Posted in films & DVD

Darkest Hour

I would like to watch the thrilling and inspiring War Drama The Darkest Hour. It was directed by Joe Wright and written by Anthony McCarten. It stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, and follows his early days as Prime Minister, as Hitler closes in on Britain during World War II. The film also stars Ben Mendelsohn, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Stephen Dillane, and Ronald Pickup.

It begins during the turbulence of World War II during May 1940 and sees allied British and French forces waging war against Nazi Germany during World War II. It features Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman as former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Who faces one of his most turbulent and defining trials within days of becoming Prime Minister: and must either negotiate a peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or stand firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation.

Meanwhile the seemingly unstoppable forces of Nazi Germany roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion becomes imminent. Nazi Germany has already invaded Poland so Before the German invasions of Belgium and the Netherlands, the Opposition Labour Party in Parliament demands the resignation of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for being too weak to protect national security. Chamberlain tells Conservative Party advisors that he wants Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax, as his successor, but Halifax does not yet want to become prime minister. Chamberlain must choose the only other man whom other parties will support: Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Unfortunately On her first day at work Churchill’s new secretary Elizabeth Layton upsets him. King George VI reluctantly invites Churchill to form a government including Chamberlain and Halifax, but wants his friend Halifax as prime minister.

Although Churchill had warned about Adolf Hitler previously he has a poor reputation following the Gallipoli Campaign and his support for Edward VIII during the Abdication Crisis. Anthony Eden is among his few political friends. Parliament dislikes the new prime minister’s first speech promising “Blood, toil, tears, and sweat”, and Churchill refuses to negotiate for peace. He believes that the Germans are untrustworthy, but the French call him delusional for not admitting that the Allies are losing the Battle of France. Halifax and Chamberlain agree, and Ask Italian Ambassador Giuseppe Bastianini to negotiate with Germany. During the May 1940 War Cabinet crisis they plan to resign from the government if Churchill refuses, allowing Halifax to become Prime Minister.

Meanwhile The British Expeditionary Force gets trapped at Dunkirk and Calais by the Nazis. Against the advice of the Cabinet, Churchill orders Brigadier Claude Nicholson in Calais to lead the 30th Infantry Brigade in a suicide attack to distract the enemy while the soldiers at Dunkirk are evacuated in Operation Dynamo. The Little Ships of Dunkirk rescue 300,000 British soldiers, but Belgium surrenders, France will soon surrender, a German invasion of Britain seems inevitable, and U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt can’t help because of the Neutrality Acts of 1930s. The defeat in France causes the Cabinet, including Eden, to support negotiating with Germany. Churchill reluctantly allows Halifax to speak to Bastianini. George VI unexpectedly visits Churchill and encourages him to continue fighting. Churchill then suddenly asks the public and they show their support and want him to continue fighting Nazi Germany, many members of Parliament, also support him. Meanwhile Halifax and Chamberlain continue to plot against him. So Churchill decides to stand firm during his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.

Posted in music

Ziggy played guitar

English musician, actor, record producer and arranger David Bowie tragically died 11 January 2016 at the age of 69 following an 18 Month battle with cancer. David Bowie A.K.A David Robert Jones was born 8 January in 1947. He has been A major figure for over four decades in the world of popular music, and is is also regarded as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. He is known for his distinctive voice, and the intellectual depth and eclecticism of his work. He changed his name to Bowie in the 1960s, to avoid confusion with the then well-known Davy Jones (lead singer of The Monkees). During the 1960′s He tried music and other art forms such as acting, mime, painting, and playwriting. Then In July 1969 he released the song “Space Oddity” which was used by the BBC in their coverage of the moon landing. Two albums followed Space Oddity including the song “The Man Who Sold The World,” which was covered by Lulu and Nirvana). His next album was the classic 1972 Glam Rock Concept Album the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which featured a flamboyant androgynous space-age rock star named Ziggy Stardust. This contained Stardust and Ziggy Stardust and challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day” and also created one of the biggest cults in popular culture In the process.

