Monday 31 October 2016

Dance around in your bones

Pumpkin, anyone?

How apt - the annual occasion arrives for ghouls and witches and the tortured souls of the undead to inhabit the earth, and I am heading back to the joys of the office (after almost a week away) to greet them all...

Never mind, on this Hallowe'en Tacky Music Monday, we have something spookily entertaining to get us in the mood to venture out into the fog - here's Tain't No Sin by Dan Russo!

When you hear sweet syncopation
And the music softly moans
T'ain't no sin to take off your skin
And dance around in your bones!


Happy Samhain, my little coven!

Sunday 30 October 2016

Do the snatch, clean, and jerk

He shares his birthday with a mixed bag of luminaries that include Ruth Gordon, Christopher Columbus, Henry Winkler, Michael Winner, Grace Slick, Harry Hamlin, Juliet Stevenson, Stefan Dennis, Diego Maradona and... Charles Atlas!

In a sort of twisted acknowledgement of the latter, here's an old fave [and rather befitting, as an early Hallowe'en treat] to get the old dear up and dancing - Happy Birthday, John-John!

Apparently, in just seven days, he can make you a ma-a-a-a-an..."

The birthday party on Friday was heaps of fun! Shame I can't squeeze into that basque any more...

Saturday 29 October 2016

"Give me librium or give me meth!"

"You're warning me? Me? I'm Harold, and I'm the one person you don't warn, Michael, because you and I are alike. And we tread very carefully around each other because we both play each other's game too well. I know this game you're playing. I know it very well and I play it very well. You play it very well too, but you know what? I'm the only one who's better at it than you are. I can beat you at it, so don't push me. I'm. Warning. You!"
What actor (or actress) worth their salt would not love the chance to deliver a little monologue of this order?

Such is the predominant role that 'Harold' plays in The Boys in the Band, that all the other characters - including the increasingly cruel "Michael" and his alcohol-fuelled "party games" around which much of the action revolves - at times appear to be the "chorus" awaiting his acerbic solos. It is a gem of a part [like a "meaner Oscar Wilde", as one critic puts it], that Mr Mark Gatiss took to with brilliant relish in the new revival of this ground-breaking gay classic we went to see at our local theatre The Park on Thursday night.

A surprisingly successful off-Broadway play that celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, it was, of course, made into an equally radical movie by William Friedkin that has imbued its catty repartee into gay bons mots to this day. On seeing the film at its showing at the Conway Hall five years ago, I wrote:
Written for the theatre in 1967 by Mart Crowley, The Boys in the Band just about pre-dated the Stonewall Riots, yet was equally as ground-breaking in its uncompromising subject matter - the lives, loves, friendships and bitchiness of a group of gay men in New York. With its (shocking at the time) scenes of man-on-man kissing, loving relationships, sex, swearing and matter-of-fact discussion of gay matters, it was controversial - to say the least - particularly when it became more widely known thanks to its 1970 film adaptation.

Needless to say, the timing of the release of such an excoriatingly bitter and twisted black comedy met with vocal opposition from within the gay world as well as from the usual suspects (the god-botherers, moralists and bigots, particularly in America). Gay rights activists tore into the self-loathing and bitterness of some of the characters, vilifying the play as concentrating on the "negative" rather than the "positive" aspects of gay life, and internalising the hatred rather than tackling society's homophobia.

All very worthy sentiments. However, this is only to be expected when people who are fighting for their rights encounter a situationist portrayal of what, in fact, was actually "real life" for many better-off urban gays.

In my opinion, much as in other comparable set-piece bitch-fests as The Women or Abigail's Party, the joy is not in its attempts to "represent reality" but to explore the interplay between the characters and their ultimate attempts to destroy each other as part of some self-revealing "game".

Unpleasant secrets and spiteful comments are bandied about by all the characters in turn, as alcohol, marijuana and the unwelcome presence of a mysterious character from our host Michael's past all have an impact on what might otherwise have been a simple (read "camp") celebration of the birthday of the group's Queen Bee, Harold.

Yet in doing so, the brilliance of the writer's creations comes to the fore - the dialogue is superb, the one-liners are eminently quotable, and despite several sharp intakes of breath, as a whole this is a fabulous (and genuinely "classic") masterpiece of theatre, writ large...
  • Michael: "What is he - a psychiatrist or a hairdresser?"
  • Donald: "Actually he's both. He shrinks my head and then combs me out."
  • Emory: "Who do you have to fuck to get a drink around here?"
  • Michael: "There's one thing to be said about masturbation: you certainly don't have to look your best."
  • Harold: "Your lips are turning blue. You look like you've been rimming a snowman."
  • Michael: [about Emory's falling down] "A falling down drunk nellie queen."
  • Harold: "Well, THAT'S the pot calling the kettle 'beige'."
  • Tex: "I lost my grip doing my chin ups and fell on my heels and twisted my back."
  • Emory: "You shouldn't wear heels when you do chin ups!"
  • Michael: "You're stoned and you're late. You were supposed to arrive at this location at eight thirty dash nine o'clock."
  • Harold: "What I am, Michael, is a 32 year-old, ugly, pock marked Jew fairy, and if it takes me a little while to pull myself together, and if I smoke a little grass before I get up the nerve to show my face to the world, it's nobody's god damned business but my own. And how are you this evening?"

