Tolkien Reading Day

March 25th has been designated Tolkien Reading Day in honour of the. English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor J R R Tolkien, CBE, who is Best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. Jonathathan Ronald Rheul Tolkien was Born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein. His first novel was The Hobbit was Published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim.

THE HOBBIT

The Hobbit is Set in a time “Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men”, and follows the dangerous and exciting quest of Bilbo Baggins who joins the Wizard Gandalf and a company of thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Okenshield on a dangerous journey to the Lonely Mountain, to reclaim the Dwarf kingdom of Erabor and the many treasures which have been stolen by the fearsome dragon Smaug. Along the way they encounter many hazards including Cave Trolls, Giant Spiders, Hordes of Orcs and Imprisonment by the Elves of Mirkwood Forest. As if that wasn’t enough something decidedly dodgy is also stirring in the Fortress of Dol Gulder, to the South-East of Mirkwood which is taken over by an evil Necromancer. The story culminates in a big battle between the men of Dale, The Elves of Mirkwood, The Dwarves of Erabor, the Hordes of Orcs and the Eagles as they all try to reclaim the treasure stolen by Smaug.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS

Tolkien was asked to write a follow up to the Hobbit and his next novel The Lord of the Rings was Published as three volumes ,as The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. The title of the novel refers to the story’s main antagonist, the Dark Lord Sauron, who Long before the events of the novel created One Ring to rule the other Rings of Power as the ultimate weapon in his campaign to conquer and rule all of Middle-earth and corrupt everyone. He is defeated in battle, and Isildur cuts the One Ring from Sauron’s finger, claiming it as an heirloom for his line. Sadly Isildur is killed by Orcs in the Gladden Fields, and the Ring is lost in the River Anduin.

Over two thousand years later, the Ring is found by a river-dwelling stoor called Déagol. His friend Sméagol immediately falls under the Ring’s spell and strangles Deagol. Sméagol is banished and hides under the Misty Mountains, where the Ring extends his lifespan and gradually transforms him into a twisted, corrupted creature called Gollum. Sadly He loses the Ring during The Hobbit, and Bilbo Baggins finds it. Meanwhile, Sauron takes a new physical form and reoccupies his old realm of Mordor. Gollum sets out in search of the Ring, but is captured by Sauron, who learns from him that Bilbo Baggins now has it. Gollum is set loose, and Sauron, who needs the Ring to regain his full power, sends forth the evil Nazgûl, to seize it. Meanwhile back in the Shire, the hobbit Frodo Baggins inherits the Ring from Bilbo, his cousin and guardian. Neither is aware of its origin, however Gandalf the Grey, a wizard and old friend of Bilbo, suspects the Ring’s evil provenance and advises Frodo to take it away from the Shire. So Frodo leaves, accompanied by his gardener and friend, Samwise (“Sam”) Gamgee, and two cousins, Meriadoc (“Merry”) Brandybuck and Peregrin (“Pippin”) Took.

They are nearly captured by the Nazgûl, but escape, aided by the enigmatic Tom Bombadil, who seems curiously unaffected by the Ring’s corrupting influence. After stopping in the town of Bree they meet Aragorn, Isildur’s heir. They flee from Bree after narrowly escaping another assault, but the Nazgûl attack them on the hill of Weathertop, wounding Frodo with a Morgul blade. Aragorn leads the hobbits toward the Elven refuge of Rivendell, while Frodo gradually succumbs to the wound. The Ringwraiths nearly overtake Frodo at the Ford of Bruinen. Frodo recovers in Rivendell under the care of Lord Elrond. The Council of Elrond reveals much significant history about Sauron and the Ring, as well as the news that Sauron has corrupted Gandalf’s fellow wizard, Saruman. The Council decides that the best course of action is to destroy the Ring, which can only be done by returning it to the flames of Mount Doom in Mordor, where it was forged. So the hobbits Frodo Baggins, Samwise “Sam” Gamgee, Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck and Peregrin “Pippin” Took, aided by Aragorn, a Human Ranger; Boromir, son of the Ruling Steward Denethor of the realm of Gondor; Gimli, a Dwarf warrior; Legolas, an Elven prince; and Gandalf, a Wizard set off on a perilous quest across Middle Earth to destroy the Ring in the Fires of Mount Doom. Encountering many dangers along the way including The Machinations of corrupted wizard Saruman, The Nazgul, Hordes of vicious orcs, and The Ancient Demonic and fiery Balrog. However They are helped along by Galadriel and Celeborn after they take refuge in the Elven forest of Lothlórien.

