Anthony Burgess

clockwork-orangeControversial English Writer and Composer John Anthony Burgess Wilson, FRSL (Anthony Burgess) was Born 25 February 1917 in Harpurhey, Manchester. Burgess was predominantly seen as a comic writer, and although this was how his works were read, he claimed that his works weren’t intended to be humorous. The dystopian satire A Clockwork Orange is Burgess’s most famous novel, though he dismissed it as one of his lesser works, and it is in many ways an atypical Burgess work. It was adapted into a highly controversial 1971 film by Stanley Kubrick, which Burgess said was chiefly responsible for the popularity of the book. A Clockwork Orange is a 1962 dystopian satire portraying a future and dystopian Western society with—based on contemporary trends—a culture of extreme youth rebellion and violence: it explores the violent nature of humans, human free will to choose between good or evil, and the desolation of free will as a solution to evil. Burgess experiments with language, writing in a Russian-influenced argot called “Nadsat” used by the younger characters and the anti-hero in his first-person narration. According to Burgess, the novel was a jeu d’esprit written in just three weeks. He bemoaned the fact that the book had been taken as the source material for a 1971 film that was perceived to glorify sex and violence. In 2005, A Clockwork Orange was included on Time magazine’s list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923, and it was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. The original transcipt of the book is at McMaster University. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Clockwork Orange is the story of Alex, a teenager living in near-future England, who leads his gang on nightly orgies of opportunistic, random “ultra-violence”. Alex’s friends (“droogs” in the novel’s Anglo-Russian slang, Nadsat) are: Dim, a slow-witted bruiser who is the gang’s muscle; Georgie, an ambitious second-in-command; and Pete, who mostly plays along as the droogs indulge their taste for ultra-violence. Characterised as a sociopath and a hardened juvenile delinquent, Alex is also intelligent and quick-witted, with sophisticated taste in music, being particularly fond of Beethoven.

The novel begins with the droogs sitting in their favorite hangout before indulging in a night’s carnage. They assault a scholar walking home from the public library, rob a store leaving the owner and his wife bloodied and unconscious, stomp a panhandling derelict, then scuffle with a rival gang. Joyriding through the countryside in a stolen car, until they break into an isolated cottage and brutally assault the young couple living there, beating the husband and raping his wife. Georgie later challenges Alex for leadership of the gang, demanding that they pull a “man-sized” job. So Alex insists on following through on Georgie’s idea to burgle the home of a wealthy old woman. However this goes too far and ends in tragedy, as Alex kills the elderly woman. In the rush to escape He is prevented from escaping by Dim, who leaves him incapacitated on the front step as the police arrive and arrest him for murder.

Sentenced to prison for murder, Alex gets a job at the Wing chapel playing religious music, and he agrees to undergo an controversial experimental behaviour-modification treatment called the Ludovico Technique, which is a form of aversion therapy in which Alex receives an injection that makes him feel sick while watching graphically violent films, eventually conditioning him to suffer crippling bouts of nausea at the mere thought of violence. Although the prison chaplain accuses the state of stripping Alex of free will, the government officials on the scene are pleased with the results and Alex is released into society.

Burgess produced numerous other novels, including the Enderby quartet, and Earthly Powers, regarded by most critics as his greatest novel. Burgess was also an accomplished musician and linguist. He composed over 250 musical works, including a first symphony around age 18, wrote a number of libretti, and translated, among other works, Cyrano de Bergerac, Oedipus the King and Carmen And 2was a well known literary critic. sadly though Burgess passed away 22 November 1993 St John’s Wood, London, England at the age of 76.2008. However The Times newspaper placed Burgess at number 17 on their list of the top 50 greatest British writers along side William Shakespeare, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence and Ernest Hemingway

George Harrison

English musician, singer and songwriter George Harrison, was born 25 February 1943. He chieved international fame as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Although John Lennon and Paul McCartney were the band’s primary songwriters, most of their albums included at least one Harrison composition, including “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something”, which became the Beatles’ second-most-covered song.

