Murder in Miami: Christopher Wilder the Beauty Queen Killer
Sep27

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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Love and Sex: Edwardian style
Sep26

Love and Sex: Edwardian style

Love and sex: Edwardian style It was 1901 when Edward VII came to the throne, heralding in what we know today as the Edwardian Era. Although we sometimes think of the previous time – the Victorian Era – as being somewhat staid, that’s far from the case. The moral code inherited by King Edward had been firmly set during his mother’s time on the throne and it was considerably more raunchy than we might think....

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Princess Viktoria’s Disastrous Marriage
Sep25

Princess Viktoria’s Disastrous Marriage

Princess Viktoria of Prussia: Ruined by her young lover She was born into a privileged and wealthy royal position. And yet when Princess Viktoria died at the age of  sixty three she was penniless and disgraced – thanks to her choosing the wrong man. Her grandmother was Queen Victoria. Her mother was Victoria’s eldest daughter and had married Frederick III, the German Emperor and King of Prussia. Her brother was Wilhelm II,...

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The Last Escaper: Peter Tunstall
Sep20

The Last Escaper: Peter Tunstall

The Last Escaper. True stories from Peter Tunstall,  Colditz prisoner of war. In the Second World War many British men, often RAF pilots, became prisoners of war in Germany. Their planes had been shot down and then men, often only in their late teens or early twenties, were captured and imprisoned by German soldiers. This is the story about one of them – Pete Tunstall. RAF pilot Tunstall was only twenty one when he was shot down...

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The Nuremberg Trials and the Jewish interpreter
Sep19

The Nuremberg Trials and the Jewish interpreter

The Nuremberg Trials and the Jewish interpreter. These trials began in November 1945 and were held to bring Nazi war criminals to justice.  It was a huge undertaking and interpreters were employed to translate – live in court – the testimonies of witnesses and the defence and comments of the most notorious and inhuman war criminals and their persecution of the Jews. Armand Jacoubovitch Imagine that you are a thirty year...

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Who Was Norman Bacchiocchi?
Sep18

Who Was Norman Bacchiocchi?

Luca Brasi’s killer: Murdered by the mob. Who hasn’t seen The Godfather? There were some pretty gruesome scenes, that’s for sure, and one of those was the murder of Luca Brasi. Fictional Brasi was the bodyguard of Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando. When Brasi was murdered in the movie, a bit player was the killer and he, Norman Bacchiocchi, was later killed by the mob — in real life. ‘He sleeps with...

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The Prince & the Showgirl: Gisèle Pascal, Prince Rainier & Marilyn Monroe
Sep17

The Prince & the Showgirl: Gisèle Pascal, Prince Rainier & Marilyn Monroe

Gisèle Pascal, Prince Rainier and Marilyn Monroe In the early 1950s,Prince Rainier of Monaco was the perfect age to marry – he had been born in 1923. He was wealthy, handsome and the ruler of a magical principality. However, he was a shy and retiring man. For several years he had been living with a French actress, Gisèle Pascal and the time was approaching when he needed to marry to produce heirs to his principality. However,...

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“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…”
Sep16

“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…”

“Miss Bacall Did Her Own Singing…” The scene is a bar room in French Martinique, a hot and noisy club setting where a piano player called Cricket (Hoagy Carmichael ) is playing for a gorgeous teenage singer, Slim. Slim was Lauren Bacall in her first movie role, and what a star turn she gave, singing one of Carmichael’s most memorable songs, How Little We Know. Her vocal training was coming along, but no-one...

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The Train Whistle Blows
Sep15

The Train Whistle Blows

You know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are? Anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles. George Bailey – It’s A Wonderful Life. It seems quite odd these days to imagine inventing the steam engine but not having any means of signalling a train’s imminence. But when George Stephenson was developing his steam engines, back in 1814, his first engines travelled so slowly and made such a racket...

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Frances Reynolds: Life on the Run
Sep12

Frances Reynolds: Life on the Run

Frances Reynolds: Wife of Great Train Robber, Bruce. Frances was just sixteen years old when Bruce Reynolds started courting her. She knew that he operated on the wrong side of the law but she was in love. She understood his rebellious character. So when he went on the run, she was with him. After Bruce and his colleagues had pulled off the Great Train Robbery in 1963, the couple had no choice. They had a small baby, Nick, but Franny...

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Seymour Worsley, The Lady in Red
Sep09

Seymour Worsley, The Lady in Red

The Scandalous Lady Worsley. In the eighteenth century, England was rocked by the scandalous story of Lord and Lady Worsley and her lover, George Bisset. There were many scandals amongst the aristocracy in those days but the case Seymour Worsley was seen to be one of the worst – certainly the most entertaining. Born as Seymour Fleming to a wealthy family, she married Sir Richard Worsley when she was only seventeen. The couple...

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Grace Darling
Sep08

Grace Darling

Grace Darling and the sinking of the Forfarshire. The story of Grace Darling is well known. It’s often published in magazines that cater to young girls, possibly being thought to be inspirational. But why did she achieve such fame? Are the stories about her true? It’s certainly the case that she helped her father – a lighthouse keeper – to rescue nine people from a wrecked ship of the coast of Northumberland in...

