7 New Things I’ve Learned This Week

They – the inimitable collective “them” – say that you learn something new every day.

Is that true, I wonder? I think not, so I’m keeping track. If I haven’t learnt something new – I’m going to seek a new thing out.

Here are seven things I’ve learned in the last week

  1. “Lost his Deposit”

This phrase was bandied about during the election night coverage a bit, and while I had heard it before, I didn’t fully know the story behind it.

Every prospective candidate standing to be a Member of Parliament must pay a £500 deposit. The theory being that a financial stake being put down will reduce the number of fringe or joke candidates standing for election.

If the candidate receives more than 5% of the vote, they receive their deposit back. According to one twitter account, the Liberal Democrats lost a staggering £169,000 in the 2015 General Election.

  1. Dame Vera

70 years after VE Day the Force’s sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn – whose most famous song We’ll Meet Again is often played as a celebratory song to mark the end of the second world war – is still alive and kicking at the grand old age of 98.

That may seem old, but she’s only nine years and one month older than the woman in charge of our country (and no, I don’t mean Nicola Sturgeon).

  1. Maggie Simpson

When England and Wales are coloured blue and Scotland is yellow, Great Britain looks remarkably like Maggie Simpson

  1. Pippa in the Middle(ton)

Nearly all of us felt a bump this week as we shifted down one in the order of succession to the British throne. A new princess was born last Saturday and shortly after was revealed to bear the name Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.

While it may seem that she was named after three members of the future King’s family, she also shares the name Charlotte with her aunt, whose full name is Phillippa Charlotte Middleton.

The princess also shares the name Charlotte Diana with her second cousin once removed on her father’s side – curiously, Earl Spencer refrained from adding the name Elizabeth to his daughter’s title.

  1. Amazon’s spring

As an employee of WH Smith I know an awful lot about it’s history, but even I was surprised to discover that the first online order in the UK was taken and fulfilled by the company twenty years ago – in a room just across the road from my flat.

The book (I’m slightly pleased it was a book at the beginning of this revolution) was Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy – Amazon – the great river of modern online shopping – wouldn’t take it’s first order for another four months post that first delivery from Swindon.

  1. The Groucho Club

The Groucho Club in London turned thirty years old this week. The original premise of the famous private member’s club was to be an antidote to the stuffy gentlemen’s clubs that inhabited Soho at the time.

You don’t have to be a member to visit the club, but your name does have to be put on a list by a member in order for you to gain access. Alternatively, you could hire one of their six rooms available for private functions for an evening. The prices range from £400 up to £1800 for non-members.

  1. Counting the Cost

Those people you assume to be volunteers that you see when you go to vote aren’t actually volunteers at all. The folk that man polling stations and vote counts are actually paid £160 for their time.

Those who man the stations are expected to be at the polling station for the full fifteen hours.

While a “cruel and punishing” night for the Lib Dems, perhaps Nick Clegg can take solace in that his party’s poor performance meant that their lost deposits helped fund over 1,000 of these workers.

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