Friday 31 December 2010

Find me something a halfwit can learn

As we ebb closer to waving goodbye with mixed emotions to another year, a thought comes to mind...

"There's gotta be something better than this,
There's gotta be something better to do.
And when I find me something better to do,
I'm gonna get up, I'm gonna get out
I'm gonna get up, get out and do it!
There's gotta be some respectable trade,
There's gotta be something easy to learn.
And if I find me something I halfwit can learn,
I'm gonna get up, I'm gonna get out
I'm gonna get up, get out and learn it!"

And here's a particularly camp version by some cute boys from Noo Yawk...

Happy New Year, dear reader!

In my heart it's Spring

Here at Dolores Delargo Towers, as we prepare for our second riotous booze-fest to see 2011 in safely, it may be winter outside, but... Thank Disco It's New Year's Eve!!

Wednesday 29 December 2010

In my imagination, there is no hesitation

The "bit in the middle" between Xmas and New Year continues, and all that is left is... shopping. While we wait for the next round of debauchery tomorrow night, here's a little Kylie (with a twist!) to soothe our furrowed brows. Enjoy!

We love Kylie.

Tuesday 28 December 2010

I'm a Scissor Sister and so are you

Indeed I am!

Blue Angel

One hundred and nine years ago yesterday, Fraulein Marlene Dietrich was born.

There is little I can add to the praise and admiration that millions of people have given this remarkable woman - a lucky escapee from Germany before WWII, she famously spoke out against the Nazis, yet her torch song Lili Marleen was a favourite of soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

Named "the ninth greatest female star of all time" by the American Film Institute, her career was indeed impressive. From The Blue Angel in 1930, through Shanghai Express, The Devil is a Woman, The Scarlet Empress, Destry Rides Again, Witness for the Prosecution to Just a Gigolo, she continually re-invented herself as androgyne, mysterious romantic, vamp and Ruritanian aristocrat. Her years as a concert performer were immensely popular, not least her lauded return to Berlin in 1960, and her Tony-winning Broadway appearances.

Her songs became anthems, including the magnificent Falling in Love Again (her signature tune), The Boys in the Backroom (a gay anthem), and her rendition of the anti-war song Where Have All the Flowers Gone - as well as her camp kitschy collaborations with the likes of Rosemary Clooney and even Noel Coward!

We at Dolores Delargo Towers salute a magnificent style icon! RIP.

Monday 27 December 2010

Let me show you the way to a joy beyond compare

It may be a bank holiday, official Boxing Day, or whatever - but in my world it is forever Tacky Music Monday!

To cheer everyone up in this mad world of sales and sub-zero temperatures, here's another house favourite here at Dolores Delargo Towers, the eternally vivacious Kessler Sisters!

Quando Quando Quando
Tell me when will you be mine
Tell me quando quando quando
We can share a love divine
Please don't make me wait again

When will you say yes to me
Tell me quando quando quando
You mean happiness to me
Oh my lover tell me when

Every moment's a day
Every day seems a lifetime
Let me show you the way
To a joy beyond compare

I can't wait a moment more
Tell me quando quando quando
Say its me that you adore
And then darling tell me when

Every moment's a day
Every day seems a lifetime
Let me show you the way
To a joy beyond compare

I can't wait a moment more
Tell me quando quando quando
Say its me that you adore
And then darling tell me when

Sunday 26 December 2010

I've been to a marvellous party

We had a house full here at Dolores Delargo Towers for the annual "Bah Humbug" (aka Xmas) party. Food was Breton-style, with a buffet AND the most enormous "Kig ha farz" (Brittany's equivalent of the traditional French "pot au feu"), courtesy of housemate Lionel. Crates of booze were stored in the garden (colder than the fridge at the mo), and we made an admirable attempt to demolish the stocks while enjoying my selection of our weird and wonderful music.

And so, dear reader, I felt the need to share just a little soupçon with you...

We had a fabulous time, as ever - next up is the New Year's Eve bash!

