Posted in books, films & DVD, Television

J.K. Rowling

imageBest known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series, the British novelist Joanne “Jo” Rowling, OBE, (J. K. Rowling)was born 31 July 1965.The Harry Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies to become the best-selling book series in history and been the basis for a popular series of films, in which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts as well as maintaining creative control by serving as a producer on the final instalment. Rowling conceived the idea for the series on a train trip from Manchester to London in 1990.n 1995, Rowling finished her manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on an old manual typewriter. Upon the enthusiastic response of Bryony Evens, a reader who had been asked to review the book’s first three chapters. Then In June 1997 Bloomsbury, a small Publishing house in London, published Philosopher’s Stone with an initial print run of 1,000 copies, 500 of which were distributed to libraries. In early 1998, an auction was held in the United States for the rights to publish the novel, and was won by Scholastic Inc for $1. Five months later, the book won its first award, a Nestlé Smarties Book Prize. In February, the novel won the prestigious British Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year, and later, the Children’s Book Award.

imageIn October 1998, Scholastic published Philosopher’s Stone in the US under the title of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: a change Rowling claims she now regrets and would have fought if she had been in a better position at the time. Its sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was published in July 1998 and again Rowling won the Smarties Prize.In December 1999, the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, won the Smarties Prize, making Rowling the first person to win the award three times running. She later withdrew the fourth Harry Potter novel from contention to allow other books a fair chance. In January 2000, Prisoner of Azkaban won the inaugural Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year award, though it lost the Book of the Year prize to Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf.The fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was released simultaneously in the UK and the U.S. on 8 July 2000, and broke sales records in both countries, almost equalling the number Prisoner of Azkaban sold during its first year and Rowling was named author of the year in the 2000 British Book Awards.the fifth Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released three years later and The sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was released on 16 July 2005. It too broke all sales records, selling nine million copies in its first 24 hours of release, and In 2006, Half-Blood Prince received the Book of the Year prize at the British Book Awards. The seventh and final Harry Potter book is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released on 21 July 2007 and broke its predecessor’s record as the fastest-selling book of all time and sold 11 million copies in the first day of release in the United Kingdom and United States. J.K Rowling’s latest book Fabulous beasts and where to find Them has also been turned into a film starring Eddie Redmayme as Newt Scarmander and a script for the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is due for release soon.

imageThe last four Harry Potter books have consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history.The series, totalling 4,195 pages, has been translated, in whole or in part, into 65 languages and have also gained recognition for sparking an interest in reading among the young at a time when children were thought to be abandoning books for computers and television, Time magazine also named her as a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fans. In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was named ‘Most Influential Woman in Britain’ by leading magazine editors. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, and Lumos (formerly the Children’s High Level Group). In 2012, Rowling’s novel The Casual Vacancy was published and it was recently revealed that the novel The Cookoo’s Calling, written by Robert Galbraith and featuring the exciting adventures of Private Investigator Cormoron Strike, shared certain similarities with J.K Rowling novels leading to all kinds of speculation. The Cookoo’s Calling was followed by the novels The Silkworm and Career of Evil.

Posted in Art

Vincent van Goch

Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent Willem van Gogh sadly passed away 29 July 1890 at the age of 37 years old in Auvers-sur-Oise, France. Van Goch was born 30th March 1853, his work is notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died aged 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted (although no gun was ever found).His work was then known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still.

Van Gogh began to draw as a child, and he continued to draw throughout the years that led up to his decision to become an artist. He did not begin painting until his late twenties, completing many of his best-known works during the last two years of his life. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints. His work included self portraits, landscapes, still lifes, portraits and paintings of cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers.

Van Gogh spent his early adulthood working for a firm of art dealers, traveling between The Hague, London and Paris, after which he taught for a time in England. One of his early aspirations was to become a pastor and from 1879 he worked as a missionary in a mining region in Belgium where he began to sketch people from the local community. In 1885, he painted his first major work The Potato Eaters. His palette at the time consisted mainly of somber earth tones and showed no sign of the vivid coloration that distinguished his later work. In March 1886, he moved to Paris and discovered the French Impressionists. Later, he moved to the south of France and was influenced by the strong sunlight he found there.

His work grew brighter in color, and he developed the unique and highly recognizable style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles in 1888. The extent to which his mental health affected his painting has been a subject of speculation since his death. Despite a widespread tendency to romanticize his ill health, modern critics see an artist deeply frustrated by the inactivity and incoherence brought about by his bouts of illness. According to art critic Robert Hughes, Van Gogh’s late works show an artist at the height of his ability, completely in control and “longing for concision and grace”.

