Wednesday, June 22, 2011

1982: Hard times

Pure and simply, this song reminds me of going to an outdoor disco in a supermarket car park. It ended while it was still light.

Yes, I danced.

No, I don't want to talk about it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Step inside, love

There's a new blog in town.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Long and Winding Road

I know I've said this many times before, but I have properly decided to wind this blog down.

It's been five years - count 'em! - and lately I really feel I've run out of steam. It's also quite a thankless task. I know people read it because they tell me so, but with the paucity of comments nowadays I feel like I'm pissing in the wind.

Perhaps Twitter is to blame. My attention span has gone down to 140 characters rather than lengthy waffle and it's far more immediate. The real time thing is far more rewarding. 

So that's it from me. I'll not delete the blog as I could be back at some stage (possibly tomorrow, you never know), but if you want me, I'm on Twitter. I'm not all over Twitter, far from it - I do have other things to do after all, but I'm there nonetheless, and under my real name. Time to step out of the shadows at last.

So perhaps it's a case of can't be bothered to write lots of stuff, and I'm sure I still have many stories to tell, but I simply can't be arsed to tell them. Everyone on the right hand side does it so much better than me, but I notice even they've lost the bug over the last year. Perhaps the fad is fianlly over. But it was fun while it lasted, wasn't it? This blog has been a joy and curse, but on the whole I've loved it.

Thanks for all your support, though, and see you in my tweets.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Kajagoogoo were right

Me and Mrs F-C at the Russian Tea Room: We *heart* NYC
I'm feeling refreshed and different after eight days in New York. I feel like I've been away for months, which was needed, seeing as we stood around a friend's bedside as he died the day before we went. That was a strange, rather grown-up thing to do and I'd rather not have to do it again.

But the next day at the crack of dawn we were New York City bound as planned and decided it was just what we needed.

We love New York. When some friends lived there between 1998 and 2000 we visited three times, we couldn't get enough of it. It's always different visiting somewhere and staying with people who actually live there. They know all the tricks and the groovy places.

It's funny because when i first went there in 1982 it was a very different place. We went en famille and spent the time utterly terrified and spooked at every turn. It was dark and dirty, threatening, swarming with police and really rather down at heel. How's it's all changed. I seem to recall we stayed on 42nd Street, which at the time was frequented by prostitutes and drug addicts. What a place for a family holiday. Now it couldn't be more different. It's clean, safe, packed with hundreds of lovely eateries, bars and hotels and shops. Even Grand Central Station is a must-see. Even 10 plus years ago Soho was just coming up, and the West Village and meatpacking districts were all but deserted. As for Hell's Kitchen, you wouldn't have gone there and The Bowery - fugehdaboutit.

But now you can go everywhere. And we did. We walked miles and miles, from Hell's Kitchen to Gramercy, from Soho (where we we were staying), across all the Greenwich Villages, to Central Park, the very civilised Upper West Side and Columbus Avenue, to Battery Park and Wall Street, Ground Zero, Noho, Dumbo, Nolita, Tribeca - you name it, we went there. We even went to Harlem. But we didn't get off the bus. Well would you? Those projects are not yet quite on the tourist trail. I'm not sure Malcolm X Boulevard is quite ready for them.

So some observations:

New York women
Gosh, what a ghastly bunch. Either self-absorbed twenty-somethings in PR mode, quite prepared to let a door slam in your face but woe betide you should do the same to them, who ignore you and treat you like you're invisible, to frazzled, pre-occupied, wired, reed-thin forty- and fifty-somethings who glower and are as rude as their younger counterparts. Overhead in a boutique as assistants danced attendance on one such demanding martinet: 'I like this necklace but it's too crazy. And my soundman will hate me'. And with coffee permanantly clutched in hand you get the picture. They can't go anywhere without a beverage.

Losing it
The famous Midnight Cowboy scene in which Dustin Hoffman walks out in front of a taxi which screeches to a halt and hoots its horn and he bangs his fist on the bonnet and shouts 'I'm walkin' here!'... well it's just like that. They sound like they do in the films and act like they do in the films. They kick off at the drop of a hat. It's like watching a thousand mini-vignettes a day. Quite a fascinating place for people watching. just watch from a safe distance. NB Taxi rides are utterly white-knuckle.

