Friday 30 September 2022

Don't tip the boat over

Yay! Another tiresome week is almost done with, and we're busy macramé-ing our outfits for the weekend!

To get us in the mood, how about a real blast from the past? Arguably one of the very first hits to be described as "Disco", it would appear that lemon yellow outfits were really in vogue in the Summer of 1974...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great weekend, dear reader!

Thursday 29 September 2022

Someone kind who knows you treasure, any simple little pleasure

We have another centenary to celebrate today, dear reader - that of the beautiful Lizabeth Scott - understudy to Tallulah Bankhead, one-time rival to Veronica Lake, star of hundreds of movies alongside the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston, Robert Ryan, Dick Powell, Victor Mature, Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Kirk Douglas, Elvis Presley, Lucille Ball and Michael Caine, and quite possibly a lady lesbian (she was "outed" by scandal-rag Confidential in the 40s, and indeed she never married)...

As I observed in my tribute to her on her 90th birthday - she also sang! Admittedly, in the final cut of Either It's Love or It Isn't from the 1947 movie Dead Reckoning her voice was dubbed by Trudy Stevens, but that practice was very common in films then:

However she did release an album (Lizabeth, 1957) that proved she was actually a great vocalist:

Love her.

Lizabeth Virginia Scott (born Emma Matzo, 29th September 1922 – 31st January 2015)

Wednesday 28 September 2022

Conscious, sentient and bricking-it

NASA’s Dart probe has crashed into and killed the first emerging specimen of alien life, it has been confirmed.

The direct hit on the Dimorphos asteroid, intended to change its course to test whether dangerous objects could be redirected, has detected then eradicated the first extraterrestrial life found in the universe.

A NASA spokesperson said: “What are the odds? But yes, there is life out there. Or was.

“The Dart’s onboard camera, when viewed in close-up and slow motion, shows an alien life form poking its head out of a crater before taking a $325 million space probe right in the kisser.

“There it is, that grainy, woodlouse-looking thing staring straight down the lens. Preliminary analysis shows that it is conscious, sentient and bricking-it, which is fair enough because it’s about to die.

“If it wasn’t alone, hopefully the aliens won’t hold this unprovoked murder against us. Though it’s hard to see how they wouldn’t because from their perspective this was a guided missile launched directly at their mate.

“Let’s just on the positives: humanity is not alone in the universe. Though technically slightly more alone than previously. Sorry everyone.”

The Daily Mash

Of course.

[The "real" story]

Tuesday 27 September 2022

The Voice! The Hair!

Among another slew of famous names whose birthday it is, including the late, great Meat Loaf, Nicky Haslam, Alvin Stardust, Cosimo de' Medici, (Lord) Bernard Miles, Avril Lavigne, Diane Abbott, Shaun Cassidy, Denis Lawson, Gordon Honeycombe, Lil Wayne (40), Irvine Welsh, Don Cornelius, Vincent Youmans, Barbara Murray, Dame Josephine Barstow, and - erm - professional "looney-tune" Gwyneth Paltrow (50), the magnificent Miss Barbara Dickson blows out 75 candles on her cake today!

Let's celebrate with a mere soupçon of the lady's great body of work...

...and, finally - the (camp) classic!

Many happy returns, Barbara Ruth Dickson OBE (born 27th September 1947)

Monday 26 September 2022

Eye to eye, they solemnly convene to make the scene

Current mood: "Nurse Ratched". RIP, Louise Fletcher.

Yes. It's that time again...

Having woken with a jolt, I see it evidently pissed-down overnight - so all that watering I did yesterday was a little bit futile...

The weekend has yet again flown by, and now it's time to get the galoshes on and head back to the grind. To lift our spirits a little on this Tacky Music Monday, how about a little something from one of the all-time great crooners, who departed for Fabulon @adecadeago today?

Mr Andy Williams (for it was he) was always associated with the "slightly cheesy" end of the spectrum, alongside the likes of Perry Como and Val Doonican, but with the production on this number - ostensibly an ode to "red-blooded heterosexual" desires - he proved to knowingly or unknowingly embrace camp as well..

Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday 25 September 2022

A trip to the moon on gossamer wings

After months of sulking, our Spanish Flag vine (Ipomoea lobata) has finally decided to put on a show!

Once again, it's been a slow start to Sunday. I didn't arise till 2pm today, having spent the whole of yesterday at John-John's, for another "Marvel-geek-fest-binge-watch" - we watched the whole series of Moon Knight [sometimes scary, sometimes emotional, and completely stunning!] and all six episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law to date [the series isn't finished yet; it's very quirky and takes a completely opposite tone to Moon Knight, with some quite funny moments].

How about a little double-bill of "Sunday Music", courtesy of a newly-discovered Czech diva?

This new discovery came, surprisingly, courtesy of the BBC's classical music station Radio 3, so it's obvious that there is more to the lady's talents than performing Dance Band numbers - she is Mrs (or, more properly, Lady) Simon Rattle, after all, and here she is (in a rather odd video) showcasing her magnificent mezzo-soprano talents:


Saturday 24 September 2022

The Playground of the Gay

[click to embiggen]

It pays to advertise...

You've sung about your Broadway
We've talked about New York
Have you forgot one little spot
They call it Piccadilly, a place of great renown
In the heart of London Town

Piccadilly, Piccadilly, the playground of the gay
Piccadilly, Piccadilly, where the traffic goes one way
In the day time, there's lots of life life
But at night time well, you're apt to lose your wife
In Piccadilly, Piccadilly, dear old London's broad highway.

The soldier up in Poona, the sailor on the sea
The pioneer and the engineer
The captain of the schooner and the finders of the air
Sing of youth and Leicester Square

Piccadilly, Piccadilly, the playground of the gay
Piccadilly, Piccadilly, where the traffic goes one way
In the day time Grandad's searching for truth
But at night time he's searching for his youth
In Piccadilly, Piccadilly, dear old London's broad highway.

There are gay lads, bad lads, see them rolling along
They are searching for wine women and song

In Piccadilly, Piccadilly,
In Piccadilly, Piccadilly, where the traffic goes one way
In the day time, they parade down the street
But at night-time uh they need someone else's feet
In Piccadilly, Piccadilly, dear old London's broad highway.

In the daytime, you meet lovely brunettes
But at night-time oh God save the King they're wrecks


Friday 23 September 2022

Everybody is wonderful, everybody is beautiful

Another week is dragging slowly to its conclusion, and, as the shades of autumn are now officially upon us, what we really need is something to cheer us up and get us in a party mood...

How about some sugar? A blatantly tacky rip-off of Boogie Oogie Oogie it may be, but it made me smile.

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good one, dear reader!

Thursday 22 September 2022

You can't go wrong 'cause you're groovin' all day long

A diva whose major contribution to the world of jazz and soul music appears to have been largely overlooked by the mainstream, the marvellously-talented Miss Marlena Shaw blows out 80 candles on her cake today!

Here are just two examples of the great lady's sublime talents - first, her tribute to the recently-departed-for-Fabulon songwriter Ramsey Lewis...

...and here is her most instantly-recognisable and classic number:

Many happy returns, Marlena Shaw (born Marlina Burgess, 22nd September 1942)

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Oooh, there's exotic, innit?

As the weather starts to turn distinctly autumnal here in London, it's time, methinks, for a little sojourn into the lives of impossibly glamorous people in gloriously sunny locations again - courtesy of the ever-wonderful Soft Tempo Lounge!

I'm getting a distinctly "Patsy Stone" vibe from this one...

[Music: Alan Downey - Travel Theme (STL edit). Original film: Maroc 7 (1967)]

Public Service Announcement

You were warned!

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Fountain of youth

"There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age."

Many happy returns to the gorgeous Signorina Sophia Loren (born Sofia Costanza Brigida Villani Scicolone, 20th September 1934)

One can always rely on her to cheer us all up!

