Halloween Safety
Oct12

Halloween Safety

Halloween is nearly here and kids big and small are all trying to figure out just what they are going to “dress up” as, or what character they will be for October’s Fright Night. The possibilities are endless, and I’m sure that the young ones will change their minds at least a dozen times or more. What shouldn’t change though, is the need for safety, while our kids are out there having their ghoulishly good times. Safety doesn’t have...

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Unquiet Spirits: Bonnie MacBird
Oct09

Unquiet Spirits: Bonnie MacBird

Unquiet Spirits: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure. On the cover of this book, right underneath the titles, are three words that give the potential reader a clue as to what they can expect: Whisky, Ghosts, Murder. Yes, it seems like a strange combination, doesn’t it? But author Bonnie MacBird has skillfully entwined these to create a new Sherlock Holmes novel that will truly be hard for you to put down. Are you a little wary of modern...

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Did Ruth Ellis Really Shoot her Lover?
Jun21

Did Ruth Ellis Really Shoot her Lover?

Did Ruth Ellis really shoot David Blakely? The world certainly thought so in 1955. It’s said that on Easter Sunday of that year, she had followed David Blakely – a racing driver – to outside a London pub. When she confronted him – their relationship had been stormy of late – she took a revolver from her handbag and shot him repeatedly. He died at once. Ruth did not run away or try to hide. She was...

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The First Rule, by Robert Crais, A Book Review
Jun20

The First Rule, by Robert Crais, A Book Review

The First Rule, by Robert Crais, A Book Review. It’s always a treat to get back to Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, the featured characters in many of Robert Crais’ novels. You grow so fond of both of them during the series, you get anxious to see what they will get into next. Usually in the series, Elvis is the lead, outgoing and witty, working at their detective agency. In this book, Joe Pike takes the lead. He is not so outgoing, or so...

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British Royal Family: What is Their Surname?
Jun19

British Royal Family: What is Their Surname?

What surname do the British royal family use? This has been a huge controversy on a few occasions in the past. It was brought to a head again in 1952 when the new Queen Elizabeth II was advised by her private secretary and the prime minister (Winston Churchill) to retain the name the family had been using since the First World War, , that of Windsor. This was a problem for Prince Philip. His family name was Mountbatten and he was...

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Who Was Ivan Vaughan?
Jun18

Who Was Ivan Vaughan?

Ivan Vaughan might have changed your life 🙂 It’s unlikely that you know the name though. And he didn’t invent anything, he wasn’t a captain of industry or a pioneering scientist. In fact he was just a normal bloke and a schoolteacher for many of his adult years. He didn’t come from an extraordinary family and went to an ordinary school. Growing up, he had friends of course. One in particular friend was exactly...

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Stephanie Hoffnung
Jun17

Stephanie Hoffnung

Stephanie Hoffnung: Just one Jew. June 1942: Every evening, German SS officers would hammer on the door of the Hoffnung family’s home in Rue Riffault, Poitiers. This was occupied France and the Hoffnungs were Jewish. Led by Adjutant Wilhelm Hipp, the officers would visit Jewish homes to ensure that they were complying with the various rules and curfews that had been imposed. Any deviation from these rules and regulations could...

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Florida’s German Invasion
Jun16

Florida’s German Invasion

In early summer 1942 a German submarine, U-584, lay off the coast of Florida close to Jacksonville. On June 16th it surfaced and a small rubber inflatable dinghy was launched. Four men hastily climbed into the tiny craft. They wore swimming trunks and woollen caps. They each had a suitcase containing a variety of American made clothing. Also, they loaded four wooden crates into the dinghy – these contained explosives. They also...

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Christine Granville
Jun15

Christine Granville

The strange story of Krystyna Skarbek. On June 15th, 1952, a woman’s body was found in the Shelbourne Hotel in London.  She had been murdered, stabbed in the heart. The authorities believed her to be a thirty-seven year old married woman who worked as a stewardess on ocean liners. This was only partially true. Christine Granville was forty four year old Krystyna Skarbek, the daughter of a Polish nobleman. Yes she had been...

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Diana Mitford
Jun14

Diana Mitford

Diana Mitford and Oswald Mosley. The true story of Diana Mitford is wonderfully scandalous and took place during an eventful period in history. The ingredients in her story include the British aristocracy, millionaires, the upper echelons of society, affairs, Hitler, royalty and more – mostly set in wartime Britain. But it is also the story of two people in love who were vilified by the general public – to some extent,...

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Trooping the Colour 1981
Jun13

Trooping the Colour 1981

Shots fired at Queen Elizabeth II. In June 1981, Queen Elizabeth was taking part in the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London. In those days, she rode on horseback during the event. And it was during the ceremony, attended by cheering people, that six shots were fired at her from the crowd. It was a testament to her skills as a horsewoman and her unflappable character because she did not panic even in the face of what was...

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The Monsanto House of the Future
Jun12

The Monsanto House of the Future

A glimpse into the future in the nineteen fifties. I know that this sounds like something Doc Emmett Brown would say but it’s interesting to go back and see what ideas people had about the future. In 1957 the idea of the future was something that fascinated the Disney organisation and also a firm called the Monsanto Company. They thought, in common with Mr. Robinson from The Graduate, that the future could be summed up in one...

