Friday, 26 May 2017

I Like It, uh-huh, uh-huh

Britain enjoyed a full minute of optimum sunshine this morning before everyone started moaning about the heat.

The moment happened when everyone was either commuting or already in work, giving nobody opportunity to actually savour it before being stuck inside for a long, sweaty day.

Marketing executive Tom Logan said: “Sunshine’s great in theory. But when it’s nippy getting into work then a slow-roasted hell by lunchtime, I have to question the point.

“It’s basically treason if you’re British and don’t spend every single available second outside when the temperature exceeds 20 degrees, but I’m sweating cobs and my sandwich tastes of suncream.

“It’ll be baking when I finish work. It’ll be stifling when I go to bed tonight. And tomorrow’s Saturday, so it’ll be raining.”

The only people able to enjoy the balmy minute were old men on their way to buy a newspaper and schoolchildren playing truant.

72-year-old Norman Steele said: “Ah, wonderful to be out here with the rays playing gently on the sun-dappled pavements.

“Oh, minute’s over. Now it’s too hot.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Some of us Brits adore the sunshine, however...

...and we also adore The Sunshine Band!

It's a Bank Holiday weekend, too - so it's goodbye to the office till Tuesday. Yay!

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

A word from our sponsor...

This happens every time I come back from Superdrug.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too

It's been a horrible couple of days, with the slaughter of innocents in Manchester, the savage return of Mediaevalism in Indonesia - and the death of my favourite James Bond too.

RIP Sir Roger Moore.

The Saint:

The Persuaders:

James Bond:

However, there is always some good news among the sadness. In Taiwan, they are celebrating the fact that their nation is the first in the whole of Asia to legalise same-sex marriage. Birthday boy (and comedy drag icon) Stanley Baxter is still with us (91 today). Chocolate is good for you, after all. The weather is gorgeous at the moment, and looks likely to stay that way through the Bank Holiday weekend. The Chelsea Flower Show has provided a beautiful diversion.

And speaking of birthdays, here's another of today's celebrants Miss Patti LaBelle, with an appropriate song of hope, written by another musical genius John Lennon:

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

We can but hope.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Monday, 22 May 2017

Aller jusqu'au bout du reve

Groan. As the glorious weather continues, so we have to head to the stuffy office for another five days of unbridled joy.

On this Tacky Music Monday, I think we should let our Patron Saint of Gallic Glamour Dalida (and her safety gays) provide a shimmering respite from all such thoughts!

Laissez-moi danser, laissez-moi
Laissez-moi danser chanter en liberte tout l'ete
Laissez-moi danser, laissez-moi
Aller jusqu'au bout du reve

Indeed. Have a good week, folks...

Sunday, 21 May 2017

From Geraniums to Genevieve

Delphiniums, foxgloves and Nicotiana mutabilis in the background - delightful!

Woken early by the upstairs neighbours, who appear to wear hobnail boots while walking around their flat (bastards!), I could not get back to sleep once I caught a glimpse of the blazing sunshine this morning.

So, I've had a helluva long, fruitful, sunny day spent entirely in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers! I moved a vast Knautia [it has only just bloomed - and although we bought it for the red border, it turns out to have pinky-mauve flowers; so now it's next to the Salvias where it won't clash].

In its place I planted out every one of our [two varieties of] red snapdragons (Antirrhinum) [dozens of the buggers; all in little pots, grown from seed] and Salvia coccina [a fairly unusual red variety - not that horrid little one so often seen as part of a municipal bedding display, incidentally - again, at least fifteen of them], Ammi majus and some of the Cleomes. I potted up some Nicotiana "Cuba", another mixed pot of fuchsias and petunias, and split up every last tray of seedlings to move the strongest on into pots. I was at it for at least eight hours! No wonder I am knackered. In between bouts of gardening, however, I did take the opportunity to just sit and "absorb" how stunning we have made it all look...

Speaking of stunning lookers [very dodgy link - again], today would have been the 90th birthday of the delightful Miss Kay Kendall (Mrs Rex Harrison), another of those ladies who lit up every screen upon which she appeared, but was taken away from us far too prematurely at just 32 (of leukaemia).

As is befitting of a day whose musical accompaniment has been most definitely of the "easy listening" variety, here she is in her crowning movie moment - shaking the audience with her jazz trumpet skills in Genevieve:

Kay Kendall (born Justine Kay Kendall McCarthy, 21st May 1927 – 6th September 1959)

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Like takin' candy from a baby

Despite thunder, torrential rain and gales I have still been pottering in the garden all day (in the greenhouse when it got really bad) - and despite everything the weather can throw at it, I have to admit our beds, pots, troughs and baskets are all looking very lovely indeed!

A particular stunner at the moment is a relatively recent acquisition - the wonderfully exotic Scilla peruviana [pictured above]. Also known as the Portuguese squill, this lovely multi-flowered fire-cracker of blue stars is actually a Mediterranean native, and is closely related to the humble bluebell and to several early Spring bulbs such as hyacinths and our fave Chionodoxa.

