‘Queen of Suspense’ Mary Higgins Clark dies aged 92 | Books | The Guardian

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Mary Higgins Clark, the “Queen of Suspense” who topped charts with each of her 56 novels, has died at the age of 92.

Simon & Schuster president Carolyn Reidy said that Higgins Clark died on 31 January in Naples, Florida, from complications of old age. The author published her first novel, Where Are the Children? in 1975, going on to sell more than 100m copies of her compulsive suspense novels in the US alone. She published her most recent thriller, Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry, about a journalist investigating sexual misconduct at a television news network, in November.

Crime author Alafair Burke, who collaborated with Higgins Clark on the Under Suspicion series, said she would “miss my friend and co-author, but consider myself one of the luckiest people around to have had the chance to tell stories with one of my favourite writers, the Queen of Suspense.

“Through it all, I marvelled at Mary’s kindness, loyalty, and utter devotion to the work of being a writer. She could write me under the table, insisting we could get a few more pages in when I felt a snack break coming,” said Burke on Twitter. “When we went to an outdoor book festival in August, I kept sneaking off to the air-conditioned ladies’ room, but Mary stayed at the table and posed in the heat for selfies long after the books had sold out.”

Higgins Clark’s fellow authors spoke of her generosity, especially to new writers. Harlan Coben said he was heartbroken to learn of Higgins Clark’s death, describing her as “a generous mentor, hero, colleague, and friend” who “taught me so much”. Laura Lippman called her a trailblazer, adding that “so many of us owe our careers to her”. Scott Turow said she was “an extraordinarily gracious person, unpretentious and remarkably generous in a hundred ways”.

In her memoir, Kitchen Privileges, Higgins Clark wrote of “aching, yearning, burning” to write when she was young. It was an achievement made in the face of heavy odds. Her father died when she was 11, and she went to secretarial school after graduating from high school in the Bronx in New York. She went on to work as an air stewardess. After flying for a year, she married Warren Clark, who she had known since she was 16. She sold her first short story in 1956, for $100. After Clark died in 1964, she began writing radio scripts for a living, while also trying her hand as a novelist. She would write from 5am to 7am, before getting her five children ready for school.




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“My mother’s belief in me kept alive my dream to be a writer. My father’s early death left her with three young children to support. A generation later my husband’s early death left me in exactly that position, except that I had five children,” she wrote.

“Mother supported us by renting rooms, allowing our paying guests to have the privilege of preparing light meals in the kitchen. I supported my family by writing radio shows. Very early in the morning I put my typewriter on the kitchen table before I went to work in Manhattan and spent a few privileged and priceless hours working on my first novel.”

She sold Where Are the Children? when she was 47. Telling of a young mother who has fled her original life after the death of her first two children, only for her next two to disappear, it was a huge hit. David Foster Wallace taught it in his college classes, and Coben recalled a letter from the Infinite Jest author, in which he called it “one of the scariest fucking books I’ve ever read”. (“Sorry about the language, Mary!” Coben added.)

She wrote, she told the Guardian in 2015, about “very nice people whose lives are invaded”. In 1988, she struck what the New York Times reported was “the first eight-figure agreement involving a single author”, with a multi-book contract that guaranteed her at least $10.1m. Given the Authors Guild Foundation award for Distinguished Services to the Literary Community in 2018, she was the recipient of numerous awards and 21 honorary doctorates, and saw many of her books adapted for film and television.

“Let others decide whether or not I’m a good writer. I know I’m a good Irish storyteller,” she said, when she was the grand marshal of the St Patrick’s Day parade in Manhattan in 2011.

Michael Corda, her editor at Simon & Schuster since 1975, said: “She always set out to end each chapter on a note of suspense, so you just had to keep reading. It was a gift, but also the result of hard work … She was unique. Nobody ever bonded more completely with her readers; she understood them as if they were members of her own family. She was always absolutely sure of what they wanted to read – and, perhaps more important, what they didn’t want to read – and yet she managed to surprise them with every book.”

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Drugs, death and stock trading – what became of the Goonies child stars | Buzz.ie

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Produced by Steven Spielberg, and directed by Richard Donner, The Goonies has become a Sunday afternoon TV classic – but 35 years on, what has become of its amazing cast?

Child stars may seem to have it all but the pressures – and dangerous opportunities – of fame can be a toxic mix when you’re at an impressionable age.

Adventure comedy classic The Goonies was released in 1985, and the past 35 years have been something of a rollercoaster ride for its young stars Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, Jeff Cohen, Jonathan Ke Quan, Kerri Green and Martha Plimpton.

And let’s not forget John Matuszak’s memorable turn as Sloth

Some Goonies alumni have managed to maintain steady showbiz careers, some have tasted the dark side of fame, and a few have turned their backs on show business altogether.

24 Martha Plimpton today is barely recognisable as the young girl who lost her glasses in the secret cave (Image: Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Sean Astin (Mikey)

Sean is a Hollywood baby, son of Valley of the Dolls star Patty Duke and adoptive son of her husband – Addams Family star John Astin.

The Goonies was Sean’s first film, and after that, he went on to appear in a string of movies, including War of the Roses, Memphis Belle and Toy Soldiers.

Abuse Sean Astin is still acting today (Image: Warner Bros.)

He achieved new levels of fame when he played Sam in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy forming a lasting bond with co-stars Elijah Wood and Billy Boyd.

Since Lord of the Rings, Sean’s main success has been in TV. He’s added a second string to his acting bow with a number of high-profile voice acting rifles in animated series as well as showing up in Stranger Things, Supergirl, 24 and The Big Bang Theory.

act Sean’s best known for his work in the Lord of the Rings saga (Image: FilmMagic)

Sean’s personal life seems to have been relatively trouble-free. he married former beauty queen Christine Harrell in 1992, taking her Lutheran Christian faith in 2013, and they have three daughters together.