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The Le Mans Disaster 1955
Jun11

The Le Mans Disaster 1955

Le Mans, 1955. The prestigious and exciting Twenty Four Hours of Le Mans race, or Les 24 Heures du Mans, is the oldest sportscar race in the world, having been run since 1923. It is also one of the most dangerous. Twenty two drivers have died there in total but this figure doesn’t include serious injury or other personnel such as marshals, track employees and spectators. The worst of these events was the 1955 Le Mans race when a...

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Grand Prix Gourmet – Canada: Whole Wheat Grain
Jun10

Grand Prix Gourmet – Canada: Whole Wheat Grain

A Wheat Recipe from Western Canada. In my home it was traditional to prepare a soup of wheat to dine on over the Christmas season. This delicious sweet food was looked forward to as a traditional Christmas dish and one that could be served either before or after the evening meal. The recipe itself comes from very humble beginnings.The origins of this wheat dish began long ago when farming families faced poorer times and would dine on...

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Is Prince Philip Greek?
Jun10

Is Prince Philip Greek?

Is Prince Philip really Greek? Prince Philip is often known as ‘Phil the Greek’. Often, when people use this nickname, they also make sniggering comment about kebab shops. But is it really the case? It’s true that he was born on Greek soil – on the island of Corfu to be precise – but it’s also true that he doesn’t have a drop of Greek blood. The fact remains though that he is a prince of...

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Gonna Be Alright – A Tribute to Abram Wilson
Jun09

Gonna Be Alright – A Tribute to Abram Wilson

An appreciation of Abram Wilson, written by Andy Royston. All photos by Benjamin Amure courtesy of the Abram Wilson Foundation. Gonna Be Alright – A Tribute to Abram Wilson. ” It’s about finding the inspiration and the energy to overcome any obstacles that might stand in your way as far as playing this music is concerned. You have to be a warrior to get through. It’s somebody who won’t stop pushing, who won’t give up on...

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Who Was Violet Sharp?
Jun08

Who Was Violet Sharp?

Violet Sharp and the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. Who was Violet Sharp? It was a famous and horrific crime. In 1932, the twenty-month-old son of one of the most famous men in American was kidnapped and an enormous ransom was demanded. The father of the infant, Charles Lindbergh, had come to the attention of the American public due to his exploits an an aviation pioneer. The baby had been taken from his crib during the evening...

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The D-Day Crossword Mystery
Jun06

The D-Day Crossword Mystery

WW2: Were coded messages sent to the enemy via crossword puzzles? In the spring of 1944, Allied forces were preparing for the largest ever seaborne invasion in history. This top secret mission, which we now know as D-Day, was vital to the war.  It took months of planning and secrecy was vital. As with all military operations, code words were used for the locations, various equipment and the operation itself. As preparations continued...

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If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?
Jun04

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? By Alan Alda: Book Review Yes, that Alan Alda. Hawkeye. M*A*S*H. When this book landed on the review desk at JAQUO HQ my immediate thought was ‘Alan Alda – must be well worth reading’. Then I saw the tag line under the title – My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communication. Hmm. Well… But then I remembered the great title –...

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Pear and blue cheese pizza recipe
Jun04

Pear and blue cheese pizza recipe

 Pear and blue cheese pizza – delicious recipe We love pizza. I don’t think I’ll ever be bored with it. I’m pretty convinced that I could eat pizza every day if I had to. But, well,there are other considerations such as calories and cholesterol and all those boring things. Boring yes, but we do have to pay attention. This doesn’t mean that I will ever (hopefully) have to give up a delicious Pizza...

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Mrs Miniver
Jun04

Mrs Miniver

Mrs Miniver: The woman who won the war. Well, not literally but Winston Churchill said that her contribution to the war was worth more than six ‘divisions of war effort’ and that she had done more for the war effort than a ‘flotilla of battleships’. So who was she? Even more surprising than Churchill’s praise was the fact that she was a fictional character. But it’s said that she affected the...

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Wallis Simpson’s Wedding Dress
Jun03

Wallis Simpson’s Wedding Dress

Wallis Simpson’s wedding dress. Not a fashion success. In the nineteen thirties, when King Edward VIII gave up the throne of England for Mrs Wallis Simpson, many people just couldn’t understand what this highly eligible bachelor saw in her. Many  still don’t understand the attraction. In those days, and ever since, she has been described as a ‘fashion icon’. There is little photographic evidence to...

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Man mailed himself from England to Australia
Jun02

Man mailed himself from England to Australia

Man mailed himself from England to Australia. In 1964, Australian athlete, Reg Spiers, was stuck in the UK. He desperately wanted to get home to Australia but couldn’t afford the fare. So his solution was to have himself mailed home as freight. The system allowed freight to be sent cash-on-delivery, so no up-front payment was required. Reg reckoned that he’d find a way to pay for his flight (in a box in the cargo hold)...

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The Titanic: Wallace Hartley tribute violin
Jun01

The Titanic: Wallace Hartley tribute violin

Arthur Lancaster’s tribute violin: Created in memory of Wallace Hartley Wallace Hartley was the bandleader of the small orchestra on board RMS Titanic. All the band members were lost in the sinking. Wallace was just thirty three at the time and had just become engaged. (The average age of the musicians at the time of the sinking was just twenty six). Wallace had been born in Colne, Lancashire, and  had played the violin in the...

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The Sad Story of Prince Friedrich
May29

The Sad Story of Prince Friedrich

The sad story of Prince Friedrich of Hesse. Who was the prince? He was a grandchild of Queen Victoria – the son of her daughter Alice. Princess Alice married Grand Duke Louis, a member of the German royal family. Friedrich was their fifth child. When just a toddler, he was diagnosed as having haemophilia which, as we know, was hereditary  and passed down from Queen Victoria herself. Although Friedrich’s parents were...

