Wednesday 30 September 2015

The Velvet Voice

Lordy. Johnny Mathis is eighty years old today!

He may be a little too "middle-of-the-road" for some tastes, but I have always had a soft spot for a halfway-decent crooner, and several of his numbers are classics, not least these two:

  • Encouraged by his ex-Vaudeville father, young Johnny was classically-trained as a singer, and was "discovered" while singing nightclub jazz in San Francisco.
  • It was touch-and-go whether he would take up singing as a career, as he was short-listed to train for the 1956 Olympics as a high-jumper.
  • With 71 albums to date, Mr Mathis has sold well over 350 million records worldwide; his Greatest Hits spent a record-breaking 490 weeks in the US charts, and he has had five of his albums on the Billboard charts simultaneously, an achievement equalled by only two other singers: Frank Sinatra and Barry Manilow.
  • His Xmas hit When a Child Is Born (Soleado) was Number 1 in the UK for three weeks in 1976, out-selling that year Abba Money Money Money, Queen Somebody To Love, Donna Summer Love To Love You Baby, Rod Stewart The Killing Of Georgie and Diana Ross Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To) - yet it was not even released in the States.
  • His mansion in Hollywood Hills was originally built by billionaire Howard Hughes.
  • Johnny came out as gay in the 1980s, but famously avoids talking about his private life; he grants very few interviews to the media in general.
  • After sixty years in the business, he is still touring.
Happy birthday, John Royce "Johnny" Mathis (born 30th September 1935)

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Today's mantra...

Not a good day in work.

Monday 28 September 2015

The GI diet

Oh dear. The weekend is over. Again...

After a fun birthday party for the brother-in-law on Saturday and a rather more leisurely sunny Sunday, it's time once again to hurl ourselves up against that relentless wall they call "work". Hey ho.

To cheer us up on this Tacky Music Monday, how about a bit of swing (of sorts)? Here's today's birthday girl, the UK's fave 60s-girl-singer-all-grown-up, Miss "Walking Back to Happiness" herself Helen Shapiro - in the company of two of the cutest campest faux "military policemen" I've ever seen - and her take on Johnny Mercer's GI Jive!

Chuck all your junk
Back in the trunk
Fall on your bunk

- Now, there's a thought.

Have a good week, daaahlings!

Helen Kate Shapiro (born 28th September 1946)

Sunday 27 September 2015

Car Klamp

A car company founded by Nazis in 1937 is facing a public relations disaster.

Volkswagen, the brainchild of National Socialist minister Robert Ley, has been accused of falsifying emissions data, which experts warn could damage their unblemished record.

Historian Donna Sheridan said: “Companies can deal with all sorts of setbacks, from corruption scandals, to product recalls, to being founded by people who were indicted for war crimes at Nuremberg.

“But massaging their emissions testing to give a minor boost to their green credentials? Game over.”

Car expert Tom Booker added: “There’s a danger that when people hear the name ‘Volkswagen’, their first thought will be ‘cheats’. Shareholders will be desperate to turn the clock back to a time when ‘Volkswagen’ meant nothing more than Aryan racial supremacy.”

A Volkswagen spokesman said: “Everyone knows that if Hitler were alive today, he’d be driving a BMW.”
The Daily Mash.

Of course.

[The real - ongoing - story]

Saturday 26 September 2015

Simply because you're near me

Happy 70th birthday today to the epitome of "cool", the magnificent Mr Bryan Ferry. Always a stylistic inspiration - not least to little ol' moi - he is acknowledged by many of the acts and singers performing today as one of their idols, and for very good reason.

Since way back in the early 70s his work with one of my favourite groups Roxy Music (perhaps the most ground-breaking of all bands of that era) is of course legendary.

Read my blog on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Roxy Music.

However, Mr Ferry's solo career has also been extensive and varied. To celebrate his milestone birthday here's a selection of his (perhaps) lesser-known tracks.:

...and a couple of of his more recognisable ones:

Bryan Ferry CBE (born 26th September 1945)

Friday 25 September 2015

For Fox Sake!

As is ever the case when one returns from leave, this whole week has been spent trying to pick up the pieces of all the work one blithely thought might have been done by others in one's absence... It has taken all my strength not to go running amok with an AK-47 like something out of Falling Down.

However, the weekend is near, it is pay-day at last, and tomorrow we have a birthday bash for dear History Boy to look forward to (any excuse to dress up). Plenty to celebrate there - let's clink glasses!

I think we should get this party started (as is our wont) by entering the exotic world of Foxy - they want to Get Off, too...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Thursday 24 September 2015

Thought for the day...

Danny Care

David Williams

Alexander Cheeseman

Thom Evans



Rugby World Cup

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Una hora es suficiente

The birthday today of that Spanish charmer Julio Iglesias gives me the perfect excuse - if any were needed - to take my mind off this bloody awful week in work and to play one of my favourite opening sequences for a television programme ever!