Posted in computers, Internet, Science-tech

Sir Clive Sinclair

CompEnglish entrepreneur and inventor Sir Clive Marles Sinclair was born 30 July 1940. He is most commonly known for. his work in consumer electronics in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Sinclair’s micro Kit was formalised in an exercise book dated 19 June 1958 three weeks before his A-levels. Sinclair drew a radio circuit, Model Mark I, with a components list: cost per set 9/11 (49½p), plus coloured wire and solder, nuts and bolts, plus celluloid chassis (drilled) for nine shillings (45p). Also in the book are advertisement rates for Radio Constructor (9d (3¾p)/word, minimum 6/- (30p) & Practical Wireless (5/6 (27½p) per line or part line). Sinclair estimated producing 1,000 a month, placing orders with suppliers for 10,000 of each component to be delivered. Sinclair wrote a book for Bernard’s Publishing, Practical transistor receivers Book 1, which appeared in January 1959. His practical stereo handbook was published in June 1959 in total he produced 13 constructors’ books and the last book Sinclair wrote as an employee of Bernard’s was Modern Transistor Circuits for Beginners, in 1962.

After spending several years as assistant editor of Practical Wireless and Instrument Practice, Sinclair founded Sinclair Radionics in 1961, His original choice, Sinclair Electronics, was taken; Sinclair Radio was available but did not sound right. Sinclair Radionics was formed on 25 July 1961.Sinclair made two attempts to raise startup capital to advertise his inventions and buy components. He designed PCB kits and licensed some technology. Then he took his design for a miniature transistor pocket radio and sought a backer for its production in kit form. Eventually he found someone who agreed to buy 55% of his company for £3,000 but the deal did not go through. Sinclair, unable to find capital, joined United Trade Press (UTP) as technical editor of Instrument Practice. Sinclair appeared in the publication as an assistant editor in March 1962. Sinclair described making silicon planar transistors, their properties and applications and hoped they might be available by the end of 1962. Sinclair’s obsession with miniaturisation became more obvious as his career progressed. Sinclair undertook a survey for Instrument Practice of semiconductor devices, which appeared in four sections between September 1962 and January 1963. His last appearance as assistant editor was in April 1969. Through UTP, Sinclair had access to thousands of devices from 36 manufacturers. He contacted Semiconductors Ltd (who at that time sold semiconductors made by Plessey) and ordered rejects to repair. He produced a design for a miniature radio powered by a couple of hearing aid cells and made a deal with Semiconductors to buy its micro-alloy transistors at 6d (2½p) each in boxes of 10,000. He then carried out his own quality control tests, and marketed his renamed MAT 100 and 120 at 7s 9d (38¾p) and 101 and 121 at 8s 6d (42½p). He also produced the first slim-line electronic pocket calculator in 1972 (the Sinclair Executive).

In 1973 Sinclair moved into the production of home computers and formed another company, initially called Ablesdeal Ltd. This changed name several times, eventually becoming Science of Cambridge Ltd, and In 1978 they Launched a microcomputer kit, the MK14, based on the National SC/MP chip. By July 1978, a personal computer project was under way. When Sinclair learned the NewBrain could not be sold at below £100 as he envisaged, he turned to a simpler computer. In May 1979 Jim Westwood started the ZX80 project at Science of Cambridge; it was launched in February 1980 the UK’s first mass-market home computer for less than GB£100, at £79.95 in kit form and £99.95 ready-built. In November, Science of Cambridge was renamed Sinclair Computers Ltd.In March 1981, Sinclair Computers was renamed again as Sinclair Research Ltd and the Sinclair ZX81 was launched at £49.95 in kit form and £69.95 ready-built, by mail order, and it is widely recognised for its importance in the early days of the British home computer industry.In February 1982 Timex obtained a license to manufacture and market Sinclair’s computers in the United States under the name Timex Sinclair. In April the ZX Spectrum was launched at £125 for the 16 kB RAM version and £175 for the 48 kB version. In March 1982 the company made an £8.55 million profit on turnover of £27.17 million, including £383,000 government grants for the TV80 flat-screen portable television.In 1982 Sinclair converted the Barker & Wadsworth mineral water bottling factory into the company’s headquarters. (This was sold to Cambridgeshire County Council in December 1985 owing to Sinclair’s financial troubles.)

The following year, he received his knighthood and formed Sinclair Vehicles Ltd. to develop electric vehicles. This resulted in the 1985 Sinclair C5. In 1984, Sinclair launched the Sinclair QL computer, intended for professional users. Development of the ZX Spectrum continued with the enhanced ZX Spectrum 128 in 1985 . In April 1986, Sinclair Research sold the Sinclair trademark and computer business to Amstrad for £5 million. Sinclair Research Ltd. was reduced to an R&D business and holding company, with shareholdings in several spin-off companies, formed to exploit technologies developed by the company. These included Anamartic Ltd. (wafer-scale integration), Shaye Communications Ltd. (CT2 mobile telephony) and Cambridge Computer Ltd. (Z88 portable computer and satellite TV receivers). By 1990, Sinclair Research consisted of Sinclair and two other employees, and its activities have since concentrated on personal transport, the Zike electric bicycle, Zeta bicycle motor and the A-bike folding bicycle for commuters, which weighs 5.5 kilograms (12 lb) and folds down small enough to be carried on public transport.

