mcgillianaire: (Union Jack)
[ Originally posted 21 October 2013. Last updated 16 July 2016. ]

In the hagiography that greeted Mrs T's death, other politicians of her era emerged out of the woodwork. I was intrigued. How many of these old fogeys were still knocking about? The oldest I was certain of was Tony Benn (88). I also knew
Peter Tapsell, Douglas Hurd, Shirley Williams, Norman Tebbit (all 83), Dennis Skinner, Nigel Lawson (both 81),
Roy Hattersley and Michael Heseltine (80), were still alive. But who else? My findings threw up some interesting names...

Read more... )
mcgillianaire: (Football player)
When Roger Federer stepped onto Centre Court on Tuesday 30 June 2015, it marked his 63rd consecutive Grand Slam singles appearance, a record-breaking streak (for men and women) dating back to the 2000 Australian Open. If it wasn't for his losses as a qualifier in the preceding US and Australian Opens of 1999, he might easily have been playing his 67th consecutive Grand Slam tournament. Trailing him in second-place are Japan's Ai Sugiyama for the women with 62 and South Africa's Wayne Ferreira for the men on 56. Sugiyama and Ferreira never reached a Grand Slam final. In fact of all the players (men and women) who have made at least 45 consecutive appearances, only one other has played in more than two Grand Slam finals: the Swede Stefan Edberg, rather fittingly Federer's present-day coach.

On top of this injury-free consistency, can be added a record 17 Grand Slam titles (for men), a record 26 Grand Slam finals, a record 37 Grand Slam semi-finals and a record 45 Grand Slam quarter-finals. He also became the first man to reign supreme at the top of the rankings for more than 300 weeks, that included a record (for men and women) 237 consecutive weeks between February 2004 and August 2008. Even Novak Djokovic, with 154 weeks and who has dominated the men's game for the past four years, trails Federer by 148 weeks overall as world number one. While Rafael Nadal was number one for 141 weeks.

Supplant onto these: the record 10 consecutive Grand Slam final appearances between 2005 and 2007, followed by the second-best 8 consecutive appearances between 2008 and 2010 (Nadal is third-best with 5 consecutive finals); the 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-final appearances (Djokovic is second-best with 14); the 36 consecutive quarter-final appearances (Djokovic again second-best with 25, and counting); the first man to appear at least 5 times in each Grand Slam final (the next best is 3); one of four men in the Open Era to achieve the career Grand Slam (along with Rod Laver, Andre Agassi and Nadal); an Olympic singles silver-medalist and doubles gold-medalist; 86 ATP Tour titles, surpassed only by Jimmy Connors (105) and Ivan Lendl (94); 131 ATP tournament finals (surpased again only by Connors and Lendl); the only man to win at least one ATP Tour title for 15 consecutive years (one ahead of Lendl, two ahead of Connors). And you get the picture.

As if that wasn't enough, he has won the most prize money in the history of the sport (although Djokovic should surpass him soon enough), earned the most through endorsements (which few will ever surpass), is by far the most popular player in the world, is multi-lingual, has a beautiful supportive wife and two(!) sets of twins. All this before turning 34. And yet, when Federer stepped onto court yesterday afternoon to play Britain's Andy Murray for the umpteenth time, he delivered a performance that was at once clinical and majestic. One for the Gods to savour, and the mere mortals amongst us to cherish for all-time. Many others have written more eloquently about the aesthetic pleasure derived from watching the Swiss maestro in action, so let me end simply by saying, we are privileged to be living through a period when two of the greatest players ever to wield a racquet (Federer and Serena Williams) are still willing to put themselves through the grinder, in order to satisfy their own love for the game - and by extension, ours. Long may this continue!
mcgillianaire: (Default)

"In the East End of London, revivalist preacher William Booth and his wife Catherine establish the Christian Mission, later known as the Salvation Army. Determined to wage war against the evils of poverty and religious indifference with military efficiency, Booth modeled his Methodist sect after the British army, labeling uniformed ministers as “officers” and new members as “recruits.”

