Saturday 16 May 2015

17th May

120 years ago today in 1895, William Gilbert (usually referred to as WG) Grace completed  his 100th hundred for Gloucestershire when playing against near neighbours Somerset at Bristol.

Widely considered to be one of the greatest players to ever play the game, WG Grace played first class cricket for a record equalling 44 seasons where he excelled as a batsman, bowler and fielder.

As a young man he was also a 440 yard champion hurdler and also played football for The Wanderers FC. In later years he also took up golf, bowls and even curling.

 Some rare footage of the great man

When reaching his milestone of centuries, his batting partner, Charlie Townsend, said that as he approached his hundred: "This was the one and only time I ever saw him flustered..." Eventually Australian Sammy Woods bowled a full toss which Grace drove to the boundary for four, to reach his century.

Aged 46 at the start of the season, WG went on to celebrate what became known as his “Indian Summer” scoring well over 2000 runs with 9 centuries.

Other birthdays and anniversaries today include:

Former Liberal Democrat MP, voted out at the recent election, Simon Hughes (64)

Irish singer and songwriter Enya (54) ---->

2 years since US R&B singer Donna Summer passed away after suffering lung cancer.

Friday 15 May 2015

16th May

Today is the 79th birthday of British TV and radio stalwart Roy Hudd.

Roy Hudd was born on this day in 1936 in Croydon, Surrey. His early jobs included being a messenger, a window dresser and a commercial artist. In the summer of 1958 he took up the position as a redcoat at Butlins, Clacton alongside none other than Cliff Richard.

He is considered nowadays as an authority on Music Hall entertainment and has written many books on the subject. 

 In 1983 he received the Lawrence Olivier Theatre Award for “Best Actor in a Musical” for his portrayal of Bud Flanagan in the stage blockbuster Underneath the Arches. It is believed that Flanagan actually considered Hudd to be the ideal choice to play the role in any dramatisation of his life.

Roy is also remembered for playing the part of funeral director Archie Shuttleworth in the ITV soap Coronation Street.

Other birthdays today include:

Former Remington Steele and James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan (62)

USSR gymnast Olga Korbut (60)

Singer and sister of Michael, Janet Jackson (49) --->

Thursday 14 May 2015

15th May

After yesterday’s journey down into the depths of the 15th and 17th centuries, today we return a little nearer to the present day.

Today in 1981, George Harrison released in the UK, the single All Those Years Ago (released 4 days earlier on in the US, on 11th May). The track was a personal tribute to his former Beatles band mate John Lennon, following his murder in New York the previous December

The lyrics to All Those Years Ago were tailored by Harrison after the music for the track had been previously recorded for a Ringo Starr album, but was never used. 

The recording fittingly featured Ringo on drums as well as Paul McCartney, who overdubbed backing vocals onto the basic track (along with Linda McCartney and Denny Laine of Wings).

The single reached No.2 on the American Billboard 100 and No.13 in the UK charts.

George sadly passed away in November 2001 aged 58, from lung cancer.

RIP George and John.

A selection of today’s other anniversaries:

Guitarist and songwriter from Australia’s Little River Band, Graham Goble (68)

Former Dutch footballer and current Ajax manager Frank de Boer (45)

<--- Country singer and wife of Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash (aged 73), died on this day in 2003 after complications following heart surgery.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

14th May

Charles VIII

I thought it was time we had an anniversary from way back in time and just like London buses, 3 come along all at once

Today in 1483 saw the coronation of King Charles VIII of France. Styled as Charles L’Affable, he ascended to the throne at the age of 13 and up until he reached the age of 21, his older sister Anne and her husband Peter II, Duke of Bourbon, acted as regents.

Henri IV

Moving on to 1610, this day saw the assassination of Henri IV, bringing Louis XIII to the throne. Henri was greatly loved by his subjects, but that didn’t stop 3 separate attempts being made on his life. 

He was finally stabbed to death by a catholic fanatic, François Ravaillac, on the Rue de la Ferronnerie. He was succeeded by his son Louis XIII who at the time was just short of his 9th birthday.

Louis XIII
Louis went by the name of Louis the Chaste, and there is no evidence that he ever kept mistresses as was common in ruling classes of the period. Indeed it is believed that he may well have been homosexual or at least bi-sexual, as he seemed more than close to his many male courtiers.

