Monday, April 22, 2019


'When I was a child my brother would tell me a bedtime story. About the man who murdered our father.' The latest episode of Game Of Thrones, dear blog reader, was less of an episode in its own right but, rather, a beautifully reflective 'eve of the war' collection of sequences. And, it was gorgeous, so it was. Really proper terrific. There were moments of great pathos, great drama, some sexy bits and also more than a few moments of great humour - particularly when Liam Cunningham's usually very reliable Geordie accent suddenly went all weird and Aiden Gillen at one point for no obvious reason. That was funny. Reviews, opinion pieces, live bloggerisationisms and general over-the-top 'squeeing' can be righteously consumed at, well take yer pick - NBC, the Torygraph, the Den Of Geek! website, NME, the Gruniad Morning Star, the Huffington Post, Forbes, Harper's Bazaar, the Daily Scum Mail, the Independent, the Radio Times, the New York Times, the New York Post, the Boston Globe, Deadline, The Atlantic, IGN, Vanity Fair, the Sun, the Black Girl Nerds website, the Evening Standard, Rotten Tomatoes, Business Insider, The Verge, the Washington Post and, just about everywhere else on the Interweb. Simply type 'Game Of Thrones' into Google, dear blog reader and you'll find another three billion at least.
Maisie Williams has revealed that she believed Arya's allegedly 'controversial' scene in the latest Game Of Thrones episode was 'a prank.' The twenty two-year-old was interviewed by Entertainment Weekly immediately after the broadcast of an episode featuring her character's first bare-ass nekked scene featuring The Sex. She explained that she discovered Arya would be having The Sex with her old friend Gendry (Joe Dempsie) the night before the battle against The White Walkers from her friend and co-star Sophie Turner who had, Williams suggested, read the script quicker than her. But, this didn't stop Maisie from initially thinking that the scene was a trick being played on her by showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss who had, apparently, done something similar to Kit Harington in the first series. 'At first, I thought it was a prank,' she claimed. 'I was like, "Yo, good one." And [they were] like, "No, we haven't done that this year."' Williams said it was left up to her to decide exactly how bare-ass nekked she actually got on camera. Following the episode, some people you've never heard of on Twitter apparently expressed 'distaste' at the thought that Williams, who was twelve when the drama began, would have had to undress in front of crew members who have known her since she was in junior school. 'David and Dan were like: "You can show as much or as little as you want,"' Maisie said, adding: 'So I kept myself pretty private. I don't think it's important for Arya to flash. This beat isn't, really, about that.' Reflecting on what the scene means for her character, Williams continued: 'This is something she has stayed away from, an emotion we've never really seen her engage with. David and Dan were like, "It's the end of the world, what else would you have her do?" This may be is a moment where Arya accepts death tomorrow, which she never does. It's interesting to see Arya be a bit more human, speak more normally about things people are scared of.'
The latest episode of Game Of Thrones was uploaded to Amazon early due to an 'error,' the company has claimed. The person who 'erred' has, subsequently, had their knackers fed to The Hounds until they promised never to do it again. Some Amazon Prime members were able to watch the episode several hours before its scheduled release time. 'We regret that for a short time Amazon customers in Germany were able to access episode two of season eight of Game Of Thrones,' an Amazon spokesman weaselled. 'This was an error and has been rectified.' He added that a damned good hard slapping on the Jacob's Cream Crackers with a wet plimsoll was 'involved' in this 'rectification.' Probably. It was taken down soon after it was uploaded, but it was available long enough for 'many' fans to view the whole episode. And, to have a right good sneer about that on social media. As a result, screengrabs and plot details started appearing online before the official broadcast time. This is the second week in a row that Game Of Thrones has appeared online early. The previous week's series eight launch episode was made available to DirecTV Now customers four hours early. Writing in Forbes, Paul Tassi said: 'HBO has to be tearing their hair out that this keeps happening, but this show is so popular and there are so many of these markets to manage, it does almost seem inevitable that something will go wrong. At least we're not dealing with people flat-out stealing episodes like we saw in a breach a few years ago, but this is not great either.'
'Stand your ground!' The trailer for next week's episode, appears to show the popular adult fantasy drama's biggest ever massive fek-off fight, the Battle of Winterfell. The clip shows just about every major player in Westeros preparing for the tool-stiffeningly violent battle ahead. The Night King his very self, Vladimír Furdík, suggested the episode would be 'an historic moment' when interviewed last year. 'Almost the full episode will be about the battle, it will take about one hour,' he said. So, that should be good for a laugh.
'See, this is why you don't have any friends!' Elmo, seemingly, wants to bring peace to Westeros, dear blog reader. Well, good luck with that, mate. In a - very amusing - video released late last week, which emphasises the theme of respect, the Sesame Street favourite tries to encourage level-headed and friendly discourse between warring siblings Cersei and Tyrion Lannister. For those wondering if this is 'canon' or not ... this blogger reckons probably not. But, it is funny. It's worth it, in particularly, for Peter Dinklage's delightful facial expression at a mention of The Cookie Monster!
'I'll just masturbate onto this omelette then, shall I?' As previously noted, dear blog reader, this blogger does not intend to review any episodes of the second series of From The North favourite Killing Eve currently showing in the US until the episodes become widely available in Britain at a later date for fear of spoiling anyone who wishes not to be spoilerised. However, if you're not bothered about any such spoilerising malarkey then, reviews of series two, episode three are available at the Torygraph, for example. And, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Metro and IndieWire. Avoid all of those like The Plague, dear blog reader, if you want to remain unspoilerised. If you're wondering, Keith Telly Topping thought it was great. Though, again, that's not really a spoiler, per se, more of a universal constant.
'With respect, sir, I dispute the lawfulness of your order.' Sunday's fourth episode of Line Of Duty's current fifth series continued to punch regular viewers, hard, in the kisser with shocking - and stunning - twists and turns. Remember, for example, when writer Jed Mercurio killed off a major character half-way-through Bodyguard last year and many viewers suggested 'well, he'll never do that again!' Oh, do you bloody think so? The usual - fanboy and fangirlesque - reviews of the episode at the Gruniad, the Independent, the Torygraph, the Digital Spy website and the Radio Times are there if you want to go looking for them. Once again, if you haven't seen the episode and are worried about being all nastily spoilerised then you'd be well advised to not read any of the above. Just go and watch the episode instead, dear blog reader. Bit of a radical suggestion, this blogger is aware but, you'll probably feel better afterwards. Unlike John Corbett. Who won't.
