Friday 20th May - Explorer Vasco da Gama arrived at Kozhikode, establishing a sea route to India, 1498. Anatomist Hieronymus Fabricius born, 1537. Poet John Clare died, 1864. Krakatoa began its cataclysmic eruption, 1883. Singer-songwriter and actress Cher born, 1946. Sculptor Barbara Hepworth died, 1975. World Metrology Day. World Bee Day. Saturday 21st May - Explorer Hernando de Soto died, 1542. Mineralogist William Babington born, 1756. Derby School was granted a royal charter by Queen Mary I of England, 1554. Paleontologist Mary Anning born, 1799. Despite Harold Camping's prediction, Judgement Day and the rapture failed to occur, 2011. Singer-songwriter Twinkle died, 2015. International Tea Day. Sunday 22nd May - Roman emperor Constantine the Great died, 337. The Wars of the Roses began with the First Battle of St Albans, 1455. Martha Washington, 1st First Lady of the United States, died, 1802. Cartoonist and creator of Tintin Hergé born, 1907. Lassen Peak in northern California erupted, 1915. Photographer and human rights activist Barbara May Cameron born, 1954. World Goth Day. Monday 23rd May - Burgundian troops captured Joan of Arc at the Siege of Compiègne, 1430. Pirate William Kidd was executed, 1701. Botanist Carl Linnaeus born, 1707. Cyrill Demian was granted a patent for the accordion, 1829. Actress Joan Collins born, 1933. Criminal Bonnie Parker was killed alongside Clyde Barrow in an ambush by law enforcement officers, 1934. World Turtle Day. Tuesday 24th May - Roman general Germanicus born, 15 BCE. Astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus died, 1543. The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford opened, 1683. Actress and director Mai Zetterling born, 1925. The first Eurovision Song Contest was held in Lugano, Switzerland, 1956. Author Tanith Lee died, 2015. Wednesday 25th May - Halley's Comet made its first recorded perihelion passage, 240 BCE. King Charles II of England landed at Dover, beginning the Restoration of the British monarchy, 1660. Writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton born, 1803. Archer Eliza Pollock died, 1919. Model and actress Molly Sims born, 1973. George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer, 2020. Geek Pride Day. Towel Day. Thursday 26th May - Diarist Samuel Pepys died, 1703. Actuary and physicist William Morgan born, 1750. Napoléon Bonaparte was crowned King of Italy in Milan, 1805. Photographer Dorothea Lange born, 1895. The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released, 1967. Holocaust survivor and human rights activist Hedy Epstein died, 2016.
^ THE WISDOM OF...
This week, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, in Paul Clifford [frequently acknowledged as one of the worst opening sentences in English literature]:It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents - except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
^ FILM QUIZ
A selection of quotations from films released in the same year. Answers next issue or from the regular address.
Last issue's quotations were from films released in 1976:
- Moths and all sorts of ugly creatures hover about a lighted candle. Can the candle help it?
- Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.
- - Sir, may I bring you up to date? We are living in the 20th century, not in the 18th.
- May I bring you up to date, sir? We are not alive at all.
- If I'm not good enough to marry, I'm not good enough to kiss.
- Odds, bodkins, and copper pots!
- Television is not the truth. Television is a goddamned amusement park.
- Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man.
-- Taxi Driver
- Pimples are the Lord's way of chastising you.
- There are no heroes anymore, Bishop. Just men who follow orders.
-- Assault on Precinct 13
- Capricorn 15s. Born 2244. Enter the Carousel. This is the time of renewal.
-- Logan's Run
^ WEIRD WORLD NEWS
Strange stories from around the world, some of which might be true...
