Friday, 17 October 2014

TalkTalk tells Council: "Our landlines don't support Lifeline services"

TalkTalk: "TalkTalk landlines
don't support these devices."
Update 20 October 2014: Virtual-Lancaster has been contacted by TalkTalk who have sent us the following statement:
"We take issues like this very seriously and are conducting an urgent investigation into this."

Temporary changes made by TalkTalk to their landline service over the weekend meant that Lancaster City Council has had to warn vulnerable Lifeline users that they can't count on Talktalk telephone lines working with their Lifeline button alarm pendants in an emergency.

Over a thousand vulnerable local people use the Lifeline alarm service, wearing an emergency button on a pendant or a bracelet (see image) that they can press if they have a fall or other emergency and need help. Most of these users are elderly and frail, many are disabled, but keen to keep their independence. Knowing that help can be summoned at the push of a button brings peace of mind, to them and to the friends and relatives who worry about them .

When pressed, the button connects wirelessly to a device that plugs into an ordinary telephone socket, which phones through to the call centre. The device has a speaker and the trained call centre operator can talk to the service user and assess their need. The call centre also keeps a list of emergency telephone numbers of relatives or neighbours who have keys and can come immediately to give assistance.

This week it was discovered that Lifelines were not working for service users whose landlines were supplied by TalkTalk. There are several dozen such service users in the area and obviously, this is a potentially very risky situation. Fortunately, the glitch appeared to be only temporary. Whatever TalkTalk had reconfigured over the weekend, they restored again. But there doesn't seem to be any way of making sure it won't happen again, or finding out when it might happen.

Trying to talk to TalkTalk isn't easy. When a member of the Lifeline staff tried to explain to TalkTalk's customer services what had happened, and the problems it raised, they simply said that TalkTalk could not support Lifeline service equipment.

This statement from TalkTalk means that Lancaster City Council has had to warn Lifeline users that TalkTalk is not a sufficiently reliable service for a Lifeline that they might need to rely on in emergencies. Their letter to their Lifeline customers who use TalkTalk reads:

"Should you wish to remain a lifeline customer, you will need to arrange to change providers as a matter of urgency.

"When you are considering another provider you will need to check that the service they provide is able to support the use of community alarm systems on their line.

"Should you wish to remain a TalkTalk customer you will need to end your contract with us."

However it can take months to change service providers. Also, changing your phone line provider is a massive hassle for people who are young and strong, never mind those who are elderly or ill.

Virtual-Lancaster called TalkTalk to find out if they even knew what was going on. Their customer services supervisor first explained to us that the problem was caused by Redcare, who, he said, had installed the devices. In fact Redcare install integrated fire alarms, and have nothing to do with Lifelines. We explained this and then had to explain again in greater detail what a Lifeline was, to a person on the other side of the world who didn't (in my opinion) speak very good English and who had clearly never heard of such a thing.

That wasn't a problem for him though, because as soon as he understood that it was a device plugged into the phone line he was back on script. "TalkTalk do not support devices made by other manufacturers. You have to go and talk to the manufacturer." We explained that the device had worked on every phone line except TalkTalk's, and that we would appreciate if they could try to find out what had temporarily stopped the TalkTalk lines from working, but he just kept repeating the same line. And that was that.

The Lifeline service told us that they had a similar problem with a different service provider about a year ago. That went differently. They were able to speak to an advisor who understood the problem and had the capability to think and make enquiries. This provider was able to ensure that the service was restored.

However TalkTalk isn't interested in finding out why their service suddenly let dozens of their most vulnerable customers down, out of the blue, potentially putting their lives at risk. And they aren't interested in trying to avoid it in future. They made that very clear, to Lancaster City Council and to Virtual Lancaster.

We're lucky in Lancaster & Morecambe, because we know this now, and we can take steps to help vulnerable people change to a better phoneline provider that won't take their money and then let them down without a moment's concern.

But there are thousands of Lifeline users nationwide who may not know yet that TalkTalk doesn't support their service and that TalkTalk reserves the right to make changes, temporary or permanent, to their landline service in the course of other operations that could cut off their Lifelines without warning at any time, leaving them isolated and at risk.

The only advice that the Council can give Lifeline users still on TalkTalk is to change providers as soon as they can and, in the meantime, to keep checking the line.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

LGBT readers invited to online survey - 21st Century LGB&T Life in Lancashire

The Lancashire Lesbian, Gay Bisexual & Transgender (LGB&T) organisation would like to research some aspects of what  life is like for LGB and / or T people in Lancashire at the moment, and so have put a survey together.