While younger readers may have no idea what The Goonies even was, they’ll know Sean as the voice of Reginald from Minecraft.

Martha Plimpton (Stef)

Martha is another Goonies star who just kept going. As well as starring in hit US sitcom raising Hope she’s appeared in everything from The Good Wife to Frozen II.

She’s had her greatest successes on stage though, receiving three consecutive Tony Award nominations and starring in innumerable Broadway hits.

Like Goonies co-star Sean Astin, Martha also pops up as a character voice in Minecraft.

actor These days, Martha focuses on stage work (Image: Warner Bros)

Corey Feldman (Mouth)

Corey Feldman became an Eighties icon. Alongside his showbiz mate Corey Haim, he appeared in cult vampire movie The Lost Boys as well as its belated sequel The Tribe.

The pair also appeared together in a fictionalised reality show – The Two Coreys – where the pair pursued an Odd Couple relationship with Feldman coming across as relatively clean-living and Haim playing the slob.

age Corey Feldman struggled to cope with the pressures of child stardom (Image: Warner Bros)

Haim’s hedonistic lifestyle caught up with him in 2010 when he died aged just 38. Feldman too has had problems with booze and drugs. By the time he was 19, he’d been arrested three times for heroin.

Feldman has hinted, more than once that the reason he and Haim were driven to drink and drugs was a secret subculture of abuse in Hollywood.

All Corey says that dark forces in Hollywood are out to get him after he spoke out about a paedophile ring (Image: Getty Images)

In 2013, he told US TV’s The View (their equivalent of Loose Women) that a massive organised paedophile ring wielded massive power in the entertainment industry.

Feldman was also a close friend of Michael Jackson, who invited him to his Neverland estate and showered him with expensive gifts. But, he insists, the disgraced star never approached him sexually.

Josh Brolin (Brandon)

amazing Josh is the son of James Brolin, star of the original Westworld (Image: Warner Bros)

A Hollywood wild child, Josh Brolin ran with a rough crowd in his youth. He stole cars to pay for drugs, and had a flirtation with heroin.

He said: “I mean, I never got into it and I never died from it, which is a good thing. I’ve had 19 friends who died. Most of those guys I grew up with, they’re all dead now.”

avengers Josh Brolin grew up with a movie star dad, but had a troubled childhood before finding his feet as an actor (Image: Getty Images)

Brolin survived and went on to have a long and successful career in movies. Debuting in The Goonies he has appeared in No Country For Old Men, Sicario, Deadpool 2 and as Thanos in the massively successful Avengers series of films.

He also has a sideline trading in stocks and shares, and even considered giving up movies for the stock market at one point

Jonathan Ke Quan (Data)

Jonathan was already famous when The Goonies opened, having played Indiana Jones’s sidekick Short Round in the Temple of Doom.

While he continued to act for a while after Goonies, he increasingly used his martial arts knowledge to pick up work as a fight choreographer.

baby Jonathan was the highest-profile member of the Goonies gang when the film opened (Image: Warner Bros)

Kerri Green (Andy)

Kerri, like many of the Goonies stars, made her debut in Steven Spielberg’s treasure-hunting comedy thriller.

But, unlike some of her co-stars, she struggled to sustain her early success. She earned good reviews for her role in romcom Lucas, where she played opposite Cory Feldman’s partner in crime Corey Haim, but after that, the big roles dried up.

Beauty Kerri spends her time writing and directing these days (Image: Warner Bros)

She made a few appearances on TV shows such as Murder, She Wrote and ER, but hasn’t done much acting since the 1990s.

Kerri spends her time behind the camera these days, with her own production company and a series of writing and directing credits.

Jeff Cohen (Chunk)

Jeff was suffering from chickenpox when filing on The Goonies started but kept quiet about it to avoid being dropped from the production.

broadway Jeff worked hard to slim down after The Goonies (Image: Warner Bros)

After the film wrapped, Jeff got heavily into college football in a bid to shed some of Chunk’s weight. He made a few more movies but then, according to a 2014 profile, “puberty hit and forced Cohen into early retirement.”

He moved from acting to entertainment law. Partly, he says, “because I get to go to the parties but I don’t have to audition.”

business Today, Jeff is a hugely successful media lawyer (Image: Getty Images)

John Matuszak (Sloth)

Older than most of the other Goonies stars, Matuszak was already an established American Football player when the call came to play disfigured misfit Sloth in The Goonies.

camera John Matuszak (Sloth) Older than most of the other Goonies stars, Matuszak was already an established American Football player when the call came to play disfigured misfit Sloth in The Goonies.

The makeup, which took five hours to apply every day, disguised his appearance but Matuszak’s own face appeared in countless TV shows such as M*A*S*H, The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team and Miami Vice.

Tragically, Matuszak died young – succumbing to a mix of opioids and cocaine in 1989. He was 38.


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Dave Weckl @ All About Jazz

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1979 saw a move to the East coast and the University of Bridgeport. While playing the New York club scene with a band called Nite Sprite, Weckl started receiving accolades from established studio musicians such as Steve Kahn, Michael Brecker, and Peter Erskine. It was Erskine who recommended Weckl for his first ‘big gig’ with a group called French Toast, forerunner to the Michel Camilo band. That band featured iconic electric bass player Anthony Jackson.

From this group, Jackson recommended Weckl for the prestigious 1983 Simon and Garfunkel reunion tour. This got Weckl noticed by a much larger industry audience and lead to many session opportunities, including radio and TV jingles, sound track sessions, and top recording dates with George Benson, Peabo Bryson, Diana Ross, Robert Plant, and many more.

