Saturday 30 April 2011

Who'd have thought..?

... we could have so much fun in an upside-down purple cow?

The one, the only, Music Hall Singer and Hip Hop Artist Superstar Miss Ida Barr brilliantly held the (slightly diminished by wedding fever) audience in stitches, as she conducted an afternoon of bingo (with prizes by Oxfam and the local pound shop!) in her own inimitable fashion...

We were treated to mash-ups between Eminem and The Boy I Love Is Up In The Gallery and Rihanna's Only Girl In The World with (what else?) If You Were The Only Girl In The World (And I Were The Only Boy), plus of course the "artificial hip-hop" Hokey Cokey and by-now-compulsory conga line!

We were exhausted - such larks. And all that, plus a fly-past!

Fantabulosa, dears.

Friday 29 April 2011


That dress:

The vows:

The totty!

Kate's brother, James Middleton

Royal occasion?

On this day of Royal Wedding frenzy, we are off to the Udderbelly on the South Bank to play "Royal Flush Bingo" with the fantabulosa Ida Barr!

But to mark this special Royal day I thought it appropriate to play a long-forgotten number by that camp French disco dolly Patrick Hernandez - what else but Disco Queen?

Thank Disco It's Friday!


Thursday 28 April 2011

New music matters

Time once again for a slab of newer music that has caught my ear of late...

Opening the melée is a rather cute singer in a band called One Eskimo, with a cover of an obscure song - He Called Me Baby by Candi Staton. Thanks to Mr Peenee for this one:

Aussie alternative duo Parralox released their own little tribute to Elisabeth Sladen (Sara Jane), a fine little electro number called Companion:

A man who appears to be Australia's answer to Eddy Huntington, Mr Peter Wilson is obviously an avid Stock Aitken and Waterman aficionado - as this teaser for his upcoming new single Stereo rather shows! (Thanks to the lovely Mike at Pop Trash Addicts once more for the introduction...)

Swedish band The Sound of Arrows return with a new release this week - Nova. Here's the fab DJ Tiesto remix, together with a remarkably homoerotic video. Enjoy!

And finally, a little wake-up call from a girl group called Oh My! - aptly described by Gill Mills on New Music Matters as "Lily in platforms with Daphne & Celeste as her bouncers". Enjoy this fab remix of their choon Run This Town:


Every morning brings a new day

It is horrid, getting old. All these people from my younger days are dropping like flies - Elisabeth Sladen, Poly Styrene, Michael Sarrazin...

Now Phoebe Snow. RIP.

More on the BBC

Thought for the Day...

... just what is going on here?

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Scrub away, scrub away, the SR way

RIP Miss Poly Styrene...

Tribute to Poly Styrene on the BBC

Roll out the Barrel

Can it really be 40 years since this track topped the charts?!

Looking at the outfits they're wearing - and those trousers!! - actually, yes it can. Enjoy!!

Tuesday 26 April 2011

That's where she takes me

Happy birthday today to the man who almost single-handedly invented all the musical genres we adore today!

Giorgio Moroder (for it is he) was a maestro of the early synthesiser, transforming its use to become a dance instrument. In doing so, he created the sound that launched a million discos (he produced Love to Love You Baby and I Feel Love for Donna Summer), laid the foundations for the 80s Futurist/New Romantic boom, was the inspiration for the European successors to Disco - Hi-NRG and Italo - and thus provided the backdrop for Stock Aitken and Waterman AND House Music, two styles of pop that have endured through many incarnations to the present day! Whew...

And here is where Signor Moroder began:

Giorgio Moroder official website

Monday 25 April 2011

"I don't think that I can take it any more; this crazy war"

Bank Holiday or not, there are some traditions that I cannot change. But this is the first time in ages I have actually had a request for a track to be played on a Tacky Music Monday!

So, just for Alistair, here is the magnificently tacky Rah Band...

"Good evening. This is the intergalactic operator. Can I help you?"
"Yes. I'm trying to reach flight commander P.R. Johnson, on Mars, flight 2-4-7"
"Very well, hold on please [beeping]. You're through!"
"Thank you operator!"

Hiya darlin' ! How are you doing?
Hey baby, were you sleeping?
Oh I'm sorry, but I've been really missing you!

Hi darlin' ! How's the weather?
Say baby, is that cold better now?
Oh I'm sorry, is there someone there with you?

Ooooh...since you went away, there's nothing goin' right!
I just can't sleep alone at night... I'm not ashamed to say
I badly need a friend...or it's the end.

Now, when I look at the cloud's across the moon.
Here in the night I just hope and pray that soon.
Oh baby, you'll hurry home to me.

Hi darlin', the kids say they love you.
Hey baby, is everything fine with you?
Please forgive me, but I'm trying not to cry...

Ooooh...I've had a million different offers on the phone.
But I just stay right here at home.
I don't think that I can take it any more; this crazy war.

Now, when I look at the cloud's across the moon.
Here in the night I just hope and pray that soon.
Oh darling, you'll hurry home to me.

"I'm sorry to interrupt your conversation, but we are
experiencing violent storm conditions in the asteroid belt at this time. We may lose this valuable deep space communication link. Please, be as brief as possible.
Thank you."

Ooooh...since you went away, there's nothing goin' right !
I just can't sleep alone at night... I'm not ashamed to say
I badly need a friend.. or it's...or it's...

"Hello?" "Hello operator?"
" Yes, i've seemed to have lost the connection! Could you try again please?"
-"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid we've lost contact with Mars 2-4-7 at this time."

"Ok. Well thank you very much...
I'll...I'll try again next year..."

Sunday 24 April 2011

The original Catwoman

Yesterday was the centenary (or possibly the 101st anniversary, as there is some dispute over the actual date she was born) of the birth of the charismatic and glamorous French actress Simone Simon.

Evidently well-travelled - she lived in Madagascar, Budapest, Turin, Berlin, Marseilles and Paris at various stages - the exotic young Mme Simon was eventually whisked to Hollywood by none other than Daryl F. Zanuck to make her fortune. Unfortunately he sacked her, having no time for her Gallic temperament...

Nevertheless she went on to star in movies alongside some of the greats of the day, including Janet Gaynor, Loretta Young, Constance Bennett and James Stewart before - after a hiatus back in France - landing the role for which she is probably best remembered, as star of the original 1942 movie Cat People. This was a part she was born to play, with her feline looks and reputation as a seductress (among her alleged conquests were George Gershwin and WW2 spy Dusko Popov).

She never quite recovered from being portrayed as the mysterious and deadly vamp, however, and eventually retired from cinema in the 1970s. She died only six years ago, at the ripe old age of 93!

A divine creature.

New York Times obituary

Saturday 23 April 2011

God bless Hooky Street

RIP John Sullivan, creator of some of the best-loved TV sitcoms in British TV history.

Such as these...

Read the article in The Independent

Hot town

Another fabulous day in Kew Gardens yesterday!

As London continues to sizzle in this magnificent heatwave, here's something appropriate, methinks...

[Reminder to self - must get myself a wide-collar corduroy safari suit!]

Friday 22 April 2011

I'm afraid it has to be...

It is a tradition every year...

Happy Easter!

Never never will I feel discouraged

It may be a Bank Holiday, It may be Good Friday - but there is call to celebrate the end of any week...

The Emotions know this. Thank Disco It's Friday!

Doesn't take much to make me happy
and make me smile
Never never will I feel discouraged
Cause our love's no mystery
Demonstrating love and affection
That you give so openly yeah
I like the way ya make me about you baby
Want the whole wide world to see

Whoa whoa, you got the best of my love
Whoa whoa, you got the best of my love
Whoa whoa, you got the best of my love
Whoa whoa, you've got the best of my love

Goin' in and out of changes
The kind that come around each day
My life has a better meaning
Love has kissed me in a beautiful way
And oh yea (my love, my love)
oh yea (my love, my love)
Oh you got the best of my love

Whoa whoa, you've got the best of my love
Whoa whoa, you've got the best of my love
Whoa whoa, you've got the best of my love

Demonstrating sweet love and affection
That you give so openly yeah
The way I feel about ya baby can't explain it
Want the whole wide world to see
Ohhh but in my heart
You're all I need
You for me and me for you
ohhh, it's growin' every day ooooh

Thursday 21 April 2011

Easter eggs

Opening our celebration of new(er) music that I have stumbled across this week is the magnificent Amanda Lear, who returns to our waiting arms with a brand new single Chinese Walk!

