Thursday 31 March 2016

The No Ronnies

RIP Ronnie Corbett, one of the most popular entertainers in UK television history.

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Cerddoriaeth newydd*

Relaxing at the record deck

It happens when one reaches a certain age, I suppose: "newer music" and I drift apart, as I settle into the "comfort zone" of classical stations and retro Radio 2. Or is it just that I am bone idle, and can't be arsed to share some of the gems I gather from around the interwebs? Regardless, here's my first such "round-up" in absolute bloomin' ages...

First up, let's get this one out of the way without much in the way of comment (other than I doubt it will win) - the official UK entry for Eurovision 2016. It's a fair-to-middling song. They need voice coaching and production. They're not particularly pretty. It's Joe and Jake and You're Not Alone:

Among the early fan favourites is apparently this one. At least you can tap your feet to it - it's Spain's Eurovision entry Barei and Say Yay!

Moving back to the world of "real" music, Pet Shop Boys - currently basking in the glories of being THIRTY YEARS at the top of their game - have a new one out, and it is (of course) very good indeed. It's Happiness:

Speaking of that great musical era, the world's gone mad for the 80s lately (and not a moment too soon, I say!) - or so it would seem, especially given the widespread critical praise and generally warm reception for the new film about one of that decade's most unlikely "sporting heroes", Eddie The Eagle. On the Gary Barlow-produced soundtrack for the movie, several of our favourite stars from our youth have recorded brand new songs, in the style of the times (and their heydays). First off the block is Holly Johnson and Ascension...

...then there's Marc Almond's Out of The Sky...

...and Kim Wilde - Without Your Love:

Fabulous, all! But what of their latter-day successors?

Well, there's Ben Ivory and Gold, a rather deep synth-pop extravaganza reminiscent of Nik Kershaw, for a start. He's cute, too:

It's synths-a-go-go where the esoterically-named NZCA Lines is concerned, and I rather like it! Here's Two Hearts:

This one "by yer" is a bit odd, innit? Not only is it entirely in Welsh, like, but it looks (at the beginning of the video) as if the lovely Gwenno is dancing down a street very close to where I used to live in Cardiff, hundreds of years ago... All very strange, it's Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki (whatever that means!):

And finally, here's a rather fab new one courtesy of Mr D's esoteric Inexplicable Device blog. I can quite understand why he raves about it so; both song and video are utterly brilliant! It's Miike [sic] Snow and Genghis Khan!

As ever, enjoy! And let me know what you think...

[*Cerddoriaeth newydd = "new music" in Welsh]

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Take solace

As I steel myself for the return to work after a fab four-day break, I also find myself taking umbrage at a recent discovery about which I knew nothing previously.

Someone dared to turn down Dame Shirley Bassey for a Bond theme? [In favour of this crock of shit, incidentally - Jack, who?]

Here is the magnificent No Good About Goodbye. It was not considered "good enough" for Quantum of Solace, apparently. Judge for yourselves.

Nobody does it better, indeed!

Monday 28 March 2016

A Mighty Wind

Having a rare Bank Holiday off together, Madame Arcati and I have surveyed the carnage in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers caused by last night's 55mph gales. Thankfully, not much was destroyed completely, and although the little plants inside were shaken off their shelves, at least the (plastic) greenhouse is still on its moorings. Hey Ho.

In the words of Miss Elaine Paige on this Tacky Music Monday - Anything Goes...

The world has gone mad today
And good's bad today,
And black's white today,
And day's night today

Happy Monday!

Sunday 27 March 2016

Glorious Gloria

After yesterday's Great Trek, shopping all the way from West to North London with John-John, followed by late drinkies (of course) I am understandably somewhat fragile today.

It doesn't help of course that on this, the first day of British Summer Time, the weather is practically apocalyptic - hailstorms, thunder and hurricane-force winds. And all the bloody shops are shut, thanks to the Baby Jeebus or something.

Never mind, it's the birthday today of another Patron Saint here at Dolores Delargo Towers: the glorious Miss Gloria Swanson. [A day she shares with other house favourites "Sassy" Sarah Vaughan, sexy Michael York, and opera's "bad girl" Maria Ewing, incidentally.]

