Thursday, 31 May 2007
Ricardo Baliardo, widely known as Manitas de Plata (Little Hands of Silver), was in the 1960s one of the most renowned flamenco guitarists in the world, and continues to be highly esteemed by aficionados of flamenco.
He was born on August 7, 1921, in a Romani Gitano caravan in Sète in southern France, into the extended family to which the members of the flamenco band, the Gipsy Kings, also belong.
Upon hearing him play at Arles in 1964, Pablo Picasso is said to have exlaimed "that man is of greater worth than I am!" and proceeded to draw on the guitar.
Ricardo was believed to have filled Django Reinhart's place in gypsy music.
Manitas de Plata (petites mains d'argent) est un célèbre guitariste gitan. De son vrai nom Ricardo Baliardo, Manitas de Plata est né le 7 août 1921 à Sète, dans une caravane.
Il est très vite reconnu par les siens comme Manitas de Plata, l'homme aux mains d'argent. Il se distingue chaque année, en jouant de la guitare, lors du pèlerinage gitan des Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Du vivant de Django Reinhardt, il n’ose même pas penser à détrôner celui que l’on considère alors comme le roi de la musique gitane. Dix ans après la mort de Django, il accepte de jouer en public, et le miracle se produit.
A New York, lors d’une exposition de photographies de son ami Lucien Clergue, un admirateur le reconnaît sur un des clichés et le persuade d’enregistrer. Il réalise son premier album dans la chapelle d'Arles. Un manager américain le fait jouer sur la scène du prestigieux Carnegie Hall de New York en decembre 1965.
Gitan illettré, qui ne sait pas lire une note de musique, il conquiert le monde. En mars 1964, un soir de corrida à Arles, Picasso, après l’avoir entendu jouer, s’écrie : « Il vaut plus cher que moi ! ».
I am priviliged to say that I saw Manitas de Plata perform at the Queens Festival in Belfast (I think it was 1968) and it was an unforgettable experience. His playing was superb as you can see and hear from the video posted here. Unfortunately his recordings are no longer played on radio but I am glad to see that he has not been forgotten. I also visited Sète a few years ago not knowing that I was near his birthplace - there is nothing to indicate that he was born there. Perhaps when he dies they will erect a statue in his memory.
Published: 31 May 2007
Reclining by a tropical pool, with a cool wind breezing through her hair and a tray of iced drinks at her bronzed elbow, she became an enduring pin-up of the 1970s jet-set.
The Martini Girl, a female version of the Old Spice surfer, helped make red vermouth the drink of choice for Britain's newly-liberated masses, and was the bombshell behind a daringly-suggestive catch-phrase: "any time, any place, anywhere."
In Europe, she trebled sales of the brand virtually single-handed, and for almost a decade was regarded as a symbol of British elegance with an influence to rival that other Martini drinker with a famous catch-phrase: James Bond.
Yet behind the imagelies a virtual unknown. She was the model Erica Wills, a 22-year-old former air-hostess who had been "discovered" in a lift by Jean Shrimpton, and for a very brief period lived at the cutting edge of swinging London.
Besides starring in the advert, Wills boasted a portfolio by Lord Lichfield and David Bailey. She rubbed shoulders with Joanna Lumley, and moved in glamorous circles that saw her holidaying alongside Tom Jones, lunching with George Best and ducking velvet ropes with Lance Percival.
But in 1972, a year after the Martini photo was taken, its subject disappeared, seemingly without trace. While former associates continued to blaze trails to the apex of British celebrity, Wills was rumoured to have emigrated suddenly to Beirut.
There, she enjoyed an equally remarkable life at the highest level of Lebanese society during various wars and civil wars of the 1970s and 1980s. But back home, her name dropped-off the radar; it never again appeared in the British press during her lifetime.
Until today, that is. On 18 May, Wills - most recently known as Deborah Thornton Jackson - died following a stroke, aged 57. Now, 48 hours after her quiet funeral at a Liverpool crematorium, friends and family of the original Martini Girl, can finally tell her extraordinary life story.
It is an occasionally harrowing tale of female adversity against the backdrop of the global sexual revolution. Thirty years on, it still provides a remarkable insight into both the devil-may-care spirit of the age, and the dark side it concealed.
"Erica Wills in a swimsuit was absolutely wonderful stuff," says the advertising commentator Peter York. "She bought luxury style to the UK of the 1970s, and began a movement that showed beautiful people doing things that most Brits hadn't done and still couldn't afford to do. Her school of advertising was incredibly influential. It endured right into the 1980s, when it was eventually rejected as unsophisticated."
Erica Wills was born in 1949. She was christened Deborah, the daughter of Dorothy "Jayne" Crumbie, an underwear model from the East End, and John Wills, a professional soldier in the Blues and Royals. It was a family joke that he was a member of the Wills tobacco dynasty.
She was born in Windsor, Berkshire and educated at St Anne's College for Young Ladies in Lytham St Anne's before training as a stewardess for British Airways at a time when it was the career of choice for well-bred, glamorous young ladies.
On her debut flight as a senior stewardess in first class, Wills made her first footnote in history when a passenger, the Duchess of Devonshire, complained that John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who were sitting in nearby seats, appeared to be engaging in sexual intercourse.
Wills tapped Lennon on the shoulder, and gently asked if he could stop. "Fuck off!" came the reply. The captain was called to clear up the misunderstanding, and the flight eventually diverted to Rome.
"It was at the time John and Yoko were in their heyday of wildness, and just went out to shock," recalls her friend and colleague, Dee Bull. "Debbie was delightful and scatty, and well-spoken, so its hardly surprising if she hardly knew what to do."
Following the death of her father in 1970, Wills developed an addiction to Valium, which forced her to retire from flying on account of claustrophobia. She turned to modelling, having been "spotted" in a lift at Jenners in Edinburgh by Jean Shrimpton, one of the foremost supermodels of her day, and Terence Stamp.