In 1985, Michael Brecker recommended Weckl to Chick Corea for his new Elektric Band. That was the beginning of a seven-year relationship with both the Elektric and Akoustic bands where nine recordings and three videos were produced. The Akoustic Band release earned Weckl a Grammy.

The Elektric Band showcased Weckl’s cutting-edge drumming and innovative use of electronic and acoustic drums, bringing him worldwide recognition. Though the Elektric Band went on a 10-year hiatus in the early ’90s, the band still tours from time-to-time. They released a 17-part conceptual album entitled To The Stars in mid-2004, and have reunited for tours in 2011 and 2016/17.

Weckl’s solo career began in 1990 with the release of Master Plan. Co-written/produced with longtime St. Louis friend/colleague Jay Oliver, the album was a watershed moment in Weckl’s career. Some would say it ushered in a new generation of contemporary drumming.

Master Plan featured a dynamic and diverse collection of tracks featuring top jazz artists of the time. The album created a palette for Weckl’s wide-ranging abilities in jazz, fusion, and Latin-inspired music, solidifying him as an emerging leader in the drumming world.

The album’s title track, written and performed by Chick Corea, featured Weckl and Steve Gadd on drums. Weckl had been seen as a protege to Gadd and their styles meshed perfectly on the track. But in many ways, the tune marked a “passing of the torch” in terms of next-generation artistry on the drums.

Weckl has recorded and produced nine other solo/leader recordings to date. In addition to Master Plan, Heads Up and Hard-Wired earned him great notoriety in the early ’90s.

In 1998, Weckl realized his long-time goal of forming a world-touring band. The Dave Weckl Band released five studio records, including: Rhythm Of The Soul, Synergy, Transition, Perpetual Motion, and Multiplicity. The band also released a hot live album, LIVE (And Very Plugged In) plus a compilation of DWB and instructional videos entitled The Zone.

Instructional videos have always played a big role in Weckl’s career. His original product, entitled Contemporary Drummer + 1, was one of the first play-along products ever published for drums. His Back To Basics and The Next Step releases were best-sellers in the ’90s and also continue to sell today.

Weckl updated his technical approach in the ’90s after studying with Freddie Gruber. He then released a three-part series of videos called A Natural Evolution, which included an appearance by Gruber. These products redefined earlier concepts to help drummers understand how to play in a relaxed, efficient, and musical way. They also helped solidified Weckl’s stature as an articulate and respected teacher. His clinics and master classes continue to attract capacity crowds worldwide.

After many years of sideman work with guitar legend Mike Stern, Chris Minh Doky’s Nomads, Oz Noy, and more, Weckl spent 2013 reuniting with Jay Oliver. They launched a crowd funding campaign that attracted more than 2,000 pre-orders of a project that would eventually be called Convergence.

The album featured 10 tunes, including piano and drum solo pieces and a remake of Stevie Wonder’s legendary tune “Higher Ground.” The video of “Higher Ground” has been viewed millions of times on YouTube and Facebook. Drummer Chris Coleman, bassist Jimmie Johnson, guitarist Dean Brown, singer Chrissi Poland, and several amazing horn players and vocalists took part.

The project also saw collaborations with Canadian singer Emilie-Claire Barlow and Riverdance creator Bill Whelan. Oliver recorded several native Irish instruments at Whelan’s personal studio in Ireland.

Convergence was released with three companion products: a play-along package for drums, a play-along package for all other instruments on the album, and a full-length documentary entitled Flies On The Studio Wall.

In 2015, Weckl formed an acoustic jazz group with longtime friend/collaborator Tom Kennedy (bass), Gary Meek (sax), and Makoto Ozone (piano/B3). The group was called The Dave Weckl Acoustic Band. To date, the band has released a CD entitled Of The Same Mind and a live DVD filmed at Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood.

More recently, Weckl has returned to touring with the Elektric Band, Mike Stern, and Oz Noy, while completing sessions in his Los Angeles-area home studio. He has also formed an online school with comprehensive lessons, new play along products, and live footage from current tours.

He says “it is my goal to inspire as many young (and not-so-young) people as possible to want to play music, whether it be on drums or another instrument. With all the negatives in the world today, I feel this is my way of contributing a positive action toward spiritual happiness, which music can be a big part of, if you let it. So parents, if your child has a talent for music, please allow them the opportunity to develop that talent!”

Outside of music, Weckl has a passion for automobiles and racing. He and his Corvette ZO6 regularly post competitive times at race tracks around Southern California. Check out his YouTube racing channel!

Beyond music and four-wheel indulgences, Dave’s biggest passions and sources of inspiration come from his daughter, Claire, and his wife, Clivia.

A future college graduate (psychology), Claire definitely has the music gene. She sang an amazing version of “Cups (You’re Gonna Miss Me)” for the Convergence album. Her talent, passion, and work ethic make her father proud every day.

Dave’s wife, Clivia (also formerly a singer) has a love and passion for music – and an amazing energy for everything life has to offer. She and Dave share time both in Italy and Los Angeles. Show less

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Ferrari: Mick Schumacher a good candidate for seat in Formula 1 – F1 – Autosport

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Ferrari believes its junior driver Mick Schumacher would be a “good candidate” for a Formula 1 seat in the future.

The son of seven-time F1 world champion Michael, Schumacher finished 12th overall in his maiden Formula 2 season in 2019, scoring a victory in the reversed-grid race at the Hungaroring.

He also completed his first two official F1 test days last year, running first for Ferrari then Alfa Romeo at the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test in April.

Team principal Mattia Binotto said Ferrari was “expecting much” from Schumacher in 2020.

“We are very proud having made him part of the FDA,” said Binotto.

“That’s it for the obvious love, not only because he is Michael Schumacher’s son, but because I think he’s a good driver, he actually performed well even in this season.

“If you look at the standings you can see some experienced drivers on top, but he had one good season to gain experience.

