April 25, 2016
"My love for you is eternal"
"His last words were ones of repentance and love" "
Josh Bishop, 41, was executed by the State of Georgia and died on March 31, 2016. His last words were ones of repentance and love.
Josh lived a Dickensian childhood in the modern era. He grew up under bridges in Milledgeville, Georgia, in group homes and foster care, often hungry or afraid. He loved the outdoors, though, and later—wholly without bitterness—described golden days of his childhood as ones where he could fish for food or fry up green tomatoes left out for trash by families who had more than they needed. Everyone who knew him as a boy recalls his sweetness, eagerness to help others, and his devotion to his mother.
Unlike the street urchins of the Dickens stories, however, Josh was never saved by a kindly, wealthy gentleman—or even by the State agencies charged with protecting abused children. Instead, he fell into drug and alcohol abuse and at age 19 made horrible mistakes that were not otherwise in his character. His addiction, and what came of it, cost him his life, and he wanted youth growing up in similar circumstances to learn from his story.
In the bleak and alienated world of Georgia's Death Row, however, Josh found that he could be loved by others and by God, and he came to flourish there as an artist and as a man. He was embraced by the Shertenlieb family, who ministered to him, visited him, and taught him that no is one beyond the reach of forgiveness and redemption. He was baptized as a Catholic.
He taught himself to draw, and, having little else to offer, gave gifts of his art to his friends and family—and even other prisoners and guards. He began to read ("Anne Frank blowed my mind!") and never tired of discussing the Old Masters, Sturgill Simpson songs, or the beauty of the natural world. He was accepted and cared for by others who came to write and visit him—Amy and Ryan Dunn, Gene and Kathi Gunter, Timothy Tew—and he blossomed in their love and friendship. He was a friend to them, too.
In his last years, working with a clinic at Mercer Law School, he taught close to fifty students lessons about justice that they could never learn in a classroom. He offered abject apologies to the families of his victims, and was comforted in the grace offered by a number of those he had hurt. His heart bled for children who lived without hope for a better life, and did what he could to encourage teenagers who struggled with bitterness or apathy. From his prison cell, Josh reached others with his kind and open heart. He bore others up. He made the world better.
In his last hours, Josh comforted his friends, prayed with us, reminded us to take care of one another, and sang "Amazing Grace." He hoped that his death would "take away from the pain and add to the peace" of those he had hurt. His continued concern for the suffering of others while he faced the ultimate penalty showed that the evil the State wanted to stamp out was not there, and all that was lost was the potential of a redeemed soul to do good. If there is justice in heaven, if not on earth, he is painting with Rembrandt and humming along with Merle Haggard
"When I luckily managed to get my footing back on the chair, I realized I wasn’t ready to go. I had so much love left in me"
I decided to hang myself with an extension cord in the rafters of my garage. I decided to do a quick test run to make sure the beam would hold before saying my goodbyes to my family. During the test run, I slipped off my chair and actually hung myself. The panic I felt during those few moments I was dangling was all it took to convince myself I should live. I needed desperately to tell my mother I loved her before I went. My father too. I could only think of getting out of it, so I could give them their well deserved goodbyes, and let them know how much I loved them. When I luckily managed to get my footing back on the chair, I realized I wasn’t ready to go. I had so much love left in me. I felt like it gave me a second chance to realize I didn’t want to go through with it. I’m doing well now. I have two beautiful girls, and a man who would give me the moon. I’m happy I had a botched run, because I’m sure I wouldn’t have realized how i really felt if I got to text my final goodbyes.
April 14, 2016
Psychedelic therapy for the dying: " “Oh God, it all makes sense now, so simple and beautiful."
LSD's impact on the brain revealed in groundbreaking images thanks to 20 volunteers at the Imperial College, London.
David Nutt, the government’s former drugs advisor, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, and senior researcher on the study, said neuroscientists had waited 50 years for this moment. “This is to neuroscience what the Higgs boson was to particle physics,” he said. “We didn’t know how these profound effects were produced. It was too difficult to do. Scientists were either scared or couldn’t be bothered to overcome the enormous hurdles to get this done.”
The brain scans revealed that trippers experienced images through information drawn from many parts of their brains, and not just the visual cortex at the back of the head that normally processes visual information. Under the drug, regions once segregated spoke to one another. Further images showed that other brain regions that usually form a network became more separated in a change that accompanied users’ feelings of oneness with the world, a loss of personal identity called “ego dissolution”.
