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Saturday, February 27, 2010

'Even Frank Lampard thinks I'm mad': Christine Bleakley gets some practice as she prepares to waterski the English Channel

And she's up: Christine Bleakley holds on tight as she improves her water skiing skills today

As an England footballer in training for the world cup, Frank Lampard is no stranger to exercise.

But according to his new girlfriend Christine Bleakley even he can't believe her latest challenge - water skiing across the English Channel for Sports Relief.

The One Show presenter, 31, was spotted looking understandably nervous as she practised in Ramsgate, Kent, today.

Although looking unsure as she floated in the water, Bleakley was soon up and away, showing her training is going quite well already.

Next month, Bleakley is hoping to ski the 22-mile stretch at speeds of up to 20mph, in water temperatures as chilly as 6c.

She said: 'People think, "Oh, you're skiing across? That must be fun." Well it's not. It's hard work.

'I can't even tell my mum about it because she's going out of her mind with worry. Even Frank thinks I'm mad.'

Come on in, the water's... freezing! Brave Bleakley tries to concentrate on the chilly winter's day

And Christine, who is raising thousands for charity, is seeing the effects of her hard training all over her body.

She told The Sun: 'The strain on your arms, legs and lower back is tough. I've been hitting the gym like mad to get my muscles ready.

'My arms are like tree trunks now. As soon as this is over I'm going to slim them down because they look ridiculous.'

But despite committing hours and hours to training for the task, Christine is still worried she might not make it.

It's not all hard work: Bleakley manages to share a joke with her trainer in between upright moments

'I've done most of my training on a lake. Coming out on the sea where the waves can be several feet tall is a lot different.'

Should she prove successful Christine will become the first woman to complete the task.

Christine will attempt the feat early next month, weather permitting.
To find out more about The Thomson Sport Relief Water Ski Challenge and how to sponsor Bleakley visit

Arms 'like tree trunks': Bleakley returns to her London home after training

Welcome gift? Water skis are delivered to Christine's house

source: dailymail

Does Leona Lewis really need an assistant to help her choose a cupcake?

Demanding work: Singer Leona Lewis gets an assistant to help her choose cakes at a London bakery

Being a pop star is a tough business. First you have to record songs while all around you tell you how wonderful you are.

Then comes the terrible burden of promotional work, where you pop into radio stations to chat about your new single and answer searching questions such as, 'Who's your favourite fashion designer?'

Obviously this is demanding work, as evidenced by these pictures of Leona Lewis shopping for cup cakes as she promotes her new single, I Got You.

See how she struggles to choose which cakes to buy - obviously she needs an assistant to help her make the right choice.

And then marvel as she actually carries the cakes from the shop all by herself. Who said showbiz was easy?

After going through a month-long detox to loose weight, perhaps Leona was giving herself a rare treat.

The singer showed off her slimmed down figure at the Brit Awards last week after cutting a previously heavier frame last year.

Marvel: Somehow the star manages to carry her bag from the shop unaided

The 24-year-old singer, who has always flown the flag for 'normal', curvy women, decided to change her diet after a lengthy spell in the recording studio.

She said: 'I went on a detox at the end of summer last year and basically ate vegetables and nothing processed.

'I didn’t drink anything but water for a month! I usually drink lots of water anyway, so it wasn’t a crazy, dramatic change to my lifestyle, but I just really wanted to try it and see how I felt.

'And after being in the studio a while, I started doing shows and getting more active. I only did the detox for a little while, but it must have kick-started something in me because everyone keeps saying: "Wow, you’ve lost weight!" and I’m like: "Cool!"'

source: dailymail

Friday, February 26, 2010

Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Stella McCartney pay respects to Alexander McQueen at intimate funeral service

By Anny Shaw, Paul Harris and Richard Simpson

Kate Moss arrives at Alexander McQueen's funeral at Saint Paul's Church in London's Knightsbridge

Everywhere you looked, there were little flashes of his legacy.

Someone wore an Alexander McQueen dress. Naomi Campbell chose the kind of high heels that looked as if he’d designed them specially with her in mind.

His grieving relatives sported the tartan that became the 40-year-old fashion star’s trademark.

So when they said farewell to Lee Alexander McQueen yesterday, they kept a promise to ensure that his name lived on.

In the saddest fashion parade London has seen, the clothes that made the taxi driver’s son famous went discreetly on show at his funeral.

Not that his clothes - or the celebrities for which he created them - were allowed to steal the day.

That belonged yesterday to a family which lost not so much the man so many had hailed as a genius, but a son, brother, uncle, and friend.

High priests and priestesses of the fashion world were among the guests and photographers invited to take pictures as they came and went.

The ceremony was attended Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Stella McCartney.

Naomi Campbell, left, in Alexander McQueen, and Stella McCartney arrive at the church to pay respects to their close friend

The fashion designer's father Ronald was joined by his five children at the ceremony, which comes two weeks after the 40-year-old's death.

Sam Taylor-Wood and boyfriend Aaron Johnson were also among the friends who gathered at Saint Paul's Church in Knightsbridge to pay their respects, as well as heiress Daphne Guinness, who wore a dramatic cape from the designer's autumn 2002 catwalk in tribute.

Naomi was escorted by a friend to the intimate funeral service

Daphne Guinness arrives for the service at Saint Paul's Church in Knightsbridge in a billowing black cape from the designer's autumn 2002 collection

Heiress and haute couture aficionado Daphne Guinness also wore a black veil

It is expected a larger memorial service open to McQueen’s supporters will take place later this year, although no date or venue has been confirmed.

'We are focusing right now on the Paris show, which takes place on March 9,' a spokesman for the label said.

An inquest heard last week how the 40-year-old hanged himself in the wardrobe of his London home.

He was known from comments left on his Twitter page to have been distressed by the death of his mother, Joyce, and killed himself on the eve of her funeral.

His sister Janet McQueen, from Hornchurch, Essex, who was among the mourners today, identified his body.

Several members of the family arrived wearing the McQueen tartan, a feature of the designer's memorable Highland Rape catwalk show in 2006.

Born in Lewisham, McQueen, whose real first name was Lee, was the son of a London cab driver and the youngest of six children.

Though his career officially began at the age of 16, he often recalled his earliest memory when, aged three, he drew a picture of a dress on the wall of his family's council house in the East End of London.

After graduating from Central Saint Martins in his early twenties, McQueen's first collection was bought in its entirety by legendary fashion editor Isabella Blow, who would go on to become his friend and mentor.

Blow convinced him to change his name from Lee to Alexander and after Icelandic singer Bjork wore an early design for the cover of her album, Homogenic, the Alexander McQueen label was born.

After five years as head designer at Givenchy, McQueen went on to create a fashion empire under his own label.

McQueen was a four-time winner of the British Designer of the Year award and was made a CBE in 2003.

Following the designer's death, thousands of tributes poured in from both inside and outside the fashion world.

Victoria Beckham, who has often been photographed in McQueen designs said at the time of his death: 'McQueen was a master of fashion, creative genius and an inspiration.

Sam Taylor-Wood clasps boyfriend Aaron Johnson's hand as the couple leave the ceremony

Lee McQueen with his mother Joyce: The designer killed himself on the eve of her funeral

'Today the fashion industry has lost a true great. An icon of all time. He made all he touched beautiful and will be desperately missed.

'My heart is very much with his family and friends at this very sad time.'

British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman said: 'He was the most brilliant designer of his generation and his influence can be seen in the way that women dressed over the last 15 years.

'It is an incredible loss not only for British fashion but for fashion the world over.'

Singer Lady Gaga paid silent tribute to McQueen by posting a photo of them hugging on her Twitter page.

London Fashion Week opened last week with British Fashion Council chairman Harold Tillman leading a minute’s silence in tribute to the designer.

A white floral wreath bearing McQueen's real name lays in front of his coffin

source: dailymail

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mind the gap, Ma'am: The Queen checks out the Tube on the day her £10m Bentley breaks down

By Rebecca English

Just the ticket: The Queen has a little smile as she passes through the Tube barriers

She’s not averse to slumming it in first class on a public train, for short hops.

But the Queen is the last person you'd expect to see nipping through the gates on the Tube.

Yesterday, however, she was spotted nosing around Aldgate Underground station

Officially, the monarch was at the Tube station just there to meet staff in the ticket hall and view a memorial plaque for the July 7 bombings

Officially, the monarch was just there to meet staff in the ticket hall and view a memorial plaque for the July 7 bombings.

But it probably wasn't a bad idea to get acquainted with the system - particularly as she suffered a transport crisis later in the day.

After her visit to Aldgate and a nice lunch at the Gherkin skyscraper, the Queen's armour-plated Bentley broke down. The vintage motor, presented to her in 2002 to mark her Golden Jubilee, simply wouldn't start.