Harrison’s earliest musical influences included Big Bill Broonzy, George Formby and Django Reinhardt; Chet Atkins, Chuck Berry and Ry Cooder were significant later influences. By 1965 he had begun to lead the Beatles into folk rock through his interest in the Byrds andBob Dylan, and towards Indian classical music through his use of the sitar on “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”. He developed an interest in the Hare Krishna movement and became an admirer of Indian culture and mysticism, introducing them to the other members of the Beatles and their Western audience by incorporating Indian instrumentation in their music.

After the band’s break-up in 1970, Harrison released the triple album All Things Must Pass, from which two hit singles originated. He also organized the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh with Ravi Shankar, a precursor for later benefit concerts such as Live Aid. Harrison was a music and film producer as well as a musician; he founded Dark Horse Records in 1974 and co-founded HandMade Films in 1978. If you watch carefully he has got a cameo in a few Monty Python films. Harrison released several best-selling singles and albums as a solo performer, and in 1988 co-founded the platinum-selling supergroup the Traveling Wilburys. A prolific recording artist, he was featured as a guest guitarist on tracks by Badfinger, Ronnie Wood and Billy Preston, and collaborated on songs and music with Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Tom Petty, among others. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 11 in their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. Harrison’s first marriage, to Pattie Boyd, ended in divorce in 1977. The following year he married Olivia Trinidad Arias, with whom he had one son, Dhani. Sadly though George Harrison tragically died on 29 November 2001, aged 58, from lung cancer. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the Gangesand Yamuna rivers in India, in a private ceremony according to Hindu tradition. He left almost £100 million in his will.

http://youtu.be/OiuDrVvu-MU GEORGE HARRISON – BEST OF DARK HORSE

The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter

MassacreI am currrently reading the exciting science fiction novel The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter. This is an officially sanctioned Sequel to the classic War of the Worlds by H.G.Wells. The book is set fourteen years (1920) after the events of the ‘The First Martian War’ when the Martians invaded England but were successfully defeated by the most surprising thing  (and not due to any human intervention). The book is told from the point of view of journalist Julie Elphinstone who starts off in the USA, but travels to the UK at the request of her Ex-Husband’s brother Walter Jenkins the narrator from the original book.

The world has moved on since the last Martian invasion and is a substantially different place because of the effect the last invasion had. Britain is now under Martial Law in case the Martians should ever return, and are led by Brigadier Marvin. Britain was not involved in The First World War which was known as the Schlieffen War and resulted in the Prussian Empire expanding with Germany now controlling large parts of Europe and also  having major influence in Britain.

Elsewhere Scientists have been watching the skies closely trying to predict if and when the Martians might return, while the military have acquired Machinery looted from the abandoned capsules and war-machines from the previous unsuccessful invasion. This has led to technological leaps forward using Martian technology. The military also intend to exploit the Martians vulnerability to earth germs. However Walter Jenkins, brings some worrying news and is sure that the Martians have learned and their technology has also evolved and adapted to cope with germs since the last invasion and that the Military are being far-too complacent. So Julie accompanies Philip, Harry Kane, Major Eric Eden and Burt Cook on a jouney to London. Sure enough shortly after Major Eric Eden, of the US ARMY makes an off-hand derisory remark about the Martians, ominous signs of launches on Mars are seen again, and the Earth finds itself coming under under an even bigger attack from Mars…

Alain Prost

French racing driver Alain Prost, OBE, Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, who was born 24th February 1955 in Lorette, Loire. He is A highly successful four-time Formula One Drivers’ Champion, Having won the World Championship in 1985; 1986; 1989 & 1993 Prost has won more titles than any driver except for Juan Manuel Fangio (five championships), and Michael Schumacher (seven championships). From 1987 until 2001 Prost held the record for most Grand Prix victories. Schumacher surpassed Prost’s total of 51 victories at the 2001 Belgian Grand Prix. In 1999, Prost received the World Sports Awards of the Century in the motor sport category.

