THE UGLIEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR

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We do not have an annual celebration where pale, chaste virgins with flawless features, clear eyes and marmoreal skin recite epic poems in Attic Greek.  But we do have Halloween.  Who can explain our national fascination with poisonous toads, goblins, carbuncles, dripping blood, fang-toothed harridans, corpses, skeletons, howling wolves,venomous flesh-eating bats, homicidal owls, brindled mewing cats, fear, mutants, boils, spiders, whining hedge-pigs, poltergeists, ghosts, evil spirits, cauldrons of seething poison and creaking noises in the night?

The answer is: anyone who understands the hold which ugliness has over our imaginations. Beauty, peace and quietude are as boring as poems in Attic Greek.  Repellent features, nocturnal anxiety and scarynoises are totally engrossing. 

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On the evidence of Halloween and our national  commitment to all that is threatening    and repulsive, you would have to agree that ugliness is superior to beauty.  Not just because it lasts longer, but because it is more…..interesting. 

 

By Stephen Bayley, author of  Ugly: The Aesthetics of Everything

 

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BEATLESMANIA hits Carlton Books, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Love Me Do”!

“Do You Want to Know a Secret”? Here at Carlton Books, we are especially looking forward to Friday this week. “Ask Me Why”! It’s “Because” the 5th of October marks the 50th “Birthday” of the release of the first ever Beatles single, “Love Me Do”!

“Love, love me do

You know I love you

I’ll always be true

So please, love me do

Whoa, love me do”

Their producer George Martin said it was the day the world changed. We agree with him! 

We hereby “Shout” out to fellow Beatles fans  that Carlton Books has “Come Together” and decided to publish two new Beatles books to celebrate! 

Our first exciting book contains “Every Little Thing” you ever wanted to know about every single Beatles song. “A Hard Day’s Write”is a fascinating insight into the stories behind each of the Beatles’ songs, written by Beatles expert Steve Turner.Image

For instance, it is little known that John’s harmonica solo in “Love Me Do” was inspired by Delbert McClinton’s harmonica playing, featured in Bruce Channel’s hit “Hey Baby”. But did you also know that the first draft of John’s lyrics for “I’m Only Sleeping” were scratched on the back of a letter from the Post Office, reminding him that he owed them 12 pounds and three shillings for an outstanding radiophone bill? Or that “She’s Leaving Home” was based on a teenage runaway Lennon had actually met years before? How many people already know that George Harrison wrote “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” after picking a novel off his shelf and writing a song from the first words he saw – “gently weeps”?

… an inspiring and humbling book. – Bono

 Invaluable – Mojo

Written with meticulous integrity – Q

Our second book, The Beatles: It was 50 Years Ago Today, a luxury anniversary box set edition, takes you on a journey down the Beatles’ “Long and Winding Road” of success.

ImageThe Beatles caused revolution after revolution. Not content with changing the face of youth and popular culture, they also changed the face of popular music, launching it into their own, original stratosphere, with electronica, Eastern influences and darn fine rock ‘n’ roll. This book tells the story of the Fab Four as never before. As a special treat, the luxury edition includes 30 items of removable facsimile memorabilia, including rare posters, handbills, tickets, set lists, invites, an exclusive DVD that contains interviews with the Fab Four AND five, ready-to-mount, never-before-published photo prints of the Beatles. 

If you like the sound of our books, you can always hop on over to Amazon, where you can buy them “Any Time at All”. Far from being just for “Christmas Time”, they are available RIGHT NOW!

Or grab this offer for The Beatles: It Was 50 Years Ago Today, which lasts for two weeks only (ends 17th October) –                        call 08445768122 and quote Beatles50 to get a copy for £30 (£20 off the retail price) including P&P

Hope you guys have enjoyed this blog post, “From Us to You.” 

“You Know What to Do” – if you have enjoyed this article, feel free to share it!

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AN AFTERNOON WITH FREDDIE MERCURY’S MUM

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Me with Freddie’s mum, Jer Bulsara, and his sister, Kashmira Cooke

There are places you just don’t imagine finding yourself and the home of Freddie Mercury’s Mum is definitely one of them. Often, when I’m driving, I flick through radio stations in search of something great among all the mediocre chart tunes – it’s when I land on a Queen song that I stop and the power of Freddie’s lyrics and voice never fails to transforms a dull journey into something magical. I’m about to meet the mother of the legendary showman who 21 years after his death still has the power to rock our world. She must be something spectacular.

