The Murder of Kitty Genovese

Kitty Genovese and the apathetic bystanders. Catherine Genovese, an attractive twenty-eight year old, was murdered as she walked through the streets of Kew Gardens, NY, in March 1964. Her murder became well-known not just because of its brutality but because of allegations that almost forty bystanders saw her being attacked but did nothing to prevent her death. Her murderer did not know her. The attack wasn’t premeditated....

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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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Prince Philip’s letter: After Diana

Prince Philip’s letter: After Diana. In February, 2015, a letter was sold at auction. This was highly significant in the history of the British royal family.It was written by Prince Philip, five days after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Eighteen years previously, Diana had been killed in a car crash in Paris. Prince Philip,pictured on the left with Queen Elizabeth II, wrote the letter to his niece expressing his feelings...

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Who Was Ottoline Morrell?

The curious life of Ottoline Morrell. When Ottoline Morrell grew to womanhood, she was six feet tall. She had striking, flowing red hair and a strongly-featured face. Knowing that she would turn heads, she dressed flamboyantly. She also led a flamboyant and somewhat scandalous life. She was also the sort of woman that was often caricatured – even by her several lovers. She was born in 1873 into an aristocratic English family of...

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Fordlandia: Henry Ford’s Forgotten Amazon City

Fordlandia: Henry Ford’s Forgotten Amazon City Henry Ford was without doubt a great industrialist. But he had several unusual passions and two of them converge, rather ironically, in the story of Fordlandia. Ford liked his automotive business to be as self-reliant as possible. He disliked being dependant on outside suppliers. He always feared that he was at their mercy. They could put up their prices or take advantage of him in...

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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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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 Liberation of Auschwitz

 The liberation of Auschwitz On 27th January 2015, hundreds of survivors of the Holocaust met at the Auschwitz concentration camp to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of its liberation. There were three hundred in total, mostly in their eighties and nineties. The very fact that there are still three hundred survivors of that terrible experience who are still fit and well enough to travel there shows just how huge the...

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The Honesty Shop Burglary

Canna, Inner Hebrides: Honesty shop burgled. Have you ever lived in a community where there’s no need to look your doors? There are still communities like that on the remote Scottish Hebrides islands. One of them is the island of Canna which at time of writing has a population of twenty six. But their neighbourly way of life is now under threat. The island runs an honesty shop which was burgled in June 2015. It is the first...

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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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34 Shambles Street, Barnsley

Yorkshire: 34 Shambles Street, Barnsley. Regular readers – all three of you 😉 – know that I was brought up in Barnsley in South Yorkshire. I’ve recently been looking into the history of a certain address, the reason being that in the 1950s my dad used that address as part of his business. Here’s a photograph from those days. That’s my old man’s business on the right of the picture – Service...

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Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Prince Philip

Ten facts you might not know about Prince Philip. Prince Philip married Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) in 1947. Few marriages have lasted as long. The prince has been hugely misunderstood in the press during all his public life but he is quite a character and there are many misconceptions about him. Here’s a selection of interesting facts that you might now know. Amaze your friends with your knowledge of royal...

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Rehabilitating Brian Jones

Review: Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones. One a summer’s night in 1969 in the wilds of East Sussex, Brian Jones was found motionless at the bottom of his swimming pool. No one knows for sure what happened to the Rolling Stones founder and guitarist. This was just 3 weeks after being fired from the band, and instantly he was at the center of outlandish conspiracy theories. Jones, just 27, drowned while under the...

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Maida Vale Tube Station

Maida Vale: The tube station with an all-female staff. When the Maida Vale tube station opened in London on June 6th 1915, it was less than a year after the outbreak of the First World War. This meant that because of the lack of available men, who were all either fighting in the forces or working towards the war effort, it was staffed entirely by women. There were 17,000 workers from London Transport who were now overseas fighting in...

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The D-Day Crossword Mystery

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

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Who Killed Amy Dudley?

Did Queen Elizabeth I murder her lover’s wife? Queen Elizabeth the First was known as ‘the virgin queen’  but it’s unlikely this was the case. It’s true that she never married by most historians believe that she had a long-time affair with Sir Robert Dudley. Elizabeth and Robert had known each other since childhood and were the very best of friends.When she became queen she appointed him to her court and...

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RMS Titanic: The band

The musicians of the Titanic It’s over a hundred years ago that the Titanic sank with such an appalling loss of life but we’re still fascinated by the fate of this ‘unsinkable’ ship and its passengers and crew. All the band members went down with the ship. Who were these men? And what is the truth about the last song they played as the ship went down?   Those of us whose first movie exposure to the story...

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Today in history: June

What happened on this day in June? 1st Sgt Pepper album released 1967 Nissan Motor Company founded 1934 Crete falls to Germany 1941 Helen Keller died 1968 Marilyn Monroe born 1926 Germany launched the first Zeppelin raid against England 1915 She’s Leaving Home released 1967 2nd: The Ways of the World published 2015 Reg Spiers sentenced to death 1987 Queen Elizabeth II crowned 1953 Peter Sutcliffe born 1946 Wallace Hartley born...

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After Queen Elizabeth II: What will happen?

After Queen Elizabeth II: What will happen? The last time a monarch died was in 1952.  That is more than a lifetime ago for many of us and the world is a very different place now. Although many believe in the line from the National Anthem ‘long to reign over us’, we have to admit that, having been born in 1926, she may be coming to the end of her time as monarch. No, I don’t believe she will abdicate and it may be...

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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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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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William Grover Williams: Racing Driver and Spy

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

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Detective Sergeant Stanley ‘Steve’ Moore

Great Train Robbery Detective, Steve Moore. Stanley Moore, always known as Steve, was one of the members of the Flying Squad team who were responsible for the capture of the men who had undertaken the Great Train Robbery of 1963. The robbers became famous – folk heroes – and many members of the British public secretly hoped that they’d get away with their haul of £2.6 million that they’d stolen from the Glasgow...

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Is Hitler’s son alive and living in England?

Hitler and Unity Mitford. Did Adolf Hitler have a child with an English girl? And could that child still be alive? It sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? But there are many historians who believe that this is the case and there is some evidence to show that the possibility exists. Unity Mitford was from an aristocratic English family. She and her sisters were the most colourful characters around in the pre-war era. They were fun...

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The Dionne Quintuplets

Who were the Dionne quintuplets? When Elzire Dionne discovered that she was pregnant in 1933, she already had five children. By May the following year, she had doubled the size of her family. And she was only twenty five She and her husband Oliva lived in a farming neighbourhood in a French-speaking area of Canada. During the early part of her pregnancy, Elzire thought she might have had a miscarriage (I won’t go into details)...

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The Montrose Ghost

The Irish Apparition. On 27th May 1913 Irishman Desmond Arthur was killed when his plane was flying over Montrose in Scotland. Three years later, his spirit returned to the scene to haunt it. The ghost disappeared in January 1917 and was never seen again. But why? First, let’s look at the fatal accident. Arthur was an experience flier and on his last flight he had taken his BE2 biplane to a height of 2,500 feet. People on the...

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Zoran Music: Dachau Artist

Who was Zoran Mušic? There are hardly the words to describe what happened at the Nazi concentration camps. But Zoran Music, an artist from Austria, was incarcerated in Dachau and secretly drew the horrors of life there. After graduating after studying art, he decided to travel. He was arrested by the Nazis when he was making sketches of buildings. They assumed he was a spy. Story has it that he was tortured and then interrogated by an...

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Morrissey: Militant Vegetarian

I don’t eat meat. For various reasons. But my question is, does that give me the right to insist that others don’t eat meat too? My diet is my life choice and my own business, wouldn’t you say? After all, I wouldn’t want militant carnivores insisting that I eat meat. But Morrissey (pictured) doesn’t think that way. He believes he has the right to be as militant as he wants regarding vegetarianism....

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Michael Llewelyn Davies: The Real Peter Pan

Who was Michael Llewelyn Davies? There can’t be many people who aren’t familiar with the story of Peter Pan. But did you know that the inspiration for the book was a young boy called Michael Llewelyn Davies? And Davies, pictured on the right, suffered a mysterious death when he was only twenty years old. Michael was one of five Llewellyn brothers – he was the fourth son – and the boys first met the Peter Pan...

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Abraham Zapruder

Who was Abraham Zapruder? Abraham Zapruder filmed a 26.6 second movie clip on a nineteen sixties 8mm camera. That piece of film has probably been analysed more than any other in the world – ever. That is because it was the only live footage of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But who was the man who captured this tragedy on film?  Why was he there on that day and what happened to his short movie clip?...