Prost discovered karting at the age of 14 during a family holiday. He progressed through motor sport’s junior ranks, winning the French and European Formula Three championships, before joining the McLaren Formula One team in 1980 at the age of 25. He finished in the points on his Formula One début in Argentina and took his first race victory at his home Grand Prix in France a year later, while he was driving for the factory Renault team.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Prost formed a fierce rivalry with mainly Ayrton Senna, but also Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell. In 1986, at the last race of the season, he managed to pip Mansell and Piquet of Williams to the title after Mansell retired late on in the race, and Piquet was pulled in for a late precautionary pit stop. Senna joined Prost at McLaren in 1988 and the two had a series of controversial clashes, including a collision at the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix that gave Prost his third Drivers’ Championship. A year later at the same venue they collided again, but this time Prost, driving for Ferrari, lost out. Before the end of a winless 1991 season Prost was fired by Ferrari for his public criticism of the team. After a sabbatical in 1992, Prost joined the Williams team, prompting reigning drivers’ champion Mansell to leave for CART. With a competitive car, Prost won the 1993 championship and retired from driving at the end of the year.

In 1997, Prost took over the French Ligier team, running it as Prost Grand Prix until it went bankrupt in 2002. He currently competes in the Andros Trophy, which is an ice racing championship.Prost employed a smooth, relaxed style behind the wheel, deliberately modeling himself on personal heroes like Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark. He was nicknamed “The Professor” for his intellectual approach to competition. Skilled at setting up his car for race conditions, Prost would often conserve his brakes and tyres early on in a race, leaving them fresher for a challenge at the end.

Wilhelm Grimm

GrimmsBest Known for writing Grimm’s Fairy Tales, German philologist and folklorist Wilhelm Grimm was born 24th February 1786. He was the younger brother of Jakob. Grimm’s Fairy Tales (German: Grimms Märchen) was first published in 1812 and The first volume contained 86 stories; the second volume of 70 stories followed in 1814. For the second edition, two volumes were issued in 1819 and a third in 1822, totalling 170 tales. The third edition appeared in 1837; fourth edition, 1840; fifth edition, 1843; sixth edition, 1850; seventh edition, 1857. Stories were added, and also subtracted, from one edition to the next, until the seventh held 211 tales. All editions were extensively illustrated, first by Philipp Grot Johann and, after his death in 1892, by Robert Leinweber. The first volumes were much criticized because, although they were called “Children’s Tales”, they were not regarded as suitable for children, both for the scholarly information included and the subject matter. Many changes through the editions – such as turning the wicked mother of the first edition in Snow White and Hansel and Gretel (shown in original Grimm stories as Hansel and Grethel) to a stepmother, were probably made with an eye to such suitability. They removed sexual references—such as Rapunzel’s innocently asking why her dress was getting tight around her belly, and thus naïvely revealing her pregnancy and the prince’s visits to her stepmother—but, in many respects, violence, particularly when punishing villains, was increased.

The influence of these books was widespread. W. H. Auden praised the collection, during World War II, as one of the founding works of Western culture. The tales themselves have been put to many uses. The Nazis praised them as folkish tales showing children with sound racial instincts seeking racially pure marriage partners, and so strongly that the Allied forces warned against them; for instance, Cinderella with the heroine as racially pure, the stepmother as an alien, and the prince with an unspoiled instinct being able to distinguish. Writers who have written about the Holocaust have combined the tales with their memoirs, as Jane Yolen in her Briar Rose.The work of the Brothers Grimm influenced other collectors, both inspiring them to collect tales and leading them to similarly believe, in a spirit of romantic nationalism, that the fairy tales of a country were particularly representative of it, to the neglect of cross-cultural influence. Among those influenced were the Russian Alexander Afanasyev, the Norwegians Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe, the English Joseph Jacobs, and Jeremiah Curtin, an American who collected Irish tales. However some including Joseph Jacobs complained that English children did not read English fairy tales; in his own words, “What Perrault began, the Grimms completed”. Three individual works of Wilhelm Grimm include Altdänische Heldenlieder, Balladen und Märchen (‘Old Danish Heroic Lays, Ballads, and Folktales’) in 1811, Über deutsche Runen (‘On German Runes’) in 1821, and Die deutsche Heldensage (‘The German Heroic Legend’) in 1829. Sadly Wilhelm Grimm, passed away on 16th December 1859.

