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Middlesborough Slagheaps

This is from a wonderful book At the Works, by Lady Bell, about the town of Middlesborough and its ironworks; she was a member of one of the Quaker families that ran the works and she spent a lot of time investigating the living conditions of the workers and their families. “The slag – the dross … Continue reading

PT Barnum’s Career Began This is an article from JSTOR, describing how the great showman’s career was launched by an elderly African American women who claimed to have been about 160 years old. After death she was anatomised and her age was dismissed, but as I reported elsewhere, in England there was a woman who was accepted as … Continue reading

Carrots not Sticks for Drinkers

Victorian towns and cities often had odd combinations of buildings in close proximity in city centres, with a gin palace, or pub facing and competing with a music hall and a church. They were openly in combination for the hearts and minds of working class people. The temperance movement was not just about opposing people … Continue reading

Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter

This is film is based on a recent-ish urban myth, based on the death in 2001 of a Japanese office worker allegedly found dead in Minnesota, having been in search of the treasure in the film Fargo. This was the subject of a documentary in 2003 called This is a True Story, the lines from … Continue reading


Of all the Friends alumni, Jeniffer Aniston is the one who seems to be most visibly trying to establish a career as a serious actor, and with this indie film in which she is in almost every scene, she may finally have made it. Though initially seen as a possible Oscar runner, the film is … Continue reading

Modern Revolutionaries

I have spent perhaps too much time wandering round old graveyards, but I love the rare discoveries of genuinely outstanding, apt, sometimes funny or thorugh provoking epitaphs. Here are two very different ones from recent times: “Rise like lions after slumber In unvanquishable number Shake your chains to earth like dew Which in sleep had … Continue reading

John Stewart Remembered

As a non tv owner for some time, I never saw a lot of John Stewart’s shows, but I loved what I saw. A smart, savvy honest, wise and incredibly funny man. He will be sorely missed, but I look forward to seeing what he gets up to next. I am guessing it will be … Continue reading