Thursday 30 November 2023

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

It's been a "same old, same old" day at work...

...but a lot going on, news-wise!

It's twenty years since the abolition of the despised "Section 28" anti-gay legislation in the UK - yet here we are in 2023, and in a move more extreme that anything that nasty piece of legislation ever achieved, the paranoid fascists in Putin's benighted Russian despotate have decided that a non-existent "international LGBT public movement" is "an extremist organisation" to be banned. Dangerous lunacy, or a diversion from the failings of the war in Ukraine and the Russian economy? Or both?

There's been a slew of deaths - most notably, the controversial Nobel Peace Prize-winning centenarian statesman Henry Kissinger, whose legacy was either that it was his hard work that led to the end of the bitter Arab-Israeli wars in the 1970s and also paved the way for détente with the Eastern Bloc countries so easing the path out of the Cold War, or else it was his intervention that prolongued the horrors of the Vietnam War by authorising the bombing of then-communist-occupied Laos and Cambodia - a move that facilitated the rise of the genocidal Pol Pot regime - and the part he played in providing tacit support to the brutal dictatorships in Chile and Argentina enabled those dictators to "disappear" thousands of their own people and decimate the economies of their countries. You choose.

The deaths were also announced of former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer under both Blair and Brown Alistair Darling, the stalwart of the classic Scouse TV soap Brookside for 17 years "Jimmy Corkhill" aka Dean Sullivan, and...

...the man with the worst dentistry in pop history, founder-member and singer-songwriter of The Pogues Shane McGowan! Best-known, of course, for that perennial Xmas favourite Fairytale of New York (with the lovely Kirsty McColl), I've chosen this one instead by way of a tribute:

There's going to be a helluva party in Fabulon tonight when Shane reunites with Kirsty.

And, finally...

It's St Andrew's Day today! Have some Scottish shortbread.


Wednesday 29 November 2023

The higher the hair...

Sad news. The woman with the biggest hair on Soul Tain in 1971 has shimmied her way off to Fabulon!

She may only be well-known for one song - but what a song to be remembered by..!

RIP, Jean Knight (born Jean Caliste, 26th January 1943 – 22nd November 2023)

Tuesday 28 November 2023

It helps to pay the bills

Princess Kate has confirmed that, as a new book claims, she is indeed only a part-time royal and works evenings in Sainsbury’s.

Showing off her toned legs to the president of South Korea and playing wheelchair rugby is merely a side gig for the Princess of Wales, who spends most of her evenings stacking shelves in the supermarket on Penarth Road.

She said: “It’s less glamorous than royal duties but it helps to pay the bills. Plus I get a 10 per cent staff discount.

“Once I’ve finished cutting ribbons and getting my picture taken for the papers, I hop into an Uber and head to what King Charles jokingly calls my ‘real job’, the cheeky sod.

“Sometimes people recognise me or notice my name badge, and I have to pretend to be someone else and laugh it off like ‘could you imagine?’ Then we have a good bitch about Meghan for five minutes or until I need to verify an age-related sale.

“More of us moonlight than you think. William is a rider for Deliveroo, and even Anne does the odd shift in Sports Direct. She likes the big mugs.”

Royalist Susan Traherne said: “Oh my God, Kate looks so good in that maroon and orange Sainsbury’s uniform. Anyone know where I can get one?”

The Daily Mash

Of course.

[The "real" story]

Monday 27 November 2023

Recline yourself, resign yourself

Exactly what I feel about Mondays...

Yup. Here we go again...

To ease the old ennui on this Tacky Music Monday, let us marvel at the va-va-voom that was Miss Gwen Verdon, trying desperately to get her mitts on the (unsurprisingly uninterested) Tab Hunter...

Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets? Unlikely...

Have a good week, dear reader!