Among the best known of Grimm’s Fairy Tales are: Snow White, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood, The Riddle, Mother Hulda, The Frog King, or Iron Heinrich, Cat and Mouse in Partnership, Mary’s Child, The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids, Trusty John or Faithful John, The Good Bargain, The Wonderful Musician or The Strange Musician,The Twelve Brothers, The Pack of Ragamuffins, The Three Little Men in the Wood, The Three Snake-Leaves, The Fisherman and His Wife, The Seven Ravens, Clever Elsie, The White Snake, The Valiant Little Tailor, The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage, Town Musicians of Bremen, The Singing Bone, The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs, The Louse and the Flea ,Thumbling (Tom Thumb), Thumbling’s Travels and The Elves and the Shoemaker. Many of these stories have also been turned into films and animation too including Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood.

Thomas Newcomen

NewcomenEnglish inventor and engineer Thomas Newcomen was born 24 February 1664 in Dartmouth, Devon. He is credited with creating the first practical steam engine for pumping water, the Newcomen steam engine. At the time Devon was noted for its tin mines, where flooding was a major problem, limiting the depth at which the mineral could be mined. Newcomen’s great achievement was his steam engine, developed around 1712, combining the ideas of Thomas Savery and Denis Papin. It is likely that Newcomen was already acquainted with Savery, whose forebears were merchants in south Devon. Savery also had a post with the Commissioners for Sick and Hurt Seamen, which took him to Dartmouth. Savery had devised a ‘fire engine’, a kind of thermic syphon, in which steam was admitted to an empty container and then condensed. The vacuum thus created was used to suck water from the sump at the bottom of the mine. The ‘fire engine’ was not very effective and could not work beyond a limited depth of around thirty feet.Newcomen replaced the receiving vessel (where the steam was condensed) with a cylinder containing a piston. Instead of the vacuum drawing in water, it drew down the piston. This was used to work a beam engine, in which a large wooden beam rocked upon a centralfulcrum. On the other side of the beam was a chain attached to a pump at the base of the mine. As the steam cylinder was refilled with steam, readying it for the next power stroke, water was drawn into the pump cylinder and expelled into a pipe to the surface by the weight of the machinery. Newcomen and his partner John Calley built one of the first engines at the Conygree Coalworks near Dudley in the West Midlands. A working replica of this engine can be seen at the Black Country Living Museum nearby.

NewcomenThe Newcomen engine held its place without material change for about three-quarters of a century, spreading gradually to more and more areas of the UK and to mainland Europe. At first brass cylinders had been used but these were expensive and limited in size. New iron casting techniques pioneered by the Coalbrookdale Company in the 1720s allowed bigger and bigger cylinders to be used, up to about 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter by the 1760s, and experience gradually led to better construction and minor refinements in layout. Its mechanical details were much improved by John Smeaton, who built many large engines of this type in the early 1770s; his improvements were rapidly adopted. By 1775 about 600 Newcomen engines had been built, although many of these had worn out before then, and been abandoned or replaced. The Newcomen Engine was rather inefficient by today’s standards, but was probably as complicated as engineering and materials techniques of the early eighteenth century could support. Much heat was lost when condensing the steam, as this cooled the cylinder. This did not matter unduly at a colliery, where unsaleable small coal (slack) was available, but significantly increased the mining costs where coal was not readily available, as in Cornwall. Therefore, Newcomen’s engine was gradually replaced after 1775 in areas where coal was expensive (especially in Cornwall) by an improved design, invented by James Watt, in which the steam was condensed in a separate condenser.