And speaking of "Cilla", here is the lady herself (who would have been 74 next week), with a venture into Motown territory...

"It's a lorra, lorra laughs!"

Hope tomorrow's weather is a bit better.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Il est entré dans mon coeur

Dahhlings! We are winding-down to the end of the week, and... it's the birthday today of Miss Grace Jones. All hail!

I dare not end the week with anything else, really, than her formidable take on the "Little Sparrow"'s greatest number - it's La Vie En Rose (of course)...

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Grace Jones (born 19 May 1948)

Have a good one...

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Hi ho, Quicksilver - away!

Timeslip moment again...

It's raining, it's miserable today, but our trusty TARDIS has whisked us away from all that, back to the naïvely optimistic world of 1997 - the year of Geri Halliwell's Union Jack dress, "Cool Britannia", Tony Blair, Dolly the Sheep, the Teletubbies, Comet Hale–Bopp and (sadly) the death of Princess Diana.

In the news in May twenty years ago: the Labour Party won a massive landslide in the General Election, ousting John Major and many of his cabinet colleagues and hoisting Tony Blair (Britain's youngest Prime Minister since 1812) to power; the Russian–Chechen Peace Treaty was signed; the Bank of England became independently responsible for UK monetary policy; in the ascendant were Katrina and the Waves (who won that year's Eurovision Song Contest with Love Shine a Light, which received a record-breaking 78.82% of the votes), Mohammad Khatami (elected Iran's first ever "Reformist" president) and IBM's Deep Blue computer (which defeated World chess champion Garry Kasparov), but there were military coups in Zaire and Sierra Leone; and we bade a fond farewell to Laurie Lee, author of Cider With Rosie. In our cinemas: Donnie Brasco, Anaconda and Liar Liar. On telly: Stars in Their Eyes, Jonathan Creek and the 2000th edition of Channel 4's weekday evening quiz show Countdown.

And in our charts this week in 1997? Leading the pack was the utterly sublime Olive and You're Not Alone [one of my favourite songs ever]. They were accompanied in the upper echelons by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli, (the aforementioned) Katrina and the Waves, No Mercy, the faboo Cardigans [with Lovefool, another fave!], Damage, R Kelly, Shola Ama and Toni Braxton.

But holding on in there was this choon - a true dance classic that I really cannot believe is two decades old - DJ Quicksilver and Bellissima!

My, how we danced to that one...

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Freedom cannot be denied

To mark this year's International Day Against Homophobia (and Transphobia and "Biphobia"), I thought I would share with you the ever-incisive thoughts of our Patron Saint of Human Rights, Mr Peter Tatchell:

Queer freedom is an unstoppable global trend

The last few years have witnessed an unnerving backlash against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in nearly 20 countries, including Russia, Morocco, Uganda, Iraq, Brunei, Syria, Nigeria and The Gambia.

This escalating repression has included more vigorous enforcement of long-standing laws criminalising same-sex relations; resulting in highly publicised arrests in countries such as Tunisia, Cameroon, India, Egypt and Senegal.

Prohibitions on same-sex relations

Seventy-three countries still have a total prohibition on same-sex relations. Half of them are members of the Commonwealth. Their homophobic laws were imposed by Britain in the nineteenth century, during the era of colonialism, and retained after independence.

The penalties for homosexuality include 25 years jail in Trinidad and Tobago and 20 years plus flogging in Malaysia. Several Commonwealth countries stipulate life imprisonment: India, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Pakistan, Uganda, Bangladesh and Guyana.

There have also been new laws enacted in some countries, most excessively in Nigeria, which has outlawed LGBTI organisations, fundraising and public advocacy – and even banned gay-focused HIV prevention and LGBT-themed books and movies.

Lesser repression involves restrictions on media coverage of LGBTI issues and on the foreign funding of LGBTI groups, as happens in Uganda.

In these backlash countries, LGBTI people are increasingly demonised and scapegoated by demagogic politicians and fundamentalist clerics as a cheap way to win popular support.

At the start of 2016, a spokesperson for Malawi’s opposition party, Ken Msonda, sought to bolster his profile and win bigoted votes: “Arresting them (LGBTIs) won’t address this problem because sooner or later they are being released on bail. The best way to deal with this problem is to kill them!”

Anglican churches in Nigeria and Uganda have contributed to the witch-hunting atmosphere; supporting draconian new anti-gay laws.

Distracting from economic failings and corruption

To the delight of many governments, having an “enemy within” has conveniently distracted public attention from economic failings and corruption.

Hate rhetoric is fuelling homophobic mob violence – sometimes perpetrated by right-wing death squads – especially in Honduras, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and El Salvador. Over 200 Honduran LGBTI activists have been assassinated since 2008.

A disproportionately high number of victims of anti-LGBTI violence are transgender people. The Trans Murder Monitoring project reports that over 1,300 trans and gender-diverse women and men were murdered in Latin America from 2008 to 2014.

