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**Sat 29 Dec 12**

17 December 2012 by Caroline Frost

Brian May already had one good idea, and it seems he may just have had another.

The Queen guitarist was in London on Friday, to help launch the eBook of ’40 Years of Queen’ - a treasure trove of delights for any Queen fan with an iPad, filled to the brim with narrative from the band’s history from the first gigs through to the era-defining stadium appearances in the 1980s, personal anecdotes about each of the band members and links to iTunes so you can hear snippets of all the relevant tracks and concert set lists (and purchase them at your leisure, naturally).

Queen - 40 years remembered in this new eBook of anecdotes and memorabilia

In amongst all this lot is a very personal collection of souvenirs from Brian May’s own stores – ticket stubs, programmes, handwritten letters, all sorts of momentoes that normally disappear.

“I was very aware of history,” reflected the guitarist at the launch on Friday in one of the Groucho Club's tea rooms. “I kept every ticket, every plectrum, and it’s been gathering dust in a temperature-controlled storage room. So it was a curious enterprise going back through everything, and remembering what it all represented.”

Patrick Moore and Brian May
Brian May with his friend Sir Patrick Moore just before he died

During the event on Friday, while many fans/journalists happily played with the iPad app, May was naturally drawn to talking about the recent death of his great friend, the astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, with whom May had collaborated on a book only months before Moore died, aged 89.

"You can't be too sad, he had a wonderful life and died surrounded by his friends, with his cat on his legs. But Patrick had such a complex life, all his astronomy charts and books, the music he composed, the poems he wrote… it’s a challenge trying to work out what to do with it all.”

May was referring to the contents of Moore's house in West Sussex, which was filled with the astronomer's souvenirs from 55 years of presenting 'The Sky at Night', plus correspondence with other leading astronomers, alongside many thousands of books, including ones written by Moore himself.

And then another bright idea dawned in the room… perhaps an eBook for all of Patrick’s stuff, too?

“Now that’s an idea,” said May, thoughtfully. “There’s already huge amounts of astronomy on the internet, so that would make perfect sense… thankyou very much.”

You heard it here first, people. Meanwhile, interactive extras on the Queen eBook include dynamic photo galleries, audible quotes and handwritten lyrics, together with audio forewords from Brian May and Roger Taylor, and it's among the most advanced eBooks currently available.

The eBook is published by Carlton Digital, and you can download it HERE - price £9.99


**Fri 28 Dec 12**

After their penultimate gig of the Born Free Tour at The Hawth in Crawley, Will Travers, Virginia McKenna, Brian May and Kerry Ellis thank their supporters and fans for their support and wish a Merry Christmas.

Brian May & Kerry Ellis Christmas message -



**Fri 28 Dec 12**

Brian May put on the costume and was Secret Santa at We Will Rock You at the Dominon Theatre London last night (27 Dec).

Secret Santa Bri
Photo courtesy Kirsty 'Wigs' Lamb


**Thu 27 Dec 12**

25 December 2012

Former Leicestershire council leader David Parsons pipped to 'Pinhead of Year'. The award was set up by the TaxPayers' Alliance, which ran a public vote to find the politician who has shown the most disregard for the public's cash. Coun Parsons was nominated after it emerged he could have saved more than £24,000 of publicmoney<icon1.png> had he taken the train on more than 200 trips to London rather than County Hall's chauffeur-driven car.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey took the title after receiving 42.4 per cent of the votes cast.

Lord Patten of Barnes, the chairman of the BBC Trust, and I'm a Celebrity MP Nadine Dorries were also runners-up.

Votes were cast online in the 10 days to Christmas Eve.

The TaxPayers' Alliance also ran a pin up of the year contest for those deemed to have saved public money. The winner was Tory backbench MP Mark Reckless, who successfully tabled the amendment to a parliamentary motion which saw the House of Commons demand a cut in the European Union budget.

Jonathan Isaby, political director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, a right-of-centre campaign group, said: "We have always believed that as well as making examples of those who have shown a disregard for public money, it is important to recognise those who have sought to do the right thing by taxpayers. Our winners and the runners-up for these two awards all either acted in the best interests of taxpayers or showed a disregard for taxpayers' cash over the past 12 months.

The Mercury was unable to contact Councillor Parsons for comment.

Councillor Parsons was also named expenses fiddler of the year in Private Eye magazine's Rotten Borough Awards 2012.


**Thu 27 Dec 12**

27 December 2012, 17:56

Queen rocker Brian May has been honoured for his commitment to animal rights by bosses at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The guitarist has been named the organisation's U.K. Person of the Year in recognition of his efforts to save British badgers from a planned cull in the countryside.

May spent months spearheading the campaign and collected 160,000 signatures for his petition before winning the fight in October.

