Monday, 28 December 2009

Grave Shades

These Epitaphs are from one of my favourite poetry books of all time Verse and Worse by Arnold Silcock. I was given my copy as a teenager and read it so much it fell apart. I have a new copy now. Well, it was from a second hand book shop. But you know what I mean. All genuine and all by Anon.

Epitaph on a Dyer: At Lincoln

Here lies John Hyde;
He first liv’d, and then he died;
He dyed to live, and liv’d to dye,
And hopes to live eternally.

John Bun

Here lies John Bun
He was killed by a gun,
His name was not Bun, but Wood,
But Wood would not rhyme with Gun,
But Bun would.

The Artful Dodger

Here lies Bill Dodge
Who dodged all good
And dodged a deal of evil
But after dodging all he could
He could not dodge the Devil.

Passport to Paradise

He passed the bobby without any fuss,
And he passed the cart of hay,
He tried to pass a swerving bus,
And then he passed away.

aNOtHEr dIp INtO ThE midGEpoT mEMOrY pOOoL.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas Bob Dylan style

Only one man would dare to do this....

The unbelievable Bob Dylan who still has that wonderful 'Don't give a damn' attitude.

My favourite Christmas song this year.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Sunday, 20 December 2009

'The Bard of Liverpool' - an appreciation by Roger Stevens

Roger McGough is my favourite poet. There. I've said it. I have lots of favourite poets but he is my favouritist. Ever since I discovered him way back in the Summer of Love I've followed his career, laughed, cried, sighed and had my flabber ghasted at just how clever his poetry is. For me the best poetry must be easy to read but at the same time have something else – it must be clever or have some kind of emotional punch. And this is exactly what his poetry is all about. It’s also great fun.
In the mid 60s, in Liverpool, Roger McGough formed Scaffold along with Mike McGear - Paul McCartney’s brother, and John Gorman (the masked poet – if my memory serves me right). They played at the Edinburgh Festival and were given a recording contract by Parlophone in 1966. They had several minor chart hits but reached number one in the UK with Lily the Pink. Around that time he also wrote some of the dialogue (uncredited) for the Beatles’ animated film Yellow Submarine (one of my all-time favourite films).
I discovered him when, along with Liverpool poets Brian Patten and Adrian Henri, his poems appeared in The Penguin Modern Poets, a series of slim volumes published through the 60s highlighting the best of contemporary poetry. Each issue had three compatible poets and this edition, The Mersey Sound, was the only one to be given its own name. It went on to sell over half a million copies. An amazing achievement for a book of poems.
Now he is probably the best known poet around. Many people thought he should have been the new poet laureate. He writes great books for children, writes plays, pops up on TV, and hosts BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Please. He still performs around the country and he is great to see live. If he ever appears in your area I suggest you buy tickets and go.
What more can I say? I’m not allowed to post his poems here or I’d follow this with twenty or thirty of my favourites. For example A Potato Clock (a wonderful poem for children) and the eponymous The Way Things Are.
For more info, and to read one of his poems, check out this link


Friday, 18 December 2009

Max Wall

Another "one off" british comedian and eccentric dancer who was always a treat to see back in the early days of television. A real throw back to the days of music hall and variety.

Wikipedia says-

"Wall was a son of the successful music-hall entertainer Jack (Jock) Lorimer, a Scottish comedy actor, known for his songs and dancing, and his wife Stella (born Maud Clara Mitchison). He was born near The Oval, at 37 Glenshaw Mansions, Brixton Road, Brixton, London SW9. In 1916, during a First World War air raid, Max and his older brother Alex, were saved from death by a cast iron bed frame, but his younger brother Bunty and their Aunt Betty, who was looking after them, were killed by a bomb dropped from a German Zeppelin which also destroyed their house.

Max and Alex went to live with their father and his family, whilst their mother went to live with Harry Wallace, who she had met on tour. When their father died of consumption in 1920, aged 37, their mother married Harry Wallace, and they all moved to a pub in Essex."

These are for Richard who was looking for some Max Wall and it reminded me of another comedy genius who is greatly missed.


Todays word as discovered by one of Hazel's chums on the Mary Gregg blog. Yorkshire slang for - odds and ends of little value - the contents of a little boys pockets.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Frank Sidebottom

I thought I had uploaded this here already but it seems I haven't . An oversight on my part as Frank Sidebottom is a oddity that needs more airing. Here we have-

Side one of Frank's 10" LP "Medium Play" on the In Tape label. 1990.

Some great versions of old rockers done in that strange northern nasal whine of his. It makes me laugh every time! The perfect anti-dote to Shirley Bassey and Nancy Sinatra!

Find out more about Frank HERE.

Shirley Bassey

As any members of the punk generation will tell you, even aging reptiles like meself, we are not meant to like people such as Dame Shirley, in fact we are supposed to spit vitriol and abuse at such highly vaunted middle of the road vamps but...I am useless at spitting and have no idea where to get vitriol from.

I have liked the woman ever since she walked into the joint looking like a girl of distinction, a class act without suspenders but oozing sex appeal with a voice that roared with a clarity and passion that only someone from Wales could muster. And she sure had/has a nice set of lungs on her. Her songs for the Bond movies are the pinnacle of that franchise themes

Her latest album, with songs by a range of modern luminaries, (Richard Hawley and The Manic Street Preachers to name but two) is fantastic, unbelievable, incredible with more superlatives than you can throw at a sitting pensioner from Splot.

Shirley Bassey is a Dame of distinction, a real big singer.


Sunday, 13 December 2009

Some Velvet Morning by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra

Being the daughter of one of the world's biggest singers never seemed to bother or be a burden to Nancy Sinatra who carved her own way in life with a series of fabulous songs.
This one was writen by Lee Hazelwood but was performed by the couple as a duet on Nancy's first album.
Together they produced a string of memorable songs but this one, with its strange lyrics has to be the one that I liked the best.
Nancy still records and most recently released a cover of a Morrisey song 'Let me kiss you'. Still an attractive woman and still with a pure golden voice.

Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight
I'm gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you 'bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it end
Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight

Flowers growing on a hill, dragonflies and daffodils
Learn from us very much, look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name

Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight
I'm gonna open up your gate
And maybe tell you 'bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it end
Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight

Flowers are the things we know, secrets are the things we grow
Learn from us very much, look at us but do not touch
Phaedra is my name

Some velvet mornin' when I'm straight
Flowers growing on a hill
I'm gonna open up your gate
dragonflies and daffodils
And maybe tell you 'bout Phaedra
Learn from us very much
And how she gave me life
look at us but do not touch
And how she made it end


Thursday, 10 December 2009

The Mersey Sound

At secondary school we studied Chaucer, Wordsworth and Byron. I enjoyed poetry – and we had a brilliant English teacher – Mr Nichols. (His nickname was Old Nick and he did have a whiff of sulphur about him.) And then, in 1967, this book came out and it changed my life. I know – that’s a cliché and a bit glib. But it’s true. I was in a band, and a massive Beatles fan. This was the poetic equivalent of the Beatles. Funny, serious, melancholic, relevant – about girlfriends, supermarkets, fish and chips and the nuclear holocaust that we all felt sure was on the way – accessible and with none of the pretentiousness of other modern poetry. No wonder it went on to sell over half a million copies and became one of the best-selling poetry anthologies of all time. It also made the name of the three poets involved – Roger McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri.