THE TWO TOWERS

Merry & Pippin are captured by Orcs but manage to escape and are befriended by Treebeard, the oldest of the tree-like Ents. who roused from their customarily peaceful ways by Merry and Pippin, attack Isengard, Saruman’s stronghold, and trap the wizard in the tower of Orthanc. The rest of the company ride to Edoras, the capital of Rohan, where they meet Théoden, King of Rohan, whom Gandalf convinces to ride to the ancient fortress of Helm’s Deep to engage Saruman’s forces, and are joined by company of the Rohirrim. Gandalf then convinces Treebeard to send an army of Huorns to the aid of Théoden at Helm’s Deep, and the Huorns destroy Saruman’s army. Frodo and Sam capture Gollum, who had been following them from Moria, and force him to guide them to Mordor. Finding Mordor’s Black Gate too dangerous to attempt, they travel instead to a secret passage Gollum knows. Torn between his loyalty to Frodo and his desire for the Ring, Gollum eventually betrays Frodo by leading him to the great spider Shelob in the tunnels of Cirith Ungol. Frodo is felled by Shelob’s bite, but Sam fights her off. Sam takes the Ring and leaves Frodo, believing him to be dead. When orcs find Frodo, Sam overhears them say that Frodo is only unconscious, and Sam determines to rescue him.

THE RETURN OF THE KING

Having been defeated at Helm’s Deep Sauron unleashes a heavy assault upon Gondor. Gandalf arrives with Pippin at Minas Tirith to alert Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, of the impending attack. The city is besieged, and Denethor, under the influence of Sauron through another palantír, despairs and commits suicide, nearly taking his remaining son Faramir with him. With time running out, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli take the Paths of the Dead, where Aragorn raises an undead army of oath-breakers bound by an ancient curse. The ghostly army help them to defeat the Corsairs of Umbar invading southern Gondor. The forces of Gondor and Rohan break the siege of Minas Tirith. Sam rescues Frodo from the tower of Cirith Ungol, and they cross Mordor. Meanwhile, in order to distract Sauron, Aragorn leads the the armies of Gondor and Rohan in a march on the Black Gate of Mordor where His vastly outnumbered troops fight desperately against Sauron’s armies. Meanwhile At the edge of the Cracks of Doom, Frodo is unable to resist the Ring any longer, and claims it for himself then Gollum suddenly reappears wanting “his precious” back.

THE SILMARILLION

Tolkien’s publisher requested a sequel to The Hobbit, so Tolkien sent them an early draft of The Silmarillion which comprises five parts. The first part, Ainulindalë, tells of the creation of Eä, the “world that is”. Valaquenta, the second part, gives a description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural powers in Eä. The next section, Quenta Silmarillion, which forms the bulk of the collection, chronicles the history of the events before and during the First Age, including the wars over the Silmarils. The fourth part, Akallabêth, relates the history of the Downfall of Númenor and its people, which takes place in the Second Age. The final part, “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age”, is a brief account of the circumstances preceding The Lord of the Rings.

