Royalty's Strangest Tales
Extraordinary but True Stories from Over 2,000 Years of Mad Monarchs and Raving Rulers
Isolated from reality, weakened by inbreeding or corrupted by power, many monarchs have demonstrated cruelty and eccentricity – from Caligula of Rome to Mobutu of Zaire. This collection of royal stories ranges from Charles VI of France, who thought he was made of glass, to the miraculous Kim Jong-il of North Korea, who, according to local sources, scored 38 under par the first time he played golf.
Crime's Strangest Cases
Extraordinary but True Stories from Over Five Centuries of Legal History
Convinced that God would save him, John Lee was calm in the face of the executioner at Exeter Prison in 1885. His confidence proved well founded when three times the hangman's trapdoor failed to open, resulting in his reprieve. This collection of crime and punishment oddities ranges from a 13th-century ‘trial by battle’ to a phantom villain at Derby Magistrates Court in 2001.
Campbell's Weather Compendium
How big was the largest-known snowflake? What is the speed of a falling raindrop? How many people survive being struck by lightning? And where is the windiest place on the planet? This miscellany of meteorological trivia is interspersed with weather-related jokes, literary quotations and seasonal recipes – in short, a deluge of material to use next time you find yourself conversing about the British climate.
Conkers for Goalposts
To preserve the memory of the 1970s' best-loved playground games, this not entirely serious guide gathers together the rules, techniques and etiquette of such classic pastimes as Fighting, Football and French Skipping, Conkers, Para-Shorting and GBH Biking. With a foreword by 'sporting legend' Barry Wardrobe and spoof adverts for such bodies as the British Association of Schoolboy Hooligans (BASH), it is an affectionate celebration of childhood past.
Whatever Happened to Tanganyika?
The Place Names that History Left Behind
Described by Alexander McCall Smith in his foreword as the pioneering work of a new discipline, 'nostalgic geography', this intriguing book tells the stories of 46 old names, their origins and their demise. Beginning with the bizarre history of Pleasant Island (now the Republic of Nauru), the tales of places that are no more include such evocative names as Hispaniola, Rangoon, Fernando Po and Skye (now officially Eilean a' Cheò).
London's Strangest Tales: The Thames
Some surprising tales of the Thames are already familiar, such as the frost fairs of the 17th and 18th centuries – one even featured in Doctor Who. This book is a collection of anecdotes and trivia from the river's history, from the horrors of prison ships moored in the estuary to the delights of Handel's Water Music, played to the king on barges in 1717. Portico's Strangest series.
Railway's Strangest Journeys
First published in 1999, this collection of travellers' tales highlights the most unusual events to have occurred on railways since the earliest pioneer runs in the 1820s. Most of the stories date from the age of steam and include Victorian schoolchildren fare-dodging beneath the skirts of their chaperone and the GWR broad-gauge journey of 1871 that ripped up the rails as it went. Portico's Strangest series.