Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – The Good Life #Waterford History and amazing guest writers

Welcome to the round up and some posts that you might have missed. Especially if you have taken my advice and have not signed up for notifications. You would be so stressed!  I know that I blog a great deal but by now you are used to that by now.. Popping in on a Sunday is probably your best bet so that you can select the posts that you are interested in.

Next weekend there is going to a change to the programme as it will be a three day party on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Unfortunately I may have tipped our summer into its own pity party when I announced this last week, as it has been blowing a hooligan and pouring with rain ever since!  However, we will not let a little moisture get in our way.

My intention is to mention as many of those people who have been with me since the beginning of my blogging adventure in September 2013 with some specially prepared snippets. I also plan to do some introductory pieces on my regular guests as well with interludes for music, humour and of course food and drink. There will be a post each day and in the tradition of all good parties, mingling and exchanging details in the comments is to be expected.

Paul Andruss has prepared two posts which will go out in the week about some of the music he feels will get you in the mood and he will also round off the party with a post on Sunday Afternoon.

I hope that whatever your actual plans are for next weekend you will be able to pop in to one of the posts over the three days and leave your details in the visitors book.

My thanks as always to my guests this week and food was definitely on the agenda with the wonderful recipe for Babotie which is a traditional South African dish that I enjoyed as a child. My thanks to Tandy Sinclair for sharing.  As you will have seen, Carol Taylor and I have teamed up for a new series on healthy foods alongside delicious recipes. This week the versatile banana received the Carol treatment.

And to encourage you not to let all this wonderful food cause a disruption to your waistline, Julie Lawford shares 50 benefits that demonstrate the positive effects of healthy weight loss.

And of course thanks to William Price King for his wonderful series on Tony Bennett first aired in 2015 and now taking us through the Summer (a term used loosely around here).

Now on with the show…..thanks for dropping in and please sign the guest book at the end. 

Summer Jazz with William Price King and Tony Bennett

Milestones along the way by Geoff Cronin

Guest Post – Julie Lawford – Lifestyle – Weightloss

Guest post – Carol Taylor – Health benefits of Bananas and recipes.

Guest post – Tandy Sinclair – Traditional South African Food – Babotie.

The Odd Jobs and Characters series here on Smorgasbord. Posted on D.G. Kaye’s blog.

Smorgasbord Reblogs

Paul Andruss takes us back to the Roman Empire and the origins of the expression ‘Crossing the Rubicon’

Thomas the Rhymer

Book and author promotion – Cafe and Bookstore Update

New book on the shelves

Air Your Reviews

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily

Smorgasbord Entertainment Movie Review – I give The Mummy 4/10… find out why.

Smorgasbord Health – If your teeth are suffering from acid erosion it may be your bottled mineral water!


Words of wisdom from the head of the household – Dear Kittie with Morgan Freeman

Doggie Day Camp and the School bus.

Meet George the Service Dog on his special day out.

Smorgasbord Pet Health

Weekly Image and Haiku

I hope that you have enjoyed this week’s posts and thank you so much for your visits and sharing across your own sites.. It is much appreciated.

Weekly Image and #Haiku – Storm Warning by Sally Cronin

I am making good use of some of the photographs that Paul Andruss has donated from his wonderful garden.  This is the American Monkey Flower.

Monkey-flowers are North American ornamental plants which also grow ferally in the wild. Common monkey-flower is the only plant of its genus that appears outside the confines of the well-tended garden: the other species survive here only if they’re cultivated. Unlike other new plants that have become problematic weeds or that have gone on the rampage or become a threat to native plants, common monkey-flower seems to be almost harmless. In its native western North America the species thrives in different kinds of damp environments – in Finland it can be found most often in the same kinds of places, most likely of course near inhabited areas.

The first thing that one notices about monkey-flowers is their exiting-looking flowers which probably also inspired the giver of their scientific name. the name of the genus comes from the ancient Greek word mimo which means ‘monkey’, or the Latin word mimus which means ‘actor, mimic’ – looking from the front of the plant its flower could resemble a monkey’s face or the mask used by an actor in a classical play. Apart from being an ornamental in gardens, common monkey-flower is also an important model organism in ecological and genetic research: the species’ genome was entirely decoded in 2007. Native Americans used the monkey-flower to treat wounds and pain.


Here is my tribute….

Thanks for dropping by.. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Sally

Smorgasbord Reblog – Rubicon by Paul Andruss

As always Paul Andruss can be relied on to turn something we take for granted into gold… for example most of us have heard the expression ‘Crossing the Rubicon’ and thought little of it.  However, once you read the story behind the expression… you will think a little more carefully before making that journey!

Crossing the Rubicon (Unknown)

You would be forgiven for thinking Rubicon is a bit like Comic-con, but for people who love jewellery. It isn’t.