Sunday 26 November 2023

Can't do a little 'cause he can't do enough

Way back in 2009, I said:

H.R. Pufnstuf was an absolute obsession of mine when I was a child. From the same production house that brought us The Banana Splits, this was a strange (typically 60s, slightly druggy) fantasy about a boy (played by the late Jack Wilde, of Oliver fame), shipwrecked on a weird island with a talking flute named Freddy, a magic boat, the giant puppet dragon of the title, his friends Cling & Clang and Dr. Blinky, and a wicked witch named Witchiepoo (played by Billie Hayes) who rode on a Vroom Broom... Bizarre stuff, indeed.

For a wave of nostalgia, here's its theme tune:

...and that of the aforementioned Banana Splits:


The reason for this trip down memory lane? The sad news that the mastermind behind both shows (with his brother Sid*) Marty Krofft has departed for Fabulon, aged 89.

RIP, Marty Krofft (birth surname Yolas, 9th April 1937 – 25th November 2023)

[* NB Sid is still with us, aged 96]

Saturday 25 November 2023

From South Carolina to the Wye Valley?

Convoluted connections, #762 in a series...

Being "quiz freaks", I regularly send out a link to the BBC "7 Days Quiz" (all about news headlines from the week) to "our gang", and we compete on scoring. The quizmasters add a pithy name to the various ranges of scores. Last week's was based around Motown song titles - mine was You Keep Me Hangin' On, and my sister's was Nothing but Heartaches.

Me, being me, immediately got the Freemasons' 90s dance classic of a slightly different name stuck in my head as an earworm:

Knowing that that was merely a cover version of a much older Northern Soul song, I went a-hunting - and not only found the original but, to my surprise, it had a video...

...filmed in the magnificent ruins of Tintern Abbey in Wales, not far from where I was born, and just around the corner from where our friend Baby Steve grew up!

Quite why a band from South Carolina ended up there was a bit of a mystery, until I looked up The Flirtations and found that they left the USA and became much more successful over here, and that this very "Detroit/Philly" sounding choon was actually written by a record producer from Rhyl...

There's luvverley, innit?

Friday 24 November 2023

That hardbag hook!


The end of another week is nigh...

...and we need to get this party started! How about a nostalgic trip back down memory lane to the summer of 1992, and the absolute #1 club hit of that season, courtesy of "Our Man in Chelmsford"?

Thank Disco Hardbag(?) It's Friday!

Thirty-two years ago?!!!!


Thursday 23 November 2023

Hundreds, maybe thousands of years old - or merely 60?

Happy 60th birthday to The Doctor...

...WHOever you may be...

Doctor Who

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian, or boom like a military band?

A view up my back passage - not a bad show of colour for November!

It's the 80th anniversary of the independence of Lebanon from France, 60 years since the whole world was shaken by the shocking assassination of President John F Kennedy, it is or would have been the birthdays today of George Eliot, Scarlett Johansson, General Charles de Gaulle, Jamie Lee Curtis, Hoagy Carmichael, Tom Conti, Robert Vaughn, Sir Peter Hall, Tina Weymouth, Boris Becker, André Gide, Terry Gilliam, John Bird, Mark Ruffalo, George Alagiah, Thomas Cook, Sumi Jo, Mick Rock, Mads Mikkelsen. Billie Jean King (who is 80 years old!)...

...and it is 110 years since the birth of one of Britain's most lauded composers Sir Benjamin Britten!

Here's one I wrote (by way of a tribute) earlier: about I inject a bit of a bit of "class" into proceedings here at Dolores Delargo Towers, with this bizarre and pithy little number, adapted by Benjamin Britten from a poem by WH Auden?

And why not...?

Some say that love's a little boy
And some say it's a bird
Some say it makes the world go round
And some say that's absurd
And when I asked the man next-door
Who looked as if he knew
His wife got very cross indeed
And said it wouldn't do

Does it look like a pair of pyjamas
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes
It's quite a common topic on
The transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love

I looked inside the summer-house;
It wasn't even there:
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead
And Brighton's bracing air
I don't know what the blackbird sang
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn't in the chicken-run
Or underneath the bed

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing?
Does it spend all its time at the races
Or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of its own about money?
Does it think patriotism enough?
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love!

Excellent - if surreal - stuff.

It certainly is that!

