There is a popular notion that elephants and other creatures get themselves drunk by eating the fermented fruit of the marula tree, but it is a complete myth created by the South African filmmaker, Jamie Uys.
Uys was born in Boksburg, SA, in 1921 and began his career as a mathematics teacher in his hometown. Then he married Hettie, a fellow maths teacher, and they took to farming and opened trading posts on the Palala River. Read more ›››
If there is a universal language misunderstood by all it’s gobbledegook and there was no greater exponent of the art than ‘Professor’ Stanley Unwin.
Unwin was born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1911 since his parents had emigrated there in the early 1900s. But his father died in 1914 and Unwin and his mother returned to the UK. Read more ›››
‘Mother, I know you can hear me. Mother, you were wrong! And now that I have your attention, can I stop eating my broccoli, please?’
Those are the words of Donald L Unger after he proved that his mother was wrong – that continually cracking your knuckles does not cause arthritis in later life as she so often warned him when he was a child. Read more ›››
Much as I hate to repeat myself, U is a tricky letter to fill so here is a favourite ABC Wednesday entry of mine from a few years ago.
We all like to think that there is an ancestor with a claim to a title or was notable in some way, but few people can have taken his family history as far as Sir Thomas Urquhart when he published his Pantochronachanon in 1652. Read more ›››
One of the most popular paintings at the National Gallery is the portrait of ‘An Old Woman’ by Flemish artist Quentin Massys, also known as The Ugly Duchess which inspired illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Painted in 1513, it was long thought to be a caricature ridiculing older women who foolishly try to recapture their youth by dressing inappropriately for their age. Read more ›››
Umberto Nobile was an Italian pioneer of aviation and was the first to fly across the polar icecap from Europe to America, and also the first to fly to the North Pole itself.
Born in Lauro in southern Italy in 1885, Umberto graduated from the University of Naples with degrees in both industrial and electrical engineering and he first worked on the state railway. Read more ›››
The subject of my ABC Wednesday post this week is James Ussher, polyglot, prolific scholar, man of the church and perhaps the man responsible for what we know today as ‘creationism’.
Ussher was born in 1581 to a well-to-do Anglo-Irish family living in the Pale of Dublin (that’s ‘pale’ as in the phrase ‘beyond the pale‘). Read more ›››
We all like to think that there is an ancestor with a claim to a title or was notable in some way, but few people can have taken his family history as far as Sir Thomas Urquhart when he published his Pantochronachanon in 1652.
Subtitled ‘a peculiar promptuary of time’, it claimed to trace the Urquhart genealogy back through 153 generations in an unbroken line to the Garden of Eden, taking in Methuselah and Noah along the way. Read more ›››