Thursday, 24 September 2020

Neither lawyers nor governments could restrain him

“No journalist of my generation could escape Harry’s influence... we were all brought up on his text books. Everything we knew about constructing an intro, subbing, cropping a picture, designing a page or writing a headline we knew it because of Harry. It was drummed into us... He was to journalism what Doctor Spock was to child-rearing... the journalist who reminds us all why we all wanted to be journalists. At a time when some people are giving journalism a bad name he is somebody who gave journalism a good name. He represents what we could be and what we should be.” - former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

"[He] transformed Fleet Street and [he] transformed the lives of all of us by understanding and appreciating that investigative journalism defines us. It earns our troublesome place in society and it makes clear for every journalist that what we do, for all our flaws, is invaluable." - former BBC head of news James Harding.

“He was the inventor of team journalism. In the editorial chair, he was a human dynamo and set in motion such a stream of powerful stories and campaigns that his rivals (I was one) could only struggle to keep up.” - Donald Trelford, former editor of the Observer.

"Evans was not just the champion of using journalism to set wrongs right. He was also a quintessential British editor who, for all his high-minded causes, understood that journalism was foremost not an intellectual pursuit but a craft – one that demanded muscular and clear language, captivating pictures, arresting headlines, perfect layout of the newspaper page... and, above all else, in a phrase coined by his foreign correspondent, a strong dose of 'rat-like cunning'.” - award-winning investigative journalist Stephen Grey, Reuters.

Sir Harold Evans, considered to be "the finest newspaper editor of his generation", the guiding light of every journalist and journalism student (myself included) for his comprehensive series of books on the subject of writing, editing, layout and impact of the journalistic craft, has died, aged 92. The world owes him a huge debt.

Having ruled Fleet Street for decades, he finally quit after Rupert Murdoch took over The Times and began to enforce his own personal and political influence on the editorial content of the paper. He departed for New York with his wife Tina Brown, latterly editor of Vanity Fair, and never looked back.

His remarkable journalistic campaign achievements included the pardon granted to the unfortunate Timothy Evans, hanged for the murders of his wife and child that were actually perpetrated by his neighbour the serial killer Reginald Christie, and the victory over the pharmaceutical company for proper compensation for the families of children born with deformities from the drug Thalidomide. His pioneering hard-hitting investigative journalism produced a string of world class scoops during his fourteen-year tenure at The Sunday Times, including the Bloody Sunday killings in Northern Ireland, the unmasking of Kim Philby as a KGB agent working for MI6 and publication of the Crossman Diaries.

As former editor of the FT Lionel Barber, in his obituary, says: "Neither lawyers nor governments could restrain him."

And who could ask for a better epitaph than that?

Harold Evans quotes: 

  • "The camera cannot lie, but it can be an accessory to untruth." 
  • "The democratisation of news is fine and splendid, but it's not reporting. It's based on a fragment of information picked up from television or the web, and people are sounding off about something that's not necessarily true." 
  • "Attempting to get at truth means rejecting stereotypes and cliches." 
  • "In journalism it is simpler to sound off than it is to find out. It is more elegant to pontificate than it is to sweat."
  • “Things are not what they seem on the surface. Dig deeper, dig deeper, dig deeper.”
  • “Just find out what the bloody facts are!”

RIP Sir Harold Matthew Evans (28th June 1928 – 23rd September 2020)

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more

As well as the centenary of the distinctly unlikeable Mickey Rooney, another incongruous assortment of "names" share a birthday today, including Bruce Springsteen, Julio Iglesias, John Coltrane, Romy Schneider, Cherie Blair, Walter Pidgeon, Deborah Orr, Aldo Moro, Danielle Dax, Nicholas Witchell, Emperor Augustus, Floella Benjamin, Yvette Fielding and Kublai Khan - and it would also have been the 90th birthday of the legendary Ray Charles.

Truth be told, apart from the classic Georgia On My Mind, this - his only hit here in the UK, way back in 1961 - is the only song of his with which I am really familiar...