- A Reddit user with a pet monitoring camera that can also deliver treats when remotely ordered has posted a viral video of his cat trying to break into the device to get more treats. ● Baby giraffe Msitune was born at San Diego Zoo with a limb disorder that prevented her from walking properly so keepers devised custom leg braces and she is now enjoying life with her herd. ● A 16-year-old pet cornsnake who slithered under the floorboards of its Manchester home was presumed dead by the time his owner moved house, but six months later he reappeared and the new tenants posted his picture to Facebook which his owner saw and raced round to reclaim him. ● A Limousin bull called Rambo has been sold at auction for a world record price of 180,000 guineas (£189,000; $234,800). ● A Tennessee couple who share their bed with their three large dogs woke up recently to find a fourth dog stretched out across the matress. They posted pictures of her online and Nala was soon reunited with her owners. She had apparently got away while on a walk and squeezed through a loose door to find somewere shltered and warm to avoid a thunderstorm. Nala's owner posted on Facebook "Our overly friendly pup, Nala, has hit an all time record for ignoring personal space and added yet another trick to her long list of Houdini acts. Shame [on] Nala for somehow breaking into a stranger's house and invading their personal space. Thankfully the couple thought it was hilarious and they aren't even mad about it."
- The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration which produced the first direct image of a black hole - at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy - in 2019 have now imaged the supermassive black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, at the centre of our galaxy. The black hole is four million times the mass of the Sun and roughly as big as the orbit of Mercury. It is 26,000 light years away and to create the image, as with that of the M87 black hole, the EHT used radio telescopes across several continents to mimic a telescope the size of the Earth. ● The Chinese Zhurong Mars rover has found evidence of minerals on the red planet suggesting it might have had liquid water 700 million years ago, hundreds of millions of years more recently than previous studies suggested. ● NASA's Curiousity Mars rover has photographed what appears at first glance to be a rectangular doorway, but is more likely the result of natural stress fractures from seismic activity. ● The Perseverence rover has completed the first part of its mission on Mars, reaching the mineral-rich delta of what was once a river flowing into a lake. It will now examine rocks in the delta and collect samples to be retrieved by a future mission. ● A team of scientists has grown plants in lunar soil, collected during the Apollo missions, for the first time, although after six days' growth the plants became stunted. Growing plants in lunar soil will be critical to long-duration manned missions to the Moon and the proposed Lunar Gateway space station. ● Astronomers have witnessed a white dwarf star exploding for the first time.
- After St Albans resident Jim Robson died his family discovered a large marzipan model of E.T. that his daughter had bought him for father's day in 1982. A fan of the film, Robson had kept the confection intact. The director of the bakery that made it was amazed to see it 40 years after it was sold but said he "wouldn't recommend eating it." E.T. is going to be kept safe in the family. ● In 2012 a massive 5,000-year-old preserved oak trunk was found buried in a Norfolk field. Rather than chopping it into pieces it was decided to cut planks from it to make a table. It took ten years, including building a custom saw table and steamer big enough to take the planks, but now a 43'- (13m)-long table with folding side flaps, capable of seating 50 people, has gone on display at Ely Cathedral. It is dedicated to the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. ● A rare £100 note issued in Palestine in 1927 during the British Mandate, which was found in a box of goods donated to an Oxfam shop has sold at auction for £140,000 ($174,000). ● Workers digging a field in the Outer Hebrides to lay new water pipes have unearthed a medieval site, including postholes, pits, stone features, pottery and fish and animal bones. The site has been initially dated to the period between the 14th and 16th centuries, in the middle of which the ancestral lands on the Orkneys were seized by the king of Scotland. ● The ship's compass used by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on his 1968/9 round-the-world non-stop solo voyage has been handed in to Holyhead Maritime Museum 50 years after it was stolen from his yacht, Suhaili. The woman who returned it told staff that her late husband had stolen it just after Knox-Johnston completed his groundbreaking trip. The museum will display it - safely under glass - before returning it to Knox-Johnston. ● The largest white diamond ever auctioned, a 228.31-carat gemstone known as "The Rock" has sold at auction in Switzerland for 21,681,000 CHF (£17.6m ;$21.9m), a little over two thirds of its estimated value. ● A large Jolly Roger pirate flag made from scraps of material aboard the World War II submarine HMS Unbroken has been sold at auction for £13,000 ($16,150). The flag features bars, stars, cannon and daggers to records the sub's kills.
