World Theatre Day

Initiated in 1961, World Theatre Day is celebrated annually on 27th March by the International Theatre Institute (ITI) and the international theatre community, and To mark the occasion Various national and international theatre events are organized. One of the most important of these is the circulation of the World Theatre Day International Message through which at the invitation of ITI, a figure of world stature shares his or her reflections on the theme of Theatre and a Culture of Peace. The first World Theatre Day International Message was written by Jean Cocteau (France) in 1962. It was first in Helsinki, and then in Vienna at the 9th World Congress of the ITI in June 1961 that President Arvi Kivimaa proposed on behalf of the Finnish Centre of the International Theatre Institute that a World Theatre Day be instituted. The proposal, backed by the Scandinavian centres, was carried with acclamation.

Ever since, each year on the 27th March (date of the opening of the 1962 “Theatre of Nations” season in Paris), World Theatre Day has been celebrated in many and varied ways by ITI National Centres throughouth the world. Each year an important figure who has made a valuable contribution to either theatre or another field, is invited to share his or her reflections on theatre and international harmony. This International Message isthen translated into more than 20 languages, read for tens of thousands of spectators before performances in theatres throughout the world and printed in hundreds of daily newspapers, with more than a hundred radio and television stations transmitting the Message to listeners in all corners of the globe.

Hit Me with your Rhythm Stick

British musician and lead singer of The Blockheads, Ian Dury sadly passed away on 27 March 2000,Born 12th May 1942 The Blockheads were formed in the early 1970’s and fronted by vocalist Ian Dury as Ian Dury and the Blockheads. They quickly gained a reputation as one of the top live acts of New Wave music during the 1970′s and built up a dedicated following in the UK and other countries and scored several hit singles, including “What a Waste“, “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” (which was a UK number one at the beginning of 1979, selling just short of a million copies), “Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3″ (number three in the UK in 1979), and the rock and roll anthem, “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll“.

Dury’s lyrics were a distinctive combination of lyrical poetry, word play, observation of British everyday (working-class) life, acute character sketches, and vivid, earthy sexual humour. sound drew from its members’ diverse musical influences, which included jazz, rock and roll, funk, and reggae, and Dury’s love of music hall. The band was formed after Dury began writing songs with pianist and guitarist Chaz Jankel, who took Dury’s lyrics, fashioned a number of songs, and they began recording with members of Radio Caroline’s Loving Awareness Band—drummer Charley Charles, bassist Norman Watt-Roy, keyboard player Mick Gallagher, guitarist John Turnbull and former Kilburns saxophonist Davey Payne. An album was completed, but major record labels passed on the band. However, next door to Dury’s manager’s office was the newly formed Stiff Records, a perfect home for Dury’s maverick style. Their classic single, “Sex & Drugs & Rock and Roll”, marked Dury’s Stiff debut and although it was banned by the BBC it was named Single of the Week by NME on its release. It was soon followed by the debut album New Boots and Panties!!, which was eventually to achieve platinum status.

The band’s second album Do It Yourself was released in June 1979 in a Barney Bubbles-designed sleeve of which there were over a dozen variations, all based on samples from the Crown wallpaper catalogue. Bubbles also designed the Blockhead logo which received international acclaim, during this time The group worked solidly between the release of “Rhythm Stick” and their next single, “Reasons To Be Cheerful”, which returned them to the charts, making the UK Top 10. Sadly The Blockheads disbanded in early 1982 after Dury secured a new recording deal with Polydor Records

In March 1996 Dury was diagnosed with cancer and, after recovering from an operation, he set about writing another album. In early 1998 he reunited with the Blockheads to record the well-received album Mr Love-Pants. In May, Ian Dury and the Blockheads hit the road again, and gigged throughout 1999, culminating in their last performance with Ian Dury on 6 February 2000 at the London Palladium. since then the band have continued to perform.

Tony Banks (Genesis)

Tony Banks founder member and Keyboard player with English rock band Genesis was born 27th  March 1950. Genesis were formed in 1967 and currently consists of Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (bass, guitar),and Phil Collins (vocals, drums), who first joined in 1970. Past members Peter Gabriel (vocals, flute), Steve Hackett (guitar) and Anthony Phillips (guitar) also played major roles in the band during its early years. Peter Gabriel left in 1975 to pursue a  successful solo career and Following Gabriel’s departure, Collins became the group’s lead singer, and sang lead vocals, then Hackett left in 1977.