“And if you look in term of rookies, too, he was doing well. He was a rookie.

“So, I think that next season will be key for him to understand how much he’s progressing.

“We are expecting much from the next year because he will have one season of experience and we are pretty sure he’s a good candidate for F1 in the future.”

Binotto added it was too soon to judge whether Schumacher will be a prospect for the main Ferrari team.

Any initial F1 promotion would likely come at Alfa Romeo, as Ferrari controls one of the seats at the Sauber-run squad.

“Will he be a candidate for Ferrari either in the future? It’s really too early on,” continued Binotto.

“But again, the aim of the FDA is to find the next talent for Ferrari and he is part of the FDA because finally, we believe he’s got the talent to stay in this group.

“2021 will be too early for one of our young talents, too.

“In 2021 some experience from drivers will be important because it’s a completely new type of car.”

Autosport sources indicate Schumacher was being evaluated for the second Alfa seat, but a combination of his F2 results and Antonio Giovinazzi’s improved form in the second half of the season meant the Italian was ultimately given another year in F1.

Schumacher told Autosport there was “no opportunity of a seat” for 2020, despite that link.

“Clearly if you get the opportunity, you take it, so the opportunity hasn’t been there,” said Schumacher.

“That’s pretty open and clear.

“But then the next decision was to stay in F2.

“For me the most intelligent and most reliable decision I could take and category I could drive in.

“F2 is going to have the new [18-inch] tyres next year, which is going to be positive for me because that’s going to be for F1 in 2021.

“If then we manage to do the step [to F1] I would have a head start.”

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Pirates Inbox: Chris Archer, Chad Kuhl | Pittsburgh Pirates

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PITTSBURGH — The holiday break is over and the new year is upon us, which means it’s time to kick the Hot Stove talk to another level. While the Pirates finalize their roster with an eye on Opening Day, we’ll answer some of the questions you’ve sent to the Pirates Inbox.

The Pirates are short on great starting options, so the chance of this is small. But, say they trade or acquire a starter and Mitch Keller and Chad Kuhl look good. Any chance they could try Chris Archer as a late-inning reliever, possibly a closer if they trade Keone Kela? He seems to be his best as a two-pitch pitcher and he’s an emotional guy. It seems like he could be a great reliever.
–Jason D.

It’s an interesting question, and it may not take an additional starter to bump somebody out of the rotation on Opening Day. Take a look at their top options heading into the new year, and you can easily come up with six pitchers worth taking a long look at: Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams, Archer, Keller, Steven Brault and Kuhl.

I think you’re on the right track with moving somebody to the bullpen, but I don’t think it’d be Archer. He’s 31 years old and hasn’t made a relief appearance since the 2013 American League Division Series. His value, when he’s right, is as a durable starter — and it would make sense for the Pirates to try to maximize that value while they can.

That’s true, by the way, whether he’s on the team or a potential trade candidate. If he’s with the Pirates, you’re hoping that a new pitching coach will help him get back to his 2013-17 form. If you’re Pirates management and you’re also viewing him as a trade asset down the line, you could probably get more out of him as the starter he used to be rather than as an experimental reliever.

I definitely agree with your point that Archer, as primarily a two-pitch guy who tends to play with more emotion than your average starter, might be an interesting back-end reliever at some point. That said, his biggest issues last year were walks and homers; being prone to either would immediately spell trouble for him out of the bullpen, and there’s no guarantee that moving to a relief role would fix those problems.

But I do think you’re on the right track with moving somebody to the bullpen. I’d be really curious to see if Kuhl could work his way into a late-inning role. When he spoke near the end of the season, for what it’s worth, he said he was preparing to come back as a starter.

But I’ve heard from more than one player who thinks Kuhl has closer stuff — a high-90s fastball with a bunch of offspeed offerings that he could sharpen, refine and use more selectively when he doesn’t have to turn over a lineup three times. It’d be interesting to see, at least.

The risk there is pretty obvious: Kuhl is coming off of Tommy John surgery, and he’s been a starter his entire life. How would his arm respond to throwing multiple days in a row? How careful would the Pirates have to be with a potentially important arm in their bullpen? Do they really want to risk sending him to the mound 50 times or more when he hasn’t pitched in a Major League game since June 2018?

On the other hand, moving Kuhl to the bullpen would naturally restrict his workload in terms of innings and pitches thrown. There would be no expectation that he’d have to throw more than 70 or so innings out of the bullpen, probably even fewer than that.

Outside of a few pitchers, the Pirates’ bullpen was a disaster last season. But it might be an interesting group with Kela, a healthy Edgar Santana and Nick Burdi, a bounce-back year from Kyle Crick, a more consistent Richard Rodriguez, a still-developing Michael Feliz and Clay Holmes, a long man like Chris Stratton and the potential addition of Kuhl.

Who was the player to be named later that the Pirates got from Philadelphia for Corey Dickerson?
–Bob K.

Turns out, there wasn’t one. The Trade Deadline deal was initially announced as Dickerson for $250,000 in international slot space and a player to be named later, but there was no player sent back to the Pirates.

The way the whole thing played out was strange. Every report out of Philadelphia at the time of the trade indicated there would be no player coming back, and everything I heard also signaled that the deal was just for additional international spending capacity. But for whatever reason, when the move went down, the announcement included a player to be named later … who was never named, even five months later.

After we talked at the Winter Meetings out in San Diego, my MLB.com colleague Todd Zolecki and I made one more push for information and only heard back that, “It was a cash deal.” It wouldn’t necessarily be unusual if that meant the Phillies sent the Pirates cash instead of a minor prospect; some trades allow for the final piece to be a PTBNL or cash. But that wasn’t mentioned in the initial announcement of the Dickerson deal, and there was no clarification as to whether that meant additional cash or just the international slot we already knew about.

