Archive for the ‘History’ Category

I have never forgotten an extraordinary documentary I saw on television some years ago about a woman whose life was irrevocably changed when she uncovered some information about her past of which she had previously been unaware. She had been raised in a Welsh Presbytarian family and had happily lived her life within that religious […]


He was the most adored singer of his time, his vocal brilliance bringing him fame and wealth beyond comparison. Before the age of 10, Carlo ‘Farinelli’ Broschi (1705-1782) had joined countless other young boys subjected to that barbaric snip that kept their voices high-pitched, pure, and flexible. As women were barred from taking part in […]


Last Monday, I learned something that I had not known before. I learned it – believe it or not – while visiting a shed on a remote island, almost 1000km north of London in the North Sea.  The shed belonged to an artist living on the island of Bressay, eight minutes or so across the […]


It’s official: I have reached middle age. Kind of.  I say “kind of” because medical diagnoses on the internet are about as reliable as expecting a London bus to arrive on time. Yet, according to http://www.livingto100.com‘s Life Expectancy Calculator – which uses “the most current and carefully researched medical and scientific data” to estimate how […]


For the past three weeks, I have taken up residency on the side of a mountain. Such a statement might evoke in the mind the image of a mendicant curled up on makeshift bedding in a cave, set amidst a barren rockface devoid of vegetation bar a scattering of scrubby thickets. You might envisage him crouching […]


On Wednesday 14 May 2008, six members of the informal administrative committee that attended to the basic needs of Iran’s Bahá’í community, were taken from their homes in an early morning sweep ominously similar to episodes in the 1980s when scores of Iranian Bahá’ís were rounded up and killed. A seventh member of the group had […]


  I wonder if you know about whom I would be talking if I were to mention Hierocles and Philagrius. Their names, I suspect, give it away. Greeks of a certain antiquity? Correct. But what did they do? Here’s a multiple choice set of answers. Did they: a) Heroically fling down their lives in a […]