Monday 19 September 2022

The Google Blogger gnomes are at it again

I don't know what is going on (again) behind the scenes at the esteemed "Google Academy For Making Pointless Tweaks to Things That Were Working Properly But Now They Don't Because We Broke Something Else", but loads of people are reporting problems on Blogger lately - everyone's blogs are loading slowly; some people (Mr DeVice included) can't get to their "Layout Editor"; loads of people on the forums are experiencing a problem that Mistress Maddie's had, in that their "Blogroll" widget in the right-hand sidebar is updating only a handful of their own followed sites.

I am particularly aggrieved that my most recent posts have not appeared in that broken mess that passes for the "Reading List".

I've looked all over for a clue to the problem, and some help websites suggest it might be simply that my blog "feed" is simply too big - a not unreasonable suggestion, given I have fifteen-and-a-half years' worth of posts here for that Reading List to manage. However, the fact that Maddie posted just today that her blog is itself fifteen years old, and that post appeared in the self-same Reading List may suggest otherwise.

I guess we'll just have to wait for one of the gnomes to fix whatever cable another gnome has cut through with his pinking shears, and hope it all gets back to "normal" in due course...


No Words

Sunday 18 September 2022

With the greatest respect, it was worth it

I had an unexpectedly amazing day yesterday.

In case you wondered why I was "absent without leave" from my usual routine of daily posts here, dear reader, I arose from my general Saturday morning coma in a haze of coffee and nicotine, feeling in a more-maudlin-than-usual mood. As I absorbed myself following the links on the BBC News website to the pomp and ceremony and contemplation that surrounds HM The Queen's lying-in-state, it really hit me.

I needed to be there.

So I grabbed my winter coat, checked the route to the start of The Queue at Southwark Park in Bermondsey, and off I went!

Arriving (eventually) at the correct entrance (other gates into the park were closed), at 1.30pm I entered a queuing zig-zag that would put most airports to shame [press reports said it was three miles long]...

...and that was just to get wristbands to join the queue! The illuminated signs gave an estimated minimum of fourteen hours to our destination, Gulp.

At this point, no-one had a clue what to expect, and, as we set off along the Thames Walk, all seemed well and good, except for the fact that, thanks to the lengthy creek that marks the remnants of the River Neckinger tributary, we had to back-track inland and back again to shuffle through Shad Thames to Tower Bridge.

That took two hours, to cover a distance (as the crow flies) of about half a mile. Then there was another zig-zag to contend with (it took about an hour) before we finally got back to the riverside to commence the stop-start, stop-start journey to our final destination.

And when I say that, I mean it - traversing the foot tunnels under London and Southwark bridges took forever, and we didn't even reach The Globe/Tate Modern for another two hours (that's usually only a half-hour walk at the most). The sun was already going down as we passed Blackfriars Bridge and the Oxo Tower, but at least that meant we actually got a "Waterloo Sunset" as we headed towards bridge #6 (if you count the Millennium Bridge) - and a fine view of a pink St. Paul's Cathedral:

And so it went on, and on, through the South Bank. We passed by the London Eye at around 8.30pm, then (on a long, long diversion round the back of the Old County Hall), crossed Westminster Bridge Road and were directed back onto the Thames Walk opposite the Palace of Westminster - almost two hours later!

So near, and yet so far...

In some respects, we were indeed on the "home stretch".

It didn't take that long to get across our final bridge, Lambeth Bridge - but, arriving at the Victoria Tower Gardens at the West side of the Palace of Westminster, a final "trial by fire" awaited...

...another zig-zag! - and this one was twice or three times the size of the others we'd traversed en route.

It took well over an hour of constant walking to get through, plus "airport-style" security, before we could enter Westminster Hall (at 12.15am) to do what we had spent so much time and physical effort to do - to pay our last due respects to the Monarch who served us all so well and so diligently, and to say goodbye to someone who we never really knew, yet loved all the same...

...and it was worth every exhausting minute.


Throughout this post, I've referred to "we". I actually travelled to Southwark to do this whole thing alone. However, this was no ordinary queue. The atmosphere among participants was actually a heart-warming and genuinely friendly experience.

