Tuesday, 25 April 2017

This room is full of memories, and shadows of the past remind me

It's a very apposite timeslip moment again...

We've been kidnapped by the She-Wolves of the Wasteland and transported back to the wilds of 1988 - the year of Section 28; of the "Free Nelson Mandela" concert; of the Piper Alpha and Lockerbie disasters; of perestroika, when the cracks really began to show across the Soviet Bloc; of Bush vs Dukakis; and the year that Adele, Al-Qaeda and Internet Chat were born (and look how - ahem - far we have come since).

In the news in April twenty-nine years ago: plans were revealed for a huge development involving Britain's biggest commercial tower block at Canary Wharf in East London; Soviet forces committed to withdraw from Afghanistan; Kuwait Airways Flight 422 was hijacked, leading to a sixteen-day international stand-off; Nazi war criminal "Ivan the Terrible" (Ivan Demjanjuk) was sentenced to death in Israel; and in the ascendant were Sonny Bono (elected mayor of Palm Springs, California), Slime Dion (who won the Eurovision Song Contest for Switzerland) and The Last Emperor (which won nine Oscars), but we bade a sad farewell to that camp comedy legend Kenneth Williams. In our cinemas were Wall Street, Flowers in the Attic and 3 Men and a Baby. On telly: the controversial documentary Death on the Rock, Ben Elton's Friday Night Live and the last-ever episode of (the original series of) Crossroads.

And in our charts this week in 1988? S-Express had barn-stormed their way to Number 1, knocking Pet Shop Boys' Heart from its perch, closely followed by Hazell Dean, Danny Wilson (who???), Natalie Cole, Climie Fisher, George Michael, Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac.

However, also present... in this week when our favourite pop-tastic girl band Bananarama announced their comeback as the original threesome, we re-visit their Top Ten hit from the charts all those years ago. How appropriate that it is I Want You Back [the girls' first hit after the departure of Siobhan]!

The room has suddenly grown cold
And outside in the street it's raining
You packed your bags and said good-bye
You took my heart without explaining.
How could you go?
How could you go?

We had a love most people never know.
Before you break my heart!

I want you back
Don't care what I have to do
I want you back

I want you back
Gotta get it through to you
I want you back

If I can make you see only you can fill the need in me
If you walk away you'll regret it someday

This room is full of memories
And shadows of the past remind me
Of all the love I gave in vain
And all the hurt I feel inside me.
I want you back
I want you back

We had a love most people never know.
Before you break my heart!

I want you back
Don't care what I have to do
I want you back

I want you back
Gotta get it through to you
I want you back

We had a love most people never know
Before you break my heart!


Bananarama on Wikipedia

Monday, 24 April 2017

An "Old Time Music Hall Prom"?

The 2017 season of the BBC Proms has been announced!

It is far too early, of course, to get any idea who may be appearing on stage at our much-anticipated end-of Season highlight, the closing night gala Proms in the Park on 9th September, but - as ever - there appears to be a wide-ranging and eclectic mix of stuff so far announced: from Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim and Lisa Batiashvili, to Jools Holland, John Wilson and Jarvis Cocker. Highlights include:
  • The 'Godlike Genius' of Scott Walker - Conductor and arranger Jules Buckley returns for two Proms: a Late Night with the Heritage Orchestra, exploring the music of 1960s icon Scott Walker; and a concert with the Metropole Orkest, featuring the music of jazz giant Charles Mingus.
  • In their Late Night Prom, Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stax/Volt Revue and pay tribute to this pioneering label that championed the funk, gospel and rhythm and blues movements.
  • Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves and virtuoso trumpeter James Morrison join the BBC Concert Orchestra under John Mauceri for a double tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie in the centenary year of their births.
  • Proms favourite John Wilson returns with his orchestra for the first European performance of the recently re-constructed stage orchestration of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
  • A tribute to Proms conductor Malcolm Sargent to mark the 50th anniversary of his death, with a recreation of his 500th Proms concert and a Last Night tribute.
  • Marking the 450th anniversary of the birth of Monteverdi, French period-instrument ensemble Pygmalion and director Raphaël Pichon present Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and I Fagiolini under director Robert Hollingworth dedicate the first of this year’s Monday-lunchtime Proms at Cadogan Hall to the composer.
  • All four of Rachmaninov’s piano concertos performed across the season and a day dedicated to his music with the Latvian Radio Choir and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Thomas Dausgaard.
All this, and the Proms will (in addition to its regular and "not-so-regular" outreach performances at Cadogan Hall, Imperial College London, Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park(!), Southwark Cathedral and Tate Modern; as well as a visit to Hull, the UK City of Culture 2017) for the first time make an appearance at one of our fave venues in the whole world Wilton's Music Hall!

