Writer of things. Hater of semi-colons. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: democracy simply doesn’t work” — Kenny Brockelstein.
Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Maria Krisanova on Unsplash

I’ve been writing on Medium for about a cup of coffee but have been writing and submitting to mainstream publications for years. By and large, I’ve been rejected more times than I care to count. But that is life.

Some of those articles and stories, I freely admit, were not up to scratch, some might not have been a good match, and many simply didn’t make it because the publications get so many submissions the bar is extremely high.

I get it, honestly.

But the one reason why some of these have been rejected that I refuse to accept (and…


Image for post
Image for post
Queen Victoria of England (centre), surrounded by 38 members of her extended royal family that would spread throughout the European continent — (public domain)

By the late-18th and early-19th century, the extended family of Queen Victoria had stretched throughout the European continent. With nine children of her own, marrying each of them off to Europe’s wealthiest and most powerful, her influence spread across the globe. But thanks to what would become known as ‘the Royal disease’, she was unknowingly spreading far more.

Haemophilia is a mostly inherited disease that affects the blood’s ability to form clots, in mild cases just causing complications in serious injury and surgery, but in more severe cases making a simple bruise or scrape life-threatening. As Victoria’s extended family grew…


Image for post
Image for post
Artist’s depiction of the first False Dmitry, ruling tsar of Russia for a year, making a run for it as a lynch mob approaches— (public domain)

World history is filled with the intriguing, opportunistic tales of famous imposters, and it isn’t hard to see why. For most of recorded human history, a ruling monarch sits on a throne with unchallenged power, willing to do anything in order to keep it.

Then, every now and again, perhaps if the ruler is not altogether popular, or if their grasp on power is slipping, a person will step out of the woods one day and proclaim themselves to be the rightful heir to the throne — a long lost brother or son of some former leader, an old heir…


Image for post
Image for post
Seen here in an advertisement for the film — (public domain)

Read about Russian history around the turn of the 20th century, and Iliodor, much like Rasputin, is a name that seems to pop up everywhere. He was a strange, unhinged trouble maker with a list of enemies as long as his arm, and natural charisma to match anyone in history, whether he used it preaching, badmouthing his rivals, or just spinning remarkably imaginative lies.

Iliodor’s story is one that has rarely ever been told — his rise and fall (and rise and fall again), rarely matched.

While his greatest rival, Grigori Rasputin, has dominated popular culture for over a century…


Image for post
Image for post
Tsarevich Alexei with his pet spaniel Joy, prior to the 1918 murder — photo by Zlatoust City Museum via Siberian Times

On 17 July 1918 the final Imperial family of the Russian Empire — former Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, and their children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei, were executed by Bolshevik soldiers in the basement of the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, a little over a year after Nicholas’ abdication.

Along with the family, their three servants and doctor were also murdered, and as the bodies were piled into a truck to be driven to the woods and disposed of, Tatiana’s loyal bulldog Ortino (or Ortipo, it varies between sources) came running down the stairs barking and was swiftly…


Image for post
Image for post
The last Russian Imperial Family in 1913, five years before their murder. Left to right: Olga, Maria, Nicholas II, Alexandra, Anastasia, Alexei, and Tatiana — (public domain)

By February 1917, the fall of the Romanov dynasty had been a long time coming. Known as the February revolution, after years of unrest (long preceding Nicholas’ rule) and months of warnings from advisors, the protests grew out of control, protesters stormed the palace in Petrograd (Saint Petersburg) and a provisional government was formed to try and restore order. Nicholas was forced to abdicate.

He had proven to be a poor ruler, incapable of dealing with the various problems that surrounded him, making poor decisions that infuriated his supporters and enemies alike, and often acting too slow for them to…


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Fernando Arcos from Pexels

You know when you’re writing something on your word processor of choice, and you get that little green squiggly line suggesting a formatting issue? Then you right click and the suggestion is something vague about inserting a semicolon instead? Yeah? Well I’m sick of it, personally. Since when did semicolons become so vital in stringing together a coherent sentence?

We’ve all heard the arguments against semicolons already, and you’ve no doubt heard the Kurt Vonnegut quote before. If you haven’t, here it is:

“Do not use semicolons. They… represent absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”


Image for post
Image for post
An anonymous caricature of Rasputin showing his influence over the tsar Nicholas II and tsarina Alexandra, some time before his death in 1916 — (public domain)

Born in 1869 in the remote Siberian village of Pokrovskoye, garnering the reputation of a thief, drunkard and general trouble maker, Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin lived the life of a typical Russian peasant of the time. That changed when one day in his late twenties he decided to go on a 300 mile pilgrimage to a monastery, and returned a self entitled holy man, healer, and man of God. 19 years later, as one of the most powerful and most hated men in all of Russia, his bullet riddled dead body was pulled out of the Little Nevka river. …


Image for post
Image for post
Ivan the Terrible cradling his dying son Ivan on November 16th, 1581, after the fit of rage that started the succession crisis. Painting by Ilya Repin, 1885 — (Wikipedia Commons)

The Time of Troubles in Russia was a tense period of 15 years when the near-800 year Rurik dynasty came to end after the death of the childless Tsar Fyodor I, and political chaos on whom should succeed ensued. It sparked wars and invasions, assassinations and murders, uprisings, rebellions, and multiple pretenders to the throne, all of which left the country quite literally in ruins.

But really, it could be argued that the Time of Troubles really began with Fyodor I’s father, Ivan the Terrible.

His brutal and often cruel (but all in all quite successful) 51 year reign saw…


Image for post
Image for post
Iceland vessel ICGV ‘Odinn’ and British HMS ‘Scylla’ clash in the North Atlantic during the Third (and final) Cod War between 1975 and 1976 — (public domain)

Fought between the United Kingdom and Iceland, and rarely talked about today, the three Cod Wars (yes, it really happened three times) took place between 1958–1961, 1972–1973, and 1975–1976 respectively.

It was, as you would expect by the name, about the fishing waters between the two nations that the United Kingdom, with its history as the kings of the sea, had always fished at their leisure, but that Iceland (a growing economy and nation) were trying to protect.

Each dispute (they weren’t really wars by any definition of the word) began when Iceland passed a domestic policy to expand their…

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store