CRUISE LECTURES – “BOUDICCA” – 24 March to 7 April 2015

CRUISE LECTURES – “BOUDICCA” – 24 March to 7 April 2015

I am provisionally booked as a Guest Lecturer on a Fred Olsen cruise D1506, “African Escapade and Easter Parade,” delivering four lectures on the theme of Frauds and Charlatans. This is the third time that Fred Olsen have asked me to deliver this programme, so I admit to being pleased at the idea that I am half-way good at what I do. On this occasion the missus and I shall be travelling on Boudicca, which will be a first; previously I’ve lectured on Braemar and Balmoral. Although the ship isn’t familiar, I expect the usual comfort, good food and kind attentions of the staff. I don’t claim a wide experience of cruise companies and they appeal to different kinds of passenger. We find those on Fred Olsen vessels to be friendly, sympathetic and unpretentious and we’ve been fortunate to make friends, so we are understandably looking forward to this trip. It leaves from Southampton and covers various ports at the western end of North Africa as well as southern Spain. We anticipate dancing every night.

These are the planned lectures:


The boundary between a forgery and an homage or honest copy is not always obvious, and some of the great artists have turned their hands to forgery in order to pay the bills. This lecture focuses on great 20th century forgeries, including the man who sold a fake Vermeer to Hermann Goering and the forging of the autobiography of Howard Hughes. The centrepiece is an explanation of the Speaker’s personal role in the great Hitler Diaries forgery.


This lecture is a light hearted history of some of the classic frauds, including the sale of various national monuments, the Big Store fraud made famous in The Sting, the Spanish Prisoner scam, and the Living Brazilian Invisible Fish.

3. THE FIRST GREAT CREDIT CRUNCH – or: How bankers and politicians took the public for a ride in the year 1720

In 1720 Europe was swept by wave of speculation that ended in a disastrous credit crunch. This lecture explains how the scheme was deliberately contrived by a group of financial speculators and corrupt politicians. Despite being 300 years old, it is a surprisingly modern and entertaining story about human nature.


Giacomo Casanova is the great lover and adventurer, whose wit, intelligence and daring made him famous in 18th century Europe. This lecture follows his extraordinary career and describes the world in which he lived. It is populated by outrageous characters including a lecherous cardinal, a cross-dressing French diplomat, and the remarkable Count of St. Germain who was believed to be immortal and to have the power of making diamonds.

Jim Williams