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by Chris Wilson

Nowadays in the west the able bodied are constantly reminded that disabled people have rights
just like everyone else and they mustnt discriminate against them in any way. Public buildings
have to have ramps and toilets big enough for wheelchairs. Bus drivers are supposed to
announce every stop so that blind people know when to get off. One is not allowed to refuse a
person a job on the grounds that he or she has only one leg, or cannot speak. We use phrases like
physically challenged instead of crippled or spastic. We avoid using the word dumb to mean
stupid - and this is not just us trying to be politically correct. Things like the Para Olympics
have done wonders to raise peoples awareness with so many positive images and perceptions of
disabled people genuinely have changed. Not that Western society doesnt still have a long way
to go, but disabled people are far less marginalised, far more integrated than in the past when
they were confined to institutions, out of sight and out of mind.
Disabled peoples own self esteem has risen enormously in recent years and they have become
far more assertive and insistent on their rights, and their ability to compete with everyone else.
Even the words disabled and handicapped are challenged. Is a blind person disabled when he
or she can function just as well as everyone else? New technology of course is making a huge
difference. Instead of clumsy wooden legs, for example, new materials and designs in prosthetic
limbs enable people to walk and run as fast as everyone else. High tech hearing aids exist for
the deaf, as well as laser surgery for the very short sighted. Cars are adapted so that people can
drive them with only one hand, or even no hands at all. Very recently a chip was inserted into
the brain of a person paralysed from the neck down enabling him to move a cursor on a screen
simply by looking at it. This means he can now do all sorts of things - switch the television and
the lights on and off, type, surf the internet, even send e-mails. Who knows what hell be able to
do next? Drive a car?
Also many things that previously were not considered disabilities now are recognised for what
they are - serious handicaps, and arrangements have been made for the people who suffer from
them. Dyslexia is a good example. Not so long ago dyslexic people were considered at school to
be slow, or stupid, and that was that. Nowadays it is seen as a serious condition and teachers
have to be aware of it.
But what is it like in the Developing World? In places where there are no facilities at all? Where
polio victims have to crawl through the traffic on their knees and elbows? Where every disabled
person is unemployed and forced to beg, or depend on relatives?
Despite all that says Anna, a Swedish Volunteer in Mozambique, it is often in these places
that disabled people are actually more integrated and happier in society. Western society is so
obsessed with beauty and physical perfection that even an overweight person feels ostracised, let
alone a person missing an entire limb. Here having one leg is no more remarkable than having a
big nose.
But is this really so?

Yes and no says Adolfo, a blind Mozambican who, as an accomplished guitar player, is
actually the only breadwinner in his family. Im lucky. I have a skill. More importantly I was
given the opportunity to acquire one. And so I am able to contribute to society and I am
respected. Most disabled people are totally unskilled and so are burdens on society whether they
like it or not. Maybe we are more generous, we dont reject people who cannot contribute. They
are not outcasts - but that doesnt mean we respect them either. I think that is too idealistic a view
of African society, how we would like it to be rather than how it really is. In reality these days,
with so much poverty and HIV Aids, its every man for himself, every woman for herself, and
disabled people are completely forgotten, left behind. I heard a story about a woman in a very
dry part of our country. She had lost both legs in a land mine explosion. Because of drought
there was no food and when a UN truck full of supplies arrived she was left behind in the
stampede, and so she got none. Later everyone had to register in order to get a ration card, then
because she didnt get one she was told that she did not officially exist and therefore was not
entitled to food! No thank you, I would rather have no legs in Europe any day than here.
I dont believe that story says Anna. People here just wouldnt behave like that.Have you
ever been really hungry? asks Adolfo.No she is forced to admit.Then how would you
But Anna still thinks its worse in the West. In Africa people are much more tactile, much more
tolerant, much more accepting. Even the mentally deranged are part of society. Whats the use of
all those facilities if no one actually ever talks to you? Disabled people in Europe are dying of
loneliness. People are physically repulsed by handicapped people. The idea that disabled people
have sexual desires just like anyone else is quite shocking. Here in the market there is a young
girl who sells tomatoes. She must have been in an awful fire because one side of her is
completely burnt and her left hand has no fingers at all. Her face is terribly disfigured, she has
only one eye and just a hole for a nose. But she flirts with all the guys, and then makes bawdy
jokes about them to the other women, and has everyone in fits of laughter. That doesnt mean
they actually fancy her though says Adolfo. Unless theyre blind like me he jokes.
But going back to technology, it is making things easier here too he adds. Look at my
mobile phone. Wouldnt you like a speaking clock or a computer with software to enable it to
read aloud to you? asks Anna. Adolfo just laughs. My wife does that for me he says. She
reads the newspaper to me every day.You see! says Anna. That proves me right. Nobody
where I come from has got time to read to a blind person! And dont tell me that a machine can
do it just as well because it cant!


by Linda Baxter

Imagine the scene. You're sitting in the hot sunshine beside the swimming pool of your
international luxury hotel, drinking your imported gin and tonic. In front of you is the
beach, reserved for hotel guests with motor boats for hire. Behind you is an 18-hole golf
course, which was cleared from the native forest and is kept green by hundreds of water
sprinklers. Around the hotel are familiar international restaurant chains and the same
shops that you have at home. You've seen some local people - some of them sell local
handicrafts outside the hotel. You bought a small wooden statue and after arguing for half
an hour you only paid a quarter of what the man was asking. Really cheap!
Is this your idea of heaven or would you prefer something different?
Before you read on, try the vocabulary activity, which practises words and phrases that
are important for you to understand the text.
Nowadays, many of us try to live in a way that will damage the environment as little as
possible. We recycle our newspapers and bottles, we take public transport to get to work,
we try to buy locally produced fruit and vegetables and we stopped using aerosol sprays
years ago. And we want to take these attitudes on holiday with us. This is why alternative
forms of tourism are becoming more popular all over the world.

