Posted in music

Bez (the Happy Mondays & Black Grape)

facd320aBez a.k.a Mark Berry, the percussionist, dancer with The Indie/alternative/dance band Happy Mondays was born 18 April 1962. Formed in 1980 in Salford, Greater Manchester, the Happy Monday’s original line-up consisted of Shaun Ryder on lead vocals, his brother Paul Ryder on bass, lead guitarist Mark Day, keyboardist Paul Davis, and drummer Gary Whelan. Mark “Bez” Berry joined the band onstage later during a live performance after befriending Shaun Ryder and served as a dancer/percussionist. Rowetta Satchell also joined the band to provide backing vocals in the early 1990s.


Some of the Happy Mondays best known songs include Step On, Wrote For Luck, Hallelujah, 24 Hour Party People and Kinky Afro. Along with The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays found fame and success during the “Madchester” music scene of the late 1980′ and early 1990′s, which developed in Manchester, England. The music that emerged from the scene mixed alternative rock, psychedelic rock and dance music. Other Artists associated with the scene also included New Order, Inspiral Carpets, Northside, 808 State, James, The Charlatans, The Fall, A Guy Called Gerald, and other bands. At that time, the Haçienda nightclub was a major catalyst for the distinctive musical ethos in the city that was called the Second Summer of Love. After the Happy Monday’s split Berry also joined the band Black Grape again with Ryder. In 2012 the Happy Mondays enjoyed something of a Comeback too, after having played various Music Festivals during the summer including V Festival at Weston Park, Weston-under-Lizard and Hylands Park, Chelmsford. There may Also be footage of the performance online somewhere.

Posted in books

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

image I would like to read the latest novel on offer from the Daily Telegraph newspaper in association with WHSmith newsagent “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman, which is newly released in paperback for just £2.99 (RRP £7.99) between Thursday, April 10 and Wednesday, April 16, or can be purchased by using the printed vouchers published in the paper on Thursday, April 10 or Saturday, April 12. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark – from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.

The book starts with the unnamed protagonist returning to his childhood hometown for a funeral. There he revisits the home in which he and his sister grew up and remembers a young girl named Lettie Hempstock, who had claimed that the pond behind her house was an ocean. He stops at the house where Lettie had lived with her mother and grandmother and encounters a member of her family and he recalls a time when an opal miner, who was a boarder at the boy’s home, steals the narrator’s father’s car and commits suicide in the back seat, having gambled away his friends’ money; this death stirs up ancient supernatural powers best left undisturbed and allows a supernatural being to gain access to our world, leaving money for people in unpleasant ways.

After a coin becomes lodged in the narrator’s throat overnight, choking him, he seeks his neighbor Lettie’s help. She agrees to help, insisting that he accompany her on the travel necessary to find the spirit and bind it. Having been instructed never to let go of her hand, in a moment of surprise he does, and in that instant something lodges in his foot. Once home, he pulls what appears to be a worm out of his foot, but a piece is left inside him.

The next day, his mother tells him she is starting a new job and a woman named Ursula Monkton is to look after him and his sister. The narrator takes an instant dislike to her and soon realizes that she is actually the worm he had pulled out of his foot. She had used him as a way to travel out of the place he and Lettie had visited and is now inhabiting his house. Ursula quickly ingratiates herself with his family, winning over his sister and seducing his father, while the narrator is alienated from his family and is almost drowned in the bath by his father as Ursula watches.

Most of the narrator’s time is then spent locked up in his bedroom, avoiding Ursula. Frightened, he manages to escape while Ursula and his father have sex one night. He barely makes it to the Hempstock farm, where the Hempstocks take care of him and remove the wormhole from his foot, which had been left behind by Ursula as an escape path. Lettie and the narrator confront Ursula, who refuses offers from the Hempstocks to leave peacefully for a world that is less dangerous for her. Unwilling to believe that there could be anything in the world that could harm her, Ursula is attacked and eliminated by “varmints,” entities that serve a purpose similar to scavengers. These insist on eating the narrator’s heart, as a piece of Ursula’s wormhole still remains there. The Hempstocks bring him back to the safety of their property through the ocean by their house, which Lettie carries to him in a bucket. While in the ocean, the narrator understands the nature of all things, but the memory fades once he gets out.

The Hempstocks promise to keep him safe, but the varmints begin to eat his world in order to force him off the property. This proves effective and the narrator attempts to sacrifice himself, only for Lettie to jump in between him and the varmints. Lettie’s grandmother threatens the varmints with annihilation if they do not leave. They comply, but Lettie is near death as a result of their attack. The Hempstocks place Lettie’s body in the ocean behind their house, where they say that she will rest until ready to return to this world. After these events, the narrator’s memory of the incident fades. He has no recollection of Lettie’s near-death, instead believing that she had gone to Australia.The book then returns to the present, where the narrator finishes his remembering and is shocked when the Hempstocks inform him that this is not his first time returning to the house – he had visited the house at least twice during his adult years and visited the farm before that to return a kitten that he had found during his initial travels with Lettie…

Posted in Events

Good Friday

N-s-dos-passosFriday 18 April 2014 is Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Sunday which commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death. Good Friday is called so because Christians believe that Jesus sacrificed his life for the benefit of humanity and good of everyone at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. It is also known as Black Friday, Holy Friday, Great Friday, or Easter Friday,though the latter normally refers to the Friday in Easter week.