And now onto some cover versions of familiar songs - a concept which has always intrigued me (which is why I am such an avid fan of such twisted-covers specialists as Nouvelle Vague, Señor Coconut, Richard Cheese and the like). First up, courtesy of our friend John-John it's some delightfully weird young lady Maria Minerva tackling Abba's Honey Honey head-on... Quite unusual!

Then there's the new "tribute" album from the Canadian label Paper Bag Records (free to download from their website), celebrating the silver anniversary of Madge's seminal True Blue album (a discovery to which I was alerted by my "sister under the skin" the lovely Henry over at Barbarella's Galaxy - again). It's a sadly somewhat "dated-sounding" collection - there's a band trying to be U2, another slightly reminiscent of Siouxsie, a neo-Mari Wilson, a would-be-Altered Images, and so it goes on. I recall discovering a very similar-sounding covers album called Hybrid Kids (with versions of songs such as Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?, Save Your Kisses For Me and All the Young Dudes on it) way back in 1979!

However, there is one quite decent cover that caught my attention... Young Galaxy's version of Open Your Heart:

Shaking us out of our complacency, the marvellously mad Miss Róisín Murphy is back again with a most shocking video for her latest collaboration with Dutch DJ Mason - Boadicea:

Now breathe...

I think a little more gentle madness is in order after that, so let us celebrate the fact that Thomas Dolby (he of She Blinded Me With Science fame) is back! I don't usually like anything that resembles Country'n'Western (except Dolly Parton, in very small doses) but how can you resist a song called Here Come The Toadlickers with a video featuring drug-addict puppets having sex? I can't...

To conclude, an intriguing little number by an intriguingly-named band, Fenech-Soler (which sounds like it should be a brand of chocolate):

Have a great Oestrus!

Posh frocks, Ab Fab and emotional awareness

This week is turning out to be quite a swanky one - on Monday I was supping wine in Chelsea with Rosemary Ashe, and last night it was the very, very luxurious - daaaahling! - St Stephen's Club in chi-chi St James's!

John-John and I were in our "posh frocks" again for an evening titled "Meet the Writers", an event that Paul Burston blogged about recently and caught my attention. Basically an upmarket book fair, the premise was for authors to promote and sell their books to the (hopefully) slavering - and rich - upper classes. So we decided to lower the tone a bit...

The main attraction that drew us to attend was not just the fact that Paul was there, but the presence of the wonderful and multi-talented Helen Lederer (one of our favourite comediennes here at Dolores Delargo Towers, not least for her appearances in The Young Ones, Naked Video, and of course Absolutely Fabulous).

And what a wonderful woman she is! Immediately on arrival, she greeted us like old friends, explaining that she was a "bit jet-lagged" and needed wine to make her feel better - and throughout the evening managed to secure quite a few glasses for us and for her "new best friend" Paul!

Speaking of drinking...

In her words "the only one here without a book", Miss Lederer was promoting her project Be In The Now, a hilarious spoof on godawful trendy "life coaching" gurus that involves a theatre show, a "self-help manual" (to be published later this year) and a series of online "webisodes" where she demonstrates her skills in "Creative Active Counselling"...
Let’s start with a fast track ‘check list’ of emotional awareness – Tick below if you feel a stir on any, either or some

- A) DO YOU FEEL eerily disconnected while watching ‘University Challenge?’
- B) DO YOU FEEL Shamed after being alone with a black forest gateau?
- C) DO YOU FEEL Status anxiety at a party when everyone except you, is more attractive, intelligent and charismatic (but only if they really are – don’t go down that road gratuitously!)
- D) DO YOU FEEL not a little depressed when you discover a new partner likes Nylon sheets, eels and gristle?

Well done –you see it’s not that hard to zone in is it – listen - I have ticked all of the above.

Why don’t you e mail me YOUR top tips that have helped YOU through difficulties
E.G. Queuing in Iceland (the shop, not the country), being dumped on e bay, or putting on weight.

