Saturday, 25 January 2020

Gong hei fat choy, Och aye!



By a peculiar chance of lunar alignment (or something), today is not only the Chinese New Year celebration [admittedly perhaps less so in quarantined parts of China, but I digress]...


... and this year, it's The Year Of The Rat...


...it also happens to be Burns Night, when we are encouraged to celebrate everything Scottish-y, like whisky, haggis, and men in kilts...


Click to embiggen


Tying things up neatly [well, almost - it's about a mouse, not a rat, but close enough], here's a reading from a much-loved work by Rabbie himself:


The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!


[Read the poem in full here]

Haggis stir-fry, anyone?

Friday, 24 January 2020

We all here adore you



Hoorah! Pay day. Friday. Seven days tomorrow till we jet off to Spain!

The countdown has begun, and so I thought I'd cheapen the party planning this weekend right down to the "Lambrini-level" - with a number that would fit in brilliantly in a lot of bars on the Costa del Sol.

Admittedly, the long-forgotten [if one ever knew them at all] girl-group A La Carte were about as Spanish as I am [their founding line-up was three Scottish girls, and they were produced in, and mainly popular in, Germany] but this number just about fits the bill...


I fully expect you all to be rehearsing the splendid words, and moves, to this - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good one, dear reader.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Mud, mud, glorious mud; nothing quite like it for cooling the blood





Hils, Crog, Madam Arcati and I paid another visit to one of our fave venues, the Art Deco glory that is Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zedel last night - this time to see a tribute to one of the most popular entertainment partnerships of the 1950s and 60s, Messrs Flanders and Swann!

For the uninitiated (and that's presumably everyone on the windward side of the pond, although the gents did make quite an impression on Broadway in their day), Michael Flanders and Donald Swann were accomplished "revue" players; a cabaret genre that evolved out of a combination of operetta, Music Hall and satire, was embraced by a wealth of artists such as Noel Coward, Tom Lehrer, Joyce Grenfell and Hermione Gingold, and itself spawned variations on the theme, including Burlesque, Follies and "variety entertainment". They wrote and composed numerous sketches and songs, both for their own shows and for others, and in the UK - a nation suffering post-War austerity and deprivation - became "national treasures". Their compilation LPs At the Drop of a Hat, At the Drop of Another Hat and The Bestiary of Flanders & Swann were even produced by the legendary George Martin.



Being fanatics for preserving the legacy of two such great men, our performers last night Tim FitzHigham and Duncan Walsh Atkins were definitely not there to do "impersonations" of the duo, but rather to lovingly recreate the wit, the interplay, the tone, the joie de vivre, the timing and the sheer professionalism that was the secret to Flanders & Swann's success, with a selection of their greatest numbers including In the Bath, The Gasman Cometh, Ill Wind (a song about a stolen French Horn, set to Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 4 in E flat major), Misalliance (aka "The Honeysuckle and the Bindweed"), A Transport of Delight ("The Omnibus")...

...and these two brilliant sing-a-long numbers that I fondly remember from my childhood:



If there's one song, however, that could provide both an insight into creative genius and a sign of the times in which they were at the peak of their success, it's this. Who else but they would have dreamt of writing a sad musical lament for all the railway lines and stations that were cut as part of the general "belt-tightening", money-saving, "modernisation" programme latterly known as "The Beeching Axe" (after Dr Beeching of British Railways who presented the report)? Messrs FitzHigham and Atkins did this one perfectly...


