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In the early hours of Nov. 1, some 40,000 athletes will gather on Staten Island in New York Harbor for one of the world’s largest sporting competitions: the New York City Marathon. This year marks the 40th running of the race, which attracted just 127 competitors for its inaugural event in 1970, held completely within Central Park (only 55 crossed the finish line). Today, the New York marathon traces a path across four bridges and through all five of the city’s boroughs; last year, Brazilian runner Marilson Gomes dos Santos won the men’s event in 2 hr. 8 min. 43 sec. and Paula Radcliffe of England placed first among women in 2 hr. 23 min. 56 sec. last year, according to Running USA, up from just 25,000 in 1976. But it’s only in the relatively recent past that the notion of running 26.2 miles became a popular way to kill a few hours. by a Greek soldier, Pheidippides, who ran the 25 miles to Athens from the town of Marathon to announce a battleground victory over the Persians. “Greetings, we win!” he shouted and then fell to the ground, dead. It would be more than 2,000 years before the marathon would make its return, at the revival of the modern Olympic Games in Greece in 1896. In that event, 17 runners ran 40 km, or 24.8 miles, with Greek runner Spyridon Louis taking the gold medal with a time of 2 hr. 58 min. 50 sec. Inspired by the event’s success, Boston inaugurated its race the next year; it is now the oldest annual marathon in the world. In 1908, the marathon course at the London Olympics ran from Windsor Castle to the royal box at the Olympic stadium in White City (some sources say the Princess of Wales wanted her children to watch the start of the race from their home). The length of the race continued varying for years, but in 1924 that specific distance 42,195 m, or 26 miles, 385 yd. was made the worldwide standard.

An estimated 800 marathons are now held around the world each year; 20 of them with 10,000 or more finishers. They include such punishing races as the Great Tibetan Marathon, held at 12,500 ft. above sea level; the Polar Circle Marathon, held on Greenland’s ice cap; and the Pikes Peak marathon, which includes a 6,000 ft. climb to the summit of the Colorado mountain. Record times have fallen from close to three hours a century ago to close to two hours today, with Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie setting the current record in Berlin last year with a time of 2 hr. 3 min. 59 sec. (A fellow Ethiopian, Abebe Bikila, won worldwide acclaim after setting a record at the 1960 Olympics in Rome running barefoot and another in Tokyo four years later wearing shoes.) Radcliffe, the 2008 New York winner, set the women’s record in 2003, breaking the tape in London in 2 hr. 15 min. 25 sec. (Read “Detroit’s Marathon: What Caused Three Deaths?”)

Women are a relatively new force on the marathon scene; for decades, 26 miles was considered simply too grueling for the fairer sex. The Boston Marathon in 1972 became the first major race to allow women; they were welcomed into the Olympic race in 1984. That’s not to say it was the first time a woman had competed: in 1966, Roberta Gibb hid in bushes near the start of the Boston Marathon and then jumped into the race shortly after the starting gun fired, finishing (unofficially) in 3 hr. 21 min. 40 sec. Switzer,” and Boston officials, unaware of her sex, allowed her to compete. was no man, a race official tried to physically remove her from the course; her boyfriend, running nearby, gave him a shove and she finished the race. (Switzer went on to win the New York City Marathon in 1974.) In 1980, women comprised 10.5% of marathon runners; today the figure is 41%. (Read “When a Marathon Goes Wrong.”)

A woman has also entered marathon lore as one of the most infamous competitors in race history. In 1980, Rosie Ruiz took first place in the Boston Marathon, crossing the finish line at 2 hr. 31 min. 56 sec. But there was a problem: competitors and officials never spotted the New York woman on the course during the race. As witnesses later verified, the 23 year old had jumped out of a crowd of spectators about a half mile from the finish line and simply sprinted to the end. An investigation revealed she had pulled a similar stunt in New York’s race six months earlier. Unlike in Boston, she started and finished that race but rode the subway for several miles in the middle.
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Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was the last obstacle standing in Grace Mugabe’s way to take over.

“When Mugabe fired Mnangagwa, and fired him from the [political Zanu PF] party, it became quite clear there would be a coup,” he says. “That was Emersson essentially stepping in to stop Grace from taking the top job.”

‘Give me the job and I will do it very well’

“Grace Mugabe clearly wanted more power,” wrote Chipo Dendere, a postdoctoral fellow at Amherst College in the Washington Post. “In the last months, she suggested that the Zanu PF constitution should be amended to mandate that one of the two vice presidents be a woman.”

Dendere pointed to a speech on November 5, when Grace Mugabe told a rally that she was ready to take over from her husband. “So I have said to the president: You can also leave me in charge. Give me the job and I will do it very well because I am good. I can do a great job.”

