Is it just me or is the best thing about the “net” the fact that you can find out what happened to Third Lanark, the Vernons Girls and the Dagenham Girl Pipers with a couple of clicks?
To quote the late Douglas Adams, “The Dagenham Girl Pipers. With all due respect and love to my dear wife, there are some things that, however loving or tender your wife may be, only a large pipe band can give you.”
And I was very sad to discover, on returning from our Baltic cruise and its Wi-Fi blackout that Twinkle is no more. “He rode into the night, Accelerated his motorbike, I cried to him in fright, Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.” I like to think of a sweet old Granny Twinkle living to a ripe old age amongst her grandchildren but, sadly, it was not to be.
Yup, this blog is a sucker for nostalgia, so tribute bands and ageing rockers are right up its street. Ronald Wycherley (1940 – 83) was my first hero — well, the first after Old Yeller – for the simple reason that, like me, he was a Scouser. Unlike me he acquired a kinda “Storm Nelson/Rock Hudson” moniker as Billy Fury – I have to break it to you that he was not the beloved offspring of any Mr and Mrs Fury. (For the record, neither were there a Mr and Mrs Harum. Nor, disappointingly, did Ma and Pa Pop raise a beautiful little soft-skinned boy and decide to christen him Iggy.)
This is all by way of telling you that this blog dragged a couple of friends/victims along recently to the Theatre Royal in Brighton to see Fury’s original backing group, the Tornadoes, fronted by former Stars in Their Eyes contestant, Colin Gold. Mrs Blog made sure she had made alternative arrangements for the night. What did she miss? Some belting songs (Halfway to Paradise, Last Night was Made for Love, I’d Never Find Another You, and a cover of Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe” – and that wasn’t his real name either.) The evening was only marginally spoiled by a couple of women of a certain age behind us who maintained a loud commentary throughout each song – “Ooh, I like this one! Do you remember when we went to see him in Hull?” I vaguely recall there was a phase when young ladies were reportedly in the habit of throwing their knickers on the stage at their heartthrobs. I was never tempted myself and I can’t imagine Mrs Blog behaving in that fashion. Not now, anyway. As one of my party observed, “If this audience throws anything, it’ll be incontinence pads…”
It doesn’t do to scrutinise song lyrics too closely for grammar or syntax. “Like I’ve Never been Gone” I can live with. But “You’ll be mine until forever more”? Really, Billy? Really?
Talking of Scouse “turns” and their song titles and lyrics, as I’m entitled to – it’s my blog – I was also a fan of the Birkenhead band, Half Man, Half Biscuit, whom (grammar) I went to see perform once in Manchester. Any group that releases albums and singles with titles like “Back in the DHSS” (I think you can spot the derivation), “Trouble Over Bridgwater”, “Joy Division Oven Gloves” and “Urge for Offal” is ok in my book. They turned down an opportunity to appear on The Tube in order to get to a Tranmere Rovers home game in Birkenhead and famously cited “musical similarities” as a reason for them disbanding. The late John Peel is quoted as saying, “I’ve said it before, a national treasure, there’s no question about it. When I die, I want them to be buried with me.”
Delving a little further into the past, this blog was fortunate enough to be invited to Runnymede to join sundry Royals et al at the 800th birthday bash for Magna Carta. What’s the right gift for an 800th? Not gold, not diamond. Parchment? It’s not easy these days to get your hands on dried, stretched unicorn skin.
It was a good day. Lots of opportunities for taking selfies with the VIP guests – and certainly much easier than it would have been in 1215, using tapestry. The weather, the music and entertainment all played their part in creating the right atmosphere. Speeches from the Archbishop of Canterbury and US Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, struck just the correct tone in hailing the significance of the Great Charter and its legacy while emphasising the length of the road still to be travelled in terms of freedoms and equality, and our own dear, beloved Prime Minister, never one to miss an opportunity to embarrass the country in front of an international audience, chose to mark the occasion by announcing that he intended to repeal the Human Rights Act. Bless.
The PM admitted he didn’t know what Magna Carta meant when quizzed on US television. He fared little better at Runnymede…
A footnote which could have changed that day’s news headlines: a fellow guest sitting alongside me – and formerly Head of Archaeology in the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England – had brought with him a timely and well researched magazine article which demonstrated that we were all at the wrong location and we should all shift a mile or two along the river if we wanted to identify the place of the “great sealing.” Sadly, he couldn’t be persuaded to rush the podium brandishing this particular stick of dynamite.
Other highlights of the past fortnight:
- As You Like It at Shakespeare’s Globe. How, in heaven’s name, does Orlando not realise that the “boy” he’s drawn to in the Forest of Arden is in fact his true love, Rosalind? In the audience we all knew. Doesn’t augur well for their future life together, that’s all I’m saying. And a lion? In the Forest of Arden?
A tough call. Would never have taken this chap for a girl.
- London’s Open Garden Squares Weekend. We didn’t get lucky in the ballot to tour the garden at number 10, Downing Street but there were plenty more on offer, and this blog’s first visit to the roof garden at (what used to be called) Derry and Toms in Kensington High Street was a delight.
- Midweek break in Suffolk. Gorgeous coast and market towns, Suffolk Punch horses, the Woodbridge tide mill. Sutton Hoo: the burial site of an Anglo Saxon “king” – I was vaguely aware that he might have been buried with some stuff he would need afterwards – a horse, for example, or the best wife — but I hadn’t envisaged that the grave would resemble the packing for a full month’s holiday abroad. Mrs Blog has, accordingly, started drafting her own “necessities for the afterlife” list, just in case – hairdryer, travel iron, sunglasses, Tommy Lee Jones, moisturiser, credit card, spare sunglasses, favourite pillow, iPad, Hilary Mantel, Marks and Spencer, Scotland…