Thursday 30 June 2016

The death of Windy Miller

Another little piece of my childhood has gone - with the news that Gordon Murray, creator and puppeteer of some of the BBC's most popular children's series ever, has died at the age of 95. [Who even knew he was still with us?]

When we were just little kids, Mr Murray's fabled "stop-go animation" series Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley were a staple diet for my sister and I.

We would get excited trying to guess which character would appear out of the "musical box, all wound up and ready to play"...

...and would always be disappointed if it wasn't Windy Miller!

I remember singing along with the silliest of songs (every character had their own), including Windy himself - forever dodging those blasted sails on his windmill...

...PC MCGarry (number 452)...

...and, of course, the Army Truck!

Anyone of our generation can still, to this day, chant along with the firemen's roll-call - "Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub!"

And my sister and I's speciality was to run to the kitchen to retrieve saucepan lids in order to play along with the brass band:

  • Prior to the "Trumptonshire" series, Mr Murray operated the "Spotty Dog" puppet in The Woodentops and was the producer of Captain Pugwash.
  • Camberwick Green was the first children's show to be aired in colour on the BBC in 1966.
  • Although there were only 13 episodes of Camberwick Green, 13 of Trumpton, and 13 of Chigley, one or other was shown regularly on the BBC until 1985, and then on Channel 4 from 1994 to 2000.
  • In a fit of pique, in the mid-1980s Mr Murray made a bonfire in his back garden and burned all the original puppets, and the sets, saying he “didn’t want them to get into the wrong hands”.
  • The original masters of the three series were believed to have been lost, but when boxes of some original film were discovered in Gordon Murray's attic, the trilogy was restored and remastered by the BBC in 2011.
RIP, Gordon Murray (3rd May 1921 – 30th June 2016)

You made us very happy when we were tiny.

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Star for the gallant hearts

Britons have asked Kate Bush to be their leader.

As it was emerged that nobody is currently in charge of anything, researchers at the Institute for Studies found that the Hounds of Love singer is the most popular choice to run the country.

Professor Henry Brubaker said: “According to our poll, Kate Bush is well in the lead, followed by David Attenborough although he’s probably a bit old.

“Kate Bush is quite reclusive though, so we need to find out where she lives and then find out if she’s up for it.

“She’ll know what to do about all the shit that’s going on, she’s sold millions of albums compared to Boris Johnson’s album sales of zero. We could have Sade as her second-in-command, because Sade would bring a mellow, calming influence.”

Other popular choices include Alan Bennett, Professor Brian Cox and Yoda.

Mary Fisher, from Swindon, said: “We need an elected council of wise elders who are neither right or left but simply for the good of the country.

“Either that or we need a new album by The Smiths.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

They've got the stars for the gallant hearts.
I'm the replacement for your part.
But all I want to do is forget
You, friend.

Hammer Horror, Hammer Horror,
Won't leave me alone.

The first time in my life,
I leave the lights on
To ease my soul.

Hammer Horror, Hammer Horror,
Won't leave it alone.

I don't know,
Is this the right thing to do?

I'd vote for her!

Tuesday 28 June 2016

'Cause here I go again

According to
the Met Office: "On this day 40 years ago, June’s highest ever temperature of 35.6C was recorded in Southampton. It won't be that warm today."


Here are some facts about the Summer of '76:
  • Many householders in Wales and the west of England were left without tap water for much of the day when temperatures were frequently over 80F; stand-pipes were installed in the streets as the pavements cracked or melted around them.
  • The National Water Council made repeat appeals to people to save and recycle water, with one advert explaining jobs are more important than flower beds; and hosepipe use was banned.
  • People across the country were told to put bricks or plastic bags full of water in their toilet cisterns and to use washing-up water to pour down the toilet instead of flushing.

  • The rivers Don, Sheaf, Shire Brook and Meers Brook in Sheffield all ran completely dry, as did the reservoirs in Wales.
  • In addition to appointing a Minister for Drought, James Callaghan’s Labour government actually drafted emergency plans to bring water by tanker from Norway.
  • Nationally £500 million of crops were destroyed and food prices soared by 12%.
  • Brewery Shepherd Neame, however, reported beer sales up by 8% on the previous year and at their highest since the war - the company had not been troubled by the weather as it had its own well, which was still plentiful.
It was indeed a long, long summer, with a lot of happy memories - and lots of memorable choons to accompany them...

