Sunday, 18 November 2018

And here is the news

In his final years, Richard Baker moved to a retirement home. He was a little unsettled at first but soon found a way of integrating.

He would read all the newspapers and cut out the interesting headlines. Then, at Six O'clock, he would read them aloud to his fellow residents over supper.
And so, farewell then to another stalwart of British television (and of my childhood) - one of the BBC's longest-serving newsreaders, Richard Baker. In his 27-year tenure from 1955 to 1982, he covered everything from the Burgess-Philby-Maclean spy scandal, the Suez crisis, the start of the Vietnam War and the birth of rock'n'roll, to the rise of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the wedding of Charles and Diana, the AIDS panic and the Falklands War.

A classical music aficionado, he also presented The Last Night of the Proms for many years, and Radio 2's Your Hundred Best Tunes light classics show (and much more besides), as well as lending his dulcets to narrating children's cartoon Mary, Mungo and Midge and the pre-school programme about the adventures of Teddy Edward.

Of course, the clip everyone of our era remembers most fondly was the remarkably imaginative There is Nothing Like a Dame sketch from the Morecambe & Wise Xmas show in 1977 (alongside fellow newsreaders Kenneth Kendall, Richard Whitmore and Peter Woods, as well as other BBC presenters Michael Aspel, Frank Bough, Philip Jenkinson, Barry Norman and Eddie Waring):

And here, with tributes from all his colleagues and crew popping up at the end, is the last ever news broadcast Mr Baker read:

RIP, Richard Douglas James Baker OBE RD (15th June 1925 – 17th November 2018)

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Meanwhile, in sports news...

Some athletes blame poor performances on the state of the pitch. Others blame it on tactics, or perhaps just a bad day at the office.

But blaming your opponent for farting is definitely a new one.

Yet that's exactly what happened at the Grand Slam of Darts in Wolverhampton, with both Gary Anderson and Wesley Harms denying responsibility for the "rotten egg smells".

Two-time Scottish world champion Anderson, 47, won Friday's match 10-2 to progress to the quarter-finals, but Dutchman Harms, 34, was quick to explain his sub-standard performance by accusing Anderson of leaving a "fragrant smell".

He told Dutch TV station RTL7L: "It'll take me two nights to lose this smell from my nose."

World number four Anderson was not best pleased by the accusation, saying the smell had definitely come "from the table side" at the Aldersley Leisure Village.

"If the boy thinks I've farted he's 101% wrong. I swear on my children's lives that it was not my fault," he said.

"I had a bad stomach once on stage before and admitted it. So I'm not going to lie about farting on stage.

"Every time I walked past there was a waft of rotten eggs so that's why I was thinking it was him.

"It was bad. It was a stink, then he started to play better and I thought he must have needed to get some wind out.

"If somebody has done that they need to see a doctor. Seemingly he says it was me but I would admit it."
Remarkably, this "battle of the farts" is not fake news.


Friday, 16 November 2018

Caring, sharing

Finally! Another long, stressful week is over and, as ever - that's our cue for a bit of a party!

A remix party at that...

First up, yesterday was not only the birthday of dear Pet Clark, but also that of another fantabulosa lady-in-our-lives - Anni-Frid Synni, Dowager Princess Reuss of Plauen, better known (of course) as Frida from Abba. Here's a rather faboo mix of the lady's biggest solo hit, to celebrate...

Many happy returns, Your Highness!

Sadder news broke on Thursday, however, when we awoke to the news that Babs Beverley, one of that fabled and eternally camp trio sometimes popularly known as "the Bevs", had died aged 91.

And here, by way of a tribute, is a double-bill of songs by the girls, as you've probably never heard them before:

Love it - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good one, my lovelies.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Just leave the past behind and, baby, only think of how it is today

Marianne Faithfull's back in the album charts; tickets are on sale for a major new exhibition at the V&A dedicated to Mary Quant in Spring 2019; the Kinks' Village Green Preservation Society celebrates its 50th anniversary and Dave Davies is hinting that he may have patched things up in the rift with his brother Ray and the band may reform in 2019; and PP Arnold, Manfred Mann, The Searchers, Herman's Hermits, Swinging Blue Jeans and Joanna Lumley are all on tour in the UK - the 60s has never been trendier.