After training at the London Academy of Modelling - an education she financed through work as a "bunny girl" at the Playboy Club - Deborah joined the Michael Whitaker Agency, where she took the name Erica.
"She lived in what must have been one of London's most glamorous flats," recalls her widower and third husband, Neil Jackson. "She shared it with Anthea Redfern, who Bruce Forsyth left a wife for one Christmas, and later married."
Another flatmate is said to have been Joanna Lumley, though the actress was yesterday unable to recall details of any relationship.
"It was a long time ago," says Jackson. "When she died, Deborah had been in the middle writing a memoir, which includes material on Lumley and recollections of her boyfriends, who seem to have included Lance Percival, and Tom Jones' PR man, Chris Hutchins."
At the height of her fame, however, Wills travelled to Beirut on a whim, after a girlfriend called Maggie Sibbering had got into personal trouble that had resulted in her being forced to dance at a bar called the Crazy Horse saloon. She ended up staying a great deal longer than planned.
After apparently being drugged, Wills also woke up to discover that her passport had been stolen, and that she'd signed a contract forcing her to work as a dancer at the bar, which was a form of upmarket brothel. Then, several months later, in walked a famous Lebanese playboy called Elie Ayache, the eldest son of one of the country's wealthiest and most politically-connected families, who owned the Ferrari franchise for the Middle East, and boasted the address PO Box 1, Beirut.
Ayache fell in love with Wills on the spot, and negotiated to "buy" her for $5,000, following negotiations in which the bar's owner described her as: "the best whore I ever had." They married in 1975, and remained together for fifteen years.
In Beirut, Wills resuscitated her modelling career, working with Patti Chamoun, the Australian first wife of Dany Chamoun, the son of President Chamoun and leader of the Tigers militia, who was later assassinated. The pair took choreographed, and often risqué shows to audiences across the Middle East.
Living in the region wasn't without its hazards. In 1976, the Christian family - Ayache had given Wills two daughters - were living in Muslim West Beirut when the civil war broke out. Lying on the floor of a car, they made a dash for the Green Line, only for their driver to be shot by a sniper.
"In the ensuing bombardment they tried to rescue a fleet of Ferraris by driving them back through the streets at high speed," adds Jackson. "Three or four got back, but they lost a further 30, and a collection of Riva speedboats, all of them uninsured."
In 1982, Wills witnessed the Phalangists' assault on the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila, and worked for the Red Cross helping care for the injured, an experience she later recounted on the BBC's Witness internet site.
The 1989 war had the most profound effect on the family, though. During the three-way hostilities, they were forced to live in a basement for six months, with little in the way of food, water or electricity. One outbreak of shelling forced Wills to rescue her daughters from school in a Lebanese tank; another saw their villa stormed by Hizbollah rebels, who gang-raped her for four days before being killed by government forces
Later that year, Wills and her daughters escaped Lebanon on a hydrofoil driven by Dutch mercenaries. They went to live near her mother in St Andrews, leaving Ayache behind; they were later divorced, and he died in 2004.
In Scotland, Wills met and married a local publican called Robert Alexander, who moved to Glenisla and founded two successful retail supply firms, Alexander Agencies and At Dalvenie. They split just over a decade later, after she bumped into Jackson, a professor of architecture.
"I had a house up there, and we met the night before New Year's Eve 2000," he recalls. "On the millennium itself, there was a party in the village hall. I walked in and she seized me by the arm and told me I was her soul mate. She left him 10 months later, and in 2002 we married."
Deborah Jackson, as she became, spent the rest of her life in York and Liverpool, and her ashes will be scattered at her holiday home at Glenisla.
"Looking at letters and cards, people have sent me, they always use the same adjectives to describe Debbie," said Jackson yesterday. "They say she was vivacious, fun loving, outward going welcoming. She was also very good at socialising, but extremely insecure with it, and maybe that vivaciousness was a way of dealing with it."
"Her other great character trait was that didn't think before she did things. She would just see something and do it. Throughout her life, her heart always controlled her mind, and that's why she often got herself involved with unsuitable men."
For the original Martini Girl, who did things any time, any place and any where, and whose life even now remains shrouded in mystery, there can perhaps be no more appropriate epitaph.
Are we sure about that? There are 3 or 4 who look to me like they could be cross-dressers or trans-sexuals (c:
It is an almost unutterable message to Kate and Gerry McCann, but I feel I must say it before it is too late: "Please, please, for your own sake and the sake of your missing daughter Madeleine, step off this speeding juggernaut of publicity for just a second. Be still for one moment and think about what you are doing, about where you go next."
I realise that just writing those words leaves me open to howls of protest, to accusations of callousness and insensitivity.
What mother or father in their situation could think of anything but getting their child back? Who could pause when every second might make the difference? But hear me out.
Like millions of people, each night my first prayer is for Madeleine’s safe return. My second is for Kate and Gerry McCann, to give them the strength to endure the horror that has befallen them.
Any parent would move heaven and earth to try to find their missing child. If that means shouting Madeleine’s name in every corner of the globe, then the McCanns have made it plain they will do so. To that end, they have helped orchestrate a publicity campaign to keep their daughter’s face in the forefront of the public’s mind, to maximise public support.
And herein lies the danger. For I cannot help but question whether a new heart-rending, eye-catching initiative day after day is the right way to go about things.
Especially when it means exposing even the most intimate moments of family despair. Moments like the one on Tuesday night, when they kissed goodbye to their two-year-old twins, Amelie and Sean, before flying off for their audience with the Pope.
Not for one second do I doubt their motives — and Pope Benedict’s support is both moving and laudable. All the McCanns want is to get Madeleine back, whatever it takes, however long it takes. And yet, and yet . . .
Lara Hochner, 23, from Darmstadt only found out what had happened when she went to her beloved pet Rudi after the candle-lit meal, to make sure he had enough food and water.
