Words of Wisdom from Danielle and Sharon

Dame Daphne Monitor-Lizard, Hairdresser to the Intelligentsia
January 9, 2011, 7:37 pm
Filed under: Hairdressing, People, Physics

Dame Daphne Monitor-Lizard with her dog, Graham

Today is the 70th birthday of a most remarkable woman. Dame Daphne Monitor-Lizard is the youngest child of Brigadier Sir Hugh G Monitor-Lizard and his wife Leonie, She and her 4 siblings, Frances, Nicholas, Gerald and Bert were brought up in a household where intellectual achievement was highly prized. As a small child, she idolised her eldest brother, Nicholas, who went up to Oxford in 1946 to study Classics and, in later years, she would tell of her early intentions to follow in his footsteps.

However, when she started school, it became clear very quickly that her talents lay in quite different fields, Maths and Science. Her mother, who was a passionate advocate of women entering the field of science, encouraged her and for her 6th birthday she bought her a chemistry set. She later fondly recalled her daughter’s early experiments in an interview in 1963 and recounted how Daphne made a shampoo that cleared up her father’s chronic dandruff within a few washes. Unfortunately, it also made his hair fall out.

She continued to excel in school and in 1957 was offered a place at St Winona’s College, Oxford, to read Particle Physics and Advanced Hairdressing. After a brilliant undergraduate career, during which she became the college Cluedo champion, played Tuba in the university orchestra and edited the monthly undergraduate science journal, Unscientific Monthly, she was awarded only the second double-first in the college’s history.

After graduation, she went to work with Edward Strange on his research into sub-atomic particles at the University of Hull. Unfortunately, due to an error in the calibration of his equipment, his theory that protons and neutrons were made up of yet smaller particles, which he called Littlons, could not be proved and, a year later, the existence of Quarks was proposed by Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig. This set-back did not deter Strange from his research but Daphne was disheartened as she blamed the error in calibration on herself.

She therefore decided to take a break from elementary particle physics and turned her hand to her other great love, hairdressing. She set up a salon in East Grinstead and soon had a roaring business. However, she found the conversations she had with her clients dull and uninspiring; she was not interested to hear about their holidays in Majorca, how well their children were doing at school or what their husbands thought about the government. She longed to be able to talk about the latest discoveries in physics: quarks, leptons and hadrons. After a year or so, she employed a manager to look after the salon and went to Oxford to look for a suitable premises for another, more interesting hairdressing business. She intended to cater to the highly specialist hairstyles found in Academe the world over.

A satisfied customer of The Charm Quark, Cambridge

Daphne eschewed traditional names for hairdressing salons, like The Upper Cut, Hairlucinations, Debonhair, The Mane Attraction and so on. She gave her new salon in Oxford the rather unusual name, The Charm Quark. It was an immediate success: professors who had not had a haircut in years because they had been so depressed by the small talk at traditional salons came flocking to it. They could now have their hair carefully styled to look wild and unkempt whilst discussing the intricasies of calculus or the latest discoveries in elemental particle physics. Daphne thrived in this atmosphere and so did the business and she soon set up a small chain of hairdressers in University towns across the UK.

In 1992, she was awarded the CBE for services to hairdressing. Her brothers and sister were delighted and Nicholas, her early source of inspiration, arranged a family get together to celebrate her award. He read out a speech about his “little Daph” and her achievements entirely in Ancient Greek. It is a testament to the intellectual prowess of the Monitor-Lizard family that nobody present needed a translation.

Dame Daphne has never married and has given herself entirely to her chosen career, hairdressing. The Charm Quark chain of hairdressers now has a salon in every University town in the United Kingdom and it is said in academic circles that this country boasts the best coiffed scholars in the western world.


A Crime Wave in St Darrens-on-Sea
March 2, 2009, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Crime, Gerontology, People | Tags:

Recently, Sharon and John have noticed a helicopter flying around St Darrens-on-Sea rather a lot. This has caused a great deal of speculation in and around the small seaside resort, where, as a rule, nothing ever happens. It has also caused much head scratching and pondering in John and Sharon’s humble abode. Even George the Farmer is perplexed.

The helicopter searching for elderly escapees

The helicopter searching for elderly escapees

Eventually, Sharon decided to consult her oldest and best friend, Danielle, to see if she could come up with an answer to the conundrum. Danielle, with her usual quick-wittedness, came up with the answer. There must have been a break out from Willowbank.

