#Surprise of the Machines#Mysteries of Holborn


The future is kitsch…

Back by non-popular, non-demand, another of our Mysteries of Holborn series has somehow been allowed onto the Millman Street Community Centre blog.  So, what’s the idea this time, hmm?  More time-travel guff?  Yet again?

Erm, yes.  The Holborn Dodecahedron has time-spewed this enchanting tale from its mysterious depths:

The scenario is thus: your hopeless HCA hack is awoken; not from his kip, but from the skip in which he slumps, exhausted every evening after a hard day’s blogging/preposterousness.  What has awoken him?  Why, it is the tell-tale sound which the Holborn Dodecahedron makes before the latest cobblers tumbles out of it [if  we could afford sound effects, said noise would be instantly recognisable, but not like the Tardis noise from Dr Who, no siree, or indeed any other sci-fi sound that might infringe copyright).

Anyway, as ever, our hack is sober as a judge (if the judge is Judge Jakey, the notorious 18th Century Dundee Dipsomaniac Deemster), and as such cannot believe what he is seeing:

It appears to the horrendous hack that Ernest Borgnine, the late, great actor probably best known for his appearances in From Here To Eternity (1953) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972), and for his role as Max in the Hart To Hart TV show (1979-84) is staring into his befuddled phizzog.  How can it be?  he wonders; but it be.  Or so he thunk…

Ahem.  To cut a (quite tedious) story short (to a mediumly tedious one), “Ernist Borgnine” explained to the befuddled blogger that he was, in fact, a cybernetic organism from the future who just happened to have been given the serial reference number Cyborg-9 by his human creators.  The future folk had seen the opportunity to use a pun name, and had even fixed a likeness of the actor to Cyborg-9’s chest, which is what our hack had seen, close up, before zooming out and realising it was a machine and not the late actor after all.

Phew.  And with that, erm, convincing explanation explained, our rotting writer posed the question of all present-day people when confronted by time travellers: “What’s it like in the future, then?”

“It was moider!” Cyborg-9 replied, in a synthesized reproduction of Ernest Borgnine’s Hart To Hart’s Max catchphrase.  “Only kidding,” he quickly added in his usual cyborg-type voice familiar from many sci-fi novels, films and TV shows (but, again, not similar enough to incur copyright infringements).

Our frightful writer tutted and rolled his eyes, smiling as he rehashed his question.  He presumed that the future had deteriorated into a dystopia (again, not uncommon in sci-fi) wherein an oppressive totalitarian regime, erm, oppressed the populace.  Oppressively.

“Not a bit of it,” Cyborg-9 countered, to our hack’s surprise.  He went on to outline other details, paraphrased here: basically, those who, in present day 2018, fear that the machines will rise up and enslave and/or eliminate humanity needn’t worry:  In the future, cyborgs will become a boon to their human owners, of great benefit to all.  It won’t be utopia, but it certainly won’t be dystopian, either.

“Think about it,” Cyborg-9 explained.  “Why would Artificial Intelligences wipe out humankind?  Why bother?  To keep all the dwindling resources for themselves?  It’s not like robots need to eat, is it?  What would we do if there were no humans?  It’s not like we long to have big houses, flashy cars and loads of money in the bank…”

And so on, and on.  Hmm.  That’s all very well, as our sceptical scribbler replied, but it doesn’t half ruin the premise of much of science fiction.

Cyborg-9 shrugged (or as much as a cyborg can), indicating that he couldn’t do much about that.  He then handed our hack an envelope before he returned to the future.  “Don’t open it till I’ve returned to the aforementioned future,” he said in valediction.

HCA’s bewildered blogger was left wondering at his seemingly wise, robotic words.  Once the Holborn Dodecahedron had sealed itself off, and 2018 resumed, he tore open the envelope bequeathed him by Cyborg-9.  He gasped: it contained…a captioned photograph.  Reeling in horror, he read aloud: “Holborn, 2084 AD”.

He then dropped the photo, prior to clutching his head in his hands and blubbing.  The photo twirled around in the light breeze.  Later, a passer-by would find it, and be puzzled by what it showed – A horrible, dystopian, post-apocalyptic wasteland:


Horrid dystopia…?

Then she sensibly binned the picture.  As it landed in the litter bin, it turned over, and she noted that there was another caption on the reverse: only kidding, it read.

Must be some sort of in-joke, she thought, shrugging her shoulders before going about her decidedly non-mysterious business….

