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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

London Monopoly (2): Whitechapel Road

Whitechapel Street Market. Photo: Silk Tork
Whitechapel Road completes the first set of properties (brown) and, like the Old Kent Road, can be bought for £60. However Whitechapel Road is much more interesting.
One of it's most famous buildings is the London Hospital founded in 1740 and since it's 250th anniversary in 1990 known as The Royal London Hospital. It is now the headquarters of the Helicopter Ambulance Service which operates from it's specially adapted roof.
The Blind Beggar Pub
Whitechapel is in London's East End and famous for being the haunt of Jack the Ripper whose identity has never been discovered. More modern criminals associated with the area were the Kray twins. The Blind Beggar pub is at 337 Whitechapel Road and that's where, in 1966, Ronnie Kray shot a South London gangster who had called him a 'fat poofter' (He was gay). Apparently nobody in the pub was able to recognise him and a barmaid failed to pick him out at an identity parade!
Also worth mentioned is the still-functioning Whitechapel Bell Foundry where Big Ben was cast. Big Ben, it should be noted, is name of the bell itself, not the tower which houses it!
Lastly, the newly-refurbished Whitechapel Art gallery is a leading exhibitor of modern British Art and worth a visit if one is in London. It is partly responsible for the very high number of artists working in the East End.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Little known facts

All of these facts must be true because I got them from the Internet - except for the one that I made up! Can you spot my one?
Can you spot the made up fact?
  • Japanese research has concluded that moderate drinking can boost IQ levels.
  • The fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth is called Arachibutyrophobia.
  • Macadamia nuts are not sold in their shells because it takes 300 pounds per square inch of pressure to break the shell.
  • Florida: An elephant tied to a parking meter must pay the regular parking fee.
  • In Samoa, it is illegal to forget your wife's birthday.
  • In Alabama it is illegal to stab yourself to gain someone's pity.
  • In the UK it is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.
  • Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.
  • London taxis (black cabs) must carry a bale of hay and a sack of oats.
  • Descendants of Sweeney Todd, the cannibalistic barber, founded a sausage factory in Somerset, England after the First World War.
  • The word "queue" is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.
  • Queen Elizabeth Ist regarded herself as a paragon of cleanliness. She declared that she bathed once every three months, whether she needed it or not.
  • An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain
The answer is now in the comments; see my reply to Kelly!

Friday, 14 October 2011

London Monopoly (1): The Old Kent Road

This is the first in a new series of posts in which I will write about the properties on the playing board of the UK version of Monopoly. I am starting with the first and cheapest one; the Old Kent Road £60.

The Old Kent Road is part of the A2  formerly one of the primary routes into and out of London. It is the only property on the Monopoly board that is in south London (ie, south of the River Thames).
It once formed part of Watling Street, a Roman Road that started in Dover and led to Holyhead on the north Wales coast so you could say that the route is well established at around 2,000 years!
In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer's pilgrims took this road on their journey from London. It was probably a bit more interesting then because I think £60 is a bit too much to pay these days! There's better to come!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Painting of the Month (22) October 2011: Massacio

Masaccio, The Tribute Money painted circa 1420
Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone, known as Masaccio lived from 1401 to 1428 so he illuminated this world for a brief moment. That means he would have been 18 or 19 years old when he painted this fresco in the Brancacci Chapel in Florence, Italy. A fresco is painted onto wet plaster so the paint soaks in and is 'locked' into the dried wall. 
To modern eyes the picture looks unremarkable but he was one of the first (possibly the first) artists to use proper perspective and a vanishing point.
If you follow the lines on the architecture on the right of the painting they all converge at a point level with the subjects eyes. In this picture all of the subjects eyes are on one horizontal. See below for an illustration of this.

Friday, 7 October 2011

My Heroes (33): Nikola Tesla

(It's months since I posted an instalment of the My Heroes series. Not because I am running out of heroes but because I am running out of time having started a new small business.)
Tesla was a Serbian born in the old Austrian Empire in1856                                                            He died in poverty in New York in 1943. There are many people  who have never heard of him or, if they have, know nothing about him. This is a great pity because in some ways he was the superior inventor to Thomas Edison.
He did not posses Edison's business acumen or ruthless streak but they were great rivals in the race to supply public electricity.  Edison favoured the Direct Current method and Tesla Alternating Current and Tesla won that battle because it's a better method although I don't want to go into detail in this post.
He patented modern radio transmission before Marconi, fluorescent lighting and the high-voltage Tesla coil. He was responsible for induction coils, three-phase electricity and, as already stated public supply of AC current.
He also patented a method of transmitting electric current using only one wire!
He took out hundreds of patents and it is thought that many of his ideas are lost to us forever.
There is a lot of information about Tesla on the web and about Tesla and his relationship with Edison, Marconi and Westinghouse. It's all very interesting if you want to learn more!