She said the First Lady has several thousand supporters, especially among women,
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who think she is “daring and hard working.” They argue, writes Dendere, “that these traits intimidate men in politics who resort to sexual attacks.”

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe (C), flanked by his wife Grace Mugabe (L) and daughter Bona (R), blows out the candles on a cake celebrating his 92nd birthday.

Her ambition became clearer in 2008, Dendere said, in the days leading up to a runoff election. Dubbed “Gucci Grace” for her lavish shopping sprees and fondness for designer clothing and shoes, she “traded her designer dresses for military clothing, complete with a beret and Zanu PF’s trademark clenched fist.”
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Now that summer is here my thoughts are turning to wonderful summer wedding themes. Here I have looked at a tropical theme which provides a colorful and eye catching color palette.

Whether your wedding is on a distant tropical shore (you lucky things) or closer to home, this theme will work anywhere and really gives a sense of anything goes Here is my take on creating a tropical wedding scheme that everyone will love.

Colors Go for vibrant fuchsia pink, bright red, orange, lime green and aqua blue for a fiesta style scheme. This opens up many possibilities for your decorations, accessories and flowers something your florist will love you for

If you want something a little more subtle then choose a combination of two colors teamed with white. For instance, try combining fuchsia pink, aqua blue and white; or lime green, aqua blue and white.

Locations As mentioned this scheme can really work anywhere. Beaches perhaps offer the best venue, but gardens, marquees and open spaces can work equally as well.

This theme doesn’t have to be confined to a summer wedding either. Beat the winter blues by using for a winter wedding; just find a location with a large room so you have a space that is light and airy opulent ballrooms would be a step too far with this scheme

Food and Drink If you are outside then a BBQ is perfect with some tropical inspired dishes.

Serve up a refreshing lemon sorbet for dessert the perfect foil for spicy Jamaican food

Serve up Pina Colada’s during cocktail hour or some white rum punch complete with added tropical fruits. For the nonalcoholic drinkers put together a refreshing fruit punch instead.

Decorations Look for some colorful paper garlands, funky garden candles for outdoors and colorful glass candle holders. Make your centerpieces from carved fruits and provide your guests with some colorful confetti in the form of orange and pink rose petals.

If you are having an outdoors buffet then let your guests help themselves with some colorful picnic tableware and glasses. Afterwards they can relax on a fun hammock or take some shade under a colorful parasol.

Place Cards and Wedding Favors Make pretty name cards from cocktail umbrella’s by adding a name tag wrapped around the stick. Or print your own name and table number cards at home, add in some colorful tropical motifs such as hibiscus flowers, pineapples and pink flamingos. Why not make your table numbers places instead by using postcards from your favorite tropical paradises.

For your wedding favors your could give out fun shaped cookies, candies in palm tree shaped boxes or create beautiful favor boxes by adding a gorgeous tropical flower head to the top.

Finishing Touches Have your wedding cake made with tropical fruit flavors either in sponge or in a cheesecake variety. Choose a different flavor for each tier and make sure they are colored accordingly, for instance one orange, one lemon, one lime; fill in the space between each tier with corresponding fresh fruits.

Have your guests entertained with a steel band. They will create the laidback feel of the Caribbean and get your guests in the party mood.

People interested in the above article are also interested in the related articles listed below:

Choose A Luxury Wedding Venue To Host Your Wedding

There are many things one needs to decide and choose when organizing a wedding. The most important of all is the venue. The wedding venue should be decided upon and also booked in advance. It is important to show attention on wedding venue as it is something that you will remember and cherish all your life.

Best Wedding Dress And Bridal Shoes Selection Tips

Congrats on your engagement. Your huge day is practically here and the primary concern at the forefront of your thoughts when imagining your huge day is that dazzling marriage equip that you will wear as go out the passageway. In any case, there is no compelling reason to surge when searching for a wedding dress it generally serves best to comprehend what you are searching for and how it will look on you.

5 Tips for Attending a Bridal Expo in New Jersey

Attending a bridal expo in New Jersey can be a great way to plan for an upcoming wedding while having fun. You can take care of a lot of your wedding planning requirements all in one place at a bridal expo, and below are a few tips to help you get as much as you can out of your next expo.

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What is Recycled Leather?

The process of recycling leather involves treating and recycling leather residues that are discarded by tanneries and other leather product industries and using it in the production of composite materials. To recycle leather, first the leather residues and scraps must be shredded. Next, the resulting blend of shredded leather material is glued together with resin and catalysers. This product is then pressed between metallic molds of various shapes and sizes, or directly on sublayers to form plywoods, and then structured into the desired item. The final product has a very polished appearance and there is no need for any additional finishing. Recycled leather products are esthetically pleasing, soundproof and even have heat insulation properties. They can be used in a variety of ways, from furniture to floor tiles to car interiors and have the look of natural leather.

