13 July 2009
Welcome to another fun and fact filled letter. This week we bid farewell to tennis and take a quick journey through the universe.
The 40th anniversary of the lunar landing of Armstrong and Aldrin, is on 20th July. This has had me remembering back to when I was a young boy and space mad. On the television there were two Sci-fi shows that we all watched: Doctor Who and Star Trek. One British and one American. I loved them both, so after quite a few years I thought I'd revisit the two series and make some comparisons.
So to start let's look at the two central characters.
Captain James T. Kirk is a uniformed leader of men, part of Starfleet's chain of command, he is brave but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He tends to rely on intuition and proddings from Mr Spock. He is very attractive to alien women (normally shades of green) and invariably ends up kissing either willingly or unwillingly.
Doctor Who is slightly different. Firstly, he is an alien. Secondly although absentminded he is so smart he'd make Einstein look like a retarded chimp. Thirdly when he is old or mortally injured he can regenerate (that is he can transform into a new Doctor). Obviously this is quite a handy thing to be able to do, and even handier if you are a script writer introducing a new actor to play the Doctor. The Doctor is a maverick Time Lord and most definitely doesn't take orders. Also, the Doctor doesn't do uniforms. Over time he has preferred a fetching array of bow ties, frilly fronted shirts and knee-length scarves. Plus he always seems to be in need of a haircut. I somehow cannot see James Kirk wearing any of the Doctor's wardrobe on a night out.
Now for their mode of transport. Well, Captain Kirk goes for the tried and trusted starship. USS Enterprise is top of the range, it has warp drive so can go faster than the speed of light. Also, it has deflector shields, photon torpedoes and phasers, medical bay crew quarters and lots more. It is state of the art and really what every starship captain would want.
Doctor Who has ... um ... a telephone box called the Tardis. Mind you it is bigger inside than out and also it has one major advantage over the Enterprise. It can travel through time!! The Enterprise has traveled through time but that is by accidentally falling through black holes and stuff like that. The Tardis seems to a rather old model as it is constantly malfunctioning but luckily it is fixable by an electronic screwdriver (more of this later).
As I have already said the inside of the Tardis is much bigger than the outside, in the centre is a control unit. When in the Tardis the Doctor seems to spend most of his time on the floor mending it. Kirk on the other hand has Scotty and a band of mechanics to keep the Enterprise in action. Kirk goes for the traditional ship's bridge along with all the sophisticated instrumentation available.
In time honoured fashion, I will now suddenly leave you at the edge of an alien cliff. Next week we have the final episode including the crew, aliens and gadgets.
When you are on holiday, it's always good to send postcards to friends and family. Just to let them know that you are having fun and they are not! England with its proud tradition of humour and culture, the land that gave birth to Shakespeare traditionally uses "seaside postcards".
So here are a couple of examples to further your education.
After last week's master class in bowling we will look at batting. Remembering back to what I wrote, the bowler is trying to hit the wicket with the ball and the batsman job is to stop this happening.
The picture above is of a batsman getting ready for a delivery. His bat is made of wood, normally willow. His primary concern is not to "get out". So the first way we already know is the ball hitting the wicket. But also he can be caught if he hits the ball and a fielder catches it. If he accidentally hits the wicket with his body or bat he is also out. Now imagine this; the ball is heading for the wicket but it hits the batsman's leg. He doesn't manage to hit it with the bat but his body has stopped the ball hitting the wicket. Whoops he is out, "leg before wicket" called "LBW".
Now the batsman has another job, to score runs. Just like the batsman above. Around the outside of the cricket ground (the whole playing area) is a white line or rope it is called "the boundary". Here is a wide angle view to give you some idea of scale.
If the batsman hits the ball over this with out it bouncing it is called a "six" and he scores six runs. If the ball goes to the boundary but bounces then it is a "four" and four runs are scored. Often the main way the batsman scores runs is by "running between the wickets".
Now I have a surprise for you ... ready .... well there are 2 batsman! Look at the picture above and you will see them. There is one getting ready to hit the ball and the other one is behind the bowler. So imagine the batsman hits the ball not hard enough to hit the boundary, there is no fielder close. So the two batsmen run and switch ends. That is a run scored. Maybe they will run 2 and then they are back to where they started. Occasionally they might manage to run 3.