But what is ecotourism?

There are lots of names for these new forms of tourism: responsible tourism, alternative
tourism, sustainable tourism, nature tourism, adventure tourism, educational tourism and
more. Ecotourism probably involves a little of all of them. Everyone has a different
definition but most people agree that ecotourism must:

conserve the wildlife and culture of the area.

benefit the local people and involve the local community
be sustainable, that is make a profit without destroying natural resources
provide an experience that tourists want to pay for.
So for example, in a true ecotourism project, a nature reserve allows a small number of
tourists to visit its rare animals and uses the money that is generated to continue with
important conservation work. The local people have jobs in the nature reserve as guides
and wardens, but also have a voice in how the project develops. Tourists stay in local
houses with local people, not in specially built hotels. So they experience the local culture
and do not take precious energy and water away from the local population. They travel on

foot, by boat, bicycle or elephant so that there is no pollution. And they have a special
experience that they will remember all of their lives.
This type of tourism can only involve small numbers of people so it can be expensive.
But you can apply the principles of ecotourism wherever you go for your holiday. Just
remember these basic rules.

Be prepared. Learn about the place that you're going to visit. Find out about its
culture and history. Learn a little of the native language, at least basics like 'Please',
'Thank you', and 'Good Morning'. Think of your holiday as an opportunity to learn
Have respect for local culture. Wear clothes that will not offend people. Always
ask permission before you take a photograph. Remember that you are a visitor.
Don't waste resources. If the area doesn't have much water, don't take two showers
every day.
Remember the phrase "Leave nothing behind you except footprints and take
nothing away except photographs." Take as much care of the places that you visit as you
take of your own home. Don't buy souvenirs made from endangered animals or plants.
Walk or use other non-polluting forms of transport whenever you can.
Be flexible and keep a sense of humour when things go wrong.
Stay in local hotels and eat in local restaurants. Buy local products whenever possible and
pay a fair price for what you buy.
Choose your holiday carefully. Don't be afraid to ask the holiday company about what
they do that is 'eco'. Remember that 'eco' is very fashionable today and a lot of holidays
that are advertised as ecotourism are not much better than traditional tourism.
But before you get too enthusiastic, think about how you are going to get to your dream
'eco' paradise. Flying is one of the biggest man-made sources of carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere. Friends of the Earth say that one return flight from London to Miami puts as
much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the average British car driver produces in a
year. So don't forget that you don't have to fly to exotic locations for your 'eco' holiday.
There are probably places of natural beauty and interest in your own country that you've
never visited.

Environmental Protest Groups

Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone
They paved paradise and they put up a parking lot
(Joni Mitchell Big Yellow Taxi)

Facts about the state of the global environment read like quotes on a poster for an epic
Hollywood movie expanding deserts in Africa, huge forest fires in Indonesia, serious
shortages of fish in Europe, thousands of deaths from air pollution in Brazil, disappearing
forests in the Amazon, melting ice-caps and increasing radiation levels in the polar
regions. But just as there is no evil Lex Luther or Ernst Blofeld responsible for these
disasters, there is no Superman or James Bond to save the world. The human race has
caused these problems and we are going to have to work together to solve them.
However, many people feel that the governments of countries around the world are not
taking environmental issues seriously enough. To allow the voices of concerned people to
be heard, a large number of protest groups have been set up by ordinary people to raise
awareness of the issues, and to put pressure on politicians to act before it is too late. A
few of the organisations have become household names, particularly Friends of the Earth
and Greenpeace. Two smaller groups, Surfers Against Sewage and Reclaim The Streets,
are less well known, but take themselves just as seriously.
Surfers Against Sewage (SAS)

Surfers Against Sewage was founded in 1990 by water sports enthusiasts, who were
becoming more and more concerned about the health risks they faced when using
beaches in Cornwall in the UK. Human and toxic waste pumped into the sea was causing
serious illnesses, and beach goers felt that they were playing Russian Roulette with their
health every time they went into the water.
SAS alerted people to the problem by going to public events with their surfboards, where
they handed out leaflets wearing wetsuits and gasmasks. They soon attracted the attention
of the media and other concerned water users from around Britain and were able to put
pressure on the government to ban dumping untreated waste in the sea, rivers and lakes.
The group was so successful that in 1998, only 8 years after they started campaigning, the
government agreed to spend 8.5 billion pounds on cleaning up Britains aquatic
Surfers Against Sewage has acquired a cool image over the years. In 1999 the director of
The Beach, a Hollywood blockbuster starring Leonardo Di Caprio, wanted to use the
SAS logo on actors backpacks. SAS refused permission however, because they were
concerned about the environmental damage that making the film had caused to the tiny
tropical island of Phi Phi in Thailand.

