Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Most (un)popular post-war PMs


Following his tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, Tony Blair became the most popular prime minister ever recorded. His personal approval rating nudged above 90%, only to slump to 26% by the end of his Premiership. This made him both the most popular and least popular post-war Labour Prime Minister. At least, until Gordon Brown saw his ratings sink below 20%.

From Episode 5 of Andrew Marr's History Of Modern Britain

Monday, 29 November 2010

Amnesty for pirates


On the day of Sir Henry Morgan's funeral, the Governor of Jamaica granted a 24-hour amnesty to allow the pirates, privateers and buchaneers then existing outside the law to land and pay their respects. The infamous Captain Morgan was given an honourable send off - carried through the town of Port Royal atop a gun carriage followed by a 22-gun salute from the HMS Assistance.

From "Empire of Blue Water" by Stephan Talty

Gauguin: the maker of myth


Gauguin: the maker of myth is the current blockbuster show at the Tate Modern. It is a big old exhibition, with more than 150 paintings, sculptures and carvings spread throughout 14 rooms. And, befitting an exhibition that has had rave reviews, it is still packed two months into its four month run.
  • Gauguin scandalised the Roman Catholic hierarchy on Tahiti by decorating his studio with panels declaring it to be the House of Sensual Delight (or, even more scandalously, the House of Orgasm) (Maison du Jouir). In order to reach this Eden, Gauguin instructs, via the panels, visitors "Soyez myst√©rieuses" (be mysterious) and "Soyez amoureuses et vous serez heureuses" (find love and you will find happiness). 
  • Gauguin was a successful stockbroker before leaving his family to pursue his artistic ambitions. 
  • Gauguin was staying with Van Gogh when the latter severed a part of his left ear.