The Rubicon was a shallow meandering river in North Italy that ran along Ancient Rome’s boundary. To prevent trouble, the Senate decreed no general could bring his legions across such borders into Roman territory.

Over a decade Julius Caesar made a fortune subduing Gaul. He slaughtered countless people, enslaved the rest and carted off everything that wasn’t nailed down. Due to some pretty fancy footwork he also made sure the plebs in Rome knew what a hero he was. (And we think self-promotion started with Facebook and Twitter!)

With Caesar’s governorship of Gaul ending, he wanted his due reward. Being elected Consul was the ultimate accolade in Roman politics. But while the people loved their dashing hero, the Senate, seething with jealousy, plotted to arrest Caesar for treason.

Caesar knew he was safe in Gaul with his legions. The Senate didn’t have anyone with the balls to seize him in front of his soldiers. And once Consul, he would also be immune from prosecution.

But , here was the rub…

Read the rest of this illuminating post that cautions against crossing the Rubicon:

Thomas the Rhymer

You can read all of Paul’s original posts for Smorgasbord in this directory:

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – FREE book, Invitation to a Party and brilliant writers.

Welcome to the weekly round up and a reminder that What’s in a Name Volume one is FREE until midnight tonight. I am not part of the Kindle family although all my books are formated to be read on Kindles, Nooks and any other devices. So I don’t do the Kindle select promotions. However, most of you know we well enough to email me and that your information is safe.

About the stories

There are names that have been passed down through thousands of years which have powerful and deep-rooted meaning to their bearers. Other names have been adopted from other languages, cultures and from the big screen. They all have one thing in common. They are with us from birth until the grave and they are how we are known to everyone that we meet.

There are classical names such as Adam, David and Sarah that will grace millions of babies in the future. There are also names that parents have invented or borrowed from places or events in their lives which may last just one lifetime or may become the classic names of tomorrow.

Whatever the name there is always a story behind it. In What’s in a Name? – Volume One, twenty men and women face danger, love, loss, romance, fear, revenge and rebirth as they move through their lives.

Anne changes her name because of associations with her childhood, Brian carries the mark of ancient man, Jane discovers that her life is about to take a very different direction, and what is Isobel’s secret?

The book is available in Mobi (Kindle) Epub (other devices) and pdf for those of you without a reader.

Just email me on and I will whisk a copy over to you. I appreciate that many of you have TBRs that rival the Leaning Tower of Pisa… but that is okay and I also have no expectation of a review… unless you really want to!

You can read a number of reviews for the book:

and the latest review by Paul Andruss which is a story too:

End of Summer Party – August 26th – 28th – all welcome.

I will be roasting showcasing, those bloggers who have been with me since I began Smorgasbord four years ago.. and apart from these guests, I am inviting everyone to chip in with their details in the comments. I have some food and drink (virtually no calories) and there will be some music. I hope you will be able to pop in .

My secretary Mavis has reminded me that it is time to get on with the round up of the week’s posts that you might have missed.

I am of course very grateful to my guests this week who have provided us with entertaining and interesting posts. Thanks to Anne Casey, Julie Lawford and Carol Taylor who will be with us through the summer and beyond I hope.

William Price King is still on his summer break but I have been sharing a previous series that proved very popular the first time around.. Tony Bennett the ultimate performer.

Guest post from poet and song writer Anne Casey talking about the path to the publication of her debut poetry collection. Including her published work in the Irish Times.

Julie Lawford continues her summer of lifestyle articles with her top ten tips for maintaining your weight loss.

I was delighted to welcome Carol Taylor to the blog for the first of a collaborative series on my top healthy foods with some wonderful recipes from Carol.. This week delicious ways to prepare the king of fish.. salmon.

Milestones along the way by Geoff Cronin

I have posted another one of my entertainment reviews and this time for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword….

Book Promotion

For the next 12 weeks I am guest posting with a number of fantastic bloggers as part of the Odd Jobs and Characters, What’s in a Name launch series. I am posting the first three and then this Friday, Debby Gies is hosting the first of the guest appearances.. By all accounts she has added some Debby specials to the post so I hope you will head over and check it out.

This week was part one of my adventures as a dental nurse back in the late 1960s…haha.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

Cafe and Bookstore Update

Air Your Promotions

Smorgasbord Short story

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily

Weekly image and Haiku

Humour and afternoon videos

Thank you for all your support and generosity in sharing.. Enjoy the rest of the weekend and hope you will visit again next week.



Smorgasbord Reblog – Review by Paul Andruss – What’s In a Name- Volume One Ebook – FREE 11th – 13th August

Thomas the Rhymer

You are all accustomed to Paul Andruss and his ability to take a tale, myth, legend and deconstruct it and put back together again so that we look at it with a new perspective.

