Thursday 31 December 2020

Yes, yes, my dear, perhaps next year, or maybe even never - in which case...

The end is nigh, dear reader - and here are a few numbers I felt appropriate for this, a most welcome New Year's Eve.

Starting with an old favourite that features lyrics which perhaps express many people's feelings about 2020:

It's that little souvenir, of a terrible year
Which makes my eyes feel sore

...however, this one sums up my feelings a bit more succinctly, perhaps:

Regardless, no matter how much we have hated, and want to see the back of, 2020 - NYE is essentially an excuse for a party [and we're having ours via ZOOM later!], so let's get cracking!

Happy Brexit Day!

...and, of course, such a party would be incomplete without today's late, lamented birthday girl LaDonna Adrian Gaines!

Let's raise our glasses to a Happy, Happier NEW Year, everyone!

Wednesday 30 December 2020

RIP, 2020

As we crawl slowly towards to that longed-for moment when we can finally tell 2020 to "Fuck Off", there's just one more task to perform.

It's time to open the "Book of the Dead", dear reader - the roll-call of the great and the good, and not-so-good [and I am aware that there were thousands more who will never make such a list, who will be mourned as well] who died this year. It is quite a list, again...

Derek Acorah (British self-styled medium and psychic, TV "celebrity")
Georges Duboeuf (French vintner, creator of the "Beaujolais Nouveau Day" craze)
Christopher Beeny (British actor, Upstairs Downstairs, In Loving Memory)
Buck Henry (US actor born Henry Zuckerman, screenwriter and director: The Graduate, Heaven Can Wait)
Neil Peart (Canadian rock drummer and songwriter, Rush)
Edd Byrnes (US actor, "Kookie" in 77 Sunset Strip, Grease)
Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman
Sir Roger Scruton (British conservative philosopher and author)
Tony Garnett (British fim and TV producer and director: Kes, Cathy Come Home, Beautiful Thing )
"Lord Tim" Hudson (British DJ in 60s America, voice actor in Aristocats and The Jungle Book)
Christopher Tolkien (British academic and editor of his father JRR Tolkien's works: The Silmarillion, The History of Middle-earth)
Barry Tuckwell (Australian horn virtuoso and conductor, London Symphony Orchestra)
Derek Fowlds (British actor, Basil Brush, Yes Minister, Heartbeat)
Therese "Maman" Dion (Canadian TV chef and businesswoman, mother of Céline)
Lord Robert Maclennan (British (Scottish) politician, former leader of the Social Democrat Party, interim leader of the Liberal Democrats)
Peter Hobday (British broadcaster, co-presented BBC Radio 4 Today programme for 14 years)
Terry Jones (British (Welsh) actor, writer, comedian, screenwriter, film director and historian; co-founder of Monty Python's Flying Circus)
Seamus Mallon (British (Northern Irish) politician, former Deputy First Minister)
John Karlen (US character actor, "Harvey" in Cagney and Lacey)
Kobe Bryant (US basketball player)
Michou (French drag cabaret club owner and local legend in Montmartre)
Yasar Halim (Turkish Cypriot baker and supermarket entrepreneur in Harringay, North London)
Nicholas Parsons (British television personality; national treasure; game show host: Sale of the Century, Just a Minute)
"Mad Mike" Hoare (British mercenary who took part in attempted coups in Congo and Seychelles, inspiration for the film The Wild Geese)
Daniel arap Moi (Kenyan statesman and former President)
Kirk Douglas (US actor, legend and supercentenarian: Spartacus, Lust for Life, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)
Margareta Hallin (Swedish coloratura soprano opera singer)
Mirella Freni (Italian soprano opera singer)
Paula Kelly (US dancer, singer, and actress: Sweet Charity)
Joseph Shabalala (South African singer and musician, founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo)
Caroline Flack (British reality television presenter and gossip column magnet)
Harry Gregg (British (Northern Irish) footballer, survivor of the 1958 Munich air disaster)
Pearl Carr (British singer and entertainer, in partnership with husband Teddy Johnson: Sing, Little Birdie)
Andrew Weatherall (British acid house DJ, producer and remixer: Primal Scream, New Order, Happy Mondays, My Bloody Valentine)
John Shrapnel (British stage and screen actor, England, My England, Personal Services)
Larry Tesler (US computer scientist, designer of "cut, copy and paste")
Heather Couper (British astronomer; TV documentary presenter in the 1980s)
Diana Serra Cary aka "Baby Peggy" (US child actress, last surviving star of the silent film era)
Hosni Mubarak (Egyptian military and political leader, former President)
Michael Medwin (British actor, Shoestring, Doctor At Large, and film producer: If...., O Lucky Man!, Charlie Bubbles)