As she clambered back out, an aide gesticulated to a Metropolitan Police Range Rover escort vehicle and helped the 83-year-old monarch climb inside.

She then drove off to her final engagement of the day just a few minutes away at Tower Bridge.
One onlooker who saw the entire episode said: 'It was all a bit awkward.

'The Queen's obviously never experienced an engine break down before and looked a bit stunned that the car wasn't working.

'She got out and an aide told her she was going to have use a police Range Rover.

'She just hopped in the back and continued on her journey.'

A Buckingham Palace spokesman confirmed last night that an incident had occurred.

'There was a problem with the Queen's Bentley during her tour of the City of London,' he said.

'The Queen got into a police Range Rover which was trailing her vehicle and went on to the next location without delay.

'The Bentley did eventually start a few minutes later but it was most important for her not to be late for her next engagement, which is why she went on ahead. Staff are currently investigating what the problem was.'

The Queen has been using the Bentley in question as her principle transport for state and ceremonial occasions for almost eight years.

Designed for a minimum lifespan of 25 years and 125,000 miles, it runs on LPG, weighs almost three and a half tons and has several unusual specifications - including specially lowered seats to accommodate her large collection of hats.

The rear of the car is also fitted with laminated glass with an unusual reflective coating which allows the Queen to see -and be seen - without the temperature rising intolerably.

The Queen was in the City of London yesterday to meet some of the behind-the-scenes workers who keep the capital functioning - and there wasn't a banker in site.

The Queen is not unfamiliar with using public transport. Shortly before Christmas she was seen here boarding a train from Kings Cross to Kings Lynn in Norfolk

Her first stop was to meet staff, most of whom are volunteers, at the RNLI Tower Lifeboat Station on the River Thames who have saved 183 lives in the last eight years and rely entirely on public donations to carry out their work.

She then moved onto Aldgate tube station where she met station staff in the ticket hall and viewed a memorial plaque to mark the July 7 bombings.

Looking remarkably bright despite the drizzle in a red tweed coat and velvet trimmed hat, the Queen then went for a lunch of salmon, slow cooked lamb and English rose champagne (which she declined in favour of her preferred Dubonnet and Gin with a twist of lemon) in the landmark Gherkin building.

The lunch was cooked by young people from the Hoxton Apprentice, a group of charitable restaurants which provides apprenticeships for people who have been unemployed or lost their way in life.

Afterwards she took a stroll across Tower Bridge - much to the surprise of passing motorists.

Accompanied by her lady-in-waiting and equerry, the sprightly monarch strolled on the pavement past a queue of traffic, prompting astonished drivers to wind down their windows in disbelief

It was after her visit to Aldgate that the Queen's armour-plated Bentley broke down. She was then helped into a police Range Rover to get to her final engagement of the day

One's sign: The Queen smiles broadly as she is presented with a London Underground sign for Buckingham Palace

And when she was up, she was up: The Queen takes in the view from the Gherkin after her visit to Aldgate Tube station

source: dailymail

Matt Lucas is a Littler Briton as he slims down on doctor's orders

Super slimmer: Matt Lucas shows off his slimmed down physique outside the BBC today (left), compared to her formerly heavier frame

Eight months after he was ordered by doctors to go on a drastic diet, comedian Matt Lucas is cutting a dramatically thinner figure these days.

Spotted leaving the BBC Radio 1 studios today, the 35-year-old comedian looked slimmed down and dapper in his tailored suit.

The Little Britain funnyman was told to reduce his daily calorie intake to 1,500 last Spring over fears he may develop diabetes.

The London-born star took the doctor's warning serious after tragically losing his own father John to a heart attack in 1996.

When he started his diet last Spring, the 5ft 6 comedian weighed around 14 stones and had already lost two stones by last September.

And given his svelte appearance today, it looks like he has lost even more weight.

Lucas revealed he was going on a diet last May after admitting he had a lack of self-discipline when it came to food.

Hopefully Lucas was assisted in his diet by someone more encouraging than his cruel Little Britain character Majorie Dawes, who runs a 'Fat Fighters' weight-loss club, despite weighing 15 stone herself.

Looking after number one: Lucas went on a drastic diet after being warned about his weight by a doctor

Lucas told Heat magazine: 'My doctor said that my health was at risk. I didn't want my health to be in danger. My dad died at 56. So I thought I needed to sort it out and take responsibility.

'I also realised I had got to the stage where I couldn't actually picture myself as not fat.'
While Lucas has already lost several stones, he accepts he'll never be a skinny man.

Inspiration? Lucas as 'Fat Fighters' tyrant Marjorie Dawes in Little Britain

He explained: 'The likelihood of me being a proper thin man is remote. I think I'll end up being a stone overweight.'

As well as reducing his calorie intake, Lucas also enrolled in the gym with the help of a personal trainer.

He said: 'It's hard, but it does get the endorphins going and I do get a tremendous sense of achievement as I lie there in pain. My trainer is a really nice, eccentric lady, and while we train we have really interesting conversations.'

Despite having some difficult times in his younger years - like losing his hair at the age six and the divorce of his parents four years later, Lucas insisted there was no emotional reason behind his prior over-eating.

He said: 'People often look for deep psychological and emotional reasons why people eat, and I'm sure for many people those exist.

'But other people, and I would include myself, are just f**king greedy bastards who like eating. It's nice - it's a nice feeling. Eating chocolate is nice, right? Chocolate's f**king great.

'So I don't think it was a horrible self-comforting thing, I think it was just lack of self-discipline. Most people want a load of chocolate, but they stop. They think, if I do that I'll get fat. Whereas I just thought, I don't care.'

source: dailymail

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fireman saves woman motorist from drowning after she drives across flooded ford

Drama: The fireman steps in to save this woman driver from drowning in the swollen River Loddon

This is the dramatic moment a woman motorist was saved from drowning by a firefighter standing up to his shoulders in swirling floodwater.

The victim was swept downriver in her car after ignoring warning signs and driving into a ford which is normally only inches deep.

However torrential rain had turned the River Loddon in Berkshire into a torrent and the water across the road was actually five feet deep.

These pictures, taken by a passer-by, show the moment the woman driver tentatively decided to risk crossing the ford at Charvil, near Reading, Berkshire, yesterday afternoon.

Moments later the car began to float and was swept away with the helpless driver clinging to the steering wheel and unable to prevent her fate.

The driver, aged in her 40s, was trapped in the car with the water rapidly rising up to the windows.

Horrified onlookers could only watch from the banks of the River Loddon as the fast moving current started to pull the Vauxhall Astra downstream.

The woman was eventually pulled head first from the car by firefighters neck deep in water using specialist rescue equipment as the vehicle floated across the swirling ford.

Today the woman was recovering at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, where she was being treated for exposure.

Steve Collier, landlord of the Lands End Pub saw the woman enter the water after ignoring the warning signs showing the water at a height of nearly 5ft deep.

Mistake: The unnamed driver decided to brave crossing a flood-swollen ford - minutes later she was swept away

'I couldn't believe it when the Vauxhall Astra just drove in,' he said.

'Straight away the back end of the car was dragged to the left and you could see there was no movement from inside the car.

'Within a couple of minutes the windows were steaming up and the car was being dragged down the river by the current.

'It was in far too deep for any rescue attempt with a normal car and all we could do was ring 999.' Emergency services raced to the river crossing in Park Lane, Charvil, yesterday/on Tuesday just before 2pm.

When fire crews arrived on the scene the water inside the Vauxhall had risen to chest height and the woman was unable to free herself.

With time running out firefighters decided not to wait for a boat and instead inflated a hose to use as a line to the submerged Vauxhall Astra.

Rescue: The normally inches-deep ford was at least five feet deep as she tried to cross it

Rescuers then broke the side window and pulled the woman out to safety.

'If we had left it any longer there could have been serious issues so we effected a rescue,' said Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service watch manager Phil Holdford.

'She was extremely cold and shocked at what had happened. The ford was about 5ft deep in the middle and the car had floated some way downstream.

'No-one should drive into a ford when the water is as deep as that.' Mr Collier said up to 120 motorists were rescued from the water each year after ignoring the clearly displayed warning signs.

'We really do not understand why people do it,' he said.

'It is at least 50ft to the other side and you can clearly see the water ahead of you moving very very quickly.

'I know some people blame satellite navigation systems and others think they can cross it in the summer so will be able to do it now.' Firefighters had been called to same the ford last Saturday to rescue two men who became stranded in a VW Passat.

