Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol tops Christmas charts

Waterstone’s last week reported that the fourth book by Dan Brown, “The Lost Symbol”, clocked up the most sales this month making it the number one Christmas read.

The book, which broke every record when it was released, beat the Guinness World Records 2010 and Stephenie Meyer’s Eclipse.

Brown’s first book, “The Da Vinci Code”, which was later made into a film, was top of the Christmas book chart back in 2004.

Waterstone’s fiction buyer Janine Cook said: “The Lost Symbol has not been far from the top of the charts since publication, and it’s a great gift, which is why it’s back on top”.

In other news, rock band Rage Against the Machine ended the X-Factor’s four year dominance of the Christmas number one spot following half a million people supporting an online campaign to get ‘Killing in the Name’ to the top of the charts.

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Charles Dickens toothpick sold at auction in New York

An ivory and gold toothpick once owned by Charles Dickens was sold at an auction in New York City for the amount of US$9,150.

The item is engraved with the English author’s initials. It was sold by heirs to the Barnes and Noble family. The pre-sale estimate was $3,000 to $5,000. The auctioneer, Bonhams, said the buyer did not want to be named.

The toothpick has Charles Dickens's initials and a retracting mechanism.

An authentication letter from Dickens’s sister-in-law says the author of “Great Expectations” and “A Christmas Carol” used the toothpick up to his death in 1870.

The author, also known by the pen-name of Boz, created some of the most memorable fictional characters of all time. Dickens’s work, which also includes “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield”, has enjoyed enormous popularity in America since the author’s own lifetime. Charles Dickens visited the country and wrote the travelogue “American Notes”.

Related Links > http://www.bonhams.com

Source > BBC

Unhappy Christmas couples shop divorce vouchers

All I want for Christmas… is a divorce > A British law firm is offering an unusual present for unhappily married couples this Christmas, divorce gift vouchers.

British law firm Lloyd Platt and Company in London said it has received hundreds of enquiries since putting the vouchers on sale last month.

Offering couples half-hour or hour-long advice session with a lawyer, the firm has sold 54 vouchers in three weeks, according to the Daily Telegraph. The firm is calling the vouchers this year’s “must have” present, and cost 140 euros.

“Christmas can be a very stressful time for families as we have always seen by the huge increase of people seeking advice in January” senior partner Vanessa Lloyd Platt told the newspaper. “The vouchers seem to appeal to an enormously wide spread spectrum of people looking for that ‘must have’ gift for Christmas” she said. She added that buyers include husbands, wives, mistresses and people using them as a suggestion to their friends and family members.

However the vouchers have been criticised for encouraging people to seek a divorce rather than resolve their problems through counselling or other means.

“It’s typical ambulance chasing by lawyers who are doing this for business reasons” said Dave Percival, who organises an annual National Marriage Week, which celebrates the institution of marriage.

Lloyd Platt and Company said the vouchers offer people “all the practical options available to them, divorce being only one of the options”.

Santa not delivering gifts

Police were called in to prevent a clergyman dressed as Father Christmas from delivering presents to children at an asylum centre.

The Rev Canon James Rosenthal, dressed in a red robe with a long white beard, was refused entry by guards at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire, UK.

After a stand-off, security guards called the police to remove Mr Rosenthal who is the Anglican Church’s leading expert on Saint Nicholas, reports the British newspaper Daily Telegraph.

Mr Rosental said he was “extremely disappointed” that 35 boys and girls at the centre were denied a pre-arranged visit by the patron Saint of children and the imprisoned.

“Saint Nicholas has never been turned away from anywhere before. So I was extremely disappointed not to be able to hand deliver the gifts to the children detained at Yarl’s Wood,” he said.

Serco, a private security company that operates Yarl’s Wood, referred questions to the Home Office. A spokesman said only people subject to stringent security checks can be allowed into the detention centre and there can be no exceptions.

Mr Rosental was accompanied on the trip earlier this month by the Rev Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, canon theologian at Westminster Abbey. He said: “This was about bringing a moment of joy to kids locked up in a deplorable situation. I can’t help but contrast the smiles and wonderment on the faces of the children Saint Nicholas visited at a local primary school with the sad fate of those kids who will be locked up in Yarl’s Wood over Christmas.”

The £300 worth of presents, donated by churchgoers, were eventually loaded into an unmarked van by security guards.