It’s not like the Pirates gave away Dickerson for nothing — teams can turn $250,000 of international spending space into a good prospect or prospects — but I hope nobody was getting their hopes up about that PTBNL.

With a first-time manager, shouldn’t the Pirates have hired a more experienced bench coach to help with strategy? I love Donnie Kelly, but just wondering if it’s too much, too soon.
–Terry L., Pittsburgh

That’s usually how teams support a first-time manager, but I don’t know if it was necessary for Derek Shelton. For one, he’s a first-time manager, but he’s managed in the Minors, coached for more than a decade and spent two years as a very involved bench coach. It’s not like he’s jumping into the dugout with no relevant experience.

Second, Kelly spent the last year working closely with Astros manager AJ Hinch and bench coach Joe Espada. He was essentially training to be a bench coach, whether it was here, Houston or elsewhere. And in terms of in-game strategy, he spent most of his playing career thinking along with the manager. He’s prepared.

There is also experience elsewhere on the coaching staff, primarily in the form of third-base coach Joey Cora. He served as a Minor League manager as well as a big league bench coach and interim manager in the Majors before joining Pittsburgh’s staff. You’ll just about always find Cora on the top step of the dugout, closely following the game. He’ll help, too.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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Derek Acorah dead: TV psychic and Celebrity Big Brother contestant dies aged 69 after ‘very brief illness’ | London Evening Standard

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TV mystic Derek Acorah has died aged 69, his wife has said.

The self-styled spiritual medium, whose real name is Derek Johnson, appeared on Celebrity Big Brother  in 2017 and launched the paranormal reality TV series Most Haunted in 2001.

His wife Gwen Acorah shared the news in a statement on his official Facebook page, adding that the psychic had been in intensive care after falling into a coma.

“Farewell my love! I will miss you forever! I’m devastated to announce that my beloved husband Derek has passed away after a very brief illness,” she wrote.

Derek Acorah took part in Celebrity Big Brother three years ago (PA Archive/PA Images)

“Thank you so much to everybody who has supported me – I can never thank you enough.”

She suggested that her husband had been targeted by trolls before his death in the second part of her statement.

Born in Bootle, Merseyside, in 1950, Acorah featured in regular segments on 1996 TV show The Psychic Zone before becoming a contributor on spin-off show Psychic Livetime.

Acorah got his big break on TV thanks to Psychic Livetime on satellite channel Granada Breeze, and then followed it up with his own series Predictions With Derek Acorah.

He then went to Living to feature in Most Haunted, where he was the guest medium for several series until he departed after six series in 2005 following claims of fakery.

The show’s resident parapsychologist Dr Ciaran O’Keeffe told The Mirror in late 2005 that he had set up Acorah by having other crew members feed him false information about spirits in various locations.

Dr O’Keeffe invented a long-dead South African jailer called Kreed Kafer, an anagram of Derek Faker, and said he was stunned when the TV medium “got possessed by my fictional character” at Bodmin Jail.

In 2006, Acorah’s former co-host Yvette Fielding told the Metro: “We tell people everything is real, then it turns out he was a fake, so he had to go.”

After Most Haunted, the presenter had another series called Derek Acorah’s Ghost Towns, which ran for three series in 2005 and 2006.

In 2009 Acorah attempted to contact the late King of Pop in a broadcast called Derek Acorah’s Michael Jackson: The Live Seance, but the show was widely panned by viewers and critics.

Acorah was forced to apologise to the McCann family after he was quoted as saying that that their lost daughter Madeleine was dead.

He reportedly told The Sun that she had joined the “spirit world”, greatly upsetting the McCanns, although Acorah later claimed he had been misquoted by the paper.

Acorah was banned from driving for more than two years in 2014 after admitting to driving without due care and attention and for failing to provide a breath test following a crash the previous year.

His wife said he died from a short illness (PA)

He appeared in series 20 of Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5, where he came fourth.

Acorah was born in Bootle, Merseyside, in 1950.

He originally had aspirations to be a footballer, and was on the books of Liverpool FC but did not play a game.

He went on to play football in Australia but his career in the sport ended while he was in his late twenties due to a leg injury.

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Our German new worshipping community. – Saint Benet’s Church Kentish Town

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ageFor over a year now, a group of people has met at St Benet’s to celebrate the Mass in German on the first Sunday of the month at 4.00 pm.  This group is soon to be registered as a “New Worshipping Community” of the Diocese of London. This forms part of the Diocese’s vision for evangelism, mission, and church growth laid out in its plan “Capital Vision 2020.”

Where did the idea come from?

The idea came from the fact that a number of people at St Benet’s noticed just how many German-speaking families there were worshipping with us.  Some were bilingual families with one parent from Germany or Austria. Others were German-speaking families who had moved to London, and whose children were, therefore, thoroughly bi-lingual.

Our vicar, Fr Peter Anthony, read German as an undergraduate and had been involved in our Diocesan link with Berlin for several years.  He wondered whether people would welcome a service now and then in German.  After a few initial Masses in German, it became clear there was definite interest, and a small but sustainable number of people willing to support the project. We decided on a trial run of a service on a Sunday afternoon once a month for a year.

Our intention was to see if we could reach out to a new category of people who did not already worship with us, and who might welcome the ability to worship in German. We wanted to help them come to faith, or grow deeper in their relationship with the Lord, especially through sacramental worship.

What happens & when?

AllWe usually have a said Mass at 4.00 pm on the first Sunday of the month with a homily, and the entire service takes place in German.

We have had a range of guest preachers over the past year.  Some have been native German speakers, such as Dr Andrea Werner, a lay reader at St Michael’s Camden Town; or Robert Pfeiffer, an ordinand at S. Michael’s, Highgate; or Fr Andreas Wenzel, the Shrine Priest at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Others have been English people who happen to be good German speakers: Dr Colin Podmore, well known expert in German Church history, for example; or Fr Desmond Bannister, Vicar All Siants’ Hillingdon, who used to teach German.

