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Answer 127. Guglielmo Marconi first demonstrated radio here. Most of his early equipment is on display at the Science Museum in South Kensington.


Marconi’s pioneering work on the corner of King Edward Street led eventually to the invention of the mobile phone. Few users realise it as they walk past the spot, jabbering away to themselves.

Every cell phone owner, every idiot peering at a screen when he should be looking where he is going, every moron on the train ringing home to say he’s on the train, owes Marconi a huge debt. The rest of us would like to strangle him.

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Pepys eunuchOn 19 April 1687, a well-known diarist came round to this house in Buckingham Street (then York Street) for a musical evening:

‘I heard the famous Singer the Eunuch Cifacca, esteemed to be the best in Europe & indeede his holding out & delicatenesse in extending¬† & loosing a note… was admirable.

‘For the rest, I found him a meere wanton, effeminate child; very Coy, & prowdly conceited on my apprehension.

‘This was before a select number of some particular persons whom Mr Pepys (Secretary of the Admiralty & a greate lover of Musick) invited to his house, where the meeting was, & this obtained by peculiar favour & much difficulty of the Singer, who much disdained to shew his talent to any but Princes.’

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 128. Good singers were often castrated in those days, to preserve the quality of their voices. Who was the diarist?

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