La hora de... Julio Iglesias:

And I still ask, five years on, the burning question...

...why the parrot?!

Julio José Iglesias de la Cueva (born 23rd September 1943)

Tuesday 22 September 2015

The decade of the Bimbo

It's a bit of a Seventies Day, all told.

Today marks the 60th anniversary of Britain's first commercial TV network, ITV; the channel that had arguably its greatest successes in that decade - with its non-PC "comedies" (The Benny Hill Show, On The Buses, Love Thy Neighbour, Man About The House, et al), significant factual programming (such as World in Action, The South Bank Show, The World at War) and much-loved dramas (Upstairs Downstairs, A Family at War, Edward the Seventh and many more). It was never a patch on the BBC in its classiness - and, of course, there were all those adverts - but as a kid growing up I have fond memories of 70s ITV's children's programmes such as The Tomorrow People, Just William and anything from the studios of Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds, Joe 90 and the rest)...

Also on this day - in 1976, Charlie's Angels starring Farrah Fawcett had its début; in 1972, Idi Amin expelled 8,000 Asians from Uganda (mostly to the UK); and in 1975, Sara Jane Moore was the second person to fail to assassinate US President Gerald Ford.

Just today, reviving cringe-worthy memories of the sudden and unstoppable rise of "tartan-mania" - particularly among the girls at my school - the most popular "boy-band" of the 1970s, the Bay City Rollers have (embarrassingly) have announced a reunion tour...

And, among today's birthdays is the centenary of Arthur Lowe (one of the curmudgeonly stars of that archetypal (BBC) 70s show Dad's Army); and Captain Mark Phillips (whose marriage to Princess Anne in November 1973 was the first Royal Wedding celebration I remember) blows out 67 candles.

So, to really capture the "feel" of that delightfully tacky decade in spectacular fashion, what better than this long-forgotten "gem" from 1975?!

Someone crack open the Babycham, would you?

Monday 21 September 2015

No sir, I don't mean maybe

We have sneaked in an extra Monday after having all last week off - a week that opened with Proms in the Park and ended with a sunny weekend in Essex. Now it is miserable and raining again, which rather sets the mood for the impending return to the gloomy office...

Never mind, to cheer things along on this Tacky Music Monday - how about a double-dose of the faboo Miss Leslie Uggams (from her cameo appearance in some lost TV movie titled Sizzle)?

Leslie Uggams official website

Sunday 20 September 2015

An intercity disco

Merely because...

...we just returned from our weekend (sunny, thank heavens!) visiting my "niece" Baby Steve and his faithful "butler/houseboy" Alex in the wilds of Essex - both journeys (there and back) by (seriously delayed) buses...

...and this was one of the songs we played to death while we were there...'s the fabulously kitsch Vengaboys with a (ahem!) classic party choon:

The Vengabus is coming
And everybody's jumping
New York to San Francisco
An intercity disco
The wheels of steel are turning
And traffic lights are burning
So if you like to party
Get on and move your body

We like to party
We like, we like to party
We like to party
We like, we like to party

Hey now, hey now, hear what I say now
Happiness is just around the corner
Hey now, hey now, hear what I say now
We'll be there for you


A fabulous weekend!

Saturday 19 September 2015

Nobody could be less elitist than I

"He was the [art critic] profession’s equivalent of Dame Maggie Smith in 'Downton Abbey', a hugely entertaining old monster. His ratings were on the Downton scale too. He was genuinely loved by legions of readers, a national celebrity." - The Guardian

In a weekend where what passes for "the media" - in its obsessions with the television returns of The X-Factor, Dr Who and Downton Abbey, Jeremy Corbin, immigration and sport - barely mentioned the death of the delightful Jackie Collins, it is little surprise that the sad loss of Brian Sewell (one of the country's last remaining "old school eccentrics"; a determined foe of all that modernist guff that masquerades as "art" these days) is underwhelmingly reported.

We adored the man. His eloquent summation of the feelings of many (including our own here at Dolores Delargo Towers) about the state of 20th century art and its institutions, and the incomprehensible rise to fame and fortune of the likes of Hirst, Emin and other Turner Prize-winning types is legendary...
On The Royal Academy: ..."the grand old whore of Piccadilly, masquerading as a charity."

On David Hockney: "...he takes a subject and wrings it to exhaustion, constantly repeating tricks of handling to lend shallow interest to his fields of canvas. As for his discordant range of colour, I fell to wondering if he is the Monet of our day, his vision so dimmed by cataracts that he must paint in vile greens and viler purples if he is to see anything take shape on his innumerable canvases."

On Banksy: "The two words 'graffiti' and 'art' should never be put together... [He] should have been put down at birth. It's no good as art, drawing or painting. His work has no virtue. It's merely the sheer scale of his impudence that has given him so much publicity."

