Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction, Television

Resurrection of the Daleks

imageI have recently watched the classic Doctor Who episode Resurrection of the Daleks. It follows on from the events at the end of Frontios and sees The Doctor, (Peter Davison)Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Turlough being dragged down a time corridor in the TARDIS Before landing in the London docklands on the embankment side of Butler’s Wharf in 1984. Here they encounter A group of humans who are gunned down by two people disguised as policemen, led by Commander Lytton. Luckily Two of them Galloway and Quartermaster Sergeant Stien,(Rodney Bewes) manage to escape into the adjacent Butler’s Wharf.

Lytton is actually the commander of a Battle Cruiser which is preparing to attack a prison space station crewed byDr. Styles and Lt. Mercer. The only prisoner aboard the Space Station is the villainous Davros, the creator of the Daleks who has vowed revenge on The Doctor. Elsewhere , Lytton explains that the Movellans developed a virus that specifically attacks Dalek tissue, and the Daleks need Davros to find a cure. Davros then manages to take control of the engineer Kiston’s mind and the Doctor and his companions soon find themselves in the middle of a dastardly plot by the Daleks to release their evil leader Davros.

Lytton persuades the Dalek Supreme to use poisonous gas to clobber the crew and the Daleks take over the Prison ship. However Watch Officer Osborn attempts to destroy Davros, but is killed and Davros is released from his cryogenic imprisonment. The Doctor and his friends then meet a traumatised Stien and Turlough accidentally finds himself aboard the Dalek Ship having found the Time Corridor. Having learned the whereabouts of the Doctor, the Supreme Dalek orders a Dalek to be dispatched to EXTERMINATE him. Tegan suffers a head injury in the ensuing battle and Styles, Mercer, and two guards are the only members of the original crew to survive. Disguised in uniforms taken from Lytton’s guards, they plan to blow up the station via its self-destruct system.

Tegan, the Doctor and Stien discover what is happening at the other end of the time corridor. The TARDIS materialises inside the Dalek ship and Stien reveals that the Daleks are controlling his mind and he tries to EXTERMINATE the Doctor, luckily Lytton intervenes. Elsewhere Turlough joins forces with the remnants of the ship’s crew, who escape through the time corridor. The Supreme Dalek then reveals a dastardly plan to clone the Doctor and his companions, and use them to assassinate the High Council of Time Lords on Gallifrey.

Then group commander, Colonel Archer, is clobbered by Lytton’s associates and is cloned by the Daleks. The Daleks try to Condition The Doctor’s mind and Tegan makes an escape attempt, but is recaptured and taken to the Dalek ship. The squad’s scientific advisor, Professor Laird, is also shot while trying to escape and Davros orders the Daleks to give him tissue to establish the cure after consulting with The Supreme Dalek they agree however Davros has other ideas. In the duplication chamber, Stien becomes increasingly confused: the Doctor realises his conditioning is unstable and encourages him to think independently and he frees the Doctor. The Doctor then finds Turlough and Tegan, and they return to the TARDIS along with Stien and the last surviving station crew member.

Instead of departing, the Doctor decides he must destroy Davros once and for all. With Stien and Lt. Mercer he heads to the station lab, leaving Tegan and Turlough in the TARDIS. Davros then dispatches his Dalek Army to Earth, where they encounter the Daleks loyal to the Supreme Dalek, then Davros gives them a capsule of the Movellan Virus and all hell breaks loose. Then, while trying to escape from the Space Station, Davros finds himself incapacitated by the Movellan virus, and The Dalek Supreme tells the Doctor that the Daleks have duplicates of prominent humans all over Earth. Meanwhile Stein attempts to destroy the Space Station and The Dalek Ship.

Posted in Art


Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi or Amerighi da Caravaggio; died 18 July 1610 in mysterious circumstances. Born 29 September 1571, he painted in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily between 1592 and 1610. And his paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, had a formative influence on the Baroque school of painting.

Caravaggio trained as a painter in Milan under Simone Peterzano who had himself trained under Titian. In his twenties Caravaggio moved to Rome where, during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, many huge new churches and palazzi were being built and paintings were needed to fill them. During the Counter-Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church searched for religious art with which to counter the threat of Protestantism, and for this task the artificial conventions of Mannerism, which had ruled art for almost a century, no longer seemed adequate.

Caravaggio’s novelty was a radical naturalism that combined close physical observation with a dramatic, even theatrical, use of chiaroscuro. This came to be known as Tenebrism, the shift from light to dark with little intermediate value. He burst upon the Rome art scene in 1600 with the success of his first public commissions, the Martyrdom of Saint Matthew and Calling of Saint Matthew. Thereafter he never lacked commissions or patrons, yet he handled his success poorly. He was jailed on several occasions, vandalized his own apartment, and ultimately had a death warrant issued for him by the Pope. An early published notice on him, dating from 1604 and describing his lifestyle three years previously, tells how “after a fortnight’s work he will swagger about for a month or two with a sword at his side and a servant following him, from one ball-court to the next, ever ready to engage in a fight or an argument, so that it is most awkward to get along with him.”

