After seven-and-a-half years there are more than 2,700 Trivia Tweets floating around in the Twitterverse for in July 2009, to give CabbieBlog more immediacy, I started to post daily trivia via the nascent Twitter platform, naturally using the handle @cabbieblog I soon realised that there was a mine of information to be had about London, all there was needed was to try and précis the information into 140 characters and produce one for every day of the year.
[I] am now posting these nuggets of triviality every Sunday starting on 1st January 2017. Each post will have a short essay relating to the day in question along with 10 other pieces of useless information. They may be read on a weekly basis or as they are all tagged Trivial Matter one could dip in and out, either when collating questions for a pub quiz; bore your colleagues at work; or just to send yourself off to sleep.
Sometimes it will be something as prosaic as a notable person’s birthday, on others, something more interesting. On the odd occasion London has seemed to hold its collective breath and not done anything, this will also be included.
The icons displayed below show the 10 categories used if information is worthy of a piece of London trivia and are included on every page:
ON THIS DAY
Starts every page and you might be tempted to read it as just that: what previously happened in London on a particular day. An unusual day might be: On 11 December 1937 cheetahs were raced at a packed Romford dog track there was no winner they lost interest after covering a short distance.
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
The capital has never been short of chancers, villains and the hapless criminal, among them is this gem: In 1952 a Nigerian visitor was fined £50 for committing an indecent act with a pigeon in Trafalgar Square and £10 for having it for his tea.
THE URBAN LANDSCAPE
Living in London one cannot escape from the concrete jungle. Much of this trivia will consist of highest; lowest; deepest; or smallest, for example: You can find Britain’s smallest police station, designed in 1926 to monitor demonstrations, in the south-east corner of Trafalgar Square.
LIFE AND DEATH
The most important facet of our lives, but what happens when “Mustn’t complain” just doesn’t cover it their demise arrives from an unexpected quarter: In 1938 a pedestrian was killed by a stone phallus falling from a statue on Zimbabwe House in the Strand rest removed for ‘health and safety’.
This is probably the richest sources of ridiculous trivia. The boys (and girls) from the Palace of Westminster just keep on giving: Harold Wilson always drank Lucozade during speeches – but from a blue glass, as he worried that in a clear one it would look like Scotch.
London has the largest number of theatres in the world, iconic cinemas and a world famous opera house, but some choose to make their own entertainment: In 1905 millionaire George Kessler flooded the Savoy’s courtyard to float a gondola, a birthday cake on an elephant’s back and Caruso singing.
London has the widest choice of ways to waste one’s time: walking in a park; going to the pub; or reading what some bloke has written as the odd best seller: Jeffrey Archer’s London phone number ends 007 – he bought the old flat of Bond composer John Barry, who’d chosen the number.
London has hosted three Olympic Games and even the oddest cricket match: The foppish son and heir apparent of King George II died in Leicester House as a result of being struck in the throat with a cricket ball.
As a London cabbie I’m pleased to note that other road users sometimes come unstuck: On 28 December 1952 a No.78 double-decker bus driven by Albert Gunter was forced to jump an opening Tower Bridge, he was awarded a £10 bonus.
Yes, we all have to do it, but are we as dedicated as the man who introduced the post box: Before Anthony Trollope started work at the General Post Office, St. Martin’s-Le-Grand each morning he would rise at 5.30 am and pen 1,000 words.
This is from the bits and bobs draw, trivia worthy of inclusion but without a home. How for example would you classify: In 1969 Laurence Olivier started a petition demanding that the dining car of the London to Brighton train reintroduce kippers – it worked.
With a history as long and diverse as London its trivia is rich and wide ranging. Sometimes the entries in these posts will be based on fact, for others their origin is dubious. All errors, omissions and any repeats are entirely mine. This series is not intended to be used for reference, nor does it claim to be a definitive list.
If you have found anything new please drop me a line at:
Trivial Matter: London in 140 characters is taken from the daily Twitter feed @cabbieblog
A guide to the symbols used here and source material can be found on the Trivial Matter page.