The poems owe much to the Beat Poets and to Pop Art. But this was our British equivalent. The poems still hold up and the poets went on to continuing success although Adrian Henri, is alas, no longer with us. More about them in further dispatches. Meanwhile, if you don’t have a copy, buy the book now. You can find it in second-hand bookshops. And most likely in one of the bigger bookshops. (Although most shops hold a derisory amount of poetry on their shelves.)
Last words to Roger McGough.

There's the moon trying to look romantic
Moon's too old that's her trouble
Aren't we all?


Sunday, 6 December 2009

UK Comics part seven (Frank Bellamy)

Frank Bellamy (1917 - 1976)

Frank Bellamy was born in Kettering, Northampton in 1917. As a youngster his early artistic influences came from all the juvenile comics that he read in his childhood, Rainbow and Chips, but it was the old American Sunday comic sections that really provoked an interest in adventure strips. He loved the Tarzan strips of Hal Foster and much preffered these rather than the static picture stories that were found in British comics in the 1920s and ‘30s. He was also a big fan of of the American ‘jungle strips’ where the depiction of African fauna was a large influence. Bellamy loved the big cats and other animals that were to be found in Africa.

After leaving school Frank went to work in an art studio but, with the secnd World War looming, it was not long before he got his call up papers and the war put paid to his artistic dreams. But only for the duration of the war.

When the war ended, Bellamy moved to London, where he began work his way round every studio until he found himself a job. Eventually Norfolk Studios recognised his talent and he was offered a job with them.

He started work doing spot illustrations for magazines like Everybody’s Weekly and Outspan Magazine but it wasn't until he moved full time into comic illustration that his legend he would eventually become began to be realised.

By 1952 his illustrations were appearing fairly regularly in the Lutterworth publication. The issue for March, 1952, contains a superb scraperboard illustration of two otters that make one wish that he had used more of this medium in his work. More atmospheric, and closer in both style and subject matter to his later classic work, are full-page two-tone illustrations that appeared in the Boys Own Paper in August and September of 1952.

As luck would have it the first strip work he did was far less impressive: a short series of single bank advertisements for Gibbs toothpaste but then again we all have mortgages and bills to pay don't we?

Frank's big break as a comic strip artist came when he went to work on Mickey Mouse Weekly, the prestigious photogravure comic published by Odhams. He parted company with Norfolk Studios and went freelance. His main contribution to the comic was Monty Carstairs. Kind of an upper-crust adventurer whose was a curious meld of Lord Peter Whimsy and Paul Temple. An immaculately dressed, cool- headed and debonair individual wth bags full of cash. Bellamy’s first work on the strip appeared in the issue dated 25 July, 1953.

From this piint on Bellamy blossomed as an artist and demand for him grew. Throughout the fifties and well into the sixties he beacme involved in a selection of comic book creations that included Monty Carstairs, The Swiss Family Robinson, King Arthur and his Knights, Robin Hood and his Merry Men. His eye for detail and perfection was even then something to marvel at. The way that he breated life and realism into his strips was incredible and an utter joy to read. He managed to capture the mythic spirit of life in the greenwood: glistening leaves, the sunlight falling through the branches and the gnarled boughs of giant oak trees. As with the King Arthur strip there were battles-a-plenty for action-minded youngsters and the strip possessed the cinematic qualities of movement, depth and excitingly-varied viewpoints.

However, no matter how good his work was it was apparent to anyone with halfpence of common sense that his talent wasn't really meant for any of this and then Marcus Morris came onto his radar.

Marcus Morris, editor of Eagle, offered him the opportunity to work on the comic’s prestigious back page, Bellamy was very keen to start. Initially he worked on a strip entitled The Happy Warrior which was a story about Winston Churchill.

Bellamy was less than happy himself with this task but, being the true pro that he was still managed to produce some incredible work. The Happy Warrior ended in September 1958, Bellamy had developed his style to such an extent that he had firmly established himself as one of the foremost strip artists in the country.

Bellamy’s next subject for Eagle was another biography, this time an historical Biblical epic based on the life of David and entitled The Shepherd King. Which he then followed with another back page biography The Travels of Marco Polo, which began in Eagle in April, 1959. He never got to complete this series as he was moved onto bigger and better stuff.

Early in 1959, with Dan Dare going into decline, Frank Bellamy was asked to take over the job of illustrating the UK's premier strip. At first, due to his huge regard for its previous writer and artist, Frank Hampson, Bellamy was unsure but was assured that his tenure would only be for one year. He agreed and took over the legend that was and still is Dan Dare.

Dan Dare occupied the first two pages of Eagle and, to help him with the work, he had the assistance of Don Harley and Keith Watson who had both been members of Frank Hampson’s team of Dan Dare artists. Bellamy was very much a lone wolf when it came to his work and the idea of working with a team of artists was anathema to him. To resolve the problem of sharing the two Dan Dare pages, it was arranged that Harley and Watson would work on one page in London while he completed the other page in his studio at home.

Even with all the inherent problems Bellamy manfully continued and managed to give a new credibility and authenticity to the already well established character.

After his time on Dan Dare was up, Bellamy moved onto what some people think was his greatest achievement Fraser Of Africa.

His his use of colours on this strip was inspired. He managed, by using soft brown tones and sepia, to capture perfectly the African landscape and with his wonderous eye for detail to give depth and life to the African animals that he drew.

The Fraser trilogy was reprinted by Hawk Books Ltd. in 1990 with an extensive appraisal of the artist’s work by one of the present writers. Copies of this large format, card-wrapped volume are still relatively plentiful and can usually be found for around nine pounds or so.

Heros The Spartan, followed and Bellamy drew four series of Heros adventures, the last coming to an end in July, 1965. Many collectors consider the series to be his finest work and, more than any other of his strips, it is perhaps the one most closely associated with the artist. It is certainly a high-water mark in the history of fantasy adventure strips.

After this, now 1966, Bellamy drew a succession of well illustrated stories including Rider Haggard’s African romance, King Solomon’s Mines (something he never concluded, Thunderbirds, Doctor Who, and then, in 1971, Bellamy took over the artistic reins of Garth for The Daily Mirror. Perhaps the most famous of his illustrative works and a job which he worked on until his untimely death in 1976.

"Frank Bellamy was a perfectionist who created some of the best colour work ever to appear in British comics. His meticulously-drawn strips were always vibrant and full of life and action. His artwork rarely showed any signs of changes or alterations: he would discard a piece of work and start again rather than resort to process white and paste on patches. His legacy is a wealth of superbly-drawn and painted strips that are amongst the very best of their kind. He would captivate his audience from the moment their eyes encountered the first frame of one of his strips and hold them spellbound until the last panel had been savoured. His work is highly regarded amongst an ever-growing group of enthusiasts both here and abroad."

Amen to that!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Monday, 30 November 2009


From the LP "Moshi" by Barney Willen and friends on the French "Saravah" label. 80's I think but not sure.

Tracks are-

1. Balandji In Bobo
2. Sannu ne Gheniyo
3. El Hadji

Seems that Barney and friends went to live and travel in Africa in the late sixties after hearing some music by a pygmy tribe. He stayed in Algeria and travelled accross the Sahara to Senegal and Mali long befor the notion of "World Music" was ever thought of and recorded this double Lp on his return.