Posted in books, films & DVD, Television

Emily Bronte

WH-EBBest remembered for her classic novel, Wuthering Heights, the English novelist Emily Brontë was born 30th july 1818 in Thornton, near Bradford in Yorkshire She was the third eldest of the four surviving Brontë siblings, between the youngest Anne and her brother Branwell. She published under the pen name Ellis Bell, and was the younger sister of Charlotte Brontë and the fifth of six children? After the death of their mother in 1821, when Emily was three years old, the older sisters Maria, Elizabeth and Charlotte were sent to the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge, where they encountered abuse and privations later described by Charlotte in Jane Eyre. Emily joined the school for a brief period. When a typhus epidemic swept the school, Maria and Elizabeth caught it. Maria, who may actually have had tuberculosis, was sent home, where she died. Emily was subsequently removed from the school along with Charlotte and Elizabeth. Sadly Elizabeth died soon after their return home.

From then on The three remaining sisters and their brother Patrick Branwell were educated at home by their father and aunt Elizabeth Branwell, their mother’s sister. In their leisure time the children created a number of fantasy worlds, which were featured in stories they wrote and enacted about the imaginary adventures of their toy soldiers along with the Duke of Wellington and his sons, Charles and Arthur Wellesley.When Emily was 13, she and Anne began a story about Gondal, a large island in the North Pacific. With the exception of Emily’sGondal poems and Anne’s lists of Gondal’s characters and place-names, their writings on Gondal were not preserved. Some “diary papers” of Emily’s have survived in which she describes current events in Gondal, some of which were written, others enacted with Anne. One dates from 1841, when Emily was twenty-three: another from 1845, when she was twenty-seven. At seventeen, Emily attended the Roe Head girls’ school, where Charlotte was a teacher, but managed to stay only three months before being overcome by extreme homesickness. She returned home and Anne took her place. At this time, the girls’ objective was to obtain sufficient education to open a small school of their own.in September 1838 Emily became a teacher at Law Hill School in Halifax, Unfortuntely when she was twenty. Her health broke under the stress of the 17-hour work day and she returned home in April 1839. Thereafter she became the stay-at-home daughter, doing most of the cooking and cleaning and teaching Sunday school

In 1842, Emily accompanied Charlotte to Brussels, Belgium, where they attended a girls’ academy run by Constantin Heger. They planned to perfect their French and German in anticipation of opening their school.In 1844, Emily began going through all the poems she had written, recopying them neatly into two notebooks. One was labelled “Gondal Poems”; the other was unlabelled. Scholars such as Fannie Ratchford and Derek Roper have attempted to piece together a Gondal storyline and chronology from these poems. In the autumn of 1845, Charlotte discovered the notebooks and insisted that the poems be published. Emily, furious at the invasion of her privacy, at first refused, but relented when Anne brought out her own manuscripts and revealed she had been writing poems in secret as well.In 1846, the sisters’ poems were published in one volume as Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. The Brontë sisters had adopted pseudonyms for publication: Charlotte was Currer Bell, Emily was Ellis Bell and Anne was Acton Bell. Charlotte wrote in the “Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell” that their “ambiguous choice” was “dictated by a sort of conscientious scruple at assuming Christian names positively masculine, while we did not like to declare ourselves women, because we had a vague impression that authoresses are liable to be looked onwith prejudice.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Xsq8LLQRI6w

In 1847, Emily published her novel, Wuthering Heights, as two volumes of a three-volume set (the last volume being Agnes Grey by her sister Anne). Its innovative structure somewhat puzzled critics at the time, and Although it is considered a classic of English literature today, Wuthering Heights met with mixed reviews and controversy when it first appeared, mainly because of the narrative’s stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty and amoral passion,It takes place at a Yorkshire manor on the moors and centres on the all-encompassing, passionate, but ultimately doomed love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and the people around them.and the book subsequently became an English literary classic.

Although Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre was generally considered the best of the Brontë sisters’ works during most of the nineteenth century, many subsequent critics of Wuthering Heights argued that it was a superior achievement. Wuthering Heights has also given rise to many adaptations and inspired works, including films, radio, television dramatisations, a musical by Bernard J. Taylor, a ballet, three operas (respectively by Bernard Herrmann, Carlisle Floyd, and Frédéric Chaslin), a role-playing game, and the 1978 chart topping song by Kate Bush. Sadly Emily’s health, like her sisters’, had been weakened by unsanitary conditions at home, the source of water being contaminated by runoff from the church’s graveyard. She became sick during her brother’s funeral in September 1848. Though her condition worsened steadily, she rejected medical help and all proffered remedies, saying that she would have “no poisoning doctor” near her. She eventually died of tuberculosis, on 19 December 1848 at around two in the afternoon. She was interred in the Church of St. Michael and All Angels family vault, Haworth, West Yorkshire.

