The Mermaids of Mapplewell

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

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The Mysterious Porthole Murder

A shipboard romance – and murder: True story. They were an unlikely couple but it’s hardly surprising that they got together. In October 1947, the liner Durban Castle was making its way on a voyage between Cape Town and Southampton. Eileen Gibson (known as Gay) was a twenty one year old actress and a first class passenger aboard the ship. James Camb was also on board but the thirty one year old was an employee; he was a...

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Grand Prix Gourmet: Bahrain Chickpeas

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

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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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The Magus: John Fowles

The Magus: John Fowles. The Magus is one of my desert island books -one I can read again and again.I’ve probably read it half a dozen times – at least. My reading of this book has spanned many years. It’s a book that has been largely misunderstood, in my opinion. Many reviewers get this book completely wrong – especially the amateur reviewers at Amazon. I’d truly recommend that you don’t read them...

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Succulents: Free Plants

Succulents: Free houseplants that even I can’t kill. About three years ago, I planted a tiny succulent plant in a pot outside my back door. Since that time, it has multiplied like crazy. When I recently undertook my zero-cost bathroom makeover, I decided that the room needed plants, preferably on the south-facing window ledge. But this was a no-cost renovation so there was no budget available to buy plants and anyway, I’m...

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Who was Pattie Boyd?

Pattie Boyd, George Harrison and Eric Clapton. There must have been something special about Pattie Boyd. Actually, you might have noticed a minor pun there because Pattie supposedly was the inspiration behind George Harrison’s song Something. The Eric Clapton song Wonderful Tonight was also reputedly written about her. She was married to both men – George first and then to his best friend, Eric. She first met George in...

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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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Pavlova: Grand Prix Gourmet, Australia

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

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The Boy in the Song: How Do You Sleep?

How Do You Sleep? By John Lennon. When John Lennon was recording the Imagine album in 1971, not all the musicians were aware that the song How Do You Sleep? was full of barbs directed at Lennon’s former band mate, Paul McCartney. But when Ringo Starr visited the recording studio during the session,it was obvious to him as soon as he walked in. He reportedly said “That’s enough, John.” Klaus Voorman, an old...

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Pie recipes – for Pi Day!

Pie recipes – tried and tested    CLICK HERE FOR PIE RECIPES Articles are added to JAQUO every day and many of those are recipes – because we love to eat. And we love to share our favourite recipes with you. There’s nothing like homemade food and that seems to apply particularly to pies. Twenty years ago,it was no longer fashionable to cook – we ate out or we zapped frozen meals in the microwave. Those...

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Who Was Ivan Vaughan?

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

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The Clocks of Windsor Castle

The Queen’s Clockmaker. Steve Davidson has a fantastic job. He is in charge of the many clocks at Windsor Castle, one of the residences of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. But on two weekends of every year he has a truly unenviable job – the weekend in spring when he has to put the clocks forward and then in autumn when they need to be put back an hour. How many clocks? Including the royal residence itself, outbuildings and...

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Watercress, Pecan and Blue Cheese Salad

Watercress, pecan and blue cheese salad recipe. This is probably the easiest salad in the world and can be adapted easily to suit your own tastes. One of the reasons I like this so much is that it needs no additional seasoning. The blue cheese means that no extra salt is required and the watercress has its own peppery flavour. This makes it ideal for picnics too as it means there’s no need to take condiments along.  Pack the...

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Cary Grant: Early Years

[slider] Cary Grant: An actor to remember There can’t be many people who are unaware of this debonair actor from the golden era of Hollywood. What’s particularly interesting is his background. Where did Cary Grant come from? What was his background and his career before he became a famous movie actor? Sometimes, people are surprised to find out that Grant, often seen as the epitome of the American gentleman, was actually...

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Mary I of England: Phantom pregnancies

The phantom pregnancies of Queen Mary of England Although Mary had been born in 1516, it was only in later life that she married. Her life had been a turbulent one. As the daughter of King Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon, she was later deemed to be illegitimate. How could this be? When Henry VIII realised that his wife Catherine would not be able to provide him with a male heir, he had their marriage annulled....

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Try this Word Quiz

Try this word quiz The English language is so tricky.I’m glad that it’s my native language – it must be so difficult to learn if it’s not your mother tongue. I do love words though – where they came from, what they mean, what they don’t mean… Try these Click the arrows on the right if you need extra clues. The following words are all anagrams of capital cities. PAIRS, SOLO, LOUSE, ANIMAL,...

