Posted in books, films & DVD

Happy Birthday J.K.Rowling

Best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series, the British novelist Joanne “Jo” Rowling, OBE, (J. K. Rowling)was born 31 July 1965.The Harry Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies to become the best-selling book series in history and been the basis for a popular series of films, in which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts as well as maintaining creative control by serving as a producer on the final instalment. Rowling conceived the idea for the series on a train trip from Manchester to London in 1990.

n 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on an old manual typewriter. Upon the enthusiastic response of Bryony Evens, a reader who had been asked to review the book’s first three chapters. Then In June 1997 Bloomsbury, a small Publishing house in London, published Philosopher’s Stone with an initial print run of 1,000 copies, 500 of which were distributed to libraries. In early 1998, an auction was held in the United States for the rights to publish the novel, and was won by Scholastic Inc for $1. Five months later, the book won its first award, a Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. In February, the novel won the prestigious British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year, and later, the Children’s Book Award. In October 1998, Scholastic published Philosopher’s Stone in the US under the title of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: a change Rowling claims she now regrets and would have fought if she had been in a better position at the time.[58] Its sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published in July 1998 and again Rowling won the Smarties Prize.

In December 1999, the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, won the Smarties Prize, making Rowling the first person to win the award three times running.[60] She later withdrew the fourth Harry Potter novel from contention to allow other books a fair chance. In January 2000, Prisoner of Azkaban won the inaugural Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year award, though it lost the Book of the Year prize to Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf.

The fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was released simultaneously in the UK and the U.S. on 8 July 2000, and broke sales records in both countries, almost equalling the number Prisoner of Azkaban sold during its first year and Rowling was named author of the year in the 2000 British Book Awards.

the fifth Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released three years later and The sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was released on 16 July 2005. It too broke all sales records, selling nine million copies in its first 24 hours of release, and In 2006, Half-Blood Prince received the Book of the Year prize at the British Book Awards. The seventh and final Harry Potter book is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released on 21 July 2007 and broke its predecessor’s record as the fastest-selling book of all time and sold 11 million copies in the first day of release in the United Kingdom and United States.

the last four Harry Potter books have consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history.The series, totalling 4,195 pages, has been translated, in whole or in part, into 65 languages and have also gained recognition for sparking an interest in reading among the young at a time when children were thought to be abandoning books for computers and television, Time magazine also named her as a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fans. In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was named ‘Most Influential Woman in Britain’ by leading magazine editors. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, and Lumos (formerly the Children’s High Level Group). On 12 April 2012, Rowling announced that her new adult novel The Casual Vacancy would be published in the UK by Little, Brown and Company on 27 September 2012.

Posted in music

Happy Birthday Bill Berry (R.E.M)

Bill Berry the drummer with Alternative Rock Band R.E.M was born 31st August 1958 and being a big fan of R.E.M I thought I’d post something to mark the occasion

REM First emerged in 1980s from the college radio scene, and at first they were scrappy and lo-fi, abrasive but somehow beautiful, and the development of this sound helped them become bona-fide stadium-fillers later on in their their career.   They played their first gig in a church on 5 April 1980 under the name of Twisted Kites, and they played with a mixture of post-punk poise and jangly guitars which made them seem simultaneously cutting-edge and a romantic reminder of rock’s past and they soon became popular.   Their music was influenced by their small-town surroundings and is closer to real life stating that “It’s great just to bring out an emotion… better to make someone feel nostalgic or wistful or excited or sad.”

Commercially speaking, their breakthrough came when they released the single “The One I Love” which was taken from the 1987 Album “Document”. The next single “Freaks” saw REM outgrow the university centred underground music scene which had so-far sustained them, and they hit the big time, and Their next release 1988′s “Green” was released by a major label and was seen by many as their true peak. Lyrically, the album saw the band dealing with a number of important issues – World leader Pretend is a deft criticism of the remote ruling classes, while Pop Song ’89 tackles claims the band had sold out by purporting to be, in Stipe’s words, “the prototype of, and hopefully the end of, a pop song”.

The next album “Out of Time” proved to be an even bigger hit. Featuring the career-defining singles Losing My Religion, which some regard to be the touchstone of alternative rock and Shiny Happy People, featuring fellow Athenian Kate Pierson from the B52′s. With this album it seems that The band were aiming to make a massively successful, mainstream record without embarrassing, or compromising, themselves – They certainly succeeded.

