Saturday, July 20, 2019

Do Not Swear By The Moon, For She Changes Constantly

Fifty years ago this virry day, dear blog reader that legendary broadcasting trio of James Burke, Patrick Moore and Cliff Michelmore were the presenters leading the BBC's coverage of the first Moon landing (with poor, forgotten Michael Charlton - the Michael Collins of the BBC team - doing additional reporting live from Houston). In the week prior to the landing, Burke alone clocked up a whopping twenty two hours of broadcasting (most of it, sadly, never even recorded let alone filmed and then subsequently junked as many episodes of contemporary drama and comedy were). On the night of 20 July 1969, James and his co-presenters famously had to fill five hours of live television, only receiving pictures from Apollo 11 when it actually landed on the Moon.
This blogger must say, dear blog readers, that it has been proper terrific to see one of From The North's original TV heroes - the now eighty two year old James Burke - cropping up a few times on the Stately Telly Topping Manor gogglebox over the last few days in relation to the BBC's Apollo 11 coverage. A reminder of a time when the BBC took the 'informing' and 'educating' as well as 'entertaining' part of their public remit perhaps a shade more seriously than they do now. Most notably James has appeared on episodes of The ONE Show and on a really very good The Sky At Night special. A Daily Torygraph piece contains further behind-the-scenes revelations from the man who had a forty year head-start on another From The North favourite, yer actual Brian Cox (no, the other one) as 'The People's Scientist'. There was also a similar - equally fascinating and thankfully for the most part surprisingly tabloid-speak free - article in the Sun. This included the story (apparently true) about how James and the rest of the Apollo coverage production team put their reputations (and their jobs) on the line to persuade the then BBC director general - Charles Curran - to allow them to broadcast through the night to be on-air during Neil Armstrong's one small step, something which the BBC had never previously done. Now, isn't it about time someone at, say, BBC4 dragged out James's mad as toast - and absolutely groundbreaking - 1978 series Connections for a long overdue repeat? The 'James Burke for Prime Minister' campaign, dear blog reader, starts here.
Eight astronauts from the various Apollo missions gathered to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the first manned Moon landing this week The group included Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins the two surviving members of the Apollo 11 crew, Walter Cunningham (Apollo 7), Rusty Schweickart (Apollo 9), Fred Haise (Apollo 13), Al Worden (Apollo 15 and the eighth man to walk on the Moon), Charlie Duke (Apollo 16, the tenth man on the Moon) and Jack Schmitt (Apollo 17, the twelfth - and last - man on the Moon). Some of the astronauts shared some truly hair-raising stories from their space missions during a panel discussion (though, obviously, Fred Haise's hair-raising story for Apollo 13 easily trumps the rest of them put together in that regard). Buzz Aldrin's flamboyant suit and darza socks - rightly - garnered particular attention at the event.
So, the most important question of the week, dear blog reader is 'what did you really find on the Moon fifty years ago, Buzz?'
Skywatchers across the UK witnessed a partial lunar eclipse, fifty years to the day since the US mission to put men on the Moon lifted off. The surface of Earth's satellite appeared red or dark grey at the height of the eclipse. Lunar eclipses occur when the Earth crosses between the Sun and Moon - casting a shadow on the lunar surface. The Apollo 11 mission blasted off from Cape Canaveral on 16 July 1969. You knew that, right? During a partial eclipse, some of the Moon passes through the darkest area of shadow behind the Earth, the central region called the umbra. The event was visible across Europe and was also expected to be seen from Africa, much of Asia, the Eastern part of South America and Western Australia. The next partial lunar eclipse is expected in November 2021. The last total lunar eclipse - sometimes known as a 'super blood wolf moon' - was visible in the UK in January. Skywatchers in the UK will not get the chance to see another until 2029 - weather permitting.
Meanwhile, dear blog reader, here is a - seemingly genuine - example of American journalism at its absolute finest.
New portraits of all thirteen Doctors - from William Hartnell to yer actual Jodie Whittaker - have been commissioned from one artist. Launched at San Diego Comic-Con and illustrated by Jeremey Enecio, the 'unique designs' are, apparently, 'inspired by the elements of the different personalities of each Doctor, displaying each iconic costume and well-loved characteristics of each Time Lord in colourful and charismatic detail.' Or, in other words, they're some paintings.
Doctor Who 'bosses' - that's tabloidese for 'producers' only with less syllables - are 'in secret talks' to bring back The Doctor's old enemy The Master according to an article by one Peter Dyke in the Daily Lies. A thoroughly risible excuse for a newspaper with, as this blog has previously highlighted, a record as long as your arm for publishing absolute and total crap in relation to Doctor Who. 'They are going "back to the old days" and casting a male actor back in the iconic role of the legendary TV villain,' claims Dyke about these, supposedly, 'secret' talks. So, they're not that 'secret', then it would seem. The Master has battled The Doctor in the BBC series since 1971. 'He has been portrayed over the years by the late actors Roger Delgado and Anthony Ainley, as well as Derek Jacobi and John Simm.' Plus, poor old Eric Roberts - he may well have been 'drezzzzed for the occasion,' dear blog reader, but he always gets forgotten about. The Michael Collins of Masters, if you will. In 2014, The Lord Thy God Stephen Moffat (OBE) 'delivered a twist' by having The Master regenerate into a woman called Missy, played - quite brilliantly, let it be noted - by Michelle Gomez. Her character was, apparently, 'killed off' in 2017. 'It now paves the way for a new incarnation of The Master to face Jodie Whittaker's ... Doctor,' Dyke claims whilst still having produced not a single shred of supporting evidence to back up these claims. Dyke then quotes an alleged - though, suspiciously anonymous and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious - 'source' who, allegedly, said: 'Fans will be thrilled he is coming back.' And, that's it, dear blog reader; that's the extent of the quote - eight words (spoken, it should be noted, in exactly that sort of classic tabloidese 'real people don't talk like that' manner). It is, of course, perfectly possible that the current production have decided to bring back The Master, a very popular character. And, that they have decided to regenerate the character into a male again. All absolutely possible. But, this blogger will tell you what, dear blog reader, he will wait until a 'source' a Hell of a lot more believable and with a track record not quite so full of previously proven horseshit as the Daily Lies reports it before considering any of this as 'news'.
The world premiere for the fifth series of from The North favourite Peaky Blinders has been held in Birmingham this week ahead of its return to BBC1 later this year. The latest series, reportedly, is set against the turmoil of the 1929 financial crash, with stars Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory and Paul Anderson returning.
With some whinging planks on the Interweb whining to anyone that will listen (and, indeed, anyone that won't) that the final series of Game Of Thrones was 'a bit of a disappointment' (which it, you know, wasn't or anything even remotely like it) it is only natural to wonder if the negative reaction of a mob of whinging malcontents could influence George RR Martin's next two books. The writer himself has confirmed that he will not be changing the final two A Song Of Ice & Fire novels to accommodate the spoiled-brat whinging of any whingers. He did admit, however, that there is 'a temptation' to change some of the plot twists so the reader doesn't know what's coming. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Martin said: 'The Internet affects all this to a degree it was never affected before. Like Jon Snow's parentage. There were early hints about [who Snow's parents were] in the books, but only one reader in one hundred put it together. And, before the Internet that was fine - for ninety nine readers out of one hundred when Jon Snow's parentage gets revealed it would be, "Oh, that's a great twist!" But in the age of the Internet, even if only one person in one hundred figures it out then that one person posts it online and the other ninety nine people read it and go, "Oh, that makes sense."' He continued: 'Suddenly the twist you're building towards is out there. And there is a temptation to then change it [in the upcoming books] - "Oh my God, it's screwed up, I have to come up with something different." But that's wrong. Because you've been planning for a certain ending and if you suddenly change direction just because somebody figured it out, or because they don't like it, then it screws up the whole structure. So no, I don't read the fan sites. I want to write the book I've always intended to write all along. And when it comes out they can like it or they can not like it.'
Meanwhile, on a somewhat related theme, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has defended Dan Benioff and DB Weiss from whinging whingers and 'silly' petition signers. Good for him. Speaking at Nashville's Con Of Thrones recently, the actor said: 'For anyone to imagine or to think that the two creators of the show are not the most passionate, the greatest, the most invested of all. And to, for a second, think that they didn't spend the last ten years thinking about how they were going to end it is kind of silly. And also know that they, too, read the comments. Even though you sit on your own and go, "Fucking stupid writers. Assholes," they really - like everyone on Game Of Thrones, every single person and there are thousands - we worked our asses off to make the best show we could for the ending.' Tragically, Nikolaj didn't take the opportunity to go out and find some of thing whinging whingers and punch them, really hard, with his brass hand. An opportunity missed, dare one suggest. A fan in the audience praised the work done by the showrunners, which prompted Nikolaj to reply: 'I just wish Dan and David could be here to hear this - to understand that people really love the show - that suddenly they’re not the most hated people in the world. I know how they feel.'
Killing Eve's Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh will battle it out off-screen for the best actress award at this year's EMMYs. The thriller series has nine nominations in total at the ceremony. The show's original writer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is also up for lead actress in a comedy series for the hugely over-rated Fleabag. Her show has eleven nominations in total, while Game Of Thrones has a whopping thirty two, including acting nominations for Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke. Bodyguard and Killing Eve will compete with Game Of Thrones for the outstanding drama series prize, alongside Better Call Saul, Ozark, Pose, Succession and This Is Us. Hugh Grant is nominated for best actor in a limited series or movie for A Very English Scandal. His competition, aside from Harington, are Mahershala Ali (True Detective), Benicio Del Toro (Escape At Dannemora), Jared Harris (Chernobyl), Jharrel Jerome (When They See Us) and Sam Rockwell (Fosse/Verdon). Clarke, Comer and Oh will take on Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder), Laura Linney (Ozark), Mandy Moore (This Is Us) and Robin Wright (House Of Cards).
