Hugo

imageI’ve recently watched the charming Oscar winning film Hugo again. Directed by Martin Scorsese, written by John Logan, and based on the Carnegie prize-winning novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick (whose Great Uncle David “O” Selznick was involved in many great Hitchcock thrillers. It is about a young boy called Hugo (Asa Butterfield) whose father(Jude Law) works at the rather splendid looking Gare Montparnasse railway station in Paris making sure the clocks in the station all tell the correct time. His father is also working on an clockwork Automaton which he found amongst a pile of junk and was trying to repair.

Sadly though His father dies in unfortunate circumstances before he can complete it and Hugo finds himself dragged to the Gare Montparnasse by his wicked uncle (Ray Wintone) to look after all the clocks in the station. Here Hugo meets all sorts of wierd and wonderful characters, including Emily Mortimer as a florist, Christopher Lee as a friendly bookseller, Richard Griffiths and Frances de la Tour. Soon though, Hugo is Abandoned by his uncle, who is found deceased after drowning, and finds himself living within the walls of the station and having to lead a rather precarious Hand-to-mouth existence, often having to resort to stealing food in order to survive. This often brings him into conflict with the comically inept and accident prone Station Master (Sacha Baron Cohen) and his dog Maximillian, who regard Hugo as a trouble-maker and are determined to catch him and send him to the orphanage

When not winding clocks Hugo decides to finish the Clockwork Automaton which his father was trying to repair, however it is missing many parts including a Heart-shaped Key and so he decides to steal clockwork parts in order to repair it. Sadly this brings him into conflict with the stations Toy Shop owner, a bad-tempered stall holder named Georges Melies) Ben Kingsley), though Hugo manages to make friends with Georges’ orphaned niece (Chloe Grace Moretz – Kick Ass/Let Me In) and the two of them have many adventures – she introduces him to novels and he introduces her to film. Gradually Hugo learns more about Papa Georges and finds that their destinies are inexplicably linked by the Heart-shaped key and the Automaton.

Justin Heyward (Moody Blues)

Moody Blues-On the Threshold of a Dream

Moody Blues-On the Threshold of a Dream

Justin Hayward, solo artist & Guitarist with the Moody Blues, was born on 14 October, 1946, The Moody Blues formed on 4 May 1964, in Erdington, Birmingham, England containing Ray Thomas, John Lodge, Graeme Edge and Michael Pinder The name was a a subtle reference to the Duke Ellington song, “Mood Indigo. They released a single, “Steal Your Heart Away” in 1964 and appeared on the cult UK series “Ready Steady Go!” singing the uptempo “Lose Your Money (But Don’t Lose your Mind)”. But it was their second single, “Go Now” which launched their career & became a hit in the United Kingdom. Their debut album The Magnificent Moodies contained the hit singles “Go Now” and “Bye Bye Bird” together with one side of classic R&B covers. including a cover of “I Don’t Want To Go On Without You”,”From The Bottom of My Heart (I Love You)”, “Everyday”,”This is My House (But Nobody Calls)” and and “Boulevard de la Madeleine”.

In 1967  The group released the singles “Fly Me High”, “Really Haven’t Got the Time”, “Love And Beauty” & “Leave This Man Alone”.The Moody Blues were then offered a deal to make a rock and roll version of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony, and the resulting concept album Days of Future Past became one of the most successful pop/rock releases of the period, earning a gold record award. It takes place over the course of a single day & drew inspiration from the pioneering use of the classical instrumentation by The Beatles. It includes the songs “Nights in White Satin” & “The Sun Set” “Another Morning”, “Twilight Time”,”Peak Hour” and “Evening (Time To Get Away)”. The 1968 follow-up LP, In Search of the Lost Chord included the songs “Legend of a Mind”,”House of Four Doors”,”Voices in the Sky”, “Ride My See-Saw” and “The Best Way To Travel”.The 1969 album On the Threshold of a Dream contained the songs “In The Beginning”,”Lovely To See You”,”Never Comes The Day”,”Dear Diary” and “Lazy Day”,”So Deep Within You”,”The Dream”&”Have You Heard”.