On an exhibition of Damien Hirst's skulls: "these paintings are shoddy, slip-slop and derivative... He is vain enough to proclaim that his work as Bacon's shallow pasticheur belongs in the Wallace Collection with paintings by Rembrandt and Velázquez, Titian and Van Dyck, but one minute spent in the Great Gallery with these is enough to prove the arrogance of this delusion... I declare this detestable exhibition fucking dreadful."

On Gilbert and George: “They are nothing but a pair of pretentious prats. They see all their excretions as precious. They are infantile and narcissistic.”

On Tracey Emin: "Skill, if she ever had any, has been usurped by celebrity, a celebrity nourished by deliberate outrage... The sane man must ask whether he should give any of this pretentious stuff the time of day in aesthetic terms when it seems that this self-regarding exhibitionist is ignorant, inarticulate, talentless, loutish and now very rich.”
And the final word from the great man - on himself: "Nobody could be less elitist than I."

RIP Brian Sewell (15th June 1931 – 19th September 2015)

For fun - Learn to speak like Brian Sewell

Brian Sewell on sex

Friday 18 September 2015

High on lamé

We may still be wallowing lazily in our week off here at Dolores Delargo Towers, but - of course - there is always time for a weekend party!

As we head off to visit the "Boys of Braintree Manor" this evening, I am certain we'll pack our best beaded silver lamé outfits and a couple of monster masks, and get the party started with a "sci-fi swing" - just like the (ahem) supremely talented Ganymed!

Thank Disco It's Friday!


Thursday 17 September 2015

When I take a little nip, I begin to slip

Had she lived, the marvellous Dorothy Loudon (most famous as the original Broadway "Miss Hannigan" in Annie) would have been ninety years old today.

[A bizarre line-up of Piaf impersonator Juliette Koka, Grace Jones, Melba Moore, Broadway actress and dancer Gretchen Wyler and Dorothy Loudon]

  • Miss Loudon started off as a nightclub act before landing slots on top US television shows hosted by Perry Como and Ed Sullivan.
  • She replaced Carol Burnett on The Gary Moore Show, but when two of her top stage roles ("Miss Hannigan" and "Dolly Otley" in Noises Off) were filmed, it was Miss Burnett who was cast.
  • She succeeded Dame Angela Lansbury - what an act to follow - in Sweeney Todd.
  • For several years, she was the chosen host/performer at the annual Tony Awards.
... and it is from one of those very galas that this magnificent paean to alcohol comes - it's Vodka:

Of all concoctions alcoholical
I know but one that's diabolical
I simply thrive on old Champagne and sparkling Burgundy
Whiskey, Cointreau, Moselle
Or Eau de Vie are just like tea
But, vodka, don't give me vodka,
For when I take a little drink
I forget to think
What a little drink can do to me

Vodka, don't give me vodka,
For when I take a little nip, I begin to slip
And I start romancing with the man that I am dancing with
For vodka, makes me feel oddka
I go and grab a six foot two, anyone will do
If he's only wise enough to see
I'll not scream should he kiss me
Couldn't if I would, wouldn't if I could
Vodka, you ruin me!

I prefer gin myself, but I forgive her!

Dorothy Loudon (17th September 1925 – 14th November 2003)

Wednesday 16 September 2015

A dandy, a urinal, Tiger Woman, Music Hall lesbianism and the Queen of Teen

And so, a new Autumn Season commences, with the first outing for "London's peerless gay literary salon" Polari. John-John and I were full of anticipation...

Our magnanimous host Paul Burston was particularly proud, opening proceedings, to announce the start of this year’s Polari National Tour, funded by Arts Council England - taking in venues up and down the country: Cambridge, Cardiff, Bristol, Brighton, Hertford, Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham, Newcastle and Bedford. Phew! At each event, Paul and partner-in-crime VG Lee will host a workshop, and one of the participants is invited to open the show - and one lucky performer (whose name unfortunately I didn't catch) from the workshop earlier in the day did just that for us. Admirable though her piece was, it was time for the advertised itinerary...

The very lovely Alex Klineberg, journalist, writer and self-described "gentleman of adventure", gave us a fascinating selection of snippets from his (unfortunately Kindle-only) memoir of his friendship with the late, great "King of the Dandies" Sebastian Horsley:
I'd assumed Sebastian would be like he was on film. Reeling off endless quips in an obnoxious fashion and generally showing off. I'd met that type before. Those who are 'always on', so to speak. Inevitably, it isn't long before one wonders if such people have an off button.

Sebastian was far more complex than that. It didn't take long to see how vulnerable he was. The quips were always flowing and he was always outrageous. But he was also a very good listener. And there was always an air of sadness that seemed to be haunting him. Stephen Fry said that the look in his eyes "stopped just shy of pleading."