Easter falls on the first Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, the full moon on or after 21 March, taken to be the date of the vernal equinox. Based on the details of the Canonical gospels, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most likely to have been on a Friday (John 19:42). The estimated year of Good Friday is AD 33, by two different groups, and originally as AD 34 by Isaac Newton via the differences between the Biblical and Julian calendars and the crescent of the moon. A third method, using a completely different astronomical approach based on a lunar Crucifixion darkness and eclipse model (consistent with Apostle Peter’s reference to a “moon of blood” in Acts 2:20), points to Friday, 3 April AD 33. According to the accounts in the Gospels, the Temple Guards, guided by Jesus’ disciple Judas Iscariot, arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas received money (30 pieces of silver) (Matthew 26:14-16) for betraying Jesus and told the guards that whomever he kisses is the one they are to arrest. Following his arrest, Jesus is brought to the house of Annas, who is the father-in-law of the high priest, Caiaphas. There he is interrogated with little result and sent bound to Caiaphas the high priest where the Sanhedrin had assembled.

Conflicting testimony against Jesus is brought forth by many witnesses, to which Jesus answers nothing. Finally the high priest adjures Jesus to respond under solemn oath, saying “I adjure you, by the Living God, to tell us, are you the Anointed One, the Son of God?” Jesus testifies ambiguously, “You have said it, and in time you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty, coming on the clouds of Heaven.” The high priest condemns Jesus for blasphemy, and the Sanhedrin concurs with a sentence of death (Matthew 26:57-66). Peter, waiting in the courtyard, also denies Jesus three times to bystanders while the interrogations were proceeding just as Jesus had predicted.

In the morning, the whole assembly brings Jesus to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate under charges of subverting the nation, opposing taxes to Caesar, and making himself a king (Luke 23:1-2). Pilate authorizes the Jewish leaders to judge Jesus according to their own law and execute sentencing; however, the Jewish leaders reply that they are not allowed by the Romans to carry out a sentence of death (John 18:31). Pilate questions Jesus and tells the assembly that there is no basis for sentencing. Upon learning that Jesus is from Galilee, Pilate refers the case to the ruler of Galilee, King Herod, who was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Herod questions Jesus but receives no answer; Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate tells the assembly that neither he nor Herod have found guilt in Jesus; Pilate resolves to have Jesus whipped and released (Luke 23:3-16). Under the guidance of the chief priests, the crowd asks for Barabbas, who had been imprisoned for committing murder during an insurrection. Pilate asks what they would have him do with Jesus, and they demand, “Crucify him” (Mark 15:6-14). Pilate’s wife had seen Jesus in a dream earlier that day, and she forewarns Pilate to “have nothing to do with this righteous man” (Matthew 27:19). Pilate has Jesus flogged and then brings him out to the crowd to release him. The chief priests inform Pilate of a new charge, demanding Jesus be sentenced to death “because he claimed to be God’s son.” This possibility filled Pilate with fear, and he brought Jesus back inside the palace and demanded to know from where he came (John 19:1-9).

Coming before the crowd one last time, Pilate declares Jesus innocent and washed his own hands in water to show he has no part in this condemnation. Nevertheless, Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified in order to forestall a riot (Matthew 27:24-26) and ultimately to keep his job. The sentence written is “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Jesus carries his cross to the site of execution (assisted by Simon of Cyrene), called the place of the Skull, or “Golgotha” in Hebrew and in Latin “Calvary”. There he is crucified along with two criminals (John 19:17-22). Jesus agonizes on the cross for six hours. During his last 3 hours on the cross, from noon to 3 p.m., darkness falls over the whole land. With a loud cry, Jesus gives up his spirit. There is an earthquake, tombs break open, and the curtain in the Temple is torn from top to bottom. The centurion on guard at the site of crucifixion declares, “Truly this was God’s Son!” (Matthew 27:45-54)

Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin and secret follower of Jesus, who had not consented to his condemnation, goes to Pilate to request the body of Jesus (Luke 23:50-52). Another secret follower of Jesus and member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus brought about a hundred pound weight mixture of spices and helped wrap the body of Christ (John 19:39-40). Pilate asks confirmation from the centurion whether Jesus is dead (Mark 15:44). A soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a lance causing blood and water to flow out (John 19:34), and the centurion informs Pilate that Jesus is dead (Mark 15:45). Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body, wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and placed it in his own new tomb that had been carved in the rock (Matthew 27:59-60) in a garden near the site of crucifixion. Nicodemus (John 3:1) also brought 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes, and placed them in the linen with the body, in keeping with Jewish burial customs (John 19:39-40). They rolled a large rock over the entrance of the tomb (Matthew 27:60). Then they returned home and rested, because Shabbat had begun at sunset (Luke 23:54-56). On the third day, Sunday, which is now known as Easter Sunday (or Pascha), Jesus was resurrected from the dead.