Former scientist, now graduated to a life of leisure;
Family man (which may surprise the family - it certainly surprises him);
Likes cycling and old-fashioned B&W film photography;
Dislikes greasy-pole-climbing 'yes men';
Thinks Afterlife (previously known as Thea Gilmore) should be much better known than she is;
Values decency over achievement.
So, I’ve just returned from a long weekend spent wandering the streets of London with Firstborn.
We took in a couple of shows – Mary Poppins (terrific) and Back to the Future (great effects, but no memorable songs) – and the ‘immersive’ van Gogh exhibition (interesting without ‘gripping). We dangled across the Thames on the London cable car, which was fun-but-brief…
…and strolled around Islington and Greenwich…
…and the Spitalfields market (I can recommend the Humble Crumble stall!).
We also visited Sir Ian McKellen’s Limehouse pub, The Grapes, so that the Millennial amongst us (and lover of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) could see Gandalf’s Staff that’s exhibited behind the bar. Good pub grub and we had the best seats in the bar!
It is, of course, the trip to The Grapes that inspired the following…
A wizard once said with a laugh “We sell wine by the glass or caraffe, So why don’t you traipse For some plonk at The Grapes And get to play with my Staff!”
Postscript: we also went to a lot of cafés. List courtesy of Firstborn…
• Miki’s Paradise, Holloway Road, breakfast • Minimalist cafe in islington, tea and coffee, find name • Kipferl, Islington, lunch • Regents Canal cafe, canal no 5? Hot drink and pastry
• Half Cup, St Barts Square, brunch • Pangea, Spitalfields, tea • Humble Crumble, Spitalfields, crumble • Trade, Spitalfields, tea and pastry • Caffe Nero off the Strand, tea • Papa Johns, Hotel, pizza
• Dad – caffe nero St Paul’s, coffee • The Grapes, Canning Town, lunch and sorbet • Fratellis, across the cable car from Greenwich, tea and coffee • Monsoon cafe, Greenwich, sandwich
• Caffe Nero, St Paul’s, tea • Attendant Coffee, farringdon, brunch • Black Sheep Coffee, Wembley, tea – Alice
As a sixth former in the mid-70s, I was lucky enough to attend a few rock concerts at Lancaster University, just 20 miles from where I lived. That was down to Barry Lucas, the university’s Ents Manager of the early 70s, who kick-started and maintained a quite astonishing 15-year-run of booking major groups for a small provincial venue; the university’s Great Hall.
The whole episode was so remarkable that a book about it – When Rock Went To College – first published in 2017, not only sold out, but has since been published in a 2nd edition. You can read about it here.
Of the acts that I saw, I recall Wishbone Ash being technically excellent, but dull as dishwater and blown off stage by their support band, Supercharge, fronted by Albie Donnelly. Supercharge was rightly credited as one of the best live bands of the era, but you’ve probably never heard of them, hence the link above. I also saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers open for a Nils Lofgren concert. You could tell then that Petty was destined for the kind of super stardom that passed Lofgren by. And then there was Lynyrd Skynyrd in the band’s most authentic line-up (ie, before the plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant and Steve and Cassie Gaines). Amazing!
So why this reminiscing? Well, it’s simple really. None of the concerts that I saw back then or since – however good – bettered a small intimate gig that I went to at Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree in 2019, and I’m just so looking forward to Albert Lee’s return in October. His previous performance there was perfect. Backed by a youthful-but-accomplished band, Lee’s playing, singing and storytelling that night was masterful and I’m hoping for a repeat performance!
I penned this limerick after his 2019 concert tour, but didn’t publish it for reasons lost in the mists of time…
In a show at the town’s Lemon Tree The audience just had to agree That the best gig in town Was that man of renown The gifted and great Albert Lee!
I’ll Never Find Another You Georgy Girl Morningtown Ride Island Of Dreams When Will The Good Apples Fall A World Of Our Own The Carnival Is Over
If you’ve ever heard any of them, then you will probably have heard what Elton John referred to as “the purest voice in popular music”.
Sadly, Judith Durham, who possessed that voice, has died.
I celebrated her 75th birthday in a post four years ago with a bit of a cheeky limerick, whilst highlighting the fact that she sound-tracked my early life when I was so often ill and off school; looked after my my grandmother who was a big fan of The Seekers.
She was Australia’s Sweetheart (Judith, that is, not my grandmother!), and I guess the saddest guys around today will be Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley; the remaining members of the group. Mind you, I bet St Peter’s witnessing a cracking version of this…
The Seeker whose voice would bestride The world of my childhood has died. Now her tears are falling And the harbour light’s calling; As she makes her last Morningtown Ride.
Here’s a question for you: which singer had two top ten hits (and a third in the top thirty) in 1962 all produced by George Martin (clue; not one of The Beatles)?
I could add some extra clues and, perhaps, yesterday they would have helped some-but-not-all of you, guess the name. However, since his death was announced this morning the explosion of tributes to him and his career means you would have to be something of a troglodyte not to know of whom I speak.
