Sunday, July 25, 2010

POPnews (UK) - July 25th

[Despite an outbreak of the plague in London on this day in 1603 there was still much rejoicing at the coronation of James I - including elaborate allegorical plays specially written by the likes of Thomas Dekker and Ben Jonson for the banquet that followed it. The Nation's collective relief was of the sort which often occurs when that period of stagnation inevitably accompanying the slow decline of a long reign ends - even if (or especially if) the monarch in question is a well-loved one as, in this case, Elizabeth I was; nevertheless, any euphoria brought on in whole or in part by the so-called Union of the Crowns wasn't to last... Before long the King's seemingly God-given arrogance, profligate spending, and blatant favouritism (generally aimed at the handsomest men in his court), would begin to rankle his new English subjects.]

1603 - James VI of Scotland was crowned first king of Great Britain, extending his personal reign over Scotland to include England, Ireland, and Wales as well.

1797 - Horatio Nelson lost more than 300 men and his right arm during an attempted conquest of the Spanish island of Tenerife at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

1837 - The first commercial application of an electric telegraph was successfully demonstrated by William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone on a wire 2.4 km (1.5 miles) long, which had been strung between London's Euston Station and Camden Town station of the London and North Western Railway.

1909 - Louis Blériot made the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier-than-air machine, traversing from Calais to Dover in 37 minutes.

1959 - The SR-N1 hovercraft - built by Saunders-Roe on the Isle of Wight - crossed the English Channel from Calais to Dover in just over 2 hours on the anniversary of Louis Blériot's historic flight.

1969 - Gerald Brooke - a British national and teacher of Russian who, along with his wife Barbara, had been arrested in April 1965 for anti-Soviet activities - was released by Soviet authorities in exchange for Morris and Lona Cohen (aka Peter and Helen Kroger) of the Portland Spy Ring.

1978 - Louise Brown, the world's first test tube baby, was born.

1987 - Former MP for Louth and deputy chair of the Conservative Party, author of cheesy potboilers, and pathological liar Jeffrey Archer was awarded £500,000 in damages and up to £700,000 in legal costs by Mr Justice Caulfield from the tabloid newspaper The Daily Star for its allegation that Archer had paid to have sex with a prostitute named Monica Coghlan. At the time it was the richest libel payout in the country's history. The jury's deliberation lasted just four hours, following a three-week trial; turns out they should have deliberated a little longer... It was proved in court in 2001 that Archer had perjured himself - indeed, had 'perverted the course of justice' - during the trial, for which he was subsequently jailed for four years by Mr Justice Potts in July 2001.

1989 - Diana, Princess of Wales, opened the Landmark AIDS Centre in south-east London; Her Royal Highness precipitated a media maelstrom at the event by holding hands with and embracing AIDS patients during her visit - at a time when even healthcare workers who dealt with people affected by the disease still wore gloves.
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