Posted in Events, locomotives, steam locomotives, Television

Severn Valley Railway

imageThe Severn Valley Railway has announced a new four day format for this years Autumn Steam Gala between Thursday 18 September and Sunday 21 September 2014, and the first visiting locomotive confirmed isThe Fowler 4F 0-6-0 tender locomotive No. 43924 courtesy of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.This is No. 43924’s first visit to the SVR and its first journey south in 46 years. There is also a new Autumn Gala Preview Day which takes place on Thursday 18 September giving steam fans the opportunity to see the locomotives at the start of the Autumn Steam Gala

There will also be an opportunity for Steam Enthusiasts to try their hand at driving and firing a steam locomotive between Bewdley and Kidderminster as part of the Footplate Experience. Another exciting visitor to the Railway for the 2014 Summer season is the the British Railways Standard 5MT 4-6-0 No. 73129 which will be making it’s debut on the Severn Valley Railway in April, from the Midland Railway Centre at Butterley the locomotive will initially operate on the line for a three month period hauling the summer passenger services. The locomotive is unusual in that it is one of only a few to feature Caprotti Valvegear instead of the usual walschaerts Valvegear. Visitors to this years Autumn Steam Gala also have the chance to amble along the Severn Valley in a brake van as part of our heritage goods train.

Severn Valley Railway Footplate Experience has also announced an exciting and unique partnership with 3 Wheel Drive limited and Morgan Motors, giving people the chance to drive a steam locomotive AND an iconic Morgan three-wheeler all in one day. The Bolt on Morgan Experience is being offered with introductory footplate experience on selected dates throughout the year allowing visitors to take the controls of a Morgan three wheeler for two hours and providing the perfect Heritage Transport Experience package. For details contact Highley Station’s Visitor Centre, The Engine House.

The Severn Valley Railway will also appear on BBC Countryfile following the filming that took place in January this year. Originally due to be aired last month, the episode was postponed due to a special feature on the floods but has now been rescheduled.

Posted in books

The Quarry by Iain Banks

imageOver the past few months The Telegraph newspaper with WHSmith has been offering readers some really great fiction and this week’s novel is The Quarry by Iain Banks, newly released in paperback. The Quarry was the last book published by Iain Banks before his death in 2013. Readers can claim the book for just £2.99 (RRP £7.99) between Thursday, March 27 and Wednesday, April 2, or bring in one of the printed vouchers published in the paper on Thursday, March 27 or Saturday, March 29 which is valid until Wednesday 2 April.

The Quarry features a socially awkward and mildly autistic 18 year old named named Kit who never knew his mother is, but does know, that his misanthropic father, Guy, is dying of cancer. Feeling his death is imminent, Guy gathers around him his oldest friends – or at least the friends with the most to lose by his death. Paul – the rising star in the Labour party who dreads the day a tape they all made at university might come to light; Alison and Robbie, corporate bunnies whose relationship is daily more fractious; Pris and Haze, once an item, now estranged, and finally Hol – friend, mentor, former lover and the only one who seemed to care.

But what will happen to Kit when Guy is gone? And why isn’t Kit’s mother in the picture? As the friends reunite for Guy’s last days, old jealousies, affairs and lies come to light as Kit watches obsessively analytical observing events (watching from the perspective of youth the way these friendships have either endured or been dropped) it becomes obvious that he is the key character who stands to lose the most out of all of them.

Posted in cars, sport

Ferdinand Porsche

porsche_-cisitalia360Austrian 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.

volkswagen-beetle3During 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. 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.

PorscheCarerraAt 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.

Posted in aviation, cars, Science-tech

Tribute to Sir Henry 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. Since then it has been bought by German Automobile Manufacturer BMW

Posted in Events, Humour, music, Television

World Theatre Day

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. And It was 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. Ever since, each year on the 27th March, World Theatre Day has been celebrated in many and varied ways by ITI National Centres throughout 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 is then 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.

 

Posted in books, Humour

Tribute to Stanislaw 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. 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.

Posted in films & DVD, Humour, music, Television

Tribute to “cuddly” Dudley Moore

Best known as being one half of classic comedy duo Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, The late great English actor, comedian and composer Dudley Moore CBE, sadly passed away 27th March 2002. Born 19th April in 1935, He first came to prominence as one of the four writer-performers in the ground-breaking comedy revue Beyond the Fringe in the early 1960s, and then became famous as half of the highly popular television double-act he formed with Peter Cook. His fame as a comedy film actor was later heightened by success in hit Hollywood films such as 10 with Bo Derek and Arthur in the late 1970s and early 1980s, respectively. He received an Oscar nomination for the latter role. He was frequently referred to in the media as “Cuddly Dudley” or “The Sex Thimble”, a reference to his short stature and reputation as a “ladies’ man”.

