Monday, 16 December 2019

Hör dess dingle-dång

Oh dear. The Festering Season really is in full swing. Queues everywhere, stupid naff decorations all over the place, tannoy-piped cover versions of horrid Xmas pop choons [when will shops realise no-one wants to listen to Paul McCartney Simply Having A Wonderful Christmastime or Jonah Lewie Stop The Cavalry while buying moist toilet tissue?], the nauseating smell of "mince-pie scented" candles, gift-boxes of Lynx deodorant, dangerous-looking flashing toys of dubious origin, office parties of once-a-year amateur drinkers blocking the bar with orders of 35 "festive shots", and a million-and-one ways to pay over-the-odds for chocolate...

And to top it all, there's still a week-and-a-bit to go in work!

Bah Humbug.

Let's see if the - ahem - superbly talented Lili and Susie can cheer us up on this Tacky Music Monday:

Camp as tits, dear.

All together, now!

Bing bong, bing bong, bing bong, bing bong

Ute faller snö
I splittan blacken stå
Och äter lugnt sitt hö
När ljudet honom når

Att selen lyftes ner
Och framför släden snart
Med oss han sedan sig beger
I väg med väldig fart!

Bjällerklang, bjällerklang
Hör dess dingle-dång
Flingor som nu virvlar
Om i munter vintersång

Följ oss ut, följ oss ut
Blacken travar på
I hans spår vår släde går
Där höga furor stå

Vi sitter under fällen och snön omkring oss yr
Och inte förn, till kvällen vi färden hemåt styr

Bjällerklang, bjällerklang
Hör dess dingle-dång
Flingor som nu virvlar
Om i munter vintersång

Över mo och myr
Vi hastigt far åstad
Åh, vilket äventyr
Det står som en kaskad

Av snö, som muntert yr
Och hem mot hö och stall
Det bär nu ystert av i trav
Till Karos glada skall

Bjällerklang, bjällerklang
Hör dess dingle-dång
Flingor som nu virvlar
Om i munter vintersång

Följ oss ut, följ oss ut
Blacken travar på
I hans spår vår släde går
Där höga furor stå

Vi sitter under fällen och snön omkring oss yr
Och inte förn, till kvällen vi färden hemåt styr

Bjällerklang, bjällerklang
Hör dess dingle-dång
Flingor som nu virvlar
Om i munter vintersång
Flingor som nu virvlar
Om i munter vintersång

Have a good week, dearies!

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Coqs, cocktails and cocks in frocks

We had to start the "Festering Season" somewhere - and what better way to do so than in the company of that faded Vegas icon, Miss Hope Springs and her Christmas Agogo! show - at one of our favourite venues, the swanky cocktail bar Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zedel?

Apparently based on her "lost 1971 Granada TV Special, considered by many to be an unaired classic", Miss Springs reminisced about her co-stars (including Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop - who came to a drug-fuelled end at a Los Angeles pool party, allegedly - Sonny and Cher, Mama Cass, Harry Belafonte, and many more stars of the day; well, in her imagination, anyhow), and her own "Ritz to the pits" journey from Vegas to Paris to her current abode in a mobile home in - erm - Dungeness.

Every one of the "festive" numbers on the bill - despite her woozy attempts to get the audience to sing and clap along as though they'd known them for years - is her own creation; she included such delights as Santa is a Woman, Christmas Calypso, the quite sad ballad Paper Snow, the hilarious Bagels and, of course, her show-stopper The Devil Made Me Do It - all of them brilliant.

With her "Dusty in Memphis" 'do, and her "Joey Heatherton" pill-popper stare, Miss Hope Springs is the masterful creation of none other than Lionel Jeffries' [of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame] son Ty Jeffries, and it is obvious that beneath the sequins lies a great musical talent indeed. But when it comes to intimate cabaret, of course, it's sequins that spell success!

We adored this show.

Miss Hope Springs: Christmas Agogo! is touring the country as we speak - catch her if you can!

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Get over it

Remainers have announced that, three-and-a-half years after the referendum, they are to get over it.

Following yesterday’s landslide election win, Remainers across Britain have admitted there is a strong chance that the country did want to leave the EU after all.

Nathan Muir of of Reading said: “You know what? Maybe it’s time I moved on.

“There was just something about the referendum result I didn’t like – maybe it was that my side lost – so I decided it must be wrong, and must be reversed, and did everything I could to achieve that.

“But I have to admit it’s looking very much like my efforts were wasted, and Brexit is happening, and perhaps it’s time to be the bigger man and accept it.

