July 12-18 The week that was.
It would be remarkable for any 16 year old to have the guts to stand up and speak in front of a group of world leaders. But this young woman was even more amazing. Only nine months before, she had been shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' rights. Malala spoke, to huge applause, about the importance of education - 'Let us pick up our books and pens, they are our most powerful weapons' - and in 2014 was the youngest-ever person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
971 15 JULY English people first celebrated St Swithin's Day.
The saint was best known for the miracle of restoring a basket of broken eggs. He asked to be buried outside where raindrops could fall on his grave. Could this be the reason why he's been the subject of folklore about wet weather for centuries? The rhyme goes: 'St Swithin's day if thou dost rain, For forty days it will remain, St Swithin's day if thou be fair, For forty days 'twill rain nae mare.' People in Buckinghamshire have their own variation: 'If on St Swithin's day it really pours, You're better off to stay indoors.' Good advice!
1690 12 JULY William of Orange defeated James II at the Battle of the Boyne.
The victory of the king of England overthrowing his Catholic rival has been celebrated by Protestants in Northern Ireland ever since. Typically, paraders wear bowler hats, dark suits with orange 'collarettes' and carry a symbol of their particular order, the Union flag or the Ulster banner. In the past, 'marching season' from April to August was a source of tension between the communities, as the walks went through or near predominantly Catholic areas.
1955 17 JULY Disneyland in California was opened by Walt Disney.
For 60 years, people have flocked to the park to be entertained with rides and attractions that celebrate fantasy, the future and all our favourite characters. Walt wanted his amusement park to educate as well as entertain, but on opening day, they weren't ready for the public. The food and drink ran out (that'd never happen now), the tarmac wasn't dry enough on Main Street and a woman caught her heel in it, and the steamboat almost capsized. Sounds like someone was taking the Mickey 1946 14 JULY Dr Benjamin Spock published his Common Sense Book Of Baby & Child Care.
Nothing to do with Star Trek, although there was definitely something alien about what the paediatrician was recommending. His tone was friendly, and his manual was kept deliberately affordable. Spock's approach - flexibility, showering your infant with affection and most of all, relying on instinct - is summed up in his first line: 'Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.' His book is still in print, and has been translated into 39 languages.
1976 18 JULY Nadia Comaneci became the first person in Olympic
Games history to score a perfect 10. The tiny Romanian gymnast, aged 14, went to Montreal and wiped the floor - and the uneven bars, the beam and the horse - with her competitors. Not even the scoreboard could keep up with her: there were only three digits, so her perfect 10 was displayed as 1.00. The law has now changed, so athletes have to be 16 to compete. Young Nadia was hailed a Communist heroine, but she defected to Canada in 1989.
1971 12 JULY The Australian Aboriginal flag was flown for the first time on National Aborigines Day, Adelaide.
First designed for the land rights movement, critics have said it's divisive for a country to have two flags. But Aboriginal Olympian Cathy Freeman famously carried both when she won her medals in 1994, and a year later, the flag was granted official status. Designed by Aboriginal artist Harold Thomas, the black represents the people, red is a symbol of the red earth and Aboriginal peoples' spiritual relation to the land, and yellow is for the sun; the giver of life and protector.
1957 17 JULY TV presenter Fern Britton was born.
Happy 58th birthday to the former host of This Morning, whose gastric band op was kept private, but her dislike of fake tan and her 2012 Strictly Come Dancing partner Artem Chigvintsev wasn't. Recently, Fern alleged he would push her around and be rude. Nowadays, the woman who got Tony Blair to be more honest about his motives for war than any political journalist, has a new career as a novelist, with her latest book called A Good Catch.