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Alice de Janze & Raymund de Trafford

The day Alice de Janzé shot her lover. It was March 25th, 1927 and Alice had a date to meet her lover, Raymund de Trafford for lunch in Paris. Actually it would be more accurate to describe him as her ex-lover. This meeting, at the Maison Lapérouse restaurant overlooking the River Seine ended at the Gare du Nord, with a detour to Monsieur Guinon’s gun shop on the Avenue de l’Opera. When they arrived at the station, Alice...

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George VI: The Unprepared King

George VI: The Unprepared King. The problems of King George VI. George didn’t expect to be the king. He was the second son and therefore it was his older brother who was brought up to know that one day, he would be the sovereign. And just as expected, when their father died, Edward ascended to the throne and became King Edward VIII. Just as is the case with Prince Harry today, George had no desire whatsoever to become the...

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Ian Fleming, James Bond and … Bob Marley

Did Ian Fleming model James Bond on himself? Ian Fleming’s most famous creation was, of course, James Bond. And to some extent, the author was the character. He had been involved in espionage during the Second World War but there are certainly other similarities. The fictional James Bond enjoyed a drink (shaken not stirred, of course) and definitely his love of women was a great feature of the 007 persona. Fleming liked a drink...

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All the Queen’s … Pigeons

The Queen and her racing pigeons. It’s widely known that Queen Elizabeth II is extremely fond of horse racing but did you know that she’s also a pigeon fancier? She keeps a stable (if that’s the right word) of racing pigeons in the grounds of the Norfolk royal residence, Sandringham. She has over two hundred pigeons and is said to be extremely knowledgeable about the birds, their care and of course, about pigeon...

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The Hindenburg Disaster

Hindenburg Airship Disaster. 1937 When the British R101 Airship crashed in 1930, the public began to lose confidence in this supposedly luxurious mode of travel. Passengers were transported in a ‘gondola’ – a capsule fitted out to be somewhat like  luxury ocean liner. The R101 disaster sowed seeds of serious doubts about the safety of airships but the events of May 6th, 1937,confirmed them. The German Hindenburg...

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The Death of Napoleon

What killed Napoleon? It’s May 5th, 1821 and the former mighty conqueror of vast areas of Europe, Commanding General and Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte’ lay dying. He’d been held captive on the Island of St. Helena in the Atlantic Ocean for a period of 6 years and in the past few months his condition rapidly deteriorated. He was housed in a place known as Longwood House, a drafty, unrepaired home that could...

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The Superga Air Disaster

In May 1949, a man who couldn’t get his passport renewed, another who was ill with influenza and an injured footballer were the luckiest men in Italy. For they could not be on the trip when their colleagues in the Torino football team  all perished in a tragic air crash when they were on  their way back from playing a friendly match in Lisbon. When the accident happened, on May 4th, there were thirty one people in the plane....

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The Great Jacksonville Fire

Jacksonville fire: 1901. Friday, May 3rd, 1901 was a beautiful day in Jacksonville, Florida. The sky was blue and there was no wind – it was perfect Floridian weather. At the Cleveland Fibre Factory, workers were sitting outside enjoying their lunch and there was a delicious smell of food cooking on a wood burning stove from a nearby shanty. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the smell that was floating through the air –...

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Today in history: May

What happened on this day in May? 1st Ayrton Senna died 1994 Joanna Lumley born 1946 Citizen Kane released 1940 Bobby Vee announced that he’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease 2012 The US government seizes the nation’s jukebox factories and puts them to work making war materials. 1942 Empire State Building opened 1931 Ben E King died 2015 Man removed own appendix 1961 Tour de Yorkshire 2015 2nd Anne Boleyn...

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Samuel Morse

Dot, dot, dot, dash, dash, dash, dot, dot, dot. Who does not know what that stands for? Whether you are in the information gathering line of work or not, I’m sure that everyone knows that this is Morse Code for S.O.S. But did you know that April 27th is also the birth of the inventor of Morse Code, aptly named after him. Samuel Morse born in 1791, helped to develop this system of communication. Yes you read that right. 1791 a mere 225...

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You’ll Never Walk Alone – Justice for the 96.

Andy Royston remembers the 96. (originally published by Ayup Online Magazine, 2000). For English football fans it is a moment etched in the memory, something never to be forgotten. The moment we heard the news. 96 lives lost in a crush of people at an FA Cup Semi-final football match taking place at the Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield. A moment we’ll never forget. The moment when the game stopped. The occasion was supposed to be...

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The Mysterious Death of Wallis Simpson

What happened to Wallis Simpson after the Duke of Windsor died? Wallis was of course, the Duchess of Windsor. Her husband the duke had formerly been King Edward VIII and famously he abdicated in 1936 so that he could marry her. Their affair and subsequent marriage had tongues wagging on both sides of the Atlantic and was the constitutional crisis of the twentieth century. They had a curious, scandalous and rather sad married life but...

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Fashion Revolution Day

What is Fashion Revolution Day? On April 24th, 2013, a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed. Over 1100 people were killed and many more injured. Bangladesh is one of the countries that produces the most garments and many of the clothes that were being manufactured in the ill-fated factory were destined to be sent to the western world. In other words, they were making the clothes that you and I buyin our local stores. To mark the...

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Queen Elizabeth II: The world’s oldest serving monarch

Queen Elizabeth II: The world’s oldest serving monarch. Princess Elizabeth became queen on 6th February, 1952. Little did she know that she would become the oldest monarch in the world. On 23rd January, 2015, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died at the age of ninety making the queen the oldest sovereign. She was born in 1926. Queen Victoria reigned for 63 years, 216 days, a record the queen topped in September 2015. Victoria lived...

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Electrophobia!

Andy Royston looks into the darker side of this newfangled electricity fad. I beheld a stream of fire issue from an old and beautiful oak . . . and so soon as the dazzling light vanished the oak had disappeared, and nothing remained but a blasted stump. . . . I eagerly inquired of my father the nature and origin of thunder and lightning. He replied, “Electricity.”- Victor Frankenstein 1880, New York City. The metropolis...

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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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Auschwitz: The Monster Within

Auschwitz: The Monster Within. And so, I’ve arrived. Polish bus PK97 gallops off into the distance. The old girl has delivered me to the location on my ticket – a place I’ve wanted to visit for quite a while. Like most people, I’ve got a wishlist: Elvis’ Graceland, The White House, The Grand Canyon, The Pyramids and possibly the Paris tunnel where Diana was killed. Half expectedly, a slow churning in the...

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Marthe Cohn & Jacques Delaunay

Love and tragedy in occupied France. In 1941 Marthe Hoffnung was living with her family in occupied France. Life was hard for them. It wasn’t just the hardships of the German occupation that made life so difficult – the Hoffnung family was Jewish. In April that year, Marthe had her twenty first birthday and her parents, who tried to make life as normal as possible for Marthe and her siblings, allowed her to have a small...

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If Jeremy Clarkson offends you, don’t watch him

If Jeremy Clarkson offends you, don’t watch him Have you heard about the current Top Gear malarkey? Just a quick explanation – Top Gear is a British television show which combines humour with information about cars.(Do not confuse this with the watered-down US version). It has been described as ‘edgy’. This is because its presenters, the foremost of which is Jeremy Clarkson, are normal blokes. Their so-called...

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The Guinea Pig Club

The Guinea Pig Club of the Second World War. This very exclusive club was started in 1941 during WW2. There were exactly six hundred and forty nine members. But there was an incredibly high price to pay for membership. Members were all airmen who had been badly burned and disfigured in action They had all been treated by pioneer surgeon, Archibald McIndoe. He pioneered plastic surgery, hence the name of this elite club. Read on to...

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The First and Last Voyage of the SS Gulfamerica

The sinking of the SS Gulfamerica. In 1942, the Second World War hardly seemed real to the many people who were enjoying their Friday evening in Jacksonville Beach. The restaurants and bars were busy, teenagers were enjoying riding the merry-go-round and sailors from the nearby naval air station were taking advantage of their weekend passes. But that Friday, April 10th, was a night they would remember. The east coast was busy with...

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Evelyn Waugh & Diana Guinness

Evelyn Waugh & Diana Guinness. Words by Lyndsy Spence. Evelyn Waugh had made up his mind to dislike Diana Guinness, the third-born and most beautiful of the six Mitford girls. As the young wife of the brewing scion Bryan Guinness, Diana had already established herself as a dazzling society hostess. She was the epitome of what Evelyn (at that time) despised: rich, frivolous and, as he privately imagined, not very bright. During...