When she realised he was not there, her 29-year-old boyfriend Werner Brenner admitted that the couple had just eaten the animal.
Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Well I find myself in reverie
bout what we might have had
And what might have been
We had something going once
That was such a long, long time ago
It was way back in 76
Our friendship formed of pure innocence
We first met in mathew street
Where we heard something that would set us free
A sign stands over a door, it says
Four lads who shook the world
In the depths of those heady nights
We would dream of those bright lights
Oh my friend, oh my friend, oh my friend
And my friend john, he went away
He made some mistakes
Spent time in walton jail
And now when I see him we still talk
But theres no light shining in his eyes
And susie, she was seventeen
And more beauty in this world
I swear youll never see
I was gonna be king
And she was gonna be queen
But now all she does is hide behind the tears
If there was more sense in this world
And work wasnt so hard to find
You would not be going your way
I would not be going mine
Oh my friend, oh my friend, oh my friend
Somewhere tonight out on the street
Somewhere beneath this citys heat
In the eyes of strangers who pass me by
Life is cruel and so unkind
Oh, oh the spirit of 76
And pete has seen his dreams come true
But that dont make him no hero
Hes just one of the lucky few
If a man cant change the world these days
I still believe a man can change his own destiny
But the price is high that has got to be paid
For everyone who survives there are many who fail
Ive seen my friends caught out in that crossfire
All their dreams and hopes smashed on the funeral pyre
I will never give in until the day I die
Get myself some independence
Carve out a future with my two bare hands
Oh my friend, oh my friend, oh my friend
Somewhere tonight out on the street
Somewhere beneath this citys heat
In the eyes of strangers who pass me by
Life is cruel and so unkind
Oh, oh the spirit of 76
Mersey lights shine in the distance
Same as they did for us then
Mersey lights shine bright in the distance
Where are you now my friend?
You see some nights when I cant sleep
I still think of you
And all the promises,all our dreams we shared
I know those lights still call to you
I can hear them now
I can hear them now
(still shining for us)
(let em shine)
(can you hear them)
(can you hear them)
(lights are still shining)
Somewhere tonight out on the street
Somewhere beneath this citys heat
In the eyes of strangers who pass me by
Life is cruel and so unkind
Wheres it gone
The spirit of 76
Tuesday, 29 May 2007
.... the most sodden place was St Catherine's Point on the Isle of Wight, where 74mm of rain fell over a 24-hour period which ended yesterday morning.
Liscombe in Somerset was drowned in 31mm of rain over the same night, while temperatures dropped to a chilly 8C in much of central and eastern England. According to the Met Office, the unlucky residents of High Wycombe were forced to endure temperatures as low as 5C.
The poor conditions disrupted a number of events up and down the country. More than 100,000 people had been expected to attend the Luton International Carnival, but it was called off because of the bad weather.
In Oxfordshire, the second day of the popular Spirit of Adventure airshow at Abingdon airfield, which promised the appearance of Spitfires, Tornados and Hercules aircraft, was called off due to heavy rain and cloud.
It was also bad news for sporting events, with the rain on Sunday wiping out all of the third day's play of the second Test between England and the West Indies. Heavy showers at Headingley, in Leeds, also interrupted yesterday's play.
Over the whole weekend Bournemouth saw its sandy beaches deserted, and conditions were so bad in Exmouth, Devon, that the resort's annual sand sculpture competition was cancelled.
AHHH! you really feel sorry for them don't you? No I didn't think so. We had great weather NYAH NYAH NYAH NYAH!!
Friday, 25 May 2007
I know it’s wrong to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations but it was extremely hard not to.
She was talking at the top of her voice into a mobile phone, utterly unselfconsciously, for everyone in the carriage to hear.
I wish I could report that she had something interesting to say, but that would be the opposite of the truth. Her conversation was aggressively, maddeningly boring to those of us who didn’t know the dramatis personae involved - which meant everyone on the train but her.
Apparently, Sophie would have difficulty making it to the party if it was held on the Saturday, but Gary couldn’t manage the Friday. It would be out of the question to put it back a week because, of course, Mandy was getting married then and... "yeah, Mandy - you know, Steve’s sister - yeah, didn’t you know [shriek]? She’s marrying this guy, Greg, who she met on holiday in Capri and - yeah, it’s incredibly romantic.
"Anyway, we can’t have the party that weekend because, like, Mum’s going to the wedding and..."
"Oh, shut up! Shut up!" I wanted to scream at her. "Can’t you see you’re making everyone in this carriage hate you?"
But, of course, I said nothing at all. I gave her what was meant to be a withering scowl - which she didn’t seem to notice - and fought without success to refocus my mind on 24 across: "Dust began to settle in a legislative assembly (9)."
Is there anywhere on Earth you can escape from people bawling into their mobiles? In a week when a British climber became the first person to make a phone call from the top of Everest, the answer seems to be "No".
(Bang goes the last conceivable reason why anyone in his right mind would want to go mountaineering in the Himalayas. Imagine slogging through all that snow and ice, in quest of that ultimate spiritual experience, risking death at every muscle-searing step, only to hear Rod Baber, 36, yelling into his mobile at the summit: "Hi, it’s Rod. Yeah, I’m on the top of Everest... Sorry? You’re breaking up…")
TOM UTLEY, Daily Mail
Thursday, 24 May 2007
A Michigan man who used a coffee shop's unsecured Wi-Fi to check his e-mail from his car could have faced up to five years in prison, according to local TV station WOOD. But it seems few in the village of Sparta, Mich., were aware that using an unsecured Wi-Fi connection without the owner's permission--a practice known as piggybacking--was a felony.
Each day around lunch time, Sam Peterson would drive to the Union Street Cafe, park his car and--without actually entering the coffee shop--check his e-mail and surf the Net. His ritual raised the suspicions of Police Chief Andrew Milanowski, who approached him and asked what he was doing. Peterson, probably not realizing that his actions constituted a crime, freely admitted what he was doing.
