16 October

Marie Antoinette was beheaded, the Palace of Westminster was gutted by fire, the first broadcast of Blue Peter went out on BBC TV (with presenters Leila Williams and Christopher Trace) - and Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.

October 16, 2009 · 1 min read

All of these happened on 16 October, with the last prompting the satirical songwriter Tom Lehrer to declare that ‘satire became obsolete’ the day it happened. He never performed in public again.

Sadly for the urban myth-makers, the two were unconnected. ‘I don’t know how that got started,’ Lehrer said in interview years later. ‘For one thing, I quit long before that happened, so historically it doesn’t make any sense. I’ve heard that quoted back to me, but I’ve also heard it quoted that I was dead, so there you are.’

I hold your hand in mine, dear,

I press it to my lips.

I take a healthy bite

From your dainty fingertips.

My joy would be complete, dear,

If you were only here,

But still I keep your hand

As a precious souvenir.


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