Javier Perez de Cuellar (Peruvian statesman and diplomat, secretary-general of the United Nations 1982-1991)
Barbara Martin (US singer, early member of The Supremes)
Elinor Ross (American operatic soprano)
Max von Sydow (Swedish-French actor, The Seventh Seal, The Exorcist, Flash Gordon)
Mart Crowley (US playwright, The Boys in the Band)
Tom Watkins (British pop manager: Pet Shop Boys, Bros, East 17)
Michel Roux (French-British award-winning chef and restaurateur, Roux Brothers)
Genesis P. Orridge (British co-founder of avant-garde band Throbbing Gristle)
Roy Hudd (British comedian, actor, presenter, authority on the history of Music Hall and national treasure)
Lyle Waggoner (US actor, The Carol Burnett Show, Wonder Woman)
Betty Williams (British (Northern Irish) peace campaigner and [with Mairead Corrigan] Nobel Prize recipient)
Miranda Quarry, Countess of Stockton (British socialite and model, third wife of Peter Sellers)
Kenny Rogers (US country singer, Coward of the County, Islands in the Stream)
Julie Felix (US-British folk singer (Going to the Zoo) and 60s/70s television star: The Frost Report, Once More With Felix)
Lucia Bosè (Italian actress and mother of Miguel Bosè)
Nashom Wooden (US drag performer, founder member of The Ones (Flawless))
Albert Uderzo (French comic book artist, creator of Asterix)
Manu Dibango (Cameroonian musician and saxophonist, Soul Mokassa)
Terrence McNally (US playwright, The Ritz, Kiss of the Spider Woman musical, Master Class)
Mark Blum (US actor, Desperately Seeking Susan)
Bill Martin (British (Scottish) songwriter, Puppet on a String, Congratulations, Shang-a-Lang)
Liesbeth List (Dutch singer and actress, Kinderen een kwartje)
Curly Neal (US basketball player, Harlem Globetrotters)
Bob Andy (Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter, Bob and Marcia: Young, Gifted and Black)
Alan Merrill (US-British singer-songwriter, The Arrows: I Love Rock'n'Roll)
Adam Schlesinger (US singer-songwriter, Fountains of Wayne)
Cristina (US new wave singer and collaborator with Kid Creole, Disco Clone, Is That All There Is?)
Eddie Large (British comedian, Little & Large)
Bill Withers (US soul singer, Ain't No Sunshine, Lovely Day)
Patrick Gibson (French vocalist and drummer, Gibson Brothers)
Alexander Thynn (British aristocrat, the "mad Marquess of Bath", curator of Longleat Safari Park)
Victor Skrebneski (US photographer, Diana Ross Mahogany promo, David Bowie and Iman nude photoshoot)
Honor Blackman (British actress, The Avengers, Goldfinger, The Upper Hand)
James Drury (US actor, The Virginian)
Mort Drucker (US cartoonist and caricaturist, MAD magazine)
Faith Dane (US actress and musician, "Miss Mazeppa" in Gypsy)
Stirling Moss (British motor racing champion)
Tim Brooke-Taylor (British comedian, broadcaster, actor and national treasure: The Goodies, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue)
Kenny Young (US songwriter, Under the Boardwalk, Ai No Corrida, Captain of Your Ship)
Brian Dennehy (US actor, The Belly of an Architect, To Catch a Killer, Death of a Salesman)
Eddie Cooley (US songwriter, Fever)
Kerstin Meyer (Swedish operatic mezzo-soprano)
Lynn Faulds Wood (British (Scottish) journalist, consumer champion, campaigner and television host: Watchdog)