The Christian Mission, in which women were given ranks equal with men, launched “campaigns” into London’s most forsaken neighborhoods. Soup kitchens were the first in a long line of various projects designed to provide physical and spiritual assistance to the destitute. In the early years, many in Britain were critical of the Christian Mission and its tactics, and the members were often subjected to fines and imprisonment as breakers of the peace.

In 1878, the organization was renamed the Salvation Army, and two years later the first U.S. branch opened in Pennsylvania. During the Great Depression, the Salvation Army provided food and lodging for those in need, and during both world wars it distinguished itself through its work with the armed forces. By then, it had come to be appreciated as an important international charity organization.

Today, the Salvation Army, still based in London, has branches in more than 75 countries. The Army operates evangelical centers, hospitals, emergency and disaster services, alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs, community centers, social work centers, secondhand stores, and recreation facilities. Voluntary contributions and profits from the sale of its publications fund the organization."
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
...I arrived in London to settle here permanently. The photos below were taken on the night and subsequent morning of that memorable journey. It was my first flight to Blighty in three years - and I only stayed a night on that occasion - so this was actually my first proper visit in nearly four years. I was over the moon, making childhood dreams come true and all that jazz.

With mum at check-in in Muscat (then Seeb) International Airport. Dad had a separate flight that night to attend a conference in Italy. I think my sis was still in India. You can see bits of my Liverpool jersey that I was wearing in honour of the Champions League Final that was taking place as we were flying towards the Continent. The Mighty Reds were taking on The Rossoneri (AC Milan) in Athens. The pilot was kind enough to give us two score updates along the way. Unfortunately, we lost 2-1.

Read more... )

Five years

Dec. 3rd, 2014 12:40 am
mcgillianaire: (Geetopadesham)
"For what is it to die but to stand naked in
the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is to cease breathing, but to free
the breath from its restless tides,
that it may rise and expand and seek God

- Khalil Gibran, "On Death" The Prophet -
mcgillianaire: (Geetopadesham)

mcgillianaire: (Geetopadesham)

I never knew such a memorial existed in this country. Seems obvious now. I hope to visit it one day.

According to Wikipedia, "Over one million Indian troops served overseas, of whom 62,000 died and another 67,000 were wounded. In total at least 74,187 Indian soldiers died during the war."
mcgillianaire: (Hooka Pipe)
A year ago, the Sultanate of Oman was celebrating four decades of His Majesty's rule* and everything looked rosy. A month later Mohamed Bouazizi's self immolation in Tunisia sparked the Arab Spring. What an eleven months its been since then.

The question of His Majesty's successor assumes even more significance than it did before. Who will it be? And will he receive the wholehearted support of his Omani subjects, in the same way as his predecessor, the incumbent Sultan? GOK.

(* Although November 18 is celebrated as National Day, it is actually the Sultan's birthday. His Majesty came to power on 23 July 1970.)
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)
I thought the best way to commemorate this occasion would be to share an excerpt from my favourite speech by the Father of the Nation. It was delivered on 18 March 1922 at Ahmedabad Sessions Court where Gandhi pleaded guilty to the charge of “bringing or attempting to excite disaffection towards His Majesty’s Government", an offence punishable under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. The offence arose from three articles written by Gandhi in his weekly journal Young India. The speech formed part of Gandhi's oral and written statement to the court on the question of sentence. Gandhi represented himself but it mattered little as he did not seek to defend himself against the charges. For those of you who have seen Richard Attenborough's Oscar winning movie, Gandhi, starring Ben Kingsley as the Mahatma, you may recall a truncated though moving court scene in which the presiding judge (an Englishman) imposes the maximum penalty of six years for sedition, with the caveat that if at some future date His Majesty's Government saw fit to reduce the term, "no one would be better pleased than I". Gandhi's greatness lay in the fact that he submitted to the full force of English law while pursuing his fight for independence by preaching nothing but non-violence and non-cooperation. As Albert Einstein once said, "Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth."
    "Section 124 A, under which I am happily charged, is perhaps the prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen. Affection cannot be manufactured or regulated by law. If one has no affection for a person or system, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection, so long as he does not contemplate, promote, or incite to violence. But the section under which mere promotion of disaffection is a crime. I have studied some of the cases tried under it; I know that some of the most loved of India’s patriots have been convicted under it. I consider it a privilege, therefore, to be charged under that section. I have endeavored to give in their briefest outline the reasons for my disaffection. I have no personal ill-will against any single administrator, much less can I have any disaffection towards the King’s person. But I hold it to be a virtue to be disaffected towards a Government which in its totality has done more harm to India than any previous system. India is less manly under the British rule than she ever was before. Holding such a belief, I consider it to be a sin to have affection for the system. And it has been a precious privilege for me to be able to write what I have in the various articles tendered in evidence against me.