Paul also does this with book reviews and I am honoured to have received three of them over recent months. Apart from my absolute gratitude to all who review my books, I also love seeing my writing through my the eyes of my readers.

Paul has just read my story collection What’s in a Name – Volume One and has posted a review on his blog.

I hope that you will head over and read all the review which is a story in itself… and then you will find a FREE offer for the book at the end of this post.

I always feel sad reaching the end of a Sally Cronin book.

It is not simply because I feel a chapter of my life has closed.

Nor because I will no longer be dragged along, a willing, nay eager, voyeur into the lives of people I have just met, but feel I have known for years. People who I am convinced will go on to live happy lives off the page, but who I will never see again; although I will think of them often.

Neither is it because I have not laughed hard enough or had my eyes mist over more than once and had to sternly tell myself: Get a grip you old fool. It’s only a story. A story it might be, but only a heart of stone could remain unmoved by Sally Cronin’s prose: even a heart of ice would melt.

It’s none of the above. Quite simply, when I finish a Sally Cronin book I really miss my mum who died some 20 odd years ago. Yes I know, even though they are gone they are with us. But truth be told, I no longer think of her enough.

If she were alive, knowing how much she would love What’s in a Name? I would jump in the car and take it down to her, like I used to. Although these days I would probably email it for her to download into her e-reader or tablet, or whatever it is the old folks do these days.

Read the rest of the review and if you like the look of it then please email for your free eBook:

Free Book Offer – From Friday August 11th until midnight UK time Sunday 13th August.

I am not part of the Kindle programmes so as an Indie I do not run free offers on Amazon. However, the files for the eBook version of What’s in a Name – Volume One is not very large and I can email you a copy.

Please email me on and request Mobi (Kindle) or Epub (Kobo etc)

If you do not have an eBook reader I can recommend Calibre which is a free multi-source reader that is free to dowload to your PC or other devices.

You can read other reviews for the collection on Amazon:

I have no expectation of a review but if you do enjoy the stories I would be grateful if you could share your thoughts on Amazon and Goodreads.

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – Tony Bennett, Houdini and Doyle, Bad Habits, Childhood and Greece

Welcome to this week’s round up of posts that you might have missed. As you know I recommend that you do not sign up for notifications about my posts.. it would drive you crazy.. but you might like to put Sunday in your diary for a pop in.

As always I am very grateful for those who have shared their thoughts, words and wisdom with us this week. William Price King, Paul Andruss, Julie Lawford, Kevin Morris and Ali Isaac

I have had some adventures of the dental kind this week having fractured a molar.. We had not signed up with a dentist as yet but were recommended to go to one in nearby Arklow.. You can always tell how good a dentist is by sitting in a waiting room. If people have their head in their hands are sweating it is not a good sign.. In this case everyone was enjoying a banter and talking about the weather.. I was reassured. Having been on the other side of the dentist chair over 40 years ago and witnessed some of the treatments then available you might understand why I am still nervous of going for an appointment.

I need not have been worried. Despite barely any of the tooth left, the dentist fitted me in for an appointment within two days because she did not want to leave me with a loose filling whilst she went on holiday. She took out the old filling painlessly and rebuilt it painstakingly… with composite. I am delighted to have found such a great practice and will be returning when needed.

The weather has turned autumnal and conkers are already on the trees. We have had a dry if cloudy summer and I take heart knowing that here in Ireland September can be a glorious month. In the meantime I may be getting the boots back out of their summer hibernation.. they have only been in there for six weeks…

Anyway on with the round up and thank you very much for your continued support.. It means the world to me.

Summer Jazz with William Price King

Whilst William is away on his summer break I will be reposting the series featuring the amazing Tony Bennett who is still performing in his 90s.

Here he is with The Way You Look Tonight by Jerome Kern

Writer in Residence

Thomas the Rhymer

This week Paul Andruss takes us behind the scenes of the real life relationship between two megastars of their day.. Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini.. Expect the unexpected with The Dream Team.

A reminder that you can enjoy the full book of essays by Horatio Grin (AKA Paul Andruss) with bonus features FREE by emailing me.. Details in the post.

Guest writer Julie Lawford Summer of Lifestyle posts

We all develop bad habits over time and this includes with our diet. Julie Lawford takes us through some strategies to make changes that benefit us.

Guest post Kevin Morris

Kevin  Morris is celebrating the release of his latest poetry collection, My Old Clock I Wind with a guest post on his childhood.

Milestones along the Way by Goeff Cronin

I new serialisation of Geoff Cronin’s books with Milestones along the Way.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Guest Ali Isaac

Ali takes us to the heat of Greece in this heart warming story of a mother and daughter preparing for the future and letting go of the past.

