Radio 3 is launching a new weekly programme dedicated to video game soundtracks. Running from Saturday 26 October, the hour-long show will be presented by composer Jessica Curry, who won a Bafta for her work with UK studio The Chinese Room and created and presented Classic FM’s video game music programme, High Score. “[BBC presenter and journalist] Tom Service and his producer Brian Jackson came to interview me for Radio 3 at Chinese Room a couple of years ago, and we all really hit it off,” said Curry. “Tom’s an avid gamer and there was a definite feeling of excitement about the gaming scene and the music that’s being composed for games. “Lots of people think that it’s all battle music and aggression. The show will prove that that couldn’t be further from the truth.” Video game music has undergone a boom in interest and appreciation in the past five years, as the art form has grown and matured. The Distant Worlds concert, … [Read more...] about ‘It’s a new golden age’: Radio 3 launches video game music show
Take to the water Loch Lomond & the Trossachs Jewelled by emerald islands, fringed by beautiful wooded shores and surrounded by grand hills and mountains, Loch Lomond – where the Scottish Highlands “begin” – often feels much further from civilisation than it actually is. Balloch, on the southern shores of the loch, is just a 50-minute train ride from Glasgow Queen Street. From there, a network of waterbuses links a constellation of points across Loch Lomond and its neighbour in the Trossachs, Loch Katrine, and they make getting around a joyful novelty. Lovely shoreside settlements such as Luss, Balmaha, Tarbet and Inveruglas all make a pleasant bases. A three-day rover ticket (£30 adult, £20 child) allows unlimited waterbus travel. Joining these with the area’s network of walking and cycling trails opens a whole world of possibilities, much of which is off-limits to the car-bound. Catch a waterbus to Rowardennan, walk the seven-mile section … [Read more...] about How to see five UK national parks by public transport
Lille may not be the obvious city for a short break, despite the fact it’s highly convenient to reach via Eurostar. On the train, I flick through the current issue of Metropolitan, the Eurostar magazine, which skips past Lille to focus on the more obvious tourist locations of Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. However, when you alight here this city feels as if it’s transforming. Get past the sight of Primark that greets you from the station and there’s a medieval heart, with curving, pedestrianised streets. There’s a Franco-Belgium feel, from the place names to a love of mussels and the craft-brewery scene. Lille houses France’s biggest university; there are 67,000 students floating around in term-time. If the shops are closed on Sundays (this is France after all), the vast market at Wazemmes makes up for it. In the central hall you can find melons stamped with wax seals, pig heads and outsized globe artichokes. There’s clothing, more food and even, by … [Read more...] about Lille wonder: a whistle-stop tour of a Franco-Belgian jewel
We French love to mourn our former presidents. Thousands queued to pay their last respects to Jacques Chirac as he lay in state at the weekend. Monday was a day of national mourning: the tricolour flew at half mast everywhere and a minute’s silence was observed even in schools. It is hard, though, to know which love is greater – the love of mourning the passing of former heads of state, or the love of loathing them with the fervour we held when they were in power. I remember all through the 1970s my mother calling Chirac “facho Chirac” because of his greasy, thinning pulled-back hair, his wannabe Charles de Gaulle style of speaking and his war-like conquest of the right and of Paris city hall. Nevertheless, like millions of others on the left, my mother managed to hold her nose and vote for this “fascist” in the second round of the 2002 presidential elections, when the alternative was Jean-Marie Le Pen. And if she hadn’t already passed away … [Read more...] about Chirac delivered little and left office under a cloud. Why does France now love him?
Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the autocratic ruler of Tunisia whose 23-year rule was ended by the popular protests that triggered the 2011 Arab spring, has died in exile in Saudi Arabia. The 83-year-old had been seriously ill since being admitted to hospital last week, after years of treatment for prostate cancer. His body is to be transferred to Mecca, awaiting the family’s decision on burial arrangements, according to his lawyer, Mounir Ben Salha. A Tunisian court sentenced Ben Ali in absentia in 2011 to fines and time in prison on charges including misappropriating public funds and ordering the torture of army officers accused of launching a coup attempt against him. The following year, he was sentenced in absentia to life in jail for his role in the deaths of protesters during the Jasmine revolution that ousted him. The uprising inspired what became known as the Arab spring, a movement that swept many autocratic leaders from power. Amid the upheaval of snap presidential elections, … [Read more...] about Ben Ali: Tunisian autocrat ousted in Arab spring dies in exile