The Park Theatre's production, directed by Adam Penford, flies in the face of detractors who criticise its somewhat dated observations on sexuality and race - and, in sticking entirely to the original dialogue (and fantastically late-60s design and fashion aesthetic), merely proves what a brilliant play this was and still is. The excellent cast help in that regard too, of course!

Apart from the tour-de-force performance by Mr Gatiss, his husband-in-real-life Ian Hallard was superbly malevolent as 'Michael' [even if his breakdown at the play's climax maybe failed to evoke quite the gut-wrenching desperation of the screen portrayal by the late Kenneth Nelson]; James Holmes was brilliantly funny and poignant in his portrayal of the "butterfly in heat" 'Emory', who gets most of the laughs; and the rather gorgeous Jack Derges was spot-on as the dumb but charming 'Cowboy Tex', with his naive misunderstandings and cheerful embrace of his role in life as merely "eye candy" for the amusement of his "betters".

Needless to say, the fact he was bestowed upon him as a birthday gift from 'Emory' provided 'Harold' with another timeless observation:
"Oh yes. It's too bad about this poor boy's face. It's tragic. He's absolutely cursed. How could his beauty ever compare with my soul? And although I've never seen my soul, I understand from my mother's Rabbi that it's a knock-out. I, however, cannot seem to locate it for a gander. And if I could, I'd sell it in a flash, for some skin-deep, transitory, meaningless beauty."
Michael's best friend 'Donald' is a complex, damaged-yet-ultimately-most-loyal character to capture, and the gorgeous Daniel Boys - better known to us as a singer - was real eye-opener with the depth of his ability to portray it. The bickering couple 'Hank' and 'Larry' (Nathan Nolan and Ben Mansfield) were excellent, convincingly exposing their complex relationship in a heartfelt and honest manner rarely seen in drama even today; Greg Lockett as 'Bernard' superbly exuded the pathos required of a character with the "double-whammy" of being black and gay, and still in love with the (white) son of his mother's former employers; and John Hopkins' "straight-boy-with-a-secret" [possibly] 'Alan' was adeptly indignant and vile-tempered and at the same time a transfixed observer of the outlandish downward spiral of this "gay party from hell".

It was an utterly marvellous show!

And we were not alone in thinking it...

The Boys in the Band now embarks on a UK tour, having closed at The Park tonight - appearing at Manchester's Salford Lowry Theatre from 3rd November, and taking in the Theatre Royal in Brighton and the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.

Friday 28 October 2016

We're the syndicate of soul

Despite the fact I am on leave [oh, the social whorl! Friday Night is Music Night on Tuesday, Boys in the Band starring Mark Gatiss last night (more on that shortly, no doubt), the RHS Shades of Autumn Show and our friend John-John's birthday tonight], there's always a need to ramp up the "boogie factor" as the weekend hoves into view..., here to provide us with a bit of a groove is the faboo Heatwave (with yet another choon from the prolific pen of the late, great Rod Temperton) - Gangsters of the Groove!

Thank Disco It's Friday, indeed!

Have a good one...

Thursday 27 October 2016

See my pirouette, round and round

Abba to re-form? As holograms?!

From the BBC:
All four original members of Abba are to reunite for a new digital entertainment project.

The Swedish pop group have not formally performed together since they split up more than 30 years ago but did appear at a 50th anniversary party in June.

The project, which will involve virtual reality and artificial intelligence, has been described as a "new entertainment experience".

It will be developed in collaboration with music manager Simon Fuller.

"We are exploring a new technological world that will allow us to create new forms of entertainment and content we couldn't have previously imagined," Fuller said in a statement.

Full details of their new project will be announced in 2017.

Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad parted ways in 1982 after more than 10 years together.

The group announced they will work with Fuller, who rose to fame managing the Spice Girls, on what is being described as a "groundbreaking venture that will utilise the very latest in digital and virtual reality technology".

Lyngstad said fans around the world always ask about a reunion, and added: "I hope this new Abba creation will excite them as much as it excites me."

Andersson said: "We're inspired by the limitless possibilities of what the future holds and are loving being a part of creating something new and dramatic here. A time machine that captures the essence of who we were and are."
I wonder if they'll include this one in their "virtual reality" project?

"You're so free", that's what everybody's telling me
Yet I feel I'm like an outward-bound, pushed around, refugee
Something's wrong, got a feeling that I don't belong
As if I had come from outer space, out of place, like King Kong

I'm a marionette, just a marionette, pull the string
I'm a marionette, everybody's pet, just as long as I sing
I'm a marionette, see my pirouette, round and round
I'm a marionette, I'm a marionette, just a silly old clown

Like a doll, like a puppet with no will at all
And somebody told me how to talk, how to walk, how to fall

Can't complain, I've got no-one but myself to blame
Something's happening I can't control, lost my hold, is it safe?

I'm a marionette, just a marionette, pull the string
I'm a marionette, everybody's pet, just as long as I sing
I'm a marionette, see my pirouette, round and round
I'm a marionette, I'm a marionette, just a silly old clown

"Look this way, just a little smile", is what they say
"You look better on the photograph if you laugh, that's okay"

I'm a marionette, just a marionette, pull the string
I'm a marionette, everybody's pet, just as long as I sing
I'm a marionette, see my pirouette, round and round
I'm a marionette, I'm a marionette, just a silly old clown

"You're so free", that's what everybody's telling me
Yet I feel I'm like an outward-bound, pushed around, refugee.


