Wednesday, 18 October 2017

I'd like to put you in a trance



Timeslip moment again...

We've beamed down in this week 25 years ago, in 1992: HM the Queen's annus horribilis (with the divorce of Ann and Cap'n Mark, the scandalous split of Andy'n'Fergie, the separation of Charles and Di and the near-destruction of parts of the historic Windsor Castle, her favourite palace); the year of Boris Yeltsin, the BCCI banking scandal, Steffi Graf, the Barcelona Olympics, Damien Hirst's "shark", PM John Major (who won the general election), the Maastricht Treaty, Betty Boothroyd, Euro Disney, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Nigel Mansell, the dismantling of Yugoslavia, the Los Angeles riots, the election of President Bill Clinton, and the births of Miley Cyrus, Cara Delevingne - and Ab Fab.

In the news in October 1992: the fallout from so-called "Black Wednesday" (the UK's withdrawal from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism) continued, fuelling a continuing recession; protest rallies were held in Washington to challenge the Bush administration's lack of action on AIDS (and the AIDS Memorial Quilt was born); there were protests, too, in the UK about the planned closure of a string of coal mines and over 30,000 job losses; the Mozambique civil war finally ended after sixteen years; a huge earthquake in Cairo killed 543 people and injured more than 6,500; in the ascendant were Lithuania (which held a referendum on its first democratic constitution since it seceded from the former Soviet Union), the Cartoon Network (the world's first TV channel devoted to animation) and Sinéad O'Connor (who ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live); but we bade our sad farewells to the multi-talented actor Denholm Elliott. In our cinemas: Patriot Games, Beauty and the Beast and Strictly Ballroom. On telly: Later... with Jools Holland, Gladiators and The Big Breakfast.

And in the UK charts? At the top of the heap at #1 was "one-hit wonder" Tamsin Archer with Sleeping Satellite; also present and correct in the Top Ten were Bizarre Inc, Boyz II Men, The Shamen, Dr Alban, Simple Minds, Prince, Take That, Undercover and Doctor Spin (whooo?). But, just landed - and about to cause a media shit-storm - was Our Glorious Leader Queen Madge, with this all-time smutty classic...


Can it really be a quarter of a century since we first met "Dita"...?

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Michael Rennie was ill the day the earth stood still, but he told us where we stand



Yesterday's weird weather over London and much of the UK - the skies turned an eerie yellow early afternoon, it went quite dark for several hours, and the sun was fetching shade of vermilion - was apparently due to a load of dirt, smoke and Saharan sand being whipped up into the atmosphere by the actions of Hurricane Ophelia.



Of course, that isn't quite how some people wanted to interpret it, and the inevitable "social meejah frenzy" was whipped up by the press - phrases such as "apocalypse", "the end of the world" and "Nibiru" were being bandied about, just about overtaking the words "me", "Taylor Swift in a kebab shop" and "Trump" as topics of conversation by teatime.

Well, if you want an apocalyptic vision, what could be better than that 1950s Cold War-Sci-Fi mastwerwork of paranoia The Day The Earth Stood Still? And who better to present this classic than the "Tired Old Queen" himself, Steve Hayes?


Red skies over London

Monday, 16 October 2017

Time is Tic, Tic, Tac-ing



Oh dear, another weekend is over. Our much-lauded "heatwave" was very pleasant in parts - we were sat outside in short sleeves in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers till long after the sun went down last night - and I managed to get a load more bulb pots planted and a lot more pottering done besides. Unfortunately, the UK is expecting the tail end of Hurricane Ophelia to hit this week (fingers crossed, only in the West - we may not experience its worst here in London), so heaven only knows when the next opportunity may arise - and meanwhile, the foxes are playing merry hell, digging holes all over the place, so there are plenty of battles ahead to try and defeat the vermin before they undo our good work...

Hey ho, as we sense the encroaching darker, mistier mornings enveloping us, to cheer ourselves up on this Tacky Music Monday we're off to Brazil (I wish!) - in the bizarre company of Banda Carrapicho:


Ay Caramba! I wouldn't want to bump into him on a dark night...

Have a great week, dear reader!

Sunday, 15 October 2017

“Keeping the British end up, sir.”



Today, the best of all "James Bonds" Sir Roger Moore would have been 90 years old.

By way of a little tribute, here are some of his "best bits" from that long (twelve-year) tenure in the role...


Shaken, not stirred, indeed.

