Edward Lear died #OnThisDay in 1888

Edward Lear

Artist, illustrator, musician, author and poet, Edward Lear died on 29th January 1888.

Edward Lear is probably now best known for his literary nonsense in poetry and prose and especially his limericks.

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!’

There was a Young Lady of Hull,
Who was chased by a virulent bull;
But she seized on a spade,
And called out, ‘Who’s afraid?’
Which distracted that virulent bull.

There was an Old Person of Ewell,
Who chiefly subsisted on gruel;
But to make it more nice
He inserted some mice,
Which refreshed that Old Person of Ewell.

There was an Old Person of Dover,
Who rushed through a field of blue Clover;
But some very large bees,
Stung his nose and his knees,
So he very soon went back to Dover.

There was a Young Lady whose bonnet,
Came untied when the birds sat upon it;
But she said: ‘I don’t care!
All the birds in the air
Are welcome to sit on my bonnet!’

And of course, The Owl and The Pussycat.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat…

They dined on mince, and slices of quince
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon.

The Owl and the Pussycat
image credit: Edward Lear [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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You might also like On This Day in 1828 Franz Schubert died. #OnThisDay
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Long running musical opened on Broadway #OnThisDay in 1964

Hello, Dolly!

On January 16th 1964, the musical “Hello, Dolly!” opened on Broadway beginning a run of 2,844 performances.

The show has become one of the most enduring musical theatre hits, with four Broadway revivals and international success. It was also made into the 1969 film Hello Dolly! that was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and won three.

The film clip below appears to be someone’s holiday cine-film of a trip to New York in 1966.

So a couple of years into the Hello Dolly! run.

It’s an amazing bit of film and the cinematographer certainly had an eye for a good shot.

No connection to Hello, Dolly! but a great film clip!

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You might also like The longest running British stage play opened in London #OnThisDay in 1952.


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Born #OnThisDay in 1904 – photographer Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton

 Fashion photographer

Portrait photographer

image credit: Cecil Beaton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

War photographer

image credit: Cecil Beaton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons



Interior designer

Academy Award–winning stage and costume designer for films and the theatre.

Sir Cecil Walter Hardy Beaton CBE

14 January 1904 – 18 January 1980

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You might also like Celebrate the birth of Hermione Gingold #OnThisDay in 1897


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Celebrate 5 amazing people born #OnThisDay


What a great day January 8th is for celebrating the birth of these amazing people.

1. Born on January 8th 1947

in Brixton, London.

David Bowie
image credit: By AVRO (Beeld En Geluid Wiki – Gallerie: Toppop 1974) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Born on January 8th 1942

in Oxford.

Stephen Hawking
image credit: By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

3. Born on January 8th 1937

in Tiger Bay, Cardiff.

Shirley Bassey
image credit: By Nyctc7 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

4. Born on January 8th 1924

in Tottenham, London.

Ron Moody
image credit: By London School of Economics [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

5. Born on January 8th 1935

in Tupelo, Mississippi, USA.

Elvis Presley
image credit: By User:Eranb (from he:Image:Elvis statue diner 1.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks for reading my blog today.

I’m sure you recognised all five.

You might also like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was released #OnThisDay in 1982.


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Amy Johnson died #OnThisDay in 1941

Amy Johnson

Aged only twenty seven years, Amy Johnson became a celebrity after her exciting solo flight to Australia in 1930.

When Amy landed at Port Darwin she was described as looking sunburnt and tired but smiling. Wearing khaki shorts and a green sun helmet she was soon flying on to Sidney. From Sidney, Amy flew to Brisbane where she had a mishap on descent as her plane side-slipped, struck a fence and crashed.

Amy’s flight to Australia was only the first of many other record breaking flights she undertook both alone and with her flying partner, Jim Mollison.

And the crash in Brisbane was only one of many reports about Amy to be printed in the newspapers.

On one occasion an admirer pushed through the crowds who’d turned out to greet Amy and stole a kiss from her. Immediately Amy slapped the man’s face and gave him a bloody nose.