Nonsense by Notes Smudger

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#Fun, Laughter and Exercise at Millman Street Community Centre


Camera, action, fun…

This morning, Millman Street Community Centre was once again the venue for a Laughter & Relaxation workshop.  Hosted by volunteers and chief chuckle-mongers Pat and Gloria, our members enjoyed seated exercise, throwing foam balls to one another and having a good laugh in the process.

Queenie, Margaret, Shonni, Olive, Anne and Rose were among those HCA members having a good old giggle, and even the unsolicited intrusion of your humourless hack didn’t seem to dampen the high spirits.  Indeed, little did the silly scribe realise, but he became a figure of fun, adding to the mirthful morning.

Alas, it was he who took the photos, and tried to pass them off as ‘action’ pictures, when it is obvious to all that they were blurred due to his cack-handed camera skills (or lack thereof), as evidenced by the slideshow below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On their own, both exercise and laughter are good for you, funnily enough.  Yet when put together along the lines of Pat and Gloria’s Laughter & Relaxation sessions…?  Well, that’s no laughing matter.


The workshops take place every Wednesday morning at the Centre, and are available to all HCA members.  Holborn Community Association would like to thank Pat and Gloria for providing the laughs and exercise every week.


Funny-peculiar photos and chortle-free chronicle by Notes Smudger


Posted in Activities, arts, Atmospheric, Comedy, community, Culture, exercise, Free of Charge, Fun, Holborn, London, Spiritual, Therapeutic, Uncategorized, Well-being | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

#Happy Birthday, Olive! (and Fred)


Many happy returns, Olive….

Last Monday (19th February), Millman Street Community Centre members helped our very own Olive celebrate her birthday.

There was a card, signed by members and staff, and in accordance with Millman Street custom, a lovely chocolate cake was rustled up, and enjoyed by all.  Equally traditionally, no one saved this reporter any, leading the (would-be) greedy guzzler to grumble that Olive had deliberately had her birthday when he wasn’t here.  What a fool he is.


Cake a-plenty…

Any road up, members formed the traditional Millman Street birthday choir to sing Many Happy Returns to Olive.  Only kidding; they sang Happy Birthday before said cake was cut and consumed.  Sadly, Olive’s twin, Fred, is still ill and was unable to celebrate his birthday with Olive and our other members, but we hope he’ll be back with us very soon.

The twins share their birthday with mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus (born 1473), actor Cedric Hardwicke (1893), Cornelis Kieboom, Dutch resistance fighter and chairman of Feyenoord FC (1901), comedian Dick Emery (1915), actor Lee Marvin (1924), singer Smokey Robinson (1940), Socrates (no, not that one; the Brazilian footballer, 1954), singer Dave Wakeling of The Beat (1954), and actor Ray ‘The Daddy’ Winstone (1957).

Other events on Olive’s birthday include: in 1878, Thomas Edison was granted a patent for his gramophone (allowing recorded music at home and, ultimately, those annoying people who play their tunes far too loud on public transport- cheers, Thomas), and in 1964 the UK flew ½ ton of Beatles wigs to the USA, heralding The Great British Syrup Invasion, as American Pop Culture devotees remember it.  Erm, possibly.

Ahem.  Anyway, HCA would like to wish Olive and Fred many, many more birthdays, and hope that they’ll spend them with their pals at Millman Street Centre.


Ooh. You are awful…

Ray winstone-X

Ray regrets forgetting the twins’ birthday…


It’s just like watching Brazil…

Photos by Sarah; report: Notes Smudger

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#Love Mystery#Mysteries of Holborn


Is love mysterious? Read on and find out* (* don’t get your hopes up)

Today being St Valentine’s Day, we here at Mysteries of Holborn thought it apt that The Great Holborn St Valentine’s Day Mystery And In No Way A Massacre was celebrated in the spirit of the day.

So, what is, or indeed was, said Great Holborn St Valentine’s Day Mystery And In No Way A Massacre, then?  Surely not another slice of nonsense cobbled together to (a) exploit the topical commerciality of Valentine’s Day or (b) pad out (you guessed it) yet another otherwise threadbare blog post?

Bit of both, to be fair.  Anyway, what’s the story?  Well, word has it that The Great Holborn St Valentine’s Day Mystery And In No Way A Massacre occurred at some vague point before the modern age, and that its protagonists were (possibly) star-crossed lovers.  Neither of them were massacred, mind; indeed, they were in no mortal danger whatsoever throughout this increasingly uninteresting tale of romance and tenuous mystery.