Game Of Thrones' Gwendoline Christie, who was nominated for an EMMY on Tuesday, put herself forward for the award after network HBO did not. Christie successfully submitted herself for best supporting actress in a drama series. HBO confirmed to CBS News they put Lena Headey, Maisie Williams and Sophie Turner up for the award, but they overlooked Gwen. She must have felt as unappreciated as Michael Collins. Alfie Allen and Carice Van Houten also nominated themselves. And, both went on to receive nominations as well. Christie, posted official proof of her nomination from the EMMYs online. She will be up against her three Game Of Thrones co-stars, as well as Ozark's Julia Garner and Fiona Shaw for Killing Eve. Van Houten made the shortlist for best guest actress in a drama series. Meanwhile Allen earned his nomination for supporting actor in a drama series. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Christie, Allen and Van Houten will all have had to pay two hundred and twenty five dollars entry fee for their nominations, adding it is not uncommon for actors to do so. In 2011, Rob Lowe entered himself in the lead comedy actor category for Parks & Recreation, despite playing what many critics considered to be a supporting role in the NBC ensemble series. Prior to that, Friends actor Matthew Perry withdrew his EMMY nomination in 2000 after learning that NBC had submitted him in the lead actor category, when the cast reportedly had an agreement only to compete in the supporting categories.
The Star Trek: Picard production team 'is pulling back the veil on the upcoming series' which returns Patrick Stewart to role he played for seven series on Star Trek: The Next Generation and in four movies. Executive producer Alex Kurtzman and showrunner Michael Chabon gave Entertainment Weekly some new hints about Jean-Luc Picard’s journey in the upcoming CBS All-Access series. Which you can read here.
Now we know what really gets a former Time Lord angry. Christopher Eccleston took to Instagram this week to deliver one of the most quietly terrifying monologues of his long and illustrious career. The object of his ire, dear blog reader? Litter. It really gets on his tit-end, it would seem. And, it was - if you will - fantastic. Walking through his beloved Heaton Park in Manchester, the former Doctor Who actor expressed his rage to find it covered in shit. 'It's one of the most beautiful parks in the country,' he said. 'I've been coming here since I was a kid. It really is a beautiful place and it's covered in shit, by people who have picnics and leave their coke bottles and their wrappers. There's shit everywhere, dirty nappies, they just foul it up. And, I tell you what I hope nature takes its revenge on you, every single one of you that's leaves shit on the floor and in parks. What you've done to Heaton Park is disgusting. And hope the planet turns round and shits on you.' A message to Mancunians, you really don't want to get Big Ecc cross, look what he did to The Daleks.
The upcoming remakes of three lost Dad's Army episodes will maintain the 'anti-German jokes' of the original scripts. Because, there's not much point in remaking them if you're going to change the scripts, is there? UKTV is remaking the trio of series two episodes from 1969, which were lost as part of the BBC's policy of wiping or recording over videotapes, prior to the creation of its permanent central archive in 1978. The new versions of The Loneliness Of the Long Distance Walker, A Stripe For Frazer and Under Fire are due to be broadcast on the GOLD channel in August. Kevin McNally will portray Captain Mainwaring, with Robert Bathurst, Kevin Eldon and Mathew Horne also joining the cast. The Daily Lies reported that some of the dialogue in these episodes contains 'anti-German sentiment and jokes' (no shit?) but that these lines 'will be maintained' in the new versions, 'despite the possibility for controversy.' From stupid boys, perhaps? In one of the episodes, Mainwaring refers to German forces as 'The Boche' - a slur which is often translated as 'cabbage head' - and another character refers to them as 'Schweinhunds.' A UKTV spokesman said: 'Our stance is not to edit great comedies of the past if we can avoid it. And, in this case the scripts reflect the mood of the country at that time in history and are based on the experiences of the writers including Jimmy Perry's service in the Home Guard during the Second World War.' Dad's Army broadcast eighty episodes over nine series and is one of the most beloved sitcoms in British history. It is still regularly repeated on TV. And, curiously enough, no one ever seems to complain about the dialogue or, indeed, the attitudes that led to its creation. A film version, released in 2016, starred Toby Jones as Mainwaring and also featured Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Blake Harrison, Daniel Mays and Catherine Zeta-Jones. But, it was shit.
The BBC has found their Charles Sobhraj. Tahar Rahim, who recently starred as Ali Soufan in Hulu's The Looming Tower, has signed on to play Sobhraj in the BBC1's eight episode series The Serpent. This tells the story of Sobhraj, who was the chief suspect in the sensational unsolved murders of up to twenty young Western travellers across India, Thailand and Nepal in the mid-1970s. By 1976 Sobhraj was Interpol's most wanted man and had arrest warrants outstanding on three different continents. When Herman Knippenberg, a junior diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok, unwittingly walked into Sobhraj's intricate web of crime, he set off 'an extraordinary chain of events' which saw these two diametrically opposed men 'engaged in a chase' across the porous borders of The Hippie Trail, as Knippenberg seeks to bring Sobhraj to justice for his terrible and well-naughty crimes. 'I am thrilled to play Charles Sobhraj in The Serpent, a role I have dreamed of portraying since I read a book about him when I was seventeen years old,' Rahim said in a statement. Richard Warlow and Toby Finlay scripted for the series with Tom Shankland as director. The Serpent was commissioned by Controller of BBC Drama Piers Wenger and the BBC's Director of Content Charlotte Moore.
The upcoming series adaptation of His Dark Materials just a new trailer, which appeared shortly after being screened to the Hall H crowd at San Diego Comic-Con this week. The series is a joint production from HBO and the BBC and stars Dafne Keene as Lyra Belacqua, a young girl who is given a mysterious device that can tell the truth and, eventually, uncovers a nefarious plot - full of skulduggery, shenanigans and malarkey - involving child abduction and inter-dimensional travel. And also a heavily-armoured polar bear.
ITV has just commissioned a new series from Luther creator Neil Cross. Because The Night, a four-part drama, will centre on a murder and, according to ITV 'perhaps some ghosts.' Because The Night – based on the novel Burial, also written by Cross – will follow Nathan, a 'devotedly married man' whose life is 'rocked' due to the arrival of Bob, 'an unwelcome figure from the past.' Bob will turn up with 'some shocking - and stunning - news' that leads to a 'series of catastrophic decisions.' Speaking about the upcoming drama, Cross said: 'It's one of my favourite stories: a tale of psychological suspense, of guilt and ghosts and murder. And love. Always love. Our job is to make viewers want to sleep with the lights on. We're looking forward to it.' ITV has yet to announce any cast members or a potential broadcast date.
Shows like Love Island and Gavin & Stacey will be on ITV and the BBC's streaming service BritBox when it launches this year. But, don't let that put you off because it'll also feature Gentleman Jack and Broadchurch, apparently. The broadcasters are joining forces to set up the subscription service in the UK as a rival to the likes of Netflix. It will cost £5.99 per month in HD, launching between October and the end of December. New programmes will also be made specially for BritBox, with the first arriving next year. Other existing series to be made available will include Victoria, Happy Valley, Les Miserables, The Office and Benidorm. The monthly fee will cover multiple screens and devices, 'which is less than other streaming services,' a statement said. Many ITV and BBC programmes will move on to BritBox after they have been broadcast on TV and fallen off the broadcasters' own catch-up services - BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. The BBC is soon expected to get permission from regulator Ofcom to keep shows on iPlayer for a year as standard. As well as recent shows, it will also be the home of thousands of hours of classic British comedies, dramas and documentaries. Not all BBC and ITV programmes will automatically go on BritBox, though. Many are made by independent production companies, who own the rights and might instead sell them to a service like Netflix after their TV broadcasts, as has previously happened with hits like Peaky Blinders. Some BBC and ITV shows that are already on Netflix, such as Happy Valley, will move to Britbox - but, again, it will depend on who owns the rights. The BBC and Netflix will also carry on co-producing programmes together as a way of sharing costs, especially for big-budget dramas. But BBC director general Tony Hall said BritBox was 'the prime place in which we want our material to end up.' Asked why viewers should pay an extra charge to watch shows originally funded by the licence fee, Lord Hall compared BritBox with releasing a programme on DVD. 'That was the BBC saying, there's a secondary market - you pay for content after we've shown it,' he said. 'This is just a modern-day version o that, and an even better version of that, because it used to be infuriating when you'd seen a programme on the BBC and you couldn't get hold of the DVD.' Any money the corporation makes will be put back in to programme-making, he said. 'I think this is wins all round for the licence fee payers.' The new shows to be made specifically for the new platform will be exclusive to BritBox, and the annual budget for original programming will be in the tens of millions of pounds. In comparison, Netflix reportedly spent twelve billion dollars on programmes last year. Normally rivals, the two broadcasters want to get a foothold in a fiercely competitive commercial streaming world against the likes of Netflix, Amazon and NowTV, while Disney+ and AppleTV+ are launching soon. The BBC and ITV tried to launch something similar a decade ago, but were blocked by regulators. Now they are trying to catch up with their heavyweight competitors. Netflix has more than one hundred and fifty million subscribers worldwide - but saw its share price plummet this week, after adding fewer viewers than expected in the last three months, with price rises blamed. The BBC and ITV launched BritBox in North America in 2017, showing programmes like Midsomer Murders, Poirot and Only Fools & Horses. It now has six hundred and fifty thousand subscribers, which ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall said was 'exceeding its targets.' Dame Carolyn said the agreement to launch BritBox in the UK was 'a milestone moment.' She said: 'Subscription video on demand is increasingly popular with consumers who love being able to watch what they want, when they want to watch it. They are also happy to pay for this ease of access to quality content and so BritBox is tapping into this, and a new revenue stream for UK public service broadcasters.' ITV will own ninety per cent of the new BritBox service and the BBC's initial ten per cent stake could rise to twenty five per cent in the future. Lord Hall insisted that this was not the first step toward changing the BBC from a licence fee-funded organisation to a subscription model. 'The fundamental funding for the future must be through the licence fee,' he said. Friday's press release said 'viewers will want to subscribe to BritBox because it is uniquely British' and that there is 'growing consumer demand in the UK for streaming services.' Five million homes have more than one subscription TV service - a growth of thirty four per cent per year. Former BBC executive Ashley Highfield said he thought the monthly price was 'about right' and that BritBox would end up with subscriber numbers in the 'low millions.' He told BBC News: 'I don't think they think it's something that's going to take over from Netflix. It's probably going to rub alongside.'
