The Clocks of Windsor Castle
Mar10

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...

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Murder in Miami: Christopher Wilder the Beauty Queen Killer
Mar10

Murder in Miami: Christopher Wilder the Beauty Queen Killer

Murder in Miami: Christopher Wilder the Beauty Queen Killer. Christopher Wilder was rich. His friends described him as charming and gallant. He lived a playboy life in South Florida, living well and racing sports cars. He was particularly fond of beautiful young women. In the nineteen eighties he was still in his thirties and living in Boynton Beach in Florida. Murder at the 1984 Miami Grand Prix This was the second motor racing event...

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Vintage Television: Bill Cullen
Mar09

Vintage Television: Bill Cullen

Vintage television: Who was Bill Cullen? Bill Cullen was a well-known and very popular television personality during the sixties and seventies in the USA. He was a game show host and was often featured as a panellist on other shows, once of which was his appearances as part of the panel on I’ve Got A Secret. But Bill Cullen had a secret of his own When he was just a small child, he contracted polio. This meant that he had...

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International Women’s Day: The Origins and Future
Mar08

International Women’s Day: The Origins and Future

International Women’s Day: The Origins and Future International Women’s Day has been an annual celebration since 1911 and each year reminds us to dedicate time to celebrate those women who have played a part to improve the world we all live in. From looking at achievement we can reflect on how far we have come and how far we have yet to climb. It began as a Socialist political event, first organized by the Socialist Party of America...

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The Museum of Extraordinary Things
Mar08

The Museum of Extraordinary Things

 The Museum of Extraordinary Things: Review This book, written by Alice Hoffman, is an exceptional fiction, bracketed at the beginning and the end with real events. It’s hard to know which are the more horrifying sections – the fact or the fiction. Set in the early years of the twentieth century. the book tells of a strange character indeed – a man who makes his living at Coney Island running a sideshow of...

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The Adventures of Poon Lim
Mar08

The Adventures of Poon Lim

The amazing survival story of Poon Lim. On 5th April, 1943, the crew of a small Brazilian fishing vessel spotted a life raft off the coast of Brazil. When they approached it, they found that it had a single occupant – a young Chinese man called Poon Lim. He had left his homeland several years before to work on a British merchant ship as a steward. But of course, this was now the Second World War and on 23rd November, 1942 his...

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How to be Parisian
Mar07

How to be Parisian

How to be Parisian – wherever you are Have you ever admired that effortless style that women from Paris seem to have? Everything they do seems to be so stylish and effortless. Whether sitting at a sidewalk café sipping a glass of wine or shopping for the best French bread,  they exude a special something and what’s more, they do it with a twinkle in their eye. Sophisticated they may be, but they are also fun. They are...

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British Prince Charles Edward: Nazi
Mar06

British Prince Charles Edward: Nazi

The British prince who was a Nazi official. The grandson of Queen Victoria who was a top Nazi. Born in 1884, Prince Edward Charles was a member of the British royal family. His father, Prince Leopold, had been Victoria’s youngest son. Nevertheless, during the Second World War he was a top-ranking member of the Nazi Party. Because of this, you’re unlikely to find details of him in most history books, especially those...

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Cremorne Gardens, London
Mar04

Cremorne Gardens, London

Cremorne Gardens, London Cremorne Gardens provided a popular place for entertainment in the Victorian era. Close to the Battersea Bridge, it offered all sorts of amusements for the population. It sounds so very genteel, doesn’t it? It gives the impression of well-bred ladies strolling in their finery and holding their parasols to shield their fair complexions from the sun. The name evokes an image of elegant gentlemen, courtesly...

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March 6th is the National Day of Unplugging
Mar04

March 6th is the National Day of Unplugging

Could you do it? Would you be able turn off all the electronic devices for the day?  That is what is called for on March 6th each year since 2003. It’s unfortunate that some years, the day falls on a weekday.  It seems unlikely that many can participate on what is a normal work day.  Still, if you plan ahead, postpone the celebration until Saturday or Sunday, then flip the switch. Every month we become more connected to our devices...

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The Triangle Fire
Mar02

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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Urbio: Designer Wall Storage
Mar01

Urbio: Designer Wall Storage

Storage plus indoor gardening – perfect for small space living. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to own a Uten.Silo – that wonderful wall storage system designed back in the 1960s. But now I’ve discovered Urbio, I’ve found that it’s far more flexible, so very stylish and it comes at a very reasonable price. What’s more, the Urbio can be bought as modular pieces allowing you to stretch...