In 1975, Bowie released the song “Fame” and the album Young Americans, which he described as “plastic soul”. David Bowie next released the minimalist album Low in 1977-the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno called The Berlin Trilogy. Bowie’s next hit was Ashes to Ashes in 1980 from the album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) and Under Pressure with Queen. Then In 1983 he released the album Let’s Dance. Bowie continued to experiment with new styles Throughout the 1980’s 90’s and 2000’s  and this continual reinvention, music innovation and Striking visual presentation has helped Bowie remain contemporary and move with the times. In 2003 he released the album Reality then to celebrate his 66th birthday.  Ten years later In 2013 he released His 30th, album The Next Day, and also released a career spanning retrospective entitled Nothing Has Changed in 2014. Bowie’s latest album “Blackstar” was released 8th January 2016 to coincide with his birthday.

David Bowie’s contribution to music has been immense he has influenced the course of popular music several times and inspired several generations of musicians. His promotional videos in the 1970s and 80s are regarded as ground-breaking, as are his theatrical live concerts. In the BBC’s 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, Bowie was placed at number 29 In the UK, he has been awarded nine Platinum album certifications, 11 Gold and eight Silver, and in the US, five Platinum and seven Gold certifications and In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him 39th on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”, and 23rd on their list of the best singers of all-time.

Posted in music

Rod Stewart CBE

British Rock singer/songwriter Sir Roderick Rod” Stewart, CBE was born 10 January 1945 in London. He attended Highgate Primary School and then attended the William Grimshaw Secondary Modern School in Hornsey. Stewart’s main hobby was railway modelling and his family was mostly focused on football. Stewart’s father had played in a local amateur team and managed some teams as well, and one of Stewart’s earliest memories were the pictures of Scottish players such as George Young and Gordon Smith. Stewart was the most talented footballer in the family and was a strong supporter of Arsenal F.C.And also became captain of the school football team and also played for Middlesex Schoolboys as centre-half.

The family were also great fans of the singer Al Jolson and would sing and play his hits, collect his records and see his films, which would later influenced Stewart’s performing style and attitude towards his audience. His introduction to rock and roll was hearing Little Richard’s 1956 hit “The Girl Can’t Help It” and seeing Bill Haley & His Comets in concert. His father bought him a guitar in January 1959; the first song he learned was the folk tune “It Takes a Worried Man to Sing a Worried Song” and the first record he bought was Eddie Cochran’s “C’mon Everybody”.In 1960, he joined a skiffle group with schoolfriends called the Kool Kats, playing Lonnie Donegan and Chas McDevitt hits. Stewart left school at age 15 and worked as a silk screen printer, with ambitions to become a professional footballer, so In summer 1960, he went for trials at Brentford F.C. Stewart also worked in the family shop and as a newspaper delivery boy, then as a labourer at Highgate Cemetary and at a North Finchley Funeral Parlour and a Sign Writer. Stewart began listening to British and American topical folk artists such as Ewan MacColl, Alex Campbell, Woody Guthrie, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and especially Derroll Adams and the debut album of Bob Dylan.

In 1962 he met folk singer Wizz Jones and began busking with a harmonica in Leicester Square. Stewart and Jones also busked in Brighton Barcelona and Paris, but were deported for Vagrancy. Stewart, was also briefly considered as singer for the Kinks and adopted the Mod lifestyle, adopting the spiky rooster hairstyle which become his trademark. After seeing Otis Redding perform in concert he began listening to rhythm and blues and soul music and joined A Rhythm & blues group called The Dimension as Harmonica player and vocalist. They were hired by musician Jimmy Powell and became known asJimmy Powell & the Five Dimensions, Performing at the famed Studio 51 club in London, where The Rolling Stones often headlined. In October 1963 he joined the Dimensions as a harmonica player and part-time vocalist, then in 1964 he joined Long John Baldry and the All Stars as singer after seeing them at Eel Pie Island and earned the nickname Rod the Mod for his spiky hairstyle making his recording début on “Up Above My Head”in 1964. Long John Baldry and the All Stars then changed its name to The Hoochie Coochie Men and Rod signed a solo contract, releasing his first solo single, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” and a solo album An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down (US: The Rod Stewart Album) in 1969. His early albums were a fusion of his distinctive raspy singing voice together with rock, folk music, soul music and R&B. Stewart enjoyed beatnik attitudes and left-wing politics, and lived in a houseboat at Shoreham-by-Sea. Stewart was an active supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Stewart played solo dates withthe Southampton R & B outfit The Soul Agents. After The Hoochie Coochie Men broke up, Baldry and Stewart made up and legendary impresario Giorgio Gomelsky assembled Steampacket, featuring Baldry, Stewart, Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll, Micky Waller, Vic Briggs and Ricky Fenson. Steampacket were conceived as a white soul revue, similar to The Ike & Tina Turner Revue, with multiple vocalists and styles ranging from jazz to R & B to blues. They supported the Rolling Stones and Stewart was featured in a television documentary titled “An Easter with Rod” that portrayed the Mod scene. he also released “The Day Will Come”, and a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Shake”. Stewart departed from Steampacket in 1966, and joined Shotgun Express as lead vocalist alongside Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green (who would go on to form Fleetwood Mac). Shotgun Express released the song “I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Round”.

