Tom Keating: Art Fraud

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

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British Money Before Decimalisation

British money before decimalisation In a strange British perverse way, those of us who remember the ‘old money’ took a secret delight in its complexity. Today, it’s easy. Like dollars and cents, there are one hundred pennies to the pound. Arithmetic is simple. Foreign visitors are no longer baffled. The old system, which evolved relatively naturally sounds quite bonkers, but even the most innumerate people (such as...

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Lunch with Hitler

Traudl Junge was only twenty two years old when she became one of Adolf Hitler’s private secretaries. This was in 1942. The secretaries had little work to do and one of their duties was to dine with Hitler to keep him amused, keep his mind off the war for a short while and of course, to supply him with an audience. Initially Traudl found her boss to be rather charming and pleasant company. This was to change as the war...

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Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez

Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez. Many race fans will be familiar with this circuit and in 2015, the Formula One series returned to Mexico. But what do you know about the brothers after which the circuit is named? Theirs is a story that shouldn’t be forgotten. Pedro Rodríguez was born in 1940 in Mexico City. He had three brothers and a sister. However, the other brother who is also commemorated in the name of this circuit was his...

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Gypsy Rose Lee

 Stripping Gypsy Gypsy Rose Lee, or Rose Hovick as she was originally named, was the product of a driven stage mother. Rose was born in 1911 and her sister June followed a year later. After the girls’ parents were divorced, the two youngsters were made to perform on the vaudeville stage to support the small family. Rose and June’s mother is said to have had a variety of forged birth certificates for the girls to...

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Who Was Isabella Beeton?

Who was Isabella Beeton? The ‘Isabella’ part of the name might not be familiar but many people have heard of ‘Mrs Beeton’, the Victorian lady who compiled the then best-selling book of  household management advice. But who was Mrs Beeton? It’s easy to have the impression that she was a rosy-cheeked, suitable plump, grandmotherly old lady who shared her years of experience  of cooking and managing a home....

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Who Was Peg Entwistle?

Who was Peg Entwistle? Peg Entwistle was British girl. To be accurate she was born in 1908 in Wales  to English parents. She was the eldest child of Robert Entwistle, an actor. It’s unclear whether her mother died or whether her parents were divorced but her father married again and Peg acquired two half-brothers. By 1913, the family had moved to the United States but their home was soon disrupted when Robert Entwistle was the...

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The Secret Life of Charles Lindberg

Charles Lindbergh’s secret life. Charles Lindbergh became a hero in 1927 when he flew nonstop from New York to Paris. Five years later he gained the sympathy of the public when his young child was kidnapped and murdered. Yet he fell from grace during the Second World War and after his death, his secret private life was discovered. Lindbergh had not one but three secret families. In 1941, before the United States joined the war,...

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Lord Lucan

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

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Lettice Curtis

Who was Lettice Curtis? During the Second World War the Air Transport Auxiliary was formed to move new, damaged or repaired aircraft to where they were needed by the Royal Air Force. Civilian pilots were used so that the trained fighter pilots could concentrate on winning the war. One hundred and sixty six of the pilots employed by the ATA were women and Lettice Curtis was one of the first to join up. By the time the war was over, she...

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

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

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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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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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Demis Roussos

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

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The Spirella Lady

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

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The Busby Babes & the Munich Air Disaster

The Busby Babes & the Munich Air Disaster. A plane accident in 1958 took the lives of eight football players from the Manchester United team. Two others were so badly injured that they never played  again. Staff from the football club died too, as did several respected sports journalists. The football players in the Manchester United team who were killed were all in their twenties, the youngest being twenty-one. The team was known...

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The Hitchcock Blondes

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

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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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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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Who Was Butterfly McQueen?

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

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The Mystery of Amy Johnson

The mystery of Amy Johnson. As a pioneer aviator, Amy Johnson from Yorkshire had broken several flying records by the time the Second World War started in 1939. But once the war had begun, the Royal Air Force had no use for female pilots. So the only opportunity for her to use her flying skills to help the war effort was to join the ATA – the Air Transport Auxiliary. This organisation, as the name suggests, used female pilots to...

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What Happened to the Von Trapp Family Children?

The von Trapp family from ‘The Sound of Music‘. Like many people, I was just a kid when I first saw this classic movie. It’s true that it’s a sickly-sweet film – the oldies loved it – but nevertheless it had its own charm for kids. It was the idea of Mary Poppins coming to rescue a gaggle of kids from their overbearing father that did it. Now of course, we know that the story was only very loosely...

