Articles

Here are links to my most recent pieces of work at both Metro.co.uk and TheWeek.co.uk

It’s the birthday of time-travelling satellite navigation. Hang on, what?

Satellite navigationSatellite navigation has actually been around for a lot longer than you might think. 56 years in fact.

It’s the 30th birthday of the world’s first PC computer virus

BRAIN virus(And you’re technically still at risk today)

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie: how was Nato’s phonetic alphabet chosen?

article-headers-nato-alphabetAn older version began with Apples and Butter, while soldiers in the First World War preferred Ack and Beer

Bonfire Night: why do we focus on Guy Fawkes?

Bonfire NightHe was not alone and not even the leader of the conspiracy. So why do the 5th of November bonfire celebrations focus on him?

The Cuban Missile Crisis – how close to nuclear war did we get?

Cuban Missile CrisisA nuclear war between the US and USSR was narrowly averted after Khrushchev ‘blinked’

Five things you didn’t know about the Battle of Hastings

Battle of HastingsKing Harold didn’t die from an arrow in the eye, and four other curious facts.

When was cannabis made illegal?

CannabisDoctors were able to prescribe cannabis for medical uses in the UK until 1971.

Nasa turns 57: how did the US space agency start?

NASAThe National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics had been working on satellites before Nasa was created.

How the discovery of the Titanic’s wreck proved fiction wrong

TitanicThe discovery shattered years of myth, surmise and fiction about the lost luxury liner.

Fawlty Towers at 40: seven surprising facts about the perfect sitcom

Fawlty TowersJohn Cleese remembers producers sarcastically whispering about the pilot script in the BBC bar.

Windows nostalgia: how the operating system has evolved since 1985

MicrosoftA brief look at what made each version of the 30 year old operating system different.

Twitter turns nine – but will it survive another nine years?

Twitter birthdayOnce the hot start-up, is it now the next MySpace?

The Roswell incident: how ‘UFO sighting’ led to 68 years of conspiracy theories

RoswellAn incomplete account by the US government followed by the declassification of top secret files may have helped fuel interest in UFOs.

Wimbledon 2015: history of tennis at the All England Club

WimbledonThe tennis competition could very nearly have been called the Wimbledon sphairistike championship.

 

Below are links to some of my work at  UsVsTh3m/ Daily Mirror Online.

Witness how Salvador Dali really loved his sweets

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In the late 60s the Spanish surrealist advertised chocolate and even designed the Chupa Chups logo.

Inventor’s original patent for perforated toilet roll conclusively ends that ‘over or under’ argument forever

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Albany based inventor Seth Wheeler illustrated how the perforated paper should be used.

7 Monster Raving Loony Party policies which are now part of UK law

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The Official Monster Raving Loony party have been surprisingly successful.

Exactly 50 years ago Bob Dylan was stood in a London alleyway

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Subterranean Homesick Blues was a track released from the Bringing It All Back Home album in 1965.

How Dick Van Dyke became a surprising and professional CGI artist/ animator on Diagnosis Murder

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He has been playing around with computer animation since the days of the Amiga home computer.

Did Margaret Thatcher cover up both rape and underage sex by a cabinet minister? This 1984 play hints that she did

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An Honourable Trade was “inspired by a series of rumours/allegations going around at the time involving Leon Brittan and others.”

167 years ago, Niagara Falls simply ran out of water

article-headers-niagaraMade up of three individual falls, Niagara normally drops 168,000,000 litres of water a minute.

15 strange occasions when musicians appeared on TV as fictional versions of themselves

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Here’s the times singers and bands have broken fiction, by being all real inside it.

Doctor Who worked with Winston Churchill for real

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The third Doctor actually worked with him during the Second World War in real life.

Before the Second World War Nazi Germany had video phones. Yes. Really.

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Long before smartphones and Skype, Nazi Germany’s post office introduced a brand new way to make a phone call.

Coca-Cola’s secret formula: Can you make it at home?