Posted in music

John Sykes (Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake)

ThinlizzyJohn Sykes, English singer-songwrite and guitarist with the bands Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Tygers of Pan Tang, and Blue Murder was born 29 July 1959. Thin Lizzy were formed in Dublin in 1969. Two of the founding members, drummer Brian Downey and bass guitarist/vocalist Phil Lynott, met while still in school. Lynott assumed the role of frontman and led them throughout their recording career of twelve studio albums. Thin Lizzy are best known for their songs “Whiskey in the Jar”, “Jailbreak” and “The Boys Are Back in Town”, all major international hits still played regularly on hard rock andclassic rock radio stations. After Lynott’s death in 1986, various incarnations of the band have emerged over the years based around guitarists Scott Gorham and John Sykes, though Sykes left the band in 2009.

Phil Lynott, composed almost all of the band’s songs, and Thin Lizzy boasted some of the most critically acclaimed guitarists with Downey and Lynott as the rhythm section, on the drums and bass guitar. As well as being multiracial, the band drew their members not only from both sides of the Irish border but also from both the Catholic and Protestant communities during The Troubles. Their music reflects a wide range of influences, including blues, soul music, psychedelic rock, and traditional Irish folk music, but is generally classified as hard rock or sometimes heavy metal. As the band’s creative force, Lynott was an insightful and intelligent writer who was influenced byBob Dylan, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, and virtually all of the Irish literary tradition.” Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix were also major influences during the early days of the band, and later influences included the pioneering twin lead guitars found in Wishbone Ash and American artists Little Feat andBob Seger. In 2012, Gorham and Downey decided against recording new material as Thin Lizzy so a new band, Black Star Riders, was formed to tour and produce new releases such as the All Hell Breaks Loose album. Thin Lizzy plan to reunite for occasional concerts.

WhitesnakeBritish rock band,Whitesnake were founded in 1978 by David Coverdale after his departure from his previous band, Deep Purple. Their early material has been compared by critics to Deep Purple, but they slowly began moving for a more commercially accessible hard rock style. By the turn of the decade, the band’s commercial fortunes changed and they released a string of UK top 10 albums, Ready an’ Willing (1980), Come an’ Get It (1981), Saints & Sinners (1982) and Slide It In (1984).The band’s 1987 self-titled album was their most commercially successful worldwide, and contained the hits “Still of the Night”, “Here I Go Again” and “Is This Love”. In 1988, Whitesnake was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Group. The next album Slip of the Tongue (1989), was also a success, reaching the top 10 in the US and UK, and receiving a 2x platinum US certification. The band split up shortly after this release, but had a reunion in 1994, and released a one-off studio album,Restless Heart (1997). Whitesnake officially reformed in 2002 and have been touring together since, releasing two studio albums, Good to Be Bad (2008) and Forevermore (2011). In 2005, Whitesnake was named the 85th greatest hard rock band of all time by VH1

British rock band,Tygers of Pan Tang were formed in 1978 and originate from Whitley Bay, England. They are a notable band of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. The band is named after the pets of the Wizards of Pan Tang – an elite group of chaos-worshipping warriors from Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné stories.Tygers of Pan Tang are a heavy metal band, formed in 1978 and originating from Whitley Bay, England. They are a notable band of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. The band is named after the pets of the Wizards of Pan Tang – an elite group of chaos-worshipping warriors from Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné stories.

Posted in books

The Silk Merchant’s Daughter by Dinah Jeffries

I would like to read the Silk Merchant’s Daughter, by Dinah Jefferies. The novel is set in and around Hanoi during the first Indochina War, when America was providing support to the French forces in an attempt to prevent the spread of communism, should the native Vietnamese population, with the support of China and the USSR, succeed in overthrowing the colonial government, war seems imminent.

The story features 18 year old Nicole, daughter of a Vietnamese mother and French father, who is struggling with her identity. She admired her beautiful, older sister who oozed French chic. Nicole had more of her mother’s looks and being half French faced much racism living in French Indochina in 1952. The novel starts at Nicole Duval’s eighteenth birthday party where her older sister, Sylvie, introduces her to a handsome American silk trader named Mark Jenson. He is not all he seems. Nicole and Sylvie are métisse having been born of a French father and a Vietnamese mother. Their father is a wealthy silk merchant who also holds a secretive position within the colonial government. Their mother died in childbirth.

Nicole lives in the shadow of her sister. She has inherited her mother’s Vietnamese looks and considers herself clumsy and ugly beside Sylvie’s French features and elegance. Their father, a fierce supporter of the benefits of French rule, has always favoured his elder daughter. When he transfers the running of the family business to Sylvie, giving Nicole only an abandoned shop to revitalise, she feels shunned by them both. However Nicole finds that she enjoys working in her shop, which is located in the ancient quarter of the city, and then Nicole takes rather a shine to Mark Despite not knowing an awful lot about him. Then she sees her father commit a heinous act to which Mark and Sylvie appear complicit. She is utterly disgusted with this terrible event she has witnessed and her whole outlook on her life and loved ones is shaken. She doesn’t know who to trust or who to turn to.