The Watt steam engine, aided by better engineering techniques including Wilkinson’s boring machine, was much more fuel efficient, enabling Watt and his partner Matthew Boulton to collect substantial royalties based on the fuel saved.Watt subsequently made other improvements, including the double-acting engine, where both the up and down strokes were power strokes. These were especially suitable for driving textile mills, and many Watt engines were employed in these industries. At first attempts to drive machinery by Newcomen engines had mixed success, as the single power stroke produced a jerky motion, but use of flywheels and better engineering largely overcame these problems. By 1800, hundreds of non-Watt rotary engines had been built, especially in collieries and ironworks where irregular motion was not a problem but also in textile mills. Despite Watt’s improvements, Common Engines (as they were then known) remained in use for a considerable time, and many more Newcomen engines than Watt ones were built even during the period of Watt’s patent (up to 1800), as they were cheaper and less complicated: of over 2,200 engines built in the eighteenth century, only about 450 were Watt engines. Elements of Watt’s design, especially the Separate Condenser, were incorporated in many “pirate” engines. Even after 1800 Newcomen type engines continued to be built and condensers were added routinely to these. They were also commonly retro-fitted to existing Newcomen engines (the so-called “pickle-pot” condenser).

There are examples of Newcomen engines in the Science Museum (London) and the Ford Museum, Dearborn amongst other places. Perhaps the last Newcomen-style engine to be used commercially – and the last still remaining on its original site – is at the Elsecar Heritage Centre, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. The only Newcomen engines that can be shown working are believed to be the Newcomen Memorial Engine at Dartmouth and the replica engine at the Black Country Museum in Dudley, West Midlands. Comparatively little is known of Newcomen’s later life. In his later life (at least), the engine affairs were conducted through an unincorporated company, the ‘Proprietors of the Invention for Raising Water by Fire’. Its secretary and treasurer was John Meres, clerk to the Society of Apothecaries in London. That society formed a company which had a monopoly on supplying medicines to the Navy providing a close link with Savery, whose will he witnessed. The Committee of the Proprietors also included Edward Wallin, a Baptist of Swedish descent; and pastor of a church at Maze Pond, Southwark. Newcomen died at his house 5 August 1729, and his body was buried atBunhill Fields, a cemetery in north London; the exact location of his grave is now not known.By the time of his death, about 75 of his engines, operating under Savery’s patent (extended by statute so that it did not expire until 1733), had been installed by Newcomen and others in most of the important mining districts of Britain: draining coal mines in the Black Country, Warwickshire and near Newcastle upon Tyne; at tin and copper mines in Cornwall; and in lead mines in Flintshire andDerbyshire, amongst other places

BRIT Awards winners 2017

Mastercard British Album
The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep for You Are Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It
David Bowie – Blackstar – WINNER
Kano – Made in the Manor
Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate
Skepta – Konnichiwa

International male solo artist
Bon Iver
Bruno Mars
Drake – WINNER
Leonard Cohen
The Weeknd

International female solo artist
Beyoncé – WINNER
Christine and the Queens
Rihanna
Sia
Solange

International group
A Tribe Called Quest – WINNER
Drake & Future
Kings of Leon
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Twenty One Pilots

Best British video
Adele – Send My Love (To Your New Lover)
Calvin Harris ft Rihanna – This Is What You Came For
Clean Bandit ft Sean Paul & Anne-Marie – Rockabye
Coldplay – Hymn for the Weekend
James Arthur – Say You Won’t Let Go
Jonas Blue ft Dakota – Fast Car
Little Mix ft Sean Paul – Hair
One Direction – History – WINNER
Tinie Tempah ft Zara Larsson – Girls Like
Zayn – Pillowtalk

Never Go Back

I would like to watch The exciting American Espionage Crime Thriller “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” which is out on DVD and is based on the Lee Child novel of the same name. It stars Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher (who is described as 6’5 with Blonde hair?) and Cobie Smulders as Susan Turner. It concerns former military investigator turned vigilante drifter Jack Reacher who returns to his old military headquarters after to meet Major Susan Turner, whom he has been working with during his travels – only to learn from Colonel Sam Morgan that Turner has been accused of espionage and detained.

