Bratislava, capital city of Slovakia

    July 17th: Which country declared itself a sovereign state in 1992?

    11 July 2020

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

    July 11


    Reg Varney (born 1916). The On the Buses star unveiled the world’s first ever cashpoint. In 1967 he withdrew £10 (the maximum allowed, and also his appearance fee) from the machine outside the Enfield branch of Barclays.

    July 12


    In 1962, the Rolling Stones played their first ever gig. These days their list of tour demands includes the provision by each hotel of written instructions on how to operate the television and other technical equipment in their rooms.

    Alan Mullally (born 1969). He is the only England cricketer ever whose surname contains four instances of the same letter.

    July 13

    David Cameron (Getty)

    In 2016, David Cameron was replaced as Prime Minister by Theresa May. His premiership had started with the usual bouquets of flowers arriving at No. 10 Downing Street – including one delivered by a cycle courier who had secretly urinated on it in protest.

    July 14

    In 1976, Jimmy Carter won the Democratic presidential nomination. He once left the piece of paper containing the US nuclear launch codes in the pocket of a suit he sent to the dry cleaners.

    July 15

    Restorers look at Rembrandt van Rijn’s world-famous masterpiece “the Night Watch” (1642) in Amsterdam (Getty)

    Rembrandt (born 1606). The painter’s students, knowing how much he loved money, used to paint coins on the floor to entice him to pick them up.

    Linda Ronstadt (born 1946). The singer’s contract when performing at Disneyland included the stipulation that she had to wear a bra. She considered wearing it on her head, ‘but I really needed to get paid’.

    July 16

    Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (Getty)

    Ginger Rogers (born 1911). The cartoonist Bob Thaves once drew a strip in which one of the characters said of Fred Astaire: ‘Sure he was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, backwards … and in high heels.’

    July 17

    Bratislava, capital city of Slovakia

    In 1992, Slovakia declared itself a sovereign state. Once a month, staff at the country’s embassy in Washington DC meet with their opposite numbers at the Slovenian embassy to exchange wrongly addressed mail.