Punch and Judy might be puppets, but they have to eat, too. Wouldn’t you agree? Puppets can work up an appetite knocking each other on the head pretty much nonstop for a few centuries.
You might well be familiar with Punch and Judy. After all, they’ve been “hurling abuse on Britain’s seasides for nearly 400 years,” as The Times of London put it. But now their audiences have started refusing to pay the customary donation (a modest $2.75) and, even more shocking, are expressing indignation at the very idea.
Plus, they’re using offensive language to do it—including some words not even Punch and Judy would use. As one of the puppeteers noted, “It’s not O.K. to be swearing around kids.”
Even worse, with only three full-time Punch and Judy operations still going in England, their very survival is at stake. They need those tips, which are certainly affordable based on a typical adult’s weekly allowance.
Still, on “one occasion a family of eight set up camp in front of our show and afterwards refused to pay,” puppeteer Joe Burns told The Times. And the abuse from the audience “definitely feels more pronounced this year,” Burns added. “You start to think, What’s the point in carrying on?”
That’s sad to contemplate. As we mentioned, Punch and Judy shows have been around a long time: their roots are in Italy’s 16th-century commedia dell’arte. And it wasn’t long before the tradition made it to England. Do you remember the diarist Samuel Pepys’s entry of Friday, May 9, 1662? No? Well, essentially, after a certain amount of Thence-to-Mr.-de-Cretz-ing and Thence-with-Mr.-Salisbury-ing, Pepys wrote, “Thence to see an Italian puppet play [in Covent Garden] … which is very pretty, the best that ever I saw.”
Yes: that was Punch and Judy. The best that ever he saw. And notice that Pepys didn’t complain about having to contribute—conspicuously absent from that May 9 entry is the sentence “Methought the donationne mightily steepe.”
So, if you find yourself at a Punch and Judy show, don’t follow the puppets’ example: instead, be nice. And tell your parents to be as well. —George Kalogerakis
Next year, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her Platinum Jubilee. That’s a fancy way of saying it will be the 70th anniversary of her ascension to the throne, which occurred upon the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952. She was 25. She’s 95 now—the oldest- and longest-serving monarch in British history.
(AIR MAIL Pilot fun fact: Queen Elizabeth is old enough that she could have babysat Joe Biden, at least in theory.)
Among the Queen’s subjects is Edward Roberts, a college student from Southwell, Nottinghamshire. Edward was negative-50 years old in 1952. That’s a roundabout way of saying he’s 19 now. What’s his connection to Her Majesty? He won a contest to design the Platinum Jubilee logo, which will end up on millions of flags, mugs, souvenir plates, and who knows what else.
The contest, run by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in conjunction with Buckingham Palace, was open to British students and young people aged 13 to 25. Edward’s clever design features a crown rendered with a single continuous line, sort of like an old-fashioned neon sign. It’s meant to symbolize the continuity of Elizabeth’s reign.
The idea came to Edward in a “eureka moment,” he told The Times of London. He added a squiggly seven next to a circle on the top of the crown to represent the number 70, and voila: the realm had a winner!
“I couldn’t believe I’d won it really,” Edward told The Times. “I thought I had achieved something by getting to the top 100 so to even win it—I was over the moon.” A graphic and communication design student at the University of Leeds, Edward will be invited to the Jubilee celebrations next June, a four-day national holiday that will include a big parade, a concert full of major pop stars (line-up to be announced), and, the royal family being the royal family, a day of horse-racing and weird hats.
As you’d expect, the Queen is a seasoned pro when it comes to jubilees. She has previously celebrated her Silver Jubilee (25 years on the throne), Ruby Jubilee (40 years), Golden Jubilee (50 years), Diamond Jubilee (60 years), and Sapphire Jubilee (65 years). When and if her 72-year-old son and heir, Prince Charles, becomes king, he will need to begin celebrating jubilees right off the bat if he wants to catch up.
Any British readers of AIR MAIL Pilot out there? Some day you may well win a contest to design the logo for King Charles’s Leather Jubilee (three years) or Wood Jubilee (five years). Good luck! —Bruce Handy
Forget Ice Age: a real-life Paleolithic-era lion cub that is so well-preserved you can still see her whiskers has been found in the Siberian Arctic. At 28,000 years old, “it is likely the best preserved Ice Age specimen ever found,” professor Love Dalén, a member of the research team at Stockholm University’s Center for Palaeogenetics Research, told CBS News.
So well-kept is the cub that her teeth, skin, soft tissue, and organs are all perfectly mummified. “Finding intact frozen specimens like this is important. It lets us discover new things about extinct species, such as the color of their fur,” says Dalén. “These frozen animals often have excellent DNA preservation, letting us investigate the genomes of extinct animals.”
The Siberian lion was one of two baby cave lions—a breed of now extinct big cats that used to roam the Northern Hemisphere—found in 2017 and 2018, respectively, on the banks of the Semyuelyakh River in Siberia.
Up until now, it was thought that the two cubs were siblings, owing to the fact that they were found just 50 feet apart, but new radiocarbon dating recently confirmed that the second cub is actually a staggering 15,000 years older.
And that’s not all.
Originally, the second cub was thought to be male, and for the past few years researchers had been calling it Spartak, a nod to the Russian soccer club Spartak Moscow. But further lab tests have revealed that cub No. 2 is most likely a girl. Her new name? Sparta.
The two cubs were probably no older than one or two months when they died, and it’s not clear what killed them, as there are no signs of harm from a predator. “Given their preservation, they must have been buried very quickly. So maybe they died in a mudslide, or fell into a crack in the permafrost,” Dalén said. “Permafrost forms large cracks due to seasonal thawing and freezing.”
During their lifetime, Siberia wasn’t the barren place it is today. Mammoths, tundra wolves, bears, woolly rhinoceroses, bison, and antelope all lived and roamed alongside the cave lions. Maybe it is a bit like Ice Age after all … —Bridget Arsenault