C is for Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great of Russia is one of the more flamboyant characters from history and is remembered for what she did for her country and for the mostly spurious stories about her personal life.

You can read more about the latter on Wikipedia if you must, but I wanted to concentrate on Catherine’s great contribution to the modern world – the roller coaster. Read more ›››

Call Waiting

Nuisance Caller

According to Terry Pratchett, ‘inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened’ and I think he’s got a point. Inside my head I’m aged 27 then something comes along to confuse my inner illusions.

I was flicking through the technology pages of the Sunday Times because I like to keep up with the latest gadgets and gizmos, being just 27 years old in my head, and came across a review of the latest cordless phone systems. Read more ›››

O Danny Boy

Mr Pastry

One of my weekend pleasures is listening to the Danny Baker Show on Radio Five every Saturday morning. Two hours of trivia and silliness.

I suspect that he isn’t everyone’s cup of Darjeeling for the very reason that he is my cuppa thanks to his butterfly mind, useless facts (some apocryphal) and brazen nostalgia.

Like today when he was reminiscing about magic sets which prompted me to get my David Nixon Junior Magic Box (above) from its hiding place behind a row of books on a shelf for a brief sentimental journey back to my boyhood. Read more ›››

B is for Thomas Burgess

Thomas William Burgess

It is a truism of sport that no-one remembers who came in second which is sad because sometimes the achievement of the runner-up can be as impressive as that of the winner.

One such was Thomas William Burgess who was the second person to swim the English Channel, or La Manche if you happen to be French. What is remarkable was that he came second fully 36 years after Captain Matthew Webb. first achieved the feat in 1875. Read more ›››

Too Many Cooks

Heaven forfend that I should ever be asked for careers advice these days, but if I were then I’d point any aspiring tyro in the direction of the kitchen.

It isn’t that the call of the sauce pan and blender is such a great way to make a living – the pay isn’t great and the hours definitely unsociable – but it is the path towards the one place you can find guaranteed employment as a tv chef… Read more ›››

The Good Die Young

Paul Goggins

It won’t come as much of a surprise to my regular reader if I were to tell you that I don’t have a lot of time for politicians. I met quite a few through work, so I suppose it could be a case of familiarity breeding contempt.

Take Cyril Smith for example. I met him years ago, long before we know what we know now, and even then he struck me as a slime ball who believed his own publicity and not a bit like the jovial, no-nonsense politico we saw on tv… Read more ›››

A is for Miss Atomic Bomb

Miss Atomic 1957

One of the places I really wanted to visit when we were in America a couple of years ago was the atomic testing grounds about 65 miles north of Las Vegas.

Not your typical tourist trap I grant you, especially compared with the arcade machine attractions of The Strip, but then I’d rather risk radiation sickness than throw away my money at a blackjack table. Read more ›››

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