“Brexit it is. Brexit for everyone. Fine. Doesn’t bother me.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Maniac brainiac winning the game

As the country settles back down to what laughingly passes for reality, and Boris basks in his landslide election victory - so there is really only one appropriate song to play.

Of course, being moi, it just has to be the Bhangra version...

"It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda heavy
I've got the power
I've got the power oh-oh-oh-oh!"

Indeed he has.

Thank Disco(?) It's Friday [the thirteenth - oo-er]!!

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Gwapple Me Gwapenuts!

And so, farewell to yet another part of my childhood - with the sad news that David Bellamy, one of British television's more memorable "characters" and eminent naturalist, has died aged 86.


Among the many programmes that made him a household name, including the amazingly popular Don't Ask Me [in which he and Professor Magnus Pyke perpetually vied for the crown of "most eccentric boffin presenter"] and Bellamy's Backyard Safari, was this one...

  • As a child he wanted to be a ballet dancer, but it soon became evident that his lumbering frame was probably unsuitable for the art.
  • His first exposure to the limelight was as an environmental scientific adviser in the clean-up operation after the Torrey Canyon oil tanker disaster in 1967.
  • So distinctive was his voice - he famously had difficulty pronouncing his "R"s - he became a target for comedy impressionists such as Lenny Henry, who even released the novelty song "The Bellamy Wap" [based around the catchphrase "Gwapple Me Gwapenuts!"]. He found himself as much in demand for voice-overs and audiobooks for kids as he was for his passion for botany and nature.
  • Several conservation awards and a lectures programme have been inaugurated in his honour.

RIP David James Bellamy OBE (18th January 1933 – 11th December 2019)

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Xmas shopping

"Take five with this revolutionary cocoon-like pillow that helps block out light for an immersive napping experience at your desk."

It's amazing what one can find on eBay.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

A walking Terry O'Neill photograph, a Yorkshire harridan, dirty deeds in Berlin and a house full of sinister secrets

Just two short weeks since we were enthralled by Mr Russell T Davies for the Polari twelfth anniversary, John-John and I took our seats in the Fifth Floor Function Room at the Royal Festival Hall (at one of the "special tables" for a change) for the last outing of the season for "London's peerless gay literary salon" - a Very Polari Xmas! More treats in store for good little boys'n'girls (and anything in-between) and, as always, our genial host Paul Burston (resplendent in silver shoes, Bowie t-shirt and "bibberty-bobberty hat") was there to welcome them...

With a perfect show-opener, Carolyn Robertson, esteemed author of several children's books about gay parents and adoption [and none other than Will Young read one of hers in a LGBT+ milestone for the CBeebies Bedtime Stories show], treated us to one of her short stories aimed at adults - the tale of a young lesbian couple's seemingly doomed attempt at a "dirty weekend" over Xmas in York. Having had a screaming row with the evidently homophobic middle-aged harridan at the city's tourist accommodation bureau, and facing the prospect of trying to "do an all-nighter" without a hotel room to go to, the couple was fortuitously "adopted" by a gay waiter who let them crash in his room at his auntie's house. But guess who turned out to be the aunt...

It was hilarious, and really broke the ice - with resounding applause from the audience in that packed-out room.

Next up was a familiar face at Polari Ben Fergusson, reading from An Honest Man; the third in his trilogy of Berlin tales [he read from the first, The Spring of Kasper Meier, way back in November 2014]. A typically sinister tale of intrigues, mistrust and secret surveillance in the paranoid world of Berlin in 1989, just months before the wall came down, it followed the budding relationship between young closeted Fritz and a strange individual who seemed to be stalking one of his neighbours. Mr Fergusson's evocation of a very strange and claustrophobic era, and the obviously looming trouble afoot for our naive "hero", held us glued to our seats - and it is no surprise that this novel has featured on multiple "Best Books of 2019" lists...

Like a walking evocation of THAT photo of David Bowie in his Diamond Dogs phase, Professor Will Brooker took to the stage. Here's a man so dedicated to his work he actually spent a year trying to live as Bowie. Now Will has consigned to published form his intellectual analysis of the great man in Why Bowie Matters, his new book, from which he read some passages.

How does one address the apparent contradictions and convolutions of Bowie's sexuality and gender-bending? Many have criticised the man for "playing with" homosexuality/bisexuality merely to sell records; as a way of enhancing one of his multi-faceted personas, only to ditch it all when the next career move, tour or record deal beckoned. Yet, as our Professor argues, are we equally guilty of taking things David said or did out of the context of their time and applying a critique based on our more modern perspectives? Merely because definitions of "sexuality", "gender" and "fluidity" have newer connotations, can any of this be used to define a man who challenged established norms with extreme make-up, dresses and flame-red hair almost half-a-century ago?