Sir Roger George Moore, KBE (14th October 1927 – 23rd May 2017)

Read my blog on the occasion of Sir Roger's death

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Diving into memories, prostitutes and profiteers, gangland jeopardy, a prize, a pansy, a wide Homburg hat and a long blue coat



I made a welcome (and long overdue) return visit to "London's peerless gay literary salon" Polari last night, and I'm so pleased I did - a truly top-class evening of thought-provoking literary gems [right at the start of the London Literature Festival, appropriately], and Sophie Ellis Bexter's mum presenting the prestigious prize pictured above, to boot!



Although the room (our usual 5th floor function suite, rather than the cavernous and character-free Purcell Room where previous Polari First Book Prize ceremonies have been held) was packed out, I was surprised that apart from or hostess-with-the-mostest Paul Burston, some of our readers, plus stalwarts Suzi Feay (at whose table I sat), VG Lee, Anny Knight and sexy Lexi Gregory, I hardly recognised anyone. It could be "the curse of Friday" I suppose; so many people have other plans that probably don't involve gay literature...

...but for those of us who love writing, it was a joy.



Opening the show - admittedly in a rather dark way - was the surprisingly cute Roelof Bakker [I always find Dutch men sexy], who is a regular contributor to the Unthology series of collated short stories, now on volume #9. The review on The Short Story website described it thus:
The last short story in the anthology, Yellow by Roelof Bakker is a touching work exploring loss... the story follows the narrator as he comes to terms with the death of his partner, Marek [who drowned]. Loss is a popular subject, but Bakker offers precise prose that avoids cliché, giving us original lines that bubble up beautifully through the paragraphs and are full of emotive veracity: ‘I’m only happy when I swim. Bits of Marek live on in the water, traces of his DNA remain wherever he’s done the butterfly, the breast-stroke. When I dive in, I delve into the past, back into his arms. Memories bob to the surface.’
Truly beautiful...



An equally tragic theme was to follow - as feminist writer and journalist Julie Bindel (thankfully injecting some of her wry humour into an otherwise alarming subject) gave us an insight into her research findings behind her new book The Pimping of Prostitution: Abolishing the Sex Work Myth. From a synopsis she wrote for The Spectator:
We’ve become accustomed to thinking of prostitution as a legitimate way of earning a living, even ‘empowering’ for women. We call it ‘sex work’ and look away. We should not.

For the last three years I’ve been investigating prostitution worldwide to test the conventional wisdom of it being a career choice, as valid as any other. I conducted 250 interviews in 40 countries, interviewed 50 survivors of the sex trade, and almost all of them told me the same story: don’t believe the ‘happy hooker’ myth you see on TV. In almost every case it’s actually slavery. The women who work as prostitutes are in hock and in trouble. They’re in need of rescue just as much as any of the more fashionable victims of modern slavery.

One of the most disturbing discoveries I made was that the loudest voices calling for legalisation and normalisation of prostitution are the people who profit from it: pimps, punters and brothel owners. They have succeeded in speaking for the women under their control. The people who know the real story about the sex trade have been gagged by a powerful lobby of deluded ‘liberal’ ideologues and sex-trade profiteers.
She went on to emphasise how those very same "liberal" voices who defend prostitution as a "life choice" - an oppressed form of sexuality which deserves "freedom" from legal restrictions, akin to the struggle for LGBT equality - are actually further repressing and endangering the lives of the very people they appear to represent. Powerful stuff.



Completing our "triumvirate of terror", the erudite Veronica "V.A" Fearon took to the stage with her customary swagger and her disarming smile, to read from her newest novel featuring the "fearless" gangs negotiator Dani, The Thirsty Stranger. She opened with a suitably "in-character" extract in which our "anti-hero" attempts to seduce an equally sassy woman, a photographer who has no time for her smooth-talking chat-up lines. In the second we were given an insight into a side of Dani that might be less expected; as the maelstrom of dangerous situations she has got herself into bring her an unfamiliar sensation: fear.

As ever, Veronica's work is completely engrossing, and I was very glad to be able to take a breath when "half-time" arrived. After a nip to the bar and a fag, it was time for part two - ding ding!