'Remind me to talk to you about that full pardon!' One episode before its ultimate conclusion, From The North favourite Gotham pretty much tied up all of its various ongoing plotlines in a neat bundle with a bat-shaped bow on top and declared to the audience 'right, it's taken us ninety nine episodes to get this far, where we're going next, for one week only, it somewhere else entirely.' Being set at some indeterminate point in the future (ten year is the figure being widely bandied about on the Interweb) this means, for instance, that the Catwoman who appears in the finale will be played by someone other than From The North favourite Camren Bicondova. Despite that, the trailer for the finale does, undeniably, look great.
But, back to the penultimate episode, They Did What?, which was a rich and beautifully structured engine of destruction from the first moment. One that gave viewers a final, lingering look at the Batman: Year Zero aesthetic Gotham has mined so successful for five years. Reviews of the episode are available for you to be spoilerised by, dear blog reader, here, here, here and here.
Sean Pertwee, meanwhile, has been sharing some - decidedly out-of-character - on-set images from the finale online.
There was an interesting change of pace in this week's episode of From The North's current favourite TV show on the entire bloody planet, Doom Patrol. Hair Patrol combined an atypically mental dip into the Grant Morrison cavalcade of bizarre characters (in this particular case, The Beard Hunter) with a really touching and lyrical back-story for Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton). The storyline was also notable for teasing the forthcoming debut of another major Doom Patrol comic book character, Flex Mentallo. There are reviews of the episode for you to surf at your leisure, dear blog reader, here, here, here and here.
Meanwhile, the trailer for the next episode - Frances Patrol - promises more good work on the Rita front.
'Sometimes we know the role we're meant to play, sometimes we don't. I'm not sure which is better, to be honest.' The - for the most part uniformly splendid - second series of another From The North favourite, Star Trek: Discovery, came to an end this week. With an episode that, again, managed to tie up the majority of the series' running themes and send most of the regular cast off into a brave new (far) future. Favourable reviews of the episode - and, of the series as a whole - can be read here, here and here.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Star Trek: Discovery co-creator and co-showrunner Alex Kurtzman discussed the second series finale in some detail. He also removed any doubt as to where the show is headed: 'We are jumping nine hundred and fifty years into the future for season three,' he confirmed. Kurtzman talked about how the decision to jump the show into the Thirty Third Century frees them up: 'We love playing within canon. It's a delight and a privilege. It's fun to explore nooks and crannies of the universe that people haven't fully explored yet. That being said, we felt strongly that we wanted to give ourselves an entirely new energy for season three with a whole new set of problems. We're farther than any Trek show has ever gone. I also had experience working on the [JJ Abrams] films where we were stuck with canonical problems. We knew how Kirk had died and we wondered how we could put him in jeopardy to make it feel real. That's what led us to go with an alternate timeline; suddenly we could tell the story in a very unpredictable way. That's the same thought process that went into jumping nine hundred and fifty years into the future. We're now completely free of canon and we have a whole new universe to explore.' When asked if characters from other Star Trek series might show up, Kurtzman again noted the time jump puts the show far beyond where any man (or woman) has gone before: 'There will be canonical references to everything that has happened in the various shows; we're not erasing that. But we're so far past that point that all of that is a very distant memory. We're very excited to see how you put the elements of Star Trek in an entirely new universe.' No details were provided on what the crew of the Discovery will have to deal with in this far future, but he did indicate that it isn't going to be smooth sailing: 'All I can tell you is that Control is officially neutralised, but there will be much bigger problems when they get to the other side of that wormhole.' Kurtzman also talked about the expanding Star Trek universe which he oversees, including the buzz around a series set on Captain Pike's USS Enterprise, making it clear they are 'aware' of the clamouring fan-interest: 'The fans have been heard. Anything is possible in the world of Trek. I would love to bring back that crew more than anything. It was a huge risk for us. One of the most gratifying things is to see how deeply the fans have embraced Pike, Spock, Number One and The Enterprise. The idea of getting to tell more stories with them would be a delight for all of us.' The next show to launch will be the Picard series starring Sir Patrick Stewart. Earlier this week, CBS announced three more actors had joined the cast. Kurtzman gave an update on the status of the show: '[The Picard series is] going amazingly. We start shooting soon. It will be really different from Discovery in tone, pace and story. I'm so excited with how our cast came together. Hanelle Culpepper, our director, is absolutely crushing it. We're so excited because it's so different. Yet, I think people who like The Next Generation will recognise that it's made by people who love it equally. It will be really interesting to see how people respond.' The executive producer also briefly discussed the Section Thirty One series planned to go into production after the third series of Discovery: 'If you're a fan of Deep Space Nine, you've probably spent the past two years saying, "What the hell are they doing with Section Thirty One? That's nothing like the Section Thirty One we know." That's exactly right. In Deep Space Nine, they did not have badges or ships. They're an underground organisation. What you see on Discovery and our upcoming show with Michelle Yeoh is how Section Thirty One became that organisation and why it was so underground by the time Deep Space Nine comes around.' Kurtzman's co-showrunner Michelle Paradise discussed Such Sweet Sorrow with Entertainment Tonight, explaining the reasoning behind the solution to how to sync the show with established canon: 'Wrapping this story up and being clear that because of the danger that Control presented, because of the spore drive, because of this time-travelling technology ... for those reasons and to prevent any dangerous entities from trying to access these things again, we must nip it in the bud. The lying about it is a protection for Starfleet. That's the reason that they do it and it is also to make sure that if Section Thirty One has any designs on doing the next version of Control, that it can't get out of control - no pun intended - and create a similar problem in the future. It was about answering the season two story, eliminating the threat of Control so that we, as viewers, understand Control has been eliminated. The goal of this season was to take care of this problem and we have taken care of this problem successfully. And at the same time, that also puts us in line with canon. Those were the reasons that we did that.' The executive producer also provided some background on their approach to wrapping up the story arc relating to Spock and Burnham: 'We had done a lot of work on the Burnham and Spock relationship over the course of this season. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to start them in a place where they were fractured and that the journey of the season would be to bring them back together and heal the wounds between them. Of course, he has to go on the Enterprise at some point, so you bring their relationship to a satisfying conclusion where the hurts of the past have been healed and where they have been able to help, support and influence one another. We talked a lot about what Spock could give to Burnham and what Burnham could give to Spock. Over the course of the season, we see that play out in a number of different episodes, leading to this culmination where they share with one another the ways in which they're better and the ways in which they need one another and the ways in which they are okay knowing that she must go on to do this mission and he must return to the Enterprise. We were trying to find the best possible way to honour their sibling relationship and end them in a positive way.' Paradise also confirmed that when Michael Burnham was advising Spock to seek out his 'opposite,' the writers were alluding to a specific character Spock will encounter in the future: 'Absolutely. That is definitely Kirk.' As previously reported, production of the third series of Discovery is scheduled to begin in early July.