Reclaim The Streets (RTS)

Reclaim The Streets was started in London in 1991 to campaign FOR walking, cycling
and cheap, or free, public transport, and AGAINST cars, roads and the system that pushes
them. RTS began by protesting against road building through unspoilt areas of the
British countryside, and now have expanded their activities to draw attention to
environmental, political, economic and social injustice around the world.
RTS campaigns by stopping traffic and turning roads and motorways into huge street
parties. Members of the group dig up tarmac and plant trees, make beaches and paddling
pools for children to play in, decorate the street with colourful banners, and give out free
food and drink. A huge sound system is set up, bands, jugglers and clowns perform, and
hundreds or even thousands of people dance and party. The carnival is usually broken up
by the police after a few hours, and in the past some of the demonstrations have been
marred by violence between police and protesters.
RTS doesnt have any clear aims, it says that it is a disorganisation rather than an
organisation, since there is no one in charge, but the methods that the group uses have
caught on, and are now used worldwide. As the RTS website says, The Reclaim The
Streets idea has grown up and left home, street parties and suchlike often happen without
anyone in RTS London hearing about them until afterwards.
Protest and the Internet

Both SAS and RTS have extensive websites providing information about their activities,
and providing links to like-minded groups around the world. It seems that nowadays the
Internet is helping more and more people express their dissatisfaction with the status quo,
and work together to find solutions to the problems that the modern world faces.

aquatic (adj): living or growing in, happening in, or connected with water
blockbuster (n): a book, film, etc that is very popular and successful
epic (n): a story or film which is very long and contains a lot of action
Ernst Blofeld: the villain in some James Bond films
found (v): to start an organization, especially by providing money
household name (n): someone or something that everyone knows

issue (n): an important subject or problem that people are discussing

Lex Luther: the villain in Superman
mar (v): to spoil something
paddling pool (n): a shallow pool that small children can play in
polar (adj): relating to the North or South Pole
Russian roulette (n): a very dangerous game of chance where each player aims at their
own head with a gun which has one bullet in it and five empty chambers (= spaces where
bullets could go)
status quo (n): the situation that exists now, without any changes
tarmac (n): a thick, black substance that is sticky when hot and is used to cover roads
toxic (adj): poisonous

Everything you (n)ever wanted to know about Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91) of Austria was a keen and skilful billiards player. A
slight deformity of his left ear was hidden by his wig. Mahlers last word before he died
was Mozart.
Among composers of the classical period, the most prolific was Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart (1756-91) of Austria, who wrote c. 1,000 operas, operettas, symphonies, violin
sonatas, divertimenti, serenades, motets. Concertos for piano and many other instruments,
string quartets, other chamber music masses and litanies, of which only 70 were
published before he died at the age of 35. His opera La Clemenza di Tito (1791) was
written in 18 days, and the symphonic masterpieces, Symphony No. 39 in E flat major,
Symphony No. 40 in G minor and Symphony No. 41 in C major (the Jupiter), were
reputedly written in the space of 42 days in 1788. His overture Don Giovanni was written
in full score at one sitting in Prague in 1787 and finished on the day of its opening
The longest interval between the known composition of a piece by a major composer and
it s performance in the manner intended is from 3 March 1791 until 9 October 1982 (over
191 years), in the case of Mozarts Organ Piece for a Clock, a fugue fantasy in F min (K
608), arranged by the organ builders Wm. Hill & Son and Norman & Beard Ltd. at
Glyndebourne, Great Britain.
In what is believed to be the largest-ever recording project devoted to a single coposer,
180 compact discs containing the complete set of authenticated works by Mozart were
produced by Philips Classics for release in 1990/91 to commemoreate the bicentennial of
the composers death. The complete set comprises over 200 hours of music and would
occupy 6.5 feet (1.98 metres) of shelving.
Researchers at University College, Cardiff, in 1970 announced an important discovery
concerning the formation of musical taste in rats. A group of experimental rats were
played Mozart all day long during their infancy. They heard The Magic Flute, the Fifth
Violin Concerto K.219, and two symphonies (unspecified), each four times a day. In later
life these rats grew up preferring Mozart to Schoenberg, given the choice. Sceptics might
claim that any with taste would do so anyway.
Research shows that newborn babies enjoy Mozart and Vivaldi but tend to sleep through
any Beethoven which may be played at them.
Mozart was a keen and skilful billiards player. Haydn once tore the cloth on Mozarts
billiard table. Coincidentally, the invention of the game of builliards dates back to 1591,
exactly 200 years before the death of Mozart.