...not least the Top Ten of this very week in 1976, which included The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy, Jolene by Dolly Parton, Heart On My Sleeve by Gallagher And Lyle, Let's Stick Together by Bryan Ferry, Young Hearts Run Free by Candi Staton, Tonight's The Night by Rod Stewart and You Just Might See Me Cry by Our Kid. You To Me Are Everything by the Real Thing was at Number 1, and at Number 2 the (very silly) Combine Harvester by The Wurzels.

Which just leaves one song. Now, I am no Paul McCartney fan by any stretch of the imagination - but, whenever I hear Silly Love Songs by Wings, I am instantaneously transported back to those heady, hot days...

"What's wrong with that?
I'd like to know."

Monday 27 June 2016

Kus me

We like Holland

The post-Pride comedown continues, and thankfully we both have an extra day off today to recover...

Just prior to The Big Day, we got our arses in gear to sort out our trip to Amsterdam for my birthday in August (the first visit for a couple of years), so on this Tacky Music Monday, let's go Dutch!

Here's the uber-talented Babe:

Wow. That's one way to start a week, I suppose!

Sunday 26 June 2016


What a fantastic Gay Pride day!

Despite the grey weather, and despite the bureaucratic nightmare of the Parade arrangements this year (everyone marching needed a wristband, issued by a registered marching group - which meant I had to traverse the West End to meet up with what I thought was going to be Camden LGBT Forum's group from whence I had been promised ten said items, only to find that I had to beg them from the London Irish LGBT Network branch of the Forum instead, whose allocation was fast running out), we were once again in the thick of it. This was particularly important as our cousin Lauren and gay son Braden had crossed the Atlantic from Toronto specifically to take part!

But it all worked out in the end.

Our gang - Me, Madam Arcati, Hils, Crog, John-John, Baby Steve, Mark and Jim, as well as the Canadians - dressed to the nines in our best "Decadent Dandy/Victorian Whore" outfits, and, overflowing with champers and bacon butties, soaked up the buzz and the atmosphere of being surrounded by thousands upon thousands of eclectic party people: drag queens, twinks, bears, dykes, all the armed forces and emergency servicemen and women, dancers, campaigners, fashionistas, Muscle Marys and queers of all ages, cultures, classes and creeds among them. The Irish network crowd was exceptionally jolly [it helps when you have two genuine Oirish - Crog and Mark - with you] , and even sandwiched as we were between the Bisexuals, the Latvians and the staff from Nandos (who were rather annoying, much like their restaurants really), we were in a good spot - near enough to the start of proceedings so that we didn't have to stand around for too long before moving off. Of course, the disadvantage of having to line up in one's pre-designated spot is that, unlike previous years, we didn't get to see any of the parade itself, bar the bits closest to us.

And it was huge this year.

Opened as it was by yer actual Honorary Gay Royalty "fash-mag slag" Patsy Stone and "I was hip; I was dangerous" Edina Monsoon (Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders), the parade accommodated tens of thousands of individual participants, 65 floats, the US Ambassador, the Mayor, and various other "notables"; more than a million people in total, including spectators and those at Trafalgar Square - a record number according to official estimates. Whether this was the "Orlando effect" or merely the fact that more people than ever were looking for a bloody good party (after the EU referendum), who knows? [And to be honest, when having such a good time, why spend time thinking about it?]

There was apparently a minute's silence in solidarity for victims of the massacre, but maybe we missed it, or maybe it only happened in the Square. What we did get, however, was an impromptu version of the London Gay Men's Chorus' version of Bridge over Troubled Water - released as a charity single in the wake of Orlando - outside the Ship and Shovel pub, which was very moving. Here's their rendition at the Soho vigil:

Not one, but two serving policemen proposed to their boyfriends during the festivities, but we saw neither. And we were in the pub by the time the much-vaunted Red Arrows flypast happened, so we missed that too. Hey ho.

We cheered, we waved, we posed, we kissed, we held hands, we whistled, we danced.

Most importantly: WE WERE THERE.

Pride, indeed.

PS scroll through this video to around 3.33 for our "screen debut"...

