Those ever so smart comedians are quick to poke fun at famous Belgians, or rather the lack of them – conveniently overlooking the likes of Eddie Merckx, Audrey Hepburn, Hergé and Rubens –
But my own personal favourite Belgian is the inventor, horologist, father of the roller skate and genius in the art of the clockwork automata Jean-Joseph Merlin. Read more ›››
In the last round of ABC Wednesday, I wrote about the War Magician, Jasper Maskelyne, mentioning that he was the grandson of the pre-eminent Victorian magician and inventor of the pay toilet, John Nevil Maskelyne, and it felt only right that I should complete his story.
The Maskelyne family liked to suggest that they were descended from Nevil Maskelyne, the famous astronomer royal under George III, but they weren’t. Read more ›››
Jasper Maskelyne came from a long line of stage magicians. Born in in 1902, he was the son of Nevil Maskelyne and the grandson on John Nevil Maskelyne, perhaps the preeminent magician of the Victorian age and inventor of the pay toilet – but that, as they say, is another story.
While Jasper Maskelyne followed in their footsteps through a successful stage career and the publication of his Book of Magic which describes a range of magic tricks, seemingly his greatest contribution to history was as the War Magician of WWII. Read more ›››
William Moulton Marston was a psychiatrist, inventor and feminist theorist who under the pen name of Charles Moulton put his ideas into practice by creating the comic character Wonder Woman.
Born in Massachusetts in 1893, Marston was educated at Harvard and received his PhD in psychology in 1921 before going on to teach at universities in Washington and Medford… Read more ›››
One of the things that any boy had to budget his pocket money for in the 1950s was his weekly threepence for a copy of the Eagle comic, the vehicle for Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future. Little did we know that Dan had started life as a vicar.
The Eagle was the brainchild of the Anglican priest and former RAF pilot, Marcus Morris. In 1949 he had written a newspaper article condemning the import of horror comics from America. Read more ›››
Mostert’s Mill is one of the landmarks of Cape Town, sitting alongside the busy De Waal Drive and within a few minutes walk from where we were staying.
The mill was built around 1796 at the Welgelegen Farm, owned by Gysbert van Renen, and was named after his son-in-law, Sybrand Mostert, after Van Renen’s death.
It ceased operation in 1873, but stayed in the Mostert family until 1889 and was finally sold to Cecil Rhodes in 1891. Read more ›››
As it is the week for M on ABC Wednesday, I thought I might write about the mighty mite, with thanks to the QI Book of Animal Ignorance.
Mites are eight-legged members of the spider clan and after insects are the most diverse group of creatures on the planet. Over 48,000 species have been identified so far, but this is probably just a fraction of the total. Read more ›››
On the day when the Chilean miners were freed after being trapped underground for two months, it is appropriate that my contribution to ABC Wednesday should be M is for Mining.
There were mines dotted all over the area where I grew up and where I live now, but it is hard to believe. There is little evidence that there were once great gashes in the earth where coal was hewn, apart from the odd housing estate disappearing through subsidence as an occasional reminder. Read more ›››