The Blog of Zakspade

 October 2016 Archive
Contact me

On This Day, October 31
Monday 31 October, 2016

It was on this day in 1992 that the Roman Catholic Church formally closed a 13-year investigation into the Church's condemnation of Galileo in 1633. The condemnation, which forced the astronomer and physicist to recant his discoveries, led to Galileo's house arrest for eight years before his death in 1642 at the age of 77.

In 1997 I wrote, and had published, a piece on Copernicus. To say it was rather irreverent would have been putting it mildly. Still, it appealed to the publication and suited their reputation and stance. I would quote bits from it on this Blog, but instead I will merely provide a link to it here so that those who are not easily offended can take a look for themselves. If you feel fluffy kittens should be ruling the world then you might prefer to not follow that link...

There is a very strong suggestion that certain authorities prefer to argue over who is right or wrong so that the person or persons they are in dispute with die before resolution can occur. An example would seem to the UK government’s actions surrounding health claims by ex-miners. Lawyers string out ‘negotiations’ so as to line their own pockets (legal fees) while ensuring the death of claimants before settlements are agreed.

Without doubt a vile and disgusting mode of conduct. I’m not sure the Roman Catholic Church got it right with Copernicus though. I think they over did it and left it too long.


On This Day, October 29
Saturday 29 October, 2016

It was 5 years ago today that DJ and TV presenter Jimmy Savile died, aged 84.

Why bother mentioning it?

Well, it is very interesting reading the reporting of his passing written at the time and comparing it to what is written about the man five years on.

Frankly I am astounded that it was only five years ago - it seems longer. Long enough, it seems, to allow enough time for all that has been written about the man to be printed.

So much so that I reckon I’ll end right now.


On This Day, October 27
Thursday 27 October, 2016

It was a frosty start to this day, 1991, Leiwen, Germany. I was setting off for Minheim nine miles away. My bicycle had taken me from Buckinghamshire to Trier, Germany in six days; a distance of around 450 miles.

By this time I had made plans to visit Poland from Germany instead of my original target of Turkey. On reflection I am glad I chose to alter my itinerary. There was the small matter outstanding of having to visit the Polish embassy in Köln for which I currently had two addresses. Köln was positioned adjacent to Bonn; the then seat of government in Germany just after Reunification, and it was too large and busy a place to be hunting for somewhere to fill out a form for an entry visa into Poland.

This was all before Poland joined the EU. Back then the place was crazier than I could have imagined before I got there. I guess that craziness was why I ended up living there.

In the end, my worries were unfounded. The Polish embassy was on a street corner with two entrances - hence the two addresses.

Back to today...

Despite the frosty start to the day, it ended up sunny and warm enough to enjoy a Sunday dinner cooked at an outside barbeque. The day was good, and my legs had not suffered from the journey, nor were they promising to play up on my way home having eaten a wonderfully prepared dinner.

Back ‘home’ at my base at Gran-Fassian weingut where I was employed as a grape-picker, I packed my bicycle away and headed out into town to hit a bar. Not only did I discover a barmaid who was tickled to be serving a real live Irishman (long story - don’t ask), I got to watch a German beer-pouring production line. It was so gassy that she had to part-pour glasses and top them up as they were ordered.

This day was seriously good, 25 years ago.


On This Day, October 25
Tuesday 25 October, 2016

George William Frederick became King George III of Great Britain and Ireland on this day in 1760.

The people of Great Britain rejoiced because for the first time in some 46 years they had a monarch whose first language was English rather than German. In fact, George I didn’t speak English and was buried in his homeland of Hanover - the place he was born. Okay, that is probably a little unfair as there is evidence that he did learn a little English towards the latter part of his reign.

George II, during his reign, tried to have Great Britain join the War of the Polish Succession on the side of the German states. In a way the man was probably ahead of his time because he wanted to impress his might over the Poles a full 206 years before Hitler. English was his second language and he has the distinction of being the last British monarch to not be born in Great Britain.

Good old George William Frederick was born in London, Great Britain. His first language was English and as a twist of delicious irony, he became King of Hanover in 1814 despite never having travelled there during his lifetime.

Sadly, due to King George’s decent into madness beginning around 1788, he was probably incapable of understanding that he had been appointed King of Hanover in 1814 nor that his wife died in 1818 - two years before his own death.

George III sired two kings of Great Britain: George IV and William IV. William came to the throne because the only child of George IV had died before he did, leaving him heirless when he died.