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Expensive Operation for Constipated Goldfish

British pet-lover paid £300 for an operation for his constipated goldfish. This is true On 1st January, 2015, a British pet-owner could no longer conceal his concern for his goldfish. He’d noticed (and this is a mystery in itself) that the unfortunate fish was having a problem in the bowel department. Luckily, his local veterinary office, in addition to dealing with the average pet problem, specialised in  more exotic animals...

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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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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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Keep Fighting Michael

 Michael Schumacher #KeepFightingMichael Safety in the world of motorsport has made huge strides in the last few decades. And yet Michael Schumacher, the most successful racing driver of the modern era, is fighting for his life. But not due to an accident on the track. On 29 December 2013, having retired from racing, Schumacher was enjoyed one of his favourite sports and was skiing in the French Alps. He fell and received a serious...

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How do you cure a hangover?

How do you cure a hangover? Oh dear. Did you have too much to drink? Are you paying the price for it now? Well, purely in the spirit (sorry) of research, I have spent many years investigating hangover cures. My fondness for red wine has nothing to do with it – this has been completely altruistic. (I can hear you scoffing from here). So, there are plenty of old wives’ tales around. Hair of the dog – does that work?...

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The Queen’s Cousins: Scandal?

Queen Elizabeth II’s cousins. In 1987 the media uncovered what seemed to be a huge scandal. Newspapers reported that two sisters had been discovered in what they called an ‘asylum for mental defectives’ and what’s more, they were cousins of the queen, Elizabeth II. It was said that the two women were living in the most basic conditions and that they had no visitors. It seemed that this was a case of the royal...

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Scandal: John Lennon and Alma Cogan

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

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The Disappearance of the Mary Celeste

What was the fate of the Mary Celeste? The Mary Celeste became the world’s most famous ship in 1872. She had been found drifting in the North Atlantic Ocean – she was completely seaworthy and orderly but her entire crew had vanished into thin air. They were never seen again. You can read more about that here. Ever since that day, experts, the authorities and members of the general public have been speculating about the...

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The Day the Music Died

Buddy Holly memorabilia. In the spring of 2006, Buddy Holly’s widow decided that she was going to put several items of Holly memorabilia into auction. Buddy Holly was twenty two years old when he died in an air crash. Also killed in the accident were Ritchie Valens (aged seventeen), The Big Bopper Richardson (aged twenty eight) and pilot Roger Peterson (aged twenty one). Maria Elena had married Buddy Holly just six months before...

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Who Was Evelyn Nesbit?

Who was Evelyn Nesbit? When Evelyn Nesbit died at the ripe old age of eighty two, she had been in obscurity for years. But at one time, her name was well-known on Broadway and in the theatres of Europe. She became even more well known in 1906 when,openly and in public, her husband shot her lover dead in a glittering supper club in Manhattan. Evelyn was only twenty at the time and had met her much older lover, Stanford White, when she...

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Karl Wallenda

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

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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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The Dreamland Fire of 1911

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

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Sheila van Damm

Racy Ladies: Sheila van Damm. Sheila van Damm’s career was interesting to say the least. She was known in the nineteen fifties as Britain’s top woman rally driver and by the nineteen sixties she was running ‘naughty’ reviews on the London stage. Yet she arrived at both careers accidentally. You will most probably have heard of the famous Windmill Theatre in London. It shot to fame in the wartime years as it was...

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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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Princess Margaret and Group Captain Peter Townsend

Princess Margaret’s married lover Peter Townsend. Princess Margaret, the sister of Queen Elizabeth II, when thirteen when she first saw Group Captain Peter Townsend. He had arrived at Buckingham Palace to be interviewed for the position of equerry to her father, the king. He was twenty-nine, a war hero, good-looking … and married. He had married a woman called Rosemary – a woman who was attractive, fun-loving and...

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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...

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Modern Inventions we no Longer Use

Recent innovations – but we no longer use them. Do you realise how many items were invented within living memory that we no longer use today? We live in an age where new technology can be hard to keep up with. No sooner do we buy the latest smartphone than it’s outdated and we need to upgrade. We just get the hang of what the devil Google’s policy is on backlinks and then the whole landscape changes. Just think about...