Wednesday 26 October 2016

From Ally Pally to Aiden Turner

We had another wonderful (free) evening's entertainment last night, courtesy of the BBC - having again landed audience tickets for Friday Night is Music Night [our fourth this year; we were at the Queen's Birthday celebration concert, an evening of Cy Coleman's music and a birthday tribute to conductor Carl Davis CBE, which I may write about at a later stage], this time at its "spiritual home" The Mermaid Theatre in Blackfriars.

The Mermaid Theatre in the 1960s

This time, it was a rather spectacular celebration of the 80th anniversary of the first regular television service in the UK, hosted by the acerbic anchor-man of Radio 4's morning current affairs Today programme, Mr John Humphrys. From the BBC's own blurb for the programme (to be broadcast this Friday):
It all started on Monday, 2nd November 1936 from a make-shift studio in the south east wing of Alexandra Palace in North London; "Ally Pally" as it was and still is known today. It wasn't a new invention by any means - experiments had been on going around the world since the 1850s to perfect and broadcast television pictures. In this country the work of John Logie Baird pushed the way forward and this November day was momentous as it marked the start of the world's first regular television service: BBC Television. This title was to last until the arrival of the BBC's second television channel in 1964 and this first channel was re-named BBC One.

That first schedule featured a variety show with singer Adele Dixon, comedians Buck and Bubbles, Chinese jugglers the Lai Founs and the BBC Television Orchestra. There was also a new magazine programme Picture Page featuring switchboard girl Joan Miller. The broadcasts ran for just four hours a day. Small fare for the 15 thousand television sets receiving the pictures at the time. But there was much to look forward to - Tuesday's schedule offered a "display of Champion Alsatians" from the Metropolitan and Essex Canine Society Show, and Hollywood stars Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyons.

Since then, of course, there's been a media revolution - you can catch up, download and watch online. How old fashioned it seems to think that viewers made an appointment to watch our schedules. But the last 80 years produced a wealth of comedy, drama, music, documentary, sport, natural history and news programmes.

BBC Television's older sister service - BBC Radio - celebrates 80 years of great television and musical moments with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Gavin Sutherland.
And "great moments" a-plenty there were, indeed!

We adore the spectacle of one of the best orchestras in Britain in full swing - all the intricacies of the plucks, toots and tinkles that make up the greater whole of every piece of orchestration laid out before us; all the running around (especially in the percussion section at the back), the swapping of instruments mid-flow, the tiny pieces being played on one instrument after another, even for the briefest of moments - and they certainly did us proud yet again, as they took the audience on a trip down memory lane. Among the many TV themes they played:

Vision On ("Gallery" theme; aka Left Bank Two):

Doctor Who [unfortunately on this occasion without either Matt Smith or the monsters]:

Ski Sunday:

The Sky at Night (Sibelius: At The Castle Gate):


Inspector Morse:

Quatermass (Holst: Mars, Bringer of War from The Planet Suite):

One of my favourites [in every way] - Brideshead Revisited:

...and many, many more (including medleys from classic comedy shows like Morecambe & Wise, Two Ronnies, Terry and June, Are You Being Served, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, Last of the Summer Wine, Monty Python and the rest, American cop shows and current affairs programmes and documentaries such as The Blue Planet, themes from popular recent successes Strictly Come Dancing and Poldark, and some from very old classics such as Dr Finlay and Maigret)!

We had a fabulous time...

Friday Night is Music Night, the world's longest-running live orchestral music programme on radio.

Tuesday 25 October 2016


...I am on leave till next Monday! Yay!

Monday 24 October 2016

One of these days you're gonna be cryin'

Tacky Music Monday part 2...

The sad announcement today of the death of the pop-tastic Mr Bobby Vee [who even knew he was still alive?] - the 60s answer to Rick Astley - has provided another excuse to visit the wonderful world of Scopitones to recapture a little of the "Vee magic" that made him so popular.

Sporting the teeny-tiniest pair of shorts and surrounded by (typically for Scopitone) a bevy of over-enthusiastic "dancers", here he is with his all-time classic The Night Has A Thousand Eyes...

RIP Bobby Vee (born Robert Thomas Velline, 30th April 1943 – 24th October 2016)


No idea what is going on here, but it looks interesting.

There must be a scientific explanation for why those two precious days, Saturday and Sunday, always seem to be infinitesimally shorter than any other in the rest of the week - but here we are again, crusty-eyed, trying desperately to wake up and drag ourselves into work...

It's just as well that on this Tacky Music Monday I have discovered yet another gem from "The Land of Tackiness", Spain, to cheer us up - here's Pimpinela and Dónde están los hombres?

I sympathise, dear.

Have a good week, amigos!

Sunday 23 October 2016

The original party animal

It would have been the 85th birthday today of the simply wonderful Diana Dors...

Always a gal that knew how to be the "life and soul of the party", here she is proving that fact - with the Hokey Pokey Polka!

We still miss her.

Diana Dors (born Diana Mary Fluck, 23rd October 1931 – 4th May 1984)

More Diana here, here, and here - and over at my other half Madam Arcati's own blog here.

