Kenneth Grahame

imageBest known for writing the classic novel “Wind in the Willows”, the English Author Kenneth Grahame was born 8th March 1859. The  Wind in the Willows was first published in 1908 and focuses on the adventures of four anthropomorphous animal characters  in a pastoral version of England. It is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie and celebrated for its evocation of the nature of the Thames valley. In 1908 Grahame retired from his position as secretary of the Bank of England. He moved back to Cookham, Berkshire, where he had been brought up and spent his time by the River Thames doing  much as the animal characters in his book do—namely, as one of the most famous phrases from the book says, “simply messing about in boats”—and wrote down the bed-time stories he had been telling his son Alistair.

The story starts during Spring, when Mole, one of the characters decides to do a bit of spring cleaning but gets bored so he sets out to enjoy the sunshine and take in the air above ground instead. He ends up at the river, which he has never seen before and meets Ratty (a water Vole), who at this time of year spends all his days in, on and close by the river. Rat takes Mole for a ride in his rowing boat. They get along well and spend many more days boating, with Rat teaching Mole the ways of the river. One summer day shortly thereafter, Rat and Mole find themselves near the grand Toad Hall and pay a visit to their incorrigible friend  Toad. Toad is rich (having inherited wealth from his father): jovial, friendly and kind-hearted but aimless and conceited, he regularly becomes obsessed with current fads, only to abandon them as quickly as he took them up. Having only recently given up boating, Toad’s current craze is his horse-drawn caravan. In fact, he is about to go on a trip, and persuades the reluctant Rat and willing Mole to join him. The following day (after Toad has already tired of the realities of camp life and sleeps-in to avoid chores), a passing motor car scares the horse, causing the caravan to overturn into a ditch. Rat does a war dance and threatens to have the law on the motor car drivers, but this marks the immediate end of Toad’s craze for caravan travel, to be replaced with an obsession for motor cars. When the three animals get to the nearest town, they have Toad go to the police station to make a complaint against the vandals and their motor car and thence to a blacksmith to retrieve and mend the caravan. Toad – in thrall to the experience of his encounter – refuses. Rat and Mole find an inn from where they organise the necessary steps.

Meanwhile, Toad makes no effort to help, and orders himself a motor car instead.Mole wants to meet the respected but elusive Badger, who lives deep in the Wild Wood, but Rat -knowing that Badger does not appreciate visits – refuses to take him, telling Mole to be patient and wait and Badger will pay them a visit himself. Nevertheless, on a snowy winter’s day, whilst the seasonally somnolent Ratty dozes unaware, Mole impulsively goes to the Wild Wood to explore, hoping to meet Badger. He gets lost in the woods, sees many “evil faces” among the wood’s less-welcoming denizens, succumbs to fright and panic and hides, trying to stay warm, amongst the sheltering roots of a tree. Rat, upon awakening and finding Mole gone,guesses his mission from the direction of Mole’s tracks and, equipping himself with a pistol and a stout stick, goes in search, finding him as snow begins to fall in earnest. Attempting to find their way home, Rat and Mole quite literally stumble across Badger’s home — Mole barks his shin upon the boot scraper on Badger’s doorstep. Rat finds it and a doormat, knowing they are an obvious sign of hope, but Mole thinks Rat has gone crazy, only to believe him when the digging reveals a door. Badger – en route to bed in his dressing-gown and slippers -nonetheless warmly welcomes Rat and Mole to his large and cosy underground home and hastens to give them hot food and dry clothes. Badger learns from his visitors that Toad has crashed six cars, has been hospitalised three times, and has spent a fortune on fines. Though nothing can be done at the moment (it being winter), they resolve that once spring arrives they will make a plan to protect Toad from himself; they are, after all, his friends and are worried for his well-being.With the arrival of spring, Badger visits Mole and Rat to do something about Toad’s self-destructive obsession. The three of them go to visit Toad, and Badger tries to make him see sense eventually putting Toad under house arrest, with themselves as the guards, until Toad changes his mind. Feigning illness, Toad manages to escape, steals a car, which he drives recklessly and is caught by the police. and sent to prison for twenty-years.

