The story of the hero policeman who sniffed out trouble to save the lives of his neighbours.

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When the nose knows, you’d better take notice; that was certainly the case for Police Constable Nick Shaw in the wee hours of the 9th of January, 1987. It was because of this policeman’s sense of smell and quick thinking that the worst ever disaster to befall a locale of Gloucestershire, UK, was narrowly avoided.

…a queer, muffled popping noise which he described later as the sound of “neighbours falling out of bed.”

It had just gone 3am and along Wickwar village’s long, wide thoroughfare, with its fine houses which line it, all was still save the prowling of a cat or two among the shadows cast by the streetlighting. And it was almost silent, as one would expect… save for an unusual hissing noise. …

My experience of the Czechs and Prague after 5 years as an expat.

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The Czech Republic

First of all, it is not ‘Czechia’, let’s clear that up straight away. A name concocted by the Western hemisphere, and used by Google Map last time I checked, yet rejected by most Czechs themselves. The idea was to give brand Czech Republic a new name that rolls off the tongue, and, indeed, it does. If you have ‘Slovakia’ why not ‘Czechia’? …

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Assuming you’re a Briton, American or another native English speaker (NES), imagine you are holding a video conference with half a dozen proficient non-native English speakers (NNES), say some departmental managers of a manufacturing firm in Spain. Because the meeting is in English would you assume that you are the easiest to understand in the ‘room’? If so, you’d be wrong. I’ll explain why and ways you can help your international business contacts avoid misunderstandings which could cost you or your employer dearly.

“Ever been in a meeting where every NNES seems to nod and smile to what you are saying but looks blank, anxious or uncomfortable?” …

The little known story of the two English nobles who fought the last ever private battle on English soil.

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Throughout the long, often tumultuous history of Great Britain much of it has passed the simple, rural folk of one quiet corner of it. In the year 1470, a traveller might set out from London and head due west.

Days of travel first by riverboat along the Thames, then on horseback along ancient forest byways. On and on they would go until the traveller came to a halt at the banks of the River Severn. A mighty river miles wide at this point, on the far side, lived the Welsh of which the Severn had served as a bulwark against ages past. …

There are quite a few towns behind the names of famous… ‘stuff’. (the soon-to-be-renamed) Asbestos in Canada or Balaklava in Ukraine are two examples. Some of these quirky towns really are the centre of the universe for fans of the ‘thing’ and, in this article, we find out about five of these towns, the connections they have and what makes them so worth discovering.

Rugby, UK

It was during a game of football being played at Rugby School in 1823 that a schoolboy named William Webb Ellis, being the cheeky scamp that he was, caught a lofted ball and decided to run with it instead of letting the ball hit the deck as he should have. …

In this comedic piece we take a look at some of Amazon’s most hilarious, kick-ass product reviews.

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Amazon, that Aladdin’s Cave; it’s like a Santa’s grotto of goodies for all ages, selling over 12 million different products and eliminating yet another reason to change out of our pyjama bottoms to leave the house.

Amazon have been guilty of soiling the retail industry by peddling pointless, frivolous or FAD items like books, shoes or healthcare products. They’ve also put on the market arguably some of the greatest inventions and fantastic value for money items of the 21st Century.

Here, we’re going to take a look at some of Amazon’s niftiest merchandise and what makes them so high demand by looking at the product reviews. …

Continuing on from Part 9 this completes my epic compilation of oddball hidden gems from history.

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Here, I present the last of my queer compilation of tales, exposed like some discovered ancient ruins until then hidden in the overgrowth of history. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them!

When the Queen of England Met a Pirate Queen, 1593

In the 16th Century, whilst Ireland’s eastern coastline was controlled by the English, its hinterland to the west was frontier country. On the wild Atlantic coast, where great rollers pounded the raw, verdant coastline, the Uí Mháille noble family held sway over the pasturelands there and surrounding seas. …

Continuing on from Part 8 here are five more oddball hidden gems from history which you’ll be able to bedazzle your friends and relatives with.

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Drunken Aviator Lands in City Centre, 1956

Bulky sedans rumbled sedately along the right-angled streets, and haggard creatures of the night here and there passed under the patchy street lighting past rows of rectilinear brownstone tenements. It was the witching hour on St Nics Avenue in New York City’s heart. Of course in the city that never sleeps life still stirred, and it was about to get a serious wake up call.

Jimmy was wiping down the bar waiting for the last of his patrons to stumble out after a long night. The edge of his lips curled up with a wry smile; earlier that night one of his favourite patrons, a gung-ho flyboy named Thomas ‘Fitz’ Fitzpatrick made a bet that he could fly from New Jersey to New York City in 15 minutes. “I’ll land out there to prove it, how ‘bout that?” slurred Fitz. “OK ya crazy, drunken Irishman” laughed Jimmy “Hold my beer then.” And, with a leery grin Fitzpatrick plodded out the door. …

A light-hearted look at what European club football might look like in the not-too-distant future.

It’s no exaggeration to declare that European football is the apex of the world’s beautiful game. It has the globe’s best players and coaching staff and draws in a mindbogglingly huge global audience to both UEFA’s flagship Champions League and its best domestic leagues.

Yet, at the world gets smaller, there are growing calls for a new ‘Super League’ for the continent’s biggest clubs to fight it out.

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There’s a lot of clubs in Europe with big budgets, fanbases and trophy rooms but are trapped in leagues which cant challenge them, and that is no good for keeping fans captivated or attracting new ones. More and more choose to follow UEFA’s top 3/4 leagues and the playing/coaching talent is following them. …

Continuing on from Part 7 here are five more oddball hidden gems from history which you’ll be able to bedazzle your friends and relatives with.

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The Aristocrat Who Painted the Town Red, 1837

One day in spring 1837 at the Thorpe End tollgate in the fine old English market town of Melton Mowbray, with its half timbered Tudor townhouses and bustling square, a tollgate keeper lay a wary eye on an approaching party of men.

The scene was at odds with itself. Their veneer of clean, tailored clothing, fine riding boots, well groomed moustaches and strong jawlines made the tollkeeper conscious for a moment of his own grubby stubble. Yet, from their cultured tones, boozy banter spewed. …


Alasdair Lea

I love to learn new facts and insight to better understand this crazy world we live in. Let me do what I can to distract you from your life’s drudgery.

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