Sir Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten OM CH (22nd November 1913 – 4th December 1976)

Tuesday 21 November 2023

I never took the time

And, so, farewell then, Joss Ackland (who died on the weekend) - a man with the most mellifluous voice; his career ranged from his earliest beginnings in the Old Vic's theatre company alongside the likes of Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Tom Courtenay to Z-Cars to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, to starring roles in White Mischief and The Mighty Ducks, taking in lead roles in the original stage versions of Evita and A Little Night Music in-between. He appeared in everything from Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey to the Royal Shakespeare Company's King Lear - and this!

RIP, Sidney Edmond Jocelyn Ackland CBE (29th February 1928 – 19th November 2023)

By way of a finale, one for Mitzi and Ms Scarlet, who were having a recent conversation about the place, this:

It's a lovely and charismatic place, indeed - all made better by that voice...

Monday 20 November 2023

If you go for tact and manners, better stay away from me

[Thanks, Dinah!]

Sigh. Monday again, and it's getting colder. And darker...

Let's brighten up proceedings, shall we, in the company of our Patron Saint of Ditziness, tomorrow's birthday girl, the irrepressible Miss Goldie Hawn?!

We. Love. Her.

Have a great week, dear reader!

Sunday 19 November 2023

Giving thanks for Fred and Ginger

Having a very quiet, laid-back day today, as a Sunday should be. [I was going to tackle the leaf-strewn garden, but it's been drizzling and miserable, and threatening rain all day...]

With that in mind - how about an old tradition? An ironing film!

Who better to introduce it, but the irrepressible Steve Hayes aka Tired Old Queen at the Movies?


Saturday 18 November 2023

Of Marvels, hidden and not-so-hidden London, and Kungs

"The social whorl never ceases", I said in response to a comment from Ms Scarlet the other day. Indeed it doesn't...

I was early arriving in the West End [deliberately so, as I neglected last Sunday to check whether there was a programme available for the Mandy Patinkin show, so went to the Lyric Theatre box office to enquire; the chap didn't know, but said he'd ask the promoter and give me a call] to meet up with John-John yesterday, and took a detour around the old stamping-grounds of Soho to the camp-as-tits dressing-up shop So High Soho before trolling down to our meeting place, the Wetherspoons in Leicester Square. The occasion? The latest Marvel blockbuster, The Marvels - which was a darn-sight better than some of the reviews would lead one to believe! Afterwards, since we were in Leicester Square, and he'd never been, I took John-John to the faboo rooftop bar at the swanky Hippodrome Casino for a drink and to take in the atmosphere of one of the best "hidden London" venues, looking down on the hubbub of the West End, before we ended up at Halfway II Heaven, in the company of chums Joe and Russ.

Today, I woke too early after what ended up a rather late night, felt a bit restless, and decided to take myself off to the sheer madness and crowds of Camden Market - again, like Soho, somewhere I haven't really meandered around since before the pandemic... It's not for the faint-hearted, and is in a constant state of flux so it's very easy to turn the wrong corner and find you're somewhere you've already been, but I thoroughly enjoyed soaking in the atmosphere and tutting at the bewildered tourists!

I came home empty-handed, but that's only because I was "umm-ing and aa-ing" about a particularly pricy "object of desire". It's payday next week, and I can almost guarantee I'll head back there and buy it...

Meanderings aside, I heard a choon today I hadn't heard for ages (we loved it so much back in 2016 that The Madam even had its "hook" as his ringtone for a while!), and now it's an earworm. So I thought I'd share:

Still a great song, seven years down the line...

Friday 17 November 2023

Sashay, shante

Sharing the day with an odd assortment of "names", such as Rock Hudson, Danny DeVito, Fenella Fielding, Peter Cook, Martin Scorsese, Field Marshall Montgomery, Jack Vettriano, Auberon Waugh, Sarah Harding, Jonathan Ross, David Emanuel, Gordon Lightfoot and Louis XVIII of France, it's the "Fairy Dragmother" RuPaul's birthday today!

I have one thing to say...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great one, dear reader!

Thursday 16 November 2023

Yeah, slow

Timeslip moment again...

