Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Warrior in Woolworths?


It's tough finding a new job, and it’s even harder when companies sound like they’re assembling the Avengers rather than employing a data entry assistant. These buzzwords should make you run a mile.

Retail Jedi
Though not the most thrilling job title in the world, at least ‘shelf stacker’ has some dignity. Trying to make menial work seem fun by giving it a twatty name is insulting and degrading for everyone involved, even imaginary space knights.

Culinary artist
No, you won’t be the new Michelangelo or Van Gogh, you’ll just be slapping wet ham between slices of bread for eight hours a day. The only similarity to Van Gogh you’ll have is knowing what it’s like to feel fucking miserable and not have much money.

Office ninja
Ninjas are stealthy and secretive, launching deadly attacks when least expected. What they don’t do is sit at a desk dejectedly answering emails, fixing photocopier jams and listening to Martin at the neighbouring desk describe his ‘epic’ drinking session at the weekend.

IT help desk wizard
You might think you’ll be the new Gandalf, dispensing wisdom passed down through the ages. What you’ll actually be doing is answering the phone, googling the problem and reading out the top search result. Hardly defeating Sauron, is it?

Killer marketing guru
The Dalai Lama is a guru. A person who thinks there is value in coming up with naff marketing campaigns promoting shit products is not. However, the ‘killer’ bit is correct because you’ll be ready to commit murder after six months of writing social media posts promoting vape shops and wedding DJs.

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Arrojo y una fiereza

As you will obviously be aware, dear reader, there is nothing in this world we love more here at Dolores Delargo Towers than to discover a new "diva"! Such a shame that on this particular occasion, the moment of discovery is purely because the gran dama has died.

Señorita Dolores Abril - for it is she - was a singer and famous film actress even before she met the renowned flamenco singer Juanito Valderrama in the early 1950s [who was at the time already married; they eventually wed on the death of his first wife], with whom she formed a professional and personal partnership for more than half a century until his death in 2004.

Their myriad records, stage and screen appearances (and their individual solo careers) made them the foremost couple in the world of copla singing, and both were revered as national icons in Spain. Dolores, in particular, was renowned for usually winning the "battle of the sexes" that they artfully played out on stage in their singing "contests" - gaining a reputation for her "courage and fierceness" ["arrojo y una fiereza"].

By way of a tribute, here's the young Dolores:

...and here she is, much later, doing battle with a purple boa - and winning! - all the while being adored by her audience... [Excuse the quality of the video; it appears someone recorded this off the telly.]:

Que en paz descanse, Dolores Caballero Abril (9th May 1939 – 25th October 2020)

Monday, 26 October 2020

Witchy? Poo.

It is always an utterly weird feeling after the clocks change. In Spring you lose an hour and spend ages feeling jet-lagged, but in Autumn it's the opposite - at the moment the morning feels OK because we've been able to catch up on sleep, but anything after about 3pm is darkness... Either way, it doesn't change the fact that our precious weekend has disappeared in a flash, and it's time to open that sodding work laptop again!

With Hallowe'en looming, I thought I might have found something suitably spooky to start the week off with a bit of a buzz. Instead, on this Tacky Music Monday I have stumbled across this "masterpiece" called Salem's Witch that seems to have nothing to do with anything witchy or scary at all - but it is indeed truly tacky!

I say "nothing scary", but whatever those boys have in their trousers might startle one if caught unawares, methinks...

Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Anarcho-syndicalists, Sapphic Paris and QUILTBAG

Threatened new restrictions or not, John-John and I were determined to "form a bubble" and get to Friday's outing of "London's peerless gay literary salon" Polari at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern - especially as the readers were favourites of ours; two of the most distinguished writers of their genre, Philip Hensher and Diana Souhami.

By happy circumstance we were seated at a shared table not with complete strangers, but with fellow longtime Polari-ites, our chums Emma and Toby. The "bubble" extended...

Our faboo host Paul Burston opened proceedings with typical aplomb, and it was on with the show!