Saturday 25 June 2016

So let's waste no more time

Happy Gay Xmas, everyone!

We're off to the West End, with hats, sparkles, flags, booze and bacon butties in tow, to join the vast, chaotic extravaganza that is Gay Pride!

It's a tradition round these parts to play our "anthem" Bring on the Men on this day of days. And here it is, with a kinky performance by a troupe called Circ X...

So let's bring on the men
And let the fun begin
A little touch of sin
Why wait another minute?

Step this way it's time for us to play
They say we may not pass this way again
So let's waste no more time
Bring on the men!


Friday 24 June 2016

The British lion’s newfound mighty roar?

Every country in the former British Empire has demanded Britain resume full political control now it has proven it is great again.

Australia, India, Canada, Egypt and South Africa, among a host of others, have all dissolved their governments in a show of awestruck admiration for the British lion’s newfound mighty roar.

Kenya’s president Uluru Kenyatta said: “We never wanted Britain to stop ruling us in the first place – why ever would we? – but you just needed to grab hold of your mojo again.

“Don’t worry about giving us voting rights or any of that nonsense. Now you are once again a proud, resurgent nation unafraid of political correctness, we have absolute trust you will act in our best interest. And the world’s.

“I step down this afternoon. Oh man, I hope we get Michael Gove as governor. That guy is the best.”

The UK now commands a fifth of the world’s population and one-quarter of its total habitable land, which is as it should be.

Retired headmistress Margaret Gerving, from Guildford, said: “I don’t know why America is insisting on being independent. I’m sure they’ll stop being silly eventually.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

The real news is on the BBC.

And we fly just like birds of a feather

It's Gay Xmas Eve! The Gay Pride Parade will be bestowing upon London its feathers-foof-and-faff tomorrow - and, as always, we will be in the thick of it, dressed to the nines in our own theme of "Crimson Decadent Dandies and Victorian Whores"...

This year, in addition to my sister Hilb and hubbie Crog, our "gay niece" Baby Steve, and some of our usual "gang", we are joined by cousin Lauren and her gay son ("first cousin, once removed") Braden, who have come all the way from Toronto, Canada to join in the festivities!

As is our wont here at Dolores Delargo Towers, we always need something boppy to get us into the party mood as the weekend looms - and what more fitting a song for such a "family gathering" than the faboo (and crimson-batwing-clad) Sister Sledge's most memorable hit?

Thank Disco It's Gay Pride Friday!

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev'rybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev'rybody and sing

Ev'ryone can see we're together
As we walk on by
(Hey) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won't tell no lie
(ALL!) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We're giving love in a family dose

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev'rybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev'rybody and sing

Living life is fun and we've just begun
To get our share of the world's delights
(HIGH!) high hopes we have for the future
And our goal's in sight
(WE!) no we don't get depressed
'Cause here's what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won't go wrong
This is our Family Jewel

Thursday 23 June 2016

Searchin' for lust, searchin' for breath

Today's birthday celebrants are another "mixed bag", including Alan Turing, Alfred Kinsey, Miriam Karlin, Bob Fosse, Adam Faith, Frances McDormand, Duffy, Sally Geeson and Edward Duke of Windsor. Imagine that lot at a party.

As we are in full "Camp Countdown" mode towards this weekend's Pride, however, here's a little something from another birthday boy - the ebullient and out-gay Mr Leee John, with his be-tinselled "band of brothers" Imagination, and their smash hit Body Talk!

It doesn't get much camper than that...

Imagination on Wikipedia

Wednesday 22 June 2016

News of the Gay (Pride edition)

In the continuing countdown to Pride in London on Saturday, post-Orlando, what a mixed bag of news the gay world is experiencing...

Admittedly, out of tragedy came one of the biggest ever demonstrations of international unity against homophobia - at least in the civilised world. The parts of it that are not dominated by religious bigotry or tyrant rulers, that is.

Even as the American Embassy in Jamaica flew a rainbow flag at half mast, their bigoted bastard attorney general Marlene Malahoo Forte called this humanitarian gesture "disrespectful" to that benighted island's continued anti-gay laws. Disgusting!

And speaking of disgusting, gay rights campaigners had to resort to wearing gigantic angel wings in order to hide the lunatic fascists of the Westboro Baptist "Church" - who were picketing the funerals of the murdered clubbers - from the mourners.