Leather recycling companies are also beginning to take it one step further and are becoming very conscious of the impact their recycling processes have on the environment. They utilize procedures that minimize harmful emissions and save energy. These companies use natural rubber to bond the leather scrap, reducing the need for any harmful chemicals or harsh glues in their recycling process. They use natural tanning oils and vegetable tannins to color the recycled leather products and are able achieve the desirable appearance of full grain leather, all while avoiding the use of any toxic metals. This process results in a highly flexible and breathable recycled leather product that can be used for the most delicate of leather items, including upholstery and clothing

Recycled Leather Items At Home

Leather products are generally very durable and expensive. Once you make the investment in a high quality leather item, you can expect it to be look beautiful and be used for many years. However, as leather gets older some areas become worn out or damaged, whereas other parts of the item still look brand new. For example, the cushions on your favorite leather couch may become torn and tattered after years of use, while the back of that same couch still looks shiny and new. Fortunately, with a little creativity, and the use of leather conditioning products, dyes, and crafting supplies, you can recycle and repurpose many old leather products into a brand new, useful item.

When thinking about which leather can be recycled,
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you have many options: luggage, wallets, purses, jackets, pants, skirts, shoes, belts, gloves and furniture, are just to name a few items. Salvage the part of your item that is unworn and usable, refurbish it and then think about what new uses it may have. Larger pieces of leather can be used to recover chairs and tables; made into throw pillows, rugs; and then you can add a set of perfectly matching leather coasters. With smaller sections, you could make a trendy purse, fashionable skirt, work gloves or even bind a book. Strips of leather can be braided into belts, bracelets and hair accessories; used to wrap worn out handles on tools, golf clubs, and baseball bats;
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or replace the straps on a purse or wristwatch.

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There is a 90 year old “war criminal” helping to frame the foreign policy of the Obama administration. Perhaps a little surprising. Until, of course, you realise that the old boy in question is Henry Kissinger, and he has been advising the White House on a subject he knows well the Russians.

That the Americans are actively co operating with Putin on the Syrian crisis and the eradication of Assad’s chemical weapons is as startling a development as it is a welcome one, and Kissinger, we are told, has been guiding thinking behind the scenes. Asked recently in public whether America and Russia can enjoy a fresh bout of the sort of dtente with Russia he famously pioneered in the early 1970s, Kissinger replied that “it will be extremely difficult, but if they can it will be beneficial to all. Russia will gain prestige, Obama will be vindicated and Assad will be removed, and that would be the best possible outcome.” Sharp as ever, then.

Although recent developments are nowhere on the scale of the strategic arms limitations talks and treaties between the US and the Soviet Union driven by Kissinger four decades ago the first thawing in the Cold War and the first meaningful limits placed on the nuclear arms race it is a hopeful development. It is also one that suggests that the two superpowers are relearning the merits of another doctrine Kissinger was associated with “realpolitik”, the recognition that where raw national interests can be made to converge through diplomacy, then lasting good can emerge.

Its apogee was the Paris Peace Accord of 1973. This, formally, ended the Vietnam War, which President Nixon and Kissinger had concluded was unwinnable. Kissinger achieved the signal honour of jointly gaining the Nobel Peace Prize for that achievement. His North Vietnamese counterpart, Le Duc Tho, declined the award, indicating that the accords didn’t represent real peace at all an accurate view. The American humourist Tom Lehrer quipped that Kissinger’s award represented the “death of satire”. But it did allow the US to start to extricate itself from its agony.

It had also been Kissinger who paved the way for Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. America had treated Beijing as a pariah ever since the Communists won power in 1949; now Nixon opened up diplomatic channels and laid the foundations for China to rejoin the world community, with all the momentous consequences we see all around us today.

For Kissinger’s critics, though, the Kissinger realpolitik has yielded much that was little short of evil. Christopher Hitchens, in 2001, claimed to have amassed sufficient evidence to secure prosecutions for “war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offences against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture”. This is somewhat more than hyperbole; the experience of General Pinochet has made the travels of Dr Kissinger a little more risky.

The charge sheet is extremely long, even considering the eight eventful years Kissinger was running US foreign policy: he and the CIA helped orchestrate the coup against the elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, and his murder in 1973; he and Nixon invaded neutral Cambodia in 1970; they indiscriminately bombed civilians in that long war; connived in the Indonesians’ brutal repression in East Timor; left the Kurds to their fate at the hands of Saddam as early as 1972; the list goes on. “War criminal” and Nobel Peace Prize holder; the unique genius of Henry Kissinger.