- The 29-year-old manager of an Arby's fast food restaurant in Vancouver, Washington State, whose phone was being searched by police as part of a child pornography investigation is also now accused of urinating into a bag of the chain's milkshake mix after a video was found on the phone. He told officers that he thought he had thrown the bag away afterwards. ● A cyclist has been arrested after failing to stop for police who found him pedalling along the M3 motorway. He was charged with causing danger to road users and suspected possession of Class A drugs. ● Italian police have arrested a man who "made a wrong turn" and ended up driving his hired Maserati down the Trinita dei Monti staircase (also known as the Spanish Steps). Charged with aggravated damage to cultural and monumental assets the man was arrested as he tried to return the car [We suspect he might also have to pay for repairs to the car... -Ed]. ● A woman has been fined after Scottish police using an unmarked HGV cab filmed her eating from a bowl of cereal while driving over the Queensferry Crossing towards Edinburgh. ● Don Chitwood, a police chief in Calvin, Oklahoma, has been arrested for buying, using and selling methamphetamine.
- Scientists at MIT have found a cheap way to convert methane into carbon dioxide (CO2) using readily-available materials. They found that adding copper to Zeolite clay and heating the mixture will convert methane passed through it. Although CO2 is the best-known greenhouse gas its warming effect is about 1/30th that of methane, which is produced from landfills, venting and leaks from fossil fuel plants and, most famously, belching cattle. Zeolite clay is best known as a material in non-clumping cat litter. ● The January eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano has been confirmed as the biggest atmospheric explosion recorded on modern instrumentation, bigger than any atom bomb tests or 20th Century volcanic eruption. It was heard as far afield as Alaska, 6,200 miles (10,000km) away.
- Last issue it was American tourists trying to take a live munition shell through an Israeli airport. A couple conducting a weekly clean-up along a stretch of the River Nidd in Knaresborough earlier this week found what they thought was a mud-covered gas canister, and drove the half mile (0.8km) home with it on the back seat of their car, going over several speed bumps on the way. After "scraping the gunk" off it they realised it was no canister, but a live bomb which was frothing and bubbling. They carefully wrapped it in sandbags, placed it away from buildings and called the authorities. Their home and 30 others were evacuated and a 328' (100m) cordon established as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team removed and safely destroyed it. The bomb, dated to World War One, is thought to have been dislodged during recent floods. ● A Russian man, who picked up a hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher from a battlefield in Ukraine was not quite so lucky. He drove home with the launcher in the boot of his car, at which point it exploded, destroying the rear end of the vehicle and injuring the man and a friend. The man, reported as being a retired army major carrying humanitarian aid to the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine, had previously brought back a grenade to sell.
IN BRIEF: Authorities in Aberystwyth, Wales, have removed a humorous memorial plaque that someone had fixed to a public bench overlooking the sea. It read "In loving memory of Huw Davies. Used to sit here and shout at the seagulls". Seagulls have become notorious around Britain's coastline for trying to steal food. ● A driver who failed to move his car following a request to clear vehicles from a street due to be resurfaced near Darlington railway station returned to find fresh asphalt covering the entire road except for the area around and under their car. ● Identical twin sisters have given birth to their first children, both sons, in the same Anaheim, California, hospital, within hours of each other. ● An elderly couple in India are suing their son and daughter-in-law for failing to provide them with a grandchild. ● The aptly-named Kenton Cool, 48, has completed a record 16 summit climbs of Mount Everest. In 1996 he had been told he would never walk again after shattering both heel bones in a climbing accident. ● Richard Scott, 51, from Kinross, has broken the world endurance record for using a swing. ● A passenger with no experience of flying an aircraft was successfully talked through landing a single-engine plane after the pilot suffered a medical emergency. A flight instructor was hastily summoned to the control tower and guided the man through the process. ● When a Florida driver fell ill her car was left drifting in neutral towards a busy intersection until passers-by ran to stop it. ● The Royal Mail has been testing using drones to deliver post to remote Scottish islands and the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall. They hope to get approval from the Civil Aviation Authority to fly a fleet of 500 mail drones in the next few years. ● A British employment tribunal has ruled that calling a man bald is considered sexual harassment. ● Vogue magazine publisher Condé Nast has apologised to a pub owner after writing to demand that he change the name of his pub, The Star Inn at Vogue, in a village near Redruth. He had written back pointing out that the village of Vogue has existed for 200 years and the pub for at least 150, although he had only recently renamed it to reflect the village's name. He also pointed out that Madonna had not sought the village's or magazine's permission for her 1990 song, either. Condé Nast acknowledged that "further research by our team would have identified that we did not need to send such a letter on this occasion" and sent the residents of Vogue "best wishes for a happy summer".