Russia's continued malign influence over its neighbours also continued, as puppet state Moldova proposed an anti-gay law similar to Putin's own - which has been met with vocal protests.

But closer to home, there's promising news in the last bit of the so-called United Kingdom not to have enacted gay equality legislation, as Northern Ireland's executive is being pressured to draw up a marriage equality bill. At last.

Barclays Bank - one of the main sponsors - has turned its logo into a rainbow flag and features Pride on its home page:

...and London is "going to town" in preparation for The Great Event. Even the traffic lights have "gone gay"!

It wasn't always such an universally recognised day, mind you, as I remember - and as Peter Tatchell recounts so eloquently in this video "potted history":

Roll on Saturday!

Gay Pride in London

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Totty of the Day

Tom Hiddleston*.

In boxer shorts.

For some reason this appears to be getting a lot of news coverage.

*No, I wouldn't recognise him if I bumped into him in the street [among his starring roles: "Loki" in Thor; War Horse; The Deep Blue Sea - never seen any of them] , but I believe he's shagging a country-turned-pop singer, M'Lud...

Jane and her men

Miss Jane Russell, who would have been 95 years old today, was a bit of a conundrum. Unlike many of her compatriots in Hollywood - not least her friend and co-star Marilyn Monroe - she was a staunch religious Republican; yet she made her name as a "sweater girl" (largely thanks to Howard Hughes' obsession with her breasts), and campaigned on social justice issues such as adoption all her life - and to my knowledge was never on record saying anything discriminatory about race or sexuality issues.

Commenting on one of her ever-popular "in conversation" appearances in front of her adoring fans, Huffington Post columnist Danny Miller wrote:
...Russell was certainly no homophobe. She spent a lot of time in the Q&A waxing nostalgic over her openly gay choreographer in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Jack Cole. She repeatedly called him a genius and said he was largely responsible for the success of the film since neither she nor Marilyn Monroe could dance a step when they started shooting.

Jane always seemed to enjoy her status as a gay icon, and she commented on the bizarre bit of homoerotica in the film when she sings Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love in the middle of a training session for the Olympic team. As dozens of beefy studs go through their work-out moves, Jane darts in and out of their routines singing lines like “I like big muscles, and red corpuscles, I like a beautiful hunk of man.” The men ignore her completely and seem far more interested in each other as they gyrate in suggestive positions. How that bizarre scene ever got past the censors is beyond me.
I have featured this clip here several times before, no doubt, but, in this countdown week to London's Gay Pride on Saturday we always have time to squeeze in a "beautiful hunk of man". Or several!

Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell (21st June 1921 – 28th February 2011)

Monday 20 June 2016

I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still

One would never think that this is MID-summer Day, judging by the apocalyptic Blade Runner downpours we are experiencing this morning. As if we needed anything to make Mondays more grim and despicable than usual...

Thank heavens for Scopitone, I say!

For on this countdown-to-Pride Tacky Music Monday - which also happens to be the birthday of lead vocalist Dolores "La La" Brooks - we're entering the technicolour rainbow-tinted world of The Crystals, with their classic Da Doo Ron Ron:

And if that doesn't cheer you up, there is no hope...

Summer Solstice

Sunday 19 June 2016

Sunday Sermon

Fuck me in the ass 'cause I love Jesus
The good Lord would want it that way
Gimme that sweet sensation of an irrational rationalisation
It's just between you and me
'Cause everyone knows it's the sex that God can't see

Yeah, my chastity belt has locks
But sometimes you need to think outside the box

Life lessons we have all learned.

Saturday 18 June 2016

Out of the ruins, out from the wreckage

There can be few better ways we would wish to start our week's countdown to Gay Pride in London next Saturday than by celebrating our Primo Italiano Patron Saint La Carrà's birthday!

Especially when she, and her set-designers, and her wig-makers, and her safety gays, and her plastic-costumiers, and her smoke-machine-operators have all had a little too much Prosecco - and decided to let loose on Tina Turner's Mad Max classic choon We Don't Need Another Hero...

Apocalyptic is definitely the word!

We love it.