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Not Your Mother’s 7-Up Strawberry Pie Recipe

Not your mother’s 7-Up strawberry pie recipe He started this whole thing. He’d seen something somewhere (I think it was on a menu in a diner) for something called a 7-Up strawberry pie. He was intrigued. I was quite horrified. It sounded like the ultimate in junk food to me although I have to admit that just about anything with strawberries is pretty good. I looked up the recipe online (there are many) and as I’d...

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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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Was Karen Silkwood Murdered?

Who was Karen Silkwood? Many people believe that she was murdered. Let’s look at her background first. She began working at an Oklahoma chemical plant in 1972.  The facility was responsible for producing plutonium pellets for use in nuclear reactors. Yes, frightening. As did her colleagues, she joined the union and became concerned about the levels of safety for the workers employed in the factory who were exposed to dangerous...

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Vintage Television: Bill Cullen

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

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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...

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Augustus John

Augustus John: Fryern Court, Fordingbridge. Artist Augustus John was born in Wales in 1878. He became the darling of the art world and was well-known for his eccentricities. He often wore gypsy-style clothes and lived life in his own bohemian fashion. He was married in 1900 but, because he loved women, that didn’t stop him having affairs most notably with his long-time mistress Dorothy  McNeill, usually referred to as Dorelia....

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Helene Stanley

Who was Helene Stanley? There are many people who left  an important legacy to the world of Hollywood movies but I imagine that if most of us were asked to list them, the name of Helene Stanley wouldn’t feature. But she left a lasting legacy to the Golden Era of Hollywood and it will probably surprise you. She certainly made a handful of movies but her lasting legacy was to make two films that have never been seen by the public...

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Gifts for Animal Lovers: Dolphins

Love dolphins? Gift ideas. Dolphins are so popular. Is it because they always seem to be smiling? If you have someone on your gift list who loves dolphins as much as I do, then here you’ll find the perfect gifts for them to add to their collection of dolphin themed jewellery, décor items and more. I love the pendant that you see in this photograph, for example. The two dolphins are hand carved by a jewellery sculptor in Bali and...

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Three Identical Strangers

Why did the ‘three identical strangers’ all have sisters? Who were the three identical strangers? You may have seen the film but if you need a memory-refresh, here’s the story. And unbelievably, it’s true. The story starts in the USA in the early nineteen eighties. Robert Shafran, aged nineteen, was experiencing something strange during his first day at college. Although it was his very first day, and he knew...

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1965: The Secrets of the Royal Family’s Health

1965: The Secrets of the Royal Family’s Complexions In 1965, Mrs Alma McKee, who had spent many years working as a cook for the British royal family, revealed what sort of foods were preferred at the royal dining table. She particularly revealed the secret of the much-admired complexions of The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Princess Margaret. This, she said, was because of a simple, homemade drink that the...

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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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Who Was Luigi Musso?

Racing driver Luigi Musso. Luigi was born in 1924 in Rome and by the time he was thirty years old he had joined the team that was every Italian male’s dream – Scuderia Ferrari. He was following in the footsteps of two Italian drivers who had also driven for the team – Alberto Ascari and Eugenio Castellotti. Neither Ascari or Castellotti had survived the dangerous world of Formula One racing; Ascari was thirty six...

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Why Airbnb is Good for Local Businesses

Does Airbnb (or similar) help the local community? We all know that the Airbnb website (and its copycat sites) are causing controversy because of the impact of ‘the sharing economy’. But can such services actually help local communities? In my experience – and thanks to various statistics – I can say ‘yes’. Before we start looking at facts and figures, let’s take a look at the average Airbnb...

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Victorian Food

Victorian food: Stodgy? ‘Stodgy’ is a word that is often used the describe the people who lived in the Victorian era. It’s used to describe their attitudes and also their food.But was that really the case? We’ve traditionally been led to think that yes, Victorian food meant tables groaning with stodgy pies and puddings but in fact, this is far from the reality. Take vegetarianism for example. The first...

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Who Was the Girl from Ipanema?

Antonio Carlos Jobim & Vinicius de Moraes: The Girl from Ipanema. One of the finest songs of the twentieth century is now classed as ‘muzak’ – something light to be listened to in elevators or when you’re on hold. Sadly. But who was the girl from Ipanema? Did she really exist? She certainly did – her name is Heloisa Pinto (pictured on the right). In the early nineteen sixties, when she was fifteen she...

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No-Fry Falafel: Grand Prix Gourmet, Abu Dhabi

Healthier, no-fry falafel. These delicious falafel are meat-free and unlike most falafel recipes, they do not need to be fried. You can optionally baste them with a little olive oil if you wish but most times, I don’t bother – they don’t really need it. You can eat these alone for a snack but I like to serve them in pita bread. Halve and split the bread to make pockets, add the falafel and some lettuce, chopped...