Saturday 25 December 2010

Jouyeux Noele

It's that day - Dolores Delargo Towers is stocked with more food than we can lift, more booze than we normally drink in a week, and guests due to arrive for jolly japes and party games. So why not have a little Noele...

If that hasn't ruined your Xmas, I don't know what will - hee hee!

Friday 24 December 2010

Ho ho ho

There is only one song I could bring myself to play at this time of year, really...

Thursday 23 December 2010

This week's Pick of the Pops

Another little sample of recent tracks that have caught my ear...

At last! A song by France's favourite simpering diva Mylene Farmer that I actually like - Oui Mais Non!

It's Xmas - let's unwrap a bit of filth, with Twink by Straight Up!

A touch of class now, with the first single in years from an old favourite - Night People by Human League - it is superb!

And finally, from the sublime to... Korea? Kara - Jumping!


Wednesday 22 December 2010

Fame at last...

Check this out, and spot the "celebrity" star reviewer at around the 1:40 mark...

Read about our visit to see Mr McAlmont Live last month.

"Hmm! Fancy clothes, fancy language and everything!"

It's that dull bit in the run-up to Xmas when there's nothing happening at work, you've fought your way through the snow to get to the shops yet there's still nothing to show for it, and the novelty of hearing Wizzard I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day for the 975th time is making you feel homicidal.

Let's take a little trip to the movies with a Tired Old Queen to take our minds off it...

Tuesday 21 December 2010

A triumph of acting talent

After a VERY late night at our friend Sally's pub last night, it is as much as I can do to open my emails let alone think...

So to cheer up this hungover slushy shopping(!) day, here's a little Am-Dram for you... Many thanks to the Lovely John-John for this one!


Monday 20 December 2010

It's all pants, I tell ya

"If Ke$ha cloned herself and formed a girlband that spent all day listening to Daphne & Celeste's stunning back catalogue of hits for inspiration, I'm convinced they would sound something like this."

This is how the lovely Mike at Pop Trash Addicts described this awesome twosome from Canada. Of course, on this wintry Tacky Music Monday, I couldn't resist sharing this - ahem - stunning piece of art by KaraMel with you, dear reader... Enjoy!

Sunday 19 December 2010

Whatever happened to Paul Burnett?

The Xmas chart has been announced for 2010, and once more I find a load of non-entities I have never heard of (or worse, never want to hear again in my life - bloody Rihanna or Black-Eyed Peas, for example) occupy the top slots. Even the Take That song is dull. And where is Kylie?

As you may already know, dear reader, 1981 was a cherished year in my developing adulthood. This was the year I left school, took up smoking and New Romanticism (in no particular order), and fell in love with Brideshead Revisited, Princess Diana and Adam Ant - and (in my memory at least) this was one of the best for music, ever!

Inevitably however, when you come to take a closer look (at the charts; the records that actually sold any kind of quantity) the picture is perhaps not quite so clear-cut. For every Special AKA, there was a Nolans. Kate Bush was big news, but so was Aneka's Japanese Boy. Spandau Ballet, Visage and Ultravox all arrived with a bang - but this was also Shakin' Stevens' best year. Soft Cell broke new ground with Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, yet Phil Collins and ELO out-sold them in the album charts by a huge margin. A truly eclectic mixture of styles flooded the market - from Ska to Heavy Metal to Rock-a-billy to Stars on 45!

Needless to say, the charts were our Gods. I listened avidly to Paul Burnett on Radio 1 every Tuesday lunchtime (when the Top 40 used to be announced), marking every hit into a notebook, and even grading them "good", "excellent" or "unbearable" - it was an obsession. I bought every single in the "excellent" category (and many of the "good" ones too). So I now have boxes of 7-inch vinyl, all mainly acquired in this era.

Of particular interest to the chart-o-phile was the Xmas chart. Because they were not compiled over the holidays (and whatever was in the higher echelons of the chart would rule the airwaves for the whole of that period) it was vital that at least some favourites just HAD to be in there!