Our opening reader, the engaging Philip Hensher entertained us with some extracts from his (somewhat delayed due to COVID) new novel A Small Revolution in Germany, the complex tale of a group of typically pompous and over-confident teenage self-styled "anarcho-syndicalist" radicals rebelling against their mediocre school, the Establishment, and indeed anything that they perceive as "getting in the way" of some kind of imagined worldwide revolution, including CND - whose meetings they (amusingly, from one of the pieces Philip read) disrupt with gleeful cacophony and bags of flour. Of course, as the story unfolds, it would appear that the passion for rebellion has faded from most of the group, with the exception of the "anti-hero", the book's narrator Spike and his Chilean-exile lover Joaquin.

From the review by Elizabeth Lowry in The Guardian:

 ...“From now on,” announces a smitten Spike, “I resolved to devote my life to the liberation of the urban proletariat.”
We may smile knowingly, but he means it, whereas the others don’t. The novel moves easily between Thatcherite Britain and the present, by which time everyone except Spike and Joaquin has shed his or her youthful convictions. Ogden has become a journalist with a facile line in wokeness, Kate is a mediocre but lauded poet, Milne a peer and QC, and James Frinton is not just home secretary, but has turned into a Tory (though as someone points out, ‘he had to do that before he could be turned into the Home Secretary’). His one-time friends are proof, as Spike remarks, that “there is so much difference between the espousal of principles and the living of lives”. The political purity of his beliefs, on the other hand, “has been untainted by any deals with what may be achieved now, today, this minute”, although he adds ambiguously: “I had kept my principles. I had remained what I was, a boy.” Have the others sold out for the sake of power, or simply grown up?

You'll need to purchase a copy of the book to find out...

With her typical articulate and wry humour, the lovely Diana Souhami introduced us to what she has promoted as the last of her "Di's Dykes" series of acclaimed biographies of famous lesbians [that includes Gluck, Radclyffe Hall, Violet Trefusis and Vita SackvilleWest] - No Modernism Without Lesbians, a study of the interwoven lives of arty lesbians in inter-war Paris, and their contribution to the "making of a new world" (that was sadly interrupted by the advent of war).

From her introduction to the book:

In the decades before the Second World War, many creative women who loved women fled the repressions and expectations of their home towns, such as Washington and London, and formed a like-minded community in Paris. They wrote and published what they wanted, lived as they chose and were at the vanguard of modernism, the shift into twentieth-century ways of seeing and saying. I focus on the lives and contribution of Sylvia Beach, Bryher, Natalie Barney and Gertrude Stein – three were American, one was English. All rebelled against outworn art and attitudes. Sylvia Beach started the bookshop Shakespeare and Company and published James Joyce’s Ulysses when no commercial publisher could or would. Bryher, born Winifred Ellerman, daughter of the richest man in England, used her inheritance to fund new writing and film. Natalie Barney aspired to live her life as a work of art and make Paris the sapphic centre of the Western world. Gertrude Stein furthered the careers of modernist painters and writers and broke the mould of English prose. All had women lovers whom they kissed, and they changed the human mind to boot...

..."England was consciously refusing the twentieth century", Gertrude Stein said. America enforced prohibition of alcohol as well as censorship of literature and art. Lesbians with voices to be heard, who would not collude with silence and lying about their existence, got out if they could in order to speak out. Paris was waiting: the boulevards and bars, good food, low rents. It seemed on a different planet from London. Paris was where they formed their own community, fled the repressions and expectations of their fathers, took same-sex lovers, and painted, wrote and published what they wanted."Paris", Gertrude said, "was where the twentieth century was", "the place that suited those of us that were to create the twentieth-century art and literature". Indigenous Parisians held their traditional views but did not mind these foreigners with alternative lives. Gertrude Stein said they respected art and letters: it was not just what Paris gave, she said, "it was all it did not take away".

Modernism would not have taken the shape it did without the lesbians who gravitated to Paris at that time. There had been nothing like it since Sappho and the Island of Lesbos...

Stirring stuff!

No Modernism Without Lesbians is available from Gay's The Word bookshop.

After a break for a fag and a (socially-distanced, be-masked) mingle, it was time for part two, as Paul convened a panel discussion and Q&A session with our "stars".