We've plugged into The Matrix, and suddenly we've shot back two decades to 2003! The year of the Iraq War and the arrest of Saddam Hussein, Beyoncé, the repeal of Section 28, Finding Nemo, the mysterious death of Dr David Kelly, The Da Vinci Code, "that kiss" (Madonna, Britney and Christina Aguilera) at the MTV Video Music Awards, Grayson Perry, the Human Genome Project, Roman Abramovich, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Phil Spector arrested for murder, Michael Howard, Michelle McManus, Will Young's Leave Right Now, Cristiano Ronaldo, civil wars in Liberia and Sri Lanka, the "shoe-bomber", the life imprisonment of Soham child-killer Ian Huntley, the shock return of "Den Watts" in EastEnders, SARS, Gary Jules’ Mad World, Roger Federer, Jemini's nil points at the Eurovision Song Contest, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Tasers, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, HS1, Sir Mick Jagger, Rachel Stevens, a heatwave across the UK and Europe (with the UK's hottest recorded temperature at the time, 38.5°C/101.3°F), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, George Dubya Bush, the first gay kiss on Coronation Street, Get Rich or Die Tryin', the London congestion charge; the year MySpace, Tesla, Greta Thunberg, Ofcom, 4chan, Olivia Rodrigo, iTunes Store and Lady Louise Windsor were born; and Katherine Hepburn, Dame Thora Hird, Nina Simone, Celia Cruz, Johnny Cash, Gregory Peck, Regina Fong, Barry White, Alan Bates, Wish You Were Here...?, Lord Roy Jenkins, Don Estelle, Blind Date, Robert Palmer, Adam Faith, Buddy Ebsen, Edwin Starr, Only Fools and Horses, Denis Quilley, Bob Hope, Charles Bronson, Crossroads, Elisabeth Welch, Donald O'Connor, Maurice Gibb, Dame Wendy Hiller, Yugoslavia, Ron Goodwin, Stacy Keach, the Volkswagen Beetle, Little Eva, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hardy Amies, Suzy Parker, David Hemmings, Barry Sheene, Dennis Thatcher, Mickie Most, Elia Kazan, Britain's oldest radio DJ Alan Keith, and - erm - Idi Amin all died.

In the headlines in November 2003? Michael Jackson was arrested on charges of child molestation, the last ever flight of Concorde took off from Heathrow, President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia resigned after widespread protests, Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in as governor of California, the final episode of Brookside was broadcast after a 21-year run, England won the rugby world cup; and we bade a sad farewell to the faboo Dorothy Loudon, veteran actor Art Carney, Zimbabwean statesman Canaan Banana, and the utterly gorgeous Gene Anthony Ray. In our cinemas: Love Actually; Master and Commander; The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. On telly: Charles II: The Power and the Passion; Hollyoaks; the 50th anniversary of current affairs programme Panorama.

And what of our charts this week twenty years ago? Robbie Williams, Sugababes, Pink, Blue, Atomic Kitten and Black Eyed Peas were all present and correct, alongside some completely forgotten nonentities Blazin' Squad, Fatman Scoop and Kevin Lyttle [nope, me neither].

However, a far more welcome Princess was elevated over all of 'em (as she should be) at the #1 slot:

How the fuck is that song twenty years old?!!!

Wednesday 15 November 2023

We are always here for you

Human Resources want to fully exploit their humans as a resource and for them to be happy about it. These are the contradictory messages you will get this week:

Return to the office full-time and give your work-life balance a thumbs-up
The CEO has had enough. Return to the office five days a week or face disciplinary action. And when back at your desk, on time because you’re not lying on your sofa now, can you complete this employee engagement survey glowingly? We’ll bludgeon you with emails about something called a ‘net promoter score’ until you do.

We really care about your wellbeing, work harder or else
Take regular breaks and look after your mental health because we really care about you as an individual, as long as it doesn’t impinge on a moment of your working hours. We have aggressive quarterly targets to hit. You can manage your so-called wellness on a Sunday, like Victorian mill workers.

