Posted in Events

New Years Eve

In the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Eve, the last day of the year, is on December 31. In many countries, New Year’s Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink alcoholic beverages, and watch or light fireworks to mark the new year. Some people attend Church services. The celebrations generally go on past midnight into January 1 (New Year’s Day). Island nations of Kiribati and Samoa are the first to welcome the New Year while Honolulu, Hawaii is among the last places to welcome the New Year.The United Kingdom’s celebrations are noticeably divided among the three nations that compose it: England, Scotland and Wales (each has its section below). In England, clocks symbolize the transition that occurs at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. The celebration in London focuses on Big Ben, the bell and by association, the clock housed in the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster. The celebrations are televised from London by the BBC in the English regions, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Parties are held across the country, in pubs, clubs, and private houses.

At the stroke of midnight, people join hands in a ring and sing Auld Lang Syne. On New Year’s Eve 2010, an estimated 250,000 people gathered to view an eight-minute fireworks display around and above the London Eye which was, for the first time, set to a musical soundtrack. The soundtrack included songs by British artists such as Blur, The Beatles, and Queen. The celebrations in London continued into January 1, with the New Year’s Day Parade, held annually since 1987. The 2011 parade involved more than 10,000 musicians, cheerleaders and performers. For the arrival of 2012, there were a few small changes. In addition to the fireworks going off at the London Eye, more fireworks went off from the Big Ben with every chime.Other major New Year events are held in the cities of Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, and Newcastle. Bideford, in north Devon, is also known for its New Year’s Eve celebrations, featuring a carnival and fancy dress. The celebration centers on Bideford’s quayside and around its Old Bridge, with a lone piper playing Auld Lang Syne at midnight, followed by a fireworks display.

The Welsh tradition of giving gifts and money on New Year’s Day (Calennig) is an ancient custom that survives in modern-day Wales, though nowadays it is now customary to give bread and cheese. Thousands of people descend every year on Cardiff to enjoy live music, catering, ice-skating, funfairs and fireworks. Many of the celebrations take place at Cardiff Castle and Cardiff City Hall. Every New Year’s Eve, the Nos Galan road race (Rasys Nos Galan), a 5-kilometre (3.1 mi) running race, is held in Mountain Ash in the Cynon Valley, Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Wales. The race celebrates the life and achievements of Welsh runner Guto Nyth Brân. Founded in 1958 by local runner Bernard Baldwin, it is run over the 5 kilometre route of Guto’s first competitive race. The main race starts with a church service at Llanwynno, and then a wreath is laid on Guto’s grave in Llanwynno graveyard. After lighting a torch, it is carried to the nearby town of Mountain Ash, where the main race takes place. The race consists of a double circuit of the town centre, starting in Henry Street and ending in Oxford Street, by the commemorative statue of Guto. Traditionally, the race was timed to end at midnight, but in recent times it was rescheduled for the convenience of family entertainment, now concluding at around 9pm. This has resulted in a growth in size and scale, and the proceedings now start with an afternoon of street entertainment, and fun run races for children, concluding with the church service, elite runners’ race and presentations.

Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year (Gregorian calendar) in the Scottish manner. It is, however, normally only the start of a celebration which lasts through the night until the morning of New Year’s Day (1 January) or, in some cases, 2 January which is a Scottish Bank Holiday. It is celebrated with several different customs, such as First-Footing, which involves friends or family members going to each other’s houses with a gift of whisky and sometimes a lump of coal. Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, hosts one of the world’s most famous New Year celebrations. The celebration is focused on a major street party along Princes Street. The cannon is fired at Edinburgh Castle at the stroke of midnight, followed by a large fireworks display. Edinburgh hosts a festival of four or five days, beginning on 28 December, and lasting until New Year’s Day or January 2, which is also a bank holiday in Scotland. Other cities across Scotland, such as Aberdeen, Glasgow and Stirling have large organised celebrations too, including fireworks at midnight. BBC Scotland broadcast the celebrations in Edinburgh to a Scottish audience, with the celebrations also screened across the world. STV covers both worldwide New Year celebrations & details of events happening around Scotland.

Auld Lang Syne

  • Should old acquaintance be forgot,
  • and never brought to mind ?
  • Should old acquaintance be forgot,
  • and old lang syne ?

( CHORUS: For auld lang syne, my dear,  for auld lang syne,  we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,  for auld lang syne.)

  • And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
  • and surely I’ll buy mine !
  • And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
  • for auld lang syne.


