Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Dame Vera Lynn DBE

How fantastic to see that forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn has become the oldest living artist to top the UK album chart. The 92 year old said, she was surprised at going to number one.

She achieved her success with her album , 'We'll Meet Again - The Very Best Of Vera Lynn', which has been steadily climbing the charts in recent weeks. The original recording was made nearly 70 years ago and contained songs relevant to the Second World War. Dame Vera, who kept up the spirits of millions of soldiers during World War II, first re-entered the charts at the end of August.


Dame Vera Lynn DBE was born Vera Margaret Welch on 20 March 1917. She was born in East Ham, then in Essex, now part of Greater London. Her father was a plumber and Vera Welch grew up with her parents' cockney accent, which she has never abandoned.

She began singing at the age of seven in a working men's club, and later adopted her grandmother's maiden name for her stage name. Lynn's first radio broadcast was in 1935 with the Joe Loss Orchestra. She was already being featured on the records of dance bands, including those led by Loss and Charlie Kunz. She made her first sole record on the Crown label in 1936, 'Up the Wooden Hill to Bedfordshire'. (The label was soon bought out by Decca.) After a short time with Loss, she sang with Kunz. Lynn then joined the band of Bert Ambrose.

In 1940, one year after the beginning of World War II, Lynn began her own radio programme, Sincerely Yours, sending messages to British troops serving abroad. She and a quartet would perform songs most requested by soldiers. Lynn also visited hospitals to interview new mothers and send personal messages to their husbands overseas. During the war years she would tour Egypt, India, Burma, giving outdoor concerts for the troops.
In 1941, Vera Lynn married Harry Lewis (died 1999), a clarinetist and saxophonist she met two years earlier. They had one child, Virginia Penelope Anne Lewis.
In 1942, Lynn recorded the Ross Parker/Hughie Charles song 'We'll Meet Again', also appearing in the film of the same name. The nostalgic lyrics ("We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day') were very popular during the war and became one of the emblematic songs of the war.
Lynn's 'Auf Wiederseh'n Sweetheart' became the first record by a British performer to top the charts in the United States, doing so for nine weeks. The same song along with 'The Homing Waltz' and 'Forget-Me-Not', gave Lynn a remarkable three entries on the first UK Singles Chart, a top 12 (which actually contained 15 songs owing to tied positions).

Lynn remained popular in the 1950s, peaking with 'My Son, My Son' a number-one hit in 1954. Lynn co-wrote the song with Eddie Calvert. In early 1960, she left Decca records after nearly 25 years, and joined EMI.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appointed Vera Lynn an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1959, and a DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1975.

In 1976, the charity Breast Cancer Research Trust, was founded, with Lynn its chairperson and later its president.

In 2000 she received a special 'Spirit of the 20th Century' award. Lynn sang outside Buckingham Palace in 1995 in a ceremony that marked the golden jubilee of VE Day.

In 2002, at the age of 85,Lynn became the president of the cerebral palsy charity SOS an hosted a celebrity concert on its behalf at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

In 2005 she made a surprise appearance at the United Kingdom's VE Day Diamond Jubilee ceremonies which included a concert in Trafalga Square. Following that year's Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance, Dame Vera encouraged the Welsh mezzo-soprano singer Katherine Jenkins to assume the mantle of 'Forces Sweetheart'.

If you would like to listen to Vera Lynn singing White Cliffs Of Dover, We'll Meet Again, When I Grow Too Old To Dream, There'll Always Be An England or sing along to Land Of Hope And Glory, with lyrics - the click on the link below (full screen recommended).

Safety Car Parks For Women

A new Government initiative has been issued in an attempt to curb the growing number of attacks that are carried out against women in car parks. It is hoped the introduction of 'women only' car parks will considerably reduce the number of assaults by men on women. Men are not allowed within the designated areas at any time, the car parks are fitted with the latest technology in surveillance cameras and alarm points are fitted throughout the parking area.
We sent along our undercover Journal photographer, dressed as a woman, to get an exclusive picture of one of the new parks.


How well do you know Africa? Today's brainteaser is a geographical question. Below are are six African states, listed in alphabetical order. Can you rearrange them from north to south?
Good luck with this brainteaser!

Funny Signs

Witty Bits

It may look like I'm doing nothing, but I'm actually waiting for my problem to go away.
I come from a small town whose population never changed. Each time a woman got pregnant, someone left town.
Anyone who uses the phrase "easy as taking candy from a baby" has never tried taking candy from a baby.
The shortest distance between two points is under construction.