In recent years, the Indian and Singaporean courts have upheld the criminalisation of same-sex relations, and Burundi and Chad have outlawed homosexuality for the first time in their history.

Islamic State in Syria is targeting LGBTIs for execution, mostly by throwing them off tall buildings. In neighbouring Iraq, Shia militias are also waging a terror campaign against LGBTI people.

Despite this bleak picture, in the overwhelming majority of the world’s 193 countries, the trend is towards ever greater LGBTI acceptance and equality.

Greater LGBTI legal protections

In recent years, we’ve seen the decriminalisation of gay sex in Belize, Palau, São Tomé and Príncipe, Northern Cyprus, Mozambique, Nauru and the Seychelles.

There are legal challenges to the ban on same-sex relations in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

A Ugandan court annulled the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Act, albeit on a technicality. The new Bill to replace it has never been legislated.

Vietnam lifted the ban on same-sex marriage in 2015, as a prelude to its expected eventual legalisation.

The Botswana courts have for the first time recognised the right of an LGBTI organisation to be registered and the Indian Supreme Court has upheld the rights of the trans community.

Helem, Lebanon’s LGBTI group, has operated for over a decade; hosting the first LGBTI centre in the Arab world. Taiwan has elected its first woman president, a supporter of same-sex marriage, in a country where marriage equality now has more than two-thirds public support.

The first openly lesbian cabinet Minister has taken office in South Africa, while two men who were prosecuted for being gay in Zambia were acquitted at their trial.

Both the United Nations Human Rights Council and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights passed resolutions in 2014 calling on governments to protect their LGBTI communities against discrimination and hate crime.

What the global public thinks

Research by the Williams Institute has found rising global acceptance of same-sex relations, including in many developing countries:

“Latin American acceptance of homosexuality ranges from a high of 34% in Uruguay to a low of 2% in Ecuador. On legal recognition for marriages for same-sex couples, Uruguay has the highest level of support at 57% while Guatemala has the lowest level of support at 12%. In Africa, acceptance of homosexuality ranges from a high of 38% in South Africa to a low of 2% in Ghana.”

These figures of support are still too low but nonetheless a big improvement on a decade ago.

In this context of majority progress, backlash is a minority blip in the overall worldwide trajectory towards LGBTI equality. It is a reaction to the positive gains won by brave, determined LGBTI human rights defenders, many of whom risk their liberty and lives. If we were not winning there’d be no backlash. Backlash is a dreadful but backhanded compliment.

LGBTI freedom has been long delayed but it cannot be denied.
There is, of course, a shorter message to anyone who dares to decry, discriminate, agitate or threaten violence against us. As is traditional on this day, we leave it to Lily Allen (and the GayClic Collab Against Homophobia) to say it.

Fuck You!:


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Romance at the airport - with frills!

Ooh. Lovely.

We need something calming after a mad weekend followed by a stressful Monday...

Courtesy of those geniuses over at Soft Tempo Lounge, how about we take another trip with some amazingly cool people jet-setting all over the world, with all the latest mod-cons and classy decor?

And, of course, some suitably odd music:

Music: Supersoundic by Henrik Nielsen (aka Ole Georg)

Oh, that's better...

Monday, 15 May 2017

Monday Lust

I'm not ready for this. After a mega-partying weekend, the new week has come around too soon...

Trust today's birthday girl the marvellous Lainie Kazan to cheer us up on this Tacky Music Monday!

And what better than her campest-of-camp role as "Marguerita", attempting to seduce Tab Hunter in Lust in the Dust? Here's that film's most memorable number, South of My Border:

Lainie Kazan (born 15th May 1940)

Sunday, 14 May 2017

We wuz robbed, again - #737 in a series

You could probably have heard the cheering, shouting and jeering emanating from Dolores Delargo Towers last night several miles away. We had a grand old time! I have once again been hoovering up wig hair, marabou and glitter all day.

But it was a joy, as always, to play host to our celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest, an annual event that has been in our collective consciousness [except perhaps Joe, who's American, and Houseboy Alex, who was - sadly - born in 1981; bastard] since the "glory days" of the 1970s. Our gathering included a Swedish Hildegarde, a Romanian Mamluk, a Polish builder, a Portuguese Lavradeira dancer, a be-masked Belgianite, the embodiments of the Dutch, Hungarian and Spanish flags, Aphrodite from Greece, an Italian guardiamarina and a French "Johnny Onions". And I found myself the perfect outfit for a 70s compère...

The UK may not have got anywhere near "sniffing distance" of winning the contest - and, truth be told, no-one really thought (given the inevitable way that "political voting" works every year at Eurovision) that we really would. Pleasingly, we did get the highest number of points we've had since 2011, including douze points from the Australian jury, ten points from Slovenia and eight from Albania. However, once phone votes were counted, we slipped way down the list in favour of all the Eastern European nations. Again.

