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Written by Martin Pollins MBA FCA CTA + guest bloggers

Martin Pollins’ blog  on this site brings you information, commentary, news, insight, opinion and debate.  We would love for you to post your comments on any of the issues discussed to foster useful and constructive debate.

Jane Austen

Picture Credit: "Jane Austen sculpture at Winchester Cathedral (2)" by Jayembee69 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Members of the Haywards Heath & District Probus Club and others were treated to a splendid talk via Zoom by historian Rupert Matthews on 11th...

The Uyghurs

Picture Credit: "Uyghur man at market" by Photography_1O1 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 You could be forgiven for being unaware of China’s Uyghurs as their plight is not well known. The Economist, 17th-23rd October 2020, pages 13/14, ran an article titled: ‘Torment...

The Virus and our Vocabularies

The coronavirus pandemic has affected the lives of most of us on planet Earth, including (according to Dictionary.com) the expansion of vocabularies.  It feels like years (not months) ago that we learned our first COVID-19 terms, like social...

Eric Melrose “Winkle” Brown

Photo Attribution: By Unknown author -http://media.iwm.org.uk/iwm/mediaLib//270/media-270516/large.jpg This is photograph A 31015 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums., Public Domain https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25266535 Who? Many people...

Walking Sticks and Canes

Picture Credit: "Walking stick handle" by Henry Rado, American, 1859–1921 is licensed under CC0 1.0Sources: Various, including Encylopedia.com, Classy Walking Canes, Just Walkers, and Fashionable Canes. Whilst first used as a weapon, the walking stick or walking cane...

Saucy, but Nice!

Worcestershire Sauce has its roots in India but its unique flavour was actually created by accident in Worcester, England in 1835. Picture Credit: "Frazer Nash's A to Zed Of Englandish For The Benefit Of Johnny Foreigner (Especially Seppos): W" by Steve Sparshott is...

Word Botching

Do you remember this chap? Frank Herbert Muir was an English comedy writer, radio and television personality, and raconteur. His writing and performing partnership with Denis Norden endured for most of their careers. Together they wrote BBC radio's Take It From Here...

Old Bill

Let’s make one thing clear from the outset. Old Bill has nothing to do with an invoice you haven’t paid yet. History By the Yard (here) notes that the slang phrase "Watch Out!  Old Bill's about!" was in use in Covent Garden in 1968, and "Old Bill" was used in...

The forgotten army and war

Economically and strategically, the Suez Canal was a vital route for both Middle Eastern oil and trade with the Far East. Britain had maintained a military presence in Egypt to protect the canal under the terms of a treaty signed in 1936. But dissident locals,...

Was Kilroy really here?

“Kilroy was here” was an American symbol that became popular during World War II, typically seen in graffiti. Kilroy’s origin is hotly debated, but the phrase and the distinctive accompanying doodle became associated with GIs in the...

Libel vs. Slander: What’s the difference?

Picture Credit: "The Defamation Act 2013: Complete and Unabridged" by robertsharp is licensed under CC BY 2.0 What do these two words mean, and are they interchangeable? Since both are types of defamation (that is “the act of making negative statements that hurt...

Intelligence Corps

Sources: Wikipedia, British Army (here) This is for those who are interested in the military and warfare. The Intelligence Corps (‘Int Corps’) is a corps of the British Army. The Director of the Intelligence Corps is a brigadier. Its...

How to Tell a Story

Picture Credit: "Mark Twain 1835 - 1910" by oneredsf1 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 In case you’ve never heard of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, let me say that he is better known by his pen name Mark Twain. He was an American author and humourist...

Is this the best speech ever?

Picture Credit: "Abraham Lincoln" by casually cruel is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 On 1st June 1865, US Senator Charles Sumner referred to the most famous speech ever given by President Abraham Lincoln. In his eulogy on the slain president, he called...

Mennonite Trickster and Dramatic Hero

As a boy, so many years ago, I worked in various shops in Hassocks: delivering newspapers, meat and even a milk round. The milk round had some moments, I can tell you, but not yet – except for the fact that the owner of the dairy was a man called Voigt. He owned a...

What is a vomitirium?

There is a common misconception that ancient Romans designated spaces called vomitoria for the purpose of vomiting during or after feasts so as to make room for more food, as part of a binge and purge cycle. In fact, that’s far removed from what it is. A vomitorium is...

Step up your walking game

Picture Credit: "strolling" by E>mar is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 A new study, the findings for which were published in the March 24–31, 2020, issue of JAMA, offers strong support for the life-extending effects of a daily walk. Want to lower your odds of dying of...

The man who made Meccano

Picture Credit: "Meccano" by thenoodleator is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Meccano is a model construction system created around 1900 by Frank Hornby, who was a clerk in Liverpool. He also invented Hornby Trains and Dinky Toys.  In 1902, Hornby started calling his...


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