Bond as a team over drinks but do not bond too much or get drunk
Effective teams work, rest and play together in an atmosphere of psychological safety. Alcohol is provided at work events but if you fail to draw the line at exactly the right point – before getting your cock out – you will be fired. Enjoy negotiating all that while shitfaced.

We are always here for you and never contact us directly
We are dedicated to meeting your needs, it is the reason we exist, and we refuse to directly interact with you. Emails will not be answered. Our phone number is for senior managers only. To report a serious grievance or get answers to crucial legal questions, complete our intranet form with a ten-day response time.

We’re dedicated to your personal improvement and here’s your devastatingly low performance rating
Requires Development may seem like a punch in the stomach, given all your unpaid overtime while your mum was ill, but we are laser-focused on bringing you to your full potential. Your Performance Improvement Plan certainly isn’t the beginning of manoeuvring you out of the business without paying notice. That would make us monsters.

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Oh, Mandy - well, you came and you gave without taking

Our second outing of the weekend (this time, just Madam Arcati and I) was one we simply could not miss, even if the timing made for a rather hectic two days - a truly legendary "master of his craft" live on stage in London for the first time since January 2009. The first man to play "Che Guevara" in Evita on Broadway, the original "George" in Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George, actor in Yentl, The Princess Bride and Homeland - Mr Mandy Patinkin!

We're so glad we did...

This was an amazingly eclectic evening of song - the moment he followed his opening wistful medley of songs about childhood (Inchworm/School Days/Time in a Bottle) with a hilarious take on Ella's A Tisket A Tasket, complete with him mimicking the little girl who lost it and a "police investigation" into the loss, complete with megaphone, we knew we were in for something very different from the norm. Indeed, no-one could have predicted the spectacle of Mr Patinkin's "Silent Movie Medley" (that included Paramount Blues, Movies Were Movies, I'm Always Chasing Rainbows and more), in which he mimed some classic silent routines (pretending to tune a guitar, doing the "Chaplin walk", getting all flummoxed over a newspaper that keeps getting bidder and bigger as it unfolds, and so on) or his solo rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen!

"Patinkin the actor is on full display. He doesn’t perform songs as much as he wears them as costumes, draping melodies over the fully realised characters he conjures in each three-minute number. When not singing, he is joyous, joking with the audience and telling stories. He is an engaging performer, and against a plain curtained backdrop with nothing but a spotlight to focus one’s eye, he has the entire audience alternately silently enraptured and roaring with laughter." - Ian Bowkett, Musical Theatre Review

For those of who know him as an arch-Sondheimite, he threw everything but the book into a pairing of Sorry-Grateful and Being Alive. At another point in the show, he related a touching anecdote about the family record collection (in which Angela Lansbury's Mame cast recording was one of just four stacked in the radiogram), and the occasion his father took young Mandy all the way to New York just to see it (and get her autograph). Years later, when Mr Patinkin and Ms Lansbury's paths crossed again, he remarked to her that he wished it was his dad, not him, who was present at that occasion - then performed a remarkable version of the Sondheim title song from Ms Lansbury's debut musical, Anyone Can Whistle.

Sondheim aside, Mr Patinkin took us on a roller-coaster ride of emotions from the excoriating sadness of Randy Newman’s Wandering Boy and Marc Anthony Thompson’s My Mom to the very silly If I Had a Boat by Lyell Lovett (another mime, this time of riding a horse), from Easy Street to Can You Use Any Money Today? to the incredible and energetic "patter-song" Rock Island from The Music Man, and the powerful Soliloquy from Carousel.

"Not alone, however, Patinkin shares the spotlight with pianist Adam Ben David providing a tightly synchronised and pitch-perfect performance from the side of the stage. The pair’s idiosyncratic back and forth is delightful and refrains from being distracting. There’s this gloriously playful sense of ‘making it up as they go’, which far from the truth, makes for an easy-going night from the Broadway showman." - Dominic Corr, The Reviews Hub/Corr Blimey

All this, and he still found time for some amusing repartee, mostly around his age (puffing and mopping his brow) and purported inability to read his own prompt notes or get to the end of an anecdote about his Bar Mitzvah - before suddenly snapping into a serious medley of You've Got to be Carefully Taught/Children Will Listen, followed by Kermit the Frog's It's Not Easy Being Green. One reads between the lines the politics behind some of his choices of songs, given the current world situation. That was made startlingly clear when, as an encore, he reminded the audience of the context in which one of the world's most beloved songs was written - its writer and composer were both sons of East European Jews who had fled the pogroms - and launched into a most spine-tingling rendition of Over The Rainbow. In Yiddish!