Diana commented on her slight sense of progress at the fact her book was practically encouraged - by a mainstream publisher, yet - to include the word "Lesbian" in its title. An achievement in itself, the panel noted, in these days of multiple acronyms and self-identities, where the words "gay" and "lesbian" seem to be treated with something resembling disdain - a point I do so agree with!

Returning to the introduction to her book:

I duck the initialism of the present age: the LGBTQIA, the QUILTBAG (queer or questioning, undecided, intersex, lesbian, trans, bisexual, asexual or allied, gay or genderqueer) plus the +. Added recently are P and K: P for pansexual or polygamous and K for kink. And now there is prescriptive use of the pronoun ‘they’ for a person resistant to he or she...There are but twenty-six letters in the Roman alphabet and life is short...all the initials in the alphabet will not help in what I hope shines through: the uniqueness, the utter singularity of each individual life...For, of course, what matters from A to Z is not what you are, but how you are what you are, and the contribution made.
Amen, sister!

Questions and answers dealt with, and with resounding applause for another brilliant evening's entertainment, there was hardly time enough to say our farewells [and for me to do a little "vox-pop" of praise for Polari for some kind of podcast being organised by the lovely Sophia Blackwell, accomplished poet and fellow longtime Polari-ite] before the bar closed and it was time to wend our way home again.

Too soon.

Apparently, the next outing on 25th November will be another "Polari at Heaven" extravaganza - and that is definitely something to look forward to! Can't wait.

We love Polari.


Footnote:

"Di's Dykes":


[Clockwise from top left: Sylvia Beach, Bryher, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Natalie Barney]

Saturday, 24 October 2020

A Public Service Announcement...

...from Oscar Conlon-Morrey and a cast of dozens of West End troupers:

I look forward to that day!

Friday, 23 October 2020

Eatin' fancy chow and drinkin' fancy wine


I want one of these masks!

Hoo-fucking-rah! The weekend's almost here - at last...

John-John and I are booked for Polari at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern again tonight, so there is actually something different to look forward to for a change.

To get us in that "party spirit", let's crank up the gramophone, conjure up something - ahem - classy, fling on our batwing tops and boogie along with the lovely Linda Clifford - and Thank Disco It's Friday!!

Have a great one, dear reader!

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Domestic Klezmer

Having just discovered - after several weeks tweaking settings and reporting it as a fault - that another of the saintly Google's products, YouTube, has unilaterally and without prior notice stopped sending notification emails when a subscribed channel uploads a new video, it was only by chance that I spotted this slice of brilliance had been uploaded by the BBC as part of its socially-distanced "Instrumental Sessions" series [see here and here for more]:

Gawd bless the BBC!

Sod Google.


Footnote

The composer/arranger of the excellent piece above is not merely a Klezmer clarinet specialist, but also a proud Welshman.

It was thus inevitable, I suppose, that he would lend his talents to producing a combination of the two things - in this faboo version of an old Welsh folk song (usually heard sung by male voice choirs and rugby crowds):

When worlds collide...

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

La vida es una hermosura, hay que vivirla

Another day, another Patron Saint to celebrate!

The sublime Queen of Salsa, Señorita Celia Cruz would have been 95 years old today - and I can think of nothing better in this sodden, grey and downright miserable weather than to transport ourselves to somewhere more tropical in her company...

¡Azúcar!

She was fabulous...

Celia Cruz (born Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, 21st October 1925 – 16th July 2003)

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Bangers stuffed

Oh, no!!

National Sausage Week has been cancelled!

We'll just have to make do with the buns...

Monday, 19 October 2020

I was born to be crass, a loud brassy tart

Where do those weekends go?

Hey ho, there's always something that can redeem the situation - for, sharing her celebrations with another bizarre mix of notables, including John le Carré, Sir Michael Gambon, George McCrae, Mavis Nicholson, Sinitta, Philip Pullman, Bernard Hepton, Verónica Castro, John Lithgow, George Nader, Peter Tosh, Jennifer Holliday, Trey Parker, Gloria Jones and Juanita Moore, today would have been the 75th anniversary of the birth of our Patron Saint of Sleaze - Divine!