Michael Stipe’s inner demons also came to the fore In the next album, 1992′s Automatic For The People, which is A more sombre, reflective album that features string arrangements by Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. This album was also to yeild some wonderful songs like “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight” and “Everybody Hurts”.

The band’s next two albums Monster and New Adventures In Hi-Fi were largely recorded live – some tracks taken from soundchecks taken during the massive stadium tour, and featured some new classics, such as Let Me In, a tribute to the recently deceased Kurt Cobain.

Unfortunately drummer Bill Berry suffered a brain aneurysm and quit the band in 1997, and things never quite returned to the giddy heights of “Out of Time” and Moments of brilliance, such as The Great Beyond or Imitation Of Life, became less frequently. Leading some band members to pursue side-projects, Stipe increasingly pusued his film work,while Peter Buck concentrated more on his country supergroup Tired Pony.   Despite this REM continued to be unbeatable live performers to the end and their final album, Collapse Into Now, was hailed, like many of its predecessors, as a return to form. Certainly, the band sounded rejuvenated and a lot more energetic than on some of the previous work which was released in the mid-2000s. In addition They also recently re-released an earlier album ”Lifes Rich Pageant” which is also a great album.

On November 14th 2011 , REM released a definitive greatest hits Double CD album, entitled: “R.E.M., PART LIES, PART HEART, PART TRUTH, PART GARBAGE, 1982 – 2011. ″ through Warner Bros, the album contained tracks from the band’s entire back catalogue, including tracks from both the IRS and Warner years plus three brand-new songs, as a final farewell.

Posted in Events

Tribute to Peter Benenson

British lawyer and the founder of human rights group Amnesty International Peter Benenson was Born on this date 31st July 1921 in London. Benenson was tutored privately by W. H. Auden before going to Eton. At the age of sixteen he helped to establish a relief fund with other schoolboys for children orphaned by the Spanish Civil War. He took his mother’s maiden name of Benenson as a tribute to his grandfather, the Russian gold tycoon Grigori Benenson, following his grandfather’s death.

He enrolled for study at Balliol College, Oxford but World War II interrupted his education. From 1941 to 1945, Benenson worked at Bletchley Park, the British codebreaking centre, in the “Testery”, a section tasked with breaking German teleprinter ciphers.It was at this time when he met his first wife, Margaret Anderson. After demobilisation in 1946, Benenson began practising as a barrister before joining the Labour Party and standing unsuccessfully for election. He was one of a group of British lawyers who founded JUSTICE in 1957, the UK-based human rights and law reform organisation. In 1958 he fell ill and moved to Italy in order to convalesce. In the same year he converted to the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1961 Benenson was shocked and angered by a newspaper report of two Portuguese students from Coimbra sentenced to seven years in prison for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom during the autocratic regime of António de Oliveira Salazar – the Estado Novo. In 1961, Portugal ruled by the authoritarian Estado Novo regime, and anti-regime conspiracies were vigorously repressed by the Portuguese state police and deemed anti-Portuguese. He wrote to David Astor, editor of The Observer. On 28 May, Benenson’s article, entitled “The Forgotten Prisoners”, was published. The letter asked readers to write letters showing support for the students. To co-ordinate such letter-writing campaigns, Amnesty International was founded in London in July 1961 at a meeting of Benenson and six other men, which included a Tory, a Liberal and a Labour MP.The response was so overwhelming that within a year groups of letter-writers had formed in more than a dozen countries.

Initially appointed general secretary of AI, Benenson stood down in 1964 owing to ill health. By 1966, the Amnesty International faced an internal crisis and Benenson alleged that the organization he founded was being infiltrated by British intelligence. The advisory position of president of the International Executive was then created for him. In 1966, he began to make allegations of improper conduct against other members of the executive. An inquiry was set up which reported at Elsinore in Denmark in 1967. The allegations were rejected and Benenson resigned from AI.

While never again active in the organization, Benenson was later personally reconciled with other executives, including Seán MacBride and also received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2001, shortly before He sadly passed away (on 25 February 2005) at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, aged 83

Posted in books

Tribute to Emily Bronte

Best remembered for her classic novel, Wuthering Heights, the English novelist Emily Brontë  was born 30th july 1818 was the third eldest of the four surviving Brontë siblings, between the youngest Anne and her brother Branwell. She published under the pen name Ellis Bell.