A controversial scene in Netflix drama Thirteen Reasons Why in which a teenage girl kills herself has been removed, two years after it first appeared. Netflix said that the decision had been made 'on the advice of medical experts.' Albeit, they failed to reveal when the advice was given. The first series of the drama featured a graphic depiction of Hannah (played by Katherine Langford) taking her own life. The version now hosted on the streaming site omits this three-minute scene and goes directly into a later scene in which her body is discovered. Samaritans said it 'welcomed' Netflix's decision and that it had been 'working with' the streaming service's UK team to 'provide advice on the safe portrayal of suicide. While covering difficult topics in drama can help to increase understanding and encourage people to seek help, it's important this is done in a responsible way,' said Lorna Fraser from the charity's media advisory service. Netflix said that it had been 'mindful about the ongoing debate around the show,' the third series of which premieres later this year. Doctor Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is cited as one of the experts consulted. When Thirteen Reasons Why launched in 2017, it was praised by many commentators for 'promoting awareness' about such issues as rape, bullying and self-harm among teenagers. But, concerns were also raised that it allegedly 'glamorised' suicide and 'went into too much detail' about how the character of Hannah killed herself. Writing on Twitter, producer Brian Yorkey said the series had originally portrayed 'the ugly, painful reality of suicide in such graphic detail [to] make sure no one would ever wish to emulate it.' Yet, he said concerns voiced by Doctor Moutier 'and others' had 'prompted a rethink. No one scene is more important than the life of the show and its message that we must take better care of each other,' he said. 'We believe this edit will help the show do the most good for the most people while mitigating any risk for especially vulnerable young viewers.' Based on the 2007 novel by Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why tells of a high school student who finds out why his friend killed herself through a box of cassette tapes that she recorded before her death.
Prosecutors in the US state of Massachusetts have dropped a criminal case against Kevin Spacey. He had been accused of groping an eighteen-year-old at a bar in 2016. But, indecent assault and battery charges were dropped on Wednesday after the accuser refused to testify about a missing phone, which the defence said could prove the actor's innocence. Spacey has faced several sexual misconduct accusations but this was the only one to result in a criminal case so far. The claims date back three years, when the accuser says Spacey bought him alcohol and groped him at a bar on the island of Nantucket. The accuser was ordered to take to the stand this month after he claimed that he had lost the phone he used on the night of the alleged assault. Spacey's lawyers had accused the man of deleting text messages and said the phone could be used to prove their client's innocence. However, the alleged victim invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refused to testify. In a statement on Wednesday, the Cape and Islands District Attorney's Office said the 'unavailability of the complaining witness' had led them to drop the case. The announcement comes after the accuser earlier this month said he was dropping a civil case against the actor. The accuser's lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said in a statement on Wednesday that his client had 'shown an enormous amount of courage under difficult circumstances.' The allegations in the case came after another actor accused a then twenty six-year-old Spacey of climbing on top of him on a bed when he was just fourteen. Spacey apologised for 'any inappropriate conduct,' which he claimed he 'could not remember.' In May, Spacey was reportedly questioned over allegations of sexual assault in the UK between 1996 and 2013. Metropolitan Police officers travelled to the US to speak to him. Inquiries in the case are said to be ongoing. Amid multiple allegations of misconduct, the Oscar-winning actor was dropped from Netflix series House Of Cards in 2017 and had his scenes edited out of the film All The Money In The World.
Computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing will feature on the new design of the Bank of England's fifty knicker note. He is celebrated for his code-cracking work which proved vital to the Allies in World War Two. The half-a-ton note will be the last of the Bank of England collection to switch from paper to polymer when it enters circulation by the end of 2021. The note was once described as 'the currency of corrupt elites' and is the least used in daily transactions. However, there are still three hundred and forty four million fifty quid notes in circulation, with a combined value of over seventeen billion smackers, according to the Bank of England's banknote circulation figures. 'Alan Turing was an outstanding mathematician whose work has had an enormous impact on how we live today,' said Bank of England governor Mark Carney. 'As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, as well as a war hero, Alan Turing's contributions were far-ranging and path breaking. Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand.' The work of Alan Turing, who was educated in Sherborne, helped accelerate Allied efforts to read German Naval messages enciphered with the Enigma machine. Less celebrated perhaps is the pivotal role he played in the development of early computers, first at the National Physical Laboratory and later at the University of Manchester. In 2013, he was given a posthumous royal pardon for his 1952 conviction for gross indecency following which he was chemically castrated. He had been arrested after having an affair with a nineteen-year-old Manchester man. The Bank said that his legacy 'continued to have an impact on science and society today.' Yet for decades, the idea of Turing being featured on a banknote seemed impossible. This will be seen as an attempt to signal how much has changed in society following the long, ultimately successful campaign to pardon Turing of his 1952 conviction - under contemporary laws - for having a homosexual relationship. His work helped cement the concept of the algorithm - the set of instructions used to perform computations - that are at the heart of our relationship with computers today. He was also a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence: one of his best known achievements in this field is The Turing Test, which aims to measure whether a machine is 'intelligent.' Former Manchester MP John Leech, who campaigned for Alan Turing's pardon, said: 'This is a fitting and welcome tribute to a true Manchester hero. But more importantly I hope it will serve as a stark and rightfully painful reminder of what we lost in Turing, and what we risk when we allow that kind of hateful ideology to win.' The Bank asked the public to offer suggestions for the scientist whose portrait should appear on the fifty quid note. In six weeks, the Bank received over two hundred and twenty thousand nominations covering nine hundred and eighty nine eligible scientists. One or two of them were even sensible. A shortlist was drawn up by a committee, including experts from the field of science, before the governor made the final decision. And, all of the nominations for The Doctor, despicable old rapscallion and right rotten rotter Jimmy Savile, Nigel Farage and Notey McNote-Face were discounted. The shortlisted characters, or pairs of characters, considered included: Mary Anning, Paul Dirac, Rosalind Franklin, William Herschel and Caroline Herschel, Dorothy Hodgkin, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, Stephen Hawking, James Clerk Maxwell, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Ernest Rutherford, Frederick Sanger and Turing. The debate over representation on the bank's notes could resurface after this decision. Jane Austen will continue to be the only woman, apart from the Queen, whose image will be seen on the four notes. There was also a campaign calling for a historic figure from a black and ethnic minority background to feature on the new fifty knicker note. Although, some possibly might have regarded the idea of having a representative of one of the least wealthy sections of society represented on the only bank note that many of that community may never have even seen as, you know, somewhat taking the piss. In response to Maidstone MP Helen Grant, who raised the issue in Parliament, the governor said: 'The Bank will properly consider all protected characteristics and seek to represent on its banknotes characters reflecting the diversity of British society, its culture and its values.' Steam engine pioneers James Watt and Matthew Boulton appear on the current fifty quid note, issued in 2011. The new Turing notes will enter circulation by the end of 2021, Carney announced at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester. It will feature a photo of Turing taken in 1951 by Elliott and Fry and part of the National Portrait Gallery's collection; a table and mathematical formulae from Turing's 1936 paper On Computable Numbers, With An Application To The Entscheidungsproblem; The Automatic Computing Engine Pilot Machine - the trial model of Turing's design and one of the first electronic stored-program digital computers; technical drawings for the Bombe, the machine specified by Turing and one of the primary tools used to break Enigma-enciphered messages and a quote from Turing, given in an interview to The Times newspaper in June 1949: 'This is only a foretaste of what is to come and only the shadow of what is going to be.' Ticker tape depicting Alan Turing's birth date (23 June 1912) in binary code will also be included. The concept of a machine fed by binary tape featured in Turing's 1936 paper. Current Bank of England fiver and tenner notes are plastic - which the Bank says are more durable, secure and 'harder to forge.' The next version of the twenty, to enter circulation next year, will also be made of the same polymer. In recent years, there have been doubts that the fifty smackers note would continue to exist at all. Fears that the largest denomination note was 'widely used by criminals' and 'rarely for ordinary purchases' prompted a government-led discussion on whether to abolish it or not. The fifty knicker note was described by Peter Sands, former chief executive of Standard Chartered bank, as the 'currency of corrupt elites, of crime of all sorts and of tax evasion.' There has also been considerable discussion over the future of cash in the UK, as bank cards and digital payments accelerate and the use of notes and coins declines. Nevertheless, in October, ministers announced plans for a new version of the note, to be printed in the UK.
And now, dear blog reader, the first in a new semi-regular From The North series 'Gosh, Don't Some Adverts On British Telly Make Viewers Really Angry?' Number one. This blogger hastens to add that the views expressed in this, particular - extremely sweary and uncouth - online posting, spotted on Facebook do not, necessarily, reflect those of anyone here at From The North. Even if the Nationwide advert in question does, unquestionably, annoy the phlegm out of this blogger. As does the one featuring the ALDI couple and their really irritating song! Just sayin' ...
