On 5th May, 2020, Boris Johnson said “I think that the right Hon. and learned Gentleman was right last week when he paid tribute to the amazing work of the NHS, the logistics team and everybody involved in getting up from 2,000 tests a day in March to 120,000 by the end of April.” This sounds like 120,000 tests a day were carried out but, in fact, refers to testing capacity. Only 81,978 tests were actually carried out.
On 13th April, 2020, a Government graph was titled “UK fatalities lower than France“. In the previous 30 days, 14,967 people had died in France whereas “only” 11,329 had died in the U.K. However, the U.K. figures were for hospitalised deaths only, whereas the French figures comprised 9,588 hospitalised deaths. The remaining 5,379 people had not been in a hospital when they died. The figures are not comparable.
On 4th March, 2020, Boris Johnson said “There will be free hospital car parking for everybody who attends a hospital.” If the only people attending hospital are staff working night shifts or outpatients who frequently attend hospital, then the statement is true. Otherwise, it’s false.
On 25th February, 2020, Matt Hancock said “Life expectancy is rising”. Less than a year previously, The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, which calculates life expectancy on behalf of the UK pensions industry, cut forecast life expectancy by five months.
The fable of Hansel and Gretel was made famous by The Brothers Grimm. A great famine sweeps the land. A poor woodcutter can no longer afford to feed his family. One night, his new wife persuades him that they must take his children into the forest and abandon them. Deep into the woods, the man builds a fire to keep his children warm. He ties a branch to a tree trunk in such a way that the wind will cause it to keep knocking against the tree. When Hansel and Gretel hear the sound, they believe that their father is still nearby but, in truth, he has left them. However, before they had set off, the children had overheard the plan and so Hansel had left a trail of pebbles which allowed them to find their way home. The next morning, their stepmother forces them to go back into the woods. This time, Hansel leaves a trail of breadcrumbs. However, birds eat the bread and the children are lost. Eventually, they come across a house made of gingerbread. Suddenly an old woman appears and invites them inside. She locks Hansel in a cage and forces Hansel to work for her. She intends to fatten Hansel up so that she can eat him. One day, Gretel is able to shove the witch into an oven and the children escape the house. A magical duck helps them across a river and they find their way back home where they find that their stepmother has died. Their father is overcome with joy and they all live happily ever after.
Georg Ossegg grew up in the 1920’s near the border between Germany and Czechoslovakia. His grandparents owned a rare edition of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, published in 1818. It was beautifully illustrated with intricate drawings. When Georg Ossegg became a teacher, he started work in Aschaffenburg, near Frankfurt. In 1962, walking through the woods near his house, he met a farmer, who told him that he was walking in an area known locally as “the witches forest”. He realised that the view of the forest from the footpath was exactly the same as one of the illustrations in his grandparents’ book. Although the trees were bigger, their configuration, and the view of the hills in the distance, were identical. He decided to explore further and came across an Autobahn. However, researching the records, he found that in 1954, compensation was paid by the Government to the owner of a cottage which exactly matched the description of the woodcutter’s cottage. Georg Ossegg walked into the forest, looking for a clearing where a fire might have been set. When he found one, he spent two days inspecting every tree around the clearing until he found an old oak tree with a wound in the trunk where a cord had been tied around it. He had the cord carbon dated and found that it came from the 1640’s. He saw that a river ran nearby and guessed that this was the body of water near the gingerbread house. Crossing the river, walking deep into the forest, he saw old footprints leading to a ruined house which exactly matched another illustration from his grandparents’ book. Digging into the foundations of the house, he found a skeleton which experts later determined were of a 35 year old woman who had been strangled. He also found an old iron chest which contained a handwritten recipe for gingerbread. Further research led him to discover reports from 1647 of a trial of a baker called Katharina Schraderin who had spurned offers of marriage from another baker called Hans Metzler. She had been accused of witchcraft and Georg Ossegg found details of another trial soon afterwards in which Hans Metzler and his sister Grete were accused of murder. It appeared that Hans and Grete had gone to Katharina Schraderin and murdered her in an attempt to get her recipe for gingerbread which remained hidden in the iron chest. Georg Ossegg had discovered the truth about Hansel and Gretel – they were murderers and the wicked witch was a victim.
Hans Traxler’s book called “Die Wahrheit über Hänsel und Gretel” (“The Truth About Hansel And Gretel”), which described the detective work of Georg Ossegg, caused a sensation. Readers flocked to the woods. Schools arranged visits to the area; one trip from Denmark necessitated a ten hour journey.
In 1968, Blue Acorn released a single called “Hansel And Gretel” which contained the fantastic lines “Hansel and Gretel sauntered to the house/Gingerbread determined he was looking for a spouse” Unsurprisingly, the single failed to sell despite the ornate production by Simon Napier-Bell. The resulting album is a brilliant evocation of Swinging Sixties London. Phil Sawyer’s guitar playing explodes over every track. He had left his trademark sound all over songs by Fleur de Lys such as “Circles” and “Hold On”. He was briefly a member of The Spencer Davis Group before joining Blue Acorn.
Drummer Denny Seiwell had been spotted by Paul McCartney during The Beatles 1966 tour, when his band, The Remains, opened the shows. He was invited over to England to form a band with Joey Molland on the newly formed Apple. Although the sessions with the future Badfinger guitarist didn’t result in any recordings, Denny Siewell joined Blue Acorn and later became Wings’ first drummer. His ten minute drum solo, “Drummy Denny”, the last song on Side One of “Blue Acorn”, is the only tedious moment on the album.
Tony Hazzard was the songwriter and bass player with Blue Acorn. His portfolio of hits includes “Ha Ha Said The Clown” and “Fox On The Run” by Manfred Mann, “Hello World” by The Tremeloes and “Goodnight Sweet Jospehine” by The Yardbirds. He had briefly joined Manfred Mann for a month in 1967 when Klaus Voorman joined The Beatles for the filming of “Magical Mystery Tour”. He was in Manfred Mann when they appeared on “Beat Club”.
The Only Truth Is Music