Turner’s attorney, Colonel Bob Moorcroft, implicates Turner in the murders of two soldiers in Afghanistan, but Reacher believes she is being framed. Moorcroft also reveals an old acquaintance of Reacher, Candice Dutton, has filed a paternity suit against him, claiming he is the biological father of her 15-year-old daughter, Samantha Dutton. Then Moorcroft is killed by an unknown assassin and Reacher is framed for Moorcroft’s murder and arrested and transported to the prison where Turner is being detained. Assassins arrive to kill her, but Reacher intervenes and rescues her and they escape to Morgan’s house. the assassin, is revealed to be working with Morgan, kills Morgan and frames Reacher which he learns about from a friend, Sergeant Leach.

Reacher and Turner uncover surveillance pictures of Samantha and realises she is in danger, and arrive at her home to find her foster parents dead and Samantha hiding in the kitchen. Reacher and Turner decide to escort Samantha to Turner’s old private school for protection, however they discover that the enemy is tracking her through her mobile phone so they discard it.

Reacher, Turner and Samantha travel to New Orleans in search of Daniel Prudhomme, the only eye-witness to the murders for which Turner has been framed. They find him in a derelict warehouse filled with drug addicts and learn that Prudhomme is connected to Parasource, a private military organization that is trying to cover up the murders. Reacher contacts Turner’s friend, Captain Anthony Espin, concerning Prudhomme but they are ambushed by assassins and Prudhomme is killed. Reacher rescues Espin and finds out that the assassins are Parasource contractors. Parasource’s CEO, General James Harkness, then sends the hunter to capture Samantha.

Reacher and Turner, along with Espin, acting on information provided by Prudhomme, intercept a flight of weapons due to enter the country, where they confront Harkness and his men and accuse them of corruption. Upon opening the crates, however, Espin find weapons as declared in the flight manifest. Before Turner can be re-arrested, Reacher opens up one of weapons and discovers that they are filled with opium. They learn that Harkness framed Turner, who had been investigating his activities, for the murders of two soldiers who discovered that Harkness was selling weapons to insurgents and smuggling drugs into the United States. Espin and his men then arrest Harkness, clearing Reacher’s and Turner’s names. The hunter and his men locate and chase Samantha through the streets to lure Reacher into a confrontation. Turner kills one of the assassins, whilst Reacher takes out another one on the rooftop. The hunter captures Samantha and threatens to kill her, but she manages to escape and steal his gun. Reacher then confronts the hunter in an exciting climax

Stan Laurel

LaurelEnglish comic actor, writer and film director Stan Laurel sadly died 23 February 1964 at the age of 75. He was born 16 June 1890 and is most famous for his role in the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. With his comedy partner Oliver Hardy he appeared in 107 short films, feature films and cameo roles. Laurel began his career in the British music hall, from where he took a number of his standard comic devices: the bowler hat, the deep comic gravity, and the nonsensical understatement. His performances polished his skills at pantomime and music hall sketches. Laurel was a member of “Fred Karno’s Army,” where he was Charlie Chaplin’s understudy.The two arrived in the US on the same ship from Britain with the Karno troupe. Laurel went into films in the US, with his acting career stretching between 1917 and 1951, and from “silents” to “talkies.” It included a starring role in the film The Music Box (1932).