Without further ado, it was time for our Suzi to take the stage to introduce the Sixth Annual Polari First Book Prize. She read a synopsis of each of the titles on this year’s shortlist "which brings together three male and three female writers hailing from Kuwait to Cardiff, whose eclectic body of work offers a range of perspectives on the LGBT experience":
  • Expecting – Chitra Ramaswamy (Saraband)
  • Guapa – Saleem Haddad (Europa Editions UK)
  • We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By Fire - Jules Grant (Myriad)
  • Straight Jacket - Matthew Todd (Bantam)
  • The Vegetarian Tigers of Paradise – Crystal Jeans (Honno)
  • Jerusalem Ablaze – Orlando Ortega-Medina (Cloud Lodge)
Then she handed over to the adorable Miss Janet Ellis to announce the prize winner. After some encouraging and apposite words of support and encouragement for everyone who took part she opened the envelope and welcomed the rather buff Saleem Haddad to accept the prize.



He looked thrilled!



Our next reader Paul Harfleet simply exudes charm. The pioneering campaigner [he was one of the keynote speakers at 2010's "Say No To Hate" rally that I attended] behind The Pansy Project - which encourages victims of homophobia to plant a pansy at the site of their abuse, photos of which he collates along with a description of the incident on the website - he has latterly turned his estimable talents to education, by way of a semi-autobiographical (and beautifully illustrated by the author) children's book Pansy Boy. And here is a video introduction to it (which, last night, he narrated for us):



Lovely.



And finally, it was time for our "star turn", Diana Souhami - the erudite researcher and biographer of many a famous lesbian, and dryly witty reader - to entertain us with a faboo audio-visual overview of the life, loves and work of the artist Gluck ["Gluck: no prefix, suffix or quotes."], who was the subject of Ms Souhami's earliest published work, and who was celebrated most recently in a retrospective exhibition at The Fine Arts Society during LGBT History Month in February 2017 (with another exhibition to come this autumn in Brighton). Here is a little snippet:
Throughout her adult life she dressed in men’s clothes, pulled the wine corks and held the door for true ladies to pass first. An acquaintance seeing her dining alone remarked that she looked like "The Ninth Earl", a description that she liked. She had a last for her shoes at John Lobb’s the Royal bootmakers, got her shirts from Jermyn Street, had her hair cut at Truefitt gentlemen’s hairdressers in Old Bond Street and blew her nose on large linen handkerchiefs monogrammed with a G. In the early decades of the twentieth century, when men alone wore the trousers, her appearance made heads turn. Her father, a conservative and conventional man was utterly dismayed by her ‘outré clobber’, her mother referred to a ‘kink in the brain’ which she hoped would pass, and both were uneasy at going to the theatre in 1918 with Gluck wearing a wide Homburg hat and long blue coat, her hair cut short and a dagger hanging at her belt.

She did several self-portraits, all of them mannish. There was a jaunty and defiant one in beret and braces – stolen in 1981 – and another, now in the National Portrait Gallery, which shows her as arrogant and disdainful. She painted it when suffering acutely from the tribulations of love. A couple of others she destroyed when depressed about her life.

She dressed as she did not simply to make her sexual orientation public, though that of course she achieved. By her appearance she set herself apart from society, alone with what she called the ‘ghost’ of her artistic ambition. And at a stroke she distanced herself from her family’s expectations, which were that she should be educated and cultured but pledged to hearth and home. They would have liked her to marry well, which meant a man from a similar Jewish background to hers – preferably one of her cousins – and to live, as wife and mother, a normal happy life. By her ‘outré clobber’ Gluck said no to all that; for who in his right mind would court a woman in a man’s suit? Her rebelliousness cut her father to the quick and he thought it a pose. But however provocative her behaviour there was no way he would cease to provide for her, his concept of family loyalty and obligation was too strong.

Courtesy of her private income she lived in style with staff – a housekeeper, cook and maids – to look after her. She always kept a studio in Cornwall. In the 1920s and 30s she live in Bolton House, a large Georgian house in Hampstead village. After the war she settled in the Chantry House Steyning with Edith Shackleton Heald, journalist, essayist and lover of the poet W.B.Yeats in his twilight years. Both residences had elegantly designed detached studios...

...Mercurial, maddening, conspicuous and rebellious, she inspired great love and profound dislike. Perhaps what she most feared was indifference – the coldest death. Her dedication to work was total, even through her fallow years. Her severance from gender, family and religion, her resistance to influence from any particular artist or school of painting, her refusal to exhibit her work except in ‘one-man’ shows were all ways of protecting her artistic integrity. She desired to earn her death through the quality of her work: "I do want to reach that haven having a prize in my hand… Something of the trust that was reposed in me when I was sent out…" In reaching her destination with her paintings as her prize she took a circuitous path – unmapped, thorny and entirely her own.
Gluck's romantic entanglements were many and varied, including Romaine Brooks, society florist Constance Spry, and "the love of her life" the American socialite Nesta Obermer, with whom she appeared in her most famous portrait in the Art Deco era, Medallion (which she referred to as he "YouWe" picture):



Utterly, absolutely brilliant.