  • We two have run about the slopes,
  • and picked the daisies fine ;
  • But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
  • since auld lang syne.


  • We two have paddled in the stream,
  • from morning sun till dine† ;
  • But seas between us broad have roared
  • since auld lang syne.


  • And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
  • And give me a hand o’ thine !
  • And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
  • for auld lang syne.


Posted in music

Danny McNamara (Embrace)

Danny McNamara, the lead singer with the band Embrace was born 31st December 1970. Embrace are an English band from Bailiff Bridge, Brighouse, West Yorkshire and consists of brothers singer Danny McNamara and guitarist Richard McNamara, bassist Steve Firth, keyboardist Mickey Dale, and drummer Mike Heaton.The band was begun in a small outbuilding at the bottom of a garden in Bailiff Bridge in 1990. A bass player joined the McNamara brothers, Richard playing guitar and Danny singing. The three of them started creating songs, with the aid of a cassette recorder, and soon a drum machine was added. In 1992 The band recorded a three track demo in a 16 track recording studio in Huddersfield which was sold at concerts.

A single, “All You Good Good People” was released in February 1997.  their debut album The Good Will Out was released on 8 June 1998 and went to number 1 in the UK Albums Chart.In 27 March 2000 the band released Drawn from Memory. the album was supported by an acclaimed tour, during which they were supported by then-fledgling Coldplay. Afterwards they recorded their third studio album If You’ve Never Been, which was released on 3 September 2001. In 2004 they released the album Out of Nothing, which reached number one in the UK in 2004. The single that preceded this album was “Gravity”, which had been written by Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Danny McNamara and Martin having become friends after Coldplay had supported Embrace in 2000.

In October 2005, the band released their first b-side compilation, called Dry Kids: B-Sides 1997–2005, featuring b-sides from their previous album and including many fan-favourites such as “Blind” and a live rendition of D12’s “How Come”. The band’s fifth studio album, This New Day was released on 27 March 2006, with the single “Nature’s Law”.  The band then had a break through much of 2007 to 2010. after having released five studio albums, one singles album and one B-sides compilation –  The Good Will Out (1998), Drawn from Memory (2000), If You’ve Never Been (2001), Out of Nothing (2004) and This New Day (2006). In a recent interview Danny McNamara stated that the band is recording their sixth album and on 30 August 2012, Embrace stated on their Facebook page that the band will soon be releasing more news about the forthcoming album.

Embrace Fireworks YouTube Channel

Posted in music

Andy Summers (The Police)

Andy Summers, British guitarist with rock band The Police was born December 31st 1942. Formed in London in 1977.The Police consisted of Sting (lead vocals, bass), Andy Summers (guitar) and Stewart Copeland (drums). The Police became globally popular in the late 1970s and are generally regarded as one of the first New Wave groups to achieve mainstream success, playing a style of rock that was influenced bypunk, reggae, and jazz.

They made many albums including Regatta de Blance, Zenyatta Mondatta and Their 1983 album, Synchronicity, which reached number one on both the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200, and sold over 8 million copies in the US. The group disbanded in 1986, but reunited in early 2007 for a one-off world tour lasting until August 2008. The band has won a number of music awards throughout their career, including six Grammy Awards, two Brit Awards—winning Best British Group once, anMTV Video Music Award, and in 2003, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Police have sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, and were the world’s highest-earning musicians in 2008, thanks to their reunion tour

Posted in music

Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith)

Tom Hamilton, The Bass Player with rock Band Aerosmith celebrates his birthday on  31st December. Sometimes referred to as “The Bad Boys from Boston” and “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.”  The band was formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970. Guitarist Joe Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton, originally in a band together called the Jam Band, met up with singer Steven Tyler, drummer Joey Kramer, and guitarist Ray Tabano, and formed Aerosmith. In 1971, Tabano was replaced by Brad Whitford, and the band began developing a following in Boston, Their style, which is rooted in blues-based hard rock, has come to also incorporate elements of pop, heavy metal, and rhythm and blues, and has inspired many subsequent rock artists.   They were signed to Columbia Records in 1972, and released a string of multi-platinum albums, beginning with their 1973 eponymous debut album, followed by their 1974 album Get Your Wings. In 1975, the band broke into the mainstream with the album Toys in the Attic, and their 1976 follow-up Rocks cemented their status as hard rock superstars.