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The Aberfan Disaster

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

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Royal Scandal: Prince Edward

Prince Edward: A virtually unknown member of the royal family. You might not have heard of Prince Eddy. It’s true that over the years he has been largely considered to be homosexual and, to put it nicely, mentally challenged. It’s true that his existence has been overshadowed by his the life of his brother but why did poor Eddy slip into obscurity? I say ‘poor Eddy’ because no-one seems to challenge the general...

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

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

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Florida Murder – The Sea Waif

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

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Moqueca de Peixe: Grand Prix Gourmet, Brazil

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

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Giovanna Amati

The kidnapping of Giovanna Amati. If you were a Formula One fan in the early nineteen nineties then you’ll remember Giovanna as a driver for the doomed Brabham team. The team, which started in the nineteen sixties, had been successful but by the time Giovanna (only the fifth female driver in Formula One) was recruited Brabham was in trouble. It’s thought that Giovanna was signed up by the team not only because she was...

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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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Who was Marli Renfro?

Marli Renfro: You know her well. The chances are that if you like movies, you know who Marli Renfro was but you might not recognise the name. What’s more, I’m willing to bet that you’ve seen her completely naked. She was in one of the most famous films – ever. But few people know her name. She was born in America in 1938. She grew up to be very attractive and she was only in her early twenties when she took...

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Japanese Shrimp: Grand Prix Gourmet

This is a recipe that I found in an old newspaper dating from the nineteen fifties. It had been supplied to the paper by a young Japanese woman, Reiko Takeda, who was an air stewardess flying regularly between her home country and the USA. She cooked this dish on a hibachi but I find that a charcoal grill works very well and gives the seafood that lovely smoky flavour. The shrimp need to marinate for a couple of hours before you cook,...

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Princess Viktoria’s Disastrous Marriage

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

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Diana Barnato Walker

Who was Diana Barnato Walker? Diana was an English pilot who worked extensively during the Second World War transporting aircraft to the Royal Air Force. By the time she reached twenty two years of age, she had delivered  240 planes that were vital to the war effort. She was the first British woman to break the sound barrier. Before the war, few people would have imagined the socialite Diana would have been involved in such dangerous...

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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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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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Singapore Sling: Grand Prix Gourmet

It’s said that bartender Ngiam Tong Boon invented the Singapore Sling over a hundred years ago at the Raffles Hotel. Some say that when he retired he took the secret ingredient with him. So whether the recipe I use to create this delicious drink is one hundred percent authentic I can’t say, but I can tell you that it’s refreshing, tasty and has a bit of a kick 🙂 It’s much better if you use freshly squeezed...

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Isadora Duncan

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

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The Bombing of Buckingham Palace in WW2

The Second World War: The Bombing of Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace was hit by bombs seven times during the Second World War. It was just a matter of sheer luck that King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (know to most of us as the Queen Mother) weren’t killed or very badly injured when the third raid took place on September 13th, 1940.. Two German bombs fell in the quadrangle – the centre courtyard – and in...

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Dancing with the Enemy: Paul Glaser

Dancing with the Enemy: A true story of the Holocaust in the Netherlands. In addition to being one woman’s fascinating and sometimes horrific account of life as a Jew when the Netherlands were occupied by the Germans in WW2, this is also the true story of how the author found out about his family’s secret. Paul Glaser was born in the Netherlands after the Second World War and brought up as a Catholic. It was only when he...

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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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Eyam Village and the Great Plague

Eyam Village and the Great Plague. Eyam is a small and picturesque village in Derbyshire. If you visit, at first there is nothing to immediately distinguish it from other English villages but you’ll soon find history surrounds you. Three hundred and fifty years ago, the great plague came to the village. And the villagers decided to quarantine themselves to stop this horrible and fatal disease spreading to the rest of the north...

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The Racing Driver and the Titanic

Washington Augustus Roebling II. Washington Roebling was named after his well-known uncle who had played a part in the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and as a boy, like others in his family, he had a huge interest in engineering. But for Washington, that had nothing to do with civil engineering but with cars and racing. He co-created the Roebling-Planche car which he drove successfully in several races in the USA. But late in 1911 he...

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Who was Sarah Winchester?

The mysterious Winchester House. When Sarah Winchester was widowed, she started to create one of the most bizarre homes ever seen in America. Why? It’s quite simple, it was to keep evil spirits away. Obviously really, isn’t it? No? Well, it was to Sarah. Sarah’s late husband was William Winchester, the man who made rage rifles ‘that won the West’. The distraught widow, who had discovered spiritualism some...

