Saturday, 18 February 2017

Slayer Two Decades Young.

Has it really been that long. Were we all ever so young? Not me, I remember at the time of transmission someone asking me if I got any royalties from the Giles The Librarian figure. Bloody cheek. Literally. I met a few cast members from the show over the years and have particularly fond memories of the Magnificent Amber (That is a knowing Orson Welles reference, boom,boom!) Benson. She was so bohemian and her dear old ma was a real hoot too. For a time we traveled through space and time together and had many adventures(mostly during tea breaks and entirely in my head.).
               The trouble with having a time and space traveling companion who is an actress is that all adventures are subject to unexpected filming commitments.
                Whatever your feelings are about this very enjoyable television series then and now you cannot take away the fact it helped reinvigorate genre television for a generation or two. Showing that well written and performed stories told in an engaging and optimistic fashion will have legs and travel.
                  Happy Birthday to a much loved slice of genre telly. Though the cast and creative team are scattered to the four winds there are still nights when they all come together after the opening chords..

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Doddy King Of Cool.

Look what my chums Frank and Steph found at a car boot sale on the Crumlin Rd. A London Palladium programme from those long ago days . How glam it all looks. The photographs inside are amazing. Lines of entertainers waiting in rows in their Sunday best to meet and greet some royal personage as they drift by dishing out approval. It looks so terribly respectful. One cannot help feeling wistfully nostalgic for a time when a Sunday night at the Palladium was an innocent and shared pastime. There is a charming run down end of the pier acts quality to it all. That is no bad thing. There was a lot of love and talent to be found at the end of the pier.

Lost On A Dark Sea.

Such a beautiful piece this. Sorry, went all Yoda speak there. I meant to say what a curious and beautiful thing this performance by Kate Bush this is;And Dream Of Sheep. A woman is lost and alone on a cold dark sea at night. The little light shining on her life jacket just a twinkle on a ceaseless and merciless stretch of dark water. The surprising frailty of the performance caught me. There are soft moments between her sung lines when her breath catches as she draws the words forth. It quite crippled me for moments as my own breath mirrored the emotions she gasped out.
            I have not to the best of my knowledge ever suffered recurring bad dreams or nightmares but I did have a dream more than once when I was growing where I was floating on dark water while some unseen but threatening shape glided through the water beneath my feet. I would feel myself rise up as it moved beneath me displaced in the water by its passing. I always woke up as it broke surface so I never knew what it was.
            Check this video out for yourself. Get lost at sea for a few moments. Try not to get mistaken for a buoy. Think of warm breath and poppies. Heavy with seed. Let them take you home.

Remember You Are Not a Womble But He Is.

(Sketch from one of my notebooks.) Uncle Bulgaria is a rum old cove. He might be considered old school these days by those with a more incendiary and mercurial frame of mind but it was the school of hard knocks. This is a womble who can tell a goose berry from a pomegranate.
             The Wombles would probably find Wimbledon a different place these days.
             Sorting human beings discarded garbage would be a bit of a horror show these daysI suspect.

John Hurt.

Was saddened to hear of the passing of John Hurt. An amazing actor who over the meandering course of a long and sustained career played so many different roles and who never lost the ability to entertain, illuminate and surprise. Hard to believe that other actors warned him "You'll never work again, " after taking the round breaking and arguably society changing role of Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant. His Caligula in the magnificent BBC adaption of Robert Graves I, Claudius is an equally unforgettable turn.Beyond his obvious highs there were many lesser known roles but none where he did not give his all. I always had a soft spot for his turn in Mister Forbush And The Penguins.Think I first saw it at just the right age on just the right Monday night.
            His War Doctor will always have a special resonance for me. I had been listening to the third volume of stories the night before the news broke of his death. I had been lost in the performances of all involved. Taken out of myself for a couple of hours in a sound stream of storytelling.
            That is when the real magic occurs , I suppose.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Polarity In A Spin.

That Missy was up to no good as usual. She had loaded Napoleons Nose above the Cavehill in Belfast with a legion of flesh eating nano-bots! One sneeze from that stoney orifice and the greater part of Belfast would be dinner for swarms of little man eating robots. For Rassilon's sake what ever happened to straight forward extinction level invasions by Daleks and Cybermen. Its like the universe is ruled over by Monty Python's Flying Circus.

The Fatal Tree.

Jake Arnott's latest book is set in the skanky underworld of London in the 1700s, a world where degradation and brutality seemed the order of the day.A bone deep world-weariness is the common bond shared by every man, woman and child born in this era. Life in the inner city seemed like a deadly spiderweb bedded in misery. There has never been an easy priod in human history for the poor but some eras are worse than others( Sounds like a song by Ye Olde Smiths.). Jake Arnott has picked at the scabs of history and drawn forth a flaky tale of The Fallen and the depths we can sink to when surrounded by the right and wrong friends.
               The story begins in the wake of the disaster following the South Sea Bubble bursting and the lives that were destoyed when it fell apart. There are no waters more deep nor latitudes more unforgiving than the tempest of financial ruin. It is agreat love story as well, the tale of Jack Sheppard, house breaker and infamous jail escapee, and his whoring pick pocket lover  Edgeworth Bess. A proper love story it is too, whatever that may supposed to be. Full of the random insanity love inspires and the cruelties that most noble and inspiring of emotions may bring about. I think love is like a sparkling clean stream running downhill to collect in a clear  pool for the thirsty to drink from. Only, when one tracks up stream you find the rotting carcass of a dead sheep through which your sweet drinking water has passed. Mind you, I am no expert when it comes to matters of the heart. Jake Arnott in his past work has demonstrated a great understanding off the complexities of the human heart and its many dark corners. There is no sense of " Oh well, now I am reading the thoughts of the bad man" or "now we get to hear what the good person thinks."He writes about human beings and the appalling contrariness of the human condition as the good and the bad in men and women are just flip sides of the same coin.
               "Give no thought for the morrow" they were advised from the pulpit. As the poor and reeking congregation sat quietly but studiously stealing from each other. And boy did they take this advice to heart. Guzzle in the moment for no one knows how many moments one has left. London was a dirty place to live, a hard and unforgiving place to try and build a life of worth, dirty and hard in all senses of the words. A sodden miasma of human waste and desperation where cleanliness was a state of mind and soul and not a state one generally found oneself in. Jake Arnott's work is not for the faint hearted. He tells us of the world and its history as it was and not as we may fancifully hoped it would be. Peter Ackroyd's history of London also covers this period in engaging detail and everything you need to know is bullet pointed with insight and humour and a genuine street wisdom.
                 Stick on a Tiger Lillies album while you are reading it and fell yourself fall under a spell.
                 I know I did.

                                     (From my notebook;Jack Sheppard in his Newgate cell.)
This is a variation of a sketch made of Jack Sheppard while he was incarcerated and awaiting the rope in Newgate prison. The gesture he is making is one that Sheppard himself assumed The gesture
he is making is one that Jack Sheppard himself assumed whilst posing for the drawing. The resulting painting is attributed to Sir James Thornhill circa 1723, after visiting Newgate to do the sketches for the final piece. I wonder if he wore a nose-gay? For every single account of the place suggests it smelled like the deepest darkest cess pit of hell. A punishment in itself.