Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Not an absolute bastard

A leader of Russia who was not an absolute bastard to either his own people or neighbouring countries has passed away.

Mikhail Gorbachev, born in 1931, became head of state of the Soviet Union in 1985 and ended the war in Afghanistan, ended the Cold War, and allowed Eastern Bloc countries to govern themselves, for which modern Russians view him as a traitor.

Historian Helen Archer said: “Previous Russian leaders include Brezhnev, Stalin and Ivan the Terrible, so Gorbachev was a real break from the norm.

“His policies of letting people criticise the government, letting Eastern Europe have leaders who weren’t dictators, and not threatening to nuke the world were refreshing, different, and saw him overthrown within three years.

“Following which the Soviet Union collapsed, the economy collapsed, the world looted the remains and first a hopeless pisshead then a KGB strongman took power and started doing all the bastard stuff again.

“Now we face a Russia invading Eastern Europe, backing dictators in vicious civil wars, threatening nuclear conflict and imprisoning any Russians who dare challenge it. So pretty much everything Gorbachev achieved is gone.

“It seems either Russia likes a bastard or bastards like Russia. Either way, farewell Gorbachev. It was nice while it lasted.”

The Daily Mash

Of course.

The People's Princess

Where exactly has the last quarter of a century gone, since the world was shocked into silence at the news of the death of the beautiful and captivating Princess Diana?

It seems like only yesterday that I wrote this:

They say everyone can remember where they were the exact time they found out the awful news about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. And yes, I know exactly where I was... Waiting for a ferry early in the morning from Roscoff in Brittany to Plymouth, there was a hastily scribbled A4 sheet of paper pinned to the information booth - "Lady Di dead".

Not understanding the full implication of this, we went back to the car and my boyf at the time translated the local radio reports from French into English. It was true! Our Royal Princess, fashion icon and "friend" was indeed gone for ever - and ironically died in a car crash in the capital of this very country.

The journey home was peculiar. I felt the news had not yet sunk in - not just for me, but also for the hundreds of passengers on board, many of whom were obviously just learning the dreadful news from looking at the widescreen TVs in the breakfast lounge. The gradual stunned silence that fell over what would normally be a chaotic crowd of returning Brits and French back-packers was eerie.

It may be crass to say that Diana herself in any way changed our world, but her death certainly made the biggest emotional impact I have ever known upon the public in Britain and across the globe. International media had made her THE face of a generation, and in death Diana eclipsed any megastar status she could ever have dreamed about.

Many people can make accusations about a "conspiracy" surrounding her accidental death, or about "the real Diana", but in many many ways she continues to live on (in pictures) as the young, beautiful woman we want to remember - an ethereal spectre of a most unusual era in British history.

It still hurts, just looking at these joyful photos of an iconic woman.




Diana, Princess of Wales (born Diana Frances Spencer, 1st July 1961 – 31st August 1997)

RIP

[click any photo to embiggen]

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Tu crois le tenir, il t’evite


Yup. Back to work time again...

Aaaargh! The bloody alarm has gone off, for the first time in seventeen days, and Mama's not a happy bunny.

I'd much prefer to be in Regent's Park, having fun with "the gang" at our Grand Picnic:

To ease my confused head and semi-concious state, let's celebrate a centenary, shall we? Alongside a raft of fellow celebrants that includes the late, dearly missed influential DJ and music expert John Peel, as well as Cameron Diaz, Capability Brown, Raymond Massey, Denis Healey, Antony Gormley, Muriel Gray, Timothy Bottoms, brewer Samuel Whitbread, Fred MacMurray, Joan Blondell, Mary Shelley, Ernest Rutherford, Radio 4's Sue MacGregor and out-gay politician Ben Bradshaw, one hundred years ago today the fantabulosa opera diva Regina Resnik was born!


[click any pic to embiggen]

Resident diva at New York's Metropolitan Opera for almost forty years, she started out in dramatic soprano roles in the likes of Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Die Walküre, and eventually re-trained (as her voice matured) as a mezzo-soprano, with leading roles such as Carmen, "Mistress Quickly" in Falstaff and "Klytemnestra" in Elektra - as well as a notable turn as "Madame Armfeldt" in Sondheim's A Little Night Music [see here].

