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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Wednesday 18th April 2012

Well, that’s my ‘season’ over. The next talk in my diary is for September when the nights will be starting to draw in and the summer colours will be beginning to fade.

I finished with quite a little rush; three events in eight days. Two full-length talks, today and last Wednesday, and a short, after dinner, no PowerPoint talk of about fifteen minutes followed by the same time for questions. If I could find a way to be in two places at once I could have added a fourth because someone else asked me to speak tonight.

Both talks were ‘Lethal Lovelies’ so I didn’t have to worry about getting two lots of stories mixed up and overrunning as a result. The shorter talk was an abridged version of ‘Medical Murders’ taking the idea that the audience wants to learn how to get away with murder. Though it was before the story of the re-investigation of Neil Heywood’s death broke, its central point, that getting away with murder is about no-one suspecting murder has occurred, seems to be relevant to that incident.

I should, perhaps, say that direction of that talk is that modern forensic science means that the chance to murder someone without discovery has gone though, in Mr Heywood’s case, cremation means that forensic investigation and toxicological analysis are of no use.

Whenever I’m giving a talk I have a sort of uniform I wear. For talks where Cannabis sativa, marijuana, is not mentioned that consists of shirt and a hand-embroidered tie.

Cannabis logo on tie 

Where cannabis is one of the plants I talk about I wear a pair of hemp trousers and a hemp shirt. This means I can put up the slide showing cannabis and say ‘I use this plant’ before explaining that my garments are 55% hemp fibre.

I bought a number of hemp items a few years ago and I’ve gradually brought them into service as they start to look their age. Hemp is an amazingly durable material and I’m still wearing shirts that I’ve had for about six years though some of them are now only fit for cold weather gardening. I don’t still have all the trousers but that is because the zips aren’t as hard-wearing as the hemp.

For last week’s ‘Lethal Lovelies’, I decided to wear a brand new pair of trousers and that meant removing the label. Although I’ve read it many times before, I still smile whenever I see it.

Label on hemp trousers 

In case you can’t read the small print, it is extolling the benefits of hemp over cotton and noting that hemp has less environmental impact because of the agro-chemicals used in cultivating cotton.

But it is the box at the bottom that makes me smile.

Bottom of trouser label 

I can’t imagine that anyone would seriously considered shredding up an old pair of trousers and puffing away on the result so I don’t know if this warning is meant to be ironic or if the manufacturers believe they have to say this to avoid getting sued. 


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