Emily Brontë was born on 30 July 1818 in Thornton, near Bradford in Yorkshire, She was the younger sister of Charlotte Brontë and the fifth of six children After the death of their mother in 1821, when Emily was three years old, the older sisters Maria, Elizabeth and Charlotte were sent to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge, where they encountered abuse and privations later described by Charlotte in Jane Eyre. Emily joined the school for a brief period. When a typhus epidemic swept the school, Maria and Elizabeth caught it. Maria, who may actually have had tuberculosis, was sent home, where she died. Emily was subsequently removed from the school along with Charlotte and Elizabeth. Sadly Elizabeth died soon after their return home.

From then on The three remaining sisters and their brother Patrick Branwell were educated at home by their father and aunt Elizabeth Branwell, their mother’s sister. In their leisure time the children created a number of fantasy worlds, which were featured in stories they wrote and enacted about the imaginary adventures of their toy soldiers along with the Duke of Wellington
and his sons, Charles and Arthur Wellesley.

When Emily was 13, she and Anne began a story about Gondal, a large island in the North Pacific. With the exception of Emily’sGondal poems and Anne’s lists of Gondal’s characters and place-names, their writings on Gondal were not preserved. Some “diary papers” of Emily’s have survived in which she describes current events in Gondal, some of which were written, others enacted with Anne. One dates from 1841, when Emily was twenty-three: another from 1845, when she was twenty-seven.

At seventeen, Emily attended the Roe Head girls’ school, where Charlotte was a teacher, but managed to stay only three months before being overcome by extreme homesickness. She returned home and Anne took her place. At this time, the girls’ objective was to obtain sufficient education to open a small school of their own.

in September 1838 Emily became a teacher at Law Hill School in Halifax, Unfortuntely when she was twenty. Her health broke under the stress of the 17-hour work day and she returned home in April 1839. Thereafter she became the stay-at-home daughter, doing most of the cooking and cleaning and teaching Sunday school.In 1842, Emily accompanied Charlotte to Brussels, Belgium,
where they attended a girls’ academy run by Constantin Heger. They planned to perfect their French and German in anticipation of opening their school.

In 1844, Emily began going through all the poems she had written, recopying them neatly into two notebooks. One was labelled “Gondal Poems”; the other was unlabelled. Scholars such as Fannie Ratchford and Derek Roper have attempted to piece together a Gondal storyline and chronology from these poems. In the autumn of 1845, Charlotte discovered the notebooks and insisted that the poems be published. Emily, furious at the invasion of her privacy, at first refused, but relented when Anne brought out her own manuscripts and revealed she had been writing poems in secret as well.

In 1846, the sisters’ poems were published in one volume as Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. The Brontë sisters had adopted pseudonyms for publication: Charlotte was Currer Bell, Emily was Ellis Bell and Anne was Acton Bell. Charlotte wrote in the “Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell” that their “ambiguous choice” was “dictated by a sort of conscientious scruple at assuming Christian names positively masculine, while we did not like to declare ourselves women, because we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked on
with prejudice

In 1847, Emily published her novel, Wuthering Heights, as two volumes of a three-volume set (the last volume being Agnes Grey by her sister Anne). Its innovative structure somewhat puzzled critics at the time, and Although it is considered a classic of English literature today, Wuthering Heights met with mixed reviews and controversy when it first appeared, mainly because of the narrative’s stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty and amoral passion,It takes place at a Yorkshire manor on the moors and centres on the all-encompassing, passionate, but ultimately doomed love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and the people around them.and the book subsequently became an English literary classic.

Although Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre was generally considered the best of the Brontë sisters’ works during most of the nineteenth century, many subsequent critics of Wuthering Heights argued that it was a superior achievement. Wuthering Heights has also given rise to many adaptations and inspired works, including films, radio, television dramatisations, a musical by Bernard J. Taylor, a ballet, three operas (respectively by Bernard Herrmann, Carlisle Floyd, and Frédéric Chaslin), a role-playing game, and the 1978 chart topping song by Kate Bush.

Sadly Emily’s health, like her sisters’, had been weakened by unsanitary conditions at home, the source of water being contaminated by runoff from the church’s graveyard.She became sick during her brother’s funeral in September 1848. Though her condition worsened steadily, she rejected medical help and all proffered remedies, saying that she would have “no poisoning
doctor” near her. She eventually died of tuberculosis, on 19 December 1848 at around two in the afternoon. She was interred in the Church of St. Michael and All Angels family vault, Haworth, West Yorkshire.

Posted in computers, Science-tech

The pitfalls of Internet Addiction

According to a growing band of American technology leaders and psychologists the notion of the addictive power of digital gadgets is gaining sway. Although the idea of a clinical disorder of internet addiction was first mooted in the 90s and is now regularly treated by doctors on both sides of the Atlantic, attention is shifting from compulsive surfing to the effects of the all-pervasive demands that our phones, laptops, tablets and computers are making on us.