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Yellowstone Named the First National Park on This Day in 1872
Mar01

Yellowstone Named the First National Park on This Day in 1872

The World’s First National Park On March 1, 1872  Yellowstone was named the first national park.  It was the first national park world wide, not just in the United States. It pleases me to realize that in the midst of those trying years when US Grant was president, he realized the importance of setting aside national lands for all to protect and enjoy.  To think it happened about 7 years after the civil war ended gives it...

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The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell: Review
Feb27

The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell: Review

The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell: Review In later life, Gerald Durrell was a respected naturalist and conservationist but in 1935 he was a ten year old boy when he and his somewhat eccentric family went to live in the Greek Island of Corfu. He was the youngest child of the family and, even though life in  the Durrell household was bizarre enough, introduced various creature and animals into the home with disastrous – and...

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Mystic Sweet Communion: The Stranahans of Fort Lauderdale
Feb24

Mystic Sweet Communion: The Stranahans of Fort Lauderdale

Mystic Sweet Communion: The Stranahans of Fort Lauderdale. Almost hidden away, flanked by enormous high-rise buildings, is the Stranahan House on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The house itself – now a museum –  is fascinating but what’s even more interesting is the story of its original owners, Frank and Ivy Stranahan. Ivy Cromartie was still a teenager in when she first went to a tiny South Florida...

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Art Matters: L.S. Lowry on Match Day
Feb23

Art Matters: L.S. Lowry on Match Day

Andy Royston’s back on the terraces with one of England’s most beloved painters, L.S. Lowry. One cold and rainy evening in West London I found myself wandering towards a set of bright floodlights shining above the houses. Brentford FC were playing Gillingham in some cup game and Griffin Park was offering tickets on the turnstiles. So in I went, picked up a cup of Bovril from the Ealing Road end and, as the drizzle faded...

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1964: The Year of Royal Babies
Feb23

1964: The Year of Royal Babies

Four royal babies: 1964. Today there is a media frenzy when a royal baby is born. This wasn’t always the case in the previous century because the media hadn’t become quite as intrusive and the general population was more inclined to allow the royal family more privacy than they do today. Yet imagine what today’s media would have made of the news in 1964 when four royal babies were born, including one to Queen...

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The Oscars: Harold Russell
Feb22

The Oscars: Harold Russell

Who was Harold Russell? Harold Russell was the only actor to win two Oscars for the same role. He also caused controversy by selling one of the statuettes. And despite winning two Oscars, he wasn’t a professional actor. But his story is much more interesting than that. If you look closely at the photograph above you’ll see why. Harold Russell had no hands He had been born in Canada and when he was a boy, his family moved...

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A Circle of Sisters: The MacDonalds
Feb21

A Circle of Sisters: The MacDonalds

 A Circle of Sisters: The MacDonalds Remarkably, four daughters of a nineteenth century Methodist minister became powerful and feted by Victorian society – against all odds. The girls were born into a relatively impoverished family; their father being a minister who moved around the country and their mother the daughter of a wholesale grocer. The had few advantages. They weren’t particularly educated. In that society in...

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Last Meals: Death Row
Feb19

Last Meals: Death Row

Last Meals: Death Row How differently do men and women eat? Maybe a food psychologist could tell us,or even a restaurateur, but evidently the difference are plain even on death row. It’s customary for people who are about to be executed to have whatever they wish for their final meal and,it seems, jails are pretty good when it comes to satisfying their choices. But what surprises me is: Even on death row, women eat salads...

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Rufus Estes – the first African-American Cookbook
Feb02

Rufus Estes – the first African-American Cookbook

Rufus Estes – author of the first African-American Cookbook   In 1911, Rufus Estes published cookbook. There is nothing particularly unusual in that except Estes is believed to be the first African-American chef to publish his recipes. Rufus was born in 1857 in Tennessee and given the last name of his master; the man who ‘owned’ Rufus’ mother, a slave. When civil war broke out he said that most of the male...

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Boy soldiers in the Congo
Feb02

Boy soldiers in the Congo

Boy soldiers: The Congo, 1967 Children have been used for military services for almost as long as mankind has existed. In 1967, two men were driving through the Congo where they had the most frightening encounter with a couple of boy soldiers who held them at gunpoint. Read on. The two men were rally drivers, Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers, and they were racing – of all things – an ocean liner from Cape Town to Southampton....

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The Yorkshireman and the Sahara
Feb02

The Yorkshireman and the Sahara

Eric Jackson: Petrol in My Blood If you’re looking for a great read, full of adventure, humour and history, then I definitely recommend Petrol in My Blood by Eric Jackson. This is the autobiography of a Yorkshireman, born in a gipsy caravan in 1924, who started life with humble origins. Written when the author was in his eighties, the book spans generations and it’s a miracle that, because of his adventures, that he...