She even attempted to bring a touch of class to the USA's favourite variety showcase The Ed Sullivan Show in 1968:

Now, that woke me up!

Well, almost...

Have a good week, dear reader. I won't.

Monday, 29 August 2022

Lulululul lululululul lul*


Next time we go on holiday, we're flying with Schinkehager Airlines.

It may be our last Bank Holiday Monday, and thus the end of the "Summer Season" [yes, my overseas chums, it is true - we in the UK have no further holidays between the end of August and 25th December!], but it's still a tradition around these parts to have something jolly (and in most cases completely preposterous) to start any week...

...so on this Tacky Music Monday, let's head back again [I wish!] to Amsterdam, for a little - ahem! - something from an old fave, Ria Valk!

[* Apparently, the refrain from the above song, translated from the Dutch, means "asshole, assholes, assholes, assholes".Which is nice.]

Have a good time on your extra day off, dear reader, and a good week.

[Mine starts tomorrow. Oh! the horror...]

Sunday, 28 August 2022

A Word from our Sponsors




[click any image to embiggen]

Saturday, 27 August 2022

You're in the mood for a dance, and when you get the chance...



As our last Bank Holiday weekend is upon us, and the weather looks fine and warm for our "Grand Picnic" this afternoon [although a darn sight cooler than the searing heat we had for months this year], it's worth taking one last visit in our TARDIS to that other "long, hot summer" - 1976!

In a spookily similar way to the UK in 2022, 46 years ago we were struggling with not just a massive drought and hosepipe bans [which broke, with storms and floods this very week in '76], but also a lengthy contest for the position of Prime Minister after the departure of the incumbent [back then it was Harold Wilson who resigned], strikes, raging inflation [retail price inflation reached 27% per year in August 1976], economic meltdown thanks to a fuel crisis [although that one had actually begun three years earlier in 1973], cuts in public expenditure, riots and civil disobedience. All that's missing these days is the bloody IRA!

Even ABBA are back - albeit in "ABBAtar" form - but they were at their zenith this week in 1976, with this one at #1 [where it would remain until October]!

As I said on a previous occasion when I featured this song: "What queen, to this day, cannot sing every word to this one?"

Friday, 26 August 2022

Ging, gi-gi-ging, ging, gi-gi-ging

Alas, the last weekend - but a Bank Holiday one, yay! - of my fantabulosa holiday arrives...

...and so, with "our gang"'s Grand Picnic tomorrow, plus an extra day on Monday to catch up on sleep and general monging about before the stress begins again, I think it's time for the party to commence - with an "old-school banger"!

...and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good long weekend, dear reader! It's the last one till Xmas...

[Footnote: this faboo track heavily samples the marvellous Marlena Shaw's Woman of the Ghetto]

Thursday, 25 August 2022

A Public Service Announcement

You were warned!

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Just up the road from their nan’s

The Cambridges are moving their family to Windsor to live a low-key life in a listed four-bed home in private grounds. Here’s how their lives will be as bog-standard as yours from now on.

They’ll be near the grandparents

George, Charlotte and Louis’ new house is just up the road from their nan’s, so their parents can easily foist them on her, just like an ordinary parent. Yes, their nan just happens to be the reigning monarch. And instead of a bungalow with horrible wallpaper that stinks of cigarette smoke, she just happens to live in a castle with 1,000 rooms – ideal for ‘normal’ games of hide and seek that last two weeks.

They’re downsizing
The cost of living crisis is hitting average people hard. None more so than the Cambridges who will be downsizing from their 20-room pad in central London to a pokey, four-bed cottage with dodgy decor left over from previous owners, such as a ceiling covered with gilded dolphins and a marble Graeco-Egyptian fireplace.

There’s a park nearby

The Cambridges have a modest 655-acre park on their doorstep, where they can do normal things like trout fishing and wandering along paths with cedar trees named after monarchs they are directly related to. Oh, and their family just happens to own it and have private use of it – no queuing for the swings or looking out for smashed bottles and syringes for them, depending on what mischief Uncle Andrew’s getting up to these days.