The car had to be winched from the swollen Ford.

source: dailymail

Princess Beatrice lends royal polish to Fashion Week as Alice Dellal treads the catwalk at Issa show

By Tamara Abraham

Perfect couple: Princess Beatrice and Dave Clark were sitting front row at the Issa show at Somerset House

Most men won't even go shopping with their girlfriends, so it must be love for Princess Beatrice and boyfriend Dave Clark, who attended the Issa show at London Fashion Week yesterday.

The pair, who were sitting front row to watch star model Alice Dellal walk the catwalk, looked every inch the perfect couple as they shared a joke while waiting for the show to start.

Wearing this season's Issa ant-print dress, teamed with a smart black blazer, the 21-year-old Princess looked glossy and polished.

She was joined by a slimline Alexandra Burke, who wore a strapless leather dress, and Peaches Geldof, who wore a vermilion red style, both from the current spring line.

Former model Jodie Kidd, singer Pearl Lowe, model Tolula Adeyemi and television presenter Louise Roe were also among the VIPs supporting the label, which is a favourite with stars as diverse as Scarlett Johansson and Gwen Stefani to Madonna and Sarah Brown.

Kate Middleton, who is also an Issa fan, did not attend, but her sister Pippa and brother, James, also joined the stars catwalk-side.

It was an impressive turnout given that its timing clashed with the star-studded Burberry show, which also took place yesterday afternoon.

Front row friends: Peaches Geldof, who sat next to television presenter Louise Roe, was joined at the show by Kate Middleton's siblings James and Pippa, who attended in lieu of their sister

Supermodel Naomi Campbell, who is a long-time friend of designer Daniella Issa Helayel and usually a regular on the label's catwalk, did not attend - instead 22-year-old society model Alice Dellal was star of the show.

Dellal, whose head is partially shaven, modelled two statement designs from the autumn/winter 2010 collection; a beaded minidress, and a shimmering sequinned halterneck gown.

They formed part of a collection that had something of a rock-chic edge, with leather trousers and shearling coats and gilets, styled with fierce ankle boots and oversized sunglasses.

Celebrity turnout: Former model Jodie Kidd (left) and singer Pearl Lowe (centre) were among the stars to join Princess Beatrice (right) on the front row at the Issa show

Frock stars: Peaches Geldof and Alexandra Burke, pictured with designer Daniella Issa Helayel, both wore Issa

But the label's Brazilian-born designer, Daniella Issa Helayel, did not stray too far from the signature style that has, to date, won her legions of fans.

A new incarnation of her 'Lucky' dress came in vermilion red - a hue that appeared throughout, while those easy-to-wear silk jersey numbers were printed with a vibrant geometric design in khaki, lavender, red and yellow.

Yesterday's show took place on the penultimate day of London Fashion Week. Today's offering will feature menswear designers including Gieves and Hawkes, Topman Design, Hardy Amies and relative newcomer, A Child Of The Jago, by Agent Provocateur founder Joe Corre.

Model behaviour: Alice Dellal showcased two statement looks from Issa's autumn/winter 2010 collection

Rock chic: Leather trousers and shearling gilets were styled with fierce ankle boots and oversized sunglasses

Signature style: Favourites such as printed silk jersey dresses and designer Daniella Issa Helayel's famous 'Lucky' frock (centre) had not been forgotten

source :dailymail

Why women are the winners in Trivial battle of the sexes

By Beth Hale

Battle of the sexes: After a five-month survey it appears women are the victors when it comes to the popular board game. (Posed by models)

It's a question that has fuelled many an argument: Who’s smarter, men or women? Now, thanks to the admittedly unscientific experiment of a game of Trivial Pursuit, we have the answer.

And it’s bad news for the men, with the women nudging ahead to clinch victory. As the fairer sex celebrates and the chaps nurse their wounded pride, it should be pointed out that this wasn’t just any old round of Trivial Pursuit.

The makers of the game organised an online version that took place on a global scale, in nine languages, lasted for five months and saw some 15,121,731 questions asked and answered – although not all of them correctly. To clamp down on cheating, there was a 20-second time limit on answering the multiple choice questions.

The final result placed women 100,000 points ahead of men

The balance of power shifted repeatedly between the sexes, which were sometimes just a few correct answers apart, but ended with the women clinching victory. They correctly answered 4,088,139 compared to 4,077,596 by the men.

Welcoming the result, former Countdown maths expert Carol Vorderman said: ‘It’s a magnificent result for women. The game is all about multi-tasking and women are obviously the leaders in that field.

