ON THIS DAY
1716: Thomas Gray, poet best known for his Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard, was born in London. 1791: Charles Babbage, English inventor of a calculating machine, was born. In 1823 he designed a machine which was the forerunner of the electronic computer. 1891: Novelist Henry Miller, who wrote books Tropic Of Cancer and Tropic Of Capricorn, was born in New York. 1893: Mao Tse-Tung (or Zedong), Chinese Communist leader, was born in the Hunan province. 1898: Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium. 1906: The world’s first feature film, The Story Of The Kelly Gang, was screened in Melbourne. 1908: Jack Johnson became the first African-American boxer to win the world heavyweight title, knocking out Tommy Burns in Round 14 in Sydney, Australia. 1943: The German battleship Scharnhorst was sunk by the Royal Navy. 1974: American comedian Jack Benny died. 2004: A giant 9.1-magnitude quake and tsunami killed 230,000 people in about a dozen nations across southern Asia. 2006: Former US president Gerald Ford, who replaced Richard Nixon in 1974, died at his home in California, aged 93. BIRTHDAYS: Phil Spector, record producer, 77; Jane Lapotaire, actress, 72; Dermot Murnaghan, newscaster, 59; Lars Ulrich, drummer, 53; Jared Leto, actor, 45; Jerome ‘’Geronimo’’ Le Banner, kickboxer, 44; Shane Meadows, filmmaker, 44; Chris Daughtry, musician, 37; Yohan Blake, sprinter, 27. QUOTES OF THE DAY: “I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, carers, community organisers and good neighbours; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special. They are an inspiration to those who know them” – the Queen in her Christmas Day broadcast. “Materialism has taken us hostage this Christmas. We have to free ourselves ofit”-the Pope. “Please accept my sincere wishes to you and your family of sound health, happiness, wellbeing, success and all the best” – Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin in a letter to President-elect Donald Trump. “I feel sorry for people who limit their singing. You need to use the instrument. If you don’t spin the hard drive often enough it’s going to crash” – TV choirmaster Gareth Malone. “I am slightly scared of this vast seething mass of metal, plastic and electronics” - broadcaster Andrew Marr, who has just bought a Mercedes, which he says is more intelligent than he is.