In China, Taiwan and Korea, internet addiction is accepted as a genuine psychiatric problem with dedicated treatment centres for teenagers who are considered to have serious problems with their web use. Next year, America’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the authority on mental illness, could include “internet use disorder” in its official listings.

In February, leaders of the largest social media companies will gather in San Francisco for the Wisdom 2.0 conference. The theme for the conference, attended by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names, is finding balance in the digital age. Richard Fernandez, Google’s development director, has called it “quite possibly the most important gathering of our times”.

Fernandez plays a key role in Google’s “mindfulness” movement. Aimed at teaching employees the risks of becoming overly engaged with their devices and to improve their concentration levels and ability to focus, he says teaching people to occasionally disconnect is vital. “Consumers need to have an internal compass where they’re able to balance the capabilities that technology offers them for work with the qualities of the lives they live offline,” he says.

Newsweek recently held up the case of Jason Russell, the film-maker behind the Kony 2012 video. Russell’s film went viral, bringing him fame as 70 million people watched it. After spending days online with little sleep, Russell had a psychotic breakdown – all digitally documented via social media on his Twitter and YouTube accounts. His wife said he had been diagnosed as having “reactive psychosis”, which doctors had linked to his extreme internet exposure.

It was an illustration, that the web was making some of us more depressed, anxious and prone to attention deficit disorders than ever before. “The first good peer-reviewed research is emerging and the picture is much gloomier than the trumpet blasts of web utopians have allowed.

Psychologists are deeply worried about the effects digital relationships are having on real ones. Facebook is working on plans to curb anonymous “stalking” by allowing users to see who has visited any group of which they are a member – with the possibility in future of extending that to allow people to see who has looked at their page.

Checking Facebook to see what the ex is doing becomes addictive, according to some psychologists who say the checking could quickly decline into obsessive-compulsive behaviour. Stuart Crabb, a director at Facebook, said people needed to be aware of the effect that time online has on relationships and performance.

However, some doubt the notion of technology addiction, pointing instead to the rising demands of the workplace, where employees are working longer hours and then going home still tethered to devices pinging them emails and messages. Are we addicted to gadgets or indentured to work? Much of our compulsive connectedness… is a symptom of a greater problem, not the problem itself. and stepping away from the internet, regularly is a good idea.

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New research also suggests that the Internet can make us lonely and depressed—and may even create more extreme forms of mental illness and make you behave very strangely indeed, take Jason Russell for example.He used to be a half-hearted Web presence. His YouTube account was dead, and his Facebook and Twitter pages were a trickle of kid pictures and home-garden updates. The Web wasn’t made “to keep track of how much people like us,” he thought, and when his own tech habits made him feel  like “a genius, an addict, or a megalomaniac,” he unplugged for days, believing, as the humorist Andy Borowitz put it in a tweet that Russell tagged as a favorite, “it’s important to turn off our computers and do things in the real world.”

However Russell has struggled to turn off anything recently after He forwarded a link to “Kony 2012,” his deeply personal Web documentary about the African warlord Joseph Kony. The idea was to use social media to make Kony famous as the first step to stopping his crimes. And it seemed to work: the film hurtled through cyberspace, clocking more than 70 million views in less than a week. But something happened to Russell in the process. The same digital tools that supported his mission seemed to tear at his psyche, exposing him to nonstop kudos and criticisms, and ending his arm’s-length relationship with new media.

He slept two hours in the first four days, producing a swirl of bizarre Twitter updates. He sent a link to “I Met the Walrus,” a short animated interview with John Lennon, urging followers to “start training your mind.” He sent a picture of his tattoo, TIMSHEL, a biblical word about man’s choice between good and evil. At one point he uploaded and commented on a digital photo of a text
message from his mother. At another he compared his life to the mind-bending movie Inception, “a dream inside a dream.”

On the eighth day of his strange, 21st-century vortex, he sent a final tweet—a quote from Martin Luther King Jr

“If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward”—and walked back into the real world.

Afterward Russell was diagnosed with “reactive psychosis,” a form of temporary insanity. It had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol, his wife, Danica, stressed in a blog post, and everything to do with the machine that kept Russell connected even as he was breaking apart. “Though new to us,” Danica continued, “doctors say this is a common experience,” given Russell’s “sudden
transition from relative anonymity to worldwide attention—both raves and ridicules.” More than four months later, Jason is out of the hospital, his company says, but he is still in recovery. His wife took a “month of silence” on Twitter and Jason’s social-media accounts remain unused.