Hamilton Bohannon (US Disco music producer, drummer and band leader)
India Adams (US singer, dubbed the voices of Cyd Charisse (The Band Wagon) and Joan Crawford (Torch Song/Johnny Guitar))
Jill Gascoine (British actress, Onedin Line, The Gentle Touch)
Irrfan Khan (Indian actor, Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi)
Dave Greenfield (British keyboard player, The Stranglers, and songwriter: Golden Brown)
Millie Small (Jamaican singer, My Boy Lollipop)
Mark Barkan (US songwriter, Pretty Flamingo, The Banana Splits Show theme song)
Rosalind Elias (US operatic mezzo-soprano)
Florian Schneider (German musician, co-founder of Kraftwerk: The Model, Autobahn, The Robots)
Hillard "Sweet Pea" Atkinson (US vocalist, singer with Was Not Was, Walk The Dinosaur)
Roy Horn (German-US showbiz magician, one half of Siegfried and Roy)
Little Richard (US musician, songwriter and legend, known as "the King and Queen of Rock'n'Roll", Tutti Frutti, Lucille)
Betty Wright (US soul singer, Clean Up Woman)
Nigel (British dog, Monty Don's companion on Gardener's World)
Jerry Stiller (US comedian and actor, Seinfeld, "Wilbur Turnblad" in Hairspray)
Alberto Carpani (Italian Hi-NRG/Italo Disco singer, aka Albert One, aka Jock Hattle)
Phil May (British singer, The Pretty Things)
Alan Jacob (British theatrical engineer and rigger; projects included Phantom of the Opera, the 2012 Paralympics, the giant mechanical Sultan's Elephant and the Golden Jubilee celebrations)
Mory Kanté (Guinean singer and musician, Yé ké yé ké)
Larry Kramer (US playwright, The Normal Heart; AIDS activist)
Tony Scannell (Irish actor, "DS Ted Roach" in The Bill)
Bob Weighton (British engineer, lecturer and supercentenarian; world's oldest man)
Michael Angelis (British actor, "Lucien" in The Liver Birds, Boys from the Blackstuff, narrator of Thomas the Tank Engine)
Steve Priest (British rock musician, bassist, singer and "camp showman" of The Sweet)
Rupert Hine (British musician, Quantum Jump (The Lone Ranger theme from Kenny Everett Show) and record producer: Howard Jones, Tina Turner)
Bonnie Pointer (US singer, The Pointer Sisters)
Pau Donés (Spanish singer and musician, Jarabe de Palo - Bonito)
Ricky Valance (British (Welsh) singer, Tell Laura I Love Her)
Jean Kennedy Smith (US diplomat, former Ambassador to Ireland, last surviving of John F. Kennedy's siblings)
Willie Thorne (British snooker champion and BBC commentator)
Dame Vera Lynn (British singer, supercentenarian, "Forces Sweetheart" and national treasure, We'll Meet Again, White Cliffs of Dover)
Sir Ian Holm (British stage and screen actor, Alien, Lord of the Rings, Chariots of Fire)
Joel Schumacher (US film director, St. Elmo's Fire, The Lost Boys , Batman Forever)
Margarita Pracatan (Cuban novelty singer, Clive James Show, Manhattan Cable)
Johnny Mandel (US composer and arranger, Theme from M*A*S*H (Suicide is Painless), The Shadow of Your Smile)
Carl Reiner (US comedy partner to Mel Brooks, actor, director and screenwriter, Dick Van Dyke Show, The Man with Two Brains, All of Me)
Earl Cameron (British actor and supercentenarian, first prominent black British film actor, Pool of London, Thunderball)
Ennio Morricone (Italian film music composer, A Fistful of Dollars (and other "Spaghetti Western" themes), Gabriel's Oboe (theme from The Mission), Chi Mai (theme from The Life and Times of David Lloyd George))
Charlie Daniels (US country music singer, The Devil Went Down to Georgia)
Jack Charlton (British World Cup-winning footballer (1966 team) and football manager)
Gabriella Tucci (Italian operatic soprano)
Kelly Preston (US actress, wife of John Travolta)
Paula Tilbrook (British soap actress, "Betty Eagleton" in Emmerdale for 21 years)

Tony Elliott (British publisher and entrepreneur, founder of Time Out magazine)
Zizi Jeanmaire (French dancer, cabaret star and legend)
Josephine Cox (British best-selling authoress, The Beachcomber, The Journey and more than 50 other titles)
Annie Ross (British (Scottish)/American jazz singer, songwriter and actress)
Peter Green (British singer-songwriter and guitarist, co-founder of Fleetwood Mac)
John Saxon (US character actor, Enter The Dragon, Nightmare on Elm Street)
Dame Olivia de Havilland (British actress, supercentenarian and legend, Gone With The Wind, Adventures of Robin Hood, The Heiress)
Kansai Yamamoto (Japanese fashion designer, designed Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" stage outfits)
Chris Needs (British (Welsh) broadcaster, Radio Wales)
Denise Johnson (British house/dance music vocalist, Primal Scream, A Certain Ratio)
Sydney Lotterby (British television producer, Porridge, Last of the Summer Wine, Yes Minister, Ripping Yarns)
Clive Ponting (British civil servant and Falklands War whistleblower)
Sir Alan Parker (British film director, Bugsy Malone, Fame, Midnight Express, The Commitments)
John Hume (British (Northern Irish) politician, founder and leader of the SDLP and Nobel Peace Prize winner for his part in the peace process)
Wayne Fontana (British singer, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders)
Trini Lopez (US singer and guitarist, If I Had a Hammer)
Paul Melba (British comedian and impressionist, Who Do You Do?)
Pat Fairley (British (Scottish) bassist and singer, founder member of Marmalade, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da)
Julian Bream (British classical guitarist)
Pete Way (British heavy metal bass guitarist, UFO, Ozzy Osbourne)
Paul Knight (British television producer, Robin of Sherwood, The Adventures of Black Beauty, London's Burning)
Ben Cross (British actor, Chariots of Fire, The Far Pavilions)
Joe Ruby (US animator and producer, co-creator of Scooby-Doo)
Chadwick Boseman (US actor, Black Panther)
Lady Barbara Judge (US-British lawyer and businesswoman)
Erick Morillo (Columbian-US DJ and producer, Real 2 Real I Like To Move It)
Annie Cordy (Belgian actress and singer)
Kevin Dobson (US actor, "Crockett" in Kojak, "Mack" in Knots Landing)
Sir Ronald Harwood (South African-British screenwriter, The Pianist, The Dresser, Quartet)
Ronald Bell (US musician, saxophonist, songwriter and co-founder of Kool & the Gang: Celebration, Ladies' Night)
Shere Hite (US-German sexologist and feminist, The Hite Reports)
Alan Minter (British world champion boxer)
Dame Diana Rigg (British actress and legend, The Avengers, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Evil Under The Sun)
Toots Hibbert (Jamaican pioneering reggae singer, Toots and the Maytals)
Barbara Jefford (British stage and character actress, House of Elliott, Philomena)
Sir Terence Conran (British designer and businessman, founded Habitat stores)
Winston Groom (US author, Forrest Gump)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (US Supreme Court judge, advocate for women's rights and civil liberties)
Pamela Hutchinson (US Disco singer, The Emotions: Best Of My Love, Boogie Wonderland)
Michael Lonsdale (British-French actor, "Hugo Drax" in Moonraker)
Tommy DeVito (US musician and singer, founder member of The Four Seasons)