In 1967 Guitarist Jeff Beck recruited Stewart for his new post-Yardbirds venture The Jeff Beck Group as vocalist, where he played alongside Ronnie Wood and In 1968 Stewart released the solo single “Little Miss Understood”. The Jeff Beck Group toured Western Europe and the United States in 1968 and released the album Truth. In July 1969, Stewart left, following his friend Ronnie Wood’s departure. The group’s second album, Beck-Ola, was released in 1969 and the group split. Then guitarist and singer Steve Marriott left The Small Faces, Ronnie Wood replaced him and Stewart followed. Joining existing members Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagan, and Kenney Jones, who soon decided to call the new line-up Faces.

Stewart’s first solo album An Old Raincoat Won’t Ever Let You Down was released in 1969 and established the template for his solo sound: a mixture of folk, rock, and country blues, and British working-class sensibility. It featured the songs “Cindy’s Lament”, “Dirty Old Town” and “Handbags and Gladrags”. The backing band on the album included Ronnie Wood, And Keith Emerson. The Faces released their début album First Step in 1970. Stewart released his second album, Gasoline Alley in 1970. Stewart then toured America with the Faces and sang guest vocals for the Australian group Python Lee Jackson on “In a Broken Dream”. Stewart’s next solo album Every Picture Tells a Story featured the hits “Reason to Believe”,and “Maggie May”, which was named in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, alongside “Mandolin Wind”, “(I Know) I’m Losing You”,”Tomorrow Is a Long Time”, and “Every Picture Tells a Story”. The second Faces album, Long Player, was released in early 1971 and “Stay With Me” from their third album A Nod Is as Good as a Wink…To a Blind Horse was released in late 1971. In 1972 Stewart released his next album featuring the songs “You wear it Well and “Twisting the Night Away”. The Faces toured extensively in 1972 with growing tension in the band over Stewart’s solo career enjoying more success. Stewart released the album Never a Dull Moment featuring the songs “You Wear It Well” and “Twisting the Night Away”. The Faces released their final album Ooh La La in 1973 featuring the song “Pool Hall Richard”. In 1974, Stewart released the album Smiler featuring “Farewell” and “Mine for Me”.

In 1975, Stewart moved to Los Angeles and released the album Atlantic Crossing featuring “Sailing” and “This Old Heart of Mine” Stewart also covered The Beatles’ song “Get Back” for the musical documentary All This and World War II. Stewart then released A Night on the Town featuring “Tonight’s the Night”,”The First Cut Is the Deepest”and “The Killing of Georgie (Part 1 and 2)”. Rod Stewart’s next album Foot Loose & Fancy Free (1977) featured Stewart’s own band, the original Rod Stewart Group – Carmine Appice, Phil Chen, Jim Cregan, Billy Peek, Gary Grainger and John Jarvis and contained the songs “You’re in my Heart”,”Hot Legs”,”I was only Joking”. Stewart’s next album was1978’s Blondes Have More Fun…or do they?, featuring “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” In 1980 Stewart released the album Foolish Behaviour featuring the song, “Passion” and In 1981, Stewart released the album Tonight I’m Yours. Featuring “Tonight I’m Yours and”Young Turks”. Between 1982 and 1988 Stewart released the singles “Young Turks”,”Some Guys Have All the Luck”, “Infatuation” “Love Touch” “Every Beat of My Heart” and “Baby Jane” and A reunion with Jeff Beck covered Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready”. In 1988, He released the album Out of Order, featuring “Lost in You”, “Forever Young”, “Crazy About Her”, and “My Heart Can’t Tell You No” in 1989 he received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for Forever Young.