Christmas lights banned on street, bad for Brits’ health

Some traders in Clevedon, UK, cannot put up Christmas lights because of new health and safety guidelines, the BBC reports.

North Somerset Council said it was unsafe to attach lights to columns in Hill Road because they are not load bearing.

Bob Hughes, from the local Traders Association, said traders had raised £3,500 towards the lights and that the council had “gone over the top”. “These rules and regulations are pretty draconian and probably unnecessary.”

But a spokesman for the council said: “There is a code of practice which has to be followed regarding installation of Christmas lights for health and safety reasons. “The lighting columns in this particular location at Hill Road, Clevedon are made of concrete and for safety reasons it is not possible to attach lights to them, as they are not load bearing.

“We do permit Christmas lights in other locations and work with organisations across the district to support festive activities.”

Christmas Crafts are delightful!

Rochdale business Craft Delights is kick starting the Countdown to Christmas on Thursday 4 October from 7pm – 9pm with a Christmas Craft Evening at the Urban Gallery, Meadowcroft Mill, Bury Road, Bamford, UK.

There will be craft materials on sale for card makers and scrapbookers as well as ceramic crafts to decorate and personalise as gifts.  There will be plenty of craft project ideas for stocking fillers and for children and for the not as creative, ready made gifts and cards.  All are welcome, entry is free and there will be refreshments. 

Anyone wanting to have a go at making their own cards for the first time is also encouraged to come along and will be sure of a warm welcome with plenty of tips of how to get started.

Craft Delights, run by Castleton based Ruth Percy, will also be celebrating its first birthday after a year of successful trading.  Ruth decided to set the business up after working in marketing for ten years.  She has a permanent display at the Urban Gallery and also sells on the internet.  As well as the business, she still works part-time for Sure Start in Rochdale. 

Ms Percy said: “On the day of the fair, it will be only 79 days to Christmas.  Card makers usually start around now to make enough cards for Christmas, so we are offering the opportunity to stock up on this year’s festive craft delights!  Christmas is my favourite time of the year, so I am looking forward to kick starting the season early with follow crafters.”

Christmas dreams can come true in Romania

Posted On September 29, 2007

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It may only cost a few pounds to fill but a wrapped shoebox will make a child’s dreams come true this Christmas. Operation Christmas Child aims to send thousands of shoeboxes from Cumbria to Eastern Europe this year.

The small gifts will bring happiness and hope to a deprived child who would otherwise have no Christmas presents. To understand exactly how much the shoeboxes mean to the children of Eastern Europe, South Cumbria coordinator Rosemary Webster followed a delivery from the Kendal distribution centre to Odessa in the Ukraine.

There she met Andrew whose father is blind and cannot work. Mrs Webster said: “Andrew opened his shoebox and found a small green truck. His face lit up and he was very excited. He said something to the Russian translator, who turned to me and explained: ‘Andrew said that this truck is what he has always dreamed of’. Andrew then said to me: ‘Thank you, it is beautiful’. This was just a small green truck and yet it gave such immense delight.

“Despite improvements in living standards in much of Eastern Europe there is still a great deal of poverty. Children are living in the streets and sleeping underground in the sewerage and hot water system. The simple idea of a shoebox does not lift these children out of poverty, but it brings great joy and shows the children that they are not forgotten.”

Last year 9,852 shoeboxes were sent from South Cumbria to the Ukraine. This year the boxes will go to Romania. North West spokesman for Samaritan’s Purse International, which runs the appeal, Ian Taylor, said: “I can’t fault the people in the North West for their generosity. When you see these children and get the privilege of handing a shoebox to them you realise what this box contains. It’s more than just a gift. It ultimately gives them hope.”

To make a real difference this Christmas wrap a shoebox, box and lid separately, and fill it with small toys and games, colouring books and crayons, sweets, a scarf and hat, facecloth and soap, toothpaste and brush and any other little gifts suitable for a child. There are three age groups to choose from: two to four, five to nine and 10 to 14, either boy or girl. Boxes can be personalised with a card and a photo and £2 needs to be added to a box to help with transport and administration costs.

Leaflets, with further details, can be obtained by ringing Samaritans Purse on 0870 011 2002 or by logging on to www.samaritanspurse.uk.com

Kendal’s distribution centre will be open between November 4 to 20. There will be further details regarding local collection points nearer the time. All schools, churches and other organisations are welcome to take part, as well as individuals.

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