The List

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The Independent Online
BIG LIES: 'Ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil' (Serpent to Eve); 'It'll be over by Christmas' (politicians in First World War); promoters of the 'unsinkable' Titanic; statistics; 'The dog ate my homework'; 'You've never had it so good' (Harold Macmillan); 'The pound in your pocket will not be affected' (Harold Wilson on 1967 devaluation); 'There is no cover-up' (Nixon on Watergate); 'There is no alternative' (Margaret Thatcher); 'Read my lips; no new taxes' (George Bush); 'It would be totally unfair to suggest (my amendments on the Disabled Bill) came from another source' (Olga Maitland, MP, reprimanded by the Speaker for misleading the House).

COULD BE TRUE: 'People . . . will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one' (Adolf Hitler).

TODAY is the feast day of St Theodosia, who lived in Constantinople in the eighth century when the Eastern and Western churches were split over sacred images. Emperor Leo (an 'iconoclast') ordered that a particularly revered image should be pulled down. Theodosia, at the head of a band of pro-image women, shook the ladder which supported the official attempting to dismantle the image. The man was killed. Theodosia was arrested as ringleader, and tortured and killed in prison. The Roman church does not recognise her as a saint.

29 May, 1829: Sir Humphrey Davy, scientist and inventor of the miner's safety lamp, died in Geneva, aged 50. Born and educated in Cornwall, he formed independent views on the nature of heat, light and electricity as a young adolescent. He discovered the effects of laughing gas, and the elements sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, strontium and barium. His work took a toll on his health; he almost killed himself experimenting with water gas and he spent his last months in Rome, 'a ruin amongst ruins', he said of himself.

1940: The evacuation of Dunkirk began.

1953: Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest.

BIRTHDAYS: Rupert Everett, actor, 35; Bob Hope, comedian, 91; Nanette Newman, actress, 55.

(Photograph omitted)