So let us wallow in the nostalgia of this very week in 1981, as the Xmas countdown has been announced...

In a December chart that included Soft Cell's Bedsitter, Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses, My Own Way by Duran Duran, I Could Be Lucky by Altered Images, Get Down On It by Kool and the Gang and the magnificent Wild is the Wind by David Bowie, there had to be some winners and losers I suppose. Inevitably there is some shit by Cliff Richard, and a completely forgotten couple of numbers by Godley and Creme and Status Quo, but nevertheless quite a few enduring favourites do appear. Enjoy!

1 Don't You Want Me - HUMAN LEAGUE

2 Daddy's Home - CLIFF RICHARD [I simply cannot bring myself to post this one, sorry any Cliff fans out there.]

3 One of Us - ABBA


5 The Land of Make Believe - BUCKS FIZZ

6 It Must Be Love - MADNESS

7 Wedding Bells - GODLEY AND CREME

8 Rock 'n' Roll - STATUS QUO

9 Mirror Mirror (Mon Amour) - DOLLAR

10 I'll Find My Way Home - JON AND VANGELIS

Ah, memories...

Tap your festive season troubles away

It must be something to do with the weather - for, following yesterday's post about the lovely Ann Miller, here's another little tap-dancing delight to take our minds off the Bah Humbug season, the snow, the never-ending "ironic" airplay given over to the likes of Slade, Wizzard and Mariah-fucking-Carey, the nightmare of queuing in shops and the children's choirs...

Here's the magnificent Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire (with a difference)!

Saturday 18 December 2010

Invincible Ann!

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. Albert Camus

Outside it is snowing, there is chaos in the streets, mad people are shopping for a siege, and I am not going anywhere.

Here at Dolores Delargo Towers, we are channelling Ann Miller... And that's a much better place to be!

Friday 17 December 2010

Let's Fly!

"All the ills of mankind, all the tragic misfortunes that fill the history books, all the political blunders, all the failures of the great leaders have arisen merely from a lack of skill at dancing." - Moliere

It's the last weekend before Xmas - and it's going to be a cold one. Let's cheer ourselves up with one of my favourites of the cheesy gold-jumpsuitted 1970s, the lovely Silver Convention - don't try this at home, folks...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Thursday 16 December 2010

A little something to make me sweeter...

We have our office Xmas party today. Could be good. Could be excruciating. We'll see. I had to choose the venue otherwise we'd all have ended up in some dreadful chain bar in Islington's Upper Street, no doubt, so at least we are going to a pub with some character ("The Cittie of Yorke" near Chancery Lane).

Anyhow, I digress... To get us in the party spirit, Erasure's given the classic Respect a bit of a make-over, and re-released it as a fundraiser for two gay-supporting charities - the American Hetrick-Martin Institute which runs the Harvey Milk High School in New York, and Cyndi Lauper's True Colours Fund. Enjoy!

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Come to the Light! The Invisible Light...

It's here! Premiered on Monday, this is the spectacular new video for the Scissor Sisters' forthcoming single Invisible Light.

You may need a stiff drink after this...

Scissor Sisters 'Invisible Light' from CANADA on Vimeo.

Lament? Not likely!

Once again, traversing the long-forgotten "East Wing" of Dolores Delargo Towers, I have dusted off some absolutely gorgeous treasures. I originally posted this one on MySpace in summer 2008.

This is simply breath-taking, and provides me with some inspiration for next year's Gay Pride outfit. Enjoy a bit of culture...

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Byzantine scandal, human glitterballs and teeth-stealing mice!

We had a great evening's entertainment last night (once again), as Paul Burston decked his balls with boughs of holly and presented Polari at Christmas!

Opening the festivities, cuddly Andrew Kay read an amusing extract from his book Pretty Boys All In A Row, set in the hedonistic pre-AIDS world of 1981 Ibiza. Fabulous and decadent, we do get a sense, however, that somehow all is not necessarily right with the party world of Philip and Terry..