Commending May's passion for defending wildlife, PETA spokesperson Mimi Bekhechi says,

"In his fight to save Britain's badgers, Brian May never backed down: he spread his message of compassion for animals through everything he said, wrote and even wore until the world sat up and paid attention. His tenacity and boldness are an inspiration to kind people everywhere."


**Wed 26 Dec 12**

Sky At NightThe next episode of The Sky at Night (a new episode) will go ahead on BBC One as follows and has some participation from Patrick Moore - one of his last pieces of filmed work.

• MON 7 JAN 2013
• 00:00 (BBC One - except Scotland)
• 00:10 (BBC One - Scotland only)

Reaching for the Stars
Sir Patrick Moore and his team offer advice on what to seek out in the winter skies.


**Wed 26 Dec 12**

Sir Patrick Moore: Astronomer

BBC1's Tribute to Sir Patrick Moore televised 11 December 2012 at 20.35pm. Brian May. Tim Rice and other friends and astronomers share their recollections.


*Wed 26 Dec 12**


Published: 19 December 2012

Jim Dobbin MP has called for musicians and small venues in Heywood and Middleton to enter Rock the House 2013, Parliament’s biggest competition which celebrates up-and-coming British artists and the live music venues that support them.

Applications opened on 30 November and will close on 1 March 2013. The competition is open to all music lovers who fall into the following categories: solo artist, band, under 19 solo artist, under 19 band, and best small live music venue.

Jim Dobbin said: “Rock the House is a great opportunity for aspiring artists of any age looking to find a way into the industry. I am excited to listen to the tracks that the people of Heywood and Middleton can come up with, and hope to receive as many submissions as possible.”

Mike Weatherley MP, founder of Rock the House, said: “This competition is the perfect opportunity for talented artists to promote their music, and win some life-changing prizes in the process - from guitars and amps, to slots at gigs and festivals. It will also put MPs in touch with musicians and small venues in their constituencies. We’ve discovered some great talent in the past, and can’t wait to see who we find this year!”

Brian May, Queen guitarist and songwriter, said: “It is a great honour to back Rock the House. The UK is a hotbed of musical talent from all genres, and if the British music industry is going to grow and thrive then musicians need to be able to make a living from selling their product. This competition gives all musicians, from all backgrounds the chance to get out there and make live music – one of the things Brits do best.”

Jim Dobbin will nominate his favourite from each category, after which a judging panel made of international music industry experts will chose the finalists. The finalists will compete in a live battle of the bands, and the winner of each category will then perform live on the balcony of the House of Commons on the evening of the 26 June 2013.

Rock the House was founded by Mike Weatherley to raise awareness of intellectual property theft and live music issues in Parliament. In 2011, the competition was part of a campaign which successfully persuaded the Government that venues with a capacity of 200 people will no longer need a license for live music.

The launch party on Monday 26 November saw the first ever amplified gig in the State Speaker’s Room with British rock band the Young Guns, Rob Damiani from Don Brocoand Bernie Marsden from Whitesnake attending the launch.


**Tue 25 Dec 12**

Wishing all our friends out there- our treasured Readers -
a peaceful, happy and blessed Christmastime.
Health and all good things in the coming year.

Brickton Rock
BRICKton Rock

Enjoy this wonderful 'card' made by Gerben van Dooremaal (Thanks Gerben)


**Sat 22 Dec 12**

Brian is in Stratford-upon-Avon tonight, seeing his lovely, talented wife, Anita Dobson in the role of Mistress Quickley at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Run finishes 12 January 2013. Some seats still available HERE.

Well worth a trip - Anita is marvellous - and funny.


**Thu 20 Dec 12**

20 December 2012

Queen guitarist Brian May isn’t just a rock star, he’s actually an astrophysicist too, and some academics want him to host a show on the BBC. It’s a monthly astronomy show called The Sky at Night and its former host, Sir Patrick Moore, passed away this month. Many astronomers now would like to see Brian fill Moore’s shoes as host. The rocker is well-suited for the job – in 2007, he got a PhD in astrophysics from London’s Imperial College. No word yet if he plans to take on the hosting gig but you can stay up to date with him at

RELATED AUDIO: Brian actually went to Imperial College before he left the school to work with Queen. He told us why he chose to bail on his academic career to do music (AUDIO HERE)

TIDBIT: The Sky at Night premiered in 1957.

TALKING POINT: Would you be more likely to watch a science show if it was hosted by a rock star?


**Thu 20 Dec 12**

20 December 2012
Brian May talks Italian food, landmarks and playing on the roof of Buckingham Palace.

Brian May playing on Buckingham Palace Roof
Brian May during his performance on the roof of Buckingham Palace

In the Know: Queen guitarist Brian May reveals his favourite London spots:

"It’s not something everyone can say. But one of my favourite places in London is the roof of Buckingham Palace. I even have a favourite tower: in the far, right-hand corner when looking from the Mall. It was here that I played God Save the Queen for the Golden Jubilee in 2002. It involved more fear than any other gig I’ve done.

