Three Identical Strangers
Nov30

Three Identical Strangers

Why did the ‘three identical strangers’ all have sisters? Who were the three identical strangers? You may have seen the film but if you need a memory-refresh, here’s the story. And unbelievably, it’s true. The story starts in the USA in the early nineteen eighties. Robert Shafran, aged nineteen, was experiencing something strange during his first day at college. Although it was his very first day, and he knew...

Read More
1965: The Secrets of the Royal Family’s Health
Nov29

1965: The Secrets of the Royal Family’s Health

1965: The Secrets of the Royal Family’s Complexions In 1965, Mrs Alma McKee, who had spent many years working as a cook for the British royal family, revealed what sort of foods were preferred at the royal dining table. She particularly revealed the secret of the much-admired complexions of The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Princess Margaret. This, she said, was because of a simple, homemade drink that the...

Read More
Was Thomas Ince Murdered?
Nov29

Was Thomas Ince Murdered?

The mysterious death of Thomas Ince. Thomas Ince was a pioneer of early Hollywood. Yet many people haven’t heard of him, largely because of the mystery of his death. Was he murdered or did he die of natural causes? The story itself is worthy of a Hollywood mystery film. The murder, if indeed it was, took place aboard a luxury yacht belonging to a super-wealthy newspaper mogul. Aboard were actors and actresses, writers, a ballet...

Read More
Who Was Luigi Musso?
Nov28

Who Was Luigi Musso?

Racing driver Luigi Musso. Luigi was born in 1924 in Rome and by the time he was thirty years old he had joined the team that was every Italian male’s dream – Scuderia Ferrari. He was following in the footsteps of two Italian drivers who had also driven for the team – Alberto Ascari and Eugenio Castellotti. Neither Ascari or Castellotti had survived the dangerous world of Formula One racing; Ascari was thirty six...

Read More
Why Airbnb is Good for Local Businesses
Nov27

Why Airbnb is Good for Local Businesses

Does Airbnb (or similar) help the local community? We all know that the Airbnb website (and its copycat sites) are causing controversy because of the impact of ‘the sharing economy’. But can such services actually help local communities? In my experience – and thanks to various statistics – I can say ‘yes’. Before we start looking at facts and figures, let’s take a look at the average Airbnb...

Read More
Victorian Food
Nov25

Victorian Food

Victorian food: Stodgy? ‘Stodgy’ is a word that is often used the describe the people who lived in the Victorian era. It’s used to describe their attitudes and also their food.But was that really the case? We’ve traditionally been led to think that yes, Victorian food meant tables groaning with stodgy pies and puddings but in fact, this is far from the reality. Take vegetarianism for example. The first...

Read More
Who Was the Girl from Ipanema?
Nov24

Who Was the Girl from Ipanema?

Antonio Carlos Jobim & Vinicius de Moraes: The Girl from Ipanema. One of the finest songs of the twentieth century is now classed as ‘muzak’ – something light to be listened to in elevators or when you’re on hold. Sadly. But who was the girl from Ipanema? Did she really exist? She certainly did – her name is Heloisa Pinto (pictured on the right). In the early nineteen sixties, when she was fifteen she...

Read More
No-Fry Falafel: Grand Prix Gourmet, Abu Dhabi
Nov24

No-Fry Falafel: Grand Prix Gourmet, Abu Dhabi

Healthier, no-fry falafel. These delicious falafel are meat-free and unlike most falafel recipes, they do not need to be fried. You can optionally baste them with a little olive oil if you wish but most times, I don’t bother – they don’t really need it. You can eat these alone for a snack but I like to serve them in pita bread. Halve and split the bread to make pockets, add the falafel and some lettuce, chopped...

Read More
The Aberfan Disaster
Nov23

The Aberfan Disaster

The Aberfan disaster of 1966. Aberfan is a small mining village in Wales. On the misty morning of October 21st, 1966, the village’s children had just entered the classrooms of the small local school. It was just after nine o’clock. Suddenly, a loud roaring noise was heard. One teacher was sure that it was an aeroplane that was about to crash and she ordered the children to get under their desks. It was in fact, tens of...

Read More
November 22, 1963
Nov21

November 22, 1963

November 22, 1963 – An event that changed everyone’s life. Arriving in Dallas, Texas – November 22, 1963   John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas Texas. Kennedy was fatally shot by a sniper while traveling with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Mrs Nellie...

