Monday 30 November 2020

They nursed it, rehearsed it

Sigh. Back to the old routine again - and there's nothing "gay" about being tied to that bastard work laptop for another five days, I can tell you.

Never mind, eh? We have another centenary to celebrate on this Tacky Music Monday!

Sharing a birthday with an esteemed collection of oddly-matched names, including Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, Jonathan Swift, Billy Idol (who is 65 today!), Frank Ifield, Robert Guillaume, Lorraine Kelly, Gary Lineker (60 today!), Mandy Patinkin, Ridley Scott, Ben Stiller, June Pointer, David Mamet, Allan Sherman, John Bishop, Stacey Q and Des'ree, the all-singing, all-dancing Miss Virginia Mayo [for it is she] may not be as well-remembered today as her contemporaries in musicals such as Vera-Ellen, Rita Hayworth or Ann Miller, but she was Warner Brothers' biggest box-office money-maker in the late 1940s - often called upon to play characters with typical "showgirl" names like Mamie, Honey, Flaxy or Ginger, admittedly - and was Danny Kaye's choice of co-star in no fewer than five movies. Judging by this [not-so-tacky] performance alongside the gorgeous Gene Nelson, I am not surprised...

Virginia Mayo (born Virginia Clara Jones, 30th November 1920 – 17th January 2005)

Have a good week, peeps.

Sunday 29 November 2020

Overtures, beginners and bulges

In honour of Mr Joseph Clois Shivers Jr, born one hundred years ago today, I have excavated a real treat from the vaults

Who? I hear you ask...

...occupying a place in many gayers' hearts (and other places), Mr Shivers' lasting legacy is the fact that he invented Lycra!

Take it away, boys!

Well, that's my afternoon's exercise regime sorted...

Saturday 28 November 2020

No garden sheds covered in LEDs

A town that usually hosts a Christmas market is enjoying being free of that shit for a year.

Residents of Whitby are in universal agreement that the absence of tacky stalls and throngs of shoppers pissed on mulled wine is actually preferable to having them.

Resident Martin Bishop said: “The bleak weather makes town look even more empty and desolate than usual. It’s a miserable sight that warms my heart.

“Usually at this time of year I have to barge my way through swarms of twats by windmilling my fists, but now I stroll down the street swinging my arms around without a care in the world.

“Except for coronavirus and the impending economic collapse, obviously.”

Local shopkeeper Donna Sherridan said: “You’d think the reduced footfall would be bad news for me. But now idiots can buy overpriced shit they don’t need from my shop instead of from a garden shed covered in LEDs.

“Incidentally, can I interest you in a wooden tie? It’s only £68 for two.”

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Bah Humbug.

Friday 27 November 2020

Ce n'est rien que nous n'ayons vu auparavant

I've woken up to the sight of the first air frost on the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers - it was foggy overnight and the moisture froze onto leaves and pots, giving a sparkly sheen to everything. Winter drawers on, methinks...

As we crawl ever closer to the weekend, however, we need to get ourselves into the mood for a party [and we're actually having one tonight, via Zoom of course], thermal underwear or no. As the Timeslip Annual 1971 above hints, I am taking a little trip down memory lane; to #adecadeago again [a sort-of-memey-thing I half-heartedly entered into a while back at the suggestion of Ms Scarlet, who is unashamedly recycling her own back-catalogue at the mo] revisiting posts I did ten years ago - and came up with a corker.

From this week in 2010, a double-bill of campery - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

As you, dear reader, will no doubt already know, here at Dolores Delargo Towers we are passionate for most things 80s - the hairdos, the overblown power-ballad dry-ice-laden videos, the padded shoulders, the gradual handover from punk to New Romantics to Madonna to Stock Aitken & Waterman to rave, the almost complete lack of rappers... And of course, in the middle of all this - HiNRG/Italo Disco!

This particular song was a favourite of mine from gay clubbing days in Wales. Like so many dance numbers of that era (notably Voyage, Voyage and Ella, elle l'a), it probably benefited from being sung in its native language (French), so you didn't need to concentrate on how silly the lyrics may be.

Of course, unless a song was American or British we would never get to see the video. And in the case of this remarkably artless effort by Début de Soirée (for it is they), it was probably a very good thing indeed...

Not content with just leaving it at that I just had to share another recent discovery, courtesy of our friends in Brittany. You thought the original was bad? Try this marvellous Korean lady-boy karaoke version:

I can smell the poppers from here.