The survey is for people who identify themselves as LGB and / or T only. Lancashire LGBT would like to encourage as many people as possible across Lancashire to complete the survey as it will help to give a far more accurate picture of LGB&T need in the county.

You don't have to give any personal details - it is anonymous - and it will only take around 10 minutes to complete.  Lancashire LGBT tell us that it is really important as not only will it help the organisation understand what more work needs to be done, it will inform the decision makers in the county – for example health services, support services, police etc. about what the needs of LGB&T people are and what needs to be improved or changed.

To take the survey and also to find out more about Lancashire LGBT go to:

Light Up The Streets calls for volunteers to help the show

Volunteers are being sought to help out with one of Lancaster’s most spectacular events – Light Up The Streets.

Organised by Lancaster Arts Partners, the much-praised event will take place on 7th November, a family friendly event where Lancaster’s buildings and squares are animated with music, dance, theatre and film for the evening.

To ensure the event runs smoothly, volunteers with a friendly, calm and sensible attitude are required. Complimentary food and drinks will be provided at The Dukes on the evening.

Anyone interested in volunteering will need to attend one brief training session on 23rd October at 5.30pm or 25th October at 4.30pm.

• To express interest, please email Jane Twyman at or pick up an application form at The Dukes Box Office in Moor Lane

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Light Up Lancaster Festival - Magical Street Installations and a Fireworks Spectacular!

The spectacular Light Up Lancaster festival (  is on its way in less than a month now - a thrilling, magical two day festival on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 November for all the family which will culminate in the city's popular annual Fireworks Spectacular.

Friday 7 November sees Light Up The Streets happening in the heart of the Lancaster city centre.  On Saturday 8 November, a day of family-friendly activities  will lead up to Light up the Skies - when thousands flock into the district to enjoy the city’s annual firework spectacular launched from the roof of Lancaster Castle at 8pm.

Friday - Light Up The Streets

Light Up The Streets is a family friendly trail of discovery in a series of interlinked light and sound installations located in key areas of the city centre. From 6.30pm to 9.00pm, Lancaster city centre will be illuminated as never before.  Experience historic Lancaster – a route running between the Castle and Market Square – in an exhilarating new way. The trail of magical light shows, installations, music and performance reveals the heritage, stories and hidden treasures of the city for the public to enjoy in new and surprising ways. This year’s theme is ‘Lost & Found’ and local, regional and national artists are currently developing some wonderful ideas to show Lancaster in a completely new light.

Ockham's Razor - Light Up Lancaster Castle
The Castle have surely scored a tremendous coup by presenting the awesome aerial dance company Ockham's Razor to perform their latest oeuvre 'Not until we are lost' in a free public show. Not Until We Are Lost uses aerial movement to create atmospheric, exciting physical theatre in a series of short stories which explore what it is to be lost.  The performance is viewed in new, innovative ways from within a unique set, featuring originally designed aerial structures.  The aerial sculptures transform around the audience creating physically and emotionally affecting environments. How solid, how fixed, is the world around us?  Watch the trailer.
Original score from composer Graham Fitkin (twice winner British Composer awards), featuring a choir from the local community put together especially for the show.

MC Soweto Kinch - Sun Square
On the agenda is a fascinating collaboration between MOBO award winning alto-saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch and the innovative projection specialists, Illuminos. Working with local company More Music, this exciting and versatile young musician in both the British jazz and hip hop scenes and Illuminos will create a stunning piece in Sun Square.

Market Square
• The Nightmarket  - twinkling with distinctive illumination, will have craft and food stalls
• Splodge-A-Matic - The Spin Doctor extends the spectrum to his famous Cyclo-Graphic-Splodge-A-Matic spin painting machine with Neon colours, UV lights and Disco beats. Join him and make your own dazzling Spin painting.
• The Realms of Greater Measure - In 1389, Richard 11 decreed that: "There shall be but one Weight and one Measure throughout the Realm, saving in the County of Lancaster." Illuminos will present a unique, stunning new video mapping projection that will transform Lancaster City Museum into a living, responsive weighing scale. A playful and interactive digital delight.
• FlashBack  - allows you to connect directly with Light Up The Streets and share your views in a fun, interactive way. Like a friendly and engaging pop-up photo booth, it’s immediate, live and in an instant captures personal, individual reflections about the night.