Read More
Who Lost His Address Book from a Helicopter Over the Greek Islands?
Nov20

Who Lost His Address Book from a Helicopter Over the Greek Islands?

Dorothy Kilgallen’s famous question on What’s My Line. It’s no secret that I am obssessed with watching old episodes of What’s My Line on You Tube. I mean, the old versions from the late fifties and early sixties. They are simply brilliant. And one of my favourite panellists was Dorothy Kilgallen. She was very astute. especially when it came to guessing the identity of the mystery guest. If you’re...

Read More
Rocco DiSpirito: Cook Your Butt Off!
Nov19

Rocco DiSpirito: Cook Your Butt Off!

Rocco DiSpirito: Cook Your Butt Off! I would have really preferred Mr DiSpirito to have called this fascinating book something else, but never mind. It’s still pretty amazing and as for the recipes – wow. Yes, this is a weight loss book but it’s certainly one with a difference and something I love is that it’s incredibly easy to follow. Rocco gives a two-week eating plan, plus the recipes and shopping lists,...

Read More
Norman Rockwell: Fake!
Nov18

Norman Rockwell: Fake!

The Norman Rockwell painting that was a fake. Breaking Home Ties is one of America’s favourite illustrations.It was created by Norman Rockwell in 1954, originally for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. For years it was exhibited and admired by the American people but there was just one minor detail – it was a fake. More than fifty years after it had been painted, it was discovered that the artwork on display was a...

Read More
Lord Lucan
Nov17

Lord Lucan

Who was Lord Lucan? And even more importantly, what happened to him? What was the eventual fate of this member of the British aristocracy who, it’s claimed, murdered his children’s nanny mistaking her for his estranged wife? These strange events took place on November 7th, 1974 and Lord Lucan, nicknamed Lucky by his friends, was never seen again. Did he kill himself in remorse after murdering his children’s nanny?...

Read More
Kanga: Camilla’s Rival, Lady Dale Tryon
Nov16

Kanga: Camilla’s Rival, Lady Dale Tryon

Prince Charles’ other mistress, Kanga If you look up Dale Tryon in Wikipedia, you will read that she was a ‘close friend of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales’. That is not strictly speaking true.  Dale, known by the nickname of Kanga, was actually Charles’ mistress prior to his marriage and as such, a rival for his affections. Her story is tragic. Charles loved women who were blonde, attractive and...

Read More
Who was Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne?
Nov14

Who was Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne?

Suzanne: The girl in the song. Arguably, Leonard Cohen’s most famous song is Suzanne. But who was Suzanne and what inspired the song? Like Cohen, Suzanne Verdal was Canadian. Despite what many people believe,she was not a girlfriend  of his but they had a platonic friendship. And surprisingly, the lyrics of the song – which Cohen wrote originally as a poem – are quite literal. Suzanne really did live in a...

Read More
Charles and Camilla
Nov13

Charles and Camilla

Charles and Camilla. Can you imagine what it must have been like for the-then Camilla Parker Bowles before 2005? She knew, as the world knew, that Prince Charles wanted to marry her. Charles’ mother, the queen, knew and liked Camilla. So did his two sons. But what about the world’s public? The consensus of the British people was that he should be able to marry exactly who he wanted to and, after all, the relationship had...

Read More
Florida Murder – The Sea Waif
Nov12

Florida Murder – The Sea Waif

The date was November 12th, 1963.  A crew member aboard the Gulf Lion, a tanker, spotted a small boat in the distance. In it was a man, waving frantically. The ship changed course and headed to the tiny boat and saw its single live occupant, a middle-aged man. Also in the dinghy was a seven year old girl – not alive, sadly. The man told his rescuers that his name was Julian Harvey. He had been the captain of a sixty foot...

Read More
Looking at Paintings (4) – ‘Trenches’
Nov11

Looking at Paintings (4) – ‘Trenches’

On the 1st July 1916, the Battle of the Somme was launched during World War One. By the end of that day alone 60,000 British and Empire troops had been killed or wounded. It should be remembered too, that the overall Somme campaign led to over half a million German casualties. Among the advancing troops on the 1st July 1916 were 2,000 members of the ‘Bradford Pals’ – men drawn together as volunteers at the start of the war from the...