When he was out and about he was always decked out in full Byronic splendour. But he could also be seen jogging through Soho early in the morning in sports wear...

Anyone who projects such an elaborate image of themselves onto the world will invite the question: "Who is the real so-and-so?" Some may be inclined to ask if the real Horsley was the made up dandy mincing through Soho, or if the haunted man in [his] final photos was the real him. But this is probably the wrong question. He was both of those people - often simultaneously.
We are extremely glad to have met (albeit briefly) the great man - reading at Polari way back in September 2008 - our very first time "at the salon" and again that December. RIP. Dear Sebastian is on Amazon.

Andrew McMillan's poetry is singular, and his deadpan delivery is perfect for it - the audience was rapt throughout. Mr McMillan in his latest anthology focuses on the body (male, of course) and all its foibles. Not least in this one, Urination:
I'm scared of bumping someone while they piss
those Mondays I'm a packhorse bags hung
swinging round the urinal bodies
and one day I know I'll knock someone
and they'll piss their legs or they'll turn slightly
and show another man their full arc
or they'll fall into their own wet puddle
cock limp and neither of us will look
or he'll look at me avoiding looking
feigning interest in the hard cream tiles
maybe it's that I dream of being bumped
knocked from my aim by a stranger
the briefest touch during the private act
the toilet is an intimacy
only shared with parents when you are young
and once again when you are older
and with lovers when say on a Sunday
morning stretching into the bathroom
you wake to the sound of stream in bowl
and go to hug the naked body
stood with its back to you
and kiss the neck
and taste the whole of the night on there
and smell the morning’s pale yellow loss
and take the whole of him in your hand
and feel the water moving through him
and knowing that this is love
the prone flesh
what we expel from the body and what we let inside

It was a complete delight to see our old friend and Polari stalwart Miss Celine Hispiche again. She concluded the first half with a rollicking set of numbers from her forthcoming cabaret production Betty May, The Musical: Tiger Woman versus The Beast. A total delight - and here is that very musical as highlighted on "Radio Gorgeous":

BETTY MAY: The Musical with Celine Hispiche Writer & Performer on RADIO GORGEOUS by Radio_Gorgeous on Mixcloud

Fab! - read more about Betty May the Musical.

After the brief fag'n'booze break, it was time for our chum Alex Hopkins to take to the stage to announce the Polari First Book Prize 2015 shortlist:
  • Straight Expectations by Julie Bindel (Guardian Books)
  • The Gift of Looking Closely by Al Brookes (Self-published)
  • Everything Must Go by LaJohn Joseph (ITNA Press)
  • The Rental Heart by Kirsty Logan (Salt)
  • Self-portrait with The Happiness by David Tait (Smith/Doorstop books)
  • The Informant by Susan Wilkins (Pan)
According to the press release: The six shortlisted titles... capture a vivid range of perspectives, all with a bold and inspiring LGBT narrative. With authors from all over the country, it brings to light some of the most exciting and varied new voices in contemporary writing, making it one of the year’s most representative literary prize lists.


From its promotional blurb (the revue is currently on tour, following its success at the Edinburgh Festival):
All The Nice Girls’ takes an entertaining glimpse at the lives of Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney through the eyes of male impersonator Ella Shields. Starting out in Lena Ashwell’s concert parties for the troops in WW1 the young Farrar and Blaney quickly adapted their classical cello/piano act into a ‘turn’ full of repartee and physical humour.

Household names in the early 1920s Farrar and Blaney had an on and offstage partnership, singing popular love songs of the day to each other in West End Revues and living together openly. At the same time Ella Shields’ Music Hall act was in decline. ‘All The Nice Girls’ imagines her fictitious reaction to the younger pair as they live the starry life of Bright Young Things. Will their relationship survive the pressures of the age and the conflicting urges to marry and conform or to party wildly into oblivion?
This sounds like an utterly fascinating show, not least from the excerpts performed for us by Ali Child and Rosie Wakley.

I hope it comes to London soon! I want to find out more about those very "modern" ladies Gwen and Norah...

Crowned "Queen of Teen" 2014, the cherubic James Dawson is the multi award-winning author of dark teen thrillers Hollow Pike, Cruel Summer, Say Her Name and Under My Skin, as well as non-fiction works This Book is Gay and Being a Boy.

Entertainingly, he read for us some extracts from his first contemporary romance, All Of The Above, which he described thus:
"It would be neater, wouldn’t it, if this was a story about self harm or sexuality or eating disorders or ridiculously hot bass players, but it’s a story about all of them. Yeah, it’s a mess. And it’s about to get messier.”
As described on Goodreads:
When sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are in a crazy whirl of worry, exam pressure and anxiety over fitting in. Things start looking up when Toria meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who’s the coolest girl that Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the ‘alternative’ kids take Toria under their wing. And that’s when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band – and it’s instalove at first sight! Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria, but then there’s Polly... love and friendship have a funny way of going round in circles.
It was absolutely brilliant - and our audience loved it - particularly one group of ladies we surmised might have been the author's 'Aunties', so enthused were they...