"I knew that the Union Street had Wi-Fi. I just went down and checked my e-mail and didn't see a problem with that," Peterson told a WOOD reporter.
Milanowski didn't immediately cite or arrest Peterson, mostly because he wasn't certain a crime had been committed. "I had a feeling a law was being broken," the chief said. Milanowski did some research and found Michigan's "Fraudulent access to computers, computer systems, and computer networks" law, a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Milanowski, who eventually swore out a warrant for Peterson, doesn't believe Milanowski knew he was breaking the law. "In my opinion, probably not. Most people probably don't."
Indeed, neither did Donna May, the owner of the Union Street Cafe. "I didn't know it was really illegal, either," she told the TV station. "If he would have come in (to the coffee shop), it would have been fine."
But apparently prosecutors were more than aware of the 1979 law, which was revised in 2000 to include protections for Wi-Fi networks.
"This is the first time that we've actually charged it," Kent County Assistant Prosecutor Lynn Hopkins said, adding that "we'd been hoping to dodge this bullet for a while."
However, Peterson won't be going to prison for piggybacking. Because he has no prior record, Peterson will have to pay a $400 fine, do 40 hours of community service and enroll in the county's diversion program.
... and the same story as reported in the Inquirer
A MICHIGAN MAN who used a coffee shop's unsecured Wi-Fi to check his e-mail from his car has managed to avoid going to prison.
Sam Peterson faced a jail term of five years for piggybacking on the coffee shop connection.
According to News.com, no-one in the village of Sparta, Michigan, knew that using an unsecured Wi-Fi connection without the owner's permission was a felony.
Peterson used to drive to the Union Street Cafe, park his car and, without actually entering the coffee shop, check his e-mail and surf the Net.
Police Chief Andrew Milanowski asked him what he was up to and Peterson, not being aware that what he was doing might be wrong, told him.
At the time he wasn't arrested, but Milanowski believed that Peterson was guilty of something, because most people are. The copper did some research and found that Peterson had broken Michigan's 1979 hacking laws.
The coffee shop owner Donna May, said she didn't know it was illegal. If Peterson had come into the coffee shop it would have been fine.
Peterson will have to pay a $400 fine, do 40 hours of community service and enrol in the county's diversion programme. We don't know what a diversion programme is, but we guess it is where you learn that the cops can get you for doing anything.
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Less than two years after the death of her mentor, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris recorded her first album for Reprise. Pieces of the Sky inaugurated a suite of four mid-'70s albums and a surprising number of hits: her sound was clearly traditional, but also tastefully up-to-date with folk-rock and singer/songwriter styles, and her crystalline, febrile vocals took standards such as "Love Hurts" and "If I Could Only Win Your Love" back up the charts. This compilation brings together her biggest hits, and shows why Harris is important and why she continues to make adventurous country music. Through unfailingly tasteful song selection, brilliant occasional songwriting, and her cool, velvety soprano, Harris extended Gram Parsons's vision of "cosmic American music" and made it her own.
Masterful at rock, country, folk, bluegrass, and more, Emmylou Harris is one of the most distinctive and visionary voices in contemporary music. The artist's lucid, achingly gorgeous vocals and a string of celebrated albums-many featuring her acclaimed "Hot Band"-have earned Harris eleven Grammys and made this alt-country/roots-rock innovator a legend in her own time.
Warning: this is a large file, playing for over 18 minutes. Be prepared to wait for it to load.
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Peter Gabriel is counting on the popularity of DRM free downloads and building a business model to make it theoretically viable.
His new project - We7 - uses a 'patent pending MediaGraft engine' to attach a ten-second advertisement to the start of each track. The We7 team plan to charge advertisers between 30p and 60p to subsidise music that they'll effectively give away. After four weeks, users will be able to download ad-free versions.
So, they are not really free downloads - well free to the likes of you and me perhaps but Mr Gabriel is still profitting through advertising (yes that is the Mr Gabriel who has also been involved in various humanitarian efforts [Wikipedia]). You won't find any adverts on Janis Ian's downloads and you will probably find her music a lot more enjoyable. So who do you think is acting in the best interest of their fans? Now go and download some of her music and then go and buy some of her CD's - you won't regret it.
Missing Madeleine parents reunited
Madeleine: Daddy's tearful pilgrimage to the shrine of yellow ribbons
Mothers raise money for Madeleine
Madeleine suspect contacts Max Clifford to cash in on story
… this originally appeared as
Chief Madeleine suspect calls in publicist Max Clifford
Madeleine’s father made a flying visit to the UK to make arrangements for the future with lawyers and campaign organizers and was only away for just over 24 hours - technically speaking he and his wife were reunited but a headline like ‘Gerry McCann returns to Portugal’ doesn’t carry the same sort of impact. While in the UK he did pay a visit to the ridiculous ‘shrine of yellow ribbons’ – another great press photo opportunity. Frankly, if I had been in his position, I would have steered well clear of something suggesting that my daughter might conceivably be already dead.
A group of 50 mothers from Lisburn have come together to raise money for the Madeleine McCann Fund - and this makes headlines on the BBC News website – nobody seems to be able to contribute to this fund or give support to the McCann family without benefiting from a certain amount of publicity.
Strange how the headline about Robert Murat was altered within a few hours – again, suggesting that a possible suspect could benefit financially from this story will help to sell more newspapers. (So who actually is cashing in?). At least he was downgraded from chief suspect.
Sadly, I feel that the McCanns have been overwhelmed by their celebrity status and may be losing sight of reality. In my opinion they should return to Britain, leave the search to professionals and try to lead as normal a life as possible, apart from other obligations they owe this, at least, to their twins. I have read comments on other websites and some people are beginning to feel that the amount of publicity being generated for this story is being counter-productive and causing many to switch off as soon as the McCann family is mentioned.
In another move, police have asked that holiday makers send in their holiday snaps, particularly those with strangers in the background. Pardon me for being stupid but these are people who are holidaying in a foreign country - so how many people in the background are not going to be strangers ?????