We thought this was a superb and intriguing and well-reasoned piece, and look forward to exploring more...

After a break for a pee, a fag and another trip to the bar, it was time to settle down for our headliner, the worldwide best-selling author Miss Lisa Jewell. First off, reading from her eighteenth novel The Family Upstairs - a tangled web of a tale about the intertwined lives of young gay Henry, whose mother has inherited a big spooky house in Chelsea with a mysterious and grisly history, his family, their friends also living there, and another soon-to-be-dominant-in-the-household family (with a pretty son who Henry falls madly in love with) and some very dark secrets indeed. Oh, and lurking out there somewhere, and linked to it all is a woman busking in the South of France. All very enigmatic. We were hooked!

As has become the customary format of Polari, to its benefit in my opinion, Miss Jewell and Mr Burston sat for a more in-depth conversation and audience Q&A that covered topics such as writing styles and genres [Miss Jewell has, like so many female authors, to her annoyance been tarred with the "chick-lit" label on more than one occasion], how characters develop [Henry didn't necessarily start out as a gay boy, she said, he "spoke to her"], whose opinions should be trusted when revisions are suggested to an author's work, and where the inspiration comes from to continue producing successful works of fiction for such a long time. It was a delight to be part of, and the time just flew by.

We wait with bated breath for the 2020 timetable to arrive, but with the customary curtain call, that was indeed it for 2019 - Happy New Year, Polari!

Monday, 9 December 2019

Not a moment in life could be more entrancing

"I think you should take your job seriously, but not yourself - that is the best combination."

Many happy returns today to Dame Judi Dench, who blows out 85 candles on her cake! I won't call her a "national treasure|", as she despises the term, but suffice to say... eveybody loves her.

Despite her many and varied roles over the years, some Shakespearean, some comedic, some deadly serious, some romantic, some dramatic - today is a Tacky Music Monday, so let's settle on something in the Folies Bergère style, shall we?

Le cinema today is in a crisis
Directors are so existentialistes
The movies are not worth their entrance prices
If no one sings a love song when he's kissed

Love cannot be love without le singing
A string, a clarinet, a saxophone
Take a lesson from this old Parisienne
And the finest entertainment she has known

Folies Bergère
Oh, what a showing of color, costume and dancing
Not a moment in life could be more entrancing
Than an evening you spend aux Folies Bergère

Folies Bergère
Not a soul in the world could be in despair
When he is glancing at the fabulous stage
Des Folies Bergère

Folies Bergère
La musique la danse, leson, la lumiere
Les petits jolies seins des belles bouquetieres
Sur la belle passarelle des Folies Bergère

Pas de mysteres
Le spectacle est tout a fait decouvert
"Et pas trop cher"
Viens ce soir avec moi aux Folies Bergère

Folies Bergère
The music, the lights and the laughter
The answer to what you are after
Each night at the Folies Bergère

Folies Bergère
By the heavens above you will swear
There is nothing rarer
Than the Folies Bergère

Folies Bergère
The stage overflowing and giving
A musical reason for living
Each night at the Folies Bergère

Folies Bergère
To your modern ideas I compare
One derriere
At the Folies Bergère

The answer to what you are after
The music, the lights and the laughter
Of the Folies Bergère

Many happy returns, Ma'am!

Dame Judith Olivia Dench CH DBE FRSA (born 9th December 1934)

Sunday, 8 December 2019

She opened a new door

"She opened a new door for us, for all the singers in the world, a door that had been closed. Behind it was sleeping not only great music but great idea of interpretation. She has given us the chance, those who follow her, to do things that were hardly possible before her." - Montserrat Caballé

We missed celebrating the birthday of "La Divina", Maria Callas - one of the most influential opera divas of the 20th century...

...all hail!

Maria Callas (born Maria Anna Cecilia Sofia Kalogeropoulos, 2nd December 1923 – 16th September 1977)

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Lord knows I'm not a school girl in the flurry of her first affair

Another "ghost from the vaults" has emerged, as I continue my journey of repair and restoration of old blogs. I've almost finished going through 2012, and en route I rediscovered this long-forgotten delight.

Once upon a time, in a drag bar in Brussels, this happened...


Friday, 6 December 2019

Your stomach pulled in, your waist slightly forward; keeping that posture and - reach!

I'm sorry, I thought you said GIN and Tonic...

It's been a long week. Thank Disco It's Friday, peeps!

