International Chocolate Day

imageWorld Chocolate Day, sometimes referred to as International Chocolate Day, is observed globally on July 7. Celebration of the day includes the consumption of chocolate. The date 7 July 2016 marks 466 years since chocolate was introduced to Europe By Christopher Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors. They first reached the shores of the New World on 12 October 1492, initially believing that he had reached India. This voyage was carried out to expand markets by establishing new trade routes and therefore rival the Portuguese Empire, which was already well established in Asia. Following the success of that first voyage to the New World, others were organised with the intention of exploring and creating new trade routes. On his fourth voyage, Columbus, in 1502, met an unexpected storm and was forced to temporarily land on 15 August on the Bay Islands.

In their first explorations of the area, Columbus’ group came upon a boat of Mayan origin travelling from the Yucatán Peninsula. The Spaniards were surprised by the large size of the vessel. Columbus detained the vessel and examined the cargo, which contained cocoa beans that he called almonds in his diary. However, he did not attach importance to these, and after this original inspection he let the boat proceed with its cargo. from 1517 to 1519, the Spanish conquistadors Bernal Díaz del Castillo (who referred to the use of cocoa by Aztecs in his book Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España) and Hernán Cortés both tried the drink and found it to have both bitter and spicy tastes due to the use of achiote. On occasions cornmeal and hallucinogenic mushrooms were also added to the drink.  After the conquest of Mexico, the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, offered Hernán Cortés and his companions fifty jars of foaming chocolate. According to the account of Francisco Cervantes de Salazar, the great emperor had a stockpile of several thousand ‘charges’ (tens of thousands of cocoa “kernels”). Surprisingly Both The Italian Girolamo Benzoni in his book La Historia del Mondo Nuovo (1565) .José de Acosta disliked the drink, comparing the frothy foam capping chocolate to feces. Despite this, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo characterised it as an interesting ingredient, while showing some reluctance to describe how some Indians, after drinking it, had stained their lips as if they had ingested human blood.

As the Spanish settlers began to run out the stocks they brought with them, they had to find substitute foods. They therefore began to plant vegetables, such as chickpeas, cereals such as wheat and fruits like oranges or pears. Additionally they introduced the cultivation of olives, grapes and sugar cane. The latter ingredient became important. From the end of the 16th century onwards, sugar cane began to be added to the cocoa paste, which led to greater acceptance of cocoa among the Spanish settlers. around the 1520s, the Spaniards had to get used to new foods and flavours while they attempted to adapt old world cultivation methods to the new climate. Equally, however, the new ingredients brought by the Spanish settlers such as wheat and chickpeas struggled to find acceptance among the native populations who preferred their own homegrown dishes. Spaniards from humble economic backgrounds often married richer Aztecs, often as concubines. Thus, they tended to eat food influenced by Aztec gastronomy. This hastened the spread of cocoa among both cultures. Bernal Díaz del Castillo mentioned that in a banquet held at the Plaza Grande in Mexico (built on the ruins of the Aztec capital) to celebrate peace between Carlos I of Spain and Francis I of France chocolate was served in golden tablets. The wide acceptance of cocoa by the Spanish conquistadors, especially the women, was also described by the Jesuit José de Acosta in his book Historia natural y moral de las Indias (published in 1590).

The Spanish modified Chocolate For example, sugar was added, mirroring the native Mexican and Mayan practice of adding honey to cacao beverages. New World spices were replaced with similar Old World spices, in part for the sake of familiarity, but also out of practicality. The Madrid physician Colmenero de Ledesma recommended substituting the rose of Alexandria for mecaxochitl flower blossoms and black pepper for Mexican chilies, when necessary. Cacao beverages containing maize, such as atole, gradually phased out because maize-less chocolate lasted longer, making it more suitable for cross-Atlantic trips. Eventually, cocoa became more popular and, supplies were sent to Spain. The second major transformation of chocolate at the hands of the Spanish was in the serving method: the cocoa was heated until it became a liquid. This was in contrast to the natives of the New World, who generally drank it cold or at room temperature.The third change was the addition of spices from the Old World like cinnamon, ground black pepper or aniseed.

By the 15th century, the Aztecs gained control of a large part of Mesoamerica and adopted cacao into their culture. They associated chocolate with Quetzalcoatl, who, according to one legend, was cast away by the other gods for sharing chocolate with humans,and identified its extrication from the pod with the removal of the human heart in sacrifice. In contrast to the Maya, who liked their chocolate warm, the Aztecs drank it cold, seasoning it with a broad variety of additives, including the petals of the Cymbopetalum penduliflorum tree, chile pepper, allspice, vanilla, and honey. The Aztecs were not able to grow cacao themselves, as their home in the Mexican highlands was unsuitable for it, so chocolate was a luxury imported into the empire. Those who lived in areas ruled by the Aztecs were required to offer cacao seeds in payment of the tax they deemed “tribute”. Cocoa beans were often used as currency.

Chocolate has been prepared as a drink for nearly all of its history. For example, one vessel found at an Olmec archaeological site on the Gulf Coast of Veracruz, Mexico, dates chocolate’s preparation by pre-Olmec peoples as early as 1750 BC. On the Pacific coast of Chiapas, Mexico, a Mokaya archaeological site provides evidence of cacao beverages dating even earlier, to 1900 BC.The residues and the kind of vessel in which they were found indicate the initial use of cacao was not simply as a beverage, but the white pulp around the cacao beans was likely used as a source of fermentable sugars for an alcoholic drink. Around 400 AD. Documents in Maya hieroglyphs stated chocolate was used for ceremonial purposes, in addition to everyday life. The Maya grew cacao trees in their backyards, and used the cacao seeds the trees produced to make a frothy, bitter drink.