Louis XIV
He reigned for exactly 33 years to the day, when again on this 14th May, he died of tuberculosis. He was succeeded by his 4 year old infant son, Louis XIV who has the distinction of being the longest ever ruling monarch in European history, going on to rule for 72 years. He eventually died of gangrene, aged 76, in September 1715.

Birthdays today include:

<--- English actress Francesca Annis, currently starring in ITV’s new Sunday night drama Home Fires (70)

Almost forgotten British soap actress and singer Martine McCutcheon (39)

English footballer, now plying his trade in Montreal, Nigel Reo-Coker (30) – you put yer right foot in, left foot out, you do the oke cokey and you turn around. That’s what it’s all about!!

Tuesday 12 May 2015

13th May


Today we wish the nation of Ecuador a very happy birthday. On this day in 1830, she separated from South American liberator Simón Bolívar's, “Republic of Gran Colombia”, becoming an independent state in her own right.

de Sucre
Independence from Spain was gained 8 years earlier on 24th May 1822 (which is now celebrated as Independence Day), when Antonio José de Sucre defeated the Spanish royalist forces at the Battle of Pichincha. This secured the independence of the Spanish colonial administrative area of Quito, from where the republic of Ecuador would arise.

Other 13th May birthdays include:

Inventor of the wind-up radio, Trevor Baylis (78) --->

Harry Potter and My Family actress and daughter of film director Sam, Zoë Wanamaker (66)

Newsreader, former BBC Breakfast Time presenter and latter day mohair mogul, Selina Scott (64)

Monday 11 May 2015

12th May

125 years ago today, on 12th May 1890, the first official cricket County Championship match got underway at Bristol, where Gloucestershire took on Yorkshire.

For many years, it was thought that the competition had started in 1873; indeed, a special commemorative stamp was issued by the Post Office in 1973. But it was not formally organised until 1890 when 8 counties contested the competition, namely Gloucestershire, Kent, Lancashire, Middlesex, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Sussex and Yorkshire.

County champions that first year were Surrey, who also held on to their title for the following 2 seasons. Back at Bristol, Yorkshire took the spoils in the opening fixture by 8 wickets, with their aggressive all-rounder George Ulyett scoring the first century in the competition.

Other notable anniversaries/birthdays


The most famous nurse of all, Florence Nightingale was born on this day in 1820. She died in 1910, aged 90 --->

One of the funniest men ever, Tony Hancock was born in Birmingham on this day in 1924 (listed as 1925 in other places)

Eddie Fisher
<--- In 1959, actress Elizabeth Taylor married for the 4th time, to American entertainer and singer Eddie Fisher.

The birthday of English comedian, actress and writer Catherine Tate (47)

Sunday 10 May 2015

11th May

Eichmann in 1942

55 years ago today, Nazi Lieutenant Colonel and one of the organisers of the holocaust, Adolf Eichmann was captured in Argentina.

Many Jews along with Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal dedicated themselves to hunting down the likes of Eichmann and other notorious Nazi absconders after the 2nd World War. Wiesenthal had learned from a letter shown to him in 1953 that Eichmann had been spotted and was living under a false identity in Buenos Aires.  

Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal
Around the same time in the Argentine capital, German half-Jew Lothar Hermann, who had moved to the South American country shortly before the war, started to become suspicious when his daughter began dating a man called Klaus Eichmann, who boasted about his father’s exploits during the war. In 1957 this information was received by the Mossad (the Israeli Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations) who undertook surveillance, but found no concrete evidence as to his identity.

Eichmann on trial 1961
In 1960 the Israeli Security Service (similar to MI5 or the FBI) sent their chief interrogator to Buenos Aires who, within 2 weeks, was able to confirm Eichmann’s identity. But with the continued Argentine reluctance to extradite War criminals, the Israeli government made the outrageous decision to capture the Nazi fugitive and take him to Israel to stand trial.

In early May 1960, an 8 man team of agents captured Eichmann close to his home in the suburb of San Fernando, 12 miles north of Buenos Aires. Held for 9 days in secret, he was sedated and smuggled out of the country.

After being put on trial, Eichmann was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging. On 31st May 1962, he was executed in Ramle prison.

 Hitler's Henchmen - Adolf Eichmann

Saturday 9 May 2015

10th May

On 10th May 1986 "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco went to No.1 on the UK pop charts.