AN AUDIENCE with Dudley MOORE http://youtu.be/bRShQGG5zDo

He had a prolific film career and appeared in many other films too including The Wrong Box, Bedazzled, 30 Is a Dangerous Age, Cynthia, The Bed-Sitting Room, Monte Carlo or Bust, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Foul Play, 10, Derek and Clive Get the Horn, Wholly Moses! Arthur, Six Weeks, Lovesick, Romantic Comedy, Unfaithfully Yours, Micki + Maude, Best Defense, Santa Claus: The Movie Like Father Like Son Arthur 2: On the Rocks The Adventures of Milo and Otis, Crazy People, Blame It on the Bellboy, Really Wild Animals, Dudley Daddy’s Girls, Parallel Lives, The Disappearance of Kevin Johnson and The Mighty Kong. Sadly On 30 September 1999, Moore announced that he was suffering from the terminal degenerative brain disorder progressive supranuclear palsy, some of whose early symptoms were so similar to intoxication that he had been accused of being drunk, and that the illness had been diagnosed earlier in the year.

In June 2001, Moore was appointed a Commander of the Order of The British Empire (CBE) and Despite his deteriorating condition, he attended the ceremony, mute and wheelchair-bound, at Buckingham Palace to collect his honour He died on 27 March 2002, as a result of pneumonia, secondary to immobility caused by the palsy, in Plainfield, New Jersey. Rena Fruchter was holding his hand when he died, and she reported his final words were, “I can hear the music all around me.” Moore was interred in Hillside Cemetery in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. Fruchter later wrote a memoir of their relationship (Dudley Moore, Ebury Press, 2004). In December 2004, the Channel 4 television station in the United Kingdom broadcast Not Only But Always, a TV movie dramatising the relationship between Moore and Cook, although the principal focus of the production was on Cook. Around the same time the relationship between the two was also the subject of a stage play called Pete and Dud: Come Again.

 

Posted in music

Tony Banks & john Mayhew (Genesis)

Tony Banks founder member and Keyboard player with English Progressive Rock band Genesis was born 27th March 1950 and John Mayhew the third drummer with Genesis was Born 27 March 1947 In Ipswich, England. He replaced previous drummer John Silver and was himself replaced by Phil Collins in august 1970. He appears on the album Trespass as well as the Genesis archive 1967-75 Boxed set. Mayhew grew up in Ipswich with his older brother Paul . His parents parted and After that he saw very little of his brother. He inherited his love of music from his mother, and played with bands in the Ipswich area, moving to the London scene in the late sixties. Mayhew joined Genesis in the summer of 1969 replacing  John Silver, after being contacted by Mike Rutherford. The band was impressed by Mayhew’s long-haired appearance and professionalism, plus the fact he brought his own drums with him.

As well as being a professional musician, Mayhew was also a carpenter. He installed proper panelling and seating in the band’s transport, a former bread delivery van, as well as building the cabinet for a home-made Leslie speaker that would often grind to a halt during live performances.He famously earned himself a good-natured rebuke from his bandmates when, upon being offered a wage of £15 per week by new record company Charisma (approximately £181 as of 2011), insisted that £10 was more than enough. Mayhew stayed with Genesis until his dismissal in July 1970. He was replaced by Phil Collins. In 2006, he attended a Genesis convention in London (along with Anthony Phillips and Steve Hackett), and played drums for a tribute band’s performance of “The Knife”. Mayhew died of a heart condition in Scotland on 26 March 2009, a day before his 62nd birthday. He had been working as a carpenter for a furniture company at the time of his death.

Genesis 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 TOUCH, FOXTROT & GENESIS, Genesis were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010

Posted in music

Hit me with your Rhythm Stick

British musician and lead singer of The Blockheads, Ian Dury sadly passed away on 27 March 2000. Ian Dury was born 12th May 1942 and the Blockheads were formed in the early 1970′s fronted by 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. Sadly though 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, Dury sadly passed away 27 March 2000 and since then the band have continued to perform as The Blockheads.