Scenes from England's growing magician problem

Iron-age death cult's botched ritual burns its logo into 73 children's faces:

Dozens of pupils were left with burns after "toxic" ash crosses were daubed on to their foreheads for Ash Wednesday at a Catholic school.

First aiders had to treat students and staff at St Augustine's High School in Redditch, Worcestershire, after they reported feeling a burning sensation caused by the ash smudged on their temples by a priest and two sixth-formers at a Lent assembly on Wednesday.

The school said it was dismayed by the incident, which affected 73 students, 16 teachers and the chairman of the governors, all of whom were advised to seek further medical attention.

At least two children were understood to have visited a hospital after the assembly.

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14 Responses:

  1. Jackson says:

    This is the best way I could fathom to write about religion. I'm dying.

  2. Wayne Myers says:

    FWIW, non-Times non-paywalled links to same story:


  3. snert says:

    Looking for more reporting on it, I found two more cases from 2014.

    "The material was strongly caustic - the reason for it was total combustion of organic material, where all the carbon material was burned away and all that remained was ash," said Monsignor Hallinan.

    "Once this ash is mixed with water, the chemicals react to produce potassium hydroxide and similar caustic material."

    He was advised that palms being burned for Ash Wednesday should be "fresh and green" as it burns at a lower temperature and produces ashes much lower in pH.

    Sounds like a good product opportunity. Certified lye-free palm ash, for all your non-scarring rituals. Certified caustic ash also available.

  4. Crappo says:

    Ash crosses that leave permanent marks on foreheads... this is too much 100 Years of Solitude.

  5. Lloyd says:

    But a magician can fix Britain's problems.

    You have to believe.

    • tfb says:

      We're at the point where, frankly, a person who pretends to be able to bend spoons by the power of his mind is a better option than the people running the country.

      I've always been very uncomfortable with the idea of 'stupid' but it's just clear that a lot of senior UK politicians are really not terribly bright at all. We're going to fuck the lives of our children because of a vote which was based on lies and malign influences, and which, if no-one had changed their minds since 2016, would now go the other way. We're doing it because dead people wanted to: this is, quite literally, the zombie apocalypse.

      • Lloyd says:

        not bright? but they went to university! Oxford!

        they're the best and brightest of Britain, and Saint Theresa is a beacon of hope, leading England into a better future.

        • Nick Lamb says:

          Speaking of people like May, Rees-Mogg or Johnson? They got 2.1 degrees, and not even in genuinely hard subjects. Why is "Classics" even a degree subject and not just a day-time quiz show for small cash prizes? I have a 2.1 degree (admittedly from a Russell Group university, not Oxbridge, I had a deferral for Churchill but I doubt I'd have made it, my main reason to even apply was they had access to the Network from your bedroom) and I am certainly not "the best and brightest of Britain".

          • Tim says:

            A pedant writes: May's degree was second class, not 2:1 since apparently Oxford did not distinguish subclasses until the end of the 70s. You can argue that classics (Johnson) is not "genuinely hard", but can you really say that for history (Rees Mogg) and geography (May)? Seems a bit snobby to me (and I am a horrendous snob).

            More insultingly: I wonder if "I could have made it to Oxbridge if I'd tried" is just the middle-class equivalent of "I had a trial for premier-league team once". (My excuse: never applied because the interview process sounded ridiculous; lacked self-belief).

            • tfb says:

              I think a lot of maths & physics people would claim that geography & history are not hard subjects. Whether that's true I don't know. I have no time for the 'oxbridge is better' thing.

              My argument for them being dim rests on their behaviour in their jobs not their qualifications however: Boris is just a canonical example of someone who is highly educated but not actually very clever, and May ... well, just look.

            • As someone involved in Oxford admissions into maths program, I can say that being well-prepared for the interview is important, but you also have to do a remote test, which is not easy, and you either need to be a natural maths person, or work for years to become one, before trying this. Naturally, good (mostly - not free) schools are better in preparing you, go figure...

  6. Bob Kerns says:

    Hey, found the story via a path through Boingo Boingo, which cited "via JWZ".

    (This was minutes after browsing through my archives and spotting "Engineering Pornography", my capture of your post of TLM's classic email in which I make an irrelevant cameo thus ensuring my internet fame.)

    So of course, I HAD to click to see if it linked to you. (It did).

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