Archive for July 2009
The Lamb Public House in Surbiton, Surrey defied the current trend in pub closures in a remarkable fashion. They have long had a fascination with board games so they decided to build a real life version of the popular board game Mousetrap.
And here is the Youtube footage in full:
All was in aid of the Shooting Star Hospice for Children. The Lamb drafted in staff, friends, regulars and volunteers to aid in this massive construction project. This is great news in a year where pubs are closing at a rate of fifty a month. It is also nice to see something of the community spirit coming back at last.
The Shooting Star Hospice provides care, support and advice for families of children with life threatening conditions. These care services are offered free of charge to families across the western half of London and north Surrey.
The Lamb Pub, 73 Brighton Road, Surbiton, Surrey KT6 5NF 08721 077077
They do an amazing pint of Ringwoods apparently. Must go sample one, and have a play on the Mousetrap one day.
Well boys and girls I thought it was time to take a look at a few of the films that will be filling our multiplexes in 2010.
Lets start with January.
Daybreakers. What better way to start the year than with a good old vampire yarn? Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill filmed this one way back in 2007. The story goes: In 2019 the vampires rule the earth, but they are running short on humans to feed on. Two bloodsuckers have to work on a way to keep their human prey alive.
Then we have one for the kids.
Hoodwinked! 2 Hood v Evil. In this sequel we have Red Puckett in training for the sister Hoods. She must allay herself with the big bad wolf to investigate the disappearance of Hansel and Gretel.
Then the horror!
Piranha 3-D. Alexandre Aja directs this CGI fish fest of blood and nastiness. Plot? Oh yeah. The rather peckish fish are let loose in a popular tourist lake leading to lots of scenes of faces and flesh ripped off. Yummy.
Season of the Witch sees Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman team up to transport a child-witch to trial for allegedly spreading the plague known better as the black death.
Nightmare on Elm Street is set to return to our lives with a whole new reboot. Only this time without (gasp!) Robert Englund. His role is taken by Jackie Earle Hayley. Cue stripy sweater, hat and razor claw and lots of slashing about.
And then we lock and load for some good old fashioned action, Stallone style.
The Expendables is his first film since the ill-advised Rambo 4. Stallone wrote and produced this project himself, a first for him. Anyhow, the Expendables are Sly, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and a few other meatheads. They are hired to remove a Generalissimo of some obscure South American country, and they have to take on ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austen and Eric Roberts (remember him?)
The much awaited Iron Man 2 kicks in around May next year. The second instalment of the comic-book franchise is a lot darker than the first. It is more character driver, focussing on Tony Stark’s alcoholism as well as his battle against evil. At least this time he has help, in the form of the boys and girls of SHIELD, as he contends with Whiplash and Justin Hammer.
So as Bugs Bunny would say, that’s all folks, but there is more to come next month.
It seems the Senatorial career of Stormy Daniels may have hit a huge snag.
She was arrested on saturday night on a charge of battering her husband over unpaid bills and laundry. All this sounds strangely misogynous, you would half expect it to be the husband battering the wife. But apparently it happened.
Ms Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, apparently went wild after discovering her husband, Michael Mosny, had discoloured her clothes. The argument took a turn for the violent when she then discovered an unpaid bill for an undisclosed amount. We guess it was pretty big!
The report stated that she ‘threw a potted plant at the sink, hit Mr Mosny several times, overturned a coffee table and broke a wedding album’.
Jesus, the poor schmuck. Cases of marital violence against men are not rare, but most go unreported due to mankind’s sense of pride. Even my 6’4″ black belt best friend used to get beaten by his girlfriend, and abused both mentally and physically.
In an unrelated incident, Stormy Daniels’ political advisor had his car blown up in New Orleans. His friends said:
“It was like something out of the Sopranos, very weird.”
It it not yet known if he had any powerful rivals, and it seems unlikely that someone would bomb him because of his connection to Stormy. Having said that, he had better make sure he doesn’t make her mad, right?
It was revealed today that the seven time world champion, Michael Schumacher, is to return to F1 for the remainder of the 2009 season.
Holy shit, could this season have any more twists and turns? When was the last time F1 was this interesting? Anyway the other good news is that Filippe Massa is making steady progress, he can see out of his damaged eye. With a little surgery he should be back by next season.
So in Valencia we will have Lewis Hamilton, making his big title-defence, Jenson Button trying to hold on to his lead, Sebastian Vettel biting his heels like Scrappy Doo and Mark Webber biting his. Not only that we have the FIA-FOTA war slowly reaching an uneasy peace and three new teams waiting in the wings.