Thus, with the resounding applause for our assembled readers ringing in our ears, it was sadly the end of another great evening.

Next month's outing (on Friday 24th November, and part of the "Being a Man" festival season) will be the official Tenth Birthday(!) celebration of Polari, and promises to be another corker - with Jonathan Harvey, Topher Campbell, J Fergus Evans, Alexis Gregory and Carey Wood all announced. I can't wait!

I love Polari.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Hold it



We're cruising gently towards another weekend, and - starting with my first visit in a while to "London's peerless gay literary salon" Polari (in its tenth birthday season) tonight - there's lots to celebrate!

Leading the way in that department, to get the party started with a bang is an old fave here at Dolores Delargo Towers - Miss Celi Bee and her incredibly energetic safety gays.

Thank Disco It's Friday (the thirteenth)!!


Keep on twirling, daaahlings!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Escapism...



We're getting up in the dark, and soon it'll be dark as we head home from work. I hate Autumn.

I think we need to indulge ourselves once more in the impossibly glamorous Jet-Set world of Soft Tempo Lounge...

[...even if the featured movie is yet another of the soft-porn variety, Emanuelle in America...]


Ah, that's better.

[Music: Pierre Sellin - Trumpet on a Beach]

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

I personally like the adventure of difference


“That’s the key, you know, confidence. I know for a fact that if you genuinely like your body, so can others. It doesn’t really matter if it’s short, tall, fat or thin, it just matters that you can find some things to like about it. Even if that means having a good laugh at the bits of it that wobble independently, occasionally, that’s all right. It might take you a while to believe me on this one, lots of people don’t because they seem to suffer from self-hatred that precludes them from imagining that a big woman could ever love herself because they don’t. But I do. I know what I’ve got is a bit strange and difficult to love but those are the very aspects that I love the most! It’s a bit like people. I’ve never been particularly attracted to the uniform of conventional beauty. I’m always a bit suspicious of people who feel compelled to conform. I personally like the adventure of difference. And what’s beauty, anyway?”
Happy - gulp - 60th birthday today to one of our favourite comediennes, Miss Dawn French!



With or without her thirty-years-in-the-spotlight comedy partner Jennifer Saunders, Miss French is a remarkable woman [and, indeed an accomplished actress - I vividly recall her unexpected role as a homicidal nurse in Tender Loving Care]. A semi-permanent foil for the tabloids with her flick-flacking weight, her difficult interracial marriage to another comedy darling Lenny Henry [they received death threats and intimidation throughout their 25 years together] and their subsequent split, and her various degrees of solo success [The Vicar of Dibley] and not-so-much [Wild West], she seems to survive it all with a smile on her face.

On Jen being successful first, away from their partnership, she recently said:
“It can be hard when a friend, especially one you’ve never done any work separately from, suddenly has a huge success without you.

Ab Fab was such a massive hit. Until then Jennifer and I had been utterly linked in everything we did. I was made very aware that, in comedy terms, she was a completely individual, separate person. With her own powers.

“That really shocked me. Not only was she able to do it without me, she could do it really well. So that was really annoying. But however jealous I was, I love her and I was proud of her. I dealt with it by being open and honest about my jealousy. I sent her a bunch of flowers when she won a BAFTA saying, ‘Congratulations you cunt.’"


Last year, we caught her one-woman show 30 Million Minutes on the BBC, and - like the live audience - we were captivated by Dawn's candid exploration of her real life story and those people closest to her who have played such an important role in it so far. Hilarious at times, and utterly tragic at others [her father committed suicide when she was 18], it single-handedly confirmed just why - of all the clichéd epithets - Our Dawn is, indeed, a "national treasure".

Here are some very brief clips (but if ever you can get to see it, I recommend it - here in the UK it is still available on the BBC iPlayer for the next few weeks):



And by way of an extra bonus, here's the opening part of her magnum opus documentary Dawn French on Big Women (co-starring, among others, Alison Moyet and Jo Brand):

[parts 2 to 5 are also available from the same YouTube channel]

Many happy returns, Dawn Roma French (born 11th October 1957).

