Every weekend Spectator Life brings you doses of topical trivia – facts, figures and anecdotes inspired by the current week’s dates in history …
In 1666 the Great Fire of London came to an end. It only killed six people – one fewer than the Monument, built to commemorate it. There was initially no cage around the top, and seven people plunged to their deaths.
Freddie Mercury (born 1946). The singer’s trademark microphone stand was the result of an accident, when a normal stand broke in half mid-performance.
In 1651 the future Charles II hid in an oak tree to escape Oliver Cromwell’s forces. This is the origin of the ‘Royal Oak’ pub name.
In 1953 Nikita Khruschchev became leader of the Soviet Union. Chairman Mao was once asked how he thought history would have differed if Khrushchev rather than John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in 1963. Mao replied: ‘Aristotle Onassis wouldn’t have married Mrs Khrushchev.’
In 1966 the first episode of Star Trek was broadcast. The sound of the doors opening on the Starship Enterprise was that of an air rifle played backwards.
Otis Redding (born 1941). The singer never got to hear the waves crashing on the beach in his hit Sitting on the Dock of the Bay – he died just a few days after recording the song, before the effect had been dubbed on. The record became the first posthumous number one in US chart history.
Hugh Grant (born 1960). One of his early jobs was assistant groundsman at Fulham F.C.
In 1977, France used the guillotine for a state execution for the last time. (Yes, that’s 1977, not 1877.)
Moby (born 1965). Born Richard Melville Hall, he chose his performing name in honour of his great-great-great uncle Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick.