Welcome to this special edition of Just the Facts, a column that was once regular but has become less regular. Despite that, it can be relied upon to be here, albeit very occasionally and normally on a Friday but sometimes not, and to contain little factoids that you can safely tell your family and friends must be true because you read it on the internet.
Although it’s probably best not to say where.
Today is April 12th. This is not, in fact, a fact, if you are reading this later than on April 12th.
But it is when I’m writing it and does have the enormous benefit of research being only a swivel of the eyes to the calendar on the wall which, around here, counts as ‘in-depth’. Swivelling my eyes also makes me feel a bit funny but that never seems to make it to the page.
So today’s facts are about April 12th’s.
- April 12th 1606 – England, James I tells England we’d be using the Union Flag from now on, to signify the coming together of England and Scotland (not the Welsh, he decided that was English already). The current Union Jack came later after the English decided that Ireland, being so close to England, was probably going to be really happy to be on it too.
- On April 12th 1654 – The Ordinance of Union is passed between England and Scotland. Englishmen are not allowed to immediately kill bagpipe players on hearing them now and Scotsmen have a new market for Haggis. (They get good prices for the meat from Englishmen and they already need the skins for Whisky distilling anyway.)
- On April 12th 1770, – British Parliament repeals the Townsend Act, a taxation wheeze designed to make some money for Britain from the new colonists of the Americas by applying the tax to all goods they had to import. Unfortunately, due to lack of decent internet and telephones, the news about them rescinding most of it didn’t get through to either protesters or British forces in America and there was a bit of argy bargy, which eventually led up to a major tiff. Tax was still due on imported tea after the other taxes were rescinded however, which is why coffee remains more popular in America to this day.
- On April 12th, 1911 – The very first non-stop flight was made from London to Paris. Passengers didn’t have to go through Passport control as no one had invented the airport yet but their luggage was still in London just like it is now.
- On April 12th, 1912 – The very large boat Titanic was steaming across the Atlantic Ocean, probably rushing to make an appointment it had with taking some more ice on board.
- On April 12th 1961 – Yuri Gagarin becomes the first spaceman to orbit the Earth, famously in a tin can called Vostock 1. He reported that planet Earth was blue but there was nothing he could do, which was probably because there wasn’t enough room for a tin opener to be loaded in there too. Since then, orbiters have been made from more sophisticated materials and have a hatch.
- On April 12th, 2019 – The United Kingdom was scheduled to leave the European Union for the second time, the first being March 29th 2019 – an event that will probably be on the movie posters as “Brexit Day II, The Motions. How many Motions will it take to end this Shit?”
- On April 12th 2019 – ‘Brexit Day II – The Motions’ didn’t actually come out successfully but critics have given it a panning anyway. Instead it has now been rescheduled until Halloween 2019, as the EU has calculated it’s an ideal day for the exhuming the remains of the Prime Minister’s dead deal and all the other brain-dead-but-still-shuffling-around-mouthing-incomprehensible-gibberish Brexit zombies to walk upon the Earth, but after that it’s absolutely no more tricks or treats.
Not fitting in to the April 12th theme is this piece of news that came out on April 11th 2019.
It was uncovered by various new agencies that the British Civil Service orders for No Deal planning and preparedness (which included the readying of nuclear bunkers, troops on the streets and the implementation of a range of morale boosting posters, including ‘Don’t Panic, Cook a Rat and Just Carry On’ and ‘Don’t Panic, Inject Water and Believe It’ll Cure You’ posters) had been rescinded, with the Government having spent billions of pounds on it that they had, previous to all this, insisted didn’t grow on ‘Magic Money Trees’™.
Their excuse was that they couldn’t possibly find any money to spend on anything that improved the lives of anyone but Conservative party donors at the time. So the NHS, Schools, Transport and Local Authorities would just have to find a way to not spend much money until being out of the EU did free up all the money from the Magic Money Tree™ that, it transpires, we did have but had apparently accidentally planted it in an EU garden.
I shall leave the final words for Ian Dunt, a writer for Politics UK.