The Storey
The Dukes will also be turning two spaces in The Storey into a labyrinthine promenade adventure… illuminating the stories lost, found and conjured. Step through the ‘rabbit hole’ into the enchanting darkness and be part of an imaginative 20 minute standing and walking family friendly event told by a daring company of young performers.

Storey Gardens - How Did Your Garden Grow?
An intimate environmental lighting experience showcasing the heritage of the Storey Gardens. A magical evening meander through this lovely green space in the heart of the city.  Bring your torch and be prepared for an adventure!  Note: On grassed, uneven surfaces, which may at times be slippery. Please ensure you have appropriate outdoor footwear. Apologies - not suitable for pushchairs or for people with limited mobility.

Judges Lodgings - Lighten Up
More Music is masterminding an enchanting performance at The Judges Lodgings. This short piece magnifies key episodes from the historical past and links them to the world today.  Most images have been gathered from the people, objects and themes suggested by the contents of the museum.  Performance times: 6.45pm, 7.15pm, 7.45pm, 8.15pm, 8.45pm

A light hearted yet physically and emotionally challenging series of small performance vignettes, "Nooks” will draw you into the nooks and crannies of Lancaster’s rich heritage, space and lost tradition. Running at various locations throughout the event including the Castle, Castle Walk, Priory Steps, New Street and Church Street

There will be street theatre and puppetry too and in shop windows, to celebrate 50 Years of the University of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus, Shane Johnstone has created 50 original pieces of 3 dimensional artwork using stained glass and light.

Saturday - Light Up The Skies Fireworks Spectacular

On Saturday November 8, Light Up The Skies will offer a host of family-friendly activities during the day around the city ahead of the finale of the Light up Lancaster Festival - the dazzling Lancaster Fireworks Spectacular starting at 8pm.

As in previous years, the main viewing areas for the display at Giant Axe and Quay Meadow (sold out) will be accessible via free wristbands which are now available to order online.   Other official viewing areas which do not require wristbands will be the Millennium Bridge, Salt Ayre Sports Centre and Williamson Park.

BBC Radio Lancashire presenters will be back again this year to broadcast live from Quay Meadow from 6pm - 8pm on all frequencies. At 8pm spectators tuning into Radio Lancashire on 104.5FM will be able to listen to the specially coordinated firework music and enjoy the full light and sound experience as they watch the drama unfold from other vantage points around the city.

More information on Light Up Lancaster is available at   Here you can also sign up to receive more information on this and other events taking place in the Lancaster district as soon as it becomes available.

Light Up Lancaster is being funded by Lancaster City Council, Arts Council of England, Lancaster Arts Partners, Lancashire County Council, Lancaster Unlimited and Heritage Lottery Fund.
Light up the Skies will this year be delivered on behalf of Lancaster City Council by Storm Consultancy.

Eric "Back by End of Year"?

Although still reeling from a bizarre attempt to steal Eric Morecambe's statue from the Morecambe's sea front in broad daylight last weekend, Lancaster City Council hope to have the much-loved tourist attraction back in its rightful place before the end of the year.

Sculptor Graham Ibbeson, who spent six years creating the iconic statue which has delighted local and visitors alike for just over 15 years, was set to visit Morecambe on 22nd October and assess the damage.

In a statement, Councillor Ron Sands, Lancaster City Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for tourism, said: “I was shocked and appalled when I heard the awful news of the attack on the Eric Morecambe statue.

“The police are dealing with the criminal investigation and we have offered them our full support, but our focus now must, and will be, arranging for the necessary repairs to be made to get Eric back in his rightful place.

“Removal of the statue was necessary for public safety reasons and also so we could secure Eric to prevent any further damage. People can be assured that he is being well looked after and is at a safe location.

“We have already spoken to the sculptor, Graham Ibbeson, and arranged for him to come and view the statue and the damage so he can advise on the next steps.  In the meantime he has asked for some detailed photographs of the damage both to the statue and the supporting structure.

“It is difficult to put an exact timescale on the repairs because it will very much depend on Mr Ibbeson’s expert opinion. We don’t therefore know how much the repairs will cost either, but we are speaking to our insurers and pulling out all the stops and our intention is for Eric to be back on the seafront before the end of the year.”

