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.

Posted in books

Happy Birthday Robert Rankin

Having read a couple of his novels whilst in hospital I thought I would do a post on prolific British humorous novelist Robert Fleming Rankin who was born 27th July 1949. He started writing in the late 1970s, and first entered the bestsellers lists with Snuff Fiction in 1999, by which time his previous eighteen books had sold around one million copies. His books are a mix of science fiction, fantasy, the occult, urban legends, running gags, metafiction, steampunk and outrageous characters. According to the (largely fictional) biography printed in some Corgi editions of his books, Rankin refers to his style as ‘Far Fetched Fiction’ in the hope that bookshops will let him have a section to himself. Many of Rankin’s books are bestsellers.

Most of Rankin’s books are set in Brentford, a suburb of London where the author grew up, and which, in his novels, is usually infested with alien conspiracies and/or ancient evil.In addition to his novels, Rankin held a position as the Writer in Residence of Brentford’s Watermans Arts Centre during the 1980s, and organised a regular poetry event there which he claims was the largest in Britain. He also has performed on stage with a variety of bands.

Named after Rankin’s fixation with the vegetable, there is a fan club called The Order of the Golden Sprout who maintain a web site and arrange events, many around Brentford In 2009 he was created the first Fellow of The Victorian Steampunk Society in recognition of his unique contribution to the genre.

Posted in books, films & DVD

Happy Birthday Jack Higgins

Happy Birthday Jack Higgins

Prolific UK novelist Jack Higgins was born 27 July 1929 Higgins is the principal pseudonym of Harry Patterson and he is the author of more than 60 novels. As Higgins, most have been thrillers of various types and, since his breakthrough novel The Eagle Has Landed in 1975, nearly all have been bestsellers. The Eagle Has Landed sold over fifty million copies.Patterson was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. He moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland, with his mother after his parents’ marriage foundered, and was raised there amid religious and political violence. First in Belfast and later in Leeds, Patterson proved to be an indifferent student and left school without completing his studies.He found a home in the British Army, however, and served two years as a non-commissioned officer in the Household Cavalry (the Blues and Royals) on the East German border during the 1950s. Patterson found, during his military service, that he possessed both considerable sharpshooting skills and considerable intelligence (scoring 147 on an army intelligence test

Patterson’s early novels, written under his own name as well as under the pseudonyms James Graham, Martin Fallon, and Hugh Marlowe, are brisk, competent, but essentially forgettable thrillers that typically feature hardened, cynical heroes, ruthless villains, and dangerous locales. Patterson published thirty-five such novels (sometimes three or four a year) between 1959 and 1974, learning his craft. East of Desolation (1968), A Game for Heroes (1970) and The Savage Day (1972) stand out among his early work for their vividly drawn settings (Greenland, the Channel Islands, and Belfast, respectively) and offbeat plots. Patterson began using the pseudonym Jack Higgins in the late 1960s; his first minor bestsellers appeared in the early 1970s, two contemporary thrillers The Savage Day and A Prayer For The Dying but it was the publication of his thirty-sixth book, The Eagle Has Landed, in 1975 that made Higgins’ reputation. The Eagle Has Landed represented a step forward in the length and depth of Patterson’s work. Its plot (concerned with a German commando unit sent into England to kidnap Winston Churchill) was fresh and innovative (although the plot is clearly reminiscent of Alberto Cavalcanti’s wartime film Went the Day Well?, which itself was directly based on the 1942 Graham Greene short story The Lieutenant Died Last), and the characters had significantly more depth than in his earlier work. One in particular stood out: Irish gunman, poet, and philosopher Liam Devlin.

Higgins followed The Eagle Has Landed with a series of equally ambitious thrillers, including several (Touch the Devil, Confessional, The Eagle Has Flown) featuring return appearances by Devlin.The third phase of Patterson’s career began with the publication of Eye of the Storm in 1992, a fictionalized retelling of an unsuccessful mortar attack on Prime Minister John Major by a ruthless young Irish gunman-philosopher named Sean Dillon, hired by an Iraqi millionaire. Cast as the central character over the next series of novels, it is apparent that Dillon is in many ways an amalgamation of Patterson’s previous heroes — Chavasse with his flair for languages, Nick Miller’s familiarity with martial arts and jazz keyboard skills, Simon Vaughan’s Irish roots, facility with firearms and the cynicism that comes with assuming theresponsibility of administering a justice unavailable through a civilized legal system.

Among Jack Higgins best known novels are: Year of the Tiger,The Keys of Hell,Midnight Never Comes,Dark Side of the Street,A Fine Night for Dying,The Savage Day, Day of Judgement, The Graveyard Shift, Brought in Dead, Hell Is Always Today, The Eagle Has Landed, Touch the Devil, Confessional, The Eagle Has Flown, Night of the Fox, Cold Harbour, Flight of Eagles, Eye of the Storm, Thunder Point, On Dangerous Ground, Angel of Death, Drink with the Devil, The President’s Daughter, The White House Connection, Day of Reckoning, Edge of Danger, Midnight Runner, Bad Company, Dark Justice, Without Mercy, The Killing Ground, Rough Justice, A Darker Place, The Wolf at the Door, The Judas Gate, A Devil is Waiting, Sure Fire,Death Run, Sharp Shot, First Strike, Wrath of the Lion, East of Desolation, In the Hour Before Midnight, Night Judgement At Sinos, The Last Place God Made, The Savage Day,A Prayer for the Dying, Storm Warning, Solo, Luciano’s Luck, Exocet,A Season in Hell,Memoirs of a Dance Hall Romeo,Sheba,Pay The Devil, Sad Wind from the Sea, Cry of the Hunter, The Thousand Faces of Night, Comes the Dark Stranger, Hell is Too Crowded, The Dark Side of the Island, Toll For The Brave, The Valhalla Exchange,To Catch a King and Dillinger

There have also been many Films adapted from the novels, including, The Violent Enemy, The Wrath of God, The Eagle Has Landed, To Catch a King, A Prayer for the Dying, Confessional Night of the Fox, Midnight Man, On Dangerous Ground, Windsor Protocol and Thunder Point