"Wilen's contract for IDA helped create a comeback for a fine musician. In the 1980s he tinkered with jazz-rock and African rhythms (he went to live in Africa in the late 1960s) and his return to a bop-inflected style has something of the full-circle maturity which Stan Getz came to in his later work; Wilen's tenor sound does, indeed, have something of the magisterial sweep which Getz delivered, but the main character of his playing continues to lie in his even trajectory. His solos have a serene assurance which eschews dynamic shifts in favor of a single flowing line. With his tone still exceptionally bright and refined, it grants his playing a rare, persuasive power."

Ellie Greenwich

Among the many great song writers that burst into out lives via the radio and our black and white TV sets were the songs of this remarkable woman: Ellie Greenwich.
Her CV is one to be proud of and contains the songs of legend.

Songs such as: "Be My Baby", "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)", "Da Doo Ron Ron", "Leader of the Pack", "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", and "River Deep, Mountain High", among many, many others.

Her songs were incandescent little bombs that exploded into life and burnt their tunes forever into your heart.

Acts like The Ronettes, The Crystals, Neil Diamond, Manfred Mann, The Shangri-Las, The Raindrops, Tommy James & the Shondells, Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans all owe a huge debt of thanks to Ellie Greenwich who sadly died aged 68 in 2009.

Pop music is nothing more than 21st century folk music and these nuggets of the ladies are classics of the 20th century. They are songs that will last forever.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Grocer Jack (Excerpt from a Teenage Opera) by Keith West

Released in 1967's summer of love this single received huge airplay, certainly on Johnnie Walker's Radio Caroline and to such a degree that its popularity took it to the number two spot in the singles chart.
It was part of a larger pop opera but one that never got to see the light of day for several decades as it wasn't released until 1997 nearly thirty years after the singles success.
I have always liked a song with a narrative and this one had a rather melancholic tale that was accompanied by the voices of many childern singing. It was all very typical of its time and very British too.

Count the days into years
Yes, eighty-two brings many fears
Yesterday's laughter turns to tears
His arms and legs don't feel so strong
His heart is weak, there's something wrong
Opens windows in despair
Tries to breathe in some fresh air
His conscience cries, "Get on your feet
Without you, Jack, the town can't eat".


Grocer Jack, Grocer Jack, get off your back,
go into town, don't let them down, oh no, no.
Grocer Jack, Grocer Jack, get off your back,
go into town, don't let them down, oh no, no.

The people that live in the town,
don't understand - he's never been known to miss his round.
It's ten o'clock, the housewives yell
"When Jack turns up, we'll give him hell".
Husbands moan at breakfast tables, no milk, no eggs, no marmalade labels.
Mothers send their children out, to Jack's house to scream and shout.


It's Sunday morning, bright and clear,
lovely flowers decorate a marble square.
People cry and mourn away, think about the fateful day,
Now they wish they'd given Jack more affection and respect,
The little children, dressed in black, don't know what's happened to old Jack.


Grocer Jack, Grocer Jack, is it true what Mummy said,
you won't come back. oh no, no.
(rep. and fade)


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Poetry By Inches, Words By a Mile - Sylvia Plath

Lady Lazarus
I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it_____
A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot
A paperweight,
My featureless, fine
Jew linen.
Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?-------
The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.
Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me
And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.
This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.
What a million filaments.
The Peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see
Them unwrap me hand in foot ------
The big strip tease.
Gentleman , ladies
These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,
Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.
The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut
As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.
It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical
Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:
'A miracle!'
That knocks me out.
There is a charge
For the eyeing my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart---
It really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood
Or a piece of my hair on my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.
I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby
That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
Ash, ash---
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there----
A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.
Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

By Sylvia Plath


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Chas & Dave

Sad to learn that Chas and Dave have split up. I think Dave Peacock has retired but Chas Hodges still goes out on the road with his own band. (or is it the other way around?) Anyway, a great rockney band who made some great music in the 80's but success spoiled them and they churned out loads of party records full of singalong hits which is a shame as they were fantastic early on. Wrote some catchy songs which inspired some terrific adverts for some beer or anuvver.
Here's an excerpt from a Christmas radio show they did back in the 80's with guests the Barron Knights.

The Official Chas & Dave website says-

"In the tradition of The Kinks and the Small Faces and around the same time as Ian Dury and Squeeze, Chas & Dave wrote and recorded exceptionally witty songs about life in London, performed with a strong affection for all things English reminiscent of many of the great Music Hall artists many years previously. In their case , however, the musical accompaniment to their sharply observant material was neither rock nor punk but solid, no-nonsense Rock’N’Roll style which had been their background and inspiration.

Pianist Chas Hodges and guitarist Dave Peacock were widely experienced around the British rock scene of the 1960s and early 70s before teaming up with drummer Mick Burt (another much-travelled musician who had gone back to his original trade as a plumber) to form the group. Chas had worked with the legendary producer Joe Meek, backed Jerry Lee Lewis, played with Mike Berry and the Outlaws, along with Ritchie Blackmore, and also the highly respected Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, which had Burt on drums. He then joined Albert Lee’s cult band Heads Hands and Feet before playing with Dave and Albert in Black Claw. Dave had been equally active, Starting out in The Rolling Stones (no, not them!) in 1960. Spells with The Tumbleweeds, Mick Greenwood, Jerry Donaghue, and the above mentioned Black Claw followed prior to the pair coming together to go out on their own as Chas & Dave."

Read more about Chas & Dave HERE.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Screaming Lord Sutch

Screaming Lord Sutch singing Dracula's Daughter. A Joe Meek Production from the 60's. I must admit I have a soft spot for rock stars that dress up as Count Dracula and have a coffin and a skull on stage as a prop. In fact I think he used to emerge from the coffin at the start of his act! Great sound effects too. One of the very first records I ever bought was "Jack The Ripper" accompanied by suitable blood curdling screams. After his brief pop career he ventured into politics and became infamous as the leader of the Raving Loony Party and thus cheering us all up on those depressing polling day evenings - he stood in full witch doctors costume holding a trident with all the suits on the runners and riders podium.

Wikipedia says-

Sutch was born at New End Hospital, Hampstead, North West London. In the 1960s, inspired by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, he changed his artist name to Screaming Lord Sutch, 3rd Earl of Harrow, despite having no connection with the peerage. His legal name remained David Edward Sutch.

After his career as an early-'60s rock 'n' roll attraction, it became customary for the UK press to refer to him as Screaming Lord Sutch, or simply Lord Sutch. Early works included recordings produced by audio pioneer Joe Meek.

During the 1960s, Screaming Lord Sutch was known for his horror-themed stage show, dressing as Jack the Ripper, pre-dating the shock rock antics of Alice Cooper. Accompanied by his band, The Savages, he started by coming out of a black coffin. Other props included knives and daggers, skulls and "bodies". Sutch booked themed tours, such as 'Sutch and the Roman Empire', where Sutch and the band members would be dressed up as Roman soldiers.

Despite self-confessed lack of vocal talent, he released horror-themed singles during the early to mid-'60s, the most popular "Jack the Ripper", covered live and on record by garage rock bands including the White Stripes, The Black Lips and The Horrors for their debut album, Strange House.