Over the course of his long and illustrious career, Sir Paul McCartney (he was a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of him) has written films, oratorios, poetry collections, children's books and more than one hundred hit singles. Now, at the age of seventy seven, he has a new challenge: His first stage musical. Macca is working on an adaptation of Frank Capra's classic It's A Wonderful Life, the story of a suicidal man saved by his guardian angel. Sir Paul, who was four when the film was released in 1946, called it 'a universal story we can all relate to.' The musical is set to debut in 'late 2020,' according to producer Bill Kenwright, whose previous credits include the West End show Blood Brothers and the touring version of Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Lee Hall, who wrote Billy Elliot and the recent Elton John biopic Rocketman, is writing the script and collaborating with Sir Paul on the lyrics. 'It's A Wonderful Life is my favourite film,' said the TONY Award-winner. 'It has absolutely everything - comedy, pathos and a rare humanity which has touched generation after generation. To give it a life on the stage is an immense privilege in itself, but to do with Paul McCartney is off the scale. Paul's wit, emotional honesty and melodic brilliance brings a whole new depth and breadth to the classic tale. I feel as if an angel must be looking after me.' This is not the first time that Capra's Oscar-nominated film has been turned into a musical. An ill-fated adaptation was staged in the US in 1986, with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Joe Raposo. Initially performed at the University of Michigan, it suffered repeated delays arising from a dispute over the rights to the story upon which the film was based, Philip Van Doren Stern's novella The Greatest Gift. By the time that the first professional production was staged, in 1991, Raposo had died of cancer. A 2006 off-Broadway revival received mixed reviews, with the New York Times criticising changes to the film's plot and the show's 'lack of emotional punch.' Reviewer Anita Gates concluded: 'It used to be A Wonderful Life.' Oh, this blogger bets she thought she was really clever after she wrote that. She probably took the rest of the day off in celebration. A more recent adaptation, by Keith Ferguson and Bruce Greer, still tours churches and schools around the US. Bill Kenwright says that he harboured ambitions to turn the film into a musical long before either of the US productions took shape, writing to director Frank Capra to seek permission at the very start of his career, when he was still acting in Coronation Street. Despite receiving a 'lovely handwritten letter by reply,' his approach was turned down. Decades later, he was offered the rights 'out of the blue' and approached Sir Paul to see if he would be interested in writing the music. 'Like many of these things this all started with an e-mail,' said the former Be-Atle. Do people actually still use e-mail? 'Writing a musical is not something that had ever really appealed to me but Bill and I met up with Lee Hall and had a chat and I found myself thinking this could be interesting and fun.' Kenwright said Macca's initial demos 'exceeded expectations. The songs take you somewhere you don't expect to go. They sound simple - but it's deceptive. That's Paul's genius.' Starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, It's A Wonderful Life rather struggled at the box office upon release in 1946. However, it went on to become a beloved Christmas staple and has been recognised by the American Film Institute as one of the one hundred best American films ever made. Sir Paul's music has frequently been used on stage, notably in Cirque Du Soleil's ambitious Beatles show, Love. He also wrote a movie musical, Give My Regards To Broad Street, which was - rightly - savaged by critics upon its release in 1984.
On a (in this case quite literal) related theme, there's a jolly fine interview with Sir Paul's younger brother, the very excellent Mike McGear at the We Are Cult website. Which you can check out here.
On Thursday, this blogger voted in the local Police and Crime Commissioner erection (won, incidentally, by Kim McGuinness, whom this blogger voted for). Whilst Keith Telly Topping was waiting to get his ballot slip he got chatting to the - rather bored-looking - guy on the desk and this blogger noticed his phone had a screen-saver of four rather beautiful black and white cats. 'Are they yours?' this blogger asked. 'Yeah. John, Paul, George and Ringo' the chap replied. 'Seriously?' 'Uh-huh. Although two of them are girls so, really, it should be John, Paula, Georgina and Ringo but that just didn't sound right!'
Wednesday brought the - extremely unwelcome, if not entirely unexpected - news that this blogger's beloved (though, tragically, unsellable and now, seemingly, relegation-bound) Newcastle United had appointed Steve Bruce as their new head coach. Which has proved to about as popular on Tyneside as the last recorded case of diphtheria was. Bruce has signed an initial three year contract and is joined by coaches Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence, with the trio en route to China to take charge of the club's second Asian Trophy tie on Saturday against West Hamsters United. Bruce's former club Sheffield Wednesday soon put out a statement, suggesting that they were pure-dead pissed off about this here malarkey. They stated that compensation had not been agreed between the clubs and that, Bruce having already resigned from his post notwithstanding, they were taking 'the appropriate legal advice.' This one, dear blog reader, could run and run. United are the eleventh club of Bruce's managerial career, since taking charge of Sheffield United in July 1998 - his most recent top-flight stint ending in 2016 when his Hull City side were extremely relegated (to be fair, he did get them promoted the following year at the first attempt but then, immediately, decamped for pastures Villa. And, didn't that turn out to be a good move?)
This blogger has already made his own feelings about Bruce's - lack of - abilities as a manager clear in previous bloggerisations both on From The North and our sister blog, Keith Telly Topping's World Cup Trivia Page so there's little point in going over the same ground again. Instead, this blogger will leave it to the lads at whose apparent sighing disillusionment seems to match this blogger's own. 'All the talk of progressive football and has sacrificed on the altar of expedience and we're now saddled with a John Carver/Steve McClaren reboot,' they began. 'We don't really care about [Brice's] club-hopping or the plight he's left Wednesday in; the Mackem connection or his perception as an Old Trafford apologist is of little consequence ahead of the 2019-20 season. And, even the claim that the man who allegedly "bleeds black and white" once preferred to join Norwich City doesn't particularly matter - "football is a lie," as his predecessor was fond of saying. Regardless of your viewpoint of Rafa though, this cannot be seen as anything other than a retrograde step - a man who previously boasted of his dislike of tactics. This is the very opposite of ambition, but an appointment that nicely mirrors our grubby, unloved, derided shell of a football club. We have appointed one of the game's greatest mercenary managers. Acutely aware of the frosty reception awaiting, Bruce has accepted the job with open arms knowing that the worst case scenario is a multimillion payout in time for Christmas. The job title given to Bruce of Head Coach seems significant: with just over three weeks to go until the transfer window closes, let's hope that whoever is actually in charge of recruitment on Barrack Road has a coherent and credible plan to avoid what looks like nothing but a relegation fight. Whether the club have shown some foresight in appointing Bruce remains to be seen; perhaps they've merely acquired a manager with promotion to the top flight on his CV thirteen months before he's needed.' Bruce himself has claimed that he may 'find it tough' at St James' Park. May? No shit, mate? That could be the understatement of the decade. And, to those other prime lick-arse Ashley-apologist scum at Sky Sports whose coverage of United's opening Asian Trophy hiding to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday included both the commentator Martin Tyler and their alleged 'expert' Andy Townsend (actually, a risible waste-of-space plank previously sacked from a similar job at ITV to the delight of millions) opining that Newcastle supporters 'have to get over Rafa,' thank you gentlemen. Thank you so much for telling working men and women who pay good money to watch their football team currently being destroyed by clowns and wide boys what they have to do whilst you're getting paid to talk such shite about stuff you know nothing about. You pair of disgraceful abject smears. Meanwhile, citing 'Sky Sports' as an alleged 'source', the Daily Scum Mail claimed that Bruce was given Th' Toon job 'despite being eleventh choice and not even on Newcastle's original shortlist.' This may be true. What is certain is that Bruce wasn't their first choice since, for the second time in his life, that odious obese buffoon Sam Allardyce has spectacularly undermined a fellow manager by publicly revealing that he had been sounded out for the job and had turned it down. The Sun, meanwhile, quoted Newcastle legend Alan Shearer as saying he had dinner with Bruce three weeks ago and had advised Bruce not to take the job should he be offered it. 'I said: "Why are you going to be any different to Keegan or Benitez? If you take it, you must be mad because you know how it works there." He was not Newcastle's first choice to replace Rafa. He might not even have been their second, third or fourth pick. [Or, even then tenth?] He knows what is going on and what has gone on in the past. He knows how fed-up the fan-base is. He knows how the football club is run, it is not a secret any more. This is without a doubt the toughest and most toxic situation Steve has ever walked into. No job is impossible but this one is very, very difficult for so many different reasons.' Lick-arse Ashley apologists Sky Sports's claim that Bruce could have more than ninety million pounds to spend at Newcastle this summer probably needs to be taken with an unhealthy amount of salt given that a) Bruce is, reportedly, not going to have much if any say in whom the club buys since his job title in Head Coach rather than Manager; b) there is only a little more than a fortnight left in the summer transfer window, the club having spent the last three months faffing around seemingly doing nothing and c) the word 'could' is a fantastically bland and unimpressive one in most contexts and, especially, in this one. Newcastle are reportedly to be 'in talks' to sign Brazilian striker Joelinton from Hoffenheim. The twenty two-year-old was left out of Hoffenheim's squad for a pre-season game on Wednesday and the German club have confirmed they are in 'concrete talks' with an - unnamed - Premier League club over a potential transfer. 'Some reports have suggested the fee could be as high as thirty six million pounds,' said Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth. There's that word 'could' again, dear blog reader. Unconfirmed reports state that Joelinton is currently on Tyneside to complete his medical.
Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albinos striker Salomon Rondon has followed Rafael Benitez to China to join his former Newcastle manager at Super League side Dalian Yifang. The twenty nine-year-old has moved for 'an undisclosed fee.' However much it was, though, it was more than poor, poverty-stricken Mike Ashley could afford. Allegedly. Venezuela international Rondon spent last season on loan with this blogger's beloved (though tragically unsellable) Magpies where he proved to be extremely popular with supporters, scored eleven goals in thirty three appearances and won the club's Player Of The Season award.
Fleetwood Town manager Joey Barton has been charged with causing actual bodily harm following a post-match incident in the tunnel at Barnsley on 13 April. Police say that the incident, after The Tykes beat Fleetwood four-two in a League One game at Oakwell, left a man with facial injuries. Barton has previously 'emphatically denied' accusations that he confronted Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel and, you know, stuck one on him. The thirty six-year-old has been bailed until 9 October. Barnsley complained to the Football Association and Football League in April about the incident. At the time, South Yorkshire Police also appealed for any witnesses with footage of the incident to come forward.
Stevenage have been fined five thousand smackers after admitting a Football Association charge of sexist chanting towards a female official during a home game in March. About seventy five to one hundred home fans chanted for several minutes as fourth official Lisa Rashid replaced an assistant referee midway through their match with Bury. The League Two game had been chosen as Stevenage's 'women in football' day. Oh, the irony. 'We will impose significant bans on any supporters found guilty of such behaviour,' claimed chairman Phil Wallace. 'Financial penalties really hurt small clubs like ourselves and this is a real blow to us as we fight financially to build a winning team.' Stevenage breached Football Association rule E20, which states 'the club had failed to ensure that its spectators and all persons purporting to be its supporters or followers, conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and refrained from using abusive and/or insulting words which included a reference, whether express or implied to gender, whilst attending a match in which it was involved.' The Hertfordshire club have also been ordered to implement a fifteen-point action plan - though the FA concluded they were 'not at fault' for the behaviour, or the way it was dealt with on the day. The FA say that the chanting against Rashid was 'extremely offensive, both blatantly sexist and in vulgar indecent language.'
