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Culture
The Telegraph ©

The History of May

May, the fifth month in the calendar, marking the overlap between Spring and Summer.
Forbes ©

"1994 - Nelson Mandela becomes South Africa's first black president after more than three centuries of white rule. Mr Mandela's African National Congress (ANC) party wins 252 of the 400 seats in the first democratic elections of South Africa's history."

1st May: "Their actions have nothing to do with conviction or belief and everything to do with mindless thuggery" - Tony Blair

2000 - Hundreds of demonstrators fight running battles with police during anti-capitalist protests in London which see both the Cenotaph and Winston Churchill's statue defaced.

2nd May: Keep the Red Flag flying

1997 - The Labour Party wins the general election in a landslide victory, leaving the Conservatives in tatters after 18 years in power, with both Scotland and Wales left devoid of Tory representation.

Labour now boasts a formidable 419 seats. The Conservatives take just 165, their worst performance since 1906. Tony Blair - at 43 the youngest British prime minister this century - promises he will deliver "unity and purpose for the future.”

 

©NY Daily News

 

3rd May: The heart of the matter

1968- Britain's first heart transplant is successfully carried out today by a team of 18 doctors and nurses at the National Heart Hospital in Marylebone, London. The operation, which is led by South African-born surgeon Donald Ross, is undertaken on an unnamed 45-year-old man. It takes more than seven hours to complete.

4th May: "The lady's not for turning"

1979 - The Conservative Party wins the general election, making Margaret Thatcher Britain's first ever female prime minister. On the steps of Number 10, she quotes from St Francis of Assisi: "Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope."

5th May: A television "first"

1980 - The siege of the Iranian embassy in London ends after a dramatic raid by SAS commandos.

Five Iranian gunmen are killed and one is arrested. 19 hostages are set free but one dies and two are injured in the crossfire. Millions of people watch the rescue live on television as bank holiday entertainment on all three channels is interrupted to show the real-life drama unfold.

6th May: Oxford's favourite son (and fastest too)!

1954 - Roger Bannister, a 25-year-old British medical student, becomes the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes. His time is three minutes and 59.4 seconds, achieved at the Iffley Road track in Oxford, and is watched by about 3,000 spectators. Bannister, once president of the Oxford club, was running for the Amateur Athletic Association against his old university during their annual match. The race was carefully planned and he was aided by two pacemakers, Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway.

1994 - The Queen and France's President Francois Mitterrand formally open the Channel Tunnel during two elaborate ceremonies in France and Britain. After travelling through the tunnel, which took eight years and billions of pounds to build, the Queen says it is one of the world's great technological achievements. The tunnel is the first land link between Britain and Europe since the last Ice Age about 8,000 years ago.

7th May: Where there's smoke, there's no proof of cancer

1945 - Germany signs an unconditional surrender bringing to an end six years of war in Europe. The day is declared a national holiday to mark Victory in Europe Day (VE Day).

1956 - The Health Minister RH Turton, rejects calls for a government campaign against smoking, saying no ill effects have actually been proven. The minister states in the House of Commons that: "Two cancer-causing agents have been identified in tobacco smoke but whether they have a direct role in producing lung cancer and if so what, has not been proved."

8th May: Criminal royalty lose their crown

1968- The Kray twins, Reginald and Ronnie, aged 34, and their 41-year-old brother Charlie, are arrested after a series of dawn raids in London. They are among 18 men currently being held at West End Central police station helping with inquiries relating to offences including conspiracy to murder, fraud, demanding money with menaces and assault. The Kray brothers are the first to be arrested when police force their way into their mother's council flat at Braithwaite House, Finsbury.

10th May: At long, long, long last.

1994 - Nelson Mandela becomes South Africa's first black president after more than three centuries of white rule. Mr Mandela's African National Congress (ANC) party wins 252 of the 400 seats in the first democratic elections of South Africa's history.

12th May: Time for take-off

1967 - The British Government gives the green light to plans to convert Stansted into London's third airport. President of the Board of Trade Douglas Jay tells the House of Commons that the small airfield in Essex will become the site for a £47m international airport by 1974. There had been considerable support for an alternative site on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent but Stansted was eventually selected by an inter-departmental committee.

