Candidate Profile

Provided by

Astronomy & Space Science
Earth Sciences, Geology & Geography
Fashion & Style
Food & Nutrition
Gemmology & Jewellery
Science - General
Paul grew up and spent his school years in the West Midlands and then read chemistry at Manchester University earning his B.Sc., M.Sc. and PhD and a further 2 years as a Science Council Research Fellow at Sussex University.

After 8 years of academic life Paul joined Unilever in London where his first task was to develop new approaches to under-arm deodorants and antiperspirants. Later he relocated to the Wirral close to Chester where he worked on oral care products and the global supply chain for raw materials. During his career Paul has developed excellent presentation skills and has helped to run and present Unilever’s global science and technology training courses and has lectured extensively in both schools and universities. Working for the global supply chain gave Paul the opportunity to travel around the world and to many remote places in India, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia and Brazil.

At the age of 55 Paul took early retirement and now works as a freelance consultant and has also put together a portfolio of talks on the history of everyday products – products that we typically eat or use on a daily basis without thinking much about them. Such products include tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, sugar, makeup, deodorants, toothpaste and soap. The talks, often humorous with amusing anecdotes, are richly illustrated with early advertisements. Paul’s career at Unilever gave him a fascinating insight into such every day products and how some of them are evaluated – would you like to train as an arm pit sniffer or bad breath sniffer? For the festive season Paul has also a series of talks on the history of our Christmas traditions.

With Paul’s academic background he has developed a series of talks on Astronomy but from the perspective of chemistry – looking at the world around us where did its building blocks (the 92 natural occurring elements) for it and for life originate?

Paul and his wife have cruised extensively (40+ cruises) with P&O, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Cruise and Maritime Voyages, and Holland America and has lectured on Princess, Celebrity and Cruise and Maritime ships.


During an average day we all come into contact with products that we take for granted. These include cups of tea or coffee sweetened with one or two spoon full’s of sugar, a glass of sparking water or Coca Cola. If we are peckish we might also have a bar of chocolate.

Perhaps then its time for a quick meal: raid the freezer for frozen fish, frozen peas followed by an ice cream.

When its time to go out we spruce ourselves up; have a wash with a bar of soap, brush our teeth with our favourite toothpaste, apply a few squirts of deodorant and a splash of perfume, ladies will apply makeup and finally we choose our favourite jewellery.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how and who developed these products that these days we take for granted? Who would have thought that wars were fought and a drug trade set up to ensure a constant supply of tea, coffee was blessed by a pope, the first sparking water was produced in a brewery, chocolate and sugar were originally seen as medicines, a toothpaste was the first advertisement on UK television, soap played a major role in early consumer advertising, Coco Channel was obsessed with the number 5, Victorian ladies diced with death when using early makeup, and the semi-precious amethyst was used to protect yourself from excess alcohol, and finally the observation of Inuits freezing fish was the spark that generated the frozen foods business? And yes Clarence Birdseye did exist!


Tea is quintessentially British – this series of three talks charts the origins of tea drinking in China and how Britain fought the Opium Wars in order to maintain its supply of tea. With problems in China, Britain looked for a new source of tea – India was the obvious choice. Whilst tea growing was being established in India the great Clipper ships, notably the Cutty Sark, sailed the oceans between China and London bringing home her cargo of tea. The talks conclude with the rise in tea shops in the cities and, for those of us old enough to remember, the black and white uniformed Nippies who served tea and cakes. And finally how the big tea brands evolved such as Brooke Bond (there was a Mr Brooke but not a Mr Bond), Ty-Phoo (Chinese for doctor) and Liptons.

1. A Storm in a Tea Cup. The Turbulent History of Tea.
Part 1: For All The Tea In China

This talk explores the early history of tea from its roots in China through to its arrival in Britain – bought from Portugal by Catherine Of Braganza the wife of Charles II. Later the taking of Afternoon Tea was introduced by Anna Maria Russell, 7th Duchess of Bedford in the 1840s and in the Victorian era tea drinking grew ever more popular. Finally the tea bag was developed by the wife of the American tea merchant Thomas Sullivan.