Welsh champions The New Saints will bank close to a million quid from European success this season following a win which could also be priceless for domestic rivals. New Saints' three-two aggregate victory over Feronikeli saw them progress to the Champions League second qualifying round to face FC Copenhagen. They are already guaranteed around eight hundred and thirty grand in prize money. But, just as valuable is that Wales should now retain four European places next season. Cardiff Met and Barry Town were both eliminated in the Europa League preliminary rounds. Defeat for TNS could have seen Wales drop in UEFA's coefficient ranking systems that decide how many European competition places are on offer to each domestic league, with Wales under threat of losing one of their Europa League entries. 'I think [our] win has probably ensured Wales keeps all its UEFA spots for next season,' New Saints chairman Mike Harris told BBC Sport Wales. 'I'd like to think the rest of the league was behind us because of that - and certainly there were some nice comments on social media from fans of other teams. As a league we don't want to lose any spots because the cash it brings in to the teams can be paramount.' Saints now face Copenhagen, with the Danish champions visiting Park Hall for the first leg on Thursday 23 July. The New Saints - Welsh Premier League champions for the past eight seasons - could earn a further four hundred thousand knicker if they pull off an unlikely win against a side which includes six current Denmark internationals. 'It was always going to be one of the tougher ties but we're looking forward to it,' Harris said. 'The prize money exceeds our annual playing budget. As a club with all the other things you now need to do with licensing and academy, it ensures we go a long way to breaking even which has to be the aim of every club, to live within their means. I wouldn't say it's a lifeline but it's money that's well needed. We don't attract TV deals or naming right sponsorship like other leagues so it is tough out there. I was speaking to the president of Feronikeli who said their playing budget was 1.6 million Euros, which is nearly three times ours. It's tough but hopefully we can give (Copenhagen) a scare. We're very much underdogs but we always back ourselves at home.'
Connah's Quay Nomads beating Kilmarnock is 'one of the biggest upsets in the history of Europa League' and a 'bigger result' than Barcelona losing four-nil at Liverpool, according to manager Andy Morrison. The Welsh part-timers set up a second qualifying round tie with Partizan Belgrade after a stunning - and completely unexpected - two-nil win at Rugby Park overturned a two-one deficit from the first leg. Six of the Nomads team, who will get home at 5am, had to work on Friday. 'What we've achieved is something quite remarkable,' said Scots-born Morrison. 'You could see for large periods what a good team they are, but we were too savvy and too clever and worked them out. We always believed we'd get a chance and we took them.' Callum Morris' seventy ninth-minute penalty was the decisive goal and came after Ryan Wignall opened the scoring just after the interval. One imagines Kille's new manager, Angelo Alessio, wasn't doing a couple of choruses of The Proclaimers' 'The Joyful Kilmarnock Blues' after that fiasco. It was a third win in Scotland inside ten months for Connah's Quay, who beat both Falkirk and Queen's Park in the Challenge Cup last season before losing to Ross County in March's final. However, the side who finished second in the Welsh Premier League last term and attract an average attendance of around two hundred and seventy, needed a penalty shootout to beat Edinburgh City five months ago. 'I heard some stuff before the game - I think it was the Queens' Park manager who said "it'll be six but I wouldn't be surprised if they get ten,"' Morrison told BBC Scotland. 'There's a little message for them there. You don't write off teams of men. My skipper is thirty seven years old, Michael Wilde is thirty five, but they have the hearts the size of lions and never back down. It's a monumental achievement by them all. The lads are going to get back home at five in the morning, six of them have work tomorrow and then we've got to get ready for Serbia next week.'
The Confederation of African Football president Ahmad is coming under growing pressure as FIFA investigates allegations of impropriety against him. Separately, an investigation by the BBC revealed that Ahmad received two sets of expenses, claiming to be in two different countries, for the same nine-day period during the 2018 World Cup. According to documents seen by the BBC, the FIFA vice-president twice claimed for payments from African football's ruling body, CAF, for work carried out between 23 June and 1 July. First, the documents indicate that he signed for daily allowances which stated he was in Egypt for this period - before later adding his signature to a document alleging he was in Russia at the same time. As a vice-president of football's world governing body, Ahmad should have been paid his daily World Cup allowance of four hundred and fifty dollars by FIFA since they organise the tournament - meaning he may have received three sets of payments for the nine-day spell in question. CAF, whose headquarters are in the Egyptian capital Cairo, had no role in organising the event. 'President Ahmad took [sic] contact with the FIFA administration to support him in its action for CAF's reforms and to get the process more transparent,' CAF replied to BBC Sport in a statement. 'The details of this cooperation will be announced very soon. For now, as the President have [sic] a very deep respect of the institutions, he keeps his answers for FIFA's teams, which will lead the future audit.' In June, FIFA and CAF announced that FIFA will install its own Secretary General to 'oversee administrative reform' in the governance of African football's ruling body from 1 August. The decision to appoint Senegalese Fatma Samoura as a General Delegate to CAF is unprecedented in the one hundred and fifteen-year history of FIFA, which has never had recourse before to take over the administration of a confederation. Ahmad, who took charge of African football in March 2017, is currently being investigated by both FIFA's Ethics Committee and by French anti-corruption authorities - with an unusual kit deal involving a French gym equipment supplier among the lines of inquiry. The fifty nine-year-old from Madagascar, whose organisation is currently hosting the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, has strenuously denied any and all wrongdoing in previous statements. In early June 2018, Ahmad travelled to Moscow to attend both the FIFA Congress on 13 June and the World Cup, which ran between 14 June and 11 July. Documents seen by the BBC indicate that Ahmad flew from Russia to Egypt on 23 June for a four-day stay before heading back to Moscow after a trip home to Madagascar between 27 June and 1 July. Nonetheless, the documents suggest that, on 28 September last year, Ahmad collected over eighteen thousand dollars from CAF for a forty one-day stay in Russia between 7 June and 17 July. His signature can be seen at the bottom of a page detailing the expenses, which came under the heading 'Mission: World Cup Russia 2018.' Three weeks earlier, on 9 September, Ahmad had collected four thousand and fifty bucks from CAF for a nine-day period between 23 June and 1 July, which came under the heading 'Visit to CAF Bureau'. The BBC states that Ahmad 'may have been in neither Egypt nor Russia for the period 27 June to 1 July but in Madagascar,' as documents suggest he 'intended to travel home at that time.' The BBC specifically asked Ahmad and CAF if it could confirm or deny that he was in the island nation at the time but received no response in the statement it was given. Nor did FIFA answer a question about whether it paid Ahmad for work undertaken on behalf of FIFA in Qatar between 23 and 25 October 2018. Despite travelling to the host nation of the next World Cup on behalf of FIFA - with these expenses labelled 'Mission FIFA - Qatar' on a CAF document - it appears that Ahmad claimed expenses, amounting to thirteen hundred and fifty dollars from the African football body once again. Shortly after taking charge of CAF in March 2017, Ahmad told the BBC that he would not be taking a salary from CAF 'for the simple reason it doesn't respect good administration. The salaries of all CAF employees, from administrators to the executive committee and president, all have to be transparent,' he said in May 2017. The BBC also revealed that just two months later, Ahmad agreed to receive a monthly salary of forty grand, amounting to some four hundred and eighty thousand dollars per year, with an annual bonus of eighty thousand dollars. While this figure may have been determined by Executive Committee members without his input, Ahmad did not reject the salary nor did he make it public. Ironically, the man whom Ahmad displaced - Issa Hayatou - had gone without a salary for most of his twenty nine-year reign. The Cameroonian, who ruled CAF with an iron fist, took charge in 1988 but only accepted a salary, equivalent to thirty thousand dollars per month, in July 2016 - just eight months before the end of his decades-long rule. He had however received a 'representational payment,' which had grown to ninety thousand dollars per year by the time he left office. Ahmad, who took charge of CAF in March 2017, has two years left of his four-year term.
The Football Association is to appeal against the six-week suspension and seventy five grand fine handed out to Daniel Sturridge for breaching its betting rules. It believes the former Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws striker deserves at least a six-month ban having been found extremely guilty by a regulatory commission of giving his brother inside information on a possible move to Sevilla. Sturridge's six-week suspension from all domestic matches came into effect on Wednesday. The former England international is currently without a club following his release by Liverpool and, with the final four weeks of the ban suspended, will be free to resume his career from 31 July. He will, therefore, not miss any competitive football unless he breaches betting rules again. The FA charged the striker with misconduct in November 2018 and, according to the Gruniad Morning Star, 'expected a more severe punishment for a guilty verdict. The authority has announced it will appeal against the independent body's findings and has informed Sturridge's legal team of its intentions. A date for the appeal has not been set. It confirmed in a statement: 'The FA respectfully disagrees with the regulatory commission's findings and will be appealing against the charges which were dismissed and the sanction which was imposed.' In the published findings of the hearing - some of which are redacted - the FA states: 'A sanction of any shorter duration than six months would wholly fail to reflect the gravity of the case.' Sturridge was cleared of nine of the eleven charges he faced relating to his transfer from Anfield in January 2018. On two accounts, however, he was found to have told his brother, Leon, to bet on a possible move to Sevilla. The club were ultimately unable to agree the terms of a loan deal with Liverpool and Sturridge joined West Bromwich Albinos until the end of the 2017-18 season. In the event Sturridge played only six times for the Albinos between February and May 2018 without scoring a single goal. Leon Sturridge did not put on the Sevilla bet. Another relative, Anthon Walters, lost ten grand betting that Sturridge would join Internazionale who, along with this blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle, were also interested in signing the forward. When Inter's interest emerged Sturridge's uncle and agent, Dean, allegedly messaged him to say: 'Fuck it, stay out of squad.' Sturridge responded: 'Cool with me.' Liverpool beat Sheikh Yer Man City four-three at Anfield two days after the exchange without Sturridge in the squad. The total sum wagered by people directly or indirectly connected to Sturridge was over thirteen grand returning then thousand seven hundred and sixty two knicker and fifty six pee. There were attempts to place a further twenty thousand five hundred and sixty smackers worth of bets on his potential transfers in January 2018 but these were refused by betting companies. If accepted - and successful - they would have returned an extra three hundred thousand notes. Sturridge, who denied all the charges, said it was 'extremely disappointing' to learn of the FA's appeal and that he would 'defend his position.' He described the past fifteen months as 'very tough' and added: 'I am pleased that nine of the eleven charges were dismissed and that the panel found me to be an honest and credible witness and that my actions on one particularly difficult day were out of character.' The FA's findings do describe Sturridge as 'an impressive and credible witness' but also claim he gave 'a misleading account' when first interviewed about his brother's betting and of his knowledge of it. The FA's statement said: 'Sturridge faced eleven charges. Nine of those charges concerned alleged breaches of the inside information rule, in that, it was said, Mister Sturridge had provided inside information to friends and family about his possible transfer moves in January 2018, which information had then been used for, or in relation to, betting. Those charges were dismissed by the regulatory commission. The regulatory commission found proved charges three and four, which alleged that, in that same transfer window, Mister Sturridge had instructed his brother, Leon, to bet on a possible move by [Daniel] to Sevilla FC. In issuing that instruction, the regulatory commission found that, as a matter of fact, Mister Sturridge had provided his brother with inside information for that purpose.' Sturridge has been training this summer in Los Angeles, where he has a home. The former Moscow Chelski FC and Sheikh Yer Man City striker has interest from clubs in the United States, China, several European teams and Premier League suitors including Aston Villains.