In Aeon, A good trip Researchers are giving psychedelics to cancer patients to help alleviate their despair — and it’s working
‘Patients would tell me that they’ll never be able to get out from under the rock that hangs over them and that their psyche is always filled with the fact they have cancer,’ Stephen Ross said. ‘But those feelings evaporated under the influence of psilocybin. They almost uniformly experienced a dramatic reduction in existential anxiety and depression, and an increased acceptance of the cancer, and the changes lasted a year or more and in some cases were permanent.’
Ross, the 42-year-old director of the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at Bellevue Hospital in New York, is an unlikely apostle for psychedelics. He became fascinated with end-of-life issues when he was growing up in the affluent Los Angeles suburb of Pacific Palisades and his physician mother took him to hospice centres. ‘She introduced me to the concept of a good death,’ Ross said. ‘When I was an intern at Columbia, I spent three months in the cancer wards and I watched people die there,’ he continued. ‘But those were bad deaths, full of anxiety and pain, and we didn’t learn anything about palliative care.’
Ross is part of a new generation of researchers who have re-discovered what scientists knew more than half a century ago: that psychedelics can be good medicine. At such elite research centres around the world as NYU, Johns Hopkins, UCLA, and the University of New Mexico, psychedelic research is inching its way back to respectability,
John Tierney wrote in 2010 in the New York Times, Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again
Scientists are especially intrigued by the similarities between hallucinogenic experiences and the life-changing revelations reported throughout history by religious mystics and those who meditate. These similarities have been identified in neural imaging studies conducted by Swiss researchers and in experiments led by Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins.
In one of Dr. Griffiths’s first studies, involving 36 people with no serious physical or emotional problems, he and colleagues found that psilocybin could induce what the experimental subjects described as a profound spiritual experience with lasting positive effects for most of them. None had had any previous experience with hallucinogens, and none were even sure what drug was being administered.
In the New Yorker The Trip Treatment wherein Michael Pollan explores the current research into psychedelics that is yielding exciting results after being shut down for decades.
As I chatted with Tony Bossis and Stephen Ross in the treatment room at N.Y.U., their excitement about the results was evident. According to Ross, cancer patients receiving just a single dose of psilocybin experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months. The data are still being analyzed and have not yet been submitted to a journal for peer review, but the researchers expect to publish later this year.
“I thought the first ten or twenty people were plants—that they must be faking it,” Ross told me. “They were saying things like ‘I understand love is the most powerful force on the planet,’ or ‘I had an encounter with my cancer, this black cloud of smoke.’ People who had been palpably scared of death—they lost their fear. The fact that a drug given once can have such an effect for so long is an unprecedented finding. We have never had anything like it in the psychiatric field.”
Many researchers I spoke with described their findings with excitement, some using words like “mind-blowing.” Bossis said, “People don’t realize how few tools we have in psychiatry to address existential distress. Xanax isn’t the answer. So how can we not explore this, if it can recalibrate how we die?”
Griffiths’s double-blind study reprised the work done by Pahnke in the nineteen-sixties, but with considerably more scientific rigor. Thirty-six volunteers, none of whom had ever taken a hallucinogen, received a pill containing either psilocybin or an active placebo (methylphenidate, or Ritalin); in a subsequent session the pills were reversed. “When administered under supportive conditions,” the paper concluded, “psilocybin occasioned experiences similar to spontaneously occurring mystical experiences.” Participants ranked these experiences as among the most meaningful in their lives, comparable to the birth of a child or the death of a parent. Two-thirds of the participants rated the psilocybin session among the top five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives; a third ranked it at the top. Fourteen months later, these ratings had slipped only slightly.
Furthermore, the “completeness” of the mystical experience closely tracked the improvements reported in personal well-being, life satisfaction, and “positive behavior change” measured two months and then fourteen months after the session. .... Griffiths believes that the long-term effectiveness of the drug is due to its ability to occasion such a transformative experience, but not by changing the brain’s long-term chemistry, as a conventional psychiatric drug like Prozac does.
“I don’t want to use the word ‘mind-blowing,’ ” Griffiths told me, “but, as a scientific phenomenon, if you can create conditions in which seventy per cent of people will say they have had one of the five most meaningful experiences of their lives? To a scientist, that’s just incredible.”