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Headline of the week: Prince Charles on tits

Great tits no guarantee of success in the bedroom, says Prince Charles. The above headline was seen in the Daily Express on April 7th, 2015. Readers were surprised to see that the prince has extended his career to include that of sex expert. As the future sovereign, then it’s true to say that he should have the welfare of the people of Great Britain at heart. But isn’t becoming a sex counselor over stepping the mark a bit?...

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Today in history: April

What happened on this day in April? 1st Royal Air Force created 1918 Cynthia Lennon died 2015 Alan Kulwicki died 1993 Marvin Gaye died 1984 Celia Cooney born 1904 2nd Wallis Simpson’s jewellery auctioned 1987 Penelope Keith born 1940 Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands 1982 Hans Christian Anderson born 1805 Walter Chrysler born 1875 John Gotti convicted 1992 Ponce de Leon discovered Florida 1513 Serge Gainsbourg born 1928 3rd Viv...

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Did Lana Turner Murder Johnny Stompanato?

Eric Root claimed that Lana Turner murdered her lover. In a sensational and highly publicised case in 1958, it was claimed that small-time gangster, Johnny Stompanato, had been murdered my his mistress’ daughter. His mistress was the famous Hollywood actress Lana Turner. The court ruled that Lana’s daughter,Cheryl Crane – then fourteen years old – had been responsible for the fatal stabbing. It was ruled as...

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The Bethnal Green Tube Disaster

A wartime disaster in London. In 2013, two seventy year old women met for the first time. Although they were strangers, it was a highly emotional meeting. They had a common bond which involved tragedy and immense bravery. That same year, another women who was all of ninety seven years old, was interviewed about the same event – a disaster that had been covered up by the authorities for many years. March 3rd, 1943 It was the...

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Who Was Gertrude Ederle?

Gertrude, or Trudy as she was more usually known, was a sportswoman who should have been famous and remembered today but despite her achievements she faded into obscurity. In the 1920s she was seen as a pioneer in showing the world that women were not ‘the weaker sex’.  Strangely, women were still considered to be so. Gertrude was the first woman to swim the English Channel She was the first woman to do so and she...

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Who was Pancho Barnes?

Who was Pancho Barnes? She was no beauty, that’s for sure, but she was one of the fastest-living, hardiest partying girls of the last century. She was married four times, was a Hollywood stunt pilot and spent her way through several fortunes.   The girl who was destined to escape from Mexican rebels by dressing as a man, and who could out-party, out-drink and out-everything most men she met, was born with the demure name of...

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Harry Houdini

Who was Harry Houdini? Houdini was born as Ehrich Weiss in Budapest in 1974. As Harry Houdini, he became world famous as an escapologist and magician. He was best known for his daring and seemingly impossible escapes. Sometimes he was placed in a crate, in chains and submerged in water. Another famous escape act involved him being suspended high in the air in a straitjacket and handcuffs. Houdini never let down his audiences. His...

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Who was Brownie Wise?

You may not be familiar with the name of Brownie Wise but I imagine that you know about her products – and the sales method she devised. You see, it was Brownie who developed the Tupperware party. She started her career as a secretary for a company called Stanley Home Products and sold their goods at home as a sideline. But when she discovered the Tupperware products, she dropped them to concentrate on these new bowls and...

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Eva Braun: Mrs Hitler

Eva Braun: The woman who married Adolf Hitler. Who was the woman who married the fuhrer? Of course, it was probably one of the shortest marriages ever, ending with the couple’s death on April 30th 1945, but at that time, she had known Hitler for sixteen years. She was born to what was then known as a lower-middle class couple in 1912,one of three sisters. She was educated at the local catholic school and then at a convent. She...

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The Kidnapping of Princess Anne

The 1974 kidnapping attempt on Princess Anne. Princess Anne is the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and in March 1974, four people were shot by a man who was trying to kidnap the princess for ransom. Anne, or the Princess Royal as she is known today, is not one of the younger, more popular members of the royal family such as Harry, William and Catherine, but she’s widely acknowledged to be the most hard-working member with a...

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Who Was Maria Callas?

Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis. One of the richest men in the world, Aristotle Onassis, was married twice. His first wife was Tina Livros, the seventeen year old daughter of a shipping tycoon. (Onassis was forty when he married her). His second wife was one of the most famous women in America at that time — Jackie Kennedy, the widow of the assassinated president JFK. But one woman was with him for longer than either of his...

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Man Removed his own Appendix

Leonid Rogozov: The man who removed his own appendix. Leonid had little choice. He was on a Russian antarctic expedition in the early nineteen sixties when he started feeling abdominal pain. Being a doctor Leonid, who was twenty seven years old at the time, realised that he had appendicitis. He had to decide what to do. The expedition was many miles from civilisation. The team were not due to be contacted or picked up until the next...

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Nicole Hughes Maxwell

Who was Nicole Hughes Maxwell?  Nichole Hughes Maxwell transformed herself from a Californian socialite into a South American explorer and ethnobotanist. She later said that the wild animals,the witch doctors and the swamps held no fear for her – not,that is, compared to her pre-expedition lunch with top executives of  pharmaceutical company.”I hate asking for money’ she said. But she did receive a grant to continue...

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Who was Mary Garden?

Who was Mary Garden? Her name is unknown today but had we been around in the earlier half of the last century, we’d definitely know it. She entertained kings and princes – indeed King George of Greece reportedly presented her with a necklace worth $100,000 Mary was born in Scotland in the 1870s – the exact year varies depending on the accounts you read. When she was just a girl, her parents emigrated to the United...

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Who Was Timothy Evans?

Who was Timothy Evans? Timothy Evans was twenty five years old when he died in London in 1950. He was hanged for the murder of his wife and their baby daughter. But it was later discovered that there was one big problem. Timothy Evans was innocent. Evans was illiterate. He had suffered various illnesses as a child and had hardly no education. When he was still a boy, his family moved from their native Wales to London.  When he was old...

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Atlas and Vulcana

Who was Vulcana? Vulcana was the stage name of a young woman from Wales. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, she performed in the music halls as a strong-woman. She was born with the more likely name of Kate Williams in 1875. She was interested in acrobatics and fitness and her father, a local preacher, encouraged her to become fit and strong. When she was in her early teens she started attending a gym. She soon...

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Who was Catalina de Erauso?

Who was Catalina de Erauso? Catalina was born into a highly-ranked Basque family in 1585. Like many girls of her day,she was expected to live the cloistered life of a nun. She entered the convent when she was just child. She was desperately unhappy and determined to escape from the dreary future she saw before her. It was arranged that she should take her vows when she was fifteen. As the date approached, she became even more...

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Today in history: February

What happened on this day in February? 1st Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction 2004 Clark Gable born 1901 Lettice Curtis b 1915 2nd Nathan Lane born 1956 Gisele Pascal died 2007 Arnold Hardy born 1922 Lux Interior died 2009 Robinson Crusoe rescued 1709   3rd Buddy Holly died 1959 Three parent bill passed 2015 Nancy Kulp died 1991 Norman Rockwell born 1894 Lord Lucan declared dead 2016 4th Liberace died 1987 Charles Lindberg born...

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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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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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Who Was Pablo Fanque?

Who was Pablo Fanque? There’s a question. But the chances are that you might well have heard the name before. There he is on the right. I imagine he looks unfamiliar to you but I think that you might have heard his name, especially if you’re a fan of the Beatles. So what on earth can a bloke who was born in England in 1796 possibly have to do with the Beatles? And how is it that you’ve probably heard his name? Read...

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The Leeds Dripping Riots

Yorkshire: The Leeds Dripping Riots of 1865 This is the true story of a bizarre riot that took place in Leeds in Yorkshire a hundred and fifty years ago. Although there was a death because of the riot, and hundreds of people took part, it started because of something incredibly trivial – two pounds of dripping. Here, I suspect that I have to explain to younger readers exactly what I mean by dripping <sigh>. In the north of...

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Who Was Lillie Langtry?

 Lillie Langtry’s royal illegitimate baby. At various times in her life,Lillie Langtry was an entertainer, a racehorse owner, an American citizen, a resident of Monte Carlo and most notably, a mistress of members of the British aristocracy and royal family. But what is often forgotten is that she had a royal illegitimate daughter whose descendants are related by blood to today’s heirs to the British throne. Lillie was born...

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John T Betsch & Bessie Coleman

John T Betsch & Bessie Coleman John T Betsch’s grandfather was the first black millionaire in Florida. John himself was, in his daughter’s words ‘a race man’ who promoted the black community in the area. In 1930 he, as a member of the Negro Welfare League, sponsored and promoted aviator Bessie Coleman who went to Jacksonville to appear in an air show. You can read about Bessie Coleman here. If you’ve...

