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An Ulster Log: Why I'm going ape over star Margot Robbie

By Eddie McIlwaine

Me Tarzan, you Jane. When I was a wee bit younger than today, I used to dream in the Capitol Picture House in Belfast of swinging through the trees with Jane as I watched the serial of endless episodes featuring the famous characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Now, I can start dreaming all over again as the lovely Margot Robbie (25) takes on the role of Jane in a new blockbuster movie about Tarzan, who is really the aristocratic Lord Greystoke and has left Africa behind for a gentrified life in London with Jane, who is now his gorgeous wife.

The plot of the film, to which the finishing touches will be put at the Titanic Centre in Belfast, has His Lordship returning to the jungle to sort out the Congo.

Artist Tom has sweetie memories down to a T

Artist Tom Kerr, who will be 90 next month, is wondering today if anyone else remembers the Lucky Mines he used to queue up to buy from Mrs Thompson's sweetie shop in Spencer Street, Holywood, when he was a boy.

"Mrs T was so kind to me when I was five or six, " he recalls. "Her Lucky Mines were wrapped in silver paper and were so called because one or two of them secretly contained a halfpenny (old money) which, way back then, was a huge amount to a child.

"She used to weigh a few Lucky Mines on her scales and the heaviest one was the sweet with the coin which she gave to me."

So Tom, who was born at No 66 Spencer Street, a few doors from Mrs Thompson's place, just had to delve into the past and paint this portrait of himself gazing into the window of her sweetie shop, which I reproduce today. That's Mrs T standing in the doorway chatting to Tom and a little girl.

Tom, still a prolific artist whose paintings are in demand at Art & Home in Holywood, has been telling me too how when he was 10 he carved his initials on the wall of his boyhood home in Spencer Street. And his son Mark has made a cast of the brick on which the initials are still plainly seen and presented it to his dad as a 90th birthday gift.

"Another reminder of a happy childhood," says Tom, who has another son, Jonathan, a daughter, Margaret, and nine grandchildren.

But life hasn't always been happy for this celebrated artist. His first wife Pearl died in a fall 27 years ago and his heart was broken.

However, Tom eventually remarried five years after the tragedy and he and second wife, Gail, have been together for 22 years.

Tom is also quite a poet. Here are his verses on the topic of a sweetie shop which appears in his book Nothing Forever, published in 2003:

'The marble stone, all bleached and broken now,

Lay right across the grave.

But I could read the name and date.

Enough to realise that she who lay

Beneath the unrelenting sky

Had sold me sweets in Holywood

More years ago than I could tell.'

The proof that our Rory has really got the 'it' factor

A national newspaper listing the vital statistics of golfer Rory McIlroy has just committed a common mistake about his birthplace. Rory is from Holywood, Co Down - not  from the slightly more famous Hollywood which has an extra 'l', as the paper stated. Although I've no doubt that one of these years Rory's story will be made into a movie.

Meantime, Daily Mail sports columnist of the year Martin Samuel has been recalling how the great golfer Gary Player once wrote so eloquently about what it takes to make a champion on the greens. Player claimed Tom Weiskopf was better than Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, yet never won a major title. "He should have won 10, Tom was so good," said Player, "but he never had the thing called 'It' that is a loan from God. A lot of people would laugh at that, but it's something you cannot describe."

Martin concludes by suggesting Player could have been talking about new kid Jordan Spieth, who has just won two golf majors in succession. What he should have written is that Player could have been talking about McIlroy.

Infamous history of local treasure

It's sad that Lady Mairi Bury, daughter of the 7th Marquess of Londonderry, who died in 2009 at 88, didn't live to see her home, Mount Stewart on the shores of Strangford Lough, restored by the National Trust at a cost of £8m.

Visitors to the family seat outside Newtownards included prime ministers and royalty. The most infamous was Hitler's foreign minister, one Herr Von Ribbentrop, who spent four days at the estate in 1936. There is a letter from Adolf Hitler in the archives thanking the Londonderry family for a gift of Irish roses they had sent in the 1930s.

UTV is currently screening a six-part documentary, entitled The Big House Reborn, which goes out on Mondays at 8pm.

Why they're piping hot at Bleary

There's nothing bleary-eyed about the pipers and drummers of Bleary and District Pipe Band. They have just played themselves into third place at the European Pipe Band Championships at Florres in Scotland.

This is in addition to their first place in the Grade 2 Competition at The Craigavon & District Championships, and first Place at Grade 2 in the UK Pipe Band Championships at Stormont.

They are also current British Champions at Grade 2 and will be hoping for success at the Grade 2 World Championships which take place at Glasgow Green on August 14.

Meanwhile, Bleary will be wide awake when the Belfast Tattoo returns to the Odyssey, Belfast, on September 4 and 5, with more than 600 performers, showcasing some of the finest marching bands, musicians and dancers from across Ulster and beyond.

Fitting final farewell to Lord Jim

It was just the way Lord Jim Molyneaux would have wanted it when family and peers gathered in the private chapel at the House of Lords to say a sincere and dignified farewell to the former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party who died in March at 94.

Lord Jim (of Killead) in his retirement wanted no fuss and was reluctant to be the centre of attention, so he would have been happy at the subdued way homage was paid to him in a place where he was held in great respect after handing over the reins of leadership of his party.

That Molyneaux chair is forlorn and lonely now, but it serves as a memorial to his folk in the Killead parish of a special kind of man.

Belfast Telegraph


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