Tag Archives: Egypt

Off the map study by Newcastle University professor highlights secret places

In a city whose story goes back to the Roman occupation there will be many little-known nooks and crannies left behind by history.

From the vampire rabbit opposite St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle to the “plaguey burial ground” at Byker, there would seem to be no spot left undiscovered.

But Alastair Bonnett, professor of social geography at Newcastle University, has laid claim to one.

He came across the city’s “lost island” on his journey to work from his home in Heaton.

The discovery led him to clamber over the barriers on the Central Motorway East – at a quiet time, it has to be said – to investigate.

His destination was a wooded, triangular piece of land left marooned by the building of the motorway and its slip roads in 1975.

Since then, the island has remained unregarded and unnoticed by the thousands who drive past it each day.

“These places are easily ignored, but once you start noticing any particular one it can start to exert a queasy fascination,” says Prof Bonnett.

It’s as if you are seeing a landscape that is invisible to everyone else.

Could I claim this island, become a 30-minute Crusoe amid the din?

Having reached his island, Prof Bonnett found a mix of maple and alder trees and self-seeded shrubbery.

His excursion was part of his interest in an age when Google Earth would suggest that every discovery has been made and every adventure had.

Not so, says Prof Bonnett, who provides the evidence in his new book Off the Map, from Aurum Press at £16.99.

In the book he explores 47 places across the world – and the island on his doorstep – which qualify as being off the map.

It will all be included in his talk on maps and the imagination at the Edinburgh International Book Fair on August 19.

Part of Prof Bonnett’s argument is that places matter to people – where they come from and where they live.

We are, he says, a place-making, place-loving species.

What makes your place special – its diversity and character – is important.

But paradoxically, says Prof Bonnett, was as well as the attraction to place there is also the human need to explore, to discover the new.

That manifests itself from the great voyages of discovery over the centuries to the carrot of exotic destinations dangled by the travel industry.

Our fascination with the hidden, the lost, the secret and mystery is evidenced by the obligatory use of the words in the titles of a certain type of TV programme.

We can develop intense relationships with places,” says Prof Bonnett.

But I have been increasingly concerned about how our sense of exploration and relationship to place has withered away as more places become similar and every high street has the same shops.”

One of the main components of character and specialness is evidence of heritage and history.

When you get rid of the past, it’s like a form of ideological cleansing, where only one vision survives,” says Prof Bonnett.

He is originally from Essex and moved to Newcastle in 1993.

He says: “ I saw that in Newcastle a very distinctive identity and culture had survived, and it was one of the inspirations for the book. The North East has been through the same process as everywhere else, but nevertheless it has retained something special.

“It’s a good place to write a book about the importance of a sense of place.”

Prof Bonnett’s list of Off the Map places includes:

The island of New Moore, which emerged in the Bay of Bengal as a cyclone washed material down rivers into the sea.

It was claimed by both India and Bangladesh. India stationed troops on it in 1981 and erected a flag pole.

But before the arguments could start the island sank beneath the waves.

Zheleznogorsk, 2,200 miles east of Moscow, was established in 1950 to make nuclear weapons. It did not appear on maps and was referred to by a PO box number.

It was only in 1992 that its existence was officially confirmed and entry is still highly restricted.

Derinkuyu, Turkey. A chamber was revealed when a wall gave way.

It led to the discovery of underground rooms large enough to house 30,000 people, wine and oil presses, stables, food halls, a church and staircases, all built it is believed by early Christians living in what was a lawless area.

North cemetery in Manila and the City of the Dead in Cairo. Both are home to thousands who have moved in among the tombs.

North Sentinel Island, 800 miles to the east of India, which has no natural harbour and is surrounded by reefs and rough seas.

The five-mile wide island is home to a tribe of around 100 who fire arrows at anyone who attempts to come close.

Wittenoom in Western Australia, whose only industry was a blue asbestos mine.

The town of 20,000 officially ceased to exist in 2007 because of the levels of contamination.

Kjong-dong in North Korea – a fake place where lights go on and off in tower bocks with no glass in the windows.

There are no residents or visitors. The blocks were built to suggest North Korea’s progress and modernity and to lure defectors from South Korea.

Source – Newcastle Journal,  13 Aug 2014

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Almanac – April 08

1904 – British mystic Aleister Crowley transcribed the first chapter of The Book of the Law.