...but it is a corker!

Takes the mind off the rain, I suppose...

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Shifting phases

The sunshine is utterly gorgeous today - better make the most of it, however. For today is the Autumnal Equinox, and from here on in, the nights start drawing in! 

The "season of decay" begins...

...but Miss Summer is still here to brighten things up a little:

Sigh.

Monday, 21 September 2020

She works hard for it


Another week of Zoom/MS Teams meetings beckons

Oh bugger. I was just getting used to being out in the lovely sunshine, pottering in the garden (as I have been for two days) - several pots of Spring bulbs are done, and loads more mucky pots washed ready for the next season's planting-up - and BOOM! Back to work...

Never mind, eh? On this Tacky Music Monday, there's always Miss Lola Falana and her safety gays, ready to cheer us up...

Money, indeed. That's why we do this shit.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Some say she's from Mars

Just because it is another gloriously sunny day, jolly music seems appropriate, and this song was  on the divine Ana Matronic's playlist last night...

...remarkably, in a "live" performance from the grandest gay cruising ground in the UK, Plymouth Hoe:

Ahhhahhahhahh

She came from Planet Claire
I knew she came from there
She drove a Plymouth Satellite
Faster than the speed of light

Planet Claire has pink air
All the trees are red
No one ever dies there
No one has a head

Ahhhahhhahhahh

Some say she's from Mars
Or one of the seven stars
That shine after 3:30 in the morning
WELL SHE ISN'T

Ahhhahhhahhahhahhahh

Love them!

Saturday, 19 September 2020

The fashion pack? She created them...

Heavens. The original "bad girl" of the couture world, fashion designer beloved of both Freddie Mercury and Princess Diana, Queen of Pinkness, Dame Zandra Rhodes is eighty years old today!

All hail.

In her honour, how about...this rather appropriate house favourite?

Many happy returns, Dame Zandra Lindsey Rhodes (born 19th September 1940)!

[More Zandra here]

Friday, 18 September 2020

No problem

A man who read a newspaper article saying the amount he drinks is a problem has confirmed that he is actually finding it to be very easy.

Tom Logan, who regularly drinks a bottle of wine or two every night, says it slips down effortlessly and makes everything seem much better.

Logan said: “Far from being a problem, it’s actually cheering me up and giving my evenings a delightfully warm and fuzzy feeling.

“It completely stops me worrying about the news and thinking about the terrifying global slip into right-wing lunacy, climate change and deadly viruses. 

“Also I drink so regularly that my hangovers have stopped being horribly unpleasant and are now just a sort of foggy cranial buffer against the harsh realities of the cold light of day.

“I think I’d have way more of a problem if I didn’t drink.”

Alcohol counsellor Donna Sheridan said: “Lockdown drinking can be a problem. But I find it all goes pretty smoothly so long as I don’t hit the vodka on a Monday.”

The Daily Mash

Of course.

A weekend is looming, dear reader - thank heavens for that! It's still nice and sunny here in tropical North London (although the wind is a bit "keen") - and we need to get ourselves in the party spirit to enjoy it.

From (gulp) forty-two years ago this week, how about a bit of "British Hustle" to start the celebrations - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

 
Have a great weekend, folks!

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Not going left - not going right

Having sidestepped it steadfastly so far by clicking "revert" to access the more familiar blog editor, today it seems the "new Blogger interface" is unavoidable, and the option to use the "legacy" system has gone. Shame - I do resent being forced to change for change's sake, but I suppose I'll just have to "put up and shut up". Who am I kidding? It is clunkier than the old system, especially the HTML editor, some things are not working (the list of previous "labels" appears to be missing, for example) and looks downright ugly. All that orange...

It's endemic these days for companies to tinker around with their sites just to appease people who do everything on their phone, rather than on a PC as I do (I reverted back to a simple Nokia from a "smart" phone years ago). Sod the rest of us.