At the outset, I chatted with a little coterie of people in close proximity and indeed we walked the whole thing together, from beginning to its mournful end. A lovely group: a couple who'd come down that morning from Bradford in Yorkshire, a woman who'd flown in on her own from Jersey in the Channel Islands, a couple of Londoners who (like me) were originally "solo travellers", a few people from Essex, and a girl with her elderly West Indian Mum who, despite needing to sit down a lot, did the whole damned thing unbowed and without complaining.

For those gruelling eleven hours, we kept each others' spirits up - keeping a lookout for those who'd gone for a pee or a coffee so they wouldn't lose their space with us, sharing our thoughts and experiences, sweets and biscuits and snacks; and we locals delighted as the "out-of-towners" gawped at the landmark-filled vistas of London and took advantage of the photo-opportunities all along the route.

I compared the camaraderie to that old chestnut "the Blitz spirit" - we were all in it together.

It made the day go by very pleasantly. And what a day! A once-in-a-lifetime experience.

[click any pic to embiggen]

Friday 16 September 2022

Dancing Queen

During this period of mourning, everything revolves around thoughts of HM The Queen, methinks.

I have already featured Her Maj's love for Duke Ellington, and The Lambeth Walk, but also among her avowed favourite numbers was this one, to which she and Philip used to love to twirl:

Well, I suppose it is traditional for me to feature dance music to mark the end of another working week...

If the queue ever goes down - curent estimate is up to a 24-hour wait! - I might try and go to pay my respects to Her Majesty. I'm not overly optimistic, mind you.

Thursday 15 September 2022

Tuesday 13 September 2022

Cancel culture?

Paddington Bear has railed against the banning of marmalade sandwiches from the gates of Buckingham Palace on GB News.

The bear, beloved by children and adults alike, condemned the ‘woke mob’, ‘cancel culture’ and ‘political correctness’ for the decision to ban people from placing marmalade sandwiches in tribute to the Queen.

Paddington said: “The Britain I know believed in freedom of speech. I didn’t realise we were living in China where laying a sandwich on the ground got you arrested and hauled to the gulag.

“The public has the right to pay their respects however they like. As an immigrant from darkest Peru, I felt honoured by their gesture, until woker-than-thou palace officials stamped on that respect.

“I’m the last one to play the race card but that’s what’s happening here. These are the same people burning statues of Churchill and demanding cycle lanes. Again we see the snarling, sneering faces of the intolerant so-called tolerant left.”

Presenter Nigel Farage said: “The Paddington segment has been a ratings hit for us. We’re going to invite him back for his common sense opinions on Remoaners, the trans community and Meghan Markle.”

The Daily Mash

Of course.

[The "real" story]

Monday 12 September 2022

Do as you darn well pleasey

Sigh. After what has turned out to be quite a reflective weekend, it's time to steel ourselves to open that laptop and see what joys the world of work is going to bring us...

Among the "revelations" about the late Queen's musical tastes - I covered her "pash" for Duke Ellington on Friday, and the Beeb did a whole programme for her 90th that "discovered" (shock horror) that her preferred choices included songs from several musicals, some hymns, miltary marches, and Gary Barlow, Vera Lynn and George Formby. There was one rousing sing-a-long number mentioned, however, that she liked to dance to in particular.

"Nobody thought it was odd after dinner if we put on a record and all sang Doing the Lambeth Walk, so music has always been part of her life." - Lady Elizabeth Anson

So, on this Tacky Music Monday, let's have a most unexpected version of said choon - courtesy of our own Gallic Patron Saint, Dalida!

I can imagine Ma'am giggling at the incongruity...

Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday 11 September 2022

The greatest interviewer of them all

Among the non-stop coverage of the death of Her Majesty and the ascension of King Charles III, the sad loss of another "national treasure" has largely been overlooked.

Mavis Nicholson (for it is she) was the doyenne of daytime telly, before it went all tabloid and wall-to-wall antiques/makeovers/gawking at "dream homes" and so on; the woman whose amicable chit-chats with just about everyone who was anyone hooked the nation. Her voice was gently hypnotic, the twinkle in her eye was entrancing, and her sense of humour was legendary - she even appeared in French and Saunders' peerless piss-take of Silence of the Lambs!

