Wednesday, 30 July 2008

'Fire destroys pier at Weston-super-Mare...'

'A huge fire has destroyed the historic Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare.

Dozens of firefighters fought to tackle the blaze which took hold of the partly wooden pier in the North Somerset seaside resort at about 0700 BST.

No-one was injured in the fire, which firefighters said started in an area containing deep fat fryers. Black smoke was visible more than 10 miles away.

The owners, who have recently bought and refurbished the pier, were said to be "absolutely devastated".

... Dee Williams, deputy manager of the Grand Atlantic Hotel, which lies 200 yards from the pier, described the fire as "an inferno" and heard loud bangs which she believed to be fireworks left over from a recent display.

"It is part of our identity and would really affect trade if we were to lose it," she said.

Jacquie Whelan, owner of Sunfold Hotel on Beach Road, said it was a "horrendous" sight, with massive red flames, hundreds of feet in the air, all over the pier.

It first opened in 1904 and was later bought by the Brenner family who sold it earlier this year in a multi-million pound deal to brother and sister Michelle and Kerry Michael.'

For more on Weston and its connection to the UFO flap:

Friday, 18 July 2008

Another truly awesome formation...

... in Wiltshire. We're rapidly approaching the end-of-season finale, traditionally when the largest and most spectacular crop circles appear. (My money is again on Wayland's Smithy.)

New article...

... up at BTB, drawing on Rik Clay's excellent research into the London Olympics; with particular reference to the Beatles, Watling Street, and the recent high-profile UFO flap in the United Kingdom. Anybody not on the invite list and wishes to be should e-mail me at Anybody who is, or who appears to be, drunk will not be admitted.

For their assistance and all-round inspiration, thanks, as always, are due to Ellis C Taylor, Glasgow Greensmoke and Miss Hoi Polloi...

Sunday, 13 July 2008

'My bizarre life with Madonna and Guy...'

'Few know Madonna better than her 47-year-old brother Christopher Ciccone. They grew up together in Michigan in America and learned to dance together.

Then Christopher followed Madonna to New York, where she began her long journey to wealth and superstardom.

... [He writes] I first heard about Guy in late 1999, after Madonna was introduced to him over lunch at Sting and Trudie Styler's home.

I knew Guy was a British film director and that he was younger than her. Like her first husband Sean Penn, Guy comes from a solidly middle-class family and yet both
are prone to present themselves as tough street kids. My sister, I believe, has always played the identical game.

After all, she is a middle-class girl who propagates the story that she landed in Times Square with just a pair of ballet shoes and $35 to her name. But that's pure mythology and the further she progresses, the more mythological her life story becomes.

Although our father wasn't really allowed to tell us about his job because it was top-secret, he worked in the defence industry in Detroit, designing firing systems and laser optics, first at Chrysler Defense and then at General Dynamics.

Far from being this lost and friendless little waif who didn't even have a crust of dry bread to eat, when Madonna went to New York she had money in her pocket, plenty of contacts and a support system all in place. I often wonder whether her taste for self-invention explains her attraction to both Sean and Guy.

... Every bit of anger I've ever felt at her, every disappointment she's caused me, every iota of pride I've swallowed on her behalf, every bitter rejection – it all comes to the surface. I reply to her. 'You have never in the entire time I have worked for you since 1985 paid me even close to what I was worth. I gave up my life to help make you the evil queen you are today. Fifteen years listening to your bitching, egotistical rantings, mediocre talent and a lack of taste that would stun the ages.

'Every ounce of talent you have, you have sucked dry from me and the people around you. I certainly never worked for you for the money, now you accuse me of lying and cheating you. You've got some nerve.'

For more:

Thursday, 10 July 2008

'Abu Dhabi buys Chrysler Building...'

'One of the best-loved buildings on the New York skyline has been sold to the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi government for an estimated $800m (£400m).

New Jersey-based Prudential insurance company yesterday confirmed it had sold its 75% stake in the art deco Chrysler building to the Abu Dhabi investment council. Abu Dhabi is the biggest and richest member of the United Arab Emirates.

Like other Middle East groups, it has been able to take advantage of collapsing property prices and soaring oil revenues.

The 77-storey building was completed in 1930 and was briefly the tallest in the world. But it lost that status in 1931 when the Empire State building opened.

The way its silver-coloured top reflects the sun from dawn to dusk has made it a much-loved symbol of the Big Apple.

While the Empire State has had many film moments, of which King Kong is the best known, so too has the Chrysler, most recently featuring in Spider-Man.

It is not the first New York landmark to be taken over by foreign investors. Japanese financiers bought the Rockefeller Centre during a collapse in property prices in 1989, and last May a consortium of businesses from the US, Kuwait and Qatar bought the General Motors building on Fifth Avenue.'



Monday, 7 July 2008

Knifing hex continues...

'Two London teenagers who were stabbed to death 10 days apart had prepared speeches on knife crime for a public speaking challenge.

David Idowu, 14, and Ben Kinsella, 16, were coached by Speakers Bank, which trains teenagers on public speaking.

David was stabbed on 19 June, two days before his speech, and died three weeks later in hospital. A friend took his place on the podium.

Ben was a reserve speaker last year. He was stabbed to death on 29 June.

Although Ben and David never met, they were coached by the same trainer, who was now in "deep deep shock" at the boys' deaths, Jez Sweetland, Chief Executive of Speakers Bank said.'

