Wednesday 31 January 2024

Are you a balaclavasexual?

A guide for straight men:

Do you like hard men a little too much? Never confusing the Spetsnaz, the SAS or US Navy SEALs? Has your interest in elite military units blossomed into something more?

You read books about them in bed
Not just Bravo Two Zero, thought it is your comfort read for lonely nights. And what’s wrong with imagining Andy McNab reading you a chapter at bedtime? And maybe hopping in beside you, to cuddle up and keep warm as if you were evading capture in the Iraqi desert? It’s about survival. Not sex.

You fantasise about intimate unarmed combat training
You can definitely see yourself wrestling on a gym mat with Matt Bissonnette, his muscular arms enfolding you as he explains basic restraint techniques and how he was on the raid that killed Bin Laden. And if there’s a spark of attraction as his lithe body overpowers yours, it’s only because he’s miming breaking an enemy sentry’s neck.

You’ve always had a thing for Lewis Collins
You’ve always been fascinated by Lewis Collins. You thought it was because he had a cool Ford Capri in The Professionals and Who Dares Wins was wonderful crypto-fascist fun, but now you realise there was more to it. Luckily society is less prejudiced these days, so it’s a lot easier to come out as a balaclavasexual.

You know more about special forces than you know about your girlfriend
You struggle to remember your girlfriend’s birthday or the date she left you but can instantly name the technical specifications of the SAS’s preferred assault rifle. An M16 firing a standard NATO 5.56mm cartridge and fitted with an M203 grenade launcher for 40mm rounds. Facts like that stick in the mind, that’s all.

You dream about covert operations
Doesn’t everyone dream about storming a secure compound in Islamabad with a group of buff men? All firing Heckler & Kochs from the hip? There’s nothing Freudian about that, or your recurring dream about going down on Bear Grylls.

You hang on their every word
Chris Kyle’s homespun philosophy in American Sniper, where he says there are three types of people in the world ‘wolves, sheep and sheepdogs’, is just common sense. Obviously you aspire to be a sheepdog like Chris. Or you’d like him to stroke you and tickle your tummy.

You emulate them
Unlike a "Swiftie" you can’t copy the fashions of the men you admire so, as combat fatigues and a gas mask tend to get the police called. And joining the army is out of the question because the pay’s low and the chance of war high. So largely you emulate them by saying ‘on my six’ when asked where the brioche buns are in Sainsbury’s.

The Daily Mash

Of course.

[Here's a good way to check...]

Tuesday 30 January 2024

Of Milo, Meltdown, macaques and Marvel

RIP, Sandra Milo [more Giulietta degli spiriti here]

It's a "snippets post" today, dear reader [in the true spirit of blogging; after all, that's how it all started..]

  • Good news: The divine (and immensely talented) Miss Chaka Khan has been announced as the curator of the annual Meltdown Festival at London's South Bank in 2024! I can't wait to see who she chooses to be on the bill, but if the great lady herself deigns to do a concert all of her own, I'm champing at the bit for a ticket...
  • Weird news: Happy Up Helly Aa Day! The (allegedly) traditional Viking festival is being celebrated this evening in Lerwick, largest town on the Shetland Islands, by around 1,000 heavily-disguised torch-bearers hauling a dragon-headed galley ship through the streets before ceremonially throwing their fiery torches into it to burn it to the water. That's one way of beating "the Tuesday Blues"!
  • Karma news: "Professional cunt" (and hopefully henceforth unemployable "actor") Laurence Fox lost a defamation case against two gay men he called "paedophiles" on Tw*tter.
  • Fashion news: a tie by "Mr Fish" [legendary 60s/70s menswear designer who dressed David Bowie and Mick Jagger] found in a charity shop for 99p, a second-hand coat worn by EastEnders' Dot Cotton and a leopard-print hat by milliner-to-the-stars Otto Lucas bought on eBay have gone on display in a fashion exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands.
  • Nature news: There's a macaque on the loose in the Highlands of Scotland! That puts bloody squirrels in the shade.
  • And finally: Many happy returns to the simply faboo Olivia Colman [50 today], star of just about everything - from Beautiful People to The Night Manager, from Doctor Who to Broadchurch, and much, much more, including not one, but two British Queens, Anne [for which she won the Oscar] and Elizabeth - and she completely stole the show in Marvel Studios' otherwise critically-panned [although I thoroughly enjoyed it] Secret Invasion:

And now, the weather...[only joking]

Monday 29 January 2024

Le ore più non contano

Back to the office again... Sigh.