The band’s music continued to become more complex and symphonic,resulting in 1969′s To Our Children’s Children’s Children which was inspired by the first moon landing.and contained the songs “Higher And Higher” “Floating” and “Eternity Road” “Gypsy”,”Out And In” the two part “Eyes of A Child” and “Candle of Life””Sun is Still Shining”. and “Watching and Waiting”.The Moodies had a somewhat psychedelic style and progressive rock sound, the group next album was A Question of Balance (1970) & contained the songs “Question” and “Melancholy Man”. For their next two albums, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971) and “Seventh Sojourn”the band returned to their signature orchestral sound.These contained the songs “Procession”, “Story in Your Eyes” “Our Guessing Game”,”You Can Never Go Home”, “One More Time To Live”, “My Song” and “Nice To Be Here”. The Album “After You Came” (1971) featured “Isn’t Life Strange ?” “I’m Just A Singer (in A Rock ‘n’ Roll Band)”,”Sojourn”,”Lost in A Lost World” “When You’re A Free Man”, “For My Lady”, and “New Horizons”. In 1972, Nights in White Satin was reissued and became the Moody Blues’ biggest US hit. The Moodies created their own record label Threshold Records, although it proved unsuccessful they did lay the groundwork for other major acts to set up similar personal labels and distribution deals including The Rolling Stones’ own label and Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song Record label.

war-of-the-worldsIn 1974 after the World Tour the group released a compilation album This Is The Moody Blues. Justin Hayward and John Lodge then released the album, Blue Jays, and a single, “Blue Guitar”. Mike Pinder released a album The Promise.” Edge produced two albums with guitarist Adrian Gurvitz, Kick Off Your Muddy Boots and Paradise Ballroom; Hayward composed the albums Songwriter, followed by Night Flight, Moving Mountains, Classic Blue, The View From The Hill and Live In San Juan Capistrano; Lodge released Natural Avenue; Pinder produced The Promise; and Thomas produced From Mighty Oaks and Hopes, Wishes and Dreams. In 1977, the group reunited and despite many problems The album Octave was released in 1978 contining “Steppin’ in a Slide Zone” & “Driftwood”. Around this time Justin Hayward enjoyed a solo hit with the song “Forever Autumn” from Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.

The next album ,Long Distance Voyager, was released in 1981 and yielded two hits, “The Voice” &”Gemini Dream”. and the band embraced a more modern, less symphonic approach, while still retaining a lush keyboard-led sound. The next album The Present yeilded the singles “Blue World” and”Sitting at the Wheel”. In 1986 they released the album The Other Side of Life, containing “Your Wildest Dreams”which garnered a Billboard Video of the Year award,as well as the songs “House of Four Doors”, “Candle of Life” and “One More Time To Live” “Here Comes The Weekend”, “Rock and Roll Over You”, “Love is On The Run (From Me)”, “The Actor”, “Dawning is the Day”, “You Can Never Go Home”& “The Land of Make Believe”. In 1986 The Moody Blues also performed live at the Birmingham Heart Beat Charity Concert, which raised money for the Birmingham Children’s Hospitals, and also provided backup with the Electric Light Orchestra for George Harrison.The Moodies released Sur La Mer in 1988 containing the single, “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere”.In 1991 they released the album Keys of the Kingdom contained the songs “Say It With Love”, “Never Blame The Rainbows For The Rain”,”Bless the Wings (That Bring You Back)”,”Magic” “Shadows On the Wall” “Lean On Me (Tonight)”and “Say What You Mean.”They also played at the Montreux Jazz Festival and remained. a steady concert draw, They also made a series of recordings of their Night at Red Rocks concert.

The next album Strange Times, was released in 1999 with the songs”English Sunset”,”Nothing Changes” and”This is The Moment”. The Moody Blues also appeared in one episode of “The Simpsons” called “Viva Ned Flanders”.In 2000, the band released “Hall of Fame”, a new live concert from Royal Albert Hall. In 2001, an IMAX film was released, entitled Journey into Amazing Caves. In 2006, the first five of the band’s ‘Core Seven’ albums ( Days of Future Passed to Seventh Sojourn) were re-released featuring bonus songs and previously unreleased tracks.Remastered versions of Octave, Long Distance Voyager and The Present soon followed. The Moodies also released a compilation of sessions recorded at BBC Studios, rarities & various TV appearances, entitled Live at the BBC: 1967-1970. The Moody Blues have sold more than 70 million albums worldwide and have been awarded 14 platinum and gold discs. As of 2012 they remain active and continue to tour.

