August 31, 2023

#ThrowbackThursday – 31 August

Ah, 31 August. If you’re a Virgo whose birthday falls between 23 August and 22 September, then today’s horoscope from “The Indian Express” will likely ring true:

“The truth, as you may now find out, is relative, and while you may have got the facts back to front, you may also have learned a lot in the process!”

With that being said, here are three events that went down in history on 31 August:

1888 – Jack the Ripper’s First Victim Discovered

Picture it: London, England. It was 03:40 in the morning of 31 August 1888 when a delivery driver named Charles Cross made a shocking discovery in Whitechapel, one of the most notorious districts in London’s East End.

Coming across what he thought was a sheet of tarpaulin lying in the darkened doorway of a stable located in Buck’s Row, Cross was shocked to find it was actually the body of a woman. Her throat had been cut; after her body had been examined in full at a local mortuary, it was discovered that her abdomen and groin had been horribly mutilated.

The victim was soon identified as Mary Ann Nichols, a 43-year-old streetwalker who was last seen alive by her friend, Emily Holland, at least one hour before her death: Nichols, who had been thrown out of a lodging house because she had not paid for her bed, was determined to find some customers so that she could get some money for lodging. According to Holland, Nichols was drunk at the time; she was last seen making her way towards Whitechapel Road.

Nichols was buried on 6 September. She was survived by her estranged husband and five children.

But even in death, Nichols never could, and probably cannot, rest in peace: her killer was never found. On top of that, the lives of four other streetwalkers (although crime experts would argue there were more) were taken over the course of 1888, their throats also cut and their bodies similarly mutilated. Their memories, their last moments, their legacies became entwined with that of Jack of Ripper, one of the world’s most infamous – and still yet to be identified – serial killers.

1968 – Nude Cover + Bad Music = A Lennon/Ono Album

As an art student, British musician John Lennon thought of nudity, in his own words, as “beautiful”, and as something that he has “no shame” about displaying. This could possibly explain why he and his lover, fellow musician Yoko Ono, decided to pose nude for an experimental album they were planning to release together.

On 31 August 1968, UK magazine “Private Eye” reported that Lennon and Ono’s upcoming album would feature cover art in which they’d both be posing nude. Hard to believe, but true: less than three months later, “Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins” was released, and it sported a provocative photo cover that left very little to the imagination – not of two naked virgins, as the title suggested, but of a very naked Lennon and Ono.

“There was a big flurry, and the music in it was avant-garde, they would not have sold it anyway, and it was just screeches and people talking, and it was an event, rather than a musical happening,” Lennon said of the album in 1975.

Although the actual music on “Unfinished Music” was critiqued harshly by fans and critics, the cover art caused even more of an uproar. Not many copies of the album were sold; the ones that were sold were mainly obscured with a brown flap to censor Lennon and Ono’s more intimate parts.

“I was well pleased at the effect of this album on the public. … The Americans insisted on putting it in a brown paper bag; the Europeans were not so up-tight about it and let it be released as it stood,” said Lennon.

1997 – Goodbye, England’s Rose

She was one of the most popular members of the British Royal Family, loved by her countrymen and by millions of people around the world. But, like a candle in the wind, her light was snuffed out in an instant.

Today marks 26 years since the tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales. She was 36 when she unexpectedly passed away following a car crash in Paris, France.

Per official reports, Diana and her romantic partner, Dodi Fayed, were travelling in a Mercedes car driven by one Henri Paul in the late hours of 30 August, which was beginning to blend into 31 August. In an attempt to flee from members of the paparazzi, Paul attempted to outdrive them.

Unfortunately, it culminated in a fatal, high-speed accident after midnight at the entrance of the Place de l’Alma underpass: Paul lost control of the Mercedes, and it crashed into another vehicle before colliding with a tunnel pillar, spinning, hitting a stone wall and ultimately coming to a stop. Both Paul and Fayed were pronounced at the scene.

Diana was transported to the La Pitie Salpetriere Hospital, but, after two hours of emergency surgery, she was declared dead.

With the news of her death, the world was thrown into mourning. Blame was placed squarely on Paul, whom the French authorities discovered was intoxicated at the time of the accident, due to a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs. Conspiracy theories also abounded, with many accusing the British Royal Family employing spies to kill Diana under the guise of a car accident.

Whatever the case may be, Diana was – and remains – loved by the world, and she is dearly missed.

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