I've always been a fan of maps – they're beautiful things, carefully crafted by the cartographer – and for preference, the older a map is the better because it tells you as much about history as geography.
What with Google Maps, SatNavs and the like, we seem to have lost our way with maps these days. Which is ironic when you think about it. Read more ›››
Yorkshire Pudding confessed to me the other day that his childhood experiences had influenced his later career as a lothario and it seems that this date may be the root cause of his philandering for today is Kissing Friday.
Apparently there is an old Yorkshire tradition that two days after Ash Wednesday, boys are allowed to kiss any girl they choose without fear of a slap round the head or knee in the groin. Read more ›››
As Abraham Lincoln once famously observed: ‘The trouble with quotes taken from the internet is that you can never know if they're genuine.’
Kidding of course. I'm quoting Stephen Fry from QI and the Third QI Book of General Ignorance, a Christmas gift from Mrs P that I'm still dipping into. In this case, famous quotes that were never actually said by the people who were supposed to have said them. Read more ›››
My holiday appetite or trivia is being satisfied by the The Third QI Book of General Ignorance, a Christmas present from Mrs P. It's full of things I didn't know I didn't know and it is only fair to share a morsel or two.
Such as jelly babies, those sweets adored by children of all ages which are made by Bassett's of Sheffield. I didn't know that they were originally called 'Peace Babies' when they were made to mark the armistice at the end of the First World War. Read more ›››
Tuesday Lobsang Rampa launched himself into the public consciousness in 1956 as the Lama from Lhasa with the publication of The Third Eye, his account of growing up in Tibet, which despite being an obvious hoax became an international best seller.
Among other things, Lobsang claimed to have had a splinter inserted into his pineal gland to activate his 'Third Eye' when he was eight in order to 'see people as they really are and not what they pretend to be'... Read more ›››
Wolfgang von Kempelen was a philosopher, polyglot, mathematician and author, but above all else he was one of the best of those remarkable inventors of automata in the 18th century, one of which baffled the likes of Napoleon and Benjamin Franklin.
Kempelen was born in 1734 in Pressburg, Hungary, or what is now Bratislava, Slovakia. He studied law and philosophy in his birthplace, and then in Győr, Vienna and Rome... Read more ›››
Hitler was a trending name in the 1930s (Adolf was Time Magazine Man of the Year in 1939) but it had become #hated by the early 1940s and unsurprisingly those with a family connection became less proud of their surname.
One such was William Patrick Hitler (aka Willy), a nephew of Adolf, who was living in America when that country entered World War II... Read more ›››
Francis Galton was a flawed Victorian genius responsible for the introduction of forensic fingerprinting, the weather map, the originator of the nurture versus nature debate and of both sane and silly inventions.
He was born in 1822 and was a cousin of Charles Darwin. The two families were very close with the Darwins being the scientists while the Galtons were Quaker bankers. Both had produced members of the Royal Society and helped found the influential Lunar Society. Read more ›››