The Ghost Tree by Barbara Erskine

I would like to read The ghost tree, The latest novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Barbara Erskine. It features a character named Ruth who has returned to Edinburgh following the end of her marriage, career and now the death of her father, from whom she had long been estranged. She is faced with the daunting task of clearing his house, believing he had removed all traces of her mother. Yet hidden away in a barely used top-floor room, she finds he had secretly kept a cupboard full of her possessions. Sifting through the ancient papers, Ruth discovers the diary and letters written by her ancestor from the eighteenth century, Thomas Erskine.

She learns that Thomas was the youngest son of a noble family now living in genteel poverty, Thomas always knew he would have to make his own way in the world. Unable to follow his brothers to university, instead he joins first the navy and then the army, rising through the ranks, travelling the world. When he is finally able to study law, his extraordinary experiences and abilities propel him to the very top and he becomes Lord Chancellor. Unfortunately he makes a powerful enemy along the way, who hound him and his family to the death and beyond.

Ruth becomes ever more aware of Thomas as she is gripped by his story, and slowly senses that not only is his presence with her, but so is his enemy’s. Ruth will have to draw upon new friends and old in what becomes a battle for her very survival – and discover an inner power beyond anything she has imagined.

Kenneth Grahame

Best known for writing the classic novel “Wind in the Willows”, the English Author Kenneth Grahame was born 8th March 1859. The Wind in the Willows was first published in 1908 and 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. In 1908 Grahame retired from his position as secretary of the Bank of England. He moved back to Cookham, Berkshire, where 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.

The story starts during Spring, when Mole, one of the characters 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. Toad – in thrall to the experience of his encounter – refuses. 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 — Mole barks his shin upon the boot scraper on Badger’s doorstep. Rat finds it and a doormat, knowing they are an obvious sign of hope, but Mole thinks Rat has gone crazy, only to believe him when the digging reveals a door. Badger – en route to bed in his dressing-gown and slippers -nonetheless 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. Though nothing can be done at the moment (it being winter), they resolve that once spring arrives they will make a plan to protect Toad from himself; they are, after all, his friends and are worried for his well-being.With 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, which he drives recklessly and is caught by the police. and sent to prison for twenty-years.

During Toad’s absence Badger and Mole continue to 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”. However This does not go well and Toad finds himself tossed into the canal. Although he later manages to steal the barge horse, which he then sells to a gypsy, Toad flags 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.

Micky Dolenz

Best known as a member of the 1960s made-for-television band The Monkees. American actor, musician, television director, radio personality and theater director, Micky Dolenz was born 8th March 1945. Dolenz began his show business career in 1956 when he starred in a children’s show called Circus Boy under the name Mickey Braddock.In 1965, Dolenz was cast in the television sitcom The Monkees and became the drummer and a lead vocalist in the band created for the show, dispite not being a drummer. He needed lessons even to be able to mime credibly, but eventually was taught how to play properly. By the time The Monkees toured for real in late 1966, Dolenz was competent enough to play the drums himself. (He learned to play right-handed and left-footed.)

According to Mike Nesmith, it was Dolenz’s voice that made the Monkees’ sound distinctive, and even during tension-filled times Nesmith and Peter Tork voluntarily turned over lead vocal duties to Dolenz on their own compositions, such as Tork’s “For Pete’s Sake”, which became the closing title theme for the second season of the TV show. Dolenz wrote a few of the band’s songs as well as providing the lead vocals for such hits as “Last Train to Clarksville” and “I’m a Believer”. Towards the end of the series’ hectic two-year run, Dolenz directed and co-wrote what turned out to be the show’s final episode. Despite being more of a singer than a musician, Micky purchased one of the first 25 Moog synthesizers, the third Moog Synthesizer ever commercially sold. His performance on The Monkees song “Daily Nightly” (written by Michael Nesmith) from the LP, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., was the first use of a synthesizer on a rock recording.

The Monkees have enjoyed continuing popularity Thanks in part to reruns of The Monkees on Saturday mornings and in syndication, The Monkees Greatest Hits also charted in 1976. Dolenz and Jones took advantage of this, joining ex-Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to tour the United States. From 1975 to 1977, as the “Golden Hits of The Monkees” show (“The Guys who Wrote ‘Em and the Guys who Sang ‘Em!”), they successfully performed in smaller venues such as state fairs and amusement parks, as well as making stops in Japan, Thailand and Singapore. They also released an album of new material as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart.