Saturday 22 October 2016

Salmigondis de musique

I have not done one of these "potpourri-of-pop" blogs for such a long time, I'd almost forgotten that "newer music" can produce some works of wonder and amusement. One tends to avoid most music beloved of the "benighted yoof" these days (all those Kendricks, Minajs, Drakes, Arianas, Little Mixes and Biebers - yuk), but occasionally I do pop in for a little look... Of the chart-toppers, I can just about cope with some currently mega-popular artists such as Adele or Clean Bandit, and the occasional tolerable choon like that Zara Larsson one that dominated the summer airwaves, or maybe that much-hyped Christina and the Queens ditty, but in general whatever the "Charts" these days encompasses tends to pass me by. But what of the rest? Here goes...

Watch me shimmy into the light..." Thus the remarkable Allie X announces her arrival - and, with RuPaul's Drag Race winner (and house fave) Violet Chachki on board in this magnificent "let's-raid-the-dressing-up-box" video, what a spectacle she is too! She's All The Rage:

Speaking of summer, the strangely-named Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners and This Girl has an alluring Northern Soul-tinged feel about it. The "pretty-young-things-at-play" video certainly does make one rather nostalgic for warmer climes...

One can always rely upon the brilliant Mr Dave Audé to make a slightly-catchy-yet-not-good-enough song such as Handclap by Fitz and the Tantrums into something really special:

No-one ever thought that meeja-sensations Sam and the Womp would ever be more than a one-hit-wonder, after their surprise hit of 2012 Bom Bom - but, as "comebacks" go, with the help of some "Bjork-lite" vocals from Bloom De Wilde and a glitzy video I think Fireflies is a rather jolly effort:

Next, and by complete contrast, a song that was played (with his tongue firmly in his cheek) by the ever-wonderful Desmond Carrington on his penultimate show on Radio 2 last night - it's Madeleine Peyroux and her cover of Tom Waits's Tango Till They're Sore. I love it!

Here is a really unexpected treat. We are all aware that everyone's (not least ours at Dolores Delargo Towers) favourite octogenarian chanteuse (not-yet-a-Dame) Petula Clark is cool, professional, and still retains the vocal tone and energy that would shame many a wannabee a quarter her age, but she is also never content just to rest on her "easy listening" laurels, it seems. With its catchy tune and atmospheric visuals, her new single Sacrifice My Heart is simply faboo!

The very lovely Andy Bell has been busy, too - what with his stage show Torsten The Beautiful Libertine, various live appearances and the release of two albums (the soundtrack to Torsten and a remix album of songs from the show Variance 2) this year. And here [courtesy of our friend John-John, who alerted me to it a while ago], with the excellent support of the one-and-only Al Pillay and the mixing talents of DJ Matt Pop, is Queercore!

If it's a party you're after, you can do much worse than a really catchy cover of the Four Seasons' Oh What A Night, in French, by the Gallic pop sensation (and occasional Ricky Martin duettist) M. (Matt) Pokora! Cette Année La, indeed:

...then there is the sumptuously funky début by the esoterically-named JANE and We Don't Wanna Dance! Shades of Sylvester/Wild Cherry/Average White Band and the heyday of Disco, methinks:

And, finally - not because this is by any means a conclusive list of favourites from the past few months, but merely because I have to end somewhere - Here's the lovely Robbie Williams and his (oh-so-"controversial") Party Like a Russian:

Anything that pisses Putin off has my vote!

Anyhoo, that's all folks - as ever, enjoy; and let me know your thoughts...

[*Salmigondis de musique = (hopefully) "musical hodgepodge" in French]

Friday 21 October 2016

The Worldwide Ambassador of Love

Another week drags its dank way to a close. Oh, how I hate the creeping darkness at this time of year. But hey! There's a weekend to look forward to - and that can only mean one thing...

It's time for a party!

To get us up and running, let us join in the shirtless fun that this Thursday's birthday boy Mr George McCrae [self-styled "Worldwide Ambassador of Love", according to his website] is obviously having on The Julio Iglesias Hour!

With his tightest trousers and his sparkly jacket on, surrounded by some chemically-enhanced dancers in hideous green suedette outfits, psychedelic camera effects and a cartoon sheep - how could he not?!

Thank Disco It's Friday!

George Warren McCrae Jr. (born 19th October 1944)

Thursday 20 October 2016

Thought for the Day

Hallowe'en is coming.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Let's cause a nuclear reaction, shake it up

It's Divine's birthday today!

All hail.

By way of a little tribute to the largest of our larger-than-life Patron Saints, here's an old favourite - Shake It Up, "performed" by... Ursula the Sea Witch:

Happy birthday, Harris Glenn Milstead aka Divine (19th October 1945 – 7th March 1988)

Read my tribute to the great Diva of Trash on the 70th anniversary of her birth last year - and also reminiscences on her notorious sojourn down the Thames for Gay Pride way back in 1985 (my first Pride)!

I can remember the screams and cheers even now...

Even more Divine here, here and here.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

You can keep your grit

Hmmm. Unsurprisingly, Ken Loach - the enfant terrible of "kitchen sink realism" - has criticised our appetite for the "fake nostalgia" of costume dramas....

