Herman Hesse, German novelist, born today in 1877;
Nostradamus, or really Michel de Notredame, but it sounds so much more authentically scientific in Latin. The author of "Les Propheties", a collection of horoscope and tea-leaf readings that predicted in surprisingly vague language that the future of humankind would be full of wars, despotic tyrannies and bloodshed, but which failed completely to predict the winning number in any one of several rollover lotteries. He was born on December 14th 1503, but I am recording his death, an event that he did predict in the general (we are all going to die, eventually), but apparently was taken by surprise when it came upon him, today in 1566. The truth is, I have only included him as an excuse to dig out from the garage my old vinyl copy of Al Stewart's "Past, Present and Future", which does a splendid Moog Synthesiser job on his version of "Nostradamus", though the real pearl on the album is "Roads To Moscow".
Also, today in 1961, Ernest Hemingway got up at 7am, very quietly so that he wouldn't disturb Mary, his wife, put on his favourite dressing-gown, the one he called his "emperor's robe", went out into the shed behind his house in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho where he kept his guns, chose the double-barrelled shotgun that he generally used for pigeon shooting, found a suitable spot where he could manage the complex gymnastics comfortably, placed the egress against his forehead and his thumb on the trigger, and, as they say in the sort of cliché-riddled books that he would never have written, blew his brains out.
Which leaves just one question: is that Hemingway in the illustration, or - given the date and Hemingway's other home in Key West, the nearest point to Cuba on the American mainland - might it just be Fidel Castro?
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