Agatha Christie was sitting quietly on a train when she overheard a stranger saying her name. In the carriage, she said, were “two women discussing me, both with copies of my paperback editions on their knees”. They had no idea of the identity of their fellow passenger, and proceeded to discuss the most famous author in the world. “I hear,” said one of the ladies, “she drinks like a fish.”
I love this story because it sums up so much about Agatha Christie’s life. They both had her paperbacks. Of course they did. Christie wrote more than 80 books, outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible, so the cliche runs. And she wasn’t just a novelist, either: she remains history’s most performed female playwright. She was so successful people think of her as an institution, not as a breaker of new ground. But she was both.
And then, in the railway carriage, there’s the watchful presence of Christie herself, unnoticed. Yes, she was easy to overlook, as is the case with nearly any woman past middle age. But she deliberately played on the fact that she seemed so ordinary. It was a public image she carefully crafted to conceal her real self.
The first Wimbledon Championships were held on 9 June 1877 and were advertised as a ‘lawn tennis meeting, open to all amateurs’ and played at Worple Road in Wimbledon, not far from the current home of Wimbledon Tennis.
Wimbledon Tennis: no women allowed
Women were not allowed to play in this initial meeting, but 22 men turned up and paid the £1 1 shilling fee to take part. A modest crowd of 200 people watched the first matches that were played with wooden rackets and hand-sewn flannel balls.
It wasn’t until 1884 that the All England Club agreed to open the Championships up to both sexes and Lottie Dodd, from Cheshire, made her mark on Wimbledon a few years later as the (still unbeaten) youngest woman to win the title at the age of 15. She went on to win the Championships over the next four years, proving that women deserved a place in the game.
Sometimes I contemplate an alternate timeline where “Sherlock” never existed and wonder whether “Endeavour” and its star Shaun Evans may have claimed whatever secret chamber in our hearts that Benedict Cumberbatch’s detective conquered.
The two detectives have a few things in common, after all. Sherlock Holmes and Endeavour Morse are two of many crime-solvers adapted from literature featured under the “Masterpiece Mystery!” tent recently interpreted as younger men in their prime.
Each has a long relationship with television, although Holmes’ overcoat has been worn by an assortment of actors. Morse is associated with two: Evans and the late John Thaw, who originated the character in “Inspector Morse,” which aired from 1987 through 1993, and was revived for five special installments that ran between 1995 and 2000.
Big Ben, the world’s most famous clock has been under wraps for four years, its iconic bell silenced. This year, restored to its former glory, Big Ben once again shows its face. Words by Rose Shepherd
At 12.01pm on August 21, 2017, something went missing from the soundscape of London.
Big Ben, The 13.7-tonne bell that had tolled the knell of passing day for 154 years, through the reigns of six monarchs, fell silent, to be heard only on Remembrance Sunday and New Year’s Eve, as work began on the restoration of the most recognised clock tower on the planet.
Since then, hundreds of specialist craftsmen and women – stonemasons, glass artists, painters, gilders and horologists – have brought their skills to the £80 million conservation project.
Originally an almighty test of strength and stamina, and now a jovial summer gathering and a chance to celebrate all things Scottish, Highland games have been a traditional part of Scotland’s culture for hundreds of years, though their modern-day popularity is owed to the Victorians.
The roots of the games date as far back as the 11th century when King Malcolm III called a foot race to the summit of Craig Choinnich to find the fastest runner in the land to become his personal courier.
The games then evolved to include events that tested not only muscles and speed of the strongest clan members, but also creative dance and music skills to keep kings and queens and clan chiefs entertained.
Highland games as we know them have been celebrated around Scotland since the 1800s, when they were formally reintroduced as part of the revival of Tartan and Highland Culture encouraged by Sir Walter Scott and given a royal seal of approval by Queen Victoria.
Taking place in summer between May and September, every event has its own unique character and traditions. Here are four of the best events happening this summer for you to get a taste of this most Scottish of celebrations.