How opportune that it is Miss Petula Clark's birthday today - and here, by way of celebration, a Swinging 60s extravaganza!

Many happy returns, Petula Clark CBE (born Sally Olwen Clark, 15th November 1932)

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Tuesday, 13 November 2018


“With great power comes great responsibility.”

“Some people will say, 'Why read a comic book? It stifles the imagination. If you read a novel you imagine what people are like. If you read a comic, it's showing you.' The only answer I can give is: 'You can read a Shakespeare play, but does that mean you wouldn't want to see it on the stage?'”

"I'm very proud of being a hack. It's why I've lived as long as I have, I think."

"You know, my motto is 'Excelsior.' That's an old word that means 'upward and onward to greater glory.' Keep moving forward, and if it's time to go, it's time. Nothing lasts forever."

The man whose extensive and fertile imagination changed the way comics were perceived, and indeed made as huge a contribution to society's need for escapism and fantasy as many academically analysed novelists or playwrights, Stan Lee is dead.

Never mind the all-consuming "Marvel Cinema Universe" - impressive though its impact has been over the past few years on box-office sales, despite never being taken seriously by the likes of the Oscars - Mr Lee's creations have been household names for more than fifty years, and the often complicated situations and sometimes very human dilemmas in which they became involved have brightened the lives of generation after generation of children and budding adults (me included).

The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Thor, Wolverine, Vision, Nick Fury, Scarlet Witch, the Skrulls, Loki, Doctor Doom, Magneto, Black Panther, Thanos, Ant-Man, the Wasp, Ultron, Hydra, Galactus, the Silver Surfer, Deadpool, Black Widow, Grandmaster, Hawkeye, Luke Cage, the Red Skull, Adam Warlock, Ghost Rider, Venom, Green Goblin, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Inhumans, the Avengers and the X-Men - he created them all...

“Nuff said!”

RIP, Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber, 28th December 1922 – 1`2th November 2018)

Monday, 12 November 2018

Bigger than life, I reckon

Monday again, dammit. The weather is all over the place (one minute sunny, the next it's apocalyptic rain), and the very last place I want to be is in the office.

Hey ho.

There's an old saying: "All good things must come to an end." Equally, some truly cheesy things also grind to a close eventually.

To prove that point, and to cheer us all up on this Tacky Music Monday - here is the very last television appearance of the eternally tacky Pan's People on Top of the Pops. Watch with amazement as the girls manage to keep that vacant gaze going one last time, as they flap about a bit to The Four Seasons...

In my dream I'm a western hero
Riding my Palomino
Silver Star, there you are, Silver Star

Got my gun and my white ten gallon
Bigger than life , I reckon
Silver Star, there you are, Silver Star

Silver Star, Silver Star
In my dream I make much dinero
Chasin' the Bandelleros
Silver Star, there you are, Silver Star

But he, he gave me a nine to five, honey
Ain't livin' but I'm alive
Sure cut me down to size
He gave me the second prize

I'm layin' it on the line, honey
I'll let it go by this time
Next time around, I'll swear
Gonna get me somewhere, somewhere

In my dream I'm a desert hero
Bigger than Valentino
Silver Star, there you are, Silver Star

Leading ladies in warm embraces
Ecstasy on their faces
Silver Star, there you are, Silver Star

It is amazing what you can do with some net, tinfoil and some pipe cleaners...

Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

The best years of our lives - the hope of it survives

Three birthdays of note today - and an excuse (as if I ever I needed such a reason) to play some retro music from the 80s and early 90s.