But Mr Kay's decadent tale, no matter how divine, is a mere whimsy in comparison to the real treat - none other than the legendary Molly Parkin!! Miss Parkin is one of those unique and immediately recognisable figures about whom the epithet "Swinging Sixties" could have been (and in all honesty probably was) written.

She shagged James Robinson Justice, John Mortimer and that other divine hedonist George Melly (among many others), and, not content with just doing it, she wrote about it too. Several volumes of erotica, indeed. All that in between being one of the great movers and shakers in the fashion industry, a journalist and a model, a staple of the gossip and society columns, and hat-wearer extraordinaire!

We were thrilled to bits to see her, and loved her reading from her memoir Welcome to Mollywood - an amusing extract all about the time her false teeth were stolen by mice! A once in a lifetime treat, indeed, and a lovely lady...

Entertainment of a musical variety - and no less decadent than Miss Parkin - was provided by the fantabulosa walking art-form that is Marcus Reeves. Performing a few of his brilliant and thought-provoking numbers, including some from his Three Zero show (and forthcoming album), he was resplendent in sparkling maquillage and smart suit, like a human glitter-ball crossed with Michael Bublé! We love Marcus - the multi-talented writer behind the wonderful Postcards from God - The Sister Wendy Musical - and hope to see and hear much more of him. I haven't been to see his shows at the Vauxhall Tavern yet, but one day...

After the break it was the turn of the (very funny) Niven Govinden, who read a passage from one of his characteristic stories about friendship, love, and loyalty, before handing the baton to another Polari favourite - Miss Stella Duffy!

Stella is a witty and entertaining writer and reader - I loved her Room of Lost Things - and she loves using the word "cunt". A lot. Last night she entertained us with some passages from her new book, Theodora - Actress, Empress, Whore based on the life of the scandalous Byzantine Empress. It sounds heavy going, but of course in Stella's hands it certainly is not. Debauched, maybe. Decadent, certainly. But never dull. Stella is a brilliant writer, and I would like to get around to this book in due course.

Then, in a brilliant finale to this wonderful evening, Marcus Reeves returned to the stage in the guise of "The Singing Christmas Tree" - totally unexpected, hilarious and as camp as tits, this was the perfect send-off for our favourite "peerless literary salon" for another year.

Polari is not returning until February. How will I cope?!

Monday 13 December 2010

Down Mexico way...

Ah, the discoveries I make when trawling the delights of the interwebs!

On this Tacky Music Monday, here's a real treat to brighten the start of another week of work-type drudgery - it has it all! Betty Grable, cha-cha music, dancing boys, and the most remarkable Hollywood-does-Mexico fashions this side of Busby Berkeley... Enjoy!

[Thanks to the lovely Thombeau for this one.]

Sunday 12 December 2010

The Rhythm Method

"The Pope says we should use the rhythm method - but where do you find Edmundo Ros when you need him?!"

I am reminded (by Radio 2 mainly) that I neglected to mention the centenary on Tuesday last week of the magnificent maestro of cha-cha-cha kitsch Edmundo Ros OBE!

Remarkably still alive and well and living in Alicante, Trinidad-born Snr Ros began his estimable career as a pioneer of Rumba music in London during the Second World War. Apparently a favourite of Royals and the masses alike, his inspired Latin American cover versions of popular standards became staple fodder for aficionados of middle-of-the-road music. He has recorded more than 800 albums, selling millions in the process. Despite officially retiring in 1975, his most recent recordings were released in 1994!

Here is just a sample of the sound of Edmundo Ros...

Edmundo Ros on Wikipedia

When legends meet

Today marks a double celebration - the 70th birthday of Miss Dionne Warwick, and the 95th anniversary of the birth of one Francis Albert Sinatra!