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Lana Turner & Johnny Stompanato

Lana Turner & Johnny Stompanato. Lana Turner was a Hollywood actress and pin up girl. She had a tempestuous life – she was married eight times – but probably her most famous relationship was that she had with Johnny Stompanato. Between husbands number four and five, Lana took Johnny to be her lover. He had underworld connections. According to Lana, Johnny was desperate to marry her but she objected to his life on the...

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Elsie Frost: Fifty Years After Her Murder

On the afternoon of October 9th, 1965, fourteen year old Elsie Frost was walking along a country footpath not far from her home in Wakefield, Yorkshire. A few hours later her body was found, sparking off a huge police investigation. A man was arrested and accused of the murder but the court decided he was innocent. The murderer remains at large fifty years later. In the early months of 2015, as the fiftieth anniversary approached,...

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Alberta Vickridge – forgotten poet and printer

The Forgotten Bard. Alberta Vickridge? You’ve probably never heard of her. Which is a pity – because in her lifetime she was a poet of considerable talent, including poetry that won her a Bardic Crown and Bardic Chair at an Eisteddfod in 1924. She also ran her own printing press from her home in Yorkshire at a time when women in printing were uncommon. Her poetry was admired and praised by writers, such as Agatha Christie,...

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American Beach, Florida

American Beach, Florida American Beach is  located in Amelia Island in Florida. Of course, Florida is well-known for its wonderful beaches – so what’s so special about this one? It was founded in 1935 by a local millionaire. It was intended to be a resort for the people he employed in his Jacksonville insurance company – plus others, of course. But not everyone. This was an exclusive beach. Why? The photograph below...

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Zora Neale Hurston

Who was Zora Neale Hurston? The nineteen thirties were a strange time in the USA. When most people were struggling with the effects of the Depression, Zora Neale Hurston was travelling and living in Florida, Jamaica, the Bahamas and Haiti – studying voodoo. She is remembered today as a folklorist, anthropologist and writer, yet she came from a childhood which featured deprivation an segregation in the rural southern states. She...

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Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day We are fast approaching that day where some people either look forward to early signs of spring or they are dismayed by the forecast that they are about to hear. In North America, we have this February holiday called Ground Hog Day, falling on the 2nd and causing usually normal people to act in ways that are to say the least peculiar! Canadians wait for Wiarton Willy and our American Neighbors look for Punxsutawney Phil...

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Today in history: January

What happened on this day in January? 1st Blanche Barrow born 1911 First edition of the Time of London published 1788 Victoria became the Empress of India 1877 Alcatraz became a federal prison 1934 J.D. Salinger born 1919 Maurice Chevalier died 1972 R.T. James born 1914 Constipate goldfish’s operation 2015 R. T James born 1914 2nd Yorkshire Ripper arrested 1981 Robbie Gordon born 1969 Cuba Gooding Jr born 1968 Isaac Asimov born...

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Thelma Furness: Wallis Simpson’s Rival for Edward

Thelma Furness: Wallis Simpson’s rival for Edward’s affections The name of Wallis Simpson is well-known. The one time king to England, Edward VIII, famously gave up his throne for the sake of Mrs Simpson,choosing to marry her rather than remain sovereign. A lesser known name is that of Thelma Furness but without her presence in Edward’s life,the abdication crisis, as it was known, might have never happened. Thelma...

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Princess Vicky & Prince Frederick William: Royal Romance

Princess Vicky & Prince Frederick William: Royal Romance. Princess Vicky was the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. She was a lively and intelligent girl and was well-trained by her parents to occupy a regal position. They expected her to marry well into another European royal house. They didn’t exactly arrange her marriage but they tried their best to facilitate it. When the Great Exhibition took place in...

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Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill. I don’t really remember Winston Churchill, apart from old wartime newsreels that I saw on TV when I was a kid. But there’s no doubt that he was an important part of British – and maybe the world’s – history. He was an eccentric chap,that’s for sure. He was born into wealth and was a wonderful combination of British aristocracy (his father) and American frivolous society (his...

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Porfirio Rubirosa: The pepper mill playboy

Porfirio Rubirosa: The pepper mill playboy. Rubirosa was a well-known character in the nineteen fifties and sixties. He either married,or had affairs with, some of the richest,most beautiful women in the world. This charm was legendary. Amongst the women he attracted were heiresses and movie stars. He was something of a dare-devil, enjoying fast cars, skiing, flying,playing polo and having dangerous liaisons with married women. It was...

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London at War: Black Americans

Black American soldiers in London in the Second World War. During WW2, many American soldiers were stationed in London and there’s one curious aspect of this that is very rarely mentioned in history books – the treatment of black American soldiers. In the 1940s racial segregation was a fact of life in the USA but not in Britain. This caused various problems. These had been anticipated by Britain’s foreign secretary,...

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Dawn Langley Simmons

Gordon Ticehurst was born in England in 1922. He was the illegitimate child of a sixteen year old servant girl. The father was the household’s chauffeur and the pair were employed by homosexual author Harold Nicholson and his lesbian wife Vita Sackville-West. Now that is some start in life. But it was just the beginning of a remarkable life story. Gordon’s early life is something of a mystery. Although it seems that he did...

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Al Capone: The Man Who Created Scarface

How did Al Capone get his ‘Scarface’ nickname? Al Capone hated that nickname. And of course it developed because he had knife scars on his cheek but who did this and how did it happen? In fact, he was only eighteen when he received the injury that he would hate for the rest of his life. It was August 1917 and Capone was working at the Harvard Inn on Coney Island.  The place was owned by Frankie Yale, a minor mobster....

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What Do Americans Think About Britain?

Raping nuns in the street, Muslim-only cities,vigilante police … The latest American to put his foot firmly in his mouth was a chap called Steve Emerson. You’ve probably never heard of him – I hadn’t either until recently. He is some sort of journalist or something. But apparently, this person went on Fox News and declared that the city of Birmingham in the UK is an entirely Muslim city and that non-Muslims...

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The Capsize of the Prinz Valdemar

The end of the Florida Land Boom: 1926. In the middle of the nineteen twenties, a single ship ran aground on a sandbar and capsized. No-one was killed; no-one was hurt but this simple accident brought about the end of the infamous Florida Land Boom. Since the beginning of the decade, investors had flocked to South Florida. They could buy land cheap and sell it again and make fabulous profits. How could they go wrong? South Florida had...

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Who is Aileen Getty?

Of course, if you guessed from her surname that she is one of the fabulously rich Getty family, you’d be correct. Has it often occurred to you that often the richest families are the ones who seem to have the most tragedies and disasters in their lives? The Onassis and Kennedy families come to mind. Aileen Getty was one of these people who suffered because of her family’s enormous wealth – yet she’s a survivor....

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Haunted Alcatraz Prison

Alcatraz Island is located in the bay of San Francisco, California. Originally developed with lighthouse facilities, it became in succession, a military fortification, a Civil War military prison (1868) and a Federal prison from 1933 to 1963. Its storied past makes it one of the most haunted prisons in the United States. What many people do not know is that members of the Ohlone nation who had committed deeds unacceptable to the tribe...

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George Harrison attacked at home

In 1999, Beatle George Harrison was attacked in his own home. We like to think that we are safe in our own homes but in the early hours of December 31st, 1999, George Harrison and his wife Olivia were brutally attacked by a man wielding a knife in the Friar Park home. George said later that he was sure that he would die. George and Olivia had been watching television that night and had gone to bed at about 2am. Their son Dhani was...

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Earth’s Amazing Meteorite Impact Craters

Why so few craters on Earth compared with the moon?   It’s well-known that the surface of the moon is covered with many thousands of impact craters. However, Earth appears to not have nearly as many. The reason for this is that the Earth’s weather and tectonic forces make most craters eventually disappear. Also, Earth’s surface is 71% water, and so many meteors, asteroids, or comets that have hit the Earth, have splashed into the...

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Aliens – Do They Know It’s Christmas Time At All?

Aliens – Do They Know It’s Christmas Time At All? Well no, because they’re aliens. But what if we have to explain it all to them? Just as we have many questions for them, they surely will have for us. If we believe the reports… aliens have been appearing in our skies for a very long time. Some of these sightings have occurred at Christmas time. So one day – maybe even one Christmas Day – an alien...

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Keeping Safe: Is it a Choice?

Help me out – Can you remember a time in the recent past few years, that there were not so many acts of senseless violence and killing and gun shootings in the USA? I wish someone could tell me if these mass shootings and senseless acts of terrorism have become the “norm”. What’s happening in our world, that killing has become such a focus of sensationalism and a common topic in the daily television news...

