Filed under oral history

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

Wassailing Exotically

Wassailing Exotically

Here’s a gem from the V&A museum, a wassail set, but not for country yokels! This is made of lignum vitae, an expensive hardwood from the West Indies, and ivory.   

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

Censorship in Charleston 1787

Censorship in Charleston 1787

In Shakespeare’s time, travelling players were considered akin to rogues and vagabonds so needed the protection and patronage of a noble to survive. In 1727 England passed the Chamberlain’s Act requiring theatres to be licensed to perform plays, to prevent the vicious satires against prime minister Robert Walpole. Life for travelling players was also hard … Continue reading

Words and Image of a Nobody

Words and Image of a Nobody

There are a lot of images from our history that suggest there was some heavy drug taking happening – disproportioned people, strange animals etc. These are often accepted as elements of folklore but there may have been a more straightforward explanation, as a mans of insulting the rich and powerful without getting arrested. This was … Continue reading

Glass House

Glass House

There are lots of artists and craftspeople out there trying to sell their wares at fairs and markets, especially in the run-up to Christmas.  I get a bit jaded with all the seasonal stuff. But sometimes I stumble upon something genuinely original. Take a look at this piece of glasswork. It’s beautifully designed, and in … Continue reading

Second Person Pronouns

Atlas Obscura is a great source of obscure information, though often flawed by lack of research, but here’s an article that got me thinking. http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/yall-youuns-yinz-youse-how-regional-dialects-are-fixing-standard-english?utm_source=Atlas+Obscura+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=76063a5aad-Newsletter_10_17_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f36db9c480-76063a5aad-63056749&ct=t(Newsletter_10_17_2016)&mc_cid=76063a5aad&mc_eid=377570eee9 For all its history and variety, English has no plural form of the second person pronoun. Unlike other European languages, it also has no polite/informal forms. AO find the latter … Continue reading

Crime and Punishment in Elizabethan England

This is some more from a German physician’s journal, Thomas Platter’s Travels in England 1599 Especially every quarter when the law courts sit in London and they throng from all parts of England for the terms … to litigate in numerous maters which have occurred in the interim, for everything is saved up till that … Continue reading