Ruth Rendell CBE

imageProlific English Author Ruth Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE,  passed away Saturday 2 May 2015. Born Ruth Barbara Grasemann on 17 February 1930, in South Woodford, London. She was educated at the County High School for Girls in Loughton, Essex. After high school she became a feature writer for her local paper, the Chigwell Times. Even at an early age, making up stories was irresistible to Rendell. As a reporter, she visited a house that was rumoured to be haunted and invented the ghost of an old woman. The owners threatened to sue the newspaper for devaluing their home. Later, she reported on the local tennis club’s annual dinner without attending, so missing the untimely death of the after-dinner speaker in mid-speech. She resigned before she could be fired. Rendell met her husband, Don Rendell when she was working as a newswriter. They married when she was 20, and had a son, Simon, now a psychiatric social worker who lives in Colorado. The couple divorced in 1975, but remarried two years later. Rendell is known best for writing gripping Psychological Murder Mysteries and her best Known creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, is the hero of many popular police stories. Rendell started her career when she wrote two unpublished novels before finally striking lucky with the 1964 publication of From Doon With Death, which was the first mystery to feature her enduring and popular detective Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford, who is featured in From Doon with Death, a New Lease of Death, Murder being once done, Put on by Cunning, an Unkindness of Ravens, Road Rage, Adam &Eve & Pinch Me and The Monster in the Box. some of her novels have also been adapted for TV.

Rendell also writes crime-fiction that explores the psychological background of criminals and their victims, many of them mentally afflicted or otherwise socially isolated. In addition to these police procedurals starring Wexford, Rendell has written psychological crime novels exploring such themes as romantic obsession, misperceived communication, the impact of chance and coincidence, and the humanity of the criminals involved. Among such books are A Judgement In Stone, The Face of Trespass, Live Flesh, Talking to Strange Men, The Killing Doll, Going Wrongand Adam and Eve and Pinch Me. Many credit her and close friend P. D. James for upgrading the entire genre of whodunit, shaping it more into a whydunit. Rendell’s protagonists are often socially isolated, suffer from mental illness, and/or are otherwise disadvantaged; she explores the adverse impacts of their circumstances on these characters as well as on their victims.

Rendell created a third strand of writing written under her pseudonym Barbara Vine, (the name derives from her own middle name and her grandmother’s maiden name), with the publication of A Dark-Adapted Eye, King Solomon’s Carpet, A Fatal Inversion and Asta’s Book (alternative US title, Anna’s Book), among others, these are similar to her psychological crime novels while further developing themes of human misunderstandings and the unintended consequences of family secrets and hidden crimes. The author is noted for her elegant prose and sharp insights into the human mind, as well as her cogent plots and characters.

Rendell injected the social changes of the last 40 years into her work, bringing awareness to such issues as domestic violence and the change in the status of women. Lady Rendell has received many awards, including the Silver, Gold, and Cartier Diamond Daggers from the Crime Writers’ Association, three Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America, The Arts Council National Book Awards, and The Sunday Times Literary Award. A number of her works have been adapted for film or television. She is also a Patron of the charity Kids for Kids, helping children in rural areas of Darfur. she was made a CBE in 1996 and a life peer as Baroness Rendell of Babergh, of Aldeburgh in the County of Suffolk, in 1997. She sits in the House of Lords for Labour. In 1998 Rendell was named in a list of the biggest private financial donors to the Labour Party.

Captain America: Civil War

I would like to watch Captain America: Civil War. It is the sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger and 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the thirteenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film features Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, and Daniel Brühl.

It begins One year after the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron and sees Political pressure being mounted to install a system of accountability regulating superhuman activity. This follows the revival of Bucky Barnes by HYDRA operatives in Siberia revive who is then dispatched to assassinate the occupants of an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum. The subsequent actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage when Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos, Nigeria and inadvertently causes a building to be bombed, killing Rumlow and a number of Wakandan relief aid workers and increasing the international community’s distrust of the Avengers’ work.

However The new regime deeply divides members of the team. Captain America (Chris Evans) believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. However Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) disagrees and thinks Superheroes should be accountable for their actions. this fractures the Avengers into opposing factions, one led by Steve Rogers and another by Tony Stark and the debate escalates into an all-out feud. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must pick a side.

Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs the Avengers that the United Nations has drawn up the Sokovia Accords, to establish an international governing body to monitor and police the rapidly growing superhuman population. The team is divided: Tony Stark supports it because he feels responsible for creating Ultron and for the destruction the android brought to Sokovia, while Rogers is distrustful of governmental agendas and wishes the Avengers to remain free to act of their own accord. Unable to convince Rogers to support the accords, Romanoff, sees a bombing which kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda. T’Chaka’s son T’Challa vows to kill the bomber, who security footage indicates is Barnes. Despite Romanoff’s objections, Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to his hideout in Bucharest and attempt to protect him from the police and T’Challa. Rogers, Wilson, Barnes, and T’Challa are captured, but Barnes is soon released by Colonel Helmut Zemo, who is heading to the Siberian facility where Barnes was held, to unfreeze the other Winter Soldiers the stolen serum was used to create. Rogers recruits Wanda, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to help him together with Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes and Vision and Peter Parker. Stark and his team intercept Rogers’ team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, resulting in a huge battle. Stark follows Rogers and Barnes to the Siberian HYDRA facility and reconciles with them, unaware that he has been pursued by T’Challa. They discover that the other Winter Soldiers have been killed by Zemo. Then Stark discovers that his parents were killed by James Bucky Barnes …

Henri Toivonen

imageHaving watched him hurtling through the Welsh Forests many a time during the The RAC Rally I thought I would write about rally Driver Henri Toivonen who was tragically killed 2 May 1986 whilst competing in the Tour de Corse Rally on Corsica

He was born in Jyväskylä, the home of Rally Finland. His father, Pauli Toivonen, was the 1968 European Rally Champion for Porsche and his brother, Harri Toivonen, became a professional circuit racer. Toivonen’s first World Rally Championship victory came with a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus at the 1980 Lombard RAC Rally in Great Britain, just after his 24th birthday. He had the record of being the youngest driver ever to win a world rally until his countryman Jari-Matti Latvala won the 2008 Swedish Rally at the age of 22. After driving for Opel and Porsche, Toivonen was signed by Lancia. Despite nearly ending up paralysed at the Rally Costa Smeralda early in 1985, he returned to rallying later that year. He won the last event of the season, the RAC Rally, as well as the 1986 season opener, the Monte Carlo Rally, which his father had won exactly 20 years earlier. Toivonen, driving a Lancia Delta S4, died in an accident on 2 May 1986 while leading the Tour de Corse rally in Corsica. His American co-driver, Sergio Cresto, also died when the Lancia plunged down a ravine and exploded. The fatal accident had no close witnesses and the only remains of the car were the blackened spaceframe, making it impossible to determine the cause of the accident. Within hours of the accident, Jean-Marie Balestre, then President of the FISA, had banned the powerful Group B rally cars from competing the following season, ending rallying’s popular supercar era.

Toivonen started his career in circuit racing and was also very competitive on tarmac. He raced successfully in two World Sportscar Championship events and achieved praise from Eddie Jordan, in whose Formula Three team Toivonen made a few guest appearances. In his Formula One test for March Grand Prix, Toivonen managed to lap over a second quicker than the team’s regular driver. It is often reported that during the 1986 Rally Portugal, he drove his Delta S4 at the Estoril track, and recorded a lap time which would have qualified him in sixth position at that year’s Formula One Portuguese Grand Prix. The annual Race of Champions, originally organised in Toivonen’s memory, awards the winning individual driver the Henri Toivonen Memorial Trophy.

De Havilland Comet

De havilland Comet

De havilland Comet

On 2 May 1952 The world’s first ever jet airliner, the De Havilland Comet 1 made its maiden flight, from London to Johannesburg. The de Havilland DH 106 Comet was the world’s first production commercial jetliner. Developed and manufactured by de Havilland at its Hatfield Aerodrome, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom headquarters, the Comet 1 prototype first flew on 27 July 1949. It featured an aerodynamically clean design with four de Havilland Ghost turbojet engines buried in the wings, a pressurised fuselage, and large square windows. For the era, it offered a relatively quiet, comfortable passenger cabin and showed signs of being a commercial success at its 1952 debut.