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Who Was MaVynee Betsch??
Sep05

Who Was MaVynee Betsch??

Who was MaVynee Betsch, the Beach Lady? She was born into high society. Her great grandfather had been the first black millionaire in Florida. He founded the Afro-American Insurance Company in Jacksonville and the famous black American Beach resort in the days of segregation. MaVynee was exquisitely educated, as were her brother and sister. They were taught the piano, for example, at a very early age. MaVynee went onto study voice and...

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Lady Iris Mountbatten: Royal Black Sheep
Sep01

Lady Iris Mountbatten: Royal Black Sheep

Who was Iris Mountbatten? When she was fourteen years old,she was a train-bearer at the wedding of the Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece. Two years later, she performed the same function at the coronation of George VI. She grew up to have sultry film star looks. She was a direct descendant of Queen Victoria and at one time was fourteenth in line to the throne. She was one of the most photographed debutantes of her time. Yet...

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The Mystery of Flight 19
Aug31

The Mystery of Flight 19

What happened to Flight 19? True life Second World War mystery from the Bermuda Triangle. The now famous phrase ‘the Bermuda Triangle’ hadn’t been coined on that day in December 1946 when, just before three o’clock in the afternoon, five planes took off on a routine training flight from Fort Lauderdale Naval Air Station. The aircraft, and their young occupants, were never seen again. This is a truly fascinating...

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The Boy in the Song: Hey Jude
Aug30

The Boy in the Song: Hey Jude

Hey Jude, by Paul McCartney. Hey Jude was the first record that the Beatles released on their own label, Apple. It was released in 1968 and its original title  was Hey Jules – it was written for Julian Lennon who was five years old when his parents were divorced. John Lennon had married Cynthia Powell in 1962 and Julian was born the following April, just when Beatlemania was just starting to take off. John was on tour when...

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Nancy Kulp
Aug29

Nancy Kulp

 Who was Nancy Kulp? Nancy Kulp starred in a television show that is still being shown worldwide. Do you recognise her? Does the face look familiar? There were two hundred and seventy four episodes of the television show made and their aired in the nineteen sixties and seventies. She won an Emmy for the part she played and in 1999, her characters was deemed to be number thirty nine in the top fifty ‘greatest characters on TV of...

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Louis le Prince: The Man Who Invented the Movies
Aug28

Louis le Prince: The Man Who Invented the Movies

 Who invented motion pictures? Some people would say it was Thomas Edison who invented the movies. Others might mention the Lumière brothers. But in fact,  movies – motion pictures – were invented by the man you see on the left. Two of his films, taken in 1888, survive. But Louis le Prince is rarely credited with the invention and more than that, his story ends with his mysterious disappearance. Was this foul play because...

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Who Was Anne Morrow?
Aug26

Who Was Anne Morrow?

Anne Morrow. Anne Morrow was born in 1906 and at one time, was one of the most talked-about women in America —but not for reasons she would have wished. She was an acclaimed and prolific author but during the early nineteen thirties – when she was often in the newspaper headlines, not many readers were aware of her literary talents. Most people – then and now – when they hear the name ‘Lindbergh’...

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Prince George – The Forgotten Royal
Aug25

Prince George – The Forgotten Royal

Who was Prince George? Prince George was a member of the British royal family but his name is little-known today. He was a good looking prince – he was rather dashing and loved fast airplanes, fast cars and, as you might imagine, fast women too. There are still stories coming to light about his life – we may still find out more about this somewhat mysterious character. His life was a short one and we were left with three...

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Moules Marinière: Grand Prix Gourmet, Belgium
Aug25

Moules Marinière: Grand Prix Gourmet, Belgium

Poor old Belgium gets a bad press when it comes to its cuisine because it sits under the shadow of France. However, my husband lived there for a few years, and he enjoyed so many delicious meals and he always tells me that he would very happily eat Belgian food every day! The most famous dish must be Moules Marinière served with fries, mayonnaise, and a tankard of wonderful Belgian beer. Belgium is a small country, but it boasts about...

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The Berners Street Hoax
Aug24

The Berners Street Hoax

Theodore Hook, Berners Street and the Sanderson Hotel. For two hundred years the Berners Street Hoax has been thought of as one of the most bizarre – and certainly chaotic -practical jokes in history. If you’ve ever seen the Marx Brothers film, A Night at the Opera, this event is said to have been the inspiration for one of the funniest scenes. Theodore Hook, the man you see on the right,was the person responsible. He wasn...

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Who Was Ellen Church?
Aug22

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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Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Aug21

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Who was Lady Mary Wortley Montagu? In the eighteenth century, Lady Mary was known for her sharp satiric writing about prominent personalities. Not all this work survives however, because of her daughter. Her daughter was scandalised by her mother – who she considered to be extremely eccentric –  so when Lady Mary died, her papers were destroyed. Lady Mary was renown for her wit and her beauty but there was another side to...

