Thursday, 31 July 2014

Swing no more



With a final "cheers" to one of telly's greatest "swingers", we bid a fond farewell to Kenny Ireland - aka "Donald Stewart" from house favourite TV comedy Benidorm (and prior to that, "Derek the handyman" in Victoria Wood's Acorn Antiques). He died today, aged just 68.

Things at the "Hotel Solana" will never be the same again.



RIP Kenny Ireland (1945 – 31st July 2014)

Hips Don't Lie


"It is true that the ancient and noble city of Oxford is, of all the towns of England, the likeliest progenitor of unlikely events and persons. But there are limits.” - Edmund Crispin.


Apparently: "Founded in 2000, Out of the Blue is made up of students from Oxford and Oxford Brookes Universities. Each year brings a fresh batch of faces, voices and arrangements."

Indeed.

This Shakira cover [much more attractive than the original, I'd say!] is a charity single for Helen & Douglas House Hospice for Children and Young Adults. To buy your copy of the single to raise funds, or just to donate, visit the boys' website.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Ghosts, Gods, Blue Peter, Proustian brothels and a sausage on the side



After a little hiatus (thanks to the complications of this darned house move, unfortunately) it was with great excitement that I, in the company of Paul, Jim, little Tony and John-John (whose own hiatus, due to a lot of family problems, had been a bit longer than that - he hadn't been since last October!), ventured off on a gloriously hot evening yesterday (too hot in the 5th floor function room of the Royal Festival Hall, truth be told, but that's incidental) for the final summer outing for "London's premier gay literary salon" Polari.

Our host Paul Burston was bursting with energy as usual as he opened proceedings - to a packed house including Emma and Toby, Lauren Henderson aka Rebecca Chance and her coterie of "safety gays", Anni, Val, Bryanne and Simon, and assorted literati, regulars and otherwise, as well as Polari virgins" Dug (who I used to work with) and boyf Simon.



We were extremely proud that our chum, esteemed fellow blogger and "friend to the famous" (it was he to whom I am eternally grateful for arranging tickets for the Mari Wilson concert at Soho Jazz Café in January) Wayne Herbert was occupying the "first-timer slot", as our opening reader.

The audience was enraptured as he read an extract from his fabulous blog Introspections of a displaced Boulevardier, set around the minutiae of eccentric (real-life-I'm-sure) characters in North London's up-and-coming Crouch Hill district, where he lives:
‘Who’s Cyril?’ I asked.

‘Don’t you listen to a word I say Wayne? Cyril, the guy who lives in my block.’

‘Lil I promise you haven’t mentioned him before.’ Lil told so many stories it was difficult to retain the detail. They were invariably colourful, contained drama or tragedy or both. I’m not sure I’d have forgotten hearing about her other gay friends though.

‘Well anyway, he’s in his late sixties and a confirmed bachelor, or so he says.’ Lil released a mammoth cackle, ‘I wasn’t fooled. I managed to wheedle it out of him.’

I was glad I’d ordered a vegetarian breakfast, with a sausage on the side; listening to Lil on a roll was hungry work. I sliced a juicy grilled tomato and pressed it against a sliver of Halloumi. I raised the loaded fork to my mouth and looked expectantly at Lil to continue.

‘He moved in three years ago and wears yellow Marks’ trousers with floral shirts and silk scarves and I knew straight away. He’d lived in Brighton and done a flat swap.

I asked him if he watched Downton Abbey. He said he did, and then I asked who his favourite character was, and do you know who he said?’

‘No idea Lil.’ I didn’t know where our conversation was going or how many clichés we would be embracing.

‘Thomas the Under-butler.’ Lil’s response was perspicacious from her tone but I wasn’t so sure.

‘Thomas is a conniving, sly manipulator. Perhaps Cyril likes those qualities. I don’t think identifying with a character in a TV show gives certainty Lil, although the clothing you describe could tell a different story,’ I said. I started to laugh and thought I’d been funny. Lil wasn’t laughing.

‘No, Cyril is a nice chap. He’s drawn to Thomas as he hides his sexuality too.’ Lil was orating as if a University Professor. ‘And I’m certain that Thomas would be your favourite character too Mr Boulevardier.’ Lil crowed again.

‘I like the Dowager Countess. Maggie Smith has all the best lines,’ I said. In fact I liked Maggie Smith in most of her roles, ‘Tea with Mussolini’ being my favourite.

‘Exactly. That’s precisely the same,’ Lil wasn’t for turning today.