2. A Storm in a Tea Cup. The Turbulent History of Tea.
Part 2: Opium Wars, Boston Tea Party, Clipper Ships and The War Effort

This talk traces the events that led to the Opium Wars when England traded Indian opium for Chinese tea and high taxation of tea was the spark for the Boston Tea Party. The second part of the talk covers the famous Clipper ships that raced each other home to London with the season’s first tea and the rise of some of today’s major tea brands. Finally a look is taken how tea kept moral high during the two World Wars.


For the non-tea drinker this talk traces how coffee found its way from Africa, through the Middle East to Europe and America and the rise of some of the more famous brands of coffee.

1. Full Of Beans! A Decaffeinated Skinny Latté To Go
The amusing story of how we got our daily cup of coffee. From the goat herder who ‘discovered’ coffee, via the women who tried to ban it, to today’s iconic brands such as Maxwell House which took its name from the hotel where it was first served.


Just a soft drink I’m driving!

In 1767 the English scientist Joseph Priestly held a bowl of water above a beer vat – he had invented carbonated water. From this simple idea the sparkling drinks business evolved. The first product was made by Schweppes (the tonic for gin) which was followed by the now world famous brands of Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Seven Up and Dr Pepper. This talk charts the origins of these brands for example Coca Cola evolved out of the American Civil where many soldiers were morphine addicts (cocaine was supposedly less addictive) and originally Seven Up contained a mood changing lithium compound.


Sugar & Spice & All Things Nice – The History of Sugar & Its Legacy
This talk covers the early history of sugar cane which originated in tropical South East Asia before spreading through the Islamic world and India to its cultivation and production in the West Indies and the tropical regions of the Americas beginning in the 16th century. The crucial problem with sugar production was that it was highly labour-intensive in both growing and processing which resulted in the growth of a slave trade with African slaves becoming the dominant source of plantation workers. The talk concludes with short reviews of some of the current problems associated with the high consumption of sugar rich foods & drinks and the rise of the so-called artificial sweeteners.


The Bitter-Sweet History Of Chocolate
This talk traces the history of chocolate from its origins in South America with the Myan and Aztec civilizations (where it was the bitter drink of the emperors and priests) through to its arrival in Europe and North America. The talk concludes with 'what exactly is chocolate' and the rise of today's major chocolate brands.


For the ladies but hopefully some men may be brave enough to listen! Used everyday but perhaps without thinking this series of talks charts the often turbulent rise of the make up, cosmetics and perfume industries. Make up had its origins in ancient Egypt but soon became popular in Europe. However many of the early ingredients were toxic and, for some early young fashion icons, it was really make up to die for! Coco Chanel was obsessed with the number five – not surprisingly her first perfume was Chanel No 5. The Avon company had its roots as the Californian Perfume Company in the USA but its creator loved Shakespeare’s birth place Stratford On Avon - and so the change in name.

1. Make-Up To Die For or Drop Dead Gorgeous
This talks charts the history and development of what we now call ‘Make-Up’ and begins in early Egyptian times where, in particular, the Khol eye make-up contained lead, antinomy and mercury - substances that we would now consider as extremely harmful. Make-up continued to flourish during Roman times where many of the harmful ingredients were still used. In England Elizabeth I popularized a very pale complexion using lead-based powders and creams which probably contributed to her death. Later the Church and Queen Victoria denounced the use of make-up and in the 18th century the society ladies Maria Gunning and Kitty Fisher were the first recorded deaths from ‘make-up’.

2. Looking Good –Smelling Even Better
This talk charts the history and development of perfumes from their first use in religious ceremonies and how, much later, the Black Death and the leather industry helped their development. The second part of the talk looks at the history of and how some of the more famous perfume brand got their names – Chanel No 5, Avon, 4711, Crown Perfumery and Old Spice.

