Sunday, February 10, 2019

Five Million Conversations!

The Doctor Who episode Rosa (Keith Telly Topping thought it was great, dear blog reader)  has been recognised at the Visionary Honours Awards. The achievement took place at the first awards show from the Visionary Honours Organisation - a group that describes itself as the 'UK's first "social impact entertainment and media awards,"' which aims 'to be a catalyst for social change, inspiring teenagers and young adults aged sixteen-to-thirty four via art, media and entertainment.' So, 'some people on Twitter,' basically. Rosa won the 'TV show of the year' category, against competition from Save Me, First Dates, Kiri and There She Goes.
In what is, tragically, becoming a regular 'this blogger really should try not to celebrate meaningless milestones but, every now and then, he just can't help himself'-type occurrence, let it be noted, dear blog reader, that on Monday of this week From The North received its five millionth page view since this blog began in 2006. And, the annoying thing was, this blogger didn't even spot this milestone until about half-an-hour after the damn thing happened. By which time the blog 'visits counter' was already on its away to five million and five hundred! Don't you just hate it the mostest, baby, when such shenanigans occur?
On a somewhat related note, it would seem that in this ever-changing world in which we live in, some thing never change, dear blog reader. Keith Telly Topping celebrates meaningless milestones and he always manages to get but one answer to a question on each episode of Only Connect before either of the teams do. And, very rarely more than one. If it ever is more than one, it's a proper champagne week here at Stately Telly Topping Manor. And he celebrates. A meaningless milestone. Just sayin'.
From The North's TV Comedy Line Of The Week: Rhod Gilbert's observation that he has a friend who had a coconut fall on his head recently. 'Ask me how he felt?' 'Was he upset?' replied Sandi Toksvig in best straight-woman style(e). 'Oh, he was desiccated!'
Things That Yer Actual Keith Telly Topping spotted on TV this week (and, he wasn't the only one judging by several people on Twitter, like this chap, for instance). The building location used for The Seagull, the titular club in Sunday's series finale of Vera is, actually, in real-life a public lavatory in glorious, sun-kissed Whitley Bay! Here's what it really looks like.
To be fair to the production, mind, they did a marvellous job of not only making it look like the exterior of a nightclub but, also, in managing to recreate the brilliantly tacky splendour of the adjacent Spanish City. Albeit, by 1995 when the opening scene of the story was set, it was already well past its heyday as an amusement park. Still, that helicopter shot of Whitley Bay at night was a lovely reminder of many a drunken 'Friday neet doon the coast' for this blogger and, he is sure, plenty of others in the North East.
If you weren't watching Vera and revelling in the Whitley Bay locations, dear blog reader, then you were probably tuned to BBC1, discovering that in the Call The Midwife universe, Doctor Who exists. As a TV show. The latest episode of the eighth series of the BBC's popular Sunday night drama saw Sister Monica Joan, played by the lovely Judy Parfitt, 'fan-girling' (at least, according to some abject smear of no importance at the Radio Times) over William Hartnell and his companions. Although the other residents of Nonnatus House were not. seemingly, as impressed as she was. Much like certain section of fandom every time that a new episode of the BBC's popular long-running family SF drama is broadcast, in fact. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. That's yer actual French, that is. As Monica Joan was glued to a period black and white set watching the opening episode of the acclaimed 1964 serial The Aztecs (still, to this day, one of this blogger's favourite Doctor Who stories as it happens), Nurse Phyllis (Linda Bassett) delivered a less-than-favourable verdict on the show: 'I can't be doing with this. Grown men running about in fancy dress, making out a phone box can travel through space and time!' Oh, you'd be a Big Hit on Gallifrey Base, Nurse Phyllis. You'd fit in like a glove on the weekly Rant The Episode threads. After Nurse Phyllis had left the room, Nurse Lucille (Leonie Elliott) suggested that the group listen to the wireless instead. Monica Joan. however, was undeterred. 'But it's so exciting!' she enthused. 'The Doctor's assistant has just been mistaken for an ancient high priestess who seeks to exploit her influence to outlaw human sacrifice!' Indeed. Unfortunately, as we all know, Barbara did not manage to pull off this amendment of history - just as The Doctor told her she couldn't - and The Perfect Victim ended up throwing himself to his death at the end of episode four. If you've never seen The Aztecs that's, obviously, a bit of a spoiler. But then, if you've never seen The Aztecs, you've never lived, dear blog reader. Keith Telly Topping - like, seemingly, Sister Monica Joan - thought it was great. Of course, it's worth remembering that, in the Doctor Who universe, Call The Midwife also exists. As a TV programme that Graham is a fan of (mentioned in The Tsuranga Conundrum). Which is all a bit meta, frankly. 
Whoopi Goldberg has 'revealed' that some years ago she asked 'BBC bosses' (that's tabloidese for BBC executives, only with less syllables) to give her the lead role in Doctor Who. And that they told her to go away and stop bothering them. The sixty three-year-old actress, broadcaster and author said: 'The idea of that just so made me happy. But they were like, "Um, no!"' Yer actual Jodie Whittaker eventually became the first female Doctor in 2018. You might have noticed. It was on telly and everything. Goldberg, who was this week announced as one of the category presenters at the Oscars, said that she was - and remains - a big SF fan and has always loved science-fiction drama. Speaking on David Tennant's podcast, she said: 'I always felt like science-fiction predicted the future. Whether it was climate change, hand computers or being able to move around in different dimensions.' Tennant himself played The Doctor from 2005 to 2010. He was very good. Goldberg, who has starred in films like Sister Act and Ghost, also lived out her SF dreams as Guinan on Star Trek: The Next Generation and a couple of its movie spin-offs. She told the Radio Times in 2017 that she wanted to appear in Doctor Who and was hoping 'someone' would offer her a cameo. 'I always hope when I come to England the BBC will say, "Hey we want you to do something." I would love that,' she told the Sun, while speaking about her love of British TV. 'You have a different quality now on television. The way you guys have always done shows has always been the smartest and we've finally just figured it out. I like the idea of doing things the way y'all do them, you do some really fun stuff like Black Mirror or, you know, I'm still dying to do Doctor Who.' As, indeed, is just about every other chancer in the business - whether or not they've got an Oscar, a Grammy an EMMY and a TONY. Join the queue, love.
In the wake of the final part of Francis Whately's David Bowie documentary trilogy, Finding Fame, broadcast on BBC2 on Saturday, this blogger urges all dear blog readers to check out Martin Ruddock's beautifully researched article Countdown To Major Tom on the always-excellent We Are Cult website.
The final series of Game Of Thrones will see Jon Snow bringing Daenerys Targaryen and her posse of renegades and misfits to Winterfell for the first time. And, a new set of photos from this long-awaited malarkey have been released this week.
Game Of Thrones' creators are setting expectations high for the final series by directly comparing it to what was, arguably, the greatest battle in the show's history. It was reported last year that David Benioff and DB Weiss and their crew had been filming the series' biggest-ever battle in Toome and now the duo are dropping a few hints about what viewers can expect. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the duo predicted that director Miguel Sapochnik had somehow managed to top his own work in series six's Battle Of The Bastards. 'In terms of sheer scope, there is a lot in this season that outstrips the Battle Of The Bastards sequence so expertly directed by Miguel Sapochnik,' Benioff and Weiss said. Well, presumably, one of them said it, unless they both chanted it, simultaneous. And, let's face it, that would've just been weird. 'We can say this without feeling bad, since most of it was also expertly directed by Miguel Sapochnik.' For perspective, the Battle Of The Bastards won a Primetime EMMY for Outstanding Directing, so 'outstripping' that would be something of an accomplishment. Benioff and Weiss also offered an update on how they are coming along with finishing the final episodes, since the series is due to be shown on HBO and Sky Atlantic in just two months. 'We always knew this had to be a story that ended when it was time for it to end and not one that got dragged out until it had worn out its welcome,' they admitted. 'We knew this moment was coming, but it's still impossible to prepare yourself fully for it. We're dealing with it piecemeal, as we finish up the season. We're also in a tremendous amount of denial. Six months from now, you'll probably find us both wandering down Sunset Boulevard in our Game Of Thrones crew jackets, wearing headphones, muttering notes to an assistant director who isn't there.'
Shane West made his debut on the most recent episode of Gotham as Eduardo Dorrance, the man who is destined to become the super-villain Bane. But it turns out that the actor almost had a very different destiny on the show, as he nearly played another Batman villain earlier in the series. Speaking to, West revealed that he was originally pencilled-in to play Mister Freeze but, because of scheduling issues, that didn't work out and the role eventually went to Nathan Darrow. 'We had a little bit of a go with Mister Freeze,' West explained. 'I was excited about that because obviously another iconic Batman villain and once again, at that point, I had never played anyone yet.​ But I think because I was on Salem and the guy who did it was much more right for the role than I was anyway. But I think that it helped things just not working out and then a couple years go by or probably three or four, I'm not even sure of the timeline, but all of the sudden, coming back with something like Bane felt like it was like wow, I think waiting was the right choice.' But the actor had a 'cool' response when he found out Dorrance's future. He said: 'We [West and executive producer Danny Cannon] had a phone call and I asked, I was basically like okay, I'm trying to get a little history on this Dorrance guy and then finally, Danny snapped and he goes, "Shane, all right, it's gonna be Bane, all right? That's what it's gonna be." I was like, "All right, cool."'
The Wrap has confirmed that shooting will begin next month for series three of Westworld. The programming chief at HBO, Casey Bloys, would not confirm whether the series will be broadcast before the end of 2019. The third series has added Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul to the cast.
The creator of Peaky Blinders has confirmed that the popular drama will have a total of seven series. Steven Knight also confirmed that filming for the fifth series - which he calls 'the best yet' - has been completed with the next batch of episodes now in post-production. Rather than rest on his laurels, Knight told Talksport that he is in the process of writing series six meaning fans won't have to wait so long between runs. He added that there will 'almost certainly' be a total of seven series, although the BBC is yet to confirm this. Series five of the popular period gangster drama will revolve around infamous Glasgow gang, The Billy Boys and the rise of fascism. 'We just finished shooting a week-and-a-half ago,' Knight said, adding: 'Series five is done. I can honestly say that it's the best yet. It's really good. It's fantastic and it all fell together beautifully. Great performances and I think audiences are going to be on the edge of their seats.'
Hit drama series Keeping Faith and Hidden have helped BBC Wales almost treble its performance on BBC iPlayer. Requests on iPlayer rose to forty five million last year, compared with fourteen million in 2017, according to figures released this week. BBC Wales director Rhodri Talfan Davies told staff: 'It's crystal clear that the ten million pounds of new investment in BBC Wales services has had an instant impact.' It was also a record year for BBC Wales News Online, with weekly unique browsers up by more than nineteen per cent to 3.2 million. In 2017, investment was announced to include forty new jobs at the broadcaster, including twenty five additional journalist posts. There was also a commitment for eight-and-a-half million knicker a year in English language television programmes for Wales. 'I'm delighted that audiences have responded so positively to Keeping Faith, Hidden and Requiem,' said Talfan Davies. 'In news and sport, we're determined to deliver an online service that's relevant, authoritative and engaging for audiences of all ages.' Keeping Faith starred Eve Myles, playing a small town solicitor Faith Howells investigating the mystery surrounding her missing husband. It saw seventeen million iPlayer requests to view the series. Its first episode was the fifth biggest programme of the year on the on-demand service. Faith's trademark yellow coat also became a hit with viewers and it had its own spoof Twitter account. It also featured in this blog's best TV shows of 2018 list. Because, yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought it was great. A second series has been filmed, which will be broadcast first in Welsh as Un Bore Mercher in May and then, in English, on BBC1 across the network later in the year.
The chief executive of UKTV, which owns channels including Dave, GOLD, Yesterday, Alibi and Drama, is quitting before a one billion knicker break-up of the broadcaster. Darren Childs, who has driven ratings and seen profits surge from twenty nine million quid to more than ninety million smackers in the past eight years, will leave on 1 July and is already being touted as a potential candidate for the chief executive vacancy at the Premier League and commercial chief of Premiership Rugby. His departure comes as the BBC is poised to seal the biggest media deal in the corporation's history. The corporation's next board meeting is expected to give final approval for a deal to take control of the bulk of UKTV, which broadcasts ten free-to-air and pay-TV channels, including a one-off payment of as much as two hundred and fifty million notes. UKTV is currently jointly owned by BBC Studios, the corporation's commercial arm and the Eurosport owner, Discovery. The deal, which alleged 'sources' allegedly say is 'hoped' will be completed by April, will result in the BBC taking complete control of as many as seven of the channels. With UKTV valued at as much as a billion quid, the BBC does not have the financial firepower for a straight buyout of Discovery and so has agreed 'sweeteners' to make up the value. On top of the cash payment, these include giving Discovery the video-on-demand rights to prime natural history content, such as Blue Planet, for streaming in international markets as well as a small TV co-production deal. Discovery is expected to take control of UKTV's lifestyle channels, Good Food, Home and Really - in other words. the ones that nobody watches. The deal is the biggest in the corporation's history - well in excess of last decade's ill-fated one hundred and thirty million notes Lonely Planet purchase and the one hundred and fifty million smackers sale of half of BBC America in 2014 - and comes at a politically sensitive time. The BBC has warned of potential channel closures and 'enormous' cuts to services if it is forced to take on the full seven hundred and forty five million knicker cost of paying the licence fee for over-seventy fives when the government stops funding it. The BBC has been approached in the past about selling its stake in UKTV, worth at least five hundred million wonga but, instead, has decided to spend big to take control of the hugely profitable business. Because, as all the businessmen say, you've got to speculate to accumulate. UKTV's profits have rocketed from twenty nine million knicker per year to more than ninety million smackers in the past eight years. It also pays fifty four million quid a year to BBC Studios for the rights to an extensive library of BBC shows from Top Gear to Dad's Army. The deal could also help pave the way for a breakthrough in talks to launch a streaming service joint venture with ITV, a 'Best of British' rival to Netflix and Amazon. Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of ITV, is to give details on its plans for a service when the broadcaster's annual results are revealed on 27 February and is, according to the Gruniad Morning Star, 'understood to be keen' to be able to announce a breakthrough in the protracted talks with the BBC. The talks have been hindered in part by the uncertainty around the complicated video-on-demand rights deals the BBC has in place with UKTV and others, including Netflix. Last year Virgin Media took UKTV's channels off-air, accusing the BBC of being 'a linear dinosaur in an on-demand world' for holding back and splitting digital rights. A break-up of UKTV could also have major long-term ramifications for Channel Four, which handles the broadcaster's two hundred and fifty million quid-per-year TV advertising sales contract. UKTV's success in growing viewers in recent years has made it immensely important for Channel Four to be able to secure good deals across all the channels it sells advertising on, including its own. While Channel Four has a long-term contract in place with UKTV, it is not clear whether the Discovery deal could change that. Discovery uses Sky's sales force to sell TV advertising across its channel portfolio.
The advertising watchdog has very banned gambling adverts which ran on ITV's I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) app for breaking rules designed to protect children from being encouraged to bet. The app for the most recent series of the sick Victorian freak show was sponsored by Tombola, an online bingo, casino and slots company, which ran adverts featuring phrases such as: 'A chance to win a share of two hundred and fifty thousand pounds for free' when users sign up to vote on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want). Tombola's sponsorship of the bafflingly popular sick Victorian freak show, which drew a peak audience of almost twelve million people every single one of whom ought to know better has drawn criticism in light of a report which found 'a sharp rise' in the number of children who are 'problem gamblers.' Users of the app can click through to casino-style 'slots' games and other forms of gambling. Labour's deputy leader, Tom Watson (power to the people), welcomed the Advertising Standards Authority's decision to ban the advert. 'Gambling ads should not be on apps that will clearly be used by kids. It's simple,' he said. Curiously, his boss, good old rite-on Comrade Corbyn - reported to be so big a fan of I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) that he turned down the opportunity to debate soon-to-be-former Prime Minister May on telly because he wanted to watch the final of the most recent series of the sick Victorian freak show - said nothing. Nothing. The ASA launched an investigation to assess whether the adverts were in breach of the code that protects under-eighteens from being exposed to gambling advertising. Tombola claimed that it 'worked with ITV' and its media buying agency to 'ensure' the campaign was 'targeting over-eighteens.' One or two people even believed them. Viewing figures for the series showed that ninety one per cent of the audience was aged eighteen or over, they claimed. Which, of course, means that nine per cent (around one million viewers one an average episode) are not aged eighteen or over. The ASA said that whilst the app was 'not directly targeting' under-eighteens it would still 'appeal' to 'some young fans' of I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want), adding that there was 'no data available' relating to the age profile of people who had downloaded the app. The I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) app, which has been downloaded more than a million times, also had no mechanism to allow the targeting or blocking of adverts being shown to particular age groups. 'We considered Tombola Arcade should not have used the app to deliver gambling ads to consumers,' the ASA said. 'We therefore considered the advertiser had not taken sufficient care, through the selection of media, to ensure that the ads were directed at an audience aged eighteen and over so as to minimise under-eighteens' exposure to them.' Marc Etches, chief executive of the UK's leading anti-gambling charity GambleAware, said: 'Thankfully, on this occasion, common sense has prevailed and the advert has been removed. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case and with fifty five thousand eleven-to-sixteen-year-olds now classed as problem gamblers, it is clear more needs to be done to address this serious public health issue.'
Classic crime drama Bergerac is being rebooted for a new series, it has been announced. Set on the Channel isle of Jersey, the popular BBC drama ran for nine series from 1981 until 1991 and starred John Nettles as detective sergeant Jim Bergerac, who later became a private investigator. The show is being revived by Artists Studio, backed by Endemol Shine UK and Westward Studios, as 'a potential future commission' for Paramount Network International's channels outside the US. The remake - if it actually happens - will be 'updated for the present day' and will 'deal with contemporary stories of the week' alongside 'a strong serial spine,' Artists Studio's executive producer Gub Neal said. 'A strong serial spine'? What the actual flip does that mean? Did someone in marketing get bored with the phrase 'story arc'? When did that happen and why didn't this blogger get that particular memo? Neal, known for producing The Fall, Prime Suspect and Cracker, added: 'We've been trying to bring back Bergerac for some time and I'm very glad that we have the next generation of such an iconic show in development.' Jill Offman, executive vice president of Paramount Network, said: 'We have several exciting dramas in development, one of which is the classic favourite Bergerac. Our hope is that we will be able to commission Bergerac as a full series for Paramount Network International.' Brian Constantine, executive producer and chief executive of Jersey-based Westward Studios, said: 'I'm excited at the prospect that Bergerac may be returning to our screens once again. It's a much-loved drama and a real boost for Jersey, my home, where Bergerac has become part of the island's identity.'