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Why is Fort Lauderdale called Fort Liquordale?
Aug20

Why is Fort Lauderdale called Fort Liquordale?

Why is Fort Lauderdale nicknamed Fort Liquordale? When I first came to live in Fort Lauderdale and heard people refer to it as ‘Fort Liquordale’ I thought it was a reference to the craziness that descended on our area during Spring Break – especially in the last century. But I was wrong. It was bootlegging.    Bootlegging in Fort Lauderdale In 1920 the American government, in its wisdom, decided to ban the...

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Coco Chanel
Aug19

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel: Naughtier than you might think. What do you know about Coco Chanel? Possibly most people today think of her as a couturier and the person who was responsible for iconic fashion designs – and of course, the famous Chanel N0 5 perfume. But who was she really? Her name instantly conjures up style and sophistication for most of us but she came from humble beginnings. Not only that, she had a string of fascinating...

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Vegan Pumpkin Curry Soup Recipe
Aug18

Vegan Pumpkin Curry Soup Recipe

Vegan Pumpkin Curry Soup Recipe This recipe was originally served at the BonBon Cafe in Lewiston, Maine. The recipe was published in the Sun Journal and was given by the cafe’s manager, Bonnie Loubier. The original recipe was an old one, but Bonnie had added her own touches.   Save Print Vegan Pumpkin Curry Soup Recipe Rating  5 from 1 reviews Serves: 8 Ingredients 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil 1 large, sweet...

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Ted Hughes, An Unauthorized Life
Aug17

Ted Hughes, An Unauthorized Life

Andy Royston walks out on the wily windy moors with the ghost of Ted Hughes. Poor Heathcliff trying to tear away the veil between death and life… crying out to Cathy’s soul… to haunt him and torment him… till he died.” Emily Brontë “I have often had the fancy that there is one myth for every man, which, if we but knew it, would make us understand all he did and thought” W.B. Yeats Living as I...

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Who Was Bernarr MacFadden?
Aug16

Who Was Bernarr MacFadden?

Bernarr MacFadden: Millionaire, eccentric and health nut. He fully expected to live to be a hundred and twenty. He often predicted that he would in his health magazine and his over one hundred books. He was a bodybuilder and chose to subsist, so he maintained,on a diet of nuts, carrots and beet juice. He also recommended exercise, relaxation and that sex should be performed only for the purposes of reproduction. (He was married four...

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Princess Anne
Aug15

Princess Anne

Princess Anne: Forgotten royal. These days, we are more aware of the more ‘glamourous’ members of the royal family. In particular, this applies to the younger generation, royal babies, fashions and lifestyle. But one of the older members of the family, Princess Anne, has had an interesting life, a touch of scandal and yet is known for being one of (if not the) hardest working of the British royals today. Born in 1950, she...

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Who Was Monica Proietti?
Aug14

Who Was Monica Proietti?

Monica Proietti: Machine Gun Molly Monica Proietti was the mother of two children and old twenty seven years old when she died. This young mother was killed in a gun battle with the law. I know that sounds like a story from the Wild West but this took place  in Montreal in 1967. Monica was known as Machine Gun Molly  and was a known criminal – with a curious background. She’d been married when she was only seventeen,...

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Lunch in Paris: By Elizabeth Baud
Aug13

Lunch in Paris: By Elizabeth Baud

Subtitle: A Love Story with Recipes. As a European who has lived in the USA for many years, it was fascinating to read the culture shock experiences of someone who did exactly the same but the other way around. This is a fun book to read on the beach or on a short flight – easy to read, light and entertaining. Featuring the memoirs of an American woman who married a Frenchman, it tells of her life during the time she was getting...

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Frenchman Street Blues
Aug11

Frenchman Street Blues

I’m always a sucker for Brits who came to America on vacation and never got around to leaving. Jon Cleary turned up in New Orleans in his teens and ended up working doing odd jobs and bar work in one of New Orleans liveliest live venues. The star attraction at the The Maple Leaf back then was one of the great barrelhouse blues pianomen, James Booker, and Cleary got to watch Booker doing his own thing before the customers packed...

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Cosmetic Surgery: Yes or No?
Aug10

Cosmetic Surgery: Yes or No?

Cosmetic surgery: Yes or no?   I have a bit of a problem with this question. I’m inclined to say ‘no’ but cosmetic surgery is something I’ll never be able to afford. Is this clouding my judgement? Now don’t get me wrong.I’m not talking here about people who have serious problems with the way they look but those who endure cosmetic surgery to make themselves look younger. Or, I have to say,...

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Florida’s German Invasion
Aug09

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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Scandal:  John Lennon and Alma Cogan
Aug09

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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The Great Train Robbery: Roy James
Aug08

The Great Train Robbery: Roy James

Roy James: Racing driver & train robber. In the early nineteen sixties, Roy James was a promising young racing driver. He was also a criminal*. In 1963 he was the getaway driver for what was referred to as ‘the crime of the century’- the Great Train Robbery that took place on August 8th, 1963. He was a good racing driver and therefore an excellent getaway driver. When he took part in the Great Train Robbery, his...