She also meets a Vietnamese lad named Tran and begins to spend time With her new Vietnamese friends discussing the cruelties inflicted by the French in their attempts to maintain control of the country and she finds her loyalties tested. In an attempt to find her place in this changing world, Nicole soon discovers that, life with Tran is full of danger she didn’t expect and Begins to fear for her life and begins to wonder whether she will see her family and Mark again and she is forced to make a difficult choice.

Posted in books

Robert Fleming Rankin

prolific British humorous novelist Robert Fleming Rankin was born 27th July 1949. He started writing in the late 1970s, and first entered the bestsellers lists with Snuff Fiction in 1999, by which time his previous eighteen books had sold around one million copies. His books are a mix of science fiction, fantasy, the occult, urban legends, running gags, metafiction, steampunk and outrageous characters.

According to the (largely fictional) biography printed in some Corgi editions of his books, Rankin refers to his style as ‘Far Fetched Fiction’ in the hope that bookshops will let him have a section to himself. Many of Rankin’s books are bestsellers.Most of Rankin’s books are set in Brentford, a suburb of London where the author grew up, and which, in his novels, is usually infested with alien conspiracies and/or ancient evil.In addition to his novels, Rankin held a position as the Writer in Residence of Brentford’s Watermans Arts Centre during the 1980s, and organised a regular poetry event there which he claims was the largest in Britain. He also has performed on stage with a variety of bands. Named after Rankin’s fixation with the vegetable, there is a fan club called The Order of the Golden Sprout who maintain a web site and arrange events, many around Brentford In 2009 he was created the first Fellow of The Victorian Steampunk Society in recognition of his unique contribution to the genre.

Posted in aviation

Geoffrey DeHavilland

De Havilland Mosquito
De Havilland Mosquito

British aviation pioneer and aircraft engineer Captain Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, OM, CBE, AFC, RDI, FRAeS, was born 27 July 1882 . His Mosquito has been considered the most versatile warplane ever built. Geoffrey de Havilland’s first aircraft took two years to build before he crashed it during its first very short flight at Seven Barrows near Litchfield, Hampshire in 1910. A memorial marks the event. Subsequent designs were more successful: in 1912 he established a new British altitude record of 10,500 feet (3.2 km) in an aircraft of his design, the B.E.2. De Havilland was the designer and his brother Hereward the test pilot. In December 1910, de Havilland joined HM Balloon Factory at Farnborough, which was to become the Royal Aircraft Factory.

He sold his second aeroplane (which he had used to teach himself to fly) to his new employer for £400. It became the F.E.1, the first aircraft to bear an official Royal Aircraft Factory designation. For the next three years de Havilland designed, or participated in the design of, a number of experimental types at the “Factory”.In January 1914, de Havilland was appointed an inspector of aircraft in the Aeronautical Inspection Directorate. Unhappy at leaving design work, in May he was recruited to become the Chief Designer at Airco, in Hendon. He designed many aircraft for Airco, all designated by his initials, DH. Large numbers of de Havilland designed aircraft were used during the First World War, flown by the Royal Flying Corps and later the Royal Air Force.Airco was bought by the BSA Company, but BSA was only interested in using the company factories for car production.

Raising £20,000, de Havilland bought the relevant assets he needed and in 1920 formed the de Havilland Aircraft Company at Stag Lane Aerodrome, Edgware, where he and his company designed and built a large number of aircraft, including the Moth family. In 1933 the company moved to Hatfield Aerodrome, in Hertfordshire. One of his roles was as test pilot for the company’s aircraft, in all of which he liked to fly. He was believed to have said “we could have had jets” in reference to the ignoring of jet engine possibilities prior to the start of the 1939-45 world war.The company’s aircraft, particularly the Mosquito, played a formidable role in the Second World War.Until it was bought by the Hawker Siddeley Company in 1960, de Havilland controlled the company.

De havilland Comet
De havilland Comet

Geoffrey De Havilland also developed and built the The de Havilland DH 106 Comet which was the first production commercial Jetliner at its Hatfield, 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, not well understood at the time, in the airframes. 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 methodology, were ultimately identified; consequently 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 specialisedmaritime 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.

Geoffrey, de Havilland retired from active involvement in his company, in 1955, though remaining as president. He continued flying up to the age of 70. He died aged 82, of a cerebral haemorrhage, on 21 May 1965 at Watford Peace Memorial Hospital, Hertfordshire. Throughout his life De Havilland garnered many awards. In 1918, de Havilland was made an OBE and CBE in 1934. He received the Air Force Cross in 1919, in recognition of his service in theFirst World War, and was knighted in 1944. He was appointed to the Order of Merit in 1962. He received numerous national and international gold and silver medals and honorary fellowships of learned and engineering societies.A statue of de Havilland was erected in July 1997 near the entrance to the College Lane campus of the University of Hertfordshire inHatfield. He was in effect a benefactor of the university, as in 1951 the de Havilland company had given land adjoining the A1 toHertfordshire County Council for educational use in perpetuity; the Hatfield Technical College then founded was a precursor of today’s university. The statue was unveiled by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh.