Following Wayne's triumphal debut was another newbie, Mr Vernal Scott (former Head of Equality and Diversity for Islington Council, no less; admittedly before I started work there). His seminal work God's Other Children - A London Memoir has (impressively) forewords by Lord Paul Boateng, Sir Nick Partridge and Peter Tatchell, and covers not only his nasty upbringing in a stiflingly gospel-church-y household (whose brethren had a distinctly pervy method of "excising the demons" that were associated - by them - with his coming out as gay), but also chronicles the devastation that AIDS cut through a whole generation of gorgeous and talented young men in the 80s and 90s.

Familiar - and very upsetting at points - territory, his reading really summed up an era of sadness and survival quite magnificently, I thought. I could hardly breathe by the end.

Here he is in person, talking about the book:





Providing a little (needed) light relief, next up was a familiar face to us Polari-ites - Tiffany Murray, a very entertaining woman whose readings from her memoir Diamond Star Halo enthralled us back in 2012. She's ventured into the world of fiction of late (specifically the genre of ghost stories) with her new book Sugar Hall, which tells the tale of a German-born family whose straitened circumstances force them to desert the comforts of London for a spooky old house on the Welsh borders.

Miss Murray's writing is sublime, as is evidenced by these passages. First, the wistful (and ever-so-slightly camp) cogitations of the novel's central character, the boy Dieter:
Not long ago Ma had been so glamorous.

Glamour was a word Dieter loved because he had read it in a thick-as-a-brick magazine called Vogue that Ma kept between her mattress and bedsprings at 52C Shelley House, Churchill Gardens, SW1. ‘Glamour’ was a word Dieter loved because when you said it the words made your face smile at the first ‘gla’ and then they made you blow a kiss on the ‘mour’.

‘Gla-mour.’

Dieter liked that. He liked it so much he once practised the word in the bathroom mirror, wearing Ma’s Siren Red lipstick.

‘Gla-mour.’
And, as young Dieter tries to tell his mother and sister about the ghostly boy he has seen:
‘I’m not making it up. He just popped into the air, from nothing, and he stared at me and didn’t say a word, and he looked so ill, and I felt dreadfully funny all over. There is a strange boy out there.’

Dieter pointed to the bay window and the wild red gardens. He squinted; it was all too bright in the countryside and he didn’t like it. He didn’t like this house: he hated the fact it was home now. London was his place to be. By the river: Churchill Gardens.

‘He just appeared, and he wore a silver collar…’ Dieter’s voice tailed off.

Saskia latched onto these last words and snorted. ‘Don’t be silly, Dee. Boys don’t wear collars. Vicars do and dogs do.’ She glared at him and Dieter felt his fear settle, a burrowing toad. The points of the toad’s wet, sharp feet, its warty sides, all dug deep into Dieter’s belly; his breath went and he collapsed into his grandfather’s lime-green armchair.

Dust puffed.
Remarkable.

After a break for a fag and a top-up of booze, it was time for the ever-wonderful VG (Val) Lee, one of the panel of judges, to take to the stage to announce the longlist for this year's Polari First Book Prize. The titles are:
  • I Am Nobody's Nigger by Dean Atta (Westbourne Press)
  • Stephen Dearsley’s Summer of Love by Colin Bell (Ward Wood Publishing)
  • The Girl with The Treasure Chest by VA Fearon (VIllage Books)
  • The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland (Harper Collins)
  • The Falling Sky by Pippa Goldschmidt (Freight Books)
  • Petite Mort by Beatrice Hitchman (Serpent’s Tail)
  • Hainault via Newbury Park and Other Broken Tracks by Keith Jarrett (self-published)
  • The Birds That Never Flew by Margot McCuaig (ThunderPoint Publishing)
  • Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman (Team Angelica)
  • God's Other Children - A London Memoir by Vernal W. Scott (self-published)
  • The Rubbish Lesbian by Sarah Westwood (Mimwood Press)
  • Out in the Army by James Wharton (Biteback Publishing)
All very worthy, I'm sure - and the shortlist will be unveiled in September.



But next up was a big surprise! For opening the second half with an extract from her new, and as yet unpublished, historical work was none other than former Blue Peter presenter (and mother of house fave Sophie Ellis-Bexter) Miss Janet Ellis!

The piece she read was very amusing, in a creepy-sort-of-way given its subject matter, as a naive young girl in the Georgian era is given a little more of an extra-curricular anatomy lesson from her lascivious home tutor than she could have bargained for...

I look forward to reading/hearing more from the lovely Miss Ellis's new chosen career move [no clips or extracts appear to be online as yet, more's the pity].

Our headliner, however, was a real treat (again). Looking rather physically frail these days, but nonetheless with every iota of wit and subtlety fully intact, Mr Paul Bailey is a true veteran of literature. Twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, he was awarded the EM Forster Award in 1974 and, forty years on, is still writing magnificent classics. He treated us to one of his pithy readings last year (when the combination of Celia Imrie, Fidelis Morgan and Rebecca Chance, who preceded his arrival, were a formidable act to follow), and is an all-round charming person.