I mention these as they are the UK’s three most empirically proven stressful life events *

But perhaps there are other things that can make you irrationally naked?
(No animal examples here please)

Get clicking – the cognitive message service is here to respond !!

* taken from research in the Lancet “When vicars attack” article by Dr I P Daly 96

Hilarious - I love it!

Be In The Now website

We had a whale of a time - taking in the atmosphere in the club's beautiful rear garden, with its sweeping staircase overlooking St James' Park, bantering with the upper echelons of society, trying to get as many free glasses of wine as possible - and among the eccentrics and ever-so-slightly swish set that attended, my eye was strangely drawn by one rather cute photographer...

Paul promises to get Helen Lederer along to a future Polari, which will be fantastic (he also promises us Jonathan Harvey in the very near future, but I digress...) - I can see this particular team is going to run and run!

A brilliant night, and one that John-John and I will be talking about for a long time, no doubt...

Wednesday 20 April 2011

They were so busy a-cock-a-doodle-doo-in’

I am off to an event called "Meet the Writers" tonight, featuring (among others) the marvellous Polari MC Paul Burston and none other than house favourite comedienne Miss Helen Lederer - and I am getting excited already!

To suit the mood, here's a little gem of a discovery, courtesy of that maestro of the preternatural, the lovely Thom at Chateau Thombeau.

You will enjoy this...

When I turned 12 Papa said
Little woman better get yourself a wife
'Cause you’re too mean for a man to clean up your life
And if she’s the devil, you know she’ll be your friend.

When I turned 13 I spat in my Papa’s eye
Took off to find my man 'cause I couldn’t find a wife
And I spread-eagled in a lot of towns
I couldn’t find no man to lay me down
They were so busy a-cock-a-doodle-doo-in’
But they still couldn’t nail me down

So I grew up lonesome knowing there’d be no man
Or woman to get me going through this life
'Cause I was hatched out of a witch’s egg
Been doomed to fly high
Like a crane with no legs

I laid down with the devil and his side-kick mankind
But something called lovin’ made me hungry inside
So I went to the lord and I asked him for more
Than what this world could offer
I laid down with him and I had to grin
'Cause he was shyer than a flower

Now thanks to the lord I’ve been set free
My lover is the trade winds that take me out to sea
My life is like nobody else’s
There’s only one of me

'Cause I was hatched out of a witch’s egg
Been doomed to fly high
Like a crane with no legs.


Johnny Tillotson celebrates his 72nd birthday today. Who? I hear you ask?

The squeaky-clean "preppy" Mr Tillotson's greatest (possibly his only) hit was the classic Poetry in Motion way back in 1961. From that high point, his career never really went global...

However, he does has the accolade of appearing in what has been voted one of "the worst movies ever made", The Fat Spy, in which he starred alongside Miss Jayne Mansfield (whose birthday it was yesterday) and Miss Phyllis Diller! A camp classic, methinks.

An attempted parody of teenage beach party films, it has the advantage of also featuring a gamut of skimpily-clad totty, all singing to each-other as a motley crew of characters seek out the Fountain of Youth. Just crying out for a West End stage musical version, in my opinion. Enjoy this clip:

Johnny Tillotson on Wikipedia

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Farewell Sarah Jane

RIP Elisabeth Sladen - aka Sarah Jane, possibly the best companion to Dr Who... [In fact to four Dr Whos - Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, David Tennant and Matt Smith].

Another little piece of my childhood has passed away, and I am very sad.

Article on the BBC

Ustinov and the Big Walking Piano

It would have been Peter Ustinov's 90th birthday last weekend, and on searching for some video footage of him (that isn't Poirot or Topkapi) I stumbled upon this - and felt I just had to share!

Tenuous though it may be, as Mr Ustinov appears only briefly as the presenter of what looks a fab science show (called Omni) from the 1960s or early 1970s...

Read my blog about Mr Ustinov back in 2009, on the fifth anniversary of his death

Oh, Rosie!