Posted in books, films & DVD

Alice in Wonderland

Alice_in_Wonderland_PosterThe thirteenth Walt Disney film Alice in Wonderland was released on July 26, 1951. The film features the voices of Kathryn Beaumont (who later voiced Wendy Darling in the 1953 Disney film Peter Pan) as Alice, and Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter. The theme song, “Alice in Wonderland”, has since become a jazz standard. On the bank of a tranquil river, a little girl named Alice grows bored and starts daydreaming, that she would prefer to live in a nonsensical dreamland called Wonderland. She then spots a waistcoat-wearing White Rabbit passing by, and pursues him into a rabbit hole and falls into a labyrinth before seeing the rabbit disappear through a tiny door. Through which she is too large to fit. She also notices a bottle marked “Drink Me” and a box of “Eat Me”, “Try Me”, and “Take One” cookies on a nearby table, which all have a bizarre effect on her.

Eventually she finds herself in a bizarre place called Wonderland where she has some very strange adventures and meets some very strange characters including the Dodo, tweedledum & Tweedledee, The White Rabbit, Bill the Lizard, a hookah smoking caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat, who advises her to go and visit The Mad Hatter, March Hare and The Dormouse, who are having a very strange Tea Party. Then she manages to get herself lost in the Tulgy Wood before eventually meeting the tyrannical Queen of Hearts and the King of Hearts and being invited to play a bizarre game of croquet using Flamingoes and Hedgehogs. But this does not go well and Alice soon finds herself angering the Queen and put on trial before managing to escape with most of Wonderland’s inhabitants in hot pursuit.

Alice eventually finds the White Rabbit in his house, but before she can ask what he is late for, she is sent to fetch some gloves after being mistaken for his housemaid. She eats a cookie and grows into a giant again, getting stuck in the rabbit’s house. She tries to pull herself out, but is too big. The White Rabbit, the Dodo, and chimney sweep Bill the Lizard believe Alice to be a monster and plot to burn the house down. Alice escapes by eating a carrot and shrinking down to the size of an insect. She meets and sings with some talking flowers, but they chase her away upon accusing her of being a weed. Alice is then instructed by the hookah-smoking Caterpillar to eat a part of his mushroom grow back to her original size. Alice decides to keep the remaining pieces of the mushroom on hand.

Alice meets the Cheshire Cat who advises her to visit the Mad Hatter, March Hare and the Dormouse. The three are hosting a mad tea party and celebrate Alice’s “unbirthday”, a day where it is not her birthday. The White Rabbit appears, but the Mad Hatter and the March Hare destroy his pocketwatch and throw him out of the party. Fed up with all the wonderlandians’ rudeness and wackiness, Alice abandons her pursuit of the White Rabbit and decides to go home, but gets lost in the Tulgey Wood. The Cheshire Cat appears and leads Alice into a giant hedge maze ruled by the tyrannical Queen of Hearts and her smaller husband, the King of Hearts. The Queen orders the beheading of anyone who enrages her, and invites Alice in a bizarre croquet match using flamingoes and hedgehogs as the equipment.

The Cheshire Cat appears again and pulls a trick on the Queen which she accuses Alice of doing, and Alice is put on trial. Just then, she remembers that she still has the remains of the Caterpillar’s mushroom. She eats it and grows to an enormous height which the King claims is forbidden in court. Now a gigantic size, Alice feels free to speak her mind and in doing so she openly insults the Queen. However, she had hastily eaten both sides of the mushroom and shrinks to her normal size. She is forced to flee after the Queen orders her execution. pursued by most of Wonderland’s characters

Posted in music

Rolling Stones/Van Halen

Mick Jagger, English singer with Rock band The Rolling Stones was born Born 26th July 1943. Formed in London in 1962 The Rolling Stones have become one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. The group’s earliest line-up consisted of Brian Jones (guitar, harmonica), Ian Stewart (piano), Mick Jagger (lead vocals, harmonica), Keith Richards (guitar, vocals), Bill Wyman (bassist) and Charlie Watts (drummer). As of 1993, Jagger, Richards and Watts are the only remaining original members, completing the official line-up with Ronnie Wood (guitarist). In studio and live performances, Darryl Jones (bassist) and Chuck Leavell (keyboardist) also serve as a regular contributors. In the early 1950s, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were childhood friends and classmates The Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records Jagger carried evealed a mutual interest,leading to the formation of a band with Dick Taylor (later of Pretty Things). Richards, Taylor, and Jagger found Brian Jones as he sat in playing slide guitar with Alexis Korner’s R&B band, Blues Incorporated,which also had two other future members of the Rolling Stones: Ian Stewart and Charlie Watts.