They’ll be going to a local school
Their new school will be a 15-minute drive away like so many school runs. And they’ll probably be using public transport to get there, in the sense that their luxury Range Rover is funded by taxpayers. At school they’ll be doing a typical curriculum including Latin, bee-keeping and cooking, just like any other average child whose parents fork out £50,000 a year on fees.

They won’t have a live-in nanny

Nanny will no longer be on hand for a quick nose-wipe at any time of day or night, and the Cambridges may also say goodbye to their housekeeper and live-in chef. Actually the staff will still be living very close by and a constant presence, so the children may not even notice they’ve gone. But for the Cambridges it’s the equivalent of going on a life swap show where they live on £51.60 a week and a diet of Super Noodles on a sink estate in Burnley.

They’ll be paying rent
Wills and Kate will have monthly rent to worry about, just like anyone else. Except if the landlord won’t fix the boiler they can pop back to the mansion the Queen gifted them in Norfolk for a spot of tennis on their private court. Or to their 20-room London pad where they once hosted Barack Obama. Just like you and… er, no, that’s just them.

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Grachten, sex dolls - and Bacardi Limon?




Behold the tarts in their natural environment... [click any pic to embiggen]

And so another fantastic weekend in our beloved Amsterdam - our first in two years - is over. Sob.

Needless to say, we all had a grand old time, meandering the grachten, people-watching at various bars in De Wallen, Leidseplein, Zeedijk, Rembrantsplein, Prinsengracht and along the river Amstel, having a laugh with many of the locals we have known for years - in our hotel Anco and bars Amstel 54 (former Amstel Taveerne) and Montmartre - and (of course) sampling the (slightly) seedier nightlife in another old fave Spijker Bar:


Yes, they're dolls

We paid due homage to the venerable Cafe 't Mandje - now under new management [see here and here], so no "Dutch sing-a-long Sunday" for us this time [although the new manageress said it would be coming back, starting in September, so fingers crossed it'll be going when we get there next year for my 60th] - and to the Queens' Head and its famous window display:

Het is zo mooi!

But what did we miss when we were away?

Obviously the dramatic energy price rises and rampant inflation we're experiencing at the moment dominated just about every headline [with no real solution in sight; although it was very interesting to find that despite the braying by various commentators that the UK's economic crisis is somehow "because of Brexit", the businesses in Amsterdam are having exactly the same problems dealing with price rises and recruitment problems]; Putin's evil just gets worse - threatening a nuclear crisis by bombing the Zaporizhzhia power station complex, cutting off gas supplies to Europe again, and planning Stalin-esque "show trials" of Ukrainian prisoners of war; the trial of champion footballer Ryan Giggs continued ad nauseum; the coverage of the battle between Conservative party candidates to replace Boris Johnson - Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak - also appears endless, and in the wake of the back-biting the long-serving grandee of the party Michael Gove announced his retirement from front-line politics; Kate and Wills are apparently planning to move to a "modest" home near Windsor Castle; Singapore became the latest (Commonwealth) country to end its long-standing ban on gay sex [although activists were dismayed that the reforms stopped short of repealing other repressive anti-gay legislation]; and there was a minor social media furore about police officers performing the Macarena at Lincoln's annual Pride celebration last Saturday.

We also missed marking the 95th anniversary of the birth of the fantabulosa Yootha Joyce, the 85th birthday of Private Eye co-founder Richard Ingrams, the 80th of the late Isaac Hayes, the 70th birthday of "Number One" (Riker) Jonathan Frakes and what would have been the 70ths of the dearly-missed Patrick Swayze and Joe Strummer of The Clash, as well as the birthdays of Dame Janet Baker (88), Robert Redford (86), former Doctor Who Sylvester McCoy (77), the lovely Andrew Garfield and the gorgeous Mika (both 39).

And, finally, also while we were away came the sad news that dear "Elizabeth" from Keeping up Appearances aka Josephine Tewson has, trembling hands on those "hand-painted periwinkles" and all, departed for Fabulon.

