Filed under 20th century history

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

St Kilda’s Diet

St Kilda’s Diet

St Kilda is one of the most isolated places in the British Isles, an archipelago in the Outer Hebrides whose final human inhabitants left in 1930. It is now home to 600,000 nesting birds each year. This is from the i paper of 29 December: A 250-year-old census has revealed that islanders on St Kilda… … Continue reading

Containing What?

Containing What?

Here’s an ad for a range of diet noodles etc that seem to be on sale everywhere. Obesity is a huge problem, and anything that helps should be a good thing, but I don’t understand what this food product is. It claims to have no sugar, fat, gluten or carbohydrate, so what does it contain? … Continue reading

Shrunken Heads

I have seen a number of these, especially the collection in Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum, but though vaguely aware they served some ritual function, never really pursued what they were about. No images are included as it is not possible to photogrph such human remains. This is from the i paper, by Frank Cottrell-Boyce: The … Continue reading