Mozart had a slight deformity of his left ear, usually kept covered by his wig.
The principal theme of the last movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto K.453 was
suggested to the composer by a tune whistled by his pet starling. The bird also knew his
Concerto no. 17, for Mozart had devoted some idle moments to teaching the bird the
principal theme of the last movement, a theme that is, admittedly, rather chirpy and birdlike in nature. Yet the starling was an imperfect student. One note it sang wrong every
time and, according to the composer, another note was consistently held too long. It
seems that even the example of the concerto's creator was insufficient to convince
Mozart's starling to sing the piece exactly as written. On May 27, 1784 a strange funeral
was held. As usual, hymns were sung at the graveside. Then Mozart recited a poem he'd
penned. Finally, the composer's pet starling was laid to rest.
If a jobs worth doing, its worth doing slowly. Though Mozart had only 35 years of life
in which to compose all his works, the task of cataloguing these 624 or so pieces of music
took Ludwig von Kochel twelve years.
Gustav Mahlers last word before he died was Mozart.
Source: The Ultimate Irrelevant Encyclopaedia by Bill Hartson & Jill Dawson, George
Allen & Unwin, 1984
Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart" is an anagram (a word or phrase made
by using the letters of another word or phrase in a different order) of "Among us a grand
maestro of opera, waltz music
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is an anagram of A famous German waltz god and
Gorgeous waltz fan, madam and Zealous, warm 'n' mad faggot and Warm gazes to a
manful god
Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart" is an anagram of "Common arts as
opera, waltz, fugue: I am so grand!"
Johannes Chrystostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Amadeus Mozart is an anagram of
Just some Austrian. (Composed many half-hour songs/waltzes, though!)
The Mozart effect refers to disputed scientific studies that test a theory suggesting that
classical music increases brain activity more positively than other kinds of music, and
that listening to certain kinds of complex music may induce a short-lived (fifteen minute)
improvement in the performance of certain kinds of mental tasks known as "spatiotemporal reasoning". Two pieces of Mozart's music; Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major
(K. 448) and Piano Concerto No. 23 (K. 488), were found to have this effect, giving it its

name. Later research also suggested that K. 448 can reduce the number of seizures in
people with epilepsy.
In the frequently playful letters of his youth Mozart sometimes would spell his name
backwards, viz., Mozart Wolfgang or Trazom. More often he would sign letters 'Mzt'.
The Mozartkugel (English: Mozart ball), known originally as the Mozartbonbon, was
created by the Salzburg confectioner Paul Frst in 1890 and named after Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart. The confectionary Frst still produces the original Salzburg
Mozartkugeln by hand according to the original recipe and only sells them in its shops or
over its website. As the Frst confectionary does not own a trademark for Mozartkugeln,
there are numerous imitation products, most of which are produced using industrial


By Jo Bertrand

Do you remember that nasty feeling of sweaty palms? A wave of nausea coming over
you? The sudden inability to talk your mouth is so dry? No, its not the first meeting with
the dreaded in-laws, although some parallels could easily be made. Im talking about
waiting at the door of an exam room, convinced that you know nothing and that theres
no way you will get through this experience alive.
Weve all been there at some point of our lives, whether it be for the 11+, the G.C.S.E
French oral exam, university finals, the FCE exam the list is endless. Somehow though
we get through it. We survive to see another day. But what has always baffled me is how
people react so differently when faced with the prospect of taking an exam.
I dont know about you but Ive always been insanely jealous of those people who party
all year round, then the night before the exam flick through my course book, (theirs is
empty because they didnt go to any lectures), and then somehow manage to sail through
the exam with flying colours. In the meantime Im there, present and correct at most of
my lectures, panicking for weeks before my finals, and the night before, not only am I
trying to cram like mad everything my clever friend points out is missing from my file as
he flicks through my text books and observes that Ive missed out a whole chapter of
essential work that is bound to come up in the exam, (draw for breath!), but Im also
panicking about packing my school bag.
Once youre in the exam room there is the obligatory ritual of snacks and refreshments to
be organised. Its essential that you line them up in edible order so as not to have to think
too much whilst writing. The idea is also not to make too much noise during the exam.
Theres nothing worse than popcorn rustling in a cinema. The exam room is no exception.
So its vitally important that the aforementioned sweets are opened and ready to go. Your
packet of Polos should be completely opened. These should be sucked and not crunched
at the time of consumption otherwise it defeats the whole object of trying to avoid noise
pollution. Finally, no cans or cartons should be taken into the exams as both are far too
Next up is the bulging pencil case. You should of course have at least 2 pencils and 6
pens. 2 black, 2 blue, 2 red. If you want to go for the novelty points then choose a purple,
or green scented pen. Any attempt to make the examiner smile cant be wrong, can it?
Dont forget your highlighter pens, one of each colour, tipex, blu tack, glue. You never
know what might happen. You need a personal clock, although the space on the table is
becoming relatively limited at this point, so a watch is an acceptable option.

