Life
    Culture

    September 28th: Where did Napoleon come in his class?

    26 September 2020

    Every weekend Spectator Life brings you doses of topical trivia – facts, figures and anecdotes inspired by the current week’s dates in history …

    September 26

    In 1953, sugar rationing came to an end in Britain. Because of the sugar it contains, a can of Coke will sink in water, whereas a can of Diet Coke will float. (The sweetener used in Diet Coke is less dense than water.)

    In 1969, the Beatles released Abbey Road. In 2013, police in the Indian city of Kolkata used the album’s ‘zebra crossing’ cover photo in a campaign to discourage jaywalking. The caption read: ‘If they can, why can’t you?’

    September 27

    Gwyneth Paltrow (Photo: Getty)

    Gwyneth Paltrow (born 1972). On the morning of 9/11, the Sliding Doors actress gave someone their own Sliding Doors moment. Paltrow was driving home from an early yoga class when she almost collided with a 24 year-old woman crossing the street. The pedestrian, Lara Lundstrom Clarke, said later: ‘It developed into one of those classic who-goes-first situations.’ The delay meant that Clarke just missed her subway train to work, and had to catch the next one. Her job was on the 77th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. She arrived at the station underneath the towers just as the first plane hit the other tower, so had time to make her escape.

    September 28

    In 1785, the 16 year-old Napoleon Bonaparte graduated from the École militaire in Paris. The future conqueror of Europe came 42nd in his class of 51.

    September 29

    Poet W.H. Auden

    W.H. Auden (died 1973). On seeing the poet’s wrinkled appearance, Noel Coward once said: ‘If that’s his face, what must his scrotum look like?’

    September 30

    Aldwych tube station

    In 1994 Aldwych Tube station was closed permanently. While closed during World War II its tunnels were used to store the Elgin Marbles, while in 1996 the Prodigy used those same tunnels to film the video for Firestarter.

    October 1

    In 1861, Mrs Beeton published her Book of Household Management. She died four years later, aged just 28.

    October 2

    Sting (born 1951). The musician got his nickname because of a yellow-and-black hooped jumper he wore as a child.