Next month Goodman will release a new illustrated biography, Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender, and I am delivering the book to his Mum, Jer Bulsara, to take her through it before a journalist from the Telegraph arrives to interview her. Jer is almost 90 and her beloved son died 21 years ago, but the world still mourns him, his songs never stop being played and his mum never wants him to fade from our minds. Jer will only do one interview for the book and I have awarded it to the Telegraph for their excellent coverage of 40 Years of Queen in Weekend last year.

I arrive at a charming bungalow, Freddie’s sister, Kashmira, opens the door, and a small lady stands behind her – I am immediately struck by the resemblance to brother and son in both their faces and I wonder if they notice him every time they look in the mirror or at one another. Slightly in awe, I politely shake Jer’s hand, but later learn from Roger, Kashmira’s husband, that he has witnessed Freddie fans greet the rock star’s mum by falling to her feet, crying and praying.

Freddie’s three relatives are incredibly warm and welcoming – we huddle around the book and as we move from one captivating image of him to another they recall where he was at that time, which of his concerts they attended….  I was worried this could be dull for Jer, that she must have told stories of Freddie for the last 21 years but her face lights up as she regales us with wonderful tales of the son she idolized. She smiles fondly at the early photos, which she provided for the book, and speaks softly of the memories evoked. There is a beautiful image of Jer with her baby boy (shot in the garden of their family home in Zanzibar) who she never could have known would become a global icon. I ask Kashmira and Jer if they had any idea from the outset of Freddie’s career how huge their brother or son would become and they both firmly say no. Jer went on to say how proud he made her – she says this many times throughout the afternoon and if any mum has reason to be proud of their child it’s Freddie Mercury’s!

Jer has a “Freddie room” of memorabilia filled with all his shining awards. There’s a singing Freddie We Will Rock You doll and as it sings out the iconic lyrics, Jer give a little wiggle to the tune – it’s simply heartwarming. We ask her to do it again and with a cheeky grin on her face she performs the same rock move – this is where Freddie got his moves from! There are photos of Freddie in every room – some of him as the rock star we all came to know and others as just a boy. It’s easy to forget that a legend like Freddie was once just ordinary until you go into the home of the mother.

The Telegraph journalist arrives so we leave them to the main interview. Jer’s tales of her son drift into the next room….I want to tell you more because it’s truly fascinating spending the afternoon with the mother of the world’s greatest performer, but I must leave it to the Telegraph to reveal all in Weekend on 8th September.

A beautifully presented book -Blessed by Jer Bulsara, Freddie Mercury’s mum.

Roger gives me a lift back to the train station – he says of his mother-in-law, “if anyone wants to know where Freddie got his star quality they need not look far.”

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MARILYN REMEMBERED (1926-1962)

Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.

She certainly did! Marilyn Monroe is the most recognised actress of the 20th Century … and for a lot of reasons. She had a meteoric rise to fame and experienced the bitter-sweetness of the American dream. She was talented and could look stunning in a bin-bag. As we approach 50 years since her death (5th August), we are all still as captivated by her as ever.

ImageHere are some things that you might not know about Marilyn, and you can find out more in Marilyn Remembered by Cindy De La Hoz:

As a child Norma Jeane didn’t know who her father was. She was placed in a foster home for the first seven years of her life, until her mother’s friend Grace became her guardian. When Grace married she left little Norma Jeane in another orphanage. Before she was 18 she married James Doherty to stop her entering yet another orphanage –

“SHE WAS SO SENSITIVE AND INSECURE I REALIZED I WASN”T PREPARED TO HANDLE HER … SHE SEEMED TO BE PLAYING SOME KIND OF PART, REHEARSING FOR A FUTURE I COULDN’T FIGURE OUT.” – James Doherty

Marilyn was spotted by an army photographer at her job in a munitions factory, where she began her modelling career. James didn’t approve and they divorced.

This was the point at which she was told to bleach her hair and the transformation was made, turning a frizzy-haired brunette into nothing short of an icon.