First up, Mr Derry Brownson of the band whose full name was "Epsom Mad Funkers" (which was apparently the name of a New Order fan club):

Next, Mr Andy Partridge, lead vocalist and guitarist in XTC (which I don't think is an acronym of anything):

And, finally, Ian Craig Marsh, founder member of both the Human League and Heaven 17 (both band names taken from sci-fi/futuristic novels, of course)...

Ah, memories...

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Where do I begin?

We bade a sad adieu to another of the all-time great composers this week - M Francis Lai, the man who composed hits for (among many others) Edith Piaf, Engelbert Humperdinck, Perry Como, Petula Clark, Yves Montand, Johnny Hallyday, Françoise Hardy, Charles Aznavour and Nana Mouskouri; wrote scores for blockbuster moves and also for soft porn (notably Emmanuelle); and worked with an esoteric mix of the great and the good, including Roger Vadim, Elton John, Michael Winner, Bryan Forbes, Peter Hall and Alan Delon.

And here, for your delectation, is a soupçon of his prodigious output...

RIP Francis Albert Lai (26th April 1932 - 7th November 2018)

Friday, 9 November 2018

Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor

And so another excruciatingly busy week slumps to its close - and all our thoughts turn to partying!

To help us on our way, I have dug up a most - ahem - unusual number. One would hardly associate the esoteric ramblings of Procul Harum's A Whiter Shade of Pale with "partying" [well, not our kind of partying, anyhow]...

In the hands of the uber-talented Munich Machine [aka the team behind the success of Donna Summer: Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte], it is transformed, however - so Thank Disco It's Friday!


Have a good weekend, folks!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

A shithead in America

I could sit and watch it all day.
"For a rambling, bigoted shithead, I have done surprisingly well in the midterm elections.

"I lack any qualities traditionally considered presidential, but have held control of the Senate and only lost the House of Representatives which I don’t even care about.

"This would be a decent midterm result for a decent president. But it’s a major-league win for a jerkwad like me.

"I’ve proven that it doesn’t matter how racist, corrupt, petty or just plain dumbfuck stupid I am, about half the country will vote for me regardless. That’s a hell of a building block for 2020.

"All the Democrats need to do is run the wrong candidate, like a woman or a boring guy or a guy who’s annoyingly smart, and I will steamroller them.

"In fact I might just claim I’m running against Hillary, ignoring whoever it actually is, and shout ‘lock her up’ and that’s probably enough for a win.

"It’s great being a shithead in America."

Donald Trump
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Sad, but obviously true.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Camera, lights, action, and more lights

Happy Diwali!

The Hindu festival of lights is a joyful occasion that sees people attend feasts, set off fireworks, exchange gifts, and decorate their homes with beautiful lamps, bells and flowers. The festival symbolises the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance." Many regard Diwali as a new beginning, or the start of a new year. It is celebrated by millions of people across the globe.

Just today, the northern Indian city of Ayodhya has made it into the Guinness World Records when more than 300,000 diya oil lamps were simultaneously lit, and giant puppets portraying the battle between Hanuman the monkey god and the demon king Ravana were displayed in Leicester, UK.

Let the party begin - in the company of the gorgeous Shahid Kapoor and a few (ahem) thousand chums...

I'm exhausted now.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Any excuse, really... feature Conchita Wurst (again)...

It's her birthday today - happy 30th, Conchita!!

I will never tire of that song...

...but how about something rather different? A diva-stravaganza!


Monday, 5 November 2018

A Monday sing-song

Ho hum. Time to get up for work. Again...

To assist with the slow process, on this Tacky Music Monday it is to today's birthday boy René Froger (the - ahem - "less attractive one" of these three "beauties") and his chums Gerard Joling and Gordon we turn for a bit of a pick-me-up.

And what a fluorescent pink, sequinned, gloriously crowd-pleasing pick-me-up it is, too - take it away, De Toppers!

Our "house band" here at Dolores Delargo Towers.