Jackie Stallone (US celebrity, astrologer, wrestling promoter and mother of Sylvester Stallone)
Juliette Gréco (French actress, bohemian and cabaret singer)
Sir Harold Evans (British investigative journalist, former editor of The Sunday Times, publisher and writer: Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers)
Yuri Orlov (Russian nuclear physicist, human rights activist and Soviet dissident; imprisoned under Brezhnev, critic of Putin)
Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait
Mac Davis (US singer-songwriter, In The Ghetto, A Little Less Conversation)
Helena Shenel (British vocal coach: Dame Shirley Bassey, George Michael, Annie Lennox)
Helen Reddy (Australian singer-songwriter, Angie Baby, I Am Woman)
Frank Windsor (British actor, Z-Cars, Softly, Softly)
Sir Peregrine Worsthorne (British journalist, writer and broadcaster, former editor of The Sunday Telegraph)
Kenzo Takada (Japanese fashion designer and businessman, founder of Kenzo stores)
Eddie Van Halen (Dutch-US heavy rock guitarist and songwriter, Van Halen)
Johnny Nash (US reggae singer, I Can See Clearly Now, Tears On My Pillow)
Margaret Nolan (British actress and model, Goldfinger, "cat-fight" scene with Babs Windsor in Carry On Girls)
Erin Wall (Canadian-US soprano opera singer)
Don Hayter (British motor engineer and designer, developer of the classic MG sports car)
Ronald Forfar (British actor, "Freddie Boswell" in Bread)
Roberta McCain (US socialite and campaigner, supercentenarian, mother of presidential candidate John McCain)
Herbert Kretzmer (British journalist and lyricist, Les Misérables, Yesterday When I Was Young, Goodness Gracious Me)
Dave Munden (British drummer and vocalist, founder member of The Tremeloes)
Tom Maschler (British publisher, managing director of Jonathan Cape, founder of the Booker Prize)
Rhonda Fleming (US actress and legend, Spellbound, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral)
José Padilla (Spanish chill-out music DJ, Café del Mar)
Spencer Davis (British (Welsh) musician, founder of The Spencer Davis Group: Keep on Running)
James Randi (US-Canadian stage magician and debunker of faith healers, psychics and the "paranormal")
Marge Champion (US dancer and actress, supercentenarian, Show Boat, Lovely to Look At)
William Blinn (US TV producer, creator of Starsky & Hutch, and screenwriter: Purple Rain)
Jerry Jeff Walker (US country music singer-songwriter, Mr Bojangles)
Joan Hocquard (British supercentenarian (112), oldest person in the UK)
Frank Bough (British television presenter, Nationwide, Grandstand, Breakfast Time)
Dolores Abril (Spanish copla singer and actress)
Belinda "Lindy" Guinness (British aristocrat, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava)
Bobby Ball (British television comedian, Cannon and Ball)
J.J. Williams (British (Welsh) rugby legend, national team, British Lions)
Nobby Stiles (British World Cup-winning footballer (1966 team))
Sir Sean Connery (British (Scottish) actor and legend, James Bond, The Untouchables, The Name of the Rose)
Lady Elizabeth Anson (British aristocrat, cousin to HM The Queen, party planner for royal and society events)
John Sessions (British (Scottish) comedian, actor and impressionist, Spitting Image, Whose Line Is It Anyway?)
Joy Westmore (Australian actress, "Officer Joyce Barry" in Prisoner Cell Block H)
Geoffrey Palmer (British stage and television actor, Butterflies, As Time Goes By, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin)
Lord Jonathan Sacks (British Chief Rabbi)