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Nicholas Winton: The British Schindler

Nicholas Winton: War hero. In the winter of 1938, Nicholas Winton was a twenty eight year old banker living in London. He heard about the Jewish refugees in  Czechoslovakia so instead of going on his planned skiing holiday, he went to Prague and in the months to follow personally arranged for 669 Jewish children to be transported to the safety of England. And yet at the time, he told no-one about what he was doing.It was only...

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Steve Fossett

Steve Fossett: Mystery. In late September 2008, a hiker was out in the Sierra Nevada in California with his wife and a couple of friends. The hiker had heard that there was an abandoned mine nearby so left the rest of the party to see if he could locate it. He didn’t – but he found something far more remarkable, although he didn’t realise it at the time. He found a pilot’s license and some banknotes. The...

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The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935

In the mid nineteen fifties a contractor on Islamorada, one of the Florida Keys, was digging fill from a rock pit. He unearthed a gruesome discovery. He found three intact cars. Their out-of-state licence plates showed that they had been there since 1935. The skeletons of the occupants were still inside the vehicles. It was easy to explain what had happened to those vehicles twenty years before. They must have been visiting the...

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Today in history: September

What happened on this day in September? 1st Edgar Rice Burroughs born 1875 Titanic found by Robert Ballard 1985 Lily Tomlin born 1939 Germany invaded Poland 1939 Lady Iris Mountbatten died 1982 Princess Anne announced divorce 1989 2nd George Harrison married Olivia Arias 1978 Labor Day Hurricane 1935 Jean Spangler born 1923 3rd Steve Fossett disappeared 2007 Britain declared war on Germany 1939 Denby Dale Pie 1988 4th Robert Dudley...

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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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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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A Few Yards — And Three Feet

Three human feet found. Subtitle: What’s afoot in Bath? Yes, I have to report even more bizarre news from the UK, this time concerning severed feet. That’s right. Well, it’s not because the first two were left. Oh I’m confusing myself already so let’s start at the beginning. Foot number one In February 2016, a couple of blokes were out dog-walking in the rather gorgeous southern English town of Bath. They...

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Shunt: A Review of the James Hunt Story

Who was the real James Hunt? I have to admit that unlike now, I wasn’t really fanatical about Formula One in the 1970s. I read race reports and sometimes watched the sport on TV so although the name and the face were familiar to me, I didn’t really know much about the extraordinary James Hunt. Not just for race fans Although James became the Formula One World Champion, and of course, this book discusses his racing a great...

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Brian Epstein

The day Brian Epstein discovered the Beatles. The date was November 9th, 1961 – the location was Liverpool. Brian Epstein, then aged twenty seven, was working for the family business; a furniture and music store called North End Music Stores. Brian, who had been privately educated, was in charge of the music department of the store. He knew nothing whatsoever about pop or beat music – he was a classical music lover....

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Lady Anne Savile

Who was Lady Anne Savile? Actually, she was Princess Anne of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg but Anne Savile, her maiden name, is considerably less effort to type. She was a rather eccentric aviator in the times when flying was still new and extremely dangerous – as she discovered. Lady Anne was born into a wealthy and titled British family. Her father was the Earl of Mexborough. When she married Prince Ludwig 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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Boy soldiers in the Congo

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

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What is Operation London Bridge?

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

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Mosaic earrings

Mosaic earrings: Sophisticated but inexpensive accessories. Make use of  simple but effective fashion trick that can make your outfits effortlessly coordinated. You’ll achieve a subtle coordination without appearing to be deliberately mixy-matchy. Professional designers will often use the colour palette from a single item when they are creating a look. Next time you’re looking at a quality fashion magazine layout take...

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The Lives and Loves of Violette Morris

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

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Who Was Violet Sharp?

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

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Queen Senna of England

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

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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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Summer Pudding. Grand Prix Gourmet, Britain

Summer pudding with strawberries and blackberries. This was a popular dessert in our family when I lived in England and we still love it. It’s easy to make and inexpensive, especially when strawberries and blackberries are plentiful. In fact, you can use other berries too and the fruit will go even further if you add chopped apple. This recipe is incredibly versatile. It’s quick to prepare too. The pudding requires just a...