On this Tacky Music Monday, let's revel in not just one, but two of Our Great Earth Mother's perhaps lesser-known musical extravaganzas...

And then, there's this! An anthem, methinks...

Cheap, cheap
I was born to be cheap, cheap
A child no mother could keep, cheap
As sure as there's trash
I was born to be cheap

I was born to be helpless, I was born to be cold
I was born to never do what I'm told
I was to be shallow, wasn't born to be deep
Of all the things I was to be cheap

Cheap, cheap
I was born to be cheap, cheap
A child no mother could keep, cheap
As sure as there's trash
I was born to be cheap

I was born to be crass, a loud brassy tart
No one can accuse me of having a heart
I was born too fast

I don't do it twice with anyone, GET CHEAP!

Cheap, cheap
I was born to be cheap, cheap
As I'm walking down the street, cheap
I'm always too much
I was born to be cheap!

Now, if that hasn't woken you up and got you ready for another week at the grindstone, nothing will.

Have a good week, dear reader!

Divine (born Harris Glenn Milstead, 19th October 1945 – 7th March 1988)

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Portrait of... Swindon?

As we look out on the grey dankness hanging over our autumnal garden, our thoughts once again turn to wallowing in the lives of impossibly glamorous people in exotic locations (even if the architecture in this clip probably lends itself more to Swindon than Italy) - and thank heavens we have the talented people over at Soft Tempo Lounge to provide it...

Oh. That's better...

[Music: Jerry Van Rooyen - Lisbon Sidewalks. Film: La morte bussa due volte (1969)]

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Totty of the Day

"I’ve never known anyone who liked being in front of a camera as much as Monty. He was the same way in front of a mirror – never ashamed; he enjoyed looking at his reflection. He was like a woman in this regard. He could stare for minutes on end at his image unselfconscious – totally relaxed." - playwright Bill Gunn

"Look, I'm not odd. I'm just trying to be an actor; not a movie star, an actor."

"Labelling is so self-limiting. We are what we do, not what we say we are."

"I learned that most writers don’t need interviews to write about me. They seem to have their stories all written out beforehand."

We have a centenary to celebrate today, dear reader - the utterly gorgeous, tormented, closet gay Montgomery Clift, star of such great movies as A Place in the Sun, From Here to Eternity, I Confess, The Heiress, Red River, The Young Lions and Suddenly, Last Summer, one of Elizabeth Taylor's closest friends, and among the most photogenic Hollywood stars ever.

In his tribute to the man, Guardian columnist Philip French observed:

His seismographically delicate face and eyes conveyed his inner struggles and torment.

Clift was selective over his roles. Some think overly so. He turned down the parts played by William Holden (Sunset Boulevard), Gary Cooper (High Noon), Richard Davalos (East of Eden), Anthony Perkins (Friendly Persuasion), Marlon Brando (On the Waterfront), Richard Burton (Prince of Players), Dean Martin (Rio Bravo) and Oskar Werner (Fahrenheit 451).

Later, as a result of heavy consumption of drink and prescription drugs due to guilt over his homosexuality, and after a disfiguring 1957 car crash, he became erratic and unreliable. But he is heart-breaking as the reckless, alcoholic, mother-fixated rodeo performer in John Huston's The Misfits, in the title role of Huston's Freud, and as the concentration-camp victim in Kramer's Judgment at Nuremberg, made when he was seriously unwell.

He died a deeply unhappy man in New York City. Asked the previous evening by his partner-secretary whether he wanted to watch The Misfits on TV, he replied: "Absolutely NOT!" and went to bed. He was found dead the next morning in a locked bedroom aged 45.

Such a very sad loss. Another great talent who departed too soon.

Edward Montgomery Clift (17th October 1920 – 23rd July 1966)

Friday, 16 October 2020

La La La La La La La La

Wheeeeee!

A weekend is looming, and the forecast is for no rain (for a change!) so we may be able to get out into the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers and do some clearing of the detritus of autumn...