CORONAVIRUS ROUND-UP: A 24-year-old Japanese man who was accidentally given a 46.3m yen (£287,000; $357,400) COVID relief fund payout which was intended to be divided between 463 people has told a court that he cannot repay it as he has gambled it away. ● North Korea has announced its first confirmed cases of COVID-19, although it is thought that the virus has been rampant across the country despite closing its borders at the start of the epidemic. Offers of vaccines to the country had been declined. A major outbreak across a mostly unvaccinated population would be a disaster for North Korea and increase the chances of new mutations developing.
UKRAINE: Organisers of last weekend's Eurovision Song Contest have confirmed that they defeated an attempt to disrupt voting in both the first semi-final, in which Ukraine took part, and the final, which Ukraine won. The distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack tried to flood the vote tallying computer systems with data requests to stop them from working. It was traced to the pro-Russian Killnet hacker group. Jury voting by six countries in the second semi-final also showed "irregular voting patterns" and was replaced by an aggregated result, and jury voting results from Azerbaijan, Romania and Georgia in the final were read out by a Eurovision official rather than the usual national representatives.
UPDATES: The American Federal Aviation Authority has revoked the licenses of the two pilots who made a failed unauthorised attempt to swap planes at 12,000' (3,660m) by skydiving between them. ● The public Congressional hearing into unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs) was told that the Pentagon's new UAP Task Force has amassed around 400 reports, but "we have detected no emanations within the UAP Task Force that would suggest it's anything non-terrestrial in origin", according to Scott Bray, deputy director of US naval intelligence. Bray attributed the increase in sightings in recent years to the growing popularity of drones and quadcopters, better sensor technology, the increasing use of mylar balloons for scientific research and a decrease in the stigma attached to reporting sightings.
TV screenwriter Kay Mellor (Band of Gold, Fat Friends, The Syndicate, 71), Sheikh Kalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Abu Dhabi [both since 2004], 73), actor Fred Ward (Tremors, The Right Stuff, Escape From Alcatraz, 79), producer Phillip M. Goldfarb (Taxi Driver, L.A. Law, The Last Detail, 82), singer Rosmarie Trapp (The von Trapp Family, had an uncredited cameo in The Sound of Music  alongside her mother and brother Werner, 93).
^ DUMBLEDORE BEAR'S LOTTERY PREDICTOR!
Dumbledore Bear, our in-house psychic predicts that the following numbers will be lucky:5, 12, 14, 25, 36, 55[UK National Lottery, number range 1-59]
You can get your very own prediction at http://www.simonlamont.co.uk/tfir/dumbledore.htm.
^ AND FINALLY...
Little Jennifer's grandmother was staying with the family because she had been ill and needed bed rest. When Little Jennifer's mother took her daughter in to say goodnight Little Jennifer was staring at her grandmother's false teeth in a glass of water beside the bed. "What is it, Little Jennifer? Those are just my teeth," her grandmother said.
Little Jennifer looked at the teeth, looked in awe at her grandmother and looked up at her mother. "Mummy," she said, "the tooth fairy will never believe this!"
^ ...end of line