The case of Patrick Mettes
On an April Monday in 2010, Patrick Mettes, a fifty-four-year-old television news director being treated for a cancer of the bile ducts, .... His diagnosis had come three years earlier, shortly after his wife, Lisa, noticed that the whites of his eyes had turned yellow. By 2010, the cancer had spread to Patrick’s lungs and he was buckling under the weight of a debilitating chemotherapy regimen and the growing fear that he might not survive. The article, headlined Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again mentioned clinical trials at several universities, including N.Y.U., in which psilocybin—the active ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms—was being administered to cancer patients in an effort to relieve their anxiety and “existential distress.” ...Patrick had never taken a psychedelic drug, but he immediately wanted to volunteer. ...
Patrick made the call anyway and, after filling out some forms and answering a long list of questions, was accepted into the trial. ... After the screening, Mettes was assigned to a therapist named Anthony Bossis, a bearded, bearish psychologist in his mid-fifties, with a specialty in palliative care. Bossis is a co-principal investigator for the N.Y.U. trial..... Mettes was scheduled for two dosings—one of them an “active” placebo (in this case, a high dose of niacin, which can produce a tingling sensation), and the other a pill containing the psilocybin.
Bossis noted that Mettes was crying and breathing heavily. Mettes said, “Birth and death is a lot of work,” and appeared to be convulsing. Then he reached out and clutched Kalliontzi’s hand while pulling his knees up and pushing, as if he were delivering a baby. “Oh God,” he said, “it all makes sense now, so simple and beautiful.”.....
“From here on, love was the only consideration. It was and is the only purpose. Love seemed to emanate from a single point of light. And it vibrated.” He wrote that “no sensation, no image of beauty, nothing during my time on earth has felt as pure and joyful and glorious as the height of this journey.” Then, at twelve-ten, he said something that Bossis jotted down: “O.K., we can all punch out now. I get it.”
Great secrets of the universe often become clear during the journey, such as “We are all one” or “Love is all that matters.” The usual ratio of wonder to banality in the adult mind is overturned, and such ideas acquire the force of revealed truth. The result is a kind of conversion experience, and the researchers believe that this is what is responsible for the therapeutic effect.
Patrick Mettes lived for seventeen months after his psilocybin journey, and, according to Lisa, he enjoyed many unexpected satisfactions in that time, along with a dawning acceptance of death.......In April, his lungs failing, Mettes wound up back in the hospital. “He gathered everyone together and said goodbye, and explained that this is how he wanted to die. He had a very conscious death.”
Mettes’s equanimity exerted a powerful influence on everyone around him, Lisa said, and his room in the palliative-care unit at Mt. Sinai became a center of gravity. “Everyone, the nurses and the doctors, wanted to hang out in our room—they just didn’t want to leave. Patrick would talk and talk. He put out so much love.” When Tony Bossis visited Mettes the week before he died, he was struck by Mettes’s serenity. “He was consoling me. He said his biggest sadness was leaving his wife. But he was not afraid.”
Despite the encouraging results from the N.Y.U. and Hopkins trials, much stands in the way of the routine use of psychedelic therapy. “We don’t die well in America,” Bossis recently said over lunch at a restaurant near the N.Y.U. medical center. “Ask people where they want to die, and they will tell you at home, with their loved ones. But most of us die in an I.C.U. The biggest taboo in American medicine is the conversation about death. To a doctor, it’s a defeat to let a patient go.” Bossis and several of his colleagues described the considerable difficulty they had recruiting patients from N.Y.U. ’s cancer center for the psilocybin trials. “I’m busy trying to keep my patients alive,” one oncologist told Gabrielle Agin-Liebes, the trial’s project manager. Only when reports of positive experiences began to filter back to the cancer center did nurses there—not doctors—begin to tell patients about the trial.
Bossis ..... hopes that “the legacy of this work” will be the routine use of psychedelics in palliative care. But he also thinks that the medical use of psychedelics could easily run into resistance. “This culture has a fear of death, a fear of transcendence, and a fear of the unknown, all of which are embodied in this work.” Psychedelics may be too disruptive for our society and institutions ever to embrace them.