Yep, Bernard Cribbins is the answer (aka ‘Perks’ the station porter in the original Railway Children film and star of many other productions). I shan’t repeat here what has been said elsewhere, but I will reinforce the thread that states what a lovely man he was.
As a 12 or 13 year old schoolboy (circa 1970/71) and a keen angler, my English teacher had asked everyone in my class to write to a famous person with whom they shared a hobby.
I wrote to Bernard Cribbins, telling him that I’d heard he was a keen angler and could he give me any tips. I didn’t expect a reply, but I did receive one. Just a short handwritten note telling me he that he was glad that I liked fishing, wishing me ‘tightlines’ and his tip was “don’t fall in”. I was one of the very few, if not the only pupil, that got a reply from their ‘famous person’. I don’t know what happened to it, but I wish I’d kept it safe.
Later in life, one of his top ten hits (his were all novelty songs), Hole in the Ground, became a favourite that Firstborn and I regularly belted out (we tried the same with his other hit, Right Said Fred, but could never remember the words beyond the first verse).
It was a delight to see his resurgence as the country’s favourite grandad in Dr Who although he had never really disappeared from public performance. I shall certainly look out for him when he appears in the Dr Who 60th anniversary episode(s).
Here’s the limerick:
The actor that sang “Right said Fred” And voiced all the Wombles is dead It looks like he’s found His “Hole in the Ground” As he’s finally reached life’s railhead.
Postscript#1: Cribbins’ third musical ‘hit’ in 1962 (Gossip Calypso) is much less well known than either Right Said Fred or Hole in the Ground. It joined the post-Windrush episode of calypso cultural appropriation of that era.
What set Cribbins’ song apart from those of, say, Lance Percival is the latter’s attempt to assume a mock-Caribbean accent when singing; the vocal equivalent of ‘blacking up’. Cribbins song was all Cockney (or as Cockney as a northerner could effect) without a single Caribbean overtone in sound or word. Still, it certainly wouldn’t be made today as the ‘gossiping women’ trope would be widely deprecated.
Postscript#2: Here’s a birthday/Christmas prezzie hint!
A physiotherapy clinic in my childhood hometown has moved to flashy new premises and simultaneously picked at a scab; the shibboleth that separates those of us that observe a distinction in the use of the words few and less from those that don’t. I can imagine their business plan for moving premises…
Draw up plans to move to bigger premises. Check!
Invest heavily in new fixtures and fittings. Check!
Source signage for the storefront windows. Check!
Make a hash of the English language. Check!
A pedant once had to confess Some people just fail to impress When they’re compelled to show That they simply don’t know The difference between fewer and less!
I’ve just finished a ‘virtual’ spin class at the Aberdeen Sports Village. It was one of the Les Mills RPM online classes (edition 30 to be precise) in which Less Mills’ instructors Glen Ostergaard and Khiran Huston seem to think you enjoy the suffering that you put yourself through.
Towards the end, had I not been gasping for air, I could have laughed aloud at @khiranhuston who then exhorted participants to “Let your heart dance”. Personally, I was just glad that mine was still beating!
Here’s the limerick:
When your legs want to beat a retreat in A spin class you’re close to completing And the instructor, per chance, Then says “Let your heart dance!” Just be glad if yours keeps on beating!
I’d like to think that the invertebrates comprising the UK’s governing Conservative party had evolved a spine sufficient to declaim Boris Johnson, its erstwhile leader and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, as a moral vacuum at the heart of government.
“They have!” you say, “They’ve done for him, he’s resigned!”. Well, yes and no. The latter is certainly true, but not because the Conservative Members of Parliament have evolved a collective spine. It’s solely because they saw their chances of being re-elected by their constituents receding faster than an ageing hippy’s hairline if he remained in situ!
Sadly, he will be only be replaced by another nasty member of the Nasty Party, so heaven help the poor, the ill and the displaced.
As Johnson saw himself as a latter day Churchill, so shall I borrow from the latter to describe Johnson himself. Not so much “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”, but “Walter Mitty, wrapped in Don Quixote, inside Billy Liar”.
Mitty the complete fantasist; Don Quixote who tilted at windmills in his quest to fight imaginary enemies much as Johnson did with Europe; and Billy Liar, the literary character who simply lied and lied and lied.
Here’s the limerick
Boris, an Etonian brat, Has hit earth with a resounding ‘splat’! The supreme falsifier And odious liar, Was felled in today’s coup d’twat
I’m grateful to Firstborn who bought coup d’twat to my notice and to whomsoever first coined the phrase. I wish it had been me; it’s perfect!
I’m obliged to the online Metro newspaper for reporting the medical tale of an elderly chap who presented with collapsed lungs and air circulating within his abdomen. Apparently some of the trapped air escaped with a whistling sound through an unrelated open wound in his, er, bawbag!
As the attending medics’ report states: Our case of pneumoscrotum from suspected spontaneous bilateral pneumothoraces was unusual. Well, you’d hope so, wouldn’t you!?
And here’s the limerick thus inspired…
There was once a musician called Billy Who played on his trumpet quite shrilly. His close harmonising Was really surprising, When he whistled the tune through his willy!