Are you with me? Nearly there I promise. If either batsman of the batsman don't get back before the ball is thrown and hits the wicket they are out. Just like this guy.
The area the batsman has to be in is called the crease. This picture shows it clearly it is the area between the wicket and the white line. The batsman has his back foot in his crease.
Phew that is enough explaining. Here in our last picture is disaster. The batsman who by the looks of it was trying to hit he ball out of the ground has been clean bowled.
Next week we will take a break from how cricket is played and take a look at the Bodyline series. An English tour of Australia that is remembered after over 75 years and sparked a diplomatic incident.
As promised last week as a finale to this years Wimbledon we will have a brief look at the last British player to win the Wimbledon mens singles title. Before I started writing this I knew very little about the man but now I am very glad that I choose to write a small piece about him as you will soon find out.
Fred Perry came from humble beginnings. Above is the house where he was born in 1909, he eventually became an icon and he has a prominent statue in Wimbledon.
In 1929, at the age of 19 be became the Table Tennis World Champion. He then took up tennis. Britain in those times was even more class conscious than now. Perry had not attended "good schools" and suffered a lot of prejudice from those in authority. In an irony this is probably what spurred him on to greatness. Here are three stories to illustrate this.
Early in his career Perry was barred from entering a tournament because he didn't go to a fee paying school. So he asked another player what school he had attended the reply was "Repton School". Perry then turned to the official and said "All right, I went to Repton".
In his first final victory at Wimbledon a club official gave his bottle of champagne to the loser an Australian Jack Crawford. Later Perry overheard the official saying Crawford was a "better man".
Finally after turning professional he received a letter from the International Lawn Tennis Club of Great Britain saying he should never wear the club sweater again. So to make his feelings known Perry sent back a sleeve "as a present".
Perry wasn't just a Wimbledon winner he was a really top class tennis player winning Wimbledon three years in succession 1934-1936, after which he turned professional. He was also an eight-time Grand Slam champion.
He then moved to the US eventually becoming a US citizen. In the US he lived a Hollywood lifestyle, including a romantic relationship with the actress Marlene Dietrich. He was a leading bachelor of his day and his romances were heavily covered by the world's press. Over the years Perry's relationship with the tennis authorities mellowed.
Perry died in Melbourne, Australia in 1995 where he was to watch the tennis. He was 85.
To most people in England the name "Fred Perry" means a fashion label. Especially polo shirts that were originally launched way back in 1952. The Fred Perry brand has a laurel logo, which know you now it you will begin to spot on clothing.
So Perry really was more than just the last British man to win the Wimbledon singles he was a real sporting superstar.
The Guardian, a national newspaper is claiming that journalists from a rival paper News of the World were involved in widespread phone hacking. When I say widespread I meant it! And if it is true it is totally outrageous.
They allege according to a source that between "2,000 and 3,000" celebrities, sports stars and politicians have had their phones hacked. Furthermore they claim to have evidence that News Group Newspapers - owner of News of the World has paid £1m to settle legal cases that had they gone to court might have revealed evidence of illegal activities. Amongst victims of this alleged crime are Lenny Henry(comedian), George Michael(singer), Nigella Lawson (celebrity cook), Gwyneth Paltrow(actress), footballers and football managers.
Amazingly The Guardian alleges that the phones of John Prescott(who was then deputy prime minister), Tessa Jowell(former culture secretary) and Boris Johnson(London Mayor) were also hacked.
This story follows on from an enquiry in 2006. Currently the police are refusing to reopen enquiries. John Yates who is the Metropolitan police head of specialist operations
"This case has been the subject of the most careful investigation by experienced detectives ... No additional evidence has come to light. I therefore consider no further investigation is required."
News Group Newspapers denies any wrong doings, but this story will not go away and there is speculation that at the very least there maybe a large number of private prosecutions.
Time to sign off now and I had better start reading up on my history for the next letter.
I hope you have a good week!