strongly with soldiers abroad who were homesick for their familiar surroundings.

Vera Lynn was born Vera Margaret Welch on March 20, 1917 in East Ham, Essex (now Greater London), England.  She was born to a working class family and, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, began singing at men's clubs by the age of seven.  At 11, she assumed her grandmother's maiden name (Lynn) and joined a singing troupe.

After dropping out of school at 14, Vera caught the eye of a talent agent who found work for her at parties and events.  By 1935, she was singing the refrain on big band recordings and performing on the radio. In 1936, she released her first solo recording, "Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire."

In 1937, Vera Lynn collaborated with bandleader Benjamin "Bert" Ambrose, entertaining on his radio program, Life from Mayfair, until 1940.  In late 1939, she performed her signature song, "We'll Meet Again," which was written by Ross Parker and Hughie Charles, two composers on Life from Mayfair. In 1941, Vera became the star of her own BBC radio show, Sincerely Yours, Vera Lynn.  The next year, she recorded "The White Cliffs of Dover."

Vera was affiliated with the Entertainments National Service Association which was established in 1939 to entertain soldiers.  During the war, she toured the world in order to perform for troops, often placing her own life in jeopardy.

When the war end, Vera travelled extensively throughout Europe and continued to broadcast her radio show for years.  She has continually engaged in charitable activities, including establishing a fund for those suffering from cerebral palsy.  She has also been a tireless advocate for veterans and their causes. In 2008, she became a patron of the Forces Literary Organisation Worldwide for ALL.  In 2010 she became patron of the British charity Projects to Support Refugees from Burma/Help 4 Forgotten Allies  In 2013, she lent her support to a People for Ethical Treatment of Animals' (PETA) campaign against pigeon racing, which she described as "utterly cruel."

To mark the centenary of Dame Vera's birth, her image will be projected over the White Cliffs of Dover today.


* Vera Lynn was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1969 and was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1975.

* In 1941, Vera married Harry Lewis, a clarinetist and saxophonist in Bert Ambrose's orchestra.  The couple had one child, a daughter named Virginia Penelope Anne Lewis.  Harry Lewis, who worked as Vera's manager after the war, died in 1998,

* In September of 2009, Vera, who was then 92 years of age, became the oldest living artist to have a Number 1 record in Britain. when her album, We'll Meet Again - The Very Best of Vera Lynn, reached top spot.

* In August of 2014, Vera was one of the 200 public figures who signed a letter to The Guardian opposing the independence of Scotland during the referendum campaign on the issue that year.

* On March 17, 2017, in commemoration of her 100th birthday, Vera Lynn released a new album on the Decca Records label.  It's titled Vera Lynn 100.

Vera Lynn in 2009

PHOTO ATTRIBUTION: Nicki (Growl Roar) from United Kingdom

- Joanne

Thursday, March 9, 2017

How To Make Your Home a Happier Place Using Hygge

Do you want to improve the atmosphere of the place where you live. This infographic guides you in the task of improving the mood of your home.  It provides you with tips on how to make your dwelling place happier by using the concept of Hygge or "well-being."  I hope that you find it informative and useful.  Note: Prices are listed in British pounds.

- Joanne

 How to Make a Hygge Home by The Rug Seller
How to Make a Hygge Home by The Rug Seller by The Rug Seller

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Eleven Missed Days: The Disappearance of Agatha Cristie

According to The Guinness Book of Records, Agatha Christie is the best selling novelist of all time. Her books have sold millions of copies and have been translated into over 100 languages.  She is renowned as the author of  numerous mystery novels and is credited with writing the world's longest running play, The Mousetrap.

In 1926, this famous crime writer was the subject of a real life detective story. Christie, the queen of the "whodunnit" found herself involved in a perplexing mystery of her own..  At a very difficult time in her life, she went missing for 11 days.  The disappearance of the popular author caused quite a stir and there was an extensive manhunt for her.  The public, not knowing whether she was dead or alive, feared greatly for her safety.  The Daily Mail offered a reward of 100 pounds for her location. Without a doubt, Christie's 1926 disappearance remains the most intriguing episode of the great author's life.

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England on September 15, 1890, the youngest of three siblings.  She came from an affluent upper-middle class family.  Her mother, Clarissa "Clara" Boehmer, was a Belfast-born Englishwoman. Her father, Frederick Alvah Miller, was a well-to-do American stockbroker, born in New York in 1846.  The couple married in April of 1878 and their first child, Margaret Fray "Madge" Miller (1879-1950), was born in Torquay.

Madge was followed by a son, Louis Montant "Monty" Miller (1880-1929), who was born in the United States.  The Millers lived in America for a time, but eventually returned to England. While Frederick, who had financial interests in both Britain and the U.S., was away on business in New York, Clara purchased a Victorian mansion in Torquay, on the southwest coast of England. Upon his return, the family settled in the grand villa,called "Ashfield," where their youngest child, Agatha, was born.


