Sunday 30 September 2018

On the Buses

For 48 hours at the end of last week, the greedy bastards of the RMT union decided to pull another strike, affecting the Piccadilly Line - serving a huge swathe of London from Heathrow via the West End to our neighbourhood in North London. Usually, this kind of petulance causes huge disruption to everyone else trying to get to (their far lower-paid than anyone working on the Tube, for sure) work, as the buses (particularly in this Northerly stretch) become dangerously overcrowded. I have had to walk to work on previous occasions, which was not too horrendous from our previous locale, but now we are two miles further North would have been problematic.

However, the far-sighted management at Transport for London had the genius idea of hiring/bringing back into service a whole fleet of classic Routemasters and similarly vintage vehicles to take the strain. So, over a three-day stretch, we were treated to the most fabulously nostalgic commute. It took me right back to my youth - I almost sparked up a cigarette (as was traditional) on the top deck!

Continuing the nostalgia, here's an appropriate song for the occasion, courtesy of today's birthday boy, the sadly-missed Marc Bolan and T. Rex:

Friends say it's fine
Friends say it's good
Everybody says it's just like rock and roll

Well, it certainly felt like being back the the 1960s.

Saturday 29 September 2018

We do routines and chorus scenes, with footwork impecc-able

"Our gang" congregated again in the salubrious surroundings of the Hoop & Grapes pub in Farringdon Road for one of our irregular "film club" afternoons today [late celebrations for History Boy's birthday] - which (obviously) stretched well into the evening...

Among the delights on show were this:

...and this:

Simply faboo, my dears!

STOP PRESS: The evidence...


Friday 28 September 2018

Disco down and check out the show

Yay! The weekend's just about here...

To get ourselves in the party spirit, how about we don some ill-matching primary colours and flap around randomly on a stage to an all-time dance classic by Wild Cherry - just like the hapless (and thankfully soon-to-be-replaced - this was their last-ever routine on Top of the Pops) Ruby Flipper! [Oh, and be sure to look out for a bit of oh-so-1970s "casual racism" in the choreography...]

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a faboo weekend, dear reader.

Thursday 27 September 2018

It's such a crazy world you'll see

The Beluga whale spotted in the Thames has changed course after finding out the price of a London pint.

The majestic creature, which had planned to check out Madame Tussaud’s and perhaps the Tate Modern, has drawn the line at paying more than seven quid for a drink.

It said: “Bloody hell, almost eight pounds for a pint? I don’t care if it is craft beer. How good can beer be?

“And crisps are nearly two quid.”

The disappointed mammal said that the excursion had also been marred by the appearance of a persistent seagull that only wanted to discuss Brexit.

The whale added: “I had to shoot a load of water out of my blowhole just to get him to shut up.”

The creature is now heading back to open water, where the daily battle for survival is still more relaxing than time in the UK capital.
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Now, let it never be said that I would ever make a [totally bizarre] comparison between the Thames Beluga whale and Mr William "Frank Cannon" Conrad [who would have been 98 years old today], but... hell, why not? Here is the great man himself, singing a Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini classic - in German...

No comment.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

For your safety and comfort

The new Network Rail uniform is going down a storm!
"For your safety and comfort, everybody's doing a brand new dance now. Come on commuters, do the locomotion!"

"Please let passengers sing and dance their way off the train first before trying to get on board."

"I know what you're thinking; 'Why is Kylie doing the announcements?' It's because it's BBC Music Day ... so I can!"
Yes, indeed, Princess Kylie's dulcets are coming to a station near you - well, if you happen to live in Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester or Reading, or travel in and out of London at Euston, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, London Victoria or London Waterloo this Friday, of course. And joining Miss Minogue as ambassadors for BBC Music 2018 are such luminaries as Dame Vera Lynn, Nile Rodgers, Gabrielle and Lisa Stansfield, plus choirmaster Gareth Malone, saxophonist YolanDa Brown, singer/songwriter Nina Nesbitt, gospel star Wayne Ellington, Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, classical star Carly Paoli and indie rockers Blossoms.

All this attention on our Patron Saint of Gold Hotpants only serves to remind us how time flies, however. Here's a thought: a person celebrating a birthday today, who has reached an age at which they can legally drive a car on their own, apply for a private pilot’s licence, become a blood donor, or, indeed, be treated as an adult if arrested, was born on the same day that Kylie was at Number 1 with "Can't Get You Out Of My Head"! That is terrifying.

