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.
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.
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