Thankfully while this farce is ongoing sanity still prevails and we can read about:
Britney's surprise bikini strip show (she didn’t) or
The moment a top fashion designer's wife's trousers fell down at Cannes (they did).
Apparently hotel guests relaxing around a beach fire were stunned when Britney ran down to the pool, stripped off to a bikini and splashed about screaming. WHY? – she WAS wearing her bikini.
And printing photographs of well known personages in embarrassing situations is just what the great British public wants and will sell loads more newspapers, which really is what the whole show is about.
Monday, 21 May 2007
The Tory leader will criticise the paralysis in the Government caused by the Prime Minister's "long goodbye". At a London press conference, he will say Gordon Brown, who will succeed Mr Blair, should take over sooner rather than later.
Mr Cameron will argue that the handover is "a farce" in which Mr Brown wanders around the country with nothing to do and Mr Blair travels the world "indulging his vanity".
He will say: "In this country, we don't do 'farewell tours'. Tony Blair was elected to be Prime Minister of our country, not a pop star. We cannot afford week after week of decisions being made that could be reversed, ministers in posts who could be removed, civil servants not knowing who's in charge, and Parliament not being able to hold the Government to account properly."
He will also question the point of the outgoing Prime Minister discussing long-term policy with ministers who may not keep their jobs under Mr Brown or attending summits days before he quits.
I'm afraid that, even though he's a Tory, I have to agree with him on this.
Sunday, 20 May 2007
Hannah Shields, 41, was part of a team which made it to the top of the world's highest peak on Friday morning.
In May 2003, she narrowly failed to reach the summit due to exhaustion and atrocious weather conditions.
Friend and fellow runner Dermot Connolly said the Kilrea woman was exhausted but ecstatic.
Police say £2.5m reward hinders search as they check out Norwegian woman’s claim on CCTV
POLICE INVOLVED in the hunt for Madeleine McCann have widened their investigation from Europe to north Africa after a tourist reportedly saw the four-year-old with a mystery man in Morocco.
Portuguese detectives are liaising with Interpol after a Norwegian woman told newspapers she saw a "sad" looking girl fitting Madeleine's description with a 35 to 40-year-old male at a petrol station on the outskirts of Marrakech.
Although there have been a string of unconfirmed "sightings" in Spain and Portugal, and one other in the former Moroccan capital since Madeleine's disappearance 17 days ago, investigators hope CCTV footage will provide conclusive evidence about the latest report.
Marie Olli, 45, said the blonde girl was with an "anonymous" man who could be from Britain. She claimed the pair didn't seem related and she became suspicious when the child asked the man: "Can I see mummy soon?"
However, it wasn't until she returned home to Fuengirola in Spain after the May 9 sighting, six days after Madeleine was snatched from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on the Algarve, that she saw TV coverage of her disappearance.
In chatrooms and message boards, Madeleine hysteria grips the world
Madeleine 'sightings' mount as the agony goes on and on
Maddy alibi shock
A Police Website Dedicated to Finding Missing and Abducted Children
National Missing Persons Helpline
The mothers of three Portuguese children who have disappeared in recent years claimed yesterday that police are putting more effort into finding Madeleine McCann than their own children.
Filomena Teixeira, whose 11-year-old son Rui Pedro disappeared in March 1998, told a newspaper: "It is clear they didn't do the same when Rui Pedro disappeared. The extent of the authorities' mobilisation was not as big."
Maria de Jesus Sousa, whose seven-year-old daughter, Claudia, went missing in May 1994, said police had not taken the disappearance of her daughter seriously." I feel treated unfairly," she said. "The authorities doubted me and did nothing."
A Portuguese tourism official yesterday admitted that Madeleine's disappearance had awakened tensions in a region that relies on tourists being drawn to its warm climate and sandy beaches.
"There is no doubt that this case has a much higher profile because Madeleine is British and was on holiday here and this is causing resentment amongst the Portuguese," said Jose Dias, the vice president of the Algarve tourist board.
"It certainly doesn't help to learn that we may have dozens of known British paedophiles visiting the Algarve," he said in a reference to reports that British police had handed over a list of sex offenders thought to have visited the region in recent weeks.
Forty years after it changed the way Britons listened to the wireless, Radio Caroline, the offshore pirate station, hopes to make a comeback as a force in internet radio.
In the 1960s, broadcasting from storm-tossed ships to circumvent laws banning commercial stations, Radio Caroline was a catalyst for the spread of Sixties culture. Millions listened beneath their bedclothes. Caroline's demotic success was thrilling compared to the schoolmasterly tones of the BBC.
But now the station is hoping to take advantage of music fans' growing willingness to tune in from their PCs. Internet radio was launched in the UK as the online version of existing services and is becoming an important outlet for commercial and BBC stations. A recent poll reveals that 30 per cent of radio fans now listen online.
But alongside its function as a new outlet for traditional radio, the internet has spawned stations that are opening up a world of consumer choice.
"There are no rules at the moment," says Peter Moore, station manager of the new Radio Caroline. "There is an economy of scale involved. Anyone can afford to build a radio station in their back bedroom."
And four decades after the original Radio Caroline was killed off, its modern incarnation www.radiocaroline.co.uk is playing a part in another radio revolution.
If Salvador Dalí is one of the most famous and popular of 20th-century artists, then his Russian wife and muse, Gala, remains curiously unknown.
'But for her, my son would have ended up under a bridge in Paris,' said Dalí’s father of Gala and her head for figures'
Her image is everywhere in his paintings - her face, her breasts, her body, exposed for the world to see - yet the truth of her life, and their marriage, is far less evident.
Dalí's fellow surrealists called her 'the Tower' (because of her secretiveness) or 'the Sibyl of the Steppes'; but despite the air of mystery that surrounded her, she nevertheless revealed just enough of herself to be as loathed by many in Dalí's circle as she was adored by the artist himself.