Ken Spears (US animator and producer, co-creator of Scooby-Doo)
Cándido Camero (Cuban jazz and disco percussionist, Jingo)
John Fraser (British (Scottish) actor, The Doll, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, Repulsion, and gay memoirist)
Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa (Bahreini royal and politician, longest-serving Prime Minister in the world)
Jerry Rawlings (Ghanaian military coup leader and former president)
Peter Sutcliffe (British serial killer "The Yorkshire Ripper")
John Hays (British entrepreneur, founder of Hays Travel, rescued Thomas Cook shops from closing)
Des O'Connor (British singer, comedian and TV host for five decades, national treasure)
Ray Clemence (British football goalkeeper, Liverpool, Tottenham and England national team)
Soumitra Chatterjee (Indian actor, multiple award winner, made more than 300 films)
Tony Hooper (British singer and guitarist, founder member of Strawbs)
Jan Morris (British (Welsh) travel writer and historian, member of the 1953 Everest expedition, famously transitioned from male to female)
Dominic Grant (British pop singer, founder and long-term member of Guys 'n' Dolls)
Paul Callan (British journalist, editor and broadcaster, Evening Standard, Daily Mirror, Daily Express, LBC)
Diego Maradona (Argentine footballer, controversial "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 World Cup)
Dave Prowse (British bodybuilder, weightlifter and character actor, "Darth Vader" in Star Wars, "The Green Cross Code Man")
Betty Bobbitt (US-Australian actress, "Judy Bryant" in Prisoner Cell Block H)
Frank Carney (US entrepreneur, co-founder of Pizza Hut)
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (French statesman, former President of France)
David Lander (US actor, "Squiggy" in Laverne & Shirley)
Peter Allis (British former professional golfer, television presenter, golf commentator and author)
Dame Barbara Windsor (British actress, comedienne and national treasure, Carry On films, Eastenders)
Kenneth Alwyn (British conductor and musical director, Friday Night Is Music Night, the memorial service for Noël Coward)
Charley Pride (US singer, first black member of Country Music Hall of Fame)
John le Carré (born David Cornwell, British spy thriller author, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)
Ann Reinking (US actress, dancer, and choreographer, Chicago, All That Jazz)
Jeremy Bulloch (British actor, "Boba Fett" in Star Wars, "Rob" (one of the gay neighbours) in Agony)
Doug Crane (US animator, Deputy Dawg, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe)
Peter Lamont (British set decorator, art director and production designer, 16 Bond films, Aliens, Titanic)
Roger Berlind (US Broadway theatre producer, won 25 Tony awards)
Lady Margaret Tebbit (British former nurse, wife of Norman Tebbitt, paralysed in the Brighton bombing)
Rosalind Knight (British character actress, "Beryl" (the ex-prostitute neighbour) in Gimme Gimme Gimme; St Trinians, Carry On Nurse)
Dame Fanny Waterman (British concert pianist, teacher and patron of the arts; supercentenarian)
Eileen Pollock (British (Northern Irish) actress, "Lilo Lil" in Bread)
Stella Tennant (British fashion model, granddaughter of Duchess of Devonshire Debo Mitford)
Rika Zaraï (Israeli singer, popular in her adopted country France)
Charles Campion (British restaurant reviewer, columnist and food critic, Masterchef judge)
Martin Lambie-Nairn (British graphic designer, idents for Channel 4 and BBC 2)
Michael Alig (US club promoter and convicted murderer, portrayed in the film Party Monster )
George Blake (British spy and double agent)
William Link (US screenwriter and producer, co-creator of Columbo and Murder, She Wrote)
Adele Rose (British screenwriter, Coronation Street, Robin's Nest, created Byker Grove)
Armando Manzanero (Mexican songwriter, Somos Novios aka It's Impossible)
Pierre Cardin (French couturier, pioneer of "Space Age" fashion, pret-a-porter and men's couture; designed The Beatles outfits)
Geoff Stephens (British songwriter, There’s a Kind of Hush, Silver Lady, You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me and hundreds more)
Phyllis McGuire (US singer, The McGuire Sisters)
Tommy Docherty (British (Scottish) football manager, Manchester United and Scotland teams)

RIP, [almost] all.

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Songs of the Year, Part 2

There are very few certainties in life, but when it comes down to musical tastes, dear reader, you can be absolutely sure that no list of my "favourites" will ever include: whining gits like Ed Sheeran, Lewis Capaldi or Coldplay; nor urban/rap/grime/whatever-the-latest-term-is for the likes of Stormzy, Drake, Megan Thee Stallion and so on; nor wibblers like Rihanna or Ariana or their newer competitors in the "ear-bleed" stakes; nor will there be much in the way of Country or Rock. No Taylor "Gwyneth Paltrow-lookey-likey" Swift, nor Harry Styles, Justin "somebody smack him" Bieber or the GaGa creature. Nor Captain Tom Moore.

