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"Write something worth reading or do something worth writing" A blog by Amy Willis, a multimedia journalist based in London

The Loch Ness Monster – a money spinners dream

The Loch Ness monster

The Loch Ness monster may or may not have been spotted on Google Earth recently but there is definitely one thing this monster does well. And that is make money.

Yes, lurking in the deep is not an elephant swimming or an elongated newt (that was one Loch Ness monster theory) but instead a giant net to catch tourists from around the world.

Thousands of tourists visit Loch Ness every year in the hope they might catch a glimpse of the beast. Few do. Yet so-called “monster” tours and “Nessie” museums are still as popular today as they were 50 years ago.

Big money is at stake. The Loch Ness monster, despite uncertainty about her existence, makes about £6million a year in tourism. Real animal attractions like Knut the polar bear make only £4million.

And each time Nessie metaphorically raises her head above the water, whether it be an elaborate hoax or unexplained sighting, it heightens the world’s curiosity a little more and has the public grappling for their pennies. It doesn’t matter how preposterous the concept of a prehistoric monster living in a Scottish Loch may be.

While debate goes on as to if the Loch Ness monster exists (or is it just a boat?), what is definitely clear is that Nessie is single-handedly – or flipperedly – keeping the Loch Ness tourist trade afloat.

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Miley Cyrus’s father approves of pole dance at Teen Choice Awards

Billy Ray Cyrus, the father of Miley Cyrus, who plays Hannah Montana, has defended her pole-dancing act at the Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles.

Miley Cyrus’s raunchy dance routine at the Teen Choice Awards raised a few eyebrows but her father Billy Ray says he approves of her behaviour.

The 16-year-old Hannah Montana star cavorted around a stripper pole during a performance of her song Party In The USA earlier this month.

Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus defended his daughter saying her moves were all good, clean fun.

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Filed under: Portfolio, UK News, ,

French game of boules hailed by Buddhist master

The French game of boules has been hailed as a tool of meditation by a Buddhist master, Maître Kaisen.

Maître Kaisen, 56, a Buddhist master born to a family of Polish immigrants in northern France, says playing pétanque – boules – increases your ability to ignore outside distractions.

And he has written a book to share his theory. His book, L’Esprit de la Pétanque (The Spirit of Pétanque), is based on 35 years of pétanque practice.

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Filed under: Portfolio, UK News,

X Files back for a third movie

Actress Gillian Anderson has revealed a third X Files movie may be released in 2012.

Actress Gillian Anderson has revealed a third X Files movie is in the pipeline.

The 44 year-old, who plays Dana Scully in the show, told media at the Sarajevo Film Festival there had been discussions for a possible release in 2012.

Anderson starred in the X Files movies with David Duchovny, 49, as Fox Mulder, in 1998 and 2008.

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Millions spent on NHS management consultants with Labour links

The Department of Health has spent almost £500 million on management consultants, including deals with firms which have hired senior Labour figures and high ranking civil servants, an investigation has revealed.

The disclosure of more than 100 contracts worth a total of £470 million last night engulfed the Government in accusations of “cronyism”.

Among those recruited by the favoured firms are a former health minister, an ex-adviser to the health secretary and a senior Whitehall official responsible for encouraging private sector involvement in the NHS.

Doctors’ and nurses’ leaders expressed concern over the use of resources which could have paid for more than 60,000 hip operations, or the annual salary of 22,000 nurses.

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Filed under: Portfolio, UK News,

A-levels: Row over maths standards

A fresh row over A-level standards broke out as it was disclosed that a third of A grade mathematics students failed the Cambridge University entrance exam.

By Amy Willis and Graeme Paton
Published: 10:00PM BST 21 Aug 2009, The Daily Telegraph (front page)

Hundreds of top students with offers to study the subject were rejected after failing the maths test set by the university to identify the brightest candidates.

Geoff Parks, head of admissions, suggested that it was difficult to pick out the most able sixth-formers based on A-levels alone.