Does female beauty have an expiry date, dear blog reader? No, of course it doesn't, what a daft question. But, that was the question posed by a County Down actress whose online post criticising casting companies for using 'sexist and ageist' language has been viewed more than one hundred and fifty thousand times since she tweeted it on Wednesday. Niamh McGrady was inspired to speak after being invited to audition for a role in an advertisement, for which a casting director requested a woman 'in her late-thirties, still attractive.' McGrady, a very actress who has appeared in The Fall and Holby City, has since been praised for her 'comical assault' on the entertainment industry. Her video delivered a serious message about the 'antiquated attitudes' of 'some' casting agents. 'In her late-thirties, still attractive? What's she doing, drinking unicorn tears?', Niamh asked. 'It's just that one word - still. And I'm taking real exception to it. What have we been doing? Why is it still acceptable to be ageist? This language is so normalised that nobody notices it's there. I just find it really insulting and it's feeding into the idea that after forty, women are on the scrapheap.' Speaking on Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme on Friday, McGrady suggested that male actors 'have more longevity' than their female colleagues. 'Women are, basically, disappearing off our screens around the age of forty, while men are carrying on and on and the women that are cast to play their partners stay somewhere in the late-twenties to mid-thirties bracket.' She criticised 'this idea that women are only valued by youth and once they become a certain age, it's almost incredible that she's "still" attractive.' Commenting on the fact that the character in the advertisement was a mother, she added: 'So, once you become a mother you're "still" attractive rather than just being attractive? Attractiveness is completely subjective.' McGrady said that such language continues to be 'endemic' in her industry, adding that the underlying messages can be 'very subliminal. People watching TV commercials, they won't see what's going on behind the scenes to get that to the screen. You've got to be super-slim and have a thigh gap, wear make-up, don't wear make-up, wear your hair this way or don't wear your hair that way. It's an onslaught of messaging all the time that we have to live up to and compare yourself to. When you're an actress, it's even more acute, because we're reading [these kind of messages] on a page before we even go into the room and it's very unrealistic and very unfair.' Although the casting director in question was, in fact, also a woman, McGrady insisted that this was 'neither here nor there. [Despite] what's being going on in the industry with Me Too and the campaign for fifty/fifty representation, we still have a long way to go.' The Castlewellan-born actress said: 'No one is sitting in an office thinking: "How can we offend women today?", it's the fact that this language is so accepted that it's invisible.' It is not known at this time whether Niamh actually got the job in question. Though, we can probably guess.
The Labour MP Richard Burgon has won damages of thirty grand in his libel case against the Sun over a claim that a heavy metal band he performed with 'delighted in Nazi imagery.' The high court in London ruled that claims in the louse-scum non-story, which ran under the headline Reich & Roll: Labour's justice boss ridiculed after he joins a heavy metal band that delights in Nazi symbols, had caused the shadow justice secretary 'significant harm.' The article, published in the scummish right-wing tabloid in April 2017, reported on Burgon's decision to record a song with the Leeds-based metal band Dream Tröll. It alleged that the typeface used in a spoof Dream Tröll Twitter post entitled We Sold Our Soul For Rock N Tröll 'paid homage' to the logo of the SS. Which, of course, it didn't or anything even remotely like it. In reality, the judge concluded that Dream Tröll had simply tweeted a parody image of a very well known Black Sabbath LP cover and were 'not endorsing the Nazi paramilitary organisation.' As, indeed, anyone with half-a-brain in their skull should've been able to work out for themselves. Of course, tragically, that 'half-a-brain' qualification does not included virtually anyone who works at the Sun. Burgon, a lifelong heavy metal fan who would be placed in charge of the legal system if Labour came to power, took the unusual decision to bring the libel case against the Sun and its political editor, Tom Newton Dunn. Burgon used the libel lawyers Carter-Ruck; the newspaper, which is owned by billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch, is now facing substantial legal costs. And, frankly, it serves the stupid idiots right for being such utter planks. The MP for Leeds East, who was in court to hear the judgment, has promised to spend the thirty grand supporting an apprenticeship in Leeds. Which, to be honest, is a far more dignified and graceful retort than this blogger would've been able to manage if he'd been in the MPs position. The newspaper has said it will appeal against the verdict. During the trial, the Sun's lawyers tried -but failed - to justify the 'importance' of the story by drawing connections to claims of antisemitism in the Labour party, suggesting that Burgon was attempting to use lawyers to 'shut down criticism.' The newspaper's QC also repeatedly showed Nazi posters in court and questioned the MP about whether he would be hypothetically willing to perform with the band in front of the spoof cover in Tel Aviv. The court also heard that the article, which was read by seven thousand online readers, was 'brought to the attention' of Newton Dunn after he received a 'tip' from a local Labour councillor. The judge concluded that Burgon had not seen the image before he was contacted by the Sun during the Good Friday bank holiday. Justice Dingemans dismissed a separate claim for 'malicious falsehood,' arguing that Newton Dunn was 'acting honestly' when he wrote the story and 'did not appreciate' the importance of a reference to Black Sabbath in the original tweet, which accompanied the spoof cover. The judge suggested that the newspaper had pushed the article too far. 'When dealt with fairly there is a story to be had,' he ruled. 'One is about Mister Burgon joining a band which as he knew took great pleasure in using Nazi symbols. The other is about Mister Burgon joining a band which had produced an image based on the Black Sabbath album cover which used stylised "S"s, which some persons might consider to be similar to the "S"s used in the "SS" symbol.' A spokesperson for the Sun whinged that the ruling would 'act as a brake on the ability of the free press to hold those in power to account and to scrutinise the judgment of those who aspire to the highest offices in the land.' Which it won't. What it may, hopefully, act as a brake on is newspapers writing shite. But, sadly, one wouldn't bet on it. The judge also made clear that neither Burgon nor the Sun had cited evidence of what had led Black Sabbath to use the Gothic "s" on the cover of their 1975 compilation LP, meaning he could not rule on the 'ultimate meaning' behind the typography used by Ozzy Osborne's band. If any.
The world's richest man, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has accused the owner of a US gossip magazine of trying to 'blackmail' him over private pictures. Bezos claimed the National Enquirer's parent company, American Media Inc, wanted him to stop investigating how they had obtained his private messages. Hours after Bezos announced his divorce last month, the magazine published details, including private messages, of an extramarital affair. AMI says the company 'acted lawfully.' One or two people even believed them. Although, Bezos was, clearly, not one of them. 'American Media believes, fervently, that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mister Bezos. Further, at the time of the recent allegations made by Mister Bezos, it was in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him,' the company said in a statement. 'Nonetheless, in light of the nature of the allegations published by Mister Bezos, the Board has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims. Upon completion of that investigation, the Board will take whatever appropriate action is necessary.' In a blog update on Thursday, Bezos re-posted an e-mail he claimed had been sent to his intermediaries by AMI's representatives threatening to publish 'intimate photos' of him and his lover, the former TV host Lauren Sanchez. The billionaire, who also owns the Washington Post newspaper, said that AMI had wanted him to make 'a false public statement' that the National Enquirer's coverage of him and his mistress was 'not politically motivated.' According to e-mails included by Bezos in his blog, an AMI lawyer 'proposed' on Wednesday that the photos would not be published in return for a public statement 'affirming that [Bezos and his team] have no knowledge or basis' to suspect such a motive. It comes after Bezos' investigator suggested they had 'strong leads' to 'suspect' political reasons. 'Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail,' wrote Bezos, 'I've decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.' In the blog post, Bezos mentions AMI's links to President (and hairdo) Donald Rump. Reacting to the allegations on Friday, AMI claimed that the company 'believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mister Bezos.' AMI said that they had been 'in good faith negotiations to resolve all matters with him' when the allegations were made and that the board 'has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate the claims.' Bezos said his ownership of the Washington Post was a 'complexifier' for him because he had made enemies of 'certain powerful people,' including President Rump, who is a friend of AMI's boss, David Pecker. AMI recently admitted in court that it had 'co-ordinated' with the Rump presidential campaign to pay a Playboy model one hundred and fifty thousand bucks in alleged 'hush money' for to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Rump. Bezos notes in his blog post how the publisher had 'confessed' to the so-called 'catch and kill deal' to 'bury' Karen McDougal's politically embarrassing story. AMI's agreement to co-operate with federal authorities means that it will not face criminal charges over the payments, Manhattan prosecutors announced in December. Rump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen - who facilitated the alleged hush money at the direction, he claims, of Rump his very self - has already extremely admitted violating campaign finance laws and is going to b spending some time in The Slammer because of it. The Amazon boss did not try to hide the potential for embarrassment, writing 'of course I don't want personal photos published' and noting what he called 'AMI's long-earned reputation for weaponising journalistic privileges. But,' he continued, 'I also won't participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favours, political attacks and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over and see what crawls out.' His blog contained itemised details of ten pictures in an e-mail from the magazine's editor, Dylan Howard, who said that they had been 'obtained during our newsgathering.' New Yorker writer Ronan Farrow tweeted that he 'and at least one other prominent journalist' had been 'subject to similar stop digging or we'll ruin you' threats from AMI in the past. Bezos said 'AMI's claim of newsworthiness is that the photos are necessary to show Amazon shareholders that my business judgment is terrible.' But the Amazon boss countered that the firm's results 'speak for themselves.' Dylan Howard's name, along with those of two National Enquirer reporters, appeared on an eleven-page story the magazine published on 9 January containing alleged details of Bezos' affair with Sanchez. The tabloid labelled it 'the biggest investigation in Enquirer history!' Even bigger, seemingly, that their infamous 1977 front page splash containing a photo of the late Elvis Presley in his coffin. How the tabloid got the images and messages has been the focus of Bezos's private investigators. The probe has been led by security Gavin De Becker who is the billionaire's long-term head of security. De Becker has said that 'strong leads point to political motives' over the leak, but has not divulged any further information. Last week he said that Lauren Sanchez's brother, Michael, had become 'one of the focuses' of the investigation. Sanchez, a publicist who lives in West Hollywood, has strongly rejected any involvement in snitching up his sister's affair. 'I am not dignifying De Becker's passive aggressive allegations or his crazy conspiracy theories,' Sanchez said in a statement to Page Six. He also said that he had recommended his sister fire should De Becker. US media reports suggest that Sanchez 'knows' AMI's David Pecker - as well as other people with links to President Rump including his former campaign aides Carter Page and Roger Stone. The latter was indicted by the special counsel's Russia investigation last month. He has confirmed to the Daily Beast that he 'knows' Sanchez - describing him as 'a very good guy.'
Sir Philip Green faces an eye-watering three million knicker legal bill after the high court formally allowed him to abandon his action to prevent the Daily Torygraph from publishing allegations of bullying and sexual harassment against the Top Shop tycoon. The Daily Torygraph has estimated Green's bill to be about three million smackers after the judge also told him to pay 'the bulk' of the newspaper's legal costs. The Torygraph said it would 'report details of five misconduct claims' against Green on Friday night. And, indeed, they did - with much glee. And so did lots of other media outlets. The Torygraph also published excerpts from six phone conversations with Green discussing the newspaper's intent to publish a story based on the allegations. According to a rather sneering, but admittedly quite funny, piece in the Gruniad Morning Star, during the calls Green said that if his business were impacted by the revelations the ensuing legal action would see Chris Evans, the editor of the Torygraph, 'need a new job and your paper might end up bankrupt as well.' Neither of which will, in fact, be the case. In the recordings Green describes Claire Newell, the Torygraph's investigations editor, in disparaging terms including repeatedly calling her a girl. 'Your girl has run about all over the fucking place,' he says. 'I can give you the list of a lot of the people she's called on and she has found fuck-all. Nothing. Zero. You're telling me she's your boss. Why are you phoning? Why hasn't she got the balls to get on the telephone then?' Well, a couple of reasons, actually Philip. Green had been granted a temporary injunction blocking the Daily Torygraph from publishing allegations made by five employees, who had all received substantial payments and signed non-disclosure agreements after settling their claims. Green said last week that he wanted to drop the case because it was 'pointless' after the Labour peer, Peter Hain, used parliamentary privilege to name Green in the House of Lords. Justice Warby granted Green permission to discontinue the proceedings in a ruling on Friday. Green and the board of his Arcadia Group said in a statement that they were 'pleased' with the high court judgment. 'The Telegraph has pursued a vendetta against Sir Philip Green and the employees and management of Arcadia Group for the past nine months, harassing many of its staff and their families at their homes, often at night and at weekends.' The Torygraph had attempted to oppose Green's application to discontinue the court case unless he agreed not to pursue the five individuals. In the judgment on Friday, the court allowed Green to drop the case but refused to offer any legal protection to the employees if their allegations are made public by the Torygraph. He called on the Torygraph and its owners, the Barclay brothers, to 'do the decent thing' - decent? The Torygraph? You're havin' a laugh, aren't you, mate? - and 'respect the non-disclosure agreements' the former employees had signed and not publish the story. 'If not they will expose their sources to potential further legal actions and significant losses,' the statement said. Green 'categorically and wholly denies' any and all suggestions that he was guilty of any unlawful behaviour. 'We are delighted the injunction has been lifted, but our campaign against the misuse of NDAs goes on,' sneered Evans. 'In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein affair, we became aware that gagging orders called NDAs were being used to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct and racial abuse in the workplace. And that led to our investigation into Sir Philip Green and Arcadia. We maintain there is a clear public interest in telling people whether a prospective employer has been accused of abuse.' Theresa May said in October that the government was committed to reforming the use of non-disclosure agreements. 'Non-disclosure agreements cannot stop people from whistleblowing, but it is clear that some employers are using them unethically,' she said during Prime Minister's questions. She said that the government intended to bring forward its consultation 'to seek to improve the regulation around non-disclosure agreements and make it absolutely explicit to employees when a non-disclosure agreement does not apply and when it cannot be enforced.' On Friday, Evans called on May to 'deliver' on those comments. 'The Prime Minister has already indicated that she is uneasy with the way in which NDAs have been used,' he said. 'We ask her now to do something about it.' Although, she's actually a bit busy screwing up the country with Brexit at the moment so, that one might have to wait for a bit.
He is one of the most successful musicians in rock and/or roll history but Sir Paul McCartney now says that he has 'finally made it' after being given a gold Blue Peter badge. A former bassist with The Be-Atles (they were a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) and Wings, Macca can be seen receiving the badge - the rarest award the programme gives - on Thursday's Blue Peter on CBBC. The musician was given the badge for 'inspiring generations of people.' Sir McCartney said: 'I will wear it with great pride.' Blue Peter presenter Lindsey Russell gave McCartney the award, just before he went on stage at the O2 arena in London. Russell asked what advice Macca would give to young people who want to become musicians and songwriters. McCartney said: 'The only advice really is to do it. A lot. I have a song-writing class and the first thing I say to them is "Look, I don't really know how to do this" and at first they kind of look at me, but when you think about it there is no formula.' Only a few gold Blue Peter badges are awarded each year. They are the only badge the children's programme - which began in 1958 - awards to adults. Gold Blue Peter badges are given to people for outstanding achievements, like saving a life, or inspiring the nation. The Queen, eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt and for some obscure reason JK Rowling all hold gold Blue Peter badges. Sir Peter Jackson, who is soon to direct a new Be-Atles documentary about the making of their final LP, movie and court case, Let It Be, also received a gold badge last year. Blue Peter's editor, Ewan Vinnicombe, said: 'Sir Paul McCartney has inspired generations of Blue Peter viewers to love music and be creative - a core value of Blue Peter. I'm thrilled that we have been able to honour the legend that is Sir Paul with our highest accolade - a gold badge.'
Forty years ago, two of the biggest stars in the rock and/or roll firmament walked into BBC Radio 1 and sat down to review the week's new releases. Michael Jackson and George Harrison spent the next ninety minutes discussing singles by the likes of Foreigner, Nicolette Larson and The Blues Brothers, as well as the stories behind their own songs. The BBC wiped the show sometime after broadcast, keeping only a short clip. But now a recording has been found and restored. Excerpts will be broadcast in a documentary - When George Met Michael - this weekend. Listeners will hear Jacko, just a few months before releasing Off The Wall, discuss how Motown refused to let him write his own songs while Harrison explains what it was like to work in the songwriting shadow of alcoholic wife-beating Scouse junkie John Lennon and Paul McCartney. At one point, Jackson says: 'Let me ask you a question, did you guys always write your own stuff from the beginning?' George replies: 'Well, John and Paul wrote right from before we ever made a record.' Jackson seems taken aback, asking: 'How did you manage that?' 'I don't know,' deadpans George. 'They were clever little fellows!' The atmosphere sounds relaxed and good-humoured throughout and the two musicians take the task of reviewing the records seriously, although at one point Harrison confesses: 'To tell you the truth, I've no idea what is a hit and what isn't a hit these days.' The programme was part of a long-running Radio 1 series called Roundtable, which was presented in 1979 by David Jensen. 'They were both lovely guys to talk to,' he recalled of Jackson and Harrison. 'We knew we had a good show on our hands, just by the general vibe in the studio before the mics went live. It was like Juke Box Jury - people judging their peers. In the case of The Beatles and Michael Jackson, of course, it's not quite their peers but certainly [people] in the same line of business.' Although the broadcaster ranked the encounter as one of his favourite ever interviews, the BBC erased the programme and, for years, only low-quality bootleg recordings were available. That was until Richard Latto, a producer at BBC Radio Solent, set about trying to find a complete copy. 'I put the word out on the collectors' circuit and a chap called Richard White came forward with a cassette recording of the entire broadcast,' he says. 'This was fantastic news because the BBC only held a short, four-minute extract from the show, which is tiny when compared to the [full] programme, which contains some very special moments that were thought to be lost forever.' However, restoring the audio to a listenable standard was 'a tremendous challenge,' Latto explains. 'There's a clip on the Internet which is barely audible and gives you an idea of the challenge we faced. We spent hours sharpening and polishing the raw sound, which was recorded in 1979 off an AM radio during the hours of darkness, so plagued by lots of hiss and distortion. After extensive work, we were able to get the voices of the legendary stars and Kid to cut through with fantastic clarity.' The results will be broadcast on BBC Radio Solent on Saturday, 9 February, the fortieth anniversary of the original broadcast. It will reveal, for example, why Jackson wore a pith helmet throughout the recording and how Harrison took a year off music to 'go to the races.' On the tape, they review Foreigner's 'Blue Morning Blue Day' ('It gets your attention' according to Jacko) and Lenny White's cover of 'Lady Madonna' ('I prefer The Fab Four's version' says the bloke who played guitar on The Fab Four's version). The former Be-Atle (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them) discusses the merits of cover versions and discloses how he had written 'Something' with Ray Charles in mind. 'As it happened, the song ended up with over one hundred and fifty cover versions,' he says. 'But, when Ray Charles did it, I was really disappointed. It was a bit corny, the way he did it.' 'You wrote 'Something'?' exclaims Jackson, in surprise. 'Ohhhh, I didn't know that. I thought Lennon and McCartney did that.' 'Yeah,' Harrison replies. 'Everybody thinks that.' Jacko, of course, subsequently acquired ownership of the majority of Be-Atles songwriting publishing. But, not 'Something'.
