This is a book about those who tried hard, but came up short. And who knows...some of them might even have existed!
The Dregs of History
Was Quivering Edward the inventor of the first Weapon of Mass Destruction?
What role did Annie Johnson (the Rat Whisperer), allegedly play in the Great Fire of London?
Did Faultless Rufus write the greatest travel sonnet ever, or was Queen Elizabeth I quite justified in putting his head on a pole outside the Tower of London?
Was God really out to get Buckley 'Nine-Lives' Cartwright, or was he just always in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Fulton Farnsworth Fletcher - scandalously overlooked urban poet, or deserved speck of manure about to be crushed by the left boot of history?
The Dregs of History will answer these questions for you, and many more. There are 55 character contained in here (more can be found at www.dregsofhstory.blogspot.com), all of whom conrtibuted absolutely nothing to the pages of history. Decide for yourselves whether they deserve recognition.
The book is also available as an ebook.
Lawrence of Algiers
(1802 – 1880)
Lawrence Cameron lived in Algiers for a great deal of his rather lengthy life. Born in Aberdeen, he became a very unsuccessful and unhappy businessman as he tried for years to make his living running tours around the town. He joined the French Foreign Legion in 1835, when his tax debts (and personal borrowings for a proposed tea importing business) became such that his health was threatened. Life would surely be better, and longer, elsewhere.
For his first action for the Legion, he was sent to Spain. Being a quick learner, he soon became a commander of men, most of whom he saved from death at one time or another. They respected his quick thinking and ability to survive in the most hostile of conditions. When the Legion was dissolved in 1838 he was at a loss about what to do; he spent his time in Algiers, bumming around and trying to not to get into too much debt. As soon as he heard the Foreign Legion had been re-formed, he joined once again, staying in the Legion until 1860, when he retired.
His expertise in desert survival was much sought-after, and he found himself earning a living by teaching specialist desert skills to promising soldiers. He became quite a celebrity among the legionnaires, but he always kept his head and, it was rumoured, the head of one of his previous enemies. Spending so long in the desert had made him quite eccentric, and he was heard to remark that it gave him someone to talk to, and that two heads were always better than one. He struggled to find people willing to come to dinner parties.
His students and employers were always amazed by his calmness in adversity and his relaxed attitude; however, Lawrence refused to divulge his survival secrets to anybody but his individual students, all of whom were sworn to secrecy. It was only his last trainee, Henri Napoleon deVere, who was able to write down some of his key points and shed light on his calm manner.
At the age of seventy-eight, Lawrence took deVere out for a crash course in survival in the Ahaggar Mountains in the south of Algeria. After some three days of living off the land, Lawrence was becoming increasingly confused and said, ‘Bugger it, I think I’m lost, son!’
They found a cave and his last words to deVere were, ‘Right, this will do sunshine. Did you bring the hash pipe? We’re lost, and I can’t quite remember who I am. Who are you? Perhaps I’ve had a bit too much sun. Oh yeah…and don’t sit on one of these scorpions like I have, they’re pretty deadly…did you hear wha…’
DeVere took his notes and then spent three days finding his way out of the desert, finally crawling into the path of a group of fellow legionnaires. It was an experience he said he would never forget. He went off to live by the sea in Biarritz, never again going to the desert. At times, he found the sandy beach too much of a reminder and stayed indoors for weeks. He did, however, pass on Lawrence’s notes.
Lawrence’s gems of wisdom for the aspiring desert operative were somewhat coloured by his life experience, but included:
•Life is like a sandstorm; if you’re not paying attention it will creep up on you, disorientate you, scour and shred you, and suffocate you. So watch out for sandstorms, and always have some whisky and hash pipe to hand.
•You should see the desert as your friend. It hides you from your enemies and provides sanctuary and peace of mind. And by the way, it looks even better after a good go on the hash pipe.
•There is always tomorrow, so find a shady tree and wait for it…and make sure you have your hash pipe and whisky with you.
•If you find yourself lost in the desert, out of water, completely alone, and without a hat, you’re probably buggered. At least you can enjoy the coming thirst-driven delusion and delirium before you die. If you still have your hash pipe, I suggest you use it.
•The shifting sands of the desert will always hide your tracks. So always take a compass you idiot! Have I mentioned the whisky and the hash pipe?