There are few words one can succinctly add to the millions of pages already written about either of these demi-gods in the pantheon of music - so let us instead enjoy a classic from each:

And this is rarer than hen's teeth - a duet featuring both great artists! Shame it's such a dull song...

Saturday 11 December 2010

Fish mash

Spurious excuse for a blog #789 in a series...

Thirty-five years ago the so-called "Cod War" with Iceland was raging.

Trawling (geddit?!) through the cornucopia of my old blogs, I came across a real oddity which I think is well overdue for another airing.

What more perfect excuse do I need, but to make an obvious connection between the two?

Friday 10 December 2010

Happy weekend!

As we hurtle towards another weekend, I think we need something to lift our spirits against the backdrop of Arctic weather, student riots and the return of "Cold War" politics. How about this delightful little number from the Soul king himself, Mr Edwin Starr?

Get your boa on, hairspray your flicks 'till they're crispy, grab those glitter stillies, and boogie!! Thank Disco It's Friday!

Edwin Starr

Thursday 9 December 2010

Saint Joan

Happy 60th birthday today to the lovely Joan Armatrading, whose Love and Affection album formed the backdrop to many a smoochy dance or romantic evening at home in the 1970s...

Eschewing the limelight and the glamour of fame, Joanie has consistently stuck to what she knows best - her music.

Rumours of course abound about her domestic arrangements - not least the alleged "relationship" with Blue Peter icon Valerie Singleton. Despite the gossip however, Joan remains reticent to make a stance either way. Suffice to say the lady is a remarkable musician, whoever she chooses (or not) to shag.

Here's my favourite of hers from the 1980s:

And here she is with a more recent recording:

More about Joan Armatrading

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Jerry Herman honoured in style

On Sunday 5th December, the 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honours celebrated, among others the talents and contributions of one of our icons here at Dolores Delargo Towers, none other than composer and lyricist Jerry Herman, the genius behind Hello, Dolly!, La Cage Aux Folles, Mame and Mack and Mabel, among other camp classics.

Speaking of camp - the line-up of stars who turned out (or were wheeled out in some cases!) sounds tremendous!

Our divine mother Angela Lansbury introduced the tribute. Kelsey Grammer (as Zaza) led a chorus of dancing "girls" on We Are What We Are from La Cage.

The triumph of art over nature that is the wonderful Carol Channing then sang Hello, Jerry (Hello, Dolly) with lyrics especially adapted for the occasion.

The sexy Matthew Morrison of Glee (who is apparently not gay - as these pictures prove) performed It's Today from Mame, and two of our favourite showgirls, none other than Christine Baranski and Christine Ebersole, teamed up for Bosom Buddies.

A host of Broadway stars did their turn - Laura Benanti sang the beautiful Time Heals Everything from Mack and Mabel, and returning to Hello Dolly!, Sutton Foster performed Before the Parade Passes By, and Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Bomer duetted on It Only Takes a Moment.

Leading the finale, living legend Chita Rivera sang and danced to I Don't Want to Know (from Dear World) and the tribute concluded with two of Mr Herman's greatest songs, I Am What I Am and The Best of Times.

Now if that isn't a celebration, then I don't know what is!!

The show is not going to be televised in the US until December 28th so there is no footage of this glittering gala available yet - and somehow I doubt it will even get a mention on telly here in the UK. But I'll be looking out for it!

PS Apparently also honoured on the night were Sir Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard and choreographer and director Bill T. Jones.

Kennedy Center Honours 2010


Here it is!

Guys and Gals

It's time again to showcase a few numbers that have recently caught our ears here at Dolores Delargo Towers.

First up, its the new one from house favourite and sexy demi-god of electro, the lovely Tiga - What You Need:

In complete contrast, here's a new trashy diva that no-one's heard of, with her new (very catchy) single and a very gay video indeed! Laydeez'n'gentlemen, give it up for the [cough!] supremely talented Pretty Mess Miss Erika Jayne...