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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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Today in history: November

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

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Lady Ursula d’Abo

Lady Ursula d’Abo: The girl with the widow’s peak. Words by Lyndsy Spence Born into an aristocratic family in 1916, Lady Ursula d’Abo (née Manners) was interrelated with some of the most powerful and interesting figures of the 20th century. She counted the famous beauty and hostess Lady Diana Cooper as her paternal aunt, and among those famous aunts were Laura and Margot Tennant, part of the Victorian intellectual...

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Petition Against A Horse Kill Buyer

Horse Slaughter In The News Anyone who pays attention to the news knows what is happening to the wild horses across our country. The news of a kill buyer who recently shipped close to 1800 wild horses to slaughter in Mexico rankles our souls. He bought these horses at a Bureau of Land Management auction, signing a contract that he would not ship them to slaughter. The worst part of the news is that everyone knew he was lying, because...

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Are You There God? It’s Me, Danny

Are You There God? It’s Me, Danny. No answer! He never answers me. I probably use His name more than I use my own, and always endearingly: “Oh my God”. “Good God”. “Dear God”. Yet still He stays away from me. Is it because I have done something in my life that has got up His nose? Then where is the forgiveness? And shouldn’t He at least let me know what it is so that I can apologise for...

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Who was J. Habakuk Jephson?

In December 1872, an American ship was found sailing off the Azores in the North Atlantic Ocean. It was in good condition, but its lifeboat was gone — and there was not a soul on board. The ship was called the Mary Celeste and for years there was speculation about what had happened to the ten people aboard. They had vanished into thin air. There was no sign of a struggle or fight. Other than the lifeboat nothing seemed to be...

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SS Mohegan

The Mohegan disaster The SS Mohegan sank off the coast of Cornwall in 1898. Although this maritime disaster has been largely forgotten, the cause remains a mystery and of course, there is a conspiracy theory regarding the loss of the ship. And it’s a mysterious story indeed. The ship was built in the Yorkshire port of Hull. Her original name was Cleopatra and she didn’t get off to a good start. On her maiden voyage, which...

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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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Sometimes We Forget to Say Thank You

Here is a great true story of one man’s way of saying thank you. It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean. Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden...

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Did Alice de Janzé murder her lover?

Did Alice de Janzé murder her lover? I’m inclined to think that she did. But read about the case below and let me know what you think. Alice was American and a wealthy heiress. She was born in 1899. She lived a scandalous life, which ended when she took her own life t the age of only forty two. She was incredibly beautiful. Surviving photographs of her do not do her justice. in those days, rich American families often arranged...

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Who Killed Elsie Frost: Latest News

In September 2015 there were further developments in the almost fifty year old case of the murder of this fourteen year old schoolgirl. Elsie’s brother and sister, along with the Wakefield police and aided by the BBC, have been looking into this unsolved case. (You can read the details here). Elsie was murdered in the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday in October in 1965. She was a quiet and happy young girl and despite...

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Who were the Duplessis Orphans?

From Orphanage to Asylum While I was reading Asylum recently, a fine mystery that incorporates the past and the present, it made me very curious to know the details of that terrible time.  Actually, the book included so much truth, that I wanted to know what was fiction and what was fact. The book is a work of fiction, a mystery that revolves around the Duplessis orphans in Montreal, Canada. My own memories of the 50’s were so mild...

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Songs For New York – 21st Century

Andy Royston concludes his three part Songs for New York with a look at Millennial recordings featuring this great city. You can read part one here, and part two here. New York is to the nation what the white church spire is to the village – the visible symbol of aspiration and faith, the white plume saying this way is up. EB White Here Is New York, 1949 Now you’re in New York, these streets will feel brand new, the lights...

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Royal Scandal: The Prince of Wales

The question on everyone’s lips; would the Prince of Wales be a good king? Everyone wondered. Of course, he was born with certain advantages like any member of the royal family but he had a strict and somewhat domineering father. His mother of course was  the Queen of England and concerned with her duty. Both parents seemed to expect so much from their eldest son. It’s said that his childhood wasn’t happy and went he...

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The Kennedy curse?

The Kennedy curse? Did Jackie Kennedy take the curse to the Onassis family? Many people believe that the Kennedy family was cursed. It’s certainly true that they suffered many tragedies. But only three of these alleged ‘curses’ took place before the nineteen fifties – on other words, before Jacqueline Bouvier married John Kennedy in September 1953. The first tragedy was actually brought about largely by the...

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What’s wrong with having red hair?

When did red hair become wrong? What’s wrong with having red hair? Truly, I want to know. In recent years, this has become something of a prejudice – since when did people start discriminating against people with lovely red locks? Of course,I’m biased. My maternal grandmother had red hair so therefore I, and four of my cousins, also do. So why is it now subject to phrases like ‘the red-haired stepchild’?...

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Tribute to Mum and Dad – Joan and Colin

Andy Royston celebrates his parents, Joan and Colin, Yorkshire born and bred. Inspired by Sam Monaco’s moving tribute to his own parents.   The older I get, and the more people that I meet, I’m beginning to realize that I must be the luckiest man in the world. I didn’t think so when I was a kid, growing up in a small farming village at the heart of the South Yorkshire coalfields. I didn’t think that I was...

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Miss Marple: Margaret Rutherford’s Family Murder

Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. Margaret Rutherford was a much-loved British actress and probably her best known role was that of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple. And yet because of a tragic murder in her own family, Miss Rutherford almost turned down the part of the famous elderly amateur detective. The public was almost denied from seeing her in  this most memorable role. MGM, the movie studio, was planning to make Murder...

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Alaska Lighthouse Tales

  Alaska, The “Wild” Country Alaska: a fabled wilderness of fabled tales. One of the greatest gold rushes in history (The Yukon) in 1896, prompted the start of building Alaska lighthouses. They were necessities for the people to survive the wild country and sail its waters. This was a place where being tough and inventive was necessary for survival.  Alaska lighthouse tales related on this page demonstrate the dangers...

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Best of British – Night Mail

Andy Royston celebrates Night Mail, one of the most influential documentary films of all time. “If you wanted to see what camera and sound could really do, you had to see some little film sponsored by the Post Office or the Gas, Light & Coke company.” J.B. Priestley For much of the time between the wars the General Post Office (GPO) was the largest employer in Britain. It was at the leading edge of business practice...

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Who Was Harriet Mordaunt?

The Harriet Mordaunt Scandal. A Royal Scandal: The Prince of Wales and Harriet Mordaunt. It’s not really unusual to hear of an older man marrying a much younger woman. But in the case of Harriet Mordaunt, it became a scandal that fascinated Victorian society. Harriet was young and attractive and her story involved British royalty and led to Harriet being locked up as insane for the rest of her life. Was a conspiracy at work?...

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The 2003 Northeast Power Blackout

Those who were there that hot, humid Friday still remember clearly what they were doing when the power failed on August 14th, 2003.  Especially those in the big cities.  Big cities such as New York City.   Affecting over 45 million people in the Northeast United States and over 10 million in areas of Canada, it was the second worst power outage in history. While some back up generators worked effectively, nearly all of New York City...

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Daft Historical Facts

From the first use of OMG occurring in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1917 to a Prussian Emperor kidnapping tall people to realise his dream of having a tall army; history is full of amusing, daft and fascinating facts. The less likely to turn up in history books the better and though they may be hard to slip into a general conversation, if the opportunity does arise, you’re sure to be able to entertain – so here are a few of...

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Yorkshire Day

Yorkshire. Yorkshire, as all right-thinking people know, is known as ‘God’s Own County’ and quite right too. We’re lucky here at JAQUO because we have several Yorkshire writers. (As you would expect from a magazine of such quality). This means that JAQUO has quite a few articles about God’s Own County – the people and the places, the history and the food – which you can see here in our...

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Prince Charles and Lady Diana tie the Knot!

For many years, the world was wondering when and if the Prince of Wales was ever going to marry and give the British People and the Monarchy some good news. Prince Charles was the most eligible bachelor in the world, and rumours were all around about who might be the “lucky” lady, that would be the next Princess to be and be with her husband the next in line to the throne. Well on this day in 1981, Prince Charles indeed had the whole...

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Parents’ Day

Tribute to my Dad. A special memory tribute of a dear man in my life, my Dad. He had a great love for sax music. He was a musical guy with various musical instrument talents but his favorites were the accordion and saxophone. He loved to play religious, jazz and polka music. He played the sax in his younger days right up until about 6 months before he passed in January 2002 with leukemia. He was 89 when he went. One of my most...