He read a passage from his first solidly gay-themed masterwork The Prince's Boy , a convoluted tale of a Parisian brothel part-founded by Marcel Proust, a former "favourite boy" of a Romanian minor royal who now turns "tricks", and the randy encounters of the tale's narrator (another émigré - "Romanian by birth, French by choice, English by accident") with him, in the fantastically decadent and dangerous world just before the rise of fascism. Read an extract online.



It was utterly fabulous, and the audience rightly gave him a heartfelt ovation.

And that, unfortunately, was it - until September! [Featuring Joanna Briscoe, Colin Kelley, Carole Morin, Trudy Howson and more, apparently. I can't wait.]

Polari

Totty of the Day


Gold medal-winning English swimmer Ben Proud, 19


Ben and the boys of the English Gold-medal-winning relay swim team


French relay swim team

Suddenly my interest in the Commonwealth Games has perked up a bit...

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Misleading local news headline of the day

Jerk off challenge at Finsbury Bar




It's all about ethnic food, unfortunately.

Read more

Monday, 28 July 2014

Happy Eyd-ie!



(...and, on this Tacky Music Monday, Carol too!)



Eid-al-Fitr; the end of Ramadan.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

One cool missing person



The mysterious Miss Bobbie Gentry celebrates her 70th birthday today. However, we will never know how she celebrated this significant milestone...

Why? Well, as the review in The Guardian of a BBC Radio 2 documentary back in 2012 pointed out:
"...Bobbie is known for two things: Ode to Billie Joe, her astonishingly creepy 1967 single, and her sudden, deliberate disappearance.

After Patchwork, her last album of new material was released in 1971, Bobbie walked out of the spotlight, span on her heel and never looked back. She spent just four years as a star, first knocking the Beatles' All You Need is Love off the top of the US charts, then presenting two primetime shows – one for BBC2 (destroyed: argh), one for CBS in the US – making some exceptional albums, notching up another massive single (Fancy), headlining in Vegas. But she was out of time: her glamorous look, including bigger-than-big hair, meant that Bobbie wasn't taken seriously in an era of no-makeup singer-songwriters...

[apparently she] phoned a couple of her old producers in the last few years – one, Rick Hall, to talk about Reba McEntire's version of Fancy; the other, Jimmie Haskell, to say that she'd written a new song. He didn't have time to help produce it, so he suggested someone else. Bobbie never contacted them. And now she won't return Haskell's calls. She is one cool customer."
Happy birthday, Miss Gentry, wherever you are!

We particularly miss your hairdo - here in huge form on a lesser known hit Rainmaker:



Bobbie Gentry (born Roberta Lee Streeter, 27th July 1944)

Saturday, 26 July 2014

It would sure do me good, to do you good



Speaking of ear-worms, I spent the day with mother, sister and brother-in-law today, and apparently this song was stuck in their collective heads - but we were all racking our brains to remember who sang it...

Maybe I Can Help.

It was Billy Swan (who?), from forty years ago:



This clip in itself is remarkable, if only to gape in awe at the fashions, and to wonder whether any male music show presenter these days would wear quite as many sparkly rhinestones as Mr Bobby Vinton, introducing this song...

Friday, 25 July 2014

My heart is pounding and my lips are on fire



The very lovely (and Scottish-born, despite the accent) John Barrowman outraged the assembled "less enlightened" delegates at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow (42 of the 54 Commonwealth nations taking part in the games still criminalise homosexuality) by kissing one of the male dancers during a musical tribute to that traditional refuge of eloping couples, Gretna Green.

Good for him, I say - and especially his choice of man...

Let us (as is traditional at the end of another stifling week in the office) get our own celebrations off to a smacker of a start in the company of another Scottish star - the faboo Miss Kelly Marie (and her kilt-spinning safety gays).

Here she is (appropriately enough) with Hot Love - Thank Disco It's Friday!



Have a hot one, peeps!

Kelly Marie official website

Thursday, 24 July 2014

He dreamed of machines



Oh. Deep. Joy.

Last night, I was treated (by our good friend Paul, for my forthcoming birthday) to a most incredible evening - not just "a Prom" (in the glittering Royal Albert Hall), but THE Pet Shop Boys' Prom!

Opening with a heavily melodramatic orchestration of several PSB chart hits - Overture to Performance, masterminded by arranger Richard Niles - we knew we were in for a real treat. And when none other than the legendary Chrissie Hynde took to the stage to perform the next piece (“Four songs in A minor”), we were thrilled. As described admirably by Adam Sweeting in The Telegraph:
Chrissie Hynde teetered to the microphone in white blouse and tails, skinny jeans and high heels, like some sort of Nashville gunslinger.