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How to Cook Rice
Aug07

How to Cook Rice

 The best way to cook plain rice I’ve found that one of the most common questions I am asked by new cooks is ‘how on earth do I cook plain rice?’ Even many experienced cooks find that their rice turns out to be soggy and not the white,fluffy deliciousness that they had envisaged on the plate. Once you have mastered cooking plain rice, there’s a whole wealth of recipe opportunities that are opened up to you....

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Tom Keating: Art Fraud
Aug06

Tom Keating: Art Fraud

Tom Keating: Criminal or hero? In the nineteen sixties and seventies, Tom Keating made a very handy living as an art forger. But was he a criminal or was he simply exposing the shady side of the art world? He painted fakes in the style of several well known painters (whose works were valuable and in demand) and sold them without exactly revealing that they were ‘home made’. How much of a crime is that, exactly? Well, in...

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Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedy Family
Aug05

Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedy Family

Did the Kennedys murder Marilyn Monroe? Most people are aware that there was a strong connection between Marilyn Monroe and the Kennedy family, especially John Kennedy and his brother, Robert. There is also speculation that the Kennedys were responsible for her death. Could this be the case? It’s certainly true that Marilyn had affairs with both the Kennedy brothers. It’s also true that she had a serious problem with using...

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Kyle Mills, The Man Chosen to Carry on for Author Vince Flynn.
Aug05

Kyle Mills, The Man Chosen to Carry on for Author Vince Flynn.

Kyle Mills, The Man Chosen to Carry on for Author Vince Flynn. Last June, in 2014,  it was announced that an author had been selected to complete Vince Flynn’s works in progress AND to continue the Mitch Rapp series.  The decision was made my the Vince Flynn Estate and his published, Emily Bestler Books.  That author is Mr. Kyle Mills. It’s very uplifting as a fan of the late Vince Flynn, to think that Mitch Rapp will continue to keep...

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Jeanne Louise Calment
Aug04

Jeanne Louise Calment

Jeanne Louise Calment: The oldest woman. You might have read my colleague Merry’s recent article about what’s supposedly good for us and what is damaging to our health.The article is called Food for Health. It’s a great read – why do scientists and nutritionists keep giving us conflicting advice? Instead of listening to them, let’s take a look at Jeanne Louise Calment, until her death she was the...

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The Adventures of Enid Lindeman
Aug03

The Adventures of Enid Lindeman

The Adventures of Enid Lindeman by Lyndsy Spence. Standing at six-feet tall with handsome features and platinum hair, Enid Lindeman was never going to be a wallflower. As she gallivanted through life she accumulated four husbands, numerous lovers, and during the inter-war years her high-jinx dominated the gossip columns. Evelyn Waugh satirized her set in Vile Bodies, but the workings of his menacing imagination paled in comparison to...

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Reading The Riot Act: What Does This Mean?
Aug02

Reading The Riot Act: What Does This Mean?

What is the origin of the phrase ‘reading the riot act’? Just about everyone in the English-speaking world has either said or used this phrase. But where did it come from?  For example, someone might say ‘her behaviour is terrible – I need to read her the riot act’. The phrase has its origins in 1714 in England. Those were turbulent times in the British Isles. There were riots and revolts for several...

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Bill Bryson and Yorkshire
Jul31

Bill Bryson and Yorkshire

What is it about Bill Bryson and Yorkshire? I really think that he seems to be a good bloke. I can imagine sitting in a pub with him and having a great chat. I’ve read a couple of his books and he has a nice turn of phrase that made me smile quite often. I will most probably read more. But what is it with him and Yorkshire? He lived there for a while, that’s true. (As you know, Yorkshire is the biggest and best county in...

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The Independent: Henry Ford’s strange magazine
Jul30

The Independent: Henry Ford’s strange magazine

Henry Ford’s Anti-Semitism Henry Ford could be called the father of the modern motor vehicle. He was also a huge patriot. But he did have some weird ideas. His anti-Semitism is often mentioned but even that took a rather strange form. It seems that personally, he had no objections to Jews. One of his closest friends was Rabbi Leo Franklin and Ford’s factory designer was Albert Kahn, a Russian Jew; the two were friends for...

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The Most Beautiful Villages & Towns of the South
Jul29

The Most Beautiful Villages & Towns of the South

The Most Beautiful Villages and Towns of the Southern USA by Bonnie Ramsey This gorgeous book features some of the finest architecture and scenery in the southern United States. It is part travel guide, part art book and part photography extravaganza. It shows some of the finest home you’ll ever see – everyone with its own character and charm. But you’ll also see quirky cottages, old bridges, churches and other...

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The Empire State Building
Jul28

The Empire State Building

Empire State Building: Trivia. What do you know about the Empire State Building? Here’s a series of weird and wonderful facts. Bore Fascinate your friends with Empire State Building trivia 🙂 For the golden anniversary of the building’s opening in 1981, workmen opened the time-capsule that had been buried in its cornerstone. The contents hadn’t stood the test of time. The items within it had rotted away during their...