And with the traditional return to the stage of our entertainers for the evening, and a tumultuous ovation, it was all over for another evening.

A grand start to the new season, I'd say!

Our next outing - on 5th October - is "Polari at the Lit Fest" (London Literary Festival). Tom Rob Smith heads the bill, and readers include Juliet Jacques, Charlie Flowers, Anny Knight and Sunny Singh. The winner of The Polari First Book Prize 2015 will also be announced.

Looking forward to it already...

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Dance to the rhythms that make us vibrate

Timeslip moment again...

Ahead of the new series of Dr Who that starts this weekend, our very own little ride in the TARDIS has dropped us off in this week fifteen years ago.

In the news this week in 2000: the Northern Ireland peace process, the opening of the Sydney Olympics, nationwide fuel price protests and petrol shortages, and the launches of the ill-fated Windows Me and the not-so-ill-fated Ford Mondeo. In the charts, it was a musical landscape of clashing styles - with Madge, Ronan Keating, Britney, Wyclef Jean, NSync, Craig David, Eminem and Slipknot all jostling for a place.

But just arrived outside the Top 40, yet destined to crash through to the top, was this catchy little number - it's French Affair (and whatever happened to them?)!

Oh, mon amour, laisse to toucher
Caresser ta peau
Sa me fait rever
Danser sur des rythmes qui nous font vibrer
Je t'aime pour toujour et sa tu le sais


Monday 14 September 2015

I just wanna stand and cheer as they come

After a fab weekend, with Proms on the Park on Saturday and a "day of recovery" yesterday, both Madam Arcati and I are enjoying the start of a rare week off work at the same time...

It's raining, of course. A good start.

Still, it is a Tacky Music Monday - and who better to lift the clouds but today's birthday girl (and regular fixture in this slot, for obvious reasons), Miss Joey Heatherton?

Joey Heatherton (born Davenie Johanna Heatherton, 14th September 1944)

Sunday 13 September 2015

We felt it

As predicted, Proms in the Park was an utterly splendid day's entertainment - and the looming clouds all blew over so it stayed warm and dry the whole time we were there (particularly useful if one is decamped in the middle of a packed-to-the-gunnels Hyde Park all day!).

Our gang - Sal, Baby Steve, Alex, Lou, John-John, Julie and we two - brought oodles of nibbles for the picnic and enough booze to sink a battleship, flags, glow-sticks and the rest, and settled in for a top-notch day's entertainment to mark the final "shout" of the "Summer Season".

For once, the first half (the "daylight bit") had no bottom-drawer artists or "tribute bands". The Mavericks got all 40,000 of us in the audience up dancing, especially with their mega-hit Dance the Night Away (here performing on Top of the Pops):

The very lovely Beverley Knight, Matt Cardle and the cast of Memphis were faboo:

...and (the - ahem - appropriately named for a boy band) Jack Pack concluded the early session with a storming set of swing numbers, including their latest single (with its rather extravagant video), Light My Fire! Superb.

As the interval - and the sunset - began (and the park started to resemble a rather over-stocked gannet colony, with people trying to cram themselves into every available gap nearer the stage; we resisted all incursions rather well, we thought), and the inevitable stumble back and forth to the loos was achieved, we convened our "Grand Committee of the Official Costume Theme for Gay Pride 2016". More of that in due course...

Part two - as is to be expected - was just as excellent as the early session. With the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Royal Choral Society on our stage, and splendid solo turns from trumpeter Alison Balsom and soprano Danielle de Niese, it was class all the way...

Indeed, the show opened with one of our favourite singers Miss Caro Emerald! She was fab - and, true to the ethos of the day, here's my anthem, Liquid Lunch!

One of Britain's favourite tenors Mr Russell Watson did a fine set, including the crowd-pleaser Volare:

But what of the band we'd all been dying to see? The Jacksons - for it was they - were utterly superb!

I must confess, I was never a huge fan of the saintly Michael, but I recognise great musicianship when I hear it. The surviving brothers definitely provided that in abundance - complete with big-screen tributes to their "Jackson 5" heyday. Here, from last night, is that eternal disco classic Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground):

With tumultuous cheers echoing around the park, it was time for the boys to clear the stage for the live link-up to the Royal Albert Hall for the grand finale of the Last Night of the Proms - possibly the greatest highlight of our musical year.

Miss Marin Alsop returned once more to conduct the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and by way of a "warm-up" we had the much-vaunted "Sing-a-longa Sound of Music", led by the gloriously vivacious Miss De Niese (who had hot-footed it from the park!) live from the glittering hall (and with the crowds at Hyde Park, in Swansea, in Glasgow and in Belfast all joining in):

Such fun!