Seventeen years ago, Miss M did indeed rule the world with her magnum opus, a song that everyone can sing along to (and do all the actions from the video) at a moment's notice. But before we get to that, who were the contenders for her throne on this day in 2001?

She had just knocked some nonentity called DJ Ötzi off the top. "Who the fuck?", I hear you say. Well, this man - a one-hit-wonder if ever there was one! - was responsible for one of the most annoying "lads and ladettes" drunken-party-chant favourites in pop history [a song previously recorded by, among many others, Del Shannon, Brian Poole and The Tremeloes, Pat Boone, Adam Faith and José Feliciano, all probably with less drink'n'drugs involved]:

Just below it, in a Top Ten littered with artists never to be seen again, was a gang of noisy oiks calling themselves Alien Ant Farm [with a number previously recorded by Michael Jackson]

It gets worse. At #4 was a singing children's telly show puppet (actually session singer John Skipper) by the name of Bob the Builder ["performing"a cover of Lou Bega's party anthem]:

Bringing up the rear was the novelty-r'nb-cum-dancehall artist Shaggy with a dreadful mess of a "song" Luv Me, Luv Me [featuring the vocals of Samantha Cole; previously recorded as a duet with Janet Jackson, apparently], which I can't even bring myself to play...

The rest of the Top Ten was patchy, to say the least - including Victoria Beckham [the bitch wot nabbed Our David; former Spice Girl and latterly fashion guru] with Not Such An Innocent Girl [launched with OTT chutzpah as a "contender" for Number 1 up against Kylie (as if!); it put paid to her solo career], someone or something called "Uncle Cracker" with Follow Me [Nope; me neither], and then there was the-band-who-missed-the-Britpop-boat Starsailor with Alcoholic [another song of which I have no recollection whatsoever].

This execrable chart line-up was redeemed only by two remnants of the great dance music boom, Supermen Lovers - Starlight:

...and N-Trance - Set You Free:

...and of course, by this!

La la la
La la la la la
La la la
La la la la la


Read my previous tribute to this song... and hear the Fenella Fielding [RIP] version!

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Prepare to be Learnfotained!

"Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed." - Joseph Stalin

I wish we had this on our cable TV...

Monday 24 September 2018


It went down to 4C last night, and it is noticeably darker when the alarm goes off. Oh, yuk. Back to work.

Never mind, eh? Let's dream of sunnier climes - and enormous shoulder pads! And gay boys waving fans....

To cheer us up a little on this Tacky Music Monday, laydeez'n'gentlemen - Loco Mia!

Ah, that's better.

Have a good week, darlings.

Sunday 23 September 2018

If you give it a chance, it can make you dance

The fuchsias, dahlia, ipomoea, asarina and salvias are in their element in autumn, despite the weather.

It's been a bit of a bleak and stormy weekend here at Dolores Delargo Towers, and the sun has only just peeped out under the gloom (in time to set again)...

To top it all, today is the Autumnal Equinox, and the balance between day and night tips over from here on in. Darkness is looming.

Regardless, ever the forward-planning gardener, I've been busy ripping out tattered and distinctly "spent" annuals from their pots and potting-up violas and bulbs for Spring in their place.

And, to add to the uplifting mood... some new videos by treasured artists.

First up, the Grattan catalogue-inspired vid for Cher's almighty Abba tribute:

The ever-wonderful Miss Murphy gets down and dirty at the discotheque:

And finally, the lovely Rick's latest is a regular fixture on the playlist at Radio 2. And also, in my head...


Saturday 22 September 2018

I got my beer in the sideboard here

Could there ever have been a more quintessentially London band than Chas'n'Dave?

With the sad news today that Chas Hodges, the piano-playing half of the eternally-loved "Cockney" duo [they were both actually North Londoners, born and bred not far from Dolores Delargo Towers; in Edmonton and Enfield respectively], has died, it's the end of an era for good old-fashioned sing-a-long songs, methinks.

By way of a tribute, here's a double-bill of their fabled "knees-up" numbers...

RIP, Chas [Charles Nicholas Hodges (28th December 1943 – 22nd September 2018)], me old mucker!

Friday 21 September 2018

Fly me to the moon

Celebrations are underway for the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, or "Festival of the Moon" this weekend (it falls on Monday this year); a time when lanterns are paraded, quantities of cassia wine are drunk, and many mooncakes are consumed.