Speaking to the Morecambe Visitor, Eric Morecambe's former chauffeur and local resident Mike Fountain, who worked for Eric from 1968 until his death in 1984, said his first reaction when he heard about the attack on the statue was one of outrage. But he said “attitudes have softened” since he realised the culprit had mental health issues.

“Let’s now just get it back as soon as possible," said Mike. "People miss it.”

Local Cinema Round-Up for 15th to 23rd October 2014 by Peter Clarke

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

There are three new releases during this period. We have comedy romance with Love, Rosie (15); music with Northern Soul and WWII action with Fury (15). In addition the movies Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, A Most Wanted Man and The House of Magic are again being screened.

Films that have vanished from the screen this period include Sex Tape and Before I Go to Sleep. In addition, the following movies seem likely soon to disappear from our screens, What We Did in Our Holidays and If I Stay.

There is a single contribution to high culture during this period with the with the Royal Ballet Manon. However the Dukes are presenting another installment of their popular Film Quiz.


A Most Wanted Man
Director: Anton Corbijn
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Rachel McAdams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, Grigoriy Dabrygin
The film is an adaptation of John le Carre's novel of the same name and is also the last role of the late Philip Hoffman. Gunther Bachmann (Hoffman) is an intelligence officer working in Hamburg who becomes aware of a tortured half Chechen half Russian immigrant Issar Karpov (Dabrygin) who has arrived in Hamburg to claim asylum and seek his fathers fortune. However is the immigrant a victim or is he a terrorist? If the latter could he be played to lead the security forces to others higher in the terrorist chain? Hoffman steals much of the film with his world weary character and the movie unfolds by covert meetings and dark conversations. This is an intricate, well directed, gripping espionage film.

Director: John R Leonetti
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard
The film is set in California in the 1960's where a young couple move into their new home. The wife Mia (Wallis) is pregnant and has a hobby of collecting dolls. The husband John (Horton) is a medical student and he gives a creepy pigtailed doll to Mia to add to her collection. Yet the doll is possessed and with its acquisition comes a series of disturbances including slamming doors and the malfunctions of an elevator. Mia gives birth and the newborn is also threatened by these disturbances. The film is the prequel to 'The Conjuring' but was shot with limited budget. It borrows heavily from other horror movies and comes complete with cookie neighbour and helpful priest. However despite a rather stilted dialogue and lack of originality, it successfully builds suspense to become quite an effective horror movie.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell
A movie that is a box office success. The film is set a decade after 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'. Much of humanity has been wiped out following an outbreak of an artificial virus which killed humans yet increased the intelligence of apes. Human and ape live in a state of fragile peace and the film explores the conflict that arises when the humans try to start a hydroelectric dam that is located in the apes territory. The first part of the movie builds the characters of both humans and apes and later there are very impressive special effects as hostilities commence between the two sides. Both apes and humans have understandable motives and thus the film is much more than a simple war between right and wrong. An excellent movie.

Director: David Ayer
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Brad Pitt, Scott Eastwood, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf
The film was written and directed by David Ayer following extensive research, and much of the filming took place in the UK. Set towards the end of the second world war, it tells the story of Sargent Dan 'Wardaddy' Collier (Pitt) and his crew of a Sherman tank as they undertake a mission behind enemy lines. One of the tank crew was recently killed in action and they are joined by a new recruit Norman Ellison (Lerman). The film shows war thought the eyes of Ellison as he becomes brutalized as a result of his experiences. All the actors give a stunning performance in this loud and intense portrayal of the violence and ugliness of war. An authentic and memorable war film.

Gone Girl
Director: David Fincher
Certificate: 18
Cast Includes: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
The film is based on, and is pretty much true to, the best selling book by Gillan Flynn. It is the fifth wedding anniversary of the Dunne's. Nick Dunne (Affleck) goes for a drive, and returns to find his wife Amy (Pike) is gone and the house ransacked. He reports her as missing to the police and initially he is treated with sympathy. However as time passes he becomes a prime suspect. The film is told in a broken time-line and we see in flashbacks that the marriage had started to fail. However is Nick guilty of murdering his wife? The film is a psychological thriller with the plot taking a sharp turn in the latter half of the film. This is an excellent, must see, movie.

