Posted in April 2012

Men in Dresses

Men in Dresses

No, this is not about pantomime dames but a series of odd stories I have stumbled upon over the years. First up was a British ship that landed in a Spanish colony. The locals fled, leaving the intruders to ransack their homes. The first sailors ashore got the mens’ clothing, but then the humble sailors … Continue reading

Songs About Trains

Songs About Trains

As a child, one of our great days out was to go up into the hills above Melbourne to have a ride on the classic steam train “Puffing Billy” We would hang out of the sidecars, touching the passing trees and waving to people as we crossed the many bridges. We came home  coughing soot … Continue reading

Election Fever 1774

Election Fever 1774

Bristolians traditionally elected two MPs, one a local man, the other with  national clout, so could promote the city  in the capital, so notions of party allegiance tended to come second to this. This piece is about the disputed election of 1774, at the height of the dispute with those pesky, ungrateful  North American colonials. … Continue reading

Kangaroos and Washing Lines

Kangaroos and Washing Lines

Our access to news these days is truly awesome, but once in a while I wish there was a way of following up stories. Last year there were two that still haunt me, because they are just too ridiculous. The first was of a 90 year old woman somewhere in Australia being attacked by a … Continue reading

The Story of Bristol’s Eponymous Bridge

The Story of Bristol’s Eponymous Bridge

This is from a paper I presented at the Regional History Centre’s Symposium in 2010. For the full story of the Bridge, ‘Death and the Bridge – The Georgian Rebuilding of Bristol Bridge’ is available from me via Amazon. The kindle version is ‘Civil Engineering & Civic Apathy’ Bristol Bridge: Barometer of Bristol’s Prosperity The … Continue reading

Songs About Going Out

Songs About Going Out

Petula Clark was the quintessential English rose, singing beautifully crafted uplifting songs. This is her ‘Down Town’ where you go to forget all your worries. Even though she’s wearing a raincoat, so maybe she really should be moaning about the weather. Here’s an alternative, Australia’s Easybeats, with their  one big hit, ‘Friday on My Mind’. … Continue reading

The Genius of Clouds

The Genius of Clouds

One of the most quietly revolutionary books of recent times was Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s ‘The Cloudspotter’s Guide’. A quintessentially English book about the merits of  just sitting and watching clouds go by. Why is it so radical? Because most of us aren’t allowed to do nothing. Most of us have stuff to do, kids to mow, … Continue reading

Songs About Ships and Sailors

Songs About Ships and Sailors

I am interested in the few remaining dangerous professions, hence my  earlier post about coalmining. So here’s another group about ships and the men who sailed them. Shipbuilding was for centuries a huge industry in this country – the harbourside of Bristol was lined with shipyards; timber for them came in from mostly the Baltic. Bark … Continue reading