I don't have a lantern nor a dragon close to hand, but as it is a weekend in sight [and it is still the Year of the Bitch], we're in a party mood regardless. Here's an appropriately-themed and boppy number to mark the occasion - and Thank Disco the Moon It's Friday!

Yuàn míng yuè cháng yǔ nǐ xiāng bàn zhào liàng nǐ dě jiàn kāng xìng fú hē fān róng zhī lù
! [愿 明 月 常 与 你 相 伴, 照 亮 你 的 健 康、 幸 福 和 繁 荣 之 路], dear reader - which translates as "May the glow of the moon surround you and light your way to health, happiness and prosperity!"

Have a good one, whatever...

Thursday 20 September 2018

Fashion icon of the day

"The mood for the next edition: Sex, bitch, aristo, sex, punk, whore, bitch, prossie, lessie, punk, tart, slut. Oh but Alex… with lovely shoes." - Patsy Stone

London Fashion Week might officially be over, but, never fear! The shopping continues...

Wednesday 19 September 2018


Making an unbelievably stupid statement just to be annoying is ‘starting a much-needed debate’, idiots have asserted.

People claiming anything from ‘feminism is cancer’ to ‘hot dogs are a sandwich’ have described the resulting, inevitable argument as an important discussion that it was necessary to have.

Twat Nathan Muir said: “I think women should not be allowed to drive large cars because of their weak arms and small eyes which give them a limited field of vision. Also, why not bring back child chimney sweeps?

“The storm of hatred following these remarks proves that as a society we badly needed to have these debates and I’m a thought leader for beginning it.”

Helen Archer agreed: “Should we make all laws ‘opt-in’? According to thousands of people on my Twitter feed no, but those voices wouldn’t have been heard if I hadn’t set the ball rolling.

“I wonder what we should debate next. I have lots of shit-thick ideas.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Here's an appropriate number:

All you wanna do is talk, talk.


Tuesday 18 September 2018

The magic of the Moog

I've been listening to writer and broadcaster Andrew Collins' rather faboo four-part series on electronic music The Great Bleep Forward on BBC Radio 6 Music.

It's a fab retrospective of a genre of music I particularly love - and features everything from the Teleharmonium to Wendy/Walter Carlos to Tangerine Dream to Robert Moog to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to Brian Eno to Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, the Human League, OMD, Depeche Mode, Trevor Horn, House music and beyond.

And, just because... Here's a mix of oddities I have chosen, for your delectation, from that great "bleeping" world of artificial soundscapes:


Monday 17 September 2018

Surely "the Queen has spoken"?

Sigh. Weekend over. It's like Groundhog Day again.

Untypically, the weather continues to be sunny and warm - nay, actually hot - here in Londinium. More's the pity it's not going to do us any bloody good, as we sit in the benighted office for another five days...

Hey ho, one can always rely on Our Patron Saint of head-flicks Signorina Raffaella Carra to cheer us up on a Tacky Music Monday!

Apparently this song translates as "The King has said it" or "The King has spoken", but I think Raffaella (and most of her fanbase, to be honest) is more deserving of the title "Queen".

Have a good week, sweeties...

Sunday 16 September 2018

You could have your choice of men

Miss Dolly Parton's in the news again - a lady who has always understood her audience, and is more than well aware of her "cult" status; she's just recorded a new duet with the latest "professional-weirdo-on-the-block", Sia:

It's, well... a bit dull, truth be told.

Far, far better is a number that I first discovered four years ago and, courtesy of Tom Robinson sitting in for Johnny Walker on Radio 2's Sound of the Seventies show, I was reminded of it again today. It's the male vocal version of Dolly's classic Jolene! How fabulously gay is this..?

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I'm begging of you please don't take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don't take him just because you can
Your beauty is beyond compare
With flaming locks of auburn hair
With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green

Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
And I cannot compete with you, Jolene

He talks about you in his sleep
There's nothing I can do to keep
From crying when he calls your name, Jolene

And I can easily understand
How you could easily take my man
But you don't know what he means to me, Jolene

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I'm begging of you please don't take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don't take him just because you can

You could have your choice of men
But I could never love again
He's the only one for me, Jolene

I had to have this talk with you
My happiness depends on you
And whatever you decide to do, Jolene

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I'm begging of you please don't take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don't take him even though you can
Jolene, Jolene

And, as I said back in 2014:
But the best part?'s by Dolly herself, slowed down from 45 to 33⅓ rpm!

