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Friday 6 December 2013

Roy Orbison

Roy Kelton Orbison (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988) 

American singer-songwriter, best known for his distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads.

Roy Orbison's greatest success came with Monument Records between 1960 and 1964, when 22 of his songs were placed on the Billboard Top 40 - "Only the Lonely", "Crying", and "Oh, Pretty Woman" proved to be his biggest hit yet.

In 1988, he joined supergroup 'Traveling Wilburys' with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne.

Personally, Roy's life was marred at first in 1964 with divorce from his wife Claudette over infidelities (hers) and although they remarried the following year, in 1966 while riding their much loved motorcycles home from Tennessee, she was fatally struck by a truck. Then while touring in England on September 16, 1968, he received the news that his home in Tennessee, had burned down and his two eldest sons had died.

He wrote music for the not-so-successful film 'The Fastest Guitar Alive', in which he also starred as a spy who stole and had to protect gold to the Confederate Army during the U.S. Civil War. His character was outfitted with a guitar that turned into a rifle which allowed him to deliver the line "I could kill you with this and play your funeral march at the same time".

On December 6, 1988, he spent the day flying model airplanes with his sons (to his second wife Barbara) but then after having dinner at his mother's home in Tennessee, he died of a heart attack at the age of 52.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela  18 July 1918 - 5 December 2013

Former president of South Africa (1994-9) and an anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician, he was the first black South African to hold office and is often described as "the father of the nation".

His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was the Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.

After the National Party came to power in 1948 and implementing their policy of apartheid, he rose to prominence and working as a lawyer, he was repeatedly arrested. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the African government, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mandela served 27 years in 3 different prisons. An international campaign lobbied for his release and was finally granted in 1990 after which he soon became president and implement anti apartheid laws.

Internationally, he acted as mediator between Libya and the United Kingdom in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial.

After his presidential term he refocussed his efforts on more charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

He received international acclaim for his anti-colonial and anti-apartheid stance, having received over 250 awards, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Order of Lenin.

Monday 2 December 2013

Paris 2013 - Salon International De L'Art Funeraire

I attended the Funeraire Paris 2013 - Salon International De L'Art Funeraire this year and my was I unblown away. Mediocre at best unfortunately. This show claims international status but from the beginning (signing in) I had issues with language. Even my Leaving Cert French couldn't help me here. This did not bode well for the show. I found that 80% of the exhibitors were French, of whom a large part did not speak any English and thus it was difficult to find out exactly why anyone should choose them above their competitors. 

For some reasoning I seemed mostly drawn to Italian exhibitors, completely coincidental, or maybe innovation is in Italy! When I visit these shows, I like to find something that catches my eye, something new, something colourful, different - something that stands out. For me the Italians had it in bags.

There was beautiful urns from Milan, a far cry from any I had seen before, from Amuela, Milano ( There was the stunning Rotastyle from Presezzo, Italy whose exhibition was far from shy. It's screamed glamour, luxury, and money. A beautiful display area with a few cute parting gifts for visitors to their exhibit, they definitely packed a punch in my eyes. Lastly on the Italian front there was PastBook (, an innovative new approach to social media, online photos and the funeral industry, I think this one is a much needed service. It offers undertakers a reasonable cut of the takings without robbing the consumer. They began with parties and weddings and have now moved into funerals. A smart move in my opinion and if any funeral directors are out there, getting in touch with these guys will be their next move if they are smart. A step up from the wedding album or the condolence book and a business to watch!

Other businesses to note: ParlAmore which can incorporate the button or buttons of loved ones into a ring or broach which is a step up from a mourning pin. There was also a fabulous Eco coffin creator. Fantastic images. Check her out Bling hit the coffin makers with Globale RC putting crystals into their coffins - dazzling even the most discerning customer. 

Finally there was Jewel Concepts in the form of Fingerprint jewellery and portrait jewellery. The first you may know about, the second perhaps not. These guys, I spoke with Cess Janssen in particular, know how to personalise jewellery. From still births to burials and cremations, they have it covered. The portrait jewellery is where they take an image of someone's profile (from a picture) and they use that profile shape to create a unique pendent, as can be seen in the pictures. It has the shape of a vase but upon closer inspection you can see the silhouette of the face. Ashes can be inserted into the pendent also. 

All in all Paris was not where it's at in terms of innovation, but definitely worth a visit for networking and some hidden gems.