After a rather pleasant weekend of sunshine, blue skies, mild temperatures, a mosey round the garden centre and some therapeutic pottering in the garden, it's time for that "back-to-reality" moment. A working week still beckons.

Hey ho. Just a few weeks to go, and we're off to Benalmadena again!

Courtesy of the ever-wonderful Clare Teal on her Jazz FM radio show, we have something suitably bright-and-breezy on this Tacky Music Monday to wake us up - from the simply faboo Caterina Valente (who celebrated her 93rd birthday on 14th January!):

Have a good one, dear reader.

Sunday 28 January 2024

Sex under the pier, whose sperm is it anyway?, Olympic voguing, an underwater breakdown and boogying in British sign-language

John-John, "Auntie Paul" and I gathered, with regulars Emma and Toby, Paulo and (not-so-regular any more) "Little Tony" at the historic and revered Heaven gay nightclub for another edifying evening at "London's peerless gay literary salon" Polari on Thursday, the first such event of 2024. Once again, we were in for a treat.

Our host, the faboo Paul Burston was sparkling from top-to-toe, as befits such an occasion, as he proudly opened the show...

One of my favourite authors/readers at Polari, Neil Bartlett opened proceedings with a salacious extract from his 2014 novel The Disappearance Boy [set in the early 1950s], in which [disabled by polio] magician's assistant "Reggie Rainbow" [whose job it is to help make the assistants "disappear", hence the title] discovers a secretive, hidden gay world of wonder, and sex, under the pier at Brighton.

Been there, done that - and absolutely loved the book! Remarkably, it has only recently been published in paperback.

Polari Prize winner in 2020, Kate Davies was up next, with a brand new delight for us - reading from her new novel Nuclear Family, which is out in February. A salutary tale of what happens when a loving daughter Lena decides to buy a DNA test for her dad, only to be completely devastated by the news that she and her twin sister were conceived from donor sperm. Lena goes off the deep end in her obsession with who her "real" father is, while her sibling Alison more-or-less takes it in her stride, trying as she is to conceive a child with her wife using the exact same method.

In the (very funny) extract Kate read for us, the couple's attempt to broach the subject of donation with their friends, a gay couple, while at a dinner date, doesn't actually go quite as planned...

With the laughter still ringing in our ears, it was time for a complete contrast... it was the turn of our friend and Polari stalwart Alexis Gregory to explode onto the stage, the force of nature that he is - he has a new show on at the King's Head theatre in Islington, FutureQueer, described thus: "...part theatre, stand-up comedy, DIY queer lecture, pop-culture commentary, and meditation on disco music as a metaphor for queer survival." It certainly was a bit of a mind-fuck! Set in the year 2071, he conjured up for us a fantastical future where everything is "gay-gay-gay"; a world where voguing and lip-syncing are categories in the Olympics, the national anthem is by Dannii Minogue, there's a statue to George Michael on Hampstead Heath, and the goddess of Disco herself Donna Summer [NB 2071 happens to be exactly as far into the future from today as Miss Summer's I Feel Love is in the past] dominates society.

Who better to enter such a fantabulosa world with than "Sexy Lexi" ?!

We needed a fag and a top-up after all that...

After the break, our final reader was 2023's Polari Prize winner Julia Armfield, with a reading from her mysterious new work Our Wives Under The Sea.