It seems that even the best of writers get rejected, but not all of them can expect an apology seventy years later. The British Council has apologised to yer actual George Orwell after rejecting an essay of his seven decades ago. The author of 1984 and Animal Farm wrote the piece, entitled In Defence Of English Cooking, in 1946. But the council, which promotes British relations with other countries, told Orwell it would be 'unwise to publish it for the continental reader.' The then editor acknowledged it was an 'excellent' essay, but 'with one or two minor criticisms' including that Orwell's recipe for orange marmalade contained 'too much sugar and water.' In the essay, later published in the Evening Standard, Orwell described the British diet as 'a simple, rather heavy, perhaps slightly barbarous diet' and where 'hot drinks are acceptable at most hours of the day.' Alasdair Donaldson, the British Council's senior policy analyst, said: 'It seems that the organisation in those days was somewhat po-faced and risk-averse and was anxious to avoid producing an essay about food (even one which mentions the disastrous effects of wartime rationing) in the aftermath of the hungry winter of 1945.' He added: 'Over seventy years later, the British Council is delighted to make amends for its slight on perhaps the UK's greatest political writer of the Twentieth Century, by re-producing the original essay in full - along with the unfortunate rejection letter.' Orwell, who died in 1950, had not yet commented.
Two instruments made famous by George Formby are set to go under the hammer. And be sold, obviously, not smashed up on general principle. A fan of the Lancashire comedian and musician - and his little stick of Blackpool rock - bought the ukulele and banjo ukulele, but kept them hidden so as not to anger his wife. Because, as we all know from long and bitter experience, dear blog reader, nothing annoys the ladies more than two choruses of 'Leaning On A Lamppost', does it? The instruments have a guide price of nineteen thousand knicker for the pair and will be sold alongside various other Formby mementos. They are due to be sold in Etwall, Derbyshire, on 19 March. They formed part of a collection amassed by Formby obsessive George Johnson, from Gateshead, who died last summer at the age of ninety one. He passed the instruments to his children. His son Mike Johnson, from Stone in Staffordshire, said: 'As well as listening to his George Formby music collection, dad would often get out his uke and play along to the music. Dad collected Formby memorabilia from the 1930s to the mid-1990s - a sixty-year span. He didn't tell my mum, Mary, about everything he bought in case it got him into trouble. He kept most of it under the bed and in the attic. Mum, who passed away in 2011, never realised how big the collection was.' One of the instruments was reportedly used in 1934 in Formby's first film Boots! Boots! Other vintage instruments and Formby memorabilia, including seventy eight records, videos, cassettes, magazines and sheet music, will also be sold at the auction. Claire Howell, music memorabilia expert at auctioneers Hansons, said: 'This collection is extraordinary. Mister Johnson must have been one of George Formby's biggest fans, if not the biggest.' Although, Frank Skinner might have something to say about that.
Library closing time is ringing out to the sound of yer actual Brian Blessed after a host of celebrities - proper celebrities, this is, not the crassly z-list list kind who rock up on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) - recorded their voices for the building's loudspeaker system. Manchester Central Library has recruited the actor and others to 'bring a showbiz feel' to its public information announcements. The former Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh and ex-England footballer Gary Neville are also featured. The bespoke broadcasts will run for two weeks, the city council said. The project will 'transform what has been a functional public service announcement into something much more special,' councillor Luthfur Rahman said. The voices of Happy Mondays vocalist Rowetta, BBC Radio Manchester presenter Becky Want and ITV reporters Paul Crone and Lucy Meacock are also being used.
Astronomers say they have 'the first evidence' of a head-on collision between two planets in a distant star system. They believe two objects smacked into each other to produce an iron-rich world, with nearly ten times the mass of Earth. But, it happened a long way away some should be all right. A similar collision much closer to home may have led to the formation of the Moon four-and-a-half billion years ago. The discovery was made by astronomers in the Canary Islands observing a star system sixteen hundred light years away. One planet - called Kepler 107c - is thought to have an iron core that makes up seventy per cent of its mass, with the rest potentially consisting of a rocky mantle. Another planet further towards the star - known as Kepler 107b - is also about one-and-a-half times the size of Earth, but 'half as dense.' A bit like people who go on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) or used Twitter in other words. Scientists believe that the iron-rich planet was formed when it collided head-on - and at high speed - with another object, which ripped off the lighter material in its outer layer. They calculated that the colliding planets must have been travelling at more than sixty kilometres per second at the time of impact. Co-author Doctor Zoë Leinhardt, from the University of Bristol, said that the team used computer simulations to test their ideas. She told BBC News: 'What you're seeing now is that you could have had two objects where 107c is, and they hit each other. And now you just have 107c. The other possibility is that 107c was hit several times by smaller objects. The problem with that observation is, why did that just happen to 107c? It seems a little bit easier for me to understand to do it only through one event, but it doesn't mean that there was just one event.' However, while the paper favours an iron-rich composition for 107c, Doctor Leinhardt would only go as far as saying it was 'more dense' than 107b. Another co-author on the paper, Doctor Chris Watson of Queen's University Belfast, said that this planetary system 'would have been a violent place.' A bit like Th' Bigg Market on a Saturday night, in fact. We are now seeing 'the leftovers' of this high-speed collision between two objects, he said. 'We've found two planets in a very similar orbit around the same star, but with very different densities,' he told BBC News. 'One is rocky, the other is made up of much denser material, probably iron. The only way you can really explain that is that one of them had a rocky surface which was stripped off in a joint collision.' Another idea, that radiation from the parent star stripped away gas from what would have been Neptune-sized planets, 'could be discounted.' This process would have resulted in 107b being more dense than 107c. The research, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, raises new questions about how planetary systems form and evolve in distant parts of the Universe. Doctor Leinhardt explained that the planets had 'probably' formed further away from the star. They then migrated inwards, while the gravity of the parent star was pulling gaseous material towards it - a process known as accretion. 'As that accretion was occurring, the planets were being torqued, dragged and were interacting with that gas disk - and they moved too. As they moved, they ran as close into each other as they could,' she explained. It may have been during this phase that the impact occurred: 'Maybe as that notional active migration was happening, and the material was accreting onto the central star, it caused an instability somewhere - it shook something up,' Doctor Leinhardt added. The planets studied rotate around a sun-like star called Kepler 107 in the constellation Cygnus.
The US space agency's InSight Mars mission has reached a new milestone in its quest to understand the interior of the Red Planet. The probe has spent the weeks since its landing in November positioning a seismometer on the surface. Happy with the set-up, scientists have now instructed InSight to put a protective cover over the equipment. The dome will shield the instrument from wind disturbance and swings in temperature. It will give researchers greater confidence in the accuracy of the readings of seismic signals. InSight expects to detect the vibrations from 'Marsquakes' and meteorite impacts. The data will be used to build a picture of the rock layers inside the Red Planet - from its core to its crust. The instrument - known as the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure - is led from France, but includes a package of high-frequency sensors from the UK. This British contribution was developed at Imperial College London, Oxford University and RAL Space. With the seismometer system in position, NASA controllers will now work on deploying InSight's heat flow probe. This German-led experiment, called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, will be making complementary measurements to the seismometer. HP3 incorporates a 'mole' to drill down up to five metres below the surface. Its inbuilt sensors will help determine how heat moves through the ground. It is information that will give scientists an idea of how active Mars still is. HP3 is likely to be placed on the surface by InSight's robot arm next week. A third experiment on InSight uses the lander's radio transmissions to very precisely determine how the planet is wobbling on its axis. The NASA mission landed on Mars on 26 November. Touchdown occurred on flat terrain close to the equator in a region referred to as Elysium Planitia. The mission's experiments will run initially for one Martian year (roughly two Earth years).
This blogger's beloved (though unsellable and currently relegation-threatened) Newcastle United's new record signing, Miguel Almiron, finally arrived in the UK this week after his work visa was granted. He was then photographed sitting on the steps of St James Park. Is it worth pointing out that, with his - one presumes pretty sizeable - signing on payment from the reported twenty one million knicker transfer fee, he'll be able to afford a new pair jeans? Smarten yerself up a bit, young man, you're not living in America now!
Newport County's goalkeeper, Joe Day, has said that he did not know his wife had given birth to twins until his team's FA Cup match this week had ended. The twenty eight-year-old was playing against Middlesbrough whilst his wife, Lizzie, was in labour. Day was seen running from the pitch at Rodney Parade to get to the Royal Gwent Hospital as soon as the game ended on Tuesday evening. He said that he and his wife 'always knew there was a chance' she would give birth during the game. He added: 'Lizzie backed me and made it an easy decision for me to play the game. Nothing was really happening at midday on Tuesday, but as I was driving to the game Lizzie called me to say that her waters had gone. I got to the ground when she was being taken to the labour ward but she told me to concentrate on the game. I didn't know the girls had been born when I ran off the pitch at the end.' Speaking to the BBC's Good Evening Wales programme, Day said that they were 'all doing well.' He added: 'There were two precious little girls waiting for me when I got here.' His wife said they were delighted with their newborn daughters: 'Joe turned up for the nice bit, to have cuddles. We're absolutely over the moon and the midwives have been so good with me.' Day explained that he did not know he had become a father until he got into his car to drive to the hospital. 'The whole evening was a bit surreal,' he said. 'To beat Middlesbrough two-nil, to get through to play Manchester City in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup, playing the game, winning, two twins being born - I'm feeling very lucky and proud of Lizzie.'
French club Nantes have demanded payment from Cardiff City over the fifteen million knicker transfer of Emiliano Sala, BBC Wales has reported. Sala, along with pilot David Ibbotson, was on board the Piper Malibu N264DB which lost radar contact near Guernsey on 21 January. The Argentine striker was Cardiff's record signing. Cardiff have withheld the first scheduled payment until they are 'satisfied' with the documentation. BBC Wales stated the transfer fee is due to be paid in instalments over three years. It is understood that Nantes are threatening legal action if they do not receive a payment within ten days. An alleged - though anonymous and, therefore, possibly fictitious - 'source' at Cardiff allegedly said that they will honour the contract - which they're legally obligated to do - but not until they have 'clarified all the facts.' Whatever that means. It is unclear whether or not the club have insurance covering the cost of the transfer. And Cardiff are reported to be 'surprised' Nantes have made the demand whilst attempts are being made to recover a body from the plane that was carrying Sala and Ibbotson. The body was recovered from the Piper Malibu on Wednesday, two weeks after the plane vanished near Guernsey and was, eventually, confirmed as having been identified as Sala. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch said that specialist contractors joined the operation in 'challenging conditions.' It was carried out in 'as dignified a way as possible' and the men's families were kept updated throughout, it added. French club Bordeaux are also entitled to a cut of the fee, thought to be fifty per cent - Sala was on their books from 2012 to 2015 before joining Nantes. The plane carrying Sala and Ibbotson disappeared en route to Cardiff after the footballer returned to Nantes to say goodbye to his former team-mates.
Brighton & Hove Albinos boss Chris Hughton says it is up to the Football Association to take action over an alleged 'derogatory' chant aimed at Gaetan Bong by West Bromwich Albinos fans. Bong was booed after coming on as an extra-time substitute in Wednesday's three-one FA Cup win over The Baggies. Last season Bong accused West Brom's Jay Rodriguez of directing an alleged racist comment towards him, a charge which the FA said 'could not be proven.' Hughton said that it was 'down to the authorities' to 'deal with.' Bong was making his first return to The Hawthorns since he claimed Rodriguez told him: 'You're black and you stink' during a game last season. The Baggies forward strenuously denied making the comment and the FA came to its verdict after employing two lip-reading experts to watch slow-motion footage of the incident. Bong was also booed by Burnley fans last season when he played against Rodriguez's hometown club, with Hughton calling it 'shameful.' He came on to loud boos from the West Brom supporters after one hundred and five minutes in his side's FA Cup fourth round replay. 'It's not nice but the game has done very well in recent years in picking up on anything they need to and the original case was dealt with very well by the FA,' said Hughton. 'You are going to hear things you think are unfair and don't want to hear and that then becomes the responsibility of others. I heard [the boos], it's difficult not to but I prefer to talk about the individual. We have an outstanding individual and our support goes to our players.' When asked by Brighton newspaper, the Argus if he specifically heard the words in the chant, Hughton replied: 'No. I could hear a chant, I couldn't hear what the wording was. I certainly heard lots of boos. When it started I knew that it wasn't going to stop.' Brighton fans also reportedly aimed derogatory chants at Rodriguez, who was substituted after forty five minutes - something which, oddly, Hughton had nothing to say about. Meanwhile, Brighton's forward Florin Andone has been charged with violent conduct after appearing to elbow West Brom's Sam Field during the game. 'The incident was not seen by the match officials but was caught on camera,' the FA said.
An arrest has been made after a man was slashed across the face during a violent brawl between Millwall and Everton fans. The victim has 'a life-changing scar' as a result of the attack, before an FA Cup tie in London on 26 January. A twenty seven-year-old man was very arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of wounding with intent, attempted grievous bodily harm and violent disorder. The Metropolitan Police described the brawl - with kids gettin' sparked and aal sorts - as 'some of the most shocking football violence seen for some time.' Detective Sergeant Matt Simpson said the disorder involved 'dozens' of people and lasted for a number of hours. 'We have hours of CCTV and hundreds of images which we are closely reviewing and we have a team of experts working to identify those involved,' he said. Trouble between fans started in the Hawkstone Road area of Southwark, near Millwall's stadium The Den. A police officer was among the injured and the Met said that a number of coaches carrying Everton fans were damaged. Because the violence happened outside Millwall's stadium the Football Association said it would not be investigating. The match, which Millwall won three-two, was also marred by allegations of racist chanting.
An angry football fan reportedly faces being very banned from all football grounds in the country after he threw a pie onto the pitch during a match. Bournemouth supporter Adam Cox launched the pastry onto the pitch during a Carabao Cup match at Moscow Chelski FC's Torpedo Stamford Bridge in December. He was extremely convicted in his absence of one count of throwing a missile (a pie!) onto a football playing area. He had previously served a three-year football banning order, applied in 2012, for a similar offence. City of London Magistrates' Court heard Torpedo Stamford Bridge steward Dominic Agbo 'spotted something being thrown' from the South Stand shortly after kick-off in the Carabao Cup Quarter-Final match on 19 December. In a written statement, he said: 'I saw the Bournemouth fan throw something [onto the pitch] between the corner flag and the goal.' Yes. It was a pie. PC Kerry Jarrett said that Cox initially told security staff he was responsible, but said he thought admitting guilt meant he could 'go home.' He was wrong. She said: 'Initially I thought he was going to be dealt with by way of a community resolution, but he had already been the subject of a football banning order. He continued to say he already admitted it. But then he looked at the statement and said I was writing lies and he wouldn't sign it.' She said Cox 'became agitated' and was handcuffed, taken into custody and driven down the cop shop for a good talking-to. He was convicted in his absence with bench chairman Sarah Houston telling the court that the matter 'had been proved.' A warrant was issued for Cox regarding the imposition of a new football banning order. It is not known what type of pie was thrown, whether it was hot or cold (although, given that it was purchased inside a football ground, it's almost certainly the latter) or if it hit anybody. Moscow Chelski's FC match day menu includes lamb, rosemary and garlic pies. Oooo, get them. Everywhere else you have make do with mince. The match on December 19 ended one-nil to Moscow Chelski, with Eden Hazard scoring a eighty sixth-minute winner.
Players making a 'TV-style gesture' with their hands should be given a yellow card according to UEFA. The guidance has been given to referees ahead of VAR being introduced into the Champions League next week. The gesture is already a bookable offence but the policy was not enforced in the World Cup last summer or in other competitions where VAR is in operation. 'If players make the VAR signal and if they surround the referee, there must be disciplinary action,' UEFA said. At a briefing ahead of UEFA's congress in Rome, UEFA's chief refereeing officer, Roberto Rosetti, used a clip of Harry Maguire during England's World Cup match against Colombia to demonstrate when players should be booked. The Leicester City defender made the sign believing - rightly, as it happened - that Jordan Henderson had been headbutted. 'Where Maguire is standing making the square signal - that is a yellow card,' Rosetti said. 'We want action in these situations, we don't want players interfering with referee on reviews.'
Glasgow Rangers have appealed against Alfredo Morelos' sending off against Aberdeen on Wednesday, the striker's third dismissal against the Pittodrie club this term. Morelos and Scott McKenna, who were involved in an incident in the first game of the season, were both shown red cards by Bobby Madden after appearing to aim kicks at each other. The hearing will be held on Friday, meaning that the Colombian could be available for Saturday's Scottish Cup tie with Kilmarnock. Morelos had an appeal upheld after being sent off at Pittodrie in August when he was deemed to have swung a leg at McKenna. He was then sent off when the sides met at Ibrox in December, after receiving a second booking for throwing an arm at Graeme Shinnie. In the aftermath of Wednesday's four-two win over Aberdeen - in which Morelos scored twice - manager Steven Gerrard said that the Colombian must 'channel his aggression' if he is to 'go to the next level. I haven't had the chance to analyse the incident so I can't tell you if Scott deserved a red or whether Alfredo did,' he said. 'They've had a fantastic battle up until that point. But, if Alfredo is in the wrong, he'll deserve the red card. He will then be missing for two games and that's how he'll get punished because he hates missing games.'
YouTuber - it's 'a thing', apparently - and Marseille fan Mohamed Henni has told the BBC World Service that he breaks TVs whenever his team loses 'to make people happy' (particularly shops that sell new TVs, one imagines) and 'not for theatre.' One or two people even believed him.