A year after entering commercial service the Comets began suffering problems, with three of them breaking up during mid-flight in well-publicised accidents. This was later found to be due to catastrophic metal fatigue in the airframes, not well understood at the time. The Comet was withdrawn from service and extensively tested to discover the cause; the first incident had been incorrectly blamed on adverse weather. Design flaws, including dangerous stresses at the corners of the square windows and installation methods, were ultimately identified. As a result, the Comet was extensively redesigned with oval windows, structural reinforcement, and other changes. Rival manufacturers meanwhile heeded the lessons learned from the Comet while developing their own aircraft.

Although sales never fully recovered, the improved Comet 2 and the prototype Comet 3 culminated in the redesigned Comet 4 series which debuted in 1958 and had a productive career of over 30 years. The Comet was adapted for a variety of military roles such as VIP, medical and passenger transport, as well as surveillance. The most extensive modification resulted in a specialised maritime patrol aircraft variant, the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod. Nimrod remained in service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) until June 2011, over 60 years after the Comet’s first flight.

Leonardo Da Vinci

imageItalian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer Leonardo da Vinci sadly passed away on this date 2nd May in 1519.His genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination”. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the mostdiversely talented person ever to have lived. According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and “his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote”. Marco Rosci points out, however, that while there is much speculation about Leonardo, his vision of the world is essentially logical rather than mysterious, and that the empirical methods he employed were unusual for his time.

Vitruvian Man

Vitruvian Man

Born out of wedlock to a notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant woman, Caterina, at Vinci in the region of Florence, Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Florentine painter, Verrocchio. Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan. He later worked in Rome, Bologna and Venice, and he spent his last years in France at the home awarded him by Francis I. Leonardo was and is renowned primarily as a painter. Among his works, the Mona Lisa is the most famous and most parodied portrait and The Last Supper the most reproduced religious painting of all time, with their fame approached only by Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. Leonardo’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also regarded as a cultural icon, being reproduced on items as varied as the euro, textbooks, and T-shirts.Perhaps fifteen of his paintings survive, the small number because of his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination.

Nevertheless, these few works, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, compose a contribution to later generations of artists only rivalled by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo. Leonardo is revered for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualised a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator, the double hull, and he outlined a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime, but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded. He also made many important discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics and his legacy can still be felt today.

Jerome K.Jerome

Best known for the humorous travelogue Three Men in a Boat, the English Writer and Humourist Jerome K Jerome, was born 2nd May 1859 in Caldmore, Walsall, England, and moved to London, where He attended St Marylebone Grammar School. 14 June 1927). The young Jerome wished to go into politics or be a man of letters, but the death of his father at age 13, and his mother at age 15, forced him to quit his studies and find work to support himself. He was employed at the London and North Western Railway, initially collecting coal that fell along the railway, and remained there for four years.In 1877, inspired by his older sister Blandina’s love for the theatre, Jerome decided to try his hand at acting, under the stage name Harold Crichton. He joined a repertory troupe that produced plays on a shoestring budget, Jerome was penniless at the time. After three years on the road and with no evident success, the 21-year-old Jerome decided he’d had enough with stage life, and sought other occupations. He tried to become a journalist, writing essays, satires and short stories, but most of these were rejected. Over the next few years he was a school teacher, a packer, and a solicitor’s clerk. Finally, in 1885, he had some success with On the Stage — and Off, a comic memoir of his experiences with the acting troupe. Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, a collection of humorous essays, followed in 1886. On 21 June 1888, Jerome married Georgina Elizabeth Henrietta Stanley Marris (a.k.a. Ettie), nine days after she had divorced her first husband. She had a daughter from her previous, five-year marriage, nicknamed Elsie (her actual name was also Georgina). The honeymoon took place on the Thames “in a little boat,” a fact which was to have a significant influence on his next, and most important work, Three Men in a Boat.

Jerome sat down to write Three Men in a Boat as soon as the couple returned from their honeymoon. In the novel, his wife was replaced by his longtime friends George Wingrave (George) and Carl Hentschel (Harris). This allowed him to create comic situations which were nonetheless intertwined with the history of the Thames region. The book, published in 1889, became an instant success and is still in print. Its popularity was such that the number of registered Thames boats went up fifty percent in the year following its publication, and it contributed significantly to the Thames becoming a tourist attraction. The book has also been adapted to movies, TV and radio shows, stage plays, and even a musical. Its writing style influenced many humorists and satirists in England and elsewhere. Following on from this success Jerome dedicated all of his time to writing and wrote a number of plays, essays and novels, but was never able to recapture the success of Three Men in a Boat.In 1898, a short stay in Germany inspired Three Men on the Bummel, the sequel to Three Men in a Boat. While reintroducing the same characters in the setting of a foreign bicycle tour, the book was unable to capture the life-force and historic roots of its predecessor, and only enjoyed a mild success.

