This message just in from Yugoslavia

Two years later he conducted Kenneth McKellar, who came ninth in Luxembourg singing A Man Without Love. McKellar had been persuaded to perform in a kilt, but when the BBC collected feedback from around Europe they found an unexpected comment from Yugoslavia. They thought the entry had been OK, but they felt the lady who sang it looked “rather butch”.

That could well be one of those tales which has improved with the telling of it…..


I bumped into him at The Open at Sandwich a few years ago and noticed he was limping. He’d fallen in a ditch, he said. “Drink taken?” I asked. “Don’t be daft, man,” he said in that lovely Welsh lilt, “who falls in a ditch sober?”

Not read them but shall perhaps have to

The family emigrated to Wairakei in New Zealand when Louise was 15, much to her distress. Rather than go to school she lay in the back garden, where violent geothermal activity caused trees to shake. After a few weeks her parents gave in and dispatched her to Yorkshire to stay with her grandmother. On a brief return to the Antipodes she became pregnant “out of sheer boredom”. The baby was given up for adoption and Louise Rennison eventually flew back to Britain.

Has to be said my New Zealand cousins all come from large families.

Louise Rennison, the author, who has died aged 64, was the creator of Georgia Nicolson, the 14-year-old protagonist of such young adult novels as Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging and Startled by his Furry Shorts
Much of the time, the dominant emotion was embarrassment – as when Georgia gatecrashed a party dressed as a stuffed olive, or accidentally shaved off her eyebrows.

Luuurve is a Many Trousered Thing (2007) and Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? (2009). Withering Tights, the first in a series starring Georgia’s equally eccentric cousin Tallulah Casey, won the Roald Dahl Funny Prize in 2010.

Male and female teenage years are not exactly and precisely the same. But that incredible embarrassment of never quite getting anything at all right is common to both.

The North is a different place, isn’t it?

Warren’s mischievous flamboyance was perhaps the result of his early induction into showbusiness. His grandfather had started the family’s performing tradition by becoming a champion clog dancer in Eccles, and his father George, a multilingual fruit importer from Manchester, carried it on. A former major in the Intelligence Corps during the First World War, Warren’s father supplemented the family income by playing the musical saw in his band the George Simpson Tonics Dance Orchestra.

How do you explain “champion clog dancer”, or even Eccles, to anyone not from the North?

And there was a time when the education system knew what it was doing:

Born Anthony McVay Simpson on July 8 1936 at Eccles, now Greater Manchester, Tony Warren was educated at Clarendon Road primary and Eccles grammar schools, where he was bullied for being “posh” and for “not liking rough games”. His remedy was to play truant and he stayed away “for almost a year, almost every day” by mimicking his mother’s voice on the telephone in calls to the school secretary. When he was finally traced to the local library, Tony’s headmaster asked him what he had been looking at and gave him a further reading list.

There was even a time when the BBC knew what it was doing:

Aged 12 he wrote to the producers of the BBC’s Children’s Hour to tell them that he was better than any of the child actors they were using. His subsequent audition earned him radio work which lasted through his teens, and brought him some theatre, film and television roles.

And this is wondrous:

Expelled from stage school for rabble-rousing, at 17 Warren ran away to London

How can you rabble rouse in a stage school?

This is a bit trite:

Warren was proud of having created Coronation Street, and of having fans of the calibre of the poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, who likened the soap to The Pickwick Papers. When the Queen – herself apparently a fan – visited the new Coronation Street set at the Granada studios in 1983, she asked Warren: “Where is the real Coronation Street?” He replied: “In the hearts and minds of your subjects, Ma’am.”

But a good innings overall, a very good innings.

Advanced stuff in any field is not understandable to the layman

This is actually one of the complaints made bout the modern world. It’s simply not possible to keep abreast of the advanced edges of more than one (perhaps two) fields any more, in the way that an 18th or 19th cent. bloke could be a polymath.

Take this:

Klaus Roth, who has died aged 90, was the first British winner of the Fields Medal, the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize, whose discoveries in number theory led to him being considered one of the greatest mathematicians of the second half of the 20th century.
Roth was, above all, a consummate problem-solver. His best-known work was in the field of Diophantine approximation, a branch of pure mathematics that deals with the approximation of real numbers by rational numbers. He was only 30 when he made a significant contribution to the Thue-Siegel theorem by proving that any irrational algebraic number has an approximation exponent equal to two. In 1958 he was awarded the Fields Medal on the strength of this breakthrough.

Undoubtedly great work to gain a Fields Medal. But I would wager that you’d need at least one degree in mathematics (or at least be able to pass the finals for one, whether you’ve done so or not) to even understand what it was that he had done, let alone replicate it or do it for the first time.

I am quite famously maths blind (statistics I can usually manage but not maths) so this might just be projection but I don’t think so. It’s all there in words and everything and I’ve not a clue what it all means. And while I’ve obviously got deficiencies in my education I’m not entirely stupid. I’m really pretty sure that this will be true or prize winning work in any field: those outside that field, without the underlying education, can no longer really follow what the arguments are.

I actually have some fun (for a given value of fun) with this each year with the Econ Nobel. Is it possible to put the point, in however bastardised a form, so that it can be understood by he layman. Krugman, Tirole, Deaton, yes, it can be and has been done. Those blokes who did heteroskedacity (Spelling?) not really, it was just possible to say they’d done something clever with numbers. Not what, just something.