Here's the launch video:

Tickets for the Proms go on general sale at 9am on Saturday 13th May.

BBC Proms calendar 2017 [Friday 14th July to Saturday 9th September 2017]

It's been said she knocks 'em dead when she lands in town

Oh, nooooooooooo!

After an absolutely lovely sunny week off, spent almost entirely in the garden, it's time to wake up to reality again. It's back to work time...

Let's leave it to today's birthday girl, our Patron Saint of high-kicks Miss Shirley MacLaine to give her best shot on this Tacky Music Monday at cheering the situation up - with a jazzy, all-action dance version of Sweet Georgia Brown!

Have a good week, peeps. Think of me.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Saint George and Shakira

"Is that a cricket bat, or are you just pleased to see me?" The Boy With a Bat by Walter Hawkesworth Fawkes

On this, the feast of Saint George - patron saint of England (and of Portugal, Bulgaria, Malta, Georgia and - um - Lebanon) - what could be more English than to have a load of Oxford college boys camping it up on acapella versions of popular diva tunes?

Here's a double-bill of such cavorting, courtesy of the faboo Out of the Blue, starting with Lady Marmalade:

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?, indeed!

And, of course, here's their classic - Shakira's Hips Don't Lie:

Comprising students from Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University, Out of the Blue has performed on the West End and on Broadway, reached the semifinals of Britain's Got Talent, and toured around the world to places including Switzerland, Canada, India, Hong Kong, and Japan. Their principal aim is fundraising, and donate their annual profits to Helen & Douglas House Hospice for Children and Young Adults.

Out of the Blue

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Some handicrafts for the weekend

[Courtesy of the weird and wonderful Liartown USA]

Friday, 21 April 2017

She's a Disco Queen!

The end of another week beckons - and, despite not having been to the office I feel as though I have done more than a usual full week's work! Gardening is fun, but there's no slacking, that's for certain...

Anyway, a weekend is a weekend is a weekend - and today it also happens to be the 91st birthday of our own glittering Majesty, HM The Queen. So let's "queen" it up in the most (in)appropriate manner with some bizarre dance nonsense from someone or something called ISHI... and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Remarkable. I love it! I hope Her Maj did, too...

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Creaming one's knickers at a garden centre

I had to resist buying one of these splendid Echiums

There are garden centres, and there are garden centres... and then there is The Gardening Club in Crews Hill, near Enfield in North London!

Occupying a site of more than 30 acres (1,400,000 square feet!), this phenomenal expanse of glasshouses - which Madam Arcati and I visited today - is a horticultural cornucopia on Dutch proportions, with every conceivable type and range of plants: from bedding (which we came back with; at three substantial trays for £5, how could we not?) to herbaceous, to houseplants, to shrubs, to trees (including a fine array of tree-ferns to make one salivate); featuring both exotic and commonplace species, and generic colour ranges.

It quite rightly claims to be "one of the largest covered garden centre clubs [one pays £5 per household for annual membership] in the UK open to the public".

Imagine a Westfield shopping complex, only just for plants. And dirt cheap, too! A gardener's wet dream.

Crews Hill itself is known as "Britain's Horticultural Mile". For many years it supplied London's markets with fresh flowers and produce, before things changed and selling direct to the (mainly car-driving) public became more profitable. Now, in addition to the Gardening Club there are dozens of outlets of the garden and garden-related variety all down the road, in this last final northern outpost of Greater London before it becomes Hertfordshire. Why have we waited so long to discover it?

Greedy though it may be, we did also purchase a further four fuchsias (only one more named variety and we will have 50).

However, when one discovers something plant-focused on a scale such as this [we walked miles - I'm knackered!], surely we are forgiven? If we had not been on foot, carrying these purchases a further mile back to the railway station, just picture the car-load of stuff we would have acquired...

Crews Hill Gardening Club website - featuring a video tour!