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Hungarian Goulash: Grand Prix Gourmet
Jul28

Hungarian Goulash: Grand Prix Gourmet

Hungarian Goulash. If you enjoy delicious thick stews and the taste of tomato and paprika, then this recipe is perfect! There are many different recipes for Goulash, but my dad taught me this one, and it is delicious. It is traditionally made outside in a cauldron, but this is not vital. The main thing is that you must not use flour to thicken the stew but tomato puree and potatoes. I have listed some root vegetables, but others can...

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Mashed seagull recipe
Jul26

Mashed seagull recipe

 Mashed seagull recipe First of all, let me say that this isn’t really seagull. No  seabirds were killed in the production of this tasty snack. Tasty it is, and very quick to make but I have to say that the mixture looks a little odd, hence its name. That came from my ex-husband who thought it looked revolting. Ah well… Actually, this is a recipe for: A tasty tuna melt You can also use it as a toast-topper. Sometimes, if I...

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Houdini’s Straitjacket Escape. Invented in Yorkshire
Jul26

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 Mystery of Dr James Barry
Jul25

The Mystery of Dr James Barry

Dr James Barry James Barry, born in the eighteenth century, had a long and successful career as a medical surgeon in the British army. He fought and practised medicine all over the British Empire with distinction. He achieved the rank of medical superintendent general and eventually retired to London after and exciting career that even included duels of honour. A confirmed bachelor, he died in 1965. Of course, this isn’t a very...

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Alcock and Brown
Jul24

Alcock and Brown

 Who were Alcock and Brown? If you asked people to name pioneers of aviation, which names do you think you’d hear? Charles Lindbergh would be one. Amelia Earhart would probably get a mention too, as would the Wright brothers. But Alcock and Brown were the first to fly across the Atlantic non-stop. Sadly, they are largely forgotten now. Many people believe that this distinction should go to Charles Lindbergh but he was the first...

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The Yorkshireman and the Sahara
Jul23

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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Andrew Morton: 17 Carnations
Jul23

Andrew Morton: 17 Carnations

17 Carnations: The Duke & Duchess of Windsor and the Nazis. Less than two years before the Second World War began, the king of England abdicated from the throne. And the Nazis wanted to use him for their own ends. After the war, the Allies spent ten years recovering secret German files that revealed their plans. That sounds like the basis for an excellent novel but this book is non-fiction. In addition, American industrialists...

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Quiz: The Beatles’ Wives
Jul22

Quiz: The Beatles’ Wives

Quiz: How much do you know about the Beatles’ wives? Just four lads from Liverpool – but between them, they’ve had a wide variety of partners. I guess this is understandable because all four are (or were) rather cute and they certainly had the money that many a girl finds attractive. Of course, some of the wives (do you know how many and which they were?) married their Beatles before they found fame and fortune....

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Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler: By Trudi Kanter
Jul22

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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Who was Georgia Tann?
Jul22

Who was Georgia Tann?

Who was Georgia Tann? Georgia Tann was the seemingly benevolent organiser of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, starting in the nineteen twenties. However, the society was little more than a front for her black-market dealings. Georgia Tann sold babies. Back in those days, treatment for couples who couldn’t conceive,or for women who couldn’t carry a baby to term, was very primitive compared to today’s...

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Grand Prix Gourmet: German Apple Cake
Jul21

Grand Prix Gourmet: German Apple Cake

German Apple Cake. This recipe dates from 1931! And unlike other apple cakes, this features a dough rather than pastry. It’s a very adaptable recipe but I have written it below in its original version.  There are many changes you can make to suit your tastes. For example: Add a little nutmeg – I always find that it goes so well with apple dishes Top the cake with slivered almonds Sprinkle powered sugar on top before...

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Those Loftus Road Nights
Jul20

Those Loftus Road Nights

Night time matches were the best. Early evening I’d head up into the setting sun to East Acton where my young mate Hiro lived, then we’d walk back down to the Bush and join the gathering crowds. We never missed a home game and took in a few away trips too.  We’d started going to games back when Rangers were really good, “top team in London” under the guidance of coach Gerry Francis and led by the mighty...

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Microwave ovens: Yes or no?
Jul19

Microwave ovens: Yes or no?

Microwave cooking: Yes or no? It’s quite surprising how divided opinion is about microwave ovens. At one time, a microwave was an essential in my kitchen but I haven’t owned one for years. Some people say this this is food snobbery. Yet although so many people own microwaves (83%of households in the UK) surveys show that they wouldn’t want to think that meals served to them in restaurants are cooked using this...

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Plane Lost in the Andes for Fifty Years
Jul18

Plane Lost in the Andes for Fifty Years

What happened to the British South American Airways Avro Lancastrian Star Dust? In 1947, an aircraft flying over the treacherous Andes Mountains, and all the passengers and crew aboard, disappeared into thin air. The radio operator sent a strange message which has not been deciphered to this day and the aircraft wasn’t seen again – for over fifty years. The plane, Star Dust, was a converted World War 2 bomber. The crew...