From the ridiculous to the sublime, here's Crystal Castles featuring none other than the "national treasure" of the Goth world, Mr Robert Smith and Not In Love:

And, in recognition of the fact that the late, great Dan Hartman would have been 60 years old today, here's one of his most famous songs. I love this!

As always, enjoy!

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Abba - contagious?

As I am reminded, I committed the heinous crime of missing the 65th birthday of Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida) from Abba last month, so I thought I would make amends with this very sweet cover version of one of the uber-group's best-loved songs... Enjoy!

Monday 6 December 2010

Santa Claus - you're Nicked!

Speaking of saints, today is widely celebrated across Europe as St Nicholas' Day. Unsurprisingly however, many historians and experts in folklore believe that there is no valid evidence to indicate that St. Nicholas ever existed as a human.

In fact, there are quite a few indicators that his life story was simply recycled from those of Pagan gods. Many other ancient gods and goddesses were similarly Christianised in the early centuries of the Church - including myths associated with Ishtar (Easter), Isis (Virgin Mary) and Dionysus (Jesus).

The Sailor
The Nicholas legends seems to have been mainly created out of myths attributed to the Greek God Poseidon, the Roman God Neptune, and the equivalent Teutonic God Hold Nickar.

When the church created the persona of St. Nicholas, they adopted Poseidon's title "the Sailor." They seem to have picked up his last name from Nickar. Various temples of Poseidon became shrines of St. Nicholas, and to this day he is the patron saint of sailors.

The Old Woman
St. Nicholas also adopted some of the qualities of "The Grandmother" or Befana from Italy, herself descended from the Sabine/Roman goddess named Strina. La Vecchia (the Old Woman), or La Strega (the Witch), was said to have filled children's stockings with gifts in a similar fashion to the latter-day St Nicholas. Her celebrations were too raucous for the early church, however, so they had to supplant her.

Her shrine at Bari was converted into a shrine to St. Nicholas, and the Christian church created a fictional life history for their new saint. He was given the name Hagios Nikolaos (otherwise known as St. Nicholas of Myra, in what is now Turkey), but how he was supposed to have transferred allegiance to Bari is unclear.

Saint to Santa
It took many centuries of evolution through different emerging converted Christian nations, each with its own set of myths and legends involving gift-giving at the turn of the year (Saturnalia or Solstice), before Santa Claus (from the Dutch Sinterklaas) came into being, and a thousand cheesy legends were born.

In Germany, St. Nicholas is also known as Klaasbuur, Sunnercla, Burklaas, Bullerklaas, and Rauklas, and in eastern Germany he is also known as "Shaggy Goat", "Ash Man" and "Rider" and is more reflective of earlier Norse pagan influences.

In many countries he is accompanied by a dark-skinned assistant, variously called Knecht Ruprecht, Pere Fouettard, Hoseker or "Black Peter". Presumably this character was later "cleaned-up" to become the progenitor of the elves.

Tales of his achievements, his traditions, and even the day on which he is recognised, change from country to country - until his most popular association with Xmas Day, which mainly evolved thanks to popular Victorian revival of the celebrations, and blended the European stories with the native British "Father Christmas" (who has completely separate origins).

More myths about Santa Claus/St Nicholas:
  • His cheery red and white outfit has nothing to do with Coca-Cola (despite being coincidentally in their own corporate colours), but they did use his image in the early part of the 20th century as a way of off-loading a chilled summer drink in the middle of winter.
  • Nicholas is alleged in Christian legend to have attended the first council of Nicea; however, his name does not appear on lists of attending bishops, nor anywhere else.

Read more about Old St Nick

Saint Agnes Day

As we celebrate today the 110th anniversary of the birth of another of our patron saints, we at Dolores Delargo Towers are reminded of how life used to be - when the visiting princess was Hedy Lamarr and her aunt was Agnes Moorehead...

Miss Agnes Moorehead on IMDB

Lunedi, d'Italia

Another weekend has disappeared into the chilly fog, and the world awakes, dismayed, to a new week in work.