In 1606 he killed a young man in a brawl and fled from Rome with a price on his head. He was involved in a brawl in Malta in 1608, and another in Naples in 1609, possibly a deliberate attempt on his life by unidentified enemies. This encounter left him severely injured. A year later, at the age of 38, he died under mysterious circumstances in Porto Ercole, reportedly from a fever while on his way to Rome to receive a pardon. Famous while he lived, Caravaggio was forgotten almost immediately after his death, and it was only in the 20th century that his importance to the development of Western art was rediscovered. Despite this, his influence on the new Baroque style that eventually emerged from the ruins of Mannerism was profound. It can be seen directly or indirectly in the work of Rubens, Jusepe de Ribera,  Bernini, and Rembrandt, and artists in the following generation heavily under his influence were called the “Caravaggisti” or “Caravagesques”, as well as Tenebrists or “Tenebrosi” (“shadowists”).

Posted in Events, locomotives, steam locomotives

Rally in the Valley

Marshall_NR6120(1)This years vintage Traction Engine and Steam Roller event The Rally in the Valley takes place 18-19 July 2015 at The Edgar Davies Rugby Ground, on Severn Park, Bridgnorth. The Rally in the Valley originally began in 2008 as the public launch of the Trevithick Replica Engine CATCH ME WHO CAN, which was built in Bridgnorth by the Trevithick 200 Charity to celebrate the bicentenary of the original engine being built at Hazledines Foundry, Bridgnorth in 1808 by Richard Trevithick and John Urpeth Rastrick.

The Rally-In-The-Valley features an array of exhibits such as Traction Engines, Steam Rollers, Vintage Fairground Organs, Showman’s Engines, barrel Organs, Steam Engines, Vintage farm machines Stationary engines and vintage tractors, courtesy of Bridgnorth Vintage Machinery Club, including Bob Atter’s rare 1965 Massey Ferguson 2130. Of which Only 100 were manufactured plus Threshing Machine demonstrations.

SentinelWagon4There is also an impressive display of Tanks and other Military Vehicles, such as Scammell Tank Transprters, amphibious DUKW, many different examples of World War II Tanks, jeeps, Half-tracks, military Ambulances, military trucks and staff Cars. The Airborne Pathfinders” WWII Re-enactment group will also be present. There will also be an impressive array of vintage motorcycles and Classic and Vintage cars including John Green’s 1957 Ford Popular. There will also be Sentinel steam wagons plus miniature traction engines and steam rollers, and Kinver Model Society will also demonstrate their miniature steam engines such as Catch-Me-Who-Can & LMS 5960 Leander. This year Saturday evening entertainment will be provided byHOMITY PIE who will be bringing their mix of acoustic / folk style music to the Rally.

FowlerCrane2There will also be lots of great working displays taking place in the main arena throughout the weekend as well, including a dog show, a heavy horse ploughing demonstration as well as a cavalcade of exhibitors, Traction Engines, Steam Rollers and Showman Engines. Plus many Awning Displays courtesy of artisans from Blists Hill Museum in Ironbridge who are demonstrating various crafts such as Pottery, Coracle Making, blacksmithing, painting, Dress-making, Corn Milling, basket weaving Longbow Archery & Pipe Making. There will also be a variety of market stalls, selling traditional arts and crafts, fresh produce, such as Jams, Pickles, Honey, Home made cakes, Wine & a Beer Tent. Food and drink will be provided by on-site Caterers offering food such as Burgers, Hot dogs, Pork Pies, doughnuts and Candy Floss. Knickerbockers will also be on-site selling their Ice Creams.

Posted in Uncategorized

Mandela Day

imageNelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) is celebrated annual on 18 July to mark the Birthday of former South African politician, President of South Africa and Nobel Prize laureate Nelson Mandela, who was born 18th July 1918. It was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010. Mandela Day is not meant as a public holiday, but as a day to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s former President, and his values, through volunteering and community service. Mandela Day is a global call to action that celebrates the idea that each individual has the power to transform the world and the ability to make an impact. The campaign message for Mandela Day is:”Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes and would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace and reconciliation,”.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Was Born l8 July 1918 he was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary who was imprisoned and then became a politician and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.

A Xhosa born to the Thembu royal family, Mandela attended the Fort Hare Universityand the University of Witwatersrand, where he studied law. Living in Johannesburg, he became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining the ANC and becoming a founding member of its Youth League. After the South African National Party came to power in 1948, he rose to prominence in the ANC’s 1952 Defiance Campaign, was appointed superintendent of the organisation’s Transvaal chapter and presided over the 1955Congress of the People. Working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested for seditious activities and, with the ANC leadership, was unsuccessfully prosecuted in the Treason Trial from 1956 to 1961. Although initially committed to non-violent protest, he co-founded the militant Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961 in association with the South African Communist Party, leading a sabotage campaign against the apartheid government. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Rivonia Trial.

Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Mandela published his autobiography and opened negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory. As South Africa’s first black president Mandela formed a Government of National Unityin an attempt to defuse racial tension. He also promulgated a new constitution and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rightsabuses. Continuing the former government’s liberal economic policy, his administration introduced measures to encourage land reform, combat poverty, and expand healthcare services.

Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, and oversaw military intervention in Lesotho. He declined to run for a second term, and was succeeded by his deputy, Thabo Mbeki. Mandela subsequently became an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.Although Mandela was a controversial figure for much of his life, he became widely popular during the last two decades following his release. Despite a minority of critics who continued to denounce him as a communist and/or terrorist, he gained international acclaim for his activism, having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the SovietOrder of Lenin and the Bharat Ratna. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata (“Father”); he is often described as “the father of the nation”.

Posted in music

Jack Irons (RedHot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam)

imageJack Irons, American singer and musician (The Wallflowers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and Eleven was born 18 July 1962. Formed in Los Angeles in 1983. The Peppers’ musical style is a mix of funk, alternative rock, hard rock and punk rock. The band’s influences include Defunkt, Parliament-Funkadelic, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Gang of Four, Bob Marley, Big Boys, Sly and the Family Stone, Ohio Players, Queen, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Black Flag, Ornette Coleman, Led Zeppelin, Bad Brains, Fugazi, Fishbone, Marvin Gaye, Billie Holiday, Santana, Elvis Costello, The Stooges, The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Devo, and Miles Davis. Live, they incorporate many aspects of jam rock due to the improvised nature of much of their performances. Currently, the band consists of founding members Anthony Kiedis (vocals) and Michael “Flea” Balzary (bass), longtime drummer Chad Smith, and guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who joined in late 2009, following the departure of John Frusciante. The Red Hot Chili Peppers have won seven Grammy Awards and sold over 80 million albums worldwide. In 2012 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The band’s original line-up featured guitarist Hillel Slovak and Jack Irons, alongside Kiedis and Flea. Cliff Martinez was the drummer for the first two records (Irons played on the third), and guitarist Jack Sherman played on the first. Slovak performed on two albums Freaky Styley (1985) and The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987); but died of a heroin overdose in 1988, resulting in drummer Irons’ departure. Parliament-Funkadelic guitarist DeWayne McKnight was brought in but he was replaced by John Frusciante in 1988. Former Dead Kennedys drummer D.H. Peligro was brought in to replace Irons but was soon replaced by Chad Smith that same year. The line-up of Flea, Kiedis, Frusciante and Smith was the longest-lasting, and recorded five studio albums starting with 1989′s Mother’s Milk.In 1990, the group released the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991), which became the band’s first commercial success. Frusciante left abruptly in 1992, in the middle of the album tour. so they recruited guitarist Arik Marshall to complete the tour, Kiedis, Flea, and Smith employed Jesse Tobias who was replaced by Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction for their subsequent album, One Hot Minute (1995).

Although commercially successful, the album failed to match the critical or popular acclaim of Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Navarro left the band in 1998 and Frusciante, rejoined the band that same year at Flea’s request. The reunited quartet returned to the studio to record Californication(1999), which became the band’s biggest commercial success with 15 million copies worldwide. That album was followed three years later by By the Way(2002), and then four years later by the double album Stadium Arcadium (2006), their first number one album in America. After a world tour, the group went on an extended hiatus. Frusciante announced he was amicably leaving the band to focus on his solo career. Josh Klinghoffer, who had worked both as a sideman for the band on their Stadium Arcadium tour and on Frusciante’s solo projects, joined as lead guitarist in 2009 and the band spent the next year and a half recording their tenth studio album, I’m with You, which was released in 2011 and topped the charts in 18 different countries.

Posted in books, films & DVD, Television

Jane Austen (Pride & Pejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park)

Classic English novelist Jane Austen sadly passed away 18 July 1817. Born 16 December 1775, Her works of romantic fiction, set among the landed gentry, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature. Her realism, biting irony and social commentary have gained her historical importance among scholars and critics. Austen lived her entire life as part of a close-knit family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. She was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading. The steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer. Her artistic apprenticeship lasted from her teenage years into her thirties.

During this period, she experimented with various literary forms, including the epistolary novel which she then abandoned, and wrote and extensively revised three major novels and began a fourth.From 1811 until 1816, with the release of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma(1816), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels,Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began a third, which was eventually titled Sanditon, but died before completing it.

Austen’s works critique the sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century realism. Her plots, though fundamentally comic. highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew’s A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer. The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture. Many Jane Austen novels have also been adapted for Film and Television numerous times and continue to be popular.