In 1990 Stewart released a four-CD compilation set called Storyteller – The Complete Anthology: 1964–1990 containing Stewart’s cover of Tom Waits “Downtown Train”. In 1991 Stewart Released, Vagabond Heart featuring “It Takes Two” with Tina Turner, “Rhythm of My Heart” and”The Motown Song”. At the 1993 Brit Awards in London, Stewart picked up the prize for Outstanding Contribution to Music and brought back the Faces on stage for an impromptu reunion and also recorded “All For Love” with Sting and Bryan Adams for the soundtrack to the movie The Three Musketeers. he also reunited with Ronnie Wood to record an MTV Unplugged special that included “Handbags and Gladrags”, “Cut Across Shorty”, and four selections from Every Picture Tells a Story plus an acoustic version of Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately”, and “Reason to Believe” which resulted in the Unplugged…and Seated album. In 1994 Stewart was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Jeff Beck and played in front on 3.5 million people on Copacabana beach in Rio, breaking Guinness World Record for staging the largest free rock concert attendance in history In 1995, Stewart released A Spanner in the Works containing , “Leave Virginia Alone” and the 1996 album If We Fall in Love Tonight. In 1998 he released When We Were the New Boys, featuring versions of songs by Oasis and Primal Scream. Stewart also recorded the song “Faith of the Heart”, for the film Patch Adams. In 2001, he released the album Human featuring single “I Can’t Deny It” and The Story So Far: The Very Best of Rod Stewart, a greatest hits album compiled from his time at Warner Bros. In June 2002, Stewart performed “Handbags and Gladrags” at the Party at the Palace held at Buckingham Palace Garden, a concert which celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II and featured stars from five decades of music. After 2002, Stewart concentrated on singing 1930s and 1940s pop standards from the Great American Songbook, written by songwriters such as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and George and Ira Gershwin.

The first album from the songbook series, It Had to Be You: the Great American Songbook, contained The track “These Foolish Things” and”They Can’t Take That Away From Me”. The second series album, As Time Goes By: the Great American Songbook 2, contained “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”, a duet with Cher and “Time After Time”. A musical called Tonight’s The Night, featuring many of Stewart’s songs, also opened in 2003 at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre. It is written and directed by Ben Elton, who also did, We Will Rock You, with music by Queen. In 2004, Stewart reunited with Ronnie Wood for concerts and a Rod Stewart and the Faces best of album, Changing Faces, Five Guys Walk into a Bar…, a Faces box set compilation, was also released. In 2004, Stardust: the Great American Songbook 3, was released featuring His version of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, with Stevie Wonder, and Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Dolly Parton Stewart won his first ever Grammy Award for this album. In 2005 Stewart released a fourth songbook album, Thanks for the Memory: The Great American Songbook 4; featuring duets with Diana Ross and Elton John. In 2006, Stewart released Still the Same… Great Rock Classics of Our Time, featuring rock and southern rock milestones from the last four decades, including a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” In 2007, Stewart performed at the Concert for Diana held at Wembley Stadium, London,Singing “Sailing”, “Baby Jane” and “Maggie May” and also performed for the first time at the Royal Variety Performance at the London Coliseum in front of HRH Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, singing another Cat Stevens number, “Father and Son”, and Bonnie Tyler’s song “It’s a Heartache”.

In 2009, Stewart performed “Maggie May” on the grand finale of American Idol season 8 and a 4-CD, 65-track compilation entitled Rod Stewart Sessions 1971–1998 was released; composed of previously-unreleased tracks and outtakes from the bulk of his career. In 2009, Stewart released the album Soulbook featuring covers of soul and Motown songs. In 2010, Rhino records released Stewart’s Once in a Blue Moon, a “lost album” featuring ten cover songs including the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday”, Bob Dylan’s “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar” and Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back”, Tom Waits’ “Tom Traubert’s Blues” and also released another edition of his Great American Songbook series titled Fly Me to the Moon…The Great American Songbook Volume V. In 2011, Stewart performed with Stevie Nicks on their Heart & Soul Tour and headlined the Sunday show at the 2011 Hard Rock Calling Festival on 26 June in London’s Hyde Park. Stewart signed on to a two-year residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Performing his greatest hits, plus selected tracks from his upcoming, untitled blues album. Stewart’s autobiography titled Rod: The Autobiography was also released in 2012. Stewart also performed “Auld Lang Syne” from his Christmas album and his hit “Sailing” at the Royal Albert Hall for the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance, which was attended by Queen Elizabeth II and also performed at the Royal Albert Hall in front of the Queen during the 100th Royal Variety Performance, singing “When You Wish upon a Star”. Rod Stewart also released a Christmas album, titled Merry Christmas, Baby, featuring “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and was a guest singer on Michael Bublé’s television Home for the Holidays Christmas special.