By the 15th century, the Aztecs gained control of a large part of Mesoamerica and adopted cacao into their culture. They associated chocolate with Quetzalcoatl, who, according to one legend, was cast away by the other gods for sharing chocolate with humans, and identified its extrication from the pod with the removal of the human heart in sacrifice. In contrast to the Maya, who liked their chocolate warm, the Aztecs drank it cold, seasoning it with a broad variety of additives, including the petals of the Cymbopetalum penduliflorum tree, chile pepper, allspice, vanilla, and honey. The Aztecs were not able to grow cacao themselves, as their home in the Mexican highlands was unsuitable for it, so chocolate was a luxury imported into the empire. Those who lived in areas ruled by the Aztecs were required to offer cacao seeds in payment of the tax they deemed “tribute”. Cocoa beans were often used as currency. For example, the Aztecs used a system in which one turkey cost 100 cacao beans and one fresh avocado was worth three beans.

Chocolate is derived from Theobroma cacao seeds, roasted and ground, often flavored, as with vanilla. It is made in the form of a liquid, paste, or in a block, or used as a flavoring ingredient in other foods. Cacao has been cultivated by many cultures for at least three millennia in Mesoamerica. The earliest evidence of use traces to the Mokaya (Mexico and Guatemala), with evidence of chocolate beverages dating back to 1900 BC. In fact, the majority of Mesoamerican people made chocolate beverages, including the Maya and Aztecs, who made it into a beverage known as xocolātl Nahuatl . The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop the flavor. After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted. The shell is removed to produce cacao nibs, which are then ground to cocoa mass, pure chocolate in rough form. Because the cocoa mass is usually liquefied before being molded with or without other ingredients, it is called chocolate liquor. The liquor also may be processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Unsweetened baking chocolate (bitter chocolate) contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions. Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat, and sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk, but no cocoa solids. Cocoa solids are a source of flavonoids and alkaloids, such as theobromine, phenethylamine and caffeine.

Chocolate has become one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world, and a vast number of foodstuffs involving chocolate have been created, particularly desserts including cakes, pudding, mousse, chocolate brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. Many candies are filled with or coated with sweetened chocolate, and bars of solid chocolate and candy bars coated in chocolate are eaten as snacks. Gifts of chocolate molded into different shapes (e.g., eggs, hearts) have become traditional on certain Western holidays, such as Easter and Valentine’s Day. Chocolate is also used in cold and hot beverages such as chocolate milk and hot chocolate and in some alcoholic drinks, such as creme de cacao. Although cocoa originated in the Americas, in the 2000s, Western Africa produces almost two-thirds of the world’s cocoa, with Ivory Coast growing almost half of it. In 2009, Salvation Army International Development stated that child labor and the human trafficking and slavery of child laborers are used in African cocoa cultivation. In the United States International Chocolate Day is celebrated on 13 September, so Chocolate Ice-cream Day is observed on 7 July instead. Various other more specific chocolate-themed days are celebrated throughout the world and on various dates, including Milk Chocolate Day on 28 July.

Where my Heart used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks

I would like to read Where My heart used to beat by Sebastian Faulks. This is Faulks’ 13th novel, and is Told primarily through the eyes of Dr. Robert Hendricks, an established psychiatrist in London with an impressive book, The Chosen Few, to his credit. Hendricks was at the front in WWII and his father died in WWI when Hendricks was two years old. The novel opens with Hendricks visiting New York for a convention in the 1980’s . Upon his return home he gets a letter from a 93-year-old French neurologist and therapist, Dr. Alexander Pereira, who admires his book.

Pereira explains that he served in WWI with Hendricks’s father and has a job proposition for Hendricks. So Hendricks takes Pereira up on his invitation to visit him at his home on a small island off the coast of France. Here Pereira reveals that he had briefly known Hendricks’ father during the war and has a few photographs and artifacts he wishes to share—and he also suspects that Hendricks has repressed some memories about his own war experience, which included the landing at Anzio in 1944 and a short but tempestuous relationship with Luisa, the beautiful daughter of a Genoese businessman.

Hendricks tells much of the novel through flashbacks to his harrowing war experience, during World War II, where he met a range of officers and other soldiers and encountered both heroism and cowardice in equal measure. Hendricks himself received a war wound. The ensuing relationship between Pereira and Hendricks is cathartic for Hendricks. Through discussions both therapeutic and confessional, he reveals the heart of his war experiences, and with Pereira’s encouragement he finally reveals At the center of his memories is Luisa, his one true love whom he met in Italy during World War II, and he finds a kind of closure as he comes to terms with the life he has led since the war.

Kenneth Grahame

image Scottish Writer Kenneth Grahame sadly passed away 6 July 1932. He wrote The Wind in the Willows and the Reluctant Dragon; both books were later adapted into Disney films. Kenneth Grahame was born on 8 March (1859) in Edinburgh, Scotland. When he was a little more than a year old, his father, an advocate, received an appointment as sheriff-substitute in Argyllshire at Inveraray on Loch Fyne. Kenneth loved the sea and was happy there, but when he was 5, his mother died from complications of childbirth, and his father, who had a drinking problem, gave over care of Kenneth, his brother Willie, his sister Helen and the new baby Roland to Granny Ingles, the children’s grandmother, in Cookham Dean in the village of Cookham in Berkshire. There the children lived in a spacious, if dilapidated, home, “The Mount”, on spacious grounds in idyllic surroundings, and were introduced to the riverside and boating by their uncle, David Ingles, curate at Cookham Dean church. This delightful ambiance, particularly Quarry Wood and the River Thames, is believed, to have inspired the setting for The Wind in the Willows.