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Colour Notes: Fast food
Jul16

Colour Notes: Fast food

Colour notes: Fast food The study of colour is a huge subject. Researches have shown that certain colours affect us in different ways. Some of these are obvious; blue – the colour of a sunny sky and a clear ocean – is a soothing colour. Red, on the other hand, creates excitement – and hunger. Just think about how many fast food logos use red. McDonald’s of course, Wendy’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dominos,...

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Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers
Jul16

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. When I was  kid, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films often used to be shown on the television on Sunday afternoons. Despite the fact that they were about thirty years old by that time, they were truly entrancing. I loved the music, the dancing, the humour and most of all, Ginger Roger’s  frocks. But it was one of those wonderful dresses – the one you see above – that cause chaos when...

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Royal Feud: Wallis Simpson and Elizabeth
Jul14

Royal Feud: Wallis Simpson and Elizabeth

The royal feud between Queen Elizabeth & Wallis Simpson. The great feuds of history usually involve the desire for power. What makes this twentieth century royal feud extraordinary is that this feud of over fifty years was brought about because of unwanted power and position. This battle royal persisted from 1935 until 1986 and its protagonists were Queen Elizabeth and Wallis Simpson (later the Duchess of Windsor). The two women...

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New York City – Food Capital of America
Jul13

New York City – Food Capital of America

New York City has always fascinated me. As a small kid living on a small island in the middle of the Pacific, New York city seemed bigger than life and I dreamt of the day I would visit the iconic city. My dream finally came true when I was 21 years old. I found myself being relocated for work to Philadelphia so after I getting settled, I took a weekend trip to New York. I still remember my first sight of the New York City skyline-I...

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Who Was Mr Simpson?
Jul12

Who Was Mr Simpson?

For anyone who is familiar with the history of the twentieth century, the name of Mrs Simpson is well known. She was the American divorcée who captivated the then king of England, Edward VIII. Famously he abdicated from the throne in order to marry her whereupon they became known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Their story, somewhat erroneously referred to as the ‘love affair of the century’, has been recreated in...

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Recipe: Mushrooms in red wine sauce
Jul11

Recipe: Mushrooms in red wine sauce

This is a splendid recipe which we often have as the main dinner course. We are a non meat eating household but I’ve served this dish to devoted carnivores who love it. If you wish, it’s excellent to serve as a side dish or even as an appetizer.Because these delicious mushrooms are cooked and served in a red wine sauce, it’s quite a rich dish that is perfect to serve with pasta or rice. Its very richness also makes...

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Prince John: The Hidden Royal
Jul10

Prince John: The Hidden Royal

What is the truth about Prince John? For many years, few members of the public had even heard about Prince John. And a lot of the ‘information’ that exists about him is actually incorrect. The story that many people have heard about Prince John has often been used to ‘demonstrate’ that the British royal family are a heartless, unfeeling bunch. The myth is that John, who was the youngest of George V’s...

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Jacquard Sweaters & Jackets: So Stylish
Jul09

Jacquard Sweaters & Jackets: So Stylish

Jacquard sweaters – so fashionable We’re often told that the basics of a good wardrobe is classic clothes. And it’s true. Classically styled garments are timeless and remain fashionable for ever. They are never out of date. But this doesn’t mean that classics should be dull – so many people buy them in just black, grey or other neutrals – they can also be fun. Take this jacquard sweater you see on...

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Songs about Cities – Moscow
Jul08

Songs about Cities – Moscow

Before I start I would like to apologise in advance to my Russian friends who might be expecting Muslim Magomayev’s Greatest City on Earth, or a blast of Moya Moskva. And forgive my occasional inclusion of more general Russian songs too. I’m also writing this from a peculiarly British perspective, as most of my impressions of the city filtered through Hollywood movies, Peter and the Wolf the occasional bottle of...

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Guy Bradley: Murder in the Everglades
Jul07

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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Last Chain on Billie
Jul06

Last Chain on Billie

Last Chain on Billie: How One Extraordinary Elephant Escaped the Big Top. Although the title of this book seems to suggest that this is the story of one elephant, it is really a fascinating history of elephants in captivity in the United States. Using the story of Billie’s life as a background author Carol Bradley tells about the earliest days of elephants being brought into the country to appear in circuses, fairs and...

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Speed Records at Daytona Beach
Jul04

Speed Records at Daytona Beach

Early speed trials at Daytona, Florida. The name of Barney Oldfield was making headlines on March 16th, 1907. They proclaimed that he was the ‘speed king of the world’. At that time, the public – and experts -pondered about that sort of speeds the human body could endure and Oldfield – seen on the right – had just become the fastest human being on earth. He had driven his Benz at over one hundred and...

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Hetty Green
Jul03

Hetty Green

Who was Hetty Green? Hetty Green was at one time one of the richest women in the world, certainly in the United States. She was born in 1834 to a wealthy family. She also had the advantage of being the only offspring her parents managed to bring up. She’d had a younger brother but he had died as a child. However, her parents – especially her father – had particularly wanted a son so Hetty never felt loved. But she...

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Who is Helmut Marko?
Jul02

Who is Helmut Marko?