In 2013, Stewart was nominated for a Canadian Juno Award in the International Album of the Year category for his album Merry Christmas, Baby. He also released the album Time. Stewart also presented Elton John with the first Brits Icon award in a special show at the London Palladium, before they performed a duet on stage. In 2015, Stewart released “Another Country.” Featuring the song “Love Is”. Stewart recorded vocals with Joe Walsh on the upcoming Frankie Miller album Frankie Miller’s Double Take,

Posted in locomotives, steam locomotives, Trains

Metropolitan Railway

The Metropolitan Railway (also known as the Met opened on 10 January 1863 between Farringdon Station and London Paddington Station. It served London from 1863 to 1933, its main line heading north-west from the capital’s financial heart in the City to what were to become the Middlesex suburbs. Its first line connected the main-line railway termini at Paddington, Euston, and King’s Cross to the City. The first section was built beneath the New Road using the “cut-and-cover” method between Paddington and King’s Cross and in tunnel and cuttings beside Farringdon Road from King’s Cross to near Smithfield, near the City. It opened to the public on 10 January 1863 with gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives, and became the world’s first passenger-carrying designated underground railway.

The line was soon extended from both ends, and northwards via a branch from Baker Street. It reached Hammersmith in 1864, Richmond in 1877 and completed the Inner Circle in 1884, however the most important route was the line north into the Middlesex countryside, where it stimulated the development of new suburbs. Harrow was reached in 1880, and the line eventually extended to Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire, more than 50 miles (80 kilometres) from Baker Street and the centre of London.

Electric traction was introduced in 1905 and by 1907 electric multiple units operated most of the services, though electrification of outlying sections did not occur until decades later. Unlike other railway companies in the London area, the Met developed land for housing, and after World War I promoted housing estates near the railway using the “Metro-land” brand. On 1 July 1933, the Met was amalgamated with the Underground Electric Railways Company of London and the capital’s tramway and bus operators to form the London Passenger Transport Board. Former Met tracks and stations are used by the London Underground’s Metropolitan, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Piccadilly, and Jubilee lines, and by Chiltern Railways.

Posted in films & DVD, Science fiction, Television


The epic Science Fiction film Metropolis was released 10 January 1927. It Was directed by Fritz Lang and is set in a futuristic urban dystopia, run by wealthy industrialists from high-rise tower complexes, while a lower class of underground-dwelling workers work in terrible conditions to supply power to the homes of the mega rich. The Master of Metropolis is the ruthless Joh Fredersen, whose wealthy son Freder idles away his time in a pleasure garden with the other children of the rich until he meets Maria, a poor worker, who lives underground. Whilst exploring the machine Rooms Feder witnesses an industrial accident when one of the workers collapses from exhaustion causing an explosion. He then meets Josephat (Frederson’s Sacked Assistant) and returns to the machine rooms, where he swaps places with a worker and learns of a secret meeting. He also finds a coded map showing a network of ancient catacombs beneath Metropolis, Joh also sees a robot built by the scientist Rotwang.

Having seen the attrocious working conditions Freder decides to help Maria bring the working and ruling classes together. However Fredersen and Rotwang conspire to stop them, so Rotwang Kidnaps Maria and The Thin Man (Frederson’s Spy) attempts to bribe and intimidate Josephat into leaving Metropolis. Rotwang then creates a lifelike robot of Maria. This causes chaos throughout Metropolis, driving men to murder out of lust for her and stirring dissent amongst the workers. However the real Maria manages to escape from Rotwang’s house and Frederson learns of Rotwang’s treachery. Meanwhile Freder and Josaphat find the Robot Maria urging the workers to rise up and destroy the machines, and they proceed to destroy the Heart Machine, the central power station for Metropolis, causing carnage. Meanwhile Freder has a deadly encounter with Rotwang whilst trying to rescue Maria…

Numerous attempts have been made to restore the film in the 1970s-80s and Music producer Giorgio Moroder released a version with a soundtrack by rock artists such as Freddie Mercury, Loverboy, and Adam Ant in 1984. A new reconstruction of Metropolis was shown at the Berlin Film Festival in 2001, and the film was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in the same year. In 2008, a damaged print of Lang’s original cut of the film was found in a museum in Argentina. After a long restoration process, the film was 95% restored and shown on large screens in Berlin and Frankfurt simultaneously on 12 February 2010.