"She is a generous and rather camp performer, she has fun on stage and her enjoyment is infectious. Imagine a cross between Joyce Grenfell and Barbara Windsor, a soupçon of Jo Brand and an all pink ensemble and the picture is complete."
What’s On In London

I managed to secure - out of the blue! - tickets for something really special yesterday evening.

Miss Rosemary Ashe is a West End trouper of the first order. Her wealth of theatre roles include "Carlotta" in the original London run of Phantom of the Opera, "Madame Thenardier" in Les Misérables, The Witches of Eastwick (which we went to see in 2001), Mary Poppins, Oliver! and the concert version of Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel (which we went to see at the Royal Festival Hall in 2007).

We saw her most recently as "Lottie O'Grady" in the brilliant revival of JB Priestley's When We Are Married at the Garrick in January this year. [Read my blog about that show.]

Never having been to any Pizza Express cabarets before (their restaurant in Soho and the sadly now closed Pizza on the Park have hosted some fab - mainly jazz - artistes over the years), Russ, Joe, Paul and I weren't sure what to expect from the posh and historic Pheasantry (a venue in that erstwhile chain) in ever-so-swanky Chelsea. Do you have to eat? Is there a dress code? But as it turned out, it was fabulous (in a luxury cruise ship sort of way)...

And so was Miss Ashe!

Appearing as a guest in "The Sondheim Society presents" series, her repertoire needless to say included some of the great man's works, including house fave I Never Do Anything Twice, excerpts from Sweeney and other songs from the Sondheim catalogue - as well as the irreverent I'm Getting Sick of Sondheim. But Miss Ashe is more than just a Sondheimite - a comedienne as well as a trained opera singer, we were treated to fabulous arias (with a twist), jokes ("Did you know that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are getting together to write a new musical based on the life of Victoria Beckham? It's called Superstar? Jesus Christ!"),
Forbidden Broadway piss-takes, and a variety of beautifully rendered show-tunes (from productions as diverse as The Boy Friend, Candide, Gypsy, West Side Story and of course Witches of Eastwick) and lesser-known cabaret numbers including her own Killer Soprano.

The lady is a consummate professional, and has appeared at venues from West End to Broadway, Melbourne to Manchester, and two seasons on gay cruises ("What do you have if there are twenty gay men in a room? A musical. What do you have if there are twenty gay men and five lesbians in a room? A musical, with excellent stage production!"). she kept us enthralled and delighted for the whole of her excellent two-hour set - and Russ enjoyed it as his birthday celebration too! [As did the fabulosa Ann Reid, who was also in the audience.]

A brilliant evening's entertainment from a lovely lady in a lovely venue...

Here's Rosie appearing on one of those very cruises:

An interview with Rosie Ashe

Monday 18 April 2011

Spinning in his grave...

Don't concern yourselves about work, dears - this has to be one of the best Tacky Music Monday pick-me-ups I have encountered in a long time!

Courtesy of the Lovely Mike at Pop Trash Addicts [yet again!], witness one of the latest hits from Belgium, as what appears to be their answer to Anthea Turner murders a beautiful aria by Mozart - in a dance remix, yet!

I need a lie down...

Sunday 17 April 2011

"In the cool of the evening, when everything is getting kind of groovy"

Yesterday was the anniversary of the birth of Dusty Springfield. Here's a sumptuous classic of hers to round off our Sunday...

Dusty Springfield on Wikipedia

An angel's kiss in spring

Just because it has been a beautiful weekend - spent mainly in the gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers - and just because Paul O'Grady played it on his Sunday Radio 2 show, here's an apposite song from Nancy and Lee...


Summer Wine
Strawberries, cherries and an angel's kiss in spring
My summer wine is really made from all these things

I walked in town on silver spurs that jingled to
A song that I had only sang to just a few
She saw my silver spurs and said let's pass some time
And I will give to you summer wine
Ohh-oh-oh summer wine

Strawberries, cherries and an angel's kiss in spring
My summer wine is really made from all these things
Take off your silver spurs and and help me pass the time
And I will give to you summer wine
Ohh-oh-oh summer wine

My eyes grew heavy and my lips they could not speak
I tried to get up but I couldn't find my feet
She reassured me with an unfamiliar line
And then she gave to me more summer wine
Ohh-oh-oh summer wine