As the review in The Guardian put it:

It is told in two alternating voices: Leah’s, in the form of a journal she kept on a deep-sea dive that stranded her and two others in undersea darkness; and that of her wife, Miri, who presumed her lost, after Leah’s return. The tale travels, with Leah and the submarine, down through the missing six months and the ocean’s vertical zones (sunlight, twilight, midnight, abyssal, hadal), while on land Miri tracks how their relationship is changing in the present.

From the extract she read, it would appear that those changes are even more mysterious than anyone could predict... Chilling stuff!

Our evening was not over yet, however - as a real feast of frolics was in store, with the arrival on stage of the ever-joyful David McAlmont with HiFi Sean!

They played a blinder of a set, and got everybody (including the lovely BSL interpreter Paul Michaels) in a dancing mood! Here's a jolly one:

STOP PRESS: And then, there's this!

Now, that's the way to finish an evening!

We love Polari! Roll on the next one...

Saturday 27 January 2024

Friday 26 January 2024

Full of ecstasy and fire

Relief is in sight - it's pay day, the skies are dazzling blue, we have a new trellis on the fence in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers, and the weekend's almost here...

In another to add to the long list of departures for Fabulon this week (see here and here), we bade a sad farewell to Herr Frank Farian. Who? I hear you ask.

Not only was Mr Farian one of the actual voices behind the "world's most famous mime act" Milli Vanilli, he was also the genius producer behind [literally - he also sang the male vocals, to which Bobby Farrell mimed] one of the biggest-selling bands in the UK ever, Boney M!

Although they sold gazillions of records in the glittering Disco era, they struggled to maintain the same level of success in the 80s and 90s and gradually faded out of view. Then suddenly in 2021, thanks to the machinations of a North London DJ and "eternally-bewitched-by-old-records" Tik-Tok users, this song became a hit all over again, in a slightly different form, with a splendidly daft video...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great weekend, dear reader!

Thursday 25 January 2024

Your honest, sonsie face

Och Aye!

It's Burns Night tonight - when our Scottish chums perform strange rituals involving bagpipes (naturally), whisky (of course!) and inflated sausages filled with indeterminate offal, served with "neeps and tatties"!

Even south of the border, the ever-enterprising Wetherspoons has got in on the act.

Here's the traditional "Ode to a Haggis":

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

[Full text and translation here]

To round off the celebration - let's bring back our fave "kilt boys", shall we?!

Slàinte Mhath! [pronounced Slanj-a-va]

Wednesday 24 January 2024

A thin, uncleansable film of grime

Any bar, pub, coffee shop, sandwich shop or ordinary shop within 200 metres of a station is far more horrible than its distant counterparts.

No matter what the establishment, its location near a train station automatically downgrades it to at least two levels below its equivalent elsewhere, and in the case of major London stations as many as five.

Retail expert Helen Archer said: “You head to the station early. Your mate agrees to stay for one. You drink a miserable pint by lone travellers with wheeled cases and wish you hadn’t.

“Or you have a quick coffee only to realise in a single sip it was brewed in a cistern by a clever dog and you’ve lost the tastebuds on that side for life. And your table was last cleared in August ’22.

“Or you’re facing a 95-minute journey to Crewe so you buy a sandwich that turns out, by Milton Keynes, to be made of shit. Or you go the most miserable shop you’ve visited in years and pay £5.40 for Monster Munch and a Panda Pop.

“Even the supermarkets are horrible and grimy. Even the pub across the road has the feel of death’s waiting room. The very proximity of transport covers every experience, physically and spiritually, in a thin, uncleansable film of grime.

“It probably isn’t true of tiny little rural stations in places called Scrumpington-over-Willow. But they’ve closed all those down.”

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Dropping like flies, part 2...

A young Laurie Johnson and Petula Clark, 1955 by Harry Hammond

Laurie's music touched the lives of millions around the world. Throughout his illustrious career, he composed numerous iconic scores, themes and soundtracks that graced our lives across film, TV, theatre and radio. [His family's statement to the BBC yesterday].