I have celebrated her style and glamour many times before, of course, especially over at the Museum of Camp. But who knew she sang..?

...but indeed she did, while tormenting a (very young, very pretty) Laurence Olivier at the same time:

Perfect Sunday fare, I'd say...

Gloria May Josephine Swanson (27th March 1899 – 4th April 1983)

Saturday 26 March 2016

Chasing the fantasies

It's Miss Ross's birthday!

Bow, bitches.

She always knew where she was going to...

Do you know where you're going to
Do you like the things that life is showing you
Where are you going to
Do you know?

Do you get
What you're hoping for
When you look behind you
There's no open doors
What are you hoping for
Do you know?

Once we were standing still in time
Chasing the fantasies
That filled our minds
You knew how I loved you
But my spirit was free
Laughin' at the questions
That you once asked of me

Do you know where you're going to
Do you like the things that life is showing you
Where are you going to
Do you know?

Now looking back at all we've planned
We let so many dreams
Just slip through our hands
Why must we wait so long
Before we'll see
How sad the answers
To those questions can be

Do you know where you're going to
Do you like the things that life is showing you
Where are you going to
Do you know?

Do you get
What you're hoping for
When you look behind you
There's no open doors
What are you hoping for
Do you know?

I know where I'm going to, and what I'm hoping for, today - John-John and I are off shopping; raiding the charity shops of London from Chiswick to Camden...

Diana Ernestine Earle Ross (born 26th March 1944)

Friday 25 March 2016

Your way to paradise

It's always good to get a long one (weekend, that is).

As we've been enjoying our last day of sunshine for the whole Easter break, pottering in the garden, I think we deserve a night out in the weirdly-lit world of Donna Summer, the Commodores (in their very best futuristic mirrored gladiator outfits) and a DJ in a giant egg, and all to the soundtrack of Love'n'Kisses' Thank God It's Friday...

We, of course don't thank an invisible Spaghetti Monster - we say Thank Disco It's Friday!

Enjoy the break!

More than you ever needed to know about the film, courtesy of Dougsploitation blog.

Thursday 24 March 2016

"Good on ya, mate. You deserve a chocolate fish"*

Hoorah! Or as the Kiwis might say: "Good on ya mate!"

New Zealand has voted to keep its flag (complete with the good old Union Jack) with a 56.6% majority in favour.

To celebrate, here's a fantabulosa (and appropriate) song by Auckland's finest weirdo trend-setters Split Enz. It's their biggest (and only, here in the UK) hit, I Got You:

I got you
That's all I want
I won't forget
That's a whole lot
I don't go out
Not now that you're in
Sometimes we shout
But that's no problem

I don't know why sometimes I get frightened
You can see my eyes, you can tell that I'm not lying

Look at you
You're a pageant
You're everything
That I've imagined
But something's wrong
I feel uneasy
You show me
Tell me you're not teasing

I don't know why sometimes I get frightened
You can see my eyes, you can tell that I'm not lying

Split Enz on Wikipedia

[*"You deserve a chocolate fish" = A Kiwi phrase that means "a job well done".]

Wednesday 23 March 2016

A cheap and simple way to destroy your dinner

Easter and eggs - inextricably linked? You may want to think again...

From the rather cute and very funny Rhik Samadder's "Inspect a gadget" column in the Guardian:
In my time reviewing kitchen gadgets, I’ve learned it would not be good to be reborn as a chicken, because the sickest, most disturbing contraptions always, always have something to do with eggs. Pressure cubers, poaching baggies, vertically extruding grills: they are a twisted universe unto themselves.

So, in a vaguely Easter-themed special, I have decided to test every one of these damned gadgets I can get my hands on. Strap in – I’m looking for the worst, the most unspeakable...

...There’s EZCracker, which sounds more like a racist slur than a kitchen aid. It’s a handheld cradle suspended over razorblades – when activated, the device’s arms push the shell down, on to the blades, and apart. Like a lethal reverse Wonderbra. (I achieved successful shell splittage 20% of the time. The separator attachment fell off and landed in the bowl 100% of the time.)

Then there’s Bogey Man, a clear winner. Imagine a Toby Jug, if Toby were suffering from the plague. When you break a raw egg into his head and tip it up, albumen seeps from his nostrils like snot. It’s goddamn disgusting. Egg-wrong rating: 3/5.