Love, Rosie
Director: Christian Ditter
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Lily Collins, Sam Claflin
Rosie (Collins) and Alex (Claflin) have been friends from early childhood and repeatedly become close to falling in love with each other. However every-time they start to come together other people and situations serve to come between them and they drift apart. In time. Rosie becomes a single mother and Alex in turn gets married. However there remains a spark between them - but will they ever get together? The movie is based on the 2004 novel 'Where Rainbows End' by Cecelia Ahern. The acting is first rate and the whole is a first rate romantic comedy.

Director: Luc Besson
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman
Lucy (Johansson), a rather average American woman visiting Taiwan, is kidnapped by gangsters, abused and made to smuggle an experimental new drug which is sewn into her stomach. However a beating received by one of the gangsters causes the bag to rupture and she absorbs the drug, with the effect of increasing the efficiency of her brain. This leads her to outgrow her physical and mental limitations as she develops vast intellect and formidable psychic powers. Lucy can now take her revenge. This is a fun film with the story told from Lucy's point of view. However as her powers develop the revenge part of the movie becomes very one sided and the film sacrifices action sequences for a quest to understand her evolution into something that is beyond human.

The Equalizer
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Bill Pullman, Marton Csokas.
A big screen adaption of the 1980's TV drama series which starred Edward Woodward. Now Washington takes on the role of McCall, a black ops commando who faked his own death so he could retire to an uneventful existence in Boston. McCall is a childless widow, working in a superstore and with a fondness for reading. He befriends Teri (Moretz) a young woman who works as a prostitute. However she is beaten and hospitalized by Russian gangsters. McCall decides to use his skills to retaliate and as a result finds himself the target of a Russian team led by a psychopath Teddy (Csokas). Washington is a consummate actor who plays the role with skill and conviction. However the whole is essentially a violent vigilante movie. Entertaining and believable but the film does not break any new ground.

The Hundred-Foot Journey
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon
A Walt Disney adaptation of the 2010 novel by Richard C Morais. The Kadam's are an Indian family that were displaced due to political rioting. They arrive at a quaint but rather conservative French Village and decide to open an Indian Restaurant, the Maison Mumbai. However just across the road is a classical, Michelin starred restaurant Le Saule Pleureur run by Madame Mallory (Mirren). This leads to fall-outs and ultimately sabotage between the two institutions. Meanwhile Hassan (Dayal) the master cook of the Indian restaurant begins a flirtation with Marguerite (Le Bon), the sous chef of Mme Mallory's restaurant. This is a well acted and endearing movie with plenty of laughs. Entertaining but lacking suspense.

The Maze Runner
Director: Wes Ball, Douglas Cumming
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Kaya Scodelario, Dylan O'Brien
Thomas (O' Brien) awakes with no memory to find himself trapped with dozens of other boys inside an enclosure with towering walls. He subsequently discovers this to be a gigantic maze. He integrates in the society of boys, becoming one of the runners, a sub group who try to map the maze and find a way out. Attacking the boys are Grievers which are giant spider like creatures who also inhabit the maze. Thomas has dreams about an organisation called W.C.K.D. and he must uncover his purpose and find a way to escape. The movie is a decent adaption of the best selling novel by James Dashner, the first in a trilogy. The acting is strong and the depiction of the maze and its grandeur is very impressive. The movie is aimed at young adults but it contains some violence and the whole has a rather joyless atmosphere. The ending was somewhat complicated, designed perhaps to pave the way for the forthcoming sequel.

What We Did on Our Holidays
Director: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkins
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly
Doug (Tennant) and Abi (Pike) are a married couple on the cusp of a divorce. Despite this, they decide to take their three children to Scotland to attend a family gathering to celebrate the 75th birthday of Gordie (Connolly), Doug's father. In conversation, the children let slip to the wider family the details of their life in London and the parents arguments. Hence tension and family feuds ensue. The characters of the film are based on the TV series 'Outnumbered' and the film is in part comedy sitcom and in part an emotional 'roller-coaster'. Despite fine acting (with Connolly in particular fine form) the final third of the film seemed a little flat. 

Writing project explores World War One

A powerful new writing project focusing on World War One will be launched at Lancaster Library at 4.30pm on Monday 20th October. 

The project, called Time and Tide, is mainly aimed at people aged from 16 to 25. 

It will use records of coroners’ inquests from 1914 to 1918, held by Lancashire Archives, to explore the connections between our lives now and those a hundred years ago. 

During the project writers will explore untold stories of everyday life to show how World War One affected the local community. 