The full title of the book is Liber AL vel Legis, sub figura CCXX, as delivered by XCIII=418 to DCLXVI.

Through the reception of this book, Crowley proclaimed the arrival of a new stage in the spiritual evolution of humanity, to be known as the “Æon of Horus”. The primary precept of this new aeon is the charge to “Do what thou wilt”.

The book contains three chapters, each of which was written down in one hour, beginning at noon, on 8 April 9 April, and 10 April in Cairo, Egypt. Crowley claimed that the author was an entity named Aiwass, whom he later referred to as his personal Holy Guardian Angel (analogous to but not identical with “Higher Self”).

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1929 – Jacques Brel born.  Belgian singer-songwriter who composed and performed literate, thoughtful, and theatrical songs that generated a large, devoted following in Belgium and France initially, and later throughout the world. He was widely considered a master of the modern chanson.

 Although he recorded most of his songs in French, he became a major influence on English-speaking songwriters and performers such as David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Marc Almond and Rod McKuen.

 In French-speaking countries, Brel was also a successful actor, appearing in ten films. He also directed two films, one of which, Le Far West, was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973.

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1973 – Pablo Picasso died. Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer.

As one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is widely known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore.

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Almanac – March 04

1193 – Salāh al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb died.  Better known in the Western world as Saladin,  he was the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria and the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty.

A Muslim of Kurdish origins, Saladin led Islamic opposition against the European Crusaders in the Levant. At the height of his power, his sultanate included Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Hejaz, Yemen, and parts of North Africa.

Saladin died of a fever. In his  possession at the time of his death were 1 piece of gold and 47 pieces of silver. He had given away his great wealth to his poor subjects leaving nothing to pay for his funeral. He was buried in a mausoleum in the garden outside the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria.

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1702 – Jack Sheppard born. Notorious English robber, burglar and thief of early 18th-century London. He was arrested and imprisoned five times in 1724 but escaped four times, making him a notorious public figure, and wildly popular with the poorer classes. Ultimately, he was caught, convicted, and hanged at Tyburn, ending his brief criminal career after less than two years.

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1878 – Peter D. Ouspensky born. Russian esotericist known for his expositions of the early work of the Greek-Armenian teacher of esoteric doctrine George Gurdjieff, whom he met in Moscow in 1915.

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1950 – Adam Rainer died. The only man in recorded human history  to have been both a dwarf and a giant.

Born in Graz, Austria-Hungary in 1899,  in 1917, at age 18, he was measured at  4 ft 0.25 in. – a  typical defining characteristic of dwarfism is an adult height below 4 ft 10 in.

Then, probably  as a result of a pituitary tumor, he had a dramatic growth spurt so that by 1931 he had reached a height of 7 ft 2 in.

As a result of his gigantism he became bedridden for the rest of his life. When he died in 1950 he had reached a height of7 ft 8 in.

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Almanac – November 26

1909 – Eugène Ionesco born.  Romanian and French playwright and dramatist, and one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd. Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco’s plays depict in a tangible way the solitude and insignificance of human existence.

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1922 – Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years. 

With Carnarvon, Carnarvon’s daughter, and others in attendance, Carter made the “tiny breach in the top left hand corner” of the doorway, and was able to peer in by the light of a candle and see that many of the gold and ebony treasures were still in place.

He made the breach into the tomb with a chisel his grandmother had given him for his seventeenth birthday. He did not yet know at that point whether it was “a tomb or merely a cache”, but he did see a promising sealed doorway between two sentinel statues. When Carnarvon asked “can you see anything?”, Carter replied with the famous words: “Yes, wonderful things.”

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1923 – Pat Phoenix born. English actress who became one of the first sex symbols of British television through her role of Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street – described by Prime Minister James Callaghan as “the sexiest thing on television”.  She also featured her on the cover of one of the Smiths‘ singles, “Shakespeare’s Sister”.

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1939 – Tina Turner born. American singer whose career has spanned more than half a century, earning her widespread recognition and numerous awards.Turner started out her music career in the mid-1950s as a featured singer with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm, first recording in 1958 under the name Little Ann with the song, “Box Top”. Her introduction to the public as Tina Turner began in the early 1960s with Ike as a member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue.

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1977 – ‘Vrillon’, claiming to be the representative of the ‘Ashtar Galactic Command’, took over Britain’s Southern Television for six minutes at 5:12 pm.  Generally considered to be a hoax, but the identity of the intruder is unknown.

