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OpenLearn Live: 5th October 2015

Updated Monday 5th October 2015

Starting a week exploring the people and places of the smallest county - then more free learning through the day.

OpenLearn Live hunts out links between the worlds we live in, and the worlds of learning and research. You can also find us on Twitter.

On Friday, we explored bullying in the NHS, the Peeple app and the history of the Regents Canal

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

If plastic bags weren't plastic...

From today, shoppers in England will have to pay 5p for every plastic bag they take from a shop, except sometimes. This finally drags England into line with the other nations of the United Kingdom, and will hopefully reduce demand and waste.

Could a better long-term plan, though, be making bags from something other than plastic? The OU's Carl Boardman explains how this could be done:

Listen to some short features on sustainablity

BBC Four, tonight, 9pm: The Great British Year

Winter is coming. And a little sooner than you might think, as tonight BBC Four are starting a run of The Great British Year - starting with the Winter episode. Discover why the midwinter might be bleak, but is never lifeless.

Find out more about The Great British Year

Download our British Year poster

On iPlayer now: The Bottom Line

Evan Davis is back with a new series of Radio 4 & The OU's Bottom Line, the thinking person's business programme. The first episode explores links between the worlds of business and arts, witj guests including Grayson Perry and Ralph Taylor of Bonhams.

Listen to The Bottom Line on iPlayer Radio

Download The Bottom Line

Read more about The Bottom Line

007 at #1

Even amongst Sam Smith fans, the realisation that his new theme is the first Bond theme tune to get to number one is something of a surprise. Holding the thoughts "I actually like Sam Smith" and "Goldfinger never got to number one?" can be done simultaneously.

So, what is it that makes for a great Bond theme? The OU's Ben Winters explains:

The James Bond theme itself, however, remains virtually unchanged, or is at least always recognisable (complete with twanging electric guitar, moody horns, and strident trumpets). It provides a degree of continuity across the decades even as Bond’s own face morphs to fit the actor currently portraying him.

What is the role of this theme? The subject of contested authorship claims between Monty Norman and the composer of many of the early Bond scores, John Barry, it has come to instantly identify the character in the popular imagination.  

Although its arrangement may alter to match the period of the film, it suggests a musical calling card, something akin to the operatic concept of leitmotiv (or leading motif) employed to such good effect by composers like Wagner, Strauss, and Puccini, and also used in much film music.    

Read Shaken and Stirred: Blending the familiar and new in Bond's music

New on FutureLearn

It's getting cooler. Nights are getting longer. Draw the curtains, fire up your tablet, and try one of these free courses from FutureLearn which are starting today:

A week in Rutland: Empingham

This week, we're going to be starting off each day with a visit to the smallest county in mainland England - Rutland. (Isle of Wight is the smallest county of them all, at certain times of the day, although as with most things that involve civic pride, it's quite complicated.)

We're going to start our tour in Empingham, a village with a population just shy of 1000.

Empingham Creative commons image Icon Paul Harrop under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license

It used to be a much busier place - in Medieval times it was large enough to sustian fairs and a market. Its local church was a "peculiar" - for a long time, it remained part of the diocese of Lincoln, rather than that of Peterborough, in which it sat geographically. Monies raised in the parish were transferred to Lincolnshire rather than Cambridgeshire; this arrangement is recognised in the building known as Prebendal House. (The building still stands as a guest house.)

Between 1388 and 1397, Rutland was represented in Parliament by Sir Oliver Mauleverer, who had by marriage come to be the largest property owner in Empingham. Before entering politics, he'd managed to swerve a charge of outlawry - rooted in a disputed debt of £32 - when he was pardoned by the King; his career in parliament came to an end when Henry IV considered his sympathies for his opponents too strong, and had him removed.

On March 12th, 1470, the fields outside the village became the focus of the War of the Roses - the Battle known as both Losecoat Field or Empingham. The Yorkists won; they had started the battle by beheading Lord Willoughby in front of the Lancastrian army which was enough to unsettle their opponents.

More recently - much more recently - Empingham was the birthplace of Geoffrey Grant. Grant is a scientist - he co-discovered somatostatins - and also a sports technologist; a sideline as a young researcher he invented the first electronic tennis line judge. He also found time to design an alternative tennis court, which used coloured squares instead of lines to demark areas. It was adopted in the 1970s by World Team Tennis.

Rutland might not have yet brought forth a Wimbledon champion; but every grand slam tournament owes something to one of its sons.

See more from OpenLearn on history, geography or technology.





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