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Sunday, 17 May 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very, very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #30 – 17 May 1978

On 17 May, 1978, Charlie Chaplin’s coffin containing his body was found buried in a field about a mile away from the family home in the village of Corsier, near Lausanne in Switzerland.  Eleven weeks previously, the coffin had been stolen by a Pole and a Bulgarian, young male motor mechanics, who made a ransom demand to the Chaplin family for £400,000 for the return of the body.

The police kept a watch on around 200 local phone kiosks and tapped the Chaplins’ phone.  Eventually, the two men were traced, caught and arrested.  They confessed to grave-robbing.  The Geneva police chief said the two men would be charged with attempted extortion and disturbing the peace of the dead.

During the ordeal, Chaplin’s widow, Lady Oona, refused any notion of paying the ransom demand saying: “Charlie would have thought it ridiculous.”

Chaplin’s body was reburied in a theft-proof concrete grave.

Charlie Chaplin (1889 - 1977)

Sources: BBC and others.

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