Trebuchet in Castelnaud, France by Luc Viatour /

Warwolf and the hammering of the Scots

Stirling Castle is a striking, man made addition to an already formidable natural fortress. Sheer cliffs thrust up from the rolling Scottish Lowlands. The thick castle walls extend these solid quartz-dolerite foundations towards the sky. It is imposing and seems impregnable. It probably was, at least until Warwolf came to visit. In 1304, Stirling Castle was the last Scottish holdout to the English invasion. Edward I of England had lived up to […]

Hudson Bay

On This Day … in 1610  

On This Day in 1610, Henry Hudson sails into what would become known as Hudson’s Bay, Canada.  

Snippets square

Snippets – Which country shut down TV for July for summer holidays?

Until 1983, no television was broadcast in July in Iceland. It took until 1987 for broadcasts to be made on Thursdays on state broadcaster RÚV (European Journalism Centre); Drury Lane Theatre was destroyed six times by rioting in the turbulent 18th century (British Library); and Heroine was produced in the laboratories of Bayer. One story of how it got its name was that the head of Bayer’s research department based it on the German […]

Ballot used for Austrian referendum, 1938 See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Fixing the results  

On Sunday, Greeks will go to the polls to vote in a crucial referendum. The politics are fraught, the media is frenzied and accusations and recriminations are already flying. The ballot paper has attracted plenty of attention, both inside and outside of Greece. The question is detailed and, to eyes that are unaccustomed to non-Roman alphabets, impenetrable. Some commentators have pointed out that the ‘no’ option is given first. It made me […]

The Euro monument outside the ECB in Frankfurt, Germany By This photo (C) Lars Aronsson (Own work) [CC SA 1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The (sovereign) default option

Sovereign debt default was a lot more common when it was literally sovereigns defaulting. Kings liked money. They didn’t like paying it back. So, quite often, they didn’t. In the richest economies, default has become rare. One of the reasons the Greek financial crisis is dominating headlines and moving markets around the world is the rarity of a rich country failing to pay back the IMF. But back in the nineteenth century, […]

Coronation portrait of Edward VIII (Illustrated London News)

The coronation that never was

On 12 May 1937, Westminster Abbey rang with shouts acclaiming the new King-Emperor. In 1936, Britain had prepared for the coronation. Much of this effort was wasted when Edward VIII abdicated on 10 December 1936. Everyone had been getting ready for the coronation that never was.  The Coronation of a new King-Emperor promised a bonanza for British manufacturers. Factories that had been quiet during the darkest days of the Great Depression now hummed with […]

Election 2015 predictions

Election 2015 – predictions

So, that was that. Few pundits or pollsters showered themselves in glory. How did I do? Not very well! More Mystic Meg than Nostradamus. The Conservatives will win the most MPs, but will fall far short of a majority. The Conservatives did win the most MPs, but they also won a majority. The Conservatives will win 290 seats with a share of the vote above 34%. The Conservatives won 331 seats. Their 36.9% share […]