‘The women always match the men on the tough subjects in Trivial Pursuit, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was a foregone victory.’

Unlike the board game, where the category of question is determined by the roll of the die, players in the online game were able to select the subjects that appealed to their ‘inner genius’.

In a sign of the times, the most questions were selected from the Entertainment category. The second most popular topic was Science & Nature, followed by Sports & Leisure and History. Arts & Literature, Geography and People & Places were least popular.

Entertainment was a piece of cake for the women, who answered twice as many of these questions as men and had a 56.8 per cent success rate. The second best category for women was Science & Nature, but they struggled with questions from the People & Places category, answering only 41.7 per cent correctly.

Men did best in Science & Nature, answering 57 per cent correctly, and scored 56.7 per cent for Entertainment. Sports & Leisure, where they answered twice as many questions as the women, was only their third best subject.

Participants had been invited to take part at with questions available in English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish. Overall, Britain answered 954,000 questions.

Katreena Lines, of Trivial Pursuit, said: ‘The online experience invited everyone to show off their inner genius. Our congratulations to the women.’

Now Trivial Pursuit is planning a new experiment – the Battle of the Generations. It will pit the under 30 ‘tech-savvy’ crowd against the over 30 ‘life-savvy’ set in a new experiment from mid-March.

source : dailymail

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

'You'll have to wait a while yet': Prince William lets slip that there may not be a royal wedding for some time

By Rebecca English

Taking aim: William takes part in an archery lesson while blindfolded at St Dunstan's

Prince William let slip that the country might be waiting a little longer for another royal wedding today.

The 27-year-old prince - who vowed he wouldn't get married before his 28th birthday in June this year - revealed his thoughts on the issue as he toured a centre for visually impaired ex-servicemen in North Wales.

Chatting with Corporal Simon Brown, who was blinded by a sniper in Iraq three years ago, the royal admired the soldier's glass eye which had been emblazoned with a Union Jack, remarking: 'Very patriotic'.

Cheeky Simon, 31, joked: 'Well, I'm trying to get an invite to your wedding'.

'Oh you'll have to wait a while yet,' replied a laughing William, who has been dating his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton for more than seven years.

The prince also proved he was game when he agreed to try his hand at archery wearing a blindfold.

He stood 25 yards from the target - twice the normal distance for a beginner - and was forced to use a right-handed bow, which is a little awkward for someone who is left-handed, as he took aim.

Cheeky: Prince William was asked for an invitation to his wedding by Simon Brown who was blinded by sniper fire while serving in Basra in 2006

'It's hard enough when you can see, let alone when you can't...oh this is going to be embarrassing,' he said - and it was.

The prince's first arrow sailed four foot to the left of the target, while his next two fell just short.

When he finally took the blindfold off and had another go, it fell woefully short again.

Prince William wears special glasses, designed to simulate the effects of visual impairment at St Dunstan's centre

'Right, that's it. Still missed. I can't even hit it when I can see,' he said.

'That's all I am going's humiliating enough as it is!'

William's brush with a bow took place at the St Dunstan's centre, Llandudno. The charity provides welfare, rehabilitation and nursing for blind ex-servicemen and women.

Keeping us guessing: William and Kate Middleton have been dating for more than seven years after meeting at university

St Dunstan's has already helped more than 5,000 soldiers and says it is seeing a growing number of newly war-blinded soldiers injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

Among them is Simon, from Morley, West Yorkshire. A Corporal with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, he was just minutes from safety when his sight was cruelly snatched away by an Iraqi sniper in December 2006.

The then 28-year-old mechanic was just returning to his Basra base after rescuing six of his colleagues whose vehicle had broken down when he came under fire.

'The dust was so bad that we couldn't see, so I poked my head out of the turret,' Corporal Brown recalled.

'Suddenly a bullet came out of nowhere, entering through my left cheek and exiting out of my right.I fell down back inside the vehicle screaming.

'I didn't realise at first that I had lost my sight. In fact my injuries were so horrific, I just went into self-preservation mode.

'I was given a life-saving emergency tracheotomy and [they] put me in a self-induced coma. I didn't wake up for 17 days.'

source: dailymail

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hundreds of gallons of fuel leak from Thomas Cook holiday jet seconds after take-off

By Nick Pisa

This is the dramatic moment when a packed British holiday jet had to make an emergency landing at an Italian airport as thousands of gallons of fuel leaked from a wing

This is the dramatic moment a packed British holiday jet had to make an emergency landing at an Italian airport as hundreds of gallons of fuel leaked from a wing.