George III also provided Alan Bennett with material for his play The Madness of George III which he then adapted as the film The Madness of George. The change of name - dropping the III - was said to have come from the fear that US audiences would avoid seeing the film because they would want to see parts I and II first. An urban myth but I like it so I thought I’d include it here regardless.

George III lived for 81 years, 239 days and reigned for 59 years, 96 days. Only Victoria and Elizabeth II have since lived and reigned longer.

Incidentally, on this day in 2001, Windows XP was first available in retail form. Now that is true madness...


On This Day, October 24
Monday 24 October, 2016

Today is United Nations Day and it is celebrated every year.

I say, ‘celebrated’ but that might be too strong a word for what takes place.

Certainly some nations have become secure and pleased with the support they have received from the UN. Others are less enamoured by the decisions made by what they term a group of self-serving, navel-gazing, maladjusted, power-crazed, corrupt nations that supply representatives who make up the various council factions that make up what we see as the cute cuddly face of an organisation that promotes itself as an arbiter and bringer of peace.

That’s one view.

Another is that they have existed since 1945 during which time they have overseen some pretty hairy stuff.

The earliest record of a plan for a new world organization is to be found under the aegis of the US State Department in 1939. That was then, this is now; a time when said organisation is damning a US presidential candidate for their views because they are at serious odds with the principles of the UN.

Israel love the UN because they know that whenever the UN passes a resolution criticising anything they do, it won’t backed up by action or support. The only time the UN actually physically becomes involved in conflict, they have an uncanny knack for placing the sons and daughters in the line of fire of disparate factions who rarely hesitate to kill on the off chance it might further their own causes.

Indeed, the UN have overseen some really juicy massacres and genocides over the years. For all their bluster, they are rather inept when it comes to actually doing anything about the unrest to be found throughout the world.

Yes, today is United Nations Day and it is celebrated every year, but most certainly not by its victims.


On This Day, October 22
Saturday 22 October, 2016

In 1979, Disney World celebrated its 100 millionth visitor.

I want to know who they had counting.


On This Day, October 20
Thursday 20 October, 2016

Time is a funny ol’ thing.

When trawling through databases I uncovered that Burt Lancaster died this day, aged 80.

My first thought was that I had forgotten he had died. I enjoyed the film, Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) in which he starred as Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman).

I looked up when he died and nearly fell over the back of the sofa when I read he died in 1994. That is 22 years ago. I’m not old enough to remember anything from that long ago! Or am I?

Trying to put things into perspective, I calculate that I passed my motorcycle test over 20 years ago - 25 years, in fact. So I know I was on the road without L plates before he died.

Then it hits me - I passed my motorcycle test 35 years ago, not 25 years ago...

Now I feel old, but not as old as Burt was when he died.


On This Day, October 17
Monday 17 October, 2016

When the name Dunkirk is spoken, people usually think of the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force in late May/early June, 1940. That was somewhere in the region of 76 years ago, but as I am writing this in October, not really relevant to On This Day.

That said, Dunkirk is twinned with Middlesbrough and has been since April, 1976. Forty is a good round number, but alas April doesn’t let it qualify either.

In order to see how Dunkirk has made it into today’s On This Day Blog entry, you have to consider something much further back.

Back in the annals of history, Dunkirk once belonged to England.

Yes, I kid you not.

On this day in 1662, our Charles II of England sold his sovereign (our) rights to Dunkirk to his cousin Louis XIV of France.

Today we are talking about exiting the EU and scaremongers are going on about how disaster will strike us down as if we have not lost control over things already. We had already been disassociating ourselves from Europe some 354 years ago by disposing of Dunkirk.

Imagine how the world would be if Charlie hadn’t sold the family silver. We could have said oui to the French and had those in Calais intent on entering the UK, regardless of their actual rights under international law, set up camp in Dunkirk and left it at that. They’d still be on the European mainland and we would not have the French whinging and moaning about having them lowering the tone of the surrounding area.


On This Day, October 15
Saturday 15 October, 2016

It was 99 years ago that Mata Hari was executed by firing squad for spying for the Germans during WW1.

The safety of her conviction and subsequent execution was questioned for quite some time afterwards. Over 50 years later, official documents were unsealed in Germany that proved that she had been paid to spy for the Germans. However, documents released by MI5 in 2001 demonstrated that she was not the master spy she had been portrayed as and was certainly not guilty as charged.

The name Mata Hari conjures up images of subterfuge through sexual practices. When one becomes aware of her birth name: Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (7 August 1876), the story of her adoption of Mata Hari as a stage name, and then her dependence upon older patrons at a time when she was young and naive; the image pales somewhat.