We were very pleased that the traditional opener (complete with knee-bobbing) of the finale made a return this year - Sir Henry Wood's Fantasia on British Sea-Songs:

Then it was the (re)turn of the rather cute tenor Jonas Kaufmann (who on a previous sojourn to the stage had actually had a pair of knickers thrown at him - Tom Jones stylee - from the audience!) to perform the first of our (proper) sing-a-longs, Thomas Arne's Rule Britannia. [Most unusual, we thought, for a German to be singing an anthem that celebrates the British Empire's triumphs over its historical enemies, but he was great, so we forgave him...]

Next up, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March #1 aka "Land of Hope and Glory":

...and, of course Hubert Parry's Jerusalem:

And with that and the National Anthem, and some stupendous fireworks, it was all over for another year.

Throats sore, heads fuzzy, but full of adrenalin, we wended our weary way homewards...

A great day.

Saturday 12 September 2015

Can you feel it?

It's Proms in the Park.

Our picnic is all packed and ready, and we're off to see...

...The Jacksons!

Can't wait...

Friday 11 September 2015

I got to boogie on the disco 'round, oh yeah

Finally, the weekend is in prospect. We are gearing up for tomorrow's end-of-season spectacular Proms in the Park - the sausage rolls, plates, folding chairs, booze, rug and (most importantly) Union Jacks are ready to go.

Even more excitingly, this is my last day in the office for another eleven days, as I have taken next week and the Monday after off as leave - YAY!

To get the party started with a vengeance, who better than today's birthday girl (normally more at home on a "Tacky Music Monday") Miss Lola Falana with Mr Tom Jones [yes - him again] and their tribute to Alicia Bridges' Disco anthem I Love the Nightlife?

Thank Disco It's Friday!!

Loletha Elayne "Lola" Falana (born 11th September 1942)

Thursday 10 September 2015

Sky high

The weather being up and down "like a whore's drawers" at the moment (it's nice and sunny this morning but the latest forecast for Saturday, when we will be spending seven hours sat in Hyde Park for Proms in the Park, is for intermittent showers. Groo...), our dreams as always turn to the thought of holidays (we wish).

Let's pander to those dreams, take a little mellow musical interlude - courtesy of Soft Tempo Lounge; of course - and join the "Jet Set" back in 1970!

We should be so lucky.

[Music: Early Autumn by Joe Harnell His Piano And Orchestra]

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Out of the ashes?

Fabulous news - the benighted Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT), yet another gay pub under threat from greedy developers, has been granted listed building status (Grade II)!

This is a great success for the campaign to save this rather special venue (one of Britain's oldest-serving gay pubs), and dashes any hopes the Austrian property developers Immovate [sic] may have had of knocking the building about and turning it into (yawn) "luxury flats".
Chair of the RVT Future campaign Amy Lamé, co-founder and host of long-running RVT night Duckie, said:
“The listing is a fantastic milestone for our community and a victory against the odds for our beloved pub. We look forward to continuing our work to ensure the RVT remains a vibrant space of LGBTQ community and culture for generations to come. The RVT now joins New York’s Stonewall Inn, home of the gay liberation movement, in being officially recognised for its contribution to social history. We thank our many, many supporters from across London and further afield.”
And here, for your delectation, is a most appropriate song for the occasion. Singing (fabulously) live from the venue's stage, here's Austria's preferred export to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern - Miss Conchita Wurst!

RVT Future campaign website

63 years...

Elizabeth II, Dei Gratia Britanniarum Regnorumque Suorum Ceterorum Regina, Consortionis Populorum Princeps, Fidei Defensor

...63 facts, year-by-year, from Her Majesty the Queen's reign, courtesy of Adrian Lee in The Express:
1952 The first document the Queen signed on her accession related to a homosexual incident (which was then still illegal) involving the Army.

1953 The Queen attended her first football match - the FA Cup final - between Bolton Wanderers and Blackpool who won 4-3.

1954 During a state visit to Australia, the Queen was seen hurling shoes, threats and sporting equipment during a furious row with Prince Philip. Afterwards she said: "I'm sorry for that little interlude but as you know, it happens in every marriage."

1955 For the first time, the Queen missed the Trooping The Colour ceremony because it was cancelled due to a rail strike.

1956 The Queen and Prince Philip introduced small, informal luncheon parties of six to eight guests at Buckingham Palace to meet distinguished people from all professions. The tradition continues to this day.

1957 When the Queen and her husband were reunited in Portugal after official duties had kept them apart for four months, Prince Philip wore a tie with hearts on. The Queen greeted her husband wearing false ginger whiskers, mimicking the beard he had grown while away from her.