We have also sought to invite people associated with our Diocesan Partnership with the Church in Berlin-Brandenburg. Fr Brian Leathard and the Fr Luke Miller, the Archdeacon of London, both of whom have responsibility for the diocesan link, have visited to preach, as have august visitors from Berlin such as Pfarrer Holger Schmidt.

The liturgy is always followed by a time for refreshments and chat over that most venerable of German traditions – “Kaffee und Kuchen.”  The conversation is mainly in German, but if people want to talk in English they are also welcome to, and a mixture of conversations in both languages usually emerges.  There is no language police!

Who comes?

Fr Andreas Wenzel, Shrine Priest of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, came as our guest preacher for All Saints’ Day.

A range of people attend this Sunday afternoon service.  Many of the bi-lingual families living in our parish, who have both English and German, are frequently there. Bilingual children are also frequently present.

There have also proven to be a number of English speakers who have German and who want to keep their language up or enjoy worshipping in German (one of whom comes all the way from York for the liturgy!).  Word of mouth has proven to be very important and several new German speakers have started worshipping with us who had never previously worshipped with us on a Sunday morning.

A number of academics in the realm of philosophy who need German for their academic work have also been present on several occasions. German and Austrian students who have come to London universities also frequently form part of the congregation, which has proven to have a pretty young average age over all.

The numbers at the monthly Mass in 2018-19 have ranged between 8 and 21, with an average in the first year of 13, but on big occasions larger congregations have gathered: our first German Advent Carol Service last Sunday, for example, attracted 63 people. We have also celebrated one baptism in German.

Why do Germans want to worship at an Anglican Church?

Fr Peter Anthony, our vicar, and Dr Andrea Werner, lay reader from our neighbouring parish, St Michael’s, Camden Town, photographed after one of Andrea’s excellent homilies.

We have welcomed a wide range of people from a large sweep of theological and liturgical traditions.  One of the characteristics of this worshipping community has been a strong spirit of ecumenical welcome. Our ministry has also been resolutely rooted in the concept that the Church of England’s ministry is available for all living within our parochial boundaries, or who wish to avail themselves of it.

St Benet’s liturgy lies in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England, and we have found many German or bilingual families have been happy to make their spiritual home with us. There may be something going on in terms of the Church of England’s ministry representing a theological middle way between the Lutheran, Calvinist, and Roman traditions. It may also be that the parochial commitment of St Benet’s to the parish in which it is set simply makes it a place where visitors and those moving from abroad find it easy to settle. Many of our German speaking families send their children to our parish school, and so that might also be a connection which makes St Benet’s a place where they feel they want to worship.

Some of our younger German students have been genuinely intrigued and captivated by what they have discovered in the Anglicanism they find at St Benet’s – i.e. a church which they perceived as “protestant” but which turned out to have a rich and quite catholic liturgical and theological tradition.

Where to now?

We have proven over the first year of this project that the core congregation which supports this project is large enough to sustain a monthly Mass into the future.  However, we are keen to explore other ways in which we can grow and expand this ministry.  We recently organised a German Advent Carol Service, and this proved to be popular.

We plan in the next few weeks to register the congregation as a “new worshipping community” with the Diocese of London in order to release extra funds to help us plan slightly larger or more adventurous events.

Social media have been a crucial part of the way in which we have made contact with German speakers, so we want to ensure our social media presence continues to be the best it can be. Word of mouth has also been crucial to making new contacts amongst the German/Austrian ex-pat community, and will be something we intend to build upon.

We ask all our friends to keep praying for us as we explore further where God is calling us to go in this venture, and we thanks the Diocese of London and its bishops for their support and encouragement as we become one of its latest “new worshipping communities.”

Our first German Advent Carol Service: Sunday 1st December 2019.

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Sorry Will Ferrell, Elf is the most overrated Christmas film of all time

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Elf is one of the most overrated Christmas films of all time

Elf is one of the most overrated Christmas films of all time (Picture: New Line)

It’s Christmas, which means that normal TV is thankfully replaced by an abundance of festive fun. Home Alone 1 and 2, Miracle On 34th Street, Die Hard, Jingle All The Way, I’m ready to watch it all. But, before we all start commanding the remote control, we need to talk about how Elf is the most overrated Christmas film – and maybe just overall movie – of all time. And, instead of spewing me with gifs, telling me that I sit on a throne of lies etc, just take a breath and hear me out.

Buddy the Elf is probably one of the most annoying characters to appear on the big screen. He just is. And that’s no disrespect to Will Ferrell, but a grown man in an Elf costume who eats cotton balls, shouts all the time, breaks into song and bounces around like a high-as-a-kite Tigger is not fun, endearing or cute. Imagine when Christmas is over and he’s still… there.

Also his back story is the most ridiculous thing. I know it’s a film, and it’s Christmas so we should suspend belief just a touch more, but seriously guys… Newborn Buddy is left in an orphanage, then climbs into Santa’s sack undetected, with no one realising at any point that they’re missing a literal baby. And how does Santa not clock there is a child in his bag until he gets back to the North Pole? He presumably has to open said sack to give other people their presents, but he just failed to see a baby? Not buying it.

Editorial use only. No book cover usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Alan Markfield/New Line Prods/Kobal/REX (5884647n) Will Ferrell Elf - 2003 Director: Jon Favreau New Line Productions USA Scene Still Elfe

Buddy the Elf is the most annoying character ever (Picture: New Line)

Instead of the elves checking his address in their all-knowing records, they let Buddy build a life for himself in the North Pole, beavering away and making crap Christmas presents. But, in all that time, did no one also stop and suggest to build him some grown-up furniture so he didn’t have to constantly crouch? They’re all elves, building is what they do. The man doesn’t even have a toilet he can fit on.