Laurel signed with the Hal Roach studio, where he began directing films, including a 1926 production called Yes, Yes, Nanette. He intended to work primarily as a writer and director, but fate stepped in. In 1927, Oliver Hardy, another member of the Hal Roach Studios Comedy All Star players, was injured in a kitchen mishap, and Laurel was asked to return to acting. Laurel and Hardy began sharing the screen in Slipping Wives, Duck Soup (1927) and With Love and Hisses. The two became friends and their comic chemistry soon became obvious. Roach Studios’ supervising director Leo McCarey noticed the audience reaction to them and began teaming them, leading to the creation of the Laurel and Hardy series later that year.

Together, the two men began producing a huge body of short films, including The Battle of the Century, Should Married Men Go Home?, Two Tars, Be Big!, Big Business, and many others. Laurel and Hardy successfully made the transition to talking films with the short Unaccustomed As We Are in 1929. They also appeared in their first feature in one of the revue sequences of The Hollywood Revue of 1929, and the following year they appeared as the comic relief in a lavish all-colour (in Technicolor) musical feature, The Rogue Song. In 1931, their first starring feature, Pardon Us was released. They continued to make both features and shorts until 1935, including their 1932 three-reeler The Music Box, which won an Academy Award for Best Short Subject.

In 1941, Laurel and Hardy signed a contract at 20th Century Fox to make ten films over five months. During the war years, their work became more standardised and less successful, though The Bullfighters, and Jitterbugs did receive some praise. Laurel discovered he had diabetes, so he encouraged Hardy to make two films without him. In 1946, he divorced Virginia Ruth Rogers and married Ida Kitaeva Raphael. In 1947, Laurel returned to England when he and Hardy went on a six-week tour of the United Kingdom, and the duo were mobbed wherever they went. Laurel’s homecoming to Ulverston took place in May, and the duo were greeted by thousands of fans outside the Coronation Hall.

The tour included a Royal Command Performance for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in London and they spent the next seven years touring the UK and Europe. In 1950, Laurel and Hardy were invited to France to make a feature film. The film, a Franco-Italian co-production titled Atoll K, was a disaster. (The film was titled Utopia in the US and Robinson Crusoeland in the UK.) Both stars were noticeably ill during the filming. Upon returning to the US they spent most of their time recovering. In 1952, Laurel and Hardy toured Europe successfully, and they returned in 1953 for another tour of the continent. During this tour, Laurel fell ill and was unable to perform for several weeks. In May 1954, Hardy had a heart attack and cancelled the tour. In 1955, they were planning to do a television series, Laurel and Hardy’s Fabulous Fables, based on children’s stories. The plans were delayed after Laurel suffered a stroke on 25 April, from which he recovered. But as he was planning to get back to work, his partner Hardy had a massive stroke on 14 September 1956, which resulted in his being unable to return to acting.

In 1961, Stan Laurel was given a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for his pioneering work in comedy. He had achieved his lifelong dream as a comedian and had been involved in nearly 190 films. He lived his final years in a small flat in the Oceana Apartments in Santa Monica, California. Jerry Lewis was among the numerous comedians to visit Laurel, who offered suggestions for Lewis’s production of The Bellboy (1960). Lewis paid tribute to Laurel by naming his main character Stanley in the film, and having Bill Richmond play a version of Laurel as well.Dick Van Dyke told a similar story. When he was just starting his career, he looked up Laurel’s phone number, called him, and then visited him at his home. Van Dyke played Laurel on “The Sam Pomerantz Scandals” episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Laurel was a heavy smoker until suddenly quitting around 1960. In January 1965, he underwent a series of x-rays for an infection on the roof of his mouth.He died on 23 February 1965, aged 74, four days after suffering a heart attack on 19 February Just minutes away from death, Laurel told his nurse he would not mind going skiing right at that very moment. Somewhat taken aback, the nurse replied that she was not aware that he was a skier. “I’m not,” said Laurel, “I’d rather be doing that than this!” A few minutes later the nurse looked in on him again and found that he had died quietly in his armchair. Silent screen comedian Buster Keaton also died of lung cancer one year later in February 1966. Dick Van Dyke, friend, protege and occasional impressionist of Laurel during his later years, gave the eulogy, reading A Prayer for Clowns. Laurel was cremated, and his ashes were interred in Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery.