Have a great weekend, peeps!

Thursday 26 November 2020

And it's not so bad, it's not so bad

Over the pond, the Yanks are giving thanks for... something or other.

Here, it's just another day. However, it does provide us with a perfect excuse to play a little classic from (gulp) twenty-two years ago. Here's Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong, better known as Dido...

My tea's gone cold, I'm wondering why
I got out of bed at all
The morning rain clouds up my window
And I can't see at all
And even if I could, it'd all be grey
But your picture on my wall
It reminds me that it's not so bad
It's not so bad

I drank too much last night, got bills to pay
My head just feels in pain
I missed the bus and there'll be hell today
I'm late for work again
And even if I'm there, they'll all imply
That I might not last the day
And then you call me
And it's not so bad, it's not so bad

And I want to thank you
For giving me the best day of my life
Oh, just to be with you
Is having the best day of my life

Push the door, I'm home at last
And I'm soaking through and through
Then you handed me a towel
And all I see is you
And even if my house falls down now
I wouldn't have a clue
Because you're near me

And I want to thank you
For giving me the best day of my life
Oh, just to be with you
Is having the best day of my life
And I want to thank you
For giving me the best day of my life
Oh, just to be with you
Is having the best day of my life

Happy Gobbling Day to our American chums!

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Swinging the axe

On the weekend came the news that Graham Norton is leaving his long-running Saturday morning Radio 2 magazine show - to be replaced by that professional irritant, Claudia Winkleman. 

Last night (as I listened to her show on catch-up) came even worse news - the BBC has cancelled one of our favourite hours on radio, Clare Teal's Swing and Big Band Show!!

From The Telegraph (via Yahoo):

Radio 2 has axed its shows dedicated to swing music and early rock’n’roll as the station concentrates its attention on “the next era of pop”.

The Swing and Big Band Show with Clare Teal, and Bill Kenwright’s Golden Years, have been fixtures of the Sunday night schedules for a decade.

But the programmes will have no place in a “refresh” by the station’s new controller, Helen Thomas.

Kenwright hosted his last show on Sunday and bade his listeners an emotional farewell. Teal will leave the station in January, and told the Daily Telegraph that she was sad to leave.

“The swing and big band community in this country is really strong. It saddens me that the show is going. We’ve built up this audience and it’s a real sharing experience,” she said.

They are the latest specialist shows to disappear from Radio 2. The cull began in 2018 with the end of programmes devoted to brass and military band music and organ music.

Last year the BBC announced the new role of Controller of Pop, appointing Lorna Clarke to oversee the musical direction of Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 1Xtra, the BBC Asian Network and 6 Music.

When she advertised the Radio 2 head of station job in March, Clarke said that she was looking for someone to “help me shape the next era of pop from the BBC”.

However, Teal said swing and big band music do constitute “pop” for her listeners, particularly older listeners who grew up with it.

She said: “This music is popular music of a different era - a soundtrack to people’s lives. It is so memory-linked. I hope older audiences will still be served. Older people don’t all like classical music and they’re not all going to head off to Radio 3.”

Teal hopes to produce a version of her show on the Anchor podcast platform in the New Year.

A Radio 2 spokesperson said: “We would like to thank Clare Teal and Bill Kenwright for bringing such passion and commitment to their shows.

"We are always exploring new ways of reflecting a broad range of genres across Radio 2 and the music they featured will continue to be heard, whether in forthcoming series Top Brass with James Morrison and Barry Humphries’ Forgotten Musical Masterpieces, and within our regular shows, weekly strands such as Sound of the 60s and Jamie Cullum, plus specials. We very much hope to work with both Clare and Bill on future projects."

"Reflecting a broad range of genres" - what utter bollocks. When the genial Don Black retired this year, himself a replacement for the late David Jacobs, what did Radio 2 think was a suitable replacement for their style of laid-back, easy listening music, the "comfort zone" that traditionally ended Sunday nights? Why, a show of generic pop pap, of course, presented by Anneka Rice (of all people), generally best known for her cheesy grin and for wobbling her arse at the camera while seeking the prizes in 1980s adventure game show Treasure Hunt. Of course. A natural fit, NOT. A whole "genre" of music, lost.

