Fast Living

When Captain Cook visited Tonga in 1777, he gave a tortoise to the royal family as a gift. They named it Tui Malila. Tongans must be good with tortoises, because Tui lived through the French Revolution, the Louisiana Purchase, the invention of the telegraph, the American Civil War, the first telephone, the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, X-rays, the Spanish-American War, McKinley’s assassination, the first zeppelin, Einstein’s relativity, the Model T, the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, the Russian Revolution, Lindbergh’s flight, the Great Depression, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the founding of the United Nations, the breaking of the sound barrier, Gandhi’s assassination, the Korean War, the first nuclear submarine, I Love Lucy, Sputnik, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis, and Kennedy’s assassination, dying finally in 1965 at age 188.

Compare that to Timothy, pictured here, an English celebrity who led a dashing life: Found aboard a Portuguese privateer in 1854, Timothy served as a mascot on a series of Royal Navy vessels until 1892, when she retired. (“He” was discovered to be female at age 82.) She was taken in by the Earl of Devon, who etched his family motto on her underside: “Where have I fallen? What have I done?” She died in 2004 and was buried near the earl’s home, Powderham Castle, at age 160.

Moral: Live hard and you’ll die young.

A Lifetime’s Eating

“A French statistician has just ascertained that a human being of either sex who is a moderate eater and who lives to be 70 years old consumes during his life a quantity of food which would fill twenty ordinary railway baggage cars. A good eater, however, may require as many as thirty.”

Barkham Burroughs’ Encyclopaedia of Astounding Facts and Useful Information, 1889

Longest Hollywood Resume

Christopher Lee has 211 screen credits, more than any other living actor. He’s performed in English, French, Canadian, German, Russian, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, Pakistani, Spanish, Japanese, American, Australian and New Zealand productions.

If that’s not impressive enough, he’s also 6 foot 5 and a direct descendent of Charlemagne.

Ravens in the Tower

According to an ancient legend, as long as there are ravens at the Tower of London, England is safe from invasion.

Currently eight ravens are fed there at government expense: Gwylum, Thor, Hugine, Munin, Branwen, Bran, Gundulf, and Baldrick.

They clip their flight feathers. Is that cheating?