Oh! And a massive piece of news that occurred not while we were in the 'Dam, but in Essex for the Tom Jones concert - the sublime and incomparable Paul O'Grady (and his long-serving producer Malcolm Prince) resigned from presenting his Radio 2 show after fourteen years [apparently because he was pissed-off at having to rotate his Sunday evening slot every three months with the intensely irritating so-called "comedian" Rob Beckett - an attempt by the new powers-that-be to "bring in a younger audience", allegedly, which is a huge joke at their expense, given the fact that younger people don't actually listen to "the wireless"]! Very sad. Yet another blow to our regular listening schedule; Paul O'Grady and Clare Teal having gone in the space of a couple of years, there's only (endless) repeats of Friday Sunday Night is Music Night to actually fill the gap of "our kind of music" on Sundays any more.

Meanwhile...

...to conclude - what did we bring back with us for your delectation? A "spud-boy" covered in ghastly tattoos? That's not very you, I hear you say... Well, this song was the smash hit of the moment in Amsterdam, so I really had better play it!

Is it good to be back?

NEE!

Thursday, 18 August 2022

Geef mij maar Amsterdam


Tarts on Tour! [click to embiggen]

By the time you see this, dear reader, we should be in the gloriously beautiful city of Amsterdam, one of my favourite places in the world...

...and to get the party off with a bang, how about our "house band" De Toppers, with a medley of typical Mokum music?!

Tot ziens!

"Normal" service will be restored on our return on Monday (or, as before, Tuesday if we're in late).

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

The Land of the Clog

Just one day more, and we'll be there...

...can't wait!

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

From Jones the Voice to the Queen of Pop

Suffice to say, we've come back from Essex buzzing with the memory of finally seeng the venerable Sir Tom Jones, Tom Jones live on stage - even at 81, he's still got it! It was a great concert, and a glorious venue. We loved it...

It's a busy old time at the moment, to boot - our weekend opened with a flying vist from Madam Arcati's niece Jen (who crashed one night with us as there was a train strike on Saturday, the day she had originally planned to travel to London for a festival with friends). Then Essex. Then, on our return, a meet-up for drinks with some old, old chums "The Utleys" whose wedding we went to a long, long time ago. Bubble (our nickname for Mrs U) fell pregnant soon after, with twins - those boys are eighteen now, and even bought us drinks [gulp]!

I'm trying to get some washing done - but may have to take it to the launderette to dry, as the UK's heatwave has broken, big-style, with the first downpours of rain for months! - because on Thursday at the crack'o'doom, we fly out to Amsterdam for a long weekend. YAY!

All this, and it is fellow Leo Our Glorious Leader Queen Madge's (64th) birthday today!

By way of a tribute, let's just have a few snippets from the great lady's long, long career, shall we?

Hop back thirty-five years, and we find this...

[As I said when I posted this @adecadeago: "Was I the only one who misheard the lyrics and thought she sang "young girls with eyes like potatoes"? Just sayin'..."]

Remarkably, this one's thirty years old this year:

Even this one is ten years old!

Many happy returns, Madonna Louise Ciccone (born 16th August 1958)!

64 facts about Madonna's career for her 64th birthday, courtesy of the Official Charts Company.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

You just leave it all up to me; I'll show you what it's all about


[click to embiggen]

Built by the first Earl of Suffolk, Lord Treasurer to James I, the Jacobean-style Audley End House is one of the most magnificent of its type in England.

And this fabulous location, dear reader, is where we will be this Sunday - for an open-air concert by the legend that is Sir Tom Jones, Tom Jones!

The excitement is building...

"Normal" service will resume on Monday (or Tuesday, depending how late we get back)...

Friday, 12 August 2022

Running like the wind

Oh. Thank. Fuck.

After what has seemed on occasions over the last few few weeks to have been a "trial by fire" in work (with three people out of our small team of five on holiday for much of it, and those remaining - mainly me - having to deal with a load of difficult, unforeseen and complicated "urgent" situations as well as my own work and covering the tasks handed-over), it is finally payback time! At 4pm precisely, the whole lot can go to hell in a handbag as far as I care - I will be off for the next seventeen days, and it's their turn to suffer!