H-bc(1)British author Bernard Cornwell OBE, was born 23 February 1944. Famous for writing Exciting historical fiction, He is best known for his novels about Napoleonic Wars rifleman Richard Sharpe which were adapted into a series of Sharpe television films, starring Sean Bean. As a child, Cornwell loved the novels of C. S. Forester, chronicling the adventures of fictional British naval officer Horatio Hornblower during the Napoleonic Wars, and was surprised to find that there were no such novels following Lord Wellington’s campaign on land. Motivated by the need to support himself in the U.S. through writing, Cornwell decided to write such a series. He named his chief protagonist Richard Sharpe, a rifleman involved in most of the major battles of the Peninsular War. Cornwell took the name from rugby player Richard Sharp.He attended the University of London, and after graduating, worked as a teacher. He attempted to enlist in the British armed services at least three times, but was rejected on the grounds of myopia. He then joined the BBC’s Nationwide and was promoted to become head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland. He then joined Thames Television as editor of Thames News. He relocated to the United States in 1979 after marrying an American. Unable to get a green card, he started writing novels, as this did not require a work permit and later became a U.S. citizen.

Cornwell wanted to start the series with the Siege of Badajoz but decided instead to start with a couple of “warm-up” novels. These were Sharpe’s Eagle and Sharpe’s Gold, both published in 1981. Sharpe’s Eagle was picked up by a publisher, and Cornwell got a three-book deal. He went on to tell the story of Badajoz in his third Sharpe novel Sharpe’s Company published in 1982.Cornwell and wife Judy co-wrote a series of novels, published under the pseudonym “Susannah Kells”. These were A Crowning Mercy, published in 1983, Fallen Angels in 1984, and Coat of Arms (aka The Aristocrats) in 1986. (Cornwell’s strict Protestant upbringing informed the background of A Crowning Mercy, which took place during the English Civil War.) He also published Redcoat, an American Revolutionary War novel set in Philadelphia during its 1777 occupation by the British, in 1987.

After publishing eight books in his ongoing Sharpe series, Cornwell was approached by a production company interested in adapting them for television. The producers asked him to write a prequel to give them a starting point to the series. They also requested that the story feature a large role for Spanish characters to secure co-funding from Spain. The result was Sharpe’s Rifles, published in 1987 and a series of Sharpe television films starring Sean Bean. A series of contemporary thrillers with sailing as a background and common themes followed: Wildtrack published in 1988, Sea Lord (aka Killer’s Wake) in 1989, Crackdown in 1990, Stormchild in 1991, and a political thriller called Scoundrel in 1992.

In June 2006, Cornwell was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s 80th Birthday Honours List. Azincourt was released in the UK in October 2008. The protagonist is an archer who participates in the Battle of Agincourt, a devastating defeat suffered by the French during the Hundred Years War. In 2009, he released The Burning Land, another of the six Saxon Stories centered on the protagonist Uhtred of Bebbanburg. The sixth installment of the series, Death Of Kings was released in September 2011. Another of Cornwell’s standalone novels, The Fort, was published in 2010. It tells of the Penobscot Expedition of 1779 during the American Revolutionary War, in which a small British force, sent to what is now Castine in the State of Maine, were assaulted by an army with a huge fleet sent by the State of Massachusetts. Cornwell also published The novel 1356 in 2012, which features protagonist Thomas of Hookton and his company of mercenary archers, who ravage the countryside of Gascony before joining the Black Prince’s army to fight at the Battle of Poitiers, and The Empty Throne in 2012, which is book 8 in the Warrior Chronicles and sees Aethelred Lord of the Mercians dying without an heir, leaving rivals from Wessex and Mercia to contest the rule of Britain, amid the ever present threat of Viking attack.

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