Utterly remarkable.
Indeed. It is!

Saturday 15 September 2018

It's not worth dyin' for

I was about to embark upon one of my regular "timeslip moment" posts, focusing on this week in 1991, when I realised that - apart from being the year of the first Gulf War, the new Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, the IRA mortar attack on 10 Downing Street, Boris Yeltsin, the World Wide Web, Jeffrey Dahmer, the collapse of Cold War-era political structures including Yugoslavia and the USSR, the "Birmingham Six", the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, and "Sonic the Hedgehog"; the births of Ed Sheeran, Pixie Lott and the National Gallery's new Sainsbury Wing; and the deaths of Serge Gainsbourg, Robert Maxwell, Freddie Mercury, Graham Greene, Margot Fonteyn, Coral Browne and Lee Remick - this was the year that the godawful Everything I Do, I Do It For You took over the world!

Bryan Adams's song from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is still remembered with a shudder, yet it knocked Jason Donovan and his Joseph show-stopper Any Dream Will Do off the top in July twenty-seven years ago, and began its "The Black Hit of Space" run for four whole months! During its uncomfortable stranglehold at the top - even Radio 1 DJs began referring to this as "The Bryan Adams Years" - this behemoth saw off the likes of Guns & Roses' You Could Be Mine (fom the Terminator soundtrack), Heavy D & The Boyz and their heavy-on-the-rap version of the O'Jays classic Now That We Found Love, the karaoke favourite ballad More Than Words by Extreme, House/rave classics Move Any Mountain by The Shamen, Charly Says by The Prodigy, Insanity by Oceanic and Things That Make You Go Hmmm by C&C Music Factory, the Right Said Fred sing-a-long I'm Too Sexy, Ibiza chillout number (and Spandau Ballet True-sampling) Set Adrift On Memory Bliss by PM Dawn, Prince's Get Off, Let's Talk About Sex by Salt-n-Pepa, Wind of Change by The Scorpions, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python (which was actually re-released by popular demand in an attempt to unseat Mr Adams), and Get Ready For This by 2 Unlimited, before (finally) being knocked off the top slot by (of all things) The Fly by U2.

During that interminable sixteen weeks, in addition to the cavalcade of contenders above, Mr Adams also managed to see off not one, but two hits by one of our fave bands here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Erasure! And here they are, dear reader...

Much better...

Friday 14 September 2018

Your neon lights will shine for you, Xanadu

The weekend is looming again, and I can't wait. With the "social whorl" having been at full-pelt lately (see here and here), it will be good to have a lie-in...

But first, I have an audition to pass - Thank Disco It's Friday!


Have a good weekend, dear reader!

Thursday 13 September 2018

Totty van de dag

The classical music world's answer to Jedward? Meet Lucas and Arthur Jussen...

We love a beautiful pianist. Two is even nicer!

The Jussen brothers website

Wednesday 12 September 2018

The guy sure looks like plant food to me!

Oh. My. Heavens!

Madam Arcati, Russ, Joe and I had the most magnificent evening yesterday, as we processed through a blustery Regent's Park to the Open Air Theatre to see the new production (by Maria Aberg) of an old fave, Little Shop of Horrors [by Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, later to become Disney music stalwarts].

It has, of course, been something we wanted to see ever since the reviews started coming in - not least that by Alun Hood on WhatsOnStage (a site normally more restrained in its effusiveness), who said:
"This is a hell of a show. Fans of the original won't be disappointed and people encountering it for the first time will be delighted, and likely to come back for more. I would give it six stars if I could. Do not miss it. Joyous."
Mr Hood was entirely accurate.

From the outset, the grey, sleazy decrepitude of Skid Row and its anonymous shadowy tramps [and moving skyscrapers-on-shopping-trolleys - a very clever set], clashing wildly with the vivid green outfits and brash "doo-woppery" of the "chorus" (Renee Lamb, Christina Modestou and Seyi Omooba), created an atmosphere where one could quite imagine anything - even a ravenous, bloodthirsty, domineering pot-plant-from-hell (well, "Outer Space", anyhow) - would have come as a blessed relief from the tedium of their lives. [An admirably created atmosphere, incidentally, given the leafy and serene real-life environs of the Open Air Theatre.]