Winnie the Pooh

The children’s book Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne, was first published 14 October 1926.Winnie-the-Pooh, also called Pooh Bear, is a fictional anthropomorphic bear created by A. A. Milne. The first collection of stories about the character was the book Winnie-the-Pooh (1926), and this was followed by The House at Pooh Corner (1928). Milne also included a poem about the bear in the children’s verse book When We Were Very Young (1924) and many more in Now We Are Six (1927). All four volumes were illustrated by E. H. Shepard. The Pooh stories have been translated into many languages, includingAlexander Lenard’s Latin translation, Winnie ille Pu, which was first published in 1958, and, in 1960, became the only Latin book ever to have been featured on The New York Times Best Seller list. In popular film adaptations, Pooh Bear has been voiced by actors Sterling Holloway, Hal Smith and Jim Cummings in English, Yevgeny Leonov in Russian, and Shun Yashiro and Sukekiyo Kameyama in Japanese.

Milne named the character Winnie-the-Pooh after a teddy bear owned by his son,Christopher Robin Milne, who was the basis for the character Christopher Robin. Christopher’s toys also lent their names to most of the other characters, except for Owl,Rabbit, and Gopher. Gopher was added to the Disney version. Christopher Robin’s toy bear is now on display at the Main Branch of the New York Public Library in New York City. Christopher Milne had named his toy bear after Winnie, a Canadian black bear which he often saw at London Zoo, and “Pooh”, a swan they had met while on holiday. The bear cub was purchased from a hunter for $20 by Canadian Lieutenant Harry Colebourn in White River, Ontario, Canada, while en route to England during the First World War. He named the bear “Winnie” after his adopted hometown in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “Winnie” was surreptitiously brought to England with her owner, and gained unofficial recognition as The Fort Garry Horse regimental mascot. Colebourn left Winnie at the London Zoo while he and his unit were in France; after the war she was officially donated to the zoo, as she had become a much loved attraction there. Pooh the swan appears as a character in its own right in When We Were Very Young.

The Winnie-the-Pooh stories are set in Ashdown Forest, Sussex, England. The forest is a large area of tranquil open heathland on the highest sandy ridges of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty situated 30 miles (50 km) south of London. In 1925 Milne, a Londoner, bought a country home a mile to the north of the forest at Cotchford Farm, near Hartfield. According to Christopher Milne, while his father continued to live in London. Most of his father’s visits to the forest at this time were, he noted, family expeditions on foot . Christopher added that, inspired by Ashdown Forest, his father had made it “the setting for two of his books, finishing the second little over three years after his arrival”.

Many locations are inspired by real places in and around the forest, such as the fictional “Hundred Acre Wood” which is in reality Five Hundred Acre Wood; Galleon’s Leap was inspired by the prominent hilltop of Gill’s Lap, while a clump of trees just north of Gill’s Lap became Christopher Robin’s The Enchanted Place because no-one had ever been able to count whether there were sixty-three or sixty-four trees in the circle. The landscapes depicted in E.H. Shepard’s illustrations for the Winnie-the-Pooh books were directly inspired by the distinctive landscape of Ashdown Forest, with its high, open heathlands of heather, gorse, bracken and silver birch punctuated by hilltop clumps of pine trees. Many of Shepard’s illustrations can be matched to actual views, allowing for a degree of artistic licence. Shepard’s sketches of pine trees and other forest scenes are held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.The game of Poohsticks was originally played by Christopher Milne on a footbridge across a tributary of the River Medway in Posingford Wood, close to Cotchford Farm. The wooden bridge is a tourist attraction, and it has become traditional to play the game there using sticks gathered in nearby woodland. When the footbridge recently had to be replaced, the engineer designed a new structure based closely on the drawings of the bridge by E. H. Shepard in the original books, as the bridge did not originally appear as the artist drew it.

Christopher Robin’s teddy bear, Edward, made his character début in a poem called “Teddy Bear” in Milne’s book of children’s verse When We Were Very Young (6 November 1924) although his true first appearance was in the 13 February 1924 edition of Punch magazine, which contained the same poem along with other stories by Milne and Shepard. Winnie-the-Pooh first appeared by name on 24 December 1925, in a Christmas story commissioned and published by the London newspaper The Evening News. It was illustrated by J. H. Dowd. The first collection of Pooh stories appeared in the book Winnie-the-Pooh. The Evening News Christmas story reappeared as the first chapter of the book. At the beginning, it explained that Pooh was in fact Christopher Robin’s Edward Bear, who had been renamed by the boy. He was renamed after a black bear at London Zoo called Winnie who got her name from the fact that she had come from Winnipeg, Canada. The book was published in October 1926 by the publisher of Milne’s earlier children’s work, Methuen, in England, and E. P. Dutton in the United States.