'Wars are coming, Shadow. I have a big role for you.' As with Game Of Thrones, there is, seemingly, a massive fek-off fight coming in From The North favourite American Gods forthcoming finale and the latest - penultimate - episode was full of similar reflective and sorrowful tones to this week's Game Of Thrones. This blogger has always been a right sucker for Mad Sweeney-centric episodes and, given that this one may be the last such episode for some time (if not, ever) then Keith Telly Topping, big surprise, thought it was great. A view which was, seemingly, shared in several reviewers of the episode whose views can be found here, here and here.
Now, dear blog reader, the first in a new semi-regular From The North feature, 'I Thought He Was Dead' and a - really rather good - guest-turn by the great (and, thankfully, not late) Richard Thomas (John-Boy Walton) in the latest episode of From The North favourite The Blacklist.
BBC Studios have announced the forthcoming release of Doctor Who's fourth series of adventures in a Blu-ray Steelbook. Series four marked the arrival of the award-winning actor Catherine Tate as The Doctor's new companion, Donna. The Doctor and Donna travelled back to Pompeii on the eve of the infamous eruption where people are slowly turning to stone, investigated a series of grisly murders with the help of Agatha Christie, journeyed to the home world of The Ood and came face-to-face with an old enemy. And John Barrowman. Series four saw the return of previous companions, Rose Tyler and Martha Jones plus an array of guest cast which included Sarah Lancashire, Felicity Kendal, Fenella Woolgar, Tim McInnerny, yer actual Peter Capaldi, Phil Davis and Tracey Childs. Bonus features exclusive to the release include episodes of Doctor Who Confidential, video diaries, commentaries, the - memorable - Children In Need mini-episode Time Crash (featuring Peter Davison co-starring with his son-in-law, David Tennant), plus trailers and deleted scenes. The steelbook is due to be released on 27 May and is available to pre-order in the UK from Amazon.
Congratulations are very much due to the Gruniad Morning Star's Ellen E Jones (no, me neither) for an article about Gruniad Morning Star arse-lick favourite Fleabag which is sure to draw gasps - gasps, please note - from Gruniad Morning Star readers as they read it over their quiche and/or muesli. Fleabag Is A Work Of Undeniable Genius. But It Is For Posh Girls is the article in question. Fleabag is, actually, neither of those things, but watching the heads of numerous Gruniad Morning Star readers explode at the very suggestion is, undeniably, vastly entertaining.
The BBC Proms will blast into hyperspace this summer, with a series of interstellar concerts marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landings. Alongside classics like Holst's The Planets, the season will include an SF Prom, featuring scores from films such as Gravity and Alien: Covenant. A CBeebies concert will take children on 'a journey to the Moon,' including a close encounter with the cast of Clangers. The season opens in July with a new piece inspired by the first Moon walk. Zosha Di Castri's Long Is The Journey, Short Is The Memory will be premiered on Friday 19 July, under the baton of Karina Canellakis - the first female conductor to oversee The First Night Of The Proms. Meanwhile, art-rock collective Public Service Broadcasting - a particular favourite of this blogger - will play their concept piece Race For Space in a special late night Prom. The record, which combines sparse electronic beats with archive audio recordings from the US-Soviet space race, will be presented in a new arrangement with the Multi-Story Orchestra. Running from 19 July to 14 September, the one hundred and twenty fifth Proms season will also see concerts from cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, West African singer Angélique Kidjo and American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who will be the featured soloist on the Last Night Of The Proms. Although the festival was planned as the Brexit deadline approached, Proms director David Pickard said there were 'almost no' plans put in place to ensure foreign musicians could play if Britain left the EU without a deal. 'To be fair, there were a couple of orchestras who raised the issue with us at the end of last year,' he told BBC News. 'But I think the music world is incredibly resilient. Most orchestras I've spoken to have said, "Well, there's probably going to be a lot of extra paperwork and there might be a few more costs, but we'll find a way of doing it somehow." And, what was the contingency plan we could have made? We were trying to second-guess the whole time what the implications would be - but not knowing what the future would hold, there was no contingency that would have been foolproof.' All of this year's concerts will be broadcast live on Radio 3 and twenty five of the shows will be screened on television. Tickets for each of the concerts start at six quid. The Proms will celebrate the two hundredth anniversary of Queen Victoria's birth by transporting her piano from the drawing room of Buckingham Palace for a one-night-only performance. The gilded instrument, painted with cherubs and monkeys, will deliver music by Victoria's favourite composer, Mendelssohn, as well as several songs composed by her husband, Prince Albert. When he's not pushing celebrated - and massively over-rated - miserablists Radiohead in new sonic directions, guitarist Jonny Greenwood has a sideline as an avant-garde composer - most notably on film soundtracks such as There Will Be Blood, Norwegian Wood and the Oscar-nominated Phantom Thread. He makes his Proms debut on 10 September, curating a programme which includes Steve Reich's hypnotic Pulse and Heinrich Biber's Passacaglia In G Minor. The concert culminates with the world premiere of Greenwood's Horror Vacui - which 'aims to simulate electronic sounds using sixty eight string instruments played acoustically.' After bringing Quincy Jones, Charles Mingus and grime to the Proms, conductor Jules Buckley has turned his attention to soul-jazz legend Nina Simone. Titled Mississippi Goddam, after Simone's powerful civil rights protest song, the evening's programme promises to 'explore her background and enduring influence' as a musician, a lyricist and an activist. The concert will feature Selma star Ledisi, amongst others, performing songs like 'I Put A Spell On You', 'My Baby Just Cares For Me' and 'Feeling Good'. Buckley is also in charge of a 'hip-hop Prom,' which will showcase scratch DJs, beatboxing and graffiti art. The singers from musical collective Solomon's Knot will perform four Bach cantatas from memory, without a conductor at a late-night Prom on 14 August. 'They're a young baroque group, who've just sprung up but have quite a big following,' said Pickard. 'Their concerts are incredibly communicative because they're either looking at you or they're looking at each other. It's hard to explain the dynamic but they're a very interesting group.' There is a strong environmental theme to this year's programme, with works such as Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, inspired by his walks in the Austrian countryside and Richard Strauss's Alpine Symphony, which depicts a day's climbing in the Bavarian Alps. The season will also feature the European premiere of In The Name Of The Earth, by Pulitzer Prize-winner John Luther Adams. Inspired by the landscapes of America and humanity's perilous relationship with nature, the work will be performed by eight choirs positioned around the Royal Albert Hall, immersing the audience in the music. Meanwhile, the Lost Words Prom takes its inspiration from Robert McFarlane and Jackie Morris's book, The Lost Words, which 'reclaims' words like 'acorn', 'adder' and 'bramble', after they were expunged from the Oxford Children's Dictionary in favour of modern terms such as 'broadband' and 'celebrity'. The family-focused concert will blend jazz, classical, beat-boxing and sound effects while McFarlane will update his lexicon of 'lost words' with 'a few new entries.'
An age-check scheme designed to stop under-eighteens from viewing pornographic websites will come into force on 15 July. From that date, affected sites will have to verify the age of UK visitors. If they fail to comply they will face being blocked by Interweb service providers. But, critics say that teens may find it 'relatively easy' to bypass the restriction or could simply turn to porn-hosting platforms not covered by The Law. Twitter, Reddit and image-sharing community Imgur, for example, will not be required to administer the scheme because they fall under an exception where more than a third of a site or app's content must be pornographic to qualify. Likewise, any platform which hosts pornography but does not do so on 'a commercial basis' - meaning it does not charge a fee or make money from adverts or other activity - will be unaffected. Furthermore, it will remain legal to use virtual private networks, which can make it seem like a UK-based computer is located elsewhere, to evade the age checks. The authorities have, however, acknowledged that age-verification is 'not a silver bullet' solution, but rather a means to make it 'less likely' that children stumble across unsuitable material online. 'The introduction of mandatory age-verification is a world-first and we've taken the time to balance privacy concerns with the need to protect children from inappropriate content,' claimed the Minister for Digital Margot James. 'We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online and these new laws will help us achieve this.' It had originally been proposed that pornographic services which refused to carry out age-checks could be fined up to two hundred and fifty thousand smackers. However, this power will not be enforced because ministers believe the threat to block 'defiant' sites will be 'sufficient' and that trying to chase overseas-based entities for payment 'would have been difficult.' No shit? However, the government has said that 'other measures' could follow. 'We know that pornography is available on some social media platforms and we expect those platforms to do a lot more to create a safer environment for children,' a spokesman for the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport told the BBC. 'If we do not see action then we do not rule out legislating in the future to force companies to take responsibility for protecting vulnerable users from the potentially harmful content that they host.' The age checks were originally proposed by the now defunct regulator Atvod in 2014 and were enacted into law as part of the the Digital Economy Act 2017. But their roll-out had been repeatedly delayed. UK-hosted pornographic video services already have to verify visitors' ages, as do online gambling platforms. The British Board of Film Classification - which gives movies their UK age certificates - will be responsible for regulating the effort. It will instruct Interweb providers which sites and apps to block for non-compliance. In addition, it can call on payment service providers to pull support and ask search engines and advertisers to 'shun' an offending business. The pornographic platforms themselves will have freedom to choose how to verify UK visitors' ages. But the BBFC has said that it will 'award solutions' which adopt 'robust' data-protection standards with a certificate, allowing them to display a green age verification symbol on their marketing materials to help consumers make an informed choice. One digital rights campaign group questioned the sense of this scheme being voluntary. 'Having some age verification that is good and other systems that are bad is unfair and a scammer's paradise - of the government's own making,' said Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group. 'Data leaks could be disastrous. And they will be the government's own fault.' Mindgeek, one of the adult industry's biggest players, has developed an online system of its own called AgeID, which it hopes will be widely adopted. It involves adults having to upload scans of their passports or driving licences, which are then verified by a third-party. It has said that all the information will be encrypted and that the AgeID system will not keep track of how each users' accounts are used. High street stores and newsagents will also sell separate age-verification cards to adults after carrying out face-to-face checks, according to the government. Dubbed 'porn passes' by the media, the idea is that users would type in a code imprinted on the cards into pornographic websites to gain access to their content. And then, have a right good wank just as they do now. The BBFC has said it will also create an online form for members of the public to 'flag non-compliant sites' - or, in other words, to snitch them up right good and proper like a filthy stinkin' Copper's Nark - once the new regulations come into effect. 'We want to make sure that when these new rules are implemented they are as effective as possible,' commented the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. 'To accomplish this, it is crucial the rules keep pace with the different ways that children are exposed to porn online.' The age checks form part of a wider effort by the UK's authorities to make the Interweb 'safer' to use for young people. Most recently, DCMS proposed the creation of a new regulator to tackle apps that contain content promoting self-harm and suicide, among other problems. In addition, the Information Commissioner's Office has proposed services stop using tools that encourage under-eighteens to share more personal data about themselves than they would do otherwise. The idea of the government keeping a database of verified porn viewers had sounded like a privacy and ethical nightmare. Luckily it has dodged that bullet. Despite the introduction of a new kitemark-like badge to identify 'cyber-security conscious systems,' there's still a concern that some will suffer data breaches causing people's 'adult interests' to be 'exposed.'
A British man hailed as a hero for helping to stop a global cyber-attack that was threatening the NHS has pleaded very guilty to US malware charges. Marcus Hutchins pleaded guilty to two charges related to writing malware - or malicious software - court documents show. Writing on his website, Hutchins said that he 'regretted' his actions and accepted 'full responsibility for my mistakes.' Hutchins has been held in the US since he was arrested by the FBI in 2017. 'As you may be aware, I've pleaded guilty to two charges related to writing malware in the years prior to my career in security,' he wrote on his website. 'I regret these actions and accept full responsibility for my mistakes. Having grown up, I've since been using the same skills that I misused several years ago for constructive purposes. I will continue to devote my time to keeping people safe from malware attacks.' Hutchins, from Ilfracombe, was credited with stopping the WannaCry malware which was threatening the NHS and other organisations in May 2017. But he was arrested by FBI agents two months later at Las Vegas's McCarran International Airport. He had been attending the Def Con conference - one of the world's biggest hacking and security gatherings.
This blogger's beloved (though unsellable) Newcastle United moved ten points clear of the relegation zone and up to twelfth place in the Premier League after an entertaining win over Southampton at St James' Park thanks to Ayoze Pérez's first hat-trick for the club. This blogger was already fairly certain that United were going to have a good day when, on Saturday morning, he spotted a tiding of Magpies (well ... two of them, anyway), looking for worms in the garden of Stately Telly Topping Manor. One for sorrow, two for joy and all that. Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws subsequent win at Cardiff City on Sunday meant that - with three games remaining - this blogger's bonny Magpies are now mathematically safe. Which was nice. Ralph Hasenhüttl's Saints survived a second-minute appeal for a penalty after Pierre-Emile Højbjerg appeared to handle in the area but, much to Rafa Benítez's chagrin, referee Anthony Taylor, waved away appeals. If Newcastle's manager was mildly irked about that, he must have been downright disgusted, appalled, shocked and stunned when James Ward-Prowse escaped with a yellow card after a horribly cynical and nasty body-check on a rapidly counter-attacking Miguel Almirón. Considering that Ward-Prowse was the only remaining marker between the Paraguayan and Angus Gunn's goal, everyone wearing black and white was convinced it was the denial of a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity and an automatic red card. Given that the bodycheck was so blatant it was arguably worthy of a dismissal in and of itself and there was a real sense of justice being done when Pérez scored two goals in quick succession to put Th' Toon in charge at the break. However, Southampton have also been playing well and they were transformed after half-time, substitute Mario Lemina coolly slotting on to halve The Magpies' lead. After Ki Sung-yueng hit the post for United and Angus Gunn pulled off an outstanding save from Isaac Hayden - and despite losing Almirón and Fabian Schär to injury - Pérez wrapped up the points for Benitez's side. The victory leaves Newcastle with forty one points from thirty four games. Pérez had scored four in his last seven homes games as well as the winner at Leicester last weekend and he continued his fine run of form with a superbly taken hat-trick. His first was a perfectly placed clipped shot, kissing the inside of the far post after Hayden had won the ball back in midfield. He followed that up two minutes later as his determination to meet Salomón Rondón's low cross ahead of Ryan Bertrand bought him a second goal. He completed his hat-trick with four minutes left, poaching a close range header after Matt Ritchie had bravely dived in to win a Southampton clearance. Pérez now has ten Premier League goals this season, the first Newcastle player to do so since Georginio Wijnaldum in 2016. Pérez's burgeoning confidence crowned a strong performance from Newcastle who, after a tenth place finish last season, are chasing down the top-half of the table once again.
Elsewhere, Sheikh Yer Man City returned to the top of the Premier League table on Saturday while Brighton & Hove Albinos inched further away from the relegation zone. Phil Foden's goal gave City victory over Stottingtot Hotshots in the early kick-off to send Pep Guardiola's side one point clear of title rivals Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws. Brighton ended a run of four successive defeats with an unsurprisingly unadventurous goalless draw at Wolves. It moved The Seagulls three points above eighteenth-placed Cardiff. Brighton had goalkeeper Mat Ryan - who played an impressive holding role behind the back ten - to thank for a string of fine saves at Molineux, where the draw meant hosts Wolves slipped to ninth place. Aleksandar Mitrović scored from the spot as already relegated Fulham won at Bournemouth - their first away win of a horrible season for The Cottagers - while Gerard Deulofeu netted twice as Watford saw off bottom side Huddersfield. The Terriers' defeat means that they have now lost fourteen home Premier League games this season, a joint record in the competition's history with Blunderland in 2002-03 and 2005-06. Harvey Barnes grabbed a point for Leicester in an entertaining two-two draw at West Hamsters United, after Lucas Perez had put the Hammers in front with ten minutes to go. Michail Antonio had headed in for the hosts in the first half, before Jamie Vardy's neat finish pulled The Foxes level. On Sunday, Everton gave The Scum a pants-down twanking at Goodison Park, a four-nil thrashing which saw in an incandescent, red-faced Gary Neville on Sky Sports using the words 'shameful,' 'rotten,' 'rancid' and 'embarrassing' in the same sentence and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer issuing a grovelling public apology to The Scum's supporters. So, that was funny. Later, Liverpool's two-nil win at Cardiff left Whinging Neil Wazzcock's Bluebirds mired deep in the relegation clarts. Crystal Palace continued their recent fine form with a three-two win up The Arse.
Incidentally, dear blog reader, this blogger - as he has made clear on many previous occasions on this blog - has what he believes to be a good understanding of the way in which the universe laws of karma can have a way of coming back and biting one, hard, on the arse in relation to football. Very much a case in point; at the start of this current season this blogger's beloved Newcastle had an appalling run of results which meant that, after ten games, they were rock bottom of the Premier League with but three points (gained from three goalless draws). The fact that six of those ten games had been against Sheikh Yer Man City, Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws, Stottingtot Hotshots, The Arse, The Scum and Moscow Chelski FC did not seem to factor into much ill-informed media and Interweb speculation relating to The Magpies' chances of hauling themselves clear of the drop zone. Rafa The Gaffer, at the time, noted that the Premier League is a marathon rather than a sprint but still, in those dark days of late September and early October 2018, one would have been hard-pressed to find many outside of the Greater Tyneside area who didn't have Th' Toon marked down as bankers for the drop. At the same time, this blogger was being bombarded by some, frankly, sneering posts from a - now extremely former - Facebook fiend who wanted to know what Rafa The Gaffer had been playing it at in selling Aleksandar Mitrović to the now former Facebook fiend's own team, Fulham. 'Mitro is our hero,' this individual crowed. 'We can't understand why you let him go.' Six months later and with Fulham about to return to the second tier with but six wins all season and a total of a mere thirty three goals scored (and seventy six conceded) the time is, perhaps, now appropriate to conclude that one man does not make a team. And, that if you're going to have a right sneer about how great your own side are at the expense of someone else, it is probably an idea to wait until towards the end of the season when you're mathematically safe before doing so. The actual reason that Mitrović was sold, of course, at least in part was because he had developed a nasty habit of getting himself suspended - usually for crass and violent off-the-ball incidents - at times when Newcastle could least afford to lose one of the few fit strikers they had available to them. Rafa, to be brutal, seem to feel he could not longer trust Mitrović. Subsequent events suggest he may well have been correct in that assessment.
As the grim spectacle unfolded in San Marino last month - a performance so utterly awful that even the captain Andy Robertson described it as 'rock bottom' - the Scotland fans, already bruised and battered from the calamity in Kazakhstan a few days earlier, started to crank up their anger, from good old fashioned booing to something more vitriolic. They went after the board of the Scottish FA, demanding, rather optimistically, that they all be fired. Mainly, though, their thunder was reserved for Alex McLeish, the beleaguered manager at the heart of another horror-show. 'You're getting sacked in the morning!' the fans hollered. In fact, it took a further twenty eight days before McLeish ultimately left his position. After twelve games in fourteen months featuring forty nine different players and an incalculable amount of negative comment, McLeish this week ifnally lost his job. At some point, soon, some of the same people who tried to appoint Michael O'Neill, whom they reportedly couldn't afford, before turning frantically to Walter Smith, whose patience they exhausted and who then gave the job to McLeish, will appoint a ninth Scotland manager of the millennium. It's fair to say that supporter faith in their judgment headed South a long time ago. Currently, it's residing somewhere in Antarctica. Poor performances did for McLeish, but there was more to it than that, more than mere losses which chipped away at his credibility. Controversial formations, mass player defections, odd pre and post-match comments - it all unravelled quickly. The be fair McLeish needed to be remarkable to win over the doubters from day one, the fans who never wanted him in the first place because he walked out on the Scotland job previously, because his recent track record in club management was poor, because he was seen as an unambitious and uninspired choice by a board - Alan McRae, the president, in particular - who seemed to be putting the appointment of an old pal ahead of the national interest. McLeish did not deserve to be left dangling in uncertainty for the past month - Scottish FA prevarication did him no favours - but there could only have been one sensible conclusion to this who fiasco. The last shred of faith in his ability to take the team forward - and to take advantage of the red carpet to Euro 2020 that is the Nations League - had run out. It was an unhappy fourteen months, pockmarked by bitterness, rancour and suspicion. Before his first game, at home to Costa Rica, McLeish said that he wanted his team to play with the kind of swagger they had in his first incarnation as Scotland manager. They were booed off after a one-nil defeat. In fairness to McLeish, he was never slow in giving players a chance, partly because he had no choice given all the call-offs he experienced. In that Costa Rica game, he gave debuts to Scott McKenna and Scott McTominay. Getting the Manchester United player on board might yet be seen as McLeish's biggest legacy. He won his second game, against Hungary, but then the grim decision-making of his employers conspired against him. An end-of-season trek to Peru and Mexico was needed like a firm kick to the knackers. Key players withdrew in rapid order. Against Peru, McLeish gave debuts to seven players - Lewis Stevenson, Lewis Morgan, Chris Cadden and Dylan McGeouch among them. They lost two-nil to a team readying itself for the World Cup. It finished one-nil against Mexico - another side finishing preparations for the party in Russia. Given the ridiculously trying circumstances, the results were actually quite credible, but they were damaging at the same time. Those two defeats added to the greyness around the Scotland squad. What McLeish could have done with next was a gimme, a handy friendly to boost the morale, not just of his players but of the support. He desperately needed to win them over. What he got was a game against Belgium - the third-best side in the world at the time - and a thumping four-nil loss at Hampden. Four defeats in five games and just one goal scored. Only twenty thousand punters turned up to watch. As was to be so often the case, McLeish didn't exactly help himself before that Belgium game when he said his team were 'good enough to go toe-to-toe' with Eden Hazard and co. Nobody believed him when he said it. It made him look silly when the World Cup semi-finalists, unsurprisingly, took his team to the cleaners whilst barely getting out of first gear. Only then - in September 2018 - did McLeish get his first competitive game, a Nations League tie at home to Albania which Scotland won two-nil. It was a decent performance albeit against a desperately poor side. Perhaps the most revealing thing that night, though, was the size of the crowd - fewer than eighteen thousand. 'I'm building a wall, not papering cracks,' McLeish said. Saying that was all very well so long as people can see the blocks being put in place. A month later, they collapsed to a two-one loss in Israel, a nation with a world ranking that was fifty five places below Scotland. McLeish lost John Souttar to a red card after an hour, but they were in all sorts of trouble even before he exited. The scoreline did not flatter Israel who had only on win in their previous ten games. The only teams they had beaten in their own stadium in four years were Liechtenstein and Andorra. Scotland, frankly, made them look like France. By now the ire of the fans was being directed at the Scottish FA as much as it was at McLeish. They flew the team to Israel the day before the game, then experienced a delayed flight which saw McLeish having to hold a training session at 10.30pm local time. The logistics off the field were almost as wretched as the performances on it. McLeish was getting pelted with flak for persisting with his three-five-two formation, a square-pegs-in-round-holes set-up which made the team looked utterly perplexed as to what they were supposed to be doing. In the aftermath of the Israel loss, a BBC Scotland poll asked if the defeat was the biggest embarrassment in the history of the national team - thirty eight per cent of responders said that it was. Those grey clouds had turned black when Portugal turned up in Glasgow and strolled to a three-one win with what was, effectively, a B-team. It was a sixth defeat in eight games for McLeish in front of a half-empty Hampden. Once more, McLeish was left defending the players who had cried off. Robert Snodgrass, Matt Ritchie, James McArthur and Tom Cairney - one hundred and twenty four appearances between them in the English Premier League this season - disappeared off the Scotland radar. If they did not want to play, why? If they did want to play, then where were they? There was brief respite when Scotland, inspired by James Forrest, won four-nil in Albania before beating Israel three-two at Hampden to top their Nations League group. Even then, though, it was not straightforward. Scotland played pretty well but, in the dying minutes, Allan McGregor had to make a magnificent save from a Tomer Hemed volley to secure the victory. Had Hemed scored, Scotland would have been out of the Nations League and the cries for McLeish to be out of his job would have been deafening. It was only postponing the inevitable. Scotland went to Kazakhstan without some important players, most notably Kieran Tierney, Robertson and Ryan Fraser. It was a footballing Armageddon. Kazakhstan were ranked one hundred and seventeenth in the FIFA rankings, but they were two-nil ahead inside ten minutes and added a third later. Once again a new historic low had been reached. McLeish incredulously claimed that Scotland had 'started the game brightly,' a jaw-dropping suggestion given that his team were two-down so early on. It was another bewildering comment in a long line of them. It provoked anger but then, anger gave way to indifference and apathy. The fans had simply had enough. San Marino was the point of no return, a hopelessly laboured win against the worst team in international football. It was a nervous and timid performance, another day that screamed of the need for a new direction. Now, it is over for McLeish, but having seen him as the solution when so many things told you he wasn't, there will be anxiety about who these people at Hampden come up with next.
Fleetwood Town manager - and arch nutter - Joey Barton says that he 'emphatically denies' allegations he assaulted Barnsley boss Daniel Stendel. Police are currently investigating an alleged tunnel altercation after Barnsley's League One win at Oakwell last Saturday. A man was subsequently arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence and racially aggravated assault. He was released on bail. Police did not name the individual involved and, frankly, most people were completely in the dark as this person's identity. Barnsley later complained to the Football Association and English Football League about the alleged incident. After the game, Barnsley player Cauley Woodrow claimed on Twitter that Stendel had been 'physically assaulted' and left with 'blood pouring from his face.' Woodrow later deleted the tweet. In a statement issued on Thursday, Barton said: 'With regards to the alleged incident on Saturday following our game against Barnsley, I emphatically deny the allegations made.' He said it would be 'inappropriate' to make any further comment at this time. The arrested man attended a police station on Wednesday and has been bailed until May. South Yorkshire Police have appealed for any witnesses with footage of the incident to come forward. They said: 'Officers investigating the incident would be keen to speak to anyone who may have caught the incident on camera or who may have mobile phone footage immediately before or after the incident occurred. We would ask members of the media and the public to refrain from speculation in relation to this incident, as it could potentially harm the investigation.'
Millions of punters are reportedly using 'easy-to-guess passwords' on sensitive accounts, a study has suggested. The analysis by the UK's National Cyber Security Centre found '123456' was the most widely-used password on breached accounts. The study helped to uncover the 'gaps in cyber-knowledge' which could leave people 'in danger of being exploited.' The NCSC said that people should string three random but memorable words together to use as a strong password. Much as this blogger does with 'moist', 'lugubrious' and 'floccinaucinihilipilification'. Oh ... did Keith Telly Topping just say that out loud? Forget those three words, dear blog reader. Please. For its first cyber-survey, the NCSC analysed public databases of breached accounts to see which words, phrases and strings people used. Top of the list was '123456', appearing in more than twenty three million passwords. The second-most popular string, '123456789', was not much harder to crack, while others in the top five included 'qwerty', 'password' and '1111111'. The most common name to be used in passwords was 'Ashley', followed by 'Michael', 'Daniel', 'Jessica' and 'Charlie'. When it comes to Premier League football teams in guessable passwords, 'Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws' are champions and 'Moscow Chelski FC' second. 'Blink-182' topped the charts of music acts. People who use well-known words or names for a password put themselves people at risk of being hacked, said Doctor Ian Levy, technical director of the NCSC. Whose own password, if you're wondering, is 'iknowwhatimtalkingabout01'. Probably. 'Nobody should protect sensitive data with something that can be guessed, like their first name, local football team or favourite band,' he said. The NCSC study also asked people about their security habits and fears. It found that forty two per cent of respondents 'expected to lose money' to online fraud and only fifteen per cent said they felt confident that they knew enough to protect themselves online. It found that 'fewer than half' of those questioned used a separate, hard-to-guess password for their main e-mail account. Security 'expert' Troy Hunt, who maintains a database of hacked account data, said that picking a good password was the 'single biggest control' people had over their online security. 'We typically haven't done a very good job of that either as individuals or as the organisations asking us to register with them,' he said. Letting people know which passwords were widely used should drive users to make better choices, he claimed. The survey was published ahead of the NCSC's Cyber UK conference that will be held in Glasgow from 24 to 25 April.
The US heiress Clare Bronfman has pleaded extremely guilty to her role in an alleged sex trafficking operation and now faces the prospect on a jolly lengthy stint in The Joint. Bronfman, the forty-year-old heir to the Seagram alcohol fortune, was accused of using more than one hundred million dollars to fund the suspected sex cult Nxivm. She pleaded guilty on two counts - conspiracy to conceal and harbour illegal immigrants for financial gain and fraudulent use of identification. She told the court in Brooklyn that she was 'truly remorseful. I wanted to do good in the world and help people,' she added. 'However, I have made mistakes.' Six people in total have been accused of being involved with Nxivm. Bronfman is the fifth to plead guilty, with just one defendant - the suspected cult leader Keith Raniere - due to go on trial next month. Bronfman will be sentenced on 25 July. She could face up to twenty five years in The Slammer. Nxivm is a group that started in 1998 as an alleged 'self-help programme' and claims that it has worked with 'more than sixteen thousand people,' including the former Smallville actress Allison Mack, who also pleaded very guilty to charges earlier this month and is also facing a shitload of jail. On its website, Nxivm describes itself as a 'community guided by humanitarian principles that seek to empower people and answer important questions about what it means to be human.' Despite its tagline of 'working to build a better world,' its leader, Raniere, stands accused of overseeing a 'slave and master' system within the group. According to the group's website, it has suspended enrolment and events because of the 'extraordinary circumstances facing the company at this time.' Prosecutors allege the group mirrors a pyramid scheme, in which members paid thousands of dollars for courses to rise within its ranks. Bronfman, a philanthropist and former showjumper, is the daughter of the late Canadian businessman Edgar Bronfman, whose net worth was estimated to be over two-and-a-half billion dollars. Bronfman was on Nxivm's executive board. The millions of dollars she was accused of giving to the group were thought to have been used to pay for fake identities and court summons against perceived enemies. Female recruits were also allegedly branded with Raniere's initials and expected to have The Sex with him, as part of the system. Appearing at a court in Brooklyn, Bronfman admitted 'knowingly harbouring a woman' brought to the US on a fake work visa in order to 'exploit her for labour.' As part of her plea, she agreed to forfeit six million bucks and not to appeal any prison sentence of twenty seven months or less. Raniere was arrested in Mexico last year on sex trafficking charges and is currently being held without bail. He has pleaded not guilty to charges against him. His defence team has argued that the alleged sexual relationships with women were consensual and say he has denied child abuse charges against him.
Three men have been arrested after a large fire took hold on moorland in West Yorkshire. Firefighters tackled flames covering twenty five thousand square miles on Ilkley Moor on Saturday, with helicopters making water drops. West Yorkshire Police said the men, aged nineteen, twenty three and twenty four, 'remain in custody for questioning' while inquiries continue. Bradford Council reiterated a warning for walkers to stay off the moors as crews were 'damping down.' A police spokesperson said that a smaller fire took hold on a different section of the moor on Saturday, with investigations under way to see if it is connected to the larger blaze. West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said the fire was in the White Wells area of the hillside, with smoke still clearly visible from the spa town below. Water jets, beaters and specialist wildfire units are being used in the aftermath, with police describing the blaze as 'under control.' Martin Langan, WYFRS incident commander, said: 'We've managed to die the flames down but there's a significant amount of smoke blowing into Ilkley.' The Met Office confirmed that Saturday was the hottest day of the year so far, with 25.5C recorded in Gosport, Hampshire. Forecasters have predicted the UK is set for 'record-breaking temperatures' over the rest of the Easter bank holiday.