Among the American political establishment, there is no doubt, he is held in awe, reverence even. His 90th birthday celebrations earlier this year were a glittering affair, attended by Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, James Baker, John McCain, Condoleezza Rice, George Shultz, Susan Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Bloomberg, former French President Valry Giscard d’Estaing, David Petraeus, Barbara Walters, Wendi Deng, plus Tina Brown and Harold Evans. Senator McCain summed it up: “His legacy is the stewardship of our nation in the most difficult of times and his continued important voice on national security policies. He is a man who has a unique place in the world. I know of no individual who is more respected in the world than Henry Kissinger.”

Kissinger is a sort of talisman, not for the sort of foreign policy America would like to have, and sometimes attempts the idealism of a Woodrow Wilson or a Jimmy Carter but the kind that they believe America has to have, hard headed and realistic. Kissinger’s doctoral thesis “Peace, Legitimacy and the Equilibrium” was on the policies of Metternich and Castlereagh. These two practised great power politics in a way Kissinger was to emulate engagement with great powers of the time to win a stable balance of power. Then, Europe; in Henry’s time, the world. Kissinger was supremely good at that; subsequent holders of the office have been less successful.

Kissinger also has an abiding appeal because he is so emblematic of the American dream. This is not so much despite his German Jewish background, but because of it. He was born Heinz Alfred Kissinger in Bavaria in 1923, about 100 miles from where an upstart Adolf Hitler was attempting his “beer hall putsch”. According to the US constitution, Henry could never have been President, but he could still do everything but. His family fled Nazi persecution in 1938 as a child in New York he would cross the street if he saw a group of kids coming towards him, having been beaten up so many times back home.

The family settled in New York, and he lived out the American dream. “When you think of my life, who could have possibly have imagined that I’d wind up as Secretary of State of the greatest country in the world?” he once said. “I mean, when I couldn’t even go to German schools When I think I was a delivery boy in New York.” That thick Germanic accent, in a voice so earthy you could grow spuds in it, is a reminder of the dream. The only trace of his Bavarian origins, bar the accent, is a lifelong affection for the Frth football team, from his hometown.

Young Henry he’d dropped the “Heinz” soon began to shine academically; his progress to Harvard interrupted by wartime service: He spent 1945 hunting down members of the Gestapo. By the 1950s he had begun his long march into the upper echelons of academia.

Despite his long intimate association with Richard Nixon, Kissinger in fact goes back so far as to have been a consultant to the National Security Council under President Kennedy, though he did not last long in post after he said “I wouldn’t recognise the Baluchistan problem if it hit me in the face” during an official visit to Pakistan. (Oddly, for such a diplomat, Kissinger cannot resist himself; Bangladesh dismissed as a “basket case”, and “it’s a pity they can’t both lose” about the Iran Iraq war).

Henry and Dick first met at an elegant New York cocktail party hosted by Clare Boothe Luce, playwright, politician and one time US ambassador to Italy, in 1967, at her home on Fifth Avenue. Nixon had been impressed by Kissinger’s analysis of superpower politics, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, and told him so. Kissinger, was not so impressed with Nixon: “not fit to be president”. Nonetheless, Kissinger was chosen to run Nixon’s foreign policy, and so was a remarkable partnership formed; it ended with Nixon’s resignation in 1974. The night before Nixon quit, Kissinger joined him in a tearful session; “Henry,” he said, “you are not a very orthodox Jew, and I am not an orthodox Quaker, but we need to pray.”

With a reputation as a ladies’ man, Kissinger has been married twice. His first marriage, to Ann Fleischer, was stormy, and ended in divorce, after 15 years, in 1964 (his two children are from that union). Ten years later his aphrodisiacs worked on the striking Nancy, with whom he is still together. In between there were reportedly many girlfriends.

According to some this “swinger” image was a conscious effort to humanise him and secure pictures in the society gossip columns. Kissinger said “power is the ultimate aphrodisiac They are women attracted only to my power. But what happens when my power is gone? They’re not going to sit around playing chess with me.” Oddly, they still are, and he is still a player in the great game.

A Life In Brief

Born: Heinz Alfred Kissinger, May 21 1923, Frth, Bavaria, Germany.

Family: Son of a schoolteacher and a homemaker. Kissinger has one younger brother, Walter. He first married Ann Fleischer. They divorced in 1964. The couple had two children, Elizabeth and David. He is now married to Nancy Maginnes.

Education: City College of New York and Harvard University (MA PhD).

