Hanukkah

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.

The festival is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched menorah (also called a Chanukiah/Hanukiah), one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The typical menorah consists of eight branches with an additional visually distinct branch. The extra light, with which the others are lit, is called a shamash (Hebrew: שמש‎‎, “attendant”) and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest.[1] Other Hanukkah festivities include playing dreidel and eating oil-based foods such as doughnuts and latkes. Since the 1970s, the worldwide Chabad Hasidic movement has initiated public menorah lightings in open public places in many countries.

The story of Hanukkah is preserved in the books of the First and Second Maccabees, which describe in detail the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the lighting of the menorah. These books are not part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) which came from the Palestinian canon; however, they were part of the Alexandrian canon which is also called the Septuagint (sometimes abbreviated LXX). Both books are included in the Old Testament used by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, since those churches consider the books deuterocanonical. They are not included in the Old Testament books in most Protestant Bibles since most Protestants consider the books apocryphal. Multiple references to Hanukkah are also made in the Mishna (Bikkurim 1:6, Rosh HaShanah 1:3, Taanit 2:10, Megillah 3:4 and 3:6, Moed Katan 3:9, and Bava Kama 6:6), though specific laws are not described. The miracle of the one-day supply of oil miraculously lasting eight days is first described in the Talmud, committed to writing about 600 years after the events described in the books of Maccabees.

Rav Nissim Gaon postulates in his Hakdamah Le’mafteach Hatalmud that information on the holiday was so commonplace that the Mishna felt no need to explain it. A modern-day scholar Reuvein Margolies suggests that as the Mishnah was redacted after the Bar Kochba revolt, its editors were reluctant to include explicit discussion of a holiday celebrating another relatively recent revolt against a foreign ruler, for fear of antagonizing the Romans. The Gemara (Talmud), in tractate Shabbat, page 21b, focuses on Shabbat candles and moves to Hanukkah candles and says that after the forces of Antiochus IV had been driven from the Temple, the Maccabees discovered that almost all of the ritual olive oil had been profaned. They found only a single container that was still sealed by the High Priest, with enough oil to keep the menorah in the Temple lit for a single day. They used this, yet it burned for eight days (the time it took to have new oil pressed and made ready).

In Sephardic families, the head of the household lights the candles, while in Ashkenazic families, all family members light. Except in times of danger, the lights were to be placed outside one’s door, on the opposite side of the mezuza, or in the window closest to the street. Rashi, in a note to Shabbat 21b, says their purpose is to publicize the miracle. The blessings for Hanukkah lights are discussed in tractate Succah, p. 46a.

The story of Hanukkah is alluded to in the book of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. The eight-day rededication of the temple is described in 1 Maccabees 4:36 et seq, though the name of the festival and the miracle of the lights do not appear here. A story similar in character, and obviously older in date, is the one alluded to in 2 Maccabees 1:18 et seq according to which the relighting of the altar fire by Nehemiah was due to a miracle which occurred on the 25th of Kislev, and which appears to be given as the reason for the selection of the same date for the rededication of the altar by Judah Maccabee.

Another source is the Megillat Antiochus. This work (also known as “Megillat Benei Ḥashmonai”, “Megillat Hanukkah” or “Megillat Yevanit”) is extant in both the Aramaic and Hebrew languages; the Hebrew version is a literal translation from the Aramaic original. Recent scholarship dates it to somewhere between the 2nd and 5th Centuries, probably in the 2nd century, with the Hebrew dating to the 7th century. It was published for the first time in Mantua in 1557. Saadia Gaon, who translated it into Arabic in the 9th century, ascribed it to the elders of the School of Shammai and the School of Hillel. The Hebrew text with an English translation can be found in the Siddur of Philip Birnbaum.

Rogue One

The novelization for Rogue One, The latest exciting installment in the Star Wars franchise has recently been published. It takes place between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars. It features A weapons designer named Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), who is abducted by the evil Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), the Director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military, and coerced into building a superweapon, the Death Star, which is able to destroy entire planets, after His daughter Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is taken by Militia leader Saw Gerrera.

Gerrera teaches her to become a fighter with his militia as well as a smuggler and criminal. However Jyn is abandoned by Gerrera and later captured but is later freed by The Rebel Alliance and enlisted by Rebel leaders Senator Mon Mothma and General Draven, to take part in a dangerous mission.