Ainulindalë

The first section of The Silmarillion, Ainulindalë (“The Music of the Ainur”), takes the form of a primary creation narrative. Eru (“The One”, also called Ilúvatar (“Father of All”), first created the Ainur, a group of eternal spirits or demiurges, called “the offspring of his thought”. Ilúvatar brought the Ainur together and showed them a theme, from which he bade them make a great music. Melkor — whom Ilúvatar had given the “greatest power and knowledge” of all the Ainur — broke from the harmony of the music to develop his own song. Some Ainur joined him, while others continued to follow Ilúvatar, causing discord in the music. This happened thrice, with Eru Ilúvatar successfully overpowering his rebellious subordinate with a new theme each time. Ilúvatar then stopped the music and showed them a vision of Arda and its peoples. The vision disappeared after a while, and Ilúvatar offered the Ainur a chance to enter into Arda and govern over the new world. Many Ainur descended, taking physical form and becoming bound to that world. The greater Ainur became known as Valar, while the lesser Ainur were called Maiar. The Valar attempted to prepare the world for the coming inhabitants (Elves and Men), while Melkor, who wanted Arda for himself, repeatedly destroyed their work; this went on for thousands of years until, through waves of destruction and creation, the world took shape. Valaquenta “Account of the Valar” describes Melkor and each of the 14 Valar in detail, as well as a few of the Maiar. It also reveals how Melkor seduced many Maiar — including Sauron into serving him.

QUENTA SILMARILLION

Quenta Silmarillion (“The History of the Silmarils”) is a series of interconnected tales set in the First Age concerning three jewels, called the Silmarils. It features the God-like Valar, who create the world for Elves and Men, but are continually plagued by the evil Melkor, who keeps destroying their work. First Melkor destroys the two lights that illuminated the world leaving the world in darkness, so the Valar move to Aman, a continent to the west of Middle-earth, and establish Valinor, illuminated by Two trees. Soon stars began to shine on Middle Earth waking the Elves so the Valar try to keep them safe from Melkor, who is eventually captured. The Elves are invited to live in Aman and some leave, while others stay in Middle Earth, including the Sindar, who are ruled by the Elf King Thingol and Melian, a Maia. Three Elf tribes set out- the Vanyar, Noldor, and the Teleri. Fëanor, son of Finwë, King of the Noldor, then creates the Silmarils, which glow with the light of the Two Trees.

However after being released Melkor, destroyd the Two Trees with the help of Ungoliant, kills Finwë, and steals the Silmarils, fleeing to Middle-earth, and attacking the Elvish kingdom of Doriath. However he is defeated in the first of five battles of Beleriand, and barricades himself in his northern fortress of Angband. So Fëanor and his sons swear an oath of vengeance against Melkor and anyone who withholds the Silmarils from them, inclluding the Valar. The Noldor pursue Melkor, whom Fëanor renames Morgoth. Fëanor’s sons seize ships from the Teleri, attacking and killing many of them, and leave the other Noldor to make the voyage by foot. Upon arriving in Middle-earth, the Noldor under Fëanor attack Melkor and defeat him, though Fëanor is killed by a Balrog . After a period of peace, Melkor attacks the Noldor but is defeated and besiege for 400 years before eventually breaking the siege and driving the Noldor back. Following the destruction of the Trees and the theft of the Silmaril, the Valar create the moon and sun, which awakens Men who settle in Beleriand and ally themselves to the Elves.

Beren a man who had survived the latest battle, arrives in Doriath, falls in love with the elf named Lúthien, the king’s daughter. However the king tries to prevent their marriage by imposing an impossible task: retrieving one of the Silmarils from Melkor. So Beren and Lúthien set out to retrieve a Silmaril but are caught and imprisoned by Sauron a powerful servant of Melkor, however the manage to escape and get inside Melkor’s fortress at Angband before taking a Silmaril from Melkor’s Crown. Having achieved the task, the first union of man and elf was formed, though Beren was soon mortally wounded and Lúthien also died of grief. The Noldor, seeing that a mortal and an elf-woman could infiltrate Angband, attacked again with a great army of Elves, Dwarves and Men. But are deceived by Melkor, and defeated. However, many Men remained loyal to the Elves and were honoured thereafter.

