W is for Adam Worth

It has been a while since I wrote about some of history's more disreputable characters, but I make up for it this week with one of the most notorious criminal masterminds – Adam Worth, the ‘Napoleon of Crime’ and the real-life Moriarty.

Worth was born in Germany around 1844, although no-one is sure exactly when. Nor whether Worth was his real name – it may have been Werth or Wirtz. Read more ›››

Last Friday, the American intelligence agencies announced that they had ‘high confidence’ that Russia had hacked the Democrat computer system and released embarrassing information in order to promote Donald Trump's campaign.

There is nothing new in the accusation – Reuters was reporting it back in July – but what is quite interesting is Trump's team's reaction to the story. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

First Scrooge of Christmas: The landlord of the Lion and Key pub in Hull has banned anyone wearing Christmas jumpers or fancy dress for the duration of the festive period.

Written in the sky: An unknown pilot is using his plane to make art in the sky for users of the Flightradar24 tracking website. He or she has drawn a flower, a plane and the word 'hello' in the skies above Germany. Read more ›››

Dottie’s Bandana

It's terrible what we inflict on our pets for our amusement. Last year we dressed her as the Grinch for the dog club's Christmas party and it took weeks to get rid of the supposedly temporary hair dye in her coat and she to endure having a vaguely greenish tinge.

But we've always liked the idea of a bandana, quite specifically one with pink skull and crossbones. And we finally found one. Read more ›››

Pointless Maths

I'm not a big watcher of television but, as I mentioned yesterday, I do enjoy Pointless for its reverse Family Fortunes format that rewards obscure knowledge, while also allowing people to also give obvious answers.

It would be pointless to explain Pointless when you can swot up on it in detail on Wikipedia but what has bothered me on and off for ages is this: what is the optimum number of contestants for a day's recording? Read more ›››


The telephone rang last night annoyingly in the middle of Pointless as I was trying to figure out which was the most obscure town with ‘on’ or ‘upon’ in its name.

The line was silent for a few seconds then, as if we were speaking on either end of two tin cans and a piece of string, a heavily Indian accented voice announced that he was David speaking on behalf of the Telephone Preference Service. Read more ›››

In the wilds of North Yorkshire you will find Newby Hall, a place of fun and frolics for all the family, but it is also home to the church of Christ the Consoler, a permanent memorial to a murdered son, Frederick Vyner.

The young man was the son of the widowed Lady Mary Vyner and they were a well-connected family, her daughter, Henrietta, being married to the Earl de Grey, a prominent member of Gladstone's Liberal government and later Viceroy of India. Read more ›››

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