Among these is the little-known account of how sailors' bodies were washed up on the beaches along Morecambe Bay after HMS Champagne was torpedoed in the Irish Sea in 1917, bringing the stark reality of the conflict right to the doorsteps of local people.

The ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine whilst in the Irish Sea with the loss of five officers and 51 men by a German submarine, eight miles south west of the Calf of Man.

A local poet, Sarah Hymas, will run monthly workshops and the pieces created will form part of an exhibition including art, print and audio. 

Blackpool artist Lisa Wigham will also be involved in creating the exhibition, which will tour around the bay from next April. 

"I’m really looking forward to working with people as interested as myself in writing from history with a balance of sensitivity and curiosity that makes our findings relevant to people today,” said Sarah. 

The writing produced will be published online as well as printed and recorded for the exhibition. 

The project has been funded by Arts Council England, Lancashire County Council and the Friends of Lancashire Archives and is supported by Lancaster Litfest. 

While most of the workshops are for 16 to 25 year olds, there are drop-in workshops open to all. 

• All the workshops are free. For more information go to 

• To book on the introductory workshop phone Litfest on 01524 62166

The Merseyside Roll of Honour Site details the men lost in the sinking of the HMS Champagne

• The sinking of the HMS Champagne features in Adrian Corkill's book, Hostile Sea
Hostile Sea is invaluable to those interested in Manx and maritime history, World War One or those investigating a family ancestor involved in the action. The information on wreck sites and how to locate them on the seabed with reliable GPS coordinates also provides the sports diver and boat angler with the premier guide on World War One shipwrecks around the Isle of Man.

Icicle Works frontman Ian McNabb returns to the Yorkshire House this Saturday

Following his sold out 2013 concert, former Icicle Works frontman Ian Mcnabb returns to the Yorkshire House in Lancaster this Saturday as part of his ‘Eclectic Warrior’ UK tour.

The legendary Liverpool singer-songwriter will be performing tracks from his latest release ‘Eclectic Warrior’ in addition to songs from his solo career and Icicle Works days.

Emerging from the 1980’s Liverpool music scene, Ian started a musical journey as songwriter, lead singer and guitar player with The Icicle Works which has taken on many twists and turns.  The initial run of hit singles with The Icicle Works (Love Is A Wonderful Colour, Birds Fly, When It All Comes Down, Evangeline, Understanding Jane, Little Girl Lost) has been followed by a distinguished and critically acclaimed solo career, including a Mercury Prize Nomination for the 1994 album ‘Head Like A Rock’ which was recorded with Neil Young’s band ‘Crazy Horse’.

Now in his third decade as a recording artist, Ian continues to write stunning songs with warmth, humour, cynicism and grandeur and continues to tour his unique electric–acoustic show to sold out audiences around the country. He recently supported Neil Young & Crazy Horse at Liverpool Echo Arena in July 2014.

As in 2013, support comes from Lancaster's own 'Long Lost Band'.

Tickets £11 (+£1.10bf) available from:

Monday, 13 October 2014

CERN Particle Accelerator Director launches Storey Public Lecture Series, Thursday

Prof Steve Myers OBE
(Image:Anna Pantelia/CERN)
This Thursday 16 October at the Storey in Lancaster, Professor Steve Myers OBE will join Professor Malcolm Joyce, of Lancaster University, to examine the world’s use of particle accelerators. Prof Myers was Director of Accelerators at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) until January 2014 when he was made Head of CERN's newly established Office of Medical Applications.

The lecture, which starts at 6pm, is entitled From Fleming to the Higgs Boson and launches a series of Public Lectures which are part of Lancaster University’s 50th anniversary celebrations. The lectures are free but places are limited by space so please book at

Prof Myers will talk about the dawn of this technology, influenced by Lancaster-born electronics pioneer John Ambrose Fleming, through to its use in finding the Higgs Boson in which experts at Lancaster University have a special interest.

'Saving the NHS - Research into Practice' is the subject of the lecture to be presented in Lecture Theatre 1 at the Lancaster University Management School on campus, by Professor Mike West on October 22.
He will describe how research is changing practice in the NHS, striving for a focus on continually improving, high quality and compassionate care right across the country.

Among the topics touched on in the lecture are NHS values, board functioning, staff engagement, people management, patient satisfaction, team working and leadership. The lecture will also examine key steps needed for the NHS to be saved for future generations.

