Today is Manic Monday the news bulletins gleefully told us this morning - the day predicted to be the busiest on the High Street when we'll spend £2.6 million a minute.

That's collectively not individually of course, although it might feel like that by the time you've finished with buying all the gifts you have to give and the food and festive fripperies you absolutely need if the big day isn't to be a disaster... Read more ›››

Charles Deville Wells

As I walk along the Bois Boolong with an independent air, you can hear the girls declare "He must be a Millionaire." You can hear them sigh and wish to die, you can see them wink the other eye at the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.

The words of the musical hall song that made a celebrity of Charles Deville Wells, the man who inspired the song and who was also dubbed 'the biggest swindler living'. Read more ›››

Martin Van Butchell

Martin Van Butchell was one of the pioneers of high society cosmetic dentistry, but whose greatest claim to fame if for keeping the embalmed body of his deceased wife on display in his home.

Born in 1775, Van Butchell originally studied medicine under the celebrated physicians, John and William Hunter, but chose instead to practice dentistry, and very successfully too. Read more ›››

Mr Mandela

Robben Island

I have quite a soft spot for South Africa. It helps that we spent some time there, of course, and we have lots of very fond memories of the places we visited, but it goes beyond that - it is one of those countries where I can imagine living.

This may sound like wishful think, and it probably is, and yet only this week we were looking online for houses in Montagu, the quiet town in the mountains of the Western Cape that we fell in love with, even though we were there for just a couple of days. Read more ›››


I've been a most irregular blogger of late, having had almost nothing to say other than for my ABC Wednesday postings which don't really count as they are generally planned well in advance.

Why this should be, I'm not sure. Post holiday depression perhaps, although we've been back for over a month, or maybe it's just the cold and bleak whether that is getting me down. Or is life just not funny any more? Read more ›››

Sir Thomas Urquhart

We all like to think that there is an ancestor with a claim to a title or was notable in some way, but few people can have taken his family history as far as Sir Thomas Urquhart when he published his Pantochronachanon in 1652.

Subtitled 'a peculiar promptuary of time', it claimed to trace the Urquhart genealogy back through 153 generations in an unbroken line to the Garden of Eden, taking in Methuselah and Noah along the way. Read more ›››

Partaker of Snuff

Before the rise and fall of cigarettes, the most common way of partaking of tobacco was in its powdered form as snuff and there was no more devoted sniffer of snuff than Margaret Thompson of Burlington Gardens on old London town.

In truth we know little of Thompson's life, but are in doubt about her fondness for snuff from the instructions she left in her will when she died in 1776... Read more ›››

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