It was a particularly mixed contest this year, though. The usual gamut of overdone power-balladry (both from the parade of fairly similar long-white-dress-clad females and from the plucked-eyebrow-boy-soloists, of which there were quite a few; several too many for our liking) and gimmicks (oh look! a fat pseudo-opera singer duetting with himself! yodelling! a dancing gorilla! a rising podium! some computer graphics! Yawn) was balanced by what (to me, anyway) seemed to be a number of more relatively decent songs than usual...

With one of those very numbers, this year's Eurovision also gave some hope to the "perennial losers", plucky little Portugal - whose entrant Salvador Sobral won it; the country's first ever winner in the entire fifty-three-years they have participated in the Eurovision Song Contest! The song itself was an unusual choice, a (rather uncomfortably slow) ballad that sounds like something that might have been popular in the pre-rock'n'roll era - Amar Pelos Dois. His vocal performance [here duetting with his sister - who wrote it - after winning], however, is quite likely what swung it...

And before you ask, here's the dancing gorilla, courtesy of "the bookies' fave", Italy's Francesco Gabbani and Occidentali's Karma [which only managed sixth place in the final count]:

...and, for your delectation, the amusing half-time spoof Rocky-style "boot camp" for this year's (crap) Ukrainian hosts, with last year's (brilliant) Måns Zelmerlöw:

All our gang had the usual scoresheets [thank you, John-John!], and thus armed we were determined to make our own feelings on the matter known. After our scores were rounded up, Senhor Sobral came only seventh in the Dolores Delargo Towers popular vote. Our Top Five (in ascending order) was as follows:

#5 - The rather accomplished harmonies of Dutch sisters OG3NE, with Lights and Shadows [which finished at #11 in the actual contest]:

#4 - The ruggedly cute Cypriot Hovig [who is apparently a former busker in Trafalgar Square, so, we surmised, probably has family in our own Cyprus-Turkish-dominated locality of Harringay] with the very catchy Gravity [#21 on the night]:

#3 - The rather natty footwork'n'sax combo of Moldova's Sunstroke Project with Hey Mamma [also #3 in the "real" votes]:

#2 - Speaking of natty footwork, the very sexy Robin Bengtsson (representing Sweden), with his bulging trousers and his safety gays and all, who really should have won with the remarkable I Can't Go On [only #5 according to the final votes]:

...and our Number 1 scoring song was (inevitably - but she really was impressive!) the UK's very own Lucie Jones and Never Give Up On You [voted #15 in the final; not too bad, all things considered]:

Hers was definitely the best female vocal performance in the whole show. [And she's Welsh!] What a voice...

What a night!

Same time, next year..?

Eurovision Song Contest official site

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Thought for the Day

RIP, Terry

We've cleaned the place from top to bottom, now all we need to do is the buffet and await our guests...

It's "Gay World Cup" day!!!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Hu ha, hu ha

It's been a long time coming, but... the weekend is in sight, peeps!

I will be knocking-off work early today in order to "weave some magic" over Dolores Delargo Towers in preparation for tomorrow's "Gay World Cup", the Eurovision Song Contest. We're expecting a house-full of bizarrely-clad friends and family. And booing and shouting. And exotic foodstuffs. And booze-a-plenty! Of course.

As is our wont, to get us though one final working day we require something glittery and boppy to get us in a suitable mood for a party - and here's something that fits the bill perfectly...

Evidently attempting to channel the "spirit of Boney M" back in 1979, here's the German entrant for that year's Eurovision - the utterly outlandish Dschinghis Khan!

Thank - erm - Disco(?) It's Friday!

I do hope at least one of our chums turns up tomorrow dressed like this.


Thursday, 11 May 2017

Back to the Future?

Labour's manifesto promises to reverse decades of free-market mismanagement and return Tom Baker to his rightful position as Doctor Who.

The leaked manifesto claims the ‘Thatcherite’ Peter Davison era was a ‘betrayal of the working classes’, and that it, and all subsequent incarnations, would be declared invalid.

Jeremy Corbyn said: “There has only ever been one, true Doctor Who and we all know it.

“We will restore that Doctor, his jelly babies and his scarf, in adventures of four half-hour episodes where a man-in-a-suit monster is revealed only at the very end of the first.

“There will be regular battles with the Daleks and none of this modern focus on the ramifications of time travel.”

43-year-old Nathan Muir said: “I’ve been a free-market Tory all my voting life, but God help me, the man’s right.

“If he pledges to bring the cute Romana back as well it’s going to be a landslide.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Trance no more

Sad and rather unexpected news - the 90s DJ Robert Miles has died, aged just 47.

His greatest hit was a "Trance" tune that permeated the "Decade of Dance" - and once it gets under your skin, you can hear little else; a proper "earworm". I love it!

It is, of course, Children:

Robert Miles (born Roberto Concina, 3rd November 1969 - 10th May 2017)

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Lost Divas, #789 in a series...