He was an outstanding pupil at St Edward’s School in Oxford. During his early years at St. Edwards, a sports regimen had not been established and the boys had freedom to explore the old city with its quaint shops, historic buildings, and cobblestone streets, St Giles’ Fair, the idyllic upper reaches of the River Thames, and the nearby countryside.Grahame wanted to attend Oxford University, but was not allowed to do so by his guardian on grounds of cost. Instead he was sent to work at the Bank of England in 1879, and rose through the ranks until retiring as its Secretary in 1908 due to ill health, which may have been precipitated by a strange, possibly political, shooting incident at the bank in 1903. Grahame was shot at three times, all of them missed. While still a young man in his 20s, Grahame began to publish light stories in London periodicals such as the St. James Gazette. Some of these stories were collected and published as Pagan Papers in 1893, and, two years later, The Golden Age. These were followed by Dream Days in 1898, which contains The Reluctant Dragon.Grahame married Elspeth Thomson in 1899; they had only one child, a boy named Alastair (whose nickname was “Mouse”) born blind in one eye and plagued by health problems throughout his short life.

On Grahame’s retirement, they returned to Cookham where he had lived as a child, and lived at “Mayfield”, now Herries Preparatory School, whewhere he had been brought up and spent his time by the River Thames doing much as the animal characters in his book do—namely, as one of the most famous phrases from the book says, “simply messing about in boats”—and wrote down the bed-time stories he had been telling his son Alistair. Tragically Alastair eventually committed suicide on a railway track while an undergraduate at Oxford University, two days before his 20th birthday on 7 May 1920. Out of respect for Kenneth Grahame, Alastair’s demise was recorded as an accidental death. Kenneth Grahame died in Pangbourne, Berkshire, on 6 July 1932. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford. Grahame’s cousin Anthony Hope, also a successful author, wrote his epitaph, which reads: “To the beautiful memory of Kenneth Grahame, husband of Elspeth and father of Alastair, who passed the river on the 6th of July, 1932, leaving childhood and literature through him the more blest for all time”

The Wind in the Willows focuses on the adventures of four anthropomorphous animal characters in a pastoral version of England. It is notable for its mixture of mysticism, adventure, morality, and camaraderie and celebrated for its evocation of the nature of the Thames valley. The story starts during Spring, when Mole, decides to do a bit of spring cleaning but gets bored so he sets out to enjoy the sunshine and take in the air above ground instead. He ends up at the river, which he has never seen before and meets Ratty (a water Vole), who at this time of year spends all his days in, on and close by the river. Rat takes Mole for a ride in his rowing boat. They get along well and spend many more days boating, with Rat teaching Mole the ways of the river. One summer day shortly thereafter, Rat and Mole find themselves near the grand Toad Hall and pay a visit to their incorrigible friend Toad. Toad is rich (having inherited wealth from his father): jovial, friendly and kind-hearted but aimless and conceited, he regularly becomes obsessed with current fads, only to abandon them as quickly as he took them up. Having only recently given up boating, Toad’s current craze is his horse-drawn caravan. In fact, he is about to go on a trip, and persuades the reluctant Rat and willing Mole to join him. The following day (after Toad has already tired of the realities of camp life and sleeps-in to avoid chores), a passing motor car scares the horse, causing the caravan to overturn into a ditch. Rat does a war dance and threatens to have the law on the motor car drivers, but this marks the immediate end of Toad’s craze for caravan travel, to be replaced with an obsession for motor cars. When the three animals get to the nearest town, they have Toad go to the police station to make a complaint against the vandals and their motor car and thence to a blacksmith to retrieve and mend the caravan. However Toad refuses to pay so Rat and Mole find an inn from where they organise the necessary steps.

Meanwhile, Toad makes no effort to help, and orders himself a motor car instead.Mole wants to meet the respected but elusive Badger, who lives deep in the Wild Wood, but Rat -knowing that Badger does not appreciate visits – refuses to take him, telling Mole to be patient and wait and Badger will pay them a visit himself. Nevertheless, on a snowy winter’s day, whilst the seasonally somnolent Ratty dozes unaware, Mole impulsively goes to the Wild Wood to explore, hoping to meet Badger. He gets lost in the woods, sees many “evil faces” among the wood’s less-welcoming denizens, succumbs to fright and panic and hides, trying to stay warm, amongst the sheltering roots of a tree. Rat, upon awakening and finding Mole gone,guesses his mission from the direction of Mole’s tracks and, equipping himself with a pistol and a stout stick, goes in search, finding him as snow begins to fall in earnest. Attempting to find their way home, Rat and Mole quite literally stumble across Badger’s home, and, warmly welcomes Rat and Mole to his large and cosy underground home and hastens to give them hot food and dry clothes. Badger learns from his visitors that Toad has crashed six cars, has been hospitalised three times, and has spent a fortune on fines. So they decide to protect Toad from himself. Upon the arrival of spring, Badger visits Mole and Rat to do something about Toad’s self-destructive obsession. The three of them go to visit Toad, and Badger tries to make him see sense eventually putting Toad under house arrest, with themselves as the guards, until Toad changes his mind. Feigning illness, Toad manages to escape, steals a car, drives recklessly, accidentally crashes and gets arrested by the police and sent to prison for twenty-years.

During Toad’s absence Badger and Mole look after Toad Hall in the hope that Toad may return. Meanwhile in prison, Toad gains the sympathy of the Jailer’s Daughter who helps him to escape disguised as a washerwoman and he comes across a horse-drawn barge, whose Owner offers him a lift in exchange for Toad’s services as a “washer woman”. This does not go well and Toad finds himself tossed into the canal. However he manages to steal the barge horse, which he then sells to a gypsy, Before flagging down a passing car, which happens to be the very one which he stole earlier. The car owners, not recognizing Toad disguised as a washerwoman, permit him to drive their car. Once behind the wheel, he is repossessed by his former passion and drives furiously, declaring his true identity to the outraged passengers who try to seize him. This leads to an accident, after which Toad flees once more. Pursued by police, he runs accidentally into a river, which carries him by sheer chance to the house of the Water Rat. Toad now hears from Rat that Toad Hall has been taken over by weasels, stoats and ferrets from the Wild Wood, who have driven out its former custodians, Mole and Badger. So Badger formulates a plan to drive the unsuspecting weasels out while they are holding a party in honour of their leader, and reclaim Toad Hall.