She married Dutch Colonial Army Captain Rudolf MacLeod in Amsterdam on 11 July 1895 and lived with him in what was then the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). She was now Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod. No wonder she referred to herself as Mata Hari (literally ‘eye of the day/dawn’) when she wrote home to her relatives back in Holland.

Nowadays she would merely be fodder for the tabloids and the source of ‘kiss and tell’ stories; and possibly one of those nobody people who appear on our screens proclaiming a desire to get out of a jungle, or live in peace in a household of megalomaniacs. There are many out there who might reckon such ‘celebrities’ ought to be hauled in front of a firing squad, but unfortunately times have changed...


On This Day, October 13
Thursday 13 October, 2016

Oh to have a time machine!

H.G. Wells wrote a story about one, and Doctor Who has made a career out of travelling through the universe and time in a wooden box. And if I had one, I’d nip forward a few weeks and visit a weekend Lotto draw when there are no winners and make a record of the six numbers drawn.

So with time travelling in mind, what better than to write the Blog entry: On This Day, October 13, and refer to an event that took/takes place in the year 2324?

That’s right; I have jumped forward 308 years.

Had I decided to go backwards instead of forwards I would have been writing about the leap year of 1708 and remarking on the fact that as part of the War of the Spanish Succession British forces captured Lille after a two-month siege on 12 October. Although it is not quite On This Day; because the citadel continued to hold out for another six weeks, I thought it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

In fact, if we return to the year 2324, I think no one would criticise me over a single day - not when I reveal what the 2324 event on 13 October will turn/turns/turned out to be/is/was: this was/is/will be the day Beverly Howard was born. Beverly Howard who will attend/attends/attended Starfleet Academy (2342 to 2350) during which time she will marry/marries/married Jack Crusher and will qualify/qualifies/qualified as Doctor Beverly Crusher.

Yes, perhaps too much by way of food additives today, but as it is nearly Friday, who cares what happened on this day?


On This Day, October 11
Tuesday 11 October, 2016

It was this day in 1996 that the author of the Discworld series of novels died.

Well, that’s what I read when I looked it up. I checked a number of sources and they all said the same thing: Terry Patchett died Friday 11 October 1996 - twenty years ago to the day.

However, having confirmed the date, I was left confused. I’m currently reading his book, The Shepherd's Crown, his last Discworld novel that was published in August 2015. And I know that it was published after his death - five months after, in fact.

So I returned to my research and still it came up with 1996 as the year of his death. Oddly it also told me he was a Labour MP from 1983 until his death at 56 in 1996. Now I was mystified as I was always under the impression that Terry was 66 when he died. Indeed, it came as a surprise to learn he was leading a double life; both writing a hugely series of novels, while at the same time serving his country as an MP in Parliament.

Terry’s first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic was published in 1983. Given how successful the series became, I’m surprised he stayed an MP for so long.

Then the relevance of the importance of a single letter became apparent. Allow me to illustrate: you are reading The Blog of Zakspade. You may enjoy it, or you may not. Unless you tell me, I can’t be sure. However, if you were reading The Bog of Zakspade then I feel pretty sure it would not appeal.

Terry Patchett died Friday 11 October, 1996.

Terry Pratchett died Thursday 12 March, 2015.

It is a good job I’m not employed to write for one of the national tabloids - they might have offered me promotion and a pay rise had I not noticed...


On This Day, October 9
Sunday 9 October, 2016

On any given day, what is the chance of being struck by a meteorite? Depending on what you take as your starting point, a figure of one in 20 trillion isn’t hard to calculate. To put that into perspective, it is nearly half as likely as tossing a coin and it landing the same way up 43 times in a row.

So I am going to suppose that it is not very likely.

Tell that to eighteen-year-old Michelle Knapp, Peekskill, New York state. There she was, minding her own business at home when a conflagration outside caused her to go and investigate.

She had just laid out $300 on a red 1980 Chevrolet Malibu. This was 9 October, 1992, so it was not an insubstantial amount. Imagine her surprise upon seeing her car after a meteorite had fallen to earth through the boot of her newly purchased vehicle and embedded itself in the drive beneath it.

I’m going to further suppose that Michelle would have been rather scathing in her dismissal of those odds as she surveyed the mess that was once her pride and joy. That is until she sold the car to a collector for $10,000 and the remains of the meteorite for $69,000.

Keep watching the skies. Dodge the meteorites and go pick up the bits that just miss you and you could end up being a fair bit better off.


On This Day, October 7
Friday 7 October, 2016

The far side of the moon was seen for the first time this day in 1959.