Thursday, 5 December 2019

When nothing is new, and there's nothing doin'

The possibility - a challenge laid down by Jason Donovan - that Kylie, Guy Pearce and Jase should all make a return to the show that spawned their careers, Neighbours, to mark its 35th birthday as Australia's most successful soap is suffice to bring some warmth and cheer to us queens, in this chilly and dark season...

...and, fortuitously, Our Princess has released a most faboo "greatest hits mix" to add to the joy!

Ah, that's better...

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

I can't get no satisfaction; all I want is easy action

Such - erm - interesting fashions Mr Bolan wore...

Timeslip moment again...

This time, we've hitched a ride in Jon Pertwee's TARDIS waaaaaay back to ancient history, or what might as well be! It's 1972 - the year of the Watergate scandal, Bloody Sunday and the Troubles, expulsion by Idi Amin of Asians from Uganda, the new Poet Laureate John Betjeman, Under Milk Wood, the Munich Olympics massacre, Black Panthers, Nixon in China, Are You Being Served?, CND's Aldermaston march, Ken Russell's The Boy Friend, miners' strikes, dock-worker strikes, The Godfather, the first official gay pride march in London, Olga Korbut, Mark Spitz, Jesus Christ Superstar, Vietnam, Vicky Leandros, A Clockwork Orange, The Chancellor of the Exchequer Anthony Barber, What's Up, Doc?, The Joy of Sex, Willy Brandt, Graham Hill, Dirty Harry, Bobby Fischer, the Baader-Meinhof Gang, Cod Wars, and the discovery of a Japanese soldier who had spent 28 years in the jungles of Guam still believing WW2 was on; the births of Geri Halliwell, Ben Affleck, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Dita Von Teese, Jonny Lee Miller, Idris Elba, Sakis Rouvas, Claudia Winkleman, Atari, Shaquille O'Neal, Jimmy Carr, Home Secretary Priti Patel, Mark Owen of Take That, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vanessa Paradis, Liam Gallagher, Gwyneth Paltrow, Eminem, Dana International, DNA molecular science and the fast-food doner kebab; and the year that Margaret Rutherford, Maurice Chevalier, The Duke of Windsor, the Brighton Belle Pullman car train, Louella Parsons, the Ford Zephyr, Mahalia Jackson, Charles Atlas, J. Edgar Hoover, Ezra Pound, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Esma Cannon and Britain's last trolleybus/tram system all died.

In the headlines almost half a century [eek!] hence, in December 1972: the famous "Blue Planet" photograph arrived from Apollo 17, Gough Whitlam was elected as Prime Minister of Australia, the death of former US President Harry S. Truman was announced, and news of the horrendous circumstances of the survival of passengers of the Uruguayan plane crash in the Andes shocked the world. In our cinemas: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, The Pied Piper, Dracula A.D. 1972. On telly: Mastermind with Magnus Magnusson, Emmerdale Farm, Doctor Who: The Three Doctors and Pebble Mill at One.

And in our charts this week forty-seven years ago? Chuck Berry's smutty sing-a-long My Ding-A-Ling ruled the roost (as it would for the next few weeks), holding at bay both The Osmonds and Slade in the process, as well as Rod Stewart, Elton John, Donny Osmond, Michael Jackson and his brothers The Jackson 5. Ironically, among all these Jacksons and Osmonds, it was "Little Jimmy" [groan] who was destined to topple dirty ol' Chuck in time for Xmas. However, there was one more megastar of the moment who gave it a try...

...Mr Marc Bolan (of course)!

I was nine years old that year, sitting in front of Top of the Pops, in awe...

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Hey yeah you with the sad face

News of the unexpected death of the lead singer of 80s one-hit-wonders Mental as Anything brought some 32-year-old memories flooding back - as all the articles about him mentioned that hit, which I had long forgotten.

Early 1987 - Edwina Currie, The Herald of Free Enterprise, the SDP, British Airways, AIDS, the Iran–Contra affair, Cynthia Payne and Terry Waite were all in the headlines, as was the latest blockbuster action hero Crocodile Dundee...

...from whose soundtrack it was taken. All together, now!

How can you see looking through those tears
Don't you know you're worth your weight in gold
I can't believe that you're alone in here
Let me warm your hands against the cold

A close encounter with a hardhearted man
Who never gave half of what he got
Has made you wish you'd never been born
That's a shame cause you got the lot

Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let's live it up

If you smiled the walls would fall down
On all the people in this pickup joint
But if you laughed you'd level this town
Hey lonely girl that's just the point

Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let's live it up

Just answer me the question why
You stand alone by the phone in the corner and cry

How can you see looking through those tears
Don't you know you're worth your weight in gold
I can't believe that you're alone in here
Let me warm your hands against the cold

If you smiled the walls would fall down
On all the people in this pickup joint
But if you laughed you'd level this town
Hey lonely girl that's just the point

Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let's live it up

Let's live it up
Live it up
Mmm live it up
Hey yeah you
With the sad face
Come up to my place
Come up to my place baby

Hey yeah you with the sad face
Come up to my place and live it up
You beside the dance floor
What do you cry for let's live it up

A classic.

