Posted in December 2015

Shakespeare on the Mersey

Here’s a great new discovery, again from the i newspaper: “Shakespeare may have debuted several of his most famous plays in a small town near Liverpool. Plans are now afoot to re-create a period theatre in Prescot, Merseyside. Over 400 years ago, the Playhouse in Prescot, Knowsley, was the only purpose-built indoor theatre outside of … Continue reading

Bad Science

This is the sort of debate that really gets me angry: an article in the i titled “Bad habits or plain bad luck: experts split in cancer debate. Researchers divided on whether the disease is genetic or caused by carcinogens.” The debate is apparently between John Hopkins University where Christian Tomasetti and Bert Vogelstein claim … Continue reading

Extinction for Scotland’s Jewels

This is really sad, about something I didn’t even knew existed, from the i newspaper: Plucked from the bed of a river in Aberdeenshire, the best freshwater pearls in Scotland were once so prized they were used to adorn the country’s crown jewels. But Holyrood’s official conservation agency has now concluded that the rare mussels … Continue reading

Modern Pilgrims

This is from the i newspaper last Tuesday, about the revival worldwide of pilgrimages, following the routes used by Christians, but not necessarily by Christians: “Pilgrimages could be set for a revival in Britain – starting with a historic route through the South Downs. People are being urged to walk the UK’s ancient pilgrimage routes … Continue reading

Lady Wortley Montagu

This lady is one of the most important women you’ve never heard of, but the world is a much safer place thanks to her. She was a brave traveller, and one of the things she brought back from Turkey was the skill of immunizing against smallpox. Unfortunately it involved the use of pus from infected … Continue reading

Christianity in Bristol

Bristolians were traditionally very proud of their many parish churches and spent a lot of money decorating them. Each steeple or tower was different, so was easily recognisable from a distance. But about half the population were non Anglicans, with strong presence of Quakers and Baptist from early times and John Wesley’s New Room is … Continue reading


These feature several times in William Holland’s Paupers & Pig Killers. Parson Holland objects to his servants going to collect them, and notices parishioners arriving at church with black mouths from eating them in pies. But they are more than just a pleasant outing for the locals: “Few in Sunday School, all gone gathering Hurtleberries. … Continue reading

Till Death Did they Part

The notion of staying with a partner for life is one that is far from common today but for most of our ancestors it was the norm. They lived in small communities, so had little choice of partner but they knew them well before they got hitched. I have noticed a number of famous couples … Continue reading