Battle of Hastings

The Battle of Hastings took place on14 October 1066, In England on Senlac Hill, seven miles from Hastings, during which the Norman forces of William the Conqueror and Duke William II of Normandy defeated the English army and killed Anglo-Saxon King Harold II of England. The Battle took place approximately 7 miles (11 kilometres) north-west of Hastings, close to the present-day town of Battle, East Sussex, and was a decisive Norman victory.

The background to the battle was the death of the childless King Edward the Confessor in January 1066, which set up a succession struggle between several claimants to his throne. Harold was crowned king shortly after Edward’s death, but faced invasions by William, his own brother Tostig and the Norwegian King Harald Hardrada (Harold III of Norway). Hardrada and Tostig defeated a hastily gathered army of Englishmen at the Battle of Fulford on 20 September 1066, and were in turn defeated by Harold at the Battle of Stamford Bridge five days later. The deaths of Tostig and Hardrada at Stamford left William as Harold’s only serious opponent. While Harold and his forces were recovering from Stamford, William landed his invasion forces in the south of England at Pevensey on 28 September 1066 and established a beachhead for his conquest of the kingdom. Harold was forced to march south swiftly, gathering forces as he went.

Williams invasion force numbered approximately 10,000 against about Harold’s 7000 Soldiers. Harold appears to have tried to surprise William, but scouts found his army and reported its arrival to William, who marched from Hastings to the battlefield to confront Harold. The battle lasted from about 9 am to dusk. Early efforts of the invaders to break the English battle lines had little effect, therefore the Normans adopted the tactic of pretending to flee in panic and then turning on their pursuers. Harold’s death, probably near the end of the battle, led to the retreat and defeat of most of his army. After further marching and some skirmishes, William was crowned as king on Christmas Day 1066. Although there continued to be rebellions and resistance to William’s rule, Hastings effectively marked the culmination of William’s conquest of England. Some historians estimate that 2000 invaders died along with about twice that number of Englishmen. William founded a monastery at the site of the battle, the high altar of the abbey church supposedly placed at the spot where Harold died.

It all started around 911 after the French Carolingian ruler Charles the Simple allowed a group of Vikings under their leader Rollo to settle in Normandy. Their settlement proved successful, and they quickly adapted to the indigenous culture, renouncing paganism, converting toChristianity, and intermarrying with the local population. Over time, the frontiers of the duchy expanded to the west. In 1002 KingÆthelred II of England married Emma, the sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy.Their son Edward the Confessor, who spent many years in exile in Normandy, succeeded to the English throne in 1042. This led to the establishment of a powerful Norman interest in English politics, as Edward drew heavily on his former hosts for support, bringing in Norman courtiers, soldiers, and clerics and appointing them to positions of power, particularly in the Church. Childless and embroiled in conflict with the formidable Godwin, Earl of Wessex and his sons, Edward may also have encouraged Duke William of Normandy’s ambitions for the English throne.

Following King Edward’s death on 5 January 1066, the lack of a clear heir led to a disputed succession in which several contenders laid claim to the throne of England. Edward’s immediate successor was the Earl of Wessex, Harold Godwinson, the richest and most powerful of the English aristocrats and son of Godwin, Edward’s earlier opponent. Harold was elected king by the Witenagemot of England and crowned by the Archbishop of York, Ealdred, although Norman propaganda claimed the ceremony was performed byStigand, the uncanonically elected Archbishop of Canterbury. Harold was at once challenged by two powerful neighbouring rulers. Duke William claimed that he had been promised the throne by King Edward and that Harold had sworn agreement to this.Harald III of Norway, commonly known as Harald Hardrada, also contested the succession. His claim to the throne was based on an agreement between his predecessor Magnus I of Norway, and the earlier King of England Harthacanute, whereby if either died without heir the other would inherit both England and Norway. William and Harald immediately set about assembling troops and ships for separate invasions.

Early In 1066, Harold’s exiled brother Tostig Godwinson raided south-eastern England with a fleet he had recruited in Flanders, later joined by other ships from Orkney. Threatened by Harold’s fleet, Tostig moved north and raided in East Anglia and Lincolnshire. He was driven back to his ships by the brothers Edwin, Earl of Mercia, and Morcar, Earl of Northumbria. Deserted by most of his followers, he withdrew to Scotland, where he spent the middle of the year recruiting fresh forces. Meanwhile King Harald III of Norway invaded northern England in early September, leading a fleet of more than 300 ships carrying perhaps 15,000 men. Harald’s army was further augmented by the forces of Tostig, who supported the Norwegian king’s bid for the throne. Advancing on York, the Norwegians occupied the city after defeating a northern English army under Edwin and Morcar on 20 September at the Battle of Fulford.