A Briton has been arrested and detained in the United Arab Emirates after reportedly being assaulted when he wore a Qatar football team shirt to a match. Ali Issa Ahmad, from Wolverhampton, is said to have been 'unaware' of a law against 'showing sympathy' for Qatar - brought in amid a diplomatic dispute. His friend claim he was held after telling police that he had been attacked. The UAE embassy in London said Ahmad has been charged with 'wasting police time' and 'making false statements.' And, 'looking at us in a funny way.' Probably. Responding to earlier media reports, a UAE official claimed that Ahmed was 'categorically not arrested for wearing a Qatar football shirt.' The Foreign Office said it is 'providing assistance' to a British man and is 'in touch' with the UAE authorities. Telling them to grow the fek up, one hopes (although, knowing the Foreign Office, almost certainly not). The UAE - and four other countries in the region - are currently engaged in a political and diplomatic tiff with Qatar after they accused the state of supporting radical and Islamist groups. On its website, the Foreign Office warns UK travellers to the UAE of a June 2017 announcement 'that showing sympathy for Qatar on social media or by any other means of communication is an offence. Offenders could be imprisoned and subject to a substantial fine.' Ahmad is said to have travelled to the UAE 'for a holiday.' He was arrested after watching Qatar play Iraq in an Asian Cup match in Abu Dhabi on 22 January. Speaking to the BBC World Service programme Newshour, his friend Amer Lokie said Ahmad had called him from a police station on 30 January to tell him about the arrest. Lokie said: 'After he left the stadium he was followed by a couple of people and they assaulted him.' Ahmad had been wearing a Qatar football shirt and was holding another one in his hands, he said. 'They took away his T-shirt and he went home. Afterwards he went back to police station to report the assault and they held him,' Lokie said. Asked whether Ahmad had indicated whether the people who attacked him were members of the public, police or security officials, Lokie said: 'I was trying to ask him to clarify but he could not clarify because his time was limited. He was just a person who loved sport so much,' Lokie added. 'I don't think he knew he could get into problems for wearing a T-shirt or supporting a particular team.' The UAE embassy in London initially claimed that it was 'unable to comment specifically' on the case, adding 'allegations of human rights violations are taken extremely seriously and will be thoroughly investigated.' In a later statement, issued through the embassy, a UAE official said Ahmad was a dual Sudanese-British citizen. The official said Ahmad had gone to a police station to say he had been 'harassed and beaten up' by local football fans for cheering the Qatar team. 'Police took him to hospital where a doctor who examined him, concluded that his injuries were inconsistent with his account of events and appeared to be self-inflicted,' the official claimed. They said Ahmad was charged on 24 January, adding: 'We are advised that he has since admitted those offences [wasting police time and making false statements] and will now be processed through the UAE courts.' The tiny oil-and-gas-rich Qatar has been cut off by some of its powerful Arab neighbours - including the UAE - over its alleged support for terrorism. The continuing tiff meant there were very few Qatar fans in attendance during its Asian Cup matches. When Qatar knocked the UAE out in the semi-final, objects including shoes were thrown at their players. Which, frankly, isn't very nice. Remember, shoes have soles too. Qatar went on to win the tournament, defeating Japan three-one in the final on 1 February.
Teachers in Gatesheed are reported to be about to go on strike in a dispute over the way misbehaving pupils are dealt with. Members of the NASUWT union said that there was 'a history of issues' at Heworth Grange School. About forty teachers at the school will start the first of six planned days of strike action on Thursday. Headteacher Chris Richardson claimed that 'new systems' have been 'put in place' to 'tackle the issues' and that the school would remain open for Year Eleven and sixth form. NASUWT's regional organiser, Simon Kennedy, claimed the 'issue' revolved around the way pupils who are ordered to leave lessons for misbehaving are then 'dealt with.' He said too often the pupil is sent back into the lesson 'without appropriate action' being taken. Like, presumably, a damned good thrashing. Or, perhaps, writing about a thousand times 'I must not chin the teacher not no more, never.' Something like that, anyway. 'This undermines the teachers and affects every other child in the classroom,' Kennedy suggested. After which he was immediately set upon by a gang a feral kids and taught the error of his ways. Probably. 'Children are challenging in every school, we are not saying they are worse at Heworth Grange, but where there are issues we say the trust is not dealing with them.' Kennedy said that the other strike days were planned for March but he hoped the issues will have been resolved before then. Richardson said he was 'saddened' and 'disappointed' by the threatened industrial action but there was 'a strong desire to continue to have dialogue with staff and unions.' The headteacher claimed that a 'new behaviour policy' had been 'implemented,' adding: 'While we are pleased with the progress that is being made, it will take time to embed.' Heworth Grange was taken over by The Consilium Academies Trust in February 2018 and has space for about thirteen hundred pupils aged between eleven and eighteen.
Two Wearside women were extremely caught putting their own hair in a pizza to get a refund. After complaining at The Peacock in Sunderland, staff grovellingly apologised and the women were given a seven smackers refund and some free drinks. However, staff later realised that the hair did not match any of the people working at the pub-restaurant. CCTV footage subsequently showed the women pulling out their hair and adding it to the food. The search is now on to identify the pair and bring them to justice for this awful crime. If only, to stop anyone else from doing the same thing. Mind you, dear blog reader, let it said hair on pizza is no less bizarre than some of the ingredients this blogger has seen on pizza menus over the years. It's certainly more edible than pineapple.
The actor John Michie has told a jury that he begged security staff at a music festival to let him through the gates as his daughter lay dying inside. He and his wife rushed to the Bestival site after hearing Louella Fletcher-Michie 'screeching like a wild animal' on the phone, a court heard. Winchester Crown Court has heard that she was found dead after taking 2CP. Her boyfriend Ceon Broughton denies manslaughter and supplying drugs. The court heard Michie and his wife, Carol, drove one hundred and thirty miles from London to the festival, held at Lulworth Castle, Dorset to get to their daughter. Giving evidence, the Holby City actor wept as he described his efforts to persuade a member of security staff to let him in. He said that he eventually convinced one attendant to take his phone, which had a location pin-drop sent to them by Broughton, while they waited at the entrance. The couple waited up to ninety minutes before they heard that their daughter's body had been found, he said. Carol Fletcher-Michie, told the court that she heard her daughter repeating phrases in a 'horrible voice' as she spoke to Broughton on the phone on 10 September 2017. 'She was like a wild animal in the background. That was the last time I heard her voice. She was screeching,' she told the jury. The trial previously heard the claim that Fletcher-Michie had urged her boyfriend to film her after she had taken the Class A drug. She was found dead by security guards at 1:15am on what would have been her twenty fifth birthday. Prosecutors have allege Broughton failed to seek help for her because he feared breaching a suspended jail sentence. In the witness box, Michie described how he had later released a statement defending Broughton, after newspapers reported that a murder investigation was under way. 'I believed him to be a good person at the time. Clearly, I made a mistake. I didn't realise how in the six hours he was with her, he had not taken her to get help, how he had seen her very, very distressed state. I believe he even filmed her after she was dead. I think Louella loved Ceon. I'm not sure that he loved her. I don't know how you could say you love someone if you left them to die in front of you. If I was in Ceon's situation, I would have taken another human being, let alone my girlfriend who I was supposed to love, to a medical tent to save her life.' Michie said that Broughton dismissed his daughter for overreacting, adding: 'I've since learned he described her as a drama queen, which is hurtful.' Describing the phone call from Broughton, Michie said: 'The thing that I most remember was that Louella seemed very distressed. I could hear her in the background shouting things like "I hate you, I don't trust you," obviously referring to Ceon. I've never heard her speak in that way. It almost didn't sound like her.' Michie said that Broughton's voice, on loudspeaker, sounded 'watery, without energy in it' and he didn't seem 'compos mentis. He didn't seem to be concerned, I thought. Obviously any normal person would be concerned,' he added. Stephen Kamlish QC, defending Broughton, said that a lot of what Michie had told the jury was wrong. You don't know, for example, how many times he told people where he was,' Kamlish said. Ms Fletcher-Michie's sister, Daisy, told the court how she 'pleaded' with Broughton on the phone to take Louella to a medical tent. 'I couldn't get any sense of urgency. He didn't say much at all, just like a really slow, "yeah, yeah, okay,"' she said. 'There's no way I can believe in six hours someone [wouldn't make] their best efforts to get four hundred metres to a medical tent.' Kamlish suggested that the terrain was 'difficult' and Ms Fletcher-Michie was 'angry' at her boyfriend. 'I'm pretty sure a twenty eight-year-old man could overpower her in a desperate situation like that and carry her,' Daisy Fletcher-Michie replied. Her brother, Sam, recalled how he asked Broughton what drug his sister had taken. 'It was 2CB and he said, "but I bumped it up a bit,"' Fletcher-Michie told the court. He said that he 'did not understand' whether that meant a bigger dose the usual or an additional drug and he thought 2CB and 2CP were the same thing. Kamlish said: 'You may have thought you heard "bumped it up," but you heard "bumped it,"' which the barrister claimed was a phrase meaning 'took drugs.' Sam Fletcher-Michie insisted he had 'heard correctly.' Earlier, the jury in the case was reduced to eleven after the judge discharged a woman 'for personal reasons.' In video clips shown to the court, Fletcher-Michie repeatedly shouts at Broughton to telephone her mother but he tells her to 'put your phone away.' Her parents were so worried that they set off for the festival, repeatedly messaging and calling Broughton, the prosecutor told the jury. Sam Fletcher-Michie also contacted Broughton and urged him to seek medical help for his sister. However, Broughton allegedly replied, saying 'call back in an hour' and referred to Louella as 'a drama queen,' jurors heard. Broughton also claimed that Louella 'urged' him to film her taking the drugs and, at one point on the video, said that she was having 'the best trip I've ever had.' In the fifty-minute video, shown to jurors in full, she shouted: 'This is mad. I'm so happy, the best day of my life. I've taken acid before. This ain't acid. I was not expecting this. Mum, I love you. Dad, I love you. I see through everything.' Fletcher-Michie was seen having a non-stop rant and repeatedly waved her arms and slapped herself. She also urged Broughton to 'make sure this goes on YouTube' and shouted at him to 'film me,' 'call my mum' and 'call my brother, call my sister.' At times, Broughton appeared to smile as he turned the camera on himself and told her 'it's between me and you.' The trial has previously heard that Broughton has pleaded guilty to supplying 2CP to Fletcher-Michie and her friend at Glastonbury Festival in 2017. The trial continues.
A remote Russian region has declared 'a state of emergency' over the appearance of dozens of polar bears in its human settlements, local officials say. Authorities in the Novaya Zemlya islands, home to a few thousand people - and, let it be noted, at least one From The North dear blog reader a couple of years back - said that there were cases of bears attacking people and entering residential and public buildings. Polar bears are affected by climate change and are, increasingly, forced on to the land to look for food. Although, apparently, President Putin's mate President Rump believes that climate change doesn't exist so, therefore, there really shouldn't be a problem for the good people of Novaya Zemlya, should there? Russia classes the bears as an endangered species. Hunting the bears is banned - expect for the President, obviously - and the federal environment agency has refused to issue licences to shoot them. The bears had lost their fear of the bear patrols and signals used to warn them off, meaning that 'more drastic measures' were needed, officials said. They say that if 'other means' to scare off the bears fail, a 'cull' could be the only answer. Maybe they'll be even more endangered than they are now if Putin goes up there with his gun. The archipelago's main settlement, Belushya Guba, has reported a total of fifty two bears in its vicinity, with between six and ten constantly on its territory. Local administration head, Vigansha Musin, said that 'more than five' bears were on the territory of the local military garrison, where air defence forces are based. 'I've been on Novaya Zemlya since 1983,' he said in an official press release. 'There's never been such a mass invasion of polar bears.' His deputy claimed 'normal life' was being 'disrupted' by the bears. 'People are scared, afraid to leave their homes, their daily routines are being broken and parents are unwilling to let their children go to school or kindergarten,' Alexander Minayev, said. With Arctic sea ice diminishing as a result of - alleged - climate change, polar bears are forced to change their hunting habits and spend more time on land looking for food - which potentially puts them in conflict with humans. In 2016 five Russian scientists were 'besieged' by polar bears for several weeks at a remote weather station on the island of Troynoy, East of Novaya Zemlya.
A driver who allegedly 'swerved to avoid an octopus' before crashing his jam-jar has been extremely arrested on suspicion of drug-driving. Police were called to the A381 between Malborough and South Milton in Devon, where they found a vehicle upside-down in a ditch on Tuesday evening. The forty nine-year-old driver was checked over by paramedics before being arrested can carted off to the Cop Shop for a serious question-and-answer session. Officers, who tweeted about the incident, said they 'found no evidence of an octopus' on the road. Octopuses (yes, that is the plural before you all write in and claim it should be octopi!) are not unheard of in the seas off the South coast of England, but this particular cephalopod would have had to crawl more than five kilometres over hills and fields to find itself in the path of a car on the A381. And, whilst we all know they've got eight legs, that would be one serious Mo Farah of the cephalopod world to achieve such a feat. A spokeswoman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: 'He [the driver, this is, not the octopus] did a bit of a slow roll into a ditch. An ambulance went out and the driver was checked over by paramedics but there weren't injuries enough to go to hospital.' The man, from Salcombe, was very arrested on suspicion of driving while unfit through drugs or drink and has been released under investigation pending further inquiries. Police pointed out that driving under the influence of drugs - illegal or prescription - was 'a serious matter' and could be 'just as dangerous as drink-driving.'
A man running on a popular park trail in the mountains of Northern Colorado killed a mountain lion after it 'pounced on him from behind.' Colorado Parks & Wildlife officials say that the man 'sustained serious injuries' after he was bitten on his face and wrist by the male lion. The man, who has not been named, turned 'after hearing a noise behind him,' just as the lion lunged, officials added. The cat died from suffocation, state wildlife officials have determined. Monday afternoon's attack occurred on the West Ridge Trail at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space near the city of Fort Collins - about sixty miles from Denver. The victim 'described hearing something behind him on the trail and was attacked by a mountain lion as he turned around to investigate,' according to an official statement. 'The lion lunged at the runner, biting his face and wrist. He was able to fight and break free from the lion, killing the lion in self-defence.' At least, that's his story and he's sticking to it. After killing the predator, the man was able to leave the park on his own and call for help. In a statement, officials described the wounds to his face, wrist, arms, legs and back as 'serious, but non-life threatening' Unlike the injuries suffered by the mountain lion. Officials later found the dead lion, which was determined to be a juvenile male weighing around eighty pounds. 'The runner did everything he could to save his life,' said Mark Leslie, CPW's Northeast Region manager, who did not say, exactly, how the runner killed the animal. 'In the event of a lion attack, you need to do anything in your power to fight back just as this gentleman did.' Cougars, also known as mountain lions, panthers or pumas, are members of the wild cat family. This one was, it would seem, more than wild, it was livid. They live across the Americas, from British Columbia to Argentina. Mountain lion attacks in North America are very rare, officials say - CPW suggest that fewer than a dozen people have been killed in more than a Century. Instances of attacks are often seen among sick or starving lions, which normally are elusive and tend to avoid humans. The animal in Monday's attack has been taken to a nearby lab for a post-mortem examination to be performed. If you ever see a big cat, authorities say not to run, since that 'may trigger the lion's hunting reflexes.' Instead, take The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band's advise. 'Running may stimulate a lion's instinct to chase and attack,' the park service said. Instead people should 'stand firm' and 'make an effort to look larger,' and if attacked, 'fight back using any weapon at hand.' Or, alternatively, if you happen to be an Olympic sprinter, then just run like fek. 'What you want to do is convince the lion you are not prey and that you may in fact be a danger to the lion,' officials said in a statement. 'People have fought back with rocks, sticks, caps or jackets, garden tools and their bare hands successfully,' the park statement read, adding that sensitive areas such as the eyes should be targeted first. Last May, one cyclist was killed and another injured by what authorities described as an 'emaciated' cougar in Washington state. In September 2018, a hiker in Oregon was found dead in what officials suspect was the state's first ever fatality caused by a wild mountain lion.
An endangered Sumatran tiger has been killed by another tiger at London Zoo. Hell, they're tigers, it's what they do. Male tiger Asim was brought to the zoo from a Danish safari park ten days ago in the hope that he would be 'the perfect mate' for long-term resident Melati. After spending time apart in the tiger enclosure to get used to the new arrangement, the two were then introduced to each other earlier. Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of the worst 'first dates' in recorded history. Tensions 'quickly escalated,' things became 'more aggressive' and Melati died in a fight, the zoo said. A statement issued by the zoo said that Asim was 'immediately moved to a separate paddock' but, 'despite the best efforts of the vets,' ten-year-old Melati died. It said: 'Our focus right now is on caring for Asim, as we get through this difficult event.' Staff reported to be 'heartbroken by this turn of events,' the zoo said. Seven-year-old Asim was moved to London Zoo as part of the European-wide conservation breeding programme. So, how's that going, then? Heralding his arrival, the zoo described him as 'a handsome, confident cat who is known for being very affectionate with the ladies in his life,' adding that 'we're hoping he'll be the perfect mate for our beautiful Melati.' Whereas, it turns out Asim is, in fact, the Ted Bundy of the tiger world. The zoo's previous male, Jae Jae - which had fathered seven cubs previously with Melati - was moved to French zoo Le Parc des Félins, on 30 January. In 2013, Melati gave birth to two cubs but one fell into a pool and drowned. Melati then gave birth to three cubs in February 2014 and two more in June 2016. The Sumatran tiger, which naturally lives in the forests and jungles of Indonesia, is now classified as 'critically endangered' - particularly if Asim's on the prowl - and is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's red list of threatened animals. When in captivity, they can live for about twenty years. In the 1970s, there were estimated to be one thousand Sumatran tigers in the wild, while today's figures say there are just three hundred.