During Toad’s absence Badger and Mole continue to look after Toad Hall in the hope that Toad may return. Meanwhile in prison, Toad gains the sympathy of the Jailer’s Daughter who helps him to escape disguised as a washerwoman and he comes across a horse-drawn barge, whose Owner offers him a lift in exchange for Toad’s services as a “washer woman”. This does not go well and Toad finds himself tossed into the canal. However he manages to steal the barge horse, which he then sells to a gypsy, Toad flags down a passing car, which happens to be the very one which he stole earlier. The car owners, not recognizing Toad disguised as a washerwoman, permit him to drive their car. Once behind the wheel, he is repossessed by his former passion and drives furiously, declaring his true identity to the outraged passengers who try to seize him. This leads to an accident, after which Toad flees once more. Pursued by police, he runs accidentally into a river, which carries him by sheer chance to the house of the Water Rat. Toad now hears from Rat that Toad Hall has been taken over by weasels, stoats and ferrets from the Wild Wood, who have driven out its former custodians, Mole and Badger. So Badger formulates a plan to drive the unsuspecting weasels out while they are holding a party in honour of their leader, and reclaim Toad Hall.

Mostly Harmless

MarvinParanoidAndroid2-rich_7444The first radio episode of comic science fiction series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, was transmitted on BBC Radio 4 on 8th March 1978. The title is the name of a fictional, eccentric, electronic travel guide, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, prominently featured in the series. The story was later adapted to other formats, and gradually became an international multi-media phenomenon. Adaptations have included stage shows, a “trilogy” of five books published between 1979 and 1992, a sixth novel penned by Eoin Colfer in 2009, a 1981 TV series and three series of three-part comic book adaptations of the first three novels published by DC Comics between 1993 and 1996. A Hollywood-funded film version, produced and filmed in the UK, was released in April 2005, and radio adaptations of the third, fourth, and fifth novels were broadcast from 2004 to 2005. Adams himself did many of these adaptations, including the novels, the TV series, the computer game, and the earliest drafts of the Hollywood film’s screenplay, and some of the stage shows introduced new material written by Adams.

The book begins when contractors arrive at Arthur Dent’s house, in order to demolish it to make way for a bypass. His friend, Ford Prefect, arrives while Arthur is lying in front of the bulldozers, to keep them from demolishing it. He tries to explain to Arthur that the Earth is about to be demolished by The Vogons, an alien race who intend to destroy Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass.The two escape by stowing away on one of the Vogon demolition ships. Unfortunately they are discovered and are tortured with Vogon poetry, (Feetled gruntbuggly …..ARRGGGHH!)  the third worst in the known Universe, and then thrown into space. They are, very improbably, picked up by the Heart of Gold, a ship powered by an infinite improbability drive, which has been stolen by Ford’s semi-cousin and President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox. Zaphod, accompanied by Trillian and the chronically depressed robot Marvin, is searching for the legendary planet of Magrathea, which is rumoured to have manufactured luxury planets.

There, Arthur, after being separated from the rest of the group, is taken into the interior of the planet by a native, Slartibartfast. The others are kidnapped. Slartibartfast explains to Arthur that the Earth was actually a supercomputer commissioned and paid for by a race of ”hyper-intelligent,” “pan-dimensional” beings. These creatures had earlier built a supercomputer called Deep Thought to calculate the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. This computer, after seven and a half million years of calculation, had announced that the Answer is in fact 42. Being unsatisfied with the Answer, they set about finding the Question which would give the Answer meaning, whereupon Deep Thought designed the Earth, to calculate it. However, ten million years later, and just five minutes before the completion of the program Earth was designed to execute, the Earth is demolished by the Vogons. Two of these beings, Frankie Mouse and Benjy Mouse, had arrived on Magrathea on the Heart of Gold, in the form of Trillian’s pet mice.The mice realize that a latent version of the question, or something very like it, must exist in Arthur’s brain since he is a late-generation organic product of the computer, and offer to buy his brain from him, unsurprisingly Arthur declines, and a fight ensues which is interrupted when The galactic police arrive on the planet to arrest Zaphod…