3. BO And Bad Breath –What A Turn Off!
This amusing talk charts the development of deodorants and oral care products – two ‘cosmetics’ we apply daily but perhaps think little about.
Historically in many cases BO was positively appreciated! But how is BO produced and why does it smell? Learn why men should be careful in pig farms, how trained female ‘arm pit sniffers’ evaluated modern deodorants and how Mum, the first successful brand of deodorant got its name. Historically toothache was thought to be due to a worm gnawing inside the tooth, the great French dentist Pierre Fauchard recommended using ones own urine as a mouthwash? For those cruise-ship-quizzers the talk covers the first UK advert on UK TV (Gibbs SR toothpaste), the world’s first striped toothpaste (Signal), and the famous jingle ‘You wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent’ and how decay-fighting ingredient fluoride was ‘discovered’.


This series of talks of begins with how a British grocer (William Hesketh Lever) from Bolton had an idea to place a bar of soap in a wrapper with a brand name. This grew to become one of the world’s largest multinational companies. The famous soaps were Sunlight Soap and Lifebuoy Soap. Together these soaps helped families out of the grime and disease of Victorian England. He built a village for his workers at Port Sunlight and his advertising brought art to the masses. He went on to bring other products to the masses including Walls sausages and ice cream and Birdseye peas and fish fingers.

1. An Empire Built on Soap. Cleaning Up The Nation
William Hesketh Lever was a grocer from Bolton who had an idea to wrap soap in paper with a brand name and later to manufacture the soap himself. This was the birth of consumer-product advertising with Sunlight Soap and the origin of the Multinational company Unilever. Lever not only developed advertising but he built a factory and village for his workers – Port Sunlight. This talks chats the early history of the company, a visual tour around his purpose built village and the products he made – Sunlight Soap, Lifebuoy Soap, Pears Soap, Rinso, Lux, Vim and Gibbs toothpaste. The talk is illustrated with colourful early adverts for his products.

2. Cleaning the Nation. Soap and Art in Advertising
This talk covers the history and advertising of some of the first branded soaps through their early adverts. Products include Sunlight Soap, Lifebuoy soap (it was a life-line a ‘lifebuoy’ to the Victorian mother whose family was at risk from disease and grim (hence the image of the lifeboat man), Pears soap and the Miss Pears Competition and Vinolia soap. Not only did Lever manufacture soap but he tried to educate his consumers – he produced illustrated encyclopedias and bought famous paintings and modified them to use in his advertising.


Feeding the Nation. The Birth of the Frozen Foods Business and Other Food 'Inventions'
This talk covers the history of some of the more ‘everyday products’ produced by the Unilever Group. Clarence Birdseye was a real man who, after watching the Intuits freeze fish, had an idea – the Birds Eye frozen Foods Company. John Hewer played Captain Birdseye in advertising fish fingers until he retired at the age of 76 and Patsy Kensit, aged 4, featured in the icon advert with the slogan ‘Sweet as the moment the pod went pop’ for Birdseye Peas - which also was the first colour advert on UK television. Walls sausages were initially introduced by Edmund Cotterill in 1786 selling them in London. Much later the sales of pork sausages declined during the summer months so the company looked for a new product – ice cream. It was sold by bicycle riding salesmen with the slogan ‘Stop me and buy one’. And finally the OXO cube was originally a German invention


Looking up at a clear night sky we have all at some time wondered how did it begin and will it end? With fantastic images and video clips from NASA and the International Space Station this series of talks traces the current ideas on the origin, evolution and fate of the Universes and of Earth and its companion satellite the Moon. Fortunately the position of the Earth is just in the right place – not too hot and not too cold - just right for life to emerge. Astronomy and cosmology has also show how the Earth is in a unique place to keep us safe.
Earth’s unique atmosphere and magnetic field treats to a dramatic light show that has fascinated mankind for centuries – the Northern and Southern Lights which is, in fact, one of Earth’s mechanisms that helps to keep us safe.