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Princess Gabriella, Countess of Carladès
May28

Princess Gabriella, Countess of Carladès

Who is Princess Gabriella? You see, the thing is this. I have decided who Prince George ought to marry. OK, I know that he was born in 2013 so marriage is hardly on his list of priorities right now.  So yes, I’m a bit premature. Marriage might not be on the cards for another twenty five or thirty years by which time I might no longer be around (I’ll be amazed if I am) so I’m going to get my selection in now. I know...

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Grand Prix Gourmet: Quiche Monaco
May27

Grand Prix Gourmet: Quiche Monaco

Quiche Monaco recipe Everyone should have a great quiche recipe in their repertoire. Quiche is incredibly adaptable and you can vary the fillings depending on your taste and the ingredients you have to hand. This delicious version features wonderful goat cheese and some additional fabulous flavours. Use your favourite pastry recipe or, which is what I do these days, use frozen. The great thing about quiche is that it can be served as...

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When is Towel Day?
May25

When is Towel Day?

What is Towel Day? I’m surprised that you have to ask. Although if you are a Douglas Adams fan – and in particular a devoteé of the amazing Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy – you are very familiar with Towel Day. The Guide is a fictional (um, obviously) handbook for those who are hitching their way through space and everything that entails. Should you ever find yourself hitchhiking in the galaxy (and you never...

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Frank Stranahan
May22

Frank Stranahan

Fort Lauderdale history: Frank Stranahan. It’s generally accepted that Frank Stranahan from Ohio was the first permanent resident in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When he arrived, Fort Lauderdale didn’t actually exist. It was a settlement of just handful of people on the New River. Seminole Indians lived in the Everglades nearby but in general, the are was inhospitable with a stifling climate, dangerous wildlife and lots and...

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When Fats Waller Met Al Capone
May21

When Fats Waller Met Al Capone

 When Fats Waller Met Al Capone. Fats should have seen it coming. But playing at the Sherman House Hotel, in the swinging heart of Chicago’s loop, he must have felt safe from the mob. As the song goes, the joint was jumpin’. Fats was only 21 years old in ’26 but he was already a big draw. He’d been making records for four years and was about to enter his first peak period. His solo stride piano and pipe organ...

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The Mystery of the Saddleworth Moor Body
May20

The Mystery of the Saddleworth Moor Body

The mystery of the body found on Saddleworth Moor. One morning a cyclist found the dead body of an elderly man in a remote spot on a moor with a grisly history. At first, the cyclist thought the man was sleeping or resting, but no. When the police arrived it was discovered that the man had no identification, no cellphone — and it seemed that he had taken his own life. But who was he? The body was discovered on December 12th,...

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Scandal:  John Lennon and Alma Cogan
May19

Scandal: John Lennon and Alma Cogan

Yoko Ono did not break up the Lennon’s marriage. Cynthia Lennon, the first wife of John, died on April 1st, 2015. Four days later, a newspaper broke the story that she had told a reporter, back in 1989, that it wasn’t Yoko Ono that had split up the Lennon marriage. Cynthia had revealed, the newspaper said, that the breakup of the marriage was due to a once-famous but then-fading British singer called Alma Cogan (pictured)....

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Surrounded by Enemies: Bryce Zabel
May17

Surrounded by Enemies: Bryce Zabel

‘JFK was not killed at Dallas’. This is the premise of the fascinating novel, Surrounded by Enemies. Author Bryce Zabel has woven a plausible and thoroughly-imagined fictional series of events that might have taken place had Kennedy suirvived. Maybe you have your own theory about how America would have developed over the years if Kennedy had lived? It’s a subject that many people – the general public and expert...

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Who Was Ellen Church?
May15

Who Was Ellen Church?

Ellen Church: The first air hostess. In 1930, Ellen was ideally qualified to become the first air hostess. She was a registered pilot and a qualified nurse. In those days, airlines wouldn’t employ female pilots (for reasons known only to them) but Ellen persuaded them that cabin crew should be trained in nursing. Flying was a rather hazardous business in those days — you only have to think of the large number of...

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The Loudness of Jack Bruce
May14

The Loudness of Jack Bruce

“Cream’s last year was extremely painful for me. When we started in 1966, Eric and Jack had one Marshall each. Then it became a stack, then a double stack and finally a triple stack. By 1968, I was just the poor bastard stuck in the middle of these incredible noise-making things. It was ridiculous. I used to get back to the hotel and my ears were roaring.” Ginger Baker, Drummer: Cream Jack Bruce had been playing upright...

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Shrimp in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Grand Prix Gourmet, Spain
May13

Shrimp in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Grand Prix Gourmet, Spain

  Spain is famous for its delicious satisfying cuisine, with certain dishes in particular.  Paella, gazpacho, flan, to name a few.  But there are so many other wonderful dishes, many including shrimp or other seafood.  This is a favorite featuring shrimp in a rich tomato sauce, spiced up with red chili pepper. It sounds wonderful! Since their schedule is quite different from the usual American schedule, this main dish is usually...

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Kathleen Kennedy
May13

Kathleen Kennedy

Four months before he was assassinated in Dallas in 1963, American president John Kennedy visited Ireland. Most people thought that he then flew directly to London from the US but in fact, he detoured to the tiny village of Edensor in England. There he laid a wreath on the grave of his younger sister, Kathleen. How had she died and why was she buried in a country churchyard in Derbyshire? Who was Kathleen Kennedy? Kathleen Cavendish...