Star spots
We went to teh cinema on the swanky Upper West Side, just around the corner from the Dakota Building where John Lennon was shot, and home to the likes of Lauren Bacall and others of her ilk. We went to see a documentary. How much did we feel we were in a Woody Allen film? Anyhoo, two rows in front was Alan Alda. Then it really felt like a Wood Allen film.
We also saw Whoopi Goldberg and Michael Cera, who were judging the Tribeca Film Festival from our hotel, and star spot of all star spots, the President. The security was unbelievable. if William and Kate got married over there they would barely have seen the light of day, let alone parade the streets in an open-top surrey. Which brings me to...

The Royal Wedding
The first thing we were asked was why we were over there when surely we wanted to be over here for the wedding? They were just mad about it. All their top news bods like creaky old Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer were doing everything from London. Never mind tornadoes wiping out most of Alabama, what was Kate's dress going to be like. That opportunist pub landlord was never off the telly, and Ben Fogle and a cavalcade of very British types spouted forth in a way only Americans could love. Times Square was given over more or less entirely to a viewing platform and big screen so they could all get up at 4am to watch it.
And we now know more about the British Royal Family - and especially the Middletons - than we could ever have learnt over here watching wall to wall Daybreak and being forcefed Majesty magazine.
Saw a bit of it, and I have to say it all looked rather lovely and made me proud to be British. Yes, that's right.


To our surprise, we went to a Broadway show. The Book Of Mormon at the Eugene O'Neil Theatre. I was expecting a vast cavernous venue but it was like a village hall. Still, very comfy and good last minute seats for a great, highly irreverant show about Mormons, some of whom were sitting behind us and growled all the way through it. I'm amazed the theatre's not been firebombed. A great experience.

Getting around is so easy, there's so much to do, it's so civilised and so safe, I could easily live there, if I was living in the same building as Jerry Seinfeld on Central Park West.

So anyway, back to the real world. Buying a mop in Morrisons this lunchtime bought it all crashing back down to earth. Until my next holiday, whenever that may be.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Inside they're laughing...

Would you be upset if you overheard someone describing you as 'silly'? I think I might. Thankfully I know that I'm not.

So what does it mean to say someone is a silly man or woman. Let's have a think. A silly woman might be one of those middle aged women who's still a bit girlish and excitable. For example, a friend's mum came to our house and when told something of note she jumped up and down on the spot with - presumably - excitement. I remember thinking what a very silly woman she was.

Another might be a person who's unaware that they are too right on for their own good. Or a family that cycles together and only goes camping, or a woman with big, unruly hair who thinks it's fun to hide your shoe in the fridge and who comes bopping into her secret lesbian lover's workplace like it was the most natural thing in the world and more of a common room than an office.

All these I have known.

But what of the celebrity silly? How about Dillie 'Silly' Keane, from that bastion of silliness Fascinating Aida. Not funny, just That's Life standard silly. All Esther's Nancys were silly for a living, but I didn't mind so much. It's the unaware silly that rankles. Like Nicky Campbell, releasing a swing album in all seriousness, totally unaware that no one wants to buy a swing album by Nicky Campbell and former Holby City dumbell Mark Moraghan.

Chris Evans is king of the sillies, what with his always coming late to party with anything. Once he says Come Dine With Me is the best thing ever, you know it's over. He's an over-excitable manchild who tries to laugh at himself but can't. He's indulgent and showy and wears wacky clothes - the trademark of the silly - in order to be noticed. Sillies love to be the centre of attention though they'd deny it until the end of days. If only they knew no one's laughing with them, only at them. They're clearly dying inside.

There are hundreds more of course - Mike Read, Katie Price, Sisquo from So You Think You Can Dance, anyone who dyes their beard (Silly Connolly), anyone in a large hat (male), anyone who makes a splash at the races, and Jonathan Ross, who along with his wife are the first couple of sillydom.

If you know what I mean then, I'd like your nominations please. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

And now for something completely stupid

Nice to be back on this blog. The other one takes ages to load and it really hard to manage. So here we are again. Sorry if it means you have to change your settings again, but please do.

So on Saturday we went into the West End to see the play Warhorse with my mother-in-law. Have you been? I was dreading it, being as keen on theatre-going as I am on dog shit, but to my surprise it was a sensation. There wasn't a dry eye in the house and I don't cry at anything. I was welling up from the start. It's about horses and war, so you can guess how heart-wrenching it was. I was drained.