The voice, which was disguised and accompanied by a deep buzzing, broke into the broadcast , over-riding the UHF audio signal of the early-evening news to warn viewers that “All your weapons of evil must be destroyed” and “You have but a short time to learn to live together in peace.”

The interruption ceased shortly after the statement had been delivered, transmissions returning to normal shortly before the end of a Looney Tunes cartoon. Later in the evening, Southern Television apologised for what it described as “a breakthrough in sound” for some viewers.

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The message in full-

    This is the voice of Vrillon, a representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command, speaking to you. For many years you have seen us as lights in the skies. We speak to you now in peace and wisdom as we have done to your brothers and sisters all over this, your planet Earth.

    We come to warn you of the destiny of your race and your world so that you may communicate to your fellow beings the course you must take to avoid the disaster which threatens your world, and the beings on our worlds around you. This is in order that you may share in the great awakening, as the planet passes into the New Age of Aquarius. The New Age can be a time of great peace and evolution for your race, but only if your rulers are made aware of the evil forces that can overshadow their judgments.

    Be still now and listen, for your chance may not come again.

    All your weapons of evil must be removed. The time for conflict is now past and the race of which you are a part may proceed to the higher stages of its evolution if you show yourselves worthy to do this. You have but a short time to learn to live together in peace and goodwill.

    Small groups all over the planet are learning this, and exist to pass on the light of the dawning New Age to you all. You are free to accept or reject their teachings, but only those who learn to live in peace will pass to the higher realms of spiritual evolution.

    Hear now the voice of Vrillon, a representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command, speaking to you. Be aware also that there are many false prophets and guides operating in your world. They will suck your energy from you – the energy you call money and will put it to evil ends and give you worthless dross in return.

    Your inner divine self will protect you from this. You must learn to be sensitive to the voice within that can tell you what is truth, and what is confusion, chaos and untruth. Learn to listen to the voice of truth which is within you and you will lead yourselves onto the path of evolution.

    This is our message to our dear friends. We have watched you growing for many years as you too have watched our lights in your skies. You know now that we are here, and that there are more beings on and around your Earth than your scientists admit.

    We are deeply concerned about you and your path towards the light and will do all we can to help you. Have no fear, seek only to know yourselves, and live in harmony with the ways of your planet Earth. We of the Ashtar Galactic Command thank you for your attention. We are now leaving the plane of your existence. May you be blessed by the supreme love and truth of the cosmos.

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Almanac – August 12

30 BC – Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last ruler of the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty, commited suicide, allegedly by means of an asp bite.

1198 – Battle Of Llanbedr Castell-Paen, Radnorshire. One of the bloodiest and decisive battles in Welsh history, an English army under William de Breos slaughtered 3000 Welsh of the army of Gwenwynwyn, Prince of Powys, thereby putting paid to the latter’s hopes for a united Wales.

1827 – William Blake died. English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form “what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language”. His visual artistry has led one contemporary art critic to proclaim him “far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced”.Although he lived in London his entire life, except for three years spent in Felpham, he produced a diverse and symbolically rich corpus, which embraced the imagination as “the body of God”, or “Human existence itself”.

Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of both the Romantic movement and “Pre-Romantic”, for its large appearance in the 18th century. Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England – indeed, to all forms of organised religion – Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American revolutions, as well as by such thinkers as Jakob Böhme and Emanuel Swedenborg. Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake’s work makes him difficult to classify.

1831 – Helena Blavatsky born. A scholar of ancient wisdom literature who along with H.S Olcott and Anagarika Dharmapala was instrumental in the Western transmission and revival of Theravada Buddhism. In 1875 Blavatsky and Olcott established a research and publishing institute called the Theosophical Society. Blavatsky defined Theosophy as “the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilization,” and her   extensive research into the many different spiritual traditions of the world led to the publication of what is now considered her magnus opus, The Secret Doctrine, which collates and organizes the essence of these teachings into a comprehensive synthesis. Blavatsky saw herself as a missionary of this ancient knowledge and one of the main purposes of the Theosophical Society was “to form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color”.  Blavatsky’s other works include Isis Unveiled, The Key to Theosophy, and The Voice of the Silence.

1960 – Echo-1, the first successful communications satellite, launched.