She added the right amount of frayed world-weariness to Badalementi’s mooching, indigo-tinted arrangements. Love Is a Catastrophe felt like the aural equivalent of a bourbon hangover, while her duet with Tennant on Rent was piercingly bittersweet.


I couldn't help but think, however, that when it comes to the clipped, lyrical songs of Messrs Tennant and Lowe, a legendary diva with somewhat clearer diction might have worked a bit better.

It was a remarkable experience, nonetheless - but nothing compared to what was to follow!

For this was the world première of the Boys' classical meisterwerk - a tribute to the pioneering computer genius Alan Turing - A Man From the Future. Part Chris-Lowe-synthesiser-odyssey, part orchestral symphony, with narration by Oscar-winner Juliet Stephenson, the piece told the tragic story of the gay outsider genius from boyhood love and loss, through his amazing contribution to wartime code-breaking, to his persecution, death and eventual belated pardon by the establishment.

Mr Tennant stood in the sidelines as a part of the chorus, while the BBC Concert Orchestra (conducted by Dominic Wheeler) and Miss Stephenson took centre stage (the latter, bizarrely suspended in a commentary box in the proscenium). As the story unfolded, so the music mirrored the emotions - and throughout, He Dreamed of Machines...



The whole eight-part composition was an utterly beautiful feast for the senses (and, given its subject matter, an emotional journey through a life ruined by bigotry).

I feel privileged to have experienced it.

A Man From the Future on the Pet Shop Boys website.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Cockring news


All male BBC presenters have some form of penis adornment, it has emerged.

Following the promotion of Evan ‘Prince Albert’ Davis, sources within the corporation said it was dominated by a powerful cock ring clique called ‘the janglers’.

A BBC source said: “Pretty much all the BBC big beasts have some metal in their helmets.

“Huw Edwards sports an amethyst-encrusted hoop in his bell end, while Andrew Neil has four solid gold safety pins in each of his testicles.

“Alan Yentob has pewter chains connecting the base of his shaft to his ears.

“The BBC equivalent of a masonic handshake is to stick a hand in your left trouser pocket and make a rattling noise.

“It all started under Greg Dyke, who said you couldn’t trust a man who hadn’t experienced pain and bought jewellery.”
The Daily Mash.

Of course.

Here's an appropriate number - even more so as this week saw the last (sob, sob) ever performance by the Monty Python's Flying Circus team on stage at the O2...



Monty Python's global finale

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

No monster, he



It is the 105th anniversary today of the birth of British director James Whale, most famous for his seminal early horror movies such as Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein.

Mr Whale scandalised Hollywood in the "Hay's Code"-era by refusing to compromise or cover up the fact he was gay, and, perhaps because of this (and political interference in films he produced) his mainstream movie opportunities largely dried up by the 1940s. He retired from film-making and concentrated on his other loves: men, theatre and art. Sadly, in pain and debilitated, he later committed suicide in his pool.

Many decades later the biographical (and Oscar-winning) movie Gods and Monsters, with the sublime Serena (Sir Ian) McKellen as Mr Whale, focused on those latter days - and became a gay classic.





Inevitably, of course, this has a lot to do with gorgeous co-star Brendan Fraser - effortlessly sexy as the young gardener who grabs the eye of the old man in his lonely isolation - as much as the Oscar-nominated performances of Serena and Miss Lynn Redgrave.

Let us turn (as we regularly do) to Steve Hayes - "Tired Old Queen At The Movies" - to provide us with a most a fitting tribute to this fabulous film:



James Whale (22nd July 1889 – 29th May 1957)

Gods and Monsters (1998)

At heart...


Lilium 'Stargazer' in the gardens at Dolores Delargo Towers #3

As the lilies fill the air with perfume, the heatwave continues here in the UK, and with August (birthday month for my sister and moi) just around the corner, it's time for another timeslip moment. As we take the TARDIS once again back to the heady days of 1984, from thirty years ago this week here's another (appropriate) jolly number to sing along to...

Featuring cameo appearances from the lovely Clare Grogan [she lives near us, you know!], Stratford Johns and Molly Weir, it's one-hit-wonders The Bluebells and the extremely cheerful Young At Heart!



Enjoy.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Ham, man, and more ham



It's been quite a weekend of exploration.



On Saturday, we went for a meandering walk from Richmond-upon-Thames to the historic Ham House, and across the river by "Totty Ferry" [see above] to the eccentric waterside villas of Twickenham (York House with its "Naked Ladies" fountain [below], and Orleans House, now a gallery), before seeking respite in the local hostelries.



Yesterday we dodged the thunderstorms again to traverse the final stretches of North London's "New River" (ahem; it opened in 1613!) - which was, admittedly, less picturesque but nonetheless a delightful little diversion.

