Posted in books

The Queen’s Man by Rory Clements

imageHaving read both Martyr and Heretics, I have become a big fan of Rory Clements, the Award winning Author of exciting historical Tudor Spy Thrillers such as, Martyr, Revenger, Prince, Traitor and Heretics. The novels all revolve around John Shakespeare, the imagined brother of playwright William and intelligence officer to Elizabeth I, who, is employed by the Queen’s spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham to weed out trouble-makers and he Becomes embroiled in all sorts of remarkable real-life mysteries which remain unsolved to this day.

I would like to read Clements’ latest novel The Queen’s Man, which takes place in 1582 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and sees Shakespeare at the very start of his career Where as a young intelligence Officer he undertakes his first major mission for Sir Francis Walsingham during the tumultuous conflict between Protestant and Catholics. He uncovers a dastardly plot by the French and many other Catholics, to free Elizabeth’s imprisoned cousin Mary Queen of Scots who is imprisoned in Sheffield Castle. Naturally Walsingham wants to ferret out the truth and the names of the conspirators and Shakespeare uncovers a web of deception and lies involving court intrigue, devious affairs of state and discovers that the plot even threatens his own friends and family-above all his beloved younger brother,William…

With these novels Clements has created a world to satisfy both murder-mystery enthusiasts and lovers of historical thrillers as well as fans of authors such as Phillips Gregory, Hilary Mantel and CJ Sansom’s inspector William Shardlake series. Clements’ next novel is entitled Holy Spy and is due for release in 2015.

Posted in music

Nothing Has Changed by David Bowie

Since Monday I have been listening to Nothing Has Changed by David Bowie (3CD deluxe Edition). This awesome career spanning retrospective album, starts from the very beginning when he was still known as Davy Jones, and features all the major hits plus rarities, alternative mixes and previously unreleased material. Incidentally The album title comes from a lyric from the song “Sunday” from Bowie’s 2002 album Heathen. Here is the track-Listing

Disc One
“Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)”
“Where Are We Now?”
“Love Is Lost” (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy for the DFA Edit)
“The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”
“New Killer Star” (radio edit)
“Everyone Says ‘Hi'”
“Slow Burn” (radio edit)
“Let Me Sleep Beside You”
“Your Turn to Drive”
“Shadow Man”
“Seven” (Marius De Vries mix)
“Survive” (Marius De Vries mix)
“Thursday’s Child” (radio edit)
“I’m Afraid of Americans” (V1) (clean edit)
“Little Wonder” (edit)
“Hallo Spaceboy” (PSB Remix) (with the Pet Shop Boys)
“The Hearts Filthy Lesson” (radio edit)
“Strangers When We Meet” (single version)

Disc Two
“The Buddha of Suburbia”
“Jump They Say” (radio edit)
“Time Will Crawl” (MM remix)
“Absolute Beginners” (single version)
“Dancing in the Street” (with Mick Jagger)
“Loving the Alien” (single remix)
“This Is Not America (with The Pat Metheny Group)
“Blue Jean”
“Modern Love” (single version)
“China Girl” (single version)
“Let’s Dance” (single version)
“Fashion” (single version)
“Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)” (single version)
“Ashes to Ashes” (single version)
“Under Pressure” (with Queen)
“Boys Keep Swinging”
“‘Heroes'” (single version)
“Sound and Vision”
“Golden Years” (single version)
“Wild Is the Wind” (2010 Harry Maslin Mix)

Disc Three
“Young Americans” (2007 Tony Visconti mix single edit)
“Diamond Dogs”
“Rebel Rebel”
“Drive-In Saturday
“All the Young Dudes” (Previously unreleased stereo mix)
“The Jean Genie” (original single mix)
“Moonage Daydream”
“Ziggy Stardust”
“Starman” (original single mix)
“Life On Mars?” (2003 Ken Scott Mix)
“Oh! You Pretty Things”
“The Man Who Sold the World”
“Space Oddity”
“In the Heat of the Morning”
“Silly Boy Blue”
“Can’t Help Thinking About Me”
“You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving”
“Liza Jane”

Posted in cars, sport

Alec Issigonis & Petter Solberg

Norwegian professional rally and rallycross driver Petter Solberg was born 18 November 1974 in Spydeberg in Østfold. He debuted in the World Rally Championship in 1998 and was signed by the Ford factory team in 1999. The following year, Solberg started his successful partnership with the Subaru World Rally Team.With the Subaru works team, Solberg finished runner-up to Marcus Grönholm in 2002 and then became the first Norwegian to win the drivers’ world title in 2003. In the following two seasons, he finished runner-up to Sébastien Loeb. Following Subaru’s withdrawal from the WRC at the end of the 2008 season, Solberg secured private backing to start the Petter Solberg World Rally Team and competed with aCitroën Xsara WRC and a Citroën C4 WRC. He switched to rallycross after the 2012 season.