Bring on Valencia now! Oh this is going to be good…..
Well since we are playing catch up this week I thought it would be a great idea to hook up with Sara Benincasa, the girl from New Jersey who has been tickling funny-bones from New York to South Carolina.
She will be working her one-woman show, Agorafabulous, every Saturday night from 1 August until 29 August at the Pit in New York City (check out http://www.thepit-nyc.com). She can induce an asthma attack on anybody old and rich just by saying stuff on stage, but she charges extra for that.
So I finally managed to stalk, sorry track down, this lady for a little chat:
Sarah Palin recently resigned her post as Governor of Alaska, doing you out of living as a Palin impersonator. Does this bitch have no considereration for other people’s comedy careers? Doesn’t she realize we are in the middle of a recession? How could she do this to a struggling commedienne?
The shows are going really well. Are you surviving life on the road more or less?
Delfino’s amazing. She plays an entire song on the rape whistle. I believe the song is called “Don’t Rape Me.” It’s the most offensive thing I’ve ever loved.
It has been a while since I have caught up with Sarah Ezekiel, but she isn’t a lady to let the grass grow under her feet. Since our last visit she has been shocking the hell out of cinema goers who have actually wanted her advert banned. Newspapers (and one or two bloggers) have been queuing up for quotes on the controversial debate over the right to die.
But best of all, she has been to a Buckingham Palace Garden party, where she met the Queen, Prince Phillip and the Duke and Dutchess of Cornwall. She moves in some glamourous circles these days.
So what was it like at Buckingham Palace Sarah?
I was invited to the Garden Party by Donna Cresswell at the MND Association back in February and was absolutely thrilled. I knew immediately that I should ask Ruth. She is the sister I never had.
Outfit and hat hunting started in about March and wasn’t easy! The official invitation from the Lord Chamberlain arrived in June and I knew that I wasn’t dreaming. I’m not really a Royalist but love the history and enjoy reading about past monarchs. I feel honoured to have been invited and to have the experience of attending a Royal Garden Party.
So the big day eventually arrived and I felt excited and nervous. Ruth arrived and we both couldn’t believe that two East End girls were going to have tea at the Palace. Cameras are not allowed inside so my carer took some photos at home before we set off. We had been hoping for good weather but got heavy showers; this is England! I forgot the rain cover for my computer and told Ruth not to take her umbrella because we had raincoats…. BIG MISTAKE!
We were quickly through security and inside the vast Palace gardens. Everyone looked amazing, the women in beautiful outfits/hats and some of the men in uniform or top hats and tails. There were also people in their National dress which was fascinating to see. There were a couple of bands playing lovely music so we sat under a tree to listen. We were joined by Martin Anderson MBE, who helped to found the MND Association in 1979. He is a wonderful person, who has done so much for MND sufferers, and it was a real pleasure to meet him.
There were large tents with refreshments, sandwiches and cakes. We waited for the Queen to arrive and take tea in the Royal tent. It was raining and we needed an umbrella (sorry Ruth!) and a kind lady let us borrow hers. Then we spoke to MP, Lembit Opik, before waiting near the entrance to meet the Royal Family. Wheelchair users only; disability does have some advantagesOne of the Royal horsemen standing behind us kindly sheltered us under his brolly. He told us that all of the Royal horses have a six week holiday in the country every summer, lucky them!
Then the Queen arrived and I managed to say ‘thank you very much for inviting me today Your Majesty’, on my computer. She smiled broadly and said ‘how sweet’. Prince Phillip said hello and then we spoke to Princess Anne who asked where we were from. I was now covered by Ruth’s and my raincoat and she said how well prepared I was. If only she knew….
Prince Charles stopped to talk for longer than the others and I was really impressed by him. It was only general chat but he seemed genuinely interested. Then we spoke to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Alexandra and Lady Ogilvy. They were all very kind and polite and I was very pleased to have met them all. I could get used to a Royal lifestyle!
Away from the place Sarah has been busy lending her voice to the debate over the right to die. While many people feel they have the right if they are terminally ill, to a swift end. Sarah is a reminder that you also have a right to live, and perhaps a duty to do so with courage.
Sarah featured in a short advert that was to raise awareness for Motor Neuron Disease. When it was shown in cinemas it set out to shock, and it certainly did. They received five complaints. When it came to showing the 90-second advert on TV, it was turned down, as it was considered too harrowing.
Clearcast, the television watchdog is quoted as saying that:
“Even good-cause advertising is capable of causing widespread general offence. We felt the level and amount of distressing and disturbing images went too far for television broadcast, even late at night.”
So I will show you the advert and you can tell me what you think.
