Published on the 20th January 2012 in The Bookseller.
Born in North London in 1882, A.A. Milne’s love affair with the written word began while he was studying at his father’s school, Henley House, where he was taught by H.G. Wells. After graduating from The University of Cambridge, Milne started his writing career as assistant editor of Punch. Soon after, the First World War broke out and Milne went to France, serving as an officer in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment until his discharge in 1919. Upon his return, and in an attempt to return to simpler times, Milne set upon writing childrens’ fiction.
John Burnside has won the 2011 T S Eliot Prize for poetry for his collectionBlack Cat Bone.
At an award ceremony last night at the Haberdashers’ Hall in London, the Poetry Book Society announced that his “haunting” book of verse had won the 19th annual prize, beating a high-profile shortlist that included poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
Welsh poet Gillian Clarke, this year’s chair of judges, said: “Amongst an unprecedentedly strong and unusually well-received shortlist, John Burnside’sBlack Cat Bone is a haunting book of great beauty, powered by love, childhood memory, human longing and loneliness. In an exceptional year, it is an outstanding book, one which the judges felt grew with every reading….
To read the rest of this article visit Welovethisbook.com
The Descendants has bagged Best Motion Picture Drama at the Golden Globes, with the Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama gong going to leading actor George Clooney.
The film is based on native Hawaiian Kaui Hart Hemmings’ debut novel, which sees its middle-aged protagonist try to build relationships with his family and find some sense of peace in the face of tragedy and betrayal.
George Clooney stars as Matt King, a Honalulu-based land owner whose wife is involved in a boating accident. As she lies in a coma, absent father Matt is forced to fend for himself and his two daughters, mischievous 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller) and his troubled 17-year-old, Alexandra (Shailene Woodley), who he finds he barely knows.
While desperately struggling to control his daughters, Matt discovers that his wife was having an affair at the time of her accident and, deciding to give his wife’s lover the chance to say a final goodbye, the family embark on a bizarre journey to find the man their mother loved….
Read the rest of this article at Welovethisbook.com
All You Need Is Love
The pair, who announced their engagement in May, have posted marriage banns at Westminster Register Office. The hall is near to the Abbey Road studios where the Beatles recorded many of their most popular songs. Though the couple will have a year to marry at the Marylebone venue, it is expected that they will marry within the month.
Similarities are being drawn between Shevell and McCartney’s first wife Linda, who sadly died 13 years ago after a battle with breast cancer. Their wedding will mirror McCartney’s 1969 ceremony and will be a small family affair.
Rumour has it Shevell has offered to sign a pre-nup, though McCartney – who calls the New York millionairess his ‘comfort blanket’ – has refused. Seems optimistic after the Heather Mills debacle…
BRING BACK CANING
In the wake of last month’s riots, half of British parents are championing a return to corporal punishment.
A survey conducted by YouGov revealed that 49 per cent of parents believe smacking or caning should be used to punish badly behaved pupils. Parents believe that corporal punishment, which was banned in schools in state schools 1987, would provide the discipline needed for effective teaching.
The survey concluded that Britain needs to give teachers more authority, with 85 per cent of parents concerned that teachers were less respected than they were when they were at school. A further 91 per cent said they feared that teachers were scared of their pupils.
Surprisingly, almost a fifth of secondary school children agreed with a return to smacking and caning.
NATIONAL TRUST AT WAR
Ministers are going head-to-head with the National Trust over planning reforms.
Concerns over the loss of the green belt have led the National Trust to launch a campaign opposing changes to the planning system. The trust has expressed concern that the government’s plans for housing developments in the countryside will destroy some of Britain’s most treasured landscapes, as well as pose a risk to our rural communities.
The government believes that changes to the planning system are essential for economic growth. They are arguing that alternations need to be made in order to resolve Britain’s chronic house shortage. The National Trust, however, is urging members of the public to sign their petition to protect Britain’s countryside.
LUKE SKYWALKER’S HOME DISCOVERED
Well, in a way. Science fiction has turned into reality as astronomers reveal that they have found a new planet which orbits around two twin suns. The planet, named Kepler-16b, enjoys a double sunrise and sunset, just like the fictional world of Tatooine that Luke Skywalker originated from.
Nasa’s Kepler spacecraft detected the planet which lies 200 light years away from earth. The spacecraft is currently being used to scour the Milky Way for Earth-like planets that are in the habitable zone, an area not too close nor too far away from the star they orbit.
The planet, however, is likely to be uninhabitable. Nasa says that Kepler-16b appears to be cold and gaseous, a polar opposite from George Lucas’ hot and dry Tatooine.
Kepler-16b is the first confirmed planet of its kind, outside of science fiction.
THE MYSTERY OF WILLOW
A cat that went missing five years ago has been returned to its owners.
Willow, who disappeared in 2006, was found wandering the streets of Manhattan on Wednesday. The cat was an impressive 1,800 miles away from her home, having travelled from Colorado to New York.
Willow is healthy and appears to have been well-fed on her travels. A spokesperson for The Animal Care & Control of New York City noted that ‘obviously someone was taking care of her’. Staff also said it was unlikely that the cat travelled over half-way across America on its own.
How the cat got to New York, or spent the last five years of her life for that matter, will remain a mystery to her surprised – but delighted – owners.
THOMPSON PENS NEW PETER RABBIT TALE
Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson is bringing Peter Rabbit back to life to mark his 110 year anniversary.
Her new title, called The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit, will be released next September, more than 80 years since the last of Beatrix Potter’s stories were published.
Thompson’s new tale will take Peter a long way from home. He will visit his distant relative Finlay McBurney in Scotland, a place Potter herself loved.