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Elsie Frost murder: Ian Spencer’s family

The family of the accused man, Ian Spencer. The latest news about the 1966 murder of Elsie Frost is encouraging, thanks to the investigations of the BBC and their reporter, Jon Manel. If this is the first time you have heard of this case, previous articles are linked below. Police reinvestigation The first news comes from the West Yorkshire Police. The BBC interviewed Detective Chief Inspector Elizabeth Belton who said that the case...

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Mitford Weddings: Diana Guinness & Oswald Mosley

Diana Mitford & Sir Oswald Mosley. Of the six somewhat scandalous Mitford sisters, possibly the most controversial wedding was that of Diana to Oswald Mosley. It took place in Germany in October 1936 – less than three years before the outbreak of the Second World War. The marriage service was conducted in the home of the Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels and the guest of honour was Adolf Hitler. Both Diana and her...

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So, Prince Philip swears

And this is news? In July 2015, the newspapers and the internet were full of the news that Britain’s Prince Philip had ‘appeared to use’ the f-word during a photo shoot.  Have they nothing better to report? Blimey. Royals today are no longer expected to don suits of armour and go jousting. Neither do they live in fear of being usurped and sent to the Tower to have their heads cut off.  But it does seem a little...

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Language Quiz: Test Your Knowledge

When the Voyager Space Probe set off into space on the ultimate adventure, it needed to say hello. So it was equipped with audio files etched onto a gold plated record intended to be heard by whatever form of life it might come across. This fascinating video is one of these files and it contains greetings and welcome messages in 55 different languages. How many languages did you identify? We will probably never leave planet Earth, but...

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Today in history: July

What happened on this day in July? 1st Olivia de Havilland born 1916 First day of the Somme 1916 Diana Spencer born 1961 Alice Guy Blanche born 1903 Last Ford Thunderbird produced 2005 George Sand born 1804 Peggy Sue recorded 1957 Nicholas Winton died 2015 2nd: Live Aid 2006 Helmut Marko accident 1972 Amelia Earhart disappeared 1937 Val Doonican died 2015 3rd: Sebastian Vettel born Carrie Buck born 1906 Hettie Green died 1916 Franz...

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Cooking in a foreign language

Cooking in a ‘foreign’ language – British and American. When I moved to America from England, I didn’t realize that I’d have to learn a whole new language. Yes, I’m English and Americans speak English too, don’t they? Well, as a keen cook, it struck me almost at once that the words I’d grown up with in recipes just weren’t going to work here because of language differences....

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The Life of the Princess of Wales

The Life of the Princess of Wales. She was incredibly unhappy. The Princess of Wales had only been married for a short period of time but she was fully aware that her husband, the Prince of Wales, was still seeing his long-time mistress. And what’s more, she rather suspected that he was seeing other women too. She knew that he’d had plenty of women when he had been single and now it seemed that he hadn’t changed in...

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Elsie Frost murder: Memorial service planned

Latest news from the BBC’s investigation into the murder of Elsie Frost. I was eleven years old and at school in Wakefield when fourteen year old Elsie Frost was murdered in that city in 1965. In recent months, as the fiftieth anniversary of Elsie’s murder approaches, BBC reporter Jon Manel has been helping Elsie’s brother and sister, Colin and Anne, try to discover more about this unsolved case. In previous articles...

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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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Victim culture: Cry-baby society

The victim culture: A disturbing part of today’s society? In Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied countries free speech was censored by jack booted thugs. Today, we are censored by victim culture and the fact that we don’t want ‘to offend’. Offend others and they become the victim and you become branded as a racist, sexist or some other variety of ‘ist’. This was demonstrated in June 2015 when seventy...

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Elsie Frost murder: The police typist

Police typist Liz Weaver and the murder of Elsie Frost. The people of Wakefield in West Yorkshire were stunned and horrified when fourteen year old Elsie Frost was brutally murdered on the outskirts of the city. This terrible event took place on Saturday October 9th, 1965. The murderer was never found. Fifty years later her sister Anne and brother Colin discovered that the police files about Elsie’s death were sealed. Their...

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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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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  testament to her skills as  horsewoman and her unflappable character because she did not panic even in the face of what was seemingly an...

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Lunatics

Lunatics. Lunatics. An ugly word now, but was the common description given in the 19th and early 20th century to people with mental illnesses. A few miles from my home stood a large psychiatric hospital. It opened in 1888 as ‘The West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum’ and housed a large population of people with mental illness. For many detained there, it was where they lived – and died – their bodies abandoned and...

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RMS Titanic: The band

The musicians of the Titanic It’s over a hundred years ago that the Titanic sank with such an appalling loss of life but we’re still fascinated by the fate of this ‘unsinkable’ ship and its passengers and crew. All the band members went down with the ship. Who were these men? And what is the truth about the last song they played as the ship went down?   Those of us whose first movie exposure to the story...

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Batley Variety Club

Yorkshire entertainment: The Batley Variety Club It all started with two Yorkshiremen, James Corrigan and Peter Fleming. Both were from fairground families so they knew a thing or two about entertaining the public. James was married to a girl from Batley in Yorkshire and his new wife Betty and his friend Peter joined him in their dream – to bring Las Vegas-style entertainment to the sleepy Yorkshire town of Batley. Batley was...

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Bonnie and Clyde: Criminal Superstars

On a beautiful morning, May 23, 1934 the careers of a notorious criminal duo, the scourge of stores and banks across the country, came to an abrupt end. Six lawmen took them down in an ambush that’s still talked about today, marking the end of Bonnie and Clyde, criminal superstars. They were the best of the worst in their time, robbing any and everyone where they found an opportunity, and responsible for at least 13 deaths...

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Memorial service for cow

Memorial service for cow shot by police. Okay, I’m prepared to admit the the police might have over-reacted a little. When three cows escaped onto an English road, police were concerned for the safety of the public. I’ve researched this and oddly, cows escaping is not an unusual phenomenon. Cows being shot by the police is hardly unusual either. In the most recent case, two of the three escapees were successfully captured...

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Lipton’s tea: Victorian advertising

Lipton’s tea: Victorian advertising. One of the first exponents of what we now call guerilla marketing must have been Thomas Lipton, back in Victorian times.  This grocery store owner was the master of publicity stunts. Sir Thomas was a Scot and on 9th July, 1878, traffic was at a halt in his hometown of Glasgow, as people watched the progress of three chubby and content pigs, dressed in bright clothes, and bearing the slogan...

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The Flight of Nungesser, Coli and the White Bird

Nungesser, Coli and the White Bird: Mysterious disappearance. In 1924 a New York hotelier named Raymond Orteig renewed an aviation challenge he had issued a few years earlier. He offered the sum of $25,000 to any ‘person or persons’ who could fly nonstop between France and the United States. His previous offer had been largely ignored because it was generally thought that such a flight was impossible. But two men took up...

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V.E Day: Victory in Europe

The end of the Second World War In May 1945, Winston Churchill announced that the Second World War was over. He made this announcement in a speech on the radio. After he had done so, he went to Buckingham Palace to be with the royal family. The crowds clamoured “we want the king, we want the king” and the royals and the prime minister appeared on the famous balcony to the cheers of thousands of people. In total, the family...

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The man who sank the Lusitania

The man who sank the Lusitania – Walther von Schwieger On Friday, April 30th, 1915, a German U-boat left a naval base in the North Sea. The submarine traveled around Scotland, then down to Ireland. She was commanded by thirty year old Kapitänleutnant Walther von Schwieger. The following day, the passenger liner Lusitania, with over fifteen hundred people aboard, left New York bound for England. The two vessels were to meet and...

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Pirates, Treachery – and Murder: a true story

Pirates. In 1981 I was on holiday in Suffolk, England, when I found a commemorative stone with an intriguing story carved on it, in the churchyard of St. Edmund Church, Southwold. The inscription on it led me to a history trail that stretched from the coastal town of Southwold to the Gulf of Florida in America, and on to Charleston in South Carolina. It led to a tale of piracy, betrayal, murder – and eventually retribution for...

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King Edward VII. The truth about his death

King Edward VII. The truth about his death. One of history’s myths regards the death of King Edward VII,  the actions of his wife Queen Alexandra and of his mistress Alice Keppel. The king was in his late seventies when he was taken ill – at first with a series of chills. He had always enjoyed what we might call the pleasures of the flesh – fine dining, splendid wines and of course, a series of beautiful and charming...

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Royal Baby: Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

Royal Baby: It’s a girl! May 4th: The new princess has been named. It seems that the British punters were right when they placed their bets. (I got only one right). Welcome to Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. May 3rd: We have a conspiracy theory! A Russian newspaper is claiming that the duchess actually gave birth a few days before. They say that this is because Catherine looked too well-groomed and gorgeous when she appeared...