From an article by Carolyn Hitt on WalesOnline in 2016:

The first female chat-show host in the history of British television was a middle-aged woman from Briton Ferry.

Mavis Nicholson talked her way into this ground-breaking role and enjoyed a 25-year career interviewing some of the biggest stars in the world – from David Bowie to Elizabeth Taylor... Bette Davis, Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall - it didn’t matter how major the celebrity and how many times they had played the interview game before, Mavis got something from them that no-else could...

Direct but never combative, probing but never prurient, Mavis provided a twice weekly master class in the art of the long-form interview. It’s a lost art now. It may survive on radio but it’s gone on television. On the small screen the personality of the host is considered more important than his guests – and it usually is “his” rather than her.

Mavis’s good friend Maureen Lipman placed her in the context of her male interviewer peers: "It would be interesting to watch Parky, Wogan, Frost and Mave at work. I know who’d come out best. Because there was a Frost-Nixon moment in every one of Mave’s interviews.”

...Her approach married thorough research with the courage to go off script if the occasion demanded it. Indeed Mavis resisted pre-prepared lists of questions.

"Once I was in that studio there was only one person alive in the world and that was the guest. I wanted to be concentrating on what they were saying,” she explained.

"Something they said would lead you to another question that perhaps you hadn’t thought of beforehand. I’d always carefully read researchers’ notes, always had meetings with people and listen to all points of view and I’d read the guests’ books or go to see the play/film they were in and all that sort of thing.

"The homework was always done jointly but then I said I had to be left alone because if I was going to find out anything new about the guest it would come from the spontaneity of the studio and the conversation we would be having together. And when a conversation is good, you’re so engrossed in it, it’s like a blanket going round you both."

Here she is, "throwing a blanket around" David Bowie, and coaxing some quite candid conversation out of him:

...Dame Barbara Cartland talks about sex:

...even she is outshone by Quentin Crisp, however:

A truly great broadcaster.

RIP, Mavis Nicholson (nee Mainwaring, 19th October 1930 – 9th September 2022)

Saturday 10 September 2022

Oh, yes she did!

It's a lesser-known fact that when they were evacuated from Buckingham Palace during WW2 and stayed at the Royal Lodge in Windsor, the Royal Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret loved nothing better than to organise an annual pantomime with children from the Royal School, produced by the school's headmaster Hubert Tannar!

Her love for dressing-up parties and mischief continued well into adulthood, it seems...

Twice a year, the Queen wore evening gown and tiara to judge the staff fancy dress party at Balmoral Castle.

On one occasion, the Queen's dressers asked if they could don their fancy dress before helping her. She walked down to dinner, telling her guests: "I've just been dressed by Queen Victoria... and, I believe, Cheryl Cole!"

Bless her.

[click any pic to embiggen]

Friday 9 September 2022

You ain't been blue

As we're all in mourning for Her Majesty the Queen, I thought it somewhat inappropriate to whoop up a party atmosphere in my traditional way to mark the end of a week. Everything's cancelled anyway, including the Last Night of the Proms, so I foresee a quiet weekend afoot.

However, among the acres of coverage across our media, I did discover a surprising fact - that HMQ was a great fan of Mr Duke Ellington [and the feeling was mutual; he even wrote a whole suite for her]!

So here's something appropriate for our national mood:

And here's Ella's vocal version:

You ain't been blue; no, no, no
You ain't been blue
Till you've had that mood indigo
That feelin' goes stealin' down to my shoes
While I sit and sigh, "Go 'long blues"

RIP, Queen and Duke...

Thursday 8 September 2022

Wednesday 7 September 2022

Our Man in...

By way of a diversion from the endless streams of drivel about Mrs Truss and her inept and generally awful appointees to Cabinet, let's have a little retro delve into the wonderfully exotic world of 60s spy movies, courtesy of the ever-marvellous Soft Tempo Lounge, shall we?

How thrilling. How stylish!

[Music: Frank Mantis Group - Wild Spirits; Original film: No Tears for a Killer (1966)]

Tuesday 6 September 2022

Trying to get her to talk out of both sides of her face

Liz Truss has confirmed that she hopes to develop a facial expression which is not deeply unnerving by December.