Read my previous "birthday blog" about Our Dawn.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Party, party, party


Getting ready for a night out is infinitely more fun than going out, scientists have confirmed.

Research from the Institute of Studies found that choosing what to wear while listening to music and drinking booze is a lot more fun than a cramped bar with music so loud you cannot speak to the person next to you.

Night out-goer Emma Bradford said: “I love going out.

“And by that I mean the time between half six and half nine when me and my friends are drinking vodka, listening to our favourite songs, doing our hair and being able to catch up on what’s being going on in each others lives.

“The bit where we’re queueing up for the club in the pissing rain, before waiting half an hour to get served and then have to pay a fiver for a bottle of room temperature lager is the bit where it’s not as fun.

“But how else are we going to get pictures of us looking like we’re having a good time?”


However Tom Booker said: “I have a shave, get dressed, neck a bottle of Brandy and fall asleep on the couch.

“Then I wake up in the morning £100 better off with pretty much the same hangover. Win, win.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Here's something apposite, methinks:


Monday, 9 October 2017

You'd be Paradise



It has been a fabulous weekend! With the current warm weather, it was mostly spent pottering in the garden (together, for a change). The damned greenhouse cover, perforated in a zillion places by a combination of weather and foxes, is gone, to be replaced at some stage by a new one; loads of spring bulbs and wallflowers are in; the lawn is mown; and the compost bins are full to brimming with faded summer detritus).

Yet it was all over too quickly, as usual, and here we are faced with the prospect of another delightful week's drudgery ahead...

I think the only remedy in such a situation on a Tacky Music Monday is a bit - nay, a lot! - of the delightful Dolores Gray (and her safety gays)!


Have a good week, dear reader.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Thought for the day



How life should be...

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Baby I'd like to reiterate, tomorrow's gonna be much too late



“Women identify with me... while men desire Cyd Charisse, they’d take me home to meet Mom.”

Darlings! Another centenary to celebrate today - that of the lovely June Allyson, star of many a Van Johnson or James Stewart vehicle in the 40s and 50s, inevitably in the part of "doting girlfriend or wife".

To the end, Miss Allyson was described as "the screen embodiment of sweetness and light" - yet she showed a good deal of feistiness when she openly defied the omnipotent studio boss Louis B Mayer by marrying the much older, twice-divorced Dick Powell (he argued that it would ruin her image), and went on to carve for herself a fair-to-middling career in a series of Technicolor remakes of black and white classics such as Little Women, My Man Godfrey, and (of course) the musical "update" of every queen's favourite The Women.



And by way of a tribute to the lady I have rediscovered this extravagant number of hers, replete with a whole army of athletic safety gays, from that very musical - The Opposite Sex:


Sublime.

June Allyson (born Eleanor Geisman, 7th October 1917 – 8th July 2006)

Friday, 6 October 2017

Ole, Ole!



Yesterday, it was Mrs Miller's "moment in the spotlight". Today, as we welcome with open arms the prospect of the looming weekend (and, fingers crossed, a chance to get into the garden and start clearing some space among the drooping vestiges of summer to plant some stuff for Spring), it's the turn of another artiste who was always "in with the joke". Señorita María del Rosario Mercedes Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza to bring some cheer into our lives...

Charo (for it is she) always knows how to start a party - so let's set her loose, and Thank Disco It's Friday!


Have a good one, peeps!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

An uncanny knack for landing squarely between the beat


"While Elva may not replace Elvis, her rocking-chair rock features a kind of slippin' and slidin' rhythm that is uniquely her own. Her tempos, to put it charitably, are free form; she has an uncanny knack for landing squarely between the beat, producing a new ricochet effect that, if nothing else, defies imitation. Beyond that, her billowy soprano embraces a song with a vibrato that won't quit..." - Time magazine

"As does the work of Plan 9 director Ed Wood Jr., Mrs. Miller gives us something in which there is so much human charm that we are disarmed by it. We laugh at first, because the ineptitude is so striking- but the enthusiasm, heart, and above all, frailty, touches the heart. Ed Wood and Elva Miller make us happy, and in ways that neither could ever have foreseen." - author Skip Heller

"Despite (or because of) her strange operatic singing style, her first record sold more than 250,000 copies in its first three weeks. Ironically called Mrs. Miller’s Greatest Hits, the LP reached #15 on Billboard’s Top Albums chart. In April 1966, two of her songs hit the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart: Downtown at #82 and A Lover’s Concerto at #95. Listeners loved the novelty of Mrs. Miller. She sang off key and out of sync with the band, but she was a good-natured, plump 59-year-old woman whose enthusiasm for performing and overconfidence in her singing ability seemed authentic." - Mental Floss


It's Mrs Miller time!




