Back in 2013, I wrote about Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, the man who saved the world, but there is another Russian who can lay claim to that title – Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov.
Petrov was born in 1939 in Vladivostok on Russia's Pacific coast. He joined the Soviet Air Defence Forces, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and it was in this role that he prevented nuclear armageddon by doing absolutely nothing. Read more ›››
Bird brain: Lawrence Cobbald's obsession with his collection bird ornaments has got out of hand. His 20,000 strong collection now takes up so much space that he has to visit his parents for meals and to do his washing because he's run out of room in his own house.
Big bait: Although they've been known about for years, scientists have only now got their hands on the rare giant shipworm that can grow up to five feet long. Read more ›››
Tap tips: If you've ever been tempted to practice your tap-dancing skills in a lift think again, as the message on the left spotted at a Premier Inn hotel explains.
Tanks a bunch: Tank enthusiast Nick Mead got much more than he bargained for when he bought a £30,000 Russian T54 on eBay – £2 million of gold bullion hidden in the fuel tank. Read more ›››
Grammar vigilante: Known as the Banksy of grammar, one man has been waging a war on misplaced apostrophes on the shop signs of Bristol for the last thirteen years, armed with his trusty ‘apostrophiser’.
Naked ladies: No, not the usual internet stuff but naked bodies hidden in the landscape through the use of very clever camouflage by Swiss artist Filippo Ioco. Read more ›››
The French military has an undeserved reputation for its lack of martial ardour, from the infamous ‘French military victories’ Google Bomb to the ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ epithet from The Simpsons that has entered the language.
This is a slur on the many brave French servicemen and women who gave their lives in the cause of freedom and one of those was René Mouchotte who became a hero of the Battle of Britain. Read more ›››
What a bust: Footballing heartthrob Cristiano Ronaldo didn't look quite so handsome when a sculpture of him was unveiled at the ceremony at Madeira airport which has been named after him. I think it looks like Niall Quinn.
Speaking of busts: Sculptor David Bradley has carved a statue of the pregnant Beyonce entirely out of cheese as part of the East Village's Wine and Cheese Festival. Read more ›››
Solomon Linda is responsible for one of the most instantly recognised songs heard across the world and yet despite this, he earned little from the composition and was to die unrecognised and in poverty.
Linda was born in 1909 on a labour reserve near Ladysmith in Natal, South Africa. He grew up in the traditions of amahubo and izingoma zomshado music, or wedding songs. 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 ›››