And come, of course, it certainly does. But first, the scenarios are set: Seymour the orphan (Marc Antolin), who was taken in by the florist Mr Mushkin (an unrecognisable Forbes Masson from The High Life), develops a fascination for unusual plants. Then there's a total eclipse, and... a weird little luminescent pot plant becomes the star attraction, if only Seymour can find a way to keep it alive (quoth Please Grow For Me - "Whaddya want from me? Blood?!").

Meanwhile we are introduced to Audrey (Jemima Rooper), Seymour's fellow assistant at "Mushkin's" and secret love interest, who has a bullying and violent boyfriend Orin (boy-band Busted's bassist Matt Willis) with the perfect vocation for a sadist (Be a Dentist), and the plot thickens.

Audrey has dreams to escape the sordidness of both her rundown urban existence and the bully in her life - and Miss Rooper's Somewhere That's Green really was impassioned; so much that the hairs stood up on my neck. Seymour has become famous, and has realised exactly what the alien plant (now christened "Audrey 2") really wants - his blood. So much has it enjoyed the regular drips, indeed, that it has not only outgrown its little pot, but it has evolved - into a drag queen of substantial proportions!

Miss Vicky Vox (for it is she, of Boy is a Bottom notoriety) is utterly stunning in this role (normally reserved for an elaborate animatronic puppet). She literally dominates proceedings - often with little more than a strut, an arch of an eyebrow, or a suggestively-placed microphone - from here on in. And when she cajoles Seymour to Feed Me (Git It) (both have just witnessed Orin's brutality towards Audrey, so it is obvious what the scheme is), it's down to our weedy "hero" to tackle the brute. Needless to say, Mr Willis's maniacally-played villain (choking on his own laughing-gas, he cackles himself to death) soon becomes plant food, and the spiral of Seymour's destiny is set...

After the indignity of having to go out of the [OUTDOOR!] venue into the road in order to have a ciggy [and a gossip with our chums Bryanne and Simon, who were also enjoying the show - we also bumped into them at at Proms in the Park; bloody stalkers...], it was time to grab a drink and head back for Act 2.

Seymour's fame, and the success of the flower shop, have rocketed. Mr Willis returns in a variety of camp-as-tits cameos, as various disreputable touts trying to tie the "horticultural superstar" into book and TV contracts. But Seymour would rather spend his life with Audrey (the original), and she admits she wants that too (Suddenly, Seymour - superbly done, incidentally). Then Mr Mushnik drops a bombshell - he knows that Seymour is responsible for the death of the dentist and intends to tell the police of his suspicions. Oh, dear. For the ravenous Audrey 2 - it's Suppertime!

Unfortunately, this means the plant now has the upper hand [leaf? shoot?] - and indeed, when Seymour declares that Audrey 2 must die, it is his Audrey that pays the ultimate price. Wandering into the beast's domain after hours, she is tricked into watering the monster - and despite Seymour's efforts, she, too is consumed. His attempts to see off his nemesis (with a gun, rat poison and a machete) are to no avail, and...

...well, the finale-to-beat all-finales ensued! With Audrey 2 poised to take over the world, she spews forth her "babies" - in the animated forms of the entire cast (the digested Seymour included), all attired in the most outrageously camp tendril-based outfits ever seen! All singing the dire warning Don't Feed The Plants, they invaded the audience, accompanied by giant green balloons for us to bat around - before Audrey 2 herself, surrounded by inflatable tendrils, belted out her climactic final number. What else but The Mean Green Mother from Outer Space?! She wins.

This was a fantastic evening of brilliant showmanship - we were utterly blown away by it.

I have absolutely no idea how (or if) it would ever work in another venue (a stage environment like the Open Air Theatre would be hard to replicate), but it really deserves to be recognised as the most utterly spectacular show we've seen in years...

Little Shop of Horrors runs at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre until Saturday 22nd September.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Monday 10 September 2018

Me encanta esto

Now that's what I call a Spider Plant!

After the whirlwind weekend (somewhat disappointing Proms in the Park and all) I wisely took today as leave - and it has been a particularly laid-back one indeed, making the most of the hazy sunshine in the extensive gardens of Dolores Delargo Towers while we still can. It's the autumnal equinox in a couple of weeks! Sigh...

To cheer ourselves up, as we always do after the official end of the Summer Season [which is marked by the Last Night of the Proms], today we booked our apartment in Spain for February. And this time, because it is a significant birthday for Madam Arcati, we've aligned the dates with half-term so that Baby Steve and Houseboy Alex can join us. Whoo-hoo!