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ValuJet Flight 592
May11

ValuJet Flight 592

The crash of ValuJet Flight 592. This was the worst aviation accident in Florida and happened on May 11th, 1996. The plane crashed into the Florida Everglades. There were no survivors. The aircraft took off from Dallas-Fort Worth at 8.20 in the morning. It was bound for Miami and there was a scheduled stop in Atlanta. Everything went as usual. At 2.30 in the afternoon, the plane was cleared for takeoff from Miami Airport for its...

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Bob Marley
May11

Bob Marley

Bob Marley Being from England, it always surprises me to discover that people have English ancestry. Did you know that Bob Marley’s father was English? Bob’s mother was only eighteen when she married Norval Marley – he was about sixty and the supervisor of a plantation in Jamaica. Bob was the result, although the couple split up when he was just a baby and Norval died ten years later. Bob rarely spoke about him in...

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The Cavendon Women: Barbara Taylor Bradford
May10

The Cavendon Women: Barbara Taylor Bradford

The Cavendon Women: Barbara Taylor Bradford This is exactly the sort of book to choose when you need a little light, but dramatic reading. It’s set in the nineteen twenties and features the lives of the members of an aristocratic family in England. You’ll certainly see how the other half lived. But the characters in the book are strangely appealing and you’ll be drawn in by the trials and complexities of their lives...

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Occupied by the Germans in WW2: The ChanneI Islands
May09

Occupied by the Germans in WW2: The ChanneI Islands

Under Nazi rule: Jersey, Alderney, Sark and Guernsey The scene that you see above is a typical one and shows the British island of Jersey before the Second World War. What a peaceful scene it is. The castle overlooks the calm, blue sea. Jersey cows are contentedly grazing. There is rolling countryside and a man and boy sit enjoying the scenery and the peace of the island. But this traditional and sleepy, rural way of life was to...

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The Princesses and V.E Day
May08

The Princesses and V.E Day

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, 1945. On May 7th, 1945, the BBC interrupted a broadcast of piano music to declare that the following day would henceforth be known as ‘Victory in Europe Day’. Hitler had killed himself several days before and the German forces had surrendered. On the following day the crowds outside Buckingham Palace were greater than they had been for the coronation of the king, George VII.  The crowds...

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The Sinking of the Lusitania
May07

The Sinking of the Lusitania

Why is the Titanic better known than the Lusitania? It seems that the fate of the Titanic captured the imagination of the public much more than that of the Lusitania. Yet it seems that the story of the Lusitania is more dramatic,if not more so. They both ended up at the bottom of the ocean, of course, but whereas the Titanic met its end because of an iceberg, the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine during the First World...

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Ivy Benson
May06

Ivy Benson

Who was Ivy Benson? Have you heard of Ivy Benson? I doubt you have but her story is fascinating. Unusually, she was the leader of a swing band in England during the Second World War – and it was an all-girls band. They were incredibly popular. Women came into their own during World War Two. They drove trucks and buses, flew planes, worked as machinists and engineers, worked decoding messages and in general, took over the jobs of...

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Mexican Cabbage Salad
May04

Mexican Cabbage Salad

Mexican Cabbage Salad Mexican Cabbage Salad is another recipe I’ve tried to replicate from a favorite local restaurant in San Diego. Cinco de Mayo or anytime, it’s a family favorite. It brings back memories of leisurely dinners complete with margaritas, chips and salsa, and friends. We often enjoyed sharing one of these salads with our dinner order. Usually we make coleslaw with mayo, but this is so crisp and refreshing with oil and...

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Bing Crosby
May03

Bing Crosby

Who doesn’t remember that one voice in a lifetime Bing Crosby? If you are too young to remember, or think that you have never heard him sing, think again. If you have listened to any radio station around the holidays then you have probably heard his voice. The famous song “White Christmas” is played over and over again during the Holiday season. Written by Irving Berlin “White Christmas” was the biggest hit of Bing...

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The Loch Ness Monster
May02

The Loch Ness Monster

 Couple saw Nessie ambling across the road. The Loch Ness Monster was a thing of myth and legend dating originally from 565 AD. But the modern news about the ‘existence’ of the Loch Ness Monster was originally broken in the  Scottish press in May 1933. A few months later,a Mr and Mrs Spicer reported that they too had seen the monster who was casually ambling across a country road adjacent to the loch. He (or she) was...

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Ayrton Senna
Apr30

Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna: Early years. For many of us, Ayrton Senna was the greatest racing driver ever. Even those who aren’t race enthusiasts know that the World Champion Brazilian was tragically killed racing at Imola in 1994. But what about his early life?  Ayrton Senna: Ten things you might not know It’s often said that Ayrton was from a wealthy background but that’s relative. It’s true that for many people in his...

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The Bonnie and Clyde Death Car
Apr30

The Bonnie and Clyde Death Car

What happened to Bonnie and Clyde’s car? In March 1934 a roofing contractor from Kansas was looking for a new car. Jesse Warren chose a Ford V-8 and he paid $785 for it. Jesse had only been the proud owner of the car for a few weeks when it was stolen – by the notorious outlaws, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Bonnie and Clyde only enjoyed the car for a few weeks because on May  23rd they were ambushed by the police in...

