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How they tried (and failed) to make ‘La Marseillaise’ nicer

Plus: Cynthia Payne’s demographic; how armed are British police?; and double-decker trains

21 November 2015

9:00 AM

21 November 2015

9:00 AM

Friendly words

England football fans sang ‘La Marseillaise’ in a friendly match at Wembley. The anthem has not always been so popular. In 1992 a Committee for a Marseillaise of Fraternity was founded to campaign for a change to the words, written as a war hymn by an army captain while French troops were besieged by Prussians at Strasbourg 200 years earlier. The campaign failed, despite the support of Danielle Mitterrand, wife of the then president. The suggested new lyrics began:

Arise you children of the Motherland
Let’s sing together for Liberty
Liberty, oh dearest liberty
Your bloody ramparts have fallen

The brothel demographic


Cynthia Payne, who was jailed for keeping a brothel where elderly men paid for sex with luncheon vouchers, died. There aren’t many statistics on which age group uses prostitutes the most in Britain, but the US General Social Survey does have data on the ratio of men who report paying for sex to the number expected if paying for sex was practised equally among age groups.

Age group Ratio
18-24 0.42
25-34 1.85
35-44 0.78
45-54 1.15
55-64 0.82
65+ 0.32

Cop guns

It has been claimed that police in Britain would have trouble responding to a major terror incident because few are armed. How armed are British police? In 2012/13:

Officers authorised to use firearms 6,091
Uses of armed response vehicles 13,116
Incidents where use of firearms was authorised 10,996
Incidents where firearms were used 3

Room at the top

A Swiss architect is developing a design for double-decker trains on behalf of the Rail Safety and Standards Board. Double-decker trains have never taken off here because British railways have a small ‘loading gauge’. Four-coach double-decker trains were used by British Rail on the Charing Cross to Dartford line in 1949, however. Two coupled together could seat 1,104 passengers, compared with 688 for modern trains. But station managers said it took too long to get passengers on and off, and passengers complained of cramped conditions and lack of ventilation, with one saying they had been ‘kippered’ in an upstairs smoking compartment.


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