The above-mentioned Miss Winkleman's first appearance in the Radio 2 schedules was itself during a previous reshuffle after the retirement due to ill health (he died soon after) of the station's longest-serving and beloved DJ, purveyor of classic showtunes, standards and gentle music Desmond Carrington. Her brash style of presenting and banal playlist-pop content sat uncomfortably as his ostensible "replacement", and disrupted the flow of Sunday evenings with a jolt.

The world's longest running music radio show Friday Night is Music Night has also been treated shoddily by the once-proud BBC. Ostensibly in a "temporary move" when radio schedules were being "simplified" in response to the coronavirus pandemic earlier in 2020, the show was shifted to Sunday evenings and "temporarily" re-titled Sunday Night is Music Night. Long before any hint of COVID existed, there had been little in the way of new programming in its normal tradition, however - one of the great "perks" of this publicly-funded network was that audiences could attend recordings of these generally Light Music (and Big Band) concerts for free; and over the years we successfully got tickets (in their draw) for several of these - and its output began to rely heavily upon repeats of old shows, unless there was a concert for which the Beeb could charge, of course, which would then be broadcast in its place.

Lately, and perhaps understandably in a pandemic, repeats are all that occupies its Sunday slot, but the entire programme is unceremoniously dumped altogether if another music-themed event comes along such as BBC Live Sessions, the Olivier Awards or, shamefully for a nation which has no such music in its national canon, America's Country Music Awards. This is the British Broadcasting Corporation, in case anyone in charge of scheduling has forgotten.

Miss Teal, in her statement above, makes a very good point that Swing and Big band music is a genuine part of older people's memories and lives - it was their "pop music", as she says - and fears that generation is being sidelined by the decision. I would argue further that there are millions of people - ourselves included - for whom this type of music is not a personal memory-jog, but a matter of musical taste. We love not only the eternal back-catalogue of British dance bands, US swing bands, jazzy singers and Latin orchestras that were at their height in the early to mid 20th century (before "our time"), but also the modern inheritors, conservationists and innovators of this style - not least the likes of Max Raabe, Joe Stilgoe, Matt Dusk, Michael Feinstein, Claire Martin, Puppini Sisters, Michael Buble, Tricity Vogue or Kansas Smitty's House Band (and even Nina Hagen, Robbie Williams, Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats and Matt Goss of Bros have embraced it). Let us also not forget our own "house bands" here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Pink Martini and Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox...

So who is this embarassingly-titled "Controller of Pop" Lorna Clarke, anyway? On investigation, it seems her main pre-BBC experience was at Kiss 100, the former urban pirate radio station specialising in Hip-Hop, R&B and dance music, from where she progressed to BBC Radio 1Xtra, the digital urban contemporary and Black music radio station. No "swing" there, methinks. As for her appointee as Head of BBC Radio 2/Axeman, Helen Thomas appears to have experience producing mainstream output such as that channel's shouty Drivetime and Breakfast shows, and is on the committee of something called the Young Audio Awards. Both started their careers in radio news rather than music. I feel my life flashing before my eyes at the thought of what this pair have in mind next for the UK's biggest radio station.

Very sad.

Let's have some of "our kind of Swing" to cheer ourselves up, shall we?

And finally, proving that it's not just for oldies...

That's what we want!

Monday 23 November 2020

Shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax

The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax,
Of cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether pigs have wings.

- Lewis Carroll "The Walrus and the Carpenter"

In what little daylight I actually saw on the weekend [I am a complete "night owl" and treasure my long lie-ins on Saturday and Sunday], the weather was lovely and mild with blue skies, perfect for a bit of pottering and basking. Now, like a flash, it's over again, and I am reaching for the bloody work laptop...

Never be despondent however, dear reader, when on this Tacky Music Monday there's the utter madness of Miss Heather Parisi [singing about sealing wax for some fuck-knows-why reason], lots of glitter and spandex, safety gays and bizarre almost-but-not-quite-right frenetic dancing to save the day!

Italian television spectaculars. They never fail to deliver, even if our jaws are now on the ground.

Have a good week...

Sunday 22 November 2020

Everybody lives for the music-go-round

Speaking of blondes... was Kim Wilde's 60th birthday last week! Lordy, that really makes me feel old.

Let's take a little trip down memory lane to her very first hit, from way back in Spring 1981. I was still in school.