None received more honour than the brothers Húrin and Huor. Melkor captured Húrin, and cursed him to watch the downfall of his kin. Húrin’s son, Túrin Turambar, was sent to Doriath, leaving his mother and unborn sister behind in his father’s kingdom (which had been overrun by the enemy). Túrin achieved many great deeds of valor, the greatest being the defeat of the dragon Glaurung. Despite his heroism, however, Túrin was plagued by the curse of Melkor, which led him unwittingly to murder his friend Beleg and to marry and impregnate his sister Nienor, whom he had never met before, and who had lost her memory through Glaurung’s enchantment. Before their child was born, the bewitchment was lifted as the dragon lay dying. Nienor, realizing what grew within her, took her own life. Upon learning the truth, Túrin threw himself on his sword.

Huor’s other son, Tuor, became involved in the fate of the hidden Noldorin kingdom of Gondolin. He married Idril, daughter of Turgon, Lord of Gondolin (the second union between Elves and Men). When Gondolin fell, betrayed from within by Maeglin, Tuor saved many of its inhabitants from destruction. All of the Elvish kingdoms in Beleriand eventually fell, and the refugees fled to a haven by the sea created by Tuor. The son of Tuor and Idril, Eärendil the Half-elven, was betrothed to Elwing, herself descended from Beren and Lúthien. Elwing brought Eärendil the Silmaril of Beren and Lúthien, and using its light Eärendil travelled across the sea to Aman to seek help from the Valar. The Valar obliged; they attacked and defeated Melkor, completely destroying his fortress Angband and sinking most of Beleriand; and they expelled Melkor from Arda. This ended the First Age of Middle-earth. Eärendil and Elwing had two children: Elrond and Elros. As descendants of immortal elves and mortal men, they were given the choice of which lineage to belong to: Elrond chose to belong to the Elves, while his brother Elros became the first king of Numenor

AKALLABETH

Akallabêth (“The Downfallen” recounts the rise and fall of the island kingdom of Númenor, inhabited by the Dúnedain. After the defeat of Melkor, the Valar gave the island to the three loyal houses of Men who had aided the Elves in the war against him. Through the favor with the Valar, the Dúnedain were granted wisdom and power and life more enduring than any other of mortal race had possessed, making them comparable to the High-Elves of Aman. Indeed, the isle of Númenor lay closer to Aman than to Middle-earth. But their power lay in their bliss and their acceptance of mortality. The fall of Númenor was brought about by the corrupted Maia Sauron (formerly a chief servant of Melkor), who arose during the Second Age and tried to conquer Middle-earth.The Númenóreans moved against Sauron, who saw that he could not defeat them with force and allowed himself to be taken as a prisoner to Númenor. There he quickly enthralled the king, Ar-Pharazôn, urging him to seek out the immortality that the Valar had apparently denied him, thus nurturing the seeds of envy that the Númenóreans had begun to hold against the Elves of the West and the Valar. So it was that all the knowledge and power of Númenor was turned towards seeking an avoidance of death; but this only weakened them and sped the gradual waning of the lifespans to something more similar to that of other Men. Sauron urged them to wage war against the Valar themselves to win immortality, and to worship his old master Melkor, whom he said could grant them their wish. Ar-Pharazôn created the mightiest army and fleet Númenor had seen, and sailed against Aman.