April 8, 2016
"My wife will tell me I smell of death tonight"
The Ferryman by Azam Ahmed in Granta
My wife will tell me I smell of death tonight. She will leave two plastic tubs of water beside our door, one for my clothes and the other to bathe myself. She does not allow me to enter our home on nights like this, until I have shed the odor of the dead.
My friends snicker when they see the steaming tubs of water, which she heats to break the chill. They laugh because my wife tells me when I must clean myself. My neighbors respect me, though it is true that a woman directing a man is unusual. But these men do not know what I owe her.
Erasing the smell depends on the manner of death, and over the past five years I have become an expert. The odor of burn victims, for instance, is easier to erase when the burns are fresh. A simple bath will do. The scent of the decomposed requires many scrubbings before it goes. One must shampoo their beard and brush under their nails. You cannot overdo the rinsing.
In five years, I have buried 748 men and I can tell you this: we are all hardened by this misery. Some have lost sons. Others land. But there is nothing so rigid as a man robbed of his humanity.
We once spent three days carting the corpses of fifteen dead Taliban, swollen with rot and fluid, into the pink deserts of Registan. We have traveled the whole of the south in his yellow taxi, carrying the bodies of the war dead for all sides: soldiers, police, Taliban and now, I think, the Americans. What Raheem Gul does not understand is that you cannot draw a line. I do not do this work for the government, or the Taliban, or even the men who I collect from the battlefield and return to their loved ones. All these years I have done this for God.
‘Every soul will taste death,’ the mullah says, reading from the Holy Quran. The men in the mosque, Raheem Gul and his followers, know more than the taste of death, I think. They have feasted on it and it has soured their ability to appreciate anything else.
It has soured mine, too, but in a different way. I can no longer eat cooked meat. The smell makes me ill. My wife cooks our rice and vegetables without lamb or chicken, a meal most Afghans would find poor. I think of her now, hanging wet clothes in the courtyard, boiling the pilau for dinner, heating the water for my bath over an open fire with bricks on either side to hold the pot.
March 31, 2016
Mother Angelica . Requiescat in Pace
John Allen writes We shall not look upon the likes of Mother Angelica again
With the death of Mother Angelica on Easter Sunday, the Church has lost the most charismatic American Catholic media personality of her time, as well as someone who proved beyond any doubt that a determined and savvy woman can, after all, wield real power inside an organization often perceived as a boys’ club.
Ninety-two at the time of her death and largely withdrawn from the world, Mother Angelica at the top of her game was feisty, smart, alternately stern and hilarious, all wrapped up in the habit of a seemingly ordinary Franciscan nun. There was nothing “ordinary” about her, however, because for much of the 1980s and 1990s, she was simply the most riveting Catholic figure on the airwaves.
She also had an instinctive grasp of the media business, which allowed her to found the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and develop it into the global juggernaut it’s become. In that sense, Mother Angelica was sort of a cross between Rupert Murdoch and the nun who taught you 3rd grade religion.
In an interview with The New York Times in 1989, Mother Angelica described how a visit to a television studio in Chicago ignited her entrepreneurial drive, and led to the birth of her worldwide enterprise.
“I walked in, and it was just a little studio, and I remember standing in the doorway and thinking, it doesn’t take much to reach the masses,” she said. “I just stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Lord, I’ve got to have one of these.’”
Mother Mary Angelica, a Roman Catholic nun, used entrepreneurial flair and saucy humor to create a religious television, radio and publishing empire with global reach.
Mother Angelica, who died March 27 at age 92, deployed her Eternal Word Television Network to spread her homespun version of the Catholic faith. Her “Mother Angelica Live” TV show had an unpromising concept: A grandmotherly nun sits in an easy chair and discusses religion for an hour in a high-pitched voice. Yet viewers loved her plain talk on matters spiritual and profane.
Her advice to the lovelorn: “People will rave and rant and cry: ‘Oh, he left me! I’m going to die.’ No, you’re not. Just shut up and you’ll feel better.”
The television and radio organizations she started are nonprofits and provide free programming to cable and satellite-TV services, radio stations and other outlets around the world. The Eternal Word network estimates that its programs are available to 265 million households. The network has about 500 employees and an annual U.S. operating budget of $64 million.
A Most Diligent Mother: Angelica by John Zmirak who wrote this piece in 2009 and Crisis magazine republished it following the news that she had died.