There are no further words I can express...

Elva Ruby Miller (5th October 1907 – 5th July 1997)

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

In a world that's constantly changing



As a (very late) birthday treat, my dear sister and hubby The History Boy had purchased tickets for us all to go and see one of my favourite artists of all time, the Queen of the Torch Song Mr Marc Almond - and so it was we headed to the cavernous environs of the Royal Festival Hall last night. As we sat in the bar waiting for the doors to open, all our familiar "Almondettes" were gathering around us, not least Ange, little Tony, Roland, our Paul, Bryanne and Simon.

The excitement was palpable - and the concert certainly lived up to all expectations.

OK - as is his wont, Marc does sometimes wobble through a vocal, and this was certainly the case in the early stages yesterday; not helped of course by the fact that the clutch of opening numbers from his new album Shadows and Reflections were so unfamiliar to many in the audience that we were left unsure quite how the originals should sound if performed perfectly. Nor by the fact that he "had phlegm". One thing is a "given" where Marc is concerned, however; so adored is he that were were all prepared to make allowances for anything. This is the man who, as we know, survived a catastrophic brain injury in a motorbike crash in 2004 and was never expected to live, let alone perform. Yet here, ten years on from his first return to the stage after convalescence, he continued to do just that - holding his devotees in the palm of his hand, and selling-out a 2,500-seater venue such as this within minutes of tickets going on sale.

Things very soon picked up as the great man gathered his proverbial skirts for what he half-jokingly described as "two hours of depressing songs full of melancholy". And it was true, in part. We could have done without the Russian folk songs, but those aside, many of the songs he chose to perform were impressive. He injected his trademark camp melodrama into some of the most gut-wrenching anthems to love - lost, unrequited, or merely fleeting - in the book, including such favourite tear-jerkers as Dusty Springfield's I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten, Jacques Brel's Ne Me Quitte Pas (If You Go Away) and Charles Aznavour's What Makes a Man?, and lesser-known ballads as Timi Yuro's Interlude and Bobby Darin's Not For Me, together with some beautiful ones of his own such as Just Good Friends, No-one to Say Goodnight To, Embers, Winter Sun and Scar [which, I commented, in its fabulously-arranged acapella gorgeousness could well be a hit for someone like Adele]:


Of course, it was not all "misery"... Also on the bill, and met with huge applause, were some of his more upbeat classics such as The Days of Pearly Spencer, Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart, Hand Over My Heart, Torch and Jacky:


Now celebrating his sixtieth year, (despite our misgivings at the beginning) Marc Almond is still in fine and impressive voice. He can still hold a belter of a closing note, and, with the estimable support of the brilliant backing singers and the mini-orchestra (and guest accompanist Martin Watkins), produced a cornucopia of classy entertainment that is still ringing in my ears today. Not least this rollicking finale!


...and this poignant cover of a much-loved David Cassidy standard How Can I Be Sure? - which also happens to be his new single:


Magnificent! I am truly glad I went, and eternal thanks to Hils and Crog for making it so.

To catch all the news, the gossip, the tour dates, and to buy a copy of the album visit the Marc Almond official website

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

These boots are made for...



...shining! By a man in underpants. The only way.

Many happy returns, Mr Jake Shears [for it is he]!



Even with that silly new moustache, I still would...

And just by way of celebration, here's a much-overlooked classic collaboration from the summer of 2015, involving Mr Shears, Miss Minogue and Mr Rodgers:


Jake Shears (born Jason F. Sellards, 3rd October 1978)

Monday, 2 October 2017

Boom Boom Brazilian style



Lordy! That weekend just flew by again - Crog's birthday drinkies on Saturday, a trip to garden centres yesterday, and here we are once more at the start of another joyful week...

Oh dear, never mind. Here to lift our spirits this Tacky Music Monday is yet another of my weird musical discoveries, courtesy of BBC Radio 3's esoteric Late Junction programme: the pride of Brazil, singer, TV hostess, porn star and "Queen of the Butt" - Maria Odete Brito de Miranda, better known as Gretchen!


Such talent.

So much so that none other than Miss Katy Perry made her the star of one of her own recent videos. And she hasn't - ahem - changed a bit!