The Valar and Elves of Aman, stricken with grief over their betrayal, called on Ilúvatar for help. When Ar-Pharazôn landed, Ilúvatar destroyed his fleet and drowned Númenor itself as punishment for the rebellion against the rightful rule of the Valar. Ilúvatar created a great wave, such as had never before been seen, which utterly destroyed and submerged the isle of Númenor, killing all but those Dúnedain who had already sailed east, and changing the shape of all the lands of Middle-earth. Sauron’s physical manifestation was also destroyed in the ruin of Númenor, but as a Maia his spirit returned to Middle-earth, now robbed of the fair form he once had. Some Númenóreans who had remained loyal to the Valar were spared and were washed up on the shores of Middle-earth, where they founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. Among these survivors were Elendil their leader, and his two sons Isildur and Anárion who had also saved a seedling from Númenor´s white tree, the ancestor of that of Gondor. They founded the Númenórean Kingdoms in Exile: Arnor in the north and Gondor in the south. Elendil reigned as High-king of both kingdoms, but committed the rule of Gondor jointly to Isildur and Anárion. The power of the kingdoms in exile was greatly diminished from that of Númenor, “yet very great it seemed To the Wild Men of Mddle Earth.

The Children of Húrin was also published posthumously by Christopher Tolkien and tells the story of the Children of Hurin Thalion who was chained to a rock by the evil Melkur/Morgoth and forced to watch the ultimately tragic downfall of his son Túrin Turambar who is separated from his sister Nienor from an early age and sent to Doriath. At first Turin proves himself to be a mighty warrior and achieves many great deeds in Middle Earth and defeats many enemies. However he falls foul of the sinister machinations of the evil dragon Glaurung around the fall of Elven kingdom of Gondolin.

Many other novels have also been published under the Tolkien name including The Fall of Gondolin, Sigurd and Gudrun, Beren and Luthien, Beowulf and King Arthur, Using material  compiled by Christopher Tolkien from The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth, and other manuscripts such as the Poetic Edda.

Patrick Troughton

Actor Patrick Troughton was born on 25 March 1920 in Mill Hill, Middlesex, England. Troughton attended Mill Hill School and continued to live in Mill Hill for most of his life. While at Mill Hill School, he acted in a production of J.B. Priestley’s Bees on the Boat Deck in March 1937. His brother A.R. (‘Robin’) Troughton shared the 1933 Walter Knox Prize for Chemistry with the future Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick, who also attended Mill Hill School Troughton later attended the Embassy School of Acting[1] at Swiss Cottage, studying under Eileen Thorndike. After his time at the Embassy School of Acting, Troughton won a scholarship to the Leighton Rallius Studios at the John Drew Memorial Theatre on Long Island, New York. In 1939, he joined the Tonbridge Repertory Company.

When the Second World War began, he returned home on a Belgian ship which struck a sea mine and sank off the coast of Great Britain, Troughton escaping in a lifeboat. In 1940, he joined the Royal Navy and was commissioned as a lieutenant with the RNVR, being first employed on East Coast Convoy duty from February to August 1941, and then with Coastal Forces’ Motor Gun Boats based at Great Yarmouth from November 1942 to 1945. During his service with the M.G.B.’s, he was on one occasion involved in an action against Kriegsmarine E-boats which resulted in one of the enemy craft being destroyed by ramming, whilst Troughton’s boat and another destroyed two more with their gunfire. His decorations included the 1939-45 Star, and Atlantic Star, and he was mentioned in dispatches. He used to wear a tea cosy on his head in cold weather in the North Sea.

After the war, Troughton returned to the theatre. He worked with the Amersham Repertory Company, the Bristol Old Vic Company and the Pilgrim Players at the Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate. He made his television debut in 1947. In 1948, Troughton made his cinema debut with small roles in Olivier’s Hamlet, the Joseph L. Mankiewicz directed Escape (one of the stars of which was William Hartnell), and a pirate in Disney’s Treasure Island. In 1953 he became the first actor to play Robin Hood on television, His grandson Sam Troughton played one of Robin’s colleagues in the 2006 BBC TV series of the same name, and Patrick himself made an appearance in The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene. He appeared as the murderer Tyrrell in Olivier’s film of Richard III (1955). He was also Olivier’s understudy on the film and appears in many long shots as Richard.