Music buffs out there will no doubt be screaming that Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd was not released in 1959 but 1973. And so it was - 1 March, 1973 to be precise. But they referred to the dark side of the moon whereas the subject of this Blog entry today is the far side of the moon.

In other news for the same date, Southend Pier suffered a blaze that trapped hundreds of holiday makers who probably would have preferred to have seen the far side of the moon but were unable to do so through the thick black smoke that had enveloped them and the pier.

In a strange twist, Syd Barrett, founder of Pink Floyd, was 13¾ years old when Luna 3 photographed the far side of the moon and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13¾ was published on this very day in 1982.

The world is a fearsomely coincidental place when it wants to be...


On This Day, October 5
Wednesday 5 October, 2016

The first ever Beatles single, Love Me Do, was released in the UK on Friday 5 October, 1962. It didn’t rocket to the Number One slot in the British singles chart, instead reaching Number 17, but greater things were to come.

It has to be said that today is remarkably quiet in terms of notable events over the years, unless one is into severely obscure trivia and the like. However, I will leave that all behind and move on to something completely different.

The comedy series, Monty Python’s Flying Circus was first aired by the BBC on Sunday 5 October, 1969.


On This Day, October 3
Monday 3 October, 2016

Walking into town this morning I saw a socially backward moron driving a blue hatchback.

What made me think he was thus challenged? Maybe it was the way he tried to reach 80mph along Stanbridge Road into town and the way he made his tyres squeal as he barely managed the right hander into South Street and drove flat out up that narrow road.

If members of the public had taken his number and reported him, the likelihood that he would have been prosecuted for speeding and reckless driving would have been zero. Basically he got away with murder.

It put me in mind of this day back in 1995. The American football player-turned-actor, Orenthal James Simpson (O.J. Simpson), was acquitted of the 1994 murders of his ex-wife and her friend, Ronald Goldman. O.J. was later sued in a civil court and in 1997 deemed responsible for their deaths. He found himself with a $33.5 million judgement against him.

So in a way, O.J. Simpson didn’t really get away with murder. However, if he had run them down while driving a tricked-up blue hatchback, instead of stabbing them, maybe he would have...


On This Day, October 1
Saturday 1 October, 2016

After being smacked about the head by the word ‘mansplaining’ for my last Blog title, this month ought to be a little easier (I hope). The titles ought to be self explanatory, so onwards!

In 1957 the Asian flu vaccine was made available to the British public.

It was a nasty little devil; the number of deaths attributed to it, worldwide, was around 100,000 with over 3,500 of them being in Britain. However, it was nothing compared to the 1918-1920 influenza pandemic known as Spanish flu which claimed 40 million lives.

Over the years since the outbreak, the world had changed. Sure, technology has advanced to such a degree, things we take for granted such as laptops, tablets, mobile phones; would have been seen as a form of magic back in 1957.

But that isn’t the change I am thinking of at this time. The 1968 Hong Kong flu was responsible for 700,000 lives. Again, the changes in the world since then are major. Can anyone think of the biggest change to occur?

What was the last major outbreak of flu known as? That would have been the swine flu outbreak of 2009-2010. Previously in 2007 and 2009 there were a number of cases of avian flu (sometimes known as bird flu), but that didn’t register as a pandemic. It merely made itself known in newspaper reporting by hysterical journalists driven mad by their editors screaming for something to scare the living daylights out of their readership.

Has the Big Change been spotted?

Political Correctness is an insidious beast. It might snap and growl at those who it considers to have been guilty of not following its teachings, but how it really takes effect is by scaring everyone into not wanting to be seen as ignorant.

Earlier pandemics were labelled in a non-PC way: Spanish, Asian, Hong Kong. Modern pandemics (or wannabes) attract much more PC labels: swine, avian/bird.

Because Political Correctness now has everyone afraid to transgress what it has established as acceptable, bad things can no longer be linked with race, creed or nationality in any manner. Pigs are unlikely to complain. Birds prefer to tweet melodically as opposed to ranting over the internet about their very existence being debased by people with an obvious agenda...


I still smile when I recall years ago a little pro-Welsh organisation decrying the use of the verb welch when referring to reneging on a deal or debt. They claimed it was demeaning to Welsh people. Naturally, being Welsh and appearing to have English as their second language, they didn’t spot the spelling.

No doubt the PC Brigade will take umbrage at this Blog. They will probably denounce it as harmful to unborn babies or threatening to fluffy kittens.

Me? I’ll stay away from people with colds and make sure I pay my debts.