The band released two more albums, toured extensively, and charted a string of Hot 100 singles. By the end of the 1970s, they were among the most popular hard rock bands in the world and developed a loyal following of fans, often referred to as the “Blue Army”. However, drug addiction and internal conflict took their toll on the band, which resulted in the departures of Perry and Whitford in 1979 and 1981, respectively; they were replaced by Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay. The band did not fare well between 1980 and 1984, releasing a lone album, Rock in a Hard Place, which went gold but failed to match their previous successes.   Perry and Whitford returned in 1984 and the band signed a new deal with Geffen Records. After a comeback tour, the band recorded Done with Mirrors, which won some critical praise but failed to come close to commercial expectations. It was not until the band sobered up and released 1987′s Permanent Vacation that they regained the level of popularity they had experienced in the 1970s.

Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, the band scored several hits including Dude, looks like a lady Walk this Way (Featuring RUN DMC) and “love in an elvator“, and won numerous awards for music from the multi-platinum albums Pump, Get a Grip, and Nine Lives. The band also became a pop culture phenomenon with popular music videos and notable appearances in television, film, and video games. Their comeback has been described as one of the most remarkable and spectacular in rock ‘n’ roll history. Additional albums followed in 2001 and 2004 including the songs Crazy  (Featuring Alicia Silverstone & Liv Tyler) and I don’t Wanna Miss a Thing, from the film Armageddon

After 42 years of performing, the band continues to tour and record music. Their latest album, Music from Another Dimension, was  released in 2012.   Aerosmith is the best-selling American rock band of all time, having sold more than 150 million albums worldwide,including 66.5 million albums in the United States alone. They also hold the record for the most gold and multi-platinum albums by an American group. The band has scored 21 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, nine number-one Mainstream Rock hits, four Grammy Awards, and ten MTV Video Music Awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, and were included among both Rolling Stone’s and VH1′s lists of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Posted in music

Tribute to the late great Donna Summer

Best known for energetic pulsating dance hits such as “Hot Stuff”, “ I Feel Love, Bad Girls” and “Last Dance”. Donna Summer was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines on 31st December 1948. She was brought up as one of seven children of a devoutly Christian family, and had learned to sing in the church choir, and began performing professionally in the late 1960s after landing a part in Hair. She achieved fame after signing as a solo artist to the pioneering disco label, Casablanca, in 1975 and her soaring voice and effervescent stage presence  helped to propel her first single “Love to Love You Baby” to No 4 in the UK charts and ignited the disco craze of the 1970s,  providing the soundtrack to a dance movement defined by sex, drugs and extravagant clothes although she was the very antithesis of a fast-living disco diva off-stage. Her hit singles “She Works Hard For The Money“  and State of Independence also became  anthems for the women’s rights movement during the 80′s.

After having a glittering career that spanned four decades,  Donna Summer sadly passed away on 17th May 2012 in Florida, while attempting to put the finishing touches to her 24th album after having a short but acute battle with lung cancer which she beleived was the result of inhaling toxic dust from the collapsed Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in the aftermath of 9/11 terror attack. During her incredible music career Summer made 24 albums which put the disco into discography, won five Grammys and in 2012 she was a nominee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to celebrate her extraordinary life,long-lasting career and her continuing legacy.

Posted in Humour

Jobsworths’ jargon and what it really means

  • Your letter has been carefully considered and its contents noted = I haven’t looked at it.
  • A full survey of the problem has been put in hand = Nothing will be done.
  • I assure you that action will be taken as soon as possible = Nothing will ever be done.
  • Urgent action will be taken in the very near future = Nothing will be done until hell freezes over.
  • I fully appreciate the problem = I couldn’t care less.
  • I have every sympathy with your point of view = I’ve already forgotten your existence.
  • You are fully entitled to make your views known = Nobody here takes the blindest bit of notice.
  • Your complaint is being fully investigated = Your letters have been filed in the wastepaper basket.
  • Your complaint appears to have some validity, and will be thoroughly investigated = Your letters were torn into small squares before being dropped in the wastepaper basket.
  • I will refer the matter to the appropriate department = Your letters have been shredded, your computer file has been deleted and all future correspondence will go straight into the wastepaper basket unopened.
  • A full and detailed reply will be sent to you in the near future = You’ll never hear another word from us.
  • The possibility of an administrative/computer error is being investigated = Life in this office is one foul‑up after another, but you’ll never get us to admit it.
  • You will appreciate the complex nature of this matter = I just can’t be bothered to think about it.
  • The increase in our charges is, regrettably, unavoidable = You are going to pay for my bonus.
  • This department endeavours to process all matters outstanding with the minimum of delay = I’m playing golf this afternoon.
  • I will be delighted to see you to discuss the matter at your convenience = Just try getting past my secretary.
  • I do not really feel that any useful purpose is to be served in pursuing this matter further = Get stuffed.
  • May I assure you of our attention and consideration at all times = Go and boil your head, And then get stuffed.
Posted in books, films & DVD