Speaking of Spain [or at least, Hispanic - she's Mexican but was a star in Spain]... On this Tacky Music Monday, let us wallow in the musical - ahem - talents of an energetic young lady calling herself Yuri and her safety gays:

¡Muy bien!

Sunday 9 September 2018

A Knight in shining armour came to save us

When is a Prom not a Prom? When it was yesterday's shambolic, Proms-free "Proms in the Park" concert, it seems.

We've been avid regular attendees of this most British of British celebrations for many years now, and know it for what it traditionally was - the "overspill" party to celebrate the closing session of Sir Henry Wood's great gift to music; the culmination of eight weeks-worth of overwhelmingly professional, first-class concerts embracing the old, the new, the mainstream and the oddball genres that comprise the rich tapestry of music worldwide. We look forward to it.

We are more than well aware that the remit of Proms in the Park was never just to serve as a "live feed" from the Royal Albert Hall, and that over the years it has developed into a festival of (largely) middle-of-the-road musical talent, yet nonetheless serving as a build-up to a live link with the traditional Last Night sequence of Rule, Britannia, the conductor's speech and "three cheers" for Sir Henry, followed by the sing-along combo of Land of Hope and Glory, Jerusalem and the national anthem. Live links were always a big feature throughout the day, embracing not just the goings-on in the Hall, but also the sister celebrations in Glasgow, Belfast and Colwyn Bay - often with a single session that united them all. Not this year.

Yesterday, there were no - and I repeat, NO - live links to anywhere except to Zoe Ball in a Radio 2 studio, and endless footage of our host Michael Ball waddling around back-stage asking pointless and stupid questions of the crew and assorted backstage types. A very dull substitute, indeed.

We're used to the celebrations opening in the afternoon with the utterly inane Tony Blackburn, but this year he wasn't even given any acts to introduce, just some records. So he was even more irritating than ever. He managed to get us doing YMCA, and there was even a mass conga-line (which, sadly, due to some technical reason to do with Michael Ball's later appearance, which we assume needed to be filmed in advance, was cut off halfway through). But it wasn't really joined-up enough to feel like previous "afternoon segments", with their line-up of cheesy tribute bands and the like.

You can hang out with all the boys

We did have a rather forgettable little session from "Fleetwood Mac impersonators" The Wandering Hearts, then Michael Ball arrived and got the job of "filling in the gaps" for the rest of the day - with an increasing sense of panic and frustration, we thought - and there were indeed frequent and, frankly, shameful gaps to fill between every single performance! The overall feel of the day was distinctly amateur, ill-prepared, and - despite the hike in prices to almost £50 a head, which with a 40,000 capacity audience must bring in quite a hefty fee - "done on the cheap". Why else would the BBC gnomes have thought it better to drag members of the audience up on stage for embarrassing and pointless "chit-chats" with Mr Ball and Mr Blackburn instead of relaying some decent Proms music from the Hall? Why was there so much time and effort bestowed upon the so-called Rock Choir (itself made up of a horde of amateurs, who, it seems, will do anything for free as long as they get on the telly)?

Their "flash-mob" - whereby thousands of members of the audience (mainly sturdy middle-aged Mumsnet types) stripped off their cagoules and fleeces to reveal their lavishly-produced "I'm a member of the Rock Choir" T-shirts - was, to be quite honest, a bit sinister rather than fun. Considering the fact that this is meant to be an enjoyable day's professional entertainment, their en masse efforts at "singing" numbers by Martha and the Vandellas, Eurythmics, ELO and Queen a) went on far too long, and b) were basically a very big karaoke. And if I have to sit through another fucking version of miserabilist Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah ever again, I swear I shall scream! It all reminded us of an evangelical church congregation, only less tuneful. Or perhaps a re-enaction of the Munich Rallies... Dreadful.

Another pointless gap.

Our next act, the estimable singer-songwriter [mainly the latter: his catalogue includes When You Tell Me That You Love Me (for Miss Ross), Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now (Starship), I Don't Wanna Lose You (Tina Turner), Little Arrows (Leapy Lee), To All the Girls I've Loved Before (Julio Iglesias) and - ahem - Gimme Dat Ding (Pipkins)] Albert Hammond was brought on just to do two of his instantly-recognisable numbers, which he did very well, It Never Rains in Southern California [unfortunately it did, on and off all day, in Hyde Park] and The Air That I Breathe. He could have had a bit longer, but no.