Today - just as the weather turns more settled and summery again, of course - it's time to head off to the far less historic, diverting, or even remotely interesting world of the office. Hey ho.

Let's let something completely mad into our lives this Tacky Music Monday... How about Heather Parisi tapping her brains out on prime time Italian TV to a jazz classic by Dave Brubeck? That should bloody well cheer us all up!

Take Five, indeed.


Have a fantabulosa week, dears.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Jim Rockford signs off







RIP James Garner - heartthrob, perfect comic foil to many a fave leading lady (Doris Day, Julie Andrews, Debbie Reynolds), staple of 70s TV, and one of the classiest men ever to grace a screen...

And baby you can turn me on



From the BBC:
Sex toys, ancient carvings and medical artefacts will be among objects on display at a new exhibition opening in central London in November.

The Institute Of Sexology will be the first UK exhibition to bring together the pioneers of the study of sex, according to its curators. Paintings, films and photographs of copulation will also be on display.

Curators said that The Institute Of Sexology will include commissions, live events, discussions and performance art and "form part of a sexology season of activity across the country".

"The Institute Of Sexology offers a complex, often contradictory story of the study of sex, and highlights the profound effect that the gathering and analysis of information can have in changing attitudes about the human condition."
Sex Bomb? House bandleader here at Dolores Delargo Towers Max Raabe certainly seems to think so!



The Institute Of Sexology will run for one year from 20th November 2014 at the Wellcome Collection in London.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Through it all, your face that I adore



Phew. It's a scorcher! We're off en masse to the river at Richmond today to seek some respite (and dodge the thunderstorms), and, no doubt, partake of some suitably alcoholic libation.

Meanwhile, we celebrate the birthday today of a cherished vocalist here at Dolores Delargo Towers - Senorita Florencia Bisenta de Casillas Martinez Cardona, better known as Vikki Carr.

And, to prove that (at the moment at least) all roads lead to the late, dearly missed Stritchy, here's a Benny Goodman song which the Old Broad gave a roasting on her (much treasured by us) solo album - here treated much more sweetly by Miss Carr - And the Angels Sing:



Feliz cumpleaños!

Vikki Carr (born 19th July 1941)

Friday, 18 July 2014

Broadway Baby



After the sad news of the death of one of our greatest Patron Saints Miss Elaine Stritch yesterday, it is difficult to muster up a party mood for the looming weekend.

However, we'll give it a try. Let the weekend celebrations begin in the capable hands of the marvellous Miss Candi Staton, swathed in satin, and what could easily be a tribute to the Broadway Belter herself - Nights on Broadway!



Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good (hot) weekend...

Thursday, 17 July 2014

People I employ have the impertinence to call me Myrna Loy



As my regular reader will no doubt be aware, we at Dolores Delargo Towers have - among many obsessions - a passion for Art Deco, and a particular adoration of The Master Noël Coward. Imagine our delight when tickets came up for an intimate cabaret that successfully managed to blend the two things into one...

Brasserie Zedel is a marvellous survivor of the "march of progress". When the Crown Estate decided to dispense with the garguntuan Regent Palace Hotel at the edge of Piccadilly Circus back in 2010 (it had become very run-down, and catered mainly for back-packers and cheap tourists by that stage), parts of its edifice (presumably listed) were preserved to form the cornerstones of the new office and retail development (home to the UK base of Tw*tter, apparently). Thankfully, some of the subterranean suites, bars and restaurant also survived in their Art Deco glory.





Perfectly restored and immaculately detailed with posters and photos from the "Jazz Age", Brasserie Zedel now occupies the space and continues that Deco tradition today, with a combination of dining, champagne and cocktails in its three suites. Our evening's entertainment yesterday was hosted in the small-but-beautifully-extravagant "Crazy Coqs Cabaret Room" (known in the 1930s as the "Chez Cup Bar") - in the masterful (pun intended) company of Coward champion and expert performer Stefan Bednarczyk.

And it was sublime.

Mr Bednarczyk is more than just an expert in "Noël Cowardry", he has made it his life's work to get to know the man; over time he befriended Graham Payn (Coward's widower), Judy Campbell (who Coward called his "muse") and Sheridan Morley (his official biographer, whose widow Ruth is Zedel's artistic director), all of whom provided him with pithy anecdotes and some largely unfamiliar material from which he crafted the show.

Not least of these "rarities" - and we had certainly never heard any of them before - were Coward's poems (or "verses" as he preferred to call them). Mostly autobiographical, and at times achingly melancholy, they provided a marvellous foil for Mr Bednarczyk's interpretations of more recognisable material like Don't Put Your Daughter On The Stage Mrs Worthington and Mad Dogs And Englishmen. This one took our breath away - I Am No Good At Love:

I am no good at love
My heart should be wise and free
I kill the unfortunate golden goose
Whoever it may be
With over-articulate tenderness
And too much intensity.