Once, his many lick-arse friends in Fleet Street were pushing his case to be the next England manager. But, Roy Hodgson got the gig instead. Now, the only jobs that Hapless Harry Redknapp can get, it would seem, are some crap adverts and opening a toilet block in Bournemouth which had been closed for five years. 'Scores of residents gathered outside the facilities yesterday morning as the King of the Jungle arrived to pose for photographs and sign autographs before cutting the ribbon and unveiling a plaque,' the Bournemouth Daily Echo reports. Hardly surprising; one imagines that most of them were bustin' for a scoot after waiting five years.
England's cricket World Cup victory attracted a peak TV audience of four-and-a-half million punters on Channel Four, as live international cricket returned to free-to-air television for the first time in fourteen years. The figures peaked during the deciding champagne super over when a combined total of eight million people were watching on Channel Four or Sky's various pay-TV channels. An average of around half that number tuned in for the entire match. The viewing figures were substantially smaller than those for England's run to the semi-finals of the women's football World Cup and coverage of Wimbledon on the BBC. Almost all English cricket matches are now set to return behind Sky's paywall for the foreseeable future meaning that any new fans won over by Ben Stokes's extraordinary batting performance will have to pay for a subscription if they want to watch this summer's Ashes series. Sky, which has televised all English cricket matches since 2005 in return for substantial investment in the sport, agreed to let Channel Four show the final after the home team won their place in it. The pay-TV service, which has won many plaudits for its presentation of the sport, 'faced sustained pressure in recent weeks over low viewing figures for World Cup matches,' according to an article by some Middle Class hippy Communist louse of importance at the Gruniad Morning Star. Albeit, this 'sustained pressure' coming from no one that actually matters. Cricket's return to free-to-air television was then hampered by its clash with both Wimbledon and the Formula 1 British Grand Prix. Channel Four - as anyone with half-a-head could have warned them in advance - was forced to move its cricket coverage to More4 for much of the afternoon to make way for the motor racing, losing a substantial number of viewers in the process. The BBC's parallel coverage of the Wimbledon men's singles final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic attracted a peak audience of 9.6 million and an average of six million on BBC1. The overnight viewing figures, provided by BARB, do not include people watching online streams of the match or those watching in pubs or other public spaces on big screens. Channel Four, which held the free-to-air rights for the cricket World Cup, has itself faced criticism after putting some highlights packages on air after midnight.
Cricket chiefs should consider allowing teams to share the World Cup if a final is tied again, says New Zealand coach Gary Stead. One does, rather, wonder had Jason Roy or Jos Buttler fumbled that final ball run out, Martin Guptill had made his ground and New Zealand had actually won the match whether Stead would be quite so keen to share a potential Kiwi triumph. This blogger is guessing, probably not. New Zealand, let it be noted, won lots of friends with the dignified way in which they handled their defeat and were the recipients of an awful lot of sympathy from English cricket supporters. Until now, that is. England beat The Black Caps in a dramatic final at Lord's by virtue of scoring more boundaries - after the teams' fifty-over scores were tied and also level after a champagne super over. 'I'm sure when they were writing the rules they never expected a World Cup final like that,' Stead whinged. 'I'm sure it'll be reviewed.' On sharing the trophy, he added: 'Perhaps when you play over a seven-week period and you can't be separated on the final day then that is something that should be considered.' Both sides scored two hundred and forty one in their fifty overs on Sunday and were level on fifteen when they batted for an extra over apiece. England were crowned world champions for the first time because they had scored more boundary fours and sixes - twenty six to New Zealand's seventeen - during the match. 'It's a very, very hollow feeling that you can play one hundred overs and score the same amount of runs and still lose the game - but that's the technicalities of sport,' Stead added. Yeah. pretty much.
Scenes for the new James Bond movie are being filmed in the Scottish Highlands. Temporary accommodation has reportedly been constructed for the crew in Aviemore in the Cairngorms. Scottish locations have previously been used for Bond films, including places in Glen Coe and Glen Etive for 2012's Skyfall. The new film, still known by the working title Bond Twenty Five, stars Daniel Craig as 007, Ana de Armas and Oscar-winner Rami Malek. Ardverikie House, near Newtonmore, is understood to be one of the locations in the Cairngorms. The property was Glenbogle in the BBC series Monarch Of The Glen. Whilst not commenting specifically on the Bond movie, Highland Council's film office said it had 'assisted a number of productions every year.' A spokeswoman added: 'As well as providing an immediate benefit during filming, many of these productions and, most notably, successful movies or well-known TV series also provide a showcase for the area that brings further tourism benefits.' Other Scottish Bond movie locations include Eilean Donan Castle in 1999's The World Is Not Enough. Loch Craignish, near Crinan, Argyll, doubled as Turkey for a speedboat chase in 1963's From Russia With Love.
The FBI says it is searching for victims of the so-called 'Con Queen of Hollywood,' who has been offering bogus entertainment jobs abroad. The perpetrator impersonated the likes of Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, offering fake jobs which often require up-front payments. According to the New York Times, about one hundred victims have been spoken to, with losses of between three thousand dollars and one hundred and fifty thousand bucks. The FBI say the scam has been 'going on since 2013.' In a press release, the FBI said that victims, including stunt performers, writers and make-up artists, are 'contacted by text, e-mail, or phone and are told the job requires travel to Indonesia, typically Jakarta, for a so-called trial run of their services.' As in 'my wife's just gone to the East Indies.' 'Jakarta?' 'No, she flew.' Anyway, 'When they arrive in Indonesia, the victims are met by a driver and are pressured into providing US currency for the driver's services. The victims are asked to continue to pay for other services and fees until the trip is completed or they realise they are the victim of a scam. The victims are not reimbursed for the cost of the travel or paid for their services while in Indonesia.' The FBI has asked potential victims to 'submit a questionnaire about their experiences,' in the hope of finally finding the perpetrator and ending their naughty ways. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the con artist also has been 'leading people into sexually-charged phone conversations,' with 'no apparent financial motive.' In April, Victoria Alonso, the executive vice president of production at Marvel, discovered a scammer was using her identity to conduct explicit telephone auditions with aspiring actors. She told The Hollywood Reporter: 'People need to understand that this is not what Marvel or I would ever do. It's a horrible, horrible thing. I've had an unimpeachable thirty-year career. That somebody is claiming I have done these things - I've spent many, many sleepless nights.' Actor Brandon Wengrzynek told the trade paper that he was 'lured' to 'engage in sexually-explicit role-play' in order to 'convince' the con artist of his 'acting ability.' On that occasion, the soc-called 'Con Queen' was pretending to be casting director Sarah Finn, who worked on Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther. He said that he 'went along with it' until he found it 'too uncomfortable' and 'alarm bells' started ringing. 'She was absolutely convincing,' Wengrzynek said. 'It just blows my mind how professional the whole thing is.' Wengrzynek then contacted a friend to try and verify if the job offer was real and discovered it was fake.
Publishers of a true crime book by an 'experienced criminal profiler' have pulled his work from sale, after his claims to have interviewed serial killers including Ted Bundy and Peter Sutcliffe were called into question according to media reports. Described as 'the master of the true crime genre' by Martina Cole, Paul Harrison is the author of more than thirty books, including his latest, Mind Games, released by Urbane Publications in October 2018. The Doncaster author says that he 'worked as a police officer' in the UK for three decades, 'serving as a dog handler, intelligence officer, as a detective and later as a profiler' and that he 'worked closely' with the FBI's Behavioural Science Unit in Quantico for six months in 1982. In interviews - and at his live events - Harrison has previously claimed that Sutcliffe told him: 'You seem completely indifferent to me. I'm scared of you.' He also claimed to have been present in the final days of Reggie Kray's life and that he met American serial killers including Bundy and John Wayne Gacy. Harrison claimed Gacy had sent him paintings of clowns after tracking down his address, before his execution in 1994. Seven former FBI agents who were at Quantico during the period when Harrison claims to have been there denied knowing who he was or that he would have interviewed Bundy and Gacy. The Kray twins' former hitman Fred Foreman also said it was 'unlikely' that Harrison would have been present at Kray's deathbed. 'Reggie would never have entertained police,' he alleged. Northants police confirmed that Harrison had left the force in 1999, after working as an officer in Kettering. In a now deleted Facebook post, Harrison wrote: 'This monster is no longer mine, nor is it what I wanted it to be. I saw it as a tool to give victims a voice, everywhere, but because I'm weak and vulnerable and utterly useless at decision-making I was introduced into sensationalising events by promoters who often sent out misleading blurb. Something I had to live up to. I've decided to call it a day for now. No more shows or interaction on social media. It seems I've let everyone down, I'm sorry for that.' On Friday, Urbane Publications issued a statement: 'Like everyone who worked with Paul Harrison, the attendees to his talks and the readers of his books, we are very concerned by these revelations and are currently seeking clarification before deciding what further action to take. However, with immediate effect we will be withdrawing Mind Games from sale and endeavouring to remove all stock and details from every relevant retail channel. We will also be donating any profits we have secured thus far from the sales of Mind Games to charities that help and support victims of violent crime.' On Saturday, a post on the Facebook Manchester Crime Club - co-founded by Harrison - announced that it was 'closing its doors with immediate effect for the foreseeable future' because 'due to ongoing ill-health, Paul has been advised by his doctors not to undertake any more events.'
