Sunday, 26 February 2012

Windsor Castle Fire 1992

Daily Mail dated Saturday November 21st 1992
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The fire at Windsor Castle broke out at about 11:30am on the 20th November, which happened to be the Queen’s 45th Wedding Anniversary.
It burned for 9 hours damaging or destroying 100 rooms and doing an estimated £40,000,000 worth of damage. Apparently the Queen didn’t have Home or Contents insurance so most of the money for restoration had to be raised from the entry charges to various Royal properties (i.e. from the Public). Oh yes, the Queen did bung £2,000,000 into the pot.

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European financial crisis? Wouldn’t happen these days.

The ERM (European Exchange Rate Mechanism) was a system introduced in March 1979 to reduce exchange rate variability and achieve monetary stability in Europe, in preparation for the single currency (the euro), which took place on 1 January 1999.

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An amazing looking aircraft, but, in the words of an old work colleague who flew in it a few times, ‘the noisiest and most uncomfortable plane I have ever been in’.

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An ATM is literally giving away money and there is 'a large, though orderly, queue'.  It could only happen in Britain!

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Yet another area of modern life that has passed me by but someone out there might find this advert interesting, amusing or nostalgic.

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If she had hung on another 7 years she would have been entitled to a minimum wage of £3.60 an hour, but she wouldn’t then be entitled to the bungalow – so it’s a case of swings and roundabouts.

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How about 20 years’ hard labour for anyone who phones you up and offers to sort out your miss-sold Payment Protection Insurance? Or 10 years on the treadmill for cyclists that ride on the pavement? Or the rack for that white van driver that’s so close to your bumper that his screen wipers clean your back window?

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It was the Betamax vs VHS video systems story all over again. In the end both DCC and Sony MiniDisc disappeared without trace because everyone went for CDs.

I’m not sure though what the refugee from a straight-to-video sci-fi movie on the right has to do with the story.

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This is a Sunday night’s offering.  Only 12 channels but still the same rubbish we now get spread across 100 channels. I like the way that the typesetter was so uninterested in the listing that when he ran out of space in the bottom right hand corner he just truncated the 1 o’clock programme title to ‘All-‘. I wonder what it was – ‘All-in wrestling’, ‘All-nude darts’, ‘All-night repeats of Last of the Summer Wine’?

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Whatever became of Ben Miller, not to mention his one-time comedy partner Alexander Armstrong?

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I can't work out if this is an advert for the RAC or for a car phone. 
The ET Car Phone… ET… get it?  “ET phone home” said in an extraterrestrial sort of voice. Please yourself.  Anyway, whatever became of car phones?






   












Sunday, 19 February 2012

Daily Mail first edition 1896

Daily Mail dated Monday 4th May 1896
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This is the first edition of the Daily Mail sold as ‘the penny daily for a half-pence’.  As was usual at this time the front cover was given over to small-ads. 
I like the Personal ad in column 2:  ‘Uncle Jim – Come home at once, all is forgiven. Bring the pawntickets with you – Niece.’  I wonder what sad story lies behind this, or could it be a coded message? 
I'm pleased to note that the Hotel Cecil is ‘fire-proof’.  I’m not sure that modern advertising rules would allow such a claim, unless the place was made entirely of asbestos.
I can’t wait to get my copy of ‘Narada Sutra: An inquiry into Love’ Translated from the Sanskrit by E T Sturdy.  I do hope it’s illustrated.

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Muswell Hill was a wealthy neighbourhood in 1896 and the 79 year old Henry Smith lived there alone in a large house. Rumour had it he was a wealthy miser.
Smith's body was discovered on the morning of 14 February, a few hours after his murder, by his gardener.  The police found that he had been bound with shreds of blankets and had sustained several head wounds.
Inquiries led to two men, Albert Milsom and Henry Fowler, and a police raid captured both of them in Bath. Milsom gave up meekly, but Fowler had to be beaten into submission.
Fowler and Milsom blamed each other for the killing and, during a recess in their Old Bailey trial, Fowler suddenly started throttling Milson. A number of policemen pulled the attacker off. They were both found guilty of the murder and sentenced to hang, but the authorities were afraid that Fowler might attack Milsom again, so it was decided to hang the two men with a third one between them.

A recent double murder had been committed in Whitechapel of a pawnbroker and his housekeeper by a burglar named William Seaman, who was also sentenced to hang. He was put between Milsom and Fowler on the gallows built at Newgate Prison on 9 June 1896. 

Actually it should have been a quadruple hanging on that day because Amelia Dyer the notorious baby farmer, who had been found guilty of murdering 3 children in Reading, was supposed to be hanged with them, but it was decided that her execution should be delayed until the following day.

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This is an editorial piece. 'The motor carriage will never replace the smart trotting pony...' - The Daily Mail as ever had its finger on the pulse of modern progress.
Why not re-introduce the 3mph speed limit? It would cut fatal accidents and save a fortune on fuel. 

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Not the first name I would have chosen.  ‘Dobbin's’, ‘GeeGee's’ or  ‘Tasty's’ but not ‘Krog's’, there again I don’t suppose the horse minded what it was called.

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No extractions required?  Were they offering a second set of teeth to go behind or in front of your existing set?

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This from Wikipedia’s entry for English cinema pioneer Robert W Paul – 
In 1896, R W Paul pioneered in the UK a system of projecting motion pictures onto a screen, using a self-developed ‘Maltese cross’ system. This coincided with the advent of the projection system devised by the Lumiere Brothers. After some demonstrations before scientific groups, he was asked to supply a projector and staff to the Alhambra Music Hall in Leicester Square, and he presented his first theatrical programme on 25 March 1896. This included films featuring cartoonist Tom Merry drawing caricatures of the German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II (1895), and Prince Bismarck (1895). Merry had previously performed his lightning-fast drawing as part of a music hall stage act. (The Lumieres were appearing on the bill at the Empire Music Hall, nearby.)

