April 4th, 2011

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The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival

I spent today in Oxford at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival. It runs from Saturday 2 April to Sunday 10 April 2011 (it is an annual event) and takes place at Christ Church, Oxford.

It is here:

The Box Office is on 0870 343 1001.

I have Hay in my diary. I have the London Literature Festival in my diary. I randomly found out about this festival when I was researching the Crimson Petal and the White and was astounded at the quality of the speakers who were going to be there. It was better than Hay and the London Literature Festival.

The event itself was excellent and I bought a shedload of books. Highly recommended.

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Prom Praise, Royal Albert Hall

On Saturday 2 April 2011, I went to Prom Praise at the Royal Albert Hall. This was a concert given by the All Souls Orchestra, with the Prom Praise Massed Choir, and hosted by Rico Tice who is the Associate Minister at All Souls Church, Langham Place in London.

The event was not one that would ordinarily even have been on my radar - I only went because it was an All Souls event. It was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The orchestra and the choir were excellent. And the whole of the audience really got into the spirit of the event - everyone was there to have a great time and we definitely did that!

I bought the CD "Prom Praise: Celebrating 30 years" and listened to it today. I loved it!

Sorry to Danny, Benedict and Jonny, and despite my Frankenstein obsession, this event was better than Frankenstein. You felt part of a real community and the messages were wonderful.

Highly recommended.

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Stuart: A Life Backwards, BBC

I desperately want and need this material on the com. This is one of my favourite pieces of drama of all time - I adore it and I love it to pieces. It is a BBC film featuring my two favourite actors - Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy. They are the leading actors of their generation and both deliver outstanding performances in this film.

Photo courtesy http://www.benedictcumberbatch.co.uk/

Cut and pasted:
Based on the acclaimed book by Alexander Masters, STUART: A LIFE BACKWARDS is the unconventional non-fiction biography of homeless alcoholic Stuart Shorter. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Masters, a reclusive writer and illustrator who strikes up an unlikely friendship with Shorter, portrayed with a quiet intensity by Tom Hardy, during a campaign to release two charity workers from prison.

As the pair get to know each other, more and more portentous details of Stuart's traumatic childhood and turbulent adolescence come to light. Fascinated by how these events contributed to Stuart's current situation, Alexander encourages him to tell his life story - in reverse to make it 'more exciting – like a Tom Clancy murder-mystery'. Gradually with plenty of pathos, dry dark humour and without shying away from the more malignant aspects of Stuart's personality or the crimes committed, a very complex and tragic life is unraveled.

Raks's views:
This is a BBC drama/film - Let us give it up for the BBC! It is a hard-hitting social commentary and covers tough issues such as homelessness, drugs, alcohol and mental illness. It is powerful, moving, touching and, ultimately, heartbreaking. Both Benedict and Tom give the performance of their lives - this double act (Benedict and Tom) is better than Benedict and Jonny! The extras on the DVD are brilliant - there are incredibly long interviews with both Benedict and Tom. After Benedict, Tom Hardy is one of my longtime favourite leading actors - he is outstanding in this role. To be honest, looking at these photos I am drawn to the raw intensity of Tom Hardy. But, as I said, both Benedict and Tom are outstanding in this and the chemistry between them is tangible. Go Benedict, Go Tom!

Stuart on Amazon:

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My changing role at the Undershaw Preservation Trust

Lynn Gale, Co-Founder, The Undershaw Preservation Trust

"The main purpose of this e-mail is to just highlight a small change of role for Raks. I met with Raks on Saturday and after giving her a guided tour of Hindhead where Conan Doyle spent 10 years of his life with Touie and of course where the building we're all working to save is situated. After much thought it has been decided that Raks will step down from being responsible for all reps worldwide to concentrate on her efforts on London.

This is a very important territory and it is imperative that we invest the necessary time and energy in promoting the Save Undershaw campaign in the capital city of the UK and the city where Sherlock Holmes lived and where the vast majority of the stories are set.

Raks would also like to lead on relationship building with the Sherlock Holmes Society of London eg she is attending as many of their May events as possible to promote the save Undershaw campaign and to raise awareness about the plight of Undershaw - she will be well equipped to do this having seen Undershaw for herself this weekend.

So to free up Rak's time to focus on London and to lead relationship management with the Sherlock Holmes Society of London, I am taking on management of the reps for the time being."

Raks, London representative, the Undershaw Preservation Trust


Thank you so much for helping me out.

I can now dedicate all my time and effort to London, which is a city I am passionate about. I wanted to ensure that I was giving London the time, focus and energy it needed and deserved. I am also looking forward to leading the work with the Sherlock Holmes Society of London - they are one of the leading Holmes Societies in the world and it is a real honour and a privilege to be working in partnership with them. Thank you for stepping into the breach!

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Message from Richard IV, Sherlock expert, London Walks

Dear Rakshita,

I'm glad to know further efforts are being made to preserve Undershaw. I've followed its saga with interest. Even in its current state, it's a fine and significant building, and deserves to be preserved as a museum. I have a number of John Gibson's books (John Gibson is the Director of the Undershaw Preservation Trust), whose scholarship on Doyle I greatly admire, and the short video on your website makes the case for the house impressively.

Good luck with all your efforts.

Best wishes,

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Canon: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes: Quite possibly the greatest detective of all time, known for his deductive powers.

Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sherlock_Holmes_Portrait_Paget.jpg

"The only unofficial consulting detective," he answered. "I am the last and highest court of appeal in detection."
- Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of The Four

"His very person and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual observer. In height he was rather over six feet, and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing, save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin, hawk-like nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination. His hands were invariably blotted with ink and stained with chemicals, yet he was possessed of extraordinary delicacy of touch, as I frequently had occasion to observe when I watched him manipulating his fragile philosophical instruments."
- Dr. Watson in A Study in Scarlet
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Canon: Mycroft Holmes

In tribute to Mark Gatiss and Stephen Fry, the two modern day Mycrofts, who are both key supporters of the Save Undershaw campaign, I give you ... Mycroft Holmes.

The Bruce-Partington Plans:

“A moment later the tall and portly form of Mycroft Holmes was ushered into the room. Heavily built and massive, there was a suggestion of uncouth physical inertia in the figure, but above this unwieldy frame there was perched a head so masterful in its brow, so alert in its steel-gray, deep-set eyes, so firm in its lips, and so subtle in its play of expression, that after the first glance one forgot the gross body and remembered only the dominant mind.”

Sherlock speaking to John about Mycroft:

“You are right in thinking that he is under the British Government. You would also be right in a sense if you said that occasionally he is the British Government … Mycroft draws four hundred and fifty pounds a year, remains a subordinate, has no ambitions of any kind, will receive neither honour nor title, but remains the most indispensable man in the country. … His position is unique. He has made it for himself. There has never been anything like it before, nor will be again. He has the tidiest and most orderly brain, with the greatest capacity for storing facts, of any man living. The same great powers which I have turned to the detection of crime he has used for this particular business. The conclusions of every department are passed to him, and he is the central exchange, the clearinghouse, which makes out the balance. All other men are specialists, but his specialism is omniscience. … They began by using him as a short-cut, a convenience; now he has made himself an essential. In that great brain of his everything is pigeon-holed and can be handed out in an instant. Again and again his word has decided the national policy.”