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The Tasaday Tribe

The Stone Age Tribe: A hoax or a hoax within a hoax? In the late sixties a beautiful and heartwarming story came from the Philippines. Reports told of a cave-dwelling tribe of people –  called the Tasaday – who lived in isolation in the rainforests.  It was said that they lived in the same way as they had done for thousands of years. They were unaware of the outside world. Indeed, the twenty six people in the group...

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Should the throne go to William and skip Charles?

Should William be king instead of Charles? Every time the press bring up the idea of the queen abdicating – as they do increasingly as she was born in 1926 and getting no younger – there are invariably those who say that if she was to do so, the throne should go directly to Prince William and miss out Prince Charles altogether. Why? I simply don’t get it. Quite apart from the fact that succession simply doesn’t...

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Unsuccessful? Read this

Heroic Failures There comes a time when I get tired about reading about the great and the good. Sure, it’s nice to read about famous inventors, scientists, literary giants, artists and all the people who have added to our knowledge and enhanced our lives. Maybe there’s a bit of a green tinge to these thoughts – I know that I’m never going to join their ranks. Occasionally there’s something rather...

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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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The 1957 Spaghetti Harvest

The 1957 Spaghetti Harvest 1957 was a year for celebration in the tiny town of Ticino in Switzerland. What many people don’t realise is that pasta isn’t only produced in Italy – it is also grown in some of the surrounding areas. And 1957 provided a bumper crop. The last two weeks of March are always an anxious time for the spaghetti farmer. Should there be late frosts, their spaghetti crop can be badly affected and...

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The king, the prince and the caterpillar

Edward VII and his grandson Edward VIII Edward VII, before he became king, was known as the playboy prince. As the eldest son of the long-lived Queen Victoria, he had a long wait before he ascended to the throne. And he spent much of that time to his own advantage. Well-dressed, fun-loving and wealthy, he enjoyed his earlier manhood to the utmost. He enjoyed parties,gambling … and his mistresses. His parents had regarded him as...

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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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Thomas Plant: Entrepreneur and Eccentric

Thomas Plant: Entrepreneur and Eccentric If you’ve ever wondered how the “other half” lives, here’s a place to visit known as “Castle in the Clouds”. But that’s not the only reason to visit this beautiful mansion on a hill. Thomas Plant’s story has a message for others who aspire to greatness with new ideas and innovations. Here’s the story of a man who invented a new machine to...

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Is the Clean Reader a good idea?

Is the Clean Reader a good idea? It sounds like a good idea but is it really? couple have developed an app which censors out certain words from books that you are reading on a phone or device. These words are mostly what some would describe as ‘profanities’ but are also body parts – for instance, in one example I saw, the word ‘breast’ was replaced by ‘chest’. The app,say the developers, allow...

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What names would you choose for the new royal baby?

What names would you choose for the new royal baby? The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – William and Catherine – are expecting their second child in April, 2015. This baby will be the sibling of George Alexander Louis, born in the summer of 2013. In the UK, bookmakers are taking (and will presumably make) a fortune as people bet on a) the birth date b) whether the child will be  boy or a girl and c) what the names will be....

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Will you still watch Top Gear?

Will you still watch Top Gear? You have probably heard that  Top Gear presenter, ‘bad lad’ Jeremy Clarkson, has been fired by the BBC. Or, as they put it, they are ‘not renewing his contract’. If you missed the original story, I wrote about it here. This popular and controversial presenter was in what was described as ‘fracas’ in a pub (not at work) with another BBC employee. The latest reports say...

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Those fat people with no heads…

Those fat people with no heads… You know the ones I mean.Every time you see an article about how as a society we are getting more and more overweight, there’s going to be a photograph of someone’s middle section. Or someone with no head (well, not a visible one, anyway) like the one you see here. And I’m getting a bit concerned about them… I mean, you’d recognise yourself, wouldn’t you? I...

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William & Kate: Baby number two

William & Kate: Baby number two On March 20th, 2015, it seems that American magazine were tired of waiting the required nine months for the expected royal baby. Not one but two of them reported that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, had given birth to a girl in dramatic  circumstances. See the screenshot below from the Daily Mirror, a British newspaper. As you can see, it was announced that the baby had been born, that it was a...

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Love thy neighbour?

Love thy neighbour There are several things about modern day life than have the ability to annoy me, if I let them. Old people – and I suppose I’m definitely getting there – regret that we have lost our sense of community. Sadly, this is true. Even in my wonderful neighbourhood. There was a perfect example today. A certain discarded item found its way onto the parking lot of our building. It had been spray-painted...

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Okay, who did the ‘smelly poo’?

British Airways and the ‘smelly poo’ Yes well, sorry, but that how the BBC described it and if it’s good enough for the BBC, it’s good enough for JAQUO. This is because of the news story that broke on March 12th, 2015. A British Airways flight from London to Dubai had been in the air for about half an hour. The captain put out a call saying that he needed to see a ‘senior member’ of the cabin crew....

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Fugu Fish: Last meals

What is fugo fish? Most cities in Japan have at least one restaurant that serves fugo fish almost exclusively. The problem is that, unless it’s prepared extremely accurately and professionally, this fish is poisonous. The most poisonous part of the fish – which incidentally is a type of puffer fish- is the liver. But other organs can contain the toxin too. For this reason, the fish is not for sale to the general public and...

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Last Meals: The Lusitania

The last meals before the sinking of the Lusitania Unlike the Titanic, that struck an iceberg in the middle of the night, the Lusitania was torpedoed and sank by a German U-boat just after lunchtime. We know what the final dinner consisted of on board the Titanic but lunch menus weren’t generally recorded in the same way as the lavish evening meals. But we do know that the meals were equally luxurious on both ships. Here’s...

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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 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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Who was Dodi Al Fayed?

Who was Dodi Al Fayed? In 1997 Dodi Al Fayed, aged forty two, died in a car crash in Paris. With him was his new love, Princess Diana. But how had this relationship started? Largely, it was engineered by his father, Mohamed. Mohamed Al Fayed had been a friend of Diana’s father, Earl Spencer. Diana didn’t know him well at that time but later, when as the Princess of Wales she shopped at Harrods in London, Mohamed would be...

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Another day in paradise?

Another day in paradise? Well… Subtitle: A bucket, a skipping rope and a coconut Yes, but today was a day in paradise with a difference. The phrase is one that we Floridians use a lot – after all, we live in one of the most beautiful places with wonderful weather. But this morning was an interesting one… I get up before it’s light – I like to get an early start on the day – and I don’t know...

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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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The internet for all

Computers for seniors I really don’t understand why so many older people these days don’t use computers or tablets. Well, I do to some extent. I understand that a) they can not always afford the devices and b) that for some elderly people it might seem as though it’s a technology they will never be able to understand. Are those two problems really too huge to be overcome? Aren’t there so many advantages that...

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As American as apple pie?

As American as apple pie? In our tiny apartment I can often hear the TV when I’m cooking and the other day, on an ad, I heard someone say “It’s as American as apple pie”. Hang on, I thought. Where did that come from? Apple pie isn’t American. I happen to know (oh the trivia that rattles around in my head) that the first literary reference to apple pie was in Chaucer (would that be the thirteenth century?)...

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Small Town, America: Can it survive?

 Small Town, America: Can it survive? Traveling down the coast in the state of Oregon, I am always struck by the busy-ness of some towns over others.  Some appear small, stifled, without activity.  Some seem so busy and active. That made me consider several things.  Is part of it by choice?  Is a community able to choose to lessen tourism and growth?  Can it survive that way?   If tourism is what makes a town busy and active, is that...

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David Rosenfelt’s Real Life Tara Foundation

David Rosenfelt’s Real Life Tara Foundation If you are a fan of David Rosenfelt’s wonderful mystery series, you will recognize the Tara Foundation. The series, featuring attorney Andy Carpenter, has a loyal and growing following. I sure wouldn’t miss one! In the first book of the series, Open and Shut, when Andy comes into a bit of money (about twenty-two million), he and a new friend set up the Tara Foundation, named after...

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Queen Elizabeth II and her corgis

The queen’s dogs: Corgis In many ways, it’s a bit of a joke and a cliché. These Welsh dogs were first introduced into the royal family by Elizabeth’s parents. She grew up with these cute little dogs. She has owned more than thirty corgis during her years on the throne. She even took one on her honeymoon. But this tradition may be drawing to a close. We have to remember that the queen was born in 1926. By any stretch...