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By Gad, Sir, I don’t care what state the bloody Joanna’s in; if the Memsahib dips a soft rag in my alcohol, I’ll beat her on the wrong side and no mistake.  Pass the brandy!

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In last week’s post I admitted to not understanding cricket scoring.  This week I admit to further sport related ignorance.  The baseball entry seems fairly straightforward - 16 runs beat 13 runs – but the tennis lost me at ‘allowed 15 and bisque’, and as for the billiards, which I thought was like snooker with a top score of 147, I have to wonder how long do you would have to play to score 24,000 points?

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By Gad, Sir, (again), ‘Museum of instruments of stern discipline’ eh?  That reminds me I’ve got an appointment tonight with a damn fine... well… never you mind whom with.  Pass the scotch! 

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At first look I thought the advert was referring to cocaine, but that's from a different plant, this is just good old-fashioned caffeine. And lots of it.  The extract of the Kola Nut is used these days in drinks such a Red Bull’s Simply Cola, so you know what to drink if you want to carry a 176lb bag of coffee for leagues.  And you don’t have to be an ‘old negro’.


















Sunday, 12 February 2012

U-2 Spy Plane Trial

Daily Express dated Thursday 18th August 1960
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On May 1, 1960 a United States U-2 spy plane was shot down over the airspace of the Soviet Union.
The United States government at first denied the plane's purpose was to spy on Russia, but was forced to admit its true role when the Soviet government produced its intact remains and surviving pilot, Francis Gary Powers, as well as photos of military bases taken by Powers.
A couple of weeks later the Paris Summit meeting between president Dwight Eisenhower (USA), Nikita Khrushchev (USSR), Harold Macmillan (UK) and Charles de Gaulle (France) collapsed, mainly because Eisenhower refused to apologize to Khrushchev for the incident. The Russian leader left the talks in a huff.

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At his trial Powers pleaded guilty and was convicted of espionage on August 19th. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment and seven years hard labour. He served one year and nine months of the sentence when, on February 10, 1962, he was exchanged for the Russian spy known as Rudolf Abel who had been arrested in 1957 and was serving a 45 year sentence.

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Formerly a member of the Nazi party, a commissioned Sturmbannf├╝hrer of the paramilitary SS and decorated Nazi war hero, Werner von Braun was responsible for the deadly V-2 long-range rocket during World War II. 
After the war, he and some of his team of scientists were spirited away to the United States as part of the then secret, and highly controversial, Operation Paperclip.

Von Braun worked for the US Army and later  NASA, under which he served as director of the newly formed Marshall Space Flight Centre and as the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle that propelled the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon.  He died in 1977.

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1960 was the year my parents first had a TV.  I was 14 and had been brought up listening to the radio, and, looking at the programmes on offer on the Home and Light services, I imagine the TV was a Godsend.  Two TV programmes I would definitely have watched that evening were ‘The Adventures of Hiram Holliday’ a comedy starring Wally Cox, and ‘No Hiding Place’ a Scotland Yard crime show starring Raymond Francis.  I also note ITV at 4:15 was showing the series ‘Ivanhoe’ which starred someone called Roger Moore.

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So this was what he was doing before he came up with Lord of the Dance etc.
I like the idea that the clothes drier not only dries and airs clothes but also ‘dries the pots’ and ‘warms the room’.  What more could you ask for and just 1 penny under £6 (or a week’s wages for many people).

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I can remember when we only ate chicken at Christmas but can’t remember when eggs came without shells. Maybe that was before my time. 

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That’s 9 week’s wages and no HD!

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This is before the James Bond films started which may explain why Bond looks more like Bill Haley (with his ‘kiss-curl’) than Sean Connery.  I assume the villain is the eponymous Dr No.

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Anyone who has followed this blog will realise that I know nothing about football. I can now reveal that I know even less (if that’s possible) about cricket. I don’t even understand the scoring, so this chart might as well be in Chinese.  Someone might find it interesting though.

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The book “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by D H Lawrence was originally published in 1928 in Italy but banned in the UK.  It tells of Lady Chatterley's passionate affair with Mellors, the family gamekeeper, and details their erotic meetings.
In 1959 the UK Government introduced the Obscene Publications Act that said that any book considered obscene by some people, but that could be shown to have "redeeming social merit", might still be published.
In 1960 the publishers Penguin printed and stored 200,000 copies, sending 12 copies to the Director of Public Prosecutions and challenging him to prosecute. He did.
The six-day trial at the Old Bailey began on 27 October. The defence produced 35 witnesses, and the prosecution was unable to make a substantial case against the novel.
Famously the prosecution counsel Mervyn Griffith-Jones shocked the jury by asking: "Is it a book you would wish your wife or servants to read?"  It goes unrecorded whether he prefixed this question with “By Gad, Sir...”
The jury returned a verdict of ‘not guilty’ and the book went on sale officially on the 10th November 1960 amid a great deal of publicity.


The 12 books sold in August in Nottingham must have come from the 200000 copies stockpiled by Penguin pending the trial. If the buyers had some proof that the books were bought when they were, I reckon they’d be worth a bit on E-bay by now.





















Monday, 6 February 2012

Sorry yet again

No post again this week I'm afraid.  Will try to resume normal service next Sunday (12th February)