Meanwhile, Grand Moff Tarkin (Guy Henry) meets with Krennic on the now-completed Death Star. As a demonstration of its power, Krennic points the weapon at the ancient holy city of Jeddha on the planet Scarif, which is being used as a base for the militia led by Saw Gerrera and other troublemakers including ex-Sacred Guardian Baze Malbus and spiritual warrior Chirrut Imwe who are also trying to stop the Empire.

Tarkin then takes control of the Death Star. Meanwhile Jyn, and the allies, Rebel Intelligence Officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), receive a message from Galen concerning the Death Star. So Jyn sets off to rescue him and they also learn the whereabouts of The blueprints for the Death Star. So in an exciting confrontation with Krennic and the Empire, Jyn, Cassian and K-2SO attempt to steal the schematics for the Death Star and transmit them to the Rebel command ship before they are clobbered by the Empire’s evil agent Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers who are in hot pursuit.

Tribute to Rick Parfitt

StatusquoI was sad to learn that English musician and Status Quo Guitarist Richard John Parfitt, OBE had sadly passed away 23 December 2016 at a hospital in Marbella, Spain as a result of a severe infection, having been admitted to hospital on Thursday evening following complications to a shoulder injury incurred by a previous fall.

He was born 12 October 1948. He is best known for being a singer and rhythm guitarist in the English rock band Status Quo. Born in Woking, Surrey, Parfitt attended Goldsworth School, Woking and first met band member Francis Rossi in 1965 in Butlin’s Minehead whilst he was playing as Ricky Harrison in a musical trio called ‘The Highlights’. Rossi was playing with the Spectres (forerunner of Status Quo) at the time and Parfitt was sufficiently impressed to approach him with a view to working together. Nothing came of the meeting until 1967 when Parfitt joined Rossi, Alan Lancaster, John Coghlan and Roy Lynes to form the first lineup of the band under the name “Status Quo”. Their music was characterized by their distinctive brand of boogie rock . After a number of lineup changes, the band became The Status Quo in 1967 and Status Quo in 1969. They have had over 60 chart hits in the UK, starting with 1967’s Psychedelic Rock hit Pictures Of Matchstick Men, ”.

Parfitt has been a continuous member of the group, and has penned some of their greatest hits, sometimes in collaboration with the group’s keyboard player Andy Bown, among them “Whatever You Want”, “Again and Again”, and “Rain”. He recorded a solo album in 1985, but it was never released. Among musicians on the record were bassist John Edwards and drummer Jeff Rich, formerly with the Climax Blues Band and Judie Tzuke. He has earned the nickname ‘The WOMORR’ (The Wild Old Man of Rock ‘n’ Roll). Parfitt is known for his trademark white Fender Telecaster – a 1965 model . In 2006, Parfitt released his invention, the “guitar facelift” which has the backing of guitar manufacturer Fender .On 16 June 2007, the presenters of the British children’s television show, Tiswas, reunited for a special one-off show. Parfitt performed with the rest of Status Quo on the show (all of whom were constantly plagued by the show’s trademark practical jokes during their performance), and presenter Chris Tarrant alleged that during a broadcast of the show in the early 1980s, Parfitt was smoking cannabis on live children’s television.On 15 September 2007, Parfitt and Rossi appeared on Celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, earning £50,000 for charity.

In December 2009, Parfitt teamed up with Rolf Harris for the single “Christmas in the Sun”. This follows on from the 2008 Status Quo hit “It’s Christmas Time”, which Parfitt wrote with current songwriting partner Wayne Morris. Twenty two of their songs have reached the UK Top Ten and In 1991, Status Quo received a Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. Status Quo starred in their first feature film Bula Quo! which was released to cinemas in July 2013. The film coincided with the release of the soundtrack album Bula Quo!. The first single from the album, the track Bula Bula Quo was released in June 2013, and is Status Quo’s one hundredth single release.

Rick is survived by his wife Lyndsay, their twins Tommy and Lily and Rick’s adult children Rick Jnr and Harry and he will be sadly missed.