Another of my favourite Doctor Who stories was  Earthshock which was first broadcast from 8 March to 16 March 1982 and marked the final regular appearance of Matthew Waterhouse as the Doctor’s companion Adric and is the first to feature the Cybermen since Revenge of the Cybermen, in 1975. It startsAs the TARDIS arrives on Earth in the future, with Adric deciding he wants to return to his home planet Terradon, As the group explores a series of caves, they are caught by Lieutenant Scott and his men who accuse them of killing the rest of Professor Kyle’s exploration team as they were searching the caves for fossils. The Doctor helps Sott find the bodies of Kyle’s team, along with an odd metal hatch. As the Doctor examines the hatch, other men in Scott’s force are killed by androids, undetectable by the humans’ equipment.  The Doctor then finds a powerful bomb that could destroy the planet, so he and Adric try to deactivate it.  In the TARDIS the Doctor traces a signal sent to a freighter spaceship outside the Solar system and decides to investigate the ship but he and Adric are captured by the freighter’s security forces  led by Captain Briggs. Meanwhile Villainous Cybermen, are hiding in one of the freighter’s containers and decide to take control of the ship.

though the freighter crew, along with Tegan, Kyle, Scott, and his men, fight valiantly, their defences are foiled by Ringway, Briggs’ security officer who has been working as a double agent for the Cybermen. Kyle is killed in the conflict and Tegan is captured.   The Cyber-Leader reveals a dastardly plan to wipe out much of the planet while several visiting dignitaries are present for an interstellar alliance conference, however, should that fail he also has a backup plan involving crashing the freighter into the Earth, hoping its anti-matter engines provides similar devastation. So The Cybermen set the freighter on a high-speed collision course with Earth locking the navigation controls,  the Doctor is forced by the Cyber Leader to take them to the TARDIS and leave Adric, Briggs, and other crewmen behind. EventuallyThe other crewmen manage to escape, however Adric stays behind determined to beat the lock and regain control of the ship and prevent it from crashing into Earth before it’s too late. Meanwhile the Cyber-Leader attempts to kill the rest of the TARDIS crew before they can rescue Adric..

Genesis of the Daleks

CommandDalek2Being a big Doctor Who fan I was fascinated to learn that On 8 March 1975: The first episode of the six part story Genesis of the Daleks was aired on BBC1. It is one of my favourite stories and explores the origin of the Daleks and introducese the Daleks’ creator Davros, played by Michael Wisher,, Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes, intentionally modelled the Daleks on the Nazis, and further explored the theme in Genesis. The story also examined the moral issues that come with time travelling and genocide.

The story starts when, the Doctor (Tom Baker) and his companions Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) are sent by the Time Lords, to the Daleks’ home planet Skaro and find a war-torn wasteland; after a generational war of attrition between the Thals and the Kaleds for dominance of the planet has laid waste to its surface and ecology. Doctor and Harry become separated from Sarah who encounters the Mutos, exiled descendants of those mutated by chemical weapons early in the war, who are captured by Thals. Sarah attempts to lead an escape by climbing out of the rocket silo, but fails.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and Harry encounter General Ravon, leader of the opposing Kaled army, and Security Commander Nyder.  Then their greatest scientist Davros enters and demonstrates his new “Mark III travel machine”, which he later dubs as a “Dalek”. The Doctor finds out that Davros’ research is immoral and evil, and uses unethical means to create the Daleks.  So The Doctor promises to intervene if They he helps them escape. The Doctor meets Mogran and other Kaled Councillors, who agree to halt Davros’ experiments. However, Davros discovers this through Nyder’s spies; and sends  some Daleks and provides the Thals with a chemical weapon to clobber the Kaleds. The Doctor and Harry rescue Sarah but get caught and watches helplessly as the Thals destroy the Kaled dome. At the Kaled bunker, Davros declares the Kaled race is dead, giving birth to the Daleks; he then has Ronson executed before the Daleks are sent to the Thal dome to exterminate everyone inside. During the conflict the Doctor, Sarah, Harry and the Thal and Mutos survivors return to the Kaled bunker and the Thals and Mutos to try to destroy it however they are captured by Davros,
The Doctor, Sarah, and Harry are freed by another scientist, who tells them that Davros has agreed to stop his research but wants to call a vote. While Davros pleads his case. On the vote, the remaining Kaled elite are split between Davros and Gharman, and fighting breaks out between them with Davros using the Daleks to kill those against him. The Doctor and his companions use the opportunity to rig explosives in the Kaled mutation room, but the Doctor is unable to bring himself to detonate it, asking, “Have I the right?”. They learn that the Thals and Mutos intend to detonate the kaled Bunker. So The Doctor, Sarah, and Harry escape rapidly. Meanwhile, the Daleks kill everyone except Davros in the Kaled bunker and start the production line against Davros’ wishes, and announce that they are the superior race and will dominate the universe…

Bastille – all the bad blood

imageI am currently listening to , All I’m Bad Blood, the extended version of the album Bad Blood by British alternative rock band, Bastille. It features the singles “Overjoyed”, “Bad Blood”, “Flaws”, “Pompeii”, “Laura Palmer” and “Things We Lost in the Fire”. The album was recorded in London and produced by lead-singer, Dan Smith, and Mark Crew.