Dame Hilary Mantel DBE FRSL

imageEnglish novelist Dame Hilary Mary Mantel, DBE, FRSL née Thompson was born 6 July 1952 in Glossop Derbyshire. She grew up in the mill village of Hadfield. She attended St Charles local Roman Catholic primary school. Her parents separated and she did not see her father after age eleven. The family minus her father, but with Jack Mantel (1932-1995) who by now had moved in with them, relocated to Romiley, Cheshire, and Jack became her unofficial stepfather. She took her de-facto stepfather’s surname legally. She has explored her family background, the mainspring of much of her fiction, in her memoir, Giving Up the Ghost (2003). She attended Harrytown Convent in Romiley, Cheshire. In 1970, she began her studies at the London School of Economics to read law but transferred to the University of Sheffield and graduated as Bachelor of Jurisprudence in 1973.

After university, Mantel worked in the social work department of a geriatric hospital and then as a sales assistant in a department store. In 1972, she married Gerald McEwen, a geologist. In 1974, she began writing a novel about the French Revolution, which was later published as A Place of Greater Safety. In 1977, Mantel moved to Botswana with her husband. Later, they spent four years in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. She published a memoir of this time, Someone to Disturb, in the London Review of Books. McEwen gave up geology to manage his wife’s business affairs.They divorced, but remarried a couple of years later.

Her first novel, Every Day is Mother’s Day, was published in 1985, and its sequel, Vacant Possession, a year later. After returning to England, she became the film critic of The Spectator and a reviewer for a number of papers and magazines in Britain and the United States. Her novel Eight Months on Ghazzah Street (1988), which drew on her first-hand experience in Saudi Arabia, uses a threatening clash of values between the neighbours in a city apartment block to explore the tensions between Muslim culture and the liberal West. Her Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize-winning novel Fludd is set in 1956 in a fictitious northern village called Fetherhoughton, centring on a Roman Catholic church and a convent. A mysterious stranger brings about transformations in the lives of those around him.

Her second novel, A Place of Greater Safety (1992) won the Sunday Express Book of the Year award, for which her two previous books had been shortlisted. A long and historically accurate novel, it traces the career of three French revolutionaries, Danton, Robespierre and Camille Desmoulins, from childhood to their early deaths during the Reign of Terror of 1794. Her third novel, A Change of Climate (1994), set in rural Norfolk, explores the lives of Ralph and Anna Eldred, as they raise their four children and devote their lives to charity. It includes chapters about their early married life as missionaries in South Africa, when they were imprisoned and deported to Bechuanaland, and the tragedy that occurred there. Her fourth novel, An Experiment in Love (1996), won the Hawthornden Prize, takes place over two university terms in 1970. It follows the progress of three girls – two friends and one enemy – as they leave home and attend university in London. Margaret Thatcher makes a cameo appearance in this novel, which explores women’s appetites and ambitions, and suggests how they are often thwarted. Though Mantel has used material from her own life, it is not an autobiographical novel.

Her next book, The Giant, O’Brien (1998), is set in the 1780s, and is based on the true story of Charles O’Brien or Byrne, who came to London to earn money by displaying himself as a freak. His bones hang today in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons. The novel treats O’Brien and his antagonist, the Scots surgeon John Hunter, less as characters in history than as mythic protagonists in a dark and violent fairytale, necessary casualties of the Age of Enlightenment. She adapted the book for BBC Radio 4, in a play starring Alex Norton (as Hunter) and Frances Tomelty.

In 2003, Mantel published her memoir, Giving Up the Ghost, which won the MIND ‘Book of the Year’ award. That same year she brought out a collection of short stories, Learning To Talk. All the stories deal with childhood and, taken together, the books show how the events of a life are mediated as fiction. Her 2005 novel, Beyond Black, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Set in the years around the second millennium, it features a professional medium, Alison Hart, whose calm and jolly exterior conceals grotesque psychic damage. She trails around with her a troupe of ‘fiends’, who are invisible but always on the verge of becoming flesh.

In 2009 Mantel Published the novel Wolf Hall, about Henry VIII’s minister Thomas Cromwell.Set in England in the period from 1500 to 1535, Wolf Hall (which is named after the Seymour family seat of Wolfhall or Wulfhall near Burbage, just outside of Marlborough, Wiltshire, is a fictionalized biography which follows the exploits of Thomas Cromwell, who rises from humble beginnings as the son of a brutal blacksmith in the slums of Putney to become a mercenary, merchant and member of Parliament finally becoming the right-hand man of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, adviser to the King, After surviving Wolsey’s fall from grace Cromwell eventually takes his place as the most powerful of Henry’s ministers, during this time he oversaw Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn, was present during the religious upheavals of the Protestant reformation, the English church’s break with Rome and the dissolution of the monasteries. The story exposes the political machinations of Henry’s court and the vicious realities of the court of Henry VIII, Cromwell’s manipulation of the king and the court and how he re-shaped English politics and the balance of power. The story has more betrayals, affairs, alliances and scheming than a soap opera and also shows the nation on the brink of disaster and the very real threat of civil war looming large because the ageing king has no male heir.