Leaving aside the popes, the person who has served as the public face of the Church in the United States for the past two decades is a little, crippled, chronically ill, old Italian-American lady who chats with Jesus daily, used to speak in tongues, and leaps before she looks. As I write this, she is quite ill, and we can’t predict how long she will be with us. But the global media empire planted by this contemplative Poor Clare has put down mighty roots, with millions of viewers who love its dogged loyalty to the teachings of the Church. Indeed, in large swathes of the country where parishes have either closed or turned de facto Methodist, EWTN’s broadcasts serve the isolated faithful like Allied broadcasts into Occupied Europe.
But Mother Angelica had come to see a pattern in her life: Faced with grinding pain and apparent futility, she would always respond with several steps, in this order:
1. Ask God His will in prayer.
2. Once she knew it, throw caution to the wind and trust that He would make her efforts fruitful.
3. Work like a madwoman, wheedling support from the uncertain and shunting aside doubters and dissenters who got in her way.
4. Rinse, repeat.
Mother Angelica has flouted powerful men, the conventional wisdom, and the voice of prudence so many times that for her it’s almost routine. Her intimate contact with Christ has helped her to keep, in the midst of outrageous success and mounting power, the simplicity of her founders—Francis and Clare.
Mother Angelica knew how to hornswoggle Baptists into laying free pipe for nuns, to charm the socks off jaded cable-TV execs, bend the ears of visiting cardinals, and impress the pope. She worked without ceasing, except to pray. It’s hard to imagine that she will ever rest, even in Heaven. Perhaps those with really high-end satellite dishes will someday be able to tune into “Eternal Life with Mother Angelica.”
Mother Angelica could be vociferous in defending Our Lord and she sparred with important men of the cloth.
One of the most unstoppable nuns to have ever lived in my view, Mother was the only woman to found and run a TV network for 20 years.
Her apostolate in Catholic media, even from the early recordings explaining God’s love for each person, was a bold endeavour to give the masses what the nuns of her childhood had not given her: the empowering knowledge of Jesus’s love for us.
Mother Angelica’s life and works prove that her love for Our Lord was genuine: this is precisely why she is an inspiration to Catholic women. Angelica alone shows that a Catholic woman driven by love of Jesus can achieve great things; even in our times when many young women like me are told that being successful and being a Catholic are incompatible
The Spiritual Legacy of Mother Angelica Bishop Robert Barron
I would like simply to draw attention to three areas of particular spiritual importance in the life of Mother Angelica: her trust in God’s providence, her keen sense of the supernatural quality of religion, and her conviction that suffering is of salvific value.
Mother Angelica: A Strong Woman in Love with Jesus by Mitch Pacwas
The history of Catholicism in the United States will need to include a section, if not a chapter, on Mother Angelica. Hardly any other woman has had so much influence, except Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. St. John Paul II once said, “Mother Angelica—she is very strong woman.” No physical pain, opposition from inside or outside the church, no overwhelming odds or threats stopped that strong woman in love with Jesus.
In Honor of an Uppity Nun by Timothy George, a Baptist theologian
Her desperate life was made worse by illnesses and accidents, one after another, the scars of which she bore for the rest of her life. Mother Angelica believed in divine healing and miracles, and received several in the course of her ninety-two years. But she also learned to accept suffering as a part of God’s overcoming purpose in a fallen world. Her pain was providential, she believed, a part of her purification. Through brokenness, she came to know Jesus Christ and to share in what St. Paul called “the fellowship (koinonia) of his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10).
Mother Angelica once summarized her life in this way: I am just “some street woman who got sick and was given many things.”
Someone said this of Mother Angelica: “She was out of the ordinary, and into everything.” As Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who served on the board of EWTN, has said, “Mother Angelica succeeded at a task the nation’s bishops themselves couldn’t achieve. She founded and grew a network that appealed to everyday Catholics, understood their needs and fed their spirits. Mother Angelica inspired other gifted people to join her in the work without compromising her own leadership and vision.”
When Mother Angelica arrived in Birmingham in 1961, the city was rife with racial tension and religious discrimination, much of it inspired by a virulent KKK. Some older citizens still remembered the brutal murder of Father James E. Coyle, who had been shot to death on the steps of his church by a Protestant minister in 1921. In 1962, while the first monastery was still under construction, there was an assault by several gunmen, and Mother Angelica herself literally dodged a bullet. She later said, “You never saw a crippled nun run so fast in all your life!”