Troughton’s other notable film and television roles included Kettle in Chance of a Lifetime, Sir Andrew Ffoulkes in The Scarlet Pimpernel, Vickers in the episode entitled “Strange Partners” in The Invisible Man, Phineus in Jason and the Argonauts (1963), Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop, Paul of Tarsus, Dr. Finlay’s Casebook. He voiced Winston Smith in a 1965 BBC Home Service radio adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four and appeared in numerous TV shows, including The Count of Monte Cristo, Ivanhoe, Dial 999, Danger Man, Maigret, Compact, The Third Man, Crane, Detective, Sherlock Holmes, No Hiding Place, The Saint, Armchair Theatre, The Wednesday Play, Z-Cars, Adam Adamant Lives! and Softly, Softly. Troughton was offered the part of Johnny Ringo in the Doctor Who story The Gunfighters but turned it down.

In 1966, Doctor Who producer Innes Lloyd looked for a replacement for William Hartnell in the series’ lead role. Lloyd chose Troughton because of his extensive and versatile experience as a character actor. After he was cast, Troughton considered portraying the Doctor as a “tough sea captain”or a piratical figure in blackface and turban before Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman suggested that the Doctor could be a “cosmic hobo” in the mould of Charlie Chaplin. In the story The Enemy of the World, Troughton played two parts – as the protagonist (The Doctor) and the antagonist (Salamander).

Troughton gave away the secret of what Jamie (Frazer Hines) wore underneath his kilt – “khaki shorts”. Troughton was popular with both the production team and his co-stars. Producer Lloyd credited Troughton with a “leading actor’s temperament. He was a father figure to the whole company and hence could embrace it and sweep it along with him”. Troughton also gained a reputation on set as a practical joker. Unfortunately Many of the early episodes in which Troughton appeared were among those discarded by the BBC however some missing episodes have been replaced by animation- such as The Invasion.

Troughton found Doctor Who’s schedule gruelling, and was afraid of being typecast so he decided to leave in 1969, after three years in the role. However he returned to Doctor Who three times after formally leaving the programme, firstly in The Three Doctors, then For the 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors in 1983 following the request by producer John Nathan-Turner and finally in The Two Doctors alongside sixth Doctor Colin Baker. He also attended many Doctor Who conventions including the show’s 20th anniversary celebrations at Longleat in 1983. In 2013, the BBC commissioned a docudrama about the early days of Doctor Who, as part of the programme’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations. Troughton appears as a character in the production, called An Adventure in Space and Time, portrayed by actor Reece Shearsmith. In 2014’s “Robot of Sherwood”, a still image of Troughton from 1953 appears among the future depictions of Robin Hood displayed by the Twelfth Doctor to the outlaw.

After Troughton left Doctor Who in 1969, he appeared in various films and television roles. Film roles included Clove in Scars of Dracula, a bodysnatcher in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Father Brennan in The Omen and Melanthius in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Television roles included the recurring role of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk in five of the six episodes of The Six Wives of Henry VIII, the villainous Nasca in The Feathered Serpent. He also appeared in The Goodies, Paul Temple, Dr. Finlay’s Casebook, Doomwatch, The Persuaders!, A Family at War, Coronation Street, Softly, Softly: Taskforce, Colditz, Play for Today, Z-Cars, Special Branch, Sutherland’s Law, The Sweeney, Jason King, Survivors, Crown Court, Angels, Warship, Van der Valk, Space: 1999, The Onedin Line, All Creatures Great and Small, Only When I Laugh, Nanny and Minder The Box of Delights and the Two Ronnies” Christmas Special. He featured in the 1974 radio adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour. He also appeared In in 1986, sitcom The Two of Us alongside Nicholas Lyndhurst and guested in an episode of Super Gran. Troughton also appeared in the first episode of Inspector Morse “The Dead of Jericho”. His final television appearance was in Knights of God,