John Cougar Mellencamp (he's a popular beat combo, yer honour and not, as you may have thought, another endangered big cat) has always been outspoken politically and, although he is cagey about assigning himself to a particular political party, his career has seen him criticising Ronald Reagan and John McCain and playing rallies for Barack Obama. Was it that, one wonders, which drove a forty eight-year old Indiana man named Robert P Carter to attempt 'a citizen's arrest' on Mellencamp 'for supporting a government' that Carter? Nevertheless, Carter's resolve was strong, as he allegedly drove his car through the security gate of the rocker's Bloomington residence on Thursday morning. Perhaps it was a New York Post column that (falsely) labelled Mellencamp a supporter of President Rump? Or was it a 2016 Rolling Stone interview, in which Mellencamp described himself a socialist? Albeit, one not seemingly very committed to wealth distribution. 'You probably don't wanna have this conversation with me, but here's the deal,' Mellencamp said. 'I don't trust the government. I don't trust the Democrats. I don't trust the Republicans. I'm a little bit more Democratic than I am Republican, but really I'm a socialist. And that's where it's at.' Baby. Nevertheless, Yahoo reports that Carter admitted to kicking down Mellencamp's door after crashing through the gate. Police found him inside a building on the property, after which they promptly arrested his daft ass and threw him in The Slammer. He was extremely charged with burglary, residential entry, criminal trespass and being a right stupid bastard and was, reportedly, released earlier in the week on a completely separate charge of carrying a handgun without a license. Mellencamp, nor his wife, actress Meg Ryan, were home at the time of the break-in.
A slab of seal faeces 'used for scientific research' in New Zealand (well, that's their excuse, anyway) has led to the unlikely discovery of a USB stick full of holiday snaps. The sample, known as scat, had been stored for over a year before being thawed out. Researchers analyse seal faeces to 'assess the health and diet' of seals in New Zealand waters. The fully functioning stick contained images of sea lions and a video of a mother playing with her baby. The sample was submitted by a vet who had been monitoring a sickly-looking leopard seal on Oreti Beach, Invercargill, on New Zealand's South Island. The device was in good condition 'considering where it had come from,' the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research said on its website. The researchers had 'let it dry out' for a few weeks before investigating the contents. But the discovery of the stick is a cause of concern. 'It is very worrying that these amazing Antarctic animals have plastic like this inside them,' volunteer Jodie Warren said. The owner of the mystery stick has not been located. And, after comments like Jodie's, one imagines they might not be too quick in coming forward to reclaim ownership. 'The only clue to who might have taken them is the nose of a blue kayak,' NIWA said. The research centre added that the return of the USB stick would 'come with a price' - a new sample of scat with which to continue their research. 'The more we can find out about these creatures, the more we can ensure they are looked after.'
The furniture chain Ikea has grovellingly apologised after becoming the latest offender to leave New Zealand off a world map. An eagle-eyed Reddit user spotted that the shop is currently selling the map with a blank space where the country should be while shopping at an an Ikea outlet in Washington DC. He posted the picture of the map to a sub-Reddit forum page, Maps Without NZ (yes, dear blog reader, this is 'a thing'). The forum is dedicated to collating the - not infrequent - instances where the country has been omitted by careless cartographers. Ikea has admitted its error and apologised. In a statement issued to the BBC, an Ikea spokesperson said: 'Ikea is responsible for securing correct and compliant motifs on all our products. We can see that the process has failed regarding the product BJÖRKSTA world map - we regret this mistake and apologise. We will take the necessary actions and the product is now being phased out from our stores.'
The woman who, infamously, cut off her husband's penis has said she has 'no remorse' regarding the incident and now plans to tell her own side of the story. In 1993, Lorena Bobbitt took a sharp kitchen knife and sliced off the penis of her partner, John Wayne Bobbitt, whilst he slept. She then left the house with the appendage in hand, drove off and threw it in a field, before calling the police and confessing to the bloody crime. Subsequently arrested and tried with her willy-chopping ways, after seven hours of deliberation, the jury found Lorena not guilty due to insanity of the charge of causing an irresistible impulse to sexually wound John. As a result, she could not be held liable for her actions. Under state law, the judge ordered her to undergo a forty five-day evaluation period at Central State Hospital, after which she would be released. In 1995, after six years of marriage, John and Lorena divorced. After the incident, John Wayne Bobbitt attempted to generate money by forming a band, The Severed Parts, to pay his - mounting - medical and legal bills, although the band was unsuccessful. In September 1994, he appeared in the adult film John Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut and, two years later, he appeared in another, John Wayne Bobbitt's Frankenpenis. Now, almost twenty six years on from that fateful night, Lorena she doesn't regret anything. Speaking on the Today show, Lorena said: 'How could you regret something that was not planned? You have to understand, I wasn't in my right mindset.' Lorena, now aged forty nine, has always claimed that she was driven to the violent act after being raped by her husband at their home in Manassas, Virginia. The police were able to find the missing penis and doctors managed to reattach it, after a ten-hour surgery. Whilst John went on to forge a career in the porn industry and get arrested several times for domestic violence and theft Lorena tried to keep a low profile. But, a new docu-series, set to hit Amazon Prime next week, will put Lorena back under the microscope as she tells her version of events, in light of the Me Too era. Looking back at how the media handled the incident at the time, Lorena says that they were 'too obsessed' with John's huge throbbing - and snipped - member. Speaking to the New York Times, she said: 'They always just focused on [the penis]. And, it's like they all missed or didn't care why I did what I did.' She continued: 'I was the subject of so many jokes in the 1990s and to me it was just cruel. They didn't understand. Why would they laugh about my suffering?'
Pope Frank has admitted that clerics have sexually abused nuns and, in one case, that they were 'kept as sex slaves.' He said in that case his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was 'forced to shut down an entire congregation' of nuns who were being abused by priests. It is thought to be the first time that Pope Frank has acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by the clergy. He said that the Church was 'attempting to address the problem' but, said it was 'still going on.' Last November, the Catholic Church's global organisation for nuns denounced the 'culture of silence and secrecy' that prevented them from speaking out. The Pope's comments come amid long-running cases of sexual abuse of children and young men by priests at the Church. Speaking to reporters while on a historic tour of the Middle East on Tuesday, the pontiff admitted that the Church 'had an issue,' the roots of which lie in 'seeing women as second class.' No shit? He said that priests and bishops had 'abused' nuns, but said the Church was 'aware of the scandal' and was 'working on it,' adding that 'a number of clerics' had been suspended. Though, sadly, not by this groins from their local bell tower. An opportunity missed, one could suggest. 'It's a path that we've been on,' Frankie said. 'Pope Benedict had the courage to dissolve a female congregation which was at a certain level, because this slavery of women had entered it - slavery, even to the point of sexual slavery - on the part of clerics or the founder.' Pope Frank said sexual abuse of nuns was 'an ongoing problem,' but happened, largely, in 'certain congregations, predominantly new ones.' So, that's all right then. 'I think it's still taking place because it's not as though the moment you become aware of something it goes away.' The female congregation dissolved in 2005 under Pope Benedict was the Community of St Jean, which was based in France, Alessandro Gisotti of the Vatican press office told CBS News. In 2013, the Community of St Jean admitted that priests had behaved 'in ways that went against chastity' with 'several women in the order,' according to the French Roman Catholic newspaper La Croix. In a separate case in India last year, a bishop was extremely arrested over allegations that he raped a nun thirteen times between 2014 and 2016. Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who headed the diocese in Jalandhar in the state of Punjab, has denied the accusations. In Chile, reports of abuse of nuns carried out by priests led the Vatican to launch an investigation last year. The women were reportedly removed from the order after highlighting the abuse. Last year, the Associated Press news agency reported cases of abuse in Italy and Africa. Just days ago the Vatican's women's magazine, Women Church World, condemned such abuse, saying that in some cases nuns were forced to abort priests' children - something Catholicism forbids. The magazine's editor, Lucetta Scaraffia, said Pope Francis's acknowledgement of the abuse 'can be of some help,' but warned that the Church needs to act. 'If the Church continues to close its eyes to the scandal the condition of oppression of women in the church will never change,' she wrote. The magazine said the Me Too movement 'meant more' women were now coming forward with their stories. Last year, French website Le Parisien reported the case of 'Christelle', a former nun whose name was changed to preserve anonymity. 'Christelle' claimed that she had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a priest of her congregation in France between 2010 and 2011. 'His gestures became more and more inappropriate,' she said, adding: 'But he kept going until the day he raped me. He was unable to control himself, he had a split personality.'
A man who travelled nearly two hundred miles to see his injured mother arrived before an ambulance reached her. Mark Clements caught a bus, tube and two trains from London to Exmouth on Saturday after his seventy seven-year-old mother fell and broke her hip. The initial nine-nine-nine call was made at 9am but paramedics did not arrive at the address until seven hours later. South Western Ambulance Service snivellingly apologised and claimed that it was 'experiencing an unprecedented rise in demand' at the time. And, if you look up 'crass and completely unacceptable excuses' on Google, dear blog reader, you'll find that one pretty close to the top of the list. Clements said that he and his family - some of whom were waiting with his mother - were, rightly, 'appalled' by what happened. 'My mother was lying in an awkward position on a cold conservatory floor and was unable to move,' he said. Clements took three hours and forty minutes to travel from London to Exmouth, arriving at his mother's home at ten past three, about fifty minutes before the ambulance crew. He said that relatives called nine-nine-nine on six different occasions but it was seven hours before an ambulance arrived. 'An ambulance station is less than ten minutes from my mother's home,' he added. When paramedics eventually arrived, Clements said they were 'equally appalled and astonished' at the delay. 'My mother is a very strong woman and it was heartbreaking to see her go through this experience,' he added. South Western Ambulance Service claimed it 'had to prioritise more serious incidents.' Although, short of a nuclear explosion going off in South Devon on Saturday (which, you know, it didn't), it's difficult to fathom what on Earth could be more serious than a pensioner having suffered a heavy fall. SWAS claimed it was 'sorry' it was 'not able reach this patient sooner' but that 'an assessment was carried out' and there was 'considered to be no immediate threat to life.' Clements' mother was initially classed as 'a category four case,' which is considered 'less urgent' and only requiring transport to a hospital. Ambulance services in England took an average of one hour and twenty four minutes to respond to such calls between April and December 2018, according to official figures. Which is, frankly, shameful enough. But seven hours, dear blog reader, is bloody criminal. SWASFT's average was two hours and twenty one minutes, the lengthiest in the country. Clements' mother had a hip operation on Sunday and is now, thankfully, recovering in hospital.
Thousands of passengers have reportedly been left stranded after air regulators grounded Turkmenistan Airlines for safety reasons. Which will, no doubt, come as a considerable surprise to those people who didn't realise Turkmenistan even had an airline. Or, indeed, those people who haven;t got a clue where Turkmenistan is. The UK's Civil Aviation Authority said that flights from Birmingham and Heathrow to Amritsar and Heathrow to New Delhi - which fly via Ashgabat - had been very suspended. The CAA acted after the European Aviation Safety Agency suspended permission for it to fly in the EU. It also flies from Frankfurt and Paris. Set up in 1992 by the former Soviet Union state, its route to Amritsar is popular with the British Punjabi population. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said the European Aviation Safety Agency had suspended the airline's flights to and from the EU 'pending confirmation that it meets international air safety standards. This means that Turkmenistan Airlines flights between the UK (London Heathrow and Birmingham) and Turkmenistan (Ashgabat), do not have permission to travel to and from the UK,' the FCO said. Affected passengers are advised to contact Turkmenistan Airlines to 'seek advice,' the FCO said, extremely unhelpfully. The budget airline also offers flights from Birmingham and Heathrow - via Asghabat - to various other locations such as Bangkok and Beijing. The CAA said: 'Passengers who have travelled may need to make their own arrangements to return home.' It lists Air India, British Airways, Jet Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Turkish Airlines as 'potentially' offering alternative routes. Those who have booked but are now unable to fly will have to contact the airline for a refund. 'Passengers who booked directly with the company via either a credit, charge or debit card may alternatively be able to make a claim against their card provider,' the CAA said. Those who booked through an airline ticket agent, should speak to the agent in the first instance. There was 'no obvious information' on the company's website which also appeared to be allowing new bookings still to be made.
And now, dear blog reader ...
A batch of feta cheese sold in IGA supermarkets in Australia has been urgently recalled over fears that it is contaminated with a potentially deadly bacteria. The herb and garlic feta cheese, manufactured by Maleny Cheese Factory on the Sunshine Coast, was recalled on Wednesday by Queensland Health authorities. The urgent recall came after 'concerns mounted' that the cheese was 'riddled' with Escherichia coli. If the cheese, which was sold between 23 January and 5 February, was consumed it could cause a person a bout of nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. 'Those concerned about their health should seek medical advice or call 13 HEALTH and should return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund,' Queensland Health stated. Although, if the purchaser is suffering from nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps or, indeed, death then getting down the shop to get their money back may not, necessarily, be their first concern.
A leader of a fringe Hindu right-wing group in India has been very arrested after a video of her shooting an effigy of Mahatma Gandhi went viral. The Hindu Mahasabha had organised an event to 'celebrate' the seventy first anniversary of Gandhi's assassination. In the video, Pooja Pandey shoots the effigy with an air pistol after garlanding a picture of Nathuram Godse, who murdered the independence leader in 1948. Gandhi has long been seen as 'too moderate' by some right-wing Hindus. Police had been seeking Pandey's arrest since the video, believed to have been released by her group, emerged last week. Two police teams were deployed to track her and her husband, who also features prominently in the footage. They had already made several other arrests in connection with the video which was made on 30 January, the anniversary of the day Gandhi was killed. 'We arrested nine people within a week and are searching for two more suspects in the case,' police officer Neeraj Jadaun told the BBC. Godse, who shot Gandhi in the chest three times at point-blank range on 30 January 1948, was an activist with nationalist right-wing groups, including the Hindu Mahasabha. Hindu hardliners in India accuse Gandhi of having betrayed Hindus by being 'too pro-Muslim' and even for the division of India and the bloodshed that marked Partition, which saw India and Pakistan created after independence from Britain in 1947. This is not the first time the controversial fringe group has tried to glorify Godse and celebrate Gandhi's assassination. In 2015, the group announced plans to install statues of Godse across six districts in the Southern state of Karnataka, sparking protests across the state.
A man is planning to sue his parents in India for giving birth to him 'without his consent.' Mind you, this is according to some smear of no importance at the Daily Scum Mail so, chances are, it's a load of old crap. Raphael Samuel said that he had a 'great relationship' with his parents - emphasis on 'had', one imagines - but has compared having children to 'kidnapping and slavery.' The twenty seven-year-old, from Mumbai, is an 'anti-natalist' who believes it is wrong to put an unwilling child through the 'rigmarole' of life simply for the pleasure of its parents. The anti-natalist movement is, the Scum Mail claim, 'gaining traction' in India as younger people resist social pressure to have children. 'My life has been amazing, but I don't see why I should put another life through the rigmarole of school and finding a career, especially when they didn't ask to exist,' Raphael is reported as saying.
Doctors are warning women against undergoing 'vaginal scraping,' a procedure intended to remove all traces of their ex-partners. A number of experts have 'spoken out' on the practice, explaining that it poses some serious risks. This is according to the Sun so, obviously, it's probably a load of made-up toot.
In a shocking - and stunning - moment a chap caught fire after he was tased outside a restaurant in Philadelphia. Witness Pat Tackney, who filmed the incident, snitched that he saw the man being 'confronted' outside of Jim's Steaks in the South of the city. Pat claims the man refused to leave the restaurant and was 'forcibly removed.' The video shows two men, thought to be security guards from the restaurant, using a stun gun on the unnamed man before his trouser leg catches fire. Philadelphia Police said that they were 'not notified of any situation' outside of Jim's. Certainly not one involving Involuntary Human Combustion. The restaurant has - perhaps wisely - not commented on the incident.
A British woman has been very jailed in Indonesia for slapping an immigration official across the chop at Ngurah Rai international airport in Bali. Auj-e Taqaddas reportedly 'shouted and swore' at the man, who challenged her when he realised that her visa was overdue. She was found extremely guilty of violence against an officer after she slapped him in the mush and tried to grab her passport from him. She now faces six months in The Slammer though she had claimed that the sentence is 'unfair.' Taqaddas overstayed her visa by about one hundred and sixty days in the beach destination of Bali. When told she had to pay a fine of three thousand five hundred dollars she was filmed on a smartphone responding violently. She has since accused prosecutors of 'torturing' her and 'forcing' her to stay in the country. One or two people even believed her. The prosecution claimed violence has not been used against Taqaddas. One or two people even believed them. After she missed several court dates, prosecutors said that they had 'the right to take forcible action to bring her to court.'
'Kids these days will try just about anything to catch a buzz, from "boofing" beer to vaping vodka,' claims the New York Post. 'Their latest cheap thrill? Feminine hygiene products.' Teenagers in Indonesia are said to be collecting menstrual pads and tampons, often of the used variety, and boiling them, allowing the mixture to cool and then imbibing the resulting liquid. Christ only knows why? Police are already reported to have arrested several minors caught making this menstrual-pad moonshine. One fourteen-year-old shamefully confessed that he and his friends drink it 'morning, afternoon and evening,' the Daily Scum Mail reports. The National Narcotics Agency in Indonesia says that it is the chlorine used to sanitise menstrual products that is getting these youths tipsy, giving them hallucinations and 'a feeling of flying.' The newspaper reports that this has been going on 'for at least a couple of years,' as this phenomenon was first reported by Indonesian authorities back in 2016. 'I don't know who started it,' Jimy Ginting, an advocate for 'safe drinking in Indonesia,' told the Jakarta Post. 'There is no law against it, so far. There is no law against these kids using a mixture of mosquito repellent and [cold syrup] to get drunk.' Now, that's just giving them notions.
A woman who made hundreds of 'foul-mouthed' nine-nine-nine calls abusing operators' race and gender has been jailed. Monika Osinska from Salford, made three hundred and thirty nine malicious calls between September and November, including twenty three on just one day, 1 November. Her 'deplorable behaviour' reportedly cost the Operational Communications Branch over fourteen hundred smackers due to lost time and wages. She was thrown in The Joint for twelve weeks at Manchester & Salford Magistrates' Court on Tuesday. Osinska had previously admitted persistently making use of a public communication network to cause annoyance. Police said that she had 'a long history' of making malicious phone calls from her mobile phone. In January she received a caution for making more than one hundred and fifty malicious nine-nine-nine calls in less than a month. But, she continued making abusive calls to handlers in which she 'often made derogatory remarks about the call handler's gender, race and nationality,' Greater Manchester Police said. In May, Osinska appeared in court and had an existing twelve-week suspended sentence for malicious communications extended to fifteen months, but continued to make such malicious calls. Superintendent Mark Kenny said: 'Anyone who ties up a nine-nine-nine line with inappropriate calls prevents genuine emergencies being dealt with, and potentially puts lives in danger. Osinska's deplorable behaviour has run this risk hundreds of times. The nature of Osinska's calls was frequently vile - and never once referred to a valid emergency situation.'