In 1963, Sutch and his manager, Reginald Calvert, took over Shivering Sands Army Fort, a Maunsell Fort off Southend. This was to be Radio Sutch, intending to compete with other pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline. He planned to play music and broadcast Mandy Rice-Davies reading Lady Chatterley's Lover. It didn't happen and Calvert took over the project, renaming it 'Radio City', which lasted for a couple of years. In 1966 Calvert was shot dead by Oliver Smedley over a financial dispute. Smedley was acquitted on grounds of self-defence. About this time Ritchie Blackmore left the band to form Deep Purple. Roger Warwick left to set up an R&B big band for Freddie Mack.

In 1968, Sutch toured parts of the United States in a Rolls Royce with a Union Flag on the roof and a trailer of Marshall amplifiers to sell.[clarification needed] He had a share interest in the Marshall company.

Sutch's album Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends was named in a 1998 BBC poll as the worst album of all time, a status it also held in Colin Larkin's book The Top 1000 Albums of All Time, despite the fact that Jimmy Page, John Bonham, Jeff Beck, Noel Redding and Nicky Hopkins performed on it and helped write it.

For his follow-up, Hands of Jack the Ripper, Sutch assembled British rock celebrities for a concert at the Carshalton Park Rock 'n' Roll Festival. The show was recorded (though only Sutch knew), and it was released to the surprise of the musicians. Musicians on the record included Ritchie Blackmore (guitar); Matthew Fisher (keyboard); Carlo Little (drums); Keith Moon (drums); Noel Redding (bass) and Nick Simper (bass).

In the Rolling Stones song "Get Off of My Cloud", the guy who shows up "All dressed up just like a Union Jack" was Lord Sutch uninvited in Mick Jagger's room."

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Fungible is an odd word. All large, aggressive bits with no room for manoeuvre. Coarse sounding like dog's barking beneath a hooded moon. It is the sort of word Viv Stanshall might have used when drunk on Absinthe or perahps the sort of word a Walrus mubls while eating a sandwich filled with mustard.

fungible\FUHN-juh-buhl\ , adjective;
1.(Law) Freely exchangeable for or replaceable by another of like nature or kind in the satisfaction of an obligation.2.Interchangeable.noun: 1.Something that is exchangeable or substitutable. Usually used in the plural.


Sunday, 15 November 2009

The Death Mask of Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel

I want one of these that, after cloggs are popped obviously, can then be hung on the downstair loo door for friends, family and others to enjoy while emptying the bowels.


Friday, 13 November 2009

Edwardian Ladies

There was something extraordinarily elegant, if not a little over the top, with the style and dress sense of Edwardian ladies; a certain flamboyance perhaps but a style that was far more vivacious than that of the Victorian's

I wonder where they hid their tattoos?


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Pressed Rat and Warthog

A sly fox of a song, one that slipped onto Cream's 1968 album 'Wheels of Fire' in between some incredible songs by Jack Bruce and Pete Brown plus some of Clapton's finest guitar playing. This song was by Ginger Baker and Mike Taylor and somehow fitted in neatly with this more experimental album.

Pressed rat and warthog have closed down their shop.
They didn’t want to; ’twas all they had got.
Selling atonal apples, amplified heat,
And pressed rat’s collection of dog legs and feet.

Sadly they left, telling no one goodbye.
Pressed rat wore red jodhpurs, warthog a striped tie.
Between them, they carried a three-legged sack,
Went straight round the corner and never came back.

Pressed rat and warthog have closed down their shop.
The bad captain madman had told them to stop
Selling atonal apples, amplified heat,
And pressed rat’s collection of dog legs and feet.

The bad captain madman had ordered their fate.
He laughed and stomped off with a nautical gate.
The gate turned into a deroga tree
And his pegleg got woodworm and broke into three.

Pressed rat and warthog have closed down their shop.
They didn’t want to; ’twas all they had got.
Selling atonal apples, amplified heat,
And pressed rat’s collection of dog legs and feet.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009


fiber /fi·ber/ (fi´ber)
1. an elongated, threadlike structure.
2. nerve f.
3. dietary f.


A fibers myelinated afferent or efferent fibers of the somatic nervous system having a diameter of 1 to 22 μm and a conduction velocity of 5 to 120 meters per second; they include the alpha, beta, delta, and gamma fibers.
accelerating fibers , accelerator fibers adrenergic fibers that transmit the impulses which accelerate the heart beat.
adrenergic fibers nerve fibers, usually sympathetic, that liberate epinephrine or related substances as neurotransmitters.
afferent fibers , afferent nerve fibers nerve fibers that convey sensory impulses from the periphery to the central nervous system.
alpha fibers motor and proprioceptive fibers of the A type, having conduction velocities of 70 to 120 meters per second and ranging from 13 to 22 μm in diameter.
alveolar fibers fibers of the periodontal ligament extending from the cementum of the tooth root to the walls of the alveolus.
arcuate fibers the bow-shaped fibers in the brain, such as those connecting adjacent gyri in the cerebral cortex, or the external or internal arcuate fibers of the medulla oblongata.

And there you have it...RUFFAGE...Nuff said?

aNOtHEr trIp INtO ThE mAGpIE mUdDY miRE.

Monday, 26 October 2009

The Wildfowl Reels or Folk Songs by any other name - A Fairy's Tale

words and music by Shay Healy, Oisin Music Ltd, Ireland

In days of old in a kingdom bold, there lived a fearsome dragon.
And the King he was in great distress and the countries spirits flagoned.
Until one day there came a knight, he was handsome, bold, and charming.
And he slew the dragon with his sword with a smile that was so disarming.
With a hey and a ho and a hey nany no, a smile that was so disarming.

Said the King I wish to know your name, but the knight said do not bother.
For the name of a knight of the realm says he, is the same as any other.
Said the King tonight in my daughter's bed you shall take your leisure.
And she'll reward you for your deed, with a night of exhausting pleasure.
With a hey and a ho and a hey nany no, anight of exhausting pleasure.

One daughter she had raven hair, a maiden young and chaste.
And she slept all night in the pale moonlight, naked to the waist.
The other daughter she was fair, the fairest in the town.
And she slept all night in the pale moonlight naked from her small waist down.
With a hey and a ho and a hey nany no, naked from her small waist down.

Well the knight he spends many hour behind the castle wall.
But the ending to my story dear, isn't what it seems at all.
For in neither bed of neither maid was he repaid for his glory.
But he slept all night with the King instead for this is a fairy story.
With a hey and a ho and a hey nany no, for this is a Fairy story.


Saturday, 17 October 2009

Something for a musical weekend QUOTE

"Today's white hope is tomorrow's black sheep...I seriously advise all sensitive composers to die at the age of 37."

William Walton


Saturday, 10 October 2009

Monday, 5 October 2009

Tommy Cooper

Another comedy genius who sadly is no longer with us. He didnt have to say anything to make us laugh - just that face and body language was enough to make you titter.
His infectious laugh and pathetic magic tricks made his act look rather amateurish and feeble but here is a master of comic timing at work.
I found this CD today in a charity shop and happy uplaod most of it here. You have to see him to appreciate the full Tommy Cooper magic.

"Tommy Cooper was born in Caerphilly, South Wales on 9th March 1922. He was two months premature, possibly the last time in his life that he was early. Being a premature baby in 1922 was not the best start in life and the doctor who delivered Tommy didn't hold out much hope for his survival. However, his grandmother kept him alive on drops of brandy and condensed milk and little Tom got stronger as each day passed. Within a few weeks he was well enough for the family to move to Exeter in Devon.

