Today In Fact, 24 May

Bob Dylan, Oubaas, and Vicky. Three of the oddest people share a birthday today. Now I’m sure that on any day of the year a few odd-balls could be found to say happy birthday to but today we can wish Queen Victoria (1819), Jan Smuts (1870) and Robert Zimmerman aka Bob Dylan (1941) a very happy birthday. The details of the lives of all three are well known enough for me to pass over their biographies. Yet they share some curious, if perhaps little-known things in common.

No it’s not that they all three contracted a secret marriage. Only Queen Victoria and Bob Dylan share that strange distinction. Jan Smuts was stolidly devoted to his one and only wife, Issie.

All three share a close and curious connection with Scotland. St. Andrews University and Fife in particular. Queen Victoria’s second husband, John Brown was a Scot and one of her daughters married the Duke of Fife. A close correspondence between the ancient University of St. Andrews was held with the Queen throughout her long reign. Jan Smuts was appointed the Lord Chancellor of St. Andrews University in 1934 and it seems was a popular visitor to that ancient college throughout the 1930’s. Bob Dylan received an honorary doctorate in Music from St. Andrews in 2004. Dylan owns a large mansion in Scotland and really enjoys visiting.

In addition to sharing a birthday and their love of all things Scots; Vic, Bob and Jan also share a curious connection to things botanical. The giant water lily, I mean that really big water lily that people can stand on, is called the Victoria Water Lily after the good Queen. Jan Smuts has a type of grass named after him. It’s that type of grass often found on the veldt with three or four “fingers”. Known as Smuts’ Finger, it was named after him in recognition of his love of things botanical. Bob Dylan wrote many lyrics about grass but his most famous connection to things botanical is that he introduced the Beatles to smoking grass back in 1964.

So I guess today goes to prove that any three people can be shown to have at least three connections to each other, even if it might be stretching things a bit. Go forth and connect.

Doug Racionzer (read more of Doug’s daily reflections at