"Sex comes from within, but a revealing gown can help for TV. With records, the sex has to be in your voice."

There is very little in life that appeals more to us here at Dolores Delargo Towers than the discovery of a new diva! Mademoiselle Dannielle Darrieux - whose singing talents we celebrated on May Day - was one such recent joy. Now, here's another.

On discovering today that this would have been the birthday of one Connie Russell [a name unfamiliar to moi], I of course felt obliged to investigate further. And I am so glad I did...

Here are just two of the lady's fabulously camp musical numbers, for your delectation - beginning with the extraordinary One Arabian Night:

...and here she sings one of our anthems - it's I Want A Boy!

Simply marvellous.

  • Miss Russell was born into showbiz - her parents Tommy and Nina were a vaudeville team; her grandparents were also entertainers, performing as Glenroy and Russell.
  • "Discovered" performing in cabaret clubs, she landed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer at the tender age of sixteen.
  • Despite featuring in seven movies, it was her singing career that endured; she appeared on numerous radio and television shows throughout the 40s, 50s and 60s including those hosted by Milton Berle and Eddie Cantor.
  • One of her most popular stage roles was in 1951's South Pacific as "Nellie Forbush", but her hopes for the subsequent film role went down the tubes when the role went to Mitzi Gaynor.

Connie Russell (9th May 1923 - 18th December 1990)

Monday, 8 May 2017

Hurry now and don't be late 'cause we ain't got time to chat

Bleurrrgh. Monday again.

However will we get through this? With the help of a birthday girl, of course!

Sharing her birthday today with a disparate host of famous names including Sid James, Ricky Nelson, David Attenborough, Ezio Pinza, historian Edward Gibbon, Enrique Iglesias, Sonny Liston, Philip Bailey, Melissa Gilbert, Phyllida Law, "H" from Steps, Dame Felicity Lott and Tom of Finland, we bid many happy returns today to a most appropriate artist indeed for a Tacky Music Monday - Miss Toni Tennille!

Shimmering, glittering, as we all do on our way to work - here's her rather OTT take on that classic "Philly Soul" number Rubberband Man...

Hand me down my walkin' cane, hand me down my hat
Hurry now and don't be late 'cause we ain't got time to chat
You and me, we're goin' out to catch the latest sounds
Guaranteed to blow your mind so high, you won't come down, no

Hey, you all prepare yourself for the Rubberband Man
You've never heard a sound like the Rubberband Man
You're bound to lose control when the Rubberband starts to jam

Don't dance too hard.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Sunshine, Skruvsta, swing and a Salsa queen

Our fabulous cerise pelargonium against a blue Harringay sky

It might have been a full day in the sunny gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers, had it not been for the fact that our desk chair collapsed and broke last night, so (gulp!) we had to make a trip to The Seventh Gate of Hell IKEA to replace it (with a chair called Skruvsta, of all lovely names). However, on our return, the weather was still beautiful and we made the most of it; refreshing the trellis-box with a coat of stain, and pottering-a-plenty - several more planters are filled and ready to put into their permanent home.

...and all to a backdrop of easy listening, vocal and big band choons - including this one! Here's the marvellous Dutch Swing College Band and At the Jazzband Ball:

Footnote: If this tune seems somewhat familiar, it was heavily sampled by one of our house faves Miss Gloria Estefan in her faboo Hotel Nacional - as featured here back in 2012...

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Les Jardins de - erm - Enfield

Our "Head Gardener" here at Dolores Delargo Towers. We wish.

Another weekend, another shopping trip to the vast horticultural wonderland that is The Gardening Club in Crews Hill, Enfield in North London - this time in the company of our Essex chums Baby Steve and Houseboy Alex...

Once again, we came back with a shedload of lovely ornamentals to adorn our crevices, and next-to-nothing spent!

How about some - ahem - appropriate music to suit the floral mood?

Crews Hill and Monaco may be a million miles apart, but with one week left to go before the kitsch extravaganza that is the Eurovision Song Contest - and, of course the "cultural highlight" of the season here at the Towers: our Eurovision party! - what better than a pair of wooden Monégasque performers, singing some twiddly-dee number about their jardin?

Très ringard!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Full-frontal attack

It may only have been a short post-Bank Holiday week in work, but heavens - has it dragged?!

Never mind, another weekend (and, after the drizzly and grey spell of the last few days - fingers crossed - a sunny one) is looming! Let's grab our very best chiffon, satin and lurex outfits, spray our hair into submission - and boogie on with one of the classic dancefloor-fillers from the Studio 54 era...

Here's Ferrara [whoooo?] and Love Attack - Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a good one.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Never noticeably reticent

Quite the totty when he was young; not so much now...

So His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich, Royal Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Member of the Order of Merit, Grand Master and First and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Knight of the Order of Australia, Additional Member of the Order of New Zealand, Extra Companion of the Queen's Service Order, Royal Chief of the Order of Logohu, Extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada, Extraordinary Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Canadian Forces Decoration, Lord of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, Member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Personal Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom - or, as we prefer to call him, "Phil the Greek" - has finally decided to announce his retirement at the venerable age of 95!

