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(Source: Daily Mirror)

Amy Winehouse’s grieving mum Janis says her daughter was “a physical wreck and completely out of it” the day before she died. Janis spent several hours with her tragic daughter after turning up at her home unannounced. But 27-year-old Amy was in such a bad way that her minders had to help her down the stairs.

This contradicts reports last week that she had beaten her drug and alcohol demons – and adds weight to friends’ fears that she had fallen back into her old ways. At her funeral on Tuesday, her ­devastated dad Mitch said Amy had given up drugs and had been winning her battle with alcohol. But Janis, who had called at her daughter’s home just after midday on Friday, told a friend it seemed she had hit the bottle again.

“Amy was completely out of it,” she said to the friend. “She was in such a state the guys minding her had to go upstairs to get her and help her down the steps. It looked like she had been out drinking the night before and was still drunk or hung over.”

Police are now probing who Amy spent her last hours with and ­whether she was supplied with drugs including ecstasy the night before her body was found at 4 p.m. last Saturday at her home in Camden, North London. It could take up to four weeks for toxicology tests to come back to determine the cause of death.

Janis also told her friend: “I don’t know what happened on that Friday night. I was told she was seen drinking in the bar at the Roundhouse that evening. But how much she drank and what happened next is a mystery. I just think she put her body through too much and it just gave up. If you continue to neglect yourself, there is only so much it can take.”

Amy’s close pal Tom Wright – son of BBC Radio 2 DJ Steve – says friends had turned a blind eye to her using “social drugs” like ecstasy and cannabis on the basis she had quit using crack cocaine and heroin.

Tom, who had not seen Amy for about six months (so really close then), said: “I think maybe some people made a distinction between the hard drugs of her past and the social drugs of the present. I don’t think that’s acceptable but it’s the only explanation I can think of for what happened to her.”

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(Taken from The Book of Knowledge, edited by Harold F.B. Wheeler)

In the annals of literature there is no more dark and disastrous career than that of this American poet and story writer, whose inherent faults of character and bad training combined to quench in early death a truly fine and original genius.

From his mother, an English actress, and his father, a stage-struck youth of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A., who left him an orphan in infancy, Poe inherited a highly nervous and emotional temperament, that needed the wisest and kindest oversight. Instead, the handsome, precocious boy, alternately indulged and treated with severity, was brought up as the spoiled heir to the fortune of his godfather John Allan, of Richmond, Virginia, who adopted him. Then, after he had been taken from Virginia University and expelled from West Point Academy for his dissipated habits and insubordination, Mr. Allan disowned and disinherited him.

At 25, with expensive tastes and no training for a profession, Poe was obliged to live on the charity of his father’s poor sister, a Mrs. Clemm, of Baltimore. There he took local prizes for prose and verse, and discovered literary talents for which he found employment in Philadelphia and New York.

A man of striking personal appearance, charming manners, and obvious gifts, Poe readily secured positions on the leading magazines of the day. But his weakness of will and occasional dissipations made him unreliable and kept him in poverty. Yet in intervals of deadening hack work, Poe wrote short stories and verse, which, while small in amount, are among the most precious of American literary classics.

In poetry his genius was unique. He makes no appeal to the intellect, but, as a result sometimes of his own morbid state of mind, expresses a melancholy, sensuous emotion in verse, whose perfection of melody suggests fine musical compositions. His prose stories have an equal fascination. He gives form to horror and fear, or constructs and unravels mysteries with fidelity to scientific principles.

Poe is more truly a world author than almost any other creative American writer, but so purely his own was his inspiration that he would have appeared a literary alien in any country. In the United States there is greater appreciation of his poetry than of his prose, while in France especially his short stories are classic models, on which famous writers have formed their style. A conscientious literary artist, he revised and perfected everything he wrote, and only by infinite painstaking secured his clearness and impressiveness.

The publication of “The Raven” made him the literary lion of the day, but good was followed by ill fortune. He had married his beautiful cousin, Virginia Clemm, the “sainted maiden” of “The Raven”. Two years after the appearance of this famous poem his idolized young wife died, after a long decline and amid the tragic privations of poverty. In grief and remorse Poe made a heroic effort to conquer his weakness, but he died wretchedly in a Baltimore hospital following a bout of delirium tremens. His last words before he died were: “Lord help my poor soul”.

Amy Winehouse, 10 days before her death

The question was frequently asked, for whom does he compose? Certainly, for me (and I know that fortunately I am not the only one). With a few exceptions, Stockhausen’s works are consistently among the music of the last 50 years that gives me the most enjoyment and impresses me the most. This holds up until his later music. For example, Himmelfahrt (Ascension) (2004/5) for synthesizer (or organ), soprano and tenor, and Licht-Bilder (2002) for tenor, trumpet, basset-horn, flute and ring-modulation are, in my view, simply in a league of their own when it comes to, not just quality, but also sheer originality of ideas and the authoritative execution of these in the finest detail and with sublime compositional technique.

One of my favorite at-home concerts is currently Gruppen followed by Himmelfahrt. Both works feature polyphony of strands in different tempi – in the latter, the two hands of the keyboard player play in different simultaneous tempi – and both employ the concept in distinct ways. While Gruppen is gestural music, Himmelfahrt applies a more melodic approach. Both works offer complex listening experiences. At the end of such a “concert” I am exhausted but happily so. And completely drunk, so I now am unable to find the fucking Stockhausen CDs.

The Helicopter Quartet – alas, the only most recent work of Stockhausen that is available outside Stockhausen-Verlag – certainly does not tell the whole story about his more recent music.

Apart from the very good beginning and the terrific end (ascension and descent) I find it most of the time boring, and I seem to share this experience with many others. I have had some moments where I thought I had started to like the music, but then, after listening to some other earlier Stockhausen music, like the two above mentioned works, I really couldn’t bear it.

The extravagant perfomance requirements are the most outrageous in Stockhausen’s oeuvre and not typical. While other works are difficult to perform not just in terms of technique but also in terms of costs, none is of such a forbidding nature. And many later works, not just the composer’s own chamber music, like excerpts from Licht, but also his compositions from the Klang cycle, are relatively easy to perform in monetary terms.

I heard Stockhausen give pre-concert speeches in London three or four times. On each occasion, he was lucid, amusing, enthusiastic, unpretentious and, above all, quite sane. I have no idea why he comes across as such a basket case in interviews. In real life Stockhausen was a very nice, un-arrogant and down-to-earth person – I have experienced this during summer courses, in personal conversations and in exchange of letters.

However, and this is not meant as a critique of his contribution to 20th century music, he had shocking halitosis – and unavoidable, even if you were squeamish about such things, because he would insist on standing right up close to you in a conversation, and suddenly exhaling with a big German noise. I was present when David Atherton and two members of the London Sinfonietta vomited, then fainted because of this.

This post is my tribute to Amy Winehouse, now I’ll never get to have sex with her.

Good Housekeeping cookery cards, beautifully photographed in full colour with wipe-clean surfaces, are designed to help you in two ways: to provide you with a repertoire of delicious recipes selected from Good Housekeeping magazine’s famous Creative Cookery series, and also to simplify the complex business of planning perfect menus. For Good Housekeeping cookery cards have an extra value – each one includes ideas for two more suitable courses to make up a complete three-course meal, linking the recipes to other cards in the series.

You don’t have to be an expert cook to produce these superb dishes. All recipes have been double-tested. All are clear and easy-to-follow. All include oven temperatures, cooking times, and number of servings.

Ingredients

1 oz. butter
4 large eggs
salt and pepper
4 tbsp single cream
parsley for garnish
toast triangles

Method

Take four individual cocotte ovenproof dishes and put a knob of butter into the bottom of each.

Carefully break an egg into each dish, season with salt and freshly milled pepper.

Spoon 1 tbsp cream over each.

Bake in the oven at 350° F for 12-20 minutes until whites are just set.

Serve straight from the oven garnished with parsley. Partner with toast triangles and butter.

Variations:

First line each dish with lightly cooked bacon rashers, cut to size; or sprinkle eggs with grated Gruyère or Dutch cheese and cook until it is meltingly golden, then top with a dusting of paprika or finely chopped parsley.

She let Ross Kemp put his penis in her vagina, so perhaps she’s not such a bright spark.

Still, I’d give her one.

Rebekah Brooks, the schmoozer hated by Murdoch’s wife and daughter

Slug & Lettuce, Deansgate

An excellent venue for a liquid lunch.

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Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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