Book Promotion

Over the next three months I will be posting a new series Odd Jobs and Characters to celebrate my latest short story collection in ebook and a printed edition containing both volumes of What’s in a Name? The first three posts are on my blog and then the other twelve are being featured on some wonderful writer’s blogs..

Smorgasbord Reblogs

These are stand alone reblogs for certain bloggers who have something a little extra that I would like to share.

Finn Mac Cool

Jessica Norrie

Just a reminder that all promotions for bloggers and authors on Smorgasbord are FREE… I can offer to showcase your work in front of nearly 30,000 across the blog and social media and give you regular updates every few weeks.

The only thing that I ask is that you participate by responding to comments of those who have taken the time to make them, and to share across your own blog and networks. This also involves responding to those who share on Twitter as I tag you in any retweets. Most who share on Twitter are authors themselves and are part of a very supportive community who welcome new members.

It does make a huge difference to the response. Not just for the initial promotion but those that follow. People buy people first..

A great example of participation this week was Vashti Quiroz-Vega whose enthusiasm for promoting her New on the Shelves post resulted in over 150 views and 50 retweets.. I did a quick count up of the number of followers who retweeted the post or the original tweet. Vashti’s book had the potential to be seen by half a million readers. Of course this does not necessarily correspond with books sold or downloaded but those people now firmly have Vashti on their radar.

As an author I love providing this promotional opportunity but it is a collaboration.

Here is how you can join over 200 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore…

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore New on the Shelves

A warm welcome to two new authors to the bookstore this week.

Author Update

Some new releases and great reviews for those already on the shelves of the bookstore.

Air Your Reviews

Smorgasbord Blogger Daily

Some of the wonderful blog posts I have read this week.. Sorry not to be able to showcase everyone.. but you can always send me a link for your most recent post for me to share.

Smorgasbord Short Stories

A wonderful story from Ali Isaac which takes to a Greek Island and sunshine.


Weekly image and Haiku

Thank you again for joining me here on Smorgasbord.. Keep an eye open during the week for a new interview series beginning in September in the Sunday Morning slot.

Writer in Residence – Doyle and Houdini: The Dream Team by Paul Andruss

Some of you might have seen the series on television Houdini and Doyle which fictionalised the relationship between these two complex and legendary individuals. However, as always, Paul Andruss  deconstructs the various rumours and fictional depictions of the events of that time; bringing the truth to light.

Doyle and Houdini: the Dream Team by Paul Andruss

Doyle and Houdini (library picture)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, the world’s most famous detective, and Harry Houdini, its greatest magician, are surely a dream team. At least that’s what Sky TV thought when commissioning Houdini and Doyle. The fantasy drama series about the real life friends, where sceptic and believer investigated crimes with a supernatural flavour, was cancelled after one season.

Rabbi Weisz and family escaped the Hungarian pogroms to end up as poor Jews in New York. His proudly self-educated son Erik diligently worked his way through dime museums, sideshows and travelling carnivals into vaudeville theatres, while learning escapology, mind reading and magic. Before he was famous he even had a phony spiritualist act. Erik adopted the name Harry Houdini as a homage to his magician idols Harry Keller and world famous Robert Houdin.

Although from a comfortable background, Arthur Conan Doyle’s father was an alcoholic and spent periods in mental asylums. At one time the family was forced to live in a squalid tenement. Doyle was sent to private boarding school in England, paid for by his uncles.

After studying medicine in Edinburgh, he eventually set up a doctor’s practice in Plymouth. While waiting for patients he began writing fiction.

The Houdini and Doyle friendship developed from a mutual respect due to their similarities and differences. Through hard work both men rose from poverty to the pinnacle of their fields. Houdini started work at nine, yet as the son of a Rabbi longed to be a scholar. Doyle through family wealth became a medical doctor. But maybe the friendship wasn’t so straightforward when you examine things.

Poster for Houdini Spiritualist show (library image)

Houdini is known as a famous sceptic who exposed phoney mediums. But he was genuinely interested in finding evidence for the spirit realm, especially after the death of his beloved mother. However, being a magician, he was wise to all the tricks and took exception to ghouls preying on the bereaved.

Conan Doyle’s second wife was a gifted amateur medium who practiced automatic writing. Holding a pencil while in a trance, with eyes closed and mind empty, allowed the spirits to communicate directly through her. After losing his son and 10 other members of their immediate family in World War 1, the Doyles increasingly turned to spiritualism for solace.

Mutual admiration and their passionate interest in psychic phenomena gave the men common ground. Yet unknown to the other, each had an ulterior motive. After exposing phoney mediums Houdini was finding it hard to get into séances and used Doyle for introductions into spiritualist circles. Doyle wanted to be the man who brought the great sceptic to spiritualism and have him publicly renounce his disbelief. After seeing Houdini perform, Doyle convinced himself Houdini was no mere conjurer but a genuine miracle worker. Houdini’s protestations only confirmed Doyle’s suspicions.