1981 – IBM released their first personal computer.

1992 – John Cage died.  American composer, music theorist, writer, and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century and he was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage’s romantic partner for most of their lives.

Mr. Frankenstein

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Almanac – July 15th

St. Swithin’s Day

A bishop of Winchester who died in 862. According to popular belief, he was at his own request buried in the churchyard, so that his grave could be watered by the rain and trodden on by passers-by.
On 15th July 971 his remains were moved to a shrine inside the cathedral, an operation that was alledgedly disrupted by heavy rain, which continued for 40 days.

This gave rise to the meteorological belief that whatever the weather does on this day, it’ll remain so for the next 40 days. As predictions go, its regularly proved wrong.

1381John Ball,  an English Lollard priest and  a leader in the Peasants’ Revolt, was hanged, drawn and quartered in the presence of King Richard II, and his head subsequently stuck on a pike on London Bridge.

Ball, who was called by Froissart “the mad priest of Kent,” seems to have possessed the gift of rhyme. He voiced the feelings of a section of the discontented lower orders of society at that time,  who chafed at villeinage and the lords’ rights of unpaid labour, or corvée.

At the time that the uprising began, Ball was imprisoned at the Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone, Kent and was released by the Kentish rebels. He preached to them at Blackheath (the insurgents’ gathering place near Greenwich) in an open-air sermon that included the following:

“When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman?From the beginning all men by nature were created alike, and our bondage or servitude came in by the unjust oppression of naughty men. For if God would have had any bondmen from the beginning, he would have appointed who should be bond, and who free. And therefore I exhort you to consider that now the time is come, appointed to us by God, in which ye may (if ye will) cast off the yoke of bondage, and recover liberty.
1799 – The Rosetta Stone is found in the Egyptian village of Rosetta by French Captain Pierre-François Bouchard during Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign.
1944 – Millie Jackson, American singer, born. The inimitiable Millie Jackson….
1951 – Gregory Isaacs, Jamaican reggae singer, born.
1952 – Johnny Thunders, American guitarist, singer and songwriter (New York Dolls, The Heartbreakers) born.
                                                         Mr. Frankenstein
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Almanac – July 14th

Bastille Day in France.
The storming of the Bastille occurred in Paris   on the morning of 14 July 1789. The medieval fortress and prison  represented royal authority in the centre of Paris. While the prison only contained seven inmates at the time of its storming, its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution. In France, Le quatorze juillet (14 July) is a public holiday, formally known as the Fête de la Fédération (Federation Holiday). It is usually called Bastille Day in English.

1881Billy The KidWilliam H. Bonney ( but born William Henry McCarty, Jr., also known as Henry Antrim )   shot and killed by Pat Garrett. According to legend he killed 21 men, but it is generally believed that he killed between four and nine.

 

1912Woody Guthrie born. Singer-songwriter and folk musician whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children’s songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar. and his best-known song is probably “This Land Is Your Land.” Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Jeff Tweedy and Tom Paxton have all acknowledged Guthrie as a major influence.
1918 Ingmar Bergman born. Swedish director, writer and producer for film, stage and television. Described by Woody Allen as “probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera,” he is recognized as one of the most accomplished and influential film directors of all time.He directed over sixty films and documentaries for cinematic release and for television, most of which he also wrote. He also directed over one hundred and seventy plays. . Most of his films were set in the landscape of Sweden. His major subjects were death, illness, faith, betrayal, and insanity.

1933 – The Nazi eugenics programme began,  with the proclamation of the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring that called for the compulsory sterilization of any citizen who suffered from alleged genetic disorders. Those  targeted were identified as “life unworthy of life” (German: Lebensunwertes Leben), including but not limited to the criminal, degenerate, dissident, feeble-minded, homosexual, idle, insane and the weak, for elimination from the chain of heredity. More than 400,000 people were sterilized against their will, while 70,000 were killed under Action T4, a “euthanasia” program.
1957 – Rawya Ateya takes her seat in the National Assembly of Egypt, thereby becoming the first female parliamentarian in the Arab world.
 
 
1959Grock the Clown died. Born Charles Adrien Wettach, was a Swiss clown, composer and musician. Called “the king of clowns”  and  “the greatest of Europe’s clowns”,  Grock was once the most highly paid entertainer in the world.
 

 

Mr. Frankenstein
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