    In fact, I believe that I have rendered a service to India and England by showing in non-co-operation the way out of the unnatural state in which both are living. In my opinion, non-co-operation with evil is as much a duty as is co-operation with good. But in the past, non-co-operation has been deliberately expressed in violence to the evil-doer. I am endeavoring to show to my countrymen that violent non-co-operation only multiples evil, and that as evil can only be sustained by violence, withdrawal of support of evil requires complete abstention from violence. Non-violence implies voluntary submission to the penalty for non-co-operation with evil. I am here, therefore, to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is deliberate crime, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen. The only course open to you, the Judge and the assessors, is either to resign your posts and thus dissociate yourselves from evil, if you feel that the law you are called upon to administer is an evil, and that in reality I am innocent, or to inflict on me the severest penalty, if you believe that the system and the law you are assisting to administer are good for the people of this country, and that my activity is, therefore, injurious to the common weal." (Source)
I think one can draw parallels between Gandhi and America's Founding Fathers, both of whom held a deep reverence for English common law, yet felt successive English governments had abused the principles upon which the English constitution was based, to a point beyond repair both in America and in India. Indeed until the Amritsar Massacre of 1919, Gandhi accepted British rule in India. But the sequence of events leading up to the massacre convinced him, like similar events in America in the 18th century, that India would be better-off without the British. Independence arrived nearly thirty years later. Less than six months later Bapu died. I leave you with the words of American journalist, Edward R Murrow, "Mahatma Gandhi was not a commander of great armies nor ruler of vast lands. He could boast no scientific achievements or artistic gift. [He] died as he had always lived - a private man without wealth, without property, without official title or office."
mcgillianaire: (Cricket Stumps)
In Affectionate Remembrance
which died at Edgbaston
13th AUGUST 2011,
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing
friends and acquaintances
mcgillianaire: (Cricket Stumps)
I suppose when a cricket fan decides to make their Test debut as a spectator having followed the game with a religious passion for nearly twenty years, it seems only fitting to pick an occasion that turns out to be the biggest ever crowd for the last day's play of a Test at Lord's, the home of the world's greatest sport. And so it was for me last week Monday. The record books will show that England outplayed India comprehensively but as far as experiences go, few will match the pure joy that was 25 July 2011. It felt special from the moment the ticket prices were announced the evening before and the response online was immediate. I knew it was going to be a big crowd but I never imagined people would be turned away because it was full! It wasn't as bad as Old Trafford in 2005 but for the biggest ground in England, this was something new. At £20, boy was it worth it!

(If you missed the panoramic views of my day out at Lord's that I posted about a week ago, you can view them here).

By the time I arrived at St John's Wood tube station around eight, the queue had already snaked itself in an orderly fashion half a mile from the ground and onto Circus Road (as pictured above). Ticket sales were to begin at half-eight, gates to open at nine and play to start at eleven. And as the rate of people joining the queue behind us increased after my arrival, I'm fairly sure it eventually ended up close to a mile long.