Genesis’s first album was Nursery Cryme and was initially regarded by the band and the fans as a pop experiment, referring to then-popular melodic pop. Then, over the course of a year, (beginning with their second album in mid-1970) they quickly evolved into a progressive rock band with the incorporation of complex song structures and elaborate instrumentation. Their concerts became theatrical experiences with innovative stage design, pyrotechnics, extravagant costumes and on-stage stories. This second phase was characterised by lengthy performances such as the 23-minute “Supper’s Ready” and the 1974 concept album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. In the late ’70s and early ’80s the band’s musical direction changed once again, becoming more pop oriented and commercially accessible. This resulted in their first top 40 single in the US with “Follow You Follow Me”, their first number one album in the United Kingdom, Duke, and their only number one single in the United States, “Invisible Touch”. Genesis are among the top 30 highest-selling recording artists of all time, with approximately 150 million albums sold worldwide haves released many great albums,  including INVISIBLE TOUCHFOXTROT & GENESIS  Genesis were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010

Sir Henry Royce (Rolls Royce)

silver-ghost-picadilly-roadsterSir Henry Royce the co- founder of World Renowned Luxury Car Manufacturer Rolls-Royce was born 27th March 1863. Henry Royce first started an electrical and mechanical business and made his first car, a two-cylinder Royce 10, in his Manchester factory in 1904, and was introduced to Charles Rolls at the Midland Hotel in Manchester on 4 May of that year. Rolls was proprietor of an early motor car dealership, C.S.Rolls & Co. in Fulham.In spite of his preference for three or four cylinder cars, Rolls was impressed with the Royce 10, and in a subsequent agreement of 23 December 1904 agreed to take all the cars Royce could make. All would be badged as Rolls-Royces, and be sold exclusively by Rolls. The first Rolls-Royce car, the Rolls-Royce 10 hp, was unveiled at the Paris Salon in December 1904. Rolls-Royce Limited was formed on 15 March 1906, by which time it was apparent that new premises were required for production of cars. After considering sites in Manchester, Coventry, Bradford and Leicester, they moved to Derby. The new factory was largely designed by Royce, and production began in early 1908, with a formal opening on 9 July 1908 by Sir John Montagu. During 1906 Royce had been developing an improved six-cylinder model with more power than the 30hp. Initially designated the 40/50 hp, this was the company’s first all-new model. In March 1908 Claude Johnson, Commercial Managing Director and sometimes described as the hyphen in Rolls-Royce,succeeded in persuading Royce and the other directors that Rolls-Royce should concentrate exclusively on the new model, and all the earlier models were duly discontinued. After the First World War, Rolls-Royce successfully avoided attempts to encourage the British car manufacturers to merge. Faced with falling sales of the 40/50 (later known as Silver Ghost) the company introduced the smaller, cheaper Twenty in 1922, effectively ending the one-model policy followed since 1908.

RollsRoyce_BYL231After the introduction of the Phantom model in 1925 this 40/50 model was referred to as the Silver Ghost. The new 40/50 was responsible for the company’s early reputation with over 6,000 built. In 1921, the company opened a second factory in Springfield, Massachusetts in the United States (to help meet demand), where a further 1,701 “Springfield Ghosts” were built. This factory operated for 10 years, closing in 1931. Its chassis was used as a basis for the first British armoured car used in both world wars.In 1931 Rolls-Royce acquired the much smaller rival car maker Bentley after the latter’s finances failed to weather the onset of the Great Depression. From soon after World War II until 2002 standard Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars were often identical apart from the radiator grille and minor details.In 1933, the colour of the Rolls-Royce radiator monogram was changed from red to black because the red sometimes clashed with the coachwork colour selected by clients, and not as a mark of respect for the passing of Royce as is commonly stated.Rolls-Royce and Bentley car production moved to Crewe in 1946 where they began to assemble complete cars with bodies from the Pressed Steel Company (the new standard steel models) for the first time. Previously they had built only the chassis, leaving the bodies to specialist coach-builders.

Rolls-Royce also started to produce diesel engines in 1951. Initially, these were intended for heavy tractors and earth-movers but, later, they were installed in lorries (e.g. Scammell), railcars, diesel multiple units and Sentinel shunting locomotives. Rolls-Royce took over Sentinel’s Shrewsbury factory for diesel engine production in 1956. The Rolls-Royce diesel business was acquired by Perkins in the 1980s. In 1971, Rolls-Royce was crippled by the costs of developing the advanced RB211 jet engine, resulting in the nationalization of the company as Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited. In 1973, the car division was separated from the parent company as Rolls-Royce Motors. Rolls Royce also made Torque converters and railcar engines were often used with Twin Disc torque converters which were built by Rolls-Royce under licence from Twin Disc of the USA. “Twin Disc” is the name of the company (which originally manufactured friction clutches) and does not describe the construction of the torque converter.Sadly in 1971 Financial problems caused largely by development of the new RB211 turbofan engine led – after several cash subsidies – to the company being nationalised by the government. (Delay in production of the RB211 engine has been blamed for the failure of the technically advanced Lockheed TriStar, which was beaten to launch by its chief competitor, the Douglas DC-10.)In 1973 the motor car business was spun off as a separate entity, Rolls-Royce Motors. The main business of aircraft and marine engines remained in public ownership until 1987, when it was privatised as Rolls-Royce plc, one of many privatisations of the Thatcher government.