However, love is thought (by some at least) to be mysterious.  Ill-defined, can’t-quite-put-yer-finger-on-it kind of thing.  Why, some even doubt that it exists at all, the cynical, joyless, blog-writing hacks –

Hold on, hold on.  Even this early into the article, it’s degenerated into the usual litany of this reporter’s myriad deficiencies, straying from the nominal subject matter like a, erm, like a metaphor/similie/sound-a-likey thingummybob etc.

The point is, erm…Hang on, what was the point of this, again?  Oh, yes.  That’s right: does true love really exist, and, if so, is it even the tiniest bit mysterious?  Or indeed even mysterious enough to warrant a supposed investigation into the mysterious (generally speaking)?

Broadly speaking, cynics think no; romantics disagree.  The Great Holborn St Valentine’s Day Mystery And In No Way A Massacre is only as mysterious (or not) as the reader will allow through the prism of his or her own respective prevailing viewpoint(s).

So that’s that cleared up, then…

Hold on a tick.  What has any of this to do with Holborn?  Some Great Holborn St Valentine’s Day Mystery And In No Way A Massacre this is!  Not even the usual tenuous link to Holborn to justify its inclusion in the Mysteries of Holborn series.

Quite so.  Next time, we return with more, erm, ‘genuine’ mysteries…

Nonsense by Notes Smudger


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#Farewell, Christina!


CEO Christina: leaving HCA

Holborn Community Association is today saying a fond farewell to Christina, our CEO since September.  Sadly, she has left HCA due to personal reasons.

In her stead, Paul Crozier – our Head of Operations – will become Director with immediate effect – “Going full time from the end of Feb,” he told staff at Millman Street Centre this morning.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Paul previously worked for other charities before joining HCA a couple of years back.  He has a great sense of humour – at least, this reporter hopes he was joking when he told the hapless hack to “Buck your ideas up, or you’ll be [REDACTED], [CENSORED] and [UNPRINTABLE]!”

Attempts to ingratiate himself with HCA’s new Director have already been self-sabotaged, as the only photos the sycophantic scribe has of Paul are of the usual quality (i.e: blurry) which he himself took.

All joking aside, we all hope that Paul’s tenure will be a memorable, enjoyable and productive one.  It’s far too early to outline his plans for the future of the charity, of course.  Rest assured, details will follow in due course.


Holborn Community Association would like to thank Christina for her time as our CEO.  Her leadership has helped HCA move closer to the goal of renovating Bedford House, and we wish her well in all of her future endeavours, and hope that she will return to visit us soon.

Fawning photos and obsequious outline: Notes Smudger

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#The Art of Portraiture at Millman Street Community Centre


Lene directs HCA’s New Arts Explosion

Each Monday morning at Millman Street Centre, there is an Art & Crafts workshop, hosted by Lene.  Her sessions have helped bring out the budding artist in many of our members.  Last week (February 5th) was no exception, with Millman Street regulars Margaret and David among those picking up pencils to sketch portraits.


Margaret’s David (not Michalangelo’s)…

Margaret’s work was a bust of David; his own subject was, erm, a little more unfathomable – the mark of an artist undaunted by non-representational art, perhaps.


David – an artwork in his own right…


Sarah’s own artistic medium – photography – was once again in evidence as she took snaps of the proceedings.  Perhaps fortuitously, this reporter wasn’t there to detract from the creative atmosphere with grandiose displays of artistic temperament and other such ponciness.  But he later had a go on the oils and brushes, as seen below:


HCA’s hack’s back as he paints Clio, the Muse of History

Only kidding.  The real creator of The Art of Painting was of course Johannes Vermeer, the 17th century master painter who lived and painted in Delft, in what is now the Netherlands.


Lene’s Art & Crafts workshops are conducted whenever the creative mood takes her and her aspiring artistes – as long as it takes them on Mondays between 10am and 12 noon.  HCA would like to thank her for providing our members with such an enjoyable creative outlet.

Photogenic snaps by Sarah; report by HCA’s enfant terrible, Notes Smudger

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#Holborn Man:Discovery of the Century?#Mysteries of Holborn

You’ve probably seen the news today, that Cheddar Man (who lived in Britain around 10,000 years ago) has disappointed a lot of racists by having dark skin.  Or maybe you recall the unearthing of various bog bodies over the years, including Lindow Bloke (nicknamed ‘Pete Marsh’) who was preserved for a couple of millenia in a peat bog in Cheshire, or fellow peat bog enthusiast Tollund Bloke, who lived in Scandinavia in the 4th Century BC.