We could hardly breathe.

This was a truly magnificent show - get to see it while you can!

Mandy Patinkin - Live in Concert runs at the Lyric Theatre until 19 November 2023.

Here's (a much younger) Mandy singing that startling medley he performed for us on Sunday:


Monday 13 November 2023

Some day I'm gonna make her mine

Heavens. What a weekend! Two trips to the theatre in succession, and with hardly time to blink it's Monday again (and all that entails...).

The first of the theatrical extravaganzas "our gang" gathered for on Saturday night was the most unexpected subject for a West End premiere - the five-decade relationship between Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and her loyal and trusted servant and confidant Billy Tallon. The Michael Grandage production plays free-and-easy with the real-life story, but it's a masterful concoction nonetheless.

With top-notch actors Dame Penelope Wilton and the hunky Luke Evans in the lead roles, the chemistry and quick-fire repartee between them was entirely believable, and simply wonderful!

"As Billy, Luke Evans is a rogue with a ramrod back and Feargal Sharkey’s hair, a stickler for propriety when it suits him, a mischievous rule-breaker when it doesn’t." - Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard

The play opens with a welcome taste of things to come, as two adorable corgis scamper across the magnificent set - recreating the Queen Mum's favourite the Garden Room at Clarence House - followed by the imperious "Billy" at the height of his powers, choreographing the setting of the numerous floral arrangements to create an ambience fit for a Queen. And her guests...

This is where Billy's mischief really shows itself. He and Her Maj having a long-established protocol of boozy gatherings - "no bores" - when two boring teetotallers turn up to rock that particular boat, he creates a "cordial" that is not all it seems, and farce abounds.

There are other staff whose eyes are on him, however - not least HM's prissy and uptight Private Secretary Kerr (Ian Drysdale), forever trying to tighten the purse-strings and get rid of Billy and his extravagance, who starts manipulating the "new boy" Gwydion (Iwan Davies) to spy on him.

Throughout all this The Queen Mother, with feigned disinterest, oversees everything!

"’s (Penelope) Wilton who owns the stage. She brings a dazed, distracted quality to the Queen Mother that acts as a smokescreen for papercut cruelty delivered with a benign smile. She and Evans establish a playful rapport. But this isn’t a straightforwardly heartwarming story - Billy is as much a plaything as anything. The Queen Mother’s blessing comes with conditions." - Tom Wicker, Time Out

Aside from all the campery and the repartee being played out in the "inner circle", there are two lovely touching moments when the set darkens and we travel back in time to when young Billy (Ilan Galkoff) [he was fifteen years old when he entered Royal service] and the Queen-in-mourning first build their enduring rapport - initially, in the moments after the funeral of her husband King George VI when she is not only bereft of her beloved, but also her home and title too; and in the second, just after the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II, when she lost her eldest daughter to a life of duty and gained the epithet of Queen Mother. In the latter vignette, the touching way an old Queen allows a very young queen to wear her priceless jewels is remarkably well done.

The second half of the show, amongst the ribaldry and farce (Billy brings a shag Ian (Eloka Ivo) back to the palace, transgressing the sanctum of the Garden Room, is witnessed by the "new boy", and in the mayhem a huge painted dildo/"artwork" belonging to Ian gets lost amongst the boxed bibelots and curiosities from various collections that are used as "icebreakers" at Her Maj's regular gatherings - but who gets the box?), there's an attempt at a darker sub-text to all the frippery - in other words the otherwise completely ignored world outside, with its civil unrest, riots and the rise of Maggie Thatcher.