The record debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, has spent three non-consecutive weeks at the top and was certified platinum in the UK. It has also successfully charted on the US Billboard 200, as well as in several other countries. the extended version of the album, All This Bad Blood, was released on 25 November 2013, and featured the single “Of the Night”. It was nominated for British Album of the Year, at the 2014 BRIT Awards.

  • Pompeii
  • things we Lost in the Fire
  • Bad Blood
  • Overjoyed
  • These Streets
  • Weight of Living (part two)
  • Icarus
  • Oblivion
  • Flaws
  • Daniel in the den
  • Laura Palmer
  • Get Home
  • Poet
  • The Silence
  • Haunt
  • Weight of Living (Pat One)
  • Sleepsong
  • Laughter Lines
  • Previously on Other People’s Heartaches…
  • Of the Night
  • The Draw
  • What would you Do
  • Skulls
  • Turning Out

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8 every year. the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political, and social achievements. Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily in Europe, including Russia. In some regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. In other regions, however, the political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner. This is a day which some people celebrate by wearing purple ribbons.

The earliest Women’s Day observances were held on many different dates: May 3, 1908, in Chicago; February 28th, 1909, in New York; and February 27, 1910, in New York In August 1910, an International Women’s Conference was organized to precede the general meeting of the Socialist Second International inCopenhagen. Inspired in part by the American socialists, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual ‘International Woman’s Day’ (singular) and was seconded by fellow socialist and later communist leader Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified at that conference. Delegates (100 women from 17 countries) agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights, including suffrage, for women.The following year, on March 19, 1911, IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. In the Austro-Hungarian Empire alone, there were 300 demonstrations. inVienna, women paraded on the Ringstrasse and carried banners honouring the martyrs of the Paris Commune.x Women demanded that women be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against employment sex discrimination.Americans continued to celebrate National Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February.

Female members of the AustralianBuilders Labourers Federation march on International Women’s Day 1975 in Sydney. In 1913 Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February (by Julian calendar then used in Russia). Although there were some women-led strikes, marches, and other protests in the years leading up to 1914, none of them happened on March 8.In 1914 International Women’s Day was held on March 8, possibly because that day was a Sunday, and now it is always held on March 8 in all countries.The 1914 observance of the Day in Germany was dedicated to women’s right to vote, which German women did not win until 1918.

In 1917 demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Saint Petersburg on the last Sunday in February (which fell on March 8 on the Gregorian calendar) initiated the February Revolution. women in Saint Petersburg went on strike that day for “Bread and Peace” – demanding the end of World War I and an end to Russian food shortages. Leon Trotskywrote, “23 February (8th March) was International Woman’s Day and meetings and actions were foreseen. But we did not imagine that this ‘Women’s Day’ would inaugurate the revolution. Revolutionary actions were foreseen but without date. But in morning, despite the orders to the contrary, textile workers left their work in several factories and sent delegates to ask for support of the strike… which led to mass strike… all went out into the streets.” 

Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Vladimir Lenin to make it an official holiday in the Soviet Union, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8th, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women’s Day was declared a non-working day in the USSR “in commemoration of the outstanding merits of Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Fatherland during the Great Patriotic War, in their heroism and selflessness at the front and in the rear, and also marking the great contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples, and the struggle for peace. But still, women’s day must be celebrated as are other holidays.”

From its official adoption in Russia following the Soviet Revolution in 1917 the holiday was predominantly celebrated in communist and socialist countries. It was celebrated by the communists in China from 1922, and by Spanish communists from 1936.After the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 the state council proclaimed on December 23 that March 8 would be made an official holiday with women in China given a half-day off. In the West, International Women’s Day was first observed as a popular event after 1977 when the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for women’s rights and world peace.In the 1980s historian Renée Coté uncovered the origins of the March 8th date for International Women’s Day.