1. The Science and Myths of the Northern Lights.
This talk charts the history and origins of this beautiful natural light display seen close to the Northern and Southern Poles using images and video clips taken from the International Space Station. The colourful display of lights arises from particles emitted by the sun being focused, through the Earth’s magnetic field, at the poles where they interact with out atmosphere to produce the fantastic light displays.

2. Our Place in the Universe
In the film ET what address for planet earth does he give for the space ship to return and rescue him? This talk discusses how the early astronomers, together with the invention of the telescope, began to understand the location planet Earth in the solar system, the Milky Way and the wider universe.

3. How to Build a Universe - The Big Bang
This talk, in simple terms, charts the history and development of the Big Bang theory i.e. the origin of the universe. The term Big Bang was a sort of flippant comment made by Fred Hoyle, who was not a supporter of the theory, on a BBC radio programme in 1949. The talk continues to explore the life and death of stars and how they are responsible for the formation of the 92 elements that make up, not only us (we are star dust) but everything around us and how stars were responsible for the formation of planets and solar systems and galaxies.

4. A Grand Tour of the Solar System
A grand visual tour of our Solar System using superb images from NASA, the International Space Station and the numerous missions that have been launched to photograph and map the planets and our Solar System.

5. Life in a Turbulent Universe
This talk discuss how Earth is just in the right place to nurture life – the Goldilocks Zone – not too hot, not too cold, Jupiter close and big enough to deflect asteroids from us, our magnetic field to keep us safe from the solar wind and geomagnetic storms and an atmosphere with its ozone layer that protects us from solar radiation. The talk concludes with some of the theories of how life actually evolved and are we really alone in the universe and the search for alien life.

6. The Moon – I feel we are drifting apart!
This talk charts the history and the origin of the moon and how it had, and still has, a profound effect upon the earth being responsible for, amongst other things, the tides and seasons. Today we know that the moon is drifting away from us at 3.8cm a year causing the spin of the Earth to slow down and the days to get longer! At some point in the future the moon will drift far enough away that no longer will there be a total eclipse of the sun. Finally we take a short look at some the more iconic moon missions of the Apollo program – The Eagle has landed.


If we only had time
This talk charts how the concept of time evolved from the early sand and water clocks through to the modern atomic clock. Why 24 hours in a day, 60 seconds in a minute, 7 days in a week & 365 days in a year? The talk also covers the development of how John Harrison solved the ‘Longitude problem’ which radically increased the precision of nautical navigation making long distance sea travel much safer and finally how Greenwich became the chosen point for the Prime Meridian of the World; longitude 000° 00’ 00”.


Diamonds are forever. What are gem stones & how are they formed
This talk looks at the common and less common gemstones and discusses how they are formed, how their colours and properties are dictated by their impurities and the history of some of the more famous stones including those of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Are diamonds really for ever?


A series of festive talks tracing the origins of our Christmas traditions. We look at how Queen Victoria and Albert popularised the Christmas tree and present giving, how the British confectioner Tom Smith had the idea of a Christmas cracker and how the Christmas card was again a British invention.

1. Christmas, Christmas Trees and Decorations

This talk traces the origins of Christmas from earlier Pagan and Roman celebrations to today’s traditions, the Christmas tree and Christmas decorations. The Christmas tree was introduced, from Germany, into England by Queen Charlotte in 1821 and later popularised by Queen Victoria and her husband Albert. In the 1930's, the Addis Brush Company created the first artificial-brush trees, using the same machinery that made their toilet brushes! Edward Hibberd Johnson, a business associate of Thomas Alva Edison, is credited with showing the first Christmas tree with electric lights in his house on December 22, 1882 in New York City.