Monday, 2 December 2019

So many safety gays, so little time


Freezing, dark, dank - all adjectives that really do not encourage one to leap out of bed and embrace the day. On the whole, I'd rather be in bed...

...or, on this Tacky Music Monday, in Spain - with the late, great Señorita Rocío Dúrcal and her safety gays!

"Where are our times, the flowers and the champagne?"


Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again

The beginning of December is depressing in so many ways - World AIDS Day, the meteorological advent of Winter proper and, inevitably, the time when despondent shoppers and radio listeners start being "treated" to the endless dross that is Xmas music from now until doomsday. It's dark and gloomy, and eminently suitable for an appearance by one of the most sinister of Alfred Hitchcock movies, the adaptation of Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca - and who better to give us a faboo introduction to that film than Steve Hayes, aka Tired Old Queen at the Movies?!

Just think - "The Second Mrs DeWinter" might have been a whole lot different had she been played by another actress who auditioned, in a list that included Vivien Leigh, Margaret Sullavan, Loretta Young, Anne Baxter ...or Nova Pilbeam (who?!)

Saturday, 30 November 2019


In general I prefer my apples made into cider, but, if they insist...

Oh, who would ever have thought the onerous task of going back through the history of this blog*, replacing missing photos and videos, could be such fun?

Especially when I rediscover the "fruity" talents of Mr Mark Bunyan and his paean to the food we all adore...

Love it!

[* I've done 2010 and 2011, and am roaring through 2012, from whence this originated.]

Friday, 29 November 2019

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

Another week grinds inexorably to a close, but the weather has finally bucked its ideas up and it will continue to be bright and crisp for the next few days, so there's something to look forward to!

We need to keep up the party mood, and what better way but to wallow in the annals of Holland's Top Pop - their possibly even tackier version of the BBC's Top of the Pops.

What did Meco do to deserve this? And on his 80th birthday, too...

Bedankt Disco het is Vrijdag!

Have a good weekend, peeps.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

They say bad news come in threes

"Fiction is life with the dull bits left out."

"I still haven't forgiven CS Lewis for going on all those long walks with JRR Tolkien and failing to strangle him, thus to save us from hundreds of pages dripping with the wizardly wisdom of Gandalf and from the kind of movie in which Orlando Bloom defiantly flexes his delicate jaw at thousands of computer-generated orcs. In fact it would have been ever better if CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien could have strangled each other, so that we could also have been saved from the Chronicles of Narnia."

"It is almost better to be an impulse shirt-buyer than an impulse shoe-buyer. I have worn shirts that made people think I was a retired Mafia hit-man or a Yugoslavian sports convener from Split, but I have worn shoes that made people think I was insane."

"Common sense and a sense of humour are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humour is just common sense, dancing."

"Stop worrying - nobody gets out of this world alive."

Clive James (7th October 1939 – 24th November 2019)

"Since finding out what something is is largely a matter of discovering what it is like, the most impressive contribution to the growth of intelligibility has been made by the application of suggestive metaphors."

"What makes literature interesting is that it does not survive its translation. The characters in a novel are made out of the sentences. That's what their substance is."

"In some awful, strange, paradoxical way, atheists tend to take religion more seriously than the practitioners."

"I spend a lot of my time trying to draw the attention of actors to the minute and subtle details of human behaviour, which was the sort of thing I was looking at when I was a neurologist."

Sir Jonathan Wolfe Miller (21st July 1934 – 27th November 2019)

"As a Michelin star chef, Gary was remarkable, taking British cooking into the ascendant reconnecting us with a rich culinary culture to rival that of other nations. Classic cooking with flair and a twist of innovation was Gary’s speciality. As a good friend to all chefs, our respect for Gary was absolute and his popularity was universal. We never heard a bad word said about Gary and likewise, we never heard him utter a word against anyone. Gary will be sorely missed but his legacy will outlive us all.” - Restaurateurs the Roux Brothers.

"[At a] time when young chefs were making their mark in kitchens in country houses and hotels... wishing to upend our normally slavish relationship with French cookery and beat the drum for English ingredients and, sometimes, English dishes, Rhodes was one of the most successful, perhaps helped by an engaging personality and punkish appearance." - Food writer and gourmand Tom Jaine.