Tribute to Ferdinand Porsche

Austrian technical automobile designer and automaker-entrepreneur Ferdinand Anton Ernst Porsche sadly passed away  at the age of 88, on 27 March 1998, at Zell am See, Austria. Born 19 September 1909, mainly known as Ferry Porsche. His father, Ferdinand Porsche, Sr. was also a renowned automobile engineer and founder of Volkswagen and Porsche. His nephew, Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, was chairman of Volkswagen from 1993 to 1998, and his son, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, was involved in the design of the 911.

Ferdinand Porsche Sr was chief designer at Austro-Daimler in Austria. His designs were focused on compact street cars and race cars. Austro-Daimler was so strongly tied to the local royalty that the Austrian double-headed eagle became the trademark of the company. Ferry Porsche learned to drive when he was only 10 years old. At age 12 he drove a real race car, the Austro-Daimler Sascha, which had just won its class at Targa Florio, Sicily, in 1922 and also attended school at Wiener Neustadt and Stuttgart, concentrating on mathematics. In 1923, the family moved to Stuttgart, due to senior Ferdinand Porsche’s unrest about the squandering financial destiny of Austro-Daimler. He joined the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft at Stuttgart-Untertürkheim (where the design department from the whole company was concentrated). Soon, he achieved the position of technical director. Meanwhile, Ferry Porsche received consent from the company to stay at the plant together with his father because of his increasing interest in design issues.

Ferdinand Porsche senior enjoyed success particularly with his racing cars . His personal preference for designing compact cars differed to Daimler-Benz, who were in favor of more luxurious models. So he left and worked temporarily as the technical director of Steyr AG in Austria and then decided to open a consulting office of automobile design, in Stuttgart  which had become a  important part of Germany’s automobile industry  and was therefor an ideal location for the new Porsche design company and soon Porsche GmbH was founded. Despite Germany’s financial crisis during the 1930′s Porsche managed to obtained contracts from important German automotive firms, such as Wanderer, Auto Union, Zwickau, Zündapp and Some of these projects had historical impact, such as the mid-engine Auto Union Silver Arrow race cars, which were designed by Porsche.

porsche_-cisitalia360During the 1930′s German racing cars were promoted. Daimler-Benz constructed a racing car & In 1933 Ferry Porsche also constructed a rival Porsche race cars, which had a 4.5 litre V-16 engine and an aluminum framework.In 1934, Auto Union was created, and the senior Porsche became the chief designer and they too designed racing cars. Both racing teams, Daimler-Benz and Auto Union soon became bitter rival on the Race Track during the 1930′s. In 1938, when his father moved to the new Volkswagen plant at Wolfsburg, Ferry became deputy manager of the Stuttgart bureau and relocated the design departments to Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen. Ferdinand Porsche’s old yearning had been to create a small compact & affordable car for the German family. So Work began at Stuttgart and the car became known as the Kdf-Wagen or Volkswagen (people’s car).

During World War II Porsche seemed to develop a relatively “amicable” relationship with Adolf Hitler and Even though the relationship seemed mutual, in reality it was one-sided and The Porsche family was, in fact, somewhat pacifist and did not agree with Nazi ideals and may have even assisted Jewish employee to escape Germany, including Adolf Rosenberger, without whose financial backing Porsche GmbH would not have existed.

After World War II both Porsche’s father and son as well as Anton Piëch were arrested as war criminals and a bail of 500,000 francs was officially asked for each of the Porsche’s. It could be afforded only for Ferry Porsche who moved then to Austria, in July 1946. His father was taken instead to a harsh medieval prison at Dijon, upon release he attempted to return to Stuttgart but he was barred by the forces of occupation. In consequence, in July 1946, he brought all the structure of the company to Gmünd/Carinthia, Austria & obtained two contracts for automobile design. One was for the construction of racecars for the Cisitalia racing team. The other was for the design of their own car, which later became known as the Porsche 356. , Ferry Porsche started producing Grand Prix racing cars again. The new model was called the Porsche 360 Cisitalia, and It had a supercharged mid-mounted engine displacing 1.5 liters and four-wheel drive.