Rant over, and on with the show. 

Today would have been the 95th birthday of the wondrous Miss Dorothy Loudon, so let's let her sum up the mood with the help of Mr Sondheim... 

 
 Fantabulosa!


STOP PRESS:

3.10pm - I have been informed in the Help Forum that if one has more than 5000 labels on one's blog, then when creating a new post no drop-down list of labels will appear, so one has to type them in manually. It also took TWO HOURS after publishing for this post to appear in the Reading List. Shoddy.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

A funny thing happened on the way to the theatre...



For your delectation, a selection of ridiculous things members of the audience have said, courtesy of the venerable WhatsOnStage site:
  • [At The Lion King] "When does Elton John come out?"
  • "How much is a complimentary ticket?"
  • "I wanna see that Henry Vee"
    "No honey, that's a Roman numeral. It's pronounced 'Henry Five'"
  • [At Blood Brothers interval] "Something tells me that this isn't going to have a happy ending"
  • [At Chicago] "What's it about?"
    "I don't know but I think it's set in New York"
  • "Can I buy two tickets for Fanny of the Opera please?"
  • "Would I be allowed to bring a spare pair of shoes as the ones I'll be wearing will be painful by the end of the night."
  • [At Jesus Christ Superstar] "Well, I didn't expect it to end like that."
  • [At Waiting for Godot] "He won't come, you know - his name's not in the programme."
  • "Our pet parrot just loves musicals so can we bring her along to Les Misérables? She is house-trained and knows all the words! We're happy to buy a ticket for her."
  • "This is ludicrous! The whole point of me printing my ticket at home was to get me in quicker via scanning but they've sent me back to you!"
    "Madam, you seem to have cut your ticket in half, through the barcode"
    "Well it wouldn't fit in my handbag!"
  • [At The Railway Children] "We've just bought this kitten from Harrods, we're fine to just take him in in his box, yes?"
  • “What time does the 8 o'clock show start?”
  • “Can I have seats facing the stage please?”
  • “Sorry we only have singles left, Madam.”
    “OK – do you have two of them together?”
  • “What time is the matinee?”
    “2.30.”
    “Is that 2.30pm?”
  • “I'm sorry but we only have restricted view tickets left.”
    “What does that mean?”
    “It means that you won't be able to see everything.”
    “Oh, at what point will we have to leave?”
  • “I had a tall person in front of me – I couldn't see a thing. You should arrange your audience in height order.”
  • [At Miss Saigon] “What time roughly does the roof open to allow the helicopter to fly in? I'd like to stand outside and watch.”
  • [At Mamma Mia!] “Is Meryl Streep on tonight?”
  • [At the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park] “Is the theatre air-conditioned?”
  • [Box office staff:] “Hi sir – did you buy your ticket from an agent?”
    [Customer:] “No, he was definitely white.”
  • A lady walked out half way through the first act of Madame de Sade (with Judi Dench) demanding a refund. She thought she'd bought tickets for Madame Tussauds.

Priceless.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Tip o' the Day



Yes, I am back in work...

Monday, 14 September 2020

No-one knows better than Joey



We've had a lovely day in the sunshine - and without a single thought about work, as I booked a sneaky extra day off today. We took a trip to our local garden centre and bought several packs of spring bulbs, wallflowers and pansies, plus some gravel, to get started on prep for next year [the gardener's calendar never stops!], had a pub lunch and then I spent the rest of the afternoon washing pots and just enjoying the balmy weather...

I haven't forgotten, of course, that it is still a Tacky Music Monday. To that end, let's have another - ahem - understated number from the unavowed mistress of such things: today's birthday girl, one of the original "showbiz kittens" Miss Joey Heatherton and her safety gays!


Have a good week, peeps.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Arachnophobia and Fog


The extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers resemble "The Planet of the Spiders" at this time of year...