Strawberries, cherries and an angel's kiss in spring
My summer wine is really made from all these things
Take off your silver spurs and and help me pass the time
And I will give to you summer wine
Mmm-mm summer wine

When I woke up the sun was shining in my eyes
My silver spurs were gone, my head felt twice its size
She took my silver spurs, a dollar and a dime
And left me cravin' for more summer wine
Ohh-oh-oh summer wine

Strawberries, cherries and an angel's kiss in spring
My summer wine is really made from all these things
Take off your silver spurs and and help me pass the time
And I will give to you summer wine
Mmm-mm summer wine

Saturday 16 April 2011


The other week, I did the boys (fnaar fnaar). Today it seems it is (mainly) the turn of girrrlz to provide some of the music that caught my ear lately...

Another French DJ, another fab collaboration! Spanish Cheryl Cole-wannabee Soraya provides the vocals for Antoine Clamaran again on this rather smutty little number:

The mistress of all she surveys, the fantabulosa Miss Sophie Ellis-Bextor returns with another song that is being hyped as this year's "summer anthem":

Oh, and Shitney's back too...

From the faintly ridiculous to the sublime - Miss Alice Gold:

Another Gallic DJ David Guetta's fave singer Miss Wynter Gordon talks dirty...

And finally (not a girl singing, but the DJ is apparently a lady by the name of Mia Moretti...) I couldn't resist posting this fabulous little number by some band calling themselves Autobahn Voyage...

(You Say) Tomato from Autobahn Voyage on Myspace.

Friday 15 April 2011

Are you free?

RIP Trevor Bannister (aka Mr Lucas in Are You Being Served?), who died yesterday aged 74.

Read his obiltuary in The Telegraph

No turning back

Another rather dull morning - but it is the start of Le Weekend!

Let us choose carefully what we wear to celebrate... I know! How about golden bat-wing tops, scarlet spandex, and jewels in our hair..?

It works for Sister Sledge!

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Thursday 14 April 2011

Fenella vs John Lydon

Our meeting with the magnificent Fenella Fielding has piqued my curiosity, so I had to a bit of a trawl across the interwebs. Imagine my joy when I discovered that she has recorded a selection of covers of modern music, in her own inimitable fashion...

Here's Kim Fowley’s sleeve notes for the as-yet-unreleased CD, Fenella Fielding - the Savoy Sessions:
Fenella Fielding IS! A 21st Century Goddess of Audio Art and Noise Illusion!

Her Succulent/Velvet-Blue-Saloon vocal tones made me believe I was having Naked Lunch in a Berlin bubble-bath, next to Marlene Dietrich… Somewhere in Berlin, circa 1928-1932.

Hence, we have a message in a bottle, from a 21st Century, Axis Sally/Tokyo Rose: Fenella Fielding.

Bring on the smelling salts! Then give me the Silver-Spoon and Golden Needle, so I can blend into the Wonder-Word Void, where Ms Fielding must surely reside.
Here's her take on the post-punk classic Rise by John Lydon (as Public Image Ltd):

Somebody release this CD now, for heaven's sake!

Read more about this musical project in The Independent in 2008

They are in paradise

Many happy returns to the Swinging Sixties icon, Miss Julie Christie, who (remarkably) is 70 years old today!

The daughter of a tea planter in Assam, India, and his Welsh wife Rosemary, the young, well educated and well-spoken Miss Christie and her 60s partnership with dazzlingly beautiful "bad boy" Terence Stamp became the darlings of the UK media for more than a decade.

This classic even name-checks the couple:

In her five-decade career, from Billy Liar to Harry Potter via Dr Zhivago, Miss Christie's photogenic beauty has lit up the screen in every appearance. And long may she continue to do so!

Julie Christie on IMDB

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Thank heavens for Betty White!

Quoted in the media last week:
Betty White made her name back in the innocent days when TV stars knew their place. ‘We considered ourselves lucky to be on the box, never complained if a critic didn’t like us, dressed modestly and were always on our best behaviour in public,’ she recalls primly.

Now she’s 89, a big name for more than 40 years with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Golden Girls and Malcolm In The Middle, and she doesn’t have much time for today’s celebrities.

