John McCrae is remembered for what is probably the best known and most popular of all First World War poetry.  It is believed that he was so moved by the death of his friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmet, who had been killed by a shell burst, and inspired by the profusion of wild poppies he could […]

Patrick Barron “Paddy” Hopkirk is a former rally driver from Northern Ireland.  He was born in Belfast and educated in County Kildare from 1945–1949 before attending Trinity College, Dublin until 1953.  He was awarded the MBE Honour in the 2016 New Year’s Honour’s list. I recently re-discovered some of my notes about Paddy that brought […]

I am sorry this is a day late – I should have posted it yesterday but I forgot!! In 1960 Penguin Books wanted to publish a particular novel but when they tried to publish it in a new, uncut, version, an attempt was made to prosecute them for obscenity.  In the trial the Jurors were […]

My most recent version of Chamber’s Book of Days [2004] tells us that: This is All-Hallows Eve, better known as Hallowe’en, when witches fly abroad and ghosts, fairies, evil spirits and other supernatural beings are at their most active.  The traditional beliefs and practices of Hallowe’en may be connected in origin with the rituals performed […]

  The origin of the festival is disputed, and there are both pagan and Christian practices that have evolved into what Hallowe’en is like today.  Some believe it originates from the Celtic pagan festival of Samhain, meaning ‘Summer’s End’ which celebrated the end of the harvest season. Gaels believed that it was a time when […]

Available through many sources, and one of the many books on my book shelves, is ‘The Diaries of Captain John Mansel, Prisoner of War and Camp Forger, in Germany, 1940-45’.  I’ve just picked up a short piece that he recorded on Wednesday 29th October 1941 during his stay at a typical POW camp: Lunch is […]

It was Tuesday 27th October 1939 that Mrs Wallis Simpson, an American socialite, received divorce papers ending her marriage to Ernest Simpson. This was part of a chain of events that changed the course of history in Great Britain. Wallis Simpson was having an affair with King Edward VIII and the relationship made him very […]