Christmas Eve

christmas_treeChristmas Eve is the evening or day before Christmas Day, the widely celebrated annual holiday. It occurs on December 24 in Western Christianity,and is considered one of the most culturally significant celebrations in Christendom and the Western world, where it is widely observed as a full or partial holiday in anticipation of Christmas Day.One reason celebrations occur on Christmas Eve is that the traditional Christian liturgical day starts at sunset, an inheritance from Jewish tradition.This practice is based on the story of Creation in the Book of Genesis: “And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day.”This structure for the liturgical day is followed for all feast days throughout the year in the Eastern rite and is retained for Christmas (as well as for Sundays and other major festivals) in the West, where the liturgical day ordinarily begins at midnight. Many churches still ring their church bellsand hold prayers in the evening before holidays; for example, the NordicLutheran churches. In some languages, such as the Scandinavian, Christmas Eve is simply referred to as “Christmas Evening”.

Since Christian tradition holds that Jesus was born at night (based in Luke 2:6-8), Midnight Mass is celebrated on Christmas Eve, traditionally at midnight, in commemoration of His birth. The idea of Jesus being born at night is reflected in the fact that Christmas Eve is referred to as “Heilige Nacht” (“Holy Night”) in German, “Nochebuena” (“the Good Night”) in Spanish and similarly in other expressions of Christmas spirituality, such as the song “Silent Night, Holy Night”. Christmas Eve is celebrated in different ways around the world, varying by country and region. Elements common to many areas of the world include the attendance of special religious observances such as a midnight Mass or Vespers, and the giving and receiving of presents. Along with Easter, Christmastime is one of the most important periods on the Christian calendar, and is often closely connected to other holidays at this time of year, such as Advent, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, St. Nicholas Day, St. Stephen’s Day, New Year’s, and the Feast of the Epiphany.

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Roman Catholics and Anglicans traditionally celebrate Midnight Mass, which begins either at or sometime before midnight on Christmas Eve. This ceremony, which is held in churches throughout the world, celebrates the birth of Christ, which is believed to have occurred at night.In recent years some churches have scheduled their “Midnight” Mass as early as 7 pm. In Spanish-speaking areas, the Midnight Mass is sometimes referred to as Misa de Gallo, or “Missa do Galo”, in Portuguese (“Rooster’s Mass”). In the Philippines, the custom has expanded into the nine-daySimbang Gabi, when Filipinos attend dawn Masses (traditionally beginning around 04:00 to 05:00 PST) from 16 December, continuing daily until Christmas Eve. In 2009 Vatican officials scheduled the Midnight Mass to start at 10 pm so the 82 year old Pope Benedict XVI would not have too late a night.[12]Whilst not performing any kind of Mass per se, the Church of Scotland has a service beginning just before midnight, wherein carolsare sung. The Church of Scotland no longer holds Hogmany sevices on New Years Eve, however, The Christmas Eve Sevices are still very popular.

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Lutherans traditionally practice Christmas Eve Eucharistic traditions typical of Germany and Scandinavia. “Krippenspiele” (Nativity plays), special festive music for organ, vocal and brass choirs and candlelight services make Christmas Eve one of the highlights in the Lutheran Church calendar. Christmas Vespers are popular in the early evening, and midnight services are also widespread in regions which are predominately Lutheran. The old Lutheran tradition of a Christmas Vigil in the early morning hours ofChristmas Day (Christmette) can still be found in some regions. In eastern and middle Germany, congregations still continue the tradition of “Quempas singing”: separate groups dispersed in various parts of the church sing verses of the song “He whom Shepherds once came Praising” (Quem pastores) responsively.Methodists celebrate the evening in different ways. Some, in the early evening, come to their church to celebrate Holy Communion with their families. The mood is very solemn, and the only visible light is the Advent Wreath, and the candles upon the Lord’s Table. Others celebrate the evening with services of light, which include singing the song “Silent Night” as a variety of candles (including personal candles) are lit. Other churches have late evening services at 11 pm, so the church can celebrate Christmas Day together with the ringing of bells at midnight. Others offer Christmas Day services, as well.The annual “Nine Lessons and Carols” broadcast from King’s College, Cambridge, on Christmas Eve, has established itself as one of the signs that Christmas has begun in the United Kingdom. lt IS broadcast outside the UK via the BBC World Service, and is also bought by broadcasters around the world.