Looking out a dirty old window
Down below the cars in the city go rushing by
I sit here alone and I wonder why

Friday night and everyone's moving
I can feel the heat but it's soothing, heading down
I search for the beat in this dirty town

Downtown the young ones are going
Downtown the young ones are growing
We're the kids in America (Whoa)
We're the kids in America (Whoa)
Everybody live for the music-go-round

Bright lights, the music gets faster
Look, boy, don't check on your watch, not another glance
I'm not leaving now, honey, not a chance

Hot-shot, give me no problems
Much later, baby, you'll be saying never mind
You know life is cruel, life is never kind

Kind hearts don't make a new story
Kind hearts don't grab any glory
We're the kids in America (Whoa)
We're the kids in America (Whoa)
Everybody live for the music-go-round

Come closer, honey, that's better
Got to get a brand new experience, feeling right
Oh, don't try to stop, baby, hold me tight

Outside a new day is dawning
Outside suburbia's sprawling everywhere
I don't want to go, baby

New York to east California
There's a new wave coming, I warn ya
We're the kids in America (Whoa)
We're the kids in America (Whoa)
Everybody lives for the music-go-round

We're the kids
We're the kids
We're the kids in America
We're the kids
We're the kids
We're the kids in America
We're the kids
We're the kids
We're the kids in America

Loved it at the time, and love it now. To finish, however, here's a little joy Kim released earlier this year - despite the fact that on first glance I thought that was June Whitfield, I think this is fab!

Kim Wilde (born Kim Smith, 18th November 1960)

Saturday 21 November 2020

No-so-dumb blonde

"I had a tremendous amount of gay friends, so my whole life was basically like that... I never noticed who was gay or who was straight."

"Don't tell me I can't do that. Watch me. Don't tell me I can't direct this movie. Watch me."

"During the era when women were burning their bras - which, by the way, they never actually did - but when women were first becoming liberated, I was 23. And I met a woman who asked, 'Don't you feel bad because you're sort of acting like the stupid airhead blonde?' And I totally surprised myself. I said, 'Liberation can also come from the inside.'"

"It's nice for a woman to go out and have her own money and her own ability to do what she wants."

The magnificent, effervescent Miss Goldie Hawn is 75 years old today!

All hail.

Goldie Jeanne Hawn (born 21st November 1945)

Friday 20 November 2020

This is the rhythm of my life, oh yeah

Another excruciating week at the laptop grinds to a slow demise, and we need to get into the party mood as is befitting of any week's end.

No matter if we can't actually go to a club at the moment - let's bring the club to us!

Crack open the WKD Blue, fouff up that spiral perm, grab yer glow sticks, crop tops and combats, slip dresses, baggies, neon t-shirts, whatever takes your fancy - and Thank Disco the 90s It's Friday!

Have a great weekend, dear reader!

Tracks/videos sampled include:

La Bouche - Be My Lover
Technotronic - Pump Up The Jam
Reel to Real - I Like to Move It
Corona - Rhythm of the Night
Ice MC - Think About the Way
Alexia - Me and You
Modjo - Lady
Robin S - Show Me Love
Gala - Freed From Desire
Spice Girls - Wannabe
Ann Lee - 2 Times
Ace of Base - All That She Wants
Whigfield - Saturday Night
C & C Music Factory - Everybody Dance Now
MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This

Thursday 19 November 2020

She's gonna shimmy till her garters break

Another day, another fundraiser, it seems...

Following in the footsteps of the utterly superb star-studded Noël Coward extravaganza A Marvellous Party [in aid of Acting For Others/The Actors'Fund] and this week's mass-participation Children In Need blockbuster, I have another genuine jaw-dropper for you.

An impressive exercise in co-ordination that I couldn't even begin to contemplate, no fewer than 150 cast and orchestra members from worldwide versions of Kander and Ebb's masterful musical Chicago - including Ute Lemper, Sally Ann Triplet, Debbie Kurup, Bonnie Langford, Sue Kelvin, Ian Kelsey, Michael Greco, David Hasselhoff, Annette McLaughlin, Gaby Roslin, and many more - have gathered together (inevitably in these times, remotely) to perform a synchronised version of the show's big number All That Jazz in aid of the COVID-19 relief fund of AIDS charity The MAD Trust.

The result is just amazing...

Wow! Just wow.

To make a donation, please visit The MAD Trust emergency assistance fund page.

Wednesday 18 November 2020

The Dame bows out with a bang!

