1989 - A Year Truly Worth Remembering
1989 was a very memorable year, and if you were alive and sentient during any part of it, then you’ll probably remember it for one of the following reasons:
The Berlin Wall was demolished, uniting East and West
Theodore Bundy was executed by electric chair
The Exxon Valdez caused the world’s largest oil spill (to date)
In the Hillsborough Disaster, 96 people were crushed to death during an FA semi-final
51 young partygoers died when the Marchioness hit a dredger and sank in the Thames
A 747 crashed on the M1 killing 46 people
A gas pipeline exploded on the Trans-Siberian railroad killing 400 people
The Ceauşescus were executed in Romania
The wreck of the Bismarck (sunk in 1941) was discovered 3 miles deep in the Atlantic Ocean
Oliver North was found guilty for his participation in the drugs-for-arms Contra scandal
A huge glass pyramid was erected outside the Louvre in Paris to enormous controversy
Sky TV, the UK’s first satellite TV station, began transmission
And that’s not all, folks!
1989 celebrates a staggering 1,200 year anniversary since Constantine began his reign in Scotland in 789. He was possibly the greatest king of the pre-Viking period, although should more properly be known as the King of the Picts, so as not to confuse him with King Constantine I of the MacAlpin clan.
Although speaking of Constantine I of the MacAlpin clan, 1989 is also significant for his son, Donald I, who came to the throne of Scotland 100 years after the first Constantine, the Pictish one, in 889.
Donald is principally remembered for attempting to fight off the Vikings, particularly Sigurd the Mighty who was based in Orkney. Donald didn’t have a great track record on this score, and was killed defending Donnottar Castle just outside Stonehaven, which is still marvellously extant, and well worth a visit if you’re around that neck of the woods.
1989 is also the hundredth birthday of three literary greats that are read as much today as they were then: Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Master of Ballantrae, and Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. And if Adolf Hitler were still alive, which happily he is not, he’d been receiving a telegram from the Queen in this same year, though I hate to think what message would be in it.
It is also the bicentennial of a couple of other small historical events, being two hundred years since the famous Mutiny on the Bounty, after which the mutineers took themselves off on The Bounty to a speck of the world called Pitcairn Island, where they landed, intermingled with the natives, and whose joint descendants still live there today. But more heroic by far was the fate of their Captain, William Bligh, whom they set adrift in a 25 foot open deck boat, and who managed to keep himself and his 18 crewmates alive for the fifty days at sea it took him to navigate their way from Tonga to Timor.
And that is a feat worth celebrating indeed.
And what was the other thing?
Oh yes, almost forgot; it’s exactly two hundred years since the French Revolution kicked off in 1789, changing the course of world history forever.