The gates of history turns on small hinges, at least if you believe that great events have their roots in trivial incidents. So did a punch on the nose lead to the massacre of a generation in World War One?
The year is 1878 and a nineteen-year-old Prince Wilhelm was misbehaving himself by throwing stones at beach huts on Rapparee Beach in Ilfracombe, Devon. 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 ›››
John Petts was an artist responsible for one of the most moving works of stained glass commemorating a shocking event in American history that also demonstrated the generosity of the people of Wales.
Petts was born in London in 1914, but, for the most part, he is remembered as a Welsh artist since he and his wife, set-up the Caseg Press in Snowdonia in 1937 and lived and worked in Abergavenny. Read more ›››
A deviation from my usual real people subject matter because this week I’m featuring the fictional cartoon character Popeye.
Actually that isn’t strictly true. When Elzie Siegal created Popeye back in 1929, he based him on a one-eyed sailor from his home town of Chester, Illinois, a pipe-smoking roughneck called Frank ‘Rocky’ Fiegal. Read more ›››
The gate of history turns on small hinges, at least if you believe that great events have their roots in trivial incidents. Son did a punch on the nose lead to the massacre of a generation on World War One?
The year is 1878 and a 19 year old Prince Wilhelm was misbehaving himself by throwing stones at beach huts on Rapparee Beach in Ilfracombe, Devon… Read more ›››
Auguste Piccard was the perfect portrait of the potty professor with his six foot six gangly frame, bulging forehead, receding hair, white lab coat and round spectacles.
And he proved it too with inventions that set records for exploring both height and depth and by being the paradigm for two peerless fictional characters. I’ll bet you can guess at least one of them straight away… Read more ›››
Once dubbed by Dwight Eisenhower as the greatest living expert on security, Oreste Pinto was one of the colourful characters of World War II espionage and the original ‘Spycatcher’ who created his own myth.
Born in Amsterdam in 1889, Pinto was first recruited to the murky world of counter-intelligence while studying philology at the Sorbonne in 1911… Read more ›››
French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur is best remembered for his germ theory of disease, his vaccines for rabies and anthrax, not to mention the pasteurisation method for treating milk.
But he also made a major contribution to the production of beer and all because of his deep-seated hatred of all things German following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 which simultaneously interrupted his work and humiliated his country… Read more ›››