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!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Another pinny has been hung up for good







One of a long line of "formidable British battleaxes", as portrayed by the likes of Mollie Sugden, Violet Carson, Irene Handl, Stephanie Cole, Edna Dore, Joan Sanderson, Yootha Joyce, Patricia Routledge and (of course) Peggy Mount - as well as fellow cast member, that stalwart of the "shooing duster", Kathy Staff - Jane Freeman's tour-de-force as Holmsfirth cafe owner "Ivy" in Last of the Summer Wine was one of the strong female characters who held this show, and Corrie, and so many other UK telly series, together.

Miss Freeman, a graduate of Cardiff's College of Music and Drama [a familiar campus for me, overlooking as it did the infamous cruising ground that was Cardiff's Castle Grounds, but I digress], had a long career on the stage before television success beckoned. Among the parts for which she was renowned were "Kath" in Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane and "Amanda Wingfield" in Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie; before she gained her foothold on screen in the first Blackadder series.

With her demise, we have a mere handful of actresses who can play this dying breed of matriarchs...

RIP Jane Freeman (born Shirley Ann Pithers, 12th June 1935 – 9th March 2017)

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

A moment of calm



I think we could all do with some peace, every now and then.

Here's the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Sir Charles MacKerras at the BBC Proms 2009) and a masterful rendition of Venus by Gustav Holst, to do just that:


I feel a lot more mellow now.

"I know how much you hunger for politics"


‘More politics? How absolutely fucking fantastic’, says Britain
An ecstatic Britain has thanked Theresa May for calling an early general election because it just cannot get enough of politicians on the news.

The prime minister told an excited, trembling nation that it had been almost a year since the country voted on anything important and that Britain now deserved to be rewarded for its patience.

She said: “I’m sorry I took so long. I know how much you hunger for politics to dominate the news. I know you love the debates, the special editions of Question Time and the party political broadcasts that show so much respect for your intelligence.

“And I know the absolute joy you experience when a pasty-faced weirdo knocks on your door and gives you a leaflet about how much Jeremy Corbyn loves Hitler.”


Delighted voter Tom Logan said: “I’m already planning a spectacular Leaders’ Debate party for all my friends.

“But what on earth am I going to wear?”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Monday, 17 April 2017

I believe in me!



It may be a Bank Holiday, the final bit of the Easter weekend [Buona Pasquetta if you're Italian - a time for picnics; 'tis a bit chilly here for that today], but it is still a Tacky Music Monday...

And, as I have extra cause to celebrate - having the rest of this week off as leave, so not back to work for another seven days - I think it's time for a really joyful number, courtesy of Miss Leslie Uggams (and her extremely energetic safety gays)!


Now, that's the way to do it. Hallelujah, indeed!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

A bunny, a panther and an elephant


What Easter is all about - chocolate!

April is doing what April does - immensely strong gusts of wind and a general air of grey drizzle overhung this Easter Sunday. Never mind, in the shelter of the greenhouse I got some more potting-out done, and spent it in the company of a variety of "easy listening" artists such as the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, Barbara Cook and Nat King Cole.

And today would have been the birthday of one of the maestros of that beloved genre - Mr Henry Mancini!

So without further ado, let us continue this "Sunday Music" theme with the great man himself and just two of his most recognisable hits...


Enrico Nicola "Henry" Mancini (16th April 1924 – 14th June 1994)

Saturday, 15 April 2017

A Spring in our step


A gorgeous (and huge) white Aquilegia in the gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers

Another day in the garden, and despite a slow cold start, it was a lovely sunny one - I occupied myself washing pots and planters, potting-on seedlings, and generally enjoying the plants almost growing before our eyes... and the wildlife! We have a host of different types of bees, hoverflies and butterflies pay us a visit, a regular pair of blackbirds, robins, tits and even a wren. And they are all helpful in their own way. Our rambling rose "Veilchenblau" was covered in a thick coat of aphids a few weeks ago, and then they began to disappear. Here is the reason why...



Hoverfly larvae are not the prettiest of beasts, I can't deny - and easily mistaken for a nibbling caterpillar. However, being basically a stomach with stubby little legs, this unlovable creature's capacity for eating greenfly is remarkable! Together with a couple of ladybirds, the grubs polished off every last one of those sap-suckers - and the rose is saying thank you, with what promises to be a wonderful show of blooms next month.

I love our garden. So - while this good mood is still upon us - Let's Dance!


Sixties TV show clips include:

The Avengers (Diana Rigg, Patrick Macnee)
The Andy Griffith Show (Don Knotts)
The Addams Family (Carolyn Jones, John Astin)
The Dick Van Dyke Show (Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore)
Gomer Pyle USMC (Jim Nabors)
The Patty Duke Show (Patty Duke)
The Doris Day Show (Doris Day)
Gidget (Sally Field)
Batman (Adam West, Victor Buono, Ziva Rodann)
Bewitched (Elizabeth Montgomery, Dick York, Joy Harmon)
Gilligan's Island (Tina Louise, Bob Denver)
I Dream of Jeannie (Barbara Eden)
Mr. Ed (Alan Young)
The Beverly Hillbillies (Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas, Max Baer, Bea Benaderet, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs)
That Girl (Marlo Thomas, Slim Pickens)

Friday, 14 April 2017

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Feckity Feckity Feckity Feckity Feckity Feckity Feckity Feck


A Ryanair passenger has confirmed he would not mind being forcibly dragged off.

