Friday, 23 June 2017

Is it really magic in the air?

And so the weekend finally beckons - fingers crossed, now that our remarkable heatwave is over and cooler breezes waft over the UK, that it stays sunny!

Speaking of "sunny", it is (gulp!) the 60th birthday today of the charismatic Mr Leee [sic] John, the campest showman of the 80s "funk revival". With acres of gold lamé, and plenty of gyrating male flesh, he and his band Imagination certainly - ahem - captured the imagination in the 80s. Not least with this one...

Thank Disco It's Friday, and let's hope it isn't all Just An Illusion!

Searching for a destiny that's mine
There's another place another time
Touching many hearts along the way, yeah
Hoping that I'll never have to say
It's just an illusion, illusion, illusion

Follow your emotions anywhere
Is it really magic in the air?
Never let your feelings get you down
Open up your eyes and look around
It's just an illusion, illusion, illusion

Could it be that it's just an illusion?
Putting me back in all this confusion?
Could it be that it's just an illusion now?
Could it be that it's just an illusion?
Putting me back in all this confusion?
Could it be that it's just an illusion now?
Could it be a picture in my mind?

Never sure exactly what I'll find
Only in my dreams I turn you on
Here for just a moment then you're gone
It's just an illusion, illusion, illusion

Many happy returns, Mr Leslie McGregor John (aka Leee John, born 23rd June 1957)

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Apocrypha of St Nigel

War, Famine, Pestilence and Death have a fifth companion known as Stupidity, experts have discovered.

The find was made in an obscure passage in the Apocrypha of St Nigel, a little-known fifth-century Saint who is patron of talking loudly in pubs and deliberately driving your car into a tree.

St Nigel was martyred after falling down a manhole to the sound of a host of angelic sad trombones.

Bible expert Tom Logan, from the Institute of Studies, warned the discovery suggested the end times might be upon us.

He said: “The passage in question makes a direct reference to the ‘last trump of doom’ when Stupidity would ride forth to bring manifold miseries upon all the lands of the Earth.

“In his left hand he held a great scroll upon which were uncounted numbers of unsourced memes which reinforce thine prejudices, and when opened it rained forth a plague of fatuousness upon humanity.

“And all comments threads followed after him.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The temperature's rising, it isn't surprising

It's the longest day of the year - Midsummer Day - and the weathermen have predicted it's going to get even hotter than even the last few days (which have been scorchers). If the thermometers reach 34C, it will officially be the hottest June day in Britain since the fabled "Summer of '76"!

Here's an appropriate number, methinks, for a Heatwave...

We're having a heat wave,
A tropical heat wave,
The temperature's rising,
It isn't surprising,
She certainly can can-can.

She started a heat wave
By letting her seat wave
In such a way that
The customers say that
She certainly can can-can.

Gee, her anatomy
Makes the mercury
Jump to ninety-three.

We're having a heat wave,
A tropical heat wave,
The way that she moves
That thermometer proves
That she certainly can can-can.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Here's a house, here's a door. Windows: 1 2 3 4, ready to knock? Turn the lock – It's Play School

They're dropping like flies...

The star of Play School and Play Away [the show that launched the career of Jeremy Irons, Tony "Baldrick" Robinson and many others], the voice of Trumpton, Camberwick Green and Chigley - and yet another fondly remembered part of my childhood - Brian Cant is dead.

Proud possessor of one of the most soothing and friendly of voices in broadcasting, he, much like his contemporary and also recently departed John Noakes, was the beloved "friend" of generations of children from the 1960s to the 1980s.

So come along, children - sing along!

RIP Brian Cant (12th July 1933 – 19th June 2017)

Monday, 19 June 2017

Aaah, voglia di ballar con te!

After a weekend that involved paying tribute to one "triumph of art over nature", it is time to applaud another!

Lord knows we need some cheering up in order to drag ourselves out of the glorious sunshine into the morbidly boring confines of the office - but, on this Tacky Music Monday, who better to provide that cheer than yesterday's birthday girl Signorina Raffaella Carrà?