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Only when she signed a contract with Fox did she change her name to Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn after the actress Marilyn Miller and Monroe was chosen because it was her mother’s maiden name. The first time she was asked for an interview she had to check the spelling!

Marilyn picked up whatever work she could in between film contracts. She appeared in the first ever issue of Playboy posing nude! A photo shoot that she agreed to do only if the photographer’s wife was present!

As her success in films grew, so did her fan base. Marilyn knew how to dress to shock people. Her designer and friend throughout the years was William Travilla and he certainly helped her out there. He was behind creations such as the gold lamé which caused such a huge scandal when Marilyn wore it to the 1953 Photography Awards that she was catapulted to international stardom. Though she was instructed not to wear it she was the queen of self-publicity and knew exactly what would happen.

Whilst dealing with her troubled marriages, Marilyn was also making brave career moves. She felt cheated by Fox often having to bargain with them for key roles, so she set up her own production company Marilyn Monroe Productions. She also took sabbatical leave to work on her craft as an actress – she didn’t want to be limited to the comedy roles. She took a massive risk in 1962 when Fox told her she couldn’t leave the set of Something’s Got to Give to give her monumental performance at President Kennedy’s birthday wearing a skin-toned and skin-tight dress covered in sequins.

“IF I’D OBSERVED ALL THE RULES I’D NEVER HAVE GOT ANYWHERE.” – Marilyn

Here is your chance to win one of five copies of the brand new book Marilyn Remembered (£35)Follow us on twitter @carltonbookspr or follow our blog (in the box at the top right hand corner). Leave us a comment saying #REMEMBERMARILYN to be in with a chance. We will pick the winners at random, on 5th August to commemorate Marilyn.

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Celebrating the Paralympic Champions

Boris Johnson has made his tube announcements telling commuters to ‘Get Ahead of the Games’ and the Olympic Torch relay has run through a town near you. London is getting ready for the 2012 Olympic Games -

… and The Paralympic Games!

The history of Paralympic Games started on the lawns of Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1948 … now the name of one of the London 2012 mascots, I might add. This year it is going to be part of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ and a spectacular sporting event in itself. It goes without saying that this is due to some of the world’s most astounding athletes that compete in these games.

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Tanni Grey-Thompson with Paralympic Heroes by Cathy Wood

Adapted from The True Story of Great Britain’s Paralympic Heroes by Cathy Wood

On Top of the World, Tanni Grey-Thompson

Tanni Grey-Thompson only raced to win. Being born with spina bifida was an irrelevance, a lens through which others looked and, perhaps judged her. It was never the way she viewed herself. During her career, significant life events were meticulously planned and managed so as not to interfere with her chances of success.

Just nine weeks after giving birth to her daughter Carys in 2002, Tanni lined up for the London Marathon and won.

For Tanni, racing in London so soon after Carys’ arrival was an easy decision. ‘That is what you do,’ she says, adding, ‘If you are going to do something you do it properly.’

Still, it might have been an even more welcome win if, at Athens 2004 when Tanni won her historical 11th Gold Medal in the 400m, Carys had looked up from her ice cream for just a second.

In the immediate moments after winning, Tanni looked into the crowd to spot her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, wearing a ‘Go Mammy’ T-shirt. It didn’t take long to locate the familiar figure of the toddler in the stands. Carys was eating an ice cream and she had absolutely no interest in the significance of what her mother had just achieved. ‘She barely watched it,’ Tanni says.

Kids, ey?

 

Adapted from London 2012 Paralympic Games The Official Book

The Golden Girl of British Paralympic Swimming – Ellie Simmonds

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Ellie Simmonds – from London 2012 Paralympic Games The Official Book

Ellie has enjoyed a meteoric rise to become one of the world’s top S6 competitors. The 17-year-old began swimming at the age of five and was inspired by seeing fellow British swimmer Nyree Lewis win two gold medals at Athens 2004.

Ellie is a key athlete to look out for in this year’s Paralympic Games. She is the second youngest British Paralympian ever, and in Beijing 2008 she took gold in the 100m and 400m Freestyle – S6 and earned a place in the history books as Great Britain’s youngest-ever individual medallist at the Paralympic Games.

These are some incredible achievements, without even mentioning that in 2008 she was named as the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year and in 2009 when she was just 14, she became the youngest person to be appointed with an MBE! Will she be hoping to break her own records this year?