The UK's fabulous summer heatwave continues, we're off to see Tom Jones, Tom Jones in Essex this Sunday, we fly to our beloved Amsterdam on Thursday for a long weekend, and our gang's "Grand Picnic" is on the Bank Holiday weekend to follow.

I'm in the mood for a party!

To begin, an "Ibiza classic". This song is - gulp - twenty years old...

Very appropriate, given the weather.

Not content to leave it there, however - such is my mood - how about something that is considerably older? From 1979, it's (surprisingly) one of the biggest-selling bands in UK chart history:

Thank Disco It's (a Holi-Holiday) Friday!

Have a good weekend, dear reader.

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Nowhere to run to baby, nowhere to hide


It's been quite the week for famous names "dropping like flies", or so it seems...

... icons such as Dame ONJ, Issey Miyake, Raymond Briggs, and, of course that stalwart of the classic Motown era, Mr Lamont Dozier!

Decades before the likes of the BeeGees or Stock Aitken Waterman, Holland-Dozier-Holland was the true "hit factory" - the songwriting partnership that made Tamla-Motown, and launched the careers of gazillions of household-name artists (some of whom, such as Miss Ross, are stil going today) such as Mary Wells, The Temptations, Junior Walker and the All-Stars, Freda Payne, and this lot - a classic selection of H-D-H creations that don't even begin to scrape the surface of the great man's vast repertoire, nor his legacy to the world of music...

RIP, Lamont Herbert Dozier (16th June 1941 – 8th August 2022)

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Someone read my Amazon list...

...and got a perfect birthday delivery pour moi!

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Please continue to hold

Companies have admitted that they never record phone calls for training or quality purposes, instead keeping them indefinitely for no real reason.

While customers are encouraged to believe that huge corporations give a shit about their customer services and strive to constantly improve, they don’t, and are mainly just taking the piss.

Lucy Parry, staff training supervisor at a broadband provider, said: “What kind of training course would play loads of recordings of irate members of the public swearing profusely while trying to cancel their contracts?

“It should be clear it’s bollocks. If we recorded calls for training purposes, we would have lots of highly-trained, efficient and personable staff who could answer routine questions without reading woodenly from a script, putting you on hold for 40 minutes or randomly cutting you off.

“No, we mainly do it so we can secretly sell them on to even larger multinationals who are slowly building a comprehensive database of information about you which they will eventually use to take over your entire life.

“And aside from that we just record them to laugh at people with funny voices.”

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Monday, 8 August 2022

Your knees start wiggling all over the place

Back to the madness of work again, more's the pity. However, I am counting down the days...

...for this weekend - which will be the start of a much-needed two-week break - as a gift for my birthday [which is this Wednesday; and for the first time ever I'm in work] from Baby Steve and Houseboy Alex, Madam Arcati and I will be going to see the legendary Sir Tom Jones live in concert in the grounds of the very swanky Audley End House!!

On this Tacky Music Monday, here is a most bizarre number from his prime-time telly show in the 1960s/70s that, to be honest, I hope isn't among the routines he performs for us next Sunday:

Just five more days in the office...

Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday, 7 August 2022

Hypno-tiz-ed

Few among my beloved audience noticed my last selection, it would appear, but undaunted as I am - here is another random assortment of "newer" choons that have caught my ear of late!

First up, Our Princess Kylie's latest, a rather faboo track from her Disco: Guest List Edition [which, incidentally, landed her the accolade of being the first female artist to have a number one album in five consecutive decades]:

Next up - this "summer anthem" [well, it was actually released last November, but the band's performance at Glastonbury got them noticed] has been clogging-up the airwaves lately here in the long, hot summer in the UK! Understandably...

Heavens, this "80s-style" mix is so much better than the original! They eununciated things far better in those days, of course - poor Ms Lipa evidently cannot pronounce any consonants:

Here's an irresistable oddity - not new at all [it was actually released in 2017, and apparently featured in an advert for an Apple iPhone], but new to me - courtesy of Paddy O'Connell, sitting in for Liza Tarbuck on BBC Radio 2 today:

By way of a complete contrast, as part of his own celebration of 25 years in the business [cf Geri and the Spice Girls, as featured yesterday] the lovely Robbie Williams is back with a new single:

And, saving the best for last - a "national treasure", with a most remarkable earworm...

