The Spectator

Barometer | 1 October 2011

Up in smoke

A coroner in Galway has passed a verdict of spontaneous human combustion on a 76-year-old pensioner whose body was found burned in a house otherwise largely undamaged by fire.
Not everyone will be convinced, however — any more than they were in 1763, when Jonas Dupont published De Incendis Corporis Humani Spontaneis, an account of numerous deaths attributed to the phenomenon. Among them was that of Nicole Millet, the wife of a Rheims innkeeper who was found burned to death in 1725. Her husband was charged with burning her body, but was saved by the testimony of a young surgeon, Nicholas le Cat, who convinced the court that Nicole had spontaneously combusted.
One who was convinced — to some ridicule by literary critics — was Charles Dickens, who had a character in Bleak House succumb to the phenomenon.

Duty calls

A bar in Warrington has been criticised for a ‘two-bob Tuesday’ promotion offering beers for 20 pence and spirits for ten pence. It can’t be making a profit…

Bottle of wine Excise rates across the EU in pounds Pint of beer
£5.50 UK 38p
0p Germany 4p
2p France 5p
1p Italy 12p
£1.23 Sweden 31p

Cost of commitment

Political conferences don’t necessarily encourage people to join the parties, but which has the cheapest annual membership fee if you do want to take the plunge?
— Lib Dems: £12
— UKIP: £20
— Conservatives: £25
— BNP: £30
— Green Party: £31.20
— Labour: £41

The last slops

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