On this Tacky Music Monday, what better to cheer us up than some footage from the Italian version of Top of the Pops, featuring some specky Deirdre Barlow-lookey-likey, with backing singers the marvellous Le Sorelle Marinetti..?

And here are the estimable "laydeez" themselves:

Sunday 5 December 2010

Stylish Sunday

This Sunday I think it is time for a little lesson in style, courtesy of our personal couturier here at Dolores Delargo Towers, M Jean-Paul Gaultier!

Saturday 4 December 2010

The bearable lightness of being

We had a lovely time at the live recording of Friday Night is Music Night -Tribute to the Soaps last night!

This show is Radio 2's longest running programme, and is one of the last bastions of "light orchestral" music left on mainstream radio (now that Radio 3 has got rid of its Light Music Show). Last night was an especially great occasion, as we welcomed none other than Tony Hatch (a master of that particular musical genre, and composer of a myriad of songs for the likes of Petula Clark and Matt Munro) to conduct the BBC Concert Orchestra with arrangements of his great themes for such classic TV series as Emmerdale, Crossroads and Neighbours.

His spot, however, was merely the star turn of the evening's entertainment. The whole two hour show was dedicated to the creators of this gentle art, such as Eric Coates (who composed music for Mrs Dale's Diary, as well his more famous Desert Island Discs theme and Dambusters' March), Arthur Wood (who wrote the tune Barwick Green, better known as the theme from The Archers), and Robert Farnon (famous for writing the themes to The Prisoner and Colditz, as well as his medley of British TV themes they played last night, Sounds Familiar). We also had the themes from Doctors Kildare and Finlay, plus (of course) Eastenders.

Not wanting to seem too parochially British, the orchestra also tacked versions of the themes from Dallas and Dynasty, but it was the UK that provided the majority of the inspiration. We had songs performed by stars of British soaps, Richard Shelton (aka murderous Dr Forsythe in Emmerdale) and Wendi Peters (better known as "Cilla Battersby" from Corrie).

In a nod to the 50th anniversary of our nation's longest-running and possibly best-loved soap Coronation Street, we were impressed by a selection of songs from the new Corrie musical Rogues, Angels, Heroes & Fools. The talented young cast performed some pithy little numbers based upon some of the Street's most famous scenes, including Ena Sharples' first appearance in episode 1 back in 1960, through the troubles of Elsie Tanner's family and Annie Walker's reign in The Rovers, to (the hilarious) Stan and Hilda Ogden's second honeymoon, and up-to-date with Elsie singing from the grave to Becky McDonald.

But best of all was when "Curly Watts" (none other than Kevin Kennedy in person) came on to sing a very poignant little number about the time he bought a star and named it in honour of his bride-to-be Raquel - just before she told him she was not going to marry him after all... Sad, but brilliantly done!

Buy the album

In all, a superb evening of entertainment, and a great pick-me-up - all for free! As host Ken Bruce said, "It comes with the licence fee!"

We loved it!

Friday Night is Music Night

Just visit the BBC Shows website and choose the show you'd like to see. If seats are available, that's it, you're in! Simple.

Friday 3 December 2010

Hatch and glitter

It's the weekend - and it's going to be a bloody cold one!

Never mind the weather, there are a couple of good reasons to be cheerful today.

We've got free tickets to a live recording of Radio 2's Friday Night is Music Night - Tribute to the Soaps tonight (featuring none other than Tony Hatch, composer of the themes for Crossroads, Neighbours, Emmerdale and Sons and Daughters) to look forward to, and I have dug out some fantabulosa cheesy footage of none other than tinfoil queen Amii Stewart (dancing with giant Italians by the looks of it)...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Jealousy, indeed...

Thursday 2 December 2010

"There's something wrong with the boy", my father decided. "He has too much imagination."