Career: After returning to the US from his Second World War deployment, Kissinger enrolled into Harvard, planning to become an academic. He became a faculty member in the Department of Government, receiving tenure in 1959. His 1957 book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy became a landmark text book. He went on to serve as the National Security Adviser in the Nixon administration. In 1973, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his Vietnam War ceasefire agreement with Le Duc Tho. He was appointed chair of the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America and then of the President’s Foreign Intelligence under Reagan and Bush. His memoirs have been highly regarded, with the first of the trilogy, The White House Years, winning the National Book Award for History in 1980. He also written over 13 books on foreign policy.

He says: “We can’t be the world’s policeman but we can be the world’s last resort.”

They say: “He was the 20th century’s greatest 19th century statesman.” Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic

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and Cuba sure know how to hold a grudge. When Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, relations between the two countries quickly devolved into bitter arguments, political grandstanding and the occasional international crisis. And while Cuba lies less than 100 miles (160 km) off the coast of Florida, the two nations have had no diplomatic relations since 1961 and use Switzerland as a mediator whenever they need to talk. But maybe finally things might change. On April 13 President Barack Obama announced that he would lift some longstanding restrictions, allowing Cuban Americans to visit and send remittances to their families and easing but not removing the 47 year old economic embargo on the island nation. and Cuba’s ties go back well before Castro. could intervene in the country’s affairs if necessary (later relinquished) and that it be granted a perpetual lease on its naval base at Guant Bay (not). helping to squash rebellions and heavily investing in the economy of its tiny neighbor. The American mafia used Havana as a conference center in 1946. Ernest Hemingway lived there for 22 years; he wrote The Old Man and the Sea at his villa just outside the capital.

Then came the Cuban Revolution and everything changed. It took multiple years and a few attempts but on Jan. 1, 1959 Fidel Castro and his band of guerillas successfully overthrew the government of President General Fulgencio Batista. The United States which supported Castro by imposing a 1958 arms embargo against Batista’s government immediately recognized the new regime, although it expressed some misgivings over the revolutionaries’ execution of over 500 pro Batista supporters and Castro’s increasingly obvious communist tendencies. just three months after coming to power, touring Washington monuments and meeting with Vice President Richard Nixon, all while wearing his trademark olive green fatigues. It was a rare moment of alliance between the two countries, and one that would not be repeated. exports were halved in just two years. The Eisenhower Administration responded by imposing trade restrictions on everything except food and medical supplies. Decrying “Yankee imperialism,” Castro expanded trade with the Soviet Union instead. responded by cutting all diplomatic ties, and the two countries have been talking through Switzerland ever since. President Kennedy issued the permanent embargo on Feb. 7, 1962 right after ordering a shipment of 1,200 Cuban cigars for himself and within a few years the country, whose economy relied on the use of American made products, became a shell of its former self. Food consumption decreased. Telephones and televisions were harder to come by. With no way to import American cars, Cubans watched their pre embargo sedans rust into jalopies. attempts to topple the Cuban government. The Bay of Pigs the CIA’s botched attempt to overthrow Castro by training Cuban exiles for a ground attack was followed by Operation Mongoose: a years long series of increasingly far fetched attempts on Castro’s life. Between 1961 and 1963 there were at least five plots to kill, maim or humiliate the Cuban leader using everything from exploding seashells to shoes dusted with chemicals to make his beard fall out. The Get Smart like plans never worked,
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and Castro’s Cuba soldiered on, angry as ever at the United States. spy planes discovered evidence that the Soviet Union was building missile bases in Cuba. missiles in Turkey in exchange for the de arming of Cuba. The Soviet missiles were gone within six months, but it would take a long time for America to forgive the nation that allowed them to be placed so close to the American mainland. (Read about the lessons learned from the Cuban Missile Crisis.)

In April 1980, a downtown in the economy caused thousands of dissatisfied Cubans to seek political asylum in foreign countries. Anyone who wanted to leave, Castro announced, could do so through its northwestern port, Mariel Harbor. in a mass flotilla. Castro also released criminals and mental hospital patients, of whom as many as 22,000 landed on the shores of Florida; Cuba refused to take them back. civilian airplanes. tighten and then relax restrictions depending on the political climate. A 2001 agreement to sell food to Cuba in the aftermath of Hurricane Michelle has so far remained in place; the United States is now Cuba’s main supplier of food, with sales reaching $710 million in 2008. Obama also agreed to let telecommunications companies long barred under the embargo to pursue business in the country, which still has roughly the same number of phone lines as it did in the 1950s. But the fate of the embargo rests in the sensitive hands of politicians, and no one is sure what Cuba’s reaction will be. Fidel himself, upon meeting the Congressional Black Caucus in early April, reportedly asked, “How can we help President Obama?” although his later comments reverted to his typical uncooperative, firebrand type. has extended a small olive twig to an ailing nation run by the brother of an ailing man, and what happens next is anyone’s guess. once tried to kill with a seashell.
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Opera Historian Dr Alexandra Wilson dons her cloche hat and steps into the shoes of a flapper for a journey back to 1920s London. Jazz was the new fad imported for America, dance clubs were taking the city by storm and cinemas were popping up on every corner. But what was the place of opera in this new entertainment world? Based on new research, this feature will guide listeners around the heady operatic world of 1920s London to some of the venues where opera was thriving, including music halls, cafes and schools. This was a time when opera was not ‘elite’, and rich and poor rubbed shoulders at the opera, just as opera itself interacted in fascinating ways with jazz, music hall, and celebrity culture.