1958 The Queen wore full miner's kit to go 500ft underground on a visit to Rothes colliery.

1959 Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was met at the Palace by the Queen's uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. "Thank goodness you're here," said the Duke, "The Queen's in a terrible state; there's a fellow called Jones in the billiard room who wants to marry her sister and Prince Philip's in the library wanting to change the family name to Mountbatten."

1960 Prince Andrew's birth in February meant he was the first baby born to a reigning sovereign since 1857.

1961 During her state visit to Ghana (the first by a British monarch), the local press dubbed her "the world's greatest socialist monarch in history".

1962 The Queen loves satire. She especially liked "the one with the silly face" from Beyond The Fringe. It's thought she was referring to Jonathan Miller.

1963 For the first time, the Queen and Prince Philip were booed in public during a state visit by King Paul I of Greece (Philip's first cousin) and Queen Frederika. The visit was controversial because Britain supported the independence of Cyprus from Greece.

1964 Harold Wilson became the first prime minister who was a) Labour and b) not from the Queen's own social class. They got on famously and the PM's weekly audience sometimes ran to two hours and drinks afterwards rather than the more usual 30 minutes.

1965 The state visit to West Germany (as it was then) was the first by the Royal Family since before the First World War. Protocol was so sensitive, it took two years to organise.

1966 The Queen struggled to keep her emotions in check when she met relatives of the 144 victims of the Aberfan disaster, in which a school was buried under a landslide. Tears came to her eyes as she read a message given to her from three-year-old Karen Jones which said: "From the remaining children of Aberfan..."

1967 When Prince Charles went to Trinity College Cambridge to study archaeology and anthropology, his mother dispatched the official head of furnishings at Buckingham Palace - known as the tapissier - to do up Charles's college digs.

1968 On a state visit to Brazil, the Queen was presented with two sloths.

1969 For the first and only time in her reign the Queen missed broadcasting a Christmas message. The documentary Royal Family had been shown that year and she felt the public had seen enough of her.

1970 The first "royal walkabouts", introduced so the Queen could meet the public, took place in Australia and New Zealand.

1971 The Queen's exemption from paying tax was discussed publicly for the first time.

1972 The Queen visited her uncle the Duke of Windsor who was dying. As she entered his room he made a supreme effort to stand up and bow, despite the drip attached to his neck. The Queen was in tears when she left him.

1973 When Princess Anne announced her engagement to fellow equestrian Mark Phillips, the Queen remarked: "I shouldn't wonder if their children are four-legged."

1974 The Queen had to interrupt an overseas tour for the first and only time when she had to abandon a state visit to Australia and Indonesia because a snap election was called at home.

1975 Continuing a tradition started by Queen Victoria, at 9am every day a kilted piper marches below the Queen's window at Buckingham Palace, Windsor and Balmoral. With this in mind, the Japanese provided a Japanese piper in a kilt during her state visit to Tokyo to make her feel at home.

1976 The Queen sent her first email from an army base via ARPANET, a precursor to the internet. What her message said remains a state secret.

1977 Most unusually the Queen was 10 minutes late for an 11am investiture ceremony on November 15. As she explained to the waiting guests, her son-in-law Mark Phillips had telephoned at 10.46am to inform her of the birth of her first grandchild.

1978 Convention dictates that when the monarch enters or leaves a country of which she is Head of State, the prime minister must be in attendance. But when the Queen travelled to Canada to officially open the Commonwealth Games, the Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau was not there to greet her. He had gone on holiday to Morocco instead.

1979 Two dutiful women of the same age who adored their fathers... the Queen should have got on with her first female PM. But she didn't. When Mrs Thatcher felt faint at a Palace dinner (not for the first time), the Queen was heard to say: "She's keeled over again."

1980 Many credit the Queen with getting African leaders together to talk, leading to the Lancaster House Agreement which established the state of Zimbabwe.

1981 Marcus Serjeant, a disturbed 17-year-old, fired shots as the Queen rode her horse during the Trooping The Colour parade on June 13. The Queen managed to calm her horse and rode on as if nothing had happened. The shots turned out to be blanks.

1982 The Queen woke to find intruder Michael Fagan sitting on her bed. His request for a cigarette gave her the chance to alert her staff. One of the first on the scene, a Geordie maid, exclaimed memorably: "Bloody 'ell Ma'am, what's he doin' 'ere?"

1983 The Queen was furious when the Governor-General of Grenada failed to inform her he had invited US troops to invade and restore the government after a coup. The Caribbean island is a Commonwealth country and the Queen is Head of State.

1984 After personally guaranteeing the Queen's safety during her state visit to Jordan, King Hussein drove her from Amman airport himself.

1985 Sarah Ferguson, aka Fergie, started dating Prince Andrew and would become the Queen's daughter-in-law the following year.