For once, the Met Office forecast was right - it's been beautiful, sunny and warm here today. I have been making the most of the sultry weather potting up some foxgloves and Dutch irises ready for next year's display, and generally basking in the glow of the ever-declining sun upon the lovely salvias, dahlias and agastache that are at their very best at the moment.

To maintain that laid-back Sunday feeling - how about some "Sunday music" from the man they called "The Velvet Fog", Mr Mel Tormé (who would have been 95 today)..?


Faboo!

[Interesting fact: spiders could theoretically eat every human on Earth in one year.]

Saturday, 12 September 2020

A pride that dares, and heeds not praise, a stern and silent pride



Traditionally the event that closes the Summer "Social Season" for our little gang - not that there has been any "Season" to speak of, what with the cancellation of traditional highlights such as Eurovision (although there was a "socially-distanced" evening of programmes by way of replacement), Gay Pride and every live theatre or musical event in town - it will be interesting to see how the Beeb deals with tonight's Last Night of the Proms. There has already been a furore over the threatened rewriting of lyrics, and that instrumental-only versions of the classic patriotic finale numbers Jerusalem, Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory would replace singers, but apparently the over-cautious PC-mongers at the BBC have been forced to go back on their original statement and they will now be sung in full.

Even without the usual flag-waving audience Promenaders, I hope they do them justice. Lord knows, we need something to make us proud to be British once in a while...

We'll be singing along at home (via Zoom or otherwise)!



Friday, 11 September 2020

What you gonna do? You wanna get down?



There's a sunny and warm spell ahead for the UK, dear reader - the much-vaunted "Indian Summer" may well be on its way. True to form, however, it's not predicted to get really hot until - you guessed it - Monday. So I have taken Monday off in readiness! Yay!

But first, let's get things (ahem) warmed up, as is our wont, in anticipation of the forthcoming weekend. Our "gang" will be having another of our Zoom parties to mark The Last Night of the (socially-distanced) Proms tomorrow, and that could get very loud and raucous...

Following the sad news of the death of founder member Mr Ronald Bell earlier this week, what better than a classic funky number from the marvellous Kool & the Gang? Thank Disco It's Friday, and "get down on it", indeed!


Hey, hey, yeah, what you gonna do? You wanna get down?
Tell me, what you gonna do? Do you wanna get down?
What you gonna do? You wanna get down?
(Get your back up off the wall, dance, come on)
(Get your back up off the wall, dance, come on)

(Get down on it, get down on it)
(Get down on it, get down on it)
Come on and
(Get down on it, get down on it)
(Get down on it, get down on it)

How you gonna do it if you really don't wannna dance
By standing on the wall?
(Get your back up off the wall)
Tell me, how you gonna do it if you really don't wanna dance
By standing on the wall?
(Get your back up off the wall)

'Cause I heard all the people sayin'
(Get down on it)
Come on and
(Get down on it)
If you really want it
(Get down on it)
You gotta feel it
(Get down on it)
Get down on it


Profound.

Have a great weekend, peeps!

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

(Posh) Totty of the Day




Accompanied by another motley crew of assorted "names" including Otis Redding, Julia Sawalha, Topol, John Curry, Rachel Hunter, Colonel Sanders, Michael Bublé, Tom Wopat, Captain Bligh, Gok Wan, Margaret Tyzack, Natasha Kaplinsky, Adam Sandler, Cardinal Richelieu, Janet Fielding, Arthur Freed, Haley Reinhart and Leo Tolstoy, Mr Hugh Grant, stirrer of many a loin during his heyday in the 1980s and 90s, is (gulp!) sixty years old today!

By way of a celebration, how about a snippet of the great man's - ahem - "pop career"?




Many happy returns, Hugh John Mungo Grant (born 9th September 1960)

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Handy for Heathrow


Frogmore Cottage has been listed on holiday rental service AirBNB, it has emerged.

The five-bedroom cottage on the Windsor estate is listed as ‘steeped in Royal history’, ‘handy for Heathrow’ and ‘ideal for family holidays or weekend get-togethers’ by the hosts.

