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Posts Tagged ‘england’

Photo: British Pie Awards
One of Britain’s most traditional pies is the Melton Mowbray pork pie. It was granted protected European Union status. (Can that protection last post-Brexit? The Law of Unforeseen Consequences strikes again.)

My husband loves learning about the origins of language. He recently sent me an article about English pies and pie-related expressions.

Norman Miller at the BBC explained, “Every March, St Mary’s church in the Leicestershire town of Melton Mowbray becomes a cathedral of pies: it fills with tables bearing more than 800 pastries.

“Some recipes are particularly offbeat. While the quirkiest entry in this year’s Speciality Meat category was a cricket pie, one celebrated past winner was Phil Walmsley’s squirrel pie in 2014. Walmsley told me that it has medieval origins, but still sells out at Market Harborough’s twice-monthly farmers’ market. ‘They’re also a great way to deal with a pest,’ he laughs. …

“Even in their early days, pies served different purposes for the rich and poor: as show-off delicacies for the former and portable food for the latter.

“So while wealthy feasts might include pies containing anything from game birds to mussels, the less well-off used simpler pies as a way to have food while doing outdoor work or travelling – the crust both carried and preserved the tasty filling. …

“Pies have been adding rich flavour to the English language for centuries. Even Shakespeare got in on the act, writing in his 1613 play Henry VIII that ‘No man’s pie is freed from his ambitious finger’, giving English the phrase ‘a finger in every pie’. …

‘Eating humble pie’, meanwhile, comes from medieval deer hunting, when meat from a successful hunt was shared out on the basis of social status.

“While the finest cuts of venison went to the rich and powerful, the lower orders made do with the ‘nombles’: a Norman French word for deer offal. Anglicisation saw ‘nombles’ pie become ‘humble’ pie. …

“One gigantic 16th-Century royal pie concealed a gaggle of musicians who began playing when the pie was cut, while another trick saw people burst out of a pie to recite poetry. Concealing live birds was also popular – hence the ‘four and twenty blackbirds’ in the nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence.”

Be sure to read about some great English pastries here, especially the traditional pie with sardines gazing up from the crust that commemorates a 17th century fisherman who saved his village from starvation.

As for squirrel pie, if Erik doesn’t find a way to keep a local squirrel from getting into the bird feeder, I fear that scalawag’s fate is sealed. Hungry, anyone?

Photo: Aubrey K. Huggins

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Famed physicist Stephen Hawking has ALS and has to talk using an electronic voice substitute. Recently, as part of a skit for the antipoverty charity Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day fundraiser, he pretended to audition a bunch of well-known actors to be his newest voice.

Erin Jensen reports at USA Today, “A new, highly sought after role might not win actors any Oscars or BAFTAs, but that’s not stopping Hollywood’s elite from auditioning.

“In the clip, Hawking, who has ALS and communicates with synthesized speech, reviewed tapes from the self-described ‘intelligent … kind of’ Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, who got a hard no from the physicist. Hawking also wasn’t persuaded by The Theory of Everything stars Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne or the ‘soothing, calming voice’ of Gordon Ramsay.

“Hawking wasn’t Taken with Liam Neeson’s voice either, despite the actor’s opinion that it possessed ‘a tinge of … physics.’ ” More.

For the true story behind Hawking’s voice, read this Wired article. Joao Medeiros details the many iterations of the technology underlying Hawking’s ability to communicate, but he notes Hawking likes his original “voice” and has stuck with it.

“His voice had been created in the early ’80s by MIT engineer Dennis Klatt, a pioneer of text-to-speech algorithms. He invented the DECtalk, one of the first devices to translate text into speech. He initially made three voices, from recordings of his wife, daughter and himself. The female’s voice was called ‘Beautiful Betty’ the child’s ‘Kit the Kid’, and the male voice, based on his own, “’Perfect Paul.’ Perfect Paul is Hawking’s voice.”