Mr Loach's variously successful dramas embrace "gritty mundanity", and everyone in them (so it seems) just has to suffer. His lead characters are people such as "an unemployed recovering alcoholic in Glasgow" (My Name is Joe), "an unemployed worker and member of the Communist Party of Great Britain who decides to fight for the republican side in the Spanish Civil War" (Land and Freedom), "brothers who join the Irish Republican Army to fight for Irish independence from the United Kingdom" (The Wind That Shakes the Barley), a boy brought up in the grim North of England whose only "friend" (a kestrel) is brutally strangled by his bully-boy brother (Kes), or a homeless woman whose harrowing screams as her children are taken off her by Social Services traumatised viewers for years (Cathy Come Home).

Downton Abbey, Brideshead Revisited, Pride and Prejudice, Upstairs Downstairs, The Jewel in the Crown, The Duchess of Duke Street, Cranford, I Claudius, Poldark and the rest, however, provide viewers with sumptuous settings, beautiful people, extravagant clothing and jewellery, country houses, polite manners, grand vistas and arch dialogue. In other words, nothing "gritty" at all. And all the better for it, in my opinion!

Give me an escapist faux-historical hour or so of wallowing in the glamorous lives of the type of people who I'll never meet, or worse, never be (even a crap one such as Mr Selfridge or the ill-considered "update" of Upstairs Downstairs), and I am happy.

I am not convinced, however, that Ken Loach could ever be described as such.

So, dear reader - which do you prefer?


Or this?

Monday 17 October 2016

You lead me on and I pursue

Monday. Groan...

With the miserable, rainy weather that is upon us, the dark mornings and the prospect of another bum-numbing week ahead, I'm going to need more than coffee and a fag to make this morning feel OK.

Thank heavens for today's birthday girl, the gorgeous Miss Rita Hayworth! On this Tacky Music Monday, who could not raise a smile as she glitters and sambas her tits off, replete with hat-drumming safety gays, tassels and twirls?

It certainly cheered me up!

Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Carmen Cansino, 17th October 1918 – 14th May 1987)

Sunday 16 October 2016

Who could ask for anything more?

"I absolutely do not have a retirement age...I believe age should not stop you from keeping on."

She shares her birthday with a bit of a "mixed bag" of other famous names - including Nobel laureate Günter Grass, organist Reginald Dixon, singers Max Bygraves and Emile Ford, guitarist/songwriter Gary Kemp, orchestra leader Bert Kaempfert, arty chanteuse Nico, fellow actresses Linda Darnell, Suzanne Somers and Carmen Sevilla, soul singer Sugar Pie DeSanto, actor Peter Bowles and, greatest of them all, Mr Oscar Wilde. She's won five Tony Awards, six Golden Globes and an Olivier Award, as well as an Honorary Academy Award. In her eight decade career she's worked with them all, including Ingrid Bergman, Elizabeth Taylor, George Sanders, Judy Garland, Deborah Kerr, Lana Turner, Gene Kelly, Hedy Lamarr, Tony Curtis, Paul Newman, Sophia Loren, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley - and all this even before landing her memorable turns in the star-studded Agatha Christie adaptations Death On The Nile and The Mirror Crack'd, and her later immortality as TV's "Jessica Fletcher" in Murder She Wrote (in which guest stars dropped like flies)...

Dame Angela Lansbury (for it is she), we salute you!

Here is our adored Premier-League Patron Saint herself, working the boards with another beloved Dame - Julie Andrews - in a magnificent tableau of tributes to the great ladies of showbiz: The Dolly Sisters, Miss Ethel Merman, Miss Helen Morgan, Miss Eleanor Powell, Miss Mae West, Señorita Carmen Miranda, Miss Judy Garland and (ahem) The Rockettes.

It's a tour-de-force, peeps!

Happy birthday, Dame Angela Brigid Lansbury DBE (born 16th October 1925)

Read my tribute on her 90th, and on her 89th, and my blog about our visit to see her in person in Blithe Spirit.

I AM Angela Lansbury...

Saturday 15 October 2016

Wetsuit or kitten?

A perfect Xmas gift for a loved one, methinks.

Putin's 2017 calendar has arrived! And the BBC's Steve Rosenberg is the first to open it...

I'm stunned.

Friday 14 October 2016

RIP, Hilda

Uncrowned (just be-curlered) "Queen of the Cobbles", Corrie's favourite busybody Hilda Ogden was the brilliant creation of Miss Jean Alexander, who died today aged 90.

Ex-librarian Jean Alexander was born and bred in Liverpool. She started acting when she joined a Macclesfield theatre company and spent years touring in Rep, as well as being the leading actress at York's Theatre Royal. Radio and television work eventually led to a small part on Coronation Street, playing Mrs Webb, a local landlady. Two years later in 1964 she landed the part of Hilda Ogden and a television legend was created - and earned her her place as a "national treasure".

For twenty three years Hilda Ogden lived at No. 13 Coronation Street and "kept her eye firmly wedged in the keyhole of life". She left in 1987 to keep house for Dr Lowther in Derbyshire and little was heard of her since. Hilda Ogden's departure attracted a record soap opera audience of 26m viewers. When she quit the show, fans launched a "Save Hilda" campaign without realising that she was leaving voluntarily.

