Dylan Thomas’ 1954 play Under Milk Wood is set in the town of Llareggub.

Is that a real Welsh village? Or is it a stand-in for Laugharne, where Thomas lived in the 1930s?

Neither — read it backward.

“Instance of Extraordinary Affection in a Badger”

The following circumstance is related in a letter to a friend from Chateau de Venours:–

‘Two persons were on a short journey, and passing through a hollow way, a dog which was with them started a badger, which he attacked, and pursued, till he look shelter in a burrow under a tree. With some pains they hunted him out, and killed him. … Not having a rope, they twisted some twigs, and drew him along the road by turns. They had not proceeded far, when they heard a cry of an animal in seeming distress, and stopping to see from whence it proceeded, another badger approached them slowly. They at first threw stones at it, notwithstanding which it drew near, came up to the dead animal, began to lick it, and continued its mournful cry. The men, surprised at this, desisted from offering any further injury to it, and again drew the dead one along as before; when the living badger, determining not to quit its dead companion, lay down on it, taking it gently by one ear, and in that manner was drawn into the midst of the village; nor could dogs, boys, or men induce it to quit its situation by any means, and to their shame be it said, they had the inhumanity to kill it, and afterwards to burn it, declaring it could be no other than a witch.’

— Pierce Egan, Sporting Anecdotes, Original and Selected, 1822

See also “Monkeys Demanding Their Dead.”

Strange Eyes

G.K. Chesterton used the term moor eeffocish to describe the queerness sometimes glimpsed in familiar things. He borrowed the phrase from Charles Dickens, who as an unhappy child would sometimes sit in a coffee shop in St. Martin’s Lane:

In the door there was an oval glass plate with ‘COFFEE ROOM’ painted on it, addressed towards the street. If I ever find myself in a very different kind of coffee-room now, but where there is such an inscription on glass, and read it backwards on the wrong side, MOOR EEFFOC (as I often used to do then in a dismal reverie), a shock goes through my blood.

J.R.R. Tolkien later wrote: “The word Mooreeffoc may cause you to realise that England is an utterly alien land, lost either in some remote past age glimpsed by history, or in some strange dim future reached only by a time-machine; to see the amazing oddity and interest of its inhabitants and their customs and feeding-habits.”

It Ain’t Over Yet

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Below the king’s chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza there’s a smaller room whose purpose is unknown. A narrow shaft ascends to the south from that chamber. It’s only 8 inches wide, too narrow for a human to climb, but in 1992 a German robot crawled 65 meters up the incline and discovered a stone door with copper handles. In 2003 a second robot drilled a hole through that door and discovered a second door behind it.

“It looks to me like it is sealing something,” said Zahi Hawass, head of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. “It seems that something important is hidden there.”

What is it? Who knows?

Out With a Bang

Married: Moses Alexander, aged 93, to Mrs. Frances Tompkins, aged 105. They were married in Bath, Steuben county, N. Y., June 11, 1831. They were both taken out of bed dead the following morning.

The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, 1938