Many happy returns, Signorina Raffaella Carrà (born 18th June 1943)

Friday 17 June 2016

You'll never know until you do

It's been a shocking week for tragic news, from Orlando to Birstall - and what we need is a party!

With the last weekend before Gay Pride in London ahead of us, who better to get us in the mood than Mr Gino Soccio (with his two singers, whose synchronised dancing efforts make the Human League girls seem like Torvill & Dean) and Try It Out?

Take a deep breath, shake those hips - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

You know it's all in your mind
So get on up and take a stand
Try it out

There ain't nothing you can lose
So don't hesitate no more
Try it out

If you feel that it's alright
Something inside you leads the way
Try it out

Don't pay no mind
To what they say
You'll never know until you do
Try it out

Try it out
Take a chance
You can do it
Try it out!

I will if you will...

Thursday 16 June 2016

Sie hat hier schon alle Männer abgecheckt

As the fantastically eclectic Dangerous Minds says...

"’s that amazing klezmer cover of Kraftwerk you needed in your life!"

Das Model by the Knoblauch Klezmer Band (and their rather cute singer):


Like the merry go round I'm going up I'm going down

Long before the "Hit Factory" of Stock Aitken Waterman, the "star-making" machinations of the likes of Simon Cowell, or even the powerhouse producers such as Tony Visconti, Trevor Horn, the Bee Gees or Nile Rodgers, there existed the phenomenal "dream team" that was Holland-Dozier-Holland - the men who made Motown into a legend.

Pivotal in the trio was the musical talent of Mr Lamont Dozier, whose 75th birthday it is today. With (and without) the Holland brothers, his list of hits is impressive, and includes: Heat Wave, Nowhere to Run and Jimmy Mack for Martha and the Vandellas; Can I Get a Witness and How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You) for Marvin Gaye; Where Did Our Love Go?, Stop! in the Name of Love, You Can't Hurry Love and You Keep Me Hangin' On for the Supremes; Baby I Need Your Loving, I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch), Reach Out I'll Be There, Bernadette and It's the Same Old Song for the Four Tops; There's a Ghost in My House for R. Dean Taylor; Give Me Just a Little More Time for Chairmen of the Board; and Going Back to My Roots for Odyssey.

And, to steal a catch-phrase from Don Black in his Radio 2 Sunday programme, "He also wrote this..."

Here's that eternal "house fave" here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Miss Alison Moyet (whose birthday it is on Saturday) and Invisible - a song (typically where Mr Dozier's output is concerned) that we can all sing, word-for-word, to this day. All, together, now!

You've got me so confused and there's words I could use
But I'm afraid to say them.
I feel I've been had and I'm boiling mad

Still I can't live without you.
You don't have the time and you won't spend a dime
Not even to call me.
You don't know I exist and I wouldn't be missed
If I had the nerve to quit you.

Invisible - I feel like I'm invisible.
You treat me like I'm not really there
And you don't really care.
I know this romance, it ain't going nowhere.

Invisible just like my love. You treat me like I'm invisible.
When you get the need to flirt you do your worst
You just don't care how much it hurts.

I can never reach you on the phone
It rings and rings
But I know you're home.
It may be naive but I just want to believe
I'm the only one.

I tell myself lies and give you alibi's
Knowing your promises you'll never keep
Like the merry go round
I'm going up
I'm going down
I'm on a dead end street.

Invisible - I feel like I'm invisible.
You treat me like I'm not really there
and you don't really care.
I know this romance, it ain't going nowhere.

Although I know it's not a lot
Don't want to lose whatever we got.
I keep hanging on knowing I can't win
'Cause it's too hard start over again.
Invisible - I feel like I'm invisible...
Invisible just like my love.

Many happy returns, Lamont Herbert Dozier (born 16th June 1941)

Wednesday 15 June 2016

On the cover of a magazine

Prince William adorns the cover of Attitude gay magazine - a first for the Royal Family - and talks about bullying:

"What I would say to any young person reading this who's being bullied for their sexuality: don't put up with it - speak to a trusted adult, a friend, a teacher, Childline, Diana Award or some other service and get the help you need.

"You should be proud of the person you are and you have nothing to be ashamed of."

How fab!

Tuesday 14 June 2016

Nothing in this world can stop you

A timeslip moment is needed, methinks...