A spokesman said: “The hosts have remained anonymous, but live in the Santa Barbara area of California and have confirmed they are free to do whatever they want with the property since they paid for it.

“They were particularly keen for the property to be available to tourists of non-white origin so they could ‘see how the old bastards like that’.

“It’s already fully booked into next year and they’re hoping to recoup the cash they’ve spent on renovations within a year, after which they’re considering turning it into a benefit hostel.”


19-year-old Oliver O’Connor of Basildon said: “We’ve got it for next weekend. There’s about 60 of us coming loaded up with booze, weed and nitrous oxide whippets.

“Place is gonna get wrecked. Didn’t want the feds to be able to trace us, so I booked under the name ‘Wills & Kate’.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

[The "real" story]

Monday, 7 September 2020

Cacahuètes!






Sad news on the weekend - Mademoiselle Annie Cordy, chanteuse, showgirl, film star and one of the most popular entertainers in France and her native Belgium is dead. She was 92. So esteemed was she that in 2005, she was bestowed with the title Baroness by the King of the Belgians. In her seven decade career, she acted and performed alongside a vast array of stars including Gérard Depardieu, Petula Clark, Charles Bronson, Michel Serrault, Simone Signoret, Tino Rossi, Orson Welles, Claudette Colbert, Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour...

...and our Patron Saint of luxuriant hair, Dalida! On this Tacky Music Monday, this is a real eye-opener:


RIP Annie Cordy, Baroness Cooreman (born Léonie Cooreman, 16th June 1928 – 4th September 2020)

[More Annie here and here]

Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Here we are now, entertain us


Our latest houseboy is a joy on washday...

The weather refuses to warm up - despite occasional sunny moments out there, it still isn't pleasant enough to sit out in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers. Pah.

To make up for it, let's watch another energetic thrashing session from our favourite hunky Croatians, shall we?


That woke us all up!

Saturday, 5 September 2020

W.O.M.A.N. - say it again!







"I am here for visual effects, and I have two of them."

"My body is the shape I live in and it shapes the way I live."

"For a woman to be considered a celebrated beauty is not exactly a bad thing. I think we have to say that in all reality."

"You know what's the sexiest thing of all? A little mystery."


Scary. Another well-loved icon turns 80 years old today: Miss Raquel Welch, crowned "sex symbol" of the 1970s, chat show favourite, actress, singer, model, fitness guru, "Celebrity Royalty" - and purveyor of her own brand of wigs (indeed)...



Never one to take herself entirely seriously, here are just a few of her campest moments...




Many happy returns, Raquel Welch (born Jo Raquel Tejada, 5th September 1940)

[More Raquel here, here, here, here, here and here]

Friday, 4 September 2020

Cause you ain't had nothing like it



It may have only been a four-day week, yet the Bank Holiday feels like weeks ago; each day has reeeally dragged...

Never mind, eh? The weekend is almost here, and it is time to start to get into the party spirit.

How about a genuine club classic from the late, great Miss Sharon Redd? That should get our hips-a-swaying - Thank Disco It's Friday!


I'll tell you what she "can't handle" - mouthing the lyrics of her own song.

Have a good weekend, dear reader!

Thursday, 3 September 2020

It's called the "F" plan!









Heavens. One of the UK's most popular actresses, Miss Pauline Collins is eighty years old today!

In a career spanning seven decades, her roles have encompassed realist drama, situation comedy, costume drama, children's programmes, sci-fi and a variety of "homespun" character parts on telly and on the big screen - everything from Z-Cars to Upstairs, Downstairs to Tales of the Unexpected to The Ambassador to Quartet, indeed.

Of course, it is for one marvellous award-winning performance that she is forever immortalised, however - Shirley Valentine!


"That's right, Millandra, I'm going to Greece for the sex! Sex for breakfast! Sex for dinner! Sex for tea! And sex for supper!"