When he was eight years old his aunt Lucy bought him a magic set and Tommy spent hours playing with it and perfecting the tricks. At the age of sixteen he got a job on board a boat as an apprentice shipwright and it was here that he gave his first public performance. In typical Cooper style each trick he performed went disastrously wrong. He was supposed to pull a series of coloured handkerchiefs from a cylinder, but they got stuck, a card fell out of his sleeve, Tommy ran out of the room, tears running down his face. When he finally managed to calm down he began to analyse just why he'd messed it up. "I got stage fright." He would recall years later. "That's why it all went wrong. But then I thought to myself, well, it might have all gone wrong but I got a laugh. Perhaps I should concentrate on that."

In 1940 Tommy got his call-up papers and went into the Horse Guards. Six foot four with size thirteen boots Tommy must have looked an impressive sight. "On the first day there I put my foot in the stirrup but the saddle slipped and I ended up underneath the horses belly. Everyone was sitting on their horse except me." His unit were eventually dispatched to the Middle East where Tom was wounded in the right arm. Following this he joined the concert party entertaining the troops. It was here that he began perfecting his act of the magician whose tricks go wrong. "

Tommy Cooper - The Very Best Of...

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Under Milk Wood

I know little of poets apart from this man and even then, to my shame still not enough. I recall it being said by one of my English lit masters that Dylan Thomas was often thought of as being too fond of wordplay. As ever in my school career, I was at odds with this point of view as I was with much of what I was taught, or rather what I wasn't taught. Dylan Thomas was everything that I would want a poet to be: passionate and wordy. Oh, for sure I love the works of Basho and also of Haiku but I have always found far too much math is employed in the construction of poetry and at times that can blind you to the real joy and beauty of the piece. Of course, that is just my jaundiced opinion.

This incredible radio play, as it was originally, is, as far as I am concerned, poetry. Richard Burton's warm tones add a depth and richness to the tale that in itself weaves its wordy way through the dreams and day to day doings of this fictional Welsh town. The characters are as real and surreal as you could ask for; their lives resonate with a truth. It was and still is a fabulously imaginative play.
I often place the cassette ( a thing of the past those) into the slot and have a quiet hour or so's listen.
aNOtHEr dIp Into ThE mAGpIE mEMOrY pOOoL.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Frankie Howerd

Another wonderful eccentric comedian whose act mainly consisted of "Ooohs!" "AaaahS" "O no missus!" and camp innuendo. Apparently the script writers had to include all the asides- the oohs, the aahs etc. in the actual script!

Wikipedia says-

"Howerd was born the son of a soldier, Francis A. W. Howard in York, North Yorkshire, England, in 1917 (not 1922 as he later claimed). He was educated at Shooters Hill Grammar School in Woolwich, London.[1] His first appearance on stage was at age 13 but his early hopes of becoming a serious actor were dashed when he failed an audition for RADA. He got into entertaining during World War II service in the army. Despite suffering from stage fright he continued to work after the war, beginning his professional career in the summer of 1946 in a touring show called For the Fun of It.

He soon started working in radio, making his debut at the start of December 1946 on the BBC Variety Bandbox programme with a number of other ex-servicemen. His fame built steadily throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s (aided by material written by Eric Sykes, Galton and Simpson and Johnny Speight). In 1954, he made his screen début opposite Petula Clark in The Runaway Bus, which had been written for his specific comic talents, but he never became a major film presence. The film was so low budget that because they could not afford scenery, background and such, they used a fog generator so that little was visible other than what was being filmed. The film was an immediate hit.

When he began experimenting with different formats and contexts, including stage farces, Shakespearean comedy roles, and television sitcoms, he began to fall out of fashion. After suffering a nervous breakdown at the start of the 1960s, he began to recover his old popularity, initially with a season at Peter Cook's satirical Establishment Club in Soho in London. He was boosted further by success on That Was The Week That Was (TW3) in 1963 and on stage with A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1963–1965), which led into regular television work. In 1966 and 1967, he did a 90 minute Christmas show called The Frankie and Bruce Christmas Show with Bruce Forsyth, featuring many top acts of the day. He was awarded an OBE in 1977.

With Petula Clark in The Runaway BusThrough the 60's and 70's, Howerd did a number of shows for BBC and Thames (as well as Frankie Howerd Reveals All for YTV in 1980). Ray Galton and Alan Simpson wrote for him from 1964-1966 when he worked for the BBC and also for a one-off show for Thames: Frankie Howerd meets The Bee Gees (shown 20th Aug 1968). He was famous for his seemingly off-the-cuff remarks to the audience, especially in the show Up Pompeii!, which was a direct follow-up from Forum. His television work was characterised by addressing himself directly to the camera and littering his monologues with verbal tics: "Oooh, no missus", "Titter ye not", and so on but a later sale of his scripts showed that the seemingly off-the-cuff remarks were all planned. Another feature of his humour was to feign innocence about his obvious and risqué double entendres while mockingly censuring the audience for finding them funny.

Howerd's face was a gift to comedy but a testament to tragedy. When a reporter wrote that he had a face like "a landslide of sadness", Howerd got in touch with him to say how right that was."

Three tracks from the CD "The Best of British Comedy" on the Disky label.

Frankie Howerd - Song And Dance Man

Frankie Howerd - I'm Nobody's Baby

Frankie Howerd - It's Alright With Me

Friday, 25 September 2009

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The House of Hammer Films

I suppose, if I am to be honest, it was a combination of things that caught my attention with these films. The 'horror' was all very gothic, which I liked, often very tongue in cheek, sometimes bloody silly if not absurd with some afwul effects and often a little camp. However, I would always watch then with eyes glued to the screen. I think another part of me, the young adolescent with lust in his loins, enjoyed watching the ladies with their boobs hanging out of tightly clinging dresses. This appealed to me as a teenager as much as the story!

Barbara Shelley (1) was gorgeous and Veronica Carlson (2) stunning.

The film stuidio was first founded in 1934 but it wasn't until the 1950's and then through the 60's and 70's that Hammer really came into its own.

Of course it was the superb roster of actors that really helped to make these films. Christopher Lee became the epitome of what we now think of as Dracula even if Bram Stoker's oringinal character was very different. With Lee inhabiting the role, Dracula became not just a sinister member of the dark aristocracy but also a sensual, sexual predator who loved nothing more than plunging his fangs in to buxum beauties.

While the ever elegant, daper Peter Cushing played a diverse range of roles: from Van Helsing to Victor Frankenstein and all with such grace and aplomb.

The studio seemed to fade from view after an excellent run of TV programmes in the 1980's but I hear that they have now been bought out my another company who have pledged to bring back the horror into Hammer. I certainly hope so.


Sunday, 16 August 2009

Tony Schwartz

Amazing soundscapes by a pioneer broadcaster of electronic and found sounds. I dont know much about him but love this excerpt from a radio show about him.

"Tony Schwartz, master of electronic media, created more than 20,000 radio and television spots for products, political candidates and non-profit public interest groups. Featured on programs by Bill Moyers, Phil Donahue and Sixty Minutes, among others, Schwartz has been described as a "media guru," a "media genius" and a "media muscleman." The tobacco industry even voluntarily stopped their advertising on radio and television after Schwartz's produced the first anti-smoking ad to ever appear (children dressing in their parents' clothing, in front of a mirror). The American Cancer Society credits this ad, and others that followed, with the tobacco industry's decision to go off the air, rather than compete with Schwartz's ad campaign.

