During lunch it is custom to have some chit chat and talk about whatever just for the sake of talking. Still sometimes a discussed issues remains in your head. This is the case for this story. The guillotine was a terrible device. Made to sever someone’s head from his or her torso. Something I never thought about is the fact that it did not always cut through the neck in a one clean slice.
When using an axe it was quite normal that the executioner needed to hack a few or a lot of times to do his job properly. Hitting the back or the head by accident was just part of the job. It was a tough occupation. The person being executed suffered but the executioner who had to do all the hacking also had it rough.
As an alternative they developed the guillotine. It promised a quick death for the convict and caused less emotional and physical stress for the executioner. Still, it seems that the guillotine was not the perfect solution. A neck is tougher than you might think and after lots of uses the knife of the guillotine gets duller and duller.
The resulting situation was that the convict should not be surprised if he still lived after the first drop of the guillotine. His head could easily still be attached. Maybe his nerves were cut and his entire body would be paralyzed, but still, the convict would be aware that the big knife was raised two or three times more for a new attempt. Pretty nasty!