September 2016 saw the death of Irina Vyacheslavovna Rakobolskaya, renowned physicist and one of the last remaining members of the all-female Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment of the Red Army known as the ‘night witches’.

Rakobolskaya was born in 1919, the daughter of a physics lecturer and a school teacher, in Dankov which is about 190 miles south of Moscow on the River Don. Read more ›››

Neither strong nor stable: If you would like to demonstrate your political allegiance ahead of the general election, why not stand a life-size cut-out of Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn in your house window. Both are available from Amazon and are an obvious target for ironic customer reviews.

Speaking of cut-outs: Diane Abbott’s gaffe over the cost of Labour’s extra 10,000 police officers was proved do-able by the Tweet on the left. Read more ›››

Yorkshire Pudding posted about a family heirloom yesterday, a silver cigarette case presented to his mum when she married in Delhi in 1945.

It is a link to his past that he clearly cherishes and like many of us, he worries that it might end up in a charity shop or on Flog It! when he’s gone because the memories mean little or nothing to those who inherit it. Read more ›››

Queen Mandukhai Khatun, also known as Mandukhai Sechen Khatun, was a Mongolian Empress. The word ‘Khatun’ is the female form of the word ‘Khan’, as in Genghis Kahn, which she earned by reuniting the warring Mongol tribes.

The future queen was born in 1449, the only daughter of  Chorosbai, grand counsellor of the Ongud Mongols in eastern Mongolia. Read more ›››

Sunday Round-up

Will the flops succeed? An exhibition of product innovations that flopped is to open in Sweden in June at the Museum of Failure. They include coffee-flavoured Coca-Cola, eau de toilette that captures the smell of a Harley Davidson, Colgate branded lasagne and even the Segway.

Balls up: Friday was the sixth anniversary of Ed Balls Day commemorating the former MP’s epic Twitter fail. Read more ›››

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 ›››

Sunday Round-up

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 ›››

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