And there we were in the middle of Covent Garden, browsing shops, having drinks in bars, completely unaware of the UK Uncut trustafarians having a sit-in in Fortnum & Mason and the equally posh Black Bloc (you know there'll be loads of Nicks and Tobys sticking it to the man, but hiding behind a balaclava. Well done) smashing up the HSBC on Cambridge Circus. We could see it unfolding on Sky News but it may as well have been in Mumbai.

Our evening in a peaceful French restaurant in Monmouth Street was similarly undisturbed. Only on the way home did our taxi sweep by the fires of Trafalgar Square, though it all looked rather peaceful at the time. Poor London, bloodied and bruised, burnt and scorched and defaced. Can't they pick on another city and let us all get on with out lives. Legitimate protesters I applaud, splinter groups of bored students have a fun day out chucking crash barriers at Santander I do not. They're ruining it for everyone. Don't say I told you so when marches are banned from Central London.

Anyhoo, my real point is that while having a few moments to kill we went into Forbidden Planet. I've never set foot in this geek paradise before. Of course it's wall-to-wall superhero and sci-fi figurines at varying prices, as well as a whole wall of behind glass sculptures of minor characters from Star Wars or Watchmen with price tags into three figures. I mean, who buys these gewgaws?

Everything is now has a range of merchandise attached of course, and it's no surprise to see everything from Lost to Superman in there, but I baulked when I came across the Monty Python range. Yes, that's right, the Monty Python range.

It included a fluffy dead parrot for you to amuse your friends with, a disembodied foot on a keychain and Life Of Brian action figures. I didn't realise such stuff existed. Nothing is sacred. I couldn't go any further, I was too bemused. Anything even vaguely cultish now gets this treatment.

What next? A range of Howards' Way items. A miniature seaworthy Barracuda? A Ken Masters action figure with various medallions or a build your own Polly and Gerald mansion?

Actually, there's a thought...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dimming Of The Day

Yes, couldn't make the template change and it's all a bit limiting. So follow the link.See you at the new place.

Last one there's a lemon!

Now Matter How I Try?

No matter what I do I cannot change the design of this blog. Blogger won't allow it. Any suggestions?

Friday, January 07, 2011

I Just Wanna Be Your Everything

The older I get, the quieter I like my life to be. I'm talking musically.

So when I find the ipod alighting upon something noisesome and startling like Dead Cities by the Exploited or anything by Motorhead, I tend to skip along until it comes to something a little more gentle.

Maybe it's the time of year (or maybe it's the time of man*), but I'm simply not in the mood for a cacophony. My current faves are Mike Oldfield (Hergest Ridge couldn't be more relaxing), Traffic (as ever - all 11 minutes of Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys sends me into a coma, but in a nice way), the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, with their blend of light comedy and nostalgic novelty tunes and - and this comes as a surprise to even me - Andy Gibb.

I've only recently starting appreciating the Bee Gees for what they are: brilliant songwriters for themselves and others, with a canon of hits that anyone would be more than proud of. I drive by their old house in Brook Street, W1, most days and it doesn't seem like the kind of place to make beautiful music, but perhaps things were different then.

Of course the disco era doesn't really do it for me, so we'll move on, but i do like Barry Gibb's Guilty with Barbra Streisand, and they're responsible for songs we all know and love like Islands In The Stream, Grease, Emotions, If I Can't Have You and Chain Reaction.

But it's the pre- and post-Night Fever stuff. But let's concentrate on the Sixties to mid-Seventies stuff like the amazing I Started A Joke, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, I've Gotta Get A Message To You, Massachusettes, Don't Forget To Remember, Melody Fair, the Odessa Album, First Of May, Cucumber Castle, etc. Look, says Simon Cowell, you don't need me to tell you how good they are.

So if they're okay, thought I, then I must be underrating their solo sibling Andy. And I was right. I'm sure the other brothers wrote and produced, but Andy's voice is just unique. Poor, tragic Andy - who died at just 30 in 1988 - never really caught on over here, but Stateside and in Europe he was huge, so his string of number ones and Top 10 hits needed my further investigation.

Of course, it's as MOR and easy as you like, but you know me by now - I do like. So let my current favourites (Our Love) Don't Throw It All Away, An Everlasting Love (nice intro) and (Love Is) Thicker Than Water (I'm very much enjoying the use of brackets in these song titles) wash over you and ease you into the weekend. And here's something from the Bonzos too.