"We lost a fantastic chef today in Gary Rhodes. He was a chef who put British Cuisine on the map." - Chef Gordon Ramsay.
Gary Rhodes (22nd April 1960 – 26th November 2019)

RIP, all.

Great losses to our culture.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Remember cock-shaped potatoes?

When you make an amusing pop culture reference does everyone just looks at you blankly? You could be very old. Find out:

‘You’ve got an ology’

If qualifications or Maureen Lipman come up in conversation, this line from the famous 1980s BT advert may seem apt, but will just confuse anyone under the age of 35. As will the once-famous British Gas privatisation slogan, ‘If you see Sid, tell him.’

Shrinky Dinks

Considered more valuable than diamonds by children in the early 80s, despite just being a bit of plastic you could shrink in the oven with a picture on, possibly a robot from The Black Hole. If younger acquaintances find it hard to understand the entire concept, they have a point.

That’s Life!

TV ‘magazine’ show burned into the brain of anyone over 40. In retrospect, lowest-denominator garbage with a habit of jumping from talking dogs and ‘jobsworth’ gripes to terminally ill children and people getting horrifically maimed by Spanish hotel lifts. Remembered mainly for cock-shaped potatoes.


In the current political climate, you may think the Social Democratic Party is a relevant example of a failed centrist party, but mentioning the travails of David Owen, Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins and the other one will make you sound older than Dracula.

Chopper bikes

Attempted to make a double-entendre based around the popular child’s bicycle the Chopper, and now trying to explain what one was to an unsmiling 28-year-old woman in HR? Maybe don’t try to do that again.

Blake’s 7

A great way to prove you are old and a hopeless geek to boot. Any normal young person will have no idea what Terry Nation’s overambitious sci-fi series was, and, if they look it up on YouTube, wonder how the 1970s were survived by anyone.
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Visit the Woolworth's Museum for a real trip down memory lane.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

The Iraqi version of Jeremy Kyle, wigs that stay on when you twerk, a seductive instrument between her thighs, daft dyed-blond Lydia and a murderous mannequin

"It's like a family reunion!" said Little Tony. "Only if this is 'Mommie Dearest'", said I.

As stalwarts of "London's peerless gay literary salon" [I have been attending for eleven years out of the esteemed event's twelve-year existence (this is my 96th blog post about the event!), and LaBrown for eight of them], Paul and I were on the guest list last night for Polari’s 12th birthday celebration - and I am so, so very pleased we were, for it was brilliant from beginning to end!

Hordes of the punters and participants from Polari's history were there, faces I recognised but could not name, plus the aforementioned Little Tony, Emma and Toby, Bryanne and Simon and Lesley, VG Lee, Keith Jarrett, Karen McLeod, Sexy Lexi and Mr B's hubbie Paolo, as well as a host of newcomers (presumably lured by our headline reader) - it was packed!

Paul B in October 2015

Speaking of beginnings, our esteemed "Mistress of Ceremonies" Paul Burston was simply bursting with pride on opening the evening, and with very good reason. Through thick and through thin, through changes of venue, through "unpleasant break-ups", through sniping and back-biting and high praise and accolades alike, his indomitable (Welsh!) doggedness has seen a Polari event of some kind appear somewhere in the UK around once a month since Leona-fucking-Lewis was at #1 in the charts! That's quite an achievement; many others have fallen at the hurdle of organising half a dozen events, yet Mr B has pulled out all the stops for a DOZEN YEARS. All hail!

Before his head gets too big, on with the show.

First up, Bridgend's finest introduced one of the most remarkable of characters, Amrou Al-Kadhi... day. By night, I am Glamrou, an empowered, confident and acerbic drag queen who wears seven-inch heels and says the things that nobody else dares to.

Growing up in a strict Iraqi Muslim household, it didn’t take long for me to realise I was different. When I was ten years old, I announced to my family that I was in love with Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. The resultant fallout might best be described as something like the Iraqi version of Jeremy Kyle. And that was just the beginning.

This is the story of how I got from there to here. You’ll read about my teenage obsession with marine biology, and how fluid aquatic life helped me understand my non-binary gender identity. You’ll read about my scholarship at Eton college, during which I wondered if I could forge a new identity as a British aristocrat (spoiler alert: it didn’t work). You’ll read about how I discovered the transformative powers of drag while at Cambridge University; about how I suffered a massive breakdown after I left, and very nearly lost my mind; and about how, after years of rage towards it, I finally began to understand Islam in a new, queer way.

