According to Pliny the Elder, Scipio Aemilianus was the first man to shave daily.
The origin of the name Boeing is Welsh. The family emigrated to the US from Germany, where they were called Böing, but this was a Germanisation of the Welsh patronymic ab Owen.
In Pembrokeshire there is a Church of St Elvis.
Helen Viola Jackson, the last recipient of a US Civil War widow’s pension, died in 2020.
At the time of the Napoleonic wars, France was the fourth most populous country in the world, behind only China, India and Japan, with double the population of the UK.
The origin of the word ‘zydeco’ – to describe the Cajun musical genre – is uncertain. One theory is it was formed from ‘zarico’, derived from the French les haricots ne sont pas salés. This means ‘the beans aren’t salty’ and is used idiomatically to describe conditions of deprivation.
The starter motor for the Centurion tank was effectively the engine from a Morris Minor.
The postcode for the Falkland Islands is FIQQ 1ZZ.
Now at this point most people will have stopped reading a few paragraphs back. ‘What the hell is going on here? This is just a random collection of irrelevant facts.’
On the other hand, if you are still reading at this point, and thinking ‘Sutherland has finally hit his stride here – in fact I might steal that fact about the Centurion tank to use as a chat-up line’ then you are probably a teeny-weeny bit on the spectrum. This means you are my kind of person, and I have some useful advice for you. Get YouTube on your telly. Now.
If you have an older, non-smart TV, simply plug in an Amazon Firestick or a Roku device for around £40. Connect this to your wifi, then sign up for the free two-month trial of YouTube Premium to watch YouTube advert-free. Once you have done this, sit back and start searching at random. ‘Kedgeree recipes.’ ‘James Hoffmann on coffee.’ ‘Live Alaska Bear cam.’ ‘Big Jet TV.’ ‘Verdi 4K.’
Most television is produced for neurotypical people. These are the millions who happily watch C-list celebrities parading in a ballroom dancing competition every week. But if, like me, you find it incomprehensible that anyone would waste time on such guff when they could be watching a two-hour documentary on the Messerschmitt Me 163, then nothing beats content produced by the obsessive for the obsessive. Beyond the cats and the car crashes (and nothing wrong with that), YouTube has millions of hours of such viewing; 720,000 hours more are added every day. Much is rubbish, of course. But the best is divinely good. It is an altogether different, complementary genre of television which now deserves a bigger screen.
In 1995 there was a Private Eye cartoon which showed a family in a darkened room. ‘Hey, Dad,’ said the younger son in a speech bubble, ‘Kevin’s just found a way of train-spotting on the internet.’ The joke at the time was that combining train-spotting and the internet was the nerdiest activity imaginable.
Yet during lockdown I learned to do exactly that. Virtual Railfan on YouTube lets you watch live footage of American railways. Network Rail has recently posted beautiful 4K cab’s-eye views of the most scenic rail journeys across the UK. For the plane spotters, during Storm Eunice, Big Jet TV’s live landings at Heathrow had audiences in the millions.
This, of course, is the great transformation effected by having video on demand. On broadcast TV, you can’t show a 40-minute film on how to change the fuel pump on a 1998 Toyota Camry, as it would drive most viewers insane. For viewing on demand, you can make any content you like.
Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10