With contributions from modern day performers and historians, alongside comments from 1920s’ critics, conductors and audience members, Wilson challenges the idea that the interwar period was an operatic wasteland, sandwiched between the Edwardian ‘golden age’ and the emergence of a subsidised operatic establishment after World War Two. Opera was very much alive in the 1920s, and hugely diverse a People’s opera. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read about our approach to external linking.
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The sandals of summer are replaced by serious leather footwear, stuff that covers up and laces up. These shoes offer some protection should I drop a storm window, or squash a pile of leaves, or kick a football.

September is a major shoe month at my house. It is the month that kids have to show up in the classroom shod in approved footwear. Experience has taught me that about 24 hours after you find shoes that fit your kids’ feet, the feet start to grow.

This summer, for instance, my kids went through the ritual of trying on our supply of leftover, “perfectly good” shoes, to see if any of the lace up, leather oxfords could be worn to school. The “almost new” shoes that the 12 year old bought last year, with just a few weeks of school left, still fit him but just barely. And a pair of hand me down oxfords looked as if they could be a likely fit for the 8 year old. They were a bit big, but all summer long the kid had been growing like a weed. It seemed like a sure bet that the kid would “grow into” these shoes.

One week into the school year, however, the 12 year old reported that his “perfectly good” shoes were now too tight. And while every other body part of the 8 year old was almost doubling in size overnight, his feet went into a growth slump. The hand me downs remained too big, sliding up and down on his heels. So the old shoes went in the closet, and I went on a shoe buying expedition with the kids.

September is also high season for special occasion shoes. Soccer games are now a part of our Saturday morning routine. A soccer player needs soccer shoes, or so I was told. And so the other day I found myself in the “children’s cleat” section of an athletic store, picking out a pair of soccer shoes with the 8 year old. Like any dutiful dad, I checked the fit and construction and tried to get some meaningful response from the kid to the parental query: “How do they feel?”

Eventually the kid and I agreed on one pair. I liked the way they were built, and the kid said he couldn’t wait to step on somebody with the cleats. But when we were on the way to the cash register, one of the clerks pointed out that we had bought the wrong kind of shoes. Soccer shoes have round cleats and do not have a cleat in the tip of the toe, said the clerk. What we almost bought were football shoes,
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with rectangular cleats covering the soles, including the toe. The clerk had saved me from a major parental mistake of the ’90s, buying athletically incorrect shoes. I felt grateful, even though the shoes cost me $25.

The soccer shoes were cheaper than the skateboarding shoes I’d bought for the 12 year old a few nights earlier. Adults might ask why a kid needs special shoes to ride a skateboard. I used to ask. But now, after several such purchases, I just make sure the new shoes fit, and sign the credit card receipt.

One reason I can’t be too critical of the kids’ special occasion shoes is that I have some, too. For instance, I have a pair of roofing shoes and a pair of painting shoes. Both are recycled sneakers.

I do a limited amount of roof work, just enough to coat the soles of my shoes with black gunk. My roof work has taught me that if you want to increase the level of strife in your household, just track a little tar on the living room carpet. If you want to avoid trouble, get a pair of roofing shoes and be sure to take them off before setting one foot inside the back door.

The best painting shoes are ugly. When your shoes are ugly, you don’t care if paint drips on them. Since you don’t waste time wiping the paint off your shoes, you work faster. That way the painting job gets completed sooner, and you get to kick your ugly shoes off your feet and put a chilled beverage in your hands.

I also have footwear for incredibly special occasions, like mouse stomping. When the weather gets cold, mice take up residence in warm houses, or at least in mine.

