What sort of hat did Mark Williams wore in Father Brown? – The Saturday Briefing

August 12, 2017
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Asked by Tony Holmes, Cardiff

IT’S called a cappello romano (Roman cap) or saturno (because its rim is like the rings of Saturn) – I’ve seen it referred to as a “soup bowl hat” but I suspect that’s a modern nickname.

I HAVE often seen Aphra Behn (1640-1689) cited as the first female playwright. However, in a Shakespeare A-level guide, I saw Elizabeth Cary mentioned as the author of a play called The Tragedy Of Mariam, The Fair Queen Of Jewry. In a footnote it stated that she had been a popular playwright until converting to Catholicism. Her dates were given as 1585-1639, a year before Aphra Behn was born. Can you explain this? Clementine Tetzlaff, by email

APHRA Behn is thought to have been the first woman to earn her living from writing.

Elizabeth Cary was probably the first English woman playwright and The Tragedy Of Mariam was not only the first play but was the first work by a woman and published under her own name.

As the daughter of a lawyer, politician and MP, and the wife of Viscount Falkland she was wealthy (at least until her father disinherited her) and did not earn her living as a writer. She still deserves to be better known.

WHEN I read court cases a “victim surcharge” is frequently included as part of the punishment. I was rather puzzled by this when reading your report of a driver who pulled along someone, with their compliance, in a wheelchair. Both driver and wheelchair passenger were ordered to pay a victim surcharge. Did they pay each other? Kevin Ferguson, by email

THE victim surcharge is rather misleadingly named as the amounts raised are not specifically for the victim of the offence attracting the charge but become part of a fund for victims of all crimes.

All court sentences, even fines, non-custodial sentences and conditional discharges, are subject to a victim surcharge, with minimum amounts around £20 and calculated according to a predetermined scale or as a percentage of any fine. I think we can be sure in the case you mention that the surcharge did not go to either of the defendants.

I HAVE a £5 note with a miniature portrait of Jane Austen near the Queen’s head. I am sure I read that only four of these are in circulation and it could be quite valuable. How do I find out? Brian Marshall, Stockport, Cheshire

THE tiny engravings were done on the new £5 notes by artist Graham Short and the value of each note has been estimated at £50,000.

The image can only be seen clearly through a microscope. Three such notes have been found but two others may still be in circulation.

At least 5,000 people have wrongly claimed to have the note, which may be the result of it being so difficult to see but the crucial way to check is to look at the serial number at the bottom of the note. If it begins AM3288555 you could be in luck.

WHEN I was a small child, puny and underweight, my mother would take me to a clinic we called the “Welfare” for sunray treatment. I’d sit in a large room with other children wearing only pants and goggles while a greenish light shone over us for about half an hour. Can you explain what this procedure was? I am nearly 80 now and still puny and underweight so it clearly didn’t work. M Edgington, Bognor Regis, West Sussex 

FROM the late 1920s until around 1950 “sunray” therapy was prescribed for children for a wide range of maladies. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light was thought to be effective for a variety of ills but the practice was dropped partly because increased availability of antibiotics offered a more effective alternative and because of a growing belief that UV light was a cause of skin cancer.

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