"An hour before the show, technical problems meant I couldn’t see the conductor or hear the orchestra. Stuck between a crowd of half a million on one side and the Royal party on the other, it was nerve-racking. Just me against the elements. Thankfully, when I struck the first chord everything came together and the amps blasted out.

"Having grown up in Feltham, London has always been on my doorstep. But it wasn’t until starting at Imperial College, as a mathematics and physics undergraduate, that I found my feet – and discovered Kensington. It’s still my stamping ground today.

"Especially close to my heart is the Royal Albert Hall. It has played host to so many significant events in my life that it feels like a second home. As a student, I organised a charity gig there, with my band Smile at the bottom of the bill, below Free.

"But I’ve now headlined many times. By coincidence, I was presented with my degree on the same stage – both in my twenties and after completing my PhD in 2007. It was strange to be back there in an academic capacity but the magnetism and warmth of the place (as well as the cheer when I walked up) helped me feel at home."

Royal Albert HallOppositeL The Royal Albert Hall has seen Brian May
collect academic awards and headline concerts

"But my fondness for the venue really stems from my obsession with Victorian London. Walking along Kensington Gore, I like to imagine I’m gazing across at Prince Albert’s vast Crystal Palace, constructed for the Great Exhibition in 1851.

"If I could travel back to any year, it would be that one. Seeing all those wonders of the world would be magical. I get a twinge every time I’m there.

"The Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington is another place to indulge my love of Victoriana. There are so many hidden corners. When studying for my finals, I’d spend hours sitting by a gold statue of Buddha. It was the perfect place for contemplation and revision. The museum also has a fantastic photography collection – my other passion.

"During my student days, I helped save one of London’s great Victorian landmarks: the Queen’s Tower at Imperial College. This 287ft tall structure, built in 1887, was earmarked for demolition. I made a donation to the campaign to protect it. It gives me great pleasure to see it still standing today.

"I also loved Christie’s auction house in South Kensington. Back then I couldn’t afford to buy anything, but they sold stereoscopic images (a type of 3D photography popular during the 19th century), which you could handle at viewings.

"Buying such items myself involved hours of rummaging at Kensington Market. This was the Shoreditch of its day, with fashion boutique Biba round the corner. It was here that I first asked out a girl – Mary Austin, who worked in the shop and later became Freddie Mercury’s girlfriend. I still shop on Kensington High Street today and enjoy eating there, too.

Biba boutiqueOpposite: Kensington's boutique shops have
always been a favourite spot in London

"My wife (Anita Dobson) and I had our wedding reception at an Italian restaurant called Il Portico. I’ve been going to this cosy, family-run place for 40 years. Italian is a favourite of mine and I also enjoy eating at Cibo in Holland Park.

"My current watering hole of choice is Edera on Bayswater Road. This family-run Sardinian restaurant is open day and night, which suits my unpredictable schedule. They serve the best melanzane, a layered aubergine bake, in the world. Seriously, it has to be eaten to be believed. If I can’t face leaving home, I order a Chinese takeaway from Oriental Kitchen Express in Russell Gardens. But don’t take my word for it – try the toffee apples for yourself.

"When I do venture outside of West London, it tends to be for an event. And there’s nothing better than a show at the Dominion Theatre on Tottenham Court Road. Okay, so it might be the home of Queen’s musical, We Will Rock You – but who says I’m biased? It has been running for over a decade now, so we must be doing something right. I love seeing the gold statue of our lead singer Freddie. It feels like he’s claiming that part of London for the band; making sure we stay true to our roots.

"Hidden deep inside Battersea Park is another of my favourite statues; the Brown Dog. This small terrier was erected in 1906 (and replaced in 1985) to commemorate those dogs used in experiments at the start of the last century. It’s a very sad spot and one that represents the pain of animals – something I feel strongly about and the reason I’m campaigning to protect Britain’s badgers and foxes.

The Cosmic Tourist"I rarely have a day off, so struggle to do everything I’d like in London. There are so many places yet to discover. I love Tate Britain, but have never managed to visit the National Portrait Gallery. And I don’t know south London well – it’s sometimes hard to believe that I was a maths teacher in Stockwell during the early Seventies. My pupils used to look at my hair and ask, ‘Sir, are you a rock star?’ I suppose you could say the idea stuck."

*The Cosmic Tourist
by Brian May, Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott, published by Carlton, £25, is available to buy online and from all good book stores [Link to Amazon]

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Wildlife Rocks - DETAILS HERE