On the French penchant for inventing things already in existence elsewhere

François Dominique Séraphin, Bourbon favourite and reputedly the father of ombres chinoises (shadow puppetry), began operating 15 years later than is generally thought, and may have copied his techniques from an itinerant Italian or a London Alsatian. Featuring the memoirs of the valet to the later Louis XVII, early descriptions of the delights of the renovated Palais Royal (including a pygmy show), jolly old Baron Grimm on the lamentable state of French opera, shadow plays, and marionettes, and William Beckford’s favourite designer of theatrical perversions.

Philip James de Loutherbourg's Eidophusikon around 1782.

Yiddish and the Italian Welsh

Daffy-down-dilly has been and fled / Her yellow-green gown all stained in red. Featuring Google Translate’s transliteration service for unfamiliar scripts.

Napoleon meets a Welshman (1810-5). Dad's granny's granny used to recount seeing the Welsh march away to fight at Waterloo.

Christmas carousels

Impossible automata for my street organ this holiday season. Featuring Georg Büchner, Ignaz Bruder, German Christmas pyramids, dancing Hasidim, Lieutenant Kijé as you’ve probably never seen it, Le Tigre, and a crustacean.

Types of (German) Christmas pyramid.

Hackney Brook restoration scheme

Iain Sinclair wrote of when “global warming rolls a warm sea [up] the course of the old Hackney Brook.” The flow’s going to be the other way. Let me explain.

Shark jumping on Wick Road near St. Dominic's Primary School following the reinstatement of Hackney Brook.