With ‘normal’ news on hold at the moment, it’s to the past that we have to turn for ‘take your mind off the virus’ material. In that spirit, every weekend Spectator Life is bringing you doses of topical trivia – facts, figures and anecdotes inspired by the current week’s dates in history …
Carl Fabergé (born 1846). Elton John was shocked to discover, when he played in Moscow in 1979, that he owned more of the Russian jeweller’s famous eggs than the Kremlin did.
In 1927, the last Model T Ford was produced. After making 15,007,003 of them, the company moved on to their next model. But having gone all the way through the alphabet (though some designs hadn’t made it into production), Ford decided not to carry on with a Model U. They said the follow-up was so different from the Model T that they were going back to A again.
John Prescott (born 1938). While working as a steward on a cruise to New Zealand in 1957, he won an on-board boxing competition. The prize (two bottles of beer and two hours’ overtime) was presented to Prescott by Sir Anthony Eden, who was on the cruise to recuperate after his recent resignation over Suez.
In 1792 Kentucky became the 15th state of the US. On Twitter, KFC follow six men named Herb and all five Spice Girls – a nod to their secret recipe containing 11 herbs and spices.
Charlie Watts (born 1941). In 1984, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards returned drunk to their Amsterdam hotel at 5am. Jagger telephoned Watts’s room and said: ‘Where’s my drummer?’ After a while there was a knock on the door. Richards opened it to find Watts, who had got up, shaved and put on a suit and tie. Pushing past Richards, Watts punched Jagger, shouting: ‘Never call me your drummer again! You’re my f***ing singer!’
In 1953 the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II took place. Extra toilets were installed at Westminster Abbey – and a test was performed to check that, should they all be flushed at once, the sound wouldn’t be picked up by the BBC’s microphones.
Rafael Nadal (born 1986). The tennis player’s superstitions include only ever stepping over a line with his right foot, placing his tournament ID face up on his chair when arriving on court, jumping at the net during the coin toss, and getting his energy gel out of its sachet with four squeezes.
Muhammad Ali (died 2016). One journalist, assigned to cover the boxer’s 1964 bout with the fearsome Sonny Liston, practised driving the route to the nearest hospital, so he could be first there when Cassius Clay (as Ali was then called) was admitted. Instead Clay won, and became world champion.
George III (born 1738). In his entire life (81 years), the monarch never left the south of England. The furthest north he travelled was Worcester, the furthest south Weymouth.
Mark Wahlberg (born 1971). The star has three nipples. (Which is one fewer than Harry Styles.)