For the most part, Agatha enjoyed a happy childhood in her little seaside town.  Her life at Ashfield was secure, although fairly insulated.  She had a nanny called "Nursie" and was home schooled, at her mother's insistence.  At the same time, however, she experienced loneliness.  According to her autobiography, Agatha Christie: An Autobigraphy. this childhood loneliness fuelled her active imaginations and her creativity.  She made up stores and imaginary characters.

Agatha as a child

Agatha's idyllic childhood was shattered when her father, Frederick Christie, died on November 26, 1901.  After his death, the 11-year-old Agatha and her mother experienced serious financial decline. Nevertheless, they continued to maintain their home by renting out Ashfield and travelling.

Frederick Miller
In 1906, at the age of 16, Agatha was sent to a finishing school in Paris to study vocals and piano, but was never able to establish a career as a musician due to shyness and stage fright. She did, however, retain a lifelong love of music and became a skilled pianist.

In October of 1912, Agatha met Colonel Archibald "Archie" Christie at a dance given by Lady Clifford at her home in Chudleigh, England,  Archie, a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, was born in India on September 30, 1889 and his father was in the Indian civil service.  Agatha and Archie wed on Christmas Eve, 1914 and the nuptials took place at a church in Clifton, Bristol, England, the home of Archie's parents.

Archibald Christie in 1915

During World War I, Agatha served as a nurse and tended to wounded solders at a Red Cross Hospital in Torquay.  She then underwent training to work in the pharmacy as an apothecary's assistant.  As part of her training. Agatha studied chemistry and became knowledgeable about poisons, including their lethal dosages.  This knowledge became invaluable when she was devising plots for her detective stories.  It added to their authenticity.  That is why poison became the method of murder in her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and in many other of her works.

During the war, Archie was stationed in France, so he and Agatha were unable to see much of each other.  It was at this time that Agatha first began writing detective fiction.  After the war, she and Archie settled into a flat in northwest London and Archie took a position in a bank.  On August 5, 1919, Agatha gave birth to the couple's only child, a daughter named Rosalind Margaret Clarissa.

Agatha with Rosalind 

Agatha Christie published her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1920.  Its plot centred on the murder of a wealthy heiress, but more importantly, the book introduced one of Christie's most enduring characters, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Christie's other major creation is Miss Jane Marple, an elderly village lady and amateur sleuth.  Miss Marple's first appearance in a full-length novel was in The Murder at the Vicarage (1930).

By 1924, cracks had begun to appear in the Christie marriage, one of the irritants being Archie's passion for the game of golf. In 1926, Agatha released The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which was very successful and warmly received.  Her career had begun to flourish, but her personal life was in turmoil. She suffered two devastating blows that year.  It was "a period of sorrow, misery, heartbreak," she wrote in her autobiography.

In the early part of 1926, Agatha went on a vacation to Corsica without Archie.  When she returned from her trip, she found her mother severely ill with bronchitis. Clara Miller died in April, just days after Agatha's return.  In June, soon after Clara's passing, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was published and Agatha earned much acclaim.  She was still grieving her mother's death, however, when she received a second devastating blow, this time delivered by her husband.  Archie requested a divorce because he had fallen in love with another woman. The woman was Nancy Neale, a friend of the family who was a decade younger than Agatha.  Unlike Agatha, Nancy shared Archie's interest in golf.

On the evening of Friday, December 3, 1926, around 9:45 p.m., Christie disappeared from her English estate in Sunningdale, Berkshire. She and Archie had argued and he had gone to spend the weekend with Nancy at Godalming, Surrey, England.  A distraught Agatha left her sleeping seven-year-old daughter Rosalind and just drove away.

Police soon located her car, a green Morris Cowley, on a sharp slope at Newlands Corner, near Guildford. The abandoned vehicle contained a bag of clothing and an expired driver's licence.  However, there was no sign of the famous author and there was no evidence that an accident had occurred.  Many feared she was dead and volunteers failed to find her.  There were even rumours that she had been murdered by her unfaithful husband, Archie.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, joined the search for Agatha.  Conan Doyle, an occultist, attempted to use paranormal powers to find the missing writer.  He brought one of Agatha's gloves to a medium in the hopes that it wold provide a clue to Agatha's whereabouts. British author and crime writer, Dorothy Sayer also tried to help.  She searched for possible clues at the scene of Christie's vacated car.  There was concern that she may have committed suicide, but no body was found.

Christie's disappearance made headlines around the world.  The story was so was featured on the front page of The New York Times.  There was so much speculation that the British Home Secretary at the time, William Joynson-Hicks pressured the police to expedite the search for her.  Here is the police description of Agatha at the time: “Aged 35 (Editor's note; she was actually 36), height 5ft 7in, hair reddish and shingled, eyes grey, complexion fair. Well-built, dressed in grey and dark grey cardigan, small green velour hat, wearing a platinum ring with one pearl, but no wedding ring.”

On December 14, 1926, Agatha finally surfaced in a spa at Harrogate, Yorkshire.  She was registered at the elegant Swan Hydropathic Hotel (now the Old Swan Hotel) as "Mrs. Teresa Neele"(the same surname as her husband's lover) from Capetown, South Africa.  A hotel musician, Bob Tappin, recognized her and alerted police.  They informed Archie who rushed to the hotel, identified his wife and brought her home. Tappin claimed the reward money for informing police of Agatha's whereabouts.

Much of Agatha's disappearance remains unexplained.  There is no reference to it in her memoir Agatha Christie: An Autobigraphy.  Archibald Christie claimed that she'd suffered from amnesia as a result of the car crash.  He publicly stated that his wife "has suffered the most complete loss of memory and does not know who she is."  However, his comments failed to put a stop to the conjecture and numerous other theories regarding Agatha's disappearance.  Some postulated that Christie's disappearance had been a publicity stunt for her novel.

Jared Cade put forth another theory in his book Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days (1998). Cade contended that Christie staged her own disappearance to embarrass and humiliate Archie.  This theory was roundly rejected by Agatha's grandson, Matthew Prichard, a staunch defender of his grandmother's memory.

In Agatha Christie: The Finished Portrait (2006), biographer Andrew Norman, who worked as a family doctor in the U.K. until 1983, argued that the crime writer may have been in a "fugue" state or psychogenic trance as a result of trauma or depression.  Norman concluded that she was suicidal.  "Her state of mind was very low," he declared, "and she writes about it through the character of Celia in her autobiographical novel Unfinished Portrait."

By the end of 1927, Agatha Christie had recovered from her traumatic experience and had begun writing again.  In 1928, she divorced her philandering husband and he wed Nancy Neale.  Archie became a successful businessman and he Nancy had a son, Archibald, who was born in 1930.

On September 11, 1930, Agatha married Sir Max Mallowan, a renowned British archaeologist who specialized in ancient Middle Eastern history.  She met Mallowan while visiting her friends Sir Leonard and Katherine Wooley on an archaeological expedition at Ur, an important Sumerian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia.(now part of south Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate).  At the time of their wedding in Scotland, Agatha was 39 and Max was 26.

Agatha with Max Mallowan

Agatha accompanied her husband on his archaeological digs, taking photographs and keeping records. She often used the subect of archeology in her mystery novels,  Below is a photo of her with Mallowan at Tell Halaf, an archeological site in northeastern Syria.

Max Mallowan was knighted in 1968.  In 1971, Agatha Christie was made a Dame of the British Empire by Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. That same year, she suffered a leg injury and her health went into decline.  In 1974, Agatha made her final public appearance at the opening night gala of the theatrical version of Murder on the Orient Express.  She died on January 12, 1976 in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England at the age of 85.  She and Max Mallowan remained married for 46 years - until her death.  In 1977, Mallowan married Barbara Hastings Parker, a fellow archaeologist with whom he was reported to have been having an affair.  Sir Max passed away on August 19, 1978 at the age of 85.


* Agatha Christie's daughter, Rosalind, died on October 28, 2004 at the age of 85 (coincidentally the same age at which her mother died).  According to Rosalind's obituary in The Guardian, she "fiercely guarded her mother's estate, works and reputation.

* Nancy Neale died in 1958 at the age of 58.  Archibald Christie died four years later, on December 20, 1962.  He was 73 at the time of his death.

*  Barbara Hastings Parker, the second Lady Mallowan, died on November 21, 1993 in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England at the age of 85.

* Ashfield, Agatha Christie's childhood home, was demolished in the 1960s to make way for an apartment block.  A blue plaque on Barton Road in Torquay marks the spot where the villa once stood.

* Agatha Christie wrote six novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott and they were not detective novels.  One of them, Unfinished Portrait (1934), was the fictionalized account of her first marriage, which is why she hid her real identity.  In Agatha Christie: An English Mystery, a 2007 biography, Laura Thompson writes  : "She felt an absolute freedom writing those books. She could go wherever she wanted, into every idea that had ever fascinated her, even into the recesses of her own past - there was a sense that the revelation of her identity had closed a door: the one that opened into her most private and precious imaginative garden."

In 1949, however,  a London Sunday Times journalist blew Christie's cover.  The last two of the Westmacott novels, A Daughter's Daughter (1952) and The Burden (1956), appeared after 1949 her secret was revealed.

SOURCES: Encyclopaedia BritannicaAgatha Christie: An English Mystery (2007), by Laura Thompson; The Guardian; Wikipedia; Agatha Christie: The Finished Portrait (2006)by Andrew Norman; The Complete Christie: An Agatha Christie Encyclopedia (2000), by Matthew Bunson; Agatha Christie; An Autobiography (1977).

- Joanne