Porsche356SpeedsterFerdinand Porsche also designed the Porsche 356, based on the compact Volkswagen. The 356 had an air-cooled, rear-mounted, 4-cylinder engine producing 35 hp (Wow! Modern Porsche’s develop 10 times that ammount) despite the car’s compact size, it proved very popular and by 1965 had sold nearly 78,000 units, which was helped by Ferdinand Porsche’s mottos to produce automobiles which had to be reliable and of high-quality sports cars, of a high utilitarian value. Porsche ‘s most recognized involvement in car races began at 24 Hours of Le Mans, on June 1951, when an improved version of the 356 debuted on this track and won in its category. On successive years, Porsche ‘s winning contribution to Le Mans is regarded as fundamental for the own existence of the circuit. Later, in 1959, Porsche won for first time an event of the World Sportscar Championship, at Targa Florio, while a Porsche 917 would achieve the first Le Mans win finally in 1970.At the demand of Porsche’s fans, the company began planning a successor to the 356. The project was originally called Porsche 901 and The first units were manufactured in 1962. However, Peugeot pushed legally for a change of the name, due to its registered trademark on automobile names with a zero amid two numbers. The model was renamed Porsche 911. Over time, it has evolved, but still kept the general shape and architecture since the beginning with a rear mounted high performance engine. It has sold about 600,000 units.

After his father’s death in 1951 Ferry became general manager, the chairman of the board of management and In 1972, he decided to transform the Porsche Companyinto a public concern. In 1989, Ferdinand Porsche stepped down from the chairmanship and became honorary chairman of the supervisory board and remained in that position until his death In 1998 and Ferdinand Alexander Porsche took his  place as general manager. when Ferdinand Porsche retired definitively from the activity, returning to his cherished Austrian farm at Zell am See. one of his last visited events was the launching of a new model, the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. It was based on the old 356, with a water-cooled engine of 6-cylinders and 300 hp.He also assisted in the celebration of the 30 years of the Porsche 911 which took place at Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg. He was buried there at the Schüttgut church.

Formula One Driver and Car Racing Commentator David Coulthard was born 27th March 1971

Stanisław Lem

sl_thecyberDescribed as the most widely read science fiction writer in the world, Polish  author Stanislaw Lem Sadly passed away on March 27, 2006 , at the age of 84, in Krakow, Poland .  Born September 12 1921 in Lwow, Poland (Which is now Ukraine),  During World War II, Lem,  due to being a Polish citizen with Jewish ancestry,  had to survive using fake papers, and worked as a car mechanic and welder.  After the war he relocated to Krakow,  where he studied medicine.

In 1946, Shortly after the war , a selection of Lem’s  poetry, was first published as well as a series of US popular fiction ‘dime novels’. In that same year, Lem’s first science fiction work, Czlowiek z Marsa (The Man from Mars), was also serialised in the magazine Nowy Swiat Przygód (New World of Adventures). His first novel, Astronauci (The Astronauts) was written in 1951, during the Stalinist era, and he was forced to include many references to the “glorious future of communism” in order for his published work to be approved by the Communist authorities, later in 1961 he published the novel Solaris, which focuses on the ultimate inadequacy of communication between human and non-human species. Since then, this novel has  been made into a feature film three time, most recently in 2002 starring George Clooney.

In 1973, he was made an honorary member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, despite being technically ineligible and openly critical of American science fiction, and in 1974 His novel The Cyberiad was  first published in English. It featured a series of humorous short stories from a mechanical universe inhabited by robots. Particularly the exploits of two constructor robots named Trurl and Klaupacius, who try to out-invent each other, and travel to the far corners of the cosmos to take on freelance problem-solving jobs, which ends up having dire consequences for their employers. The Cyberiad also featured many wierd and wonderful Illustrations by Polish artist Daniel Mroz and led to Lem being internationally recognised for his literary work and a selection of Daniel’s drawings by can be seen HERE

In 1996, Lem was made a Knight of the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest decoration award for both civilians and the military. To this day, Stanislaw Lem has sold over 27 million copies of his popular science fiction books, which have also been translated into 41 different languages, making Use of Lem’s elaborate word formation, puns and alien/robotic language.