As you turn your paper over, your mind inevitably goes blank for at least the first ten
minutes and you start thinking back to the days when you had a life, in the pre-revision
era. Suddenly though, fear takes over. You jab your forehead incessantly with a pen in the
hope that this will encourage some sort of intelligent thought to flow from your brain to
the paper via your biro. And miracles of miracles, it does. For the next three hours you
write constantly, not even pausing for breath, let alone pausing to pick up a polo. In any
case their destiny is to get sticky at the bottom of your bag because you stupidly opened
the whole packet. But none of that matters anymore because youre on fire. Nothing can
stop you now. And three hours later youre mentally exhausted and your arm wants to
drop off. But youve got through it, or at least you think you have
The post-exam ritual involves everyone saying; Ok lets talk about anything other than
the exam because that was absolutely awful., and then you all proceed to talk about
nothing else but the exam for the next hour. Where you thought youd done well, now
after having listened to what everyone else put, well theres just no way you could have
passed. I wouldnt even pass myself if I were marking it; the answers I put were so
irrelevant. Quality not quantity is what weve always been told and I forgot that golden
rule. I have an aching arm for nothing.
Now comes the wait. Why cant examining boards devise a wonderful marking system
that can put you out of your misery within the next couple of days. Two months is an
obscene amount of time if you ask me. Eventually the envelope arrives. A hot tip: when
asked for your address you should always give your parents address to avoid having to
rush to the door for a week around the results day and then actually having to open the
dreaded envelope once it eventually arrives two days late, a sadistic delay intended so
that you sweat it out some more. In any case your mum is scared enough as it is and is
only too happy to pass on the good news when it arrives on her doorstep. Lo and behold
the day when I fail an exam! Im touching lots of wood as I write this.
Anyway, the upshot of all the stress and anxiety is that the hard work has paid off and
even though you dont quite get the A++ that your jammy friend got, youre ecstatic with
your well-earned B+.
Though one thing I havent quite worked out yet is what the attraction of exams is. There
must be something addictive about the stress related to them. I spent last summer doing a
teaching course followed by a horribly stress-inducing exam in December. Nobody
forced me to do it. I actually volunteered and handed over a scary amount of money for
the privilege. Thats stressful in itself! Neither have I learnt from my school exam days as
I still went through the same old emotions, and the same old rituals and Im very pleased
to say it worked. Although Im still convinced that its not so much what I wrote in my
exam that did it but how I wrote it. The infallible mint-scented biro strikes again!

Extra sensory perception

ESP or Extra Sensory Perception is a catch-all expression for the alleged ability of certain
people to receive transmitted thoughts from others, to transmit their own thoughts, to see
what will happen in the future or to be able to move objects from one place to another
without physically touching them. These special people are called psychics or sensitives.
Some believe that we all have this ability to some degree but that most of us choose not
to develop it.
Some people are happy to believe in ESP while others are firm disbelievers.
Parapsychologists who are dedicated to scientifically studying the claims that are made,
lend a certain seriousness to the subject. They have identified four distinct types of ESP:
Clairvoyance describes the act of being able to obtain knowledge of a person or event
without the use of the normal senses.
Telepathy is the process by which a person is able to read another persons thoughts
without the use of any of the normal senses.
Psychokinesis is the ability to influence a physical object just by thinking about it.
Precognition is the term applied when somebody is able to foresee future events.
Many people are sceptical about ESP. Alongside the existence of documented evidence
there are plenty of claims that have turned out to be fraudulent. For most people it is
difficult to accept such claims without having had first hand experience. The lack of
scientific evidence is another factor to take into account. On the other hand, most of us
have, at some time, experienced a seemingly inexplicable occurrence; hearing the
telephone ring and knowing who will be on the other end of the line or cases of
coincidence that seem to be too extreme to be accidental.
Over the years there have been numerous ESP experiments conducted by serious
scientists in serious institutions. Joseph Banks Rhine, a botanist at Duke University
published a famous book in 1934 called Extra-Sensory perception in which he claimed
to have overwhelming evidence of ESP. However, other scientists have been unable to
duplicate his results since, which has resulted in the book losing much of its original
credibility and fame.
The Ganzfield experiments are considered to have been the most carefully scrutinised
ESP experiments. Alleged psychics had their eyes covered and ears blocked while a
sender attempted to transmit messages. Later the psychics would compare the messages
received to the original messages sent out. There was a great deal of excitement and
interest at the time but the research failed to produce convincing results.

One of the strongest criticisms against ESP is that in order for it to exist, the fundamental
laws of physics would necessarily have to be broken.
Human beings are attracted to the whole spectrum of supernatural phenomena. ESP will
always continue to fascinate. This becomes clear when we see how much of the media is
dedicated to the topic; magazines, journals, web sites, television and radio programmes.
Some of the most successful (the reader says 'sensible') films in recent years have fuelled
interest among the younger generations who are starting to ask the same questions and to
look for explanations for the same phenomena as their parents and grandparents before
them. Who knows? One day we might just find these answers because one thing is
certain: "The truth is out there"!

Flea circuses
by Nik Peachey

A good circus has always built its reputation on its ability to amaze and entertain and
what could be more amazing than a flea circus? But does such a thing really exist and can
fleas really be taught to perform circus tricks?
Many British people of my generation probably remember watching their first flea circus
on Michael Bentine's Potty Time. Potty Time was a children's TV programme which
featured comedian Michael Bentine and a group of puppets. Even as a child I never once
thought that the flea circus which was featured on his show involved real fleas, and quite
probably it didn't, so imagine my surprise when I read an article in a British newspaper
about a group of performing fleas being denied entry to the UK by customs officers.
The fleas and their trainer, Professor Maria Fernanda Cordoso, had been on their way to
perform at the Edinburgh Festival, one of Scotland's most famous arts festivals, when
customs officials decided that the Australian fleas in her troupe were illegal immigrants
and would have to be sent back. According to the article, the trainer then had to find other
local fleas and train them to perform the same act.
On reading the article I decided to investigate more and discovered that flea circuses have
a long history originating in England in the 16th century. They had something of a golden
age in the 1830s when L. Bertolotto set up his flea exhibitions in London. His exhibitions
featured a flea orchestra playing flea music, fleas playing card games, fleas dancing in
dresses and even fleas that could pull miniature coaches! Flea circuses later became a
regular feature of carnivals and circus side shows in the US and as late as the mid-1950s
there was still a flea circus near Times Square in New York.
Training fleas can be very difficult, but there are a few methods that have proven
successful. You can limit the height of their jump, if you put a glass ceiling above them,
as they don't like to bump their heads. There are also chemicals that they don't like. These
can be put on a small ball and put among a group of fleas. The fleas will push the ball
away with their legs and give the illusion that they are playing football. Fleas are also
very sensitive to heat and light and this can be used to manipulate the fleas to give the
appearance that they are well-trained performers. It's also believed that the flea orchestras
of the past were in fact live fleas that were glued to their seats. The majority of fleas in
the flea circus are, however, dead. They can be attached to their circus equipment and
manipulated with the use of magnets. This has the added benefit that fleas, which have a
very short life, then don't need to be continuously trained and replaced.

