Every weekend Spectator Life brings you doses of topical trivia – facts, figures and anecdotes inspired by the current week’s dates in history …
In 708, copper coins were minted in Japan for the first time. In recent decades the rise in the world price of the metal meant that pre-1992 British 1p coins were worth more than 1p. (After 1992 the penny was no longer made of copper.)
William Friedkin (born 1935). The voice of the demon in Friedkin’s The Exorcist was provided by Mercedes McCambridge, who altered her voice by chain-smoking and swallowing raw eggs.
John Peel (born 1939). As a young DJ in Dallas, Peel attended the press conference where Lee Harvey Oswald was presented as the man arrested for the assassination of John F. Kennedy. You can see him in the footage here at 5’08” – he’s the one on the right in the circle.
Princess Diana (died 1997). She always said ‘bitch’ rather than ‘cheese’ for photos, claiming it gave a ‘sexier smile’.
In 1878 Emma Nutt became the world’s first female telephone operator, working for Alexander Graham Bell’s company in Boston. The switchboard operator at Buckingham Palace used to enjoy putting the Queen Mother through to the Queen with the words: ‘Your Majesty? Her Majesty, Your Majesty.’
Albert Speer (died 1981). While serving his sentence at Spandau prison, the Nazi architect walked laps of the garden until he had completed the distance from Berlin to Heidelberg. His fellow prisoner Rudolf Hess then suggested he complete a walk ‘to’ Asia. Speer refused, as it would have meant passing through several Communist countries.
Jimmy Connors (born 1952). When a spectator cried out ‘come on Jimmy!’ during the 1975 Wimbledon final, Connors replied: ‘I’m trying, for Christ’s sake!’
Oliver Cromwell (died 1658). His death from disease didn’t prevent him being executed. Over two years later, after Charles II had reclaimed the throne, the monarch had Cromwell’s corpse dug up and put on trial at the Old Bailey for treason. Unsurprisingly there was a guilty verdict, and Cromwell’s body was hanged at Tyburn before being beheaded.
Beyoncé (born 1981). To keep her weight down, the singer’s lunch comprises six slices of tomato and four slices of cucumber.