We should reflect on some of his more - ahem - famous quotes:
"Constitutionally I don't exist."

"We don't come to Canada for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves."

"When a man opens a car door for his wife, it's either a new car or a new wife."

"Books are certainly old fashioned, but only people with a very limited perception are silly enough to condemn ideas because of their age. It is, of course, equally silly to condemn the new-fangled simply because it is strange, and I am full of admiration for the technologists who have developed all sorts of gadgets for the purpose of improving communications. However, I believe that all these fascinating machines are complementary to, and not substitutes for, books and the printed word."

“I’d like to go to Russia very much – although the bastards murdered half my family.”

"If that man had succeeded in abducting Anne, she would have given him a hell of a time while in captivity."

"It is an old cliche to say that the future is in the hands of the young."

"The man who invented the red carpet needed his head examined."

"I have never been noticeably reticent about talking on subjects about which I know nothing."

"I declare this thing open, whatever it is."
And, as a well-wisher recently said “I’m sorry to hear you’re standing down,” Philip shot back: “Well I can’t stand up much longer."

By way of a tribute to the longest-serving Royal Consort this country has ever had, we should all purchase a copy of this little-known compilation album by Phil and the Royals, and put him back at the top of the charts where he belongs!

Prince Philip's announcement on the BBC

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Caption competition, anyone?

Rosa Naynon, vaudeville performer, from the J. Willis Sayre Collection of Theatrical Photographs

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Too bad, too bad

Grrrrr. Getting ready to head to the stuffy office - where colleagues routinely close all the windows (even in summer, some women feel the cold it seems) and close all the blinds (it shines on the computer screens, apparently; "sit away from the bloody windows!", say I) - and (unlike yesterday when it pissed down all day, preventing me from getting in the garden) it is glorious sunshine, and everything is looking lovely...

I can only hope to be home in time to catch some of it.

Hey ho, it is the (other, after Tom Jones) King of the power-ballad-and-tight-trousers-combo Engelbert Humperdinck's birthday today. So here he is, many years ago when he was still ruggedly handsome, with an appropriate number - Dommage, Dommage. Which is in English Too bad, too bad...

Many happy returns, Mr Humperdinck! (Engelbert Humperdinck, born Arnold George Dorsey, 2nd May 1936)

Monday, 1 May 2017

La centenaire merveilleux

Another day, another centenary to celebrate - and this time, by happy circumstance, the lady is still with us...

Mademoiselle Danielle Darrieux (for it is she) is one of France's most celebrated film stars and, unlike many of her compatriots, made the "crossover" to Hollywood on several occasions in her eight-decade career, starring alongside such luminaries as Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Jane Powell, James Mason, Charles Boyer, Kenneth More, Richard Burton and Claire Bloom. She made her screen debut in 1931, and her most recent role was in 2010... A real trouper!

And she sang, too.

So, by way of a tribute on this May Day Tacky Music Monday, we have not one, not two, but three of Mademoiselle Darrieux's memorable musical moments, starting with the quirky Une composition:

Proving she was "down with the kids", here she performs that Jazz classic Le temps du Muguet [which was originally a Russian popular tune, adapted into French by Francis Lemarque and later made famous by Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen as Midnight in Moscow]...

...and here she is, accompanied by some rather bored-looking Regency-clad safety gays [I do love a man in britches!], with Pénélope [which looks as if it should be a Scopitone, but isn't]:

Bon anniversaire, Danielle Yvonne Marie Antoinette Darrieux (born 1st May 1917)

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Sleep, perchance to dream

The amazing Nicotiana mutabils is sprawling six feet across the front garden and shows no sign of stopping!

Despite the cloudy greyness that dominated the day, I spent a lovely warm Sunday pottering in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers. Until it started raining, I busied myself basically clearing off some of the vestiges of Spring. The Brompton Stocks that have been scenting the air for months are gone or are soon to go (to be replaced by dahlias, Ammi majus and cleomes), pots of primulas that brightened up the front of the house on wintry days have been split up and the least faded re-potted for a last-gasp bit of jolliness on the windowsills, and I planted up the first of the summer displays - including, yes, some fuchsias - in various pots and troughs. Whew!

[And it's a Bank Holiday tomorrow, so I anticipate more of the same...]

Throughout the day, I was accompanied by a selection of "space age pop and incredibly strange music", courtesy of the faboo Retro Cocktail Hour and our own extensive lounge music collection - including this one. With a rather swishy accompanying video of some "interpretive dance" performers, here's Eartha Kitt's accompanist-of-choice Monsieur Henri René and his Orchestra with Sleep Walk:

Sunday music at its most soothing...

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Guess what? I'm still hot

Putting Betty White's "randy granny" persona into the shade (our Patron Saint of innuendo is a mere 95 years old, after all), the UK has not one but two 105-year-olds getting their rocks off - courtesy of some firemen!