She's Ballo, ballo-ing her tits off!

Have a good one, peeps...

Sunday, 18 June 2017

"Frying tonight!"

We've had a bit of a hectic weekend, all told - topped off by spending five-and-a-half hours in the blazing sunshine (the hottest day of the year so far) revisiting the magnificence of Kew Gardens today...

But yesterday afternoon was spent in far different surroundings - the Phoenix Artist Club, a gloriously atmospheric (and "typically Soho") basement members' club under the Phoenix Theatre. And what would possibly draw us away from the delights of hot'n'steamy London in midsummer?

An audience with the timeless siren Miss Fenella Fielding, of course!

Now in her 90th year, Miss Fielding is one of the most captivating of "English eccentrics", and, although frail, remains utterly composed, witty and adroit. Most famous for her on-screen "posh vamp" roles in such movies as Drop Dead Darling, The Old Dark House, and, of course, her most famous role as "Valeria Watt" in Carry On Screaming, nevertheless her long, long acting career has encompassed many stage roles of a "weightier" (if wildly disparate) nature - including in plays by Ibsen, Shakespeare and Henry James, a one-woman show on the life and works of Collette, a musical version of Ronald Firbank's Valmouth, a dramatised performance of the letters between Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh, and revues written by Harold Pinter(!) and Peter Cook.

And it was for her sumptuous reading of chapters from her memoir (named after the most-quoted line from Carry On Screaming - "Do you mind if I smoke?") that we devoted our Saturday. She has all the gen" on many of the famous names of theatre and film - she turned Fellini down for a role he was chasing her for; and worked with numerous stars of her day including Ron Moody (who encouraged her early career), Kenneth Williams, Dirk Bogarde, Tony Curtis and Janette Scott. Yet, had her parents (particularly her father) had their way, she would never have got to RADA, nor landed the parts in revue that began her career. One of the anecdotes she gave us was of her experiences of running away, ending up in rather swanky yet Bohemian digs in Mayfair, and how her mother and auntie finally caught up with her (as she was in the bath!).

Other pieces she read included her time as a tutor for drama students - imparting such invaluable advice on "technique" as how to sit in a chair on stage without fumbling, performing in panto, and how to successfully do an "audience aside"; and she also treated us to some little vignettes of Fenella the naive schoolgirl, such as this one:

This was a superb event, and we loved it!

  • Miss Fielding was turned down the role of the first female "Avenger" opposite Patrick McNee, in favour of Honor Blackman.
  • In The Prisoner, hers was the voice of the Village Announcer throughout the series.
  • She was the voice of "the Blue Queen" in cult children's classic Dougal and the Blue Cat.
  • Her older brother (also still alive) is the Tory peer Lord Feldman.
Fenella has one further date in the series of readings to promote her memoir, but she has many more plans up her sleeve and shows no sign of stopping - all the news is, or will be, on her official website.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

And you wait and wait and wait

Among a slew of awards bestowed by Her Maj in her 2017 Birthday Honours - in addition to Dames Julie, June and Olivia - were several other familiar faces:
  • JK Rowling, Sir Paul McCartney, television cook Delia Smith and designer Sir Terence Conran become members of the Order of the Companion of Honour.
  • "The Big Yin" becomes Sir Billy Connolly.
  • Mezzo soprano Sarah Connolly is also made a Dame.
  • Awarded the CBE: singer Sade; illustrator Raymond Briggs (Fungus the Bogeyman); author Andy McNab.
  • Awarded the OBE: actress Patricia Hodge; broadcasters Gloria Hunniford and Natasha Kaplinsky; actress Sarah Lancashire; entertainer David Walliams.
  • Awarded the MBE: pop stars Ed Sheeran and Emeli Sande; boxer John Conteh; Radio 3 presenter Sean Rafferty.
...and the lovely Sandie Shaw is made an MBE for services to music and charity!

HM The Queen's Birthday Honours 2017