On 12 July 1962 the band played their first gig at the Marquee Club billed as “The Rollin’ Stones”.The line-up was Jagger, Richards and Jones, along with Stewart on piano, and Taylor on bass. Bassist Bill Wyman joined in December 1962 and drummer Charlie Watts the following January 1963 to form the band’s long-standing rhythm section. Due to Decca Records’ regret at not signing The Beatles, the Rolling Stones management negotiated an advantageous recording/production contract for the band and promoted them as the nasty opposites of The Beatles by having the band pose unsmiling on the cover of the first UK album, and by planting provocative headlines in the press such as “Would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone?Their first single, was a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On” and their second sigle, was the Lennon–McCartney-penned number “I Wanna Be Your Man”; it reached No.12 in the UK charts. Their third single, Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”, was released in February 1964.Many songs on the band’s first album The Rolling Stones, were primarily covers, the only exeption being the Jagger/Richards original – “Tell Me (You’re Coming Back)”. The band’s second UK LP – The Rolling Stones No. 2, charted at number 1 as an album, and the US version, released in February as The Rolling Stones, Now!, reached number 5, The first Jagger/Richards composition to reach number 1 on the UK singles charts was “The Last Time”, Their first international number-1 hit was “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and Their second international number-1 single, “Get Off of My Cloud” was released in the autumn of 1965. The third album “Aftermath” was released in 1966, and was the first Rolling Stones album to be composed entirely of Jagger/Richards songs, and Jones’ contributions expanded To the Middle Eastern-influenced “Paint It Black”, the ballad “Lady Jane” and “Under My Thumb”. Aftermath was also notable for the almost 12-minute long “Goin’ Home”, the first extended jam on a top-selling rock & roll album.

The Stones’ success on the British and American singles charts peaked during 1966 and the single “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?” featured brass horns, and had the group satirically dressed in drag, the song was accompanied by one of the first purpose-made promotional film clips (music videos). January 1967 saw the release of “Between the Buttons”, which included the double A-side single “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday”,December 1967 also saw the release of Their Satanic Majesties Request, which was released shortly after The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and was the first album the Rolling Stones produced on their own. The band spent the first few months of 1968 working on material for their next album. Those sessions resulted in the song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, and the subsequent album, Beggars Banquet an eclectic mix of country and blues-inspired tunes,featuring the singles “Street Fighting Man” and “Sympathy for the Devil, and was well received. Sadly though By the release of Beggars Banquet, Brian Jones was increasingly troubled and was only sporadically contributing to the band, and left in June 1969. The Stones next album Let It Bleed featured the song “Gimmie Shelter”(which would later be described by journalist Greil Marcus as “the greatest ever rock and roll recording, Other tracks include “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” “Midnight Rambler” and “Love in Vain”. The Stones next album Sticky Fingers, released in March 1971, was the band’s first album on their own label,and featured an elaborate cover design by Andy Warhol, and contains the hits, “Brown Sugar”, and “Wild Horses”.

Following the release of Sticky Fingers, the Rolling Stones moved to the South of France, and Using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, they held recording sessions in the basement and The resulting double album, Exile on Main St. was released in May 1972 and is widely accepted as one of the Stones’ best albums. In November 1972, the band began sessions in Kingston, Jamaica, for their follow-up to Exile, Goats Head Soup, which featured the hit “Angie”. For their next album, 1974′s It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll. The band went to Musicland studios in Munich. In 1975 following the departure of Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood auditioned for the band, and everyone agreed that he was the right choice as he had already recorded and played live with Richards, and had contributed to the recording and writing of the track “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll”. He joined the Rolling Stones in 1975 for their upcoming Tour of the Americas and officially joined the band the following year, after the Faces dissolved. Although the Rolling Stones remained popular through the first half of the 1970s, music critics had grown increasingly dismissive of the band’s output, and record sales declined. By the late 70s, after punk rock became influential, many criticised the Rolling Stones as decadent, ageing millionaires and their music as stagnant or irrelevant. This changed in 1978, after the band released Some Girls, which included the hit single “Miss You”, the country ballad “Far Away Eyes”, “Beast of Burden”, and “Shattered”. In part as a response to punk, many songs were fast, basic, guitar-driven rock and roll, and the album’s success re-established the Rolling Stones’ immense popularity among young people.Following the success of Some Girls, the band released their next album Emotional Rescue in mid-1980 and also released the album, Tattoo You which featured the single “Start Me Up”, then In mid-1982, to commemorate their 20th anniversary, the Rolling Stones toured Europe. the Rolling Stones released their next album Undercover in late 1983 and Much to the consternation of Richards, Jagger also signed a solo deal with CBS Records, and he spent much of 1984 writing songs for his first solo effort. By 1985, Jagger was spending more time on solo recordings, that much of the material on 1986′s Dirty Work,which contained the song “Harlem Shuffle”, was generated by Keith Richards.