Indeed he did. Among the many, many all-too-familiar theme tunes for which we have to thank the man are these:

And finally, a little something I stumbled across courtesy of the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show on BBC Radio 6 Music, that seems most appropriate to feature here:

[NB "AC Soul Symphony" is the latest nom-de-plume of the artist formerly known as Joey Negro, DJ Dave Lee]

So many childhood memories. Sigh.

RIP, Laurie Johnson (7th February 1927 – 16th January 2024).

Dropping like flies...

RIP, Marlena Shaw (22nd September 1942 – 19th January 2024):

[Read my tribute to the great lady on her 80th, and for the original version of this song.]

RIP, Pluto Shervington (13th August 1950 – 19th January 2024):

[Quite likely the first song that explicitly references marijuana to appear on Top of the Pops, or indeed on British telly as a whole!]

RIP, Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las (28th December 1948 – 19th January 2024):

[See also here]

The dancefloor in Fabulon is filling up.

Monday 22 January 2024

I'm afraid I've a terrible yen

Robin's probably about to have more fun than I am on a Monday...

Where do those bloody weekends go?!

As we drag our weary carcasses out into the midst of the stupidly-named "Storm Isha" for another week of joy,we need a proper wake-up call...

Enter, stage left, on this Tacky Music Monday - the marvellous Miss Virginia O'Brien!

All this yap-yap-yap
About glorifying dames
Leaves me like a cold potato
I'd much rather be
With a handsome he
Like Van Johnson who's a real tomato

For a date with Fred MacMurray
You can bet your life I'd hurry
And a guy like Mischa Auer
Has me completely in his power

In fact most any man I've seen
Is the only man for me

Bring on those wonderful men
Bring me an elegant guy
A soldier or sailor
A Gable or Taylor
A short or a tall one
I just wanna call one
My own, private wonderful he

Bring what you can to me
Bring me a guy to pin up
Bring me a prince on a horse
A dark or a light one
I just want to sight one
Who'll call me his missus
And give with the kisses
I'm afraid I've a terrible yen
For those wonderful M-E-N

Amor, Amor
There must be someone for me
But what's he waiting for?
No hope, no soap
If he don't appear
I fear I'm at the end of my rope

Oh, bring on a male who ain't frail
Bring on a man from a cave
Someone to relax with
And pay income tax with
And though he's from hunger
I'm not getting younger
And I'd like to get on with my plan
To glorify the American man

I know the men are few
But what's a gal to do?
I'll get a man before I'm through
Hey, you in the third row:
Bring on those wonderful men!

Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday 21 January 2024

The Floating Kingdom

Madam Arcati and I had a truly stunning theatrical experience last night, as we ventured to the oh-so-touristy environs of Borough (famous for its food market) - for our first visit in several years to an old fave venue the Menier Chocolate Factory, to see the much-lauded new production of Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures.

A show that was last revived over here in 2003, it's certainly not one of The Maestro's most famous, and most people would be hard-pushed to hum along to any of its songs. But, heavens - especially with this setting, this scenery, this lighting and this cast [shame about the restricted view seats we ended up with] - it's a work of art! It was indeed one of Sondheim's own personal favourites.

[NB There are no videos from the Menier Chocolate Factory production, apart from this trailer]

Set in the the late 19th century era when the USA unanimously decided to force the secretive and feudal kingdom of Nippon [Japan] to "open its doors" to the world, the story is told largely from the perspective of its populace. Indeed, the opening number The Advantages of Floating in the Middle of the Sea highlights just how completely shielded from foreign influence they were, engrossed in ancient rituals:

As the centuries have come, they've gone
In the middle of the sea
Days arise to be replaced
Lines are drawn and lines erased
Life and death are but verses in a poem
Out there blood flows
Who knows?

Here we paint screens
Plant the rice
Arrange the flowers
View the moon
Exchange the gifts
Plant the rice
Arrange tomorrow like today
To float
Slide the screens
Exchange the poems
Stir the tea
Exchange the bows
Plant the rice
Arrange tomorrow to be like today
To float.