However, even if there's not really a prospect of doing much in the way of partying, given the latest level of restrictions, in our head we're always up for a boogie - just like the energetic types of Soul Train [albeit somewhat slower and creakier] and the effervescent Ritchie Family. 

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great weekend, dear reader!

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Enough is enough

So, here we go again...

Thanks to all those "superspreaders", all those lovely people in our - ahem - cosmopolitan area still not wearing a mask in Tesco Metro nor on public transport, thanks to all all the - ahem - delightful gangs of yoofs holding their illegal street-parties and raves, and to all the classy types crowding around the pubs and Nando's hugging and partying like there's no deadly virus going around at all, London has entered "Tier 2" of the UK's new three-tier infection risk rating.

If there is ever an end to all this utter madness, I am going to boogie till I drop!

To this apt number, probably.

Mo more "tiers", indeed.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

But how obvious should a girl be?

Our newly-resurrected TARDIS (with incumbent Christopher Eccleston) has materialised not that far into the past; in 2005, to be precise - the year of the Royal Wedding of Charles and "Horse-Face" Camilla, the London tube and bus terrorist bombings, Hurricane Katrina, Jerry Springer - The Opera, Angela Merkel, Ellen MacArthur, civil partnerships for gay couples, Batman Begins, memorials for those killed in the Indian Ocean Tsunami, the murder of "Dirty Den" in Eastenders, the final end of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, Kinky Boots, layered polo shirts, Joseph Ratzinger, George Galloway, David Cameron, The Thick of It, a third general election victory for Blair's New Labour, Live 8, Madagascar, Mrs Henderson Presents, the award of the Olympics 2012 to London, Eurovision winner Helena Paparizou, David Attenborough’s Life in the Undergrowth, Desperate Housewives, and the ban on hunting with dogs; the births of YouTube, Love Island, Primark, Google Maps, the Roboraptor and Etsy; and the year that Anne Bancroft, Ronnie Barker, Sir John Mills, former Prime Ministers James Callaghan and Sir Edward Heath, Robin Cook, Mo Mowlam, Johnny Carson, Victoria de los Ángeles, Luther Vandross, Barbara Bel Geddes, Birgit Nilsson, Patsy Rowlands, Pope John Paul II, Prince Rainier, Littlewoods, Cyril Fletcher, George Best, Safeway, Richard Whiteley and Arthur Miller all died.

In the news headlines in October 2005: a massive earthquake that killed 86,000 people in Kashmir, the trial of Saddam Hussein began, three men were extradited from Pakistan to Scotland to face trial for the racially-motivated murder of a 15-year-old white boy, the contest began to elect a new leader of the Tories after the resignation of Michael Howard, and the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth (the UK's tallest building outside London) opened. In our cinemas: Wallace and Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Nanny McPhee. On telly: Bleak House, Deal Or No Deal, and the 500th episode of Casualty.

And what of our charts this week fifteen years ago? It was a proper mixed bag of the good (Pussycat Dolls, Robbie Williams, Depeche Mode and Liberty X), the bad (Bloc Party, Kanye West ft Jamie Foxx, Sean "the mumbler" Paul and Mariah-fucking-Carey) and the "whoooo?" (Daniel Powter? anyone?) - but deservedly topping the bill was a most underrated girl-band, whose back-catalogue is more memorable than most of 'em...

 
I'm busy throwing hints that he keeps missing
Don't have to think about it
I wanna kiss and
Everything around it but he's too distant
I wanna feel his body
I can't resist it

I know my hidden looks can be deceiving
But how obvious should a girl be?
I was taken by the early conversation piece
And I really like the way that he respect me

I've been waiting patiently for him to come and get it
I wonder if he knows that he can say it and I'm with it
I knew I had my mind made up from the very beginning
Catch this opportunity so you and me could feel it 'cos

If you're ready for me boy
You'd better push the button and let me know
Before I get the wrong idea and go
You're gonna miss the freak that I control

I'm busy showing him what he's been missing
I'm kind of showing off for his full attention
My sexy ass has got him in the new dimension
I'm ready to do something to relieve this mission

After waiting patiently for him to come and get it
He came on through and asked me if I wanted to get with him
I knew I had my mind made up from the very beginning
Won't miss this opportunity so you and me could feel it 'cos

If you're ready for me boy
You'd better push the button and let me know
Before I get the wrong idea and go
You're gonna miss the freak that I control

If you're ready for me boy
You'd better push the button and let me know
Before I get the wrong idea and go
You're gonna miss the freak that I control

I've been dropping so many hints
You’re still not getting it
Now that you’ve heard everything I have to say
Where we gonna go from here?