When he’s eventually told about his parents – after what seems like 30 years as an elf – he just swans off to New York, floating away from his adopted dad on an ice ledge and armed with nothing but a snow globe of the Empire State Building. How did he get there? How does he know the way? How are his clothes not dirty from the journey? Why didn’t he just take Santa’s sleigh? So. Many. Questions.

Suddenly, Buddy is just handed a job at a swanky department store as part of their Christmas display. No CRB, no checks, just letting a grown man off the street – dressed as an elf – in a job where he interacts with children. Police would shut Gimbels down in a hot minute, but it’s a festive film so no one bats an eyelid. While there, he locks eyes on Zooey Deschanel’s character, who is also dressed as an elf (for work) and they have precisely five seconds of banter before she moves on, because Buddy is someone you would swipe past on Tinder, or ghost after precisely three messages. He then walks in on her in the shower, tells her that she makes his tongue swell up (absolutely a euphemism) and takes her on a date to a revolving door. And she still falls madly in love with him. This is how low the bar is for men.

Editorial use only. No book cover usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX (1566358a) Elf, Zooey Deschanel Film and Television

Zooey Deschanel, you’re better than this. (Picture: New Line)

Also, you’re better than this, Zooey Deschanel, and don’t let an overgrown man child dressed like an elf tell you differently.

Buddy’s dad Walter (James Caan) is also a horrible human being. He’s rude, entitled, mean to nuns, has all his priorities in exactly the wrong order, and knowingly shipped a bunch of books out with missing pages like an absolute monster. Yes, this is probably his biggest crime of all. He quite clearly doesn’t want to spend any time with Buddy – or his other son, Michael – as we’ve spent most of the movie seeing.

But then, in a blink-and-you-miss-it character arc, he then becomes a nice guy who remembers he should love his family. All of a sudden, he’s ready to roll up his sleeves and save Christmas. Where the hell did that even come from? In the space of 30 seconds, Walter has gone from the meanest man on the planet to quitting his very good job for a son who puts syrup on their pasta.

Nope, sorry, I do not buy it. Count me out. I honestly love Christmas more than most other people, for me it is the happiest time of the year, but Buddy the Elf and his terrible taste in pasta does nothing for me.

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Shooting at Florida Naval Base: 3 other Saudi students film it all | P.M. News

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Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani the Saudi shooter at Florida naval base

Shocking revelations have emerged in the aftermath of the shooting at a Florida Naval base by a Saudi military student Mohammed al-Shamrani. One of the surprises was that three other Saudi students filmed the entire attack.

A total of six Saudis have been detained over the shooting, in which four persons were killed, including al-Shamrani. Eight others were wounded in the shooting which took place in a classroom building at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. Among the wounded were two sheriff’s deputies who responded to the attack.

According to the New York Times, the Saudi gunman was armed with a Glock 9mm handgun that had been purchased locally. The gun had an extended magazine and the shooter had four to six other magazines in his possession before he was himself gunned down by Florida policemen.

Al-Shamrani reportedly condemned America as a “nation of evil” in an online manifesto prior to opening fire Friday at a US naval base, killing three people before being shot dead by police.

The Florida Naval Air Station

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist media, said he had posted a short manifesto on Twitter that read: “I’m against evil, and America as a whole has turned into a nation of evil.”

“I’m not against you for just being American, I don’t hate you because your freedoms, I hate you because every day you supporting, funding and committing crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity,” he wrote.

ABC News reported that investigators were working to determine if it was in fact written by the shooter.

The Twitter account that posted the manifesto — which also condemned US support for Israel and included a quote from Al-Qaeda’s deceased leader, the Saudi Osama bin Laden — has been suspended.

DeSantis told a news conference that “the government of Saudi Arabia needs to make things better for these victims. And I think they are going to owe a debt here given that this is one of their individuals.”

Commanding officer Captain Timothy Kinsella said the shooter was an aviation trainee, one of “a couple hundred” foreign students at the base.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman telephoned US President Donald Trump to denounce the shooting, affirming that “the perpetrator of this heinous crime does not represent the Saudi people,” according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi Arabia has long been a major US ally in the Middle East, thanks primarily to security considerations and oil.

Trump said King Salman “called to express his sincere condolences and give his sympathies to the families and friends of the warriors who were killed and wounded in the attack that took place in Pensacola, Florida.”

There was a deja vu about the Florida attack. Shamrani shares the nationality of 15 of the 19 men involved in the 9/11 attacks, some of whom attended civilian flight school in Florida.

Police were first called about the shooting shortly before 7:00 am (1200 GMT), Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said.

“Walking through the crime scene was like being on the set of a movie,” Morgan said. “You don’t expect this to happen.”

Only members of the security forces can bring weapons on base, Kinsella said, and it was not clear how the shooter got the gun onto the premises.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he is “considering several steps to ensure the security of our military installations and the safety of our service members and their families,” but did not provide details.

Just two days earlier, a US sailor fatally shot two people and wounded a third at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii before taking his own life.

“This has been a devastating week for our Navy family,” Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday said. “When tragedy hits, as it did today, and Wednesday in Pearl Harbor, it is felt by all.”

The Pensacola naval air station hosts 16,000 military personnel and more than 7,000 civilians, and is home to a flight demonstration squadron.

It is an early training centre for naval pilots, and is known as the “cradle of naval aviation.”

The base is the centre for the US Navy foreign military training programs, established in 1985 specifically for Saudi students before being expanded to other nationalities.

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OPINION: Death and the legacy of Fela Kuti – Vanguard Allure

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Death, many people say, can be the biggest career move and for proof they point to Michael Jackson who was mired in debt at the time of his death but whose estate is now worth millions and millions more than he made while alive.

