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Friday, 25 February 2011


Lord Reith 1889 - 1971

John Reith is regarded as the founding father of the BBC. This is not because he conceived or pushed for the idea but because he single-handedly was responsible for it's early success and many innovations and 'firsts'.

Reith was a dour puritanical Scotsman of a 'high moral standard', (his words!) Early announcers on the radio had to wear full evening dress and adhere to an extremely strict code of practice. His methods were to become imbued within the ethos of the BBC and, to this day, it is a by-word for unbiased straight reporting. It carries no paid advertisements on any of it's TV or radio stations.  
Although it is a public body, financed mainly by a license which British television viewers must purchase at a cost of £145 (about $234) per annum, it is independent of the government. This had led to conflict on several occasions notably during the General Strike of 1926 and again during the Falklands War in 1982.
Alexandra Palace overlooking  north London
In 1936 regular TV programmes began to be broadcast from Alexandra Palace set in Alexandra Park high above north London, but they were interupted by the Second World War and resumed afterwards. It is now the world's largest broadcasting company employing 23,000 people. It's original aim was to "inform, educate and entertain" and that aim has not changed to this day.
It has been responsible for many breakthroughs in broadcasting and it's doubtful that anything so 'off the wall' as Monty Python's Flying Circus would have been made by any other TV company in the world. At present it's website gets 3.6 billion hits per month! In the UK the organisation is affectionately known as the 'Beeb'. Millions of people around the world depend on it's broadcasts, in many languages, to learn what their governments deem not to tell them.
The BBC's motto is "Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation".

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Amy Winehouse where are you?

I don't know how well-known Amy Winehouse is around the world. She is an English singer of bluesy rock and pop music and one of the great talents of her generation. She has had severe personal problems in her life with drink,  drugs and boyfriends.
Her songs are often personal and sometimes x-rated and can be very funny (see 'Fuck Me Pumps'). Fittingly, her biggest hit was called 'Rehab'. There was a CD called Frank released in 2003 and Back to Black in 2006 and the only thing since then is a boxed-set of those two albums although she was the featured vocalist on Mark Ronson's 'Valerie'. There have been rumours for sometime that she is 'turning her life around' and about to launch a new recording. Nothing has happened yet but I hope it's true; her kind of talent is in short supply.
For an up tempo reggae beat try 'You're Wondering Now'.
And, finally, if you are in a mellow mood try 'Love is a Losing Game'.
Photo credt:

Friday, 11 February 2011

The Sonny Report (5)

Laura and Sonny
At last some good news! Sonny is in remission. Halfway through his chemo they did a scan and there were zero cancer cells found. He has to continue the treatment, of course, to ensure it doesn't return and there are complications which are temporary and minor by comparison. We are not getting carried way but are causitiously optimistic for his future.
Oh sod it, we're bloody ecstatic!
The Facebook Support Group now has over 360 members and the benefit of that and other support has been invaluable. Thanks to everyone who gave support!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Painting of the Month (14) February 2011. Severini (and update on Sonny!)

The Dance of the Pan-Pan at the “Monico” 1909-1911
 The Futurists were directly inspired by Cubism. It was primarily but not exclusively an Italian movement that pervaded all parts of life from architecture, music and politics to painting and design. They loathed all forms of previous expression and the movement's manifesto is a bit scarey and pre-echoes sentimments of Fascism. However, not withstanding that, a lot of the painting is very attractive and beatifully designed.
This picture reveals more the longer you look at it and takes obvious influence from Cubism. Gino Severini knew Pablo Picasso and was a link between the French and Italian avante garde.
The surface of the picture almost resembles an abstraction but of course to be truly abstract a painting must be representative of nothing!
The size of the work is monumental (roughly 9 by 13 feet!) and it dominated the Futurists' 1912 exhibition. The idea was that the viewer would feel as though they were in the scene themself as the foreground characters were life-sized
Update on Sonny (4)
He is losing his lovely thick black hair but it will soon grow back
To prove he hasn't lost his sense of humour, he is quick to point out that mine won't!
I am happy to say that Sonny is now at the halfway point of his chemotherapy and it's going well. There have been one or two complications and setbacks but generally it's going in the right direction. He, and the family, continue to recieve the most amazing support from charities, friends, other family members, strangers and, most importantly, the nursing and medical staff of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Quiz question (14): Name the play/film/group

 The origin of this title is inspired by Cervantes' Don Quixote. You may be familar with the passage where DQ challenges a windmill to a fight when mistaking it for something other. When his lance gets caught in the sails of the windmill he is tossed aside and thinks he has been beaten by his 'foe'.
The phrase which forms the answer to this question was first used as the title of a play performed in London but never in the US. It later became a successful film starring Joanne Woodward and George C. Scott. Scott's character believes himself to be Sherlock Holmes. Woodward is a psychiatrist who becomes his 'Dr Watson'.
Now the name is known as an American alternative rock group formed in 1982 and still around. Name that play, film and group! (It's the same answer of course).