During the Reformation in 16th–17th-century Europe, many Protestants changed the gift bringer to the Christ Child or Christkindl, and the date of giving gifts changed from December 6 to Christmas Eve. It is the night when Santa Claus makes his rounds delivering gifts to good children.In the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia and Hungary, where St. Nicholas (sv. Mikuláš/szent Mikulás) gives his sweet gifts on December 6, the Christmas gift-giver is the Child Jesus (Ježíšek in Czech, Jézuska in Hungarian, Ježiško in Slovak and Isusek inCroatian).In most parts of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, presents are traditionally exchanged in the evening of December 24. Children are commonly told that presents were brought either by the Christkind (German for: Christchild), or the Weihnachtsmann (German name of Santa Claus). Both leave the gifts, but are in most families not seen doing so.In Finland, Joulupukki, and in Sweden Jultomten, personally meets children and gives presents in the evening of Christmas Eve. In Argentina, Austria, Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Iceland, Latvia, Luxembourg,Norway, Poland, Portugal, Quebec, Romania, Uruguay, Sweden, and the Czech Republic, Christmas presents are opened mostly on the evening of the 24th, – this is also the tradition among the British Royal Family, due to their mainly German ancestry – while inItaly, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, English Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, this occurs mostly on the morning of Christmas Day. Except in Italy and the United States, countries that open gifts on the morning of Christmas Day also have Boxing Day as a secondary holiday (this day is celebrated as St. Stephen’s Day in Ireland) where some gift giving is involved.In other Latin American countries, people stay awake until midnight, when they open the presents.In Spain, gifts are traditionally opened on the morning of January 6, Epiphany day (“Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos”),though in some other countries, like Argentina and Uruguay, people receive presents both around Christmas and on the morning of Epiphanyday.In Belgium and the Netherlands they also celebrate Sinterklaas on December 5

Some Jews observe Christmas Eve as “Nittel Nacht”, a minor folk (sad) holiday with its own unique customs.Beginning no later than the 1500s, a number of Jewish customs developed around Christmas Eve, often reflecting feelings of mourning over the historic birth of Christianity and fear of pogroms by contemporary Christian neighbors. By the 17th century, European Jews began referring to the night as “Nittel Nacht” and treating it as a kind of minor day of mourning. Most prominent among these customs is the tradition to not engage in Torah study on Nittel Nacht. Some have theorized that this custom developed out of fear of heightened antisemitic persecution on Christmas Eve, with Jews avoiding synagogues and study halls where they would be easy targets, and instead opting to spend the night safe at home.Less popular is a custom to not engage in marital relations on Nittel Nacht. This custom, as well as that to not study Torah, are similar to the traditions of mourning practiced on Tisha B’av.With Torah study (and, for some, sex) off the table for the evening, a number of traditions developed as to how to spend one’s night. Most well known is a custom to play cards, dreidel, chess or other table games. (Some modern synagogues hold poker nights on Christmas Eve, in a continuation of this once home-bound tradition.) The Lubavitcher Rebbe was known to spend his Nittel Nacht’s sewing. Some spend the night ripping a year’s worth of toilet paper and paper towels, an errand helpful for observing certain Sabbath laws. Today, where most Jews do not fear antisemitic attacks on Christmas Eve, and most Jews hold a more ecumenical view towards the birth of Christianity, observance of Nittel Nacht is less popular than once was. That said, many yeshivas still do not conduct Torah classes on Christmas Eve, and card-playing remains a well known Nittel Nacht past time.

Mary Higgins Clark

HigginsAmerican suspense novelist Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Clark Conheeney (née Higgins; Was born December 24, 1929′ known professionally as Mary Higgins Clark, Each of her 42 books has been a bestseller. She began writing at an early age. After Higgins Clark graduated from high school she attended Wood Secretarial School on a partial scholarship. After completing her coursework the following year, she accepted a job as the secretary to the head of the creative department in the internal advertising division at Remington-Rand. She soon enrolled in evening classes to learn more about advertising and promotion. Her growing skills, as well as her natural beauty, were noticed by her boss and others in the company, and her job was expanded to include writing catalog copy (alongside future novelist Joseph Heller) and to model for the company brochures with Grace Kelly. Although she enjoyed her job, Higgins Clark’s imagination was sparked by an acquaintance’s casual comment, “God, it was beastly hot in Calcutta.”