The disclosure comes just days after students celebrated another round of record results. The number of passes increased for the 27th year in a row while more than a quarter of entries was graded an A.

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Sixth case of Legionnaires’ disease investigated

A sixth case of Legionnaires’ disease is being investigated by health officials after another patient was admitted to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashton.

By Amy Willis
Published: 7:00AM BST 19 Aug 2009, The Daily Telegraph

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has confirmed they are now leading an inquiry into six cases of legionella infection in East Kent. This latest case is a man in his 60s who is said to be in a serious but stable condition.

Three of the cases, one of whom was an inpatient, have been linked to the William Harvey Hospital although no links have been found with the latest case.

Two weeks ago Kevin Carroll, 50, from Dover, died from the disease after being admitted to the Kent and Canterbury Hospital which is also run by the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust. The HPA has said he was suffering from a separate strain of the disease.

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Filed under: Portfolio, UK News

The Heather Mills effect

You’ve got to feel bad for John Cleese, poor guy. He has just walked away from his last marriage with less than half of what he had before. Yes, his American psychotherapist ex-wife Faye Eichelberger, who was his third wife, now has more wealth than him after gaining a hefty £12m.

The reason? Well, she said that since Cleese was a “world-renowned celebrity” she was used to “being entertained by royalty and dignitaries in castles”. This sounds all to reminiscent of Heather Mills’s failed claim with Sir Paul McCartney. Clearly the Steel Magnolia – otherwise known as lawyer Fiona Shackleton – was taking notes. Ms Mills may have failed her attempt to cash in by saying ‘i’m used to glitz and glamour’ but the Steel Magnolia, who represented Ms Eichelberger in this case, has succeeded.

Heather Mills

Heather Mills

This is a a worrying precedent to set. Why should a partner get more than half just because they are used to dining in castles? If I walked into a job interview and demanded the highest wage in the office because ‘I am used to it’ they would quite rightly laugh at me all the way to the door.

Fair financial settlements are justified for those who have contributed to the relationship. Those who have stood by their partner through thick and thin, who have offered support when their partner’s career is dwindling, but not this money grabbing madness. Let’s not let the Heather Mill’s effect spread any further and nip it in the bud while we can.

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The Beatles 40-year Abbey Road album anniversary – the rise of the citizen photographers

The first thing that struck me when I arrived to find Beatle mania in full swing at Abbey Road today was not the wacky costumes or the people striking poses on the zebra crossing with no shoes on, but it was the paparazzi huddle.

The huddle has been infiltrated by “citizen photographers”. It was fascinating to watch the unwritten rule of ‘pros only’ being unashamedly broken. I’ll give you a few examples. When a fan held an original LP of the Abbey Road album up for a professional photographer to get an artistic shot of, there was the usual rush as several other professional photographers cottoned on. But then, completely unexpected, there was a second mass rush of citizen photographers who joined the huddle to have a go at getting the shot as well. The result was a hysterical manic mess. There were about fifty people all around this one guy like he had suddenly been promoted to A-list celebrity status. Then once they had got some form of shot – I am dubious of the quality of some shots – they calmed down and dispersed. But this was not the last time this happened.
When 11.30am crept round there was a scheduled re-enactment of the Abbey Road album cover by four Beatles impersonators. The professional photographers were flanked by a mass of mobile camera phones and semi-professional cameras all desperate to get the same shot as the professionals. Everyone had one. It was incredible. At one point, the man impersonating Ringo Starr had to say: “Calm down everyone, you do realise we are not the real thing, don’t you?.”

There were even some citizen photographers clamoring on the statues copying the professionals who were gaining height by using step ladders.

Everyone now seems to want their professional shot. And with semi-professional quality cameras becoming more and more affordable and sites like Flickr becoming more popular this phenomenon can only grow.

Citizen journalists move over. Now it is time for the era of citizen photographers.

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