The Reshaping of Britain’s Railways 50th Anniversary

s2vIt was 50 years ago on 27 March 1963, Dr Richard Beeching, delivered the Beeching Report which outlined proposals to close and remove a third (5000 miles) of underused and unprofitable rail track across Britain’s Railway Network, in an effort to make Britain’s Railay System more profitable. His proposals called “The Reshaping of Britain’s Railways” included plans to shut some 2,350 stations. Areas affected by the proposals included Tavistock in Devon (notable as the birthplace of Sir Francis Drake), most of Lincolnshire, Cumbria, Wales and the Highlands of Scotland. The withdrawal of these services under Beeching irrevocably altered the lives of the towns and villages they served, diminishing many communities forever and sometimes even cutting them off. At the beginning of the 1960s, much of the railway system was mouldering away – slow, inefficient, dirty and in many ways unchanged since the First World War. One-third of the 18,000 route miles carried just 1 per cent of passengers and freight. Half of all stations contributed only 2 per cent of income. Half the total route mileage accounted for 4 per cent of the passenger miles and 5 per cent of the freight miles. Ludicrously, the revenue on these lines amounted to only half the costs. So Doctor Richard Beeching, was recruited from the chemicals giant ICI, by Harold McMillan’s Government in order to drag the railways into the modern era and try to make them pay and stop haemmorraging money.

The first closures actually came months before the report was even published. In March 1962, the first, on the Great Western Railway line to Launceston, closed and The Shropshire line from Wellington to Buildwas and Much Wenlock closed in July 1962, followed by Wolverhampton-to-Stourbridge and Bewdley-to-Tenbury Wells (Although thanks to the dedication of a few enthusiasts, one section, Bridgnorth to Bewdley was eventually reopened as the Severn Valley Railway). Six years later the main line to Plymouth and London was also removed. The old Southern Railway lines from Waterloo to the West Country through Tavistock were also affected. The entire railway from Okehampton to Plymouth, along with its branches meandering into North Devon and Cornwall, all closed on 5 May 1968.However many picturesque Bridges and viaducts survive including Tavistock Viaduct,as a tribute to the Victorian engineers who built them. Many sturdy granite waiting rooms have also since been converted into holiday cottages. The Tavistock stationmaster also bought the station building as his retirement home, re-naming it Beeching’s Folly and preserving all the railway paraphernalia.

However In his eagarness to save money Beeching also made some errors, the biggest of which was ditching the Great Central route from London to Sheffield through Leicester and Nottingham. Driven through the Chilterns at lavish cost and opening as late as 1899, this was Britain’s last-ever main line and the most modern – built to link with a future Channel tunnel. If Beeching had stayed his hand we would have had a ready-made route for the new HS2 high-speed line to the north. The only surviving rail route into Cornwall runs precariously balanced on the sea wall at Dawlish and is frequently swamped by huge waves, wreaking salty havoc with the control systems of modern trains, meaning that a single high tide can cut off an entire county. However plans are afoot for the track southwards to be reinstated, connecting from Bere Alston into Plymouth and that the line through to Exeter may also reopen.

dba50-jhDespite the general chorus of vilification Dr Richard Beeching thought that railways were an anachronism and should be replaced by roads in the way that trains displaced the canals and made a politically motivated decision supported by then, Transport minister Ernest Marples – who made a fortune building motorways and Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who spectacularly reneged on an election pledge to stop Beeching in his tracks. Further alarm was caused In 1983, when a civil servant called Sir David Serpell provoked terror by suggesting a further cut of 84 per cent to the network, leaving just 1,630 miles and four trunk routes remaining.

However Contrary to Beeching’s faith in the road network, the inadequate road network simply hasn’t been able to cope with the increase in traffic over the years. Now All across the land, Beeching’s decisions are being put into reverse. Mansfield and Corby, once the largest towns in Britain without a railway, now have their stations back. The old North London Line, which Beeching determined to destroy, was not only saved but is now part of the Overground system and one of the most flourishing urban railways in the world. Here in the West Country, passenger growth on the surviving branch lines is running at 5 per cent a year. To mark the occasion there are also many publications out, including Michael Williams ‘On the Slow Train Again’ (Arrow, £8.99) and his new book ‘Steaming to Victory: How Britain’s Railways Won the War’ is also published in May (Preface, £25). A 50th anniversary edition of Beeching’s ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’, published by Collins, is out now (£9.99). Julian Holland’s latest book “Dr Beeching’s Axe 50 Years On” is also out and is packed with nostalgic photographs of steam locomotives, aims to include every line that was closed. Equally interesting, though, are the lines that were scheduled for closure but reprieved, sometimes after bitter protests, sometimes for pragmatic political reasons.They include some of Britain’s most scenic rail journeys, most famously the Settle-to-Carlisle line, voted the world’s second-best train trip a couple of years ago (South Africa’s Blue Train won). But there are plenty of others that are worth taking just for their own sake. They are reminders of the gentle pleasures of rail travel far from the main lines,