After waiting patiently for him to come and get it
He came over and asked me if I wanted to get with him
I knew I had my mind made up from the very beginning
Won't miss this opportunity so you and me could feel it 'cos

If you're ready for me boy
You'd better push the button and let me know
Before I get the wrong idea and go
You're gonna miss the freak that I control 
 
Love it!

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Monday, 12 October 2020

It don't mean a thing...

Sharing her big day today with another miscellany of mis-matched names, including sex god Hugh Jackman, as well as Luciano Pavarotti, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Angela Rippon, Ramsay MacDonald, Les Dennis, Aleister Crowley, Magnus Magnusson, Sam Moore, David Threlfall, Rick Parfitt, Carlos the Jackal and Dave Vanian of The Damned...

...is the - ahem - extraordinarily talented Miss Susan Anton (as I described when I first stumbled across her, "the living embodiment of a "Barbie Doll"), who blows out 70 candles on her cake.

What could be more fitting on this grey, murky, autumnal Tacky Music Monday than a bizarre song'n'dance number featuring the lady herself with another US "Z-lister" and a bevy of safety gays..?

Have a good week, peeps.

Susan Ellen Anton (born 12th October 1950)

Sunday, 11 October 2020

That's how I roll

I despair.

This "new, improved Blogger interface" is such a fucking pain in the arse!

Somewhere along the line this week, this completely un-user-friendly HTML editor has allegedly included some "rogue code" into one of my posts, and that has thrown my right-hand sidebar into the space at the foot of the blog, so it all looks really shonky. Not content with that, but it seems that if I even correct a spelling error then save a recent post, it suddently shoots to the top of the Reading List. I have reported this using the Feedback form (located by clicking "?" top right of the page) practically every day for the past few weeks since it started happening, but nothing changes (of course). Consequently, last night I was faced with a list of my past few day's posts all allegedly published at the same time that evening. How utterly pointless is that?

This is a product of the supposedly world-beating Google Corporation, don't forget - supposedly so "tech-savvy" that they run the preferred operating system on more smartphones than Apple, and can be trusted to provide the software to run driverless cars. I wouldn't rely upon them - to quote the divine and eternally-missed Miss Coral Browne - to "write 'fuck' in the dust on a Venetian blind!"

Rant #3276 in a series over - let's have some lovely jolly "Sunday Music", courtesy of our "house band" here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox!

Now that calmed me down...

Sigh.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Arise...

Dame Maureen Lipman, Sir Hercule Poirot David Suchet, Dame Mary Berry, and Companion of Honour Sir Paul Smith - among 1,495 people who received an award in the (delayed) HM The Queen's Birthday Honours List announced yesterday.

Joining them in this esteemed list - which includes hundreds of awards in special recognition of the work done by people in light of the COVID-19 epidemic - are Woman in Black author Dame Susan Hill, Sir Tommy Steele, Sir Phil Redmond and Sir Brendan Foster; Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) Lorraine Kelly, Joan Armatrading, Professor Brian Cox, Mamma Mia! producer Judy Craymer, actor Adrian Lester and gay rugby player Gareth Thomas; Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) Jeff Lynne, Tony Hatch and Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo; and Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) Mica Paris, Dizzee Rascal, Dr Hilary Jones, fitness coaches Joe Wicks and Mr Motivator, vocal coach Carrie Grant and footballer Marcus Rashford. National treasure Sir David Attenborough was awarded one of the highest orders in the land, the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George.

Congratulations, one and all!

Now, how about a faboo song from one of the worthy recipients..?