Posted in cars, sport

Hungarian Grand Prix 2012/Happy Birthday Fernando Alonso

The Hungarian Grand Prix took place on Sunday 29th July 2012 At the Hungaroring and the results were
1. Lewis Hamilton 1:41:05.503

2. Kimi Raikkonen +00:01.032

3. Romain Grosjean +00:10.518

4. Sebastian Vettel +00:11.614

5. Fernando Alonso +00:26.653

6. Jenson Button +00:30.243

7. Bruno Senna +00:33.899

8. Mark Webber +00:34.458

9. Felipe Massa +00:38.350

10. Nico Rosberg +00:51.234

Spanish Formula 1 Driver Fernando Alonso was also born Born 29th July 1981

Posted in music

Happy Birthday Geddy Lee

Geddy Lee, the bass player and singer with celebrated Canadian rogressive rock band Rush was Born 29th July 1953. Rush were formed in August 1968, in the Willowdale neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario. The band is composed of bassist, keyboardist, and lead vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist and backing vocalist Alex Lifeson, and drummer, percussionist and lyricist Neil Peart. The band and its membership went through a number of re-configurations between 1968 and 1974, Neil Peart replaced original drummer John Rutsey in July 1974, two weeks before the group’s first United States tour, during which they played Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, which also became Rush s very first radio broadcast and the concert is featured on the Album “ABC 1974”.The year after, Rush also played songs from the groups second album   Fly by Night   and would go onto play many more shows at Agora Ballroom

Since the release of the band’s self-titled debut album in March 1974, Rush have become known for their musicianship, complex compositions, and eclectic lyrical motifs drawing heavily on science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy. Rush’s music style has changed over the years, beginning with blues-inspired heavy metal on their first album, then encompassing hard rock, progressive rock, and a period with heavy use of synthesizers. They have been cited as an influence by various musical artists, including Metallica Primus, and The Smashing Pumpkins, as well as progressive metal bands such as Dream Theater and Symphony X.

Rush has won a number of Juno Awards, and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994. Over their careers, the members of Rush have been acknowledged as some of the most proficient players on their respective instruments, with each band member winning numerous awards in magazine readers’ polls. As a group, Rush possesses 24 gold records and 14 platinum (3 multi-platinum) records. Rush’s sales statistics place them third behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for the most consecutive gold or platinum studio albums by a rock band. Rush also ranks 79th in U.S. album sales, with 25 million units. Although total worldwide album sales are not calculated by any single entity, as of 2004 several industry sources estimated Rush’s total worldwide album sales at over 40 million units.

They released their latest studio album,  Clockwork Angels on 12th June 2012. It was first album in five years since, 2007’s “SNAKES & ARROWS.” and is the band’s 20th studio album. The first single from the album “Headlong Flight” was released on Thursday APRIL 19TH 2012 there is also a tour supporting the album during Autumn 2012. The Rush album I have got are Moving Pictures, Snakes and Arrows, ABC 1974, and Hold Your Fire, So I thought I’d mark the occasion with a few more epic tunes courtesy of Youtube. Tom SawyerCloser to the HeartArmor and Sword and Far Cry

Posted in Art, sport

Olympic Exhibitions

London’s museums and galleries are also getting into the Olympic spirit and have delivered a number of exceptional exhibitions that consider the cultural significance of athletic achievement and enduring importance of the Olympic Games and the perennial quest for victory. Below are a selection of some of the most inspiring and insightful Olympics-themed exhibitions taking place in London this summer.

Road to 2012: Aiming High; National Portrait Gallery, July 19 – September 23
The National Portrait Gallery’s ongoing series of exhibitions relating to those who have made the Olympic Games possible concludes with Road to 2012: Aiming High. The biggest photographic commission ever undertaken by the gallery, and one that is on display throughout the building, its focus is the athletes who are representing Britain, but also those who have supported them. Interspersed between the gallery’s regular displays these exceptional sportsmen and women glare determinedly at passers-by; staff at the Olympics village, residents of the Olympic boroughs and a multitude of organisers, administrators and supporters stand by their side. The focus and determination of all sears through the portraits; the hope of visitors will be that they’re rewarded for their efforts come Games time.