When a mouse gets caught in one of those sticky foot traps, it is time to take the critter outside. There are some people who contend that after you catch a mouse you should let him go, “to find his place in the wild.” I live in the city, where if you release a mouse in your backyard, he will soon find a place behind your kitchen wall. So when I catch a mouse in one of those traps, I put the loaded trap in a trash bag. Then I put on my mouse stomping boots, and let the footwear do its duty.
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new timberlands A Halloween riddle

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What has fuzzy brown webbed feet, big white tusks, goofy googly eyes and puts me in a rage?

It’s a walrus, and it was the only Halloween costume available for my 16 month old son.

Sure, guys have it easier. Men make more money, on average a full 30 per cent more than women. They still aren’t expected to put their careers on hold to raise children, giving up precious rungs on that ladder in order to do so. They have a faster metabolism; on men grey hair looks ‘distinguished’ and rarely do they walk through a dark parking lot clutching their keys as weapons and fully expecting attack.

I don’t know a single man whom, after watching a Criminal Minds marathon, will go to bed and curl up next to a crowbar. Mind you, I don’t know a single man who would watch a marathon of Criminal Minds, but that’s not the point.

To top it off, should he so desire, a man can stand up and urinate off the back of a boat. The world is their rest stop, and certainly, that’s unfair.

In truth, I have as much chance of seeing the dawn of gender equality in my lifetime as I do seeing Elvis live and in concert.

But while men have it easier, little boys have it rough. And the walrus proves this.

Combing a local department store for Halloween costumes rammed the point home.

There are racks and racks of costumes for girls. There are princesses and furry pink ponies. There are unicorns and butterflies, kitty cats and ladybugs. There are pink teddy bears and pink lambs, purple dragons and good witches with pointy white hats.

There are even tiny versions of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and teeny weenie little Princess Leias.

Even the so called unisex costumes aren’t particularly appealing, and while my darling son would look cute as a plush yellow chick, that’s not the point. He might have been a cute lion or a zebra, maybe even an alien or a monkey, but the racks had been picked clean of these offerings, and the only zebra that remained in his size was missing an eye.

Before you judge me for buying into the stereotype of gender specific clothes, hold on a second. It’s about choice. Where mothers of little girls get to decide what costume suits their darling the best are they a princess or a pony, a pink spotted leopard or a fairy? I am told my little boy is a walrus. Because that’s all there is.

(And before you judge me for failing to make my son a Halloween costume like your mom did when you were little, stop and think about how sexist that assumption is I’m a mom, therefore I ought to be able, and have time, to sew. You wouldn’t expect the same skill set of my husband, would you?)

The Halloween costume is just one example. Take a walk through any department store and you’ll soon discover that the little girl section is three times the size of the little boy section. Little girls get colours, styles and sizes galore. Little boys get sweat pants and T shirts. You don’t even get to choose what colour or style you want, either you just look for what fits and grab it before the next mom comes a looking.

Shoes? Good luck. Again, it’s a matter of finding what fits and making do; whereas little girls not only have rainboots, they have rainboots with strawberries on them, they have ladybug rainboots with little antennae shooting off their toes. My son has rainboots that his cousins outgrew. They’re blue.

On October 31, he won’t be a walrus. He might have to wear the ugly sweatpants and the lame, off yellow t shirts, he might even have to wear the previously scuffed, utilitarian rain boots. But he won’t be a walrus. He’ll never be a walrus.
new timberlands A Halloween riddle

where to buy timberland boots A dominatrix reveals her clients’ most intimate fantasies

timberland calderbrook boots A dominatrix reveals her clients’ most intimate fantasies

‘You were never going to work in a bank, were you, dear,” my mother once said, but I’m not sure she expected me to make a living by dressing in leather and shouting at manacled men in a dungeon. The world of the dominatrix, however, is not exactly as you might imagine. Far from being a seedy, frightening world of pain, power and darkness, my dungeon is more like an arena for adult role play, where fantasies are explored and the mind freed from everyday stresses. Everybody needs escapism. For some, it’s skiing or stamp collecting; for others it’s dressing as a schoolboy and getting spanked by a 6ft stuntwoman in a corset.

After becoming a dominatrix and adopting the persona of the leather clad Mistress Xena because of my resemblance to the warrior princess, I realised clients couldn’t talk comfortably to me about their sessions. They’d clam up when I asked what sort of whip they wanted me to use or what persona I should adopt. Who could blame them? These were things they had thought about for years but if they ever raised the issue, it was probably to confusion, horror or derision.

To ease the pressure, I encouraged clients to write a description of their ideal session beforehand. Women often complain that men have no imagination, but they should read my letters. With the clients’ approval, I began to collect them with a view to publishing them in a book.