But of course, there are athletes who, unlike Ellie and Tanni, were not born with their disabilities.

 

Adapted from The True Story of Great Britain’s Paralympic Heroes by Cathy Wood

It Could Happen to Anyone – Tom Aggar

Tom lived to play sport. As school turned into University, he played in second row forward for Warwick University’s First XV.

Whilst at a party at University, Tom stepped outside and into an experience nothing could ever have prepared him for. He was met by complete darkness and an eerie silence: it was pitch black. He took a few moments to adjust his vision and then headed towards the garden. And then he did what thousands of us have done in our lifetimes and thought nothing of: he scuffed his foot. Only in Tom’s case it caused him to fall forward and down a 12-foot drop onto the concrete drive of the block of flats next door, which were at a lower level to the house.

Tom’s friends had left the party thinking he had headed home alone. After two hours, Tom called the ambulance. His lower back was broken and he was paralysed from the waist down.

Just weeks into Tom’s rehabilitation Tania, his physiotherapist, made a prediction. ‘One day,’ she said, ‘Tom Aggar will go to the Paralympic Games.’ Aggar laughed the suggestion off.

Tom went from strength to strength, getting fitter and fitter. He went back to university and finished his degree, then discovered a pioneering type of rowing for those unable to use their legs. It was from there that Tom was noticed by Paralympic Squad and the rest is history. Tom won Gold in Beijing 2008 becoming Britain’s first-ever men’s Paralympic Rowing champion.

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For these athletes the Paralympic Games not only represents the pinnacle of their careers but an achievement of a lifetime. This Year The London 2012 Paralympic Games promises to be an all-star event.

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Happy Publication Day to Ice Age: An Augmented Reality Book!

The book launches today to celebrate the release of the new Ice Age film, Continental Drift. Everyone’s favourite sub-zero heroes are back! See below for an awesome reader offer!

Carlton, the pioneers of the Augmented Reality (AR) book, teamed up with 20th Century Fox to bring to you an official Ice Age book that brings the quirky characters to life from the pages of the book.

AR is an interactive experience that uses special technology to create jaw-dropping 3D animations from the books. Check out how it all works here – http://www.bookscomealive.co.uk

 

Since its creation over four years ago, the magical AR book has enabled us big kids to play with dinosaurs, create earthquakes, hold fairies in our hands … conquer the world!

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Ice Age is the most futuristic AR book yet! You can play with Scrat, set sail with the Ice Age crew on a wayward iceberg, get in a snowball fight with Crash and Eddie and watch yourself transform into Sid. You just need a computer, a webcam and a copy of the new book!

 

So here we’re offering you the chance to get your hands on a copy for just £7 inc P&P (retails at £9.99). All you need to do is call 08445 768 122 and quote this code AD157

Offer lasts for one week only so get moving!

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Pete Lawrence, astronomy expert and author of The New Astronomy Guide, answers our questions about his fascinating career and how he photographs the sky at night.

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Pete Lawrence with Sir Patrick Moore

Finally, an astronomy book we can all understand. Written by Pete Lawrence, the legendary Sir Patrick Moore and with a foreword by Brian May, The New Astronomy Guide is a star-studded introduction to astronomy.

We are even giving you a chance to get 50% off this brand new book, but first, Pete Lawrence answers our questions -

 

You were inspired by Patrick Moore when you were younger, what is it like working with him now?

Always fascinating. Patrick has a sharp mind and many years of astronomical knowledge to hand. It’s always a pleasure to chat to him as he’s able to come up with information which sometimes is a bit of a surprise. An example was a conversation I had with him about imaging a 700m wide ‘crack’ in the centre of the lunar alpine valley. During the conversation, Patrick dropped in that he was the one that first saw that feature!

 

You were interested in astronomy from a young age, what piqued your interest?

I genuinely can’t remember. I had access to lots of encyclopaedias owned by my grandfathers, when I was young and I used to be fascinated dipping in and out of them. Both grandfathers had an interest in astronomy so it’s likely that they biased the articles I read in the encyclopaedias. I remember trying to save up for a telescope that was advertised in the Exchange and Mart, when I was very young. However, I was never that good at saving my pocket money so I was never able to afford it. My parents bought me a 40mm refractor for an early birthday and I used that a lot to discover astronomical objects. The Apollo mission also had a big influence at getting me excited about space.