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The Hitchcock Blondes
Apr29

The Hitchcock Blondes

Who were the Hitchcock blondes? They were a trademark of Alfred Hitchcock’s many movies. I should say one of the trademarks because another was his habit of appearing in tiny cameo roles Horror and suspense were Hitchcock’s true specialities and this was enhanced – deliberately – by his use of what he referred to as ‘icy blondes’. See the quote below. In the middle of the suspense, their was...

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Beef Stroganoff: Grand Prix Gourmet, Russia
Apr29

Beef Stroganoff: Grand Prix Gourmet, Russia

If you enjoy delicious stews, then this is a must! Beef Stroganoff is a traditional Russian dish made with strips of lean sirloin steak cooked in a sauce of onions, cream and mushrooms. The beef must be cut into thin strips that are half an inch thick and about 2 inches in length. All fat must be removed.   Save Print Beef Stroganoff Rating  5 from 1 reviews Prep time:  30 mins Cook time:  1 hour Total time:  1...

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Guy Bradley: Murder in the Everglades
Apr25

Guy Bradley: Murder in the Everglades

Guy Bradley: A true story about an environmental murder. Does environmental murder seem to be strange description? This is the true story that took place in the Florida Everglades in 1905. At and before the turn of the century, there was a huge fashion in America that dictated that the truly stylish woman wore hats decorated with bird plumes. In order to satisfy the trade, beautiful birds – many endangered – were shot in...

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Who Was Rolf Stommelen?
Apr23

Who Was Rolf Stommelen?

Who was Rolf Stommelen? He was a successful Formula One driver whose racing life was dogged by tragedy.He raced in the days when motorsport safety was absolutely non-existent to the standards we are used to seeing today. Those were the days when Jackie Stewart (and the phrase was later borrowed by Ron Howard) said that ‘sex was safe and motorsport was dangerous’. Sadly, he is probably best known today for being involved in...

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The Rhythm Club Fire of 1940
Apr23

The Rhythm Club Fire of 1940

The Natchez Dance Hall Fire of 1940. At 11.30 pm,on the night of 23rd April, 1940, hundreds of people were enjoying listening to music and dancing at a venue called the Rhythm Club in Natchez, Mississippi. Before midnight, at least two hundred of them were dead. Fire had blazed its way through the packed single-storey building. Just a few weeks before the fire the owner,  Edward Frazier, had boarded up with windows to that people...

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George Cole
Apr22

George Cole

Actor George Cole. George Cole started his acting career when he was fifteen and continued until 2015. At the time of his death in that year, he had just finished making a movie. His first break came along in 1940 when he was cast in a film that was released the following year. George had been given up for adoption at birth and the British actor Alastair Sim took him in along with his adopted mother. George first came to the attention...

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Who Was Toby Halicki?
Apr21

Who Was Toby Halicki?

Toby Halicki: Movie tragedy Toby was a film producer who had a cult following because of his car-crash movies. He produced and appeared in the films he made, and also took part as a stunt driver. But in 1989, a stunt that he’d fought for went terribly wrong. He was filming a sequel, Gone in 60 Seconds II, a follow-up to a movie he had made in 1974. A highlight of the movie was a truck colliding with a water tower- see the video...

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Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler: By Trudi Kanter
Apr20

Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler: By Trudi Kanter

Holocaust memoir from Vienna. Trudi is an independent young woman – a hat designer – separated from her husband and living in Vienna just before the outbreak of the Second World War. She falls in love with Walter, a charming and intelligent man. Her parents live nearby, Trudi has her wonderful man and her own flourishing business. What could possibly go wrong? Of course, we know the answer to that question now –...

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Isadora Duncan
Apr18

Isadora Duncan

Who was Isadora Duncan? Although she was American, Isadora Duncan was virtually unknown in the States during her short and rather scandalous lifetime. A free-spirited dancer, she found her fame in Europe. When she first appeared on the stage in Victorian New York, the public was scandalised. One critic wrote: “This woman is an outrage, scandalous and a threat to all decent societies. She should be locked up at the earliest...

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The Lives and Loves of Violette Morris
Apr18

The Lives and Loves of Violette Morris

The curious life of Violette Morris   See this chap here? Well actually, this is Violette Morris; not a chap after all but a Frenchwoman who was born in 1893. She rose to fame as a sportswoman, excelling in those sports that require strength and power such as shot put and javelin. She was also keen on boxing, soccer  and, as you can see in the photograph here, motor racing. Violette wasn’t just a tomboy, she was a confirmed...

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Eddie Cochran
Apr17

Eddie Cochran

Eddie Cochran In 1959, Eddie Cochran found out about the tragic deaths of his young fellow musicians, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. They had been killed on tour when their plane crashed in bad weather. Eddie’s friends and family said that this led him towards thoughts of his own doom and that he too was destined to die young. Fourteen months later, when Eddie was on tour in England, he too was killed in an accident....

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The Great Train Robbery
Apr16

The Great Train Robbery

How the Great Train Robbers gave themselves away. On August 8th, 1963, a gang of masked men robbed a high-speed mail train. They got away with £2.6 million. That would be the equivalent of almost fifty million pounds today. The robbery had been well-planned. The self-appointed leader, Bruce Reynolds, had planned the robbery meticulously. The train was attacked when it was in open countryside, far away from any towns or villages. The...

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Myths Surrounding the Sinking of RMS Titanic.
Apr15

Myths Surrounding the Sinking of RMS Titanic.

Myths & questions surrounding the sinking of RMS Titanic. It still fascinates us, doesn’t it? And yet it seems that over the years there have been many myths and legends that have appeared surrounding the loss of the RMS Titanic. Many of these, I suspect, have been due to the films that have been made about the sinking. It’s such a good subject for a movie and it’s hardly surprising that filmmakers want to add...

