28-09-1066-norman-invasion-of-england-rec
WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR LANDS AT PEVENSEY 28 SEPTEMBER 1066 On one of the most dramatic days of English history, William, Duke of Normandy, lands his invasion fleet at Pevensey. His c. 10,000 men would go on to defeat Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings.  

On this day in 1066 | William the Conqueror lands in England


25-09-2016-freakonomics-is-the-us-presidency-becoming-a-dictatorship
Freakonomics is topical and provocative with this week’s episode asking ‘Has the U.S. Presidency Become a Dictatorship?’ In the hot seat is legal scholar and University of Chicago Professor Eric A Posner. Professor Posner argues that whilst the US is not a dictatorship in the way that we’ve come to […]

Freakonomics | Has the U.S. Presidency Become a Dictatorship?


danse_macabre_by_michael_wolgemut
The Black Death was one of history’s most destructive and transformative disasters. Was it caused by an intentional act of biological warfare?   A modern-day plague The United States was under attack. In New York City, the twin towers of the World Trade Centre had been destroyed. In Washington D.C., […]

The most spectacular incident of biological warfare?  



Jeannette_Rankin_portrait rec
“In a clear, steady voice, Rankin voted “No,”. The packed House Chamber erupted with boos and jeers. President Roosevelt had just addressed the joint session of the 77th United States Congress. The 82 Senators present came together with 389 Representatives on the floor of the House. They had joined to […]

Would you give peace a chance? Congress’s lone world war pacifist  


DH.89 Dragon Rapide (G-AEML) at Kemble Airport Open Day, Gloucestershire, England, 9th September 2007. Built in 1936. Photographed by Adrian Pingstone and placed in the public domain.
Just after 7am on 11 July 1936, Captain Cecil Bebb prepared his plane for take-off. At quarter past seven, Captain Bebb, along with his navigator Major Hugh Pollard and two female friends, launched into the air from London’s Croydon Airport. Bebb’s de Havilland Dragon Rapide biplane headed south by southwest. His flight would […]

The Englishman who started the Spanish Civil War


British Airship R101
Scores of people died when the airship burst into flames. It crashed into the ground just over 50 miles away from one of the world’s most important cities. Its demise marked the end of a national programme of airship construction and the death of an imperial dream. But this is […]

A dream that burst into flames – the British Hindenburg disaster



Raining cats and dogs and buckets and barrels and knives and forks and frogs and old women and trolls and pipes and rope
How close are we to the universal translators that pepper science fiction? Will Google Translate be the technological equivalent of Douglas Adams’s babel fish? For simple sentences, the service works well. Google Translate can even master complicated documents or, at least, provide enough to make sense of the text. One […]

Whipping the cat and lining your eyes with ham – idioms lost ...


Trebuchet in Castelnaud, France by Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be
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 […]

Warwolf – King Edward’s secret weapon to hammer the Scots


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

Framing the question – history’s lessons for winning and losing referenda