You ain’t seen nothing yet. Lékué might sound like a high-end moisturiser but, in fact, it’s the brand behind Ovo, a square-egg cooker – and, at £5.40, it’s a cheap and simple way to destroy your dinner. Pour an egg, plus other ingredients, into a cube-shaped silicone mould, microwave, then “de-mould” for – ha! – a good, square meal. Be still, my beating digestive tract. I put in carrot, baked beans and thyme, because they’re all I have. After a minute, there’s an explosion. Ovo’s top has blown off, leaving a sorry cube of protein-wrong, flecked with petrified remains of semi-cooked carrot and burnt herb. It stinks, too. Egg-wrong rating: 4/5...

...The Eggstractor, though. It’s a concertina tube atop a tripod, which claims to peel eggs instantly. The idea is that when one pushes down on it, pressure inside the egg’s air cell causes it to jettison its shell, like Nina Simone shrugging off a fur, and slip through a hole in the tripod base, naked and ready. It’s surprisingly violent, like performing CPR. When I finally succeed, the egg slams into the counter, the yolk shooting across the room. It’s like punching someone in the face so hard their eyeball explodes. “The Magic of the patented Eggstractor is Pure Science!” reads the box. Luckily I speak a little bozo, so let me translate: “It’s bullshit!” Egg-wrong rating: 3/5...
...I unwrap Beep Egg, a floating egg-timer from Germany. “It’s very high-t’egg,” the packet jokes weakly, before getting bossy and prohibitive. “Do not try to open Beep Egg! Do not discard Beep Egg in an open fire! Do not swallow Beep Egg!” It plays ringtones corresponding to how cooked your eggs are: Killing Me Softly for softboiled (inspired), It’s a Heartache for hardboiled (bit tenuous) and Chick Chick Chicken for medium (essentially meaningless). What about Hard Knock Life and Stuck in the Middle with You? Wit might not be its forte, but the timer is superbly engineered. Egg-wrong rating: 1/5

The instructions on the DoraQ egg spinner sound like a troubling drunk. “You can make eggs body dumped in the middle of a different rotation.” Sorry? “Housewives simply been thrown into intact eggs inside the eggs shaker.” The words have clearly been put through rudimentary translation software; while I’m gripped by the Gertrude Stein-esque prose this has generated, it’s getting me nowhere.

I turn to the Okashina Tamago Mawashite Purin Egg Flan Maker. The instructions are slightly clearer, being entirely in Japanese, and I find a video online in which a chorus of singing eggs show me what to do. Like DoraQ, the aim is to spin an egg, scrambling its insides and turning it golden. When gently cooked in the shell, it will turn to purin, a crème caramel dessert popular in Japan. Yeah, right. It’s basically a Kinder toy. I place an egg into a plastic chamber and pump a crank back and forth, spinning it dizzy. It’s like subjecting a tiny astronaut to centrifugal training. Following the video, I boil a pan of water. “Stop the fire and enter the egg plastic-wrapped,” the singing eggs tell me. Is this a plea for safe sex? Why plastic-wrapped? (Why any of this, I suppose.) I comply. After 30 seconds – as instructed – I take it out and leave it to cool. I have a bad feeling... spoon poised, I crack the egg. A neon puddle seeps out, covering the counter and dripping on to my shoes. It’s horrendous, an Exxon Valdez of smooth, liquid sick, a split colostomy bag. On the plus side, it’s a shade of yellow I’ve never seen before. A masterpiece of egg-wrong: 5/5.

...It has been a shattering experience that has left me shell-shocked. I never want to see one again. My flat stinks to high heaven. I’ve learned to watch my back next time I’m on a farm, for the things we do to eggs are an insult to hens that will echo through the ages. The horror. The horror.
Genius. It brightened my day...

Read Rhik's previous monstrous experience with processed eggs.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Thought for the day...

...William Shatner is eighty-five years old today!


Monday 21 March 2016

Send that rainbow to me

Fuck. Monday again. And it certainly doesn't feel like Spring.

Hey ho, at least it's a short week, thanks to The Great Festival Of Chocolate.