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games medals; British Museum, until September 9
An infinitesimal number of people will ever be able to legitimately claim an Olympic medal, which is perhaps partially why they’re so alluring to the rest of us. This summer the British Museum will allow visitors the opportunity to get up close to examples of this year’s Olympic and Paralympic medals, as well as provide information about the historical context behind the medals and the modern Games. Supplementing the free display are medals from the 1908 and 1948 Olympic Games held in London and medals from the 1960 and 1984 Paralympic Games. If you’d like to learn even more about the subject it’s worth visiting on August 3, where Philip Attwood from the British Museum’s department of coins and medals will be giving a free talk on the topic at 1.15pm.

The Olympic Journey; Royal Opera House, July 28 – August 12
The Olympic Museum in Lausanne is currently closed for renovation, which works out well for London as our capital has been loaned some of its most interesting exhibits to form The Olympic Journey exhibition in the Royal Opera House. Examining the original Greek games and considering their revival and subsequent explosion in popularity, the free exhibition is one of the most comprehensive cultural examinations of the Olympics to be held in the capital this summer. The highlight for many will be the complete display of all the Olympic medals and Torches used in the modern Games.

Designed to Win; Design Museum, July 25 – November 18
Looking at how design can impact upon and improve sports performance, Designed to Win at the Design Museum examines key sporting moments and considers how innovative design has contributed to some of our most powerful shared sporting memories. Using film clips, photography and models alongside interactive displays and everyday sporting equipment, the exhibition also considers how sport has in turn influenced popular culture, design and art.

Olympex 2012: Collecting the Olympic Games; British Library, July 25 – September 9
The London 2012 Olympics will soon be over and then all we’ll be left with are memories to last a lifetime. And memorabilia. Recent Games have provided host nations and all manner of industry cause to create limited-edition tat, celebratory merchandise and genuinely beautiful commemorative products; Olympex 2012 at the British Library tells the stories of Games past through the medium of postage stamps and related memorabilia. Exhibits (mostly stamps, postal items and other associated pieces of Olympic memorabilia) on display are drawn mostly from private collectors so are both agreeably idiosyncratic and unlikely to have been seen by large audiences before. It’s another free exhibition and is complemented by a couple of talks – more details on the exhibition’s microsite.

Art of the Olympians; UCL Bloomsbury Campus, July 23 – August 15
Although based in Fort Myers in Florida, The Art of the Olympians Museum and Gallery is ‘popping up’ in UCL this month. Showing artworks created exclusively by Olympians past and present, it includes pieces by Shane Gould, Peggy Fleming, Kader Klouchi, Florence Griffith Joyner and Allison Wagner. In existence since 2005, the gallery seeks to mirror the original Olympic games in Ancient Greece, when athletes were considered role models that were able to understand and nurture the arts as well as promote excellence in sports.

Olympic and Paralympic Games posters; Tate Britain, until September 23
A dozen contemporary artists have created official posters for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games and these artworks are now on show in Tate Britain. The free exhibition includes screen prints and lithographs of the works and should provide plenty of fodder for debate. Contributing artists include Tracey Emin, Chris Ofili and Martin Creed, and the response to works has been variable. While you’re in the gallery you could also drop into the Another London photography exhibition. With the eyes of the world on the city, this temporary display shows some 180 pictures of London taken between 1930 and 1980 by foreign photographers.

Movement in Sport and Our Great Metropolis; Osborne Studio Gallery, until August 31
Sport and London are fused in this small-scale exhibition at the Osborne Studio Gallery in Belgravia, with the series of lushly finished paintings on show depicting either sports in progress, London on the go, or a fusion of both. Artists featured include Terence Gilbert, Sarah Maclean and Mao Wen Biao.

Charlotte Cory; The Green Parrot Gallery, Greenwich
More a nod towards the Olympics than a direct tribute, The Green Parrot Gallery’s current display sees the gallery owner, Charlotte Cory, modifying Victorian photographic visiting cards. The images which originally showed athletic feats have been adapted to now show mutilated man-animal hybrids enjoying wrestling, cycling and other activities. The gallery is near Greenwich Park and some of the artist’s works will also briefly be on show in the John Soane Museum.

Eleanor Cardozo; throughout London
A former gymnast, the London-born sculptor Eleanor Cardozo is a committed fan of the Olympics and over the coming weeks her gymnastics-inspired sculptures will be on show in locations throughout the capital. Tourists and locals visiting St Margaret’s Church in Westminster Abbey will be able to see five of her bronze statues there, including the three-metre-tall bronze sculpture PROMISE, dedicated to Brtiish Olympian Frankie Jones. Work will also be on show in Heathrow Terminal 5, Gatwick Airport, Adler in New Bond Street and the Osborne Gallery mentioned above.