The drinking, the misbehaving and the endless self-analysis...she can’t bear any of it. "They party too much, don’t learn their lines, are unprofessional and they grumble about everything. I think they are terribly ungrateful," says Betty, her eyes flashing.

While single, she still has an eye for the gentlemen. "Have I ever?" she giggles excitedly. "You never outgrow that! I am not one of those ladies who lunch with other ladies. I like guys best."
Read the whole fab article

Tired of on my own

Happy 65th birthday today to the Reverend Al Green, soul artist extraordinaire - and evidently a most unconventional vicar indeed...

Sublime sunny music for a grey day.

Al Green official website

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Cranes, Coward - and Carry On!

Ah, Polari! How we love it...

It was with much anticipation that we gathered last night at the Royal Festival Hall for our monthly literary "fix". For the build-up had been whetting our appetities for weeks - until Paul Burston finally told the world that his "surprise" reader was none other than that mistress of the sultry double-entendre herself, Miss Fenella Fielding!

John-John and I and our new regular Maria were joined by the lovely Tony, "Polari virgin" Ange, and her friends Emma and Toby. And having breezed past the ebullient Molly Parkin (whose magnificent presence graced Polari back in December), who was being interviewed on camera, we bagged our usual Royal Box for the evening's entertainment.

After an introduction by Paul, our opening reading was from actor-turned-writer Tim Blackwell, whose first published work - a compilation of short stories called The Bingo Caller is due on the shelves this month. Very beautiful, it was too...

Next up, the Russian poet Dmitry Kuzmin read some charming pieces on life and love that he had translated especially for the occasion. Very sweet, once you got used to the pronunciation (English is his second language after all).

Diction is no problem for our "star turn" for the evening, however! Fenella Fielding [who we last saw at the inauguration of Bette Bourne - who was in the audience last night - into the House of Homosexual Culture at the Oval House Theatre in 2008] is a camp icon, a legend in her own lifetime, and a "national treasure"! She was appearing last night as her friend the Kiwi author Michael Menzies was allegedly "too shy", despite having flown from his LA home to be there especially. But weren't we ecstatic about that?!

Mr Menzies' memoir Deeply Superficial provided Miss Fielding with the camp material she needed for such an occasion - the story of a life touched by theatricality from a very early age. Noel Coward and Marlene Dietrich were his boyhood idols - and his obsession continued throughout his life.
I proudly showed my mother the purchases I had made.

She liked Lamb’s Tales of Shakespeare: had never heard of it, but didn’t seem to mind Le Petit Prince. (“Seems charming” she said as she flicked through the pages.) Prater Violet and The Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood elicited no response, but when she came to the Coward autobiography, she made a gurgling sound, clutched her pearls and quite clearly displayed disapproval.

“I don t think this is quite suitable” she said.

“But you said I could buy whatever I liked”. (It was the biggest book I had bought)

“I did” she admitted, “but...” Her voice trailed off, her mouth a moue, as if it were full of lemon juice.

Of course, this made me extremely curious and I read the Coward autobiography, gulping the words and the thoughts greedily, as if they were English Trifle (to this day, my favourite dessert), Like the character Amanda in Coward’s masterpiece play – Private Lives – I became “jagged with sophistication” at the age of twelve, and went around saying “I love you awfully. Awfully, awfully, dreadfully”.

I thought it sounded very worldly.

Reading between the lines of his book, I became aware that Coward was a homosexual (as was I). All the guilt and shame I had felt about this part of my nature, and the resultant exclusion and avoidance of straight-boyhood companions, slid from me like a snake shedding it’s skin.

After consuming Present Indicative, my sexuality never bothered me again.

I could become as beloved and famous and as successful as Coward, for his homosexuality never held him back. I was determined mine would not do so, either.

Wonderful stuff, read beautifully in that smoky, seductive voice - and we were overjoyed to meet and have our photo taken with this splendid lady!

After the break, a gossip, a fag, and more wine, we settled in for the heavyweights. Opening reader Issy Festing is actually very new to the published literary world - and her first novel The Bird Keeper has received some excellent reviews.