I am no good at love
I batter it out of shape
Suspicion tears at my sleepless mind
And gibbering like an ape,
I lie alone in the endless dark
Knowing there's no escape.

I am no good at love
When my easy heart I yield
Wild words come tumbling from my mouth
Which should have stayed concealed;
And my jealousy turns a bed of bliss
Into a battlefield.

I am no good at love
I betray it with little sins
For I feel the misery of the end
In the moment that it begins
And the bitterness of the last good-bye
Is the bitterness that wins.


As reviewer Fiona-Jane Weston rightly states: "Bednarczyk’s recitations of these works were a masterclass in verse-speaking, embracing enjambed lines where the sense and breath followed from one line into the next, and using the rhythm and metre skilfully, avoiding the temptation to allow the narrative to descend into prose."

His performance of the more familiar Coward songbook was also delightful. Perfectly phrased, yet never veering into sentimentalism or literal impersonation, he gave us a comprehensive tour of later works such as Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans, London Pride, There Are Bad Times Just Around the Corner (dedicated to the recent cabinet re-shuffle, with the sardonic observation that despite everything Iain Duncan-Smith and Jeremy Hunt are still in their jobs...), and our own favourites Nina and If Love Were All.

And, befitting of a performer who has his eye on political campaigning - not least for gay rights - Mr Bednarczyk performed the sadly excised male version of Mad About The Boy [that I featured on the occasion of The Master's birthday last year]. The lyrics are memorable:

Mad about the boy
I know it’s silly
But I’m mad about the boy
And even Dr Freud cannot explain
Those vexing dreams
I’ve had about the boy

When I told my wife
She said
“I never heard such nonsense in my life!”
Her lack of sympathy
Embarrassed me
And made me frankly glad about the boy.

My doctor can’t advise me
He’d help me if he could
Three time he’s tried to psychoanalayse me
But it’s just no good

People I employ
Have the impertinence
To call me Myrna Loy
I rise above it
Frankly love it
‘Cos I’m absolutely
Mad about the boy


No video footage of Stefan Bednarczyk performing Noël Coward exists on the web, unfortunately. In fact I can't even find a website for Mr B [although I did find out that he appeared in Mike Leigh's Gilbert & Sullivan movie Topsy Turvy]!

Here, instead, is the opera genius Felicity Lott with her inimitable version of another Coward classic that Mr Bednarczyk performed for us - A Bar on the Piccola Marina:



If ever this show pops up again (which it undoubtedly will), I highly recommend to anyone to grab a ticket. We had a marvellous time.

And if you are in the vicinity of Piccadilly Circus, you simply must visit Brasserie Zedel!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

You on that high-flying cloud



Speaking of "ear-worms", for no apparent reason (apart from the fact that it was played on Radio 2 on the weekend), I have this song stuck in my head today - Hey There by Bette Midler:



No bad thing, I suppose - and it serves to cheer me up as I sit here looking out of the grim windows of my office onto the grim surroundings of the council estate in which we are unfortunately sited - on one of the sunniest, hottest days of the year so far...

Lately when I'm in my room all by myself,
in this solitary gloom I call to myself:

Hey there, you with the stars in your eyes,
love never made a fool of you. You used to be too wise.
Hey there, you on that high-flying cloud,
though he won't throw a crumb to you, you think some day he'll come to you.

Better forget him, him with his nose in the air.
He's got you dancing on a string. Break it and he won't care.

Won't you take this advice I hand you like a mother?
Or are you not seeing things too clear?
Are you too much in love to hear?
Is it all goin' in one ear and out the other?
And out the other?

Hey there, you with the stars in your eyes,
Are you talkin' to me?
love never made a fool of you.
Not until now.
You used to be so wise.
Oh, that was a long time ago.

Hey there,
What?
you on that high-flyin' cloud,
though he won't throw a crumb to you,
you think some day he's gonna come to you.

Woah, better forget him.
Forget him.
He's got his nose in the air.
He's got his nose in the air.
He'll have you dancing on a string.
A puppet on a string.
Break it and he won't care.
He won't care for you.

Won't you take this advice I hand you like a mother?
Or are you not seein' things too clear?
Are you just too far gone to hear?
Is it all goin' in one ear and out the other?


[This song is from The Pajama Game, written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. A revival of the musical is currently playing at the Shaftesbury Theatre in the West End - I really should go!]

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The man who invented the 80s



That one-man production powerhouse Mr Trevor Horn is 65 years old today!

He began his rise to the top as assistant to the legendary Biddu (the man behind Tina Charles, Kelly Marie, Jimmy James, The Real Thing, Kung Fu Fighting, The Stud and much of the British disco music of the 70s). Witnessing this virtuoso at work must have had a lasting influence - for Mr Horn went on to become one of the biggest producers of his age, forever to be known as "The Man Who Invented the Eighties".

He was indeed responsible for a myriad of 1980s classics, including the Buggles, Dollar, the reincarnation of Yes, The Art of Noise, Propaganda, Malcolm McLaren, Slave to the Rhythm for Grace Jones and ABC's The Lexicon of Love. He's worked with Pet Shop Boys, Simple Minds, Lol Creme, Marc Almond, Cher, Tom Jones, TaTu, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Texas, Bryan Adams, LeAnn Rimes, Robbie Williams and Barry Manilow, and in 1995 won Record of the Year at the Grammys for Kiss from a Rose by Seal.

Whew!

Partly by way of celebration of the great man's genius, and partly continuing my ongoing "timeslip moments" to the wonderful world of 1984 - "The Year of Frankie Goes to Hollywood", of course - here's one of Trevor Horn's greatest productions, the song that was Number 1 in the charts thirty years ago this week (and Relax was at Number 2!).

With an all-new video mix to celebrate its 30th anniversary, here's "the Frankies" and Two Tribes:



Trevor Charles Horn, CBE (born 15th July 1949)

Monday, 14 July 2014

See that fascinating creature with perfection stamped on ev'ry feature



Another weekend has flown by too soon - but, thanks to my sister and her hubbie and their drilling, we now have our first set of pictures up at Dolores Delargo Towers #3. Slowly but surely, we are making this place into home (as we have done everywhere we've lived, of course)...

So, to cheer us up as we drag our aching bones out of bed and traipse back to the dreariness of the office, on this Tacky Music Monday I have something magnificent to lift our spirits along the way!

As last Thursday was the 83rd birthday of the maestro of the camp musical Mr Jerry Herman, here's the lovely Ann-Margret and her Erté-themed (highly appropriate - we have three of his prints on our walls) version of his show-stopper Look What Happened to Mabel.

This is very special, indeed...



Have a great week, folks!

Jerry Herman (born 10th July 1931)

Mack and Mabel

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Obsessive?



From the BBC today:
The first study to investigate brain activity in "sex addicts" has uncovered remarkable similarities with people addicted to drugs.

There is some controversy about whether people can become addicted to sexual behaviours, including watching porn.

University of Cambridge researchers performed brain scans on 19 men watching pornographic videos.

They showed the same reward centres of the brain were activated as when addicts see their drug of choice.

Two of the men in the study had lost jobs through watching pornographic material at work.

Four of them say porn was a gateway drug to escort agencies and fetishes.

They were all obsessed with sexual thoughts and behaviour, but it is uncertain that they are "addicts" in the same way as a smoker is addicted to nicotine.

Some researchers argue their traits more closely resemble an impulse control or obsessive compulsive disorder.
This fascinating news prompts me to play the only appropriate song in the circumstances.

Here's the late, great Mr Robert Palmer and his ladies - Addicted to Love!



If you're going to be addicted to anything, it might as well be that.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Didn't you used to be Derek Jacobi?



Hils, History Boy (Crog) and I had a most unexpectedly brilliant evening yesterday, courtesy (once again) of those lovely people from the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA), at the twee Conway Hall.

For we had booked tickets for a new one-man play they were hosting, improbably titled Didn't you used to be Derek Jacobi?. The name alone sounded intriguing enough - but the fact it was produced by none other than Louise Jameson (the sexy savage Leela, assistant to Tom Baker in Dr Who back in the late 70s) was a potential draw for a "Whovian" like Crog (had she actually been there in person, which she wasn't, he would have been thrilled).

We were certainly not disappointed by the performance!

Mr Nigel Fairs is a truly talented actor (and writer, for the play is his work). It takes some stamina to perform alone on stage for an hour and a half - but to change characters (and clothes!) seamlessly while doing so, as the monologues shift from character to character, was pure genius.

The story is in parts hilarious, and in others tugs at the heartstrings as the lives of two "luvvies", Douglas and Leonard, intertwine over the decades until the latter's death. The sad events surrounding that, and his funeral, are largely commented upon by their soft-hearted neighbour Elaine (also played by Nigel), and "she" has some of the best lines of the whole shebang.

We were utterly gob-smacked, and couldn't wait to congratulate Mr Fairs on his triumph!



As did The Brighton & Hove Argus, which gave the play a rave review:
While weaving a sad tale of love, sex and The Milky Bar Kid, Nigel Fairs portrays three characters – Douglas, Leonard and Elaine... The set is a dressing room and the story concerns two actors, Leonard and Douglas, who are never lovers although each man clearly loves the other.