 

You’ve taken some amazing images – have you ever put yourself in a dangerous situation to get a great photo?

When the urge to get a photo kicks in, personal safety does tend to take a back seat. Having said this, astronomy isn’t an ‘extreme’ sport so most of the shots can be taken in safety.

I do a lot of solar imaging – that requires you to be very careful because the Sun is potentially a very dangerous target when focused through a telescope. During the recent transit of Venus, I was trying to obtain a very rare and special picture. As Venus gets closer to the Sun in the sky, it’s atmosphere appears as a complete ring of light. Catching this shot requires you to point the telescope dangerously close to the Sun without a filter. With a computer controlled telescope, the feat is made a lot easier, but I was in Svalbard on the gravel path outside of my hotel. It took a while to locate Venus but I managed it and got the shot.

 

Have you ever discovered anything new that got you really excited?

Lots of astronomical things get me excited. It’s the thrill of photographing something that no one else, or at least only a small handful of people, have ever photographed before. I particularly like event driven astronomy – a term which I use to describe things which are a one-off or rare. I was keen to add a chapter on this type of astronomy in the book as for me, it represents the ‘storm-chasing’ aspect of astronomy. Things like solar eclipses, the transit of Venus, occultations of planets by the Moon (that’s where the Moon passes in front of a planet) are just some examples.

There are examples of these special projects on my website at www.digitalsky.org.uk, under the “Projects” heading.

 

What is the most spectacular event that you have witnessed in your career … did you photograph it?

I get asked this a lot and it’s impossible to give a single answer. A total eclipse of the Sun is hard to beat and I’ve been lucky enough to see two now as well as experiencing the darkening due to totality from just outside Looe in 1999. A bright auroral display is also something not to be missed and I’ve seen many of these now – each one takes my breath away. I’ll never tire of seeing the planets highly magnified on my laptop screen when I’m imaging them and the Sun puts on a spectacular show when viewed with a specialist hydrogen-alpha filter. A huge prominence leaping off the Sun’s edge is something that really puts you in your place!

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From The New Astronomy Guide: Amateur astronomer Damian Peach’s prize-winning photograph of Jupiter, Io (left) and Ganymede. The image was taken through Damien’s 14-inch SCT telescope from Barbados.

 

What should the amateur enthusiast be looking out for in the next few weeks?

The Moon passes very close to the planet Jupiter in the early hours of July 15th. If you live in the far north of the UK, the Moon will miss the planet. Further south the Moon will clip the planet’s disc. In the southeastern corner of the country, the Moon will cover Jupiter altogether. In August there’s the Perseid meteor shower. This peaks on August 12th unfortunately during the day. Nevertheless, looking out on the nights of 11/12 and 12/13 August should throw up a meteor or two. If you see a bright meteor streaking across the sky, be warned though, because this can hook you in for the rest of the night!

The period from late May through to early August is also good for a rare phenomenon known as Noctilucent Clouds (NLC’s). The name literally means “night shining” and is a reference to the fact that these mysterious electric blue clouds appear to shine when the Sun is below the horizon. If they are there, you should be able to see them low in the northwest, say between 22:00 and 23:00 BST. They may also be seen low in the northeast between 02:00 and 03:00 BST. A bright display may take no notice of these suggested times and can be visible all night long! They are due to a thin layer of water ice at heights of around 50 miles which can catch the Sun’s rays when it’s well below the northern horizon.

 

Do you like sci fi?

I love Sci-Fi and yes I did go to see Prometheus and yes, I loved it! Personally, I think Sci-Fi is important as it allows us to ‘play’ with our ideas. I love the depiction of future tech on films and TV series, especially when that tech is surpassed by what has actually come to pass!

 

From your experience do you think that there is an ‘edge’ of the universe?

I can say what I like here because there is no one on the planet who can prove otherwise. The concept of an infinite Universe isn’t an easy one to have because we don’t experience anything like that during our everyday lives. I think the best way to answer the question is sit on the fence and use one of my co-author’s favourite sayings – we just don’t know!

 

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To get your hands on the book for just £10 all you have to do is call 08445 768 122 and quote AD155.

This offer lasts for just 10 days so pick up the phone now!

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