Sunday, 1 October 2017

He banged like a good 'un




[Why the frock? Gawd only knows...]

Darlings! We have another centenary to celebrate this weekend [his birthday was yesterday, but hey ho] - one of the greatest swing/jazz drummers of them all, Mr Buddy Rich!

After an enjoyable but exhausting day stocking up on Spring bulbs, wallflowers, violas and potting grit at the vast horticultural cornucopia that is Crews Hill, this is just the right type of celebration we need.

Perfectly fitting into the genre we know as "Sunday music", here is the 24-year-old Buddy, banging away with the boys of Tommy Dorsey's orchestra!


Bernard "Buddy" Rich (30th September 1917 – 2nd April 1987)

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Lions, 1; Rugby, nil


Rugby players? Arses!

The utter stupidity of some people never ceases to amaze me.

News arrives today of Wales rugby player Scott Baldwin, who has had to miss a crucial game in his team's tour of South Africa - because he was bitten by a lion, while trying to pat its head!

His own coach said: "...in fairness it was nothing to do with the lion... I don't know what sort of wildlife show Scott has been watching where you can pat a lion on the head as if it's a kitten.

"It's probably one of the silliest things I've even been involved in, but thankfully he is OK and hopefully he will be back up and running in the next couple of weeks."


Any excuse, really to play a long-forgotten classic from proud-silly-haircut-wearers, (the post-Limahl) Kajagoogoo, methinks:

Friday, 29 September 2017

Taste the forbidden fruit



At this time of year, it always feels like a race - to try and get as much sunshine whenever it appears, in the sure and certain knowledge that there won't be much of it in the months to come. True to form, all week while I've been stuck in the office, London has had some lovely warm sunshine. Today, and likely for the whole weekend, it is bucketing down. In the words of Father Jack: "Arse! Feck!"

Never mind, eh? A weekend is still a weekend, and we could always stick a few rhinestones onto our galoshes to cheer us us up. Alternatively, we could writhe around suggestively with some plastic chairs and a helluva lot of eyeshadow, just like the much missed Hot Gossip - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Lord knows what dear old Quincy Jones made of this.


I knew I was captured
By the rhythm of the magic flute
Pulling and urging me
To taste the forbidden fruit

And though I felt naive
I did not want to leave, fever was in the air
And all of us sudden and I didn't care
And no reason why, I just had to testify

What makes you feel like doin' stuff like that?
What makes you feel like doin' stuff like that?
What makes you feel like doin' stuff like that?
What makes you feel like doin' stuff like that?
Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it!


You know you want to...

Have a good weekend, dear reader!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

More bucks and bangs


A Rabbit has thanked Hugh Hefner for making people think he is a sex symbol, not just a boring herbivore.

Rabbit Roy Hobbs said: “Before the Playboy logo, people had a much more mundane image of rabbits as slightly manky-looking brown things that amble around eating vegetation.

“And to be honest, that is quite accurate. For example I’ve spent this morning squatting in a field nibbling at grass and occasionally looking startled.

“But thanks to Hugh, the world associates rabbits with high-class orgies, cocktails, celebrity breasts and driving around really fast in sports cars.

“While in reality I am very shy. It comes with being quite low in the food chain.”

He added: “Maybe one day I’ll have a rabbit version of the Playboy Mansion. Basically a massive sex burrow with hot and cold running carrots.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

And, right on cue, fresh from the home of all things soft-focus, gorgeous and exotic - Soft Tempo Lounge - we have a snippet of one of the most notorious (and eternally-remembered) "soft-porn" films ever made, Emanuelle (starring the late, great Sylvia Krystel). With some smooth music, naturally:


[Music: Spring Rain by Bebu Silvetti]

Mr Hefner would have approved.

Hugh Marston Hefner (9th April 1926 – 27th September 2017)

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

More bang for your buck



I honestly thought I had travelled through some kind of wormhole to April Fools Day when I read the following in the Independent today:
Poundland has launched its own £1 sex toy range.

The range, called Nooky, follows the success of the discount retailer’s £1 Bullet vibrator which became a best-seller in 2016.

The Nooky line of products will include a “Finger Fun Stimulator, Vibrating Love Ring, Joy Ring, Sexual Vitality Supplements For Her, Supplement For Men and Pure Lube.”
Talk about "cheap thrills"! [And as some wag commented: "How will Pound-Stretcher possibly respond to this?"]