After several years working as a secretary and copy editor, Higgins Clark spent a year as a stewardess for Pan-American Airlines and for most of 1949, she worked the Pan Am international flights, traveling through Europe, Africa and Asia. One of her flights became the last flight allowed into Czechoslovakia before the Iron Curtain fell. On another of her flights, Higgins Clark escorted a four-year-old orphaned child down the steps of the airplane into the waiting arms of her adoptive mother, a scene that was heavily televised.At the end of her year of flying, on December 26, 1949, Higgins Clark married Warren Clark. To occupy herself, she began taking writing courses at NYUand, with some of her classmates, formed a writing workshop in which the members would critique each other’s works-in-progress And Supplemented the family’s income by writing short stories. One of her professors at NYU told the class they should develop plot ideas by reading newspapers and asking themselves prompts such as, “Suppose” “What if and “Why?”she wrote her first short story called “Stowaway”, about a stewardess who finds a stowaway from Czechoslovakia on her plane And, in 1956, Extension Magazine agreed to purchase the story for $100. Their first child, Marilyn, was born in 1950 withWarren Jr. arriving thirteen months later, and a third child, David, born two years after his brother and Carol was born in 1956.Higgins Clark named her fifth and last child after her agent Patricia Schertle Myrer Warren and Higgins encouraged their children to support themselves and all five children eventually took professional acting and modeling jobs.

Sadly in 1959, Warren Clark was diagnosed with severe angina, and, although he curtailed his activities on his doctor’s order, he suffered three heart attacks within the next five years, each time returning from the hospital in poorer health. After the last heart attack in 1964 Warren suffered another fatal heart attack. His mother, who was visiting at the time, collapsed at his bedside upon discovering that he was dead. In one night, Higgins Clark had lost her husband and her mother-in-law. Higgins Clark’ wrote 95 four-minute programs for the Portrait of a Patriot series and was asked to write two other radio series. This experience of fitting an entire sketch into four minutes proved useful for writing a suspense novel. In 1960 The Saturday Evening Post, named Higgins Clark’s short story “Beauty Contest at Buckingham” one of their ten best of the year. Sadly By the late 1960s, Higgins Clark short stories were not selling so she started writing a full-length novel, using her research and experience with the Portraits of a Patriot series, And spent the next three years writing a fictionalized account of the relationship betweenGeorge and Martha Washington, Aspire to the Heavens. Sadly though four months after the publication of the novel, Higgins Clark’s mother Nora Higgins died.

To ensure that her children would not have to struggle financially, Higgins Clark was determined that they should have good educations, and enteredFordham University at Lincoln Center in 1971, graduating summa cum laude in 1979, with a BA in philosophy.  Her two eldest children Marilyn and Warren, have become judges, and Patty works at the Mercantile Exchange in New York City. David is the president and CEO of Talk Marketing Enterprises, Inc, and Carol has authored many popular suspense novels. During this time Higgins Clark became increasingly frustrated with her employer, and, although two of her children were partially dependent on her for their college tuition, she quit her job and joined two of her former colleagues in forming their own company to write and market radio scripts. To scrape up the $5000 she needed to start the business, Higgins Clark was forced to pawn her engagement ring, and, for the eight months it took the company to become profitable, she did not receive a salary, further straining the family finances.

Higgins Clark continued writing even during these hard times. Encouraged by her agent to try writing another book, Higgins Clark returned to the suspense stories that she loved as a child and which had provided her first success as a short story writer. While she was in the midst of writing the story, her younger brother Johnny died, leaving her the sole surviving member of her family. To temporarily forget her heartache, Higgins Clark threw herself into her writing, and soon finished the novel. Very quickly after the novel, Where are the Children? was completed, Simon and Schuster agreed to purchase it for the relatively small sum of $3000. Three months later, in July 1974, Higgins Clark received word that the paperback rights for the novel had sold for one hundred thousand dollars. For the first time in many years she had no immediate financial worries.Where Are the Children? became a bestseller and was favorably reviewed.Two years after its publication Higgins Clark sold her second suspense novel for $1.5 million.