On this day of endless reflections, investigations, second-guessing (and the occasional fucking mindless posturing) and sadness, let's instead go back a couple of decades to the heady, rave-y, Spice Girls-dominated world of 1996!

It wasn't a particularly jolly time in June twenty years ago, as far as world events go, however. In the news: Iraq was in the West's sights, and war was a distinct possibility; Chechnya and Indonesia were in turmoil; the (unmanned) space rocket Ariane 5 exploded; a massive IRA bomb in Manchester's Arndale Centre was devastating but (thankfully) there were no fatalities; Boris Yeltsin, Steffi Graf and BSE were in the ascendant, while another annus horribilis was getting underway for HM the Queen after the first of the Royal divorces - Andrew and Fergie - was finalised; the site of the planned Millennium Dome was announced for North Greenwich; football was, as it is today, dominating the minds of Britain's "blokes" as the European Championships took place; and eBay and Ask Jeeves were launched. In cinemas: Fargo, Primal Fear and Barb Wire. On telly: Ronnie Corbett's Small Talk, the ill-fated revival of The Liver Birds, and after 32 years, Top of the Pops was moved from its traditional Thursday evening slot to Fridays.

In the UK charts this week in 1996, there was a lot - and I mean a lot! - of dross: chart-toppers were The Fugees, there were a raft of football songs including Baddiel and Skinner's Three Lions, and for some inexplicable reason Peter Andre, Slime Dion, Mark Morrison, Bryan Adams and the Lighthouse Family were all selling well. Other (more palatable) artists of note included Ocean Colour Scene, Gina G, George Michael, JX, Happy Clappers, Space, Robert Miles, and Adam Clayton and Larry Mullin with their Mission Impossible re-make.

But, storming into the top five was a choon that proved, categorically, that the 90s was indeed the Decade of Club Music. Providing a much-needed boost of joie-de-vivre to all of us today, and an apposite reminder that whatever happens to us, what we are and who we are will never be cowed by madmen of any colour, creed or political adherence - here is the appropriately-named Livin' Joy and the ecstatic Don't Stop Movin'!

You can do anything that you want to do
With your mind body and soul
Do it, prove it to yourself and say
I want (I want)
I will (I will)
I can do anything
It's a difficult world and you got to prove
That you're ready and you can do it
Nothing in this world can stop you
I know I can I will fulfil my dreams

Don't stop movin'
Keep it up
Keep on movin' get it right
Yeah you've got to get it right
Oh yeah oh
Don't stop movin'
I it's your life
Keep on movin' get it right
Yeah you've got to get it right

You can be mystical magical
Physically phenomenal
Good to go
Not slow
Feel the heat and let it flow

You've got to get it right

Amen, sister!

Monday 13 June 2016


Old Compton Street, Soho, this evening.

It's better than being a party-poop

Mr Cy Coleman, whose 87th birthday it would have been tomorrow, wrote a whole raft of our favourites from the Great American Songbook - not only those in one of my fave musicals Sweet Charity, such as Big Spender, If My Friends Could See Me Now and There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This, but also such standards as The Best is Yet to Come, Nobody Does It Like Me, It's Not Where You Start (It's Where You Finish), You Fascinate Me So, Hey, Look Me Over and Witchcraft.

But on this Tacky Music Monday it's an interesting version of one of his "novelty songs" (more familiar in its rendition by Miss Peggy Lee, of course) to which we turn to cheer us up as we stagger back to the office...

Cy Coleman (born Seymour Kaufman, 14th June 1929 – 18th November 2004)

Read my tribute to Mr Coleman on his 80th.

Have a good week...

Sunday 12 June 2016

A fanfare, Dear Old Ivor, the rumbling Mississippi and Totty of the Day

It's a miserable, wet Sunday [lord knows how those hundreds of people who booked places at the "Patrons' Picnic" today on The Mall must be feeling; soggy I expect], so what more appropriate way to brighten the day than a selection of the array of talent we saw on stage at the Hackney Empire for the Queen's Birthday special live edition of Radio 2's Friday Night is Music Night?

Julian appeared as Charles Blake in "Downton Abbey", and was also naked on stage in the gay play "My Night With Reg".

