This day in London’s History
1749: Gurning impresario John Jacob Heidegger dies, aged 90. No, got to admit, we’d never heard of him either. But having read his story, we feel ashamed to have only just made his acquaintance. Heidegger came to London in 1708 from Switzerland as a ‘negotiator’. Through force of character, he worked his way up the social ladder and eventually became a favourite in the court of George II. During his meteoric rise, he introduced the masked ball to London (where would we be without that?), got himself painted several times by Hogarth, and revived the fortunes of the flagging opera. And he did all this despite possessing a face like a smashed crab. In one of the most peculiar wagers in London’s fine history of such things, the scrunch-faced Heidegger staked 50 guineas that Lord Chesterfield could not find an uglier person in the whole city. Chesterfield scoured the town, eventually plucking a grotesque hag from the St Giles slums. Under scrutiny by a panel of gentlemen, it looked like the old woman was sure to be deemed the more gruesome. But then Heidegger tried on her hat, and a nauseated panel awarded him the unenviable victory. And thus, the world had an early foretaste of that repulsive Esure advert with Michael Winner in drag.
London fact of the week
Despite often being regarded as a figure of ridicule, Michael Winner has made a very positive contribution to the streets of London. He established the Police Memorial Trust, which places monuments at the spots where officers have fallen in the line of duty. In London, this includes a memorial to PC Yvonne Fletcher in St James Square, and the National Police Memorial where Horse Guards meets the Mall. Michael Winner is also the director of the Death Wish trilogy in which lots and lots of people get shot.
London person of the week
The mysterious David C for his very public ‘I want you back note’ to his wronged partner Quonah. Or is it just a piece of viral marketing? You decide.
One thing you must do in London this week