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Bilbury, Gloucester: Clever ad campaign?

Bilbury, Gloucester: Clever ad campaign? Twitter has been a-tweeting this week about a yellow car that has been ‘spoiling the view’ in the Cotswolds village of Bilbury. Bilbury, a sleepy little place, is a known tourist attraction. There are some lovely photo opportunities and one of the most popular is the Arlington Row of cottages. But tourists are taking to Twitter en masse to complain that a yellow car which is parked...

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A day in Biarritz with King Edward

King Edward VII & Alice Keppel: Annual trip to Biarritz King Edward VII was remembered with affection but he certainly enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh. He was known for enjoying fine foods, wines … and the company of his mistresses.Plural. His final mistress was Alice Keppel; the great-grandmother of today’s Duchess of Cornwall – the former Camilla Parker Bowles. For about a month every year, Edward would...

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The end of the traditional British police helmet?

The iconic British bobby’s helmet. Soon to be obsolete? The traditional police helmet has been worn by British bobbies on the beat since 1862. It has become an icon of the British way of life. Generally, it was only worn by policeman who were patrolling on foot. For many years officers have also been issued with a police cap – far more suitable for wearing in patrol cars and soon. But gradually, various forces throughout...

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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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A day at Sandringham

A day at Sandringham House in Victorian times Sandringham House in Norfolk is a royal residence. You can visit the house these days – it has a museum,splendid grounds, a restaurant – but what was it like in Victorian times when it first came into royal possession? Today’s royal family prefers Balmoral for their family get-togethers and holidays but in Victorian times it was a favourite of the family and the residence...

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Anti-rape pants – really?

Pants that prevent rape – really? I suppose that the two women who started this company have their hearts in the right place but really, anti-rape pants? Yes, I know that wearing the modern equivalent of a chastity belt might seem like a good idea but what on earth does it say about society? We’ve all heard the old excuse ‘well, she was wearing a very short skirt and a low cut blouse so she was asking for it’....

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The Queen’s Fool

The Queen’s Fool From the 12th to 17th century, most English monarchs paid jesters and fools to amuse and entertain them at court. Jesters were the equivalent of stand-up comedians today – they would clown around and joke; make people laugh (or sneer) at their antics. Royal fools could do these things too, but they often had a closer, more subtle relationship with a king or queen. Royal fools fell into two groups. There were the...

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So, the Sun was just fooling?

 The Sun newspaper publishes page three topless photo On 20th January, 2015 I wrote – as did thousands of other people in the world – that the Sun newspaper had decided to stop publishing its regular ‘page three’ feature. That is, photographs of topless girls. There had been campaigns and questions. There were those who thought that breasts were somehow ‘indecent’ and shouldn’t be published in...

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Can Paris sue Fox News?

Does Paris need to sue Fox News? In case you’re unaware of the furore, recently an ‘expert’ proclaimed on Fox News that there were cities in Europe (Paris, Birmingham and London were specifically mentioned) which are Muslim strongholds into which non-Muslims cannot set foot. This was clearly nonsense and the British prime minister referred to the buffoon as a ‘complete idiot’. See more here. (Or the video...

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Gotterdammerung: Lost Chariots of the gods…

Gotterdammerung: Lost Chariots of the gods… Somewhere south of seventh heaven, north of the ninth ring of hell is in an undisclosed location in the next world. It’s the abode of forlorn, forsaken gods. Once they commanded worship, sacrifice and devotion of countless acolytes. Now, they sit in the dustbin of religious history. Zeus is boltless, baffled. Baal bewildered. Thor is flummoxed. Quetzalcoatl’s feathers are ruffled. Horus is...

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The Sun newspaper stops topless page three feature

The Sun newspaper stops topless page three feature I just don’t get it. The Sun, in case you don’t know, is a British tabloid newspaper. It is not necessarily a paper for the intellectually superior. For the last forty-four years – which is more or less for as long as many people can remember – page three of the newspaper has featured a glamour shot of a topless model. On 20th  January 2015, it was announced...

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Fox News apologises for Birmingham slur – eventually

At last, Fox News apologises for broadcasting appalling lies about Birmingham In January 2015, an American person on Fox News – an alleged ‘expert’ – declared that the City of Birmingham in England is totally Muslim and a complete no-go area for non-Muslims. The British Prime Minister remarked that the man was ‘clearly a complete idiot’. I wrote about it here and you can also see the full video....

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Wild Animals on New York Streets

Wild Animals on New York Streets In 1874 a noted New York newspaper published a story that had citizens running scared. It seems that the zoo cages in Central Park were so badly constructed and in such disrepair, that wild animals were now roaming the streets, preying on the people. The citizens of New York began to arm themselves, taking care that they never went outside without a gun. The constant danger kept many women and those...

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Seth Godin: You are what you share

Seth Godin says ‘You are what you share’ As a reader of Seth Godin’s blog, I couldn’t resist writing about his latest article. (You’ll find the link below). Isn’t that a wonderful quote – ‘you are what you share’? When you think about it, isn’t sharing the natural way of human beings? Would the human race still be here if our ancestors hadn’t shared food, warmth, love?...

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Modernity’s Torments, Trials, Travails

Modernity’s Torments, Trials, Travails I was attempting to purchase produce. “For me,” I said to the unhearing automated check-out device at the grocery store as I frantically searched for the for a pic of the apposite avocado cultivar (Hass? Florida?) “this self-service is getting a bit too selfie.” As a youngster, I had calculatedly observed that ringing-up and bagging groceries was not a ticket to the top. Aptitude with an NCR...

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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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British pub receives Prince Charles’ gas bill

The Prince of Wales pub receives power bill allegedly intended for Prince Charles The English have always been fond of naming pubs after royalty and in January 2014, this caused an embarrassing mistake when British Gas sent the Prince of Wales pub a gas bill that was actually that of Prince Charles. Except it wasn’t. All very confusing indeed. Inns and pubs have been a feature of the British Isles since Anglo Saxon times and...

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Why Ghost Stories Snare Us

“Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses” “Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses”, asserts the prolific writer, Neil Gaiman, author of ‘The Graveyard Book‘. He says: “You ride the ghost train into the darkness, knowing that eventually the doors will open and you will step out into the daylight once again. It’s always reassuring to know that you’re still here, still safe.” Ghost stories have an enduring...

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Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. Think about your war hero

Stop messing about with Creme Eggs. For our sake and Major Cadbury’s Britain is in revolt. This is nothing to do with politics or any of that nonsense. This is far more important. No, England is outraged by the changes made to Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. I agree wholeheartedly. How can they do this to us? We have grown up knowing that there is one constant in life. Things change. Fads may come and fashions may go but the one...

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Secret Pinterest boards for bloggers

Bloggers: Using a secret Pinterest board Brands were quick to grasp the marketing potential of secret Pinterest boards. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make the most of them too. And they are  perfect way for bloggers to collaborate. Secret boards are an excellent way for individual bloggers to join together to co-promote each others work  – it’s quick, easy and effective. It works best if you have at least...

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Royal Scandals

Prince Andrew: Royal Scandals. In January 2015, the press had a field day reporting that Prince Andrew, the son of Queen Elizabeth II, was under investigation for child abuse. Of course, this has been denied wholeheartedly by the palace. The ‘abuse’ evidently refers to the allegation that he had sexual encounters with a minor. That does sound pretty bad, doesn’t it? But the ‘minor’ in question was...

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Hook-up how-to! Japanese acting student?

Hook-up how-to! Japanese acting student? Anyone can split an occasional infinitive or confuse an adjective with an adverb. To more than merely say, one should not feel too badly. It happens. In the course of daily life, these are but minor infractions. An inter-office e-mail containing a confusion of the case or tense amounts to naught. Yet, as with most things, it all depends on context. In the wrong place, at the wrong time, a...

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The three husbands of Clara Davis

Clara Davis and her three husbands Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of Clara Davis – she wasn’t famous and she wasn’t a celebrity but I was drawn to her story because of the three men she loved and lost. She was just an ordinary girl but had such bad luck in the marital department. She was the daughter of a gas superintendent from Dulwich and rather liked the idea of a career on the stage. Her first...

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Cuban Immigrants or Robinson Crusoe?

Homemade boat found on Fort Lauderdale beach On 2nd January, 2015, just at the break of day, Fort Lauderdale photographer Andy Royston was enjoying his everyday morning routine -walking on the beach. He has been doing this for several years now,capturing the beauty of the  dawn as the sunrises over the ocean. That Friday morning though, it was an unfamiliar sight that greeted him.   Yes, a battered and abandoned homemade boat....

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