As ever, let me know your thoughts, dear reader...

Saturday, 6 August 2022

I'm a drama queen if that's your thing, baby


[click to embiggen]

You know you're getting old when...

...you discover that "Ginger Spice" Geri Halliwell is 50 years old!

It seems like only yesterday that we first encountered the "musical-hen-party" that was the Spice Girls, leaping all over the place and picking fights with Noel Gallagher! I was never a huge fan of them as an ensemble, but they certainly were a phenomenon - and Geri always took centre stage, with her campery and chutzpah.

When she finally departed the group, it was this track that converted me to the lady's talents - I adored it back in 1999, and still adore it today:

She had a prodigious run of hits, including this...

...and this one (another fave):

We even queued for hours to see her live on stage at G.A.Y. at the sadly-missed Astoria! She was superb.

Of course, despite marriage, motherhood and a stint as a UN goodwill ambassador, the lure of a Spice Girls reunion was rather inevitable, culminating in a blockbuster sell-out tour in 2019 - and as the hoo-ha builds over their 25th anniversary, there are rumours they'll be on the road again.

Geri, you're an icon!

Many happy returns, Geraldine Estelle "Geri" Horner, née Halliwell (born 6th August 1972)

Friday, 5 August 2022

In the Bush

As another gruelling week draws mercifully to its close, so it;'s time for me to muster up the mood for a party...

...with a little help from an old, old favourite - and the not-aware-of-the-camera-at-all Soul Train dancers! As I said @adecadeago: "I can almost smell the acrylic and hairspray from here!"


Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good one, dear reader!

Thursday, 4 August 2022

The Hooded Man


[click to embiggen]

Recession. Ukraine. China. The Tory leadership contest. Strikes. The news headlines make for depressing reading. And work continues to be a bastard...

...let's have a bit of a relaxing music interlude (and an ogle at the lovely Michael Praed at his youthful, tight-leggings-clad, floppy-haired prime) to take our minds off it, shall we? - courtesy of birthday girl Moya Brennan (70 today) and her family band Clannad:

The whole of the UK (myself included) was madly in love (lust) with "Robin" way back in 1984 - and who would blame us?

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Felicitations!

It's my dear sister's birthday today...

...Happy Birthday, Hils!! 💋💋💋💋

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Until September!


[click to embiggen, if you dare]

The school summer holidays have begun, ruining these locations for the next six weeks. Stay the fuck away.

Parks
Like a stroll through the park at lunchtime? Not until September you won’t. Lone office workers eating chicken tikka wraps will be glared at by mums as if they’re child predators, frisbees will whack you in the side of the head, and if your dog dares chase a ball the consternation will travel miles. It’s their park now.

Libraries
You pop in to pick up the second volume of whatever bollocks fantasy trilogy you’re reading that you wouldn’t pay for, and there’s fucking kids everywhere. Colouring, singing, being told stories by some luckless prick. None actually reading, you notice. Presumably just being in proximity to books means it’s ‘educational’.

Any historic building
Cathedral, abbey or the former home of angler Isaak Walton: you’re visiting because you have some genuine interest. The kids are there because they started hitting each other with Xbox controllers at home, entrance is free and it’s raining. Good luck appreciating the rood screens in their company.

Art galleries
Whether a provincial gallery showing the unheard-of watercolours of John Sell Cotman or Tate Modern, it’ll be packed with children who could not give a shit. And whether packed into an activity room full of broken crayons or racing around crayoning the walls, they’ll make contemplating a painting entirely impossible.

Starbucks
You fancy a sit-down and a latte. But, selfishly, you’re not a family. So you’re treated as an interloper for taking a whole chair to yourself, bratty kids ask if you’re a hermit and when you’re going because mum wants the table, and you’re forced to overhear conversations about Olivia only biting other children because they provoke her. Get the latte to go.

Your own home
Got kids? Your own home is no longer a place of refuge. Homeworking is now impossible. It’s a climbing frame, an obstacle course and a behavioural experiment for feral children jonesing for their next sugar high. And it’ll be that way until fucking September.

The Daily Mash

Of course.