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Flavouring for the drink includes nutmeg, coriander, vanilla and cinnamon.

The unknown VE Day trumpeter turns out to be one of the best known trumpeters of all time

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Back then Humphrey Lyttelton was just a soldier celebrating the end of the war.

That time a theme park ghost train mannequin turned out to be a REAL CORPSE

Laff in the DarkBank and train robber called Elmer McCurdy died in 1911 after a shoot out.

200 years ago today, the streets of London became rivers of BEER

BeerOn Monday 17th October, 1814, the contents of an entire brewery burst onto the streets of the capital!

The dystopian tech from Orwell’s 1984 is already in our homes and pockets

SurveillanceAlthough, unlike in 1984, the listening can be done automatically.

The classic British stereotype of an onion-carrying Frenchman is (sort of) true

Onion JohnnyFrench ‘Onion Johnnies’ – rural, onion-selling cyclists – really were a really common fixture up until the 1950s. But in the UK.

25 years ago Douglas Adams managed to predict almost everything the internet would become

Douglas AdamsIn 1990, he wrote and appeared in Hyperland, a “fantasy” documentary predicting the future of television.

Have you been good this year? Then the Catalan Christmas log will poo you out some gifts!

Catalan Christmas Poo(But you’ll have to be nice and feed it first)

Why did a county council get rid of one of Britain’s best street names?

Wibbly Wobbly LaneBecause you know what, we reckon that original name was pretty special.

Peaky Blinders: an actual violent gang, or just the 19th century slang equivalent of ‘chav’?

The real Peaky BlindersThere was a real gang active in Birmingham in the 1890s and 1900s. But they were mostly teenage thugs not a Sopranos style crime family.

How Wi-Fi was invented by 1940s movie star Hedy Lamarr

Hedy LamarrIn 1941, she co-invented the frequency-hopping radio transmission process which makes Wi-Fi possible.

How the Hollywood sign was saved… by Hugh Hefner… twice!

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“Hollywoodland” was intended as a temporary advert and was only supposed to last 18 months.

Meet the men who got gold medals in the most unlikely Olympic sport ever: town planning!

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You may not be aware of this but the Olympic Games weren’t always the preserve of just sporting endeavour.

Did you know that, until the 1960s, Boots the Chemist was also a library?

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Until the mid-60s Boots also ran libraries inside their shops.

Ouija Boards aren’t really supernatural, they were invented as a novelty board game in the 1800s

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What’s more, they were never really intended to be used in the way they are now.

Remember when George Formby’s wife Beryl told the architect of apartheid to piss off?

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On an official tour of South Africa in 1946 George and Beryl Formby refused to play venues which were racially segregated.

When Tony Robinson met John Wayne, and 11 other unlikely movie pairings

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Acting is a funny business; who you end up working with is entirely down to the suggestions of the casting director.

How to talk like a right CANT – the words we all stole from Elizabethan criminals

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What’s amazing is how much of that secret criminal language is now in everyday use.

Here’s what the stars of 1979 film ‘The Muppet Movie’ look like now!

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Let’s hope when we’re 36 years older we all look so well preserved.

25 times that Star Wars would have been improved with Withnail & I quotes

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May the booze be with you!

Londoners! Find your sitcom next door neighbour, with our London Sitcom Map!

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If you were in a sitcom, who would you live next door to?

Warner Bros released pre-filming publicity material showing Frank Sinatra as Dirty Harry

article-headers-dirty-harrySinatra was indeed originally cast in the film

Jaws was very nearly called “What’s That Noshing On My Leg?”

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Legend has it that Peter Benchley couldn’t think of a good name for the book.

Here’s what Twitter looked like in the 1930s

article-headers-1930s-twitterIn 1935, these fabulous machines started to pop up in stations around London

You can see lots more at the original author profile links at the UsVsTh3m site or at the UsVsTh3m section of the Daily Mirror Online.

I also did graphic work on games, including the board for Austerity! and logo/ background word for Wikity Blank.