Read More
Moqueca de Peixe: Grand Prix Gourmet, Brazil
Nov10

Moqueca de Peixe: Grand Prix Gourmet, Brazil

Moqueca de Peixe: Brazilian Fish Stew. This has been a popular dish in Brazil for at least three hundred years. (Deservedly). It’s easy to make and when served with boiled rice, the quantity shown in the recipe below will feed at least eight people for a hearty meal. Make sure that there’s plenty of lovely fresh, crusty bread available too so that your guests can mop up the delicious sauce. I like to make sure that...

Read More
The Angels of Mons
Nov08

The Angels of Mons

The Angels of Mons: Did they save British soldiers in the First World War? Many people believed so at the time. The First World War – and the following years – saw a huge increase in the belief of spiritualism and the supernatural. We can understand this. So many young men were killed in the conflict and it was comforting for their loved ones to believe that they had gone to’a better place’ — and that...

Read More
The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard
Nov08

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard: Review  A James Maxted Thriller I was lucky in having a review copy of this book so that I could alert you to it so that you could pre-order. I highly recommend it. The story will intrigue you from the first page. Set in 1919, the book opens with James Maxted, a World War 1 flyer, sizing up a couple of planes that he intends to buy to start a flying school. But his negotiations are interrupted...

Read More
Life on a WW1 U-Boat
Nov08

Life on a WW1 U-Boat

 What was life like aboard a WW1 U-boat? You have probably never pondered this question. Neither had I until I read a book which, as part of the narrative, explained what life was like aboard for the crew of a German sub in the First World War. And it sounds like a nightmare. Hellish, in fact. Of course, life in any submarine is, or was,  likely to be claustrophobic. In the last century, it’s likely that fresh air was something...

Read More
The Clocks of Windsor Castle
Nov04

The Clocks of Windsor Castle

The Queen’s Clockmaker. Steve Davidson has a fantastic job. He is in charge of the many clocks at Windsor Castle, one of the residences of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. But on two weekends of every year he has a truly unenviable job – the weekend in spring when he has to put the clocks forward and then in autumn when they need to be put back an hour. How many clocks? Including the royal residence itself, outbuildings and...

Read More
The Perfect Chaise with Storage
Nov03

The Perfect Chaise with Storage

The storage chaise. A perfect solution for small spaces. When space is at a premium in your home, it’s wonderful to find a stylish and chic piece of furniture that is so useful, wonderfully attractive and even gives you extra storage in your room. This comfortable seat will provide you with extra seating for guests, it’s the perfect item for a reading nook and it even makes a convenient spare bed for a child. It’s 63...

Read More
Songs about Cities – Liverpool
Nov02

Songs about Cities – Liverpool

When I was old enough to know about Liverpool it was almost being talked about in the past tense.  Liverpool for three hundred years was a magnificent seaport, the second city of Empire, with a flourishing trade with Virginia and the English colonies in America. It grew even larger during the industrial revolution as most of the English north east’s trade left via Liverpool docks. During the 20th century, especially after World...

Read More
Today in history: November
Nov01

Today in history: November

What happened on this day in November? 1st Abigail’s Party shown on TV for the first time Ricardo Rodriguez died 1962 L. S. Lowry born 1887 2nd George Bernard Shaw died 1950 3rd Bert Jansch born 1943 Lulu born 1948 4th Reg Dean born 1902 Marguerite Patten born 1915 Robert Mapplethorpe born 1946 5th John Fowles died 2005 Idina Sackville died 1955 John Alcock born 1892 6th SS City of Cairo torpedoed 1942 Charles McVay died 1968...

Read More
William Grover Williams: Racing Driver and Spy
Nov01

William Grover Williams: Racing Driver and Spy

The curious life and death of Grand Prix driver, William Grover Williams. Yes, William Grover was a racing driver and some motorsport historians will probably know his name because he was the winner of the inaugural Monte Carlo Grand Prix in 1929. But his life was much more fascinating than that last sentences implies.   He was British, having had an English father and a British mother. It was evident that he had a huge interest...

Read More
Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
Nov01

Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

My colleague, Andy Royston, recently wrote an article about the music of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. He referred to the standard of music in 1960 until the time when the King-Goffin combo came up with Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. In fact, he referred to 1960 music as being ‘drivel’ and cited as an example, Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. Now on the basis of quality music, I will admit that Bikini isn’t...

Read More