First up, a new "Totty of the Day", the rather gorgeous Julian Ovenden [who wore a most flattering suit on stage; from three rows back in the stalls we could admire his - ahem! - prominent talents...] - here live at the Proms:

"Top of the bill" was Sir Willard White [whose bass-baritone voice, even in his seventieth year, is utterly incredible]:

...and also on stage was the lovely soprano Sarah Fox [whose renditions of Ivor Novello were the sweetest we've heard]:

With the BBC Concert Orchestra at its very best, and the added treat of the [gay fantasy-uniformed] Fanfare Trumpet team of the RAF College, it was a really great night's entertainment!

Friday Night is Music Night on the BBC.

Saturday 11 June 2016


...Dame Penelope Wilton!

Congratulations on their recognition in the Queen's Official Birthday Honours also go to Companion of Honour Dame Vera Lynn, Sir Rod Stewart, Sir Buzz Lightyear Tim Peake, Janet Street-Porter CBE, Stella Duffy OBE, Brian Blessed OBE, Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE, Janet Ellis MBE, Emma Samms MBE, Ruby Turner MBE and the rest.

My name was sadly missed off the list again.

The Birthday Honours

Penelope Alice Wilton DBE (born 3rd June 1946) [a very nice belated 70th birthday present, indeed...]

Friday 10 June 2016

Because, because, because, because, because

From one Queen to another

Madam Arcati and I are off to the Queen's birthday party tonight! Well, almost - we have tickets to a live recording of BBC Radio 2's Friday Night is Music Night birthday special at the Hackney Empire, featuring Sir Willard White, Julian Ovenden ("Charles Blake" in Downton Abbey) and the BBC Concert Orchestra!

It's not just HM The Queen's Official 90th Birthday today (as well as Phil the Greek's 95th), however. Sharing the occasion are such estimable bods as Terrence Rattigan, Lionel Jeffries, June Haver, Saul Bellow, João Gilberto, Elio Fiorucci, Liz Hurley, Frederick Loewe - and Judy Garland!

And, of course, I have the perfect choon to mark the estimable occasion, as well as fitting our traditional weekend "theme".

Here's Meco - and Thank Disco It's Friday!


Thursday 9 June 2016

Wednesday 8 June 2016

We'll be holding on forever

"It is certainly not hard to get motivated. Watching people sing along and put their hands in the air is a very powerful thing."

"I wanted to be a singer, not a star. There's a difference between wanting to be famous and wanting to sing well."

"I have never gone out of fashion. And do you know why? Because I never sought it. When you don't seek it, it's always with you."

"When I was young, I used to wear a lot of wigs, and I was running on stage at a gig and tripped over and it fell off. It was in the 1970s, and Swansea were doing really well in the league, and most of the team were there. I almost died, but I picked it up, put it back on my head and carried on."

The fab-a-las (as they say it in Swansea) Bonnie Tyler is sixty-five years old, which is rather scary, as is the fact she's also celebrating 40 years in the business...

We love her!

Facts about Our Bonnie:
  • Her uniquely husky singing voice is apparently the result of an operation to remove vocal nodules in the mid-1970s.
  • From working in a local shop, the then Gaynor Hopkins won a local talent contest in 1969 and launched herself as a singer under the name "Sherene Davis".
  • Finally, her big break came in 1975 when a talent scout spotted her, brought her to London to secure a record deal, and suggested she ditch "Sherene"; so Bonnie Tyler was born.
  • Through her husband, property developer Robert Sullivan, she is related to actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and attended her wedding to Michael Douglas.
  • Her hits Total Eclipse of the Heart and It's a Heartache have estimated sales of over 6 million units each, and are among the best-selling singles of all time.
Speaking of hits...

... and, of course, the hilarious "literal interpretation" video of her campest ever single - Total Eclipse of the Heart!

Many happy returns, Bonnie Tyler (born Gaynor Hopkins, 8th June 1951).

Tuesday 7 June 2016

May I interest you in parts of my body?

Combining human and pig DNA could create a species that wants to turn itself into sandwiches, scientists have warned.

After scientists implanted human cells into pigs to grow transplant organs, experts warned the resulting hybrids could become aware of the deliciousness of their crispy bacon flesh with lashings of ketchup.

Biologist Denys Finch Hatton said: “All it takes is for one careless lab technician to eat a bacon sandwich in front of part-human pigs and you’ve got a potential bloodbath on your hands.