We acquired a gem last weekend [I pre-ordered], and for the first time last night we listened to it - Dame Shirley Bassey's final (sniff! sniff!) album I Owe It All to You.

I don't really need to say it, but... is FAB!!

Already Britain’s most successful female artist of all time, with this album crashing into the Top Ten she has broken a new chart record and has become the first to have a UK Top 40 album in seven consecutive decades!

Among a smattering of original songs and cabaret standards, the Dame covers numbers originally recorded by Barry Manilow, Queen, John Miles, Elvis and Liza Minnelli. Unafraid of a challenge, she also covers GaGa and Beyonce(!) - and in doing so, shows both of them exactly how a song should be sung...

By way of a teaser before you all troll off to purchase your copy, here are just two of the tracks - starting with the title song, written especially for her by fellow retiree and longtime collaborator Don Black. As the review in the Financial Times put it:

Bassey’s songs have always had a different outlook. Their world is one of glitz and glamour and ornate vocal power. A swish of thick red velvet curtains, and the spotlight picks out a sumptuously robed figure at the microphone stand. “You have kept me centre stage,” she sings, arms outstretched, voice ringing out to all corners.

Indeed. How life should be.

...and then, this...

There is, and never will be, anyone else like her!

I Owe It All to You is available from Decca Records and Amazon.

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Every Hollywood he-man

From Modern Screen, 1950:

Women have the monopoly on beauty treatments. Men generally take the faces that God gave them and do the best they can. Mud packs, permanent waves, facials - they’re for the girls. Probably the biggest disadvantage of all this is that there are no beauty parlours where men can get together and gossip.

Imagine the male delight when 13 years ago a fellow name of Sam Amundsen opened a Finnish bathhouse – for men only. Here at last was a place where the boys could let off steam, and improve their physiques at the same time. It was a natural. Before long every Hollywood he-man worth his weight has made a habit of Finlandia, which is located in the basement of the Bing Crosby building. The Crosby brothers, Kirk Douglas, Humphrey Bogart, Cornel Wilde, Zachary Scott, Paul Douglas - they all drop in for the treatment, and the talk...

...photographers Bert Parry, Bob Beerman, and I were only too happy to go somewhere nice and warm. We hustled over to Finlandia and there found Scott Brady, John Bromfield, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis and Hugh O’Brian in various stages of undress...

Oh, so very manly.

The gorgeous, and eternally closeted, Hollywood heartthrob Mr Rock Hudson (born Roy Harold Scherer Jr., 17th November 1925 – 2nd October 1985) would have been 95 years old today...

Monday 16 November 2020

We're all of us stars, we're fading away, just try not to worry, you'll see us some day

Just in case anyone here thinks me an uncaring bastard [OK, that bit is generally true], here is the star-studded, utterly superb and very tear-jerking Children in Need 2020 charity fundraising single - wherein just about everyone who is anyone in pop music at the moment sings along to an Oasis number:

Hold up
Hold on
Don't be scared
You'll never change
What's been and gone

May your smile (may your smile)
Shine on (shine on)
Don't be scared (don't be scared)
Your destiny may keep you warm

'Cause all of the stars
Are fading away
Just try not to worry
You'll see them some day
Take what you need
And be on your way
And stop crying your heart out

Get up (get up)
Come on (come on)
Why're you scared?
You'll never change
What's been and gone

'Cause all of the stars
Are fading away
Just try not to worry
You'll see them some day
Take what you need
And be on your way
And stop crying your heart out

We're all of us stars
We're fading away
Just try not to worry
You'll see us some day
Just take what you need
And be on your way
And stop crying your heart out
Stop crying your heart out
Stop crying your heart out
Stop crying your heart out

If, like me, you're an old fart who has absolutely no idea who some of these people actually are, one helpful YouTuber has kindly put a list together by order of appearance (first appearances only):

00:02    Jamie Cullen (piano)
00:06    Cher
00:19    Lenny Kravitz
00:24    Jess Glynne (vocals only)
00:26    Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello)
00:31    Bryan Adams
00:33    Mel C
00:38    Ella Eyre
00:40    James Morrison
00:43    Izzy Bizu
00:44    Grace Chatto (cello)
00:49    Rebecca Ferguson
00:55    Robbie Williams
00:58    Paloma Faith
01:02    Jack Savoretti
01:05    Ava Max
01:07    Yola
01:10    Jay Sean
01:14    Kylie Minogue
01:19    Anoushka Shankar (sitar)
01:23    Nile Rodgers (guitar)
01:30    Gregory Porter
01:34    KSI
01:46    Lauv

I still wouldn't recognise half of 'em if they were next to me in a bus queue, but I digress...