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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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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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Rocco DiSpirito: Cook Your Butt Off!

Rocco DiSpirito: Cook Your Butt Off! I would have really preferred Mr DiSpirito to have called this fascinating book something else, but never mind. It’s still pretty amazing and as for the recipes – wow. Yes, this is a weight loss book but it’s certainly one with a difference and something I love is that it’s incredibly easy to follow. Rocco gives a two-week eating plan, plus the recipes and shopping lists,...

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Norman Rockwell: Fake!

The Norman Rockwell painting that was a fake. Breaking Home Ties is one of America’s favourite illustrations.It was created by Norman Rockwell in 1954, originally for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. For years it was exhibited and admired by the American people but there was just one minor detail – it was a fake. More than fifty years after it had been painted, it was discovered that the artwork on display was a...

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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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Kanga: Camilla’s Rival, Lady Dale Tryon

Prince Charles’ other mistress, Kanga If you look up Dale Tryon in Wikipedia, you will read that she was a ‘close friend of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales’. That is not strictly speaking true.  Dale, known by the nickname of Kanga, was actually Charles’ mistress prior to his marriage and as such, a rival for his affections. Her story is tragic. Charles loved women who were blonde, attractive and...

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Who was Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne?

Suzanne: The girl in the song. Arguably, Leonard Cohen’s most famous song is Suzanne. But who was Suzanne and what inspired the song? Like Cohen, Suzanne Verdal was Canadian. Despite what many people believe,she was not a girlfriend  of his but they had a platonic friendship. And surprisingly, the lyrics of the song – which Cohen wrote originally as a poem – are quite literal. Suzanne really did live in a...

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Charles and Camilla

Charles and Camilla. Can you imagine what it must have been like for the-then Camilla Parker Bowles before 2005? She knew, as the world knew, that Prince Charles wanted to marry her. Charles’ mother, the queen, knew and liked Camilla. So did his two sons. But what about the world’s public? The consensus of the British people was that he should be able to marry exactly who he wanted to and, after all, the relationship had...

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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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The Angels of Mons

The Angels of Mons: Did they save British soldiers in the First World War? Many people believed so at the time. The First World War – and the following years – saw a huge increase in the belief of spiritualism and the supernatural. We can understand this. So many young men were killed in the conflict and it was comforting for their loved ones to believe that they had gone to’a better place’ — and that...

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The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard: Review  A James Maxted Thriller I was lucky in having a review copy of this book so that I could alert you to it so that you could pre-order. I highly recommend it. The story will intrigue you from the first page. Set in 1919, the book opens with James Maxted, a World War 1 flyer, sizing up a couple of planes that he intends to buy to start a flying school. But his negotiations are interrupted...

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Life on a WW1 U-Boat

 What was life like aboard a WW1 U-boat? You have probably never pondered this question. Neither had I until I read a book which, as part of the narrative, explained what life was like aboard for the crew of a German sub in the First World War. And it sounds like a nightmare. Hellish, in fact. Of course, life in any submarine is, or was,  likely to be claustrophobic. In the last century, it’s likely that fresh air was something...

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The Perfect Chaise with Storage

The storage chaise. A perfect solution for small spaces. When space is at a premium in your home, it’s wonderful to find a stylish and chic piece of furniture that is so useful, wonderfully attractive and even gives you extra storage in your room. This comfortable seat will provide you with extra seating for guests, it’s the perfect item for a reading nook and it even makes a convenient spare bed for a child. It’s 63...

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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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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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Yellow Polka Dot Bikini

My colleague, Andy Royston, recently wrote an article about the music of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. He referred to the standard of music in 1960 until the time when the King-Goffin combo came up with Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. In fact, he referred to 1960 music as being ‘drivel’ and cited as an example, Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. Now on the basis of quality music, I will admit that Bikini isn’t...

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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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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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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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Paul McCartney: Real or Fake?

Paul McCartney died on November 9th, 1966 Or so certain people would have us believe. And recently, it’s said, Ringo Starr confirmed this. Nonsense? I think so. But according to conspiracy theorists, the bloke you see here isn’t Paul McCartney at all. It’s an imposter who has been playing the part for almost fifty years. Yes, that’s a long time to live someone else’s life, isn’t it? What’s the...

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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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George Cole

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

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Castaway Cay: The Murky History

Disney’s Castaway Cay – previously the mysterious Gorda Cay. The very thought of going on a Disney Cruise makes me shudder yet thousands of people enjoy them every day. Their four  ships call regularly at Castaway Cay – Disney’s private island and the company’s idea of paradise. There, cruisers can enjoy the amenities you would expect from the company that specialises in man-made ‘magic’ and...