The art critic Robert Hughes has described her as a 'very nasty and very extravagant harpy of a wife'; while Dalí's long-standing American patron, Albert Reynolds Morse, wrote, after 12 years of knowing Gala, that she was 'part tiger, part martyr, part mother, part mistress and part banker, a curious and inaccessible mixture' and so 'single-purposed' in her ambition for her husband's career that she had no real friends.
Visitors to Tate Modern's latest Dalí exhibition are unlikely to find any more clues there about the enigmatic woman who propelled the artist to such fame and fortune (this show concentrates on Dalí's film work, in which Gala remains an unseen figure).
So one might turn, instead, to Dalí's own, written accounts of his wife; only to discover that although these are as physically explicit as his paintings of her, her emotions remain entirely hidden from sight.
He describes his first impressions of Gala in his memoir, The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí, when he was introduced to her on holiday in Cadaqués, in north-east Spain, in August 1929.
'Her body still had the build of a child's,' he wrote approvingly, though Gala was in fact 35 at the time, ten years older than Dalí, and already married to the French poet Paul Eluard.
'Her shoulder blades and the sub-renal muscles had that somewhat sudden athletic tension of an adolescent's. But the small of her back, on the other hand, was extremely feminine and pronounced, and served as an infinitely svelte hyphen between the wilful, energetic and proud leanness of her torso and her very delicate buttocks, which the exaggerated slenderness of her waist enhanced and rendered greatly more desirable.'
The fact that Gala was there with her husband and their 11-year-old daughter, Cécile, proved no obstacle to the start of her relationship with Dalí (hardly surprising, given that she'd already had a number of lovers by then, and had lived in a ménage à trois for a time with Eluard and the German artist Max Ernst).
Gala had never shown much interest in her daughter; according to Dalí's biographer, Ian Gibson, she 'soon decided that Cécile was an intolerable encumbrance, virtually dumping her on Eluard's mother'.
Gala herself was born Helena Diakonova Devulina in the Russian city of Kazan in 1894. Her father, Ivan, was a high-ranking Moscow civil servant; her mother, Antonia, an educated woman who published a collection of children's stories.
When Gala was ten, her father disappeared, leaving his wife with four children (Gala had a younger sister and two older brothers). 'One version has it that he died in Siberia, gold-prospecting for the Tsar,' writes Gibson in The Shameful Life of Salvador Dalí, 'another that he abandoned Antonia, presumably for someone else...
Thursday, 17 May 2007
My friend Lil is about to take her children on holiday to Madeira. “But I won’t be able to stop thinking about . . . you know” she says sheepishly. “I should think we’ll be eating with them in the restaurant every night”. I’m sure that many parents are feeling the same. The long, dread wait for news of Madeleine McCann has gripped us for almost two weeks. But that has become a problem.
This girl’s looks, her middle-class origins, her parents’ fear and frustration, having to deal with authorities in another language, make so many people feel that “it could have been us”. But our very concern, our desire to know every detail, risks ruining yet more lives. For the press pack in Praia da Luz has turned the story all too rapidly into “it must be him”. Robert Murat’s face has featured in almost every news bulletin and paper for the past 48 hours. But it is not remotely clear that he had anything to do with it.
The earliest TV broadcasts claimed that Mr Murat had been “arrested”. Had this been true, some coverage was inevitable. The British press long ago ceased to have any respect for the Contempt of Court Act, which instructs journalists not to prejudice a fair trial. (It is astonishing that we have been allowed to get away with this.) But it soon turned out that Mr Murat had not been arrested. He was a “suspect”, but had not been charged. As the hours wore on, it became glaringly apparent that there was precious little evidence against him.
That did not stop the bandwagon rolling. Not at all. We learnt yesterday that Mr Murat “was always on the bouncy castle” at work events. Must be a monster, then. Picture editors picked the oddest shots they could find, and proceeded to pronounce solemnly on how weird he looked – although he didn’t look weird to me, just harassed.
I began to feel as though I was watching Arthur Miller’s The Crucible when Lori Campbell of the Sunday Mirror was interviewed about why she had tipped off the police. “I found him to be creepy,” she said of Mr Murat. “When he was talking to me he was vague about his background.”
Ms Campbell may emerge as a heroine, a quick-witted journalist with a gut instinct for something the police had overlooked. Or she may not. She was absolutely right to tell police of her suspicions. But she was surely wrong to publicise them. Even if Mr Murat does turn out to be guilty, it does not help the investigation one jot for you and me to know his name right now. If he is innocent, he has been damaged for life. I think he meant it literally when he said that “the only way I will survive is if they catch Madeleine’s abductor”. In the twisted way of these things his denial, too, has become a story.
You can see how it has happened. The public fascination is overwhelming. Madeleine has featured on the Today programme as often as in the redtop press. Her parents have asked for media coverage to keep up pressure on the authorities. And the Soham murders are still horribly fresh in journalists’ minds. Ian Huntley was a loner who hung around at the scene offering help to the press. So hardly anyone seems prepared to entertain the possibility that Mr Murat, as a bilingual neighbour, might have been sincere.
This is trial by innuendo of the worst kind. There was absolutely no reason to name this man; the Portuguese police still have not. The Times removed its photo of Mr Murat from the front page halfway through the night on Monday, replacing it with one of his mother’s front door, as editors agonised over whether there was a shred of evidence that he did it. But he remained on page three. The Daily Telegraph the next day chose to picture all three people who have been questioned by Portuguese police on its front page: Mr Murat, his alleged girlfriend and her estranged husband. Hey, they all knew each other. They were probably the same people who were seen together at a petrol station on the night of the abduction. Wow, they must be guilty!