2. Christmas Cards, Advent Calendars, Crackers & Food

The first Christmas card was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley in London on May 1st 1843. Initially they found only limited use becoming much more popular when used by Queen Victoria and Albert. In 1908 the first printed advent calendar was made by the German Gerhard Lang. Christmas crackers were developed by the London confectioner Tom Smith around 1840 after visiting Paris and seeing sugar coated bonbons on sale. His idea of the ‘cracking’ cracker (marketed as ‘Bangs of Expectations’) came to him whilst sitting in front of a log fire.

The Spanish Conquistadors first brought the Christmas turkey, new delicacy, back to Europe and by 1524 it was available in England. Within a decade the bird was domesticated in England, and by the turn of the century, its name ‘turkey’ had entered the English language.

3. Father Christmas, Rudolph & Carols
This talk covers the history of Father Christmas (popularised by Coca Cola advertising), Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer and Christmas Carols.


1. Myths & Legends of The Northern Lights

Norway is famed as one of the gateways to the spectacular Northern Lights. Since time immemorial man has gazed upwards, both in awe and in fear, at this light show. So not surprisingly many myths and legends have grown up around this light show.

The Lapps saw the lights as messengers of God which might strike down anyone foolish enough to provoke them. The Vikings identified them with the Valkryies, riding out from Valhalla across Bifrost, the bridge that links this world to the next. Other explanations in Scandinavian folklore suggest the lights are reflections from icebergs, the wings of migrating geese, or from shoals of herring swimming close to the surface of the sea. Centuries later Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland proposed one of the first scientific theories for the Northern Lights earning him the title of ‘the first space scientist’ and the Tromso Museum has a display dedicated to him. Today, whilst we have an understanding of the mechanism of the Northern Lights, it nevertheless does not detract from this awe inspiring light show. The talk concludes with a video clip of the Northern Lights courtesy of the International Space Station.

2. Norway – Past And Present

This talk briefly describes the history of Norway, one of its famous explorers Leif Ericson, Norway’s fjords (one of its major tourist attributes) and more recently the growth of Norway’s oil industry.

Norway's coastline rose from glaciations with the end of the last glacial period about 12,000 BC. The first immigration took place during this period as the Norwegian coast offered good conditions for sealing, fishing and hunting. It has a long and turbulent history having unions with both Denmark and Sweden and gained full independency relatively recently in 1905 with Haakon VII crowned king of Norway.

Norwegians discovered Iceland around 870 and within sixty years the island had been divided between four hundred chieftains. Led by Erik the Red, a group of Norwegians settled on Greenland in the 980s. His son, Leif Ericson, discovered Newfoundland in ca. 1000, naming it Vinland. Stunningly beautiful and awe-inspiring the fjords are an incredible part of Norway’s coastline. Formed by ancient, slow moving glaciers carving into rock as they moved towards the sea, fjords are very steep, long valleys and have become synonymous with Norway.

3. Norway - Facts, Myths & Fairy Tales
This talks looks at the traditions of the Norwegian trolls, the music of Edvard Grieg particularly Peer Gynt and the folklore of traditional Norwegian gem stones such as Thulite (Norway’s national stone) and Iolite (Norwegian sunstone which was used by the Vikings as an early compass).
Extensive cruising (40+ cruises) with P&O, Princess, Celebrity, Cruise & Maritime, Fred Olsen, Holland America. Lectured on Celebrity, Princess, Cruise & Maritime and Fed Olsen.
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
Viking Sun SU171215 The Viking World Cruise 2017 - 2018 140 Miami, Florida Friday, December 15, 2017
Viking Sun SU171106 Mid-Atlantic Crossing 11 Lisbon Monday, November 6, 2017
Viking Sea SE170514 Viking Homelands 14 Stockholm Sunday, May 14, 2017
Boudicca D1706 Discovering the Amalfi Coast 16 Falmouth Thursday, April 13, 2017