In 1978 Higgins Clark married to Raymond Ploetz an experience she describes as a “disastrous” marriage. ln 1996, she remarried again, to John J. Conheeney, the retired CEO of Merrill Lynch Futures, after they were introduced by her daughter, Patty.The couple live in Saddle River, New Jersey, having first moved tonew Jerseyn 1956 when they bought a home in Washington Township, Bergen County, New Jersey and also have homes inManhattan; Spring Lake, New Jersey; and Dennis, Massachusetts. Her debut novel about George Washington, Aspire to the Heavens was retitled Mount Vernon Love Story and rereleased in 2002, the same year as her autobiography, Kitchen Privileges, which relied heavily on the journals she has kept all of her life. in 2006 Higgins Clark published her first children’s book -Ghost Ship and She has also written several Christmas themed mystery novels with her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark.

A visit from St. Nicholas

A Visit from St. Nicholas, also known as Twas theThe Night Before Christmas, was published anonymously on December 23rd 1823. Clement Clarke Moore (1779 – 1863) wrote the poem Twas the night before Christmas also called “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1822. It is now the tradition in many American families to read the poem every Christmas Eve. The poem ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ has redefined our image of Christmas and Santa Claus. Prior to the creation of the story of ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, had never been associated with a sleigh or reindeers!

Clement Moore, the author of the poem Twas the night before Christmas, was a reticent man and it is believed that a family friend, Miss H. Butler, sent a copy of the poem to the New York Sentinel who published the poem. The condition of publication was that the author of Twas the night before Christmas was to remain anonymous. The first publication date was 23rd December 1823 and it was an immediate success. It was not until 1844 that Clement Clarke Moore claimed ownership when the work was included in a book of his poetry.

Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!
”As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Lemmy (Motörhead, Hawkwind)

Hawkwind1Heavy Metal Legend Ian “Lemmy” Killmister was Born 24 December 1945 his nickname originated from the phrase “lemmy [lend me] a quid till Friday” because of his habit of borrowing money from people to feed his addiction to fruit machines. He saw The Beatles perform at the Cavern Club when he was 16, then played guitar along to their first album, Please Please Me, learning the chords. He also admired the sarcastic attitude of the group, particularly that of John Lennon. Upon leaving school and with his family relocated in Conwy, Lemmy undertook a few temporary jobs including working at the local Hotpoint factory while also playing guitar for local bands, such as The Sundowners, and spending time at a horse riding school. At the age of 17, he met a holidaying girl named Cathy. Lemmy followed her to Stockport, Cheshire, where she had his son Sean.

Hawkwind2In Stockport, he joined local bands The Rainmakers and then The Motown Sect who enjoyed playing northern clubs for three years. Wanting to progress further, in 1965 he joined The Rockin’ Vickers who signed a deal with CBS, released three singles and toured Europe, reportedly being the first British band to visit Yugoslavia. With the band living in a Manchester flat, he had a relationship with a girl named Tracy who bore him a son, Paul Inder, although it would not be until the boy was six that Lemmy had any involvement with him.In the film Lemmy he speaks briefly of having another son by an unnamed woman. It appears this child was adopted because the mother has only recently “found him” and “hadn’t got the heart to tell him who his father was”. Wanting to progress, Lemmy relocated to London in 1967. Sharing a flat with Noel Redding and Neville Chesters, he got a job as a roadie for The Jimi Hendrix Experience. In 1968 he joined Sam Gopal and recorded the album Escalator and the single “Horse”. At that point Lemmy was thinking about changing his legal name to his stepfather’s surname of Willis, and appeared on the Escalatoralbum as Ian Willis; but he decided changing his birth certificate and passport would be too much hassle, so did not bother. After meeting Simon King in a Chelsea shopping centre in 1969, he joined the band Opal Butterfly, but the group soon folded. An attempted reconciliation in 1970 between Lemmy and his birth father broke down, with Lemmy describing him as a “nasty little weasel”.