Ivena Smailes, known locally as ‘Aunty Ivy’, had only one wish for her 105th birthday last August - a sexy "fireman with tattoos" to deliver her cake. Ivena had her wish fulfilled when a burly fireman from the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service climbed through her third floor window and delivered her Victoria sponge cake:

...and not to be outdone, Newport-born Mary Hayes had her cake-and-hunk-combo today, courtesy of Avon Fire Service!

There is hope for us all yet...

Friday, 28 April 2017

French Friday

Blessed relief! The weekend is looming... It's another special one too - as Monday is the May Day bank holiday, so we have three days off. Yay!

Today, it is to our Gallic chums across the water to whom we turn for a stylish way to start the party - here's the mononymous one-hit-wonder Jennifer [nope; no idea]. Ooh la la - and Merci disco c'est Vendredi!

Well, that's today's "earworm" sorted...

Have a good weekend, mes cheries!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Stuff of nightmares

The Archbishop of Canterbury is to exorcise the unquiet spirit of Tony Blair that is haunting the election, he has announced.

The apparition of the former prime minister continues to appear across the media and even in voters’ homes, exhorting them to return to the centre-right so he may rest.

Archbishop Justin Welby said: “We have been troubled by this spectre for long enough.

“He demands we rediscover his legendary ‘Third Way’ so he can depart this plane forever, but frankly none of us really knew what that was in the first place and it’s too much trouble so we’re doing an exorcism.

“Once we’ve lit the candles and said the Latin his wraith will be torn from our world into oblivion, with only a final cry of ‘I won’t apologise for deposing Saddammmmm’ left echoing in our ears.

“Hopefully it’ll be a lesson to other ex-PMs to shut up and stay dead.”

Gordon Brown said: “After I lost the election, I went straight to Hades and have remained here.

“Well, Fife, but same thing.”
The Daily Mash

Of course.

The "real" story

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Spot the difference...'s around £1,364.60!

From today's Guardian:
Remember the last time you lugged a bag of stuff around Ikea? Remember how your back strained; how the scratchy handles tore at the skin on your palms and turned your fingers blue? Well here’s some interesting news from the world of fashion: that, right there, was you living your best, most aspirational life. That was your big style moment.

Because Ikea shopping bags are where it’s at in fashion in 2017. The hottest name to drop right now is not Kate or Naomi; it is Frakta.

Balenciaga – the most influential label in fashion at the moment – has released a $2,150 (£1,365) tote that looks uncannily like an Ikea shopper. With its trapezoidal shape, giant size, and colour – a vibrant shade of EU-flag blue – the similarities are impossible to ignore. The double strap feature, with one long set of handles to hoist over the shoulder, one short to be held in the hand, cinches it. The internet has exploded, of course, and Ikea has reacted cannily, issuing a handy guide to spotting a real Frakta shopping bag.

I can't imagine many Balenciaga blue bags flying off its shelves at the moment...

And then, this.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

This room is full of memories, and shadows of the past remind me

It's a very apposite timeslip moment again...

We've been kidnapped by the She-Wolves of the Wasteland and transported back to the wilds of 1988 - the year of Section 28; of the "Free Nelson Mandela" concert; of the Piper Alpha and Lockerbie disasters; of perestroika, when the cracks really began to show across the Soviet Bloc; of Bush vs Dukakis; and the year that Adele, Al-Qaeda and Internet Chat were born (and look how - ahem - far we have come since).

In the news in April twenty-nine years ago: plans were revealed for a huge development involving Britain's biggest commercial tower block at Canary Wharf in East London; Soviet forces committed to withdraw from Afghanistan; Kuwait Airways Flight 422 was hijacked, leading to a sixteen-day international stand-off; Nazi war criminal "Ivan the Terrible" (Ivan Demjanjuk) was sentenced to death in Israel; and in the ascendant were Sonny Bono (elected mayor of Palm Springs, California), Slime Dion (who won the Eurovision Song Contest for Switzerland) and The Last Emperor (which won nine Oscars), but we bade a sad farewell to that camp comedy legend Kenneth Williams. In our cinemas were Wall Street, Flowers in the Attic and 3 Men and a Baby. On telly: the controversial documentary Death on the Rock, Ben Elton's Friday Night Live and the last-ever episode of (the original series of) Crossroads.

And in our charts this week in 1988? S-Express had barn-stormed their way to Number 1, knocking Pet Shop Boys' Heart from its perch, closely followed by Hazell Dean, Danny Wilson (who???), Natalie Cole, Climie Fisher, George Michael, Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac.

However, also present... in this week when our favourite pop-tastic girl band Bananarama announced their comeback as the original threesome, we re-visit their Top Ten hit from the charts all those years ago. How appropriate that it is I Want You Back [the girls' first hit after the departure of Siobhan]!