To cheer us up (in camper-than-camp fashion, as is our wont) this Tacky Music Monday, how about our two Italian Patron Saints Mina and Raffaella paying tribute to a previous divine duo (Marilyn and Jayne) - and their inimitable version of Bye Bye Baby?

Tutti bella!

Have a good one...

Sunday 20 March 2016

Queen of playback

Today's raft of birthdays include the 99th of Dame Vera Lynn, as well as (among others) unlikely co-celebrants Henrik Ibsen, Michael Redgrave, Spike Lee, Sergei Rachmaninov, David Thewlis, Steve McFadden (aka "Phil Mitchell" in Eastenders), William Hurt and house fave here at Dolores Delargo Towers Natacha Atlas.

However, it is one very special lady's 50th birthday today, Miss Alka Yagnik.

Who? I hear you ask.

It is for Miss Yagnik's voice, rather than her face, that most people may recognise her - if you've ever been to an Indian restaurant, at least some of the background songs will be hers - for during her estimable career she has sung 2,482 Hindi songs in 1,114 Bollywood films. She is the fifth most prolific Bollywood singer of all time (that record is held by Asha Bhosle).

So, without further ado... she is, dubbing for Sridevi Kapoor on Teri Banjaran Rasta Dekhe from the Bollywood movie Banjaran (1991):

...and here, for Madhuri Dixit on Jungle Mein Sher from Prem Granth (1996):

I really feel like a Rogan Josh and some naan bread now.

  • Miss Yagnik was a classically-trained vocalist before she landed her career as a "playback singer".
  • Her song Taal Se Taal Mila from the movie Taal was voted as the best song of the century in a poll in 2012 to mark 100 years of Hindi Cinema.
  • Of late she has been the judge of various Indian singing competition shows.
  • It is her song Chamma Chamma that was sampled in Hindi Sad Diamonds from the soundtrack of the film Moulin Rouge.
Alka Yagnik (born 20th March 1966)

Saturday 19 March 2016

A little slot that you tip pork scratchings into would help

A man has beaten a sophisticated artificial intelligence machine at drinking beer.

In a move designed to test the limits of technology, 30-year-old roofer Wayne Hayes took on Google’s DeepMind machine in a pint-for-pint battle.

A Google spokesman said: “Having recently beaten the human champion at the board game Go, we were eager to test DeepMind at something that Westerners can understand and respect.”

The AI machine was fitted with a specially-adapted USB cable with a pint glass on one end into which beer could be poured. However it broke after two pints, exploding in a shower of sparks as Stella Artois flooded its motherboard.

Hayes said: “I was confident from the start because that computer just didn’t have the red, bulky look of a drinker about it.

“They can build these machines that can do all sums and everything, but they’ll never take over from man if they can’t handle 15-16 pints of export lager.”

However the Google spokesman added: “We should have added a ‘piss port’ to allow DeepMind to expel fluids. Also I think a little slot that you tip pork scratchings into would help.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Friday 18 March 2016

Baby, look at me and tell me what do you see?

The week finally draws to an end, and I'm getting my leg-warmers and tights at the ready - for today is the original Coco Hernandez's birthday!

Here's Miss Irene Cara (for it is she), dressed as some kind of Disco Chicken, in a really bizarre video for her immortal anthem for the "talent show generation" - Fame (I'm Gonna Live Forever). All, together, now...

Baby, look at me and tell me what do you see?
You ain't seen the best of me yet
Give me time, I'll make you forget the rest
I've got more in me, and you can set it free
I can catch the moon in my hand
Don't you know who I am?
Remember my name

(Fame) I'm gonna live forever
I'm gonna learn how to fly (High)
I feel it coming together
People will see me and cry
(Fame) I'm gonna make it to heaven
Light up the sky like a flame
(Fame) I'm gonna live forever
Baby, remember my name
(Remember, remember, remember, remember)
(Remember, remember, remember, remember)

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Irene Cara (born Irene Cara Escalera, 18th March 1959)

Thursday 17 March 2016

You sound loike Enya, you do

It's Paddy's Day, sweeties. Time to wear green and drink stout, I believe.

Just as on previous celebrations, I turn to the marvellous French & Saunders for the most appropriate tribute to all things "Oirish" on this day.

