Farewell, James Dean
An icon of the 1950s, whose roles were the very embodiment of teenage disillusionment, James Dean died on this day at the age of just 24.
He was only four years into a career that was already meteoric and provided for his immortality with roles in just three movies: Rebel without a Cause, Giant and East of Eden. Passionate about cars, Dean took up motor racing in 1954, in a Porsche Speedster, and repeatedly finished in the top three. Tragically, while he was driving his new Porsche Spyder to a race meeting on the last day of September 1955, an oncoming car veered into his lane and the two vehicles collided head-on. Dean was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
So tonight, raise a glass to the East of Eden star with a long and appropriately cool Eden.
The Great Antarctic Escape
On this day, in 1912, six men walked out of Antarctica, having survived a whole Antarctic winter in an ice cave.
The group, part of Scott's ill-fated South Pole expedition, had been left there in January 1912, with supplies for eight weeks. But pack ice prevented their ship from picking them up at the end of the Antarctic summer. When the men realised they would have to wait a winter on a continent where temperatures often drop below -60˚C, they dug out a little snow cave, and stayed there for almost seven months, emerging only to hunt penguins and seals.
On this day, with two men already sick, they abandoned their cramped, cold home and walked for five weeks across Antarctica. On arrival, they were greeted with the news that Scott was dead. In honour of Scott, and these brave, brave chaps, we are enjoying a Scott cocktail.
Peace for our time
On this day in 1938, the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, stepped off a plane from Munich and explained, "This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler.... We regard the agreement signed last night... as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again."
Yep, that went well. Really well. Hitler marched into Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland the next morning, and within 12 months of that Britain and Germany were at war. A year later, Chamberlain had resigned, to be replaced by Churchill, and by the end of 1940 he was dead. Which is a bit sad, really. Because one among many reasons that a man later condemned as a coward cosied up to Hitler was that the British army was too small and underequipped to stand a chance against Germany at that point - even in 1939, we very nearly lost. With that in mind, we are drinking a Guard's Cocktail. Cheers.