Most of all, this is a book about my mother, my first love, the most beautiful and glamorous woman I’ve ever known, the unknowing inspiration for my career as a drag queen – and a fierce, vociferous critic of anything that transgresses normal gender boundaries. It’s about how we lost and found each other, about forgiveness, understanding, hope – and the life-long search for belonging.
They [chosen adjective] were marvellous - from the opening gambit: "How proud I am to be appearing in this - erm - foyer!" to the readings from their book Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queen, we were in fits of laughter!

As a last-minute substitute for the scheduled guest Tamara McFarlane, who was unwell, the phenomenon that is P.J. Samuels was a splendid choice, and she rose to the occasion with aplomb. Reading from a selection of her poetry about life as a black lesbian in her inimitable fashion, we loved her. Fortuitously, someone captured her appearance at a previous Polari for the cameras, so there's no need for me to describe the sheer impact she made, dear reader - enjoy!

Concluding the impressive first-half line-up was Alison (Ali) Child, who, with her partner Rosie Wakley formed the performance act Behind The Lines [who we enjoyed at their appearance at Polari back in September 2015] to showcase forgotten lesbian characters from history. Among those characters were the Music Hall duo Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney - who were wildly popular in their day, headlining at the Coliseum, the Palladium, the Alhambra and the Victoria Palace as well as music halls up and down the country.

So enthralling did she find their story that Alison has now written a book about their lives Tell Me I'm Forgiven, from which - accompanied by accomplished cellist Kate Shortt (Gwen Farrar played cello) - she read extracts, describing their meeting (and Gwen's musical seduction of Norah) on a train, how their paths crossed with such society lesbians of the 1930s as Tallulah Bankhead, and how they managed to sustain a more-or-less "out" lifestyle in what could be seen as a somewhat strait-laced era.


Time for a fag break and a top-up at the bar, and then... the main event!

What to say about the eminent Russell T Davies? The man behind the revival of Doctor Who for the 21st century, the creator of the most ground-breaking television series in recent history Queer As Folk, winner of five BAFTAS, Comedy Writer Of the Year 2001 - and OBE?! Just being in the same room was enough to make ya proud...

As a speaker, he is every bit as charming and funny as one might expect from his work; and he gave us a little potted overview of his life and career, before reading for the enraptured room the introductory passages from his recently-published novelisation of Rose - his first Doctor Who episode (2005), the first appearance of The Doctor on our screens in nine years, and the story that introduced Christopher Eccleston as our eponymous hero and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, destined to be an enduring companion in the coming decades.

He explained that he loved writing the novelisation, mainly because it provided him with a chance to flesh-out some of the back-story that could not have been captured by a telly series - not least the crooked caretaker of the Henrik's department store where all the action of that first episode unfolded. Bernie Wilson, he revealed, had gained the trust of fellow employees as the "custodian" of their weekly Lottery syndicate collection; giving him the responsibility to purchase all the tickets on their behalf. This was a very misguided level of trust, it turns out, as Bernie had, instead of purchasing anything for his esteemed colleagues at all, been pocketing the money in an elaborate scam, one which he thought he could forever get away with...
...And then Lydia Belmont won.

Lydia. Daft, dyed-blonde Lydia, a cook in Henrik's Third Floor Green Glade Cafe. She was in charge of the Catering syndicate and had used the same numbers for years, a combination of her house number and various birthdays, including Chris Rea's, the fourth of March.

She'd won on the Wednesday draw. But no-one had noticed. Everyone assumed Bernie would have told them if there was good news. But bad luck is ingenious; that Friday was Chris Rea's birthday, so Lydia had naturally turned to her Lottery numbers, and she'd dug yesterday's paper out of the bin the check the results...

Uproar in the Green Glade! Tears! Hugs! Envy! An impromptu little party was held in the food preparation area, to which Bernie was summoned. He was told that Lydia Belmont had won the rollover jackpot of £16.2 million.

"Amazing!" said Bernie. "Blimey! Wonderful!" And then, "Goodness me!" He added that hadn't got round to checking the ticket because there'd been that leak, in the basement, of oil, which was tricky, obviously, but never mind, her ticket was safe and sound, locked away, in his office, don't you worry. "Let's go and get it!" cried Lydia, but Bernie said no, it was actually inside the safe and that was the best place for it, because if she had it in her hand now, oh, she'd wave it about and rip it and get it wet and lose it, and anyway, he added, with a sudden burst of inspiration, the safe was on a timer and wouldn't open till 8 o'clock tomorrow morning, so that left her free to get drunk and be merry, and then on Saturday, at 8.01am precisely, he could hand over the ticket, perhaps in a little ceremony of sorts, and then Lydia's new life could begin, how did that sound?

