Good onya SCIRT

Cover of BrunelLike many other people this morning I had to find a new way to work because of roadworks. It took me twice as long as usual to get there. It is all a bit stressful and frustrating. However, its also quite impressive. An enormous amount of work is being done on our earthquake stricken streets and SCIRT – the organisation in charge of it – has just received recognition of its excellent work from the Institution of Civil Engineers in London. It has been awarded the Brunel Medal which:

recognises valuable service or achievement, which has been rendered to or within the civil engineering industry.

Having watched people in hard hats spend months staring down a large and recalcitrant hole in Edgeware Road  – a problem that took a couple of years to solve – I feel quite certain that our hard-working roading engineers deserve all the recognition they can get.

It seems entirely appropriate that they should receive a medal named after the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, designer of so many other important transport engineering like railways, bridges and ships.

  • Find out more about Brunel at your library.

A story of courage

cover of from Matron to martyrThe stories of ordinary people who find courage to act bravely in the most difficult of circumstances continue to resonate with us. Author Lynley Smith has uncovered one such story and she will be giving a  talk at Central Library Peterborough tomorrow Wednesday 27 November at 1pm about her book From Matron to Martyr.

The story is about a distant relative of Lynley’s, Jane Haining, who was a Scottish missionary to Budapest before and during World War II. She worked as a matron of a girls’ home attached to the Scottish Mission and school in Budapest. Briefly, she remained in Budapest after the German invasion, was arrested and died in Auschwitz, a martyr for the sake of the children she looked after. She was named by Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum as one of the Righteous Among the Nations, in 1997.

The story is extremely powerful, so much so, that the second largest publisher in Hungary, Libri, has agreed to translate it into Hungarian and publish it there. It is also going to be used by a group working towards reconciliation between the Jewish community and Hungarian people in Hungary and surrounding countries next year.

Lynley will focus on how she came to write the book and the adventures she had as she travelled to research it. She also touches on the current state of anti-Semitism in Central Europe which brings a present day relevance to the story and explains why it is to be used next year to further the reconciliation process.

There is a connection to Christchurch in the story. Interestingly, Jane Haining’s best friend in Budapest, a lady name Frances Warburton Lee, who actually shared a prison cell with Jane at one stage, moved to Christchurch after the war. Lynley has not been able to trace her family. She, herself, would have passed on now. It could be that someone, perhaps a family member of Ms Lee’s, hearing about the talk and the book, could fill Lynley in on that information!

Star Wars is back

You probably already know that Disney has announced a release date for the next Star Wars movie. Apparently there at least three more to come. I have to admit that “Oh goodie” was not my first reaction. I was however interested to note that John Williams will be composing the music for the next release.

He composed the music for all the previous films and won a fistful of awards including an Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe for his score to the first one.

His original soundtrack took  film music out of the doldrums at the time, reviving it after a less than glittering period during the 60s and 70s. Williams deliberately set out to reflect late 19th century orchestral music, apparently because Lucas wanted a soundtrack that grounded the

otherwise strange and fantastic setting in a well-known, audience accessible music.

Indeed it was often credited with creating a resurgence in interest in that music.

Curious to have another listen, I decided to try out some of it in Naxos Music Online which has quite a range. I’m not sure I would like to sit down and listen to the soundtracks in their entirety, but many of the themes seem to me to have stood the test of time and who could forget the original title theme? Have a listen and see what you think.

If you’re keen on sci fi film music Naxos and Music Online cover Stargate SG1, Star Trek (films) and Star Wars as well as the odd film like Dune.