Electric_Tepee_-_HawkwindIn 1972, Lemmy joined the space rock band Hawkwind, who were based in Ladbroke Grove, London, as a bassist and vocalist. He had no previous experience as a bass guitarist, but quickly developed a distinctive style that was strongly shaped by his early experience as a rhythm guitarist, often using double stops and chords rather than the single note lines preferred by most bassists. His bass work was a fundamental part of the Hawkwind sound during his tenure, perhaps best documented on Space Ritual. He also provided the lead vocals on a number of songs, including the band’s biggest UK chart single, “Silver Machine”, which reached No.3 in 1972. ln 1975 Lemmy was fired from Hawkwind after he was arrested at the Canadian/US border in Windsor, Ontario on drug possession charges; he spent five days in jail. Lemmy was released without charge as Windsor Police arrested him for possession of cocaine and after testing the evidence it turned out to be speed. So according to Canadian law at the time, he couldn’t be charged with anything and was released with no charge or conviction.

Sonic_Attack_-_HawkwindHe went on to form a new band called “Bastard” with guitarist Larry Wallis (former member of the Pink Fairies, Steve Took’s Shagrat and UFO) and drummer Lucas Fox. Lemmy’s connection with Took (formerly of T. Rex) was not limited to Wallis, as they were personal friends and Took was the stepfather to Lemmy’s son, Paul. When his manager informed him that a band by the name of “Bastard” would never get a slot on “Top of the Pops”, Lemmy changed the band’s name to “Motörhead” – the title of the last song he had written for Hawkwind with Lemmy playing bass and singing. The high microphone position has become a Lemmy trademark. Soon after, both Wallis and Fox were replaced with guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor and with this line-up the band became successful.

The band’s sound appealed to both Lemmy’s original fans and, eventually, to fans of punk rock. In fact, he asserts that he generally feels more kinship with punks than with heavy metal; he even played with The Damned for a handful of gigs when they had no regular bassist and Lemmy’s guttural vocals were unique in rock at that time, as they would not be copied until the rise in popularity of punk. The band’s success peaked between 1980 and 1981 with a number of UK chart hits, including the classic single “Ace of Spades”, which is still a crowd favourite and the #1 on the live album No Sleep ’til Hammersmith. Motörhead have since gone on to become one of the most influential bands in heavy metal and although Lemmy is the only constant member, are still performing and releasing records. Despite Motörhead’s many member changes over their 37-year history, the current lineup of Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee has remained constant since 1995.

Lemmy has also worked with a number of other musicians over his career and occasionally guests with Hawkwind. He wrote the song “R.A.M.O.N.E.S” for the Ramones, which he still plays in his live sets as a tribute to the band. He was brought in as a songwriter for Ozzy Osbourne’s 1991 No More Tears album, providing lyrics for the tracks “Hellraiser”, (which Motörhead would later record themselves and release a single), “Desire”, “I Don’t Want to Change the World” and the single “Mama I’m Coming Home”. Lemmy has noted in several magazine and television interviews that he made more money from the royalties of that one song than he had in his entire time with Motörhead. After being diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes in 2000, which led to a brief hospitalisation, Lemmy again appeared with Motörhead at WrestleMania 17.

Lemmy published his autobiography, White Line Fever in November 2002. In 2005, Motörhead won their first Grammy in the Best Metal Performancecategory with their cover of Metallica’s “Whiplash”. Since 1990 he has lived in Los Angeles, California, currently resident in a two-room apartment two blocks away from his favourite hangout, the Rainbow Bar and Grill. Unfortunately in 2000, Lemmy was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes, and this led to a brief hospitalisation. In 2002 Lemmy published his autobiography, White Line Fever .In 2005, Motörhead won their first Grammy in the Best Metal Performance category with their cover of Metallica’s “Whiplash”. In October 2009 it was announced that he had been involved in recording a cover of “Stand by Me” featuring Lemmy on vocals and bass, Dave Lombardo of Slayer on drums, which was made for professional skateboarder Geoff Rowley. In 2011 Lemmy also appeared on the song Debauchery As A Fine Art from Michael Monroe’s new solo album called Sensory Overload. Kilmister tragically died after succumbing to a particularly aggressive form of Cancer in December 2015, following which the song “The Ace of Spades” was re- released renewing interest in both Motörhead and Hawkwind, who subsequently released the album The Machine Stops.