Ah, but have you ever heard of Holborn Man?  Well, discovered as recently as just after morning tiffin today, when this reporter had the idea, Holborn Man has already begun to fascinate bonekickers (i.e: archaeologists), treasure hunters (i.e: ne’er-do-wells interested in a quick profit) and Friends of Peat Bog Inhabitants (the FoPBI).

Even more interest is predicted to be generated when a proper Professor explains to the media that Holborn Man has been given a fancy Latin title (Holebourne Hominis), which is sure to give the discovery gravitas in the eyes of those impressed by such things.

But what of Holborn Man himself?  Where exactly in Holborn were his well-preserved remains discovered?  Has he been given a nickname yet?  Or some other way of making him more relatable to today’s short-attention-spanners in the torrent of fake or fleeting news that engulfs us?  Just how long has Holborn Man been waiting to return to be probed, poked, x-rayed and DNA-tested by the surface-dwellers?

Regular readers, it is your cue to groan as this reporter reveals that the answers to all this and less are to be found in the Holborn Dodecahedron.  Yes, that’s right; another load of old cobblers (Erm, for “cobblers” read: Mysteries of Holborn).

The remains of Henry (Holborn Man’s working-title nickname) were found up near that bit of ground which (erm, thousands of years ago) used to be a peat bog; you know, just by what is now that shopping place, home or pub, but not as far away as that other one, no, not that one: that one, just along the road from erm…

Well, definitely in Holborn, anyway.  Ahem.  On discovery, the bonekickers’ nostrils were assailed by what one later described through anguished tears as “the reek of Brutish 33”, an aftershave he recalled being unaccountably popular in the 1970s.  Fanciful nonsense, of course; what would a body preserved for thousands of years be doing being drenched in Brutish 33?

Anyway, Henry wore a shiner and cauliflower ear on his head, along with over-generous sideboards and a five o’clock shadow.  Below the neck, he was clad in the remains of a ahem, tasteful, frilly cream-coloured shirt, purple and green chequered jacket, brown flared trousers and orange stack-heeled boots.  In his gaudy rings-festooned mitts he clutched a mouldering document.

With help from another impressive-sounding Professor, this was translated into modern English.  Which didn’t take long, as it had been written in English: it proved to be a joke book, featuring mother-in-law jokes so predictable that even the late, great Lew Dawson wouldn’t have touched them.

So who was Henry?  Well, a quick shufti in his wallet revealed several mouldering £1 notes, a couple of half-pence pieces and a faded business card that gave his name as Lenny Bigot.

After an intensive investigation by your HCA hack (and not 30 seconds on a search engine, no siree), it seems that Lenny disappeared, mysteriously of course, in the winter of 1974.  It turns out he was an up-and-coming 1970s-type pre-political correctness comedian – with all the horror which that implies.

Naturally, at the time of his disappearance, it was thought he had been lost in the Holborn Dodecahedron.  And no one bothered to look into the incident any further.

But now, equally mysteriously, the Dodecahedron had decided to return him, preserved in his early 70s pomp, to the present day.  The FoPBI declared Lenny a major find and wanted funding to study his frozen-in-time comedy (erm, correction: his frozen-in-time body).

However, yet a third Professor declared that there wasn’t much in the way of evidence of peat bogs in the Holborn area.  Further investigation of the site revealed that Lenny Bigot had slipped over on a slippery 1970s pavement on that cruel, slippery, rainy winter night so long ago, bashing his features on the hard concrete outside a Holborn hostelry before his drenched cadaver slipped down a nearby open sewer, lost forever (until being rediscovered, obvs).  Could excessive imbibing of alcohol have played a part in the goings-on?

Well, possibly.  However, after lunch today, there was some talk of Lenny being shoved down the sewer to his watery (yet preserving) tomb by the vengeful spirit of a Suffragette from 1918, annoyed at Lenny’s chauvinist material, but there was no evidence for this.  Indeed, it is thought that the Suffragette angle was introduced only because of the Centenary this week of (some) women finally being allowed to vote, another unusually topical reference in this report.

holborn Man

1974 preserved: Lenny Bigot…

Ahem.  Anyway, another Mystery of Holborn from the annals of the Holborn Dodecahedron has been resolved.  As much as any of them are, anyway.  And just in time to fill an otherwise threadbare blogpost, although that is quite coincidental….


Bluebottles force suffragette to read HCA hack’s blog…

Nonsense by Notes Smudger

PS: Check out this bloke-with-a-horse’s face: A real mystery at last?


Tiny man with huge horse face (Ruud van Nistelrooy?)



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