Born in midtown Manhattan in 1923, a graduate of Peekskill High School (1941) and Pratt Institute (1944), Tony Schwartz had a unique philosophy of work: He only worked on projects that interested him, for whatever they could afford to pay.

For thirty one years (1945-1976) he created and produced a weekly radio program of people and sounds of New York on WNYC (AM & FM). For over 15 years he wrote a weekly column for Media Industry Newsletter (MIN).

When Marshall McLuhan met Tony Schwartz, he said he met "a disciple with twenty years prior experience!" Later, McLuhan and Schwartz shared the Schweitzer Chair at Fordham University.

For many years he was a Visiting Electronic professor at Harvard University's School of Public Health, teaching physicians how to use media to deal with public health problems. He also taught at New York University and Columbia and Emerson colleges. Because Schwartz was unable to travel distances, he delivered all out of town talks remotely. Schwartz was a frequent lecturer at universities and conferences, and gave presentations on six of the seven continents (not Antarctica). He was awarded honorary doctorates from John Jay, Emerson and Stonehill Colleges. "

Monday, 10 August 2009

Victorian Posters


MIx Tapes

In the days before CD's and MP3's we used to make mix tapes for our friends - well, some of us did. Cassettes were handy blank canvas to fill with songs and any other audio padding to show off your expertise in programming your very own pretend radio show. I used to make hundreds and exchange them with like minded folks - sometimes not even exchanged - you got one if you wanted it or not!
My particular joy was to make them on a particular theme - songs about death, songs about animals, songs about chickens and songs about puddings. It was amzing just how many you could find that included the words Chocolate or Sugar in the title! I even did a mail art tape exchange back in the 80's and got quite a big response from all round the world. Later I compiled a tape of songs about Peace based on the "one minute only" Miniatures concept by Morgan Fisher. The participants got a compliation of all the songs send in returned to them. It cost me a small fortune but it was fun.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Wildfowl Reels or Folk Songs by any other name - Bog Down in the Valley

O-ro the rattlin' bog, the bog down in the valley-o
O-ro the rattlin' bog, the bog down in the valley-o

And in that bog there was a tree, a rare tree, a rattlin' tree
With the tree in the bog
And the bog down in the valley-o.

Now on that tree there was a limb, a rare limb, a rattlin' limb
With the limb on the tree and the tree in the bog
And the bog down in the valley-o.

Now on that limb there was a branch, a rare branch, a rattlin' branch
With the branch on the limb and the limb on the tree and the tree in the bog
And the bog down in the valley-o.

(Repeat, adding a line each time)
Now on that branch there was a twig, a rare twig, a rattlin' twig.....

Now on that twig there was a nest, a rare nest, a rattlin' nest.....

Now in that nest there was an egg , a rare egg, a rattlin' egg.....

Now in that egg there was a bird, a rare bird, a rattlin' bird.....

Now on that bird there was a feather, a rare feather, a rattlin' feather .....

Now on that feather there was a flea, a rare flea, a rattlin' flea .....


Friday, 10 July 2009

Victorian Posters



Tabou Combo

A record found at a flea market some years ago. Tabou Combo come from Haiti and this record was recorded in 1974. The two tracks featured here are the title track "8th Sacrement" and " Pace Domine".

"Formed in the Port-Au-Prince suburb of Petion-Ville by the Chancy brothers, Albert on bass and Adolphe on guitar, this young band won the Radio Haiti mini-jazz competition in 1968. They relocated to Brooklyn in 1971, and their song "New York City," which spoke of the difficulty of life in exile, reached #1 on the Paris pop charts in August 1975. They competed with Ska-Shah for top band honors in the 70s and 80s and fought "musical duels" similar to the Weber Sicot/Jean-Baptiste Nemours battles of the 50s and 60s.

An irresistible live band, Tabou Combo takes Haitian compas to the widest of audiences. From their regular appearances in the '80s at the famous Zenith Theatre in Paris, to an audience of 20,000 in New York's Central Park, to the Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, in football stadiums throughout the Caribbean, and on the turntables of the top DJs, this band makes people dance. Influenced by funk and soul in their adopted home, Tabou took on the likeness of the Commodores on the covers of their late-'70s releases. They even made a demo tape with hopes of a Motown contract. Their desire to reach the Black US market remains unsatisfied, but they should be proud that popular musicians such as Kassav' from the Antilles/Paris and Wilfrido Vargas from the Dominican Republic have absorbed their music."

Visit the band's official website HERE.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

I.K. Dairo & His Blue Spots

Another great West African band from the 70's I would guess - found at Brick Lane flea market in the 80's. I love the jangly guitar sound and the strange loping rhythyms going on here - one track seemlessly seeping into the next.

Wikipedia says-

"I.K. Dairo was born in the town of Offa, located in present day Kwara State; his family was originally from Ijebu-Ijesa before migrating to Offa. He attended a Christian Missionary primary school in Offa, however, he later quit his studies due to a lean year in his family's finances. He left Offa and traveled to Ijebu-Ijesa where he chose to work as a barber. On his journey, he took along with him a drum built by his father when he was seven years old. By the time he was residing in Ijebu Ijesa, he was already an avid fan of drumming. When he was unoccupied with work, he spent time listening to the early pioneers of Juju music in the area and experimented with drumming. His interest in Juju music increased over time, and in 1942, he joined a band led by Taiwo Igese but within a few short years, the band broke up. In 1948, he went to Ede, a town in present day Osun State where he started work there as a pedestrian cloth trader and played music with a local group on the side. One day, while his boss was away traveling, I.K. Dairo decided to join his fellow friends to play at a local ceremony, unknowing to him, his boss was coming back that same day, the boss was furious with the act and he was relieved of his job as a result.

IK Dairo later pursued various manual tasks after his firing and was able to save enough money to move to Ibadan, where Daniel Ojoge, a pioneer Juju musician usually played. He got a break to join a band with Daniel Ojoge and played for a brief period of time before returning to Ijebu-Ijesa."

Friday, 12 June 2009

Game Show Hosts - Michael Miles

Michael John Miles was born in 1919 in Wellington, New Zealand and died, prematurely on – 17 February 1971. I have to say that I never liked the man as he always seemed so rude to contestants of his Take Your Pick show, especially the females. It was this show, along with Hughie Green's Double Your money that sat at the top of the heap as far as game shows went in the sixties and, as much as I disliked his condescending attitude, he was probably a far nicer man than good old Hughie. Michael was an epileptic and was deeply ashamed of his condition and would even hide himself away in his dressing room. He died at the early age of fifty two.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

John Hegley

I never really was much of a poetry lover until I saw John Hegley perfom some of his poetry and songs at Lauderdale House in North London back in the early 90's. John was with a group of other comedians and musicians at the monthly lunchtime "Nuclear Family" gigs. Our neighbour in Lambeth , Keith Moore was a musician and he occasionally played tuba or bass with the Popticians, John's backing band. The two songs " Grandad's Glasses" and "Amoeba" were on one side of an 12" single on the Glass Fish label we bought from John on one of those events. It was produced by Robyn Hitchcock who also did the sleeve art and played bass and piano on it. Also on this record is Sue Norton who plays saxaphone and flute.