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Grand Prix Gourmet:  Bahrain Chickpeas
Apr14

Grand Prix Gourmet: Bahrain Chickpeas

Chickpea Stew Recipe. This is a lovely recipe that is ideal for a family meal – or to serve to a crowd; just adjust the ingredients accordingly. It takes a while to cook but needs little attention. It’s my interpretation of a recipe from my favourite cookbook. If I forget to soak the chickpeas beforehand, I use the canned variety but it’s an amazingly value-for-money, satisfying meal. Serve with a salad and crusty...

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Percy Sledge
Apr14

Percy Sledge

Percy Sledge: When a Man Loves a Woman Did you know that Percy Sledge’s song, When a Man Loves a Woman, was based on his own experience? When he wrote the song, he had just been dumped by his girlfriend. He understood at the time that she had left him for another man. Someone had told him that was the reason why she had disappeared from his life and gone to New York. In an interview, he later said that the original title of the...

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Marthe Cohn
Apr13

Marthe Cohn

Behind Enemy Lines: Marthe Cohn The number of people who took part in the Second World War is slowly dwindling. But it’s important that we should never forget them- and the heroism that so many of them showed during that terrible conflict. You can read about many of them in this book by Marthe Cohn. Marthe  Hoffnung (her maiden name) was born in 1920 and was still a teenager when war broke out.  Yet she worked as  spy,...

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Josephine Baker
Apr12

Josephine Baker

The Joséphine Baker Story. Until I recently read a biography about Josephine Baker, I had only the haziest idea about who she was. Little did I know what a truly fascinating life she had. It’s amazing that someone who had such  a poor start in life could achieve so much. The book tells so many fascinating stories about her life – and it wasn’t always an easy one. She inherited her terrific looks from her mother,...

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‘Freaks’ in Victorian times
Apr11

‘Freaks’ in Victorian times

‘Freaks’ in Victorian times. Of all the many and varied ‘facts’ we know about the Victorian era, one is that they loved freak shows. They would queue to see conjoined twins, bearded ladies, midgets, fat ladies and other ‘freaks’ who deviated from the norm. That’s one of the things we tend to dislike about the Victorian era in today’s politically-correct world. But were those people who...

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Archibald McIndoe
Apr10

Archibald McIndoe

Archibald McIndoe was a pioneer.  During the Second World War, little was known about plastic surgery and yet for the first time, medical staff were seeing men with horrendous burn injuries due to the highly flammable aircraft fuel. Not only were doctors unsure how to rebuild these badly ‘disfigured’ men, they also had no idea that the person himself needed treatment for more than just physical wounds. Archibald McIndoe...

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Omar Sharif
Apr10

Omar Sharif

Actor Omar Sharif: Alzheimer’s sufferer. In May 2015 Tarek Sharif, the son of actor Omar, announced that his eighty-three year old father was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He reported that the first signs were memory loss. He was still aware that he was a well-known actor and remembered most of the films he made but confuses them. He couldn’t easily recall his co-stars of where the films were made. The positive...

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Charles and Camilla
Apr09

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...

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Grand Prix Gourmet: Chinese Walnut Chicken
Apr08

Grand Prix Gourmet: Chinese Walnut Chicken

 Taking an authentic recipe from 1941 to 2015 Walnut Chicken is an “authentic recipe from Shanghai”  that was found in an old edition of the Milwaukee Sentinel (April 21, 1941).  Back then the article spoke of how few recipes Americans used for Chinese cooking, the main one being Chop Suey.  They introduced this recipe as a delightful way to combine of egg with chicken.  Thankfully, we have come a long way since then! If...

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Silsden Riot!
Apr08

Silsden Riot!

RIOT! The small town of Silsden, a few miles from Ilkley, in West Yorkshire is a quiet, law-abiding place; little disturbs the peace there today. But on Saturday April 8th 1911, over 400 local people protested outside – and many attacked – their local police station, smashing every window in the building and in the police house next door. Policemen hid inside the building and the police sergeant’s wife and children locked...

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Sirio Maccioni and Le Cirque
Apr06

Sirio Maccioni and Le Cirque

The biography of a restaurateur extraordinaire.  Sirio Maccioni was born into a poor Italian family of farmers in the nineteen thirties. And yet this extraordinary man became the most important restaurateur in America, if not the world. The philosophy behind his success was simple. He believed in hard work — it’s as simple as that. He believed in the traditional Italian values that had been passed to him from his family...

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Down With Kurt Cobain
Apr05

Down With Kurt Cobain

Down With Kurt Cobain By Andy Royston Montage of Heck, a documentary film about the rock star Kurt Cobain, begins and ends with film of an adorable little boy, aged around eighteen months old. The film’s executive producer, Kurt’s daughter Frances Bean, was around the same age when her father was found dead at his Seattle home. He’d taken his own life. As a viewer one is left to contemplate the nature of...

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Viv Nicholson. The Party’s Over
Apr03

Viv Nicholson. The Party’s Over

Viv Nicholson – Spend, Spend, Spend Many years ago, I was in a perfume shop called Duty Free in the Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield. The lady behind the counter looked so very familiar. Eventually, I realised  that she was Viv Nicholson – who for one spell in the 1960s was one of the best known – and derided – women in England. Why? Because when she was twenty-five, in 1961, she and her husband won a...