As political obituaries go, the Gruniad Morning Star's John Crace has provided something of a comedy template with his thigh-slappingly hilarious hatchet-job, Exit Failing Grayling: The Three Billion Pound Master Of Disaster Bows Out. This blogger's favourite paragraph in the piece is the following: 'At the latest count he has cost the country three billion pounds in the past five years. That means we could have paid him a billion to stay at home, doing nothing but watch TV and mowing the lawn and still have been two billion pounds better off. Just by diligently turning up to work each day, [Christopher] Grayling has prevented two hospitals from being built. What makes Failing Grayling even more of a collector's item is that he hasn't just wasted three billion pounds on one bad call. It wasn't just a rush of blood to bet the house on a no-deal Brexit. Rather he has worked assiduously to squander the money at regular intervals over a prolonged period: Two billion on the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise in 2018, four hundred and thirty seven million on a botched privatisation of the probation service in 2014. Nor does he neglect to sweat the small stuff, pissing away seventy two thousand pounds on a failed legal challenge to his plans to stop prisoners reading books. Say what you like, Chris is a details man. A man who understands his job perfectly. To make all those around him look slightly less half-witted.' Crace then continues: 'All these past triumphs appeared to weigh heavily on Grayling's mind as he took his seat in the chamber. After a quick glower at all those around him, he slumped back, his mind focused on the eternity of imminent retirement. He rose briefly to reassure Conservative Geoffrey Clifton-Brown that all was on track with the improvements to the A417 in his constituency but then lapsed back into silence. As did Clifton-Brown. A promise from the transport secretary almost certainly meant nothing would be happening to the A417 in the near future. It was left to junior transport minister Michael Ellis to defend his boss's honour. Shadow junior transport minister Karl Turner enquired whether Grayling might like to use his last outing at the dispatch box to apologise for having wasted so much money and whether there were any other crimes he would like taken into consideration. Ellis shook his head. His client would be pleading the fifth amendment. The minister's track record 'spoke for itself,' Ellis replied gravely. Under the circumstances not the most tactful defence.' Seriously, dear blog reader, if you want a good laugh in these dreadful, harsh, unremittingly awful days of crisis and rank daftness, take a gander at Crace's piece. It'll, briefly, lift your mood. Until you remember that there are dozens a planks just like Grayling waiting to take his - and other - job(s) in Bashing Boris's first cabinet. Does anybody know any jokes?
Two Scottish wildcat kittens have been born at a centre involved in a captive breeding programme. The animals have been described as 'functionally extinct' in the wild. Their numbers are now so low that new research has concluded there is 'no longer a viable wildcat population living wild in Scotland.' The two female kittens were born at the Aigas Field Centre near Beauly. The centre has had a breeding programme since 2011. It forms part of the wider Scottish Wildcat Action project involving the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which has wildcats at its Highland Wildlife Park near Aviemore. Aigas' kittens are the first litter for a wildcat called Glynis. They are a few weeks old and have started exploring their enclosure. In the future wildcats bred at Aigas could be released into the wild, but the centre said that threats to the species 'had still to be overcome.' Breeding with domestic cats is a major threat to the survival of Scotland's genetically-pure wildcats. The animals have also declined due to loss of habitat and disease.
A Satanic Temple member who won the right to give the opening prayer at a government meeting in Alaska has prompted a protest from officials after declaring 'Hail Satan.' Iris Fontana's invocation triggered a walkout by the mayor of Kenai Peninsula Borough, several members of the regional assembly and people in the audience. The borough had previously restricted people from giving invocations unless they 'belonged to official religious organisations' with 'an established presence on the peninsula.' It was forced to change its policy in November after the Alaska Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional. Fontana was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, along with an atheist and a Jewish woman. During her invocation on Tuesday, she said: 'Let's cast aside our differences, to use reason, logic, science and compassion to create solutions for the greater good of our community. It is done, hail Satan.' Borough mayor Charlie Pierce and assembly members Norm Blakeley and Paul Fischer were among those who got all stroppy and discomcbobulated and flounced out of the assembly chambers in a geet huff. Before returning for the meeting. Around forty protesters gathered outside the administration building holding signs saying 'reject Satan and his works' and 'know Jesus and his love.' One of them, William Siebenmorgen, flew from Pennsylvania to Alaska for the event in Kenai, around seventy five miles south of Anchorage. 'God will be pleased with our public prayers of reparation,' he told local radio station KSRM. And you can absolutely guarantee that God, herself, is delighted to discover that William Siebenmorgan of Pennsylvania is now, seemingly, her official spokesperson. 'We want God's blessings on America, not Satan's curses. Lucifer is the eternal loser. Let's keep him out.'
A 'Christian' family who refused to pay income tax because it 'went against God's will' have been ordered to pay more than two million Australian dollars to Australia's tax office. Rembertus Cornelis Beerepoot and Fanny Alida Beerepoot, of Tasmania, had not paid income tax since 2011. Their farm was seized and sold by their local council in 2017 after they failed to pay seven years-worth of rates. Ms Beerepoot told the court: 'We don't own anything because we are [God's].' The siblings represented themselves in the Supreme Court of Tasmania on Wednesday, after they failed to pay some nine hundred and thirty thousand dollars in income tax and other charges in 2017, ABC News reports. Beerepoot had argued that the law of God is the 'supreme law of this land' and that making people pay tax was 'weakening their dependency' on God, an act which was leading to 'curses in the form of droughts and infertility. Transferring our allegiance from God to the Commonwealth would mean rebelling against God and therefore breaking the first commandment,' he said, according to the public broadcaster. Mind you, the eighth commandment is 'thou shalt not steal' so, you know, you've got a potential contradiction there straight away. In his judgement, Associate Justice Stephen Holt said that whilst he believed the Beerepoots' beliefs to be 'genuinely held' rather, he said there was no specific reference in the Bible to support their argument. 'In my view, the Bible effectively said that civil matters and the law of God operate in two different spheres.' Indeed, the Bible's only comment on the subject of taxation are from Matthew 22:21 (Jesus saying: 'Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's') and Romans 13:1 ('Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God'). The siblings were ordered to pay similar sums to cover 'income tax, administrative penalties and general interest charges' and other costs, court documents show.
What was supposed to be a family memory to be cherished forever has now been 'tainted,' a Texas mother has claimed. '[You can see her] boob, nipple, everything,' Monica Davila whinged. It was 'a photobomb shell-shocker' (and, shell-stunner) that so got Davila's dander up. 'We're trying to recreate memories,' Davila said. 'Having some chick's boob isn't allowing us to do that.' The story began when Davila was going through her vacation pictures from a visit to Garner State Park on Monday. Davila noticed a smiling woman who had lifted her shirt to expose her bare-naked breast in one of the shots. There for all the world to see. No modesty, nor nowt. Nothing left to the imagination. Unashamed before all (including The Lord). You get the general idea. '[We] had no idea that was going on,' Davila complained. Davila said that, recently, her husband's grandmother passed away, so the family planned a trip together 'in her honour' and to see 'that type of photobomb' had 'ruined' what was supposed to be 'a fun friendly family gathering.' 'I just feel completely disrespected,' Davila wailed. 'I think this person should be held accountable. What she did was wrong. There were kids there watching her.'
Four children packed fishing rods and money into a Four-by-Four before (illegally) driving themselves more than five hundred across Australia, police have said. The three boys and a girl - aged between ten and fourteen - were discovered in the New South Wales town of Grafton on Sunday. They had left Gracemere, in Queensland, sometime earlier in the weekend. One boy reportedly wrote a note to his family explaining that he was leaving. Police said that they would lay charges against the perishin' kids, but did not specify which ones. 'Being naughty', one imagines. The children were not all from the same family and had stolen the car from one of their parents, authorities said. Early on Sunday, about one hundred miles into their journey, the group stopped at a service station in the town of Banana and allegedly stole some petrol. An employee there told Sydney's Daily Telegraph that security video had shown the vehicle driving in 'like normal' before someone got out to fill up. 'He is really short. Look he barely even reaches the window,' the service station attendant said. Later that day, police spotted the vehicle in Glen Innes - a town near Grafton - and began pursuing it. However, officers stopped the chase due to concerns about the driver's age. The vehicle was later spotted on the side of a road in Grafton, according to Inspector Darren Williams from New South Wales Police. '[The children] locked themselves in the car and police have had to use a baton to get into the vehicle to arrest them,' reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Inspector Williams said the group had 'most likely' shared the driving. A non-stop trip between Gracemere and Grafton would typically take about ten hours. 'It's a pretty big journey and it's a long way for a young person,' he said. Police said they would question the children once their parents were present. Motorists must be aged seventeen or older to be eligible for a licence in Queensland and New South Wales.
A woman who earns three hundred thousand dollars a year by posting photos of her bare bum online says that she 'gets hundreds of marriage proposals a day from fans of her saucy photos,' according to a piece of atypical crass horseshit in the Daily Mirra. Does anyone else remember when the Mirra used to be a real newspaper and was written by grown-ups? No, this blogger neither - he's only fifty five. Brazilian 'instagrammer' - it's a thing, apparently - Natalia Garibotto has 'racked up more than 1.3 million followers thanks to the perfectly framed close-ups of her curves,' states the article - written (in crayon, one presumes) by 'Lifestyle Editor' Zoe Forsey, who ought to be fucking-well ashamed to draw her salary if this an example of what she gets paid to do. Twenty six-year-old Garibotto has had 'some unusual requests from her fans, including one man who wanted to buy her used bath water.' Yeah, this blogger had a similar request, once. They claimed it was for medical research. And, to be fair the three pounds and sixty pee he got for it did come in handy. Natalia, 'who has a degree from the University of Miami in Business Law and Entrepreneurship and previously worked in real estate and property management, says there's more to her than most people think.' But, mainly, there's just her arse, dear blog reader. Though, to be scrupulously fair, it is undeniably quite a nice one ... as arses go.
