Thursday, 10 April 2014

Podcast Extra (3)

I have written previously about my Apple iPod that I use as a relaxation through entertainment mainly at bedtime or occasionally when I am out walking the dogs. I have found myself chuckling away at a comedy program only to get a few strange looks from people walking the towpath. Now I wear a pair of bright pink ear buds which make it more obvious that I am listening to something and that I have not lost the plot. I find that the iPod is ideal in such situations because of its small size. 

For a bit more background on the ever growing world of podcasts you can read my original posting on Podcasts and Podcasting. Click Here.

So what have I been listening to recently in the digital world of podcasting. 

The latest in the list of Podcasts to be downloaded onto the iPod is 'Damn Interesting.' Its hard to say what the content is going to be. It could be a short story. It could be an excerpt from a book. It could have an historical flavour or it could be factual. Out of the current batch of Podcasts (free for download on iTunes) I enjoyed listening to 'The supernatural bunny mother of Surrey.'

England during the reign of King George I was full of oddities, shams, and charlatans. King George himself was a bit of an oddity, never bothering to learn English and keeping his wife imprisoned for 32 years. But for sheer strangeness, nothing surpassed the infamous case of Mary Toft of Godalming and her rabbit babies.

In September, 1726 Mary Toft began to give birth to rabbits. The local surgeon, John Howard, responded to her family's summons and hurried to Mary's house where, to his amazement, he helped her deliver nine of the animals. They were all born dead, and they were actually rabbit parts rather than whole rabbits. Nevertheless, this didn't lessen the amazing fact that she was giving birth to them. Mary explained that she had recently miscarried, but that during the pregnancy she had intensely craved rabbit meat. After unsuccessfully attempting to chase down several rabbits, she had dreamt that there were rabbits in her lap. The next thing she knew, she was giving birth to rabbits.

In the presence of the doctors, Mary continued to give birth to even more rabbits. The men performed tests to verify the reality of the phenomenon. For instance, they placed a piece of the lung of one of the rabbits in water and noted that it floated. This meant that the rabbit must have breathed air before its death, which could not have happened inside a womb. 

Amazingly, the doctors decided that Mary really was giving birth to the rabbits. On November 29th Mary was brought to London. By now her case had become a national sensation, and huge crowds surrounded the house where she was kept. But when kept under constant supervision, Mary stopped giving birth to rabbits, and her case quickly began to unravel. Witnesses came forward who claimed that they had supplied Mary's husband with rabbits. Then, when a famous London physician, Sir Richard Manningham, threatened that he might have to surgically examine Mary's uterus in the name of science, she wisely decided to confess.

She explained that she had simply inserted the dead rabbits inside her womb when no one was looking, motivated by a desire for fame and the hope of receiving a pension from the King. She was briefly imprisoned for fraud, but was released without trial. It is said that she managed to give birth to a normal, human child less than a year later. John Howard and Nathanael St. Andre, the two surgeons who had most passionately believed and defended her, fared less well. Their medical careers were both ruined.

Who knows maybe you might be able in the future to listen to a podcast with the soft dulcet tones of a dyed in the wool Yorkshire cynic. Who might just wax lyrical about all things of good, bad and indifferent aspects that he comes across as he makes his way along the canal.

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