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.