I suppose what I love about John Hegley's poems is that they make me laugh. Poetry tends to be very serious and sometimes very pretentious. John's poems are serious too ofcourse and it would be hard to find a more dedicated and passionate performer. Humour is serious stuff! Serious stuff can be very funny! John's poems are about everyday mundane things like glasses, dogs and family. He has also written stories and plays for the radio. His "Hearing With Hegley" series on Radio 4 was a wonderful mixture of poems, songs and music.

I was fortunate to be asked to design a book cover for his slim volume "Beyond Our Kennel" in 1998. Published by Methuen.

John coincidentally is doing a lecture today at the Interactive Arts course at MMU in Manchester which I am missing as I write this! I've been to two previous "lectures" that Hazel(my other half ) organised and they are great fun so I'm rather annoyed that I'm missing this one due to circumstances beyond my control.

Discover more about John Hegley at his official website HERE.

John Hegley & Popticians - Grandad's Glasses/ Amoeba

Thursday, 28 May 2009


Blimey - finding this old book in the Oxfam shop today for 99p certainly brings back some memories! I'm showing my age now I realise so permit me to wallow a while in nostalgia for those early days of children's television when there was only two channels - BBC and ITV, and everything was in a flickering black and white on a massive TV full of throbbing valves and a tiny screen about as big as a slice of bread!

Childrens TV back then was limited to one hour a day from 5 until 6pm and Whirlygig wasa kind of magazine programme with Mr. Turnip ( a stringed puppet) and Humphrey Lestocq ( a human) who introduced various cartoons and rather static animations. Also other puppets like Sooty and Prudence Kitten ( or was that another programme ? ) In the mists of time they do tend to merge into one another!
It also seems that Rolf Harris made an early appearance on the show drawing a character called Whilloby.

Discover more about Whirlgig HERE.

Friday, 22 May 2009

The Wildfowl Reels or Folk Songs by any other name - All For Me Grog

Well it's all for me grog, me jolly jolly grog
It's all for me beer and tobacco
For I spent all me tin with the lassies drinking gin
Far across the western ocean I must wander

Where are me boots, me noggin', noggin' boots?
They're all gone for beer and tobacco
For the heels they are worn out and the toes are kicked about
And the soles are looking out for better weather

Where is me shirt, my noggin', noggin' shirt?
It's all gone for beer and tobacco
For the collar is all worn, and the sleeves they are all torn
And the tail is looking out for better weather

I'm sick in the head and I haven't been to bed
Since first I came ashore with me slumber
For I spent all me dough on the lassies movin' slow
Far across the Western Ocean I must wander

Where is me bed, me noggin' noggin bed
It's all gone for beer and tobacco
Well I lent it to a whore and now the sheets are all tore
And the springs are looking out for better whether.

Where is me wench, me noggin' noggin' whence
She's all gone for beer and tobacco
Well her (clap) is all worn out and her (clap) is knocked about
And her (clap) is looking out for better whether.


Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Game Show Hosts - Hughie Green

And he seemed such a nice man too but there he was, philandering with goodness knows who, all the while he was presenting Thank Your Lucky Stars and Double your money.
For sure he was the stereotypical game show host of his day and, even if a little fake in his over enthusiastic smiles, rather amusing.
Of course, as we now all know, when not on the screen he was busy inseminating Jesse Yates wife who gave birth to the beautiful Paula Yates.
My Mum, and certainly my Grandmother, loved both his shows but then again, at the time, so did I.


Friday, 15 May 2009

Victor Maddern

According to my Mum, one of Victor Maddern’s daughters attended the same junior school as me. I cannot remember her at all but her Dad I certainly do. He was one of those reliable character actor’s whose talent made the big stars job all that much easier.
He was born in nineteen twenty eight in Ilford, Essex of working class parents and joined the Navy in nineteen forty three, at the age of fifteen, where he served until nineteen forty six. After being discharged from the Navy he joined RADA and got his first acting role in the film “Seven Days to Noon in 1950, playing a reluctant soldier obliged to shoot a psychotic scientist.
Although he often appeared in films, a great many too, it is as a TV actor that I best remember him where he plied his trade so admirably supporting those stars we all loved. One of his best for me has to be in The Dick Emery Show where he played the part of old Lampwick's son.
Ironically (for me that is) Victor Maddern owned a printers. I say ironically as my father too was a printer.
Victor Maddern died in nineteen ninety three of a brain tumor and at the relatively young age of sixty eight. He was a fine actor.


Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Theo Blaise

Living in the East End of London in the 80's was a real eye opener as far as music went. The flea markets off Brick Lane were especially rich in all manner of records from all over the world and this is where I found this excellent LP by Theo Blaise. From the Congo but living in Paris where a thriving scene of african music was growing. This LP was released in 1983.

Wikipedia says-

"Soukous (also known as Lingala or Congo, and previously as African rumba) is a musical genre that originated in the two neighbouring countries of Belgian Congo and French Congo during the 1930s and early 1940s, and which has gained popularity throughout Africa. "Soukous" (said to be a derivative of the French word secouer, to shake[1]) was originally the name of a dance popular in the Congos in the late 1960s, and danced to an African version of rumba. Although the genre was initially known as rumba (sometimes termed specifically as African rumba), the term "soukous" has come to refer to African rumba and its subsequent developments.

Soukous is called Congo music in West Africa, and Lingala in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania - referring to the Lingala language of the region from where it originated. In the 1980s and early 1990s, a fast-paced style of soukous known as kwassa kwassa – named after a popular dance, was popular. A style called ndombolo, also named after a dance, is currently popular."

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Peter Blegvad

Much under-rated singer songwriter/cartoonist who Hazel met when she had her exhibition at the Young Vic Studio back in the mid 90's. He brought his little girl along to see the blush cooler's and blossom catchers etc. He said he liked the show and sent Hazel one of his Leviathan books - inscribed "To Hazel from Levi, Cat and Peter Blegvad".

An excerpt from a promo. CD released to coincide with his 1990 release "King Strut & Other Stories".

"Peter Blegvad (born 14 August 1951) is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and cartoonist. He was a founding member of the avant-rock band Slapp Happy which later merged briefly with Henry Cow and has released many solo and collaborative albums since Slapp Happy split up.
He collaborated with bassist John Greaves (recording Kew. Rh%uFFFDne with Greaves in 1977) and a much later collection of spoken word pieces set to Greaves' music, Unearthed. In the 1980s, he released a number of commercially-unsuccessful albums on the Virgin Records label, including The Naked Shakespeare and Knights Like This, both of which show the influence of external producers with fulsome and contemporary instrumentation. By contrast, Downtime, an independent release in the late 1980s features mainly very simple demos, often recorded cheaply in professional studios' "downtime". King Strut and Other Stories (Virgin, 1990) is a collection of short stories set to simply-arranged, professionally-produced music played in many cases by noted session musicians. The album features XTC's Andy Partridge while Orpheus - The Lowdown (2003) is a whole album in collaboration with Partridge. Many of Blegvad's albums feature former members of Slapp Happy and Henry Cow and Slapp Happy have re-formed on occasion for specific projects."

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

G.H. Elliot

I have a soft spot for the songs of the music hall era and always delighted to find CD's or records of old 78's and even wax cylinders that have been carefully preserevd for the nation. These treasures should always be available and I do my best to give them an airing every once and awhile.
The recording above is from a radio show - one of the last he made I imagine ,singing " I Used To Sigh For The Silvery Moon" which was his theme song.