London police have launched a manhunt after 'a thug' broke into a Tube driver's cab and attacked him with a bottle. The incident occurred on a Jubilee line train at Kilburn station at about 10.40pm on Tuesday. A man - his mind, poisoned by alcohol . Probably - reportedly 'threatened to shoot the driver' after he had been asked to leave the train. No firearm was seen, but the man then forcibly entered the driver's cab and attacked him with a bottle. The suspect then left the station and boarded another Jubilee train travelling southbound. The victim suffered a cut to the back of his head. British Transport Police has released images of a suspect and is appealing for information.
A magistrate described a drunken man who threw a punch in a Worcester McDonald's as 'an idiot' before fining him. Max Gotting extremely admitted assault by beating when he appeared at Worcester Magistrates Court on Thursday. Prosecuting Nichola Ritchie said that Gotting was in McDonald's in the early hours of 20 January when he joined the queue behind victim, James McGiness. The solicitor said that Gotting had been tapping the victim's shoulder and laughed with his friend at McGiness. Ritchie explained that after turning round, the victim then swore at Gotting, which led to the friend 'putting himself between the pair.' Ritchie said Gotting then clenched his fist and threw a punch over his friend's shoulder, hitting the victim in the face. Really hard. Ritchie said: 'McGiness was wearing glasses and those shot off. The victim received a cut to the nose as a result.' Martin McNamara, defending, described what had happened as 'an act of drunken stupidity,' after the eighteen-year-old 'had been drinking' in Worcester for a friend's birthday. 'As people tend to do, they congregated in McDonald's in the early hours,' McNamara said. 'My client and his friend made comments about [the victim's] height and laughed. My client reached over his friend's shoulder. It was one strike. If he hadn't had alcohol I suspect he wouldn't have had the stupidity to get involved. There is no justification for it. He is remorseful.' Sentencing him, chairman of the magistrates bench Brent Robertson said: 'If this would have happened ten years ago, you would have been eight and it would have been stupid then. This is exactly the kind of incident members of the public see - people acting like idiots. It is stupid. It beggars belief.' Gotting was fined sixty quid and ordered to pay costs of one hundred and thirty five smackers and a victim surcharge of thirty notes.
A 'Naughty' Florida woman has been extremely jailed without bond at the Sumter County Detention Centre after violating her probation. Jennifer Lynn Schermerhorn, of Ocala, was arrested on Monday afternoon on a warrant charging her with violating her probation on a charge of driving whilst having no valid driver's licence. When she was booked at the jail, she was wearing a t-shirt proclaiming that she was, 'Naughty.' Smart advertising. Last July, Schermerhorn had been ticketed in Sumter County on a charge of 'failure to yield' when approaching by the fuzz at an intersection. She did not pay the fine and on 7 September a D-6 notice was mailed to her indicating that her licence was suspended, according to Sumter County Court records.
A female student who attends the University of North Carolina at Greensboro was reportedly 'terrified' when she believed a ghost was in her off-campus apartment. Well, one would be - apart from the fact that, you know, ghosts don't exist. But, anyway, the faux-poltergeist actually turned out to be a man who was hiding in her closet where he helped himself to her clothes. 'I've been having pieces of clothes [go] missing. Like shirts and pants,' Maddie told Fox Eight. She and her roommate also found hand-prints on the bathroom wall and mirror. On Saturday, they learned the horrible truth. 'I just hear rattling in my closet. It sounded like a raccoon,' Maddie told the outlet. 'I'm, like, "Who's there?" And somebody answers me. He's, like, "Oh, my name is Drew."' So, that was what Maddie and Drew were, you know, 'like.' Sadly, we have no idea what they said. 'I open the door and he's in there, wearing all of my clothes. My socks, my shoes. And he has a book bag full of my clothes,' Maddie added. After calling her boyfriend, Maddie waited for help and talked to the man, identified as thirty-year-old Andrew Swofford, to distract him. 'He tries on my hat. He goes in the bathroom and looks in the mirror and then is, like, "You're really pretty. Can I give you a hug?"' Maddie said. 'But, he never touched me.' The flatmates do not know how the man entered the residence. They keep their doors locked and did not notice any damage. This is not the first time that the two women have discovered men inside their home. On 19 December, two men were found inside their living room, at which point they alerted the leasing office at the Summit at the Edge Apartments. An employee confirmed to Fox Eight that they changed the locks to the apartment, but a police report was not filed. The property management company, Burkely Communities, is 'going through the details' in an attempt to 'find out how this happened.' However, the roommates are planning to leave their apartment after the latest incident. 'Last night I did not feel safe [so] I slept with my roommate in her bed,' Maddie said. 'I can't stay here. My closet, it stinks. Every time I go in [my room], there's a bad vibe. I'm just ready to leave.' Swofford was extremely jailed in Guilford County under a twenty six thousand dollar bond. He faces fourteen felony charges, including larceny, identity theft and 'stinking up Maddie's closet in an untoward manner.'
A Texas man died of a massive stroke after the e-cigarette he was using exploded in his face and tore his carotid artery. So, it would seem that all of those government warnings over the years were true after all, smoking does kill. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's office says that William Brown died in a Fort Worth hospital on 29 January. The death certificate notes he died from cerebral infarction and herniation after debris from the exploding vape pen dissected his left carotid artery. The explosion reportedly occurred on 27 January, in the parking lot of a store that sells smoking and vaping supplies. The manager of Smoke and Vape DZ told CNN affiliate KTVT that he called an ambulance after the explosion. Brown had gone into the shop to ask for help using his vape pen, but did not buy anything, according to KTVT. The shop said they don't sell that particular brand of vape pen. Brown was rushed to the hospital and his family told KTVT he was put into a medically-induced coma and that x-rays showed that part of the e-cigarette was lodged in his throat. 'That went across his lip, apparently somehow and cut his lip. That three-piece thing went into his throat and stayed there,' his grandmother, Alice Brown, told KTVT. She said she 'didn't understand' why doctors did not operate right away. 'He had a future ahead of him; a life ahead of him,' she said. A spokeswoman for the JPS Health Network said she could not comment on the specifics of Brown's case because of health privacy laws. She said they are continuing to communicate with Brown's family and expressed their sincere condolences. 'We hold ourselves to the highest standards in providing high-quality healthcare and will take family concerns seriously as we review all that transpired,' she told CNN in a statement. E-cigarettes and vape pens are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid to create an aerosol that can be inhaled like regular cigarette smoke. The liquid usually contains nicotine and can have flavouring. There were one hundred and ninety five separate e-cigarette fire and explosion incidents in the United States reported by the media between 2009 and 2016, according to a report by the US Fire Administration. Last May, a man in St Petersburg (the one in Florida not the one in Russia), was extremely killed when his e-cigarette exploded and shot a piece of the device into his head.
A Florida woman was arrested after she, allegedly, 'got into a bizarre fight' with her boyfriend, ultimately 'hurling a frozen pork chop at him.' Jennifer Brassard and the boyfriend got into the spat on Friday in Brooksville, North of Tampa, WFLA reported. The fight escalated before Brassard allegedly threw the frozen meat at her boyfriend. The pork chop hit the man in the face - really hard - and left a half-inch cut on his eyebrow, investigators said. Other circumstances surrounding the fight were 'unclear.'
A psychologist fined for driving through a bus gate has won her appeal after arguing there were 'too many signs for the brain to process.' Bernadine King's penalty charge notice was very quashed after a tribunal ruled signage was 'inadequate.' Essex County Council has taken one-and-a-half million quid after fifty four thousand drivers were fined using the Chelmsford bus gate in eighteen months. It said that the PCNs had seen the number of people using the gate 'reduce to less than a quarter' of the figure before. Doctor King - who has published several academic papers on how people process visual information - said that the bus gate, a short section of road blocked-off to all traffic except buses, cycles and taxis, was 'endangering lives. Once you're committed to turn left on Duke Street, you have no way of safely turning around,' she claimed. And, the court bought it. 'Drivers are being trapped in the area and they're panicking. There are so many signs by the bus gate but a little contradiction in the brain means we cannot absorb all the information. To consciously process all the information, it may take a few seconds and by that point, you've already travelled twenty or thirty feet down the road.' After visiting the site, the traffic penalty adjudicator said that although 'some' of the signs by the bus gate were large and easily visible, they were 'cluttered together' and meant 'drivers could be confused.' King, who received her PCN in November, is now calling on the council to carry out a safety review of the bus gate, which she called 'a blight on Chelmsford.' And, if you've ever been to Chelmsford, dear blog reader, you'll be aware it well can do with as few blights as humanly possibly. An Essex County Council spokesman weaselled: 'Before turning on enforcement cameras in 2017, we increased signage at all junctions, sent more than three thousand warning notices and painted the words BUS GATE in five-foot high letters on the road at both entrances to help make drivers aware of the restrictions.' He added that all money generated by fines was 'reinvested to help improve public transport, roads and the transport network across Essex.' And, lots and lots of new signs.
An Alabama man who was charged last year with molesting a horse has now been arrested again, this time for, allegedly, trying to break into a home while carrying a sex toy and a taser. Daniel Bennett has been very charged with attempted burglary stemming from the incident in suburban Mobile on Monday. According to the Mobile County Sheriff's Department, deputies responded to a home in Irvington for a break-in report. Marylin Wilcox told WKRG that she and her husband were 'enjoying a quiet evening at home' when she 'heard a suspicious noise' coming from the kitchen. She followed the sound and 'saw a stranger attempting to climb through her kitchen window.' Wilcox screamed for her husband to 'get his gun,' prompting the would-be intruder, later identified as Bennett, to flee. After, presumably, he had shat in his own pants. According to the sheriff's office, in the course of the investigation, they received 'multiple other reports' about a man matching Bennett's description walking through neighbours' yards and 'knocking on doors.' Which is illegal in Alabama, apparently. As they were scouring the area in search of the naughty culprit, deputies 'came upon the suspect riding a bicycle.' Arresting deputies searched Bennett and found him to be in possession of 'a large rubber sex toy with a tube attached to it,' a taser, a pair of hair-styling scissors and a pack of razor blades. Sounds like a line-up for a right good Saturday night at Stately Telly Topping Manor, to be honest. The man was booked into the Mobile County Metro Jail. In January 2018, Bennett was very charged with 'misdemeanour bestiality' for, allegedly, molesting a twenty-year-old horse named Polly. The animal's owner, Francine Janes, said that she found the suspect in her barn in Irvington and then had her husband 'hold the intruder at gunpoint' until police arrived to arrest his ass and throw him in The Slammer. Bennett allegedly claimed he just 'wanted to pet the horse.' The suspect was also charged with possession of burglar's tools and second-degree criminal trespassing. Court records did not indicate whether Bennett was actually convicted in the bestiality case, suggesting that he was possibly assigned a youthful offender status because he was eighteen at the time, according to Lagniappe Weekly.
A New York City woman has been accused of spraying New Jersey Walmart workers with pepper spray and then taking one worker hostage for a short period. The incident occurred at the customer service desk at a North Bergen store on Sunday afternoon. Several people had to be treated at hospitals after reacting to the pepper spray. Police say that Imani Jones was at the customer service desk and 'got into an argument with an employee.' She, allegedly, pulled out the pepper spray and 'targeted both employees and customers.' Five people reported that they were suffering from temporary blindness. She then pulled out a knife and went into a nearby room, forcing an employee to stay in the room with her at knife point. Police used their own pepper spray to subdue Jones, slap on the cuffs and arrest her sorry ass. She now faces a - lengthy - list of charges.
A former senior corrections officer at New Jersey's only woman's prison is facing up to three years in The Big House after authorities say he 'engaged in a sexual relationship with two different inmates.' Joel Mercado pleaded very guilty to two counts of official misconduct, according to Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony Kearns. Mercado is one of six officers accused of sexual misconduct at the prison. Some of the others have already been convicted. Mercado, who was originally charged with official misconduct and sexual assault, admitted to having The Sex with the two female inmates in the housing unit at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women between 2013 and 2015. Kearns said Mercado was also an academy instructor at the prison. 'Part of the curriculum taught to new recruits by Joel Mercado involved New Jersey's law which prohibits any form of sexual contact between officers and inmates as well as compliance with a federal law enacted in 2003 aimed at eliminating prison rape called the Prison Rape Elimination Act,' Kearns said in a statement. 'All inmates have a right to be safe within the institutions where we as a society demand they be detained. All inmates should be free of sexual abuse regardless of their crime. The public trust is violated and everyone is betrayed when a sworn law enforcement officer violates the oath he or she has vowed to uphold.'
If you're wanted by the Old Bill, it's probably not a good idea draw attention to yourself by barking at a police dog. But, that's what the Lafayette Police Department said led to the arrest of Kiana Fletcher on Monday night. Fletcher stood outside her home on Elmwood Avenue and barked at a drugs dog which was sniffing someone's car during a traffic stop, according to the Journal and Courier. Officers recognised Fletcher and knew that she had an outstanding warrant out on her. When they approached, Fletcher ran inside her house, where she happened to be keeping her stash of meth. Police found the drugs after getting a search warrant for her home. Fletcher was extremely arrested and now faces several additional charges on top of her original warrant.
A man currently on trial for the theft of a large number of shoes has admitted that he committed the crimes because he 'gets his sexual kicks' from sniffing people's used footwear, police said on Tuesday. Makoto Endo is suspected of stealing seventy pairs of shoes worth about three hundred thousand Yen in Saitama and Tochigi prefectures between June 2017 and August last year, according to the police. He is being tried for some of the thefts. 'I did it to get sexual pleasure by sniffing the smell of well-worn shoes, regardless of their owners being men or women,' Endo was quoted as telling police. Officers arrested Endo in September last year because they suspected him of involvement. While searching his house in Tochigi they found a large number of shoes in boxes.
Despite begging magistrates to give her 'another chance,' a woman who hurled sick racist abuse at takeaway staff and a police officer has had her sorry ass thrown in The Joint. Appearing live via a video link from HMP New Hall, Laura Heywood begged Kirklees magistrates not to hand her a custodial sentence after pleading extremely guilty to a string of charges. The twenty four-year-old reportedly blamed her 'abusive and controlling boyfriend' for the heavy drug abuse which, she claimed, had led to her offending. She told the beak: 'I'm begging you to take this risk on me - please don't send me to prison.' But magistrates were having none of it and were unmoved to grant her request after hearing details of offences including her 'vile' abuse of two takeaway workers - one a teenage boy - where she threw cans of drink at them. The incident at Dixxi Express in Batley, West Yorkshire, happened on 4 May last year. An allegedly drunken Heywood was at the nearby bus station with a friend and they walked into the takeaway. Prosecutor Alex Bozman said: 'They were racially abusive to two staff members, describing them as "Paki bastards." Cans were then thrown at both gentlemen, hitting them and the contents spilling all over their clothing. One of the staff members was sixteen and shocked to be assaulted at his place of work as he'd never experienced anything like that before. The other victim said that he was "angry" and that it was an unprovoked attack and there was no reason why they'd been targeted.' The Peelers were called and caught Heywood and her friend trying to board a bus and make their escape. Heywood was described as 'aggressive' and refused to leave the vehicle. When she was finally dragged, kicking and screaming, from the bus and put into the police van she directed further racist abuse to a female officer during the journey, calling her a 'black bastard' and' nigger' and telling her: 'You'd be used as a footstool.' Bozman said: 'The officer found her attitude and insults rather vile and stated that nobody has the right or authority to aim abuse at her.' Magistrates were also told about another incident at Laurel Drive in Birstall on 3 June. The victim had parked her Ford Fiesta to visit a friend when Heywood came out into the street 'carrying a bottle of fizzy drink.' She shouted: 'Whose is this car?' and the victim replied that it belonged to her. Heywood responded: 'I don't give a fuck anyway, I'm going to put it through.' She then threw the bottle at the vehicle, causing a dent in the bodywork. Heywood went on to damage a police vehicle on 6 November when they were responding to reports of a domestic incident at an address in Common Road in Batley. As her boyfriend was being arrested from the property Heywood picked up 'an item' and threw it - hard - at a marked police car, causing a dent in the vehicle. Then on 30 December Heywood was busted again when she was caught stealing a bottle of wine from the Hanging Heaton Food Store. She pleaded very guilty to two charges of racially-aggravated assault, racially-aggravated harassment, two counts of criminal damage, theft from a shop, being drunk and disorderly in public, three charges of failing to surrender to court and committing a further offence while subject to a conditional discharge. Her solicitor, Paul Blanchard, described her as having 'a Jekyll and Hyde personality,' adding that alcohol she consumed at the time of the offences would have 'clouded her judgement.' He explained: 'The background to her most recent offending is combined with a relationship she has formed and during the relationship she has become involved in the consumption of Class A drugs. She's made some ridiculously bad decisions and doesn't deal with situations well.' No shit? 'She hasn't dealt with her child being adopted and resorted to the consumption of alcohol to block out the reality of situations. She's a lovely, lovely person but has got her demons which unfortunately at times come to the top. Something has to change but the only person who can change is Laura Heywood.' Heywood read a letter to the court in which she pleaded with magistrates not to jail her. She said: 'I know I need to grow up and sort my life out. I just need some support. I've now got out of my controlling and violent relationship and I'm begging you to take this risk on me. I know I've got a long, hard journey but I know I can do it. Please let me prove you wrong and make my family proud.' But, bench chairwoman Kathryn Beney slammed (that's tabloidese for 'criticised' only with less syllables) Heywood's 'horrendous record' and said that she and her colleagues felt that custody was their 'only option.' They jailed Heywood for twenty four weeks. Upon her release she will have to pay one hundred quid to both of the takeaway employees she assaulted and abused.
