Category Archives: History

A Nation of Shopkeepers?

So Napoleon famously mocked the English, or so it is said. Actually the phrase came from Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations, where he wrote — “”To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers; but extremely fit for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers.” Napoleon may have taken up the phrase, and used it, but I seem to recall that actually his tone may have been rather more respectful than is general believed. Still, whatever the truth, has anyone wandered down the Regent Arcade, Cheltenham recently? It was Lisa who pointed out to me the large number of empty shops — when this happens to Cheltenham, you have to wonder. I think I might try soon to interview either the Town Centre Manager or the Economic Development Officer for the borough, though to be fair they probably have rather more important things to do. Cheltenham has weathered the recent economic storms quite well, but the changes are visible on the High Street, and a host of innovative new shops appear to be opening to offer the cheapest of the cheap to the once prosperous shoppers of this fine city. I’m not moaning, as I say, Cheltenham is still much more prosperous than most places, even if that prosperity is rather unequally divided among its citizens, with areas of (in 21st century terms) deprivation, but nothing like the real poverty of some cities districts. Continue reading

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The History of Cheltenham

It will be twenty five years this September since I moved to Cheltenham, and I have lived here longer than anywhere else. While at heart I remain an East Anglian, I have a great affection for my adopted home, and … Continue reading

Posted in History, Reviews and Past Events, Uninteresting to others whitterings about my life | 5 Comments

Why Do Ghosts Go “Woo”? Part One.

OK, a light-hearted one this lunchtime. “why do ghosts go woo?” is an excellent question that was asked on Twitter by Ian Rennie to Hayley Stevens, and she, Kimberley Kendall and I discussed it for a while.  I always joke … Continue reading

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Cox and Nobbers

Anyhow enough! I have a sense of humour. Some nonsense is inevitable in any pop-science treatment, but I’m not going to sit here and rip in to the remaining two thirds. I can cope with nonsense being spouted even on a show that claims to be a “bastion of rationality” — some people have lives and have not dedicated themselves to decades on these subjects – well Wiseman has both, for which I am frankly envious. You should by now gather that a) I’m astonishingly critical, and sceptical of almost any claim I hear from an “expert” and b) this was a light hearted treatment with a condescending and at time close on sneering tone, but genuinely funny and entertaining — just don’t take it too seriously. Continue reading

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Wanna be a Ghosthunter? Charity event, Ghostfest Southwest, Friday 17th – Sunday 19th June 2011

I do a lot of events through the year, but this charity ghosthunt organised by Wendy Isaacs and Bruce Kuk sounds like a lot of fun, and has a very impressive line up — and me!  I asked Wendy earlier … Continue reading

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Earth Our Home: The Board Game of Life on Earth

Welcome to Earth: our Home!

For the Richarddawkins.net science writing contest this month I decided to do something a bit different, and so I have designed a board game… if you are brave enough you can print it out and play it, and if you do please please do tell me how it went! Feel free to modify or improve it as you see fit.

You can see the board, counters and some of the cards here on this article, but if you want to print and play the game, and I really hope you will, then you will find it easier to download the printer friendly zip files and print the files in there which are configured for A4 card or paper. Continue reading

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Damning Darwin: The Perils of Myth-making in the History of Science

There are very few things less enticing to the British public than the sight of CJ in the bath. While occasionally Marmalade the lunatic kitten comes to balance precariously on the edge of the bath tub, and watch the great pink hippo wallowing in the foaming waters, human beings seem to find the mere prospect revolting. So I apologise in advance for calling this scene to your minds, and hope you have not recently eaten. Continue reading

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