Whatever’s Become of John Bull
1735 The death of John Arbuthnot, English satirist and creator of ‘John Bull’, the character that symbolized Britain.
Leave Them to It
1782 The British Parliament voted to abandon the American War of Independence.
My Lord Luddite
1812 Poet Lord Byron gave his first address as a member of the House of Lords. He argued in defence of Luddite violence against Industrialism in his home county of Nottinghamshire.
Dark Satanic Mills
1848 The birth of Hubert Parry, English composer. As a composer he is best known for the choral song ‘Jerusalem’, based on Blake’s poem that begins with the lines – ‘And did those feet in ancient time. Walk upon England’s mountains green.’ The term ‘dark Satanic Mills’, referenced in the poem, is interpreted as referring to the early Industrial Revolution that destroyed nature and human relationships.
Fruit of Our Labour
1900 The British Labour Party was founded. Ramsay MacDonald became secretary.
The Old Bailey
1907 London’s main criminal court, the Old Bailey was built, on the site of Newgate Prison.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
1932 The birth, in London, of the film actress Elizabeth Taylor. Her first success was in the 1944 film National Velvet. She played the title role in Cleopatra (1963), and married her co-star Richard Burton (twice). They appeared together in 11 films, including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), for which Taylor won a second Academy Award.
A Lot of Hot Air
1999 While trying to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon, British pilots Colin Prescott and Andy Elson set a new endurance record after being in a hot air balloon for 233 hours and 55 minutes.
Duirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite
2002 Spike Milligan, Irish comedian and writer died, aged 83. After the death of his friend Harry Secombe from cancer on 11th April 2001, Milligan said, “I’m glad he died before me, because I didn’t want him to sing at my funeral.” On his headstone is inscribed “I’Duirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite”, which is Irish for “I told you I was ill.” He was the favourite comic of Prince Charles who wrote a letter congratulating Milligan on winning a Lifetime Achievement Award, whereupon the comic, on live TV, jokingly labelled the Prince a “grovelling little bastard”.