Andrea Camilleri, the Sicilian author behind the popular Inspector Montalbano television series, has died aged ninety three. One of Italy's best-loved writers, he had been admitted to a hospital in Rome last month after a cardiac arrest. The crime writer was best-known for his detective books starring the character of Salvo Montalbano based in the fictional Sicilian town of Vigàta. The adapted Rai TV series was loved in Italy and became popular in the UK, US, France, Spain, Germany and Australia. Camilleri lost his sight in recent years but said in 2017 it had allowed him to picture things more clearly. 'I am blind, but losing my sight made all my other senses come back to life,' he said. 'They have come to the rescue. My memory has improved and I remember more things than before with great lucidity and I still write.' Camilleri and Inspector Montalbano changed people's minds about Sicily. Together, over a period of twenty five years, they transformed a grim landscape of mobsters and mafia violence to a light-hearted, humorous, food-focused near-paradise of an imaginary town. No other mystery plots have narrated the Sicilian 'gioia di vivere' so effectively and with such a colourful protagonist: a detective whose days involve morning swims, spaghetti with clams and an onslaught of hilarious malapropisms from an illiterate receptionist at the local police station. Where else can you find a coroner with a secret passion for cannoli? For London-based Sicilian writer Simonetta Agnello Hornby, Camilleri was 'by far the greatest Sicilian writer since the Second World War. He should have been put forward for the Nobel prize,' she said, adding that he was 'a man of great intellect, of immense culture and strong and unwavering left-wing principles that, if anything, grew over the years. His passion for justice and support of those less fortunate, be they poor Italians or refugees or boatmen coming from Africa, never wavered.' Camilleri wrote more than one hundred novels. His stories were fiction, but were influenced by current affairs or the result of hours of scouring the archives. The Montalbano novels, each of them published in a one hundred and eighty-page format - eighteen chapters of ten pages - have achieved worldwide sales of twenty five million and have been translated into one hundred and twenty languages. His most recent, Alcyon's Cook, was published in May in Italy and quickly became a bestseller. Camilleri's final book in the series, entitled Riccardino and written in 2006, remains with his publisher, locked in a cabinet in Palermo under agreement that it be printed at a date after his death. The writer's fame was amplified when his stories were adapted for television: his twenty four novels and ten short stories were made into thirty four episodes and distributed in some sixty countries to date. The Montalbano TV mysteries, first broadcast in May 1999, celebrated their twentieth anniversary last month. Italians' interest in the character of Salvo Montalbano was first ignited with The Shape Of The Water, published by Sellerio in 1994. At that time, Camilleri was already sixty seven-year-old having left a successful career as a director and TV scriptwriter. Readers quickly developed a fondness for Montalbano because of his values: a policeman with an high sense of respect for people, with impeccable honesty and a strong dislike for bureaucracy. They grew to admire his relatable humility, his stubbornness, his grouchy approach and his solitary spirit - he loves eating alone and in silence. Through his books, Italian readers also got the opportunity to rediscover the importance of Sicilian dialect. Camilleri's use of Sicilian expressions - infusing the Italian language with Sicilian mother tongue - helped promote the island's culture, making people rethink the island's history. In Sicily, his work is now studied in schools. The character of Catarella - the comical illiterate police officer who talks incomprehensively in a mix of bureaucratic Italian and dialect - was amusing both in Italian and in English, as translated by Stephen Sartarelli. Montalbano seizes the imagination of a wide audience with descriptions of the picturesque seafront in Vigàta, the view from the terrace of the detective's house, the culinary surprises of his housekeeper, Adelina and the feasts at the restaurant Calogero. Each detail is both real and imaginative. One of Camilleri's early introductions to literature was Alice's Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, which, he recalled, was read to him by his grandmother. Sicily has been a popular tourist destination for years, but the so-called 'Montalbano effect' has been credited with boosting tourism on the island. The area of Ragusa - where cities such as Noto, Modica and Scicli are locations for the TV series - features beautiful baroque buildings and is home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Six years ago, an airport opened in the province at Comiso which built on the increase in tourism.
A composer who wrote more than two thousand advertising jingles for TV and radio - including the infamous 'Shake n' Vac' tune - has died. And, now this blogger has posted that link, dear blog reader, you can absolutely guarantee you're going to have that stuck in your head all day. Sorry. Tributes have been paid to 'funny and caring' Jonathan Hodge, from Folkestone, following his death aged seventy eight. Jonathan died on Sunday 7 July at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford from multiple organ failure. Originally from London, Jonathan had a very colourful and eclectic career writing music for many well-known adverts, including the campaigns for 'A Mars A Day', 'Birds Eye Potato Waffles' (they're 'a-waffely versatile'), 'Topic' and 'Lip Smackin Pepsi Cola'. Jonathan, a father-of-three, also wrote pop songs and had a UK top three hit in 1978 with 'If I Had Words', sung by Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley. It was subsequently used in the film Babe (1995) and was covered by Westlife. Though, to be fair, Jonathan can hardly be blamed for that. He also wrote the scores for Great (1975), an Oscar-winning animated musical documentary about Isambard Kingdom Brunel and for the classic 1971 British urban gangster movie Villain, featuring Richard Burton. Jonathan wrote and produced Fiddley Foodle Bird (1991), a children's animated series for the BBC narrated by Bruce Forsyth and also worked on the TV series' The Trouble With 2B (1972) and Henry's Cat (1983) - writing the latter's theme tune - and the movie Cold Justice (1983). His daughter Tilly said: 'I feel very proud of my dad - people might not know his name but they will know his work, know his jingles. He was an eccentric character. A very bright personality, flamboyant with a great sense of humour. He was very caring and very funny.' Jonathan was born in London in 1941 and had offices for many years in Wardour Street, in the heart of the city's advertising and film industry. He was married twice - once to Debbie Raymond, the daughter of soft-core publisher Paul Raymond. In The The Look Of Love (2013), a movie based on the life of Raymond, Jonathan was portrayed by Simon Bird. Jonathan is survived by his two of his three children Tim and Tilly, plus three grandchildren.
And now, the latest From The North award for the media Headline Of The Week; which, this week, goes to the Liverpool Echo website for Customers In Tears After Liverpool City Centre McDonald's Suddenly Closes - Updates. Because, obviously, it was hugely in the public interest that they stay on this story all night if they had to. 'One customer reacts to McDonald's closure: "Shocked, in disbelief, hungry and startled"' the website added. And, they had video to prove it.
Please, dear blog reader, give a big From The North welcome to the latest member of the Stately Telly Topping Manor household and garden appliances family; this is Erica the Electric Chainsaw.
Here's a thought: Can't that balding ex-milkman from Waalsend just stick to saving the rain forests (and telling everyone about it) rather than involving himself in, you know, what some may consider to be Police matters? One imagines Stewart Copeland is furious.
This blogger once had a muff takeaway, dear blog reader. It took three visits for the doctor's before that cleared up.
Meanwhile here is From The North's most favourite letter to be published in this week's newspapers. Georgina, m'love, there is such a thing as 'over-sharing' you know.
And finally, dear blog reader, this blogger was forced to post the following message on his Facebook wall earlier this week: 'This isn't directed at anyone specific so don't panic but, just a general note for future reference: If I see a posting on my Home Page from someone with whom I'm a Facebook fiend that is, in any way homophobic, racist or anti-semitic or is - or appears to be - making apologist gestures about such hateful. sick attitudes the person making such comments will, instantly, be blocked. No trial just straight to execution.' This blogger is getting too old for the whole 'try and reform them' malarkey, dear blog reader. Once upon a time, he may have been more tolerant towards arseholes but, these days. Keith Telly Topping does not have either the patience or the empathy - and, frankly, life's too short for that sort of bollocks. Now, it's going to be the nuclear option. And, frankly, good riddance, to bad rubbish. Needless to say the same rules also apply to any comments made to this blog. What actually caused this outburst of geet uppity righteous indignation from this blogger, was a really nasty 'Straight Pride' meme which one of Keith Telly Topping's - now extremely former - Facebook fiends posted. This indulged, not only in borderline homophobia in and of itself but was also, one of the clearest example of 'victim blaming' this blogger has seen in a jolly long time. It was horrible. Thing is, it was posted by a bloke that this blogger had known (not known, per se, but known online at least) for nearly a decade; there had never been even a hint previously that this chap held such repulsive, ignorant views otherwise this blogger wouldn't have spent five minutes in his (virtual) company, let alone a decade. It was the casualness of the post that made this blogger's skin crawl, followed by the utter astonishment from the poster that any 'right-thinking' person could possibly hold any other view on this subject than his. As this blogger told his own Facebook fiends in the aftermath, Keith Telly Topping is straight (he fancies girls, always have done - although getting any of them even vaguely interested in him has always been one of life's many challenges!) This blogger is a white, Working Class male in his mid-fifties, he belongs to no minority that he can think of (this blogger don't believe that us gingers count as a minority). This blogger is also, much to his own disappointment, frequently intolerant about many things in life, almost all of them related to crass stupidity and wilful arrogance. But, what he will not stand for, from anyone, is being made to feel as though he is somehow odd for loathing those who wish to make themselves into victims, part of an 'oppressed minority' when they're really not. If seeing people with differences so puts a chip on anyone's shoulder that they feel the need to justify their own 'normality' then, sod it, count this blogger among the 'abnormal' and bloody proud of it. Keith Telly Topping has said this before, dear blog reader, but it bears repeating; there are some good people in the world and there are some bad people. Most of us, this blogger suspects, are somewhere in between just trying to get through life as quietly as possible without too many others noticing our existence. And then, dear blog reader, there are some people who are just fucking scum. And Keith Telly Topping shall not be doing with them. Here endeth the lesson. Phew, getting all that off this blogger's chest felt really good. Have a jolly nice day, dear blog reader, and - as Bill and Ted said many, many times - be excellent to each other.