The friendship deepened, mainly because Houdini stayed quiet about the mediums Doyle recommended. In truth he was saving his findings for a book. Things came to a head when Harry and Bess Houdini and the Doyles met in Atlantic City. Doyle insisted Houdini attend a séance of automatic writing with Lady Doyle. Houdini’s mother came through, gushing to her beloved son how beautiful and peaceful the other side was, and how she was preparing a place for him.

After the séance Doyle, noting Houdini was reflective and withdrawn, was sure he had demonstrated the existence of life after death beyond a doubt. Doyle did not know Bess, using the code from their old mind reading act, had pre-warned Houdini that Lady Doyle was pumping her for information about Houdini’s mother all afternoon.

When Houdini told the press he had never experienced any convincing spiritualist phenomena, Doyle was furious. He demanded to know why Houdini doubted his own mother speaking through Lady Doyle. Houdini mildly replied his beloved mother, who could not speak one word of English, had not written a single word in her native Hungarian.

The friends were now enemies. Doyle immediately rushed his version of events into print. He insisted Houdini begged Lady Doyle to sit and she complied only with reluctance. Houdini never forgave Doyle’s lie.

Doyle champions Margery (library image)

On opposite sides of the same crusade, they could not help but clash over the years; with increasing animosity on Doyle’s part. Doyle was a close friend of a notorious medium called Margery, a handsome vivacious woman who used her sex appeal to sway the dry university academics investigating her claims.

More than a paragraph is needed to discuss Margery and her husband’s shenanigans. In the end even Doyle backed off when questions arose over a number of young boys brought to America as wards of Margery’s husband and never seen again. In her twilight years, and now an abject alcoholic, Margery claimed her husband coerced her into professional mediumship, and hinted at the dark measures she was forced to employ to enable her to perform on cue.

When Houdini caught Margery red handed, Doyle was outraged. Margery’s spirit guide threatened Houdini with death. There are letters from Doyle echoing the sentiment. When Houdini died, Doyle crowed he knew Houdini would get his just deserts. He believed the spirits punished him for concealing his psychic gifts behind a façade of a conjuror.

After years of silence, Doyle was corresponding with Bess within a fortnight of Houdini’s death. He speaks of ‘the widow’, as ‘a splendid loyal little woman accepting of the spiritualist viewpoint and keen to get some evidence to give the world’. Obligingly Doyle recommended mediums. When Bess dismissed their messages as rubbish to the press, there was only one thing left to do.

Enter Arthur Ford, a medium and Conan Doyle’s protégé. Ford was the medium who delivered an agreed coded message from Houdini to Bess. It was claimed they were strangers, but Ford and Bess had been close friends for over a year. They were planning a spiritualist tour together: the sceptic’s widow and the medium who brought evidence from beyond the grave.

To read how that turned out follow the link at the end of the article.

One of Houdini’s friends said he seriously underestimated Doyle. Houdini could handle frauds and hucksters, but Doyle, as a zealot and someone who could not tolerate being wrong, was the most relentless type of enemy. Yet, like all fanatics Doyle did far more damage to himself than Houdini.

He lost serious money in a psychic bookstore venture.

He was mocked for his endorsement of the Cottingley fairies.

He publically advocated the Zancig husband and wife team as telepaths, even though they confessed they were stage magicians with a mind-reading act.

When caught promoting a fake spirit photograph as genuine, he refused to accept he was mistaken.

He was lampooned in the British Press for claiming spirits in the afterlife enjoyed cigars, whiskey and golf.

As a final insult, even his spirit guide, who came through during his wife’s séances, labelled him a ‘whale’.

Shortly before his death the author of the greatest detective wrote to a friend confessing… “I have moments of doubt when I wonder if we have not been victims of some extraordinary prank played on the human race by the other side.”

Here is the link to the earlier article on Sally’s Smorgasbord about Houdini’s wife getting a genuine coded message from her dead husband: an incident that passed into legend.

©Paul Andruss

My thanks to Paul for another article that brings truth and perspective to the lives of the legendary.

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen.

Finn Mac Cool

Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory:

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. Thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Reblog – Fevered Threads by Paul Andruss

Thomas the Rhymer Paul Andruss

As a follow on to Paul Andruss’s  last post Women’s Work –  Paul unravels a few more of the tangled web that has been woven about this intricate skill of weaving.

Bess’ Tapestry (Andruss)

As we saw women traditionally wove not only cloth, but also spells.

This is how labour-intensive weaving was:

In 2003 Dr Jacqi Wood recreated a collared hood beautifully preserved in a peat bog. A collared hood includes a yoke sitting over the the chest and upper back. Using early medieval technology, Dr Wood took 102 hours to spin the thread and 98 hours to weave the garment.