Of course, this blithe "innocence" proves to be their downfall - but Sondheim being Sondheim, this is not a show that wallows in tragedy. With the help of the excellent "Reciter" (narrator Eu Jin Hwang) to understand the nuances, there's much humour to be had poking fun at the absurdities on all sides in this tumultuous period. The Shogun (excellently played by actress Saori Oda) arrogantly believes that to merely send one man in a boat to face the fleet with a message from the (puppet) Emperor would be sufficient to send the Americans packing.

The hapless sap chosen for this (quite possibly suicidal) mission, Kayama (the superbly convincing Takuro Ohno) and his wife Tamate (Kanako Nakano) are understandably terrified (There Is No Other Way) - as are the locals, who, seeing the fleet approach believe them to be Four Black Dragons. Obviously the pompous and condescending US Admiral ignores Kayama's pleas. With the help of fisherman Manjiro (Joaquin Pedro Valdes) - who had visited the US and brought the original news of the impending threat to the Shogun's court - masquerading as "an important man" they try shouting ("as that's what they understand - who shouts loudest, gets heard"), but the only response from the Americans is a demand to meet the Shogun or else be bombed.

In the ensuing time of trepidation, Kayama and Tamate (having devised a cunning plan involving floating mats and floating house to accommodate the Americans without them setting foot on Nippon's "sacred soil") bond over Poems, and the local brothel-madam sees a business opportunity as she (hilariously) trains up "her girls" for the arrival of the sailors of the fleet (Welcome to Kanagawa). The Admiral lands, the meeting is held in secret, then the treaty house is ceremonially burned.

But what was actually said? Could those secrets be revealed by eavesdroppers? This beautiful number - Sondheim's own "proudest achievement" - is hopeful, but history is often based on unreliable testimony...

[The famous "lockdown gala"]

Regardless of what was said behind those closed doors it becomes obvious this was only the beginning, as the rest of the world's great empires - British, Dutch, Russian and French - all come-a-calling, with their warships, for their "share of the spoils". This is a brilliant number, full of Sondheim's signature tributes to the sounds and styles of other composers (notably Gilbert & Sullivan), and was probably the highlight of last night's show. Here's the original:

So the old Nippon is overrun by foreign tastes and styles - perfectly encapsulated by (the newly-elevated to governor) Kayama and A Bowler Hat. Conversely, Manjiro, who began as an enthusiast for all things American, has become completely integrated into Samurai traditions. Cultural clashes are exposed even more chillingly, however, in this production's treatment of (possibly) this show's most familiar number Pretty Lady - a song I only really knew from Side By Side By Sondheim as a light-hearted ode about a frustrated seduction attempt [see also here for the "gender-reversed" version] - as it all turns nasty indeed, culminating in murder.

As our Reciter (shifting seamlessly between setting the scene and portraying the Emperor) points out, this was the beginning of the end. The Samurai (unexpectedly led by Manjiro) stage a rebellion, both Shogun and Kayama are killed, and in retaliation Emperor Meiji abolishes the centuries-old Shogunate and decrees a return to Imperial rule, proclaiming that his country would henceforth embrace the modernity of the rest of the world (Next!).

The show closed with a whirlwind representation of how that modernisation developed, from industrialisation to the horrors of WWII, to the technological revolution of the late 20th century, and ended - in a sinister twist - with an AI avatar reciting the words: "Nippon. The Floating Kingdom. There was a time when foreigners were not welcome here. But that was long ago... Welcome to Japan."

Utterly, mind-blowingly brilliant. I am so glad we went!

Pacific Overtures is on at The Menier Chocolate Factory until 25th February 2024.

Saturday 20 January 2024

It's a kind of madness really

[photo: Oliver McNeill at Legend Photography]

"Actors are able to trick themselves into treating anything as if it's fantastic. It's a kind of madness really."

"I've never ever read a script. I really must read Macbeth, because I was in it once. I got a lot of laughs in that, I can tell you."

"Well, I think if more people had more applause, it would make them feel better. I often give my wife a round of applause. If the meal is very good I give her a standing ovation."