To read more about Sarah and follow her charity please follow this link:
You may remember this guy, young, gifted and black. And until this weekend having a pretty bad season. It wasn’t that anything dramatic had happened, compared to last year. It was just a case of his car being hugely uncompetitive.
It wasn’t really a shock. The record fine that the McLaren team incurred in 2007, coupled with the recession, meant research was limited. The new car took some getting to grips with, it had terrible understeer.
But throughout the season McLaren have been studying the telemetry from the races, adding bits here, taking bits off. They made the smallest adjustments and had the test drivers working overtime. And finally it paid off.
Lewis had a little bit of luck as well, Renault’s Fernando Alonso lost a wheel after a pit stop, taking him out of the race.
And so it was that Lewis powered his way back to the podium, much to the squealing delight of his Pussycat Doll girlfriend. Could he yet retain his title? Difficult to say but I am sure the final race will be another cliffhanger.
Away from the track Renault was shocked to find itself banned for one race. This was due to the flying wheel incident. This punishment may seem harsh but let us not forget the recent death of Henry Surtees, and that of a marshal several years ago. Both were the result of heavy wheels flying towards them at speed.
This is a safety issue that clearly needs a lot more looking at.
Felippe Massa is still in an induced coma, and his family and friends are at his bedside. His condition remains serious but stable. The spring penetrated his helmet and fractured his skull. He was lucky it never penetrated his eye, it would have been instant death.
The next race is the European Grand Prix in Valencia, and there is some speculation that Fernando Alonso may fill the vacent seat at Ferrari. F1 needs his to race in Spain again for PR purposes. Ferrari needs his to try out his car for next year. Everyone wins. But I am sure the FIA will manage to stick their oar in somewhere.
So here are the results in full:
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 2. Raikkonen Ferrari 3. Webber Red Bull-Renault 4. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 5. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 6. Glock Toyota 7. Button Brawn-Mercedes 8. Trulli Toyota 9. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 10. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 11. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 12. Piquet Renault 13. Kubica BMW Sauber 14. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 15. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 16. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari
Yesterday the last fighting Tommy left this world and rejoined his regiment.
Harry Patch was 111, the third oldest man in the country and the last veteran of the First World War based in Britain.
He was sixteen years old when the war broke out, and he watched with envy as the young men of his town lined up to volunteer to fight. He was at the time an apprentice plumber, having left school at thirteen.
Two years of fighting brought bloodshed on an unimaginable scale to the western front, and at Gallipoli, where the expeditionary force were fought to a standstill.
Harry was conscripted himself in 1917, into the Duke of Cornwall’s light infantry. His training took six months and it was often contradictory. At the time the army was trying to apply the lessons it had learned at the Somme to avoid another bloodbath. It was here that Harry made many friends, but these friendships would soon be cut short.
It was perhaps his good fortune that Harry was not picked as an assault troop. Instead he was designated as an assistant Lewis gunner. This gun was huge and heavy, it could chew up ammunition at a ravenous rate and spit death over a wide area. It was however prone to jam and it took a lot of looking after. Harry learned all of this, stripping and cleaning, oiling and zeroing the sights.
He arrived on the western front in time for the Passchendaele offensive, in Belgium. Many books have been written on the slaughter and it needs little for me to add to it. In pouring rain and sludge the British troops advanced to gain control of the town of Passchendaele, if successful, they could cut the Germans off from the Belgian coast and control the ports.
Harry covered the advancing troops, firing short bursts to avoid jamming his weapon. He did his best but there was little he could do to protect the troops who were fighting the mud as much as the Germans.
His war came to an abrupt end one night in September. A German soldier managed to fire a shell that killed three of Harry’s comrades and injure him in the groin.
Harry was repatriated to England and convalesced on the Isle of Wight. It was here that he learned of the armistice. In celebration he and his friends decided to shoot off the rest of their ammunition, much to the fury of their officers. But who cared?
He rejoined civilian life and settled down, remarkably well, to a life as a plumber. Although Harry was a shaken man, he was not a broken one. He carried on with life, married and had children.
He worked for four years on the Wills Memorial Building at Bristol University. The depression of the thirties hit his plumbing business hard, but he survived, as always. In time, the Second World War broke out. Harry was by now too old to fight, so he became a fireman. He was hard pressed during Goering’s Baedecker raids, an assault on Britain’s tourist towns. His town played host to several regiments of American soldiers. The first bunch were African American soldiers. They were a nice polite bunch, they just seemed a little uneasy. It never occurred to Harry or anybody that this was the first time in their lives that these men were relatively beyond the reach of rascism.