Set in her native Indian sub-continent (Miss Festing was born in Bengal but moved to London when she was three years old), it traces the forbidden love between Satchin, an ornithologist at Naagpur bird sanctuary, and the charming and handsome tourist Peter. From the extract she read it seems a most beautiful story, as the return of Siberian Cranes (who pair for life) to the reserve serves as an analogy for the secret love between two men in a turbulent country:
"There was stillness to the golden light so peculiar to midday when everything has true colour. The sky overhead was a cloudless azure only seen in Rajasthan. Looking forward to a light lunch and a nap, I leisurely headed back to the Observatory, all thoughts of the Englishman gone from my mind. You see, at the time I forgot about you, but unknown to me then, your image had transposed itself into the mirror of my memory only to be reflected back to me again later."

Our next reader was one we have heard before. Adam Mars-Jones first came to Polari to read from his novel Pilcrow back in 2009, and last night he was back with its sequel Cedilla. [NB both are obscure terms for punctuation or pronunciation marks.] Still following the life of the disabled gay Hindu convert anti-hero John Cromer (Mr Mars-Jones apparently plans this to be a trilogy), it is an eccentric yet endearing tale of one boy's frustration and resilience in the face of the many obstacles that life throws in his way.

Taking the literary journey to its logical conclusion, our final "headline" reader, the eminent Paul Bailey - awarded the E. M. Forster Award in 1974 and the George Orwell Prize in 1978 - read from his perhaps autobiographical tale Chapman's Odyssey. In this story the narrator ruminates on his ebbing life from a hospital bed: "a voyage of discovery that could only end with his death. He read voraciously, then judiciously, and found his writing voice by rejecting the voices of those he was tempted to impersonate." Weighty yet touching stuff, Mr Bailey is a charming and elegant reader, and his insights into a world long ago when homosexuality was an almost alien concept in society were fascinating.

A triumphal night once again!

I really thoroughly enjoyed this evening, and once more cannot wait for the next one on Monday 23 May - the line-up so far announced includes (the biographer of Stephen Tennant and Noel Coward) Philip Hoare, the gender-bending Alex Drummond, "faggy genderqueer" Len Lukowska and gay ukulele-playing writer and historian Rose Collis. Should be very camp - but nothing to beat last night!

Polari at the Southbank Centre

Monday 11 April 2011

So far, so good

I had a fabulous evening in the company of Miss Fenella Fielding at Polari tonight...

[Review to follow...]

Le Printemps

Alistair and I had a lovely day in Kew Gardens yesterday - a truly glorious show of blossom.

Closer to home, the gardens of Dolores Delargo Towers have really come into their own, too! Anemones, wallflowers, tulips and fritillary are all in flower, our seedlings are ready to plant, and Tulip Ronaldo and Narcissus Thalia are looking particularly lovely together:

Ah, Spring is really in full swing!

So, to cure the depression of yet another new week in work, on this Tacky Music Monday I have chosen something particularly appropriate from one of our patron saints, Dalida, and Soleil d'un nouveau monde...

Dalida on Wikipedia

Sunday 10 April 2011


“You can’t cry on a diamond’s shoulder, and diamonds won’t keep you warm at night, but they are sure fun when the sun shines” - Eizabeth Taylor

The Taylor-Burton diamond

Actress Elizabeth Taylor's prized jewellery collection is to be sold at auction, Christie's has said.

The Krupp Diamond

The collection, which includes some of the world's most expensive stones, will be sold along with pieces from the star's art collection, some of her clothing and other memorabilia.

Read more on the BBC

La Pelegrina Pearl

As well as the famed Krupp diamond and the 69-carat Taylor-Burton diamond — a stone so awesome that it was almost a celebrity in its own right — her vault included the Grand Duchess Vladimir Suite, the La Pelegrina Pearl and rare artefacts from houses including Boucheron, Bulgari, Cartier, Chopard, Garrard, Van Cleef & Arpels, Ruser, Tiffany, Schlumberger and more.

The Grand Duchess Vladimir Suite

I want some!!!

If you don't already have the magnificent book Elizabeth Taylor - My Love Affair With Jewellery in pride of place on your bookshelf, it is available from Amazon