Orchestra drops piece for being ‘too loud’
By Sam Wilson
A German orchestra has been forced to drop a composition from a concert after its members claimed the music was so loud that it gave them headaches.
The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (BR) decided to abandon the world premiere of Swedish-Israeli composer Dror Feiler’s Halat Hisar (State of Siege) after it was found to be “adverse to the health” of its musicians.
Several members of the 100-strong orchestra complained of buzzing in the ears hours after rehearsals of the 20-minute piece, which begins with a rattle of machine-gun fire that gradually increases in volume.
They said they would only play the ear-splitting composition if they were allowed to wear headphones, according to The Guardian.
The orchestra’s manager, Trygve Nordwall, said he had to put his musician’s health before the concert, complying with new EU rules that forbid more than 85 decibels in the workplace.
Readings were taken during rehearsals and even when toned down, Halat Hisar measured about 130 decibels, equivalent to hearing a jet plane taking off.
Critics have pointed out that if the new EU rules were applied in all cases this would effectively ban louder pieces by composers such as Strauss and Wagner.
By Auslan Cramb, Scottish Correspondent
A man who was blinded in one eye during the Blitz has had his sight restored more than six decades later.
John Gray, 87, was badly injured in 1941 during a Luftwaffe raid on Clydeside and lost the use of his right eye.
When old age caused him to lose the sight in his left eye, specialists decided to re-examine the wartime wound.
An eye surgeon at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow has now replaced the damaged lens, allowing Mr Gray to see with the eye he has not used for over 60 years.
His restored eyesight is so good it would allow him to sit a driving test.
Mr Gray, from Glasgow, said he was delighted and “couldn’t be more pleased” with the results of the operation.
He was on duty as a firewatcher in 1941 when the air raid sirens sounded.
The Luftwaffe’s two-day raid left 1,200 people dead. Part of the German strategy was to drop landmines to stop the emergency services reaching the scene of the bombing.
One landmine landed on the cold store that Mr Gray was sheltering in, and he had serious injuries when he was rescued from the rubble eight hours later.
He recalled: “We just heard some glass shattering and that was the last thing I heard until I came to in the Victoria Infirmary with my leg stretched out in plaster and a big bandage on my head.
I had an injury to my head which took the sight away from my right eye.”
He was told he would never see with the damaged eye, but decades later Frank Munro, an optometrist who was the son of an old friend, examined the wound again.
He realised that the retina was healthy, and that all the damage was to the lens.
He decided that it was too risky to operate at the time, but said the eye could potentially be used as a “spare” at a later date. Last year, after Mr Gray developed macular degeneration, an eye surgeon removed the scar tissue from his old wound and inserted an artificial lens.
Doctors were concerned that the part of the brain that processes sight from the right eye might not work after a gap of six decades.
But after a few weeks his vision returned and he can now read small print.
Mr Gray said his optometrist and his eye surgeon, Dr Ian Bryce, “deserved a knighthood”.
Weightlifter fined for noisy exercise
A weightlifter has been fined £70 for exercising too loudly.
Giran Jobe, 36, was charged with 47 breaches of a noise abatement order after neighbours complained that his two-hour training sessions with dumbbells left them unable to sleep.
A council team investigating complaints about noise from his top-floor flat in Margate, Kent, found that at times the level hit 100 decibels – as loud as a rock concert.
The 6ft 2in, 15-stone carpenter was warned by officials last summer to stop using his weights. But after just one month neighbours again complained to Thanet council, which fitted flats on lower floors with noise recorders.
In the following six months neighbours recorded 47 breaches of the noise abatement order – citing “grunting and noise from the weights hitting the floor” as the major irritants.
One of his neighbours said the noise had been “unbearable” and added: “I hope he keeps his promise and sticks to push-ups from now on.”
Flybe advertises for actors to fill plane seats
Last Updated: 1:45am BST 01/04/2008
An airline which advertised for actors to fly back and forth between Norwich and Dublin to boost passenger numbers could be penalised.
Flybe, which is based in Exeter, came up with the idea as it faced losing £280,000 for not meeting a passenger target imposed by Norwich International Airport as part of a deal.
But the airport said it might not pay the rebate even if Flybe meets the target, because of the tactics.
Richard Jenner, the airport’s managing director, said: “We will have to have discussions with them about whether or not some of the passengers are bona fide.”
As well as advertising for “extras” on a website, Flybe placed staff ready to fly in case seats were not filled.
Flybe said it had decided against using actors after placing the advertisement.
But Suzanne Moore, 28, who was boarding a Flybe plane at Norwich yesterday, said she was a “model” and had been paid to fly.
Mummy of big-bottomed dinosaur found
The mummified remains of a huge crested duck-billed dinosaur – the Hadrosaur – have recently been discovered, preserved by a series of freak occurences: acidic waterlogged sediments formed around the fallen beast triggering a rapid deposit of minerals and trapping organic molecules before they decayed.
The creature which lived (and died) 67 million years ago may well shake scientists’ conception of how dinosaurs looked and moved, because the herbivore was longer and had more stripes – and a bigger bottom – than previously realised.
“Big Bum” is about 25 percent larger than previously thought and changes in the size of its scales imply that it may have had an almost striped camouflage pattern rather like a tapir today.
More widely spaced vertebrae than assumed suggest the beast was around one yard longer than traditional 25-30 ft estimates.
So, acid rain – good or bad? Just think, all those taxis rattling around without exhausts in Liverpool may well be accidentally helping to preserve remains of the human race while destroying the ecosystem!
“No, no, be honest – does my bum REALLY look big to you?”
Surgeon uses DIY drill to remove brain tumour
By Stephen Adams
A leading brain surgeon used a £30 DIY drill to carry out a successful operation on a fully conscious patient.
Henry Marsh used a Bosch PSR960 cordless drill because he did not have his normal equipment on him.
The do-it-yourself 9.6 volt drill cost one thousand times less the price of his preferred tool – a £30,000 compressed air medical drill.
But Mr Marsh had to use the Bosch because he was on a trip to Ukraine in Eastern Europe to help people let down by a vastly inadequate health system.
Halfway through the operation to remove the tumour from Marian Dolishny’s head, the power ran out.
His patient was only given local anaesthetic because he could not find a fully trained anaesthetist.
However, he said this gave him the reassuring benefit of being able to talk to his patient, to ensure that he was not inflicting brain damage.
Balloon lost in the sky with diamond
By Natalie Paris
Last Updated: 11:24am GMT 14/03/2008
It had seemed a romantic and highly original way to propose to the love of your life with a £6,000 diamond ring.
Lefkos Hajji, 28, wanted to make his engagement one his girlfriend would never forget, only to have his dreams cruelly snatched from his grasp by a gust of wind.
Rather than simply dropping to one knee before Leanne, 26, he told a florist to put her engagement ring in a silver helium balloon.
But no sooner had he left the shop when his plans backfired spectacularly and the balloons blew away – taking the ring with them.
Keeping his prize in sight, Mr Hajji, from Hackney, London, pursued the balloons for two hours in his car across London before giving them up as lost.