"I'm really not an actor of any kind. I've always seen myself as an entertainer, someone who makes people laugh. That's all I've ever wanted to do. 'Doctor Who' has always just been me, really."

Happy 90th birthday to Mr Tom Baker, raconteur, actor, voice of Little Britain, and the most eccentric Doctor of them all.

As is amply demonstrated by this clip from his earliest appearance as the newly-regenerated Fourth Doctor:


Friday 19 January 2024

Do it!

Almost there. The weekend is in sight - and it looks like the bitter cold of the past week is about to give way to more usual British weather, rain.

Hey ho.

Only recently, on hearing this song on the radio, I thought to myself "You just don't get people playing the flute in dance music any more!"

So let's redress that balance and remind them what they're missing, shall we, with a classic?

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a faboo weekend, dear reader!

Thursday 18 January 2024

What I like doing best

“What I like doing best is Nothing."

"How do you do Nothing?" asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.

"Well, it's when people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, 'What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?' and you say, 'Oh, Nothing,' and then you go and do it.
It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."

"Oh!" said Pooh.”

It's apparently "Winnie the Pooh Day"! [Well, it's the birthday of AA Milne, who wrote the stories, but give the mayor of Los Angeles an inch and he'll take a mile...]

Let's indulge...


Childhood revisited.

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Takes the biscuit

One of the 20th century’s most dominant and divisive figures, Karl Marx’s work shaped hundreds of millions of lives. Which makes it all the more surprising it began over a biscuit.

More than two decades before beginning The Communist Manifesto, a young Marx was awakened to the philosophy underpinning it after receiving much less than half of a Lebkuchen.

While his sister Louise may have thought the act playful, academics argue this event to be Karl’s first encounter with the unfair division of resources that would become his life’s work.

The eight-year-old’s first publication, known to historians as Das Kookie, reads: “There is no natural explanation, no justification, for why I should get less biscuit than my sister.

“Louise claimed the halves of Lebkuchen were even, but I could clearly see she kept the bit with the bigger splodge of icing for herself. This is mankind in essence, but must it be this way?

“My mother, as a class enemy, told me that Louise does not embody the unnatural evils of modern man, that I should be happy with what I got and not be greedy. Which caused me to realise society must be restructured from the top-down.

“It is my mother who ‘owns’ the biscuits. She stifles the supply. This biscuit was given to us when we helped to sweep the floors. But it is not a gift. It is the just reward of labour, and was only honey-spiced and not even chocolate.

“My sister is a mere cog in the machine of proletarian deprivation. As it is passed on to me, she nibbles a little off for herself. She claims she didn’t, but I saw her, and my bit of cookie is damp, so I licked her forehead and now I’ve been sent to my room. A political prisoner.

“I tried to tell Louise the system forces our conflict. We are Hansel and Gretel, kept at arm’s length from whole houses of cookies, and must seize the means of production. But she says she won’t be my friend unless I play dollies. The cycle of injustice continues.”

And so Marx realised the world was unfair, set out to right it and formulated philosophies of economics which are conservatively estimated to have killed millions – all because of a biscuit.

Next week: to 1960, when Che Guevara produced 100 T-shirts with his face on to advertise his car-washing business.

The Daily Mash

Of course

Tuesday 16 January 2024

You killed her!

You know you're getting old when... find out that Britain's greatest "Wild Child" supermodel Kate Moss is 50 years old today!

In my opinion, however, this was her finest hour:

Well, maybe...

Monday 15 January 2024

How you love *

Yup. Weekend's over, again!

Sigh. Back to the grind...

Let's thank our lucky stars that the dearly departed, magnificently camp Carmen Sevilla provided us with the perfect Tacky Music Monday moment to save the day..!

No, I have no idea what the fuck was going on there, either.

Have a great week, dear reader!

[* "Cómo me gustas" - "How you like/love" in English.]

Sunday 14 January 2024

Grouches don't dance

Just because we heard him in all his magnificence on Clare Teal's show on Jazz FM earlier, here's someone who's always perfect for what we call "Sunday Music" - the simply marvellous Señor Tito Puente! Even a Grouch can't resist...