London and the Olympics; Museum of London, until September 2012
Few cities have hosted the Olympics three times, so the Museum of London has chosen to commemorate this momentous occasion by looking back at London in 1908 and 1948, the previous years the Games were held here. Highlighting what those experiences were like both for locals and international visitors, the free London and the Olympics exhibition recounts touching individual stories and significant events. Running concurrently, the complementary exhibition Our Londinium also examines London’s Roman roots and considers how foreign influences have helped shape the nation’s capital.

Olympians at Madame Tussauds; Madame Tussauds, from July
Britain’s Olympic hopefuls and international greats from Olympics past have justly achieved celebrity status worldwide. Paying tribute to some of the world’s most renowned athletes, Madame Tussauds London has developed an interactive sporting zone that features some of the country’s greatest sporting stars. On show from this year’s Games are likenesses of Jessica Ennis, Tom Daley and Usain Bolt, with Jesse Owens and Mohammed Ali representing Games past. Encouraging visitors to get moving, some of the displays are interactive. It’s possible to join Bolt on a replica running track and to step onto the winners’ podium alongside Jessica Ennis.

1000th: A Bob Martin retrospective; Quaglino’s, until September 17
Sports photographer Bob Martin will be displaying a selection of his images at Quaglino’s restaurant in St James throughout the Olympics period. Showcasing a number of images picked especially by the photographer, 1000th: A Bob Martin retrospective includes numerous shots from previous Olympics and Paralympics and spans his 30-year career. The images are on display throughout the bar and dining area so the showcase is designed more as an additional point of interest to those eating or drinking on the premises rather than as one that one aimed directly at non-patrons. The show is one of a series of ongoing photography exhibitions that have been held at the venue.

Posted in Art, books, films & DVD, Television

Tribute to Beatrix Potter

Best known for her imaginative children’s books featuring animals such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit which celebrated the British landscape and country life, English author, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist Beatrix Potter was born 28th July 1866.Born into a privileged Unitarian family, Potter, along with her younger brother, Walter Bertram, grew up with few  friends outside her large extended family. Her parents were artistic, interested in nature and enjoyed the countryside. As children, Beatrix and Bertram had numerous small animals as pets which they observed closely and drew endlessly. Summer holidays were spent in Scotland and in the English Lake District where Beatrix developed a love of the natural world which was the subject of her painting from an early age.

She was educated by private governesses until she was eighteen. Her study of languages, literature, science and history was broad and she was an eager student. Her artistic talents were recognized early. Although she was provided with private art lessons, Potter preferred to develop her own style, particularly favouring watercolour. Along with her drawings of her animals, real and imagined, she illustrated insects, fossils, archeological artefacts, and fungi. In the 1890s her mycological illustrations and research on the reproduction of fungi spores generated interest from the scientific establishment.

Following some success illustrating cards and booklets, Potter wrote and illustrated The Tale of Peter Rabbit publishing it first privately in 1901, and a year later as a small, three-colour illustrated book with Frederick Warne & Co. Potter went on to write many other books during this period (such as The Tale of Ginger and Pickles, about the local shop in Near Sawrey and The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse, a wood mouse) which reflect her increasing participation in village life and her delight in country living. Potter continued to write, illustrate and design spin-off merchandise based on her children’s books for Warne and published over twenty-three books; the best known are those written between 1902 and 1922.

With the proceeds from the books and a legacy from an aunt, Potter bought Hill Top Farm Near Sawrey, a tiny village in the English Lake District near Ambleside in 1905.  Over the next several decades, she purchased additional farms to preserve the unique hill country landscape. Realising she needed to protect her boundaries she sought advice from W.H. Heelis & Son, a respected firm of solicitors with offices in nearby Hawkshead. With William Heelis acting for her she bought contiguous pasture and By the summer of 1912 Heelis had proposed marriage and Beatrix had accepted and The couple moved immediately to Castle Cottage, the renovated farm house on Castle Farm. Hill Top remained a working farm but was now remodelled to allow for the tenant family and Potter’s private studio and work shop. At last her own woman, Potter settled into the partnerships that shaped the rest of her life: her country solicitor husband and his large family, her farms, the Sawrey community and the predictable rounds of country life. The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck and The Tale of Tom Kitten are representative of Hill Top Farm and of her farming life, and reflect her happiness with her country life.