Troughton’s health was never entirely robust and later in his life he refused to accept his doctor’s advice that he had developed a serious heart condition through overwork and stress. He suffered two major heart attacks, in 1979 and 1984. Then On 27 March 1987, two days after his 67th birthday, Troughton was a guest at the Magnum Opus Con II science fiction convention in Columbus, Georgia, USA. Although he had been warned by his doctors before leaving the UK not to exert himself because of his heart condition, Troughton appeared to be in good spirits and participated vigorously in the day’s panels,and was looking forward to a belated birthday celebration, as well as screenings of all of his surviving complete Doctor Who stories, including The Dominators, which Troughton was particularly eager to see again. Sadly Troughton suffered a third and final heart attack and was certified dead at the Midwest Medical Centre in downtown Columbus. From the Medical Centre he was transferred to the Striffler-Hamby Mortuary & Funeral Home on Macon Road, which is about 4.8 miles away. After resting there he was then transferred to the Southern Cremations Services, at Dothan in Alabama (about 119 miles away). His ashes were then shipped back to the UK . In true ‘Doctor Who mystery’ style, Patrick’s ashes got mislaid on the transit home, delaying his funeral by a few weeks. They finally made it home with little time to spare. Having found his ashes His second wife, Sheila, scattered his ashes beneath a newly planted tree in his favourite Bushy Park in Teddington, London.

International day of the Unborn Child

The International Day of the Unborn Child is observed annually on March 25. It was established by Pope John Paul II to coincide with the Feast of the Annunciation. John Paul II viewed the day as “a positive option in favour of life and the spread of a culture for life to guarantee respect for human dignity in every situation”.

The Feast of the Annunciation, is Also known as the Solemnity of the Annunciation, Lady Day, the Feast of the Incarnation (Festum Incarnationis) and Conceptio Christi (Christ’s Conception). The event commemorates the visit of the archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he informed her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is celebrated on 25 March each year, except in those years when 25 March falls during the Paschal Triduum, when it is transferred forward to the first suitable day during Eastertide.

The Feast of the Annunciation is observed throughout Christianity, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Catholicism, and Lutheranism. It is a major Marian feast, classified as a solemnity in the Catholic Church, a Festival in the Lutheran Churches, and a Principal Feast in the Anglican Communion. In Orthodox Christianity, because it announces the incarnation of Christ, it is counted as one of the 8 great feasts of the Lord, and not among the 4 great Marian feasts, although some prominent aspects of its liturgical observance are Marian. Two examples in liturgical Christianity of the importance attached to the Annunciation are the Angelus prayer, and especially in Roman Catholicism, the event’s position as the first Joyful Mystery of the Dominican Rosary.

El Salvador became the first nation to officially celebrate what was then called a Day of the Right to Be Born in 1993. The name was changed to International Day of the Unborn Child and Subsequently other countries have initiated official celebrations for the unborn, such as Argentina with Day of the Unborn in 1998, Chile with Day of the Conceived and Unborn in 1999, and Guatemala with the National Day of the Unborn, also in 1999. The 1999 celebration in Buenos Aires was joined by representatives of the Muslim, Orthodox and Jewish communities of Brazil. The promotion of the International Day of the Unborn Child was endorsed by the Knights of Columbus.

International Day of Remembrance of the victims of Slavery

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is a United Nations international observance which takes place annually on 25 March. The event was created in 2007 by the United Nations in remembrance of those who suffered and died as a consequence of the transatlantic slave trade, which has been called “the worst violation of human rights in history”, in which over 400 years more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims.

International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade was first observed in 2008 with the theme “Breaking the Silence, Lest We Forget” The theme of 2015 is “Women and Slavery”. The International Day also “aims at raising awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today. With 2015 marking the start of the UN’s International Decade for People of African Descent, a permanent memorial has been unveiled at the UN headquarters in New York, entitled “The Ark of Return” and designed by Haitian-American architect Rodney Leon, who also designed the African Burial Ground National Monument.

