Weekendish: The best of the week's reads

The Uncatchable

A collection of some of the best reads from the BBC News website this week, with an injection of your comments.

Yet another one of our immersive long-read stories. This is the tale of Vassilis Paleokostas, who has stolen millions from state-owned banks, kidnapped businessmen and broken out of prison twice by helicopter. He's also handed out cash to the country's poor and that in many people's eyes makes him a kind of Greek Robin Hood. He scorned flashy cars, except for getaways. One of the few expensive possessions he treasured was a mysterious golden crucifix that swung from his neck. It would later become the key - it could be used to unlock handcuffs - to at least one successful escape. So how did this man who used to have a humdrum job in a cheese factory go on to become Greece's most-wanted man, outfoxing the law at every turn? It really is like something from a film - which is why we commissioned illustrator Duncan Smith to come up with a film poster for the feature (top).

The Uncatchable

Blast from the past

Image copyright Other

Chris Wild is an author, archivist and founder of Retronaut.com, which describes itself as a photographic time machine. This week Wild takes BBC News Magazine readers on a photographic journey to the Edwardian and Victorian eras. Look at the composite of faces - it's not quite what you would expect from those times. Here are our ancestors clowning around in a surprising way. There are many more - all of them fascinating - a family day out at the gallows (featuring a wooden head of a local criminal) and a man who pinches a woman's floral hat, seemingly without her noticing. The photographs have been mined from the massive collection at the Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives.

A reader writes, adding fascinating detail about a pair of pictures taken by a Northumbrian photographer:

"I recognize the place the two Dutch pictures are taken. The dresses of the girls are not exactly Dutch, since all regions had their own costume. These girls are from the island Walcheren in Zeeland. On the bottom picture (below) you can see from right to left three girls dressed in 'adult' dresses, then one in the children's dress. In the background one can see a lady from the island Zuid-Beveland. The girls are to nicely dressed to be in Middelburg for a market day. It could be the first of may, as on that day young people looking for a new place to work and farmers looking for new personnel would meet in Middelburg. But that is only a guess."

MattPotter ‏tweets: "When Victorian portraits go horribly/fantastically off-piste."

Day out at the gallows and other bygone photographic oddities

Image copyright Other

Brummie accents

Why are so few films and TV series based in Birmingham? Apparently because the accent is so difficult to mimic. Many of us like to pretend we can do a Brummie accent, but we're more than likely getting it wrong because we're not poking our lips forward enough. A second series of Birmingham-set drama Peaky Blinders (pictured) is in the pipeline, and the show's creator Steven Knight has admitted the city's accent is "very difficult to get right". A common misconception is that Birmingham's is a slow accent - dimwitted Benny from Crossroads did little to help that. Now you have to of a certain age to remember that one. Try saying "Miss Diane" in his accent - you're sure to get it wrong.

The Mitford six

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Mitford sisters (clockwise from top left): Unity; Jessica; Diana; Nancy; Deborah; Pamela

Another composite of faces - beautiful ones. These are the Mitford sisters. The last surviving one, Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, died this week. Lyndsy Spence explains why there has hardly ever been a dull moment with this lot. Take Diana, her affair with Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, brought her lifelong infamy. Unity moved to Germany at the age of 19 and became a pal of Hitler. Jessica became a communist and ran off to fight the fascists during the Spanish Civil War. She moved to the US, where she went on to become a late-blooming pop star, singing with her group Decca & The Dectones. Nancy was a socialist who escaped a dull marriage by slipping off the Paris and carrying on an affair with Charles de Gaulle's right-hand man, Gaston Palewski. All of this while she was glamorously decked out in Dior. Deborah may seem the least exciting - she led a contented country life and described herself as apolitical. Susannah ‏@skittledog tweets: "Man, the Mitford sisters were an excellent study in how the social elite can go bonkers, weren't they?" Lizzie Charlton adds: "With a communist, a socialist, & 2 fascists, family gatherings must've been fun."

The six sisters who captured the maelstrom

Driving in Mexico

So, you want to get a driving licence, you've got to take your test, and pass it, right? Not necessarily in Mexico. Will Grant is the BBC correspondent in Mexico City and had been putting off getting his licence, fearing hours of queues, form-filling etc.

But how wrong he was. It seems a bit of cash and a utility bill will suffice. But the laws are about to change. An estimated 17,000 people are killed on the roads in Mexico every year and lobby groups have long called for tighter regulations.

Getting a driving licence without a test

Scarlet women

Image copyright Getty Images

Wearing red has long been fraught with difficulty. Henry VIII and his top aides cornered the market in wearing the colour - Cardinal Wolsey was particularly partial. Anyone below the rank of knight of the garter would be fined for daring to don red. Elizabeth I thought better of trying to assert her authority by swathing herself in scarlet. She went for the white-equals-purity look. The Book of Revelation had spoilt it a bit for women, with its "Whore of Babylon" symbolism. "And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour." But the catwalks are awash with it at the moment. Has the colour finally lost its regal/wanton association? Joanna Gaudoin(Ball) tweets: "At a law firm client event last week, I was asked about wearing red to work by several women." Kitty DoLittle adds: "From Little Red Riding Hood looks and faux fur to sportswear styling, red has its confirmed place this season."

The power of a red dress

Here are some things we've enjoyed this week from elsewhere around the web:

The myth of religious violence - Guardian

The Evolution of the Nurse Stereotype via Postcards: From Drunk to Saint to Sexpot to Modern Medical Professional - Smithsonian Magazine

How The Simpsons Co-Creator Sam Simon Is Facing His Own Tragedy - Vanity Fair

To keep customers coming back, some Chinese restaurants are lacing noodles with opiates - Quartz

How cops control poor black neighbourhoods - The Atlantic

The Mother question - New Yorker

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