  • Lord Larry Olivier and Russell Harty formed the Hilda Ogden Appreciation Society in the 1970s.
  • In a 1982 poll, she was named the 4th most recognisable woman in Britain, behind the Queen, the Queen Mother and Princess Diana.
  • Readers of 'TV Times' named her the greatest soap opera star of all time in 2005.
  • The Royal Television Society presented her with a magnificent trophy as Best Actress of 1987.
  • Jean said she would not return to Coronation Street because the show " all about who's sleeping with whom."
  • For a further two decades, she also played "Auntie Wainwright" in Last of the Summer Wine.
In her own words: "If they remember Hilda with such affection, then I'm happy and very flattered... It means that I did a good job and that's what I set out to do."

Here's Hilda (and Stan) in action (their hopes for a change of luck dashed as ever...):

All about Hilda Ogden

RIP Jean Alexander (born Jean Hodgkinson, 11th October 1926 – 14th October 2016)

Crazy like a fool

As we try and crank up the adrenaline in preparation for the start of another weekend, so we call upon the Ultimate Party Band to provide some apt music...

On this, lead singer Marcia Barrett's birthday, let us don our tightest white trousers and inappropriate levels of lurex, shake our tail feathers - and get spinnin' along with Boney M!

What about it, Daddy Cool?

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Thursday 13 October 2016

An insult to slugs

According to the BBC:
The upper house of the New South Wales parliament in Australia has unanimously passed a motion calling Trump a "revolting slug" unfit for public office.

The motion was filed by Greens party MP Jeremy Buckingham to the Upper House of the NSW parliament.

Because there was no objection, the motion was recorded as having been agreed to by all of the lawmakers.
As a gardener, I despise slugs; they destroy so much of our beautiful vegetation. However I do think that comparing them to Donald Trump is a bit much. For all their faults, they're not that bad!

Indeed, Sir David Attenborough finds them utterly entrancing...

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Wears a coat that's black and long

It happens. All those ground-breaking, scary, energetic "rebel hearts" of our youth are getting older...

Mr Dave Vanian - the man who was (alongside Siouxsie and Robert Smith of The Cure) a "Goth" before "Goth" was invented - blows out sixty candles on his cake today! Gulp.

Mr Vanian and his band The Damned were pioneers of Punk; among the original clutch of bands who defined the genre and the first to get a hit single way back in 1976 (New Rose) - even before the Sex Pistols. In its original incarnation the band included notorious members Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies; by the 80s, Mr Vanian was the only original member in the band.

It was at this late stage that they (he?) achieved their greatest commercial success. And among those later hits was this rather fab one:

Many happy returns, David Vanian (born David Lett, 12th October 1956).

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Let's take a ride, and run with the dogs tonight

Timeslip moment again, methinks...

Our ever-rusting TARDIS has dropped us [courtesy of the sixth Doctor Who Colin Baker, in his last outing this year before being transformed into Sylvester McCoy] back thirty years to a world of BIG hair, BIG shoulders, BIG money and the BIG Bang.

In the news in mid-October 1986: HM The Queen and Prince Philip embarked on the first ever visit to China by a British monarch; Andrew Lloyd-Webber's Phantom of the Opera opened at Her Majesty's Theatre in London (and it's still going!); an earthquake in El Salvador killed 1500 people; in the ascendant: Britain's first new national broadsheet newspaper for decades The Independent, the largest shopping complex in Europe (at the time) MetroCentre Tyneside and Rupert Murdoch's Fox Broadcasting Company (all launched this month); and the world's media were still madly debating that ludicrous plotline in Dallas when "Pam" awoke from a dream to find the entire events of the previous year or so were a figment of her imagination and "Bobby" wasn't dead at all - he was in the shower! In our cinemas: Top Gun, Aliens, Basil the Great Mouse Detective. On telly: New Faces of '86 presented by Marti Caine; Casualty (which first began that September, and is still on); and the first (experimental) "two-hander" episode of EastEnders, featuring "Den and Angie Watts" (the one where she lied about her terminal cancer when he told her he wanted a divorce).

And in our charts this week in 1986? Our Glorious Leader Madonna was at the top slot with True Blue, holding off the likes of Five Star, The Communards, Nick Berry, Paul Simon, Cameo, the Eurythmics, A-Ha and Status Quo. But just creeping into the Top Ten was one of our favourites of that (and any other) era - Pet Shop Boys, with Suburbia:

Suburbia, where the suburbs met Utopia
(Where the suburbs met Utopia)

Lost in the high street, where the dogs run
Roaming suburban boys
Mother's got a hairdo to be done
She says they're too old for toys
Stood by the bus stop with a felt pen
In this suburban hell
And in the distance a police car
To break the suburban spell

Let's take a ride, and run with the dogs tonight
In Suburbia
You can't hide, run with the dogs tonight
In Suburbia

Break a window by the town hall
Listen, the siren screams
There in the distance, like a roll call
Of all the suburban dreams

Let's take a ride, and run with the dogs tonight
In Suburbia
You can't hide, run with the dogs tonight
In Suburbia

I only wanted something else to do but hang around
I only wanted something else to do but hang around
(Hang around, hang around)

It's on the front page of the papers
This is their hour of need
Where's a policeman when you need one
To blame the colour TV?