Johann (Hans) Hölzel, whose stage name was Falco, was an Austrian pop star/rapper who had numerous international hits throughout his career, but this was the only time he ever reached the summit of the UK (or indeed the US) chart.  

"Rock Me Amadeus" became a No.1 hit in over a dozen countries and it helped him to become the biggest selling Austrian singer of all time.

Sadly Falco is no longer with us. He met his maker in February 1998, shortly before his 41st birthday, when his Mitsubishi was involved in a collision with a bus in the Dominican Republic. The bus driver was convicted of speeding and served a 3 year sentence in prison.

Famous birthdays:

Today would have been Sid Vicious’ 58th birthday. Born in 1957, the Sex Pistols’ bassist died at age 21 from a drug related incident --->

Stand-up comedian Al Murray (also known as the Pub Landlord), who stood as an independent candidate in this weeks UK election gaining 318 votes (47)

Former Netherlands, Ajax and Arsenal football striker Dennis Bergkamp (46)

Friday 8 May 2015

9th May

On this day in 1949, Britain’s first launderette opened in London’s Queensway.

Known in different parts of the world as self service laundries, coin laundries or wash-a-terias (amongst other names), the launderette was a necessary utility for people who did not own a washing machine of their own. Sadly many have now closed down, due to the falling costs of home units and requirements of modern day living.

But in Headington, near to Oxford, did you know that a launderette was used as a polling station in Thursday’s General Election? Go along and cast your vote while getting a service wash at the same time. It could catch on!

Maybe this could be a storyline for EastEnders in 5 years time when we go to the polls again?

Today’s birthdays include:

<--- Actress and former Labour MP Glenda Jackson (79)

Singer/songwriter Billy Joel (66)

Inspiration of the Housemartins and the Beautiful South, Paul Heaton (53)

Thursday 7 May 2015

8th May

With today being the 70th anniversary of VE Day (WWII victory in Europe) and the TV likely to be awash with celebrations of this monumental date (and of course they’ll be going on and on and on…. about the General Election as well), I thought I’d look for something slightly different.

Restored London Trolleybus (pictured in 2014)
On this day in 1962, after a reasonably short existence it has to be said, London Trolleybuses went out of service. A trolleybus was a bus that drew its electricity from overhead wires.

The first fleet of 60 trolleybuses, operated by London United Tramways, started operating in May 1931 and went by the nickname of “Diddlers”. 

It wasn’t long before it was decided to replace all trams in the capital with “Diddlers” and by the outbreak of war, nearly all trams running north of the river had been replaced. However this was not the case in South London where 1100 trams were still in service.

In service

At the end of hostilities, it was decided to replace all remaining trams with diesel buses as opposed to trolleybuses, mainly because of their greater versatility. But there was still money being invested into the trolleybus network and in 1948 a new fleet of 77 vehicles took the place of the old “Diddlers”, along with a further 50 new vehicles that went into service in 1952.

In 1954 however it was announced that trolleybuses were to be gradually phased out in favour of diesel powered buses (such as the infamous Routemaster model) and in 1962 the last routes were converted, with much of the remaining fleet being sold off to Spain.

London’s Last Trolleybuses - Click HERE for a slideshow of the final month of trolleybus operation from the Fulwell depot.

Birthdays for today:

Stephen Furst
World Cup winner and former Republic of Ireland football manager Jack Charlton (80)

US singer/songwriter Toni Tennille, best remembered being one half of the duo Captain and Tennille (75)

US actor and director Stephen Furst – remembered from amongst others, TV’s St Elsewhere and Babylon 5 (60)

Wednesday 6 May 2015

7th May

On this day of the UK General Election, I was trying to find a political anniversary for this posting and I was successful, although not a British anniversary as such. 

Today is 20 years to the day that Jacques Chirac became the President of France.

Chirac was elected on a mandate of tax cuts, budgetary cutbacks and job enablement programmes, all which did little to help him in the early months of his legislation, with widespread industrial action, leading to a general strike. As you might say, the French were revolting – no change there then!

Today’s other bits and pieces:

Jimmy Ruffin
Eva Peron, Argentinian actress and First lady was born on this day in 1919. She died in 1952.

American soul singer Jimmy Ruffin was born today in 1936. He passed away in Las Vegas in 2014 aged 78.

At the age of 90, American actor/producer and highly decorated naval captain in World War II, Douglas Fairbanks Jr died on this day in 2000