Filed: History

X is for Xenophon


The soldier and philosopher, Xenophon, wrote seven books, the most famous of which is Anabasis which tells the story of one of the great Greek military adventures.

The action took place in 480BC when Xenophon joined the 10,000 strong army of Greek mercenaries hired by Cyrus the Younger who planned to seize the throne of Persia from his brother, Artaxerxes II, after the death of their father, Darius II. Read more ›››

Turing Shrouded

Alan Turing Statue in Sackville Gardens

If you have Google set as your home page, you’ll be aware that today marks the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing, mathematician, code breaker, father of the modern computer and all-round tortured soul.

For that reason I figured it was appropriate to finally get round to taking a photo of the statue in his memory to found in Sackville Gardens in Manchester, so off I popped this morning. Read more ›››

W is for Edward Watkin

When Gustav Eiffel unveiled his famous tower in 1889, Edward Watkin decided that London should go one better by building an even taller tower in Wembley.

Watkin was an MP and chairman of the Metropolitan Railway and his vision was to create the tower as the centrepiece of a pleasure park just 12 minutes from Baker Street station. Read more ›››

R is for Gilbert Romme

Gilbert Romme

The French Revolution resulted in many ridiculous ideas, but perhaps the most risible was the French Republican Calendar devised by Gilbert Romme.

The thinking behind the new calendar was twofold. First that it should remove all religious references and second that time itself should embrace decimalisation. The result was a largely unworkable system. Read more ›››

E is for Edgar the Etheling

Edgar the Ætheling

If asked who became King of England after the Battle of Hastings, most people, myself included, would say William the Conqueror, but in fact, it was Edgar the Etheling (or Ætheling to be correct, which means Prince).

There was no automatic succession to the English throne in 1066 and the king was elected by the Witangemot, or ‘wise-meeting’, a council of religious and political leaders. Read more ›››

Yorkshire Transvestite Conquers Everest

My virtual acquaintance, Mr Pudding, has been extolling the contributions that his fellow Yorkshiremen have made to the world, for good or ill. From George Bamber who devised the first double yellow lines to the metaphysical poetry of Andrew Marvell.

This bout of county pride has come as something of a surprise. It is rare for a Yorkshireman to be so boastful, given their usual shy and self-effacing nature, and this venture into extraversion is to be encouraged. Read more ›››

A Soldier’s Prayer

Soldier's Prayer

Isn’t it sad that the things that people treasure most become meaningless after they die? Souvenirs and personal reminders that lose their potency without the person.

You come across them a lot at church thrift shops that ‘inherit’ them for sale when members of the congregation pass away. I have various items that I have ‘liberated’, including a whole collection of postcards from a European tour in the 1920s and a set of bowls (crown green, not ten-pin). Read more ›››

Down, Down, Deeper and Down

After visiting the Sculpture Park on Tuesday, I also popped over to the National Mining Museum which is only a few miles away.

I have been there several times before, but I regard it as something of a pilgrimage into my family’s past.

The museum is based at the old Caphouse Colliery which is near Flockton, the village I’ve traced my family back to in the early 1700s. Read more ›››