After the television show ended and the band broke up, Dolenz hoped to continue a solo recording career, and released several singles on MGM Records (and its subsidiaries) in the early 1970s. In 1971, Peter Tork helped arrange a Micky Dolenz single, “Easy on You”/”Oh Someone”. He also provided voice-overs for a number of Saturday-morning cartoon series including The Funky Phantom, Partridge Family 2200 A.D., Scooby-doo, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, Devlin and Wonder Wheels (from The Skatebirds). Dolenz provided the voice of Arthur in the first season of the animated series The Tick.[SPOON!] Dolenz also played one of Alan Matthews’ bandmates in the sitcom Boy Meets World, and later joined Davy Jones and Peter Tork in episode eight of the 3rd season (titled “Rave On”), although they did not play themselves. In 1972, Dolenz played Vance in the murder mystery film Night of the Strangler. Dolenz provided the voice of Two-Face’s twin henchmen in the two-part episode “Two-Face” on Batman: The Animated Series. In a September 2006 radio interview, Dolenz reported that he is the current voice of Snuggle the Fabric Softener Bear. Dolenz also made guest appearances on prime time shows including Adam-12 and My Three Sons. He also auditioned for the role of Fonzie on the series Happy Days, but lost out to Henry Winkler.

1977 saw him performing with former band-mate Davy Jones in a stage production of the Harry Nilsson musical The Point! in London, playing the part of Arrow, Oblio’s (Jones) pet dog. In the early 1980s, Dolenz also directed a stage version of Bugsy Malone, the cast of which included a then-unknown 14-year-old Welsh actress named Catherine Zeta-Jones. From 1983 to 1984 he was responsible for creating and producing the British children’s television show Luna. In 2007, he appeared in Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween as Derek Allan, the owner of the gun shop where Dr. Loomis (played by Malcolm McDowell) buys a gun in his search for Michael Myers. 2011, Dolenz appeared in the movie movie Mega Python vs. Gatoroid alongside Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.

In 1986, a screening of the entire Monkees television series by MTV led to renewed interest in the group, followed by a single (“That Was Then, This Is Now” reached number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.), a 20th Anniversary Tour, a greatest hits album and a brand new LP, Pool It! in 1987. The group’s original albums were reissued and all hit the record charts at the same time. He has joined the other ex-Monkees for several reunion tours, most recently in 2011 with a series of concerts in England and the United States, and has toured extensively as a solo artist. He has continued to direct for television both in the United Kingdom and the United States, and had occasional acting gigs, including roles in the TV series The Equalizer and as the Mayor on the cable TV series Pacific Blue.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is celebrated anually on March 8 every year to commemorate the movement for women’s rights. The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York and organized by the Socialist Party of America.On March 8, 1917, in the capital of the Russian Empire, Petrograd, a demonstration of women textile workers began, covering the whole city. This was the beginning of the Russian Revolution. Seven days later, the Emperor of Russia Nicholas II abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. March 8 was declared a national holiday in Soviet Russia in 1917. The day was predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.

The earliest organized Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York. It was organized by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union.There was no strike on March 8, despite later claims. In August 1910, an International Women’s Conference was organized to precede the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, Denmark. Inspired in part by the American socialists, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual International Woman’s Day (singular) and was seconded by fellow socialist and later communist leader Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified at that conference.Delegates (100 women from 17 countries) agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights including suffrage for women. The following year on March 19, 1911 IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.In the Austro-Hungarian Empire alone, there were 300 demonstrations.in Vienna, women paraded on the Ringstrasse and carried banners honouring the martyrs of the Paris Commune. Women demanded that they be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against employment sex discrimination. Americans continued to celebrate National Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February.

International Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is celebrated anually on March 8 every year. It commemorates the movement for women’s rights. The earliest Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York and organized by the Socialist Party of America.On March 8, 1917, in the capital of the Russian Empire, Petrograd, a demonstration of women textile workers began, covering the whole city. This was the beginning of the Russian Revolution. Seven days later, the Emperor of Russia Nicholas II abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. March 8 was declared a national holiday in Soviet Russia in 1917. The day was predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.