Life of Pi

LoPDirected by the Oscar-winning director of Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee and Based on Yann Martel’s bestselling Mann Booker Prize winning 2001 novel, Life of Pi (Which is on my list of novels to read) has been described as is a Magnificent and moving film which starts with adult Pi (Irrfan Khan) recounting the incredible experiences he had as a boy (Suraj Sharma) after his zookeeper parents (Adil Hussain and Tabu) decide to leave the serenity of their lives in Pondicherry, India, and board a ship travelling to Canada in order to start a new life.

Unfortunately the ship goes down drowning everyone except Pi (Suraj Sharma), a zebra, an orang utan, a shrieking hyena and the tiger named Richard Parker which is named after the hunter who captured him. Needless to say Pi’s journey is perilous and Pi, who claims to be Hindu, Christian and Muslim, finds his faith severely tested when the ship goes down and he finds himself Sharing one lifeboat for 227 days at sea with a starving Bengal tiger. This reminds Pi of The maxim “survival of the fittest” and the mistake of treating a wild animal as human. So he leaves Richard Parker alone on the lifeboat & fends for himself on a raft he ties alongside.

Suraj Sharma uses his expressive eyes to good effect, hinting at the brutal extent of the torment he is going through whilst trapped at sea. The film also stars Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall, Gérard Depardieu and was scripted by David Magee (Finding Neverland), with cinematography by Claudio Miranda.

Posted in books, films & DVD, music

Les Misérables

lesmisDirected by King’s Speech Oscar winner Tom Hooper the film adaptation of Les Misérables has been described as a feast for the eyes and ears, which overflows with humour, heartbreak, heroism, rousing action and ravishing romance. It is adapted from Victor Hugo’s massive 1862 novel spun around the 1832 Paris student uprising And the stage adaptation by by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer. It stars Hugh Jackman as a thief named Jean Valjean, who is locked up for nearly 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread, but escapes and makes a respectable life for himself as a small-town mayor. But he can’t rest. Hunted relentlessly by the policeman Javert (Russell Crowe), Valjean is almost caught again when he tries to help poor, doomed Fantine (Anne Hathaway), a factory girl who sells her hair, her teeth and her body to support her child, Cosette.

It’s up to Valjean to save Cosette from the clutches of the Thénardiers, greedy innkeepers who treat Cosette like a slave while spoiling their daughter, Éponine (Samantha Barks). Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter play this gruesome twosome with delicious mirth and malice. Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) falls in love with a handsome student rebel named Marius (Eddie Redmayne), with whom Éponine is also in love. Meanwhile there is student revolt led by Enjolras (Aaron Tveit) Marius and a street urchin named Gavroche (12-year-old Daniel Huttlestone) who are pretesting about the Government’s treatment of the poor and destitute in Paris, however Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) plots to crush the protest by force and predictably this all ends in tragedy…

Posted in Science-tech

Srinivasa Ramanujan

Researchers have finally solved the cryptic deathbed puzzle which renowned Indian mathematician  Srinivasa Ramanujan claimed came to him in dreams. Born 22nd December and described as a raw genius, he overcame many hurdles to find a place among the celebrated intellectuals of Cambridge, despite failing the college course in India twice.

While on his death-bed in 1920,Ramanujan, a self-taught mathematician, wrote a letter to his mentor, English mathematician G. H. Hardy, outlining several new mathematical functions never before heard of, which behaved differently from known theta functions, or modular forms, and yet closely mimicked them, along with a hunch about how they worked. Ramanujan conjectured that his mock modular forms corresponded to the ordinary modular forms earlier identified by Carl Jacobi, and that both would wind up with similar outputs for roots of 1. However, no one at the time understood what Ramanujan was talking about and It wasn’t until 2002, through the work of Sander Zwegers, that we had a description of the functions that Ramanujan was writing about in 1920. By drawing on modern mathematical tools that had not been developed before Ramanujan’s death his theory was proved correct. The formula explaining one of the Modular functions could help explain the behaviour of black holes.