The Boeing 757 belonging to holiday company Thomas Cook had just taken off from Turin's Caselle airport en route to Birmingham, with 231 passengers who had finished a half-term ski break.

But just minutes after leaving the tarmac the captain of flight 5739 radioed the control tower to alert them that he was dealing with a major emergency after he spotted the gushing fuel leak from the right hand wing.

As the dramatic sequence of photographs shows the fuel was leaking even as the undercarriage doors were closing and the trail it left is clearly evident against the azure sky

Officials on the ground had also noticed the situation and launched a major situation alert with fire engines lining the runway of the airport which was immediately closed.

As the dramatic sequence of photographs shows the fuel was leaking even as the undercarriage doors were closing and the trail it left is clearly evident against the azure sky.

Terrified passengers had also noticed the leak and the pilot informed them of the situation before reaching a safe altitude from where he then began his descent back to Caselle.

The amount of fuel leaking meant he would never have reached Birmingham and he kept the plane flying for half an hour to lighten it before safely touching down late yesterday (sun) afternoon.

Fire crews stood by as the Boeing 757 made its way to an isolated area of the airport where it was surrounded by emergency crews and the passengers safely taken off.

Fuel streams from the wing tank after one of the Boeing 757 seals failed moments after takeoff

Minutes after leaving the tarmac the captain of flight 5739 dramatically radioed the control tower to alert them that he was dealing with a major emergency after he spotted the gushing fuel leak

One passenger said:'The leak was immediately evident to those people sitting on the right hand side and so there was an immediate wave of alarm through the plane.

'The pilot immediately came on the tannoy and explained what was going on but some people were worried that because of the amount of fuel leaking there wasn't enough to get back to Turin.

'In the end the plane landed safely and the pilot and crew were fantastic there was a big cheer and a round of applause from everyone once we were back on the ground.'

Passengers on board were put up in a hotel overnight while engineers flew out to Turin from Birmingham to fix the problem which officials at the airport said was due to a faulty valve.

Jet alert: The Boeing 757 landed safely just half an hour after taking off

The runway had to close for two hours while it was cleaned of the fuel and several incoming flights, including another Thomas Cook flight from Manchester, were diverted to Milan airport.

The jet landed safely Birmingham this morning.

A Thomas Cook spokesman said: 'We can confirm that flight TCX127L to Birmingham yesterday experienced a fuel leak after take off from Turin airport, the pilot immediately landed the aircraft safely.

'An engineer was sent to Turin to repair the aircraft, and we'd like to apologise for the delay in the flight completing it's journey to Birmingham this morning.'

source: dailymail

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Before he became famous: Fresh-faced Russell Crowe as a thin twenty-something on stage for the first time

By Sara Nathan

Rise to fame: Russell Crowe's humble beginning performing in his big break musical Bad Boy Johnny in Australia, aged just 22

The fresh-faced actor hardly looked like a burly Gladiator as he made his stage debut after a string of odd jobs, including a failed attempt as a bingo caller.

Believe or not, this is the first glimpse of the Russell Crowe years before he collected an Oscar for his role as Maximus Decimus Meridius.

For the first time, composer Daniel Abineri has revealed how he gave a 22-year-old Crowe his big break just weeks after the notoriously fiery star was sacked as a bingo caller for being rude.

Detailing the truth behind Crowe’s rise to fame, Mr Abineri told how he gave the wannabe a starring role in his musical Bad Boy Johnny and the Prophets of Doom - a show that later got banned from the British stage - until he was forced to axe him because the actor could not sing.

Mr Abineri, 51, first met Crowe, who is about to make his return to the big screen as Robin Hood, while he was looking for performers to join him in a New Zealand touring version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Crowe, now 45, was born in New Zealand, but spent part of his childhood in Australia before returning with his family to Auckland aged 14.

Steamy: But although Crowe was charismatic, he couldn't sing

And in a revealing interview with the Daily Mail, the former actor reminisced about his six-month stint on the road with Crowe, saying: ‘We held an open call in Auckland to find people to join the Rocky Horror Show.

‘There was this guy standing there dressed head to toe in black leather, with a big quiff. He was very surly and I asked him ‘what’s your name’ and he told me ‘Russ Le Roq’ – that was his stage name.

