Saturday, 30 May 2015

Monday, 25 May 2015

The Three Queens - Cunard's Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth cruise and Queen Mary 2

The Three Queens - Cunard's Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth cruise and Queen Mary 2 are together for the first time in Liverpool for a synchronised 'river dance' celebrating the company's 175th anniversary and Red Arrows flew overhead


Sunday, 24 May 2015

Saturday, 23 May 2015


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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Sir Percivale

The Temptation of Sir Percival
by Arthur Hacker
Oil on canvas, 132.1 x 157.5 cm
Collection: Leeds Museums and Galleries

Sir Percivale

Real Name: Peredyr Arueu Dur, King of Ebrauc (Welsh-Peredyr, Latin-Peredurus, English-Percival)

Identity/Class: Normal human, perhaps enhanced by magic/divine empowerment.

Occupation: Knight

Affiliations: Knights of the Round Table, Grail Knights

Enemies: The Proud Knight of the Moor (various proper names, Orilus in Wolfram, whom he is later reconciled with); the King of Castle Mortal (the man on whom Percival must avenge either the Grail King's death or his father's death and who kills himself rather than deal with Percival's wrath)

Known Relatives: Gwrgi (twin brother), Blanchefleur (wife), Black Knight (son)

Aliases: Parzival, Percivale, Perceval (spelling variants of his name); Steel Arms

Base of Operations: Cartomek, c.6th century A.D. or perhaps Ebruac;
formerly Camelot

First Appearance: c.510-580 

                                        Sir Percival by George Frederick Watts

Percivale was raised by his mother in ignorance of arms and courtesy. Percivale's natural prowess, however, led him to Arthur's court where he immediately set off in pursuit of a knight who had offended Guinevere.

Percivale is the Grail knight or one of the Grail knights in numerous medieval and modern stories of the Grail quest. Percivale first appears in Chrétien de Troyes's unfinished Percivale or Conte del Graal (c.1190). The incomplete story prompted a series of "continuations," in the third of which (c. 1230), by an author named Manessier, Percivale achieves the Grail. (An analogue to Chrétien's tale is found in the thirteenth-century Welsh romance Peredur.)

Chrétien's story was also the inspiration for one of the greatest romances of the Middle Ages, Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival (c. 1200-1210). As in Chrétien's story, Wolfram's Parzival is initially naive and foolish, having been sheltered from the dangers of the chivalric world by his mother. In both versions Percivale/Parzival is the guest of the wounded Fisher King (called Anfortas by Wolfram but unnamed by Chrétien) at whose castle he witnesses the Grail procession and fails to ask--because he has been advised of the impoliteness of asking too many questions--the significance of what he sees and, in Wolfram's romance, what causes Anfortas's pain. This failure is calamitous because asking the question would have cured the king.

Other medieval versions of the story of Percivale can be found in the French texts known as the Didot-Percivale and Perlesvaus (also called The High Book of the Grail or Le Haut Livre du Graal). Percivale is the central character in the fourteenth-century Middle English romance Sir Percivale of Galles which is apparently based on Chrétien's tale but which omits the Grail motif entirely. Percivale is one of three Grail knights in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, the others being Galahad and Bors. Percivale functions as the narrator of the dramatic monologue which comprises most of Tennyson's Idyll "The Holy Grail." In this idyll, much of what Percivale tells focuses on Galahad as the central Grail knight. Richard Wagner, drawing his inspiration primarily from Wolfram von Eschenbach though greatly simplifying Wolfram's plot, wrote the opera Parsifal in 1882.

As in the medieval stories, Parsifal is presented initially as a fool, but is pure enough to heal the wounded Anfortas and to become himself the keeper of the Grail. Among the twentieth century works to deal with Percivale/Parsifal are the poem "Parsifal" by Arthur Symons, several of Charles Williams's Arthurian poems, Robert Trevelyan's The Birth of Parsival (1905) and The New Parsifal: An Operatic Fable (1914), and the novels Percival and the Presence of God (1978) by Jim Hunter, Parsifal (1988) by Peter Vansittart, and Richard Monaco's tetralogy (containing Parsival [1977], The Grail War [1979], The Final Quest [1980], and Blood and Dreams [1985]). One of the most interesting Arthurian films is Eric Rohmer's Percivale le Gallois (1978), a fairly faithful rendition of Chrétien's Conte del Graal. The story of Percivale is recast in a modern setting in the film The Fisher King (1990).


A controversial sculpture of a tree by artist Geoff Wood is installed in Kirkby town centre in Liverpool.

A controversial sculpture of a tree by artist Geoff Wood is installed in Kirkby town centre in Liverpool. The public artwork is part funded by Tesco, who have pulled out of plans to redevelop Kirkby with a new supermarket.

text and photo by Adam Vaughan


Cash-strapped council blasted for spending thousands on £60k sculpture of DEAD TREE
By Rebecca Perring

Kirby town centre in Merseyside was supposed to be getting a Tesco store - but instead in its place is a sculpture of a 400-year-old tree after the supermarket giant pulled out of plans.

The six-metre iron 'Tree of Life' is part of a £320,000 project to spruce up the town centre, to be partly funded by Tesco, which recently axed a planned new supermarket that would have created 800 jobs.

Knowsley Council has also put money into the project but a spokesman refused to say exactly how much.

However residents believe the tree structure alone cost up to £60,000.

The council represents one of the most deprived areas in the country and is facing budgets cuts of up to 30 per cent this year.

But the structure, which is without leaves or full branches, has left locals scratching their heads.

Knowsley Council has called the piece "absolutely spectacular", but many have taken to social media site Facebook to call it a "monstrosity."

Deborah McLean said: "Speechless, words fail me."

While Kirk Phillips wrote: "Have a guess who is paying for that plazzy tree.....that's where your council tax is going."

And Billy Elliott added: "What a monstrosity. How can they call it the tree of life when it looks dead? Not a leaf in sight."

However Geoff Wood, the artist behind the tree, is hoping it will soon grow on people.

He said: "This tree was based on the oldest tree in the borough but it was a very sick tree. It was falling down, it was dangerous so it had to be felled anyway, so I suggested we should cast it in iron and give it a new life.

"The tree was over 400 years old so, with it, it carries all the memories of all the people who have lived during that time."

He says it is not yet finished and is one of three art pieces, with 'Three thrones' and 'Edward's Elephant' set to follow.

Nine tonnes of molten iron went into making the tree. A golden disc, which will catch the sunlight and provide some shelter from the rain, also completes the design.