"Sounds like a fantastic diet, love!"

"It is, have you never heard of it? It's called the "F" plan!"


A superb film. A superb actress.

Facts about Pauline Collins:
  • Despite her Scouse accent, Pauline was actually born in Exmouth in Devon; her family moved to Liverpool when she was a child.
  • After an early part in Doctor Who, in 1967 she was offered to become the Second Doctor's next companion but turned the part down.
  • She was "Dawn" in the first five episodes of the classic 70s BBC sitcom The Liver Birds, before Nerys Hughes debuted in the show.
  • She and real-life husband John Alderton not only acted together as "Thomas and Sarah" in Upstairs, Downstairs and its eponymous spin-off, they were often cast as a couple - in Yes, Honestly, Wodehouse Playhouse, Forever Green and Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War, as well as on stage.
Many happy returns, Pauline Collins OBE (born 3rd September 1940)

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Don't run away now, you've got nothing to lose



It is soooo frustrating, being sat here at my desk like a good little worker, when outside there is dazzling sunshine (at last)...

Time for a little lounge musical interlude to soothe the frazzled mood, methinks - in the company of another of our fave "house bands" here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Koop:


Oh, that's better.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Special delivery



Back to work. Groo.

I've ordered a takeaway for lunch...

Monday, 31 August 2020

Everywhere that beauty glows you are


It is twenty three years since Diana, Princess of Wales' death rocked the world.

The last Bank Holiday is upon us, and for a change on a Monday I am not spitting feathers about work. The weather isn't too bad - not warm, by any stretch of the imagination, but more sunshine than we've had for a while - and I have been out in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers doing a bit of dead-heading. If it stays dry, we'll be watering and feeding the pots later in anticipation of an "Indian Summer". We deserve one...

Despite the sad recollections that inevitably accompany the anniversary of the death of our beloved Princess Diana, there is still a need, methinks, to "jolly things up" at the start of any week.

As it happens to be the birthday today of the late, great Alan Jay Lerner [creator of My Fair Lady, Gigi, Camelot and many more incredible musicals], let's have a number from one of the great man's perhaps lesser-known productions, the almost-appropriately-titled Royal Wedding.

On this Tacky Music Bank Holiday Monday, what better than a breathtakingly choreographed number by the marvellous Fred Astaire to provide us with a wake-up call?!


Everywhere that beauty glows you are
Everywhere an orchid grows you are
Everything that's young and gay, brighter than a holiday
Everywhere the angels play you are


Indeed.

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Holiday?



So much for the glorious "last stab at summer" Bank Holiday weekend. This time last year, as I commented to Mr DeVice yesterday, thermometers hit 32C in the UK. Last night, it was so chilly our heating came on! It's still August...

Hey ho, let's forget about the bizarre vagaries of the British climate for a while - and take a little trip once again to Spain (I wish), in the company of some semi-naked guapos:


¡Calma mi corazon latiente!

Sigh.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

A question no one has ever asked


A Mad Max prequel is in the pipeline, which may ruin everyone’s memories of the earlier films by being shit. Here are some more classics to fuck up.

Jaws
‘What happened when Jaws was a baby shark?’ is a question no one has ever asked. A prequel could feature a cute little 12-inch Jaws learning the ways of the ocean. Basically anything that completely ruins the menace of the actual Jaws. Maybe Jaws could be friends with a crab?

Toy Story
The events of Toy Story are very clear, so it doesn’t need a prequel, but then neither did Alien or all the other films bollocksed up with one. The early life of toys is a bit limited, so the entire film would be about talking pieces of plastic waiting to be moulded into Woody, Buzz and all the characters we love.

Withnail and I
Funny and moving with memorable characters, Withnail and I could be completely ruined forever by showing the jaded thespians years earlier as optimistic and supremely annoying drama school pricks.

