Friday, 1 July 2016

This day in history

While it might not be entirely true to say that I have always been a devotee of trivia, I have rejoiced in it for many years.  I have been especially keen on the 'on this day in history' trivia.  It has, however, been something of a challenge for me to find 'on this day in history' facts that interest me.  There are websites that specialise (or seem to specialise) in this trivia, but I have always found them to be of no, or very little, interest to me.  They seem to list the dates of birth (and sometimes death) of film stars and the like, so-called 'celebrities', and I couldn't care less about their birthdays.  Or the site specialises in international political events, such as the assassination of the one-time president of Venezuela or the outbreak of war between Kazakhstan and Afghanistan.

But things have changed!

No, I'm not going to promulgate (and that's not a bad word for a Friday afternoon) the URL of a website I have discovered which provides me with the sort of facts I like, the sort of facts that amuse me, even though I will forget them within a day or so, or even an hour or two.  No, as far as I am aware there is no such website.

But, an insurance company has taken to buying advertising space in my daily newspaper and each day's advertisement is simply an 'on this day in history' fact.  Apart from the company's name and address etc, there is no mention of insurance at all.  (If I were in need of any further insurance I might contact them simply because of that!)  A couple of days ago the fact was the burning down of the Globe Theatre in London - in 1631 or some such year.  There were further details, such as how it is thought the fire started, the play which was being performed at the time and so on.  Today is, it seems, the anniversary of the institution in England and Wales of a national register of births, marriages and deaths.  Before, these were simply recorded in each parish church or non-conformist church but from 1 July 1837 people were required to register these events centrally, and the registrar was paid for each registration, thus encouraging them to ensure the population obeyed the law.

Yesterday, the advertisement commemorated a much more recent event.  It was on 30 June 1937 that the emergency telephone number 999 was made available to subscribers in London.  We were told that the American version - 911 - was only introduced in Alabama in 1968.

(Well, it made a change from thinking about those 20,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme this day in 1916, though they are not - and never should be - forgotten.)

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