British car designer Sir Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis, CBE, FRS was born 18 November 1906. He is remembered chiefly for the groundbreaking and influential development of the Mini, launched by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) in 1959. Issigonis went into the motor industry as an engineer and designer working for Humber and competed successfully in motor racing during the 1930s and 1940s, racing a supercharged “Ulster” Austin Seven, later fitting it with a front axle of his own design, leading to employment at Austin. This greatly modified machine was replaced with a radical special completed in 1939, constructed of plywood laminated in aluminium sheeting. The suspension was also of advanced design, with trailing arm front suspension attached to a steel cross-member, and swing axle rear, all with rubber springs made of catapult elastic. This car was remarkably light, weighing 587 lb. Austin supplied a “works” specification supercharged side-valve engine. Issigonis usually won, even when entered in the 1100cc class if there was no 750cc category.

minicooperMost events entered were sprints, but he also raced at circuits.In 1936, he moved to Morris Motors Limited at Cowley working on an independent front suspension system for the Morris 10, which was later used on the MG Y-type. He worked on various projects for Morris through the war then started work on an advanced post war car codenamed Mosquito that became the Morris Minor, which was produced from 1948 until 1971. In 1952, just as BMC was formed by the merger of Morris and Austin, he moved to Alvis Cars where he designed an advanced saloon with all-aluminium V-8 engine, and experimented with interconnected independent suspension systems. At the end of 1955, Issigonis was recruited back into BMC – this time into the Austin plant at Longbridge, to design a new model family of three cars. The XC (experimental car) code names assigned for the new cars were XC/9001 – for a large comfortable car, XC/9002 – for a medium-sized family car, and XC/9003 – for a small town car. During 1956 Issigonis concentrated on the larger two cars, producing several prototypes for testing.However, at the end of 1956, following fuel rationing brought about by the Suez Crisis, Issigonis was ordered to bring the smaller car, XC/9003, to production as quickly as possible. By early 1957, prototypes were running, and by mid-1957 the project was given an official drawing office project number (ADO15) so that the thousands of drawings required for production could be produced

In August 1959 the car was launched as the Morris Mini Minor and the Austin Seven, which soon became known as the Austin Mini. In later years, the car would become known simply as the Mini. Due to time pressures, the interconnected suspension system that Issigonis had planned for the car was replaced by an equally novel, but cruder, rubber cone system designed by Alex Moulton. The Mini went on to become the best selling British car in history with a production run of 5.3 million cars. This ground-breaking design, with its front wheel drive, transverse engine, sump gearbox, 10-inch wheels, and phenomenal space efficiency, was still being manufactured in 2000 and has been the inspiration for almost all small front-wheel drive cars produced since the early 1960s.

In 1961, with the Mini gaining popularity, Issigonis was promoted to Technical Director of BMC. He continued to be responsible for his original XC projects. XC/9002 became ADO16 and was launched as the Morris 1100 with the Hydrolastic interconnected suspension system in August 1962. XC/9001 became ADO17 and was launched, also with the Hydrolastic suspension system, as the Austin 1800 in October 1964.The same principle was carried over for his next production car the Austin Maxi, However by then he had become more aware of the cost considerations of vehicle manufacture and in service warranty costs which were crippling BMC. It certainly appeared by the Maxi development era that Issigonis wanted to “do his own thing” as cost cutting and development costs spiraled. He would instead research work on his Mini replacement the 9X with its compact transverse engine.

With the creation of British Leyland in 1969 Issigonis became “Special Developments Director”. Issigonis (nicknamed “The Greek god” by his contemporaries) was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1967 and was awarded a knighthood in 1969. Whilst he is most famous for his creation of the Mini, he was most proud of his participation in the design of the Morris Minor. He considered it to be a vehicle that combined many of the luxuries and conveniences of a good motor car with a price suitable for the working classes – in contrast to the Mini which was a spartan mode of conveyance with everything cut to the bone.Sir Alec officially retired from the motor industry in 1971. Issigonis continued working until shortly before his death in 1988 at his house in Edgbaston, Birmingham, and was cremated at the Lodge Hill Crematorium in nearby Selly Oak.On 15 October 2006 a rally was held at the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, England, to celebrate the centenary of Sir Alec’s birth.There is a road named “Alec Issigonis Way” in Oxford Business Park on the former site of the Morris Motors factory in Cowley, Oxford