“Once they realise how irresistibly tasty they are, they’re likely to break out of the lab and start seeking out white bread, ketchup, a grill and cutting tools, ideally a bacon slicer.

“If they find even the most basic kitchen facilities the results will be horrific. I urge our American colleagues to end this unethical experiment, or at least use unappetising animals like monkeys.

“Scientists must resist the temptation to play God with nature, unless it’s something really important like a new type of shampoo.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

It just reminds me of a classic moment from Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy:

Monday 6 June 2016


Another Italian wannabee-diva turns 50 today - and you couldn't ask for a greater contrast between she and yesterday's celebrant Miss Bartoli...

Signorina Angela Cavagna is described as "showgirl, model, television personality". The "modelling" bit appears to have gone as far as men's top-shelf magazines, but let's not split hairs. On this Tacky Music Monday, let's just hand over the mic to this triumph of art over nature - a double-bill, no less!

Che Fico!

Have a good week, peeps.

Angela Cavagna (born 6th June 1966)

Sunday 5 June 2016

Dream together

"Music is a way to dream together and go to another dimension."

The girl with one of the most assured operatic voices to emerge out of the late 20th century - renowned for making her debut at the age of 21, unusual for a true opera diva - the Italian coloratura mezzo-soprano, Signorina Cecila Bartoli hits fifty years old today!

It's Sunday. Go on, treat yourself - here's an hour of the lady's estimable (and most beauteous) moments...

Cecilia Bartoli (born 4th June 1966)

Saturday 4 June 2016

Let's do it, do it while the mood is right!

From today's Guardian:
Manchester’s Victoria station briefly became Victoria Wood station on Saturday afternoon as hundreds of fans gathered for a joyful tribute to remember the late comedian, who died of cancer in April.

A clarinettist opened proceedings with the Dinnerladies theme tune, and then the Manchester Lesbian & Gay Chorus gave their take on Let’s Do It: the Ballad of Barry and Freda. The much-loved ditty became the Ballad of Carrie and Freda (Oh and Barry and Fred), with the male section relishing the line: “I could handle half the tenors in a male voice choir.” As they sang, trams rumbled past, bound for Bury, where Wood grew up.

Some people had come dressed as their favourite Wood characters. One woman arrived slightly late and alone, slathered in goose fat, wearing a swimming costume and a hat. It was as if she really were Wood’s cross-channel swimmer, sent off to swim to France alone by her neglectful parents, only to resurface as an adult years later.

Retired teacher Izzy Morris had come from Wigan as a hybrid of Mrs Overall, Julie Walters’s hunchbacked tea lady from Acorn Antiques, and various other Wood creations: her rubber-gloved hands were clutching two bowls of soup and a Woman’s Weekly. Joanne Coates, from Salford Angels WI, who provided Victoria sponge slices, was in silver spandex leggings, pink leotard and headband, an uncanny likeness of Wood’s busty aerobics instructor.

The event was compèred by singer and actor Sue Devaney, who worked with Wood on Dinnerladies. She shared her memories of “Vic” and sang Pam, which tells the story of an upright lady who has a lesbian liaison with a woman called Joan: “She drained her rum and Babycham/ Ran her fingers through her crewcut, said I love you Pam.”

Manchester’s new lord mayor, Carl Austin-Behan, a former Mr Gay UK, attended with his husband. He accessorised his ceremonial chain with a yellow beret from an audience member – a nod to Wood’s “Kimberley” sketch, in which a girl is looking for her friend who is “really, really tall and really, really wide. If she had a suitcase on her head she’d look like a fitted wardrobe.”

“I have the honour of saying on behalf of Manchester and all its people, thank you for all the laughter, Victoria,” the lord mayor said, to hearty applause. Fans were then given the chance to share their favourite Wood memories. One lady, wearing a shower cap and a bikini over her top in homage to Wood and Walter’s Turkish Bath sketch (“By god, if her bum were a bungalow she’d never get a mortgage on it”), started to cry as she reminisced about how much the comedian had meant to her...

The station was only called Victoria Wood station for one wonderful hour, but a petition is under way for the name-change to be made permanent, and for a statue of Wood to be installed on the concourse.
Hear, hear!