 Who is Helmut Marko? In recent years, Formula One fans grew accustomed to the sight of Austrian Helmut Marko looking proudly on as his protege, Sebastian Vettel, was on the podium when he drove for Red Bull Racing. But who is he? What’s his background? He qualified as a lawyer but did you know that he was once a Formula One driver himself? His record comes nowhere close to that of ‘his boy’ Vettel- he scored no...

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Occupied by the Germans in WW2: The ChanneI Islands
Jun30

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 Boy in the Song: Someone Saved My Life Last Night
Jun27

The Boy in the Song: Someone Saved My Life Last Night

Elton John’s Someone Saved My Life Tonight. In 1975, Elton John released the album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy – which was an autobiographical record of his songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin and his earlier days in the music business. So who was it who saved Elton John’s life? And was this literally or figuratively? Well, it was a bit of both. Mainly, it referred to a time when Bernie Taupin...

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Nora Ephron: Everything is Copy
Jun26

Nora Ephron: Everything is Copy

Everything is copy – true? Writer Nora Ephron was told this by her mother. Her parents were both writers and Nora took the words to heart – she wrote a great deal about her own experiences. I think most writers would agree that writing about personal experience is not only easier, it’s more fun and quite possibly more interesting to the reader simply because it comes from the heart. But I’m not talking here...

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In Praise of Sensational Women – Mavis Staples
Jun24

In Praise of Sensational Women – Mavis Staples

Andy Royston pays tribute to a true musical legend, the magnificent Mavis Staples. We’ve come here tonight to bring you some joy, some happiness, inspiration, and some positive vibrations! We want to leave you with enough to last you for maybe the next six months. – Mavis Staples / Live: Hope at the Hideout Mavis is coming to Fort Lauderdale,just a walk away from my home and I just cannot wait. Here is an American voice...

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Did President Kennedy’s Drug Use Affect His Leadership?
Jun24

Did President Kennedy’s Drug Use Affect His Leadership?

  When John  Kennedy’s medical records were released, they revealed that the president had been taking an enormous cocktail of prescription drugs. Many of these drugs would be considered unsuitable – if not illegal – today. Throughout his life, Kennedy was besieged by medical problems, starting when he was a young teenager and suffered from colitis. It was in London, where his father was ambassador prior to...

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Grand Prix Gourmet: French Lemon Chicken
Jun23

Grand Prix Gourmet: French Lemon Chicken

French Lemon Chicken recipe This recipe comes from the delightful book, How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits and is authentically modern French. This is not one of those classic French dishes that will have you slaving over a hot stove all day. This is the sort of food that today’s Parisian woman – stylish, busy and entertaining – cooks for her dinner party guests. This is so simple to...

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John Cleese: So Anyway…
Jun23

John Cleese: So Anyway…

John Cleese: So Anyway… What makes us laugh? What is funny? John Cleese knows. But did you know that we might never have never have known Monty Python and Basil Fawlty? John Cleese was sure that he was going to have a career in law. That’s what he was studying at university and he had been offered legal position – with a wage of £12 a week – with a prestigious firm of solicitors. (Can you imagine Basil Fawlty...

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Wilson B. Hickox
Jun22

Wilson B. Hickox

Wilson B. Hickox: Poisoned by the government. There’s no doubt that Wilson Hickox died a gruesome death. On 23rd June, 1927, he booked into the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Wilson was a prosperous businessman from Cleveland, Ohio. He had spent the evening out on the town and settled down in his hotel room  and poured himself a nightcap. Soon, he was struck by some unpleasant symptoms. His throat and chest began to tighten...

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Queen Victoria and Haemophilia
Jun21

Queen Victoria and Haemophilia

Does haemophilia show Queen Victoria’s true paternity? When Queen Victoria gave birth to her eighth child, Leopold, both parents were surprised to see how small the baby was. They had previously produced healthy, bouncing babies so Leopold came as something of a shock. When he was just  few months old, bruises appeared on his body as he was diagnosed as having haemophilia – ‘the bleeding disease’. This was the...

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Started Early, Took My Dog: Kate Atkinson
Jun20

Started Early, Took My Dog: Kate Atkinson

Started Early, Took My Dog: Kate Atkinson What a remarkable book. It’s always a little tricky to write about a mystery story without alerting the reader to spoilers but if you’ve read Kate Atkinson’s books before, you’ll know that you’re in for a treat. If you haven’t, then what are you waiting for? It’s certainly time you discovered this author and her current series. Kate Atkinson has always...

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The Girl in the Song: She’s Leaving Home
Jun19

The Girl in the Song: She’s Leaving Home

The Beatles’ She’s Leaving Home: The inspiration. Melanie Coe was seventeen years old when she ran away from home. The story of her disappearance was reported in the British newspaper, The Daily Mirror, and when Paul McCartney read it, he began to write the song She’s Leaving Home. What he didn’t realise what that he had met Melanie three years previously, in 1963. She had been on the television show, Ready,...