Another kiss that achieved notoriety occurred when Amy landed at Achikawa aerodrome in Japan after completing her record breaking flight from London to Tokyo via Moscow and Siberia. She was embraced enthusiastically by General Gaishi Nagaoka the man with reputedly the longest moustache in the world and the newspapers had a field day.

Amy Johnson was born in Hull and her fish-merchant-ship-broking family supported her through university and into her flying career. Amy gained her pilot’s licence in 1929.

Amy was married to Jim Mollinson in 1932 but they divorced after a few years. Amy’s attempts to work in commercial flying didn’t lead to much but on the outbreak of WW2 she signed up for the Air Transport Auxiliary. The work involved flying aircraft for the Royal Air Force from one base to another.

It was on one such flight on January 5th 1941 that Amy crash landed into the Thames Estuary and was killed.

Because of the terrible weather conditions, Amy had been advised against flying that day but had bravely said she’d take the aircraft above the clouds and could manage.

The plane had sufficient fuel for four and three quarter hours flying. It was reported that exactly at that time from her departure Amy was seen bailing out of her plane over the sea.

Her scheduled flight was supposed to have been entirely within Oxfordshire so there was some speculation as to how Amy had ended up so far off course over the Thames estuary.

Attempts were made to rescue Amy to no avail.

In the process a naval officer, Lt – Commander Fletcher, also lost his life in a valiant attempt to save her.

Amy’s body was never found and subsequently there was some speculation that she became caught up in the propellers of the ship that was attempting her rescue.

As a member of the Air Transport Auxiliary with no known grave, Amy Johnson is commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede.

Amy Johnson
image credit: By liz west from Boxborough, MA (Amy Johnson, pilot) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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You might also like to read 5 websites about Ada Lovelace who died #OnThisDay in 1852.

or check out my book of the day at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/



Clement Attlee was born #OnThisDay in 1883

Clem Attlee

I know a lot more about the achievements of the 1945 Labour government than I do about Prime Minister Clem Attlee who was born on this day in 1883.

So I’ve downloaded the award winning biography “Citizen Clem” by John Bew.

I’ve heard Attlee described as “a sheep in sheep’s clothing” and thought this was attributed to Churchill but apparently it was Malcolm Muggeridge who coined the insult.

“Citizen Clem” was awarded the 2017 Orwell Prize for Political Writing and the 2017   Elizabeth Longford Prize for Political Biography. John Bew’s revelatory biography “shows Attlee not only as a hero of his age, but an emblem of it; and his life tells the story of how Britain changed over the twentieth century.” Sounds good, doesn’t it?

In this 1946 Pathe News clip, Attlee shares with the nation his vision of “We’re all in it together”.

I liked these Clem Attlee quotes from AZ Quotes

No social system will bring us happiness, health and prosperity unless it is inspired by something greater than materialism.

Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.

And there are lots more quotes here.

Clem Attlee retired as Labour leader and from the House of Commons in 1955. He was elevated to the peerage and took his seat in the House of Lords as Earl Attlee and Viscount Prestwood on 16 December 1955. Attlee died in 1967 and the title passed to his son, Martin Attlee. On Martin’s death in 1991, the title passed to his son, John Attlee. John took up his seat in the House of Lords in 1992 initially as a cross-bencher. Shortly before the general election of 1997 John Attlee joined the Conservative Party. He is one of the ninety elected hereditary peers that remain in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999.

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#OnThisDay in 1934 Maggie Smith was born.

happy birthday

Margaret Natalie Smith

was born in Ilford, Essex on 28 December 1934.

Now, eighty three years later, Maggie Smith is one of Britain’s most well known actors.

Appearing in over fifty films, innumerable TV productions and countless stage performances, Dame Maggie Smith has dominated British drama for six decades.

Maggie Smith first appeared on stage in 1952

in an Oxford Playhouse production of  Twelfth Night. Her first TV role in 1955 was an episode of the BBC Sunday Night Theatre and her first film role was as a party guest in Child in the House in 1956.