Another long gap ensued, as the stage was set for the cast of West End hit Bat Out of Hell to perform. They were very good, as long as you enjoy the back-catalogue of Meatloaf. Which is fine for a good old sing-a-long, of course. Oh, and the singer stripped off his top, so that was rather diverting.

Another gap. More infill. Then Mr Ball himself performed - unfortunately he chose to do the overblown This Is Me from the hit soundtrack to Greatest Showman, but redeemed himself with You Can't Stop The Beat from Hairspray - the musical [he was "Edna Turnblad" in the West End version, after all].

Another awkward gap. It rained.

Miss Lisa Stansfield is, quite rightly, a "national treasure". Her soulful voice is a joy, and everyone in the 40,000-strong crowd could sing along with her hits, notably Around the World and The Real Thing. She was sassy, effervescent, and bloody great entertainment. So why was her microphone set so low that she struggled to out-shine her backing band? We danced and sang along with gusto, nonetheless.

Then, more random back-stage waffle.

We had such high hopes for Mr Matt Goss's session. His Vegas Big Band numbers are classy, and the BBC Big Band was indeed assembled on the Hyde Park stage with him. Bafflingly, he chose not to do anything resembling Big Band arrangements last night - instead we got variations-on-a-theme of his back-catalogue as one half of Bros (which we expected), but done in a variety of styles including reggae(!) and guitar-rock. The band played manfully behind all this, but might as well not have bothered - for we in the audience couldn't hear them. [Thankfully they had their own chance to shine later on in the show, with polished versions of Sing, Sing, Sing, the Rocky theme, Opus One and One O'Clock Jump - which just served to show up why Mr Goss missed an opportunity, really.] It was disappointing, to say the least.

After another gap, it was the sublime tenor Joseph Calleja's turn to take the stage - the first classical performance of the evening; and he was treated most irreverently, we thought. Not only was his microphone (like Miss Stansfield's) too quiet, but we felt he had been unceremoniously "dumped" into a slot between Mr Goss (who has a large fanbase) and the build-up to Mr Josh Groban (ditto), with the consequence that our already-quite-tipsy audience treated this as another "interlude" and an excuse to troll off to the loo or just chat among themselves. We thought his renditions of Questo O Quella (from Rigoletto), E Lucevan Le Stelle (from Tosca) and La Donna è Mobile (from Rigoletto) were wonderful!

Next up, the "wunderkind" Miss Jess Gillam. Just 20 years old, the saxophonist and BBC Young Musician of the Year finalist not only performed for us in the park (Michael Nyman's If (from The Diary Of Anne Frank) but then legged it across the other side of the park to the Hall to perform again:

She's good!

Following the BBC Big Band's own section (as mentioned earlier), which was immensely enjoyable, it was time for... another achingly unnecessary segment of blather.

Then came Mr Josh Groban. He's a man with a remarkably beautiful voice, and he's (quite rightly) hugely popular in the UK as well as his native USA. Unfortunately, just as we were in the mood for a bit of a bop, his repertoire was, well, depressing, really - Granted, River, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Over The Rainbow and You Raise Me Up; all of them nice enough (with the exception of the latter, which I loathe), but by the end of it we were prepared to open a vein. Had his slot been swapped with Miss Stansfield's, we would have been happier.

Another pointless gap followed - the very worst of the whole night, as we were "treated" to some audio (yes! audio!) by the organisers (and I use that term loosely; these are the people who are supposed to make the event run smoothly - which it didn't - and the same people who charge £10 for an A5 programme and £3 for a tiny Union Jack, while tolerating £25-a-bottle-of-wine prices at the bar, and anarchy at the loos - with women invading the Gents all evening - and who turned a blind eye to a horde of heavily funded pro-EU "protestors" handing out (free) bloody EU flags at the door) telling us all about how the toilets were plumbed in, the number of security fences, the make and model of the cameras, blah-de-blah-de-fucking-blah. For twenty minutes. At 9pm at a live concert/festival? Give us a handout, for fuck's sake! At least we could have binned that and moved on...

Thank heavens for Miss Gladys Knight! Just as we were on the cusp of plucking our own eyeballs out at the banal drivel blurting from the speakers, on she (finally) came. A megastar in every sense of the word - even at 74 years of age, this living legend could blow the likes of Beyoncé, Mariah, Mary J. Blige et al out of the water.