This fact became more noticeable when the Caucasian Americans arrived. Harry was none too keen on them, they were brash and arrogant. And they couldn’t seem to understand why the locals treated the Black soldiers as equals. Several fights and riots broke out on many a Saturday night.
In 2007 he revisited the battlefields where he had risked his life and lost so many friends. It was clear in his eyes that he remembered it like it was yesterday, the memories were alive in him as clear as day.
Harry Patch finally died yesterday. In his long life he outlived both his sons and all three of his wives.
In his last moments did he see the faces of the men he knew? Did his mind drift back to the moment a shell nearly ended his life? Did he hear the call to arms beckoning him back into the company of his regiment?
Only Harry knows.
Harry Patch’s book, the Last Fighting Tommy, is available from all good bookstores.
80s Legends Aha are back in town
2009 is rapidly turning into the year of reform for the long lost bands of the eighties.
Hot on the heels of Spandau Ballet and Kajagoogoo, A-ha are the latest of a line of bands on the comeback trail.
The three members, Morten Harknet, (singer and all-round pretty boy), Paul Waaktaar-Savoy (guitarist), and Magne Furuholem (keyboards), originally hail from Norway.They moved to London and worked in the studio of musician and producer John Ratcliff for the simple reason that it had a Space Invaders game. John agreed to co-manage the band along with his partner, Terry Slater.
Why did they call themselves A-ha? Well it is a common and positive phrase used in many languages. Right from the off the band had aspirations of being a European band, not just British.
Their major hit song ‘Take on me’ did not spring from the womb fully formed. It had been an old tune in Norway the Magne often played. They boys just introduced new lyrics, and a bit of synthesizer magic. But it was the music video that really secured their success. Shot in a small market café, and starring Morten and his girlfriend of the time, it used live action mixed with sketch animation.
A-ha were off and running. Their debut album, Hunting High and Low was released in May 1985 and went straight to the top of the album charts. It stayed in the top 20 albums for over six months.
The band followed up with their second hit single ‘The Sun Always Shines on TV’, which had even greater success, making it all the way to number one in the singles charts.
About this time the synthesizer pop music they played was starting to go out of fashion and they took the path into alternative rock. Their second album, Scoundrel Days, received at least polite reviews, they never had quite the same success as they did with their first album.
They also wrote and performed the theme song for the James Bond film ‘The Living Daylights’.
For the next twenty years the lads stayed as thick as thieves while other bands split up all around them. Some would burn out, others would fizzle and die. A-ha just kept a steady low flame. They played gigs and they paid their mortgages, no problem.
In 1994 they performed two concerts during the Winter Olympic games in Lillehammer. Other, less successful albums were released. The band took a break and each focussed on personal projects. Nobody fell out, they just wanted to spread their wings a little.
Within a few years the boys got back together and headed straight back into the studio. By now they had produced eight albums but never repeated the success they had with their first.
The lads released their new album ‘Foot of the Mountain’ in April this year. This album, number nine, took them back to their synthesizer roots and it entered the German album chart at number #1.
A-ha are due to play the iTunes live festival this July. Their performance was recorded and is available for download at the iTunes website.
Even as the Messerschmidts rained destruction down on England, Clement Attlee was preparing his post-war reforms. In order to reconstruct post-war Britain he proposed a series of far-reaching changes. The jewel of his manifesto for a postwar election was the creation of the National Health Service. When his party duly won the 1945 election Mr Attlee set his plans into motion.
The idea was that Britain could work towards full employment and spend huge sums of money during the wartime effort. Then, in a time of peace the bonds of social solidarity fostered as the ‘blitz spirit’ and financial resources could be redirected towards fostering public goods.
And they managed all this while Britain was virtually bankrupt and devastated by years of bombing. I would like to remind the nay-sayers of this fact in the Pharmaceutical industry.
The NHS has three core principles. These are:
That it shall meet the needs of everyone
That is shall be free at the point of delivery
That it is based on the patient’s clinical need, not their ability to pay.
The NHS is paid for out of public money from taxation and national insurance contributions. Extra things like eye tests and dental check-ups are paid for by the individual, and they are affordable.
The advent of an all American Healthcare system will be a good thing for everybody. Even the pharmaceutical bodies that scream they will go bankrupt will find a way to make it work. And it will work, it will keep people alive for longer.
Hillary Clinton did her best to produce a national Healthcare bill but it ultimately came to nothing, The sway of the private healthcare lobby was too powerful, even for her. I suspect she may have had a hand in convincing Obama to make it one of the prime objectives of his first term..
For further reading please check out this book: