Friday, 14 August 2009

Peter McDonough

Catholic priest quits church after announcing he is a father.
Father Peter McDonough, a Roman Catholic priest, has quit the Catholic Church after confessing from the pulpit that he has a four-year-old son.
Father McDonough, 54, announced the news during Sunday mass at St Patricks RC Church in Collyhurst, Manchester.
He asked parishioners to sit down before breaking the news. He then announced that he would be stepping down from his role as a priest.
Father McDonough, who had been at St Josephs for 27 years, reached his decision to resign after having several meetings with his bishop, the Rt Rev Terence Brain.
However, church authorities insist that it was very much his decision.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

A Woman Named Only As Carole

French ban Muslim woman from pool for wearing 'burkini' swimsuit.

A French woman who converted to Islam has been banned from wearing a "burkini" in a swimming pool outside Paris.
The woman, named only as Carole, 35, was told that the garment, a swimsuit that covers most of the body, was "inappropriate" clothing for a public baths.
Pool staff said her three-piece Islamic swimsuit she bought in Dubai - consisting of a headscarf, tunic and trousers - was against pool regulations and unhygienic.
The ban was imposed as President Nicolas Sarkozy's government is considering an outright ban on all Islamic dress, such as the head-to-toe burka or niqab, that it considers a "sign of subservience" and "not welcome" in France.
I giggled when I read this and thought "whatever next", but actually I think, when in Rome do as the Romans do as they say. If you want to behave oddly do it at home!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Anthony Browne

New Children's Laureate launches campaign to get children drawing.

Anthony Browne is concerned that the pressure of national curriculum tests means priority is given to reading rather than drawing.
He believes that the two should be prized in equal measure and any failure to promote art could lead to a shortage of talented artists in later years. He has called for a day to be set aside each year for children to indulge their artistic side.

Well, bravo, that can be no bad thing, but why only once a year? At least once a term, please!

The day Michael Jackson died I spent hours trawling the internet for the face of Michael as I shall remember him. I couldn't find a photo to my liking! I got soooo frustrated, not least because of time wasted, and I haven't looked at the news, with a view to drawing, since. Until today. I set myself a task, so no excuses from now on.
Not so good with the likeness today, but, hey, I'm out of practise.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Gary McKinnon

BETRAYED: Spineless Labour MPs who backed Asperger's victim's bid to beat extradition desert him.

Labour MPs were accused of hypocrisy last night after abandoning Gary McKinnon in his fight against extradition to the U.S.
Dozens had previously given written pledges of their support to the Asperger's Syndrome sufferer.
But only eight stuck to their guns and joined the Tories and Liberal Democrats in voting against the Government.

During a highly-charged debate, a floundering Home Secretary Alan Johnson faced criticism from all sides over the decision to let Mr McKinnon be taken to the U.S. for trial on charges of computer hacking, where he faces a sentence of up to 60 years.
When it came to a vote, however, 74 Labour MPs who had previously signed Commons motions backing Mr McKinnon or demanding a review of extradition agreements with the U.S. failed to go against the party line. Fifty-nine voted with the Government and 15 abstained.
Tory justice spokesman David Burrowes, Mr McKinnon's MP in Enfield Southgate, said: 'It's a sad day for Parliament.
'There's rank hypocrisy on the part of MPs who on the one hand express concern for Gary and about the extradition treaty but on the other hand are not willing to put their money where their mouth is.'
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: 'It's exactly this kind of behaviour that brings Parliament into disrepute.'
Can't say I am surprised! Hypocrisy is one thing that gets the steam coming out my ears. Say what you mean and mean what you say, then we all know where we are.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Edward Hogan

Leicester Square placard holder Edward Hogan becomes literary prize winner.

Edward Hogan, a writer who used to make a living holding a placard in Leicester Square, has won a £10,000 literary prize.

Mr Hogan won the Desmond Elliott Prize for his novel Blackmoor, set in his native Derbyshire during the miners' strike.
The judges of the prize for first novels, now in its second year, said the work was "beautifully crafted and dazzlingly well- written".
The novel tells the story of a birdwatching teenager living a difficult life near a mysterious vanished village in Derbyshire – Blackmoor – and his search for the truth about his mother's life and death there.
Hogan, originally from Derby, who lists his former occupations as "grass-strimmer, pot-washer, conservatory salesman, bloke holding the board in Leicester Square and teacher", started the book seven years ago with no thought of having it published.
"I was four when (the strikes) happened, in West Hallam," he said.
"I couldn't really remember it but to me it seemed like such an integral part of the community."
Candida Lycett Green, chairwoman of the judges, said: "In a shortlist of exceptional quality Blackmoor stands out.
"For a first novel it is both beautifully crafted and dazzlingly well-written. We are delighted that Edward Hogan has won the second Desmond Elliott Prize."
Congratulations, Edward! I wish you continued success.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Grayson Wynne

Boy, nine, survives wilderness thanks to tips from Bear Grylls.

A boy of nine lost alone in the wilderness for 24 hours survived using tips learned from Bear Grylls.
Grayson Wynne knew he had to find a shelter for the night, conserve his energy and if possible leave clues for searchers, thanks to watching the British adventurer’s TV show.
He ripped up his yellow jacket and tied the pieces to trees just as he had seen on Man vs Wild, the U.S. version of Grylls’s survival programme.

Rescuers followed the markers and Grayson, who went missing when he wandered off on a family camping trip, was spotted by park rangers scouring the million-acre Ashley National Forest in Utah.
His first words when reunited with his parents Kynan and Kimberley were ‘Happy Father’s Day’.
‘I was really scared,’ he added. ‘But Man vs Wild tells you how to survive all different terrains.’
His father added: 'The thing that he recognised from the show, regardless of the circumstances you're in, you are capable of surviving.'
Oh, I do like a happy ending! Well done, Grayson.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Sophie Frost

Saved by my iPod: Girl survives lightning strike after dangling headphones divert 300,000 volts.

A teenage girl who was struck by lightning may have been saved by her iPod, it emerged today.
Sophie Frost and boyfriend Mason Billington, both 14, were sheltering beneath a tree in a storm when the 300,000-volt bolt hit her iPod, knocking them out.
But since her headphones were hanging from her school uniform - and not in her ears - the wires diverted some of the current away from her body, avoiding vital organs.
The effect of the strike was also reduced because she was holding hands with Mason at the time, splitting the shock between them.
Sophie escaped with minor burns while Mason, who recovered first and heroically carried her to safety, received eye damage which doctors hope will not be permanent.

Lucky girl, I wish Sophie a speedy recovery. Mason, too.

But maybe she wouldn't have been struck by lightning at all if she hadn't had the iPod!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Elizabeth Tevenan

Tragedy of the Catholic mother who suffocated her newborn baby out of shame.

A devout Roman Catholic who had not known she was pregnant killed her son within moments of giving birth alone.
Elizabeth Tevenan then bled to death after she was found by her mother in the bathroom of their home, an inquest heard yesterday.
The 30-year-old had been taking painkillers for acute back pain and had even looked on the NHS Direct website for information about ulcers and stomach cancer two days before she gave birth on November 13 last year.

Miss Tevenan's mother Bridget discovered her haemorrhaging in the bathroom of their home in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, and called an ambulance.
The child's body was discovered beneath towels and a dressing gown an hour later by police officers who were alerted by doctors who had examined Miss Tevenan.
The inquest was told that she stuffed toilet tissue into her baby's mouth and pinched his nose to stop him breathing. Miss Tevenan's mother told the inquest that she had raised her daughter strictly within the Roman Catholic faith.
'She never spoke to me about sex. She was brought up with strict guidelines,' her statement to the inquest said.
Work colleague Debbie Jones told the inquest that Miss Tevenan had said she could 'never tell her father' if she became pregnant.
Dr James Lucas, a paediatric pathologist at Warwick Hospital where the baby and his mother were taken, told the inquest that he had been delivered at 37 weeks or more into the pregnancy.
'The baby was live born with expanded lungs but would only have taken a few breaths before death occurred,' he said.
Miss Tevenan, an office worker, was confirmed dead on arrival at Warwick Hospital. She had died of blood loss as a result of haemorrhaging.
The baby, who was given the name Nicholas Patrick, had weighed 6lb 13oz. His father, Noel Bannister, who lives in Cambridgeshire, was traced by police through DNA samples.
Mrs Tevenan, 58, and her 70-year-old husband Patrick did not attend the inquest at Warwickshire Coroner's Court in Leamington Spa.

Coroner Sean McGovern recorded that Miss Tevenan had died of natural causes but said she had unlawfully killed her son.
'I am entirely satisfied that Elizabeth was unaware of her pregnancy,' he said. 'If she had been aware of this when her waters broke, earlier medical intervention could have prevented her death.
'I am satisfied that her baby was born alive but the deliberate pushing of tissue paper into his throat caused asphyxia.'
He concluded that Elizabeth unlawfully killed her baby 'in a state of panic'.

Tragic, awful and so sad.

How often do we see religious brainwashing overcoming common sense? Banish religion, I say, it is the cause of all that is wrong with the world.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Fred Bowers

Break dancing Britain's Got Talent pensioner Fred Bowers has benefits cut.

Mr Bowers, 73, amazed the show's judges and millions of viewers with his body-popping displays, which included spinning on his head.
But the Department for Work and Pensions was less impressed – because he was still claiming £50 a month in Motability allowance.
Now the money, which was used to pay for his car, has been stopped after officials decided he no longer qualified for the payouts.
They launched an investigation into Mr Bowers, of Sutton Bonnington, near Loughborough, Leicester, who claims he has a bad leg, after a tip-off.
He could also be stripped of his £70 a week disability benefit, which is still being reviewed following his appearance on the show.
But the ex-soldier has remained defiant after revealing his star turn has secured him bookings for almost every day of the week.
Well, I guess Fred found out that you can't have your cake and eat it. On the face of it , if he is able to breakdance, then he shouldn't be claiming disability benefit, but who knows what his disability is? I have noticed that in this counrty, the more you do for yourself, the more you are penalised! Especially if you are not a member of any ethnic minority.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Fata Lemes

£3,000 for Muslim cocktail waitress who had to work in 'sexy' dress (but who didn't mind appearing on Facebook wearing a skimpy top).

A Muslim cocktail waitress who quit after refusing to wear a ‘sexy’ dress has won almost £3,000 in compensation for sexual harassment.
A tribunal accepted that Fata Lemes genuinely believed that the short, lowcut red dress was ‘disgusting’ and made her look ‘like a prostitute’.
Miss Lemes told London Central Employment Tribunal that she ‘might as well be naked’ in the dress, adding: ‘I was brought up a Muslim and am not used to wearing sexually attractive clothes.’
However, a photo on the Facebook social networking site shows her wearing a lowcut T-shirt.
She was awarded £2,919.95 for hurt feelings and loss of earnings. It is not known whether the panel saw the Facebook photo before making their judgment. The tribunal panel ruled that bosses at Rocket bar and restaurant in Mayfair should have made allowance for her feelings and their insistence that she wear the dress amounted to sexual harassment.
The sheer nerve of some folk never fails to astound me! I give the Tribunal bods the benefit of the doubt and believe that they had no knowledge of her Facebook activities. I'll bet they feel they have been taken for mugs today!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Andy Murray

Andy Murray makes history by becoming first Brit to win at Queen's in 71 years.

Murray became the first Briton in 71 years to triumph at Queen's, with a straight sets victory over American James Blake, 29.
Having won 7-5, 6-4, he rushed over to the sidelines to plant a big kiss on his mother Judy, who was there to cheer him on alongside his girlfriend Kim Sears.
The 22-year-old Scot has always found the weight of the nation's Wimbledon dreams a heavy burden to bear. Now expectations are even higher that he will be the first British champion since Fred Perry, 73 years ago.

Tougher and more focused, he has come a long way from the big-haired teenager from Dunblane who won his first Tour singles match at Queen's four years ago.
He is determined to do better than last year's Wimbledon when he was knocked out in the quarter-finals by Rafael Nadal. Murray has never had a better chance before this year.

Well done, Andy! An item of news to uplift the spirit, among the gloom and doom, despair and destruction. I'm not much interested in sport, but if Britain does well, I certainly cheer.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Ben Gardner

Boy, 10, charged full price at restaurant after waiter measured him and said he was too tall for children's menu.

A boy of ten charged full price for a buffet after he was measured by restaurant staff who said he was too tall to qualify for the children's menu.
Ben Gardner tucked into the all-you-can eat Chinese buffet at a discounted rate of £5.
But after the meal, staff charged his parents the full £10 adult price.
When they questioned the bill, waiters said they had measured the 4ft 11ins boy earlier, while he had been up at the counter filling up his plate, and that he was 9cm over the 140cm height limit.

The world is crazy! I know rules are rules, but whatever happened to common sense!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Jacqui Smith

Cabinet Meltdown as Jacqui Smith Heads Resignations.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, dealt the most serious blow to the Prime Minister’s authority. It emerged that she will step down from the Cabinet when Mr Brown reshuffles his team after what Labour fears will be its worst performance at the polls for a generation.
She had been under pressure for weeks over expences claims made by her husband on her behalf, including for two pornographic films. However, the public disclosure of her departure before tomorrow’s elections threw Mr Brown’s reshuffle off course.

On a tumultuous and chaotic day at Downing Street, it was also announced that Beverley Hughes would move aside from her job as Children’s Minister and not stand at the next election and that Tom Watson, the Cabinet Office Minister and key ally of Mr Brown, would leave the Government.
With speculation intensifying that Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, will become the most high-profile victim of the reshuffle, and that David Miliband might also be replaced as Foreign Secretary, it raised the prospect that the three great offices of state could change hands.

At time too! Although where I come from fraud, stealing, means instant dismissal! I shall say no more. except I have little interest in the shenanigans of politics or politicians, as is evident in todays awful drawing. Sorry.

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin: Those Who Suffer Love at the White Cube is a marking-time exhibition unlikely to seriously enhance or diminish Emin's reputation.
Tracey Emin's new show is the artistic equivalent of snipping the legs off an unfaithful lover's suits. While Britain's best-known woman artist is apparently comfortably ensconced in a relationship, a sense of traumatic break-up resounds through this exhibition, Emin projecting her feelings onto White Cube's pristine walls in terms strident one moment, forlorn the next.
"Christ I just wanted you to ---- me and then I became greedy, I wanted you to love me," screams a mass of neon handwriting. "You said I was beautiful," bleats a small scrap of hand-stitched calico.

If I was the object of these powerful affections I'd be hiding in a dark corner. For while Emin may intend this work as a general, even universal statement on the pain and vulnerability that come with love, you can never seperate what Emin the artist thinks she is saying from what Emin the woman is doing and feeling. You're left in no doubt that this is Emin herself speaking, from the heart.
A sense of isolation runs through this exhibition, finding an outlet in a frenzy of onanism, a theme graphically explored in a large embroidery, a series of monoprints and a computer animation. Yet the raunchiness and apparent edge of such images – not to mention the crowds of celebrities jamming this exhibition's private view – shouldn't blind us to the fact that far from being 'one of Britain's most influential artists', as her PR material proclaims, Emin is a kind of Susan Boyle of art, an idiot savant outsider who represents no one but herself. But that doesn't mean she isn't an interesting, even a good artist.
I like Tracey Emin, although personally, I have never appreciated her need to bare her soul and regale us with all the intimacies of her life, in her art. Each to their own, I guess.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Julian Smith

Julian Smith plays sax with soul, really tugs at the heartstrings, and I wanted him to win Britains Got Talent! I consoled myself with a drawing.
I've not got back into the swing of a face a day yet, sorry, hopefully I will soon.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

D-Day snub to Queen: Palace fury as Sarkozy refuses to invite royals to 65th Anniversary.
The Queen and other senior royals have been 'snubbed' by the French over D-Day commemorations
Buckingham Palace voiced anger last night after the French snubbed the Queen over next week's D-Day commemorations.
Aides said senior royals had repeatedly made clear their eagerness to support the historic 65th anniversary events in Normandy.
But last night French officials crushed any remaining hopes, admitting they had never had any plans to invite members of the British Royal Family.
They said President Nicolas Sarkozy was focused on the 'main event' of hosting U.S. President Barack Obama.
There was also anger at the British Government for failing to secure a Royal invitation from their French counterparts. Protocol means they cannot simply invite themselves.
The failure to invite the Queen - who is head of state of both Britain and Canada - will be seen as an insult to the memory of the 17,556 British and 5,316 Canadian troops who died to free France and are buried there.
The figure does not include many airmen and sailors whose bodies were never found.
Ministers had refused even to treat the 65th anniversary as a major event until shamed into a U-turn by a Daily Mail campaign earlier this year.
Senior Buckingham Palace sources made no attempt to hide their frustration. One said: 'We have made it very clear from the start we were keen to support the Normandy veterans in any way we could. No-one is keener to honour their sacrifice.
'There have been several conversations with the Foreign Office but no invitation has been forthcoming.
'We have gone through all the normal channels and had conversation after conversation, but received no feedback. It is very frustrating.'
President Sarkozy's officials were dismissive of the whole issue.

Something new for me, scribble drawing, in ink, inspired by Aliaena, a brilliant, exciting artist who has just begun blogging. Go see for yourself, because I love her work, but you have to make up your own mind. I did it this way today because I have to stop fiddling. I found it totally liberating, firstly, to make marks, lots of them, with little thought, and, second, to be unable to erase. Beginners luck, maybe, but it isn't a bad likeness, either!
Thank for your visit. Happy painting!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Tustin Mains

Boy, 6, Takes Wheel After Dad Passes Out.

A six-year-old boy grabbed the wheel of his family's pick-up truck and stopped it from crashing after his father became unconscious in the driver's seat.

Tustin Mains told police in North Platte, Nebraska, he was in the back seat with his three-year-old brother when their dad Phillip slumped over at the wheel.
He had been driving the family home from a restaurant when he suffered a low blood sugar attack and suddenly passed out.
Brave Tustin leapt into his father's lap to steer the Chevrolet Avalanche for several blocks, even turning around when he entered an area he did not recognise.
Although Mr Mains' foot had slipped off the accelerator, the vehicle continued to travel at 10-15mph with the boy at the wheel until it was spotted by police.
North Platte officer Roger Freeze ran up to the moving truck, reached through an open window and slipped the gearstick into neutral before rolling it into a park.

Bravo, Tustin! I love stories like this, much preferable to the interminable saga of the goverments' fraudulent expences, here in England!

I see I have made Tustin look older and I vow to leave a drawing for an hour, then take another look, before I post. I'm always in such a hurry.

Also, apologies for missing yesterday. I FORGOT to draw. In my defence, I was unpacking boxes and moving furniture, which has to be done!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Sir Ranulph Fiennes

Sir Ranulph Fiennes has reached the summit of Everest on his third attempt at conquering the Himalayan giant.

Arriving at the summit just before 1am BST, the veteran explorer became the first man to cross the north and south poles and climb the world's highest peak.
At 65, he also becomes the oldest Briton and the first British pensioner to climb Everest.
The record-breaking adventurer, who hopes to raise £3 million for cancer charity Marie Curie, had a triple heart bypass in 2003 following a heart attack.
Well done, Sir Ranulph! I love that trait in folk where they don't give up. Some call it stubborn, but I think nothing would ever be achieved if we didn't keep trying. Whatever the goal!
Happy painting, thanks for your visit.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Saint Fabiola

A gem of a one-woman show.
Francis Alÿs: Fabiola / National Portrait Gallery, London WC2

Francis Alÿs's images of a 4th-century saint raise tantalising questions about the power of the portrait.

It would be hard to imagine a more startling show of portraits than the 300 heads now assembled, with barely an inch between them, in Fabiola at the National Portrait Gallery. The spectacle is overwhelming. It is not just the critical mass of so many faces, floor to ceiling, nor the fact that some of these works might not ordinarily be found in a public gallery. It is that they all show exactly the same woman.

The same woman, what is more, in exactly the same pose: facing right, her head in profile, hooded in a red veil against a dark background. That she is a cult figure is obvious, even to those who have no idea who she is; that the cult is religious becomes apparent from the veil. But beyond that, what strikes over and again is the paradoxical sense that no matter how alike these images are - how alike they aim to look - each is tellingly different.

To read the whole review, go here.
I find Karin Juricks' DSFDF blog endlesly fascinating, so this review had an immediate pull for me. Overwhelming, yes, I would agree, and somehow ....... very weird. Anyway, here, I add my version of Saint Fabiola. Not the best drawing I have ever done, I feel, but I was in such a hurry to post something! It is good to be back.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Simon Thurley

Heritage TV or a restoration comedy?
As English Heritage opens its doors to the camera crews, chief executive Simon Thurley defends his decision. Simon Thurley, the confident, energetic chief executive of English Heritage, may rue the day that he invited a documentary crew to poke around behind the scenes. His plan was to generate more sympathy for English Heritage in its nigh-impossible task of conserving the nation's ruins and historical sites. But his bright idea is in danger of turning into a public relations disaster.
The four-part series, which begins next week, focuses on some of English Heritage's biggest current projects: the £7 million purchase and restoration of Apethorpe Hall, James I's hunting lodge in Northamptonshire; the refurbishment of Park Hill, a modernist concrete housing estate/eyesore outside Sheffield; and the restoration of London's King's Cross station. Those projects all raise questions about whether English Heritage, in its nit-picky way, is spending, or forcing others to spend, money wisely – a subject close to the heart of many exasperated owners of historic houses.

I have linked to the story in the heading, if you want to read it all, as it was far too long to post in it's entirety.

This grabbed my attention because the subject of the first programme, airing on Friday, is where I lived when I was 18-20. Apethorpe Hall is the finest example of a Jacobean country house and, sadly, I was completely unaware of that and appreciated my surroundings not a jot! The authorities didn't appreciate what they had either, as it was being used as a young offenders rehabilitation centre at the time. My father taught bricklaying to the boys, which is how I came to live there, not, as you may have thought, as a member of the landed gentry! I often wish I could go back, and take more notice. Needless to say, I am very glad that it is now getting the attention it deserves, although I would prefer that English Heritage could hold on to it for everyone to enjoy, instead of hoping for a private sale.

I have been without the internet for a few very frustrating days, hence my absence. It was good in a way, because I made good progress with packing up the house. We have confirmation of moving day...Friday 24th April, which means I probably won't get to see this programme. Can't have everything.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Christine Fuchs

Artists start repainting faded Berlin Wall murals.

German artist Christine Fuchs renews her painting "She's black" from 1990 at the Berlin wall after a concrete-redevelopment April 14, 2009.

A 1,300 metre (4,265 ft) stretch of wall, the world's longest open-air art gallery, was decorated by 118 artists from 21 countries in 1990, but has since been damaged by the weather, exhaust fumes, vandals, and souvenir-seeking tourists.
The restoration work is expected to be completed in time for the 20-year anniversary in November of the fall of the wall which once divided communist East Berlin from capitalist west Berlin.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Phil Spector

Guilty of murder: Music legend Phil Spector faces life for shooting struggling B-movie actress.
Phil Spector was convicted of murder last night after years of getting away with brandishing guns during drunken attacks on defenceless women.
The guilty verdict came six years after the music producer shot B-movie actress Lana Clarkson in the mouth in the foyer of his sprawling California mansion.
It took two trials lasting more than ten and a half months, with the first jury failing to agree a verdict.
I'll not comment, except to say that we all know murder is BAD, and if you do anything at all that is bad, you have to take the consequences.
Time to review this blog. I had intended for it to be fun, but the news is NO fun, and I do not have the time to trawl through and find the more lighthearted articles. So I am having a re-think about that. I would still like to draw a face every day, though.
I have noticed, usually as soon as I post, that there is always something a little skewiff. The trouble with faces is that if you have the slightest deviation, hey, it's a completely different person! And I think that proves I need this excercise. So less haste, more care is in order. Having said that, my aim is also to be looser in my interpretations, as my biggest problem when painting portraits is my inclination to fiddle with every single detail.
Thanks for visiting, don't forget to comment!

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Ellie Challis

The baby blade runner:
Walking tall, the little girl of five who is the youngest to be given hi-tech legs.

No wonder five-year-old Ellie Challis is facing life with an extra spring in her step.
She has become the youngest person in the world to be fitted with the flex-run feet used by leading paralympians including Oscar 'Blade Runner' Pistorius.
Ellie, who lost her hands and lower legs to meningitis as a toddler, had spent the last two years walking on conventional prosthetic limbs. But she complained that she struggled to keep up with her twin sister Sophie. Her parents Paul and Lisa contacted the world-renowned prosthetic limb centre Dorset Orthopaedic, and managing director Bob Watts agreed to make a junior version of the carbon-fibre blades.
Mr Watts said: 'We were worried that she wouldn't be able to balance properly on them, but she has made amazing progress.'
Ellie, from Little Clacton, Essex, was struck down with meningitis at the age of 16 months.
At one point her heart stopped and doctors called in her parents to say their last farewells.
'Paul and I just stood at the end of her bed shouting at her to survive,' said 35-year-old Mrs Challis, who works as a carer for adults with learning difficulties.
'We thought we were going to lose her, but amazingly she pulled through and her heart started again.'
Over the next four days, however, Ellie's legs and arms started to turn black and the couple were told they would have to be amputated.
'The operation took six hours and I was just so shocked when I saw her - there was so little left of her,' said Mrs Challis. 'I just kept crying.'
Ellie was inspired to overcome her handicaps by Sophie, her constant companion. And well-wishers raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to help her.
She was fitted with NHS prosthetic limbs a few weeks after the operation, but found them too painful.

Mrs Challis said: 'She would wear them for 20 minutes maximum each day as they weren't flexible and they caused her pain.'
In December 2006 Ellie was given new legs with moving knee joints, which were a great improvement.
But the flexible blades will change her life. They helped South African Pistorius race to world records in his 100, 200 and 400-metres events.
Mr Challis, 45, said: 'Ellie can walk twice as fast on these new legs - it really is amazing to see. She is so full of determination.'
The legs cost £10,000 for a pair and will need to be replaced every two years. Mr Watts added: 'We didn't know if it would be possible to make some small enough.
'But now Ellie is the youngest in the world to have such legs - and there is no holding her back.'

An utterly delightful story, which had me grinning from ear to ear! Obviously not good that Ellie needed the prosthetic limbs, but the resilience of children is so amazing and just astounds me. Good luck and my very best wishes for a wonderful future, Ellie.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Bob Quick

Police chief Bob Quick steps down over terror blunder.
Britain's most senior counter terrorism officer resigns over security leak that resulted a major anti-terror operation, designed to foil an alleged al-Qaida plot to bomb Britain, being rushed forward.
I drew this on yesterday, but had no time to post, and then was out all day today, delivering paintings for exhibition and catching up with friends and family. Does that mean I have to do two tomorrow?? !!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Joanna Griffith-Jones

'I escaped Italian quake by using knotted sheets', reveals British woman whose house collapsed around her.

A British woman who lost her house in the Italian earthquake disaster last night told how she escaped with her life as the building collapsed around her.
Joanna Griffith-Jones, 46, was in bed with her husband Francesco Negroni when the huge tremor - which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale - struck in the early hours of Monday.
The earthquake has left more than 200 dead, 1,500 injured and tens of thousands homeless, with much of the damage done in the medieval city of L'Aquila.

The pair managed to put on their clothes in their third-floor bedroom but, as the masonry tumbled, the stairs disappeared leaving a huge void and forcing them to escape down knotted sheets tied to a doorpost.

Terrifying experience, but lucky, lucky woman.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Tom Thumb

The adventures of Tom Thumb: The tiny puppy set to be the world's smallest dog.

He is a third of the size of an average guinea pig, and weighs in at just a few ounces - but this tiny puppy could be a big deal when it comes to world records.
The miniscule chihuahua-Jack Russell cross - appropriately named Tom Thumb by its owners - is a serious contender for the title of being the smallest dog on the planet.

His siblings are three times the size of the tiny dog, who can fit inside a teacup and cannot reach his mum to feed when she is standing up.
And he is unlikely to get much bigger - with some previous experience of rearing puppies through their early weeks, the couple are convinced that Tom is almost fully grown now.
So who said the face had to be human? ! I spent hours scouring the news for a more lighthearted item, and got thoroughly miserable. Consequently left myself little time for the actual drawing.
I have noticed that a link to the news item is only active for a couple of days......obviously, really, considering the nature of the I shan't be doing that again.

Monday, 6 April 2009


A frantic father clutches at his head in desperation as he awaits news about his son trapped in a collapsed building in Aquila this morning.

How do you come to terms with such devastation? When something like this happens I vow never to complain again. I have no sympathy for those bad things that happen that we bring upon ourselves....but this.......we have no power over nature.

The sketch was just that, very sketchy, quickly done. I am still packing.....will it ever end? And where did all the rubbish come from?

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Geoff Hoon

They are all coming out of the woodwork, now, aren't they. But it is one aspect of human nature to take what you can. Another is to give back...for some people!

Saturday, 4 April 2009


Madonna faces her disappointment at the failed adoption in Malawi.

My own personal feeling is that it does no good to displace a child, take away their own culture, it can store up trouble for the future. By all means live in Malawi and look after the children!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Boris Johnson

Sit down Boris! (Or how the mayor tried - and failed - to stage a walkout over snow fiasco).
I like Boris. And with Gordon Brown and the G20 summit still in the headlines, I felt free to pick my subject today!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

John Terry

John Terry seals tough win for England.

I don't know if I could get into trouble for copying a newspaper article word for word, so just in case, from now, the headline will also be a link to the story. If you want to read all about it!

Not a good likeness, today, but I had no idea until this morning that John existed, never mind what he looks like! Congratulations to him, though, good job! And to England. No football fan, me.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Billy Joel

Billy Joel edges out Elton John

On the surface, it always has seemed like a natural pairing: two of the rock era's most successful acts -- piano-based or otherwise -- dispensing hit after hit after hit.

But look a little deeper and the contrasts between Elton John and Billy Joel far outweigh the similarities. And their latest Face 2 Face arena show Saturday at Anaheim's Honda Centre again hammered home those differences, even as the packed house cheered the pop feast.
The most obvious is the performing styles. Both men still have a command of their instrument, but their manic stage days are behind them. And that's fine; John turned 62 last Wednesday, and Joel hits 60 in May.
But latter-day John is all about the music, mostly sitting stoically at his piano; Joel's still about the show, his eighty-eight on a rotator so that every in-the-round patron got a good look. John prefers a quiet dignity onstage, only occasionally addressing the audience; Joel is demonstrative, offering some rimshot-worthy shtick.
Basically, John plays to the crowd; Joel feeds off it. So while Sir Elton will never cede the catalogue crown, in his stage battle with the kid from Long Island, the latter continues to win the Face 2 Faceoffs.
BUT ' It's them they were coming to see to forget about life for a while.'

From Reuters
Billy Joel is my all time absolute favourite singer/songwriter. I never tire of listening to his songs.
So this item jumped out at me this morning. I see Billy is touring again with Elton John and I hope he comes to England again. Although Elton was brilliant on his own last time, it was such a disappointment that poor Billy had a sore throat and had to cancel. The MAGIC was missing.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz pawns copyright to life's work to pay debts.
Annie Leibovitz, the renowned New York photographer who has taken portraits of the Queen, has pawned the rights to her life's work in order to raise nearly $16 million (£11 million) to pay off her debts.

Sorry about this old news. I really wanted to sketch a female today, but it took a long time to find something of interest. And that defeats the object of my original idea, which was to sketch whoever was on the front page on the day. It is certainly a waste of time spending hours trying to find a 'good' picture!

Anyway, this captured my attention, eventually, because this week I am counting the pennies! The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I would just like enough.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Prince Charles

What happens when you let a prince design a fire station?

It's 25 years since Prince Charles delivered his most memorable denunciation of modern British architecture.
His 'monstrous carbuncle' attack on one proposed design was followed by a call for buildings of elegance and dignity.
Maybe this one, which has sprouted in his model village project at Poundbury, Dorset, is what he was driving at.
The question locals are asking, however, is whether it is appropriate for their new fire station to look like, er, Buckingham Palace.
The £3 million building, which will be the HQ for Dorset Fire Service, includes neo-classical pillars and a mock balcony.
One resident wrote on a local internet forum: 'It really does look like a miniature Buck House...a blot on the landscape.'

It took a long time to find a news item that made me smile, rather than cry!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Gordon Brown

Disloyalty. Humiliation. The week that Brown's grand vision was brutally shattered.

For the past three months, Gordon Brown has truly cared about only one event: the G20 economic summit he will host in London next week.
He resolved that he would use this gathering of world leaders to save the global economy, salvage his own diminishing reputation and provide Labour with a launchpad to win the next General Election.
In particular, the Prime Minister planned to construct what he calls a 'grand bargain' between the world's leading industrial nations, which would see them commit themselves to a massive spending package that would kickstart the global economy and thereby jolt us all out of recession.
Finally, he hoped that, as a consequence, David Cameron and the Tories (who have opposed his public spending plans) would become isolated from the international consensus.

The end of a gruelling week for Gordon Brown
However, in what amounts to a personal tragedy, Gordon Brown's dream has died.
The last few days have seen a series of brutal, debilitating and totally unexpected humiliations as one world leader after another has come out and rubbished his idea of extra spending.

From The Mail on Sunday.

I don't understand all this, so I have no comment.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

T-I-M-B-E-R !

David Hockney's horror after trees he was half-way through painting are 'massacred'.

For more than a century they stood proudly beside a tranquil country road.
Their bleak, black branches formed dramatic silhouettes against the winter sky, their leaves in summer a rich, majestic green.
To any ordinary eye, the copse probably looked like scores of others that punctuate the Yorkshire landscape. But to artist David Hockney, it was a scene of particular beauty.

Such was his passion for the magnificence of the beech and sycamores that he decided to paint them in all four seasons. Winter came and went and was committed to canvas. Summer, too, was recorded in all its glory.
How he must have been looking forward to capturing the fresh colour of spring produce and the hues of autumn.
Then. . . disaster. Or more specifically: 'T-I-M-B-E-R!'
When the artist returned to the scene this week, he found it had vanished. A gaping space was all that remained - plus a pile of sawn trunks and limbs that used to form the copse at the edge of the Warter Priory estate in the Yorkshire Wolds, formerly owned by the Marquis of Normanby.
Hockney described it as a 'massacre'. The 71-year- old artist detailed his dismay in an interview with The Guardian. Philosophically he believed someone had simply exercised a 'perfect right' to harvest the trees for valuable timber.
From The Daily Mail.
An artist in the news again so soon, a much nicer story this time, although I can well appreciate Mr Hockneys' 'horror'. I wonder if he will find another copse, and start again, or consider it job done? Two paintings, Summer and Winter, is balanced enough, I feel.
My drawing is 'same old, same old', I feel experiments coming on! Maybe.

Friday, 27 March 2009


Indonesia dam burst kills dozens
Scenes of devastation caused by the burst dam
A dam has burst south-west of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, killing at least 58 people.
Witnesses said a "horrifying" flash flood of water up to 4m (13ft) deep engulfed hundreds of homes in Cirendeu in the Tangerang district.
Officials say they expect the death toll to rise, and 150 body bags have been sent to the scene.
An official said the Situ Gintung lake behind the dam became overloaded after hours of heavy rain.
"The dam was an old dam, 16m (52ft) deep," said Ratu Atut Chosiyah, governor of Banten province, where the lake is located.
"Last night, because of heavy rain, the dam could not hold back the water so it broke," she added.
Thick mud is hampering rescue teams, but the waters have now begun to recede.

The incident happened at about 0200 local time (1900 GMT) in what is a popular tourist area.
This poor child is one of the lucky ones, but the bewildered look on his face says it all. I have never experienced anything like this, we have no extremes of anything in England, but I can imagine.
The drawing disappoints, today, I haven't got him quite right.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Maurice Agis

The creator of an inflatable artwork which blew away in a County Durham park killing two women will be sentenced later for health and safety breaches.
Maurice Agis, 77, from London, was convicted at Newcastle Crown Court of breaches relating to the 1974 Act.
Two women, Elizabeth Collings and Claire Furmedge, fell from his Dreamspace sculpture in July 2006.
Agis had been charged with manslaughter but the jury was discharged after failing to reach a verdict.
Claire Furmedge, 38, from Chester-le-Street and Elizabeth Collings, 68, from Seaham, died and 13 others were injured when the artwork broke free from its moorings at Riverside Park in Chester-le-Street. From BBC News.


I don't know about you, but any article with the word 'artist' grabs my attention. But this saddened me. Although Mr Agis is ultimately responsible, I do not believe he should stand alone. Surely, such an installation, to be used by the public, would not have been allowed without stringent health and safety checks? Although it actually happened two years ago, my heart goes out to the families involved, because their lives have been changed irrevocably by an accident that was preventable.

Happier with the drawing, today, done with carbon pencil on Saunders Waterford 140lb HP watercolour paper.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Sir Fred Goodwin

' The Edinburgh home of former Royal Bank of Scotland boss Sir Fred Goodwin has been attacked by vandals.
Windows were smashed and a Mercedes S600 car parked in the driveway was vandalised.
A group angry at bank executives' pay contacted a newspaper claiming to be behind the early morning attack.
Police said they were investigating these claims as part of their inquiry, adding that they took planned attacks "very seriously".
There has been widespread public and political anger over a pension payout worth about £700,000 a year to the 50-year-old former chief executive.
Sir Fred took early retirement from RBS last year after the bank needed a £20bn bailout from the government.
Last month, RBS reported that it made a loss of £24.1bn in 2008 - the largest annual loss in UK corporate history.

Windows of the stone villa have been smashed
When Sir Fred stepped down from the post in October, he rejected government pressure to accept a reduction in his package, insisting that changes to the early retirement deal he had negotiated were "not warranted".
The payout was described as "obscene" and "grotesque" by MPs and "unjustifiable and unacceptable" by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
It is not known if anyone was in the house at the time of the attack or who reported the vandalism. ' From the BBC NEWS.

My view is that however unfair something is, mindless violence will not make it any less so.
As for the drawing, I know I can do better already! I was in such a hurry to get started that I grabbed the nearest things, a pencil and paper off the printer, instead of going to the studio. I don't like graphite because it is shiny and I prefer a paper with a bit of a tooth for drawing.