May 0003



Lunch At The Zoo, Making Tea Under Pressure, Your Feedback On Jings, The Marvin Gunk Newsletter!


The Royal Zoological Society is based in Regent’s Park Zoo in London. They have a restaurant, which is open to the public, although not many visitors to the zoo go in. This is a shame, because much of the food on the menu is simply unobtainable anywhere else. I went there recently, and had:

Starters: Hummingbirds in Tempura with sweet chili sauce. This was exquisite, and I never knew till then how many hummingbirds it takes to make a mouthful!

Main Course: Roast Bengal Tiger with parsnips and potatoes. The tiger gravy alone was worth the visit!

Dessert: Cheese made from the milk of marmosets and other small mammals. These must be the world’s tiniest cheeses, each being about the size of a pill, but you get a lot of them. Personally, I liked the bat’s milk cheese most of all, although I think the chef cheated a little here. The milk came from fruit bats, and fruit bats are really medium rather than small mammals.

I was also very tempted by the fish, which was actual coelacanth in aspic.

Apparently, the London Zoo finds the restaurant very useful. Like most big zoos, in recent years it has developed a hugely successful breeding programme. This means it has far too many young animals being born, and it cannot send them to other zoos as they have their own breeding programmes, which are also highly successful. Thus the zoo has far too many animals, and is unable to get rid of them. To solve this problem, the Head Keeper and the Chef have a weekly meeting, in which they go through the zoo section by section, selecting animals for the kitchen. If you go next week you’ll have a rare opportunity. There will be stuffed condor! These birds don’t produce many eggs, so this really will be a treat.

If you live outside the UK, you don’t need to worry. Most big zoos (to my certain knowledge this includes the ones in Paris, Berlin and Tokyo) do something similar, but, like London, do not publicize it.



You probably know that mountaineers in places like Mt. Everest have problems making cups of tea, because the low air pressure means that the water boils at such a low temperature that little flavour is extracted from the tea.

Some people, however, have a different problem. The world’s deepest coal mine is No. 17 pit, in Yakutia, Russia. The lower levels of it are 6 km. below sea level. Here, the water needs to be heated to such a high temperature that the tea leaves instantly carbonize when it is poured on them. There’s an easy solution though. The miners bring their tea ready made, and re-heat it to a comfortable temperature once underground.



Dear Sirs,

You do have a way of finding fascinating and important stories from the past that are all too forgotten nowadays. I was so pleased to see your article about “Jings”, the Daily Express astrologer. You have only scratched the surface of this fascinating phenomenon.

One place where I must correct you is this: Jings was actually one individual. He was called Arthur Pemberton, and he lived in Kingston, then a little village in the county of Surrey, to the south west of London. In 1816, at the age of 42, he was discovered by Beaverbrook

(The grandfather of the famous Lord Beaverbrook who did so much to popularize the Express) telling fortunes in Covent Garden. Beaverbrook had never seen a fortune teller in the flesh before, and immediately appointed him to write for his paper. He was in fact the first astrologer to be employed by a Fleet St. newspaper.

How, you may ask, did a 42 year old begin a career that lasted exactly 130 years? The answer is that he passed to another plane in 1843, and thereafter relayed his predictions through Madam Venetia O’Hara, a medium employed by the Express for the purpose. His pay was placed in a deposit account at Lloyd’s Bank where it lies untouched to this day, having accumulated an enormous amount of interest. Why did he cease writing in 1946? Because the younger Beaverbrook thought it would be fun to sack someone of the 130

th anniversary of his first employment. For many years afterwards, fortune tellers in the Clapham area of London claimed to be speaking for him. At one time there were 12 different voices of Jings within 100 yards of each other along Clapham Broadway.

Nellis Prentice, Cheam.

Thanks Nellis. I think you’re right. We’ve only scratched the surface here. Does anyone else know anything about Jings, real name Arthur Pemberton?


Ropkind, I didn’t know anyone else remembered Jings! My mother took me to see one of him just off Clapham Broadway in 1948, when I was 7. I remember he, or maybe it was she as it was a female medium, God she was fat, and she had this really thick smelling flowery perfume, said I’d get sciatica. He or she was wrong, so it could really have been Jings. However, I did get sleeping sickness when I was a nurse in West Africa, so maybe he wasn’t that far out. Who can tell?

Mary Purvis, Blubberhouses.

Who indeed? Ray Allen has something to add.