At first, I received only hand written letters, but these are becoming less common, which is a shame, as you learn so much from a person’s writing. Some have elegant script while others become more frenetic as the fantasies reach a crescendo. There are no stereotypical clients, though most are male. I see judges, lawyers and politicians wanting to re enact school beatings but also soldiers, actors, cabbies, doctors, athletes and policeman of every age, ethnicity and religion.

The letters come in all varieties. Some contain amazing detail, others are a few scribbled lines of abstract thought about power and domination. Some are personal fantasies, erotic stories or written as if sent by angry wives, co workers or teachers. While some may appear unsettling to the untrained eye, many are funny or intriguing.

If I agree to see a client, they’ll bring a letter to the session. I’ll ask whether they really want something or have just written it down in excitement. These conversations often revolve around pain. Everybody has an erotic pain level, which triggers endorphins, and a point where pain becomes uncomfortable. I have to find that balance. Many men think they can handle pain but most are quite soft. My clients have to be honest not just about their fetishes, but also their delicate hip, dodgy knee or hair transplant.

You wouldn’t know those things from the letters, which can insist on alarming degrees of torture. But they also need to understand my parameters that there are things I won’t do and they must accept that they won’t touch me. A dominatrix provides a surreal sensory experience, maintaining an unobtainable aura that feeds into the fantasy. We do not learn a range of specialist skills and invest in expensive clothing and equipment simply to lie on our backs.

‘I adopted the persona of the leather clad Mistress Xena because of my resemblance to the warrior princess’ (Kate Peters)

People don’t always understand why they enjoy sadomasochism, but the desire for submission often comes from relishing the experience of role reversal. Usually,
where to buy timberland boots A dominatrix reveals her clients' most intimate fantasies
the man must be erect, ready to perform, but that isn’t the case in the dungeon, where there is no sex and therefore no anxiety. Some will have tried bondage with their partners but it can take over and, for the partner, become a chore. Or they may grow more extreme in their fantasies and, for partners who aren’t used to the peculiarities of the fetish world, it can be upsetting. Some wives know their husbands see me, and we develop our own correspondence.

Readers may think the men I meet are abnormal but I have found they are well balanced, able to separate the fantasy part of their lives from the reality. I have formed long friendships based on a mutual honesty that instantly puts the relationship on a different level. My clients know they can call me any time. I once heard from a regular who had become stuck in his high heel boots. I managed to help him sort it out so he could return to his job as a long distance lorry driver. Who else could he have rung?

As told to Peter Watts. I have been through your website and whilst I know you request that I contact you a day in advance I would like to beg in advance for the possibility of a session with you on Sunday 20 December at around 4pm.

I am a 34 yr old male, fit and in good physical condition. I would be interested in a tough and demanding BDSM session. I do have experience but it is not regular as I am in a normal relationship (but I do manage a session once or twice a year and I started at around 22 years old). I have always found my previous experiences to be interesting, some tougher than others but never would I say that I have been pushed and stretched to my limits. I am looking for a beautiful but extremely demanding Mistress to push me further.

I would request a classical Mistress slave relationship, polite but firm. I would expect you to demand respect, obedience, tough punishment as necessary. But I do not want you shouting and screaming at me. I would like you charming, wicked, with a sense of humour and to encourage me and guide me through the session but never hesitating to push me.

As your slave I would try to submit to your every desire but would expect this to include foot worship, tough whipping (not extreme but should be tough, it should be painful and it will make me cry out), cat o’ nine tail, cane, paddles on all parts of body (back, buttocks, waist, inner thighs, genitals, bastinado on soles of feet, CBT, electro, nipple weights, clips, clamps, rack (though I have never experienced this), other as you see necessary.

Marking of the body is allowed but all marks must disappear within five days completely.

I do have strict no go areas as follows:

No marks on face.

No restrictions on breathing.

No blood, no cuts.

No needles.

Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2005, 20:47:58Dear Mistress Xena

I am a fascinating, charming, attentionate and caring French male artist who would like to invite you for a week holidays in a five star hotel in Egypt. I understand how short notice my proposition is but please be assured this offer is very serious. The dates are from this Monday the 25th and for one week.

I had booked this week for two persons, initially going just on my own. But I realised it was the opportunity of a lifetime for me to live my fantasy being at the service of a mistress for a week in an wonderful setting.

My wish is to serve you, pamper you and yield to your every whims.

I have already planned to spend this week confined in locking panties covering my nappies, and I would be honoured to give you the keys to my freedom. I am also thinking of bringing a few female clothes as dressing up has also always appealed to me. Those holidays are quite expensive,
where to buy timberland boots A dominatrix reveals her clients' most intimate fantasies
and I do not expect to pay an extra fee on this. I promise you a very good time and all my devotion.