What a performer! She has lost none of the remarkable vocal dexterity for which we adore her so, and did a full-force set that many a younger performer would balk at. All her biggest and most beloved numbers were here: You're The Best Thing, Baby Don't Change Your Mind, Heard It Through The Grapevine, Licence To Kill, Just My Imagination, The Way We Were, Neither One Of Us and Midnight Train to Georgia among them. And she sang them all beautifully. We were in awe. She brought some of us to tears, and also provided us with an opportunity to get up and boogie, in one fell swoop...

Then came the biggest single crime of all. For the first time ever, we did not go over to the Royal Albert Hall. No popular songs from World War I (which, apparently, other Proms in the Park concerts in the regions did get!). No speech from the fabulous Sir Andrew Davis. No "three cheers" to the Proms founder Sir Henry Wood. No Gerald Finley; no camera-panning shots of the Promenaders with their silly hats and assorted "amusing" inflatables. We had the BBC Concert Orchestra, and that bloody Rock Choir again.

We had the Sea Songs (complete with bobbing). We had an excellent tenor (credited in neither the programme nor on the website, more's the pity) to lead Rule, Britannia - and he manfully carried on even when the fuckwits behind the scenes forgot to switch his microphone on for the first verse; he deserved better. We (of course) had the crowd-pleasing Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem, and the national anthem, and the Auld Lang Syne - and fireworks, too! What we didn't have was any sense that this was related to the actual Last Night of the Proms; that this was in any way the event it always used to be - a celebration thereof.

All-in-all, the day was a bit "flat" and on many occasions downright boring, which is unforgivable for any party! Furthermore, without any connection to the Proms season other than the tunes, this could well have been any "Party in the Park" in any provincial town, at any time of the year.

Unless they change it back to what it was, I doubt in future we'll be parting with almost £50 per head for that.

Such a shame.

Saturday 8 September 2018


Ho hum. The "Season-closing event" Proms in the Park is upon us, and we are about to spend seven hours in Hyde Park enjoying all the treats on offer - including Lisa Stansfield and the divine Gladys Knight - and it's drizzling.

Ah, so what! We've danced in waterproofs in a soggy park many times before, and we'll do it again. It's such a brilliant day, no-one really cares what the weather throws at us...

Thought for the day - PIPS!

Friday 7 September 2018

The Ultimate Macho Icon

That infamous centrefold for Cosmopolitan in 1972.

Oh dear. Rounding off the week on a bit of a sad note, the man whose ruggedness and unashamed "sex-symbol" status almost single-handedly spawned not only the concept of "soft porn for women", but also inspired a whole generation of "butch" gay "clones" - all lumberjack shirts, bulgingly tight denims and bushy 'taches; they dominated certain sectors of "the scene" throughout the '70s and well into the 1980s - Mr Burt Reynolds is dead.

From the intensity of Deliverance to a raft of more light-hearted films such as Silent Movie, Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, he was one of the top stars in Hollywood in the '70s and '80s - and was as famous for his off-screen life (multiple relationships with the world's most beautiful women, hard drinking and bad financial decisions) as he was for his on-screen charisma.

He inevitably "burned out" from his own excesses, going bankrupt in 1996. But the very next year, he resurfaced in the notorious (but critically well-received) Boogie Nights - the one with Mark Wahlberg and the enormous penis - and recovered his credibility somewhat. He suffered ill-health in his latter years, and his last role as the eponymous "hero" in The Last Movie Star may well have been autobiographical...

From the soundtrack of Boogie Nights, here's an appropriate number with which to pay tribute to the "hairy one", and with which to round off another intensely dreary week - Thank Disco It's Friday!

RIP, Burton Leon Reynolds Jr. (11th February 1936 – 6th September 2018)

Thursday 6 September 2018

Bahut-bahut badhai! *

Congratulations (long overdue) to the "world's largest democracy" India - the latest country to ditch centuries of bigotry and legalise homosexuality!

From the BBC:
Chief justice Dipak Misra said: "Criminalising carnal intercourse is irrational, arbitrary and manifestly unconstitutional."

Another judge, Indu Malhotra, said she believed "history owes an apology" to LGBT people for ostracising them.
Let the celebrations begin!

Oh... it seems they already have:

[*Bahut-bahut badhai! (बहुत-बहुत बधाई!) = Many many congratulations! in Hindi]