Ronald Searle's "Back to Skool"
Jubilee bags
The John Bull printing kit
"Eat Me" dates
Jimmy Clitheroe
Sea Monkeys
Professor Branestawm
Carry On Films
Chemistry sets

I braved the snow flurries to go to the second meeting of Islington's new LGBT reading group tonight. Despite there being only three of us there, we had a very interesting and animated discussion about our first book of the month - Paperboy by Christopher Fowler.

Coincidentally also the happy winner of the Green Carnation Prize for lesbian and gay literature that launched earlier this year, I found this a joyful read, full of pathos and humour, rocket ships, libraries, family secrets, Lois Lane comics, windswept car journeys to the seaside, Hammer films and general madness! All told from the perspective of the (much) younger Christopher, it has a quirkiness that is immediately familiar to anyone who has grown up out of austere provincial beginnings.

I may not have been a child of the Fifties, but my 60s upbringing in Wales was not far off what Mr Fowler so eloquently describes. The Dad whose DIY never quite gets finished, the crazy bohemian art teacher, the crazy dog, the frustrated intellectual Mum (Kath), Mum's friend Maureen, the sneaking into X-rated films, the absurd social conventions, the need to make your own entertainment, the lot!

Christopher, continually compiling lists (of words he has discovered, of book titles, of things in general) comes across as a bit of an eccentric, given his penchant for reading and writing in an otherwise book-free home.
"Where's Christopher?" Dad asked. "Under the table reading War and Peace to the tortoise," Kath replied.
However his observations and general joie de vivre, despite every opportunity for life to get him down, are what makes Christopher's story so engrossing. Not quite fiction, not quite autobiography, but an honest and absorbing narrative on life, Paperboy fully deserves this prize - and in general our group agreed.

Some felt slightly sorry for the beleaguered protagonists, all of them apparently unhappy with their lot, but in my opinion childhood (if carefully examined) is often like that. Not all sunshine and Santa Claus, but an awful lot of whispering behind hands, simmering resentments and aching boredom as well...

In contrast, I found parts of this book laugh-out-loud funny (much to the consternation of fellow passengers on my bus no doubt) - not least the bitchy interaction between grandmother Mrs Fowler and Kath, Dad (Bill) with his permanently dismantled motorbikes, the anarchy that was Saturday morning children's cinema clubs and the eternally doomed attempts at juvenile romance by our hero Christopher (another of his lists is "Books vs Girls"). At times, it had a distinct tone and feel of the TV series Beautiful People that I so adored a few years back.

Asked in a recent interview why he decided not to explicitly mention his obviously burgeoning homosexuality in the book, Mr Fowler said:
It was a carefully considered decision for several reasons. First, I’ve read too many coming out stories and they don’t have that much variance. Second, my sexuality was accepted by my family and considered less important than, say, finding work and feeding us, so it was never an issue. Third, I wanted to go to an earlier point of our collective childhood, to understand the roots of ‘being different’, which is clearly threaded through every chapter.
However he has planned a sequel, so there is obviously more scope for exploring the undercurrents that the "discerning" reader may already have worked out. Regardless, Paperboy is a bloody good read, and I highly recommend it!

Paperboy by Christopher Fowler is available from Foyles

So very, very good

Traversing down the dustier corners of Dolores Delargo Towers, I was reminded here, here and, finally, here of the fondness with which we all held a certain "national treasure" of drag, Mr Danny LaRue!

So imagine my joy to discover a rare video of this Danny classic number! Enjoy:

Wednesday 1 December 2010

"And you keep it just for fun, for a laugh, ha ha ha"

If anyone cared enough to try and unravel the lyrics of Peter Sarstedt's haunting classic Where Do You Go To My Lovely? .... they might hit upon a reference to "Zizi Jeanmaire":

You talk like Marlene Dietrich
And you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire
Your clothes are all made by Balmain
And there's diamonds and pearls in your hair

Who? I hear you ask.

Well, now, for your delectation - here is the lady herself. Good job she's not allergic to feathers!

Zizi Jeanmaire on Wikipedia