Blistering barnacles: The remain faction has recruited Tintin to their cause by using an illustration from The Crab with the Golden Claws to illustrate the self-destructive nature of Brexit and it now hangs on the wall of the EU negotiating team.
The British army has long relied on soldiers and units from its former empire and never more so than in the First World War when Khudadad Khan became the first Asian and Muslim to be awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery.
Khan was born in Chakwal in the Punjab province of India in 1888, now the Potohar region of Pakistan, and joined the 129th Duke of Connaught's Own Baluchis as a sepoy. Read more ›››
Posing parrot: Before anyone asks the obvious question, I swear it wasn't me who dressed as a parrot to help sell a house in Bolton.
Funny money: Scientists have created an ultrasecure banknote that uses quantum mechanics and light instead of paper or plastic. It is meant to be impossible to counterfeit but no sooner had the scientists invented than they discovered that it could. Read more ›››
I usually know at least the basic details of the lives of my ABC Wednesday subjects – when and where they were born, their family life etc – but in the case of James Julian I know nothing at all except that he was the inventor of a most bizarre means of execution, the Julian Gallows.
In the late 19th century, America was obsessed with finding a ‘humane’ means of execution and so it was that in 1892 Julian invented his gallows. Read more ›››
Toast master: A brainless neo-Nazi drug dealer brought the weight of German law enforcement down upon himself after posting pictures of toast featuring images of Adolf Hitler on Facebook. When police went to arrest him they also discovered a stash of crystal meth and marijuana.
I finished reading the latest of Bernard Cornwell's Last Kingdom series last year and on the strength of my enjoyment of those books I decided to go back to his much earlier Warlord Chronicles series.
The three books in the series are a retelling of the Arthurian legend from the perspective of the Derfel, one of Arthur's warlords and close friend and is told in retrospect from Derfel's old age. Read more ›››
Ivar Ragnussson was one of the Vikings leaders who with his brothers led the Great Heathen Army that invaded the East Anglia region of England in 865AD, but it is how he got the nickname Ivar the Boneless that is the mystery.
But first the history lesson. Ivar was the son of Ragnar Lodbrok who ruled large parts of what is today Denmark and Sweden. The young Ivar is portrayed as a warrior and had a reputation as a berserker. Read more ›››