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Queen Elizabeth II & Marilyn Monroe

The day Queen Elizabeth met Marilyn Monroe. In very different ways, the two women were destined to become icons. What many of us don’t realise is that Queen Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe were born only ten days apart. (April 21st and Jun 1st respectively – in 1926). And they met on October 29th, 1956. The occasion was the London premiere of The Battle of the River Plate in Leicester Square. It was the only time the two...

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Why was October 21st, 2015 known as Back to the Future Day?

Why was October 21st, 2015 known as Back to the Future Day? Because in 1989, a sequel was made to the blockbuster movie Back to the Future, somewhat predictably named Back to the Future II. In the first film. Marty McFly had travelled back in time to 1955 – in the sequel he went forward in time to – you guessed – October 21st, 2015. In 1989, I imagine that 2015 seemed to be in the distant future — yet here we...

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Photograph Fabric Printing via the Sun

Lumi Inkodye: Print photographs onto t-shirts using solar power. Great for kids, great for adults and a truly fabulous way to express your creativity and make gorgeous garments, décor items and gifts – that’s what Lumi Inkodye offer you with their kits and products. This is a seemingly miraculous way to add your photographs and designs to any fabric item using the sun to develop the images. You can take any photograph from...

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Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine

Sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine. In the golden era of Hollywood, few theatregoers realised that these two top actresses were sisters. Olivia was the eldest of the two. They were both born in Japan, to British parents. Their father was a patent attorney who had moved to Japan to further his career. He taught there and also ran his own law firm. The mother of the two girls was an actress who had given up her stage career...

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Funny Girl, by Nick Hornby

Funny Girl: A Novel by Nick Hornby Funny is quite right – laugh out loud funny, in fact. The book is set in the nineteen sixties – what an era of change that was – and features Barbara, a young woman from Blackpool in the north of England whose heroine is Lucille Ball. Barbara wants to be on television too, to make people laugh. And Barbara certainly has several assets that make her look great on television. At the...

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Royal Feud: York and Lancaster

Queen Elizabeth and Wallis Simpson: The Houses of York and Lancaster. In the fifteenth century, as all good students of Yorkshire history know, there were battles in England for the throne. The combatants were the House of York and the House of Lancaster. These were known as the Wars of the Roses as each house used a rose as its emblem; white for York, red for Lancaster. But in the twentieth century there was another ‘war of the...

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Brighten Up Your Work Space

Use colour to help you work. Do you remember when office items such as file cabinets, staplers and other necessities of work were incredibly boring? No longer. A truly delightful company named Poppin can brighten up your office, your home workspace or your dorm room with their fabulous work accessories. Of course, we’ve always known that an organised work area helps us to be productive but what has sometimes been overlooked is...

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Recipe: English Treacle Tart

English treacle tart recipe Oh, treacle tart!  Just find me an English person who wouldn’t enjoy a slice right now. In order to make this wonderful comfort food, you’re going to need real English Golden Syrup. If you can’t buy it locally –  and it’s in lots of American supermarkets now – it’s easily ordered online. You’ll love this scrumptious dessert and if you serve it to English...

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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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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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Murder in Miami: Christopher Wilder the Beauty Queen Killer

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

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Love and Sex: Edwardian style

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

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Princess Viktoria’s Disastrous Marriage

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

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The Last Escaper: Peter Tunstall

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

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The Nuremberg Trials and the Jewish interpreter

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

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Who Was Norman Bacchiocchi?

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

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

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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Frances Reynolds: Life on the Run

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

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Seymour Worsley, The Lady in Red

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

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Grace Darling

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

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Who Was MaVynee Betsch??

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

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Lady Iris Mountbatten: Royal Black Sheep

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

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The Mystery of Flight 19

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

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The Boy in the Song: Hey Jude

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

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Nancy Kulp

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

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Louis le Prince: The Man Who Invented the Movies

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

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Who Was Anne Morrow?

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

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Prince George – The Forgotten Royal

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

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The Berners Street Hoax

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

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Who Was Ellen Church?

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

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Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

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

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Why is Fort Lauderdale called Fort Liquordale?

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

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Coco Chanel

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

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Vegan Pumpkin Curry Soup Recipe

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

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Who Was Bernarr MacFadden?

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

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Princess Anne

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

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Who Was Monica Proietti?

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

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Lunch in Paris: By Elizabeth Baud

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

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Cosmetic Surgery: Yes or No?

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

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Florida’s German Invasion

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

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Scandal: John Lennon and Alma Cogan

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

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The Great Train Robbery: Roy James

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

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