Filed under 20th century history

The Heroism of A Stranger

The Heroism of A Stranger

In the park adjoining the Museum of Childhood is a drinking fountain with an unusual and tragic history. Most marble fountains were erected by local worthies to provide refreshment for visitors, a few are memorials, but I doubt if any has such sadness associated with it. Water is essential to life. It is central to … Continue reading

Parish Boundary Markers Bristol

Parish Boundary Markers Bristol

I love obscure bits of history, and parish boundary markers are great because you really have to poke around with your eyes open to spot them. They were used to mark the parish boundaries of mediaeval cities, to establish who had to pay church rates, who attended churches, and as legal documents in property sales. … Continue reading

Brexit – The Devil and the Details

I’ve heard a lot about how hard Brexit will be, and the governments rush into it is worrying. Here’s an article from the i’s Jim Armitage which provides an example of the complexities ahead, and should terrify anyone in these islands. The complexity of untangling 44 years of seamless trade and regulation with Europe is … Continue reading

An Empty Cot

An Empty Cot

This is on display in London’s Museum of Childhood, amidst a variety of child sized furniture and toys. But this one stands out – not for what it is, but for what it is not. A baby sized bed should hold a baby, a miracle, the start of a life, a celebration of family and … Continue reading

Origin of Vampires

Origin of Vampires

Here’s a story that justifies reading outside a person’s normal area of interest. Tschiffley’s Ride is one of the great travel adventures, the sort of journey only Werner Herzog would contemplate filming. Please. Aime Tsciffley, a Swiss former teacher, footballer and boxer moved to Buenos Aires in 1920. In 1925 he set of in the … Continue reading

Thatcher’s Art Foiled by a Dog

Thatcher’s Art Foiled by a Dog

This is from the i paper a few weeks ago, and is  a fine lesson in how the best laid plans can fail: Previously unseen government documents show how the former Prime Minister pulled out all the stops in 1988 to persuade Swiss-based industrialist Baron Heini Thyssen-Bornemisza and his Spanish wife to bequeath their collection … Continue reading

The Last Days of Solitary

The Last Days of Solitary

This is a really disturbing documentary by the BBC on the US prison system, in which solitary confinement has become widespread as a last resort for dealing with violent uncontrollable prisoners. But for centuries they’ve known it doesn’t work, and in many cases makes prisoners worse. It also costs a hell of a lot of … Continue reading

Ghosts of Wigan Pier

Ghosts of Wigan Pier

This is from the i paper by Dean Kirby. I was surprised to see the image of Orwell’s son. The 1930s seem so much further away than living history. Orwell is also important today with the rise in alternative readings of Britain’s colonial past.  When George Orwell was writing The Road to Wigan Pier – … Continue reading

Beyond Love

I’ve become a huge fan of Ira Glass’s ‘This American Life’ podcast, especially since it provides a welcome antidote to all the bad news coming out of the states recently. Last week i stumbled upon one of the strangest stories ever, in the episode ‘Grand Gestures’ which challenges so many aspects of what we are … Continue reading

Relics,Witches & Ships in Bottles

Relics,Witches & Ships in Bottles

What happened to objects when Henry VIII closed the monasteries? This is an area of history that is often ignored or the subject of guesswork, especially in England where there was so much destruction of religious artefacts at the long drawn-out Reformation. But here’s some thoughts. Every church that conducted masses had to have a … Continue reading