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Spicy eggplant recipe from India
Jun19

Spicy eggplant recipe from India

Spicy eggplant recipe from India Serve this fabulous eggplant dish as a side or an appetiser. It’s lovely as a meat-free meal too, served with rice and yogurt. Or serve with Indian flatbreads for a truly authentic touch.     Save Print Spicy eggplant recipe from India Rating  5 from 1 reviews Cook time:  1 hour Total time:  1 hour Serves: 6 Ingredients 1¾ pounds eggplant, cut into wedges about 2 inches...

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The Ghost and Mrs Muir
Jun18

The Ghost and Mrs Muir

The Ghost and Mrs Muir: Movie This is the most lovely film. It’s a love story, a weepie, a ghost story and a comedy all in one. Released in 1945, it has all the charm and drama of the Hollywood era. It’s set in the early 1900s and Lucy Moore has recently been widowed. Determined to start  new life away from her in-laws, she and her small daughter move to a remote rented house near the sea. She’s been warned that the...

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The Yorkshireman and the South Pole
Jun17

The Yorkshireman and the South Pole

On December 13, 2013, Major Ibrar Ali of the Yorkshire Regiment stood at the SouthPole. With him were eleven other service-men and -women, a handful of guides and organisers, oh – and Prince Harry from the British Royal Family. The entire team had trekked (although that’s far too mild a word) across 200 kilometres of punishing snow and ice, through brutally low temperatures for thirteen days, dragging their equipment...

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Demis Roussos
Jun15

Demis Roussos

 Who was Demis Roussos? Demis Roussos was the most unlikely popular singer. In the nineteen seventies, when women were throwing their knickers at the (mildly sexy) Tom Jones, along came this fat, hairy Greek who sang like a girl – and his female fans loved him. He was the most unlikely sex symbol. Demis was incredibly popular in England and he put this down to the availability of cheaper European travel. He suggested that his...

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Stephanie Hoffnung
Jun14

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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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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Why Did Henry VIII Marry Six Times?
Jun11

Why Did Henry VIII Marry Six Times?

Why did Henry VIII marry six times? There was a very good reason indeed. But I was talking to someone recently who truly believed that Henry VIII married six women because he was a horny old goat who just liked to trade wives in for a newer model. Henry had a much greater goal and one that was, in those times, incredibly important to the country. In 1524, King Henry was in his early thirties. He was incredibly tall and good looking,...

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All Time Hero:  Jack Johnson
Jun10

All Time Hero: Jack Johnson

We learn and grow, we make heroes of our own. For me, being a child of the 60s there were astronauts and civil rights leaders, soccer stars and Olympic champs. Gran loved her music, so Nat King Cole, Paul Robeson and Ray Charles were high on my list. Dad’s a big sports fan, and Cassius Clay impressed as much by his trash talking as his skills in the ring. The undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World. If someone wanted to...

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Louis de Rougemont
Jun09

Louis de Rougemont

Who was Louis de Rougemont? Louis de Rougemont achieved fame in 1898 when London’s Wide World magazine published a serialised account of his adventures.Readers were electrified. For the magazine told that Rougemont had spent thirty years living with cannibals in Australia –  as their king and leader. It all began in the 1860s when Rougemont was shipwrecked when he was pearl hunting in the Pacific. He and his trusty canine...

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Anthony Bourdain: Five Essential Kitchen Tools
Jun08

Anthony Bourdain: Five Essential Kitchen Tools

Anthony Bourdain: Five Essential Kitchen Tools Anthony Bourdain is probably one of the best known American chefs today. Having French grandparents, he claims that his love of food and cooking comes from the vacations he spent in France as a child. In his book Kitchen Confidential, he tells a great deal about the life of a restaurateur and the workings of  commercial kitchens. His stories are illuminating and sometimes extremely funny....

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Art Matters: Vincent and Paul
Jun08

Art Matters: Vincent and Paul

Andy Royston takes a look at Vincent van Gogh’s Chairs of 1888, and a fraught relationship with his houseguest, Paul Gauguin. ‘At the bottom of our hearts good old Gauguin and I understand each other, and if we’re a bit mad, so be it, aren’t we also a little sufficiently deeply artistic to contradict anxieties in that regard by what we say with the brush?‘  Vincent Van Gogh –  letter to Theo van Gogh. Arles,...

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Eva, Zsa Zsa and Magda Gabor
Jun06

Eva, Zsa Zsa and Magda Gabor

Three sisters, twenty marriages, nineteen husbands and one child. The Gabor sisters were all born during the First World War. They were born in Hungary, all three ended up in the States and between them they married twenty times. There were fifteen divorces, a couple of annulments yet only one child resulted from these many unions.   Zsa Zsa Zsa Zsa Gabor was probably the most famous of the three sisters — and she was the...

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Just Kids – Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe
Jun05

Just Kids – Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe

I first heard Patti Smith as a teenager. The song – if you can call it a song, was Piss Factory, an extraordinary conversational poem set to haunting improvised free-jazz piano by Richard Sohl. It turned out to be from Patti Smith’s first recording session, and tells a story partly related to her time working in a low paid job back in New Jersey, at a factory that made baby buggies. It was a soul destroying environment,...

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