St Darrens-on-Sea is unique in the British Isles, as it has the only Maximum Security Retirement Facility in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Willowbank Maximum Security Rest Home houses some of the most dangerous OAPs in Western Europe .  It was opened on 23 June 2004 by Trevor Legislation, Secretary of State for Dick Cheney, and was hailed as a breakthrough in the care for the elderly.

Trevor Legislation opening Willowbank in June 2004

Trevor Legislation opening Willowbank in June 2004

A special diet has been developed by leading Scottish Criminal Gerontologist, Grampian McMurdo, and the inmates receive four square meals of tea and biscuits a day. There are plenty of activities available to the elderly residents, including bingo, stair lift racing and daytime television. There is a post office in the grounds, where the inmates can go to chat, draw their pensions and queue jump. However, it is a maximum security facility and their freedom is curtailed, so a favourite pastime at many old people’s homes, boxing, is banned.

However, despite its 10ft tall perimeter electric fence topped with barbed wire, it is evident that some resourceful and extremely criminal old ladies and gentlemen have been able to organise a number of escapes over the past few weeks.


Willowbank Maximum Security Retirement Facility

Bus queue jumping by old ladies has increased sevenfold in St Darrens and its surrounding areas and there have been numerous assaults with handbags, walking sticks and even zimmer frames reported to the police recently. There have been a number of incidents of Mobility Scooter Rage, including one where a woman of 32 was chased for three miles by a senile delinquent at 8 miles per hour.

Getaway Car outside the bank, while a robbery is in progress.

Getaway Car outside the bank, while a robbery is in progress.

So the helicopter has been looking for escapees and one by one they are being caught. The helicopter has been invaluable, as it is able to track the elderly miscreants as they go to ground in bingo halls, community centres and church halls. Police chases at 8 miles per hour are much safer with the helicopter hovering overhead and the thermal imaging can identify them by the hot water bottles secreted about their persons.

We are all very grateful for the helicopter in St Darrens-on-Sea. After all, it’s making it a safer place for us all.

Broughton Ratchet-McCabbage, the Gentleman Plasterer
August 3, 2008, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Aristocracy, People, Plastering | Tags: ,

Broughton Ratchet-McCabbage was born on the family estate at Scrimborough, Buckinghamshire, on 19 September 1963. He is the second son of Sir Lewes Ratchet-McCabbage Bart. and Lady Escalonia Ratchet-McCabbage (née Glue-Ear).

Broughton showed a great deal of promise virtually from birth. He was able to read and write long before he started school and left his public school with 11 O’Levels (all A Grades) and attained 5 A Grades at A’Level. He went on to achieve a Double First in Fine Art and Quantum Physics at St Wayne’s College, Oxford.

After University, he pursued a career in Merchant Banking for a couple of years before he had what he now calls his Road to Damascus Moment. He accidentally took the lift at work to the wrong floor and saw a plasterer at work during a refurbishment of that area of the building. He decided to give up Merchant Banking there and then and pursue a career as a plasterer.

Brougton dressed for work

Brougton dressed for work

Broughton had excelled at every activity he had attempted so far and plastering was no exception. He passed his City and Guilds in record time and was quickly taken on by a local builder. Shortly afterwards, he bought the firm, so that he could steer it in the direction he felt it was best to go. Broughton has since perfected his plastering skills to such a degree and he plasters with such consummate artistry that he can now command high fees for his work and it is not unusual for him to charge £1000 per hour for his services. There is currently a five-year waiting list for his services.

Broughton is unmarried and is generally considered to be the most eligible bachelor in England. A large number of unmarried young ladies have begged their fathers to be introduced to him at society balls and charity functions but so far he has remained immune to their charms.

Broughton studiously ignoring a gaggle of young admirers


Broughton has many hobbies. Some of those mentioned in Debretts are Scrabble (he was three times World Champion in the late 1990s), extreme ironing (he base jumped from Perrine Bridge, Twin Falls, Idaho, with his ironing board, iron and his favourite tweed jacket last year) and icing wedding cakes. Most weekends, however, Broughton likes to go for a drink at the local pub, the Tart and Plimsoll, with his colleagues. He is a generous man and usually buys all the rounds himself.

Broughton at the Tart and Plimsoll after a few

Broughton at the Tart and Plimsoll after a few

What of the future? Broughton feels that he has not exhausted all the possibilities of plastering and is contemplating studying pargetting; he would like to go over the Iguazu falls while ironing his Dinner Jacket; he will ice the cake for his sister, Forsythia’s wedding in 2011 and, of course, he intends to continue going to the pub for a drink with his friends and colleagues from work.