The young Edward Oxford

Queen Victoria was most definitely not amused on the seven occasions that an attempt was made on her life and the first would-be regicide was the baby-faced assassin Edward Oxford.

Oxford was born in Birmingham in 1822, the third child of Hannah Marklew and George Oxford. His father worked in the city's jewellery trade as a gold chaser, but died when his son was aged seven... Read more ›››

John Norton-Griffiths

I couldn't let the centenary of the start of World War One go by without devoting an ABC post or two to some of those who took part, starting with John Norton-Griffiths.

We all know about the horrors of the stalemate that stretched for 400 miles from the French coast to the Swiss border, but less well-known is the war that took place below the trenches... Read more ›››

Jean Joseph Merlin

Those ever so smart comedians are quick to poke fun at famous Belgians, or rather the lack of them - conveniently overlooking the likes of Eddie Merckx, Audrey Hepburn, Hergé and Rubens -

But my own personal favourite Belgian is the inventor, horologist and father of the roller skate Jean-Joseph Merlin... Read more ›››

Ladies of Llangollen

If you've read my ABC posts before, you'll know that I'm fond of eccentrics because people who kick against the system tend to lead more interesting lives.

But two who considered themselves 'unexciting' were Eleanor Charlotte Butler and Sarah Ponsonby who became known as the Ladies of Llangollen... Read more ›››

K is for Jack King

Jack King or John Bingham

It is often assumed that there was little traitorous activity in the UK during World War II, but there were quite a few German sympathisers whose activity was neutralised thanks to the spy Jack King.

It was known that Siemens (GB) Ltd had previously provided cover for pro-Nazi espionage and King was tasked with infiltrating the company to assess the level of threat that its employees might pose... Read more ›››

Catcalling

Sparrow Hawk

There are some people who like cats, there are those who prefer dogs and there are even those who claim to like both. Not that I believe them - that's just mutually contradictory double thinking.

Nineteen Eighty-Four aside, I fall very much into the canine camp for all sorts of reasons. On the positive side, dogs are loyal, loving and think you (the owner) is perfect. In fact the only animal to have seen his god as someone once said... Read more ›››

Sick

Ward Chart

As a child of the welfare state, I have great affection for the National Health Service which is one the reasons I was proud to have worked on its behalf,  but sometimes I despair of the state it is in.

One of the reasons I have posted even less than usual is because my dad has been quite ill lately. I won’t go into the detail except to say that it has necessitated a stay in his local hospital.… Read more ›››