Collared Hood (courtesy Esty)

Classical Greece and Rome denigrated women’s skills. While some goddesses were highly skilled weavers, such as Athena, they are not goddesses of weaving. Athena was so proud of her weaving skills, when she heard Arachne boast she could teach the goddess a thing or two, she challenged the girl to a contest.

Athena & Arachne: from other figures (Andruss)

There are different versions of the tale. In some Arachne swears never to weave again if she loses, in others she wins and is forbidden to ever weave again. In despair the girl commits suicide by hanging herself with a skein of thread she spun. In a pang of conscience, Athena turns the girl into a spider – the ultimate weaver.

Then there is Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus. Odysseus joined the decade long Trojan War, and after being blown off-course, spent another ten years trying to make it home. Seven years of which, it must be said, he spent in the bed of the demi-goddess Calypso on sepulchral island of Ogygia; a land of the dead. Calypso’s name means to hide or deceive. It comes from the Indo-European word ‘Kel’ that gives rise to ‘Hell’, the eponymous kingdom of Loki’s daughter.

Head over and read the rest of this fascinating post… and next time you are looking through the racks of clothes you might just appreciate how much time it would have taken to make that dress a few thousand years ago:

You can read all the posts that Paul Andruss has contributed to Smorgasbord in this directory:

Smorgasbord Writer in Residence – The Gospel Truth by Paul Andruss

Welcome to the latest in the exclusive posts written by Paul Andruss for the blog. We are accustomed to Paul’s skill in deconstructing the myths and legends of real and other worldly beings and today he covers one of the most controversial legends of them all!

Portrait of Christ from the Book of Kells
(Paleographically dated to 600-800 AD)

Now this is trickier than getting your keys out of a bag of rattlesnakes.

And before you get on the blower to the Pope in Rome demanding the first fatwa in Catholic history, this ain’t about who He was or even if He was. I’m only examining the evidence. Even if I wanted, I couldn’t change your mind; not by one scintilla, jot or iota. What you believe is down to you.

The New Testament consists of:

4 Gospels – considered, by the faithful, eye witness accounts of Jesus’ life. And Acts of the Apostles, a companion volume to Luke’s Gospel, recording the history of the early church after the crucifixion of 30 AD. It is believed they were written 65-120 AD. But not by the people whose names they bear. Because it has a different viewpoint, John was thought written much later, until a fragment of it, uncovered in Egypt, forced scholars to rethink John’s date to around 100 AD.

Because many Church Fathers disputed St John wrote Revelation, it was almost not included in the New Testament. It is dated to 60-100 AD.

There are letters (epistles) by St Paul, some more genuine than others; by Jesus’s brothers, ‘according to the flesh’, James and Jude; St Peter and St John. Church historians believe Paul’s letters, written between 50 and 60 AD, are the earliest church documents.

So far so good…

Except, we don’t have any original documents, only copies of copies of copies removed by hundreds of years, and with centuries of errors.

Passages from the New Testament were quoted around 100-150 AD, but those documents are now lost. All we have are quotes from writers living a couple of hundred years after the original authors. This is a problem. Without source documents we don’t know if the quotes were ‘corrected’. For some quotes sound similar but are not as they appear in the Gospels. And there are different versions of Gospels around today.

We don’t know how old the oldest extant documents are. None are radiocarbon dated. Radiocarbon-dating of small samples could give dates within 50 years. Yet dates are still assigned through the traditional method of palaeography: the study of ancient handwriting. This technique, around since Erasmus in the 1510s examined Vaticanus, dates the time of writing by how the handwriting looks.

When the Dead Sea Scrolls were radiocarbon dated they were found to be older than estimates based on palaeography. This did not suit Church historians who argued for a date later than Christianity because the Dead Sea Scrolls uncomfortably contained unique Christian ideas.

Dating documents through palaeography seems odd, especially in light of the Turin Shroud. For centuries people argued it was Christ’s burial cloth until it was radiocarbon dated to the Middle-Ages. Even then many ‘experts’ swore the radiocarbon dates were wrong.

Churches have always sponsored biblical scholarship. So while scholars disagreed with each other, they were not prepared to jeopardise their careers by trashing hundreds of years of established ‘evidence’. In a way it is a bit like arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin without ever asking if angels exist.

In the 20th century, secular historians argued Jesus never lived at all; pointing out:

  • Many pagan gods had virgin births.
  • The Greek word translated as ‘virgin’ only means ‘young woman’.
  • The word for Joseph’s profession ‘carpenter’ means ‘scholar’.
  • Herod was dead when Jesus was born.
  • There is no evidence the slaughter of the innocents ever happened.
  • Nazareth is not in an ancient list of towns.
  • Nazoreans were Jewish mystics who took vows of celibacy and denial.
  • The Sermon on the Mount (blessed are the meek etc.) belongs to Jesus ben Sira who lived 50 years before Christ.
  • The crucifixion narrative can be constructed from Old Testament quotes concerning the messiah.
  • St Paul and the early Church Fathers talk about Christ the Son of God but never Jesus the man.
  • The gospels have a shaky grasp of verifiable historical events and do not know the geography of Israel.