"G.H. Elliott was one of Britain’s best-loved blackface entertainers in the days before such things became unthinkable. He was, like Gracie Fields, born in Rochdale, Lancashire, and as a child was taken to the United States, where he learned his craft with the Primrose West Minstrels (Gammond 1991, 176). He was elegant and sophisticated — Peter Honri (1974, 20) relates that, in blacking up, he always used champagne corks. Music Hall historian W. Macqueen-Pope (1950, 163) calls him “the nearest approach to the wonderful Eugene Stratton the Halls ever knew” (although S. Theodore Felstead accords that accolade to another blackface performer, Dubliner Tom E. Finglass). Among the songs particularly associated with him are Idaho, I Used To Sigh For The Silvery Moon, and Sue, Sue, Sue. Elliott’s long career carried him well into the 1940s." He died in 1962.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Arthur Haynes

Arthur Haynes: a Londoner, born in Fulham on 19th May 1914. Not a name that means much nowadays but back when I was younger,during the late fifities and early sixties, Arthur Haynes was a famed television comedian whose programme, The Arthur Haynes Show, ran from ninteen fifty seven until nineteen sixty six which was also the year of his death.

The thing I remember him for was playing the part of a tramp often supported by another incredible actress, Patricia Hayes who would perform as the female tramp equivalent. Although my memories of the actual content are foggy, the idea of having a tramp who was posh struck me as very funny indeed. A character for Fekenham me thinks.


Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Wildfowl Reels or Folk Songs by any other name - A Begging I will Go

Of all the trades in England, a-beggin' is the best
For when a beggar's tired, You can lay him down to rest.
And a-begging I will go, a-begging I will go.

I got a pocket for me oatmeal, and another for me rye.
I got a bottle by me side to drink when I am dry.
And a-begging I will go, a-begging I will go.

I got patches on me cloak, and black patch on me knee.
When you come to take me home, I'll drink as well as thee.
And a-begging I will go, a-begging I will go.

I got a pocket for me ... and another for me malt
I got a pair of little crutches, you should see how I can halt.
And a-begging I will go, a-begging I will go.

I sleep beneath an open tree, and there I pay no rent.
Providence provides for me, and I am well content.
And a-begging I will go, a-begging I will go.

I fear no plots against me. I live an open cell.
Who would be a king then when beggars live so well.
And a-begging I will go, a-begging I will go.

Of all the trades in England, a-begging is the best.
For when a beggar's tired, you can lay him down to rest.
And a-begging I will go, a-begging I will go.


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

English Public Houses

There is nothing quite like 'em, The English Public House. No matter where you roam, be it Italy, France or Japan, no where has watering holes quite like the ones we Brits have. Sad to see so many closing these days. This is The Shepheard and Dog in Ballards Gore, Essex. Not far from where I live.



Saturday, 18 April 2009

Money Boxes

We seem to have aquired a dozen or so cast iron money boxes that are copies of old victorian money boxes. Hazel's sister buys her one every Xmas. They are great fun and employ some clever mechanism whereby the coin is catapulted into the slot with the aid of a trigger and spring. They are displayed on the stairs - one on every step so you have to be careful not to trip over them.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


Simple toys - you can't beat 'em. Mind you, you could whip some tops back in the old days. Yo-yo's, toy soldiers, water pistols, hoop and stick, diabolo, balloon, ball, skipping rope, bow and arrow, chalk on pavement, boats and cars and paper planes. Still as popular today as they ever were despite the influx of computers and video games. Here's a short film I made using just tops.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

The Carry On Films

Where would my Village Tales of Fekenham Swarberry be without this wonderful series of films? Bawdy, risqué and sometimes just damn silly but always funny, the irrepressible Carry On series that featured so many irreplaceable and unique character actors and all under one banner. I mean, how could the likes of Frankie Howard, Sid James, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Connor, Joan Sims, Hattie Jacques, Barbara Windsor, Patsy Rowlands, Peter Butterworth, Terry Scott, Jim Dale, Peter Gilmore, Bernard Bresslaw, June Whitfield, Jack Douglas and Dilys Laye all appear, at different times of course, together on one set? Just the thought of Sid James besides Kenneth Williams is enough to set the pulse pounding. A truly remarkable set of films that can never be replaced or repeated so I wonder why on earth someone intends to start them up again?

Wot a fab Carry On!


Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Warren Smith

I've always had a soft spot for rockabilly and Warren Smith is a prime example of one it's best exponants as these four tracks demonstrate.
Living in Stepney back in the 70's and 80's I used to frequent the local Brick Lane market and discovered a rich seam in genres that I had not heard much of before. Ska and reggae to start with and then rockabilly and r&b. Encouraged by DJ's such as John Peel and Charlie Gillett I found music from further afield - Africa, India and the Far East. It made me realise that music is a universal language and each country has a something interesting to offer.

Part of one side of an LP on the Harvest label that came out in 1978. A concert at the Rainbow Theatre in London U.K. on April 30th 1977. Four Rock'n Roll legends including Charlie Feathers, Buddy Knox and Jack Scott. Here are the 4 tracks by Warren Smith-

1. Ubangi Stomp
2. Rock 'n' Roll Ruby
3. Blue Suede Shoes
4. I'm Movin' On

The sleevenotes by Geoff Barker say-

" Warren Smith is rightly introduced on the record as "The guy we've waited twenty years to see". Born in Mississippi in 1933, he was one of the many young rockabilly singers recorded by Sam Philips In Memphis, Tennessee for his legendary Sun record label. While the labels stars ( Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash) were making it in a big way, there were a host of others laying down some equally innovative recordings. Warren Smith's first single issude in March 1956, was a Johnny Cash song - Rock 'N' Roll Ruby. This sold well around the Memphis area, and the follow-up Ubangi Stomp became a rockabilly standard, first coming to the attention of Britsih audiences via Jerry Lee Lewis's first album."

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Roy Kinnear

Roy Mitchell Kinnear (8 January 1934 – 20 September 1988)was one of those supporting character actors whose performances made the leading actors look even better. Born in Scotland of a famous Ruby playing father, he started his acting career in the 1950's in repertory theatre,going to do a bit of radio work before his break into TV in That Was The Week That Was. It was in The Beatles film Help! that he really came to my attention when he acted as the bumbling sidekick technician to Victor Spinetti's mad scientist character. He made several films with his good friend and director Richard Lester that not only included Help! but also A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum, How I Won the War, The Bed-Sitting Room, and the Musketeer series of the 1970s and 1980s. He played the father of spoiled rich girl Veruca Salt in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, an adaptation of Roald Dahl's famous children's novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

His performances, typecast perhaps, were nearly always comical with his innate ability to fumble his way through every character role he performed. He seemed such a lovable and capable man and even though such appearances may be stage manufactured I would like to think not in his case.

Sadly he died during the filming of the last of the Musketeers films when he fell from a horse and broke his pelvis. He died of a heart attack whilst under surgery. Prior to this he had completed the role of The Common Man in A Man for All Seasons a made-for-television film directed by and starring Charlton Heston as Thomas More, with John Gielgud as Cardinal Wolsey and Vanessa Redgrave as Lady More. Mr. Heston dedicated the film to Roy Kinnear as a memorial to a great actor and personal friend.

A great actor