Love it.

Saturday 13 January 2024

Aperitivo or main course?

Having had a bit of a pottering day (well, afternoon actually, after I finally surfaced), I think it's time for the first selection in 2024 of the "newer" songs that have caught my ear of late...

First up, something glitzy and rather odd (as is my wont), but catchy nonetheless...

Speaking of "crazy" - house fave Miss Beth Ditto's back again!

I have to admit, this whole "K-Pop" music thing of the past few years has rather passed me by - the appeal of androgynous boys or identikit girl-groups posing over twee pop music is lost on me. However, this one's rather good:

A ditty I thought rather appealing, (in a sort-of-retro way), first heard (once again) thanks to the faboo Lisa Tarbuck show on Radio 2:

As it's only five weeks - and counting - till we're in Spain again, this Flamenco-tinged number from a German DJ (actually released last summer, but new to me) will do nicely by way of an aperitivo...

And, saving the best to last - another utterly brilliant mash-up by the marvellous Mr McClintock!

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

Friday 12 January 2024

"What the hell is it about radio that it has to be male?"

Sad news again. Another little piece of my childhood has gone, with the departure of the lovely Annie Nightingale for the rave tent in Fabulon.

Famously, she became the first female DJ to appear on BBC Radio 1 (in 1970) - and she was still there more than 50 years later (her most recent show went out in December)!

Her Sunday Afternoon Request Show (that was on straight after the Top 40 in the 70s/80s) was essential listening when I was young, and it was after she took over hosting duties on The Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC 2 television (and the show's music changed to more contemporary stuff) that I first discovered two of my lifelong passions, Blondie [see here] and Gary Numan/Tubeway Army!

With her eternal love for new and diverse styles of music - everything from X-Ray Spex to the Chemical Brothers to Skrillex - even at her venerable age she was always ahead of the game. Every generation of Radio 1 listener (and every lover of music) owes her a great debt of gratitude...

RIP, Anne Avril Nightingale (1st April 1940 - 11th January 2024)

No, no, no, I

The first full week back after any kind of break is always excruciating, irksome and tiring. At least last week, half the annoyingly needy people I usually deal with were still on leave after the Festering Season...

I'll just be very glad when 4 o'clock comes, for that's the moment the party starts - and we can get our most lurid outfits-with-feathers on, mouth some lyrics in front of psychedelic graphics, try and fend off a load of cheesy Spanish safety gays, and Thank Disco It's Friday! Just like Miss Gloria Gaynor:

Another mind-fuck.

Have a great weekend, dear reader!

Thursday 11 January 2024

When you want to come

As we in London continue to endure the succession of crap winter throws at us - today alone, we've gone from frost to chilly winds to depressing drizzle and back again - it's worth a mention that 2024 is another year of milestones...

This year it will be the 80th anniversary of D-Day, the 60th of BBC2 and Mary Poppins, half-a-century since Abba's Waterloo, and the 40th anniversary of my coming-out, as well as that of the "Zola Budd controversy" at the Los Angeles Olympics, the assassination of Indira Gandhi, of Band Aid, This Is Spinal Tap, Purple Rain, The Reflex, Like a Virgin, Ghostbusters...and this lot!

For it was indeed on this very day in 1984 that "saintly" DJ Mike Read declared Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax to be disgusting, and refused to play it (swiftly followed by an "official ban" by the BBC)!

Here's how I first featured it, way back in 2011:

"There’s nothing that great about sex - never was. What usually comes from it? Sweat, fatigue, and dirty linens, then later unwanted pregnancies, and, of course, today there’s the health angle.

As for gay sex in particular: Nothing’s really that great about it. It’s very uncomfortable and many times vastly more complex than lovemaking in heterosexual counterparts.

When a boy and girl decide they are going to have sex, they roughly know what to expect. But before two men have sex, they practically have to hold a board meeting in order to figure out the agenda of what they’re going to do."
- Quentin Crisp

Not according to Frankie...

Wednesday 10 January 2024