Differences between Britain and Portugal do not excuse the jump to conclusions. It is true that the Portuguese will seek more evidence before making an arrest than would be the case in Britain. But the Portuguese police have been ridiculed by a British press infuriated by their refusal to confirm or deny anything. Portuguese law forbids the police from making public any significant details of an investigation while inquiries are under way precisely in order to protect suspects from the kind of ordeal Mr Murat has suffered. It would be simply appalling if a judge was later to decide that he could not be tried.
It is not only because the story is abroad that the press feels uninhibited. Our treatment of Mr Murat echoes that of Tom Stephens, the first man to be named as a suspect by police investigating the murders of five women in Ipswich last year. He too had originally approached the press, which splashed the weirdest-looking pictures of him they could find. A week later a completely different man was charged with all five crimes.
There is another point. In cases of this type, if abductors fear capture, they panic and kill. We cannot know if the wanton press coverage is limiting the police’s chances of bringing Madeleine to safety. If any of the three people pictured in The Telegraph is guilty, he or she will now feel cornered. What then?
We all long for a happy ending. But our desire to be reassured that everything possible is being done should not take precedence over the truth. Mr and Mrs McCann seem to be holding their nerve a lot better than the British press. And they have much, much more at stake. Which is everything. What matters is to find this poor girl, not to indulge in sensationalist speculation that could do untold harm.
At last a journalist who speaks some sense, but having said that the Times still manages to publish articles with titles like: IT expert targeted in hunt for Madeleine Profile: Robert Murat, suspect in Madeleine case - no point being self righteous if you're going to print the same sort of stuff as the 'red top' rags.
Tuesday, 15 May 2007
Drivers could have been forgiven for taking their eyes off the road as a full rainbow appeared before them. After battling a heavy downpour on the A419 near Cheltenham, drivers were treated to this dazzling sight as the sun broke through. It brought a little cheer to the skies after more than a week of rain. Daily Mail:
A 12-year-old girl and her family are suing for £250,000 damages after gay cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain was shown in class.
The student, Jessica Turner, said she suffered psychological distress after watching the movie, reports the Chicago Tribune.
The teacher who showed the movie told students, "What happens in Ms. Buford's class stays in Ms. Buford's class," according to the lawsuit.
The girl and her family filed the suit against the Chicago Board of Education after the film was shown to students at Ashburn Community Elementary School a year ago.
"It is very important to me that my children not be exposed to this," said Turner's grandfather and guardian, Kenneth Richardson.
"The teacher knew she was not supposed to do this... It's like I told the principal, she should have better control over her teachers."
Richardson said his granddaughter was traumatised after watching the movie and told him: "They made me watch this bad movie."
THIS - is just totally absurd. Who decided she was traumatised (was it the grandfather)? 'They' didn't make her do anything - she wasn't tied nor cuffed to the chair, she could have got up and left - BUT, I suppose, if there is money to be made from something then people will jump at the chance to make as much as possible. (Chris Tarrant also being a case in point).
Monday, 14 May 2007
Several callers to BBC Northern Ireland have reported a series of strange orange lights in the night sky.
Air traffic control at Belfast International Airport said it had also received reports about the sightings, including one from the Coastguard.
However, the airport said it had no record of any aircraft in the sky at the time
Well, N. Ireland is attracting tourists from all over (c:=
Saturday, 12 May 2007
Friday, 11 May 2007
Lawyers had written to the Tan Hill Inn near Richmond, North Yorks, after it used the same name for its Christmas dinner as KFC does for a bucket of chicken and chips.
But the company has now assured landlady Tracy Daly it will drop its legal copyright battle to stop her using the name.
Tracy said: "Common sense has prevailed and I'm very relieved and ecstatic. I'm not going to need my boxing gloves any more.
"I've invited KFC to come here, have a meal and shake hands."
A spokesman for the company said: "Ms Daly can continue to use the phrase Family Feast. It's an unusual situation that's been blown out of all proportion."
You should have thought of that before sending threatening letters, KFC. The damage has been done! We're all going to the Tan Hill Inn now for our family feast. YUM YUM.
Thursday, 10 May 2007
Anthony John Hancock (12 May 1924 – 24 June 1968) was a major figure in British television and radio comedy in the 1950s and 1960s, known as Tony Hancock. He was born in Hall Green, Birmingham, England, but from the age of 3 was brought up in Bournemouth where his father, John Hancock, who ran the Railway Hotel in Holdenhurst Road, worked as a comedian and entertainer.
Britain's highest pub is being sued by fast food giant KFC over its traditional "Family Feast" on Christmas Day.
KFC claims punters could confuse the annual meal at the remote Tan Hill Inn with its "Family Feast" buckets of chicken and chips. Somehow I wouldn't think so, since the KFC bucket of chicken and chips (in my opinion) could hardly be called a feast and KFC should probably be taken to task under the Trade Descriptions Act.
Tracy Daly, licensee of the inn, said: "It beggars belief, I am dumbfounded. They are a multimillion-pound, international organisation and I am a little lady up a mountain."
Tracy, who runs the pub near Richmond, North Yorks, with partner Mike Pearce, 60, received a letter from top London solicitors Freshfields warning them to drop the name
She added: "Our Family Feast is a traditional Christmas dinner - pate, turkey, roast beef and the trimmings, Christmas pud. It's about as similar to a KFC meal as chalk is to cheese.
You said it Tracy - and my mouth is watering already.
"Chicken and chips with a salad is on the menu, but we use local free-range birds - no coating, no secret spices.
"I don't like bullies and I think they want to bully me. They have turned heavy-duty, big-city lawyers loose on us, but I have already had firms of solicitors offering to take on our case for nothing."
A KFC spokesman said: "Family Feast is a registered trade mark of Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited. KFC devotes significant resources to promoting and protecting its trade marks. "This particular instance is being dealt with by our solicitors."
I think it was proven in another court case recently that you cannot register phrases such as this and prohibit their use by the public. Unfortunately I cannot remember the details and I stand to be corrected but if anybody knows the details of the case I am referring to, please leave a comment. Thank you.