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Je t’aime: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg
Apr02

Je t’aime: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg

Je t’aime: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. Je t’aime – banned. You’d have thought that by the nineteen sixties people were pretty much unshockable. Mind you, I suspect that the song Je t’aime shocked very few real people, if anyone, but the stuffy BBC decided to ban it from their airwaves. I thought it was rather lovely. The title was repeated, whisperingly, to the sound of luscious organ music, by Jane...

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The Mermaids of Mapplewell
Apr01

The Mermaids of Mapplewell

The Mermaids of Mapplewell Come with me on a journey to the past. A past that was stranger than we could ever imagine. In olden times, unusual creatures inhabited the earth but don’t imagine for a moment that I am talking about prehistoric days. No, the story which unfolds below is only a little more than a hundred and fifty years old. It was then, despite the technological advances being made by the people of the Victorian era,...

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Houdini’s Straitjacket Escape. Invented in Yorkshire
Mar31

Houdini’s Straitjacket Escape. Invented in Yorkshire

Houdini’s straitjacket escape. Invented in Yorkshire It’s true. One of the great Harry Houdini’s most impressive escape acts was born Sheffield, Yorkshire. Houdini was born in Budapest – the family later moved to the United States – but he often performed in the British Isles. It was when he was performing in Yorkshire that one of his greatest stunts was created – the famous straitjacket escape. In...

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The DeAutremont Twins
Mar30

The DeAutremont Twins

Who were the DeAutremont brothers? Twins Ray and Roy were just twenty three when they attempted one of the most daring robberies in America. Their brother Hugh, who accompanied them, was a mere nineteen. The crime they committed in 1923 would have been laughable in its ineptitude had they not happened to kill four men during the debacle. But what of their earlier criminal career? This too proves without doubt that the DeAutremont...

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Take a Walk in the Park Day
Mar29

Take a Walk in the Park Day

A Walk in the Park. You might be getting tired of all the national days that seem to keep popping up.  It makes one wonder if anyone can pick a day, name it and claim it.  Nonetheless, any day to get outside in the fresh air or to enjoy visiting a park is one we should all support. After the winter we’ve seen this past season, I bet everyone is anxious to get outside. Maybe that is why they schedule Take a Walk in the Park Day for...

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Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, A Book Review
Mar29

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, A Book Review

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, A Book Review. A Virtual Classroom? Would send your children to virtual school?  Can you picture it?  It sounds intriguing when you first think of it.  No more bullying, less distractions, right?  Yet in a virtual world would it be too isolating?  Could there be a balance?  Would class size matter then?  Would teachers like it better? That is one of the considerations you will find as you read Ready...

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Princess Mary
Mar28

Princess Mary

 Who was Princess Mary? It’s likely that you’ve never heard of England’s Princess Mary but it’s highly possible that even after all these years you are familiar with the story of her brother. For Princess Mary was the sister of Edward VIII, the English king who famously abdicated so that he could marry his American mistress, Wallis Simpson. When you look at the photograph of her on the right, you can see the...

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The Dreamland Fire of 1911
Mar27

The Dreamland Fire of 1911

Coney Island: The Dreamland Fire, 1911. Have you ever thought, like me, that places such as fairgrounds, circuses and amusement parks have a vaguely creepy side to them? At these places, much of what we see is illusion. Nothing is as it appears to be. This was especially the case in the early nineteenth century and in Victorian days. Dreamland, a huge amusement park on Coney Island, was the perfect example.In many ways, it was...

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Didier Peroni and Gilles Villeneuve
Mar26

Didier Peroni and Gilles Villeneuve

Team orders in Formula One. At time of writing (July 2016) there’s a lot of mayhem going on about imposing team orders at the Mercedes Formula One HQ.  Now team orders are a subject of a very long article, or even a book, but today I want to talk about motorsport history — and the team orders at the Grand Prix of Imola in 1982. In that year, Didier Pironi of France and Canadian Gilles Villeneuve were team-mates driving for...

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Pavlova: Grand Prix Gourmet, Australia
Mar25

Pavlova: Grand Prix Gourmet, Australia

Pavlova: Grand Prix Gourmet, Australia We know that this delightful confection was created in honour of the Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova. This was at some time in the nineteen twenties when she had a successful tour of Australia and New Zealand. Both countries claim the dish as their own and the reality has never been one hundred percent established but what is certainly for sure is that the dish is delightfully sinful...

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The Triangle Fire
Mar25

The Triangle Fire

Death in Manhattan: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Disaster. Thirty five horse-drawn fire fighting vehicles were dashing through the streets of Manhattan.  It was March in 1911 and the streets were quiet on that Saturday afternoon. But nevertheless, the firefighters were unable to save lives that day. They were headed towards the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory where fire had broken out in the ten-storey building. The business, which made...

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John Harrison: The Yorkshireman and the Moon
Mar24

John Harrison: The Yorkshireman and the Moon

The Yorkshireman who made space exploration possible Neil Armstrong, shortly after he had returned from his historical journey to the moon, dined at 10 Downing Street – the residence of the British prime minister. In his speech, he paid tribute to the Yorkshireman who had made space exploration possible; John Harrison. As you can see from his portrait above, John Harrison was born in the seventeenth century.  This was in the...

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Joan Crawford
Mar23

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford: Loves and private life. Legendary Hollywood actress Joan Crawford was the subject of  vitriolic exposé book written by her adopted daughter. Whether these revelations are true is a matter of conjecture but Christina claimed that her mother had adopted her and other children to enhance her fame, rather than because of maternal feelings. The book reveals stories of abuse and tells of Joan’s affairs – with both...