Artists who did "tickle my fancy" during 2020 included Róisín Murphy, Shapeshifters, Jess Glynne, Doja Cat, Dua Lipa (well, one of hers, anyhow), Jaxx Jones and Martin Solveig - all featured (or linked to), among others, in Part 1 of this personal year-end round-up... 

...and this lot!

Without further ado, here in Part 2 - these are the songs that I loved the most in 2020.

First up, a song that has had not one, not two, but three iterations in a matter of eighteen months - not least the Xmas version I featured here. However, this was the one that made me laugh out loud (and lord knows we needed it this year):

From laughter to tears. A superbly-arranged collaboration between some very big names indeed (to raise funds for Children In Need); you'd have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by this one...

Changing the mood completely, despite the fact that (like just about everything) the Eurovision Song Contest was cancelled in 2020, this song - which indubitably would have won - remains an exercise in pure, understated genius:

What's this? Two bites of the cherry for "Little Miss Weeknd-without-an-e"? Yes. I adored this song for the whole of lockdown #1, and I love it still:

Our beloved Patron Saint of Belting Dame Shirley Bassey apparently hung up her sparkly frocks for the last time in November with a "farewell" album, much to our dismay - but from it came a boppy little number that has been receiving quite a bit of airplay on BBC Radio 2 ever since:

Speaking of Patron Saints and Divas, Kylie exploded back into our lives with her DISCO album, from which came first the sublime Say Something - and then, this!

Ramping up the camp-with-a-capital-C (as only they can), 2020 was also a busy year for the fantabulosa Steps, who released a couple of genuine earworms, Something In Your Eyes and, from the album of the same name, this house favourite here at Dolores Delargo Towers:

And finally, if there is to be an end-point, a pinnacle, a crescendo for such a list of remarkable numbers from an otherwise benighted year - here is the "Queen of the Lockdown" herself, with not only a brilliant cover of an all-time camp classic, but also with a poignant video that just about sums up our feelings about this "year of shuttered venues". Let's hope that by this time next year, we'll have a had few happier times on a dance-floor somewhere...

As always, let me know your thoughts, my leetle chums!

Monday 28 December 2020

Kann's nicht immer so sein

It's that "bit-in-the-middle" again, dear reader. Nothing to do but hoover up all the excess food in the fridge and wash it down with alcohol - but some traditions remain.

On this Tacky Music Monday, how about a wake-up call from today's birthday girl, one of Germany's finest divas? An obvious inspiration to Danny La Rue in this clip, methinks - or was it the other way round?

Hildegard Knef (28th December 1925 – 1st February 2002)

Enjoy the week, dear reader - this damned year will all be over soon...

Sunday 27 December 2020

Songs of the Year? Part 1

Yes, I am more than well aware that I haven't really been keeping my ear on the pulse of newer music as regularly as I used to. I make few excuses for this, other than a) the joys of getting older and more disconnected, and b) seeking comfort in more familiar stuff in a most unsettling year when every one of our usual entertainments was cancelled. However, dear chums, there are one or several choons I could tick off as "quite jolly discoveries of 2020", such as these...

Let's start as we mean to go on, with a faboo uplifting track [featuring on vocals the lady cavorting with all those lovely mirroball items in the photo above] that might have filled the floor at many a club and festival, had there been any:

Next, the biggest hit of the year, both in sales and in streaming [unless there are any sudden surprises]. Mr Abel Makkonen Tesfaye [yes, that is his real name!] has a penchant for gory videos [as I mentioned when I posted my own personal fave song of his back in April], but some clever bugger out there has merged this song with footage of that dance scene from The Breakfast Club instead - and it works perfectly!

Speaking of all things retro, Erasure received a great reception for their new album The Neon in the summer, and from it, this drag-queen-heavy video:

Speaking of drag - an unexpected [for me] joy next, from a hitherto unknown reggaeton artist from Puerto Rico, who plays all the female roles here...

I was overjoyed when one of my favourite eccentrics made a bit of a comeback, with a typically odd-yet-very-catchy number:

This year, I observed an ongoing trend in new songs that leaned heavily towards the sounds of the 1970s and 80s, including other favourite tunes of the year not actually included in this list by Dua Lipa and Doja Cat [as well as the above-mentioned The Weeknd] - and here's another in a similar vein that was a bit of an "earworm" in Spring:

And, rounding off this "first half" - another sure-fire dancefloor hit that unfortunately wasn't...

Part Two of this self-indulgence will be winging its way in a couple of days.

As always, dear reader, let me know your thoughts!

Saturday 26 December 2020

Une bourde monumentale

Rika or Régine?

Très embarrassant!