Potter also became a prize-winning breeder of Herdwick sheep and a prosperous farmer keenly interested in land preservation. She also established a Nursing Trust for local villages, and served on various committees and councils responsible for footpaths and other country life issues, Potter had been a disciple of the land conservation and preservation ideals of her long-time friend and mentor, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, the first secretary and founding member of the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty. She supported the efforts of the National Trust to preserve not just the places of extraordinary beauty, but those heads of valley and low grazing lands that would be irreparably ruined by development. She was also an authority on the traditional Lakeland crafts, period furniture and stonework and restored and preserved the farms that she bought or managed, making sure that each farm house had in it a piece of antique Lakeland furniture. Potter was interested in preserving not only the Herdwick sheep, but the way of life of fell farming. In 1930 the Heelises became partners with the National Trust in buying and managing the fell farms included in the large Monk Coniston Estate. The estate was composed of many farms spread over a wide area of western Lancashire, including the famously beautiful Tarn Hows. Potter became the de facto estate manager for the Trust for seven years until the National Trust could afford to buy most of the property back from her. Her stewardship of these farms earned her wide regard, but she was not without her critics. She was notable in observing the problems of afforestation, preserving the intake grazing lands, and husbanding the quarries and timber on these farms. All her farms were stocked with Herdwick sheep and frequently with Galloway cattle.

sadly Beatrix Potter passed away on 22 December 1943 at Castle Cottage. Near Sawrey at age 77, leaving almost all her property to the National Trust including over 4,000 acres (16 km2) of land, sixteen farms, cottages and herds of cattle and Herdwick sheep. She is credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park. Potter left almost all the original illustrations for her books to the National Trust. The copyright to her stories and merchandise was given to her publisher Frederick Warne & Co, now a division of the Penguin Group. Hill Top Farm was opened to the public by the National Trust in 1946 her artwork was displayed there until 1985 when it was moved to William Heelis’s former law offices in Hawkshead, also owned by the National Trust as the Beatrix Potter Gallery.Potter gave her folios of mycological drawings to the Armitt Library and Museum in Ambleside before her death. The Tale of Peter Rabbit is owned by Frederick Warne and Company, The Tailor of Gloucester by the Tate Gallery and The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by the British Museum. The largest public collection of her letters and drawings is the Leslie Linder Bequest and Leslie Linder Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In the United States, the largest public collections are those in the Special Collections of the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Lloyd Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University. To this day Potter’s books continue to sell throughout the world, in multiple languages, and Her stories have been retold in song, film, ballet and animation.

Posted in Events, sport

Choose life, Choose a big TV, Choose the Olympic Opening Ceremony


Almost 100 heads of state and heads of government have descended on London for the Olympic opening ceremony, and have also been invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace attended by the Queen. Michelle Obama will represent her husband at the reception.

This years 2012 Olympic Games Opening ceremony, is a £27 million  three-hour extravaganza Written by director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting)  entitled Isles of Wonder, and is likely to be be one of the world’s biggest live broadcast events. The entertainment for those in the stadium will begin with a Red Arrows fly-past at 8.12pm, and will feature live music, but for the global TV audience the main event starts at 9pm  Boyle’s vision of rural Britain, complete with live sheep, goats, geese, cows and horses and will focus on how Britain developed Economically and Industry wise during  the industrial revolution and the social changes that took place after World War II and during the 1960’s and concluded with the Forging of the Olympic Rings.

Daniel Craig, also filmed a James Bond segment for the show in which her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip make a rather dramatic and exciting arrival at the Olympic Stadium with a little help from James Bond. There was also a section dedicated to the Doctors and Nurses of the National Health Service which also featured The Child Catcher and Mary Poppins and music courtesy Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells which was followed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle performing the  Chariots of Fire film theme and included a humourous spoof of the film by Rowan Atkinson.

This was followed by a representation of the modern digital age, Television and Britain’s diverse and rich musical history throughout the 1960’s, 1970’s,1980’s, 1990’s and into the new Millenium which included music from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Queen, The Sex Pistols, New Order, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Prodigy, Underworld and Blur among others . David Beckham also played a valuable part in getting the Olympic Torch to it’s destination. There was also a Tribute to British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee, OM, KBE, FRS, FREng, FRSA  who played a valuable part in the invention of the World Wide Web, This was followed by a procession of all the athletes taking part. Kenneth  Branagh, also read lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Sir Paul McCartney, was one of several live musical acts, who took part in the show.