The queues were so long because the MCC wanted to negate the effect of touts buying tickets in bulk. I'm led to believe the MCC normally sells a maximum of four tickets per person on Day Five at Lord's but for today they sold a maximum of one per person. And with free entry for Under-16s who had just embarked on their summer vacation, a lot of young fans could be seen waiting patiently with the rest of us. Stood in front of me was an Indian gentleman who was also attending his first Test at Lord's but he had arrived in London just for the match alone from Dubai. The lucky bugger didn't have any tickets until ten days before the first day's play but his English manager at work (he was employed with Willis Group Holdings) suggested writing to the MCC. He did and they got him tickets for the first four days and then he queued for the fifth!

23 More Pics From A Great Day Out ... with Commentary! )
mcgillianaire: (Royal Coat of Arms)

A panoramic view of the Laurieston district in the Gorbals area of Glasgow as seen from the north side of the River Clyde. The two delightful bridges of contrasting styles date from the Victorian era. [Taken 29 Jul 2011]

I've just returned from attending a wedding in Scotland but no it wasn't the Royal one. I spent the weekend in the Scottish Highlands celebrating the nuptials of a close friend who I have LJ to thank for meeting in the first place. She posted as [ profile] 3neonangels but stopped a few years ago. Thanks to her and her new hubby, I got to visit Glasgow and the Isle of Skye for the first time but in a bid to keep expenses to a minimum, found myself travelling by bus for about thirty-five hours in the space of three-and-a-half days. Of course it was worth it. And needless to say thanks to my old camera working again (albeit flash-free) the memorable experience will linger long in the memory. Unfortunately I can't be arsed and am too tired to make a proper pictorial post but I will leave you with a few panoramas to whet your appetite. In the meanwhile, have yerself a wee bonnie night!

Glasgow Central railway station is the busiest in Scotland and second-busiest UK station outside of London after Birmingham New Street. As you can tell, it has an endearingly Victorian dated look to it. [Taken 29 Jul 2011]

A panoramic view of the Scottish west coast taken from Armadale on the Isle of Skye, within the grounds of a castle and gardens that once belonged to Clan Donald, one of the largest Scottish clans. [Taken 30 Jul 2011]

Portree, the largest town in the Isle of Skye. Population: 2500. The scene of a beautiful wedding earlier in the day when the sun was shining, the men were wearing kilts and we were led by a bagpiper. [Taken 30 Jul 2011]
mcgillianaire: (Scale of Justice)

You can click on the image for a bigger view. [Taken Sat 28 May 2011]

As taken from Brown University's website:
    "The Baccalaureate Service, with roots in medieval academic tradition, honors the achievements of the candidates for the bachelor’s (“bacca”) degree by presenting them with the laurels (“lauri”) of oration. Brown’s baccalaureate tradition derives from the immense range of religious, ethnic, geographic, linguistic, and musical traditions present within the campus community. The ceremony includes rituals, readings, and prayers from Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism and animist traditions, as well as choral and instrumental music, the Chinese lion dance, poetry, dance, and Taiko and Senegalese drumming.

    The service is conducted in the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America, completed in 1775 “for the Publick Worship of Almighty God, and also for holding Commencement in.” Significant portions of the University’s Commencement ceremonies have been held in the church ever since."

As family we witnessed the ceremony from College Green on the main campus. It took place at the same time as the European Cup Final between Barcelona & Man United, but I chose to stay until the end of the Baccalaureate address that was delivered by Kenneth Roth, a 1977 Brown graduate and human-rights crusader. He has been the executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993 and he spoke about "Finding Your Way When There Are No Rules" by "explaining what human rights' work and the Arab Spring say about making one's way in the world." Even though all the goals had been scored by the time I left, the talk was worth it.
mcgillianaire: (Royal Coat of Arms)
As much as I don't want to care about it the fact is I do. I maybe proud to call myself a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, but you can't take away the fact that as nauseating, outdated and wasteful these extravagant occasions are, pageantry is something we Brits do well. It's in our blood, or at least among those in the line of succession. It's part of our cultural heritage, a ceremony dating back centuries and as British as roast beef. When it comes to the Royal Family this lot know how to put on a good show. And tomorrow will be no different. There's even a good chance of rain just for good measure. I wish the newly-weds-to-be all the best in life.