First, I’d better say that I’m a bit like Ted Nugent. I’m not the famous Ray Allen, but a different one. I did send Ted a few e-mails, as he requested, and he really does know his rat catching!

Anyway, back to the point. I’m a medium too, and I’m channeling for “Sprog,” real name Evan Price, who was the astrologer for the Daily Mail, another British newspaper, at the same time. Price adopted this pseudonym because, as a Welshman, he had no hope of employment under his own name in the Fleet Street of the time. As it happened, Sprog and Jings were great rivals, and hated each other. Their enmity, apparently, continues to this day in Elysium, and Price has told me that he would like to draw your readers’ attention to a few more of Jings’ mistakes. When Edward V111 married Wallis Simpson he declared this was “the most politically astute union of all time, one certain to bring about the early unity of the British Empire and the United States under one crown”. A little later, he predicted the end of the world for February 16

th 1932. If that happened, I can’t say I noticed.

Ray Allen, Gloucester.


I was brought up on Jings, and I think it’s a shame you don’t let him speak up for himself. I’m sure I can remember him being right about something, although I’ve forgotten what it was.

Mavis Trench, Utoxeter.



Wonderful World has appointed a new columnist. A big hand, please, for ***Marvin Gunk***

Hi all! It’s the Gunkster here!

First off, a big thank you to Dr. Scharf for allowing me to put my newsletter up on his site! I’m sure we’re all going to make a really great team together!

Second, ANOTHER big thank you to Dr. Scharf for letting me design my own logo. I can tell you it took hours and hours of work, but I bet you’re impressed!

Third, the BIGGEST round of applause to you, the reader. I’m sure we’re going to have loads of fun together!

If you’ve got any messages for me, just send them to the regular e-mail address for Dr. Scharf, and mark them attention M. Gunk. Ms. Pimbleman’ll make sure they get to me.

NEXT: What’s the MARVIN GUNK NEWSLETTER going to be all about? Just this: It’s going to bring you all the hot news from the University of Alabama at Hicksville, that’s what! And if that isn’t the centre of the universe, I don’t know what is!

SO, what’s the big news then? The biggest story’s got to be that I’ve been unrusticated! Yup that’s right! THE

GUNKSTER IS BACK! In college, that is. The Dean said all the trouble seemed to be dying down, so he didn’t see why I couldn’t come back, as long as I mowed his lawn for him every Saturday. Seemed like a pretty good deal to me. Of course, I didn’t know what a big lawn it was, but the Gunkster never complains! Also, you don’t have to write to me care of Joe’s Diner any more.

Second, I’m not into witchcraft any more! No siree! That path leads straight to old Satan himself. No Sir! I’ve become a BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN, and what’s more, I’m on the road to glory! The first thing I’m going to do, as soon as I’ve done the Dean’s shopping for him, is that I’m going to convert that Agnes Schwarz. Boy, she needs it! Remember her? Back in the days when I was the leader of the Wiccan Student Society, she was my number two, and then she led a bunch of her pals into temptation, and split from us! And she stole our pentangle, not that I want it back now. No more orgies for me means no more orgies for you Agnes! That’s the way it’s gotta be! So the first thing I’m gonna do, as soon as I’ve converted her to the paths of righteousness is I’m going to fill you in on what happened, dear reader.

Third: Here’s two books you mustn’t ever, ever read.

The first one. It’s called “Confessions of a Justified Sinner”, and it says it was written by someone called James Hogg, but I reckon the truth is Satan himself wrote it! Pastor Wrigley (he’s our chaplain and my number one man. I can promise you you’re going to hear a lot more about him!) says it presents a completely false picture of fundamentalist Christianity! So if you’ve got a copy of that lying around on your shelves, burn it now before you get tempted to read it and burn in eternal agony yourself!

The next one. Whatever you do, don’t read “Elmer Gantry”. It says it was written by Sinclair Lewis, but that’s just a pen name for the Evil One himself. They don’t call him the Prince of Lies for Nothing! Pastor Wrigley says it’s just an unspeakable slander, and you don’t want one of them lying around on your shelves now do you?

I’m off to walk the Dean’s dogs, so stand by for another MARVIN GUNK NEWSLETTER! SOON!

Marvin Gunk.

Wow! What a start Marvin! I can’t believe this is the first time you’ve ever written anything for publication.

If you liked his newsletter, why don’t you send him an e-mail to say how much you enjoyed it?