Not good enough: He was fired after six weeks because he could not sing well

‘He had just been sacked from his job as a bingo caller in Rotorua - apparently he was rude to the crowd when he was calling out the numbers, and he was quite proud of that!

‘The most experience he had before that was appearing in his school production of Grease. He was in a band called Roman Antix and had released a single called I Just Want To Be Like Marlon Brando, who was his hero.’

He added: ‘There was definitely something about Russell, so I gave him the part of Eddie/Dr Scott.

'He was extremely determined and really into his character. At one point during the tour, I told him his character had been based on Doctor Strangelove – so we then discover Russell has painted his face white and turned his hair grey for the role.

‘He was so ambitious. He would watch everything the actors did and soaked it in. I had to tell him to change his name – he called himself Russ Le Roq because he was worried that his famous cousins, the Australian cricket stars Martin and Jeff Crowe would overshadow his attempts to make it as an actor.

‘But I told him Russell Crowe was a great name for an actor.’

Following the tour, Mr Abineri returned home to Sydney in Australia, only for Crowe to move in with him.

He laughed: ‘Russell had no flat, no where to live, no where to sleep, barely any money, so we allowed him to stay until he got his own place.’

At the same time, Mr Abineri was writing his musical, Bad Boy Johnny, which follows the fortune of Johnny, who is born to single mother and part-time prostitute Mary.

Johnny goes on to steal his first guitar and form a band which is then discovered by evil parish priest Father MacLean.

The show then takes a darker turn as Johnny is voted as the person the world would like to see as the new Pontiff on an X Factor-style show – before discovering MacLean raped his mother and is in fact his father.

Mr Abineri said: ‘Russell was around the whole time I was writing Bad Boy Johnny and when finally we got the backing to stage it he kind of sidled up to me and said ‘Hey, could I play Johnny?’

‘He sang for me, but he just sounded like an Elvis impersonator, the voice wasn’t great, but he had a lot of charisma.

Starting out: Composer Daniel Abineri gave a 22-year-old Crowe his big break just weeks after the notoriously fiery star was sacked as a bingo caller for being rude

‘Russell was obsessed with Elvis and John Lennon and even had their posters up on his wall.’

With Crowe in the lead role, the production launched in Australia in 1989. However, just six weeks later, a concert promoter agreed to a bigger tour.

But there was just one problem – the promoter told Mr Abineri he had to sack Crowe.
The composer said: ‘I was really given no choice.

‘After the initial run, the promoter said I had to get rid of him, that was the deal. It was with great regret, because Russell had become a friend.’

He added: ‘I had to call Russell up, he was really upset. But it worked out for the best because a couple of days later he got a role in his first film, The Crossing, where he met his wife Danielle Spencer, so things definitely worked out for the best.’

British-born Mr Abineri then moved back to London, where he hit the headlines – and earned the wrath of the Church Council of Great Britain alongside death threats from Opus Dei - when Bad Boy Johnny was forced off the stage.

The composer mounted the show as a five week limited showcase run at The Union Chapel in January 1994, but it was deemed as ‘offensive and blasphemous’, not least because the chapel was deconsecrated.

After the intervention of the Church Council the production closed down after nine performances.

However, this Spring the show is being revived for a nationwide tour.

Speaking about his various jobs, which included bartending and waiting to bingo-calling and horse-wrangling, Crowe has admitted: ‘I enjoyed all those jobs, You have to. If you're a waiter, the worst thing you can do is go to work resenting your job.

Oscar winning: Crowe as Maximus Decimus Meridius in 2000 film Gladiator

‘This will sound trite - but it's the reality, and part of my personality - yet when I was a waiter I tried to be the best waiter and when I was a bingo-caller I tried to be the best bingo-caller.’

While his sister-in-law admitted: ‘Russell used ruder versions of the bingo calls. His bosses failed to see the funny side and booted him out.’

The last time Mr Abineri saw Crowe was at the Brit Awards in 2000 and he said: ‘We talked about our touring days, he was friendly - I’m sure he didn’t hold anything against me!

‘I always thought it was something he kept buried in his past – but I was stunned when someone sent me a clip of Russell talking about Bad Boy Johnny last year on the Craig Ferguson show in America. Craig had been the priest in the UK show. I couldn’t believe it.

Crowe will return to the big screen in May as Robin Hood, directed by Ridley Scott, who also helmed Gladiator in 2000, for which the actor was awarded an Oscar for Best Actor.

source: dailymail