Here's their brilliant "Raspberries"...

...and here's the real thing - The Cranberries:

Sláinte ma Cara!


Wednesday 16 March 2016

"Parker..." "Yus, Milady."

Sad news. Lady Penelope is dead...

RIP Sylvia Anderson (née Thamm, 27th March 1927 - 16th March 2016)

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Make my craziest dream come true

It's my first day back after a long, boozy party weekend for Lou's birthday - we didn't get home till 1 o'clock this morning, so I am understandably feeling somewhat less-than-sparkling.

However, we do have a centenary to celebrate; that of the brilliant trumpeter and bandleader Mr Harry James!

All's well with the world when we have an excuse to play some Big Band music. How about this one?

With the estimable tonsils of Miss Helen Forrest, here's Harry and the band and I Had the Craziest Dream:

In a dream the strangest and the oddest things appear
And what insane and silly things we do
Here is what I see before me, vividly and clear
As I recall it, you were in it, too

I had the craziest dream last night, yes I did
I never dreamt it could be
Yet there you were, in love with me
I found your lips close to mine so I kissed you
And you didn't mind it at all
When I'm awake such a break never happens
How long can a gal go on dreaming?

If there's a chance that you care
Then, please, say you do, Baby
Say it and make my craziest dream come true.

That's better...

  • Harry's parents were circus performers - mother was an an acrobat and horseback rider.
  • He got his big break in 1937-8 when he joined Benny Goodman's orchestra.
  • His was the first "name band" to employ vocalist Frank Sinatra (who then promptly left to join Tommy Dorsey).
  • It is Harry's playing that is heard in Young Man With A Horn, dubbing for Kirk Douglas; and his band provided the backing for Miss Doris Day on the soundtrack album.
  • Famously, he married actress Betty Grable.
  • He released over 200 singles during his five-decade career, as well as 29 studio albums and numerous live recordings and guest appearances.
  • To this day the Harry James Orchestra still exists, now led by Fred Radke.

Harry Haag James (15th March 1916 - 5th July 1983)

Sunday 13 March 2016

How does it feel?

We're off to leafy Dorking today, for our friend Louise's 50th birthday. It seems appropriate to celebrate with a "timeslip moment" from the 80s - a decade when we were all at our prime...

Thirty-three years ago, in early March 1983: AIDS was in the news (constantly), as the US government was under fire for its lack of health promotion advice; the compact disc (CD) and the Austin Maestro went on sale, and IBM launched PC DOS version 2.0; Bob Hawke was elected Prime Minister of Australia; and Torvill & Dean (soon to stun the Winter Olympics the following year) won the World Ice Dance Championship. On our screens were Local Hero, Baby It's You and Without a Trace; and on telly, Sons and Daughters, Tucker's Luck and the fallout from the Deirdre-Ken-Mike saga on Coronation Street.

This week in 1983's charts Bonnie Tyler was supreme, and in her wake: Eurythmics, Michael Jackson, Forrest, Bananarama, Style Council, Toto, Modern Romance and Orange Juice were all riding high. But waiting in the wings, ready to conquer all, was a first - released only on 12" single, it soon set the bar significantly high for dance-pop-crossover music for the rest of the decade.

It is of course New Order's Blue Monday!

But hold fast chums... What would it have sounded like if it had been made 50 years earlier? Using only instruments available in the 1930s - from the theremin and musical saw to the harmonium and prepared piano - let's hear Orkestra Obsolete play their own take on it:

And, of course, here's the original:

Blue Monday on Wikipedia.

Saturday 12 March 2016

A-number-one, top of the list

Happy 70th Birthday Liza!

...from Madonna, GaGa, Cher - and Charlie Hides TV (of course).

It's good to have him back!

[2019 UPDATE: Video gone from Mr Hides' YouTube and from the web, more's the pity]

Now here's the real thing...

Liza Minnelli (born 12th March 1946)

More Liza over at the Dolores Delargo Towers Museum of Camp.

Friday 11 March 2016

What you know-a

I may not actually be in work today, but even so a weekend is a good enough excuse for celebration.

And this weekend, we're off on a brief jaunt to sunny Dorking (only staying Sunday night) to celebrate our friend Lou's fiftieth birthday in suitable style.