The book won that year’s Man Booker Prize and Mantel was presented with a trophy and a £50,000 cash prize during an evening ceremony at the London Guildhall, by a panel of judges, led by the broadcaster James Naughtie, and On receiving the prize, Mantel said that she would spend the prize money on “sex and drugs and rock’ n’ roll”. The sequel to Wolf Hall, called Bring Up the Bodies, was published in May 2012 to wide acclaim. It won the 2012 Costa Book of the Year and the 2012 Man Booker Prize; Mantel thus became the first British writer and the first woman to win the Man Booker Prize more than once. following in the footsteps of J. M. Coetzee, Peter Carey and J. G. Farrell (who posthumously won the Lost Man Booker Prize). The third novel of the Thomas Cromwell trilogy, is called The Mirror and the Light and She is also working on a short non-fiction book called The Woman Who Died of Robespierre, about the Polish playwright Stanisława Przybyszewska. Mantel also writes reviews and essays, mainly for The Guardian, the London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books. The Culture Show programme on BBC Two also profiled Mantel In 2011.

Syd Barratt (Pink Floyd)

The late, great, English singer-songwriter and guitarist Syd Barratt sadly passed away on 7th July 2006. He became a member of progressive rock band Pink Floyd  in 1965. The band originally consisted of students Roger Waters, Nick Mason,Richard Wright, and Syd Barrett. They first became popular playing in London’s underground music scene in the late 1960s. Under Barrett’s leadership they released two charting singles, “Arnold Layne” and “See Emily Play”, and a successful début album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn . In 1968 Syd Barratt departed from the group due to his deteriorating mental health & Gilmour joined Pink Floyd as the fifth member several months prior to this. Following the loss of their principal songwriter, Pink Floyd bassist and vocalist Roger Waters became the band’s lyricist and conceptual leader, with Gilmour assuming lead guitar, taking on most of the band’s music composition, and sharing lead vocals.

Pink Floyd achieved worldwide critical and commercial success with their progressive and psychedelic rock music, which used philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, innovative album art, and elaborate live shows. and release of many concept albums such as The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall. Pink Floyd ranked number 51 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time”, with David Gilmour ranking 14th in the greatest guitarists list. Largely due to the success of their albums the band was ranked No. 3 in Colin Larkin’s the ‘Top 50 Artists Of All Time’, a ranking based on the cumulative votes for each artist’s albums that appear in the All Time Top 1000 Albums. Numerous artists have been influenced by Pink Floyd’s work: David Bowie has called Syd Barrett a major inspiration, The Edge (U2) also bought his first delay pedal after hearing the opening to Animals; and the Pet Shop Boys paid homage to The Wall during a performance in Boston; Marillion guitarist Steve Rothery has cited Wish You Were Here as a major inspiration; and many other bands, such as the Foo Fighters, Dream Theater, My Chemical Romance, Porcupine Tree, The Mars Volta, The La’s, Queen, Oasis, Iron Maiden, Stone Temple Pilots, Coheed and Cambria, Tool, Queensryche, 30 Seconds to Mars, Scissor Sisters, Rush, Radiohead, Gorillaz, Mudvayne, Nine Inch Nails, Korn, Primus and the Smashing Pumpkins, some of whom have recorded Pink Floyd covers, have been influenced by them.

Pink Floyd have also been nominated for and won multiple awards Technical awards include a “Best Engineered Non-Classical Album” Grammy in 1980 for The Wall and BAFTAs award for ‘Best Original Song’ (awarded to Waters) and ‘Best Sound’ (awarded to James Guthrie, Eddy Joseph, Clive Winter, Graham Hartstone and Nicholas Le Messurier) in 1982 for the The Wall film. A Grammy came to them in 1995 for “Rock Instrumental Performance” on “Marooned”. In 2008 Pink Floyd were awarded the Polar Music Prize for their contribution to contemporary music; Waters and Mason accepted the prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 17 January 1996, the UK Music Hall of Fame on 16 November 2005 and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2010. Pink Floyd have become one of the most commercially successful and influential rock music groups of all time, and have sold over 230 million albums worldwide, including 74.5 million certified units in the United States. The band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Since then they have continued to enjoy worldwide success and are one of the most commercially successful and influential rock music groups of all time. Having sold over 200 million albums worldwide.

Pink Floyd’s last album Titled The Endless River, was released in 2015 and is based on sessions the band recorded in 1994 when they released their last album The Division Bell. The 1994 sessions include contributions from keyboard player Richard Wright, who died in 2008, and the new album is described as his “swansong”. It contains a mixture of songs with vocals and instrumental tracks, and that the album will blend the old sessions with new recordings. However David Gilmour and Nick Mason have done a lot more since 1994. It was originally to be a completely instrumental recording and consist entirely of previously unreleased material, and features session bassist Guy Pratt. Pink Floyd also released a 20th anniversary edition of The Division Bell on 2014.

The game’s afoot

Scottish physician and writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle sadly passed away on 7 July 1930. after having a heart attack at the age of 71. His last words were directed toward his wife: “You are wonderful.” The epitaph on his gravestone in the churchyard reads, in part: “Steel true/Blade straight/Arthur Conan Doyle/Knight/Patriot, Physician, and man of letters”. A statue honours Conan Doyle at Crowborough Cross in Crowborough, where he lived for 23 years and There is also a statue of Sherlock Holmes in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, close to the house where Conan Doyle was born.22nd May 1859.

He is most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, generally considered a milestone in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger. He was a prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, plays, romances, poetry, non-fiction and historical novels. He was born at 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland and was sent to the Roman Catholic Jesuit preparatory school Hodder Place, Stonyhurst, at the age of nine (1868-1870). He then went on to Stonyhurst College until 1875. From 1875 to 1876 he was educated at the Jesuit school Stella Matutina in Feldkirch, Austria. From 1876 to 1881 he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, including periods working in Aston in Birmingham, Sheffield and Ruyton-XI-Towns in Shropshire .While studying, Conan Doyle began writing short stories. His earliest extant fiction, “The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe”, was unsuccessfully submitted to Blackwood’s Magazine. His first published piece “The Mystery of Sasassa Valley”, a story set in South Africa, was printed in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal on 6 September 1879.Later that month, on 20 September, he also published his first non-fictional article, “Gelsemium as a Poison” in the British Medical Journal.