PS: Just seen an amusing headline in Google News: The best spots to watch the royal wedding in the UAE ... I never realised the view from the Burj Khalifa was that good! (Should've gone to Specsavers)

PS 2: Dad says he bought his first TV in the UK to coincide with the last major Royal Wedding in July 1981 between Charles and Diana. Dad had just been appointed Registrar at the hospital he was working at (incidentally, the one just down the road from where I'm typing these words) and wanted to splash out. It was no ordinary Sony TV for it was being used till even a couple months ago by our housemaid in Oman! As they say, old is gold.
mcgillianaire: (Ari G)

Ignore the date on the picture. I grew up thinking it was the 24th but it's actually the 21st.
mcgillianaire: (This is London)
At 25°C, tomorrow is supposed to be the hottest day of the year in London so far. It's been a ridiculously warm month and we're on course for one of the hottest ever Aprils since records began. The current 'heatwave' which began today (24°C) is expected to last until April 29, the day of the Royal Wedding (a public holiday!) and includes the Easter Weekend. Now that's what I call good timing!
mcgillianaire: (LFC Liverbird)

(Click on the pic to read about the Hillsborough Disaster)
mcgillianaire: (Sachin Tendulkar)

"On a train from Shimla to Delhi, there was a halt in one of the stations. The train stopped for a few minutes as usual. Sachin was nearing his century, batting on 98. The passengers, railway officials, everyone on the train waited for Sachin to complete the century before pulling out of the station. This Genius can stop time in India!" -Peter Roebuck

Well, well. Despite the fact the Proteas are going to win this match and by a handsome margin, most Indians will remember it because of one guy: Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. He became the first man in the 133-year history of Test cricket to score fifty centuries. It's a phenomenal achievement. Seven centuries for the year and one more match to go. It seems incredible that after twenty-one successful years on the international circuit, this is his most prolific. Besides his run-scoring feats in the Test arena, he became the first player in the history of the one-day international format to score a double-hundred. And in the shortest form of the game (Twenty20), he led by example by guiding his Mumbai Indians outfit to the final of IPL3. Just a few years ago when he was going through the worst patch of form in his career, many people had written him off. They said he didn't score centuries when it mattered, that his second and fourth innings averages were not good enough, that his record against South Africa was below average, and that he didn't do well during the month of December. But one by one he has gone about rectifying each of these chinks in his statistical armoury. He now stands at the gates of cricketing immortality. Jai Hind!


Nov. 29th, 2010 12:00 am
mcgillianaire: (What Wouldn't Jesus Do?)
On November 23, this journal turned 7. I usually remember such occasions but last week I was in India, and distracted. Thanks for reading.
mcgillianaire: (UK Supreme Court)
While I was away in Amreeka, I completely missed the sad news about his death from lung cancer at 76. Bingham has been described by many as the greatest British jurist since the Second World War. That is lofty praise indeed. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, calls him her hero and recalls a particular quote from a speech he gave to Liberty's conference last year in defence of the Human Rights Act:
    "Which of these rights, I ask, would we wish to discard? Are any of them trivial, superfluous, unnecessary? Are any of them un-British? There may be those who would like to live in a country where these rights are not protected but I am not of their number".
Hear, hear. It is perhaps fitting that his final great contribution was a book titled The Rule of Law released earlier this year, a lucid exposition of a complex topic made accessible to the wider public by building upon a famous speech made on the same subject in 2006. Some would even say he was instrumental in the creation of the independent Supreme Court which opened in 2009. He will be sorely missed.

--The Guardian Obituary


mcgillianaire: (Default)

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