Death has always fascinated pop culture, especially when the dead is famous or infamous and young to boot. Think Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and Jean-Michel Basquiat. These rock stars captured the popular imagination, blazed bright like a meteor then fizzled out like shooting stars.

The phenomenon of dying young has been so analysed that someone came up with the 27 Club – a constellation of famous people who died at the age of 27 from drug overdose, alcohol addiction, car or plane crashes as well as suicide or homicide.

Most of them are white (Hendrix and Basquiat no), most of them American. But has death ever boosted the career or renown of an African celebrity? The answer is yes and the most famous must be Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the iconic musician, jazz aficionado and fiery activist who was a thorn in the flesh of successive military regimes.

Fela died 22 years ago at age 59. He was nowhere near 27 and by that time had adult children – Yeni, Femi and Shola (who died young). He was world-renowned and celebrated and hounded at home. His residence was famously known as Kalakuta Republic (named after the prison cell he occupied while incarcerated at Kirikiri prisons). His cell was called Calcutta but Fela corrupted it to Kalakuta.

His residence so named was raided on February 18, 1977 by what reports say were over 1,000 soldiers. Denizens of the commune including some of his wives were beaten and raped and the building burnt down but not before his aged mother was thrown out of the window. She died from her injuries.

But the loss of his mother and his republic did not diminish Fela’s stridency. He remained militant to the very end dying from complications arising from HIV/AIDs just four months after he left prison.

He was as well known for his music as he was for his activism and today when a musician or celebrity of whatever stripe is conscious people liken him or her to Fela.

But how did death boost Fela’s career? Alive, Fela was mercurial and tempestuous. His albums were mostly one-song albums that sometimes lasted for over 20 minutes. His intros were famous for featuring call and response choruses and then long jazz pieces that seemed to go along for interminable moments. Radio stations found him a nightmare and attempts by music labels to re-master and cut short his songs for the new CD technology were rebuffed. The only close examples in contemporary western music would be ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, the Queen song from the 1975 album A Night at the Opera which clocks in at 6 minutes and then Tubular Bells, Mike Oldfield’s 1973 studio album which extends to 49 minutes.

Fela was, therefore, a peculiar kind of musical artist with an oeuvre that was as potent musically as it was politically. For Fela, music was a weapon and one he wielded in many ways as if it was the lasso of truth with which he whipped the military and autocrats and kleptocrats into line.

His music was critical of soldiers whom he called zombies but soldiers loved to listen to his music because it was also critical of the government and often plumbed the depths of the pervasive social malaise and political morass.

Fela’s music was a leveller and had an uncanny ability for transcending class and gender, moving fluidly between the mainland and island and breaching class strictures. Visitors to the Africa Shrine in what is now Computer Village in Ikeja, where Fela played live sets every Friday when he was not on tour would find bank CEOs and messengers dancing and smoking as they listened to Fela’s music. The shrine was a democratic locale where music was a unifying factor.

It is also important to note how Fela’s music is at home in the mouths of the rich as well as the poor with men from different sides of the track laying equal claim to the man, musician and prophet.

Fela’s death was devastating but in dying, Fela seemed to step across the threshold from legend into myth. His death many say made his children instant millionaires and then his music re-mastered and available widely on CD spawned a whole new generation of fans, many of them not yet born or mere toddlers when Fela transited from this realm.

Today, Afrobeat, the musical genre he pioneered, is played across the world from Portugal to the UK, the US to Spain. Books have been written about him, documentaries shot and a Broadway show has travelled the world presenting Fela as maverick musician, activist and prophet.

But Fela’s reputation has been cemented and augmented more by a hybrid sound, a derivative christened afrobeat and made popular by young African musical artists who have evolved a whole new sound described by the poet and music Dami Ajayi as having begun with the Kennis music group, D Remedies.

According to Dr. Ajayi – “Afrobeats is perhaps the biggest cultural export from West Africa to the rest of Africa and the world. There is little doubt that this music of both Nigerian and Ghanaian origins will continue to enjoy mainstream global prominence.

Afrobeats went mainstream in Nigeria about two decades ago when D Remedies, released their hit song, Shako Mo, under Kennis Music label. The song sampled instrumentals from MC Lyte’s Keep On Keeping On, which also, interestingly, sampled Michael Jackson’s Liberian Girl. With that connection, one can easily link Afrobeat auspiciously to the late King of Pop.

Today, Afrobeats, a fusion of Hip-Hop and African rhythms, has since eschewed overt Western influences in favour of African idioms and musical traditions. Highlife, Juju, Fuji, Apala, Makossa, Sokous and Afrobeats have become cannon fodder for this music and the benefits are multidirectional. Ultimately, one can argue that Afrobeats is making the old new.”

But what has become clear is that many of the biggest Afrobeats stars have adopted Fela Kuti as both muse and creative forge. This year again as we celebrate the life and times and legacy of Fela Kuti during the weeklong Felabration at Freedom Park and beyond, we will be reminded that his death has made him more relevant than he ever was alive and a bigger musical brand to boot.

The list is long but Uzoma Ihejirika writing in thelagosreview attempts to put it all in perspective – “Founded 21 years ago by Yeni Anikulapo-Kuti, Felabration presents an opportunity to acknowledge Fela Kuti’s contribution through Afrobeat, the genre of music he pioneered. His jazz-inspired, robust sound continues to spark a creative flame in the hearts of Nigerians—both admirers and detractors— who no matter what cannot ignore Fela, the man and the musical icon.

That creative flame continues to burn in contemporary Nigeria even amongst artistes who were not born or were mere children when Fela became an ancestor. These artistes have made the Afrobeat genre a foundation upon which to speak about their fears, their frustrations, and their joys.”

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