In 1882 he joined a former classmate at a medical practice in Plymouth, but Conan Doyle soon left to set up an independent practice. Arriving in Portsmouth in June of that year, he set up a medical practice in Southsea, and While waiting for patients, Conan Doyle again began writing stories and composed his first novels, The Mystery of Cloomber, not published until 1888, and the unfinished Narrative of John Smith, which would go unpublished until 2011. He amassed a portfolio of short stories including “The Captain of the Pole-Star” and “J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement”, both inspired by Doyle’s time at sea.His first significant piece, A Study in Scarlet, appeared later that year in the Beeton’s Christmas Annual and received good reviews. The story featured the first appearance of Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes. A sequel to A Study in Scarlet called The Sign of the Four appeared in Lippincott’s Magazine in February 1890. Conan Doyle then went on to write many more Sherlock Holmes short stories including A Scandal in Bohemia, A Case of identity, The Red Headed league, The Boscombe Valley Mystery, The Man wth the Twisted Lip and The Five Orange Pips

In 1890 after studying ophthalmology in Vienna, Conan Doyle moved to London, first living in Montague Place and then in South Norwood. He set up a practice as an ophthalmologist. He wrote in his autobiography that not a single patient crossed his door. This gave him more time for writing, and in November 1891 he wrote to his mother: “I think of slaying Holmes… and winding him up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things.” His mother responded, “You won’t! You can’t! You mustn’t!” In December 1893, in order to dedicate more of his time to what he considered his more important works (his historical novels), Conan Doyle had Holmes and Professor Moriarty apparently plunge to their deaths together down the Reichenbach Falls in the story “The Final Problem”. Public outcry, however, led him to bring the character back in 1901, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, though this was set at a time before the Reichenbach incident. In 1903, Conan Doyle published his first Holmes short story in ten years, “The Adventure of the Empty House”, in which it was explained that only Moriarty had fallen; but since Holmes had other dangerous enemies—especially Colonel Sebastian Moran—he had arranged to also be perceived as dead. Holmes ultimately was featured in a total of 56 short stories and four Conan Doyle novels, and has since appeared in many novels and stories by other authors. ‘The Final Problem’ was published in 1913 and ‘The Valley of Fear’ was serialised in 1914. Many Sherlock Holmes nnovels have also been adapted for screen and Television, with Basil Rathbone, Ian Richardson, Peter Cushing and Robert Downey Junior among others, playing the role of Sherlock Holmes

Ringo Starr (The Beatles)

English drummer, singer, songwriter, and actor Ring Starr (Richard Starkey,) MBE was born 7 July 1940 9 Madryn Street, in Dingle, Liverpool. In 1944, his family moved to 10 Admiral Grove; and soon afterwards, his parents separated, and divorced within the year. At age six Starkey developed appendicitis. Following a routine appendectomy he contracted peritonitis, causing him to fall into a coma that lasted for three days. His recovery took twelve months, which he spent away from his family at Liverpool’s Myrtle Street Children’s hospital.

Upon his discharge in May 1948, his mother allowed him to stay home, causing him to miss school. At age eight, he remained illiterate, with a poor grasp of mathematics and his lack of education contributed to a feeling of alienation at school, and he regularly played truant at Sefton Park. However After several years of twice weekly tutoring Starkey had nearly caught up. However in 1953, he contracted tuberculosis and was admitted to a sanatorium, where he remained for the next two years. During his stay the medical staff made an effort to stimulate motor activity and relieve boredom by encouraging their patients to join the hospital band, leading to his first exposure to a percussion instrument; a makeshift mallet made from a cotton bobbin that he used to strike the cabinets next to his bed. Starkey grew increasingly interested in drumming, receiving a copy of the Alyn Ainsworth song “Bedtime for Drums”. Starr said My grandparents gave me a mandolin and a banjo, but I didn’t want them. My grandfather gave me a harmonica … we had a piano but I only wanted to play the drums.

Starkey attended St Silas, a Church of England primary school near his house where his classmates nicknamed him “Lazarus”, and later Dingle Vale Secondary modern school, where he showed an aptitude for art, drama and mechanics. As a result of the prolonged hospitalisations, he fell behind his peers scholastically and was ineligible for the 11-plus qualifying examination required for attendance at a grammar school. Starkey then became interested in recordings by Dinah Shore, Sarah Vaughan and Billy Daniels from his mother’s second husband Harry Graves who was an impassioned fan of big band music and their vocalists. Then After another extended hospital stay following Starkey’s recovery from tuberculosis, he did not return to school, preferring instead to stay at home and listen to music while playing along by beating biscuit tins with sticks.

After his return home from the sanatorium in late 1955, Starkey entered the UK workforce in 1955, he worked at British Rail before securing an apprenticeship at a Liverpool equipment manufacturer. , but lacking motivation and discipline, his initial attempts at gainful employment proved unsuccessful. In an effort to secure himself some warm clothes, he briefly held a position at British Rail, who supplied their employees with suits. They gave him a hat, but no uniform, and unable to pass the physical examination, he was laid off and granted unemployment benefits.He then found work as a waiter serving drinks on a day boat that travelled from Liverpool to North Wales, but his fear of conscription into military service led him to quit the job, not wanting to give the Royal Navy the impression that he was suitable for seafaring work. In mid-1956, Graves secured Starkey a position as an apprentice machinist at a Liverpool equipment manufacturer.