Photo: http://www.hawking.org.uk/

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A while back, I wrote about Lata, which teaches older folks around the world to create street art with spray paint. I follow Lata on Instagram and can confirm that the results of senior graffiti are a hoot.

Now Vicky Thornton writes at Arts Professional about starting a modern dance troupe for people over 60. There’s hope for us all.

She writes, “DANCE SIX-0 started in response to a visit to the Elixir Festival at Sadler’s Wells that included a performance by the Company of Elders, a contemporary dance company for people aged over 60. Judith Bossano, Meg Edgar and Philippa Heseltine were inspired to establish a similar opportunity for contemporary dance in Salisbury and sought my advice and support.

“I was overwhelmed by their effervescence in describing what they had seen, their enthusiastic response and a very clear directive that ‘we need this’. Judith spoke passionately and eloquently about why at the age of 80 she felt it absolutely necessary to keep moving and dancing and experience the joy she feels when performing. …

“Meg felt this was something needed in Salisbury, recognising that dance brings many physical, social and emotional benefits that are so important for overall wellbeing. She identified Salisbury Playhouse as an ideal venue, considering its location, facilities and audience base.

“Salisbury Playhouse enthusiastically recognised the project’s potential, offering support to trial the idea. We were keen to emphasise that it cater for anyone over 60 with varying levels of mobility. The playhouse facilitated three taster workshops with three professional dance practitioners …

“The high demand for places resulted in two open classes and we held an audition for our inaugural performance company, selecting nine women and three men. …

“At the Wiltshire Public Health Awards in April we won our category of ‘Tackling Health Inequalities in the Community’ for our work with people aged over 60. We hope this award reflects our commitment to offering opportunities but also in challenging stereotypes of what older people can and should do.”

I’m down with that. Read more at Arts Professional, here.

Photo: Adrian Harris/ArtsProfessional
DANCE SIX-0 is a contemporary dance company for the over 60s in Salisbury, UK.

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Photo: Prezi
Something Shakespeare didn’t have to worry about: expensive energy for productions and emissions that increase global warming.

Christy Romer over at the UK website Arts Professional recently posted on the money British arts groups are saving by cutting their energy emissions — a win for them and a win for the environment.

“Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) have saved £8.7m by cutting greenhouse gas emissions since 2012/13, according to a major new report by environmental charity Julie’s Bicycle. …

“The report draws on data submitted via an online reporting tool, an evaluation survey and case studies, ultimately concluding environmental action is making the sector more financially resilient.

“Compared to doing nothing, the reduction in energy emissions has saved £8.7m since 2012/13. The report predicts that if the 4.5% annual decrease continues until 2019/20, emissions will be 46% lower than in 2012/13 and £54m will have been saved in energy costs.

“Alongside a fall in the overall emissions output, and a fall in the amount of electricity and gas used, there has been a 210% growth in the generation of on-site renewable energy since the project started in 2012/13. …

“Julie’s Bicycle pledges to develop Arts Council England’s (ACE) approach to environmental sustainability at the operational, planning and policy development levels. …

“Darren Henley, Chief Executive of ACE, added: ‘Our collaboration with Julie’s Bicycle is introducing us all to new ways of working. … We all believe that art and culture can make the world a better place; this programme shows how our actions can make a real difference.’ ”

More at Arts Professional, here.

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Our friend Mika is back in Hokkaido these days, after several years in New York working in restaurants and perfecting her “house” dancing. But every once in a while she ventures out to help on a street art project. Here is her friend Florence Blanchard’s mural for CBM Network (Crossing Biological Membranes) at the University of Sheffield in England.

At her WordPress site, Florence explains what the art represents, “I am delighted to present my newest mural here – a collaboration with CBMNet at the University Of Sheffield, in conjunction with Festival Of The Mind 2016 / Fear of the Unseen: Engineering Good Bacteria.