So let the party commence - in the estimable company of the magnificent Miss Cheryl Lynn, and her all-time classic Got To Be Real - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

What you find, ah
What you feel now
What you know-a
To be real


Have a good weekend, my lovelies!

Many happy returns, Cheryl Lynn (born Lynda Cheryl Smith, 11th March 1957)

Thursday 10 March 2016

A Gothic world, a gangland lesbian, the Filth Peddler, a Georgian feminist and 'that piece of shit'

It was strange to be in such a minority last night (venturing out on my own without the usual "gang"), as I was among only a handful of other men (the only other I recognised was Chris Chalmers) in the Weston Pavilion atop the Royal Festival Hall - by far the majority of the packed house were female (including stalwarts Val, Jayne, Anny and chums, and Anya Nyx and several others of the "literati"). It was, of course, Polari's own evening to honour female voices as part of the Women of the World festival. Mr Paul Burston, opening proceedings at "London's peerless gay literary salon", said: "mine will be the only male voice you'll hear from the stage tonight!"

And so it was as our first reader, the (very young) radio and music journalist and self-professed sci fi and fantasy nerd Sophie Sparham took to the stage. Her début published novel is Snow in Hell, and is blurb reads thus:
There's something wrong with our world and this time it's no fault of human beings. After years of war, peace has fallen over the earth, due to a mysterious voice claiming to be humanity's god. However, despite this apparent revelation, not everything is as straightforward as it seems. Prepare to enter a Gothic world as scientists Margot Grant and Jade Wilde are confronted with hooded deceivers, obnoxious vampires and necromancers.
It's a very bizarre concept - the "heroes" of the story being killers-for-hire in a dystopian world of monstrous creatures, and all... As was the piece she read from her new work-in-progress, all about the sinister personification of "Time itself" and his solicitation of the pair's services to rid him of a troublesome sibling...

Bringing things right down to earth with an almighty crash, VA (Veronica) Fearon could not be more different. On her last appearance at Polari in May 2014 she introduced us to the tough-as-nails "street gangs negotiator" Dani, her "band of soldiers" and her temptress girlfriend Susanna. Now - speaking in first person all of the parts - 'VA' brought to life the various other characters in her book The Girl with the Treasure Chest, each having their own opinions on the tempestuous and risky relationship between the two women: Dani's childhood Jewish neighbour, her henchman Sonny and the sulky sister of Susannah. Beautifully portrayed, all of them - I and the rest of the audience loved it!

Ms Jacquie Lawrence, up next, has had a long career as a television producer, writer, director and commissioning editor; among her notable successes were Channel 4's Oscar nominated documentary The Celluloid Closet and Rikki Beadle-Blair's drama series Metrosexuality. She has the proud accolade of being called "The Filth Peddler Of Channel 4" by the Daily Mail! Of her new novel, she said:
Different for Girls originated as an idea for a television drama series about a group of women whose lives and loves were different. It was a project that I put on hold, whilst looking after my two pre-school age daughters. When my youngest started nursery, I took the original concept of these six single women, whose love lives were entangled, and thought about how they would be living their lives seven years later. During this seven-year hiatus, changes in family law, fertility treatment and gay marriage has given an even different context to these different girls so I created relationships for them and, in some cases, families."
In fact - as she confided to us - the proposed TV series hit an insurmountable obstacle when, before it could enter production, a rather more successful series The L-Word arrived on the scene. So "the lesbians in the desk drawer" lay forgotten until Jacquie got around to producing the book. Here's the prologue to Different for Girls, read by lesbian songstress Heather Peace:

Fabulous stuff - and thus, part one of our evening came to a close. Time for ablutions and a top-up.