Gelukkige verjaardag, René Froger (5th November 1960)!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Might be over now, but I feel it still

Two very happy fuchsias - Viva Ireland (foreground) and Bella Lydia .

Remarkably, the weather has again surprised us on a weekend. Just as everything was feeling gloomy and dank (which is customary, as Bonfire Night nears) with cuttingly chilly winds and a distinctly wintry air, so today the wind dropped, and it was almost balmy in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers. [Would ya believe, I actually found greenfly massed on the stems of some of our plants? In November!]

Methinks I should share some recent hits of a jolly nature that have caught my ear, to suit the mood...


Saturday, 3 November 2018

Don't be surprised by the way that I am

Heavens. "National treasure", triumph of art over nature, and our Patron Saint of Boom-Bang-A-Bang Lulu turns seventy years old today!

In her six-decade career the former Miss Lawrie has turned her hand to just about everything, from pop to blues-rock, from disco to musical theatre, comedy and mainstream drama, Hollywood movies to Ab Fab - and remains one of the most beloved and familiar faces here in the UK. Even though she's reached three-score-years-and-ten, the lady shows no signs of stopping - earlier this year she did a sixteen-week stint as the lead in the West End hit production of 42nd Street, and currently she's back on the road in (another) massive tour, taking in venues in France, Tokyo, New Orleans and Edinburgh. She is truly inexhaustible...

Facts about Lulu:
  • She was only fifteen when she released her version of the Isley Brothers' Shout, which became a mega hit here in the UK; it remains her most-lauded song, and indeed her "theme tune".
  • Despite being the biggest single of 1967 in the United States, selling well in excess of 1,000,000 copies, and the song that made her internationally successful To Sir With Love was actually released in the UK as the B-side of Let's Pretend and only reached number 11 in our charts.
  • She became a staple on prime-time telly when she landed her own BBC One TV series in 1968, which ran until 1975, and made numerous guest appearances on shows hosted by others, such as Morecambe & Wise, Dick Emery, Les Dawson and Bruce Forsyth.
  • Her song I Don't Wanna Fight became a worldwide smash for Tina Turner.
  • Not only was Lulu married for four years to Maurice Gibb of the BeeGees, but she also apparently had affairs with Davy Jones of the Monkees, and with David Bowie.
  • She won Eurovision, sang a Bond theme song, was one of only two performers (Cliff Richard being the other) to have sung on Top of the Pops in each of its five decades, appeared in an Adam & the Ants video and in an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, and has performed alongside a variety of artists including Take That, Chaka Khan, Marianne Faithfull, Elton John, Jools Holland, Bobby Womack, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones and French & Saunders!

I have featured the lovely Lulu many times here - not least a cornucopia of her hits on her 60th! By way of a tiny tribute on her 70th, here are a couple of her less well-aired numbers. First up is a rare gem that I went crazy over a few years back:

...and here she is again, giving the likes of Lisa Stansfield, Rick Astley and their ilk a run for their money back in 1993:

Don't be surprised by the way that I am
By the way that I feel and I act
There's too many rules, I really can't choose
I can't let those chains hold me back

I've never known what it's like on my own
But I'm takin' a chance anyway
It may not be right like some moves in the night
But I've got to do it my way

I want my independence
I want my freedom right now
I want my independence (independence)
I want my freedom right now

Many happy returns, Lulu Kennedy-Cairns OBE (born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie, 3rd November 1948)!

Friday, 2 November 2018

I can put that smile back on your face

Being the closest weekend to Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes Night), the skies on my journey home and all around Dolores Delargo Towers are filled with all kind of pyrotechnics - and as we are only just up the road from the fabled Alexandra Palace ("Ally Pally"), which hosts two consecutive nights of them, we hope to see a few more...

However, regardless of what happens in the sky above, we're still planning to get ourselves into a party mood here on the ground, so let's get today's birthday girl Miss Maxine Nightingale (here stood in the middle of some weird papier-mâché-and-tinsel approximation of "the sea", for some reason that never becomes apparent) to start us off in an appropriate fashion, with her biggest (and just about her only) hit - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Ooh, and it's alright and it's coming along
We gotta get right back to where we started from
Love is good, love can be strong
We gotta get right back to where started from
A ha

Do you remember that day (that sunny day)
When you first came my way
I said no one could take your place
And if you get hurt (if you get hurt)
By the little things I say
I can put that smile back on your face

Ooh, and it's alright and it's coming along
We gotta get right back to where we started from
Love is good, love can be strong
We gotta get right back to where started from
A ha

A love like ours (a love like ours)
Can never fade away
You know it's only just begun
You give me your lo-hove (give me your love)
I just can't stay away (no,no)
You know you are the oh oh only one

Ooh, and it's alright and it's coming along
We gotta get right back to where we started from
Love is good, love can be strong
We gotta get right back to where started from
A ha

Many happy returns, Maxine Nightingale (born 2nd November 1952)

Have a great weekend, dear reader...

Thursday, 1 November 2018

And there's no turning back

Timeslip moment again...

We've been jettisoned by the Jupiter II two whole decades in the past, smack bang into the world of 1998: the year of Monica Lewinsky, Titanic sweeping the board at the Oscars, the Good Friday Agreement, Dana International, the Kosovo War, Mohamed Al Fayed, the Winter Olympics in Nagano, the "Free Deirdre Rachid" storyline in Coronation Street, civil wars in Congo and Guinea-Bissau, and the Omagh bombing; the year that popstrel Shawn Mendes, the Eurozone, Google Inc. and the two-pound coin were born; and Frank Sinatra, Tammy Wynette, Frank Muir, Shari Lewis, Linda McCartney, gay footballer Justin Fashanu (suicide), Sonny Bono, Roddy McDowall, Sir Lew Grade, Dermot Morgan (Father Ted) and Alice Faye all died.

In the news in October 1998?: the horrific homophobic murder of Matthew Shepard, the arrest of Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet in London, the second-deadliest Atlantic hurricane on record Hurricane Mitch (which killed 11,000 people in Central America), the resignation of Secretary of State for Wales Ron Davies (having been "caught out" cruising on Clapham Common, where he claimed to have been mugged), and the launch of the crime agency Europol; and we waved a sad goodbye to the archetypal TV Miss Marple Joan Hickson. In our cinemas: Saving Private Ryan; There's Something About Mary; Mulan. On telly: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Delia's How to Cook, The Royle Family and David Attenborough's Life of Birds.

And in our charts this week twenty years ago? The Top 5 was entirely made up of new entries [something that didn't happen regularly way back when charts were actually measured by sales rather than the number of plays on YouTube], including George Michael's Outside, and numbers by U2, Culture Club and Alanis Morissette. Also present and correct in the upper echelons were last week's chart-topper Stardust (Gym'n'Tonic), Aerosmith, Kele le Roc, 911, Billie Piper and Beautiful South. However, crashing straight to #1 (where she - quite rightly - stayed for eight weeks in total!) was our Patron Saint of Bob-Mackie-Fabulousness - Cher [with the song that made her a superstar all over again]!!!

No matter how hard I try
You keep pushing me aside
And I can't break through
There's no talking to you

It's so sad that you're leaving
It takes time to believe it
But after all is said and done
You're gonna be the lonely one

Do you believe in life after love?
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough

What am I supposed to do?
Sit around and wait for you?
Well I can't do that
And there's no turning back

I need time to move on
I need love to feel strong
Cause I've got time to think it through
And maybe I'm too good for you

Do you believe in life after love?
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough

Well I know that I'll get through this
'Cause I know that I am strong
I don't need you anymore
I don't need you anymore
I don't need you anymore
No I don't need you anymore

Do you believe in life after love?
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough

Do you believe in life after love?
I can feel something inside me say
I really don't think you're strong enough