It's a worthy cause, and the song deserves to hit the #1 slot - which it looks likely to do this weekend. 

The entire telethon raised £37 million on Friday (quite remarkable given the lockdown-curtailed nature of this year's event). 

All further donations will of course be gratefully received.


I had to laugh at one comment on YT: "Cher's outfit says when you need to record a charity single at 9pm and commit a human sacrifice at 3am and I respect that."

Someday, maybe, if I stick it long enough

Well, that was a particularly shit weekend, weather-wise - and now it's back to the grind again. Unfortunately.

Thanks heavens for today's birthday girl, Miss Donna McKechnie! She certainly knows how to lift the spirits on this Tacky Music Monday - as I discovered in this clip - once she gets going at "Charlie's Place"...

Never content to leave it at one marvellous musical discovery, however - how about a meeting of three great "broads"..?

Not too bad an effort, considering Miss Montevecchi was 78 and Miss Ballard was 85 at the time...

Have a good week, dear reader. Stay sane.

Sunday 15 November 2020

Baby, baby

Sharing her celebrations with another weird and wonderful collection of the great and the good (and not so good) including not-yet-a-Dame Petula Clark, Mantovani, Daniel Barenboim, William Pitt the Elder, Ed Asner, Roberto Cavalli, Aneurin Bevan, Richmal Crompton, J. G. Ballard, Jonny Lee Miller, Sacheverell Sitwell, Alexander O'Neal, Peter Phillips and - erm - Erwin Rommel...'s the 75th birthday today of Princess Anni-Frid, Dowager Countess of Plauen, better known, of course, as Frida!

Her career with Abba is more than well known and catered for elsewhere - so, to mark this faboo milestone, I need no excuse to revisit this remarkable bit of campery from the then Miss Lyngstad's early solo career!

Grattis på födelsedagen, Frida!

Saturday 14 November 2020

Divas, vaginas, oil lamps and sparkle

Happy (wet and gloomy) Diwali, dear reader! It's supposedly the Festival of Lights but I suspect, what with lockdown and the rotten weather, it is more likely to be the festival of brollies and cagoules...

The traditional oil-burner above is apparently called a "Diva", which makes it even more appealing to us at Dolores Delargo Towers - and gives me a perfect opportunity to play this (intentionally piss-taking) number:

Quite possibly the only song and dance number in history with the word "vagina" in its lyrics...

Satire aside, however, let's get back to the more traditional glamour, sparkle and silliness we always associate with Bollywood:

I'm tempted to take the curtains down and have a twirl across the lounge...

Friday 13 November 2020

Never mind the black cats - bring on the goat!

Are you feeling paraskevidekatriaphobic?

First posted here in 2015, let's revisit some of the weirdest superstitions around the world, courtesy of The Stylist magazine:

Stay forever young by carrying an acorn
Forget anti-ageing creams - in Ancient Britain, women carried acorns in their pockets to stay looking young. According to Richard Webster in The Encyclopaedia of Superstitions the oak tree was believed to provide longevity and to ward off illness due to its long life.

Don't eat lettuce if you want to have children
In the 19th century, English men avoided salads if they wanted to start a family. In The Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions, a book on 'Plant Lore' suggests that lettuce was detrimental to child-bearing because it was a 'sterile' plant, and "as plants exhibited peculiarities in their actions, so were they supposed to operate on man".

Don't chew gum at night
Fancy freshening up before a night out? Stick to mouthwash in Turkey. Harry Oliver, author of Black Cats and Four Leaf Clovers, says that the Turkish believe that "if you're chewing gum at night in Turkey, you're actually chewing the flesh of the dead".

Never give gloves as a present...

...well, you can, but you must also receive something in return, or you'll both have bad luck.
Gloves are attached to a whole host of superstitions , dating back to Medieval times and the days of chivalry, when Knights wore a lady's glove in their helmets. It's also bad luck to drop a glove, and then pick it up yourself - derived from the custom of a lady dropping a glove in the hope a prospective lover picks it up.