Lochcarron of Scotland have already produced a Peter Rabbit tartan that Finlay McBurney will wear in the accompanying illustrations.
To coincide with the launch of the book, readers will be able to purchase an Apple app and the commemorative Peter Rabbit tartan.
DEER DESTROYING HEDGEROWS
Deer numbers have returned to heights not seen for hundreds of years.
New breeds such as the fallow, muntjac and Chinese water deer, as well as the native roe and red deer, are flourishing. After being hunted almost into extinction during the 18th century, the total numbers now stand at around two million.
Indeed, so many deer now roam Britain’s countryside that they are posing a threat to woodlands and smaller animals. Deer destroy the habitats of woodland mammals, birds and butterflies by eating hedgerows and shrubs. Concerns have also been raised about the possibility of the Bambi-esque creatures spreading diseases such as bovine tuberculosis and foot-and-mouth. This unprecedented increase heightens the spread of diseases like Lyme disease, which human’s can catch, and traffic accidents.
In certain areas of Britain, culls may be necessary; however, plans have come under attack from animal rights groups who argue that deer are an essential part of Britain’s heritage and should be protected.
Published on The Lady magazine’s website on Friday 16th September.
Amy Lives On
Yesterday, which would have been the singer’s 28th birthday, also marked the launch of The Amy Winehouse Foundation, a charity set up by the singer’s family.
The charity will aim to help, support and care for vulnerable young people, and will be funded by the proceeds from Amy’s last single.
The single is a cover of the 1930’s jazz classic Body and Soul, which Amy recorded with U.S. legend Tony Bennett in the months before her death.
THE END OF SELL-BY DATES
Plans were unveiled today to ban sell-by dates in an attempt to curb Britain’s food waste.
It is estimated that a shocking 12 billion pounds worth of good food is thrown away every year. Consumers are often confused by the information printed on their food and, as a result, 60 per cent of food we throw away is actually still safe to eat.
The move will help households cut down on waste and save money. In future, our food will only be issued with one date, either a best before or a use-by date. Best before dates, which are used to indicate when food will taste best, will apply to most foods while use-by dates will be used sparingly and only on foods such as meat, fish and ready meals, which can be dangerous to eat after a certain date.
Apparently 55 per cent of shoppers even throw away food which is past its best before date but still perfectly edible. Clearly, it’s time we started using our common sense…
SETTING THEIR SIGHTS HIGH
Nasa has today revealed plans to build a 18 billion dollar monster rocket.
The new Space Launch System, which is due to be completed in 2017, has been dubbed ‘the most powerful rocket in history’.
Major-General Charlie Bolden, a former shuttle astronaut who now heads up Nasa, called it ‘the next chapter in America’s space exploration story’. The hope is that the rocket will bring America a step closer to landing a crew on an asteroid by 2025.
At 320ft tall, the Space Launch System still stands shorter than the Saturn V, which was used in the moon landings. If the new rocket is a success, Nasa intends to build a larger version that will allow the USA to carry out a manned Mars landing.
Flocks of wild birds have been spotted, or, rather, heard, mimicking the behaviour of pet parrots.
Scientists have reported an increase in concerned calls from people who have heard voices calling down to them from trees and lamp-posts. Apparently growing numbers of escaped pet parrots, who have been taught to repeat phrases by their past owners, are teaching the words to their new found flocks.
Much like our children do, baby birds copy the sounds the older birds are making. So if a baby bird lives in a flock with an escaped pet parrot, the ability to talk will be passed down the generations. ‘Hello darling!’ and ‘Who’s a pretty boy, then?’ are the two most commonly taught phrases, so keep an ear out next time you go for a walk…
THE PERKS OF BEING AN EARLY-RISER
A study which quizzed 1,100 men and women about their health and sleeping habits has concluded that getting up early is the best way to shed the pounds and beat the blues.
Research has revealed that early birds are slimmer, happier and healthier than late sleepers. Those who rise before 7am also have the fewest signs of depression and anxiety. They are more productive, completing chores and thriving at work, and are more likely to eat breakfast, which is linked to weight loss.
However, if you are a bit of a nightlark – with a penchant for a late night and a love affair with the ‘snooze’ button – you have a significantly higher chance of feeling stressed or becoming overweight.
CHOCOLATE IS GOOD FOR YOU – PROMISE
A study has revealed that, far from being bad for you, a little daily chocolate can actually boost your athletic performance.
When small doses of dark chocolate were combined with regular exercise, the study found that performance was increased by an impressive 50 per cent. It has been revealed that dark chocolate contains epicatechin, a plant compound which stimulates muscle growth in the same way that vigorous exercise does.
Currently the theory has only been tested on mice but fingers crossed it will apply to humans too. If so, dark chocolate could be used in treatments for muscle wastage… and there would be no need to feel guilty next time you reach for a sweet treat!
Psychologists have warned of the risks facing hundreds of thousands of British children who are currently on mood altering drugs.
650,000 children between the ages of 8 and 13 are taking Ritalin, a drug prescribed to children with ADHD, with many more taking drugs for depression or anxiety.
British psychologists are concerned that, following the publication of U.S. guidelines in 2013, which widens the criteria for mental illnesses, more of our children will be diagnosed. New guidelines make it likely that shy or unhappy children will be recommended for treatment or prescription drugs by their doctors. With an abundance of ‘new’ disorders our children can be diagnosed with, Britain’s children are at risk of being put on drugs that they simply don’t need.
Under these new guidelines, teenagers who lose their temper or argue with their parents will be diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder whilst young children who cry or cling in social situations will be deemed as having a social anxiety disorder.
Published on The Lady magazine’s website on Thursday 15th September.