So how did something as unlikely as a flea circus become a major event at one of
Britain's most prestigious performing arts festivals? Well Cordoso's flea act sounds truly
incredible, even by circus standards. Her fleas perform in miniature costumes created
with the help of Philadelphia's Fabric Workshop and Museum. They tango, walk
tightropes, perform trapeze acts and Brutus the strongest flea on earth is even shown
pulling a train. The high point of the performance is the projection of a film which was
made using special lenses to magnify the fleas' feats to huge proportions and features a
tribute to the Fearless Alfredo who is shown diving from a great height into a thimble of
water and tragically missing. Perhaps even more incredible is the trainer herself. The
exotically beautiful Colombian-born Maria Fernanda Cordoso is a sculptor, installation
artist and graduate of Yale University. She spent four years researching the lost art of flea
training and is now regarded as a world expert. She appears at the performances in a
brightly coloured shimmering costume with a magnifying visor and fires flea cannon
balls into a tiny flea net. The performance also features the fleas feeding from her bare
Well, if this article has left you itching to find out more, here are some little known facts
about fleas:

There is a flea in a Kiev museum that wears horseshoes made of real gold.
A flea can pull up to 160,000 times its own weight.
A flea can jump over 150 times its own size. If a man had the same strength, he
could jump over St Paul's Cathedral.
When jumping, the flea accelerates 50 times faster than the space shuttle.
A flea can jump 30,000 times without a break.
Dead fleas dressed as wedding couples were popular collectors' items in the 1920s.
Fleas are attracted by carbon dioxide.
Fleas alternate the direction of their jumps.

Do we live to eat or eat to live? That is the question.
I remember as a child growing up in Britain having fish and chips or baked beans on toast
at least twice a week on my lap while watching my favourite cartoon. Of course I enjoyed
my food but it wasnt something I often talked about. Now, Im not blaming my culture
for my lack of interest in food at an early age. Perhaps my silence was due to the fact that
I didnt know anything about food. How many children know that prawns only turn pink
when they are cooked and that tuna does not come from a can? Now after having lived in
Southern Europe, Asia and Australia I find myself talking about food all the time. The
world has seduced my taste buds and opened my mouth.
Food thats plain and simple is often the best but not always so. For many of us food is a
need. For others, food is a friend. Yet to some others food is an enemy. Cravings grip us
at all the wrong times while we struggle to follow a strict diet that turned all our favourite
desserts into mortal sins. There are others who regard food as an investment. To them,
food has some kind of special powers that can control their lives, for better or for worse.
If thats the case, its time to change and make food work for us.
Lets start by using food the way you would use a pencil or a pair of scissors. We begin
using food as a tool. Like tools, some food works well for some tasks and some is
specially designed to accomplish others.
Lets say youre feeling down. You had a tough day or a tiff with a best friend that drove
you round the bend. You decide to treat yourself to a bar of chocolate nothing like
chocolate to perk you up. Unfortunately youre setting yourself up for a higher dose of
the blues. Thats because chocolate bars have a hefty amount of fat and sugar which
takes a long time to digest and can draw energy away from your brain and caffeine
which will temporarily boost your mood and alertness but send you crashing back down
as soon as its effect starts to wear off.
Does this mean snacking is a bad idea when youre feeling down? Not at all. You just
have to do it wisely. In place of a chocolate bar, have a slice of toast with chunky
marmalade. Then instead of fat and caffeine youve just given yourself a dose of vitamin
C that has been shown to fight depression. In addition, marmalade is loaded with the type
of sugar that spurs the release of mood-lifting chemicals in the brain.
In fact you can manage your mood and boost your brainpower, metabolism, even your
sex life, by eating the right food. Whatever your goals, you can custom-design a diet to
help you meet them. Heres how taking control of your food can help you take control of
your life.

The next time you have an important meeting that requires mental processing, try some
brain processing food that looks like this: tuna salad on whole wheat bread, green salad
with tomatoes, a handful of nuts, bananas, a glass of skimmed milk. Tuna, bananas, nuts
and whole wheat bread are high in vitamin B6, which has been scientifically proven to
help preserve cognitive skills. Protein-rich food contains a nutrient called Tyrosine, which
studies have shown, are linked to clear thinking and alertness. Greens such as broccoli
and spinach naturally contain loads of vitamins and iron. Lack of these nutrients can lead
to fatigue and difficulty in concentrating.
Having said all that, lets not be too stressed about what we eat. Many scientists these
days believe that indulging in lifes little pleasures may actually help improve your health
because of the psychological lift it gives you. There is a lot of truth in the old saying that
a little of what you fancy does you good.