Off to an important meeting? Look out for a goat.
The goat has been associated with debauchery, lust and the Devil for thousands of years - and is also believed to absorb any evil or harm that may cross your path. That's why it was once considered good luck to encounter a goat when travelling to an important meeting.

If your skirt turns up, you'll receive a new dress
Ever get an annoying fold in your skirt when you've sat on it strangely? According to old folklore, a new outfit might be coming your way. The Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions cites that in 1914, it was "a common belief that if the lower edge of a woman’s skirt has become turned up so as to form a kind of pocket, some good fortune, such as a present of a new dress, will come to the owner."

An awkward silence means an Angel is passing over
This rather whimsical explanation for a lull in conversation is attributed to Dylan Thomas' Portrait of the Artist - it features the line "A host of angels must be passing by … What a silence there is!".

Eat grapes at midnight for good luck
On New Year's Eve in Spain, not everyone kisses as the clock strikes twelve. The superstitious eat twelve grapes at midnight for 12 months of good luck.

Go to hospital on a Wednesday

According to The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, an old wives tale says the best day to go to hospital is a Wednesday. Monday is the best day to leave and Saturday is the worst - as it means you'll soon be back.

Pass a newborn baby through a rind of cheese
In Medieval England, expectant mothers made a 'Groaning Cheese' - a large wheel of cheese that matured for nine months as the baby grew. When the 'groaning time' or birth came, the cheese would be shared out amongst the family - and when nothing but the outer rind was left, the baby would be passed through the wheel of cheese on Christening day to be blessed with a long and prosperous life.

Tuck your thumbs in if you pass a graveyard
In Japan, if a hearse passes you by, or you walk by a graveyard, you must tuck your thumbs in to protect your parents. This is because the Japanese word for thumb literally translates as "parent-finger" and so by hiding it you are protecting your parents from death.

If a bird poos on your house, you'll be rich

In Russia, if a bird defecates on you, your car or your property it's good luck, and may bring you riches. The more birds involved, the richer you'll be!

Keep a hot cross bun for a year

Much like the tradition of keeping a slice of wedding cake after the ceremony, this slightly grim superstition is supposed to bring luck. Hot cross buns were originally eaten at ancient pagan festivals - but without the cross. Christians added this in later to ward off evil spirits, and once baked on Good Friday morning, one was hung in the house for a year to bring good luck.
And, don't forget...

Clap after sneezing to avoid killing a fairy!


Never mind all that daftness, dear reader, it is the end of another stiflingly dull and samey week in front of that bloody laptop - and we all need a bit of a lift...

To that end, let's troll off to Sweden, where those arch-platform-shoe-wearers Gravitonas aren't worried about superstions - they're invisible, apparently.

Thank Disco It's Friday (the Thirteenth)!

Cause I look to the east
And I look to the west
And I bless my lucky star
Bless my lucky star
I'm invisible, visible
Un-visible, oh oh

So I bow to the priest
And I wake the possessed
And I bless my lucky star
Bless my lucky star
I'm invisible, visible
Un-visible, oh oh

Have a great weekend, peeps!

Thursday 12 November 2020

There ain't nothing in the woodshed (except maybe some wood)

We adore Mr Neil Hannon - who was 50 years old (!) last week - and his combo The Divine Comedy, one of the better bands to emerge from the "Britpop" era in the 90s (alongside the likes of Blur, Oasis and fellow eccentrics Jarvis Cocker and Pulp). I only saw him once on stage, performing This is Not America at the "Bowie Prom" back in 2016, and he was every bit as cool and polished as one would expect.

Despite not having an extensive selection of his works in our vast music library here at Dolores Delargo Towers, we know that just about anything he turns his creative genius to is inevitably "right up our street", and I have, of course, featured our two favourites by Neil and the gang, National Express - see here - and I've Been to a Marvellous Party (several times) - notably here - on this very blog before. So rather than revisit either of those meisterwerks, let's have a couple of completely unexpected covers...

How about... Kate Bush?

...or even Abba?!

To conclude, however, let's get back to the man's own quirky creations, with this - the band's first hit - being a shining example:


Many happy returns, Edward Neil Anthony Hannon (born 7th November 1970)!

The retrospective album Venus, Cupid, Folly & Time: Thirty Years of The Divine Comedy is out now - more details on the band's website.


Mr Hannon also wrote this...