1986 The Queen became the first British monarch to visit China.

1987 The Queen's Christmas broadcast was directed by Sir David Attenborough.

1988 On the 400th anniversary of the Spanish Armada (which the Spanish lost) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth made a state visit to Spain.

1989 Sadness for the Queen as Princess Anne and Mark Phillips announced that they were separating.

1990 One of the Queen's racing pigeons won a leg of the Pau international pigeon race. The bird was subsequently named Sandringham Lightning.

1991 A badly-positioned microphone meant the Queen could not be seen when she stepped up to the lectern at the White House. A TV cameraman was heard shouting: "All I've got is a talking hat!"

1992 The Queen coined a new phrase, "annus horribilis", to describe the year in which the marriages of Prince Charles and Prince Andrew broke down and a fire partly destroyed Windsor Castle.

1993 The Queen became the first monarch to open Buckingham Palace to the public. It was done to raise funds for repairs at Windsor Castle.

1994 When she discovered that Prince Charles had given his biographer Jonathan Dimbleby access to state papers, as well as his own private correspondence, she was so angry that she allowed her son to spend only a day at Balmoral with the family during their summer holiday.

1995 Princess Diana's Panorama interview aired on November 20, ruining a wedding anniversary for the Queen.

1996 The Queen was visibly moved on a Mothering Sunday visit to Dunblane, where a gunman had killed 16 children and a teacher at the primary school.

1997 The Queen was seen blinking back tears as she watched the decommissioning of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Since launching the ship in 1954, they had travelled more than a million miles together.

1998 Labour MPs broke protocol, shouting "Hear, hear" during the State Opening of Parliament as the Queen outlined the Blair government's plans to get rid of 700 hereditary peers.

1999 After two high-profile daughters-in-law the Queen was pleased with Prince Edward's choice of wife, remarking about Sophie Rhys-Jones: "You wouldn't pick her out in a crowd."

2000 The Queen looked very uncomfortable as she linked arms for Auld lang Syne at the Millennium celebrations.

2001 Her Majesty toured the set of EastEnders and went behind the bar of the Queen Vic.

2002 The Queen, official head of the Church of England, entered a mosque for the first time during a visit to Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire.

2003 The Queen sat for her first and (so far) only hologram portrait, made up of 10,000 images layered over one another, giving a 3D effect.

2004 In March the Queen hosted Women of Achievement at Buckingham Palace, the first female-only event to be held there.

2005 Her Majesty claimed ownership of 88 cygnets born on the River Thames. All swans in England have been officially Crown property since the 12th century.

2006 Helen Mirren won an Oscar and a Bafta for playing the Queen - and an invitation to dine with the real person.

2007 Buckingham Palace launched the Royal Channel on YouTube to mark the 50th anniversary of the Queen's first TV Christmas address.

2008 The Queen asked academics at the London School of Economics why nobody foresaw the credit crunch. Her own fortune is said to have dropped £25m in the financial crisis.

2009 The Queen joined Twitter. A social media team at Buckingham Palace sends daily tweets.

2010 The Queen attended Wimbledon for the first time in 33 years, watching Andy Murray on Centre Court.

2011 In May of this year, the Queen became the first British monarch to visit the Republic of Ireland since Irish independence. She also visited the Turner Contemporary Art Centre in Kent where she asked artist Tracey Emin: "Do you show internationally as well as in Margate?"

2012 The Queen appeared to parachute into the Olympic stadium at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. One Japanese diplomat was so impressed he said: "We could never get our Emperor to do that!"

2013 Prince George is born giving the monarchy three generations of successors.

2014 In an extremely rare political comment the Queen urged Scots to "think carefully" before the referendum.

2015 Queen Elizabeth II overtakes her great-great-grandmother Victoria as Britain's longest-reigning monarch.

Cheers, Ma'am!

The official website of the British Monarchy

More of Her Majesty over at the Dolores Delargo Towers Museum of Camp

Tuesday 8 September 2015


And so, farewell then, the lovely Judy Carne.

Born Joyce Audrey Botterill in Northampton, after acting school and a stint on British telly she left to seek her fortune - travelling to the United States in 1962, just ahead of The Beatles and the 'British Invasion'. She briefly married Burt Reynolds, co-starred with the beauteous (but doomed) Pete Duel, and eventually became a household name as the "Sock it to Me" girl on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Her time after leaving the show was not quite such a "laugh", by all accounts, with periods of addiction and a traumatic car crash, and she eventually retired back home in the UK, where she died last week.

She'll always be the woman who managed to get Richard Nixon to ask America to "Sock it to him", however:

Here's the lady herself, with an odd choice - an Arlo Guthrie anti-establishment ditty disguised as a song-and dance number:

RIP Judy Carne (27th April 1939 – 3rd September 2015)

Read my previous tribute to Miss Carne