In 1902 he published the novel Paul Kelver, which is widely regarded as autobiographical. His 1908 play The Passing of the Third Floor Back introduced a more sombre and religious Jerome. This was a tremendous commercial success but was condemned by critics.During World War I, he volunteered as an ambulance driver for the French Army but this experience was said to have dampened his spirit, as did the death in 1921 of his stepdaughter, Elsie. In 1926, Jerome published his autobiography, My Life and Times. Shortly afterwards, the Borough of Walsall conferred on him the title Freeman of the Borough. During these last years, Jerome spent more time at his farmhouse in Ewelme near Wallingford. Sadly in June 1927 Jerome suffered a paralytic stroke and a cerebral haemorrhage during a motoring tour and lay in Northampton General Hospital for two weeks before succumbing on 14 June. He was cremated at Golders Green and his ashes buried at St Mary’s Church, Ewelme, Oxfordshire. Elsie, Ettie, and his sister Blandina are buried beside him. His legacy lives on in the form of a French graphic novel series named Jérôme K. Jérôme Bloche after the author and There is a street named after him called Jerome Road in Alumwell and Walsall Museum has some of Jerome’s writing equipment on permanent display.

Engelbert Humperdinck

Indian-born singer and Britain’s 2012 Eurovision song Contest Entrant Engelbert Humperdinck (A.K.A Arnold “Jerry” Dorsey), was born on this date 2nd May in 1936. when he was 10 He Moved to Leicester in the East Midlands and soon showed an interest in music and began learning the saxophone. By the early 1950s he was playing saxophone in nightclubs, but did not trysinging until he was 17, when friends coaxed him into entering a pub contest. His impression of Jerry Lewis prompted friends to begin calling him “Gerry Dorsey,” a name he worked under for almost a decade. In 1965, Humperdinck teamed with his former roommate Gordon Mills, who was the manager of Tom Jones. who suggested a name-change to the more arresting Engelbert Humperdinck, borrowed from the 19th-century composer of operas such as Hansel and Gretel. In early 1967 the changes paid off when Humperdinck’s version of “Release Me,” done in a smooth ballad style with a full chorus joining him on the third refrain, made the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic and number one in Britain. Another groundbreaking video showed Engelbert tied up with a lasso. “Release Me” spent 56 weeks in the Top 50 in a single chart run and is believed to have sold 85,000 copies a day at the height of its popularity, it remains the best known of his songs Humperdinck’s easygoing style and good looks gained him a large following, particularly among women.

His hardcore female fans, who included the young Princess Anne, called themselves “Humperdinckers”. By the end of the 1960s, Humperdinck’s roster of songs included “Am I That Easy to Forget,” “A Man Without Love,” “Les Bicyclettes de Belsize,” “The Way It Used To Be”, “I’m A Better Man” “Winter World of Love” and “A Man Without Love”. By the start of the 1970s, Humperdinck had settled into a busy schedule of recordings, with songs like: “We Made It Happen,” “Sweetheart,” “Another Time, Another Place,” and “Too Beautiful To Last”. As his kind of balladry became less popular, he adopted some Broadway influences and concentrated on selling albums and on live performances, developing lavish stage presentations that made him a natural for Las Vegas and similar venues. The song, “After the Lovin’” was also a Top-10 hit in the US, and marked another peak in his career; it also recieved a Grammy Award.

By the 1980s, Humperdinck continued recording albums regularly and performing as many as 200 concerts a year, and in 1989 Humperdinck was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and won a Golden Globe Award as entertainer of the year, while also beginning major involvement in charitable causes such as the Leukemia Research Fund, the American Red Cross, the American Lung Association, and several AIDS relief organisations. He remains popular to this day. In 2012 Humperdinck represented the United Kingdom in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, in Baku, Azerbaijan, singing a track called, “Love Will Set You Free