Speaking of Cheap Thrills, while searching the interwebs for some appropriate music to accompany this - ahem - stimulating news, all I could find was some badly-sung rubbish by the enigmatic-yet-ultimately-talentless SIA and that itinerant mumbler Sean Paul.

But, undeterred, my meanderings uncovered (as is my wont) a far more interesting version of said song - sung in the native language of Kerala in India!

This is my kind of "cheap thrill"...

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

By 'eck, Our Vera!



"You've heard of the Bride of Frankenstein? Well I'm the husband of Vera Duckworth." - Jack Duckworth



"You haven't heard about the time she used real toads in Toad In The Hole? And poor Jack's never been the same since she did coq au vin..." - Kevin Webster



"I don't think our Jack would like you to do that, coz 'e's a bit possessive about parts of my body. But I don't know why, coz e' hasn't touched 'em for ages."
- Vera Duckworth



"I live in a very funny area, me. I'm quite normal compared to most of them who live round our way." - Vera Duckworth

And so, farewell then, Liz Dawn, who brought the common-as-muck battleaxe Vera Duckworth to our screens. The capers and bickering of Vera and the hapless Jack were a staple of prime-time telly - as British as fish'n'chips, immediately recognisable as the type of people your mother wouldn't want you to mix with, but endearing nonetheless.

The demise of yet another of the genuinely entertaining character actors that made Coronation Street what it was - part-soap, part-black comedy, loved by millions - leaves all the more room for the current crop of writers to continue turning the show into a maudlin shadow of itself, populated by former pop singers and "reality TV" trash and crammed with overdone storylines, gratuitous nastiness and improbable melodrama, I suppose.

Corrie needs people like Vera, not people who look like they've just stepped out of a Spice Girls video.


RIP Elizabeth Dawn (born Sylvia Butterfield, MBE, 8th November 1939 – 25th September 2017)

Monday, 25 September 2017

The legs have it



Sharing, as she does, a birthday with such unlikely bedfellows as Heather Locklear, Dmitry Shostakovich, Ronnie Barker, Silvana Pampanini, Michael Douglas, Mark Rothko, Pedro Almodovar, Christopher Reeve, Fletcher Christian, William Faulkner, Will Smith, Catherine Zeta Jones, Jodie Kidd and Mark Hamill, the late, great Miss Juliet Prowse provides us with the perfect way to shake off those blues and get ourselves ready for another week of tedium...


Have a good one, dearies!

Juliet Anne Prowse (25th September 1936 – 14th September 1996)

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Give them a twist a flick of the wrist



Merely because the wonderful Paul O'Grady (under sufferance, I might add) played them on his Radio 2 show this evening, so I am reminded of the "wonder" that was Pinky and Perky - the squeaky singing pig-puppets that I remember so well from my childhood. So I just had to share...

First up, the song Mr O'Grady gritted his teeth through - their version of a traditional sing-along Music Hall standard:


...followed by something that I am not entirely convinced is the genuine article, but made me chuckle:


Facts:
  • The puppets were the creation of Czechoslovakian immigrants Jan and Vlasta Dalibor [Vlasta only died last year at the grand old age of 95], who apparently chose pigs because they are a lucky symbol in the Czech Republic.
  • Their vocals were sung by session singers such as Michael John and Mike Sammes [omnipresent backing vocalist in the 60s and 70s, whose harmonies appeared behind an eclectic range of artists including Olivia Newton-John, Ken Dodd, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones and even the Beatles; and whose Singers voiced the theme tune to Stingray and numerous advertising jingles], then speeded-up.
  • Appearing as guests on top-rated kids' classics such as Crackerjack, and in a succession of their own shows (both on the BBC and ITV), they were a massive staple of children's telly over three decades - and even appeared on a US television show alongside The Beatles and Morecambe and Wise.
  • Their double-side 1971 single Bridget the Midget/Rosetta was the very first record I ever owned [I have an excuse; I was only eight]!
  • For some bizarre reason only known to the sort of unimaginative types that commission such things, Pinky and Perky were "reimagined" in 2008 as a CGI "cartoon" series. [Why?!]

Saturday, 23 September 2017

"Do" of the day...





...belongs to the esoteric, and ultimately forever-destined-to-be-a-"fringe"-artiste, Miss Danielle Dax!



Sadly, even I (a great aficionado of the music of the post-Punk, pre-Goth, "dressing-up" 1980s) needed to be reminded of her existence. But she is rather faboo, so I'm happy with the re-discovery...

Danielle Dax (born 23rd September 1958)