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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls: Vegetarian recipe

Stuffed cabbage rolls – delicious vegetarian or vegan entrée It’s time to rethink cabbage rolls! This is a wonderfully adaptable recipes that makes a splendid meat-free meal or can be served as a side, or even appetiser. Unlike traditional cabbage rolls, these are light and fresh, plus they are quick to cook. Preparation is easy too. You can vary the ingredients to suit your own tastes – for example,I often add...

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Eric Clapton: Early Life

The childhood of Eric Clapton. Eric Clapton is a grandfather now but what about his own early days and his childhood? It’s all rather complicated. Various websites will tell you – seemingly with authority – who Clapton’s father was but in his autobiography, he claims he wasn’t sure. He says he was never convinced that the man who was purported to be his biological father really was. In many ways,...

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Pregnant Women on Television in the 1960s

Why Lucy was ‘enceinte’ in the nineteen fifties. One of the most popular TV shows in the nineteen fifties – if not the most popular – was I Love Lucy starring married couple, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. At the time, they were the most powerful people in the world of television. In 1952 the couple discovered that they were expecting a baby. This was great news for them. They already had a small daughter, born...

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

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

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John Harrison: The Yorkshireman and the Moon

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

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Did Queen Victoria write Alice in Wonderland?

Did Queen Victoria write Alice in Wonderland? Yes, you read that correctly. There are some people who firmly believe that Alice in Wonderland wasn’t the work of Lewis Carroll but that of the recently widowed Queen Victoria. Her beloved husband Albert had died in December of 1861 and proponents of the theory believe that writing the book was a comfort to her. But what about Lewis Carroll? It’s generally supposed that on...

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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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Von Trapp Family Singers: The Truth

 What is the truth about the von Trapp Family? There can’t be many people who are unfamiliar with the story of the von Trapp Family Singers. They were immortalised in the film, The Sound of Music. How true is the story that we know so well? I have another question too – one that I’ve never heard anyone ask. We know from the film that Captain (or Baron) von Trapp was a widower who had several children. In the film, a...

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Who Was Lance Reventlow?

He had several step-fathers. One was Cary Grant. One was a prince and another a baron. Another was Porfirio Rubirosa – famous for having an extremely large male appendage. When Lance was just a baby, his mother had an affair with Howard Hughes. She was Barbara Hutton, the heir to the Woolworth fortune and Lance was the product of her three year marriage to (deep breath) Count Kurt Heinrich Eberhard Erdmann Georg von...

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Who Was Charles Blondin?

Who was Charles Blondin? During Victorian times, tightrope walkers – or high wire performers as we would probably call them today – were often referred to by the generic name ‘blondin’. This was thanks to Frenchman Charles Blondin. Blondin was without doubt the most skillful and daring tightrope performer in the world at that time. His name became synonymous with the craft. Victorian society craved sensation....

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Mystic Sweet Communion: The Stranahans of Fort Lauderdale

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

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Who Was Mara Scherbatoff?

Mara Scherbatoff, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. Marilyn Monroe and playwright Arthur Miller had met in 1951 but by 1956, the press were aware that the couple were soon to marry.  Monroe and Miller were at his farmhouse home in Roxbury and reporters were gathering in number outside waiting for news. The couple had promised to give a press conference on the afternoon of June 29th. The media suspected that the couple would announce...

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Simple Salmon

A simple salmon recipe So many times, fish is smothered in elaborate, rich sauces. If the fish isn’t quite perfect, then a sauce can really help but sometimes fish cooked simply can be far better. That’s especially the case if you’re cooking some lovely, fresh salmon. Below is a very simple to prepare salmon recipe from Scotland that I first found published in the nineteen seventies. Scotland of course, is famous for...

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Who Was Helle Nice?

The strange story of Helle Nice. Helle Nice: The forgotten story. By 1984 Helle Nice was an old lady. She lived in a rather squalid room in Paris. She knew that she hadn’t got long to live. She’d been born in at the same time as the century. She had her memories and not much more. She kept her mementoes in an old tin trunk under her shabby bed. Nowadays, she survived thanks to charity. But it didn’t seem too long ago...

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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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The Le Mans Disaster 1955

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

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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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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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Victoria Woodhull

Victoria Woodhull: The first woman to run for the US presidency. Her father was a con-man and an arsonist. He mother was illegitimate and illiterate. But that didn’t stop Victoria Woodhull from deciding that she wanted to be the president of the United States. She only went to school for three years. She was enchanted by clairvoyants and spiritualists. She was married when she was fifteen, had two children then was quickly...

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

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