Let's take a ride, and run with the dogs tonight
In Suburbia
You can't hide, run with the dogs tonight
In Suburbia
In Suburbia
In Suburbia

Run with the dogs tonight
You can't hide
Run with the dogs tonight
You can't hide
(You can't hide, you can't hide)
In Suburbia

(Suburbia, where the suburbs met Utopia)
(What kind of dream was this, so easy to destroy?)
(A world together, the cities of the past)
(Mews, slums of the future)
(Suburbia, where the suburbs met Utopia)
(Suburbia, where the suburbs met Utopia)
(Where the suburbs met Utopia)

I really cannot believe it has been THREE DECADES since we all learned every word of that song...

Monday 10 October 2016

Give me the moonlight

Monday again. Sigh.

Never mind, eh?

On this Tacky Music Monday, we have another preposterous wannabee-diva (newly discovered here at Dolores Delargo Towers), Miss Asha Puthli, to cheer us up - clad in an outfit created by the uber-camp Larry LeGaspi [read my recent blog about him], and (hilariously) pouting her way around a set that appears to consist entirely of papier mâché figures, on that most bizarre of Italian TV "spectaculars" Stryx...

Can it get any weirder..?

Have a good week, folks!

Sunday 9 October 2016

Hello, my love, it's getting cold on this island

A view up my back passage

We have had a fab day - well, an afternoon, really, after I managed to get a lie-in - pottering in the garden, dodging the rain showers, putting a new cover on the (polythene) greenhouse in preparation for anything winter may throw at us. It is looking lovely out there [as my other half Madam Arcati demonstrates so well in his own blog]...

I think we all deserve a little "light music interlude", courtesy of an old favourite that I haven't played for years - here's Koop:


Saturday 8 October 2016

A toasted cheese Band-aid?

From our local web forum Harringay Online came this fascinating piece. Who knew that the esteemed John Wesley, founder of the Methodists, also wrote a best-selling "home doctor" self-help book?

Among some very sensible stuff he features, that probably would be worth knowing today [his sage warnings against the commonest "quack cures" of the time such as Quicksilver (Mercury) or bleeding are way ahead of their time], there's a weird and wonderful selection of "cure-alls". If you ever wanted to know how to cure the Ague (by wearing a waistcoat made of bark, of course!), "Canine Appetite", Windy Rupture (with cow-dung!) or Quinsy of the Breast, then this is the book for you.

You can even heal a cut... with toasted cheese! Apparently.

You can download this invaluable tome Primitive Physic: or an Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases from [as a PDF]

Friday 7 October 2016

From Grimsby to the Grammys

"He had a very small flat, so everything had to be done within one room and he had piles of washing, with the TV on top of the organ. It was a nightmare... he had trams running outside... but he made it, he just absorbed himself in the music and Rod seemed to come up with these amazing songs."

We bade a sad farewell this week to one of the most successful - yet largely unpublicised [or probably more likely "not a seeker of publicity"] - songwriters of the latter part of the 20th century, Mr Rod Temperton [probably the most famous person ever to have come from the Lincolnshire seaside town of Cleethorpes!].

Originally a full-time member of the archetypal 70s groove band Heatwave [and prior to joining them, employed in a frozen fish-packing factory in Grimsby], Mr Temperton's writing and arranging skills soon came to the notice of the big music producers in the USA, and he was "air-lifted" into the big time by none other than Quincy Jones. The result of that fortuitous collaboration? Michael Jackson's much-lauded "comeback" album Off The Wall. Mr Temperton and Mr Jones went on to produce Jacko's biggest-selling-in-the-world-ever album Thriller, and by then neither of them probably ever needed to work again.

During his long career, Rod Temperton wrote or co-wrote myriad funky, soulful and dancefloor classics [several featured here, usually at the climax of the week], including: for Heatwave - Boogie Nights, The Groove Line, Always and Forever, Gangsters of the Groove, and many more; The Brothers Johnson - Stomp!; James Ingram and Michael McDonald's Yah Mo B There; The Manhattan Transfer - The Spice of Life; and Donna Summer's Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger). He also worked with Lionel Richie, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Mica Paris, Patti Austin, Herbie Hancock, Stephanie Mills, Karen Carpenter and Aretha Franklin...

...and found the time to write these two!

Thank Disco It's Friday - and thank Rod for the music!

Rodney Lynn Temperton (9th October 1949; death announced 5th October 2016)

Thursday 6 October 2016

Beating together

He's lovely, but I wish he'd shave that beard off.
"When I found out that gay marriage was illegal in Australia, I was astounded.

"I simply can't fathom on any level, whether it's moral or religious or anything, that I have the right to get married and to marry the person that I love and that somebody else doesn't because of their sexual orientation.

"We will not get married until this law has passed in Australia".
These are the words of Kylie Minogue's fiancé Joshua Sasse, launching the "Say I Do Down Under" marriage equality campaign.

Further proof - if ever any were needed - why we all adore Kylie (and her man..!).

It also provides us an opportunity - as if we needed an excuse - for a fab "Kylie moment". It's Two Hearts:


Wednesday 5 October 2016

Be afraid


...and now.

Either it's a remarkably elaborate hoax, or else... Bros really are going to re-form [well, at least two of them are: the twins Matt and Luke Goss] for a massive concert at London's 02 stadium [the venue formerly known as The Millennium Dome]!