Food (2)
When I was at school, our teacher told the class 'You are what you eat.' My friends and I
would laugh and call each other hamburger and biscuits. Our teacher was trying to
show us the importance of eating the right food to stay healthy.
This was a few decades ago when there were big campaigns to make British people
healthier. We decided to throw out our chip pan which we had used until then to make
chips every day for dinner. We replaced our chips with boiled potatoes. We also started
using semi-skimmed milk instead of whole milk in our cups of tea and bowls of
cornflakes. At first I felt like I was eating my cornflakes in water and my potatoes had no
taste at all. But after a while I started to prefer healthier food because I felt stronger and I
didnt get sick so often.
Japanese people are reputed to be the healthiest in the world because of the food they eat.
The healthiest Japanese people eat rice and fish and vegetables every day. They drink
green tea or water when theyre thirsty, and snack on dried fish, fruit or gingko nuts. The
traditional Japanese diet is famous for helping you to live a longer and healthier life.
So we have proof that you become what you eat. Can you tell what your friends eat just
by looking at them? When you know the effects of different types of food, you can use
your knowledge well and eat what you want to become.
Food has an impact on our physical and emotional health. Have you ever heard any of the
following advice?
Lettuce or milk can make you sleepy.
To stop feeling sleepy you should eat peanuts or dried fish.
To keep your teeth clean you should eat apples often.
Garlic helps you not to catch a cold.
Everyone has their own advice to give, which they have read about or have been told by
older relatives. Some of these pieces of advice seem to contradict each other.
Eating chocolate makes you fat and gives you spots.
Chocolate contains the essential minerals iron and magnesium
What we need to figure out is what type of chocolate to eat to get the benefits and how
much of it to eat. We can do this by reading the list of ingredients on the chocolate bar

wrapper. Exactly how much real chocolate is in there? And how much of that do we need
to eat to get the benefits of the minerals it contains?
Future restaurants might be named after the physical or emotional state they hope to
create. Their menus will list the benefits of each dish and drink. Some restaurants have
already started this concept, and list the nutritional content of their dishes on the menus.
Lets take the restaurant Winners as an example. Their menu would list dishes
specifically designed to help you win sports competitions. There would be 'Night-before
Vegetable Lasagne', a pasta dish with extra layers of spinach pasta for slow-burning
energy, rich tomato sauce full of vitamin C and soft, easy-to-digest vegetables. All this
would be topped with a little fresh cheese just enough to help you get a good nights
sleep, but not enough to give you nightmares!
Or you could choose the 'Go-faster Salad', which is a large bowl of mixed raw vegetables
in a light salad dressing, giving you energy without making you gain weight. The
vegetables are carefully chosen to include plenty of natural vitamins and minerals.
What kind of dishes do you think would be on the menu at the Clever Caf (which sells
food thats good for your brain)?
So whats going to happen to hamburgers and biscuits? Will the concept of eating food
because its tasty go out of fashion? Of course not! Junk food is also changing. If ice
cream is not good for children, cant we give them fat-free, sugar-free tofu ice cream?
Unhealthy food is going out of fashion, so brands are changing. We are told not to drink
cola because of the sugar and caffeine content so cola companies are making sugar-free
and caffeine-free drinks. We are told dried fruit is a healthier snack than biscuits, so some
biscuit companies are making biscuits with added vitamins. Snacks might soon be
changing their names to 'Skinglow' and 'Chocomineral'! So in the future you might be
able to eat your way to your idea of perfection!


Human beings have spent large amounts of money trying to beat the laws of probability
for centuries. More than thirty countries currently have legalized gambling in the form of
national lotteries or private casinos. In the last ten years this addictive pastime has been
generating millions more via the internet.
So how do you become a successful gambler? back in 1873, engineer Joseph Jaggers
won $300,000 dollars in three days at the casino in Monte Carlo by noticing that the
mechanical faults in their roulette wheels made certain numbers come up more often than
others. More recently, an Australian wrote a software programme to help him spot
winners on the horses in Hong Kong and has supposedly won $150 million over the last
20 years.
Whats the biggest lottery jackpot ever? the record is currently $350 million, won by
two people in the USA in May 2000. This, of course, is peanuts. It costs $444 million a
year just to keep an aircraft carrier in the waterThe biggest single win on a national
lottery was $314.9 million in the Powerball game in 2002 by a man who had already
made a fortune in the sewer business. Another American won $39.7 million from a slot
machine in a Las Vegas casino in 2003 after putting in about $100 worth of coins. The
lucky man had actually only gone to watch a basketball match.
Why do lotteries exist? often to make money for the state. The Chinese had a lottery
over 2000 years ago to raise money to build the Great Wall. King James I of England set
one up to finance the new colony of Virginia in America in the 17th century. The British
Museum in London was also built this way.
Which city earns the most from gambling? Las Vegas, of course. Before gaming was
legalized there in the 1930s it was a small desert town; today it has 35 million visitors
and earns seven and a half thousand million dollars from its casinos every year. What do
they do with the profits? Build hotels, it seems the worlds biggest is the MGM Grand
Hotel & Casino with 5,005 rooms. In fact somebody estimated it would take one person
329 years to sleep in every hotel room in Vegas.
Whats the least successful bet? politician and fraudster Horatio Bottomley went to
Belgium in 1914 and bought all six horses in a race. He also paid the jockeys to cross the
finishing line in a particular order. Then he put huge amounts of money on all the horses.
Unfortunately, the race meeting was by the sea and a mist came in and covered the entire
course. The jockeys couldnt see each other and the judges couldnt make out who had
won. Bottomley lost a fortune.

