The Hackenthorpe Book of Lies

Inspired by and dedicated to the Hackenthorpe Book of Lies, as advertised in The Brand New Monty Python Bok (Eyre Methuen)the following pages feature a variety of amazing facts and figures gathered from all around the globe, each of them personally guaranteed completely untrue or at the very least wildly inaccurate by compilers Ron, Derek, Jeff ‘The Nozz’ & Luigi V. Hackenthorpe…


For several years in the early 70’s hot pop combo The Jackson Five had only four members, after Marlon left to start a hot dog concession in Billericay. The Group “duped” fans into believing they remained a quintet by having all publicity shots taken on long exposures while Tito, Marlon’s identical twin, ran around the back.


Whatever Boris Johnson might try to tell you about Wiff-Waff the reality is that Table Tennis was first played in Ancient China by ancient Chinese people several thousand years ago…

Using dried and salted turbot as bats or ‘Paddles’ and utilising rare specimens of small spineless sea-urchins for balls young men of the Ping dynasty would wile away the hours between rice harvests and firework displays by blatting the tiny Echinoidea from one end of a table to the other while avoiding a bamboo net stretched across the centre.

Interest in the game waned as spineless sea urchin stocks dwindled, despite major investment by fishmongers in intensive farming projects. Traditionalists believe the farmed product infinitely inferior to their naturally occurring cousin, because ‘you couldn’t get the top-spin’.


Pepperami – The ancient Chinese art of paper folding – was actually introduced to the orient by western explorer Marco “Minty” Polo. Bored one day after a hard days trekking, Polo took the shopping list his wife had given him from his back pocket and folded it into a red/yellow/blue/green fortune telling device, to the great amusement of his host the Chinese Emperor Ve Tsin.

Tsin soon had sweatshops up and running all over China, filled with children as young as five bent daily over tables strewn with rice paper coming up with new designs. Fortunately, the children loved it (just peek in any reception class if you don’t believe me, bless ’em, little tongues poking out of the corner of their mouths in rapt concentration…awwwwwwww), and were handsomely rewarded for their better efforts with sweets, days out at the petting zoo and stickers for their star charts.


Freda, the Blue Peter Tortoise, was secretly replaced in 1983 with a lookalike, after being accidentally bent during an interview with the psychic Uri Geller. Several attempts were made to fix the original shell by the mystic showman, but to no avail. Geller eventually “shelled out” more than £25.00 (it was a lot of money in those days) to provide the homeless reptile with a Bakelite™ replacement.

Freda lived happily in her new home for a further three days, before losing her life while bravely defending the Blue Peter Garden from “mindless slugs”. Show co-host, Simon Groom, who hurled Freda at the marauders, said at the time ‘She was valiant to the last. She deserves a medal’. He later made her one out of a milk bottle top, cardboard and some sticky back plastic, but to be honest it looked a bit cheap so she refused, even in death, to wear it.

Freda in her new shellsuit

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