Anyone who lived through the "plastic-pop-boyband" era of the late 80s and early 90s remembers all too well the faux-tough ripped double-denim, the blonde quiffs and the whiny vocals. For a while, every teen girl's wall was adorned with images of their oh-so-gormless pouting. We thought that was all over and done with...

But no! Matt's making a special foray across the pond after his long residency (with his Big Band) at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas came to a close, and Luke's taking a break from his film "career". The missing third of the the original line-up - always the prettiest one, in my opinion - Craig Logan is far too busy, having worked with such artists as Robbie Williams, Tina Turner, Garth Brooks, Anastacia, Sade, Joe Cocker, M People and Pink, as Managing Director of the RCA Label Group to join them. He's probably earning twice as much as either twin ever will.

Anyhoo - as a portent of what to expect, should anyone wish to purchase a ticket for the show in August 2017, here's their biggest hit:

  • When Will I Be Famous? was in the UK charts for a total of eighteen weeks in 1987-88, peaking at #2; it was held off the top slot by Tiffany's I Think Were Alone Now.
  • At their biggest-ever concert at Wembley Stadium back in 1989, support acts were Salt 'n' Pepa and Debbie Gibson.
  • When the band broke up, Craig successfully sued for "lost" royalties, and practically bankrupted the twins.
  • The boys are (remarkably) 48 years old; born in Peckham on 29 September 1968.
More Bros here and here.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Ice queen intellectual or slut whore?

“How you spend your energy is ultimately what creates who you are."

"Make mistakes. Make big mistakes. Mistakes are how we find our voice."

"It's still not easy to find roles that offer more complex images of women. Do you really have to be the ice queen intellectual or the slut whore? Isn't there some way to be both?"

"When you start to develop your powers of empathy and imagination, the whole world opens up to you."

"Happiness is the true beauty weapon."

Many happy returns to the lovely Susan Sarandon, who blows out 70 candles on her birthday cake today...

Susan Sarandon (born Susan Abigail Tomalin, 4th October 1946)

Read my tribute on the occasion of her 65th

Gigantic Muslim Spiders

A nice older couple inexplicably read the Daily Mail, it has emerged.

Tom and Susan Booker are consistently kind and considerate to both family members and complete strangers, despite enjoying a daily dose of demented frothing hate and undiluted paranoia via their favourite newspaper.

Nikki Hollis, the couple's 33-year-old daughter, said: “It’s weird because they really are sound. Last month dad drove 80 miles in the middle of the night to help me when my car broke down.

“They are generally nice to people and I’m not aware of them being murderous or insane. Maybe they just stare at the pages without reading the words.”

The Bookers’ Daily Mail is delivered at breakfast time, so that they can read articles about devious asylum seekers, homosexual benefits fraudsters and giant African hornets while having their toast.

However Tom Booker explained: “Sometimes they do a thing where you cut out the tokens to try to win a cottage. Even better, they have been known to give away free packets of seeds at the weekend.

“Other than that we mainly get it to keep up on what the cast of 'Celebrity Sex Pit' has been up to.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Read more about the Mail's "sick filth".

And more.

Monday 3 October 2016

Nobody digs him now

Monday rolls in once again, far too soon - but as long as there is Scopitone, there is salvation.

To cheer us up on this Tacky Music Monday, here's the cool-as-a-cucumber Gale Garnett, with a typically bizarre accompaniment with a bevy of showgirls and an idiot doing Jerry Lewis impressions...

Viva Scopitone!

Have a great week, folks...

Sunday 2 October 2016

Farewell, Sneville!

With the sad announcement of the death of conductor Sir Neville Marriner [who we've always referred to as "Sneville"], just months after that of the playwright Sir Peter Shaffer, what better way to celebrate the lives of both great men than with a classic excerpt from their most successful collaboration [Sir Peter wrote the screenplay, Sir Neville arranged and conducted the music for the soundtrack] - Amadeus?

All together, now!

Sir Neville Marriner CH, CBE (15th April 1924 – 2nd October 2016)

Saturday 1 October 2016

What else do I need?

Many happy returns to Miss Stella Stevens, "star" of such "classics" as A Town Called Bastard, Monster in the Closet, Dangerous Curves , Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 Women [I'm not making this up, you know!], Megaconda and... The Poseidon Adventure! She's 80 years old today.

Never one to take herself too seriously, Miss Stevens has appeared in just about every tacky American "cult TV" series, including The Love Boat, Murder She Wrote, Fantasy Island, Flamingo Road, The Father Dowling Mysteries, Hart To Hart and Magnum PI, and was landed with such esoteric character names as "Lute-Mae Sanders", "'Mama Jo' Max", "Muffy Fuller", "'Lolly' Zachary van der Post" and "Appassionata Von Climax". But it is for her role as the sassy tart-with-a-heart "Linda Rogo" in that aforementioned blockbuster, possibly the campiest disaster movie ever made, that we remember her most.

Yes! A Linda Rogo doll! I want one...

To celebrate the lady's milestone birthday, here - interspersed with actual scenes from the film - is Linda's show-stopper from what would appear to be a rather camp musical version of Poseidon!:

Words to live by...

Many happy returns, Stella Stevens (born Estelle Eggleston, 1st October 1936)