The findings were presented last month at the Ramanujan 125 conference at the University of Florida, to mark the 125th anniversary of the mathematician’s birth on Dec 22nd. SadlyRamanujan passed away at the young age of 32 of tuberculosis, but he discovered many existing results independently, as well as making his own unique contributions to maths, and has left behind formulations in mathematics that have paved the path for many scholars who came after him, and the formula could explain the behaviour of black holes.

Posted in Humour

Bureaucrats: How To Annoy Them

Best remembered as the motor-mouthed frontman of The Sky At Night ,Sir Patrick Moore, who sadly passed away recently aged 89, had another side, as a self-appointed scourge of bureaucracy. In 1981, and under the pen-name R. T. Fishall, he published an irreverent guide to causing havoc and taking vengeance on the people who were burying Britain under paperwork and tying the country up in red tape.The book, now sadly out of print, was called Bureaucrats: How To Annoy Them, and it was inspired by a correspondence with a man named Whitmarsh from the Southern Gas Company, who had sent Moore a final demand for £10 of repairs, despite the fact that the central heating at his cottage in Selsey, West Sussex, was oil‑fired.The great astronomer snapped. He realised that Britons everywhere were being harangued, overcharged, harassed, bullied and driven to distraction by the Whitmarshes of this world — or Twitmarshes, as he renamed them.‘We are not ruled directly by Parliament,’ he wrote, ‘but by minor officials — bureaucrats of all descriptions, safely embraced in the arms of the civil service, with immunity from dismissal and nice, inflation-proof pensions.’The dedication of the book made his intentions clear: ‘To all bureaucrats and civil servants, everywhere. If this book makes your lives even the tiniest bit more difficult, it will have been well worth writing.

  •  Never say anything clearly. When writing to jobsworths and timeservers, word your letter so that it could mean almost anything…or nothing.
  • Don’t be legible. Always write letters by hand, and make your verbose scrawl as impenetrable as possible.
  • Garble your opponent’s name. Misread the signature. If the correspondence is signed ‘M. Harris’, address your reply to ‘N. Hayes’ or ‘W. Hardy’. Don’t get too flippant though — the penpushers might lack a sense of humour, but if you write to ‘M. Hedgehog’, they will sense a legpull.
  • Give fake references. If you have a letter from the tax office, ref: EH/4/PNG/H8, mark your reply with some other code in the same format, such as DC/5/IMH/R9. This should ensure that the taxman wastes minutes, or hopefully hours, rooting for a file that doesn’t exist.
  • The same goes for dates. Get them slightly wrong, every time.Stamp away: And make sure it’s in the wrong place
  • Follow up your fakes. Write to request a reply to letters that you haven’t sent, and include bogus reference numbers. This is a surefire timewaster and might even, if your Twitmarsh is of a sensitive disposition, reduce him to tears.
  • Never pay the right amount. Include a discrepancy in every envelope — never too much, but always more than a few pence. A sum between £1.20 and £2.80 is recommended. Then you can start an interminable correspondence to reclaim the overpayment (or dispute the underpayment).
  • When enclosing a cheque, staple it to the letter. With two staples. Or three. Right in the middle of the cheque. At the least, you’ll waste someone’s time — at best, you might wreck their computer.
  • As a point of honour, never give up on a correspondence before at least six pointless letters have been exchanged. Think big and aim for double figures.
  • If a postage-paid envelope is not supplied by your Twitmarsh, send off your reply without a stamp. The bureaucrats will have to pay much more at the other end.
  • Put the wrong postage on, Or put the stamp in the wrong place.
  • when filling in a form, always keep a candle handy. Whenever you come to a box marked ‘For official use only — do not write in this space’, rub the candle gently over the box. A thin layer of grease will make it impossible for your Twitmarsh to write on the paper, and might muck up his ballpoint, too.
  • When filing in forms, do not feel obliged to use English. Why not employ that smattering of Spanish you picked up on your holidays, or the residue of schoolroom French from your third- year days?
  • If you or a friend speak a really obscure language, so much the better — especially one that doesn’t use the Roman alphabet. .Nothing makes Twitmarsh’s brow perspire more freely than the sight of a form filled out in squiggly script. Do the first page in Russian, the second in Chinese and the third in Hindi. For extra marks, find someone who speaks Klingon, Sindarin or Quenya, or write a letter using Zapf Dingbats.