Rally Against Arts Cuts

This was a very soggy but we’ll attended event in the centre of Cardiff with some very passionate & lucid speakers. The references to the money thrown at arts after the war were particularly apt. That really was poverty. I was fascinated by the carrying of a coffin, a common form of protest in 18th … Continue reading

Training Zookeepers

This is from today’s I newspaper, showing some of the150 zookeepers at Ueno zoo, Tokyo, learning how to capture animals in case of an escape. I think that’s a pantomime zebra. I wonder how they train for first aid? Do they dress a horse  or zebra as a human?

A Guy Minus a ‘Y’

The difference between men and women is whether our cells have either XX = female, or XY = male, or that’s what we’ve long been taught. But Last wek some new reasearch on white mice seems to undermine this. Without a Y the cells were said to be the default sex, ie female. This is … Continue reading

A Prize Fighter Reformed

Here’s another piece from ‘Old Oak’. I am intrigued by the man’s name, as Bendigo is a former goldmining town in Victoria Australia. I wonder if there is a link. Oxford dictionary makes no mention of him. “I was asked to bury another famous champion – Bendigo. He had been the hero of a hundred … Continue reading


This is an account from Akenfield, by a young blacksmith who had won awards for his ornamental work: “We all watch the telly news- everyone does. Television had changed the village people. Like the plays. I am alway on the look-out for scenes showing ornamental ironwork. You may not have noticed, but telly plays are … Continue reading

Royal Claim to Welsh Land

We are living in unsettled times in Britain, and independence for the Celtic regions makes everyone a bit nervous.This article from yesterday’s i shows how bad timing can matter: “It is ore than 6000 years since Pwllheli in North Wales was given its charter by Edward the Black Prince. Btu now the ancient market town … Continue reading

How to Tell Who’s Lying

This is a short letter to yesterday’s i from J Wilson of Gateshead: “After watching politicians on TV lately I have learnt who is lying. George Osborne tilts his head to one side. David Cameron jerks his head back and froward. Tony Blair moves his lips Corbyn: might take some time. ” No mention of … Continue reading

Last of her Tribe

Europeans have been responsible for the extinction of a lot of native peoples. The Irishwoman Daisy Bates cared for the last survivors of a number of Australian tribes, who shared no common language. This is a story from JSTOR about a woman left behind on an island off California, summoning images of Robinson Crusoe, and … Continue reading

Cash ‘For Luck’

When researching my book on wife selling, I often found mention of the price including money returned ‘for luck’. It seemed like a nice thing to do, but it seems that, like so much about the process, it did have a sound basis in history and commerce. This is from Paul Jennings’ ‘The Living Village” … Continue reading

The Noble Art

This is another piece from ‘Old Oak’: Hanslope, a village in Buckinghamshire, was only 14 miles away, and its graceful spire, rising 180 feet in the air is easily visible from the outskirts of Silson. Thither [my father] … journeyed on June 2nd, 1830 to see the meeting between the Irishman, Simon Byrne, and the … Continue reading