This is what happens when media outlets employ people who get all their information from Tw*tter instead of proper journalists. Earlier this week, French news channel BFMTV reported on the death of the iconic Israeli-French singer Rika Zaraï at the age of 82 - but featured images of (our Patron Saint) the very-much-still-alive Régine instead!

Both ladies are, of course, house favourites here at Dolores Delargo Towers, so by way of a tribute - first up, something from the late, great Rika:

And, on the Grande Dame Régine's 91st birthday, a classic:

RIP Rika Zaraï (19th February 1938 – 23rd December 2020) [More Rika]

Bonne anniversaire, Régine Zylberberg (born 26th December 1929)! [More Régine]

Friday 25 December 2020

Thursday 24 December 2020

Have another sherry

Hark! What's that? Oh fuck - the carol singers are here...

...from the East come some "wise men" with a paean to 2020:

...and finally, the sweetest carol of all...

Bah Humbug, one and all!

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Totty of the Season

Under the mistletoe...

Brad Pitt (born 18th December 1963)

Jake Gyllenhaal (who was 40 years old on 19th December)

Tyson Beckford (50 years old on 19th December)

Harry Judd (born 23 December 1985)

Ricky Martin (also 50 years old, born 24th December 1971)

Jude Law (born 29th December 1972)

Well, that's MY Xmas presents sorted!

Now let's see what the houseboys are getting...

I never tire of that video...

Tuesday 22 December 2020

They're packed full of vitamins and good for you

Timeslip moment again...

We've managed to escape the Gattaca programme, and suddenly find ourselves in another world entirely - the dying embers of 1998, the year of Dana International, Tony Blair, DVDs, Matthew Shepard, war in Kosovo, Mohamed Al Fayed, the IRA bomb in Omagh that killed 29 people, Titanic, Bittersweet Symphony, Ron Davies, Robbie Williams, the MMR vaccine controversy, Bob the Builder, "Free Deirdre", BMW takeover of Rolls Royce, Perfect Day, the Swissair Flight 111 crash, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Hurricane Mitch, "Hayley Patterson" in Coronation Street, George Michael's Outside, Monica Lewinsky, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, All Saints, Cher's Believe, Michael Owen, Sliding Doors, B*Witched, Charlotte Church, Huw Edwards, Brimful of Asha, the Nagano Winter Olympics, General Pinochet, Madonna's Frozen and the suicide of Justin Fashanu; the births of Windows 98, Shawn Mendes, the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge, Paris Jackson, the European Central Bank, the two pound coin, the Human Rights Act and Google Inc.; and the year Frank Sinatra, Tammy Wynette, Roddy McDowall, Alice Faye, Patricia Hayes, Lloyd Bridges, Dermot Morgan (Father Ted), Jerome Robbins, Sonny Bono, Frank Muir, Daniel Massey, Jack Lord, Francis Durbridge, Enoch Powell, Catherine Cookson, Falco, Joan Hickson, Lew Grade, Shari Lewis, Linda McCartney, Maureen O'Sullivan, Florence Griffith Joyner, Cozy Powell, Britain's last tin mine South Crofty, Hammond Innes and Kevin Lloyd (aka "Tosh Lines" in The Bill) all died.

In the news headlines in December '98? John Hume and David Trimble were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their part in securing the Good Friday Agreement, President Bill Clinton ordered airstrikes on Iraq (while at the same time, impeachment proceedings against him were launched), the controversial Hugo Chávez was elected President of Venezuela, Space Shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station, Khmer Rouge leaders issued an apology for the genocide in Cambodia in the 1970s, and three kidnapped British tourists were killed in Yemen during a gun battle to free them; and after Xmas came The Great Boxing Day Storm, which brought parts of the UK to a standstill. In our cinemas: Babe: Pig in the City; Dancing at Lughnasa; The Prince of Egypt. On telly: Carol Vorderman performing as Cher on Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes, Dinnerladies, Cold Feet, and the last ever episode of World in Action after 35 years.

And in our charts this week twenty-two years ago? The Spice Girls' so-called "song for Geri" Goodbye was the Xmas Number 1, and jostling for space in the rest of the Top 10 were Big Breakfast presenters Denise Van Outen and Johnny Vaughan covering Kylie and Jason, Cher, B*witched, Steps, Honeyz, Bryan Adams and Mel C, Billie Piper and - gulp! - Jayne McDonald. But soon to knock the Spicy Ones off their exalted #1 perch (after only one week!) for the New Year was a far more entertaining number, as featured in that year's cartoon sensation South Park...

I hope you're all singing along...

Monday 21 December 2020

I'll give it to someone special

Sigh. Back to the world of dreams - the alarm's gone off, and it's back to the grind again. At least it is the wind-down to the Festering Season, and I have an extended time away from pedestrian council business to look forward to, even if the news continues to make grim reading and there's not a helluva lot of seasonal cheer about at the moment...

