To survive was one-in-a-million, but to almost completely recover is incomprehensible. Yet, the psychological side-effects made him shunned by decent society.

A moral man, Phineas Gage

Tamping powder down holes for his wage

Blew his special-made probe

Through his left frontal lobe

Now he drinks, swears, and flies in a rage.

(Anonymous limerick)

On September 13, 1848, on the under-construction Rut­land & Bur­ling­ton Rail­road in Ver­mont, USA an unbelievable medical marvel occurred.

A foreman named Phineas Gage was toiling at the head of a work-gang who were blast­ing rock to pre­par­e the road­bed to lay railroad track.

A fit, strong man, sound of mind, temperament and morality, Gage was 25 at the time and his employers described him as “the most…


Read about the five biggest coins in the world. They’re all made of gold and the world’s biggest coin is as heavy as a car.

With news that the Royal Mint has just minted a massive £10,000 coin, it got me wondering what the biggest coins in the world are.

So, I reached into my bag of tricks and this is what I came up with; the five most massive, very valuable coins in the world.

Note, I am only including circular coins made of metal. This may sound a little ‘duh’ yet there is a ‘massive coin’ from Sweden minted in 1644, which I would call a copper slab with hallmarks imprinted on it, and there are Rai Stones on the Micronesian Islands up…


Britain’s ports and harbors were menaced by the dreaded press-gangs. Read about their brutal methods and the widespread fear, trauma and hostility they provoked.

Impressment, to give it its proper name, was the scourge of maritime communities across the British Isles and Britain’s North American colonies for 150 years from 1664–1830 , and involved bands of thugs headed by naval officers sent ashore from Royal Navy (RN) warships to kidnap the King’s subjects to serve on the high seas.

The popular image of press-gangs is of an underhanded recruiting sergeant in a dockside tavern plying patrons with drink then surreptitiously slipping a ‘King’s Shilling’ into their tankard as payment for their ‘volunteering’ into the navy, then carrying off the hapless, perhaps even legless fellow…


A selection of UK movies that left their mark; films that veer away from the Hollywood vibe and portray contemporary British culture before the Age of the Internet.

These are films I enjoyed in my younger days, just out of school, forever raiding my absent brother’s now-legendary stack of VHS movies.

Each review includes the classic quotes and moments that make each film special.

Hard Men

Director: J. K. Amalou

Year: 1997


Poem of my nostalgia

Where did I live?

I come from a place

Of moderate space

Where the local bar

Is named the White Star

A place so rural, when I was born

Within my mouth, was a cob of corn

As I grew up with my mates, sometimes we’d be lifting weights

Or with my other pals, we’d run amok with the owls

Kingswood’s the name

My neighbourhood, quite plain

But walking in the hills

You could come across a mill

With a dark dungeon that once conjured

A thrill.

As for the local Spar

At the time, it seemed beyond par

We…


The worst tragedy to befall a nation in a lifetime; the tale of the ancient prophecy fulfilled by a royal family’s violent demise.

This is the grisly story of a truly astounding crime. In 2001 the Nepalese Royal Family was slaughtered in a frenzied shooting spree.

What makes this even more disturbing is it was committed by one of their own family members and, on top of that, their sad demise fulfilled an ancient prophecy.

On the 1st of June 2001, one of the world’s most venerated royal families; the Shah royal family, was butchered by the King’s firstborn son, Crown Prince Dipendra, who gunned down his own parents plus seven more of his kin before he turned the gun on himself.

That…


After the announcement that 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs are set to form their own exclusive and much anticipated Super League, let’s examine a major underlying reason why this seems to be going ahead, in spite of furious opposition.

First, There Were 12…

It looks like moves to create the highly anticipated ‘European Super League’ are moving up a gear with the announcement that 12 of Europe’s biggest football clubs are preparing to break away from their current national leagues to join the new super league which will be independent of UEFA and national football associations such as the English Football Association (FA).

The 12 clubs are Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Man City and United, and Liverpool from England; Real and Athletico Madrid, and Barcelona based in Spain; Juventus, AC and Inter Milan from Italy.

With time, other clubs are likely to add…


The story of when King George I adopted a feral child from the forests of Germany into his royal court.

When King George I brought a feral boy into the British Royal Court in 1726 he caused a sensation among London’s high society.

Peter the Wild Boy’ as he came to be called, neither walked upright or could speak nor write and, to many it seemed, he’d surely been raised by wild animals.

Yet, the truth behind why Peter behaved more animal than man only came out two centuries after his passing when a portrait of the boy was carefully scrutinized.

Unearth the story of an incredibly unique young man’s life which begun in a forest and brought him to…


Why a friendly, sociable local killed 12 people is a mystery …or is it?

A puzzling episode of Cumbrian History that has bewildered locals still scratching their heads.

After an angry confrontation with some fellow taxi drivers, a man named Derrick Bird shot dead his twin brother, his solicitor, then 10 other mostly random victims as he sped 45 miles (72km) around West Cumbria before finally killing himself.

Yet, ‘Birdy’ as many affectionately referred to him, was well-liked, sociable and friendly up until that fateful day.

Then something inside him snapped and his hidden demons took hold.

The Shooting Rampage

It was in West Cumbria this horror story played out.

Sandwiched between the Irish Sea to the…


Read about how the Wuppertal Schwebebahn came to be and its 120 years of service.

This is the story of the oldest suspension railway in the world and its origins which go back much further than when it first opened for business at the turn of the 20th Century.

Railway from The Future

Film footage (below) from its first year in operation will have steampunk aficionados salivating; heavily dressed pedestrians and horse-drawn carriages throng wide avenues that are lined with trees and classical townhouses.

An elegant iron carriage glides serenely overhead along a suspended rail held together by a framework of struts elevated, in turn, by curved pillars that straddle the road.

The carriage continues over Wuppertal’s narrow river…

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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