“The ‘Crossing Biological Membranes Network’ is composed of scientists working to understand the mechanisms by which substances are transported into, within, and out of cells. Their ultimate aim is to produce knowledge which will enable the development of new technologies in the Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy sector (eg: producing biofuels using E coli bacteria).

“My role in this collaboration has been to translate the CBMNet area of work into a large outdoor mural located within the university campus. For this occasion I have presented my interpretation of a detail of a cell membrane as seen under an electron microscope, having undergone a cryofracture.

“A cryofracture is a procedure in which the sample is frozen quickly and then  broken with a sharp blow so you are able to study its structure in very close detail – Imagine breaking a bar of chocolate with hazelnuts, this way you can see how hazelnuts are positioned inside the bar.”

“For an online animation of a biomembrane cryofracture follow this link: http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/530082/view.”

Check out the WordPress post.

Photo: Florence Ema Blanchard
Blanchard’s street art is tied to a scientific quest: “Engineering Good Bacteria.”

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In case you missed it, the NY Times had a great story on the discovery of ancient fragments of the Quran (or Koran) in Birmingham, England, of all places, where they had been long overlooked.

Dan Bilefsky writes, “The ancient manuscript, written on sheep or goat skin, sat for nearly a century at a university library, with scholars unaware of its significance.

“That is, until Alba Fedeli, a researcher at the University of Birmingham studying for her doctorate, became captivated by its calligraphy and noticed that two of its pages appeared misbound alongside pages of a similar Quranic manuscript from a later date.

“The scripts did not match. Prodded by her observations, the university sent the pages out for radiocarbon testing.

“[In July], researchers at the University of Birmingham revealed the startling finding that the fragments appeared to be part of what could be the world’s oldest copy of the Quran, and researchers say it may have been transcribed by a contemporary of the Prophet Muhammad.

” ‘We were bowled over, startled indeed,’ said David Thomas, a professor of Christianity and Islam at the University of Birmingham, after he and other researchers learned recently of the manuscript’s provenance.”

The manuscript fragments are estimated to be at least 1,370 years old.

Lots more here.

Video: BBC, by way of Youtube

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ArtsJournal.com is a great source of leads from around the world, which is why I sometimes come up with stories from far away places like Belarus. The ArtsJournal blog covers art, theater, film, books, dance, music, media — and interesting creativity tidbits from the world of psychology.

Recently a link to the British publication The Stage highlighted a story about UK policymakers taking steps to build the next generation of artists.

Nicola Merrifield writes that the national strategy, Building a Creative Nation, “is calling upon the UK’s 107,000 creative sector employers to each recruit a person aged 16 to 24 by 2016.

“The initiative is designed to ensure that young people are able to gain paid jobs in arts organisations. It will urge employers to join organisations such as the Royal Opera House and Ambassador Theatre Group in signing up to the Fair Access Principle, which encourages responsible recruitment practices.

“As part of the campaign, Creative and Cultural Skills, the sector’s leading body for skills development, will create 5,500 apprenticeships, paid internships and traineeships across the UK by 2016.

“This is part of CC Skills’ £15 million Creative Employment Programme launched earlier this year to combat unpaid internships in the arts sector, which aims to subsidise 6,500 training schemes for people aged 16-24. This scheme, which was financially supported by ACE, has seen employers take on 1,000 unemployed people so far.

“Industry leaders including former Royal Opera House chief executive Tony Hall, ticket provider Live Nation’s international chief operating officer Paul Latham and Dirty Dancing founding co-producer Michael Jacobsen are backing the Building a Creative Nation strategy.

“Pauline Tambling, joint chief executive of CC Skills, said: ‘We’re looking to build upon the work that our supporters have been doing to help young people into work across the creative industries, which has already achieved so much.’ ”

More.

Photo: Tristram Kenton
Laura Evelyn in “Once Upon A Christmas” by Look Left Look Right in Covent Garden Piazza

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