Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Pin your ears back for a dozen instrumental gems from when music was great!

"Jungle Street" was recorded by London trio, The Scorpions, in 1961 - and deemed not good enough for release. A remastered version finally scuttled onto the market in 2014 - sounds pretty good to me! Now, where did I put those winkle-pickers...

Drummer Earl Palmer (1924-2008) boasted quite an impressive CV, what with playing on Fat's Domino's "The Fat Man" in 1949, and going on to record with...

British censors ended the 1930s Hollywood horror boom - a desperate cinema owner revived it

The '30s Hollywood horror boom began on 12th February 1931, when Universal Studios released Dracula, starring the heavily-accented Hungarian stage actor Bela Lugosi in the title role. It ended five years later, when Universal...

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Behind the first window in this year's St Michael & All Angels' advent calendar - a Sara Grønmark re-creation

That was copied from a mosaic...

Years from now, they'll be asking: "Where were you when ex-Labour minister Alan Milburn quit the social mobility board?"

Alan Milburn - a hugely significant figure
And here's the thing - you'll remember Milburn's resignation instantly, as if you were back there, re-experiencing that momentous event which had the whole of the British nation crowded around their TV sets and mobile phones and iPads and (Get on with it! ed)...Well, anyway, whether you were making a cup of tea when BBC Radio News cut into Farming Today, or were slouched in front of the TV set watching some Mancunian nonentity tellings wildly amusing anecdotes about their "Nan" on Breakfast TV, or popping round to the corner shop for a pint of milk when a distraught stranger ran up to you with tears in their eyes and sobbed "Oh my God! Have you heard? Alan Milburn has resigned from the social mobility board because of the government's lack of commitment to social justice! What's to become of us? Yes, I know he had served his time and was due to be replaced anyway - but, still, it's a terrible shock. How am I going to break the news to my kids? That's Christmas ruined!"

Okay, you might think that four members of the Great and the Good flouncing out of some...

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Ho! Ho! Ho! - The Guardian's annual war on Christmas has begun!

I'd much prefer to read an article with the headline...

A quartet of vintage filmic gems: Daddy Long Legs, Tales of Manhattan, O. Henry's Full House and Last Holiday

There's a scene from a film I saw on television some 50 years ago that has stuck with me: Charles Laughton is playing classical music on a piano in a deserted New York bar when the saloon keeper appears and orders him to play "good" music. Laughton segues into vigorous boogie-woogie - only to revert to classical as soon as the owner retires to a back room. It's very funny. I only recently discovered that the film was Tales of Manhattan (1942),  an anthology movie directed by Jules Duvivier. The screenplay involved 13 writers and - besides Laughton - its five episodes starred, variously, Charles Boyer,  Edward G. Robinson, Ginger Rogers, Henry Fonda, Rita Hayworth, Cesar Romero, George Sanders, Roland Young and Paul Robeson (a sixth episode, starring W.C. Fields, was filmed, but dropped). The linking device is a tailcoat which comes into the possession of the main character in each episode. With the exception of the truly awful final sequence - a toe-curlingly patronising...