15 September 2012

The start of the tape Business secretary Vince Cable announced another crackdown on red tape. But where did red tape come from? It seems to have been a product of… Read more

1 September 2012

One-legged wonder The Paralympic Games began in 1960 and can trace its origins to the 1948 International Wheelchair Games, held for ex-servicemen at Stoke Mandeville hospital in 1948. Before that,… Read more

11 August 2012

Family fortunes Louise Mensch became the latest MP to resign in order to spend more time with her family. The phrase has become something of a euphemism over the years… Read more

21 July 2012

Waiting games The Olympics have not even started yet, but already one world record is under threat: that for the world’s longest traffic jam. The first day of operation of… Read more

14 July 2012

Out of proportion The bill to reform the House of Lords looks like being another failed attempt by Liberal Democrats to bring proportional representation to Westminster. But where did the… Read more

7 July 2012

Lost and found  A team from St Andrews University has published its attempts to map the remains of Doggerland, an area of land and later an island in the North… Read more

23 June 2012

Striking out Argentinian tennis player David Nalbandian was disqualified from the men’s final at Queen’s Club after he kicked out at an advertising hoarding, injuring the leg of a line… Read more

2 June 2012

Imperial diamond This week’s diamond jubilee celebrations will be hard-pressed to outdo those of Queen Victoria’s in 1897. — A diamond jubilee was supposed to be a 75th anniversary, but… Read more

26 May 2012

Ministers for fun David Cameron was reported to be an expert in ‘chillaxing’ through tennis and karaoke. How have other prime ministers been reported to relax? William Gladstone Chopping down… Read more

19 May 2012

Breaking bad A Ming vase sold for £550,000, having had a hole drilled in it to turn it into a table lamp. Without the hole it would have been worth… Read more

12 May 2012

Before the Golden Dawn A neo-Nazi party called the Golden Dawn won 7 per cent of the vote in the Greek elections. The party denies being inspired by the Nazis,… Read more

5 May 2012

Place names If François Hollande is elected French president this week, he will join a very small group: world leaders whose surnames match the names of foreign countries (although Holland… Read more

28 April 2012

Marathon mortalities A 30-year-old hairdresser collapsed and died in the final mile of the London marathon, echoing the alleged fate of the world’s original marathon runner, Pheidippides, who according to… Read more

14 April 2012

Local heroes The BBC spent £2 million on fares to allow London-based staff to commute to its new studios in Manchester. There are some well-known people who live in Salford:… Read more

7 April 2012

Sinking feelings Some conspiracy theories on the sinking of the Titanic: — The disaster was planned by a bunch of Jesuits, Captain Smith of the Titanic included, intent on bumping… Read more

24 March 2012

The Chicago school David Cameron has called for the building of a new generation of ‘garden cities’. In Britain the term is most associated with Letchworth, founded in 1903 by… Read more

17 March 2012

Heated debate Eric Joyce, MP for Falkirk, was fined and given a community order for butting a fellow MP in a Commons bar. Which countries’ national and regional assemblies are… Read more

10 March 2012

Catch a falling star Astronomers appealed to anyone who might have found a small, polished piece of rock: the remains of a meteor spotted as it streaked across Britain. Being… Read more

3 March 2012

Sister ships The Costa Allegra, sister ship of the Costa Corcordia, suffered a fire off the Seychelles. Are families of ships jinxed? —The Titanic had two sister ships. The Olympic… Read more

25 February 2012

Animals in court A group of US scientists has demanded that a Declaration of Cetacean Rights be incorporated into law. There have been animal welfare laws since at least 1635,… Read more

18 February 2012

Cradle to grave The Health Bill is one of numerous attempts to change the administrative make-up of the NHS. What did it look like on its first day, 5 July… Read more

11 February 2012

Long to reign over us The Queen has become only the second British monarch to spend 60 years on the throne. To overtake Victoria, she would have to reign until… Read more

4 February 2012

Bonus culture Some have called for an end to a ‘bonus culture’ in banks and big firms. But bonus culture has been around a long time… — Around the year… Read more

28 January 2012

Lords spiritual The bishops in the House of Lords, who led a successful rebellion against plans for a benefits cap this week, are a remarkable survival of Lords reform. —… Read more

21 January 2012

Condemned A Norfolk woman was given the honour of pressing a button to demolish a tower at the Campbells soup factory where her father was scalded to death in 1995.… Read more