Pictured on today’s front pages celebrating the achievement of a lifetime ambition with the face of a woman smiling through a cigarette burn, work has already begun to achieve something recognisable to actual humans.

A Downing Street insider said: “400 civil servants have been pulled off whatever else they were working and onto this. It may not be enough.

“The problem is that she views emotion as weakness so she neither feels anything nor publicly expresses it. All she really does is pull faces like a chimp in front of a mirror, and it shows.

“There’s a team working full-time on trying to get her to talk out of both sides of her face, another one trying to eliminate the head-tilt, but facial expressions is the real job. Our target is a smile by Christmas and sympathetic sadness by March, when the deaths come.

“They’ve committed £6 billion already, but apparently the spend’s bottomless for this one. Will it work? Of course it won’t. It’s a massive public-funded Tory project, they never do.”

The Daily Mash

Of course.

[Our new Prime Minister has arrived...]

Monday 5 September 2022

Not for just a day, but always

Oh, dammit. Back to reality...

Never mind, eh? We have a genuine treat to lift our spirits - for yesterday was the (91st) birthday of Our Patron Saint of Bugle-Beads, Mis Mitzi Gaynor!

On this Tacky Music Monday, here she is with a positive cavalcade of safety gays!

As I said way back in 2013: "I am certain that Irving Berlin never envisioned his ultimate torch song would receive this kind of treatment - trust Mitzi!"

Many happy returns, Mitzi Gaynor (born Francesca Marlene de Czanyi von Gerber, 4th September 1931)

Sunday 4 September 2022

The paprika fields of Harringay

I thought Saturday was slow... Today I didn't even wake up until 2.30pm, and that was only because of the piercing shrieks of next-door's demon child.

Still, I must have needed the sleep!

To suit the mood, how about some "Sunday music" - courtesy of a brand new discovery, the Budapest Café Orchestra?

They'll tackle anything, it seems - from Rachmaninov... Bow Wow Wow!

Another surprise - the band was founded in our old neighbourhood, and in fact they humorously describe themselves as "the famous four of the paprika fields of Harringay"! They even have a musical tribute to the place:

We must look out for any "homecoming concerts"!

Saturday 3 September 2022

Euterpean odyssey


It's been a very slow Saturday, and the weather's overcast and very muggy, which doesn't exactly help. Time, methinks for a selection of "newer" choons that have caught my ear of late...

Let us open with the latest from a band that I first stumbled across thirteen years ago (gulp)!

[featuring dancers Harry Ondrak-Wright and Rory Macleod]

The fantabulosa Steps are probably high on champagne, as not only is it their 25th anniversary this year, but they've just become the first British, mixed-gender group to earn a Number 1 album in four consecutive decades (1990’s, 2000’s, 2010’s and 2020’s) with The Platinum Collection - which also features this new one!

Claire's transmogrification into Dame Lulu continues apace...

As featured by an almost-hysterical Rylan on his Radio 2 show today, the prettier one of the former Bros frontmen is back:

Even better - and even more unexpected - the eternally cute Claire Grogan and her chums are back with their first new music in 39 years! And it's very good indeed:

Speaking about "blasts from the past" - who would ever think that a bizarre one-hit-wonder from way back in 1995 would be revived in a cover version by a Danish avant-garde electropop artiste? It works...

Making a convenient connection to the "Spaceman" theme, the UK's "Eurovision superhero" has a (very jolly) new single out, which should cheer us all up as we wait to find out what city lands the prize of hosting next year's Song Contest on behalf of winners Ukraine:

And, finally - a rather good earworm, courtesy of "Big Willy":

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

Friday 2 September 2022

Higher, h-h-higher

Thank fuck for that! Another (albeit short) week from hell - as is always the case after I return from holiday - is almost over.

Time to get into the party mood, methinks - and how about another absolute banger to clear the way..?

Move your body? I intend to sleep most of the weekend...

...but meanwhile, Thank Disco It's Friday!!

Have a great weekend, dear reader! Try and dodge the rain...

Thursday 1 September 2022

Public Service Announcement

You were warned!