Holiness is not for wimps Remembering Mother Angelica and a few of her memorable words
“If it wasn’t for people, we could all be holy.”
“Holiness is not for wimps and the cross is not negotiable, sweetheart, it’s a requirement.”
“Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach.”
March 30, 2016
The Grey Zone
In National Geographic, Crossing Over: How Science Is Redefining Life and Death What we are we learning about the gray zone between here and the other side.
A Harvard panel met in 1968 to define death in two ways: the traditional way, by cardiopulmonary criteria, and a new way, by neurological ones. The neurological criteria, which are now used to determine “brain death,” involved three cardinal benchmarks: coma or unresponsiveness, apnea or the inability to breathe without a ventilator, and the absence of brain-stem reflexes, measured by bedside exams such as flushing the ears with cold water to see if the eyes move, poking the nail bed to see if the face grimaces, or swabbing the throat and suctioning the bronchia to try to stimulate a cough.
It’s all quite straightforward, yet also counterintuitive. “Brain-dead patients do not appear dead,” wrote James Bernat, a neurologist at Dartmouth’s medical school in New Hampshire, in the American Journal of Bioethicsin 2014. “It is contrary to experience to call a patient dead who continues to have heartbeat, circulation, and visceral organ functioning.”
Some patients can be brought back from the dead after hours without a heartbeat, often with no long-term consequences.
Linda Chamberlain, co-founder of the Arizona-based cryonics company Alcor, hugs the container where the body of her husband, Fred, is frozen in the hope that someday he can be thawed and revived. She plans to join him in cryo limbo when her time comes. Fred’s last words, she says, were “Gee, I hope this works.”
March 29, 2016
Princess Joan of Sealand
This is the best and most fun obituary I've read in quite a while about a housewife who became a princess when her husband founded a state on a derelict and rusty sea fort
Princess Joan of Sealand, who has died aged 86, was plain Joan Bates, a former Essex carnival queen, until 1967 when her husband Roy declared himself head of state of an abandoned wartime gun platform off the Suffolk coast.
In 1965, on the nearby Knock John fortified tower in the North Sea, Roy Bates, a former Army major, had established Radio Essex, claiming it as Britain’s first 24-hour pirate pop station, only to see it swiftly closed down by the Labour government. He then bought HM Fort Roughs, a windswept hulk some seven miles off Felixstowe, with twin towers of steel-reinforced concrete spanned by a 5,920 sq ft rusting iron platform.
In 1967, however, when a law took effect making it illegal for pirate radio operators to employ British citizens, Bates, who had fought in the International Brigade in Spain and once faced a fascist firing squad in Greece, knew how to respond. On his wife’s birthday, September 2, he declared UDI and founded Sealand, declaring it exempt from British taxes. Styling themselves Prince Roy and Princess Joan, they took up residence with their children – and Fruitcake the family cat. Their motto was E Mare Libertas (“From the Sea, Freedom”).
t was not long, however, before Sealand’s sovereignty faced a further challenge – in the form of a boarding party from Radio Caroline, which the Bateses repelled with Molotov cocktails and warning shots. In 1968, when the Royal Maritime auxiliary vessel Golden Eye passed close by, three warning shots were fired across her bow before she turned for the shore. Bates was summonsed under the Firearms Act and appeared in the dock at Essex Assizes. Again the judge decided that the courts had no jurisdiction. A QC commenting on the case described the family as having “the element of swashbuckling more appropriate to the days of Queen Elizabeth I than ours”.
During the 1970s Bates created Sealand’s own constitution, flag (red and black with white diagonal stripe), passports, national anthem and stamps and currency bearing Princess Joan’s arresting features.
But Sealand continued to face external threats. In 1978, when the Bateses were away on business, a German entrepreneur, with whom they had fallen out over plans to turn Sealand into a luxury hotel/casino, flew in a party of supporters by helicopter and staged a coup d’état. But within days Prince Roy and Crown Prince Michael had recaptured the island, sliding down 100ft ropes from a helicopter, fighting the invaders and capturing one of the raiders. They kept him as a prisoner, forcing him to make coffee and clean the lavatories for nearly two months until a diplomat from the West German embassy in London arrived to secure his release.