Every weekend Spectator Life brings you doses of topical trivia – facts, figures and anecdotes inspired by the current week’s dates in history …
Prince Charles (born 1948). For the photograph used on the official stamp commemorating his wedding to Diana, Charles stood on a box. This was so he could appear taller than his wife – in reality they were the same height (5’9”).
John Le Mesurier (died 1983). One drunken New Year’s Eve, the Dad’s Army star approached a policeman in Trafalgar Square and asked for directions to the nearest branch of Alcoholics Anonymous. ‘Do you want to join, sir?’ asked the copper. ‘No,’ replied Le Mesurier, ‘I want to resign.’
In 1920, Qantas (‘Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services’) was founded. When Rain Man was released in 1988, the airline showed an uncut version of the movie on its flights. Other companies, whose fatal crashes were mentioned by Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), such as American, Delta and Continental, edited the scene in question. Qantas – with whom Raymond was happy to fly, as they had ‘never crashed’ – included the scene in its entirety.
In 1558, Elizabeth I began her reign. The US state of Virginia was named after her, as she was the ‘Virgin Queen’.
Anthony McPartlin (born 1975). The ‘Ant on the left, Dec on the right’ rule even applied for a while to the pair’s houses. They lived on the same side of the same street in Chiswick, with Ant’s house to the left of Dec’s.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. The speech was just 271 words long, and took under three minutes to deliver. The speaker before Lincoln (Edward Everett) went on for two hours, and no one remembers him. (A lesson for modern politicians.)
In 1969, Pelé scored his 1000th goal. The footballer, born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, was named after Thomas Edison (his parents deciding to remove the ‘i’).