Officers said they had quizzed 100 people and searched 500 apartments.
British ambassador to Portugal, John Buck, said police were doing everything they could to find the girl, following some criticism of the investigation.
Officers have not released any photofit or artist's impression of the suspected abductor.
But they have, apparently, shown a sketch like this to residents in Praia da Luz.
While I think the Portugese police should not be hindered in their investigations, I think it is totally ridiculous to issue a photo fit picture like that above. I could be flippant and suggest that a person with features like that should not be too hard to spot. The police say they won't release an image of the man in case he takes fright and flees the country - in all probability he is no longer in the country and so, in my opinion, a proper description/photo fit should be released in countries where he may take refuge. Whatever happened to 'wanted posters' being placed in public places such as airports and train stations so that people could possibly identify criminals? Oh sorry I forgot - that's a breach of the criminal's civil/human rights - never mind how much they breach our civil/human rights.
Doug Devaney, 41, is starring in one-man play Mein Gutt, a black comedy about one man's losing battle with obesity.
But Brighton Fringe Festival organisers say the roast chicken in the play could cause offence.
It's official - Britain is totally insane. It's strange how they worry that some things can cause offence and not others. What about the Nativity Play causing offence to atheists?
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
He also liked to bamboozle unwitting strangers. On one celebrated occasion he chopped off the bottom of his trouser leg and presented it to a librarian, declaring: "There's a turn-up for the books".
No one was immune to his insatiable appetite to generate laughter, no matter how grand. When Cooper was presented to the Queen at the London Palladium for the Royal Variety Show back in 1964, a time when entertainers were expected to defer to royalty, he asked her whether she liked football. When she replied no, he asked her for her Cup Final tickets.
In 1984, once again in a packed London theatre, the big man clutched his chest and slumped to the floor, his trademark red fez clinging precariously to his outsize head. The audience, millions watching live on television at home and more than 1,000 packed into Her Majesty'sTheatre, roared their approval - thinking it was part of the act.
But the sound of the comedian gasping for breath, hauntingly amplified by his radio microphone, slowly stifled the laughter, as the crumpled clown fell grotesquely against the curtain.
Cooper was pronounced dead at Westminster Hospital later that night. He was 63.
The comic's final days leading up to his death, live on air, are now set to be dramatised as a television film while an acclaimed biography of the troubled star is also poised to be brought to the small screen.
The drivers' union KNSB complained that, on some older trains, there were no toilets and they were having to pee out of the windows.
In response the management agreed to fit the special chairs so the driver can turn and pee out the window without having to get up from the controls.
... so if you are in Bulgaria - steer well clear of the railroad tracks (c:=
John Buck said he had been assured by the Portuguese authorities that "everything possible" was being done to ensure the toddler's safe return.
... and why aren't they allowed to get on with the search, instead of constantly having to defend themselves against crticism from the British press? This is a time when people should be doing all they can to help not hinder.
About 500 youths shouting 'Sarko fascist!' went on a rampage in the Bastille district of eastern Paris, looting two stores including a supermarket and smashing windows.
A total of 218 people were arrested during four hours of clashes as protesters threw stones and other projectiles at police, one of whom was injured.
Elsewhere, anti-Sarkozy protests turned violent in France's second city of Lyon, as well as Lille, Toulouse, Nantes and Rennes.
The presenter of The Sky At Night also belittled female newsreaders in an interview with Radio Times, describing them as "these jokey women".
Sir Patrick, 84, criticised the BBC for showing interesting programmes very late at night, especially the 650th edition of The Sky At Night, which was put out at 2am.
"The trouble is that the BBC now is run by women and it shows: soap operas, cooking, quizzes, kitchen-sink plays. You wouldn't have had that in the golden days," he said.
I must admit - he does have a point.
Monday, 7 May 2007
A S H SMYTH, who has sung in it
When Classic FM was recently named Sony's UK radio Station of the Year, I was delighted. I'm a big fan. But last night's Classical Brits Album of the Year award highlights everything that's wrong with their way of bringing 'classical' music to the masses.
The highly-publicised award went to Sir Paul McCartney, for his secular oratorio Ecce Cor Meum. Though substantially re-written since its coolly-received premier in 2001 (the official story is that the revision was shelved for the duration of Sir Paul's second marriage), this is still not an award-winning piece of music. In any regard.
The piece is an aggrandised A-level composition, bolstered by significant expenditure on orchestra and singers. The prep-school Latin text, conflicting with its own translation, hops around the parts like watered-down Arvo Part, underwhelmed by cod-spiritual soupy melodies. The trebles (essential to the granny market) sounded like they had hiccups, and the basses had to keep wiping their mouths because you can only sing 'aaahhh-ah-ah' for so long before you get lockjaw and start dribbling.
The problem is not simply that a bad piece won, however, but that over the years the Classic FM audience has been encouraged to believe that there's only one criterion of quality which really counts: star power. McCartney's competition? An easy-on-the-eye 'opera star' who's never been in an opera (Katharine Jenkins); a former rock-star turned ropey lutenist (Sting); and a genuine classical musician who's spent so long peddling cheesy 'favourites' that it's hard to take him seriously (Bryn Terfel).
Star power has always been a concern in the classical industry; but back in the days of Karajan and Du Pre, they were stars with training and talent. Proclaiming Ecce Cor Meum as the best album of the year is like naming your grandpa as FIFA Player of the Year, just because he's a decent old codger.
First Post: MAY 4, 2007
NOW, maybe my wife will believe me when I say that McCartney's music is rubbish (c:=
Saturday, 5 May 2007
Friday, 4 May 2007
Thursday, 3 May 2007
The library is asking everyone in the UK to forward an e-mail from their inbox or sent mail box representing their life or interests.
Alternatively, people can submit a specially-composed message.
Each eligible e-mail received in May will be recorded and used to create the library's E-Mail Britain archive.
The e-mail address for those who wish to take part is firstname.lastname@example.org