The English word Gospel comes from the Greek ‘Evangelion’ meaning ‘Good News’. It first appeared on a peace proclamation when Augustus became Emperor at the end of the Roman Civil Wars 30 years before the birth of Jesus.

Early Church Fathers do not mention Gospels. Some speak of ‘Memoirs of the Apostles’ but do not give names or details. St Clement’s letter, thought to be written 40 years after Clement died, says Peter’s disciple Mark wrote down the saint’s favourite quotes from Jesus; after Peter’s martyrdom around 50 AD. The word Clement uses means pithy sayings. He makes no reference to a Gospel.

It is believed the synoptic (one-vision) Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) were written 65-120 AD. While largely similar they do not exactly correspond with each other. John differs widely from the others, even down to the day of the crucifixion and who witnessed it. Because of this, John was considered the last one written; until that pesky fragment turned up. Now it’s the earliest document we have. Arguments still rage over the fragment’s palaeographic date.

Mark, deemed the first (and shortest) gospel, influenced Matthew and Luke. Early fragments are paleographically dated to 250 AD. Earliest fragments of Matthew are paleographically dated to 175-250. Fragments of Luke and Acts are paleographically dated 150 -200.

In 1958 a document was found dating to 1646. It quotes a passage from an early Church Father about a Secret Gospel of Mark, presenting Christianity as a mystery cult focusing on resurrection and initiation. Mark in both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus ends abruptly without mentioning the resurrection. In Vaticanus the rest of the page is left blank. In modern versions we have a various longer endings for Mark.

Many believe the original Matthew was the lost Ebonite or Hebrew Gospel. Quotes from the Church Father Papias show his version of Matthew is not the one we have today.

There is evidence the Gospel used by the heretic Marcion influenced Luke. Acts divides into the early history of the church in Jerusalem, Paul’s conversion and mission to the Gentiles; then abruptly shifts to a first person plural (we) narrative for long passages. This suggests different documents were collated.

15 other books detailing the acts of individual apostles never made it into the New Testament.

The earliest copies of the New Testament are the Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. (A codex is a book, not the usual Greek and Roman scroll.) Some think they belong to the 50 copies of the Bible the Emperor Constantine ordered, around 350 AD, for his new churches in his new city of Constantinople, when he legalised Christianity. If so they were written some 320 years after the crucifixion.

No one knows anything about the Codex Vaticanus until it turns up in the Vatican Library in 1475. It is a myth the Vatican Library hides all sorts of ancient documents. Rome was looted and burned so many times it is doubtful anything survived. It was due to a lack of books Pope Nicholas V spent a fortune founding the Vatican Library in 1448.

Sinaiticus was found in St Catherine’s monastery in the Sinai desert in the 1850s.

Although large parts are missing, it is the most complete early text in existence. It contains books excluded from the New Testament by the council of Bishops in 350. These include some of the oldest Christian writings such as the Letter of Clement, the Didache and the Shepherd of Hermes: early books of church lore.

When it was found churchmen denounced Sinaiticus because it varied so much from Vaticanus. There are 3036 differences between the two gospel texts, not counting scribal errors. Experts say it is easier to find 2 consecutive verses that differ than agree. Perhaps this means there was not one version of the Gospels even then.

Christianity was fragmented right from the start. Something the church was reluctant to admit. 200 years after Christianity became the official religion of Rome, Christians were still killing each other over whether Jesus was God or similar to God!

A century after the crucifixion an early Church Father insisted there were only 4 gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, because there were 4 winds and 4 pillars of the earth. Yet he knew more gospels existed: Gospels of the Hebrews, Ebonites and Nazarenes – Jewish Christian sects believing Jesus was the Jewish Messiah; the anti-Jewish Gospel of Marcion; the Gospel of Peter that said Christ felt no pain when crucified and did not die, but was ‘taken-up’. Shocking as it sounds this may be the earliest account of the crucifixion.

These biographical gospels vanished when Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire; probably because they did not toe the official line. Today they are mainly known from later writers quoting early Church Fathers condemning them as heresy and giving scraps as examples. Recent finds of papyrus fragments in the Middle East show there were other gospels telling Jesus’ story. They are similar to known gospels, but not from them.

There were Gospels of Thomas, Wisdom of Christ, Mary Magdalen and Philip, which only listed Jesus’ sayings. These were lost until a cache was discovered buried in the Egyptian sands at Nag Hamadi. The Gospel of Philip is famous because Dan Brown seized on a line in the Da Vinci Code: Jesus often kissed Mary on the… and here there is a hole in the parchment.