When former Blue Peter presenter Miss Janet Ellis [mother of the rather more internationally-famous Sophie Ellis-Bextor] - who opened the second half - was last at Polari in 2014, hers was an early draft of a novel. Now she is extremely proud indeed that The Butcher's Hook is finally published, and has received some favourable reviews. With very good reason! From the passage she read - an extremely sad one about the bereavement of a young girl in 18th century England, on the death of her baby brother to a fever - Miss Ellis' writing is excellent, and the story is intriguing. Apparently, the girl (Anne Jacob) learns to fight her grief, her loveless and ultra-traditional parents, society's norms and all that goes with them, in order to strike out for a life of her own - but for the rest of the story, I guess we'll have to buy the book:

Our headliner Miss Mari Hannah - winner of the Polari First Book Prize in 2013 - is an accomplished writer, specialising in gritty crime dramas; her series of stories featuring the extraordinary Kate Daniels is soon to hit our TV screens courtesy of Stephen Fry and Gina Carter's Sprout production house. But it was from her newest tale The Silent Room, which features instead a male protagonist, that she read a passage. Its blurb reads:
A security van sets off for Durham prison, a disgraced Special Branch officer in the back. It never arrives. On route it is hijacked by armed men, the prisoner sprung. Suspended from duty on suspicion of aiding and abetting the audacious escape of his former boss, Detective Sergeant Matthew Ryan is locked out of the investigation. With a manhunt underway, Ryan is warned to stay away. Keen to preserve his career and prove his innocence, he backs off. But when the official investigation falls apart, under surveillance and with his life in danger, he goes dark, enlisting others in his quest to discover the truth.
And here is part of the extract that Miss Hannah read, featuring the prison van hijack:
Realising they were trapped, Storey began to weep.

Irwin urged him to get a grip. They were going to be fine. He’d get them out of there. Somehow. The words had hardly left his lips when the gun was raised. Both security guards ducked as the windscreen shattered, a large gaping hole appearing at its centre where the shot had pierced the glass. No longer could either guard see their attackers, but they could hear the shooter’s instructions to climb down and open up the back, his voice muffled through a balaclava.

‘Do it!’ Storey yelled. ‘It’s not worth losing your life for peanuts – or that piece of shit in the back.’

Irwin told him to shut it. ‘Do I look stupid to you?’

Fenwick bawled. ‘They’ll kill us all.’

‘That’s helpful, pal,’ Irwin yelled back. ‘Got any bright ideas? Because, if you do, now’s the time to spit em out.’

The Special Branch officer’s opinion was valid – and probably correct – but then he wasn’t the one with the gun pointing at his head. His reply was lost in the general mayhem as the passenger door was yanked open. Whimpering in fear, crying for the mother he couldn’t stand the sight of, Storey was pulled from the vehicle, the butt end of a gun rammed into his stomach. He dropped to the ground like a stone. With the gun now in his back, he was told to lie face down.

Seconds later, Irwin joined him, thrown with such force, two of his fingers snapped as he hit the deck. Out the corner of his eye, he saw keys dangling from the Clio’s ignition. For a split second – no more – he wondered if he could make the car without getting shot in the back. He decided against. He couldn’t leave Storey to the mercy of these two. Besides, this was no time to play the hero.

Sucking in a breath, Irwin tried to lower his heart rate.

His chest felt like it might explode. If he were a gambler – which he wasn’t – he’d have taken bets that the men in the masks weren’t going to kill him. Why bother dragging him out of the van otherwise? Why not shoot him dead in his seat? Still, he decided not to test his theory...

...For a moment, nothing happened. Then Irwin heard the familiar squeak of the van’s back door as it was pulled open. With sound but no sight of what was going on, he counted the seconds, his nerve gone completely. No longer sure it wouldn’t end there on that wet and deserted stretch of road, he shut his eyes, wondered if he’d hear the shot that killed him.

Idling engines purred...

Rain hit the tarmac...

Storey vomited.

Flinching as a pair of heavy-duty boots arrived by his side, Irwin exhaled as they moved away again, his stomach heaving in relief. A door slammed, then another and another. Expensive. The Audi. As it took off at speed, he lifted his head. His prisoner was gone.
Utterly engrossing.

And so, with rousing applause for the assembled readers, that was it for another brilliant evening.


Next month (11th April) Polari "returns to its roots" in Soho for a one-off special event at the ever-so-swanky Light Lounge, featuring Diana Souhami, Alexis Gregory, Keith Jarrett and VG Lee.

Should be fun!

Oh, how we love Polari.

He means it!

Suddenly, I feel like a concubine...

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Due for action?

Time for a little lounge music interlude...

...courtesy of Soft Tempo Lounge (of course) - it's Our Man in Indochine 2:


Music: La Foresta Incantata by Piero Umiliani

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Thought for the day

Thanks, John-John!