Miller's Dale for Tideswell
Kirby Muxloe
Mow Cop and Scholar Green

No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortehoe
On the slow train from Midsomer Norton and Mumby Road
No churns, no porter, no cat on a seat
At Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester-le-Street
We won't be meeting again
On the Slow Train

I'll travel no more from Littleton Badsey to Openshaw
At Long Stanton I'll stand well clear of the doors no more
No whitewashed pebbles, no Up and no Down
From Formby Four Crosses to Dunstable Town
I won't be going again
On the Slow Train

On the Main Line and the Goods Siding
The grass grows high
At Dog Dyke, Tumby Woodside
And Trouble House Halt

The Sleepers sleep at Audlem and Ambergate
No passenger waits on Chittening platform or Cheslyn Hay
No one departs, no one arrives
From Selby to Goole, from St Erth to St Ives
They've all passed out of our lives
On the Slow Train, on the Slow Train

Cockermouth for Buttermere ... on the Slow Train
Armley Moor Arram
Pye Hill and Somercotes ... on the Slow Train
Windmill End


Beautiful.

It was a splendid evening's entertainment. Well done, old chaps!

And here they are...


Read more about Mr FitzHigham and Mr Atkins, as well as Mr Flanders and Mr Swann, at their Flanders & Swann: A Drop of a Hippopotamus

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Now piss orf!






RIP, Terence Graham Parry Jones. A genius.

Totty of the Day







The gorgeous Michael Hutchence would have been 60 years old today! Had he lived, one can only wonder how his career might have progressed.

We missed the documentary about his life Mystify, which was shown on BBC 2 over the Festering Season - so we'll just have to make do with drooling over him in the video for his greatest hit with INXS instead:


All you got is this moment
Twenty-first century's yesterday
You can care all you want
Everybody does yeah that's okay

So slide over here
And give me a moment
Your moves are so raw
I've got to let you know
I've got to let you know
You're one of my kind

I need you tonight
'Cause I'm not sleeping
There's something about you girl
That makes me sweat

How do you feel
I'm lonely
What do you think
Can't think at all
Whatcha gonna do
Gonna live my life

So slide over here
And give me a moment
Your moves are so raw
I've got to let you know
I've got to let you know
You're one of my kind


I'd have slid over there and given him more than a moment...

Michael Kelland John Hutchence (22nd January 1960 – 22nd November 1997)

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Reassurance


Producers of the James Bond franchise have confirmed that there will never be a ginger Bond for as long as they have any say in the matter.

After clarifying that there will never be a female Bond the statement on gingers was rushed out to reassure fans left wondering by the omission.

Bond enthusiasts have traditionally strong opinions about the canonical integrity of the totally made-up spy.

To fans, 007 may be able to survive falling from a helicopter into a glass factory, but it would be unrealistic if he was from France – or had ginger hair.

A source said: “In this world of PC gone mad, Bond is one constant. He enables his most devoted fans to feel like some things will be there forever, and that they will never get old or get cancer and die.

“So, no girls and no gingers, ever. And definitely no ginger girls. Adele doing the theme song is as close as we’re ever going to get.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Pick the flower now before the chance is past


Another option for beach-wear for our forthcoming trip to Spain - from Giulietta degli spiriti

We have a centenary to celebrate today, dear reader - that of possibly the most extravagantly camp film director of them all, Signor Federico Fellini!

As I said a decade ago on this very blog:
...Federico Fellini was indeed one of the most influential film directors in European movie history. A pioneer of the so-called "neo-realist" style, he collaborated with Ingrid Bergman's hubbie Roberto Rossellini, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren and her husband Carlo Ponti, Anna Magnani, Anita Ekberg and even Goldie Hawn. His film Le Notti di Cabiria was later adapted by Neil Simon, Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields as the musical Sweet Charity.
Fellini's legacy is vast and wide-ranging - everyone from Tim Burton to Terry Gilliam, David Lynch [with whom he shares a birthday] to Peter Greenaway, Rainer Werner Fassbinder to Baz Luhrmann owes him a huge debt - but there are one or two tributes that, for me, are the finest summations of a life's creativity...



...and of course, as it is Tacky Music Monday, my favourite musical tribute to the man's work:




Federico Fellini (20th January 1920 – 31st October 1993)

An interesting review of some of the great man's most stylish films