Let's make an effort to change all that. Even though it is my least favourite of all festivities, I guess I do need to make some sort of effort towards a "countdown" [Todrick Hall having already kicked things off] - and there is no-one better to bring a bit of sparkle into the situation than Mademoiselle Dalida! First up, her somewhat unexpected cover of a Wham Xmas classic:

Not content to leave it at that on a Tacky Music Monday, however - bring on the safety gays!!

Much better.

Have a great week, dear reader! The days get longer from now on...

Sunday 20 December 2020

"This crocodile has lost its Croc!"

I despair of this bloody "new improved" Blogger system. Having steadfastly and regularly reported it as a fault, the "Reading List" feed is still bollocksed-up - make one small retrospective tweak to a previously published post [in today's case my "250th birthday wishes to Beethoven" one from last Wednesday], and boom! It's at the top of the list, as if it were a new post. I have no idea where these error reports actually go when one sends them, but it would appear no-one treats them with any sort of urgency, otherwise this might have been fixed months ago...

Sigh. Rant (#754 in a series) over.

Let's escape for a moment with a long-overdue visit to the faboo "Tired Old Queen at the Movies" Mr Steve Hayes, as he gives us his inimitable overview of one of our favourite films here at Dolores Delargo Towers [which will more than likely turn up in the TV schedules over the Festering Season, as it usually does]...

Such a joy...

Saturday 19 December 2020

Ho-ho-ho for me, ho for me, ho

Bah Humbug. We in London are now in a new "Tier 4", which basically means that anyone who left it till the last minute to buy presents from Primark or similar won't now be able to, as they'll be closed, along with hairdressers and other "non-essential" shops. No-one's now allowed to go and visit anyone anyway to exchange gifts, so it won't make a lot of difference. However, prompted by the efforts of Dinahmow and IDV, I have a managed to gather few prezzies together for all my regular Blogger chums...

For Mr Device - well it was obvious, really:

For Ms Scarlet, who has always fancied herself as Clara Bow, this:

For Dinah-Down-Under...

For the perpetually sexually frustrated Mistress Maddie, a PPE-wrapped and certified COVID-safe hunk of totty:

For Anne-Marie (hopefully they're big enough)...

For Norma and all her pooches:

And speaking of pets, a joint present for Mr Peenee and Saki...

Mitzi might get her maid-of-all-works Carmen to make this:

For the ever-vigilant grammarian Cool Cookie:

For Savvy:

And last but not least, for The Very Mistress MJ - her favourite kind of baubles...

[click to embiggen]

For anybody else I have missed, there's a choice of this...

...or this:

And finally - here's SANTA!

Now, back to being a Grinch.

Je soigne les remords

Do you wake up to clear blue winter skies only to find the sun’s gone by the time you’re dressed? Here’s how to make the most of your tiny slice of daylight.

Get out of bed
Special as it can be to watch the sun rise and set in six minutes from under the duvet, it means you’ll be doing everything else in the dark for the rest of the day. If you get up while it’s light you’ll feel you’ve achieved something, even if it’s just putting on underwear.

Gaze out of the window
Spend a few of those precious daylight moments looking out of the window. It might be the only time you’ll see the outdoors bathed in natural light all week so, as well as admiring the pretty clouds, take a moment to check the car hasn’t been nicked.

Look in the mirror
If you haven’t seen your face in natural light for several days, be brave and have a good look in the mirror. It will be a miserable experience compared to the soft glow of your smile in a low wattage light bulb, but it’ll prompt you to get your roots done before Christmas.

Go outside
If you find a moment when it isn’t pissing with rain, step outside. It’s important to let some vitamin D penetrate your dry, pasty skin and make sure the few muscles left in your wasted, sedentary body still vaguely work.

Get back into bed
By the time you’ve achieved anything, your tiny window of winter daylight will have closed and it will be pitch dark again. Like a bird with a blanket over its cage you will immediately return to sleep.

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Let's escape from the gloom for a moment, courtesy of "The Little Sparrow" (who was born 115 years ago today), allons-nous?

Oh, that's better...

Édith Piaf (born Édith Giovanna Gassion, 19th December 1915 – 10th October 1963)

Friday 18 December 2020

You played it to the beat

I had quite forgotten how refreshing it is to have a couple of extra days away from the mind-numbing "delights" of being tied to the bloody work laptop - I booked yesterday and today off, in anticipation of having something to celebrate courtesy of "London's premier gay literary salon" Polari's thirteenth birthday bash on Wednesday. The ghastly new COVID restrictions put paid to that.

But hey ho, I have had a chance, without feeling my usual drained self on a normal weekend, to get some pruning-back and tidying done in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers...

...and now I am in the mood for a party! In my dreams.

Let's get the whole weekend shebang started with a faboo mashup - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great weekend, peeps!

Thursday 17 December 2020