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Karl Wallenda
Mar22

Karl Wallenda

 The Flying Wallenda Family Karl Wallenda was born in Germany in 1905 to a circus family. He was the patriarch of the famous – and often tragic – performing Wallenda family. His descendants are still performing to this day. He started performing when he was just six years old. This is a family tradition that has been continued. When he was still a teenager, he formed his own act which included his brother and a young girl...

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How to Hull Strawberries
Mar21

How to Hull Strawberries

The best way to prepare strawberries. It’s so very easy to hull strawberries to prepare them for your favourite recipes. Use this method and you’ll have even more recipes at your fingertips. By removing that hard central core cleanly, you’ll be able to make strawberries stuffed with ice cream or chocolate or any other inventive ideas that will surely occur to you. See the image above – aren’t those...

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Dr Buck Ruxton
Mar21

Dr Buck Ruxton

Dr Buck Ruxton. Murderer. When we were kids, we used to sing a daft little song about Dr Buck Ruxton. We had no idea what it was about really. It was only later that I discovered that Ruxton was actually a murderer whose case had caused a sensation in England in the nineteen thirties. Ruxton was born in India and given the somewhat elaborate name of Buktyar Rustomji Ratanji Hakim. He studied medicine in India and then went to...

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Fresh Lobster and Salmon Ravioli
Mar20

Fresh Lobster and Salmon Ravioli

Fresh Lobster and Salmon Ravioli recipe. This recipe is extremely delicious and very special. They make these ravioli in Genoa, on the Ligurian coast in Northern Italy, where my parents were born. If you’re looking for something really impressive for a special occasion, then this is the perfect dish. The very special main ingredients, lobster and salmon, speak for themselves, and anyone who loves seafood will love these. If you...

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Who Was Ruth Snyder?
Mar20

Who Was Ruth Snyder?

Who was Ruth Snyder? When you realise that the image above shows the final moments of Ruth Snyder’s life, then it becomes evident that she was a murderer. She was executed on January 12th, 1928 at Sing Sing. She was the first woman to be executed using the electric chair. Her lover, Henry Judd Gray, suffered the same fate. Together, they had murdered Ruth’s husband. The story had begun ten years before the executions....

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Chicken Dijon with Snap Peas
Mar19

Chicken Dijon with Snap Peas

A Delicious, Fast Chicken Dijon Dinner Tender, moist chicken breast with fresh sugar snap peas and mushrooms in a tasty light sauce. Sound interesting? It tastes wonderful! My husband was the creative cook in our household. He made a dish very similar to this. We would seriously sigh through every bite, it was so delicious. This recipe is similar only I’ve added vegetables and a slightly different flavor with dijon. I was so...

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Who Was Edgar Rice Burroughs?
Mar19

Who Was Edgar Rice Burroughs?

Who was Edgar Rice Burroughs? Edgar Rice Burroughs was one of the most successful American authors of the twentieth century. Although he wrote about several subjects, he will always be mainly remembered for his Tarzan series. Burroughs was born into a wealthy Chicago family. However, he was considered the black sheep of the family.  He took to heart the advice ‘go west, young man’ and spent time working in ranches and...

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Goodbye Chuck Berry
Mar18

Goodbye Chuck Berry

To mark the passing of rock-n-roll legend Chuck Berry, Andy Royston takes another listen to the man’s first big hit. It was a spring day in Chicago’s South Side, just off 47th St, then the home of the blues. Some guy up from St. Louis walked in the door on a mission to see Leonard Chess, owner of Chess Records to see if he could make a deal. His name? Chuck Berry. The night before Berry had been watching Muddy Waters at...

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King George I of Greece and the British Royal Family
Mar18

King George I of Greece and the British Royal Family

King George I of Greece and the British Royal Family. What does King George I of Greece have to do with the British royal family of today?  Did you know that most of the royal family are descended from him? This is because he was the grandfather of today’s Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip. He became ruler when he was just seventeen and remained on the Greek throne until he was assassinated. It seems strange to us today, but...

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Reinhard Hardegan, George Betts and the Sinking of the SS Muskogee
Mar18

Reinhard Hardegan, George Betts and the Sinking of the SS Muskogee

The sinking of the SS Muskogee. On March 22nd 1942, the commander in charge of a German U-boat, twenty eight year old Reinhard Hardegan, spotted an American oil tanker. It was its job to prevent America sending oil to Britain for the war effort. Slowly, he turned his submarine towards the ship. The ship was the SS Muskogee, a merchant ship that had been pressed into service to transport oil to war-stricken England. There were thirty...

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Who Was Oleg Cassini?
Mar17

Who Was Oleg Cassini?

Who was Oleg Cassini? Oleg Cassini and Grace Kelly If anyone today is familiar with the name of Oleg Cassini, that’s probably because he was the couturier of Jackie Kennedy; he designed those strange clothes she was so fond of that look so odd to us today. But what’s much more interesting – and slightly scandalous – is the affair he had with actress Grace Kelly before she became Princess Grace of Monaco. In...

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Green Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
Mar16

Green Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I saw this recipe I just had to try it. Mint chocolate chip is a favorite in our house. With St Patrick’s Day coming I thought I’d make a batch to see how they’d go over in case I need to make more. They turned out delish! I even shared some with my a neighbor who looks forward to my treats since I started sharing with them. These were fun to mix up. I’ve never made cookies with the green coloring in them...

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