One of the most popular paintings at the National Gallery is the portrait of ‘An Old Woman’ by Flemish artist Quentin Massys, also known as The Ugly Duchess which inspired illustrations for Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Painted in 1513, it was long thought to be a caricature ridiculing older women who foolishly try to recapture their youth by dressing inappropriately for their age. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up


Sweet theory: It has been scientifically proven that you are likely to get fewer red Smarties in a pack than any other colour.

Old technology: Forget email and even the fax machine, the Foreign Office still relies on telegrams and ‘secret’ ones at that, although they are hardly that when they are published on the front page of The Times. Read more ›››

T is for Walter Tull

Walter Tull

Wars often bring about social change, or at least mark the start of a change in attitudes, and the First World War brought many, including the first black officer in the British army – Walter Daniel John Tull.

Tull was born in Folkestone, Kent, in 1888, the son of Daniel Tull, a Barbadian carpenter, and English-born Alice Palmer. His grandfather had been a slave in Barbados. Read more ›››

Lest we too forget

Hugging Father Christmas

A friend of ours lives in a communal home made up of individual flats with shared living spaces, like the tv lounge, the activity room and other places where people living on their own can be together.

Mrs P visits the said friend every Friday and the thing that strikes you is how unfriendly a place it can be, at least in the way that the residents can be downright nasty and petty with each other. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Trump Tattoo

Trump's lasting legacy: A British fan of the president-elect has his face tattooed on his leg with the words ‘in Trump we trust’ because ‘all great art is controversial’.

Meanwhile, in Davenport, Iowa, a Bernie Sanders supporter has also ended up with a Trump tattoo on his back and all because of a stupid bet with his best buddy. Read more ›››

Couldn’t Wait

The Grand Tour

I imagine there must have been a few BBC executives sobbing into their wheat-free granola as they watched The Grand Tour released today as they wondered how on earth they had let their most saleable brand go to Amazon for nothing.

The series has been much-anticipated in the Parrot household as we are all fans of Top Gear and the plan was to watch it together on Sunday. But that idea went out of the window. Read more ›››

S is for Dolly Shepherd

The young Dolly Shepherd

Regular readers will know of my admiration for the early pioneers of aviation, but this week's remarkable subject was not so much a flyer as a faller – Dolly Shepherd: The Edwardian Lady Parachutist.

Shepherd was born in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, in 1886 and was always an adventurous sort. At the age of sixteen, she got a job as a waitress at the Alexandra Palace, North London, specifically so she could listen to the famous American Sousa Band as she couldn't afford a ticket. Read more ›››

Am I Alone in Thinking?

Am I alone in thinking

I happened to pick up the above titled volume of the unpublished letters to The Daily Telegraph, the first in fact that came out in 2009. Among all the usual nonsense it covered the US election of 2008 and there were several missives that give a clue as to what happened last week.

What happened, of course, was a spike in ‘Make America Great Again’, or ‘Make America White Again’ according to some reports. Read more ›››

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