While working at the facility Starkey befriended Roy Trafford, and the two bonded over their shared interest in music.Trafford introduced him to skiffle, and he quickly became a fervent admirer. In 1957, he cofounded his first band, the two began rehearsing songs in the manufacturing plant’s cellar they were joined by Starkey’s neighbour and co-worker, the guitarist Eddie Miles, forming the Eddie Miles Band, later renamed Eddie Clayton and the Clayton Squares after a Liverpool landmark. Performing popular skiffle songs such as “Rock Island Line” and “Walking Cane”. On Christmas Day 1957, Graves gave Starkey a second-hand drum kit consisting of a snare drum, bass drum and a makeshift cymbal fashioned from an old rubbish bin lid. Starr had been a devoted fan of skiffle and blues music, He was also influenced by country artists, including Hank Williams, Buck Owens and Hank Snow, and jazz drummers such as Chico Hamilton and Yusef Lateef, whose compositional style inspired Starr’s fluid and energetic drum fills and grooves Gene Autry and Lee Dorsey Were also among Starr’s first musical heroes.

He joined Al Caldwell’s Texans, a skiffle group who were looking for someone with a proper drum kit so that the group could transition from one of Liverpool’s best-known skiffle acts to a full-fledged rock and roll band. About this time he adopted the stage name Ringo Starr; derived from the rings he wore and also because it implied a country western influence. His drum solos were billed as Starr Time. By early 1960 the Hurricanes had become one of Liverpool’s leading bands and were offered a three-month residency at a Butlins holiday camp in Wales. The Butlins gig led to other opportunities for the band, including an unpleasant tour of US Air Force bases in France. The Hurricanes became so successful that when initially offered a highly coveted residency in Hamburg, they turned it down because of their prior commitment with Butlins. However They eventually accepted, joining the Beatles at Bruno Koschmider‍ ’s Kaiserkeller on 1 October 1960, where Starr first met the Beatles. Storm’s Hurricanes were given top-billing over the Beatles, however Starr performed with the Beatles during a few stand-in engagements while in Hamburg.

On 15 October 1960, he drummed with John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, recording with them for the first time while backing Hurricanes singer Lu Walters on the George Gershwin aria “Summertime”.During Starr’s first stay in Hamburg he also met Tony Sheridan, who valued his drumming abilities to the point of asking Starr to leave the Hurricanes and join his band. So Starkey quit the Hurricanes in January 1962 and briefly joined Sheridan in Hamburg before finally joining the Beatles in August 1962, replacing Pete Best. Starr first performed as a member of the band on 18 August 1962, at a horticultural society dance at Port Sunlight and an appearance at the Cavern Club the following day. Starr’s first recording session as a member of the Beatles took place on 4 September 1962. The Beatles next singles were Please Please Me and Love Me Do and performed on Thank Your Lucky Stars and The Ed Sullivan Show in the United States. During live performances, the Beatles continued the Starr Time routine that had been popular among his fans: Lennon would place a microphone in front of Starr’s kit in preparation for his spotlight moment and audiences would erupt in screams.

Starr also played key roles in the Beatles’ films and appeared in numerous other films. He sang lead vocals on the songs “With a Little Help from My Friends”, “Yellow Submarine” and their cover of “Act Naturally”. He also wrote the Beatles’ songs “Don’t Pass Me By” and “Octopus’s Garden”, and is credited as a co-writer of others, such as “What Goes On” and “Flying”. When the Beatles made their film debut in A Hard Day’s Night, Starr garnered much praise from critics, who considered both his delivery of deadpan one-liners and his non-speaking scenes highlights of the movie. After the release of the Beatles’ second feature film, Help! (1965), Starr won a Melody Maker poll for his performance as the central character in the film.

Sadly In 1964 Starr contracted pharyngitis and tonsillitis, shortly before a tour ofDenmark, the Netherlands, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and was temporarily replaced for five concert dates by 24-year-old session drummer Jimmie Nicol, before rejoining the band in Melbourne on 15 June. On 11 February 1965, Starr married Maureen Cox. In August 1966, the Beatles released Revolver, their seventh UK LP featuring the song “Yellow Submarine”, with Starr as lead singer. Starr also sang lead vocals on  “With a Little Help from My Friends” on the 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Sadly though the Beatles Manager Brian Epstein died August 1967 and Soon afterwards, the band began filming the Magical Mystery Tour. Then In February 1968, Starr became the first Beatle to sing during another artist’s show without the other three present when he sang the Buck Owens hit “Act Naturally”. He also performed a duet with Cilla Black, “Do you Like Me Just a Little Bit?” on her BBC One television programme, Cilla.

In 1968 The Beatles, released the classic “White Album” inspired by a visit to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at his ashram in Rishikesh, India where they had of their most prolific writing periods, composing some fantastic songs including “Don’t Pass Me By”. Sadly During the recording of the White Album, relations within the band deteriorated to the point where Starr quit the band for two weeks, taking a holiday with his family in Sardinia on a boat loaned by Peter Sellers. During this time Ringo was served octopus, and A subsequent conversation with the ship’s captain regarding the behaviours of the animal served as the inspiration for the song “Octopus’s Garden”. He returned to the studio two weeks later and the Beatles began production of their’ fourth feature film, Let It Be, and its accompanying LP, featuring the song “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. Sadly relations deteriorated again within the the band until September 1969, when Lennon quit the Beatles followed by McCartney On 10 April 1970,

After the Beatles break-up in 1970, Starr released two solo albums Sentimental Journey, featuring renditions of songs by Quincy Jones, Maurice Gibb, George Martin and Paul McCartney, and the country-inspired Beaucoups of Blues, featuring Nashville session musician Pete Drake. He also released successful singles including “It Don’t Come Easy”,”Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen”. Starr played drums on Lennon’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970), Ono’s Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band (1970), and on Harrison’s albums All Things Must Pass (1970) and Living in the Material World.Starr participated in the Concert for Bangladesh, organised by Harrison, and made his directorial debut with the T. Rex documentary Born to Boogie. In 1972, he released his most successful UK single, “Back Off Boogaloo”. In 1973 he released the album Ringo and the songs Photograph”, co-written with Harrison, and “You’re Sixteen”, written by the Sherman Brothers and featuring writing and musical contributions from Harrison, Lennon and McCartney including “Oh My My”. Next He released The album Goodnight Vienna in 1974 featuring a cover of the Platters’ “Only You (And You Alone)”and “No No Song”.