A string of lies, to buy Bernie Wilson one more day. And he would use that day well.

He'd burn down the shop.

Friday night. Bernie was alone. He knew what to do. Like any British employee, he had spent many hours trying to work out how to raze his workplace to the ground.

First, he had to get his story right, and one thing kept bugging him. Would a ticket inside a safe survive a fire? Would the metal melt? If not, would the temperature inside become high enough to ignite paper? Or merely bake it? And what did baked paper look like, would the numbers still be legible? Hmm. Interesting. Okay, he'd have to burn some papers and place the ashes inside the safe, and then lock it, so that, if the safe survived, it would look as though the lottery ticket had disintegrated. That worked, didn't it? Yes, thought Bernie, he was getting good at this! ...

...Then he heard a creak.

He looked around.


Only a wall of half-dressed shop-window dummies, staring at him with blank eyes.

So Bernie turned back to the fuse box. He prised open the grey metal covering. And then his entire life changed, shortly before its end.

The inside of the box was... alive.

The fuses couldn't be seen, buried beneath... fingers. A thousand long, thin, writhing, pink fingers. They swayed and poked the air as if someone had spread a sea anemone across the box with a knife. He realised they were growing somehow, visibly thickening as they began to spill over the edge of the metal. Bernie reached out to poke the centre of the mass...

And then he knew something was very wrong, because he had never felt anything like it before. The squirming mass felt hot and cold, dry and wet, smooth and spiky, fleshy, and yet sort of... plastic.

It felt like nothing from this world.

He pulled his hand back in shock, and his mind was thundering now, taking in many things at once. The feel of that thing on his fingers. The slurp of the tendrils as they surged out of their nest. That he'd never sent that letter to Erica Forsyth, the one in his bedroom drawer, written and hidden 20 long years ago. And that someone was now standing behind him, too close.

He turned around to see some bloke dressed as a shop-window dummy, with a plastic mask over his face, wearing 501s and a bright yellow t-shirt. he was raising his hand up above Bernie, his palm flexed wide open as though preparing for a karate chop.

Nothing in that moment made sense. The fuse box. The fingers. The dummy. He saw that our stories are only part of bigger stories, and that the stories around us a are so vast, we will never know our place in them, or how they end.

Then the arm swung down.
With his lilting Swansea baritone, Mr Davies had the silent enraptured audience in the palm of his hand.

A good grounding, therefore, for a relaxed (the two know each other) "in-conversation/Q&A" session with Paul Burston, which went further into the great man's background, his joy at writing, his sad loss of his husband, his pride at the retrospective accolades his (then-controversial) Queer As Folk has received, and his continued determination to promote and publicise gay themes and gay lives through dramas such as his recent Cucumber, Tofu and Banana.

Wow. I honestly felt this was one of the very best Polari evenings in a while. They're always good, of course, but this one felt cohesive and complete. Paul B agreed, but has high hopes for the Xmas outing, too - as well as a return visit to Heaven nightclub in the Spring.

So, with the final curtain call and a lot of schmoozing it was time to depart, spirits well-and-truly lifted.

Our next outing will be A Very Polari Xmas on 9th December, featuring Lisa Jewell, Will Brooker (Why Bowie Matters ), Ben Fergusson and Carolyn Robertson.

Can't wait!

We love Polari.

Monday, 25 November 2019

C'est quoi ce bordel?!

It may be the start to a new week, but for a change I am not too bothered - as I am on a day's leave. YAY!

To mark this auspicious "extra lie-in" I thought I'd share with you, dear reader, something that defies all logical attempts at explanation. All I know is that apparently the French find it hilarious. 'Nuff said, really...

On this Tacky Music Monday, settle down and "enjoy" Le Chanteur Masqué!

That's - ahem - some kind of wake-up call.

Have a good week, peeps!

Sunday, 24 November 2019

I expect a room with a view

Today is the anniversary of the birth of the estimable Joan Sanderson - an actress who hardly aged in all the time I remember her on telly! Generally cast in the role of dowager, spinster or matron, she was the bossy headmistress in Please, Sir! way back when I was a child, and remained the "not-to-be-messed-with" character in myriad shows such as Upstairs, Downstairs, The Les Dawson Show, The Ghosts of Motley Hall, Me and My Girl and After Henry and, memorably, the mother-in-law who was roped in to translate Joe Orton's shorthand diaries in the film Prick Up Your Ears.

But her most famous role was, of course, the fearsome "Mrs Richards" in Fawlty Towers...

We loved her!

Joan Sanderson (24th November 1912 – 24th May 1992)

Saturday, 23 November 2019