Tesla has said it is investigating a video on Chinese social media which appears to show one of its vehicles spontaneously bursting into flames in Shanghai. In a statement, the carmaker said that it has 'sent a team to investigate the matter' and that there were 'no reported casualties.' The video - published on Twitter, if not anywhere more reliable - appeared to show a stationary car erupting into flames in a parking lot. Tesla did not confirm the car model but social media identified it as Model S. 'After learning about the incident in Shanghai, we immediately sent the team to the scene last night,' according to a translation of a Tesla statement posted on Chinese social media platform Weibo. 'We are actively contacting relevant departments and supporting the verification. According to current information, there are no casualties.' The video showed smoke rising from a parked, white vehicle and seconds later it bursts into flames. The alleged time stamp on the video allegedly shows the alleged incident allegedly occurring on Sunday evening. Previous incidents involving Tesla vehicles catching on fire seem to have happened while the cars were moving. In 2018, a Tesla car driven by British TV director Michael Morris burst into flames, following another such incident involving a Model S model in France in 2016. A series of fires involving Tesla Model S cars took place in 2013.
An Indian voter claimed that he chopped off his own index finger after realising he had voted for the 'wrong' political party. Pawan Kumar says he 'accidentally' ended up voting for the governing Bharatiya Janata Party, in a video which has gone viral on the Interweb. He wanted to vote for a regional party - but was, allegedly, 'confused' by the many symbols on the voting machine. Every voter's index finger is marked with indelible ink after they cast their ballot. He cast his vote on Thursday in Bulandshahr in the Northern state of Uttar Pradesh. This was the second phase of polling in the Indian general erection. 'I wanted to vote for the elephant, but I voted for the flower by mistake,' Kumar can be heard saying in the video. He was referring to the party symbols displayed on the voting machine next to the name of each candidate. While the BJP's symbol is a lotus, the elephant is the symbol of the Bahujan Samaj Party, a regional heavyweight that has allied with two other regional parties against the BJP. Party symbols play a big role in India's erections because they are easy to identify in a country where literacy is low in many parts. There are also numerous regional parties and alliances, which often confuse voters. Kumar is a Dalit (formerly known as The Untouchables) - a crucial vote bank for the BSP. Thursday's vote was seen as important for India's powerful regional parties, which dominate politics in their states and are fronted by charismatic local politicians. The erection is taking place over seven stages, with votes being counted on 23 May. There are nine hundred million eligible voters, making this the biggest election the world has ever seen.
Two students blamed for a large forest fire in the Italian region of Como have each been fined thirteen-and-a-half million Euros. The men, both aged twenty two, were barbecuing at a mountain forest home belonging to one of their grandfathers when the fire broke out on 30 December last year. The huge bill for the two students was calculated by local officials based on a formula used to determine the extent of damage caused by the fire. One of the students told Italian media they were 'scapegoats' for the blaze. Speaking to Italy's La Stampa newspaper, one of the university students claimed that he was 'deeply sorry' but suggested there were 'multiple sources' of the outbreak. 'We are the scapegoats of a fire that cannot be explained,' he said, adding: 'We are the real victims of this story. [We] immediately alerted the fire brigade and threw ourselves at the flames to try and put them out.' Prosecutors, however, were having none of it and traced the path of the fire back to the property. They said it had been started by embers from the barbecue, coupled with extremely dry conditions. The two men were found jointly responsible, along with the owner of the property. The fire lasted for several days, destroying some one thousand hectares of forest on Monte Berlinghera - the damage caused to some one hundred hectares was said to be 'irreversible.' The fine of thirteen million five hundred and forty two thousand Euros was calculated by forest police based on 'an established formula under local laws.' La Stampa reports that the regulation calls for a fine of one hundred and eighteen to five hundred and ninety three Euros per square metre. The damage the two men were liable for was calculated at some six thousand eight hundred and forty square metres, the newspaper said. A lawyer for one of the students told the newspaper that any sentence should be meaningful and have a point. 'What is the sense to impose an administrative sanction ... already knowing that the two boys, still students, cannot pay it?' she wondered. However, the prosecutor told local news outlet Il Giorno Como that the fine was 'a signal that we need to push people to greater responsibility in protecting the environment.' Italian media reports also suggest that the pair could be held liable in separate actions by property owners who were affected by the fire.
Notre-Dame's smallest residents have survived the devastating fire which destroyed most of the cathedral's roof and toppled its famous spire. Some two hundred thousand bees living in hives on the roof were initially thought to have perished in the blaze. However Nicolas Géant, the cathedral's beekeeper, has confirmed that the bees are alive and buzzing. Géant has looked after the cathedral's three beehives since 2013, when they were installed. That was part of an initiative to boost bee numbers across Paris. The hives sit on top of the sacristy by Notre-Dame's South side, around thirty metres below the main roof. As a result, Géant says they 'remained untouched' by the flames. European bees - unlike other species - stay by their hive after sensing danger, gorging on honey and working to protect their queen. High temperatures would have posed the biggest risk, but Géant explained that any smoke would have simply 'intoxicated' them. 'Instead of killing them, the carbon dioxide makes them drunk, puts them to sleep,' he told AP. Beekeepers commonly use smoke to sedate the insects and gain access to their hive. 'I was incredibly sad about Notre-Dame because it's such a beautiful building,' Géant said in an interview with CNN. 'But to hear there is life when it comes to the bees, that's just wonderful. Thank goodness the flames didn't touch them,' he added. 'It's a miracle!' Or, you know, proof that bees can fly.
It is always a very odd thing, dear blog reader, seeing somewhere that you've previously been to featuring on an international news story - particularly one involved a tragedy. This blogger visited Notre-Dame on a trip to Paris is 1999; that, in and of itself, isn't at all unusual - Keith Telly Topping imagined about half-of-the-population of Western Europe can make a similar claim. But, that horrible bus crash near Caniço in Madeira which was all over the news earlier this week which has left about thirty passengers dead occurred not a couple of hundred yards from the hotel that this blogger stayed in with his mum during a holiday in 2003. This photo - which this blogger took during the holiday - was, this blogger believes, taken no more than a few feet from where the bus would have gone off the road. It was a very strange experience seeing the television pictures and thinking, 'I've been there.'
Back in print for the first time in a decade, dear blog reader, is something that yer actual Keith Telly Topping is really quite proud to have his name attached to. The Complete Slayer has recently been republished by those lovely chaps at Telos Publishing (Hi David! Hi Stephen!) and is very available for order. Six hundred and fifty pages of meaty Sunnydale goodness and with a geet sexy new preface. Go on, dear blog reader, you know you want to.
This blogger would also like to wish all dear blog readers a jolly happy Saint George's Day on Tuesday of this week. And, a jolly happy Saint Ringo's Day on Wednesday too ...
And, finally dear blog reader ...