Fast forward and Maggie Smith’s most recent stage performance was in 2007:

The Lady from Dubuque by Edward Albee. Her most recent TV was Downton Abbey (2010 – 2015) as Lady Crawley and The Lady in The Van (2015) was her most recent film.

I enjoyed Maggie Smith’s Oscar winning performance in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1969.

By then Maggie Smith was a well established stage, TV and film actress with a formidable reputation.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was a fantastic film with a brilliant script based on the novel by Muriel Spark. Maggie Smith played the role brilliantly and the novel is still worth reading.

A few quotes:

For those who like that sort of thing,” said Miss Brodie in her best Edinburgh voice, “That is the sort of thing they like.

It is well, when in difficulties, to say never a word, neither black nor white. Speech is silver but silence is golden.

These years are still the years of my prime. It is important to recognise the years of one’s prime, always remember that.

I was about to start teacher training when I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and saw Maggie Smith in the film. This quote stayed with me during training and throughout my career.

To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul.

Maggie Smith continues to perform.

A TV documentary Nothing Like a Dame is in post-production. And Sherlock Gnomes, an animated film in which Maggie Smith is the voice of Lady Bluebury, the leader of the blue gnomes and Gnomeo’s widowed mother, is scheduled for release in 2018.

Happy Birthday Dame Maggie Smith!

happy birthday
image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/birthday-background-happy-937520/

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You might also like to read Celebrate the birth of Hermione Gingold #OnThisDay in 1897

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#OnThisDay in 1936 Thomas William Hicks was born #TommySteele

white bull

Thomas William Hicks

also known as

Tommy Steele

was born on this day in 1936.

Tommy Steele is reputed to be Britain’s first teen idol and rock-and-roll star.

In 1957 his rendition of “Singing the Blues” catapulted Tommy to the top of the hit parade.

Although the whistling in the accompaniment is really irritating!

One of Tommy’s jobs was as a merchant seaman. But whenever he wasn’t working he sang and played guitar or banjo in two coffee houses in Soho, the 2i’s Coffee Bar and the Cat’s Whisker. Sometimes Tommy performed solo and at other times with Wally Whyton’s Vipers Skiffle Group.

Tommy found fame as the frontman for The Steelmen

a rock and roll band whose first single, “Rock With the Caveman”, reached number 13 in the UK Singles Chart in 1956.

A few months later, Tommy was filming his life story.

With his musical collaborators, Lionel Bart and Mike Pratt, Tommy wrote twelve songs in seven days. “The Tommy Steele Story” dramatised Tommy’s meteoric rise to fame.

The story is that Tommy works as bellboy until he injures his spine doing judo. In hospital he is given a guitar to help with his therapy and he starts to play to entertain patients and staff. He works on an ocean liner, performing in his spare time, and gets a job playing in a coffee bar. He is popular with audiences and gets a recording contract.

“The Tommy Steele Story” was the 13th most popular film at the British box office in 1957.

Tommy was also voted the seventh most popular star in Britain for that year.

1959 saw the release of “Tommy the Toreador”

in which Tommy plays a sailor from Liverpool who disembarks in Spain and tries his hand at bull fighting.

We saw the film at The Regal Cinema in Wakefield, Yorkshire and loved every minute of it.

My sister and I were word perfect in every verse of “Little White Bull”, the song we liked best in the film.

Our copy of the record was the second 45 rpm we owned.

(The first was “Walking Back To Happiness” sung by Helen Shapiro.)

Tommy’s cringe-making live performance of “Little White Bull” on this Perry Como Show in 1966 is a long way from rock-and-roll!

Actually the B side of “Little White Bull” stands the test of time much better.

Happy 81st Birthday, Tommy.

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You might also like #OnThisDay Frank Sinatra Sings For You!

or to check out my Christmas Book of the Day at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com/


#OnThisDay Frank Sinatra Sings For You!

Frank Sinatra


in 1915

Francis Albert Sinatra

was born.

Of all the many Frank Sinatra Youtube videos, I think this is one of the best.

For You

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You might also like 3 Hamlet Songs you might not have heard before!

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