13th May: The ultimate glass ceiling

1995 - A British mother of two becomes the first woman to conquer Everest without oxygen or the help of Sherpas. Alison Hargreaves, 33, is only the second person ever to reach the peak of the world's highest mountain unaided. She reaches the 29,028ft (8,847.7m) summit at 12:08 local time on Saturday – 7:23 in Britain - and immediately radios her base camp. She wants to send a fax to her two children, Tom and Kate, aged six and four, at home near Fort William on the west coast of Scotland. The message is: "I am on the top of the world and I love you dearly."

14th May: Britain fuels up

1957 - Petrol rationing, which was in force in Britain for five months following the Suez crisis, is finally abolished. There are loud cheers in the House of Commons when the Paymaster General Reginald Maudling makes the announcement that restrictions have been lifted.

15th May: Mushroom mayhem

1957 - Britain explodes its first hydrogen bomb as part of a series of tests in the Pacific.

16th May: "Come on if you think you're 'ard enough"

2001- The Labour Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, punches a protester who throws an egg at him during a visit to Rhyl in North Wales. The undignified brawl happens as the Labour deputy steps off his so-called Prescott Express campaign bus.

17th May: The stuff of legend

1943- An audacious RAF bombing raid into the industrial heartland of Germany wrecks three dams serving the Ruhr valley. The attack disrupts water and electricity supplies in a key area for the manufacture of Germany's war munitions. The Secretary of State for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair, calls the raid "a trenchant blow for victory.” The bombs themselves were invented specifically for the task by aircraft engineer Dr Barnes Wallis, designer of the Wellington bomber.

18th May: Fear for “jostled holidaymakers”

1964- Scores of youths are given prison sentences following a Whitsun weekend of violent clashes between gangs of Mods and Rockers at a number of resorts on the south coast of England. In Brighton, more than 1,000 teenagers were involved in skirmishes on the beach and the promenade. According to onlookers "they threw deckchairs around, shouted obscenities at each other and at passers-by, jostled holidaymakers and terrified elderly residents."

20th May: That's why Dad's gone to Iceland

1973- Britain sends in Royal Navy ships to protect trawlers in the disputed Icelandic 50-mile zone as the so-called "cod war" escalates. Three frigates - the Cleopatra, the Plymouth and the Lincoln - sail alongside British trawlers.

21st May: All trucked up

1958- Automated telephone connection will make calls easier and cheaper, says Postmaster General Ernest Marples. From December, Subscriber Trunk Dialling is to be introduced in the Bristol area where 18,000 subscribers will be able to make trunk calls without the aid of an operator.  The General Post Office is to spend £35m modernising the phone system in an effort to popularise use of the telephone. On average, less than two calls a day per telephone are made in the UK.

23rd May: The good Good Friday Agreement

1998 - The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, welcomes a resounding "yes" vote in the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement calling it "a day for joy.” The referendum returned a resounding "yes" vote with 71 per cent of voters from Northern Ireland and 94 per cent of those in the Irish Republic showing their support for the Good Friday peace agreement.

25th May: In it to win it

1994 - The Camelot consortium wins the contract to run Britain's first national lottery which starts in November. The group predicts it will bring in a total of £32bn during the seven years of its license. It plans to give £9bn of that to the lottery fund's five "good causes" - charities, the arts, sport, National Heritage projects and a Millennium Fund.

28th May: "Ahoy there!"

1967 - Sir Francis Chichester arrives in Plymouth on his yacht, Gipsy Moth IV, after completing his epic single-handed voyage around the world. He crosses the finishing line at 20:58, nine months and one day after setting off from the historic port. About 250,000 well-wishers turn out to cheer and welcome home the 65-year-old adventurer.

29th May: "Top of the world Ma..."

1953 - New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay become the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest on the Nepal-Tibet border. After reaching the top of the world at 11:30 local time, the two men hug, take photographs and bury sweets and biscuits in the snow as a Buddhist offering to the gods.

31st May: "I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want"

1998- Geri Halliwell, aka Ginger Spice, leaves the chart-topping Spice Girls band. The announcement follows days of increasingly feverish speculation, after Geri - the driving force behind the band - misses the BBC's National Lottery Show on Wednesday and two concerts in Norway.

 

-Jeremy Smith