The room has suddenly grown cold
And outside in the street it's raining
You packed your bags and said good-bye
You took my heart without explaining.
How could you go?
How could you go?

We had a love most people never know.
Before you break my heart!

I want you back
Don't care what I have to do
I want you back

I want you back
Gotta get it through to you
I want you back

If I can make you see only you can fill the need in me
If you walk away you'll regret it someday

This room is full of memories
And shadows of the past remind me
Of all the love I gave in vain
And all the hurt I feel inside me.
I want you back
I want you back

We had a love most people never know.
Before you break my heart!

I want you back
Don't care what I have to do
I want you back

I want you back
Gotta get it through to you
I want you back

We had a love most people never know
Before you break my heart!


Bananarama on Wikipedia

Monday, 24 April 2017

An "Old Time Music Hall Prom"?

The 2017 season of the BBC Proms has been announced!

It is far too early, of course, to get any idea who may be appearing on stage at our much-anticipated end-of Season highlight, the closing night gala Proms in the Park on 9th September, but - as ever - there appears to be a wide-ranging and eclectic mix of stuff so far announced: from Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim and Lisa Batiashvili, to Jools Holland, John Wilson and Jarvis Cocker. Highlights include:
  • The 'Godlike Genius' of Scott Walker - Conductor and arranger Jules Buckley returns for two Proms: a Late Night with the Heritage Orchestra, exploring the music of 1960s icon Scott Walker; and a concert with the Metropole Orkest, featuring the music of jazz giant Charles Mingus.
  • In their Late Night Prom, Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stax/Volt Revue and pay tribute to this pioneering label that championed the funk, gospel and rhythm and blues movements.
  • Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves and virtuoso trumpeter James Morrison join the BBC Concert Orchestra under John Mauceri for a double tribute to Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie in the centenary year of their births.
  • Proms favourite John Wilson returns with his orchestra for the first European performance of the recently re-constructed stage orchestration of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
  • A tribute to Proms conductor Malcolm Sargent to mark the 50th anniversary of his death, with a recreation of his 500th Proms concert and a Last Night tribute.
  • Marking the 450th anniversary of the birth of Monteverdi, French period-instrument ensemble Pygmalion and director Raphaël Pichon present Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 and I Fagiolini under director Robert Hollingworth dedicate the first of this year’s Monday-lunchtime Proms at Cadogan Hall to the composer.
  • All four of Rachmaninov’s piano concertos performed across the season and a day dedicated to his music with the Latvian Radio Choir and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Thomas Dausgaard.
All this, and the Proms will (in addition to its regular and "not-so-regular" outreach performances at Cadogan Hall, Imperial College London, Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park(!), Southwark Cathedral and Tate Modern; as well as a visit to Hull, the UK City of Culture 2017) for the first time make an appearance at one of our fave venues in the whole world Wilton's Music Hall!

Here's the launch video:

Tickets for the Proms go on general sale at 9am on Saturday 13th May.

BBC Proms calendar 2017 [Friday 14th July to Saturday 9th September 2017]

It's been said she knocks 'em dead when she lands in town

Oh, nooooooooooo!

After an absolutely lovely sunny week off, spent almost entirely in the garden, it's time to wake up to reality again. It's back to work time...

Let's leave it to today's birthday girl, our Patron Saint of high-kicks Miss Shirley MacLaine to give her best shot on this Tacky Music Monday at cheering the situation up - with a jazzy, all-action dance version of Sweet Georgia Brown!

Have a good week, peeps. Think of me.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Saint George and Shakira

"Is that a cricket bat, or are you just pleased to see me?" The Boy With a Bat by Walter Hawkesworth Fawkes

On this, the feast of Saint George - patron saint of England (and of Portugal, Bulgaria, Malta, Georgia and - um - Lebanon) - what could be more English than to have a load of Oxford college boys camping it up on acapella versions of popular diva tunes?

Here's a double-bill of such cavorting, courtesy of the faboo Out of the Blue, starting with Lady Marmalade:

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?, indeed!

And, of course, here's their classic - Shakira's Hips Don't Lie:

Comprising students from Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University, Out of the Blue has performed on the West End and on Broadway, reached the semifinals of Britain's Got Talent, and toured around the world to places including Switzerland, Canada, India, Hong Kong, and Japan. Their principal aim is fundraising, and donate their annual profits to Helen & Douglas House Hospice for Children and Young Adults.

Out of the Blue

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Some handicrafts for the weekend

[Courtesy of the weird and wonderful Liartown USA]

Friday, 21 April 2017

She's a Disco Queen!

The end of another week beckons - and, despite not having been to the office I feel as though I have done more than a usual full week's work! Gardening is fun, but there's no slacking, that's for certain...

Anyway, a weekend is a weekend is a weekend - and today it also happens to be the 91st birthday of our own glittering Majesty, HM The Queen. So let's "queen" it up in the most (in)appropriate manner with some bizarre dance nonsense from someone or something called ISHI... and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Remarkable. I love it! I hope Her Maj did, too...