He became romantically involved with Lynsey de Paul after playing tambourine on a song she wrote and produced for Vera Lynn, “Don’t You Remember When”, and inspiring another De Paul song, “If I Don’t Get You the Next One Will” and founded the record label Ring O’Records in 1975. Then in 1976 Starr appeared as a guest in the Band’s farewell concert, featured in the 1978 Martin Scorsese documentary The Last Waltz and released Ringo’s Rotogravure, featuring compositions by McCartney, Lennon and Harrison which contained the songs A Dose of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and a cover of “Hey Baby”. Starr’s next album was a curious blend of disco and 1970s pop, entitled Ringo the 4th. Following Lennon’s murder in 1980, Harrison modified the lyrics of a song he had originally written for Starr, “All Those Years Ago”, as a tribute to their former bandmate which included vocal contributions from both Paul and Linda McCartney and Starr’s original drum part. In 1981, Starr released the album Stop and Smell the Roses, containing the Harrison composition “Wrack My Brain”.

From 1984 to 1986, Starr narrated the first two series of the children’s series Thomas & Friends, based on the books by the Reverend W. Awdry and also portrayed the character Mr. Conductor in the programme’s American spin-off Shining Time Station, In 1985, he performed with his son Zak as part of Artists United Against Apartheid on the recording, Sun City. In 1987 Starr played drums on the song “When We Was Fab”, from Harrison’s album Cloud no. 9 co-written by Harrison and Jeff Lynne. I’m 1987 Starr, Harrison and Lynne joined Eric Clapton, Elton John, Phil Collins and Ray Cooper in a performance for the Prince’s Trust charity. In 1989, Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band performed in front of an audience of ten thousand in Dallas, Texas. The album Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band featured a compilation of live performances. Starr also recorded a version of the song “I Call Your Name” for a television special marking the 10th anniversary of John Lennon’s death and the 50th anniversary of Lennon’s birth which was performed by a supergroup composed of Lynne, Tom Petty, Joe Walsh and Jim Keltner.

In 1991 Starr made a cameo appearance on The Simpsons episode “Brush with Greatness” and contributed an original song, “You Never Know”, to the soundtrack of the John Hughes film Curly Sue. In 1992, Starr released the album Time Takes Time, featuring guest appearances by Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson. In 1995 Starr, McCartney and Harrison released the Beatles Anthology for which They recorded two new Beatles songs built around solo vocal and piano tapes recorded by Lennon “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love”. Starr guested on two songs from McCartney’s 1997 album, Flaming Pie. McCartney had written a song about Starr’s ex-wife Maureen, who died in 1994, called “Little Willow” and asked Starr if he would play on another song, “Beautiful Night”. They also recorded a jam session, which became, “Really Love You”, In 1998, he released the album Vertical Man featuring Producer Mark Hudson, and his band the Roundheads, plus many famous guests including Martin, McCartney and George Harrison.

In 2002 Starr was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame and On 29 November 2002 (the first anniversary of Harrison’s death), Starr performed “Photograph” and a cover of Carl Perkins’ “Honey Don’t” at the Concert for George held in the Royal Albert Hall, London. In 2003, Starr served as an honorary Santa Tracker and voice-over personality during the London stop in Father Christmas’s annual Christmas Eve journey, as depicted in the annual NORAD tracks Santa program. According to NORAD officials, he was “a Starr in the east” who helped guide North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Santa-tracking. In 2005, Liverpool’s City Council announced plans to demolish Starr’s birthplace, 9 Madryn Street, stating that it had “no historical significance”. However after protests the LCC later announced that the building would be taken apart brick by brick and preserved. In 2008 Starr released the album Liverpool 8 produced by David A. Stewart, Mark Hudson and Starr. In 2009, Starr reunited with McCartney at the David Lynch “Change Begins Within” Benefit Concert at Radio City Music Hall. After a separate performance from Starr he later joined McCartney to perform “With a Little Help from My Friends”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Cosmically Conscious”. Starr also promoted The Beatles: Rock Band video game and in 2009, Starr once again performed the voice of Thomas the Tank Engine for “The Official BBC Children in Need Medley”.

In 2010 Starr self-produced and released his fifteenth studio album, Y Not, which included the track “Walk with You” featuring a vocal contribution from McCartney he also appeared during Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief. On 7 July 2010, Starr celebrated his 70th birthday at Radio City Music Hall, New York with another All-Starr Band concert, with friends and family joining him on stage including Yoko Ono and his son Zak: McCartney made a surprise appearance. Starr also recorded a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Think It Over” for the tribute album Listen to Me: Buddy Holly, which was released in 2011. In 2012, he released the album Ringo 2012. In2014, Starr reunited with Paul McCartney for a special performance at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards performing the song “Queenie Eye” at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, he was also featured alongside McCartney in the programme The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles. In 2014, Starr toured Canada and the US with an updated version of the Twelfth All-Starr Band. He also became involved in “#peacerocks”, an anti-violence campaign started by fashion designer John Varvatos, in conjunction with the David Lynch Foundation.In September 2014, Starr won at the GQ Men of the Year Awards for his humanitarian work with the David Lynch Foundation. Starr”s latest album, Postcards from Paradise was released 2015. In 2011, Rolling Stone readers named Starr the fifth-greatest drummer of all time. Starr, who was previously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Beatle in 1988, was inducted for his solo career in 2015, making him one of 21 performers inducted more than once.