"Billy’s proud boast is “I have stopped time for her”, and inside the champagne continues to flow liberally, despite pressure on the Queen Mother to rein in her spending." - Fiona Mountford, iNews

Unfortunately, we found this change of tone to be a little jarring and unnecessary, especially the way Ian turned into a less-than-believable "radical cliché", but it didn't completely ruin the flow. The aftermath, with the Private Secretary believing he'd finally got rid of the thorn in his side - Billy up before "the Boss" for dismissal - takes a completely different tack, with "Britain's Favourite Grandmother" playing against all preconceptions and asserting her authority over her errant Steward and Page of the Backstairs in a most unexpected and humiliating manner.

As the concluding narrative - with "young Billy" and "Backstairs Billy" on stage at the same time - reminds us, however, he did indeed retain his position for the next twenty-three years, so who had the last laugh, really?

We utterly adored this show - hilariously funny one minute, full of pathos and sorrow the next, and unashamedly camp throughout.

[click any pic to embiggen]

I highly recommend it!

Backstairs Billy is at the Duke of York's Theatre, St Martin's Lane until 27th January 2024.


I haven't forgotten it's a Tacky Music Monday, of course - here's something appropriate:

Have a good week.

Sunday 12 November 2023

Senses working overtime, indeed

You know you're getting old when... discover that the mightily-talented Mr Andy Partridge of XTC is 70 years old!

Let's remind ourselves of the genius of him and his band, shall we?

Oh, how I loved them...

PS Ding, dong! Round two of our weekend in the theatre starts here - as we head off for a matinee performance of Mandy Patinkin - Live in Concert at the Lyric Theatre in the West End! Phew.

Saturday 11 November 2023

Showgirls, aliens and the Queen Mum doing the Calypso?

I don't know what this is from, but I want to see it!

After a bit of a hectic morning getting the place in order for our guests Baby Steve and Alex, I'm taking a breather before they arrive.

We're all off to see Penelope Wilton and Luke Evans in Backstairs Billy tonight - a farce based around the late Queen Mum and her co-dependent relationship with her long-serving "Steward and Page of the Backstairs" - and I'm really looking forward to it!


Apparently, when the Queen Mum's record collection was unearthed in 2011, among the more surprising LPs they discovered was from this band:

I can just imagine her calypso-ing with the corgis as we speak...

Friday 10 November 2023

The return of the dancing zoo

Another drab and dreary week slumps wearily to its close - and the weekend beckons! [And a busy one, with not one but two trips to the theatre; but more on that later, no doubt]

Let's brighten up proceedings and get the party started with an old, old favourite... Three minutes of complete mind-blowing madness - and we love it!

Thank Disco Dancing Hippos and Sheep (and chickens) It's Friday!

Have a great one, dear reader!

Thursday 9 November 2023

Pensive, flummox, vagrant and labourer

Sex education?

© Scarfolk Council

[Click to embiggen]

Wednesday 8 November 2023

They just HAD to see it...

[click to embiggen]

...and who could blame them..?!

Simply breath-taking. And ninety years ago!

[Shame we're not actually experiencing "the hottest weather in years". It's pissing down again...]

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Just don't stutter, OK?

Its His Majesty the King's first - and the UK's first with a King on the throne since 1950 - State Opening of Parliament today, aka "The King's Speech".

A spurious enough reason to feature this long-forgotten 80s gem, methinks?


Monday 6 November 2023

Ole! or Hoi!..?

Grrrr. Back to work. Already?!!!!

These ever-shortening days simply eat into our available time to do anything. [Of course, the fact I actually only woke up on Saturday at 2.30pm didn't help, but...]. A bit of a whirlwind sweep-up of wet leaves in the garden, a run around with the Hoover, some washing done, some houseplants re-acclimatised to being indoors again, and bam! Over. I didn't even leave the house, apart from popping to Tesco to buy fags...

Never mind, eh? Let's remind ourselves of happier times - like holidays!

How about something that combines - in the cheesiest way possible, of course - something from our two fave destinations, Amsterdam and Spain, in utterly insane "oompah" fashion? Ja, alstublieft!

Have a good week, dear reader.