Perhaps it’s not something to complain about, but something to celebrate? That we’re delving so deep into the secrets of the universe that no one human mind can encompass it all?

At some point we’ve got to tell these people to fuck off, seriously

Harper Lee has died. And it’s entirely fair to say that it wasn’t in fact the greatest novel ever. But this?

Some critics have called the book naive and sentimental, whether dismissing the Ku Klux Klan as a minor nuisance in Maycomb or advocating change through personal persuasion rather than collective action. The novel was also considered patronizing for highlighting the bravery of a white man on behalf of blacks.

Fuck off honey buns, you, your politics and the horse they both rode in on.

So, why doesn’t someone make this movie?

For his part Hudis fantasised about writing one last script for him, Carry On Shylock Holmes, featuring a Jewish Holmes and Watson, and a final line of dialogue: “Elementary – you schmuck”.

And I’d be very proud indeed of managing to achieve this:

Hudis’s half dozen Carry On scripts were tightly plotted with all loose ends neatly tied up. During editing of Carry On Nurse, his favourite of the six, (Hudis had drawn on his wife Rita’s experiences during her seven years in nursing) the director, Gerald Thomas, decided to pull the famous daffodil-up-the-bottom joke from the middle of the film and use it as a climax, creating a classic Carry On denouement. The critic of the News Chronicle proclaimed the gag one of “unsurpassed vulgarity”.

Managing to create something of unsurpassed vulgarity has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

So Germans can be arch too

In 2014 Artur Fischer received the European Inventor Award for lifetime achievement. The scale and range of his output prompted some admirers to describe him as the Thomas Edison of his day – though Fischer himself rejected the comparison, pointing out that Edison had lifted many of his ideas from other people.

A good woman

Or perhaps just a good person?

After having three children of their own, she and John began fostering children in 1973, later adopting two boys.
Alex found her true calling, not only as a mother to the children in her care, but as an adviser to fellow foster parents and a source of support to families whose children had been restored to them after a spell in temporary care.
After John Timpson’s father, Anthony, was ousted from the family business by his uncle Geoffrey, and the company sold to United Drapery Stores, then Hanson Trust, it was Alex who persuaded her husband to attempt a management buy-out and supported him as he led the negotiations to a successful conclusion in 1983.
Her concern for the less fortunate became the foundation on which her husband developed his company. Among other things he adopted a policy of hiring ex-offenders, taking their reoffending rate down from a national average of 62 per cent within a year of release to less than five per cent over 12 years. Another scheme was to make one of its employee’s dreams come true each month – recently a staff member travelled to Barbados to be reunited with a father she had not seen for 13 years.

31 foster children apparently.


Bit late for this idea but…..

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman was born on February 21 1946 on a council estate in Acton, west London. “My mother was Welsh and my father was Irish and I can speak both accents like a native, yet in my whole career I have never been asked to,” he later recalled.

Now there’s the beginning of a plot idea.

So, twins, adopted out, one brought up in Wales, one in Ireland……now adult. Both played by Rickman, obviously. Take it from there….


Bit of a shock, eh?

Singer David Bowie has died at the age of 69 following a battle with cancer.
His son director Duncan Jones confirmed the news and a statement was released on his official social media accounts.
“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer,” it said.

Hadn’t even heard a whisper of this.

What I’ve always thought of as the oddity of his career (err, yes, sorry) was that I always took him to be an actor rather than a musician. He was a very talented indeed musician and in his straight acting roles not all that good an actor. But I always took every song to be “an act”, almost a three or four minute turn as if, almost, in music hall or something. Hmm, not quite expressing this quite right.

If Mariah Carey comes out and sings a song you know it’s Mariah Carey singing a song. Same with Aretha, etc. And yes, you’ll know Bowie’s voice but it’s just not the same. The songs, their arrangements, they’re, to me at least, little scenes and they often come from very different parts of the artistic or musical landscape.

No, I’m still not getting this across properly. But he just seemed to approach the whole thing in an entirely different manner. Create the character, the idea, first, then have songs that explore or explain that, rather than saying “Here’s a musical idea and here’s me doing it.”

As an example of this I’m not really aware of anyone who covered his songs. He wrote with an for others of course, but that’s different.

Hmm, anyway, Vale. For he did create some blindingly good little three and four minute scenes which is more than most of us will ever be able to boast.

Quite so, quite so

British music journalist Mark Beech tweeted that Lemmy had told him: “I will be killed by death. I might be killed by too much booze, women or music, but it’s not a bad way to die.”

His music was abrasive, but his tastes were cultured: Monty Python and PG Wodehouse were lifelong companions. “I’ve had a whale of a time out of rock’n’roll,” he once said, “and rock’n’roll has had a whale of a time out of me. That’ll do.”

A Madame Claude story

Madame Claude (real name Fernande Grudet), who has died aged 92, was known to the international jet set as perhaps the most famous purveyor of high-class call girls in the world.

There are two things that people will always pay money for,” she wrote in her autobiography Madam (1994): “Food and sex, and I wasn’t any good at cooking”.
When police burst into Madame Claude’s third-floor flat they found her inspecting a naked job applicant called Sabrina. “My dear,” she was heard saying on a tape later played in court, “those thighs are a little heavy.”

So, one day the French President is in a limo driving down the Champs Elysee with one of the black Francophone Presidents (think Bokassa, or perhaps someone less terrifyingly evil), state visit sort of thing, and he says:

“Over there, on the left, we are just passing Madame Claude’s, the finest brothel in all the world.”