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Right, done, I’m off to a rave

Scientists have put forward the controversial theory that lockdowns only work if the public actually bothers to fucking observe them.

The UK Centre of Disease Prevention found a strong statistical correlation between increases in the R rate and behaving as if the second England-wide lockdown is not for you but for other people.

Professor Denys Finch Hatton said: “Strangely, this infectious disease passed from human to human thrives when measures taken to stop its transmission are completely ignored.

“A careful study of everything we’ve been saying loudly and unavoidably for seven months would reveal that popping round to friends and relatives, wandering maskless around garden centres and visiting five National Trusts per weekend will actually spread the virus.

“So I would advise everyone in England who’s carrying on with life exactly as they did before that they appear to have missed the point. Right, done, I’m off to a rave.”

Member of the public Nikki Hollis said: “I’m being extra careful this lockdown by only visiting my mum, cousins, Tesco, my mate Shelley’s shared house and Spain next week.

“Hugs are fine so long as you’ve got an unopened bottle of hand sanitiser at home, right?”

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

A word from our sponsor

Click to embiggen

So do we, Dora. So do we.

Monday 9 November 2020

Chicas guapas, or something similar

For a change, the weather while I was off this weekend was lovely - and the rain held off till yesterday night, so I was able to enjoy the garden properly for a change. It's still the first day of another crappy week staring at that crappy laptop, however, and we need something to cheer us up.

On this Tacky Music Monday, I've found this clip from some odd Spanish (or possibly Mexican) variety show - and it really is beyond mere words...

I'm not even going to start to understand that.

Have a good week, dear reader...

Sunday 8 November 2020

If you're fond of sand dunes and salty air

I deserve a lazy Sunday...

Along with a wide-ranging and eclectic gang of fellow "famous names", including Ken Dodd, sex god Alain Delon (who is 85!), out-lesbian reggae singer Diana King, Nerys Hughes, Virna Lisi, Dr Christiaan Barnard, Leif Garrett, Bonnie Raitt, Richard Curtis, June Havoc, Gordon Ramsay, Bram Stoker, Rickie Lee Jones, Edmond Halley, Marie Prevost, Minnie Riperton, Arnold Bax, Margaret Mitchell, Roy Wood, Sam Sparro and (ahem) Chi Chi LaRue, it would have been the birthday today of Miss Patti Page.

Most famous for her Tennessee Waltz [which was her only (minor) hit in the UK, eclipsed by Alma Cogan's later version] and (How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window? [which was a big hit in the UK for Lita Roza], her vocals were nonetheless immortalised in the late 1990s, courtesy of a pair of electronic music wizards from South London...

Perfect "Sunday Music", indeed...

Saturday 7 November 2020

There's no reason to think twice

It may definitely be showing signs of autumn - not least the piles of rotten leaves everywhere - but today has been really mild and sunny [albeit low in the sky], and perfect for getting out there in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers to sort out the crap. It's not all work and no play, of course - just sitting on the bench and enjoying the still profuse blooms of the salvias and the fuchsias (of which the above-pictured "Rivendell" is a particularly splendid example) has been a joy, all the while listening to Radio 2.

Speaking of which, the ever-entertaining Rylan Clark-Neal was his usual over-excited self while speaking to his phone-in guests H and Claire from Steps today - and premiered their new single!

A perfect excuse (if any were needed) to play it, methinks...

Love. It.

[Speaking of gardens - don't forget to check out the latest exhibits in the Garden Photos Event over at Inexplicable Device!]

Friday 6 November 2020

You feel joy, you feel pain, 'cause nothing will be the same

If only epidemics, megalomaniac politicians, lockdowns and the devastation hitting high street shops, restaurants and theatres were all just a dream...

Another week crawls slowly to its close, and the weather has most definitely taken an autumnal turn - the nights are genuinely chilly and the heating's on more than it is off, despite some spells of blazing sunshine by day. However, speaking of daylight - I have taken today off to hopefully spend some time out in it, enjoy the remaining blooms, and continue clearing the slowly decaying garden of leaves and annuals ready for winter. I always hate this season, but a little sun on the skin works wonders for the mood.

And speaking of moods, it's time to get ourselves into the "weekend party spirit", even if that means just dancing in the parlour...

How about a trip back to the "Decade of Dance", the 1990s, and another long-forgotten one-hit-wonder?

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great weekend, peeps!