See also:

One of the most graceful...

... crop circles ever designed has appeared in Switzerland. A truly beautiful glyph, fresh with Marian resonance; adding to the growing significance of mainland Europe as circle territory. (Germany has also had a rich circle harvest.) Here she is:

'Holy Grail to be the centrepiece of Byzantine exhibition...'

'It was discovered at the beginning of the 20th century and hailed as the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper. Half a century after being redated to the 6th century, the exquisite silver treasure known as the Antioch Chalice is coming to Britain for the first time as part of an exhibition of the glories of Byzantium.

The Royal Academy of Arts said yesterday that the Antioch Chalice will be displayed alongside 300 objects that reflect the splendours of the Byzantine Empire. Icons, detached wall paintings, micro-mosaics and ivories, as well as gold and silver metalwork, will come from collections across Europe, the US, Russia, Ukraine and Egypt.'

For more, see:

Interestingly, this sixth century 'grail' belongs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. See: for more.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

'Stone Mad'

[From a review of Stonehenge, by Rosemary Hill. Review by Craig Brown.]

'...Near the end of the book, [Hill] offers a detailed history of Spinal Tap and Stonehenge, complete with the marvellously awful lyrics:

Stonehenge, where the demons dwell
Where the banshees live and they do live well
Stonehenge, where a man is a man
And the children dance to the pipes of Pan...

Furthermore, Hill reveals that- as one has come to expect with anything concerning Stonehenge- this scene from Spinal Tap turned out to be eerily prophetic. After the scene was shot, but before the film was released, the heavy metal band Black Sabbath did a tour to promote their album Born Again, on which was a track called Stonehenge. The group's bassist, Geezer Butler, who had never been to Stonehenge, apparently told the designers he wanted a 'lifesize' model of it. The band ended up with a set that filled three containers and was too big for any stage. 'They used as much of it as they could,' reports Hill, 'edging awkwardly between megaliths as they performed.'

Talisman of the One World Religion (continued)

We've had our eye on the evolution of rock and roll as a secular religion for quite some time now. In addition to outbreaks of irrational, deeply superstitious behaviour- locks of John Lennon's hair being sold for thousands of pounds at Southebys, etc- we have noted the rising number of places on the musical tourist trail being promoted as secular pilgrimage sites. One of the most obvious examples is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland; which Matthew Delooze has also written about in his latest article- see here. Others we have identified are Graceland; Yasgur's Farm near Woodstock, New York; the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury; and, more obscurely, the place where Marc Bolan had his fatal car crash in 1970 (in Barnes, West London- see here.)

Liverpool, which we are soon to visit on our ongoing 'Goddess Trail', is awash with them. Chris Knowles has done some excellent research making a tentative (if unproven) connection between the famous Cavern Club in Mathew Street, with the subterranean Mithras religion of the Knight's Templar, etc. (See here.)

I stumbled across another example in today's Mail on Sunday, in Harlem, NY. (A neighbourhood I passed through during my recent visit to the city.) Writes journalist Philip Norman:

'When I first visited Harlem in the Sixties to write about the Apollo Theatre, it was regarded as a no-go area for whites, even though everyone from blues diva 'Big Mama' Thornton to the theatre's stage manager, ex-Broadway 'hoofer' Honi Coles, treated me with the utmost friendliness. Now Harlem is becoming increasingly gentrified and the Apollo, on 125th St, has an almost sacred status as New York's greatest live music venue. Indeed, when James Brown's heart finally did give out in December 2006, he lay in state on its stage as thousands filed past to pay their respects.'

More on these subjects anon.

Friday, 4 July 2008

'Home Before Dark'

'A book that eerily resonates with the real-life murder of the student Meredith Kercher in Italy comes from Charles Maclean, the son of the legendary writer (and alleged model for James Bond), Fitzroy Maclean. Home Before Dark kicks off with the apparently pointless killing of 19-year-old Sophie Lister, an English art student in Florence. When her distraught father Ed arrives in the city, he receives a tip-off from Sophie's friend Sam that her murder may be linked to a website Sophie accessed regularly. From here, we are beamed into cyberspace as the murderer communicates through the website Homebeforedark. Naturally, it falls to a computer expert rather than a detective with an eyeglass to unravel this rather complex plot, but I suppose we must move with the times.'

[Source: Daily Mail, July 4, 2008.]

New article...

... at BTB, looking a little deeper into the life and death of John Winston. Anyone who wishes an invite to the site, please e-mail me at

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

'Chilling prediction by murder victim, 16'

'TRAGIC Ben Kinsella wrote about his own death in a frightening prediction of the way his life was horrifically ended.

In a creative writing essay, penned just a few months ago, brilliant student Ben, 16, described in grizzly details what it would be like to be knifed.

In striking similarities to his own death, he described how he stared at his killer as the blood seeped from his body.

The shocking short story was released by Ben's devastated sister Brooke after it was found among his possessions.

His vivid imagination describes what it is like to be in heaven surrounded by family, luxurious food and music.

And in the writing he talks to his imaginary girlfriend Molly about not “messing” with his killer.

He talks about not being scared and even forgives his killer, saying: “I had this burning desire to hate the animal who took me away from life yet, although I don’t know why, I’d forgiven the murderer.

“I’ll never say I’m glad he did it because, well, I’m simply not.”'