Episode 17: The Wheel

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

For this episode let us join the magician of maritime history, Dr Sam Willis, and the baron of biennials, Professor James Daybell, as they reinvent the unexpected history of the wheel. The spokes of history whirl as the time travelling pair pedal their penny farthings to take us on a journey from casinos to revolutions, from the old English game of Roly Poly to the Italian military engineer Agostino Ramelli’s bookwheel in 1588, and from the Chicago Exposition of 1893 to the origins of the noble game of darts.

Sam and James spin the wheel of time to reveal that this unexpected history is actually all about: the rise and fall of civilisations, random luck, government fears and obsessions, moral probity, scholarly reading, American and French rivalry, and holes, yep holes. And if anyone has any information concerning nineteenth-century spinning games, please do get in touch.

‘Round like a circle in a spiral,

Like a wheel within a wheel,

Never ending or beginning on an ever-spinning reel.’ (lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, 1968)

‘The wheel weaves as the wheel wills, and we are only the thread of the Pattern.’ (Robert Jordan)

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