The Long Good Friday
Classic Brit thriller about gangster Harold Shand’s hellish Easter weekend. But what were Harold and wife Victoria doing earlier in the week? A prequel could focus on them sorting out nibbles for the party on their yacht, then end unsatisfyingly as the IRA start blowing people up.

Back to the Future
Okay, the sequels are also sort of the prequels, but that’s what happens when you mess with time travel. For simplicity this would tell the story of Marty’s teenage life: driving his parents to distraction practising Van Halen riffs, demanding a car, and non-stop wanking.
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Friday, 28 August 2020

This ain't no place to be if you planned on being a star



This is it, folks! The last Bank Holiday three-day weekend until Xmas is looming, so we'd better make the most of it...

After another tortuous week hunched uncomfortably over the crappy little laptop, cursing everyone and everything to do with work, perhaps it's best to remember:

"You might not ever get rich
But let me tell you it's better than digging a ditch!"


...and Thank Disco It's Friday!


Hope you're taking note of the dance tutorial from Legs & Co.

Have a great long weekend, dear reader!

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Steampunk Synths


Miss Clara Rockmore, "Queen of the Theremin"

In these gloomy times, it's understandable that we take pleasure in nostalgia. Among the birthday celebrants this week is an exceptional man, way ahead of his time - Mr Leon Theremin, whose work on the study of radio waves in the early years of the 20th century [he was a scientist in the First World War, and was caught up in the revolution that enveloped his native Russia] paved the way for today's motion-detecting burglar alarms, television technology, and radio-controlled devices; he even invented a remote eavesdropping system, the most notorious of which (nicknamed "The Thing") was hidden in a grand carved wooden plaque of the Great Seal of the United States and remained undetected in the US Embassy in Moscow for seven years after the Second World War.

It is, of course, for his even more entertaining invention of a "hands-free" electronic musical instrument (named after him) that he is most famous. The Theremin, a direct precursor of Moog's synthesiser, was first demonstrated as early as 1920, was an instant success [not least in his performances alongside the lady in the picture above], and was put to great use in Hollywood movie scores (by the likes of Miklós Rózsa and Bernard Herrmann) - it even found its way into the pop charts in songs by The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.

By way of a celebration of the remarkable Mr Theremin, here's an old favourite here at Dolores Delargo Towers that demonstrates its use in a rather faboo way:


Leon Theremin (born Lev Sergeyevich Termen, 28th August 1896 – 3rd November 1993)

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Malevolent maelstrom



The fact that the Met Office (having embraced the infantile American habit of giving windy weather a name) has called the latest unseasonal high winds that have been battering the UK for days "Storm Francis" led me to think - why that name? It's not that common, after all.

So I went looking for "famous Francises", and found: Sir Francis Drake, Francis Poulenc, Sir Francis Chichester, Francis Rossi, Francis Wheen, St. Francis of Assisi, Francis Lai, Francis Matthews, Francis Bacon, Francis Ford Coppola, and...

...Francis Urquhart!

Of course:









Probably the best villain on British telly since Livia in I, Claudius...

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Mishter Bond



Amidst yet another jumble of mismatched celebrants, including Leonard Bernstein, Elvis Costello, Ruby Keeler, Mel Ferrer, Rob Halford, Van Johnson, Tim Burton, Dorothea Tanning, Billy Ray Cyrus, George Stubbs, Claudia Schiffer, Frederick Forsyth, Michael Rennie, Ivan the Terrible, Gene Simmons, Ludwig I of Bavaria, Joanne Whalley, Martin Amis and Alexander Skarsgård, it is (remarkably) the 90th birthday today of the first, and some say the best, James Bond - Sean Connery!



Voted the "Sexiest Man of the Century” (in 1999), and "Scotland's Greatest Living National Treasure" (in 2011), as well as (for his "James Bond") "the third-greatest hero in cinema history" (in 2003), we once again raise a glass to one of Great Britain's most celebrated actors [and quite the hunk in his heyday].

Many happy returns, Sir Thomas Sean Connery (born 25th August 1930)