Aretha Franklin

Prolific American singer and songwriter Aretha Louise Franklin was born March 25, 1942. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was minister. In 1960, at the age of 18, she embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records but only achieving modest success.

Following her signing to Atlantic Records in 1967, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as “Respect”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Spanish Harlem” and “Think”. By the end of the 1960s decade she had gained the title “The Queen of Soul”. Franklin eventually recorded a total of 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries and twenty number-one R&B singles, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history. Franklin also recorded acclaimed albums such as I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Lady Soul, Young, Gifted and Black and Amazing Grace. Unfortunately she began experiencing problems with her record company by the mid-1970s.

After her father was shot in 1979, Franklin left Atlantic and signed with Arista Records, finding success with her part in the film The Blues Brothers and with the albums Jump to It and Who’s Zoomin’ Who?. In 1998, Franklin won international acclaim for singing the opera aria “Nessun dorma”, at the Grammys of that year replacing Luciano Pavarotti. Later that same year, she scored her final Top 40 recording with “A Rose Is Still a Rose”. Franklin’s other popular and well known hits include “Rock Steady”, “Jump to It”, “Freeway of Love”, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”, “Chain Of Fools”, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (with George Michael), and a remake of The Rolling Stones song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.

Over the years Franklin has won a total of 18 Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide. Franklin has been honored throughout her career including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in which she became the first female performer to be inducted. She was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In August 2012, Franklin was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Franklin is listed in at least two all-time lists on Rolling Stone magazine, including the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time; and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

The Girl in the Spiders Web is out on DVD on 25 March. It based on the novel of the same name by David Lagercrantz and is a sort of sequel to David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and the second installment in the American produced Millennium film series. The movie stars Claire Foy, taking over the role of Lisbeth Salander from Rooney Mara, it also stars Sverrir Gudnason, LaKeith Stanfield, Sylvia Hoeks, and Stephen Merchant.

It concerns a Computer scientist named Frans Balder who suddenly abandons a prestigious job in Silicon Valley and returns to Sweden to take custody of his autistic son August. Balder is then informed by several law enforcement agencies that he is also in danger from a criminal organization who call themselves the “Spider Society”, however he dismisses their warnings. Meanwhile A former associate of Frans Balder’s named Linus Brandell, informs investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist about Balder and his tumultuous history, mentioning that some of his activities were aided by Lisbeth Salander.

Lisbeth Salander herself is attempting to track down someone from her past, this leads her to the mysterious and rather sinister Spider Society. She helps a group of hackers gain access into NAtional Security Agency servers, much to the fury of the agency’s top cyber security agent, Ed “The Ned” Needham. So NSA agent Alona Casales and FRA agent Gabriella Grane are given the task of pursuing Salander and the evil Spider Society and their leader “Thanos”.
So Grane calls Balder who hires Milton Security for protection and Blomkvist contacts Salander, hoping to harness her talents to the investigation.

Eventually August’s mother finds herself unable to cope with his disorder and remands him to a care facility. However, Blomkvist realizes that August could help identify his father’s killer. Unfortunately sinister forces are trying to silence August and he is almost assassinated, however Salander rescues August from the Care Facility and Tries to contact Blomkvist and Millennium editor Erika Berger for assistance. Grane, a friend of Berger’s, also offers her beachfront vacation property as a safe house. Blomkvist learns from Balder’s former associates that he had hired Salander to confirm that someone had robbed him, Her investigations implicate executives inside Solifon, the company he worked for, in the theft.

Upon further investigation Balder discovers a sinister conspiracy linking Solifon, the NSA and the Spider Society. Which Needham and the NSA attempt to cover up. Balder then learns of a mysterious individual known as “Wasp”. Elsewhere, a woman calling herself Rebecka Mattson attempts to seduce Blomkvist. However Salander’s former guardian, Holger Palmgren, has some rather worrying news concerning Rebecka. Meanwhile August and Salander find themselves in grave danger at the safe house ….