Strange stuff you don't know about British Culture

The kind of stuff that’s going to amaze your friends in the coffee shop, pub or restaurant. Ideal for dropping in the conversation at the relevant moment, when the talk turns to Britain’s cultural heroes – the writers, artists and philosophers: ‘Yeah, we know Francis Bacon was a key figure in the scientific revolution, but that doesn’t excuse trying to stuff snow up a chicken’. See. So, here you go, ten culture gems:

1. Author Evelyn Waugh attempted suicide in early adulthood. He swam out to sea, hoping to drown himself, but turned back after being stung by a jellyfish.

2. According to Daniel Defoe, the most severe storm ever recorded in Britain killed 8,000 people, destroyed 13 Royal Navy ships and deposited cows up trees in 1703.

3. The shipping forecast on the radio isn’t allowed to exceed 370 words in length (intro included).

4. When asked for an autograph, composer Gustav Holst would hand out a typed statement reading ‘I do not give out autographs’.

5. Mama Cass of The Mamas and the Papas and Keith Moon of The Who died in the same room of the same London flat: Cass in 1974 from a heart attack, and Moon four years later after taking too many prescription pills.

6. 20th century artist Francis Bacon was kicked out of the familial home in his early teens after being discovered dressed in his mother’s underwear.

7. Composer Ivor Novello spent four weeks in prison during the Second World War, jailed for fraudulently acquiring petrol coupons for his Rolls Royce. An attempt to bribe the officer delivering the summons didn’t help his cause.

8. Alfred Hitchcock was a chicken dealer’s son from Leytonstone.

9. The famous Burberry brand was created predominantly for Hampshire farmers by Thomas Burberry in 1879.

…and finally

10. Francis Bacon died of pneumonia in 1626, aged 65, apparently taken ill while stuffing a chicken full of snow, keen to investigate the preservative effects of cold.

Comments (2)

I have just got back from the Great British Beer Festival and again it always amazes me of the diversity of the folk who you meet. I have a big nose but some people from the darkest parts of middle England (not Middle Earth – Although I am sure I saw a few Hobbits there!) look like they have had a badger bite them on the nose. Never the less all are celebrating the ancient (and older than the Roman occupation) past time of ‘talking pony’ down at the ‘rub-a-dub’ and setting the worlds to rights – shame bout the cricket though – should we let the Ozzies into our festival, they did give us Fosters after all (the rascals). By the way JB I did not see you there perhaps you were in disguise?

Posted by leaveTHpastbehind • 7 August 2009, 18:20

It looks like I was the last to comment here but I have got to ask the question should we take the ‘Great’ off of the Great Britain?

With the recent weather, our politicians and our inane taste for talent shows I am (and I hate to say this) extremely close (if not being!) embarrassed to be British. Our Cultural heritage, our once leading edge ideas, and respect as a nation has now been greatly diminished in the eyes on the world and we find ourselves, quite simply a bit of a laughing stock. To top it all we are being roller coasted in the EU by other nations. Where did it all go wrong?

Posted by Matthew • 7 January 2010, 20:13

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