The earliest organized Women’s Day observance was held on February 28, 1909, in New York. It was organized by the Socialist Party of America in remembrance of the 1908 strike of the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union.There was no strike on March 8, despite later claims. In August 1910, an International Women’s Conference was organized to precede the general meeting of the Socialist Second International in Copenhagen, Denmark. Inspired in part by the American socialists, German Socialist Luise Zietz proposed the establishment of an annual International Woman’s Day (singular) and was seconded by fellow socialist and later communist leader Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified at that conference.Delegates (100 women from 17 countries) agreed with the idea as a strategy to promote equal rights including suffrage for women. The following year on March 19, 1911 IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.In the Austro-Hungarian Empire alone, there were 300 demonstrations.in Vienna, women paraded on the Ringstrasse and carried banners honouring the martyrs of the Paris Commune. Women demanded that they be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against employment sex discrimination. Americans continued to celebrate National Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February.

In 2011 Events took place in numerous countries on March 8, 2011 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. In the United States, President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2011 to be “Women’s History Month”, calling Americans to mark IWD by reflecting on “the extraordinary accomplishments of women” in shaping the country’s history.Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the “100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges”, on the eve of IWD.In the run-up to 2011 International Women’s Day, the Red Cross called on States and other entities not to relent in their efforts to prevent rape and other forms of sexual violence that harm the lives and dignity of countless women in conflict zones around the world every year.nIn Pakistan, the Punjab Government Project Gender Reform Action Plan (GRAP), Gujranwala District celebrated this day at the GIFT University Gujranwala. Shazia Ashfaq Mattu, MPA and GRAP officer Yasir Nawaz Manj organized the events. Australia also issued an IWD 100th anniversary commemorative 20-cent coin. In Egypt, however, the day was a step back for women. In Egypt’s Tahrir Square, hundreds of men came out not in support, but to harass the women who came out to stand up for their rights as the police and military stood by watching the events unfold in front of them. “The women – some in headscarves and flowing robes, others in jeans – had marched to Cairo’s central Tahrir Square to celebrate International Women’s Day. But crowds of men soon outnumbered them and chased them out”, wrote Hadeel Al-Shalchi for The Associated Press.

The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2012 was Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty. In that year, Oxfam America invited people to celebrate inspiring women in their lives by sending a free International Women’s Day e-Card or honoring a woman whose efforts had made a difference in the fight against hunger and poverty with Oxfam’s International Women’s Day award. the ICRC also called for more action to help the mothers and wives of people who have gone missing during armed conflict. The vast majority of people who go missing in connection with conflict are men. As well as the anguish of not knowing what has happened to the missing husband or son, many of these women face economic and practical difficulties. The ICRC underlined the duty of parties to a conflict to search for the missing and provide information to the families.

The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2013 was “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”,while International Women’s Day 2013 declared the year’s theme as The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum. the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also drew attention to the plight of women in prison. The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2014 is “Equality for Women is Progress for All”. American singer Beyoncé also posted an International Women’s Day video to her YouTube account. Throughout the video, her song “***Flawless” plays, which includes a portion of the “We Should All Be Feminists” speech given by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Knowles is a modern-day feminist. The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2015 was “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!”. Governments and activists around the world will commemorate the 20th anniversary year of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, an historic roadmap that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights.

The united Nations International Women’s Day theme for 2016 was “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”.nAn independent campaign, separate from the UN, is being run by financial firm EY with other corporate partners, organizing events around a #PledgeForParity hashtag. The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, in his message issued on the eve of International Women’s Day said: “On the occasion of International Womens Day, I extend warm greetings and good wishes to the women of India and thank them for their contributions over the years in the building of our nation.” The ministry of women and child development announced the setting up of four more one-stop crisis centers on March 8, in addition to the eight already functioning across the country.Ahead of Women’s Day, the national carrier Air India operated what it claimed to be the world’s longest non-stop flight where the entire flight operations were handled by women, as part of International Women’s Day celebrations. The flight, from Delhi to San Francisco, covered a distance of around 14,500 kilometers in around 17 hours. The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030”. EY is promoting the theme as #BeBoldForChange.

In a message in support of International Women’s Day, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres commented on how women’s rights were being “reduced, restricted and reversed”. With men still in leadership positions and a widening economic gender gap, he called for change “by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world”.