A Pennsylvania couple's wedding reportedly 'ended in a drunken brawl' - with the wailing and the crying and kicking of teeth - after the groom 'hit on an underage waitress' then 'followed the teen into a bathroom stall and groped her,' according to prosecutors. Matthew Aimers was extremely charged on Wednesday in connection to the incident on 24 November at a country club in Northampton Valley, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Court documents detail 'a wedding from Hell' in which the groom ended up leaving the gaff in handcuffs and being carted off to The Big House after his nefarious naughtiness was discovered. The newlywed now faces 'numerous charges,' including indecent assault, imprisonment of a minor and disorderly conduct. During the reception, Aimers allegedly asked the teen waitress 'to go outside and make out,' according to an affidavit. The groom propositioned the teenager by saying that they could 'do whatever you want,' she told police, adding that the experience had left her 'shaken.' The waitress said that she rejected his saucy advances. But, he later followed her into the women's bathroom, pulling her into a stall, where he, allegedly, groped her and exposed himself. Police later responded to reports of a fight occurring at the country club and found the groom 'pushing and punching people.' Aimers allegedly called officers 'derogatory names' and 'tried to provoke a fight' when they arrived on the scene. A brief struggle ensued before police gave Aimers a good, stern, talking-to and took him into custody, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Two men who reportedly tried to rob a Texas couple whilst dressed in clown masks and wielding a machete were very arrested after the couple fought back with fists and a child's scooter. Suspects Luis Jimenez and Joe Lugo were detained by officers from the Texas City Police Department on 1 February. The alleged culprits tried - and spectacularly failed - to threaten the Texas City couple, named by local media as Aretha Cardinal and her husband, Joseph Nelson. The victims punched their attackers while the woman used a child's scooter as a weapon to fend off the robbers. 'It was really scary, but it was like, it was either us or them, you know and not us,' Cardinal told Fox 26 Houston. 'You not gonna steal no money. We ain't got no money.' Texas City Police Department said the clown mask-wearing suspects approached the couple as they were in a car on their driveway. One suspect put a machete to the throat of the male victim and told him that this was a robbery. Albeit, not a very good one. The victims resisted, choosing to fight back. The husband grabbed the machete while his wife 'struck the other suspect with a child's scooter which was in the driveway,' police said. 'I'm sitting here talking to my wife and the next thing I know, when I look up, I see somebody running towards me with this white clown mask on and a machete,' Nelson told Houston's KTRK-TV news outlet. 'He reached his hand through the window, put it on my throat like this and I'm like "dude, you serious, you trying to rob me with a machete?"' Needless to say, the robbery attempt did not go to plan. Police said that the suspects tried to retreat to a nearby vehicle but the victims followed and delayed their escape by 'hitting the suspects' vehicle with the scooter, breaking a window.' According to Fox 26 Houston, the scooter belonged to their granddaughter. At one point, the husband said that he was chasing the suspects with the same machete which was initially used to threaten him. 'Any weapon is good for me if I can get you off me and my husband, that's what I'm going to do,' Cardinal told KTRK-TV. 'I used the scooter, broke it in half.' Texas City police officers arrived on scene and both suspects were extremely arrested. Inmate records confirmed they were both transported to Galveston County Jail and had their sorry asses thrown in The Joint. The suspects, whose mugshots were also posted online, were charged with aggravated robbery and general rank and utter incompetence. 'I'm safe now knowing that they can't try to hurt nobody else,' Cardinal told Fox 26 Houston.
A fifty six-year-old woman has been eaten by pigs after collapsing in their pen, Russian media reports. After venturing out to feed the animals in a village in the Central Russian region of Udmurtia, the farmer reportedly fainted or suffered an epileptic seizure. Her husband later found the body. She was said to have died of blood loss. Their farm is in a village in the Malopurginsky district of Udmurtia, East of the city of Kazan. Local media say the husband had gone to bed early the day before as he was feeling unwell. After waking to find his wife missing, he came upon her body in the pen. Media reports say an investigation into the incident has been launched.
A Virginia woman faces multiple charges after police claim she hit a school bus on Monday and drove off after removing her licence plate. Police said that a black Acura Integra - driven by Cierra Brockwell - hit the front bumper of the school bus, pulled over to take off the rear bumper which was hanging off the vehicle, removed her licence plate and then 'took off.' There were twenty five students on the school bus and none of them were injured. Brockwell faces charges of: Failure to stop at scene of an accident, driving on a suspended license, reckless driving, failure to yield right-of-way, disregarding a stop sign and operating uninsured motor vehicle.
A woman who was arrested on Monday in Atascosita by deputies for driving while intoxicated was four times over the legal limit of alcohol, according to Harris County Precinct Constable Mark Herman. Erica Phillips was reportedly stopped on Timber Forest Drive and 'displayed signs of intoxication,' according to a Facebook post by Herman. Herman said that Phillips was given a field sobriety test which, reportedly, showed her blood alcohol content as four times over the legal limit. This was, reportedly, Phillip's second DWI offence.
A 'yellow vest' protester in France had his fingers ripped off during clashes at the parliament building in Paris, as the protests went into their thirteenth week. The protester unwisely attempted to pick up a rubber pellet grenade and it exploded in his hand, French media report. Nasty. There was also an arson attack on the home of the head of France's National Assembly, though it was not clear if the attack was directly linked to the protests. The so-called 'yellow vest' protests began in mid-November over fuel taxes. They have since broadened into a general revolt against the President, Emmanuel Macron and a political class seen as 'out of touch with common people.' And, out of touch with Pulp's classic 1995 single, 'Common People'. Which is, to be honest, probably the greater crime of the two. In December, Macron said that he was 'partly responsible' for 'an insufficient response' to the protests that have rocked and/or rolled the country every Saturday since. Despite a drop in numbers from the massive numbers protesting in November, thousands still turned out to vent their spleen this weekend. In Paris, the protesters marched from the Champs-Elysees to the city's parliament buildings, where a violent contingent broke down barriers and threw projectiles at police. Police responded with tear gas and anti-riot munitions. According to an eyewitness, the person who lost their hand was a photographer attempting to take pictures of people breaking down barriers around the National Assembly building. 'When the cops went to disperse people, he got hit by a sting-ball grenade in the calf,' Cyprien Royer told AFP news agency. 'He wanted to bat it away so it didn't explode by his leg and it went off when he touched it. We put him to one side and called the street medics. It wasn't pretty: he was screaming with pain, he had no fingers - he didn't have much above the wrist.' Paris police confirmed that a demonstrator was 'injured in the hand' and been treated by paramedics, but did not identify the victim. Thousands of protesters turned out in other parts of France, including the port cities of Marseille and Montpellier and also in Bordeaux and Toulouse. According to figures published by France's interior ministry, there were just over twelve thousand protesters in total, four thousand of them in Paris. down on the previous week's figures. Politicians came together to condemn the arson attack on the home of Richard Ferrand, a close ally of Macron, in Motreff, Brittany. Ferrand published pictures on Twitter of his scorched living room, writing: 'Nothing justifies intimidations and violence towards an elected official of the Republic.'
It was supposed to be a fun, lighthearted alternative to typical government meetings and one befitting a laid-back beach town in Florida. The city commission of Madeira Beach - a coastal community of nearly four thousand five hundred situated on a barrier island facing the Gulf of Mexico - had decided to hold a special outdoor meeting during the King of the Beach fishing tournament in November 2012. The main order of business, according to the Washington Post, was honouring a sister city in the Bahamas. But things quickly got out of hand at the meeting, according to a report from the Florida Commission on Ethics. By her own admission, Nancy Oakley, a city commissioner in Madeira Beach, had 'done some drinking' at the fishing competition prior to the meeting. She spotted Shane Crawford, the city manager at the time and Cheryl McGrady, his executive assistant. The two would later marry, but were in relationships with other people at the time. Oakley suspected them of having an affair. Using expletives, she demanded McGrady, who was supposed to be acting as deputy city clerk and taking the minutes, be removed. Then, after the otherwise low-key meeting concluded, Oakley walked up to Crawford again. She then, allegedly, licked his neck and the side of his face, slowly working her way up from his Adam's apple and groped him by grabbing at his crotch and buttocks. McGrady told Oakley that her behaviour was 'inappropriate.' According to the report, Oakley threw a punch at the woman, but missed. This was not an isolated incident, Crawford told Bay News News last month. Oakley had 'a habit of licking men that either she was attracted to or thought that she had authority over,' he claimed. He wrote in a 2017 complaint to the ethics board that Oakley had made 'unwanted advances' toward other city staff, too and that they were 'not interested in enduring that type of treatment ever again.' Oakley resigned from her position on the Madeira Beach City Commission on Tuesday, a week after the state ethics panel announced Crawford's complaint had been upheld in a unanimous vote. She has repeatedly denied touching the former city manager inappropriately and has insisted that she never licked his face. Or, anyone else's for that matter. But the ethics commission were having none of it and chose to go with the accounts of several bystanders who offered sworn testimony to the contrary. They also noted that three other men testified Oakley had licked their faces in public 'without their consent.' 'The act of licking a person on the face and neck is too unusual to be contrived by multiple witnesses and multiple victims,' administrative law judge Robert S Cohen wrote in his final report. He recommended that Oakley be fined five thousand dollars and 'publicly censured' by the governor for inappropriate behaviour. In her resignation letter, Oakley continued to deny any wrongdoing and claimed that she was only giving up her position in an attempt to quell the controversy. 'While the Commission on Ethics has made their decision, I maintain my innocence and am pursuing the paths of appeals available,' she wrote. 'With that being said, it is time for us all to move on.' Residents who spoke up at a special meeting of the Madeira Beach City Commission on Wednesday night seemed to agree. While some friends defended Oakley, who was not present, others accused her of giving the city a bad name. 'I am sick and tired of the embarrassing headlines created by the majority of this commission and it is time for a change,' commented one woman who introduced herself as Helen Price. Another Madeira Beach resident, Robert Preston, told the commission: 'I would love to be part of a city that's in the news for good things, not dirt and garbage.' Though the face-licking episode allegedly took place in 2012, it took another five years for Crawford to file a complaint. According to a report prepared by the ethics commission, Crawford explained that he had not initially reported Oakley for harassment because he 'feared he would lose his job.' The following year, she chose not to run for re-election and Crawford 'let the matter go,' according to the Miami Herald. After Oakley decided to seek office again in 2017, Crawford filed an official complaint. Oakley won the election and, in her first meeting back, suggested that McGrady should be fired. A month after that, she was one of three commissioners who voted to suspend him for reasons which were not fully explained. He ultimately chose to resign rather than be fired, according to the Herald. The investigation into Oakley's misconduct led to a very public airing of Madeira Beach's dirty laundry, the Tampa Bay Times reported in September. During one hearing, Oakley's attorney began shouting at McGrady and insisting she had been 'having an affair' with Crawford in 2012, when the two were married to different people. McGrady insisted this was untrue. Meanwhile, numerous friends of Oakley's were called to the stand and subjected to extensive questioning about her drinking and whether she had ever been known to lick people's faces in their presence. Oakley testified that she had 'drank some beer' and 'possibly a cocktail' before the alleged face-licking incident, the transcripts from the hearings show. She also acknowledged that she had 'used profanity' to demand that McGrady leave, explaining, 'I didn't think she needed to be there. I don't like her. I think something was going on between the two of them.' In her own testimony, McGrady told a different story, describing Oakley as 'belligerent and intoxicated' and 'stumbling all over the place,' while holding 'a Tervis tumbler filled with alcohol that she insisted be set up at her place on the dais. I've never seen anything like that in life and hopefully I'll never see anything like it again,' she said, later explaining that she 'got the impression that Commissioner Oakley was jealous of me, somehow.' Crawford also faced an ethics complaint of his own, the Times reported. His relationship with McGrady did not violate the city's rules, but it did prompt the International City/County Management Association to ban him for life in 2016, after residents filed complaints. A letter to Madeira Beach's then-mayor noted 'it is highly inappropriate for a city manager to have a personal relationship with a subordinate employee' and Crawford had recommended McGrady for raises and promotions while the two were in a relationship. Separately, in December, the Florida Ethics Commission fined Crawford two thousand bucks for accepting prohibited gifts from lobbyists, which consisted of discounted rent on condominiums he leased from local developers. During cross-examination at one hearing, Oakley's lawyer asked McGrady if she had ever told anyone about the alleged assault on her then-boss. 'Not about that incident, no,' McGrady replied. 'I mean, she licked a lot of people, sir. So everyone kind of talked about the fact that she licked people. That's what she did when she got drunk.'
The Duke of Edinburgh is to voluntarily give up his driving licence, Buckingham Palace has said. It comes after the ninety seven-year-old duke apologised - eventually - over a car crash near the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, in which his Land Rover landed on its side after a collision with a Kia. Two days later Norfolk Police gave him 'suitable words of advice' after he was pictured driving without a seat belt. Whether anyone other than the husband of the monarch would have been given 'suitable words of advice' or get taken to court and heavily fined over such an occurrence, they didn't say. But we can probably guess.
We all make strange decisions from time-to-time, but one woman seemingly feels like she's made so many of them over the last year that she now wants to pay 'an enlightened individual' two grand to make decisions on her behalf for a month. After reportedly losing money by 'trusting a friend,' becoming 'stranded and penniless in a foreign country,' getting mugged and 'being in a toxic romantic relationship,' all in the space of the last twelve months, the anonymous woman from Bristol wants to hire 'a spiritual guide or clairvoyant' to help her make decisions for a month and 'get her life back on track.' She is willing to pay the successful candidate a fee two thousand knicker. 'Hiya, bit of a weird one I know but basically, I feel like I need someone to make my decisions for me. I've had a really rubbish year and would love for someone to take control of my life think of it a bit like a real life Bandersnatch,' the woman wrote in an advert on 'I have no idea if this sort of thing exists, but came across clairvoyants when I was looking for another service, so thought it was worth a shot. I've always been quite spiritual so I'm looking for someone like a clairvoyant or spiritual guide that I can really connect with, who can help me make the right decisions. I think a month should be long enough to get things back on track for me. But if it works, then maybe I'll keep on going with it,' the woman added. The type of decisions the woman would 'typically' need help with include recommendations on who to go on a Tinder date with - because she, apparently, has 'terrible taste in men' - and what she should spend her savings on, among 'other things.' The enlightened candidate chosen for the job should be on-call twenty four/seven to 'provide assistance whenever and with whatever the client needs' and respond to her requests 'very quickly.' co-founder, Kai Feller said that while the woman's request is 'one of the most bizarre ever posted on her site,' she can actually understand how 'the pressure of modern life' can drive a person to hire someone to, effectively, 'manage' their life. 'Despite the fact it's a bit of a strange idea, with the pressures of modern life I'm surprised that a request like this hasn't come in sooner. We're now bombarded with countless decisions and choices and sometimes people don't always make the best ones,' Feller claimed. 'It's a bit extreme to hire someone to make those decisions for you, but I guess people hire financial advisors and trust banks to manage their money, so why not hire someone to manage your life?'
With open offices being so popular these days and distractions pretty much everywhere you look, it can be difficult to find a personal space to gather your thoughts. But with The Thought Box, a four hundred and ninety five quid 'cardboard and fabric box' that you, well, 'put over your head, you can enjoy some personal place anywhere.' Or, you could just, you know, use a normal cardboard box for free. The Thought Box is exactly what it sounds like - a box. And, you'll have to pay a fiver short of five hundred smackers for it. The Thought Box kit is 'proudly made in Great Britain' and consists of a cardboard and lycra box, an 'internal plastic helmet' which can be 'adjusted to fit the user's head,' ear plugs and five 'interchangeable coloured fabric filters' to 'suit your mood.' Although , to be honest, if you've just spent a fraction under five hundred knicker for this shite then your mood is likely to be the least of your worries. It also comes with a Thought Stool made from solid beech. So, you do have to stand up and look like an arsehole, you can sit down, instead. According to The Form Emporium product page, the Thought Box is intended 'as a personal space' in which the user can 'simply think.' It, allegedly, 'promotes mental efficiency.' Needless to say, the product 'went viral' on Twitter last month after Radio 2 host Jeremy Vine shared it on the social media platform. Most of the people who responded to his tweet expressed their confusion both about The Thought Box and, more specifically, aobut its price, with some slamming (that's tabloidese for 'criticising' only with less syllables) it as 'ridiculous.' No shit? If you do purchase this, dear blog reader then, in all fairness a dark space would probably be quite handy to sit and take a long hard look at your life. In case you're actually thinking of spending four hundred and ninety five quid on a Thought Box, you'd better act fast, as according to The Form Emporium, they only have a very limited stock. One wonders why.
A couple reportedly divorced a mere three minutes after getting married in Kuwait. According to (numerous) media reports, the decision was made by the bride after the groom called her 'stupid' for falling over. Their marriage is believed to be the shortest in Kuwait's history. Reports suggest that the groom 'mocked' his new bride as they were leaving the courthouse. After the marriage proceedings ended, the couple turned to walk out of the courthouse, but the bride tripped over her own feet. The groom is then alleged to have called her 'stupid' for falling over. According to Q8 News, the bride was extremely angered by her husband's behaviour and demanded the judge end their marriage immediately. If not sooner. The judge was happy to oblige and served an annulment just three minutes after he previously joined them as husband and wife.
William J Gallagher, a sixty eight-year-old career criminal who had just been released from prison after a twenty-year stretch, reportedly robbed a Wisconsin bank, with the sole purpose of getting arrested and sent back to The Slammer. Six months after finishing his two decade stint of Richard III at a penitentiary in New Jersey for attempted murder, Gallagher took an Amtrak to Chicago, then another one to Milwaukee where he headed straight to a Chase bank with the intention of robbing it. But, this wasn't your usual bank robbery. Instead of getting as much money as possible and trying to escape before the police arrived, Gallagher demanded some one hundred dollar bills, then casually asked the bank teller to call the police and simply waited for them to arrive and arrest his sorry ass. His goal, he said, was never to escape with the money, but rather to get sent back to The Big House for his inept attempted crime. The New York native had spent so much time behind bars that he simply could not adjust to life on the outside and, after remembering that a fellow inmate had once told him that prisons in Wisconsin were the best in the United States, he decided to travel there and commit a crime so he could go back to his old life. 'About forty eight years ago, I'm sitting with a seventy two-year-old con and he had been in just about every prison in the country and he did two bids in Wisconsin,' Gallagher claimed, according to a plea hearing transcript. 'He said it was the best food, commissary, this, that, everything.' Another incentive for Gallagher to get imprisoned in Wisconsin was 'the great healthcare' that inmates receive which, reportedly, rivals the care offered through the US Department of Veterans Affairs. VA doctors had recently removed cancerous growths off of his back and had found three other lymph nodes in his stomach and a nodule on his lung. He believed they could be taken care of in prison. But, it wasn't just the superior amenities and healthcare of Wisconsin prisons that made this Viet'nam veteran go to such extreme lengths to get banged up in The Pokey again. He had been institutionalised for so long that he simply could not adjust to life on the outside and he,claimed, he didn't want to be a burden for his children either, so he did what he felt he had to do. 'I'm not crazy, your honour,' Gallagher told Judge David Hansher during his hearing. 'I'm sixty eight. I just got out. Every day I'm looking at my watch. "Oh, they're in the yard now." Instead of leaving, trying to lead a life out here, I'm thinking about what's going on where I just left.' Bewildered by Gallagher's explanation, the judge asked him if he had seen the 1994 movie Shawshank Redemption. 'That's me. The librarian guy,' Gallagher answered. 'Institutionalised, couldn't adjust, everything fell apart, he hung himself. I'm not hanging myself but, you know, that's it.' Even the assistant district attorney prosecuting Gallagher, James Griffin, was shocked by the man's explanation. 'I've never heard anyone rob a bank so they can get to prison so they could get health care,' Griffin said. 'It's a sad comment on the situation of health care in America. That a guy's got to rob a bank to get health care is unfortunate, to say the least.' Gallagher asked for a ten-year prison sentence, but Judge Hansher decided not to sentence him yet. Instead, he asked for a pre-sentence investigation to be conducted and scheduled a sentencing hearing for later in February. Gallagher's request to go to prison for at least a decade puts Charles Roozen, his attorney, in a difficult position. Lawyers usually try to get their clients off the hook or, at least, get reduced sentences for them, but at the same time they have to abide by the clients' wishes. 'This is the complete opposite role that I'm used to or want to be in,' Roozen said.
