Thursday, 19 November 2009

Things I learned this week

First I can start with something I didn’t learn this week but earlier in the year. It just happened to come up this week and I was reminded of it. Spesh told me in the Spring about the word twitten a local dialect word. I stored the knowledge away with a view to doing an entry on my Word blog at some stage but hey presto it appeared on the quiz Eggheads . The question was ‘Twitten is a Sussex word for what – an alley, a field, or a river?'. Jumping up and down I shouted ‘I know this – it’s an alley!” Not that there was any point in shouting there was no one else in the house!

Also on Eggheads I learned that in 1921 the R38, the world’s largest airship of the time, came down in the Humber estuary with a great loss of life. I had never heard of that disaster or even of the R38. As disasters go it was overtaken in history by the Hindenberg and the R101. The R38 disaster took place at approximately 17.00 on the 24th August during a test flight as it took a tight turn over the Humber near Hull. Eyewitness reports confirmed that the ship seemed to crumple along the mid section and then the front section broke. It detonated in two explosions killing 44 crew. The tail section tilted and fell towards the Humber estuary. Five members of the crew in the tail section were saved from the tail wreckage which had not caught fire.

Another thing I learned this week is that you can go off people! Thierry Henry is a footballer I have admired for a long time. Henry is a striker who plays for Barcelona but who made his name while playing for Arsenal in the Premiership. He also plays for France and it was in that role that he let himself down last night. He handled the ball in the box and as a result France scored a goal which out the Republic of Ireland out of the World Cup 2010. There are an awful lot of  Irish folk around the world who will be waking up this morning feeling very sad and very upset. I wonder how Thierry Henry felt when he woke up this morning – Guilty I hope!

I also learned that Mocha coffee came originally from Mocha, a port city on the Red Sea coast of Yemen. What I don’t know is what Mocha coffee tastes like – it’s one of those I have never had.

Another useless piece of information was that the first curry house in the UK was opened by one Sake Dean Mahomed, a captain in the British East India Company, who settled in London in 1810.

Even more interesting - to me – was the origin of Birmingham’s anchor on the British silver and gold hallmark. The 18th-century “Brummie” entrepreneur Matthew Boulton, fought for an assay office to give the city's burgeoning silver industry a fighting chance. At that time the nearest Assay offices were Chester and London, and sending items to Chester to be hallmarked was a logistical nightmare. Boulton and a number of the city's leading industrialists joined forces with Sheffield's silversmiths to lobby Parliament, calling them to establish an Assay Office in both Birmingham and Sheffield. The Birmingham and Sheffield Assay Offices were founded by an Act of Parliament in 1773.

And the reason that Birmingham chose an anchor and Sheffield chose a crown... In their meetings to discuss the matter the representatives of the two cities had met in a pub called the Crown and Anchor!.


  1. John, you are on top form. All new information to be stacked away in my ever decreasing number of grey cells.
    Dam brave sending gold and silver to Chester, a touch too close to Liverpool.

  2. Interesting. I don't think any information is useless if you're learning something. It doesn't have to be profound.

    I have never heard of the R38 either, But I do remember learning about the hindenburg.

  3. You are amazing! What a way for me to start the day. Thanks.

  4. Wow, what a week you had!
    Loved the last paragraph!!!

  5. Yes, you are on top form. Hope you can remember all that. I love the last bit - when did life become so complicated?

  6. I was brought up near Hull and had never heard the story about the airship breaking up in the Humber estuary. You learn something new every day!

  7. Well. Well. Well. The things one learns. I was wondering what use they'd have. None for me probably. But you got a really good posting out of them. What an opportunist!


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