In early 1989, the Rolling Stones, including Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood and Ian Stewart (posthumously), were inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and also went to work on a new album that would be called Steel Wheels which included the singles “Mixed Emotions”, “Rock and a Hard Place”, “Almost Hear You Sigh” and “Continental Drift”. In 1993 the Rolling Stones set about recording their next studio album 1994′s Voodoo Lounge, which great reviews and sales, and went double platinum in the US. and went on to win the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. The Rolling Stones ended the 1990s with the album Bridges to Babylon which was released in 1997 to mixed reviews. In 2002, the band released Forty Licks, a greatest hits double album, to mark their forty years as a band, prompting Q magazine to name the Rolling Stones as one of the “50 Bands To See Before You Die”.So far The Rolling Stones have released twenty-two studio albums in the United Kingdom (24 in the United States), eleven live albums (twelve in the US), and numerous compilations.Their album Sticky Fingers began a string of eight consecutive studio albums reaching number one in the United States including the albums Exile on Main Street and Some Girls. Their most recent album of new material, A Bigger Bang, was released in 2005. In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked the Rolling Stones at number ten on “The Billboard Top All-Time Artists”, and as the second most successful group in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, the Rock Hall states; “critical acclaim and popular consensus has accorded them the title of the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.” They were ranked number 4 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.The band celebrate their 50th anniversary in the summer of 2012, and have released a large hardback book, entitled ’50′, to commemorate the event. A new take on the band’s lip and tongue logo was also released and used during the celebration .A free photographic exhibition displaying images of the band was held at Somerset House between 13 July and 27 August 2012, and they also headlined the 2013 Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton.
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Gary Cherone, American singer-songwriter (Extreme, Van Halen, Tribe of Judah, and Hurtsmile) was born 26 July 1961. Van Halen, were originally called “Genesis” with bass player Mark Stone, but changed their name to “Mammoth” when they discovered there was already a band with the name “Genesis”. The band consisted of Eddie Van Halen on guitar and vocaLs, his brother, Alex on drums, and bassist Mark Stone. They had no P.A. system of their own, so they rented one from David Lee Roth. Eddie quickly became frustrated singing lead vocals, and decided to let Roth join the band. Michael Anthony replaced Mark Stone on bass. They changed the name of the band because David Lee Roth suggested that the last name of the two brothers “sounded cool.

Van Halen originally began playing cover material, ranging from pop to disco, before settling on original material .Van Halen released a total of six albums with David Lee Roth on Vocals, However the band had trouble working together as a cohesive unit and in 1982 Eddie Van Halen approached Simmons about possibly joining Kiss and replacing Ace Frehley. However Simmons & Alex persuaded Eddie to remain with Van Halen, and shortly afterwards the band released the album 1984; which yielded the band’s first Number 1 hit, “Jump“. Oher singles released from the album also sold well, particularly “Hot for Teacher”. The album peaked at Number 2 on the Billboard charts.

Roth left the band and was replaced by former Montrose singer Sammy Hagar in July 1985, the band’s sound changed sewhat to adapt to the strengths of the new vocalist, as Eddie’s keyboard playing became a permanent fixture, heard in songs such as “Dreams”“Why Can’t this be Love“and “Love Walks In”. Even on the more rocking, guitar-driven songs, Eddie’s performances became looser, less aggressive, and some said more thoughtful, while others said more commercial.However, tensions within the band again arose over identity and artist direction, and Hagar, like Roth earlier, departed in June 1996. Hagar left behind him a portfolio of 4 studio albums with the band (5150, OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, and Balance) as well as one live album (Live: Right Here, Right Now).

Following Hagar’s departure, the group briefly reunited with original singer David Lee Roth and released Best of Volume I, a greatest hits package, in October 1996. Two new songs were recorded for the album, with the single “Me Wise Magic” reaching #1 on the mainstream rock chart (“Can’t Get This Stuff No More” was the other new single). However, previous disagreements resurfaced and the reunion did not last, as Roth left in September 1996, after the MTV Video Music Awards.The band auditioned many prospective replacements for Hagar, finally settling on Gary Cherone, former front man for Extreme, a band also represented by Van Halen’s manager. Cherone predicted that the new line-up would last ‘ten years’. The band also completed a world tour touting their new single “Without You” and did go back in the studio to start on a second record. However, Cherone soon had an amicable departure, and without a lead singer, Van Halen went on hiatus. In 2004, Van Halen returned with Hagar as their lead singer. A greatest hits package, The Best of Both Worlds, was released to coincide with the band’s reunion tour. The album included three new tracks recorded with Hagar (“Up For Breakfast”, “It’s About Time”, & “Learning to See”).

On February 2, 2007, it was officially announced on the band’s website that David Lee Roth would rejoin Van Halen for their summer tour. The excitement regarding the tour waned when on February 20, 2007, reports surfaced that the tour was indefinitely postponed. A previously planned compilation of Roth era Van Halen hits was likewise shelved.However after six months and a stint in rehabilitation for Eddie, it was finally confirmed by the band that they would do a tour with the new lineup from late 2007-mid 2008 across North America, with further worldwide . The latest album A Different kind of Truth was released in 2012.