With more than fifty cases of measles in Washington state, there has recently been a push to change the law. Because, Washington is one of seventeen states which allows parents to refuse vaccines for 'philosophical reasons.' Whatever that means. But on Friday, hundreds rallied to preserve their right not to vaccinate their children even if it is, you know, cruel and borderline moronic. Only in America, dear blog readers. Lawmakers heard arguments on a proposed bill which would ban the measles vaccine exemption for 'philosophical reasons.' Thirty-two other states have similar laws. Measles is so contagious that an unvaccinated person has a ninety percent chance of catching the disease if they're near someone who has it. The virus can survive for up to two hours in a room where an infected person sneezed. But opponents of the bill still think that the measles vaccine is a bigger threat to their children's health than the disease itself. 'I don't feel I'm putting my child at risk. There's nothing that's going to change my mind on this on that specific vaccination,' said one mother, Monique Murray. Who seems to be an expert on the subject.
The 'boiling water challenge' (no, me neither) sent several people to the hospital in the Chicago area during last week's polar vortex. Loyola University Medical Centre reportedly treated eight people for 'significant burns,' according to a hospital spokesman. Victims ranged in age from three to fifty three and some were bystanders trying to watch a friend or family member 'do' this nonsense. The challenge tasks people with throwing extremely hot water into the air outside during freezing temperatures just to see it turn into a cloud of steam. It almost always doesn't. But what it does, usually, do is fall back down on the people who threw it up in the air in the first place, scalding them. Really badly. And then, there are people who'll try to convince you that the universal laws of karma don't exist. The case for the defence, frankly, rests on this story alone. Doctors at Loyola Medicine's Burn Centre say that 'bad aim and bad throws' sent that scalding hot water onto people instead of into the air. 'We've seen eight patients and we're really surprised at how many people were trying the challenge and, unfortunately failing,' said Doctor Arthur Sanford, a burn surgeon. To be fair though, this is the country which elected President Rump, dear blog reader. Perhaps it's only to be expected.
Oreo the raccoon, the real-life model for the Guardians Of The Galaxy character Rocket, has died aged ten. Which isn't very old for a human but is for a raccoon. The news was announced on the comic book superhero team's Facebook page. 'Oreo passed away in the early hours of this morning after a very short illness,' it reads. 'Many thanks to our wonderful vets for their compassion and care.' Rocket was voiced by Bradley Cooper in the 2014 film and its 2017 sequel. 'You have been an amazing ambassador for raccoons everywhere,' the post read. 'You were perfect.' Oreo accompanied the film's director, James Gunn, to the Guardians Of The Galaxy premiere. Disney fired Gunn as director of the planned third Guardians film over offensive historic social media posts but the cast of the movies backed him and he is, reportedly, working on another superhero film script. The character Rocket first appeared in a 1976 Marvel comic book and was named after The Be-Atles - frankly fuck-awful - 1968 song 'Rocky Raccoon'. And, this blogger says that as a huge fan of The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them). Sorry, Macca, but that one really bites. Cooper also voiced the role in The Avengers: Infinity War and its upcoming sequel, Avengers: Endgame. Actor Sean Gunn - the brother of James Gunn - provided the motion capture performance for the character, while Rocket's physical characteristics in the films are based on Oreo's. Tributes poured in for the raccoon on social media. Which, frankly, says far more about social media than it does about, you know, raccoons.
Julie Adams, the damsel in distress in classic monster movie The Creature From The Black Lagoon, has died, aged ninety two. The 1954 horror film inspired last year's Oscar-winner The Shape Of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro, who paid tribute to Adams on Twitter. Adams died on Sunday in Los Angeles, her son Mitch Danton told The Hollywood Reporter. She also played estate agent Eve Simpson in Murder, She Wrote opposite Angela Lansbury, between 1987 and 1993. Her other TV hits included The Jimmy Stewart Show in the 1970s - in which she played Stewart's wife - and 1960s detective series Perry Mason. She also starred opposite Elvis Presley in Tickle Me (1965) and had roles in Dennis Hopper's notorious The Last Movie (1971) and McQ with John Wayne (1974). Adams co-starred in 1950s films opposite some of Hollywood's top leading men, including with James Stewart in 1952's Bend Of The River, with Rock Hudson in The Lawless Breed (1953) and One Desire (1955), with Tyrone Power in The Mississippi Gambler (1953), with Glenn Ford in The Man From The Alamo (1953), with Charlton Heston in The Private War Of Major Benson (1955), with Dan Duryea in Slaughter On Tenth Avenue (1957) and with Joel McCrea in The Gunfight At Dodge City (1959). On television, Adams appeared on The Andy Griffith Show, The Rifleman, Seventy Seven Sunset Strip, Alfred Hitchcock Presents ..., Maverick, McMillan & Wife, Police Woman, The Streets Of San Francisco, The Incredible Hulk, Cannon, Quincy and Cagney & Lacey. She was still acting well into her eighties, appear in an episode of Lost in 2006. But it was The Creature From The Black Lagoon that catapulted her to stardom. Universal wanted Adams to star as Kay Lawrence, who would become the object of desire for Gill-Man, played by Ben Chapman. But, in an interview for The Horror Society six years ago, Adams said that she wasn't sure whether to take the role at first. 'I thought, "The creature From What? What is this?" because I had been working with some major stars. But I read it and said, "If I turn it down, I won't get paid and I'll be on suspension." And then I thought, "What the hay! It might be fun." And of course, indeed it was. It was a great pleasure to do the picture.' In her Horror Society interview, Adams gave one reason why she thought Creature From The Black Lagoon's reputation has endured. 'I think the best thing about the picture is that we do feel for the creature. We feel for him and his predicament,' she said. Adams was originally from Iowa but moved a lot as a child before heading to Hollywood to try her luck in acting. Adams, along with her son Mitchell, authored an autobiography, The Lucky Southern Star: Reflections From The Black Lagoon, which was published in 2011. She is survived by her two sons, Steven and Mitchell, from her marriage to the actor/director Ray Danton and her four grandchildren.
The actress Sylvia Kay, who has died aged eighty two, spent much of her career in television drama, but found her greatest fame as Daphne Warrender, the snobbish mother of the sophisticated Penny (played by Jan Francis) in John Sullivan's sitcom Just Good Friends, in which Penny is reunited with a former boyfriend, Vince Pinner (Paul Nicholas), five years after he stood her up at the altar. Sniping between the social classes was a crucial ingredient of the humour in the programme, which ran from 1983 to 1986. Daphne and her husband, Norman (the excellent John Ringham), who regard Vince as a wideboy and refer to him as 'Thing', look down on Vince's father (Shaun Curry), a scrap dealer who drives his wife (Ann Lynn), around in a flashy car. Kay had previously played a parent who disapproved of her child's choice of partner in another sitcom, Mixed Blessings (1978 to 1980). That show centred on an interracial marriage - between Thomas Simpson (Christopher Blake) and Susan Lambert (Muriel Odunton) - and, although it portrayed black people with far greater sympathy than had been seen in some previous TV comedies, its still contained a rather typical-of-the-era ambivalence to casual racism. In her earlier screen roles, Kay had confronted stereotypes. During her first marriage, to the director Ted Kotcheff - a pivotal figure in the development of drama on British TV - she appeared in his feature film Wake In Fright (1971), which was shot in Australia and became one of the first in the country's new wave of movies to attract acclaim abroad, where it was originally titled Outback. In a picture dominated by stereotypical macho men, Kay deftly portrayed a more complex female character, Janette Hynes, one of the small-town outback women resigned to a life of subservience to their hard-living, hard-drinking men. She was cast in the role only after Kotcheff had auditioned dozens of female Australian actors but failed to find the sullen, sultry qualities he was looking for. Born in Stockport to William Kay, a metallurgist, and his wife, Edith, Sylvia was brought up in Altrincham. On leaving the town's Culcheth Hall school, she began a psychology degree at Manchester University, but left after a short time to train as an actor at LAMDA in London, having been inspired by friends in the university's drama department. She made her professional debut with bit parts in two 1957 episodes of the popular ITV series The Adventures of Robin Hood before joining the Pitlochry Festival theatre company that year, in the days when it performed in a tent. Her first West End experience was understudying Vivien Leigh as Paola in Duel Of Angels in 1957, taking over the role for a period when Leigh fell ill. Kotcheff saw Kay's performance and cast her as Mary Greevey in his Armchair Theatre production of Alun Owen's play The Hard Knock (1962). Later, she was also in Owen's A Little Winter Love (1965). During this exciting time in television drama, she also appeared in works by other emerging writers such as Clive Exton (The Silk Purse, 1959) and David Mercer (... And Did Those Feet?, 1965, directed by Don Taylor), as well as several of John Hopkins' adaptations and a 1964 episode of Z Cars written by Hopkins. She continued her association with Taylor, who both wrote and directed, in his plays The Exorcism (1972), Dad (1976) and A Last Visitor For Mister Hugh Peter (1981) and three films for the arts series Omnibus – two 1969 dramatised documentaries on William Wordsworth and George Eliot and The Runaway (1973), in which she starred as a fictional novelist facing moral conflicts. In Jack Rosenthal's 1974 TV play Polly Put The Kettle On, Kay took the title role of a woman trying to take charge of her daughter's wedding reception as if it were her own. Then, she ventured into soap as Dorothy Lawson, landlady at Mafeking Terrace, a house converted into bedsits, in the first two runs of the afternoon serial Rooms (1974). Dorothy and her husband, Clive (Bryan Marshall), lived in the basement and linked the stories between the tenants who passed through. Between 1980 and 1983, Kay popped up occasionally in the sitcom Shelley as Isobel, the argumentative, cannabis-smoking mother of the layabout titular character played by the late Hywel Bennett. She returned to drama as Elsie Titmuss in Paradise Postponed (1986), the writer John Mortimer's semi-autobiographical family chronicle of post-war life in a British village and in its 1991 sequel, Titmuss Regained. Her CV also included appearances in The Avengers, Strange Report, Dixon Of Dock Green, Public Eye, Budgie, Spy Trap, Late Night Theatre, Kids, Play For Today, The Professionals, Only When I Laugh, Minder, Jeeves & Wooster and Dalziel & Pascoe. In the 1990s, she resumed her psychology studies to qualify as a psychotherapist and practised in London, then Hertfordshire. Kay's 1962 marriage to Kotcheff ended in divorce and, in 1987 she married the actor and writer Christopher Douglas. They divorced in 2008. She is survived by Aaron, Katrina and Joshua, the children of her first marriage.
Albert Finney, who has died this week at the age of eighty two, came to prominence in the era of the Angry Young Men. It was a period that transformed the face of British theatre, cinema and television from the mid-1950s. He switched effortlessly between blustering roles, such as when he played Winston Churchill, and performances of great wit, charm and elegance. Albert was born in Salford in May 1936. His father, known as Honest Albert, ran a bookmaking business and Finney never abandoned his working-class roots. 'It's part of you,' he later said. 'It's in the blood really.' Finney acquired a taste for acting while studying at Salford Grammar School and won a scholarship to RADA. He worked first with Birmingham Repertory Theatre before moving on to the Old Vic and The National Theatre. 'I was dead lucky,' Finney recalled. 'It was one of the leading reps in the country.' His first London stage appearance was in 1958 in Jane Arden's The Party, which was directed by Charles Laughton, who also starred. A year later, the young Finney was at Stratford where he replaced an ill Laurence Olivier in the title role of Coriolanus. In 1960, he appeared alongside Olivier in his first film, The Entertainer, directed by Tony Richardson. Based on the play by John Osborne, it was an example of a new 'gritty' style of British film-making that became known as kitchen-sink drama. Its heroes were invariably working-class, the backdrops often that of Northern England, and it explored themes of social alienation. Finney's next film, Saturday Night & Sunday Morning, gave him a starring role as Arthur Seaton, a young Nottingham factory worker who was disillusioned with his lot. The plot, based on a novel by Alan Sillitoe, featured extramarital sex and abortion, earning it an X-certificate from the British Board of Film Censors. 'I remember, in terms of The Sex,' Finney told the Gruniad Morning Star in 1982. 'There were great discussions because the law then was you had to have one foot on the floor.' Directed by Karel Reisz, Saturday Night & Sunday Morning proved to be extremely popular as well as a key film in the cinema of the period. As described in The Guide To British Cinema, Finney exuded 'a mixture of defiance and selfishness overlaid with a raw sexuality' and allied with his unarguable screen charisma, he became a major star almost overnight. The performance earned Finney the first of thirteen BAFTA nominations, this one for best British actor. He was approached to play Lawrence of Arabia in David Lean's film but, after going through a four-day screen test, Finney decided not to take the role which eventually went to Peter O'Toole. Instead, Albert teamed up with Tony Richardson again for Tom Jones, a riotous adaptation of Henry Fielding's bawdy Eighteenth Century novel. The film, which had an all-star cast, received ten Oscar nominations, including one for Finney as best actor. In the event, he did not win, although the film did get four statuettes, including best picture. Tom Jones made Finney an international star and he was voted one of the top ten British actors of 1963 by cinema owners. Roles followed in Karel Reisz's Night Must Fall and the Stanley Donen-directed Two For The Road, opposite Audrey Hepburn but, he refused to abandon the theatre. There was a TONY Award nomination for his performance in the title role of John Osborne's Luther and another for A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg. He also appeared in performances of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Chekov's The Cherry Orchard. In the 1967 film Charlie Bubbles, which Finney also directed, he played a writer returning to his Northern roots after becoming successful in London. In one scene, Albert's character is pictured driving his gold Rolls Royce through the crumbling streets of his native Salford. Written by Shelagh Delaney, the tale of a successful writer returning to Manchester was clearly highly personal for Finney, though it would prove to be his only directorial credit. He also used his increased clout - and money - to support other British new-wave figures. In 1965, he formed Memorial Films in association with Michael Medwin and the company backed Lindsay Anderson's radical If ... and its sequel, O Lucky Man!, as well as Mike Leigh's 1971 debut feature Bleak Moments. Albert gave one of his finest performances as the wannabe private detective Eddie Ginlay in Stephen Frears' Gumshoe (1971). He also proved he could sing, first in the title role of the 1970 musical Scrooge and then in the 1982 movie version of Annie. In 1974, he was magnificent as a pedantic, mannered Hercule Poirot in Murder On The Orient Express. Albert later complained that he was typecast in the role. 'People do think I weigh three hundred pounds with a French accent.' He was initially asked to reprise his role in Death On The Nile (1978). However, he had found the make-up he had to wear for Orient Express very uncomfortable in the hot interior of the train and, upon realising that he would have to undergo the same experience, this time in temperatures exceeding one hundred degrees, he declined the role. Later he began to specialise in more ebullient characters. There was the fading actor-manager in The Dresser, opposite his friend Tom Courtenay, which gained him another Oscar nomination. He also received nominations for Under The Volcano in 1984 and 2000's Erin Brockovich, although he never actually received an Oscar or, indeed, attended the awards ceremony. 'It's a long way to go for a party, sitting there for six hours not having a cigarette or a drink,' he famously declared. 'It's a waste of time.' After the Coen brothers cast him in Miller's Crossing, playing Irish-American mobster Leo O'Bannon, Finney began to acquire a cachet among the new generation of American film-makers who revered his work in the 1960s. There was also a live appearance as The Judge in Roger Waters' performance of Pink Floyd's The Wall in Berlin in July 1990. Albert made several television productions for the BBC in the 1990s, including The Green Man (1990), based on a novel by Kingsley Amis, the acclaimed drama A Rather English Marriage (1998) (again, with Tom Courtenay) and the lead role in Dennis Potter's final two plays, Karaoke and Cold Lazarus in 1996 and 1997. In the latter he played a frozen, disembodied head. Finney turned in a powerful portrayal of Winston Churchill in the 2002 BBC production The Gathering Storm, which won him awards including a BAFTA and an EMMY. He also played the title role in My Uncle Silas, based on the short stories by HE Bates, about a roguish but lovable poacher-cum-farm labourer looking after his great-nephew. He had a magnetic presence off screen too. His CV also includes appearances in the BBC's 1956 production of She Stoops To Conquer (his screen debut), Emergency-Ward Ten, The Claverdon Road Job, Loophole, Shoot the Moon, The Biko Inquest, The Endless Game, A Man Of No Importance, Nostromo, Ocean's Twelve and Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, His lovers at various times reportedly included Joan Baez, Carly Simon, Jean Marsh, Billie Whitelaw, Jacqueline Bisset, Shelley Winters and Diana Quick. In 1957, he married Jane Wenham, with whom he had a son, Simon. The couple divorced five years later. In 1970, he married the French actress Anouk Aimee. Later in life, he settled down with Penne Delmarche and admitted to only two vices - wine and horseracing. He owned several racehorses, stabled in America. 'I'm a born flirt and that will never stop, but I would take things no further. I am loyal and content.' He had kidney cancer diagnosed in 2007 and he disappeared from public view, but returned with roles in The Bourne Ultimatum and the James Bond movie Skyfall. Together with actors such as Courtenay, O'Toole and Alan Bates, Albert Finney helped transform the face of British theatre and cinema during its renaissance in the 1960s. He largely ignored the celebrity lifestyle and refused becoming CBE in 1980 and a knight in 2000. 'I think the Sir thing slightly perpetuates one of our diseases in England, which is snobbery,' he said at the time. 'And it also helps keep us "quaint," which I'm not a great fan of.' A lifelong supporter of Manchester United, Albert narrated the acclaimed 2008 documentary Munich, about the crash which killed some of The Busby Babes in 1958. He is survived by Delmage and his son, Simon.