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Can Olive Oil Cure Toothache?
Jan15

Can Olive Oil Cure Toothache?

Does olive oil cure toothache? For me it does. I’m not a dentist and it may well depend on the reason why your teeth are aching but I have not had a toothache yet that can’t be sorted out simply using a product I always have in my kitchen. Last week, I was unable to sleep because of this horrible tooth. I suspect strongly that it needs to be pulled out but at my time of life, I need to keep as many of my teeth as I can....

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The Royal Scandal of Prince Eddy
Jan13

The Royal Scandal of Prince Eddy

Who was Prince Eddy? As we know, due to Queen Elizabeth’s uncle abdicating from the throne to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson, the lineage to the British throne was altered. But that was also the case in the reign of Queen Victoria – in 1892. Victoria reigned for many years and, like the current situation today, the Prince of Wales had to wait a long time to become the sovereign. Similarly to Prince Charles today, he had grown up...

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Planning Your Kitchen
Jan13

Planning Your Kitchen

 Planning your kitchen If you’re remodeling or reorganising your kitchen, it’s very tempting to design it yourself. After all, you know your kitchen and the habits of your household better than anyone else. You want your kitchen to be gorgeous, you know that the more attractive the room is, the more time you and your family will spend there creating delicious meals … and memories. For many years I was a kitchen...

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What is Operation London Bridge?
Jan01

What is Operation London Bridge?

Operation London Bridge – when the queen dies There’s no other way of putting it – if you hear from a British official source that ‘London Bridge is down’ this means that Queen Elizabeth ll has died.  It seems that the plans for her death and funeral have been in place for many years. The same applies to Prince Philip (Forth Bridge) and Prince Charles (Menai Bridge). The queen was born in 1926 and...

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Henry Maybury: You’re Beautiful
Dec30

Henry Maybury: You’re Beautiful

Henry Maybury: You’re Beautiful I just heard about Henry today and already he’s my new hero. He’s a young musician / songwriter who wants to ‘make a difference’. He does and he will. Do you have scars? Maybe wrinkles? (Yep) And are you beautiful? According to Henry Mayberry you are and he wants others to see you in the same way. See the wonderful video below. If it doesn’t bring a lump to your...

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The Murder of Sir Harry Oakes
Dec24

The Murder of Sir Harry Oakes

Sir Harry Oakes: A true life murder mystery. This story of a brutal murder has all the ingredients required to make an excellent thriller or film – but these events actually happened. The victim was a hugely wealthy businessman, we also have a Nazi spy, a beautiful socialite, the Mafia, exiled royalty and more fascinating characters and the scene is set in the beautiful Bahamas during the Second World War. The murder took place...

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Who Was Butterfly McQueen?
Dec22

Who Was Butterfly McQueen?

Who was Butterfly McQueen? I love old movies yet I have to admit  that there’s one – a very famous one indeed – that I haven’t seen. I don’t know why. But I do know about one of the actors in the film. That’s Butterfly McQueen. She is one of the most memorable of the cast (even to people like me who have only seen clips but never the full film) and yet, she hated the part. She took the role because...

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Queen Senna of England
Dec16

Queen Senna of England

Queen Senna of England: A New Zealand Maori. It does take a bit of a stretch of the imagination but in theory at least, it is possible (although improbable) that England could have a queen named Senna. What’s more, the small girl who bears that name is a New Zealand Maori. How is this? Well firstly, quite a lot of the existing members of the royal family would have to be wiped out before Senna could take the throne. She is...

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Life on a WW1 U-Boat
Dec16

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...

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Art Matters: The Fighting Temeraire
Dec15

Art Matters: The Fighting Temeraire

Andy Royston talks us through his favourite painting by JMW Turner – ‘Ye mariners of England, That guard our native seas!  Whose flag has braved a thousand years, The battle and the breeze!‘  Thomas Campbell  “Ye Mariners of England” In this famous painting by J.M.W. Turner, the great old warship Temeraire no longer flies the union flag. Just a white flag flutters from the mast of the tug, showing that a ship is now...

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The Spirella Lady
Nov19

The Spirella Lady

History ramblings about, well, ladies’ undergarments. It’s a curious thing. When I was a child, grown-up women wore corsets. Today though, women seem to have an anything-goes policy. So what if you’ve got a huge bum? So what if your belly button shows through your t-shirt nestled in several rolls of fat? Well, in the 1950s and 1960s, women were more particular or, as my mother would have no doubt put it, they had...

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Was Thomas Ince Murdered?
Nov19

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...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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