Monday 7 March 2016

My discarded men

[Bin day in our neighbourhood]

When will I
Will I be famous?
I can't answer
I can't answer that.
When will I see my picture in the paper?
I can't answer
I can't answer that.


How the mighty are fallen.

Everything that's wonderful is sure to come your way

How these weekends run away with us - a half day shopping for haberdashery and trimmings, a day with Mother, a day dodging wet snow showers to and from the supermarket, and it's back to work again.

Ho hum.

Never mind, it's a short week pour moi, as I have Friday off to plan for our visit to sunny Dorking to celebrate our friend Lou's 50th birthday, which should be fun - and, speaking of fun...

On this Tacky Music Monday, here's the fab birthday girl Donna Loren (here with Darlene Love and The Blossoms, the Wellingtons and The Shindig dancers) to help lift the start-of-the-week blues:

Have a good one!

Saturday 5 March 2016

Our new advertising campaign

Injections available on request.

Friday 4 March 2016

Any kind of music, as long as it's groovin'

Whew! A weekend is upon us.

I have a half day today to go shopping with John-John - so it's not long to go before I can don some very fetching tangerine flares, with a jabot (of course!), and pactice my twirls - just like the fabulous O'Jays!

I love shopping. I love weekends. I Love Music!

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good time, one and all...

Thursday 3 March 2016

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air

Sometimes when I post one of these timeslip moments, I suddenly feel as if time has really rocketed away...

For can it really be a quarter of a century since the whole world freaked out (me included) to a remix of (of all things) a heartfelt gospel choon?

In this week in 1991: the first Gulf War was coming to its bitter end, renewed IRA violence hit London, the beating of Rodney King by police in Los Angeles was about to lead to rioting, and Estonia and Latvia became independent of Russia; The Silence of the Lambs, Sleeping with the Enemy and L.A. Story were on the big screen; and on telly were The Brittas Empire, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Jimmy Nail in Spender .

In the UK charts, Bart Simpson(!) was at Number 1 - and trailing in his wake: Queen Madge, The Clash, Oleta Adams, Nomad, KLF, 808 State, Princess Kylie, MC Hammer... and this absolute dance classic.

Turn the volume up for this bassline:

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you

Sometimes I feel like saying, "Lord, I just don't care"
But you've got the love I need to see me through

Sometimes it seems the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then I feel like life is just too much
But you've got the love I need to see me through

When food is gone, you are my daily meal (hmmm)
When friends are gone I know my Saviour's love is real
Your love is real

You've got the love, you've got the love, you've got the love (hmmm)
You've got the love, you've got the love, you've got the love

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air
I know I can count on you

Sometimes I feel like saying, "Lord, I just don't care"
But you've got the love I need to see me through

Hallelujah, honey!

Wednesday 2 March 2016

It’s all anyone knows

I could sit and watch this for hours
America's elections have entered their umpteenth day of tedious self-indulgence with some more pointless bullshit.

Today is Super Caucus Wednesday Bullshit Thing, yet another apparently vital stage in the incredibly long, complicated and weirdly sluggish race to the White House.

This new pointless mini-election will see the heavy, hat-wearing residents of some fictional-sounding US region go and vote for either Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or The Other Ones, which will then apparently have absolutely no effect on anything.

US political commentator Norman Steele said: “There’s everything still to play for, mainly because nothing has really happened despite this nonsense dragging on for months.

“Donald Trump is a mental, horrible jowly bastard and Hillary Clinton looks a bit stern, although you can’t blame her because her husband’s such a rascal. There’s another one called Ted who possibly used to play the character Des Clarke in Neighbours.

“That’s all I know and it’s all anyone knows, to be honest.”

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus

[Daffs in our extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers]

Happy Saint David's Day to all you fellow Welshies (and honorary Welsh, and others)!

Let's have a little sing-song (as is apparently our wont) - in the company of the divine Dame Katherine Jenkins of Neath herself...

  • Ar Hyd y Nos (All Through The Night)
  • Cwm Rhondda (Bread of Heaven)
  • Calon Lân
  • Men of Harlech
  • Delilah

Aw. There's lovely!