The Letters, or Epistles, of the New Testament throw little light on Christian history. James ignores the fact it is written by Jesus’ brother and gives a sermon on why Christians should be Jews. Jude claims he is James’ brother but not Jesus’ and is another sermon.

Peter comforts a persecuted group. Two of John letters are sermons and the third a short note warning against a heretic. All are believed written after the authors died.

Paul letters are mainly exhortations not to slip into heresy. 7 of them are considered genuine because they confirm incidents in his life quoted in the Acts of the Apostles and bear his name, 2 are undecided and 4 false. There is no supporting evidence for the 7 genuine letters other than writers quoting earlier authors.

Many books about the early Christian period (including Roman historians like Tacitus) went missing after Christianity became the official religion. Some went missing in the last few centuries. This led some historians to claim the Church was rewriting its past. After all, history is written by the winners.

Until something changes, like better dates, more discoveries or even a new way of thinking about early Christianity, we might never know the Gospel Truth.

©PaulAndruss 2017


About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen.

Thomas the Rhymer

Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

Finn Mac Cool

Connect to Paul on social media.

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You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory:

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. Thanks Sally



Writer in Residence Extra – ‘Well, I’ll be a Monkey’s Uncle!’ by Paul Andruss

Another dip into the archives on Paul’s blog for this final post in the Evolution series that we have been featuring. You only have to watch nature programmes featuring Chimpanzees for us to recognise certain characteristics and mannerisms that we associate with our upstanding human species.

However, we have not treated our distant relative with respect or kindness and for many it has been with downright cruelty. I was privileged to film a documentary at Monkey World in Dorset some years ago and seeing those who had been rescued from a life in a laboratory was life-changing.

As always Paul approaches the subject with thought provoking honesty.

Oliver- the Humanzee?

‘Well, I’ll be a Monkey’s Uncle!’ by Paul Andruss

There are repeated reports of a human – chimpanzee hybrid, called a humanzee.
The first is from the year 1,000 AD when the Benedictine monk, Peter Damien, claimed he saw the monstrous offspring of a woman and an ape. More recently, a circus chimpanzee called Oliver (1958-2012) was touted as such.

Oliver was bald with a flat almost human face and freckles. Rather than knuckle walk, like chimps, he preferred to walk upright. It was also claimed Oliver preferred women to female chimpanzees. In 1996 a geneticist examined Oliver’s chromosomes and found he had the normal amount for a chimpanzee, which is 24 pairs. Humans have only 23.

Chimpanzees and humans last shared a common ancestor between 9 – 5 million years ago. In the human branch, 2 chromosomal pairs fused reducing the number from 24 to 23. Scientists believe this resulted in neoteny. It means characteristics in young animals survive into adulthood. In the case of our early ancestors this produced a flatter face and longer legs, perhaps encouraging walking upright.

One argument against chimps and human interbreeding was the different number of chromosomes prevented fertilisation.

However, mules are  horses (31 chromosomal pairs) crossbred with donkeys (64 pairs). Zebras, with 16 to 23 pairs – depending on species – can breed with horses (31 pairs) as can the original wild Przewalski’s Horse, with 33 pairs. So, it is certainly possible for humans and chimpanzees to interbreed.

In addition, about 98% of genes are common to both our species. In rare cases, humans are born with regressive traits such as tails and grasping hand-like feet.

In 1977 a researcher discovered human sperm could penetrate the simian egg’s protective membrane – designed to keep out foreign bodies.

In 1920, a Russian scientist fell out of favour with the Soviet government before he successfully fertilised female chimpanzees with human sperm. In 1967 a similar experiment was abandoned in China after successful fertilisation. In 1980 it was rumoured the experiments would resume.

Now we know it is possible, all that remains is to ask… Why?

Why would we want to do it?

Humanzees, as genetic products, would have no human or animal rights. Forget advanced robotics with billion dollar budgets and artificial intelligence. If hybrids were created, they would be the true robots – from the Slavic word Robotnik meaning slave.

In slave-owning societies throughout history, slaves were worked to death, or abandoned when no longer useful, physically and sexually abused, and even murdered with impunity by their owners.

Oliver, the human-like chimp was owned all his life. Owned & sold on. From 1989 to 1998, he was kept in a tiny cage by a laboratory leasing animals for scientific testing. He ended up crippled with arthritis from his confinement and almost blind. There was evidence of neglect and physical abuse. He died at half his expected lifespan.

Don’t you feel proud to be human?

©Paul Andruss 2017

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul Andruss is the author of 2 contrasting fantasy novels

Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen.

Thomas the Rhymer

Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

Finn Mac Cool

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page:

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory:

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. Thanks Sally