On Thursday 6 November Professor Robin Grimes, the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, will give a lecture at the Storey on developments in the nuclear industry and how both national and international investments will affect the North West, titled ‘What new nuclear build means to the North West’.

And on November 27 the Public Lecture held in the Shire Hall of Lancaster Castle will be an exploration of the testimonies of the women accused of witchcraft in 1612 as recorded by Thomas Potts. ‘Beyond the Lancashire Witches: Writing and Freedom’ starts with a dramatisation of the women’s testimonies filmed in the Witches’ Tower where they were imprisoned.

Illustrated with live readings by current and former members of the Department of English and Creative Writing, and dramatisations from the key prison sites across the Castle, the talk will compare texts from the seventeenth century, through to contemporary writings within and inspired by the prison and Lancaster Castle.

Lectures are held either on Lancaster University Campus or in Lancaster City Centre. All begin at 6pm. For more information and to book a place, please go to or call 01524 592.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Literary creatives spread the word at Litfest 2014 this week

Thursday's session 'The Book of Gaza'
features the work of
Nayrouz Qarmout and Mona Abu Sharekh
Litfest 2014 is almost upon us - it runs from this Thursday 16th until next Monday 20th October - and Lancaster is getting ready to welcome writers, poets and performers to this prestigious literary festival, now in its 36th year!

You can see the full line-up of authors and events at  There are still a few tickets left for most events, including the fantastic series of workshops for adults and children.

Children aged 8+ are invited to come along and meet the creator of The Casson Family series, Hilary McKay, when she joins Litfest at Lancaster Library at 2pm on Saturday 18th October to talk about the families she creates for her children's books. You can even bring along a parent for free!

Later at 4pm the Dukes will welcome writers from stage and screen to explore the creation of a script or screenplay from folk tales, traditional stories and literary fiction.

On Sunday at the Storey, adults can join a workshop with the master of storytelling, Hugh Lupton, who will work with a group to create a performance piece from the text of the ancient story of 'The Firebird'.

Also on Sunday, for all lovers of poetry, former British Judo champion Owen Lowery presents poems from his remarkable collections 'Otherwise Unchanged' and 'Rego Retold' at 1.30pm.  At 7pm David Constantine will present his fascinating new collection, 'Elder'.

These exciting events and more will be taking place at The Storey, Lancaster Library, The Dukes and Lancaster Castle.  To book tickets or to download a full copy of the festival brochure, visit, or visit the Lancaster Visitor Information Centre in The Storey, LA1 1TH, 01524 582394.

Eric Morecambe statue damaged and removed, Morecambe man arrested

The famous 'Eric' statue before it was damaged

Update 13th October 2014: A man is detained under the Mental Health Act in connection with the offence.

News that the iconic Eric Morecambe statue on Morecambe Promenade has been so seriously damaged that it has had to be removed has shocked and distressed residents throughout the area.

Police were called in at noon yesterday (Saturday) because some person or persons had attempted to saw through the supporting ankle of the statue. The attempt was not completely successful but the statue was left so unsafe that the City Council has had to remove it to a place of safety to prevent further damage - leaving just the foot. The area is currently fenced off.

A 32-year-old man from Morecambe has been arrested on suspicion of attempted theft.

The bronze statue of comedian Eric Morecambe which took sculptor Graham Ibbeson six years to complete has been a very popular feature on Morecambe Promenade since it was unveiled by the Queen in 1999. It features Eric in a pose from the famous 'Bring Me Sunshine' dance he used to do with his partner Ernie Wise at the end of their shows.

Over the last 15 years thousands of people have posed beside it,  and only this year it won the Tripadvisor  Certificate of Excellence, based on visitor feedback.

Lancaster City Council have contacted Graham Ibbeson to make plans for its restoration.

'Stupid', 'crude', 'callous', 'hurtful', 'senseless', 'disrespectful', 'hostile' - all are words used by local residents, business people, visitors in local, national and social media to describe this act against the Morecambe community. Among a great many other words we can't repeat here.

Many have made pledges of support and we all hope that the City Council will be able to restore the statue by next Spring.

Commenting on the investigation, Sergeant John Bond said: “We are in the early stages of our investigation and I would urge anyone who may have seen what happened or has any information to get in touch with police on 101 quoting log number 0325 of 11th October.”

Here are some comments on the vandalism from Morecambe Football Club, local MP David Morris and others...