Whats the longest-running bet? There was a ten-year bet between writer Paul Ehrlich and
businessman Julian Simon that the price of certain metals would be higher in 1990 than
in 1980. Ehrlich lost when copper, chrome, nickel, tin and tungsten dropped in price.
Simon was trying to make the point that the world is not heading for catastrophe and that
we are not using up the worlds resources as Ehrlich had predicted. He refused, however,
to agree to a second bet that in the following ten years there would be an increase in
greenhouse gases and AIDS victims and a decrease in tropical rainforests, agricultural
land and human sperm counts.
Whats the strangest bet ever made? Heres one which started a hundred years ago in a
London club, presumably after a certain amount of alcohol had been taken. An American
businessman bet a British investor $100,000 that it was not possible to walk around the
world without being recognised. A certain Harry Bensley agreed to take up the challenge.
He had to wear an iron mask for the whole trip and pay his way by selling pictures of
himself. While travelling, he also had to find a woman who would marry him, to push a
pram and carry only one change of underwear! He set off from London in January 1908
and was arrested a few miles down the road for selling postcards without a licence. He
supposedly got most of the way round the world and was in Italy on his way home in
1914 when the First World War broke out and he had to call the whole thing off.

Gardening: the Beginnings

By John Russell

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made by singing: -"Oh, how
beautiful!" and sitting in the shade.
Rudyard Kipling, "The Glory of the Garden"
Are gardens a recent invention?

The modern garden has a history going back many thousands of years. Early humans
were hunters and gatherers, and didnt usually stay in one place for a long time. Instead,
they travelled from place to place following the food (plants and animals) according to
the seasons. During the Neolithic period (over 10,000 years ago) this slowly began to
change; humans started to domesticate certain plants, which meant they could remain in
one place and grow their own food. The first garden, was a vegetable-garden, where
early humans cultivated different types of plants for food.
What plants did people grow?

Evidence of early agriculture in Europe includes edible plants such as wheat or lentils,
but also includes more ornamental plants for other purposes. Plants for medicine were
grown (such as sage), as were herbs and spices for flavouring or preserving food. Certain
plants also had religious or spiritual value and were not only grown because they were
useful or edible. Growing of plants not only for food was the beginning of gardening.
Why did people plant gardens?

Gardens today are beautiful places to go and relax, but have had many purposes over the
years. In the past they were planted to honour the gods, or used in religious ceremonies
such as funerals and weddings. Certain trees were also sacred in some cultures; Yew trees
were important for Celts, as were Sycamores in Egypt. The ancient Greeks planted groves
for their Gods, and many cultures believed gardens were holy.
They were also a way to show that their owners were rich or powerful. Ancient rulers
created huge gardens to display their wealth, in the same way that large palaces were
symbols of prosperity. In Roman times the garden became an extension of the house,
representing the owners status in society, rather than a holy place.
What does paradise mean?

Sir Francis Bacon described gardens as the purest of human pleasures. Pleasure and
happiness are ideas linked with gardens. The ancient Greeks believed growing food was a
job for the poor, but gardens were places for enjoyment and contemplation. The English
word paradise comes from the ancient Persian word Pairidaeza meaning a walled space,
a garden. The gardens of the Middle East, described in The Arabian Nights, were places
of great beauty and splendour where people enjoyed the pleasures of life.
What was the most famous garden?

One of the most famous early gardens was the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. One of the
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it was created around 2600 years ago near the river
Euphrates and contained many plants, flowers, fruit trees, stone columns and waterfalls.
It was designed so the river could continually irrigate it and as a result was green all year
Are gardens artistic?

As gardens have developed over the years, design and beauty have become more and
more important. Humans have learnt to control nature and to design gardens precisely,
like a work of art or a building. The Gardens of Versailles in France are an excellent
example of garden architecture, everything is symmetrical and even the trees are pruned
to fit in with the design.
Carefully planned or not, gardens are still beautiful and relaxing places to visit. On a fine
day you might even find a little part of paradise, if you look hard enough

contemplate (v): to spend time considering a possible future action, or to consider one
particular thing for a long time in a serious and quiet way.
cultivate (v): to prepare land and grow crops on it, or to grow a particular crop.
domesticate (v): to bring animals or plants under human control in order to provide food,
power or companionship.
edible (adj): suitable or safe for eating.
gather (v): to collect or obtain several things, often from different places or people.
grove (n): a group of trees planted close together.
irrigate (v): to supply land with water so that crops and plants will grow.

ornamental (n): an object which is beautiful rather than useful.

paradise (n): a place or condition of great happiness where everything is exactly as you
would like it to be.
prosperity (n): the state of being successful and having a lot of money.
prune (v): to cut off branches from a tree, bush or plant, especially so that it will grow
better in future.
sacred (adj): considered to be holy and deserving respect, especially because of a
connection with a god.
status (n): an official position, especially in a social group.