Folklore Thursday: Taman Shud / The Somerton Man

It’s Folklore Thursday again and time for another of my favourite mysteries. Last week I posted about The Voynich Manuscript and we decided in the comments that it’s probably a book of Vogon poetry. Don’t ever, ever let a Vogon read you poetry. Folklore Thursday: The Voynich Manuscript

Today’s mystery is sadder and, in many ways, even more compelling.

It started in 1948, when a man was found dead on Somerton Beach in Australia. He was unremarkable in appearance and around 45-years-old. He carried no ID and had apparently gone to some lengths to ensure he couldn’t be IDed: all the labels were removed from his clothes and he didn’t have a wallet on him.

What he did have on him was a page torn out of the Rubaiyat – a collection of poetry by the 12th century poet Omar Khayyam. The page contained only two words–the end of the last poem in the book–Tamam Shud, Persian words meaning ‘ended’. [N.B. The misspelling in my title is intentional. While the case was fresh the phrase was reported incorrectly as ‘Taman Shud’ so many times that it’s stuck.]


A photograph of the scrap of paper

An autopsy was inconclusive. The Somerton Man’s dental records could not be matched to any known person. The pathologist suggested the cause of death had been poison.

An undetectable poison.

Already bizarre, right?

Then the coded message was found.

Continue reading

Folklore Thursday: The Voynich Manuscript

I love #FolkloreThursday on Twitter because I love folklore and myth.

But most of all, I love mysteries. On the assumption that some of you might, I’m going to share one of my favourite mysteries each Thursday.

…when I’m not sharing dinosaur/helicopter erotica or whinging about my cats.

Today’s post features the Voynich Manuscript.


The Voynich manuscript is named after the Polish book lover who purchased it in auction in the early 20th century, but it was written in the early 15th, as proved by carbon dating.

So what’s the big mystery?

Nobody knows what the hell it is because we can’t decipher the code it’s written in.

Continue reading

There Are No Absolutes In Writing #3

Part 3 of a series in which I explain why absolute advice given to writers is more wrong than this:


Image via Reddit

Part 1 focused on the advice “you must write every single day” and can be found here: No Absolutes in Writing #1

Part 2 focused on the mandate “you are either a planner or pantster” and can be round here: There Are No Absolutes in Writing #2

Today’s Absolute Advice: Show, don’t tell.

I can hear the collective gasp. Writers reading this are already disagreeing with me. Do I care?

Maybe a bit because I’m just a cucumber with anxiety and I desperately want everyone to like me please like me don’t click off my blog I swear I’m going to make some good points please please please read on.

No, I don’t care! I’m a rebel.

Continue reading

Story Time: Helicopter Man Pounds Billionaire Dinosaur Ass

Now there’s a blog title I never thought I’d write.

At work I was sent a link to this book:

Helicopter ass

Pro-tip: Should you ever need to find this book again, you can save yourself precious typing time and search for “helicopter ass” instead of the full title. Funnily enough, this is the top result for books featuring helicopters and asses.

Naturally, when my colleagues saw it on my screen they all wanted to read it. We agreed to have Story Time at 3pm three days a week (one of us is part time) and enjoy Mr Tingle’s book.

Continue reading

No Absolutes in Writing #1

There is which is a great website and definitely exists.

I’ve been troubled recently by how many people I see giving absolute advice* to aspiring, struggling, or neurotic writers (these are not mutually exclusive, as you’ll know if you’ve ever met a writer).

*I’m not entirely sure if advice can be described as absolute. Although absolute is one of those adjective thingies, right? I’m not so good with… what you call ’em… you know, those things… WORDS! That’s it, words. Thank god I don’t need them for my livelihood! 

It’s not only plain stupid to give absolute advice when there is no single right way to write. It’s also damaging and demotivating.

In this series I’ll go over some of the most common absolute advice I see and why it’s MORE WRONG THAN THIS:

socks and sandals.PNG

Continue reading