Wedged in a stained middle seat the size of a pizza box, Tom Booker has been idly fantasising about being forcibly removed from the plane and saved from a two-hour sweaty ordeal.

Booker said: “It’s only a boring work trip, and a couple of minutes of pain and humiliation are definitely better than being treated like a battery-farmed hen and trying to ignore my neighbour’s body odor while cabin crew try and make you buy a £30 cheese roll.

“At this stage I’d happily accept being dragged by my neck down the aisle rather than have to take this flight.

“I’d try and open the emergency exit and slide to freedom, but the cruel irony is I’m far too boxed in to get anywhere near it.”


Crew member Emma Bradford said: “Mr Booker tried to cause a disturbance by letting out a blood-curdling yell and banging his head repeatedly against the seat in front.

“I don’t think he realises that we’re Ryanair, that’s just normal behaviour for us. When he manages to get out on the wing with a bottle of Smirnoff, then we’ll talk.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

[And in case you do decide to brave the in-flight food - here's a salutary warning.]

I think there is no excuse but to re-visit an old favourite - by Fascinating Aida (who else?):


Begorrah.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

How can I forget the hours


How life should be

Having had a hectic day - a long meeting in nearby Hackney, which took inordinately longer than necessary due to the vagaries of public transport in and around that bit of London, then to the joys of our local "Wood Green Shopping City" [it rhymes with...] to replace our favourite garden solar-powered "disco" lights that suddenly gave up the ghost despite all the brilliant sunshine we've (intermittently) had over the past several weeks, then some more humping'n'shifting in the garden - it's no wonder I'm weary and in need of some calming music...

What better than the combination of today's centenarian the lovely Miss Helen Forrest, together with her favourite bandleader accompanist Harry James? And all in glittering Technicolor, too!


Oh, that's the equivalent of a lovely soak in a hot bubble bath. Sigh...

Helen Forrest (12th April 1917 – 11th July 1999) - see my blog about her on the occasion of her last birthday

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dangerous wine-making monks



A little divertissement courtesy of today's Telegraph:
Buckfast monks should be stripped of their charitable status, campaigners have said, following claims that they are profiting from selling "dangerous" wine.

The Charity Commission is launching a probe into the Buckfast Abbey Trust, where monks produce wine which has been associated with a surge in alcohol-related violence.

The National Secular Society - which works to challenge religious privilege - has claimed Buckfast Tonic Wine, known as "Buckie" in Scotland where it is most popular, is a scourge on society.

The drink has been linked to 6,500 reports of antisocial behaviour and violence in just two years. Yet Buckfast Abbey Trust, which produces Buckfast Tonic Wine, does not pay tax on its income because it is a charity, something which the National Secular Society claims is an "abuse of the charitable system"...

...The Trust justifies its charitable status by saying its aim is the "advancement of the Roman Catholic religion".
Ha!

It certainly may be someone's idea of "religion" - not least Mr Dean Martin...


Cheers!

Monday, 10 April 2017

King of the Tiki Hut



"The man who brought the name "exotica" to this genre. The King of the Tiki Hut." - Space Age Pop website.

After yet another all-too-quick weekend, it is time once more to trudge our weary way to work. One good thing is that (for a change) while we were able to enjoy it, the weather was superb, but we're expecting lower temperatures and cloudy weather all week while we're in the office.

But enough of all that. On this Tacky Music Monday we trust the "Father of Exotica" (and birthday boy) Mr Martin Denny (and his rather frivolous dancer) to whisk us off to hotter climes...


Ah, that's better.

Have a good week, dear reader!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Filth (I'm glad to say) is in the mind of the beholder



We had a beautifully sunny day today, and, as is our wont when the two of us have a day off together we enjoyed it in the gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers (despite the students next door and their noisy, smelly BBQ party) - today Madam Arcati planted a whole host of new Fuchsia hanging planters to add to our collection along the back fence and did the watering, while I cleared more spent soil from the planters (which we use as mulch on the beds) and sifted out the gravel to put back when we re-plant them, pruned the Iochroma australe and some potted Fuchsias, moved some Salvias and Verbena bonariensis, and planted out Penstemons, Night-scented Phlox, Virginia and Night-scented Stocks, Scilla peruviana, and some burgeoning seedlings of Orlaya grandiflora and the fabulously named Forking Larkspur (or, in German, Feldrittersporn)!

As per usual, our accompanying music was eclectic, veering from disco to Blossom Dearie to Celia Cruz to showtunes, but (surprisingly) nothing from today's birthday boy. Sharing his celebrations with house fave Robert Helpmann, Valerie Singleton (who, rather scarily, is 80 years old), Hugh Hefner, Carl Perkins, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Michael Learned, Hannah Gordon, Les Gray of 70s popsters Mud, Dennis Quaid and Marc Jacobs, we wish many happy returns to the comic genius that is Mr Tom Lehrer!

Here is the great man on a subject close to all our hearts...


Thomas Andrew "Tom" Lehrer (born 9th April 1928)

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Love is a tune you hum-de-hum-hum



Having spent the day in the company of arch-Abba-fanatic our friend John-John, expert Carl Magnus Palm and a host of anoraks enthusiasts for all things to do with the Swedish super-quartet, at the international launch of Mr Palm's updated version of his magnum opus "ABBA - The Complete Recording Sessions", I thought it only fitting to visit one of their extremely early ventures into pop soon-to-be-super-stardom...

Here's the fabulously lyrical Bang-A-Boomerang, for your delectation:


Making somebody happy is a question of give and take
You can learn how to show it so come on, give yourself a break
Every smile and every little touch
Don't you know that they mean so much
Sweet sweet kisses so tender
Always will return to sender

Like a bang, a boom-a-boomerang
Dum-be-dum-dum be-dum-be-dum-dum
Oh bang, a boom-a-boomerang
Love is a tune you hum-de-hum-hum
So give it away, I think you'll learn
You'll get love in return
So bang, a boom-a-boomerang is love
A boom-a-boomerang is love


If you say so, dears.

Friday, 7 April 2017

All it had to take me was just one look



In this world of bad news, awful news, even more horrid news and Katie Hopkins, it's always good to have a fine and sunny weekend to look forward to...

...particularly when it is heralded in by the impeccably stylish Drifters, whose co-founder Charlie Thomas celebrates his 80th birthday today. Remember, dears, to sneak a peek in his "little red book" when he's not looking - and Thank Disco It's Friday!


Have a good one!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The nonstandard sexual orientation of the president of the Russian Federation



According to the Guardian:
A picture depicting Vladimir Putin in full makeup has been banned in Russia.

The picture is cited on the Russian justice ministry’s list of banned “extremist” materials – a list that is 4,074 entries long. No 4,071 states that the poster, depicting Putin with painted eyes and lips, implies “the supposed nonstandard sexual orientation of the president of the Russian Federation”.

It’s unclear exactly which image the ministry is talking about – but it is believed to be similar to one used on signs during protests against Russia’s anti-gay laws. It turns out there are quite a lot of photoshopped images in circulation that depict Putin in drag.
An offer too tempting to resist, methinks...









It's also a perfect reason to post this old fave once more...

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

She was a showgirl



What?!



Barry Manilow is GAY??!!



Who ever would have guessed..?


We did.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

An ideological glory hole












"There’s an avalanche of manipulated bullshit coming from every direction, I’m afraid. The media is horribly guilty, on a zillion levels, of selling fantasy as fact - but I’m more concerned about people’s willingness to buy into whatever they’re fed, no matter how ridiculous, if it supports what they already believe. Even worse are people who get their information from social media, which is basically an ideological glory hole; you have no clue as to the origin of the information, you just dutifully put it in your mouth and then spread it like syphilis to all your friends.

"I don’t know if it’s a societal shift, or the failure of schools to inspire more kids to learn & understand, or the disappearance of books, but there’s this whole, weird thing out there where people read a snippet online and feel they’re experts on any subject, and will expound, or criticize, or speak in absolutes when in fact they’re laughably ignorant. The Internet has the power to legitimize the worst kinds of idiocy. If a guy is on a soapbox, screaming gibberish on the corner of Hollywood & Highland, people ignore him; give him a Twitter account and the Los Angeles Times will quote him and dub him a “pundit.”

At some point the world has to realize that the Internet isn’t an accurate barometer of anything. Social media has become such a minefield of bullshit & scam artists that I’ve pretty much abandoned it. I’m disappointed in virtually everyone, everywhere."
- Graphic artist and prankster Cris Shapan, creator of the fantabulosa pastiches above, that some people have been posting on social media as REAL.

Read the whole article on Dangerous Minds, which is rapidly becoming the last refuge for the sane and insightful...

Monday, 3 April 2017

Shaking the blues away, unhappy news away



We're back from our sojourn to Braintree, sweeties, and true to form we have returned with a whole host of goodies for the garden. Only a couple of days out of circulation, but what have we missed?

Hate dominated the headlines, from the dreadful gang beating of an asylum seeker in Croydon to today's murderous bomb attack in Russia; the "battle of Brexit" almost over-spilled into a call for war against Spain (thanks to some ill-judged comments from Michael Howard); and Trump began a battle of bad hairstyles sabre-rattling words with Kim Jong-Un of North Korea, ahead of his summit with the premier of China. Business as usual, then.

We missed what would have been the 85th birthday of Debbie Reynolds, and the [gulp!] 70th of Robin Scott (who, under the nom-de-plume "M" sang Pop Muzik"), as well as (among others) the birthdays of Richard Chamberlain (83), Shirley Jones (83), Herb Alpert (82) and Penelope Keith (77).

But there is one birthday we just have to celebrate - for today is another Doris Day! On this Tacky Music Monday, let us pay due deference to the great lady on this milestone 95th birthday in appropriate fashion... She's Shaking The Blues Away!


Happy birthday, Doris Day (born Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, 3rd April 1922)