Fairs relaxes his audiences and leads them through the 85-minute performance with considerable pathos and humour. He even persuades everyone to close their eyes while Elaine gets changed.
Here is the trailer for this superb performance piece, and I advise anyone who can, to go and see it!



Nigel Fairs official website

Friday, 11 July 2014

Give me the hook or the ovation



Dear old Jerry Herman was 83 yesterday.

It's also the end of a particularly tortuous week back in work after a week off for the move.

So what better way to celebrate the coming weekend than with the former "friend of the gays" (now, sadly, yet another diva-turned-god-botherer) Miss Gloria Gaynor [here, incomprehensibly, accompanied by what appears to be a collective of prostitutes...] and her version of one of the Great Man's most anthemic numbers - I Am What I Am?



Thank Disco It's Friday!

Jerry Herman (born 10th July 1931)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

If people say I'm crazy I tell them that it's true













Mr Neil Tennant, erstwhile pop maestro and one half of the musical pioneers Pet Shop Boys, is (remarkably) 60 years old today! Gawd, I feel old...

Suffice to say, We are proud possessors of just about everything Pet Shop Boys have ever put out on record, and can only aspire to have a mere modicum of the style, wit and sheer bloody genius of Mr Tennant.

Here are some moments from the man's fabulous four-decade career:

Rent:

Always On My Mind:

Domino Dancing:


The one that makes me cry - Being Boring:


I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing:


New York City Boy:


And the one that started it all, West End Girls:


"A lot of what used to be known as gay culture - broadly speaking, homoeroticism and being camp - has been brought into mainstream culture. I think we should be moving to an era where it's just sex."

"The first club I ever really went to was this club on Neal Street, in London. It was a gay club – we used to pronounce it ‘Shag-o-ramas’, but it was spelt Chaguramas. It’s the name of a Spanish sheep or something."


Happy birthday, Neil!

Neil Francis Tennant (born 10th July 1954)

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Na-na-na-na-na-na


The Top 40 will take into account songs that pop into your head for no reason, it has been announced.

After recently being changed to include streaming, the UK charts will now also include tunes that appear in your brain due to completely unfathomable mental processes.

An Official Charts Company spokesman said: “The criteria for entering the charts now include things like remembering your ex liked Will Smith and then having 'Wild Wild West' stuck in your head all fucking day.

“It’s already having an impact on the charts. Thanks to a number of random rememberings, the current UK number one is the 1982 hit 'Centerfold' by the J Geils Band.

“You know, the one that goes ‘na-na-na-na-na-na’ about a bloke who’s unhappy because his girlfriend’s in 'Razzle', or something.

“The new system means next week’s number one could be anything from Phil Collins’ 1985 hit 'Sussudio' to 'You Can’t Get Better Than A Kwik Fit Fitter'. This is a very exciting time for music.”


However, critics pointed out that the songs which pop into your head were usually the ones that made people wish they had been born deaf.

Office worker Nikki Hollis said: “It’d be OK if it was the Beatles or Radiohead, but it’s always things like 'This Beat Is Technotronic' going round my head like a malevolent brain parasite.

“In Bruges was on the other night and thanks to a convoluted unconscious thought process involving Colin Farrell and Miami Vice, I caused 'Smuggler’s Blues' by Glenn Frey to re-enter the top 40.”
The Daily Mash.

Of course.

And should you happen to get an "ear-worm" stuck in your head today, here's the one addictive song I always turn to in order to get it to shift out of my sub-conscious:



From Paris to Berlin by Infernal. Works every time!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

King of the Jukebox



Never as esteemed or recognised in musical history as his contemporaries Count Basie or Duke Ellington, nor as fondly admired as quirky "cult" figures like Cab Calloway, nevertheless today's birthday boy Mr Louis Jordan was more commercially prosperous than any of them in his day.

According to Billboard magazine, he ranked fifth in the list of the most successful black recording artists of all time, and he made several million-selling hits in the pre-rock'n'roll era, working with Chick Webb and Ella Fitzgerald before forming his own big band.

Among his million-sellers was this house fave here at Dolores Delargo Towers - Caldonia!



Now, that's cheered me up...

Louis Thomas Jordan (8th July 1908 – 4th February 1975)

Monday, 7 July 2014

Thank heavens for Della



This Tacky Music Monday, it's all about the angels.

And the wonderfully awful Scopitone dancers!

Let's thank our lucky stars the magnificent Miss Della Reese is still alive (she celebrated her 83rd birthday yesterday). Just having her sing If I Never Get To Heaven is a good enough tonic to cheer me up, as I ease myself back into work after a week moving and sorting the house out...



Della Reese (born Delloreese Patricia Early, 6th July 1931)

Have a great week, folks!