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Crisis, What Crisis?

August 28, 2016 16 comments

The average age of a Charioteer is most likely in the Chris Woakes bowling speed range. Well played, those said charioteers for being long lived. Your blushing, “youngish”, modest, unassuming Arts Editor hits the big Hawaii Five-O this autumn.

I don’t expect any round of applause for making fifty. I won’t raise my bat,  5-0 is not the middle of life any more. Fifty is the new twenty. However, as I near the new twenty a crisis has happenstanced.

There is a new woman in my life. She understands me more than my wife. This woman…

She is Black.

She is slim

She is pretty.

She has shark-toothed  fret markings.

Here she is. Read more…

Categories: General

Bowie at The Proms

July 30, 2016 5 comments

It’s all about opinions and the Bowie Proms night split the critics. An assorted collection of musicians, some well-known others not so, took part in classical renditions from David Bowie’s back catalogue. It’s not the first time the Starman has received this treatment. Phillip Glass wrote The Low Symphony based on the album of the same name.

This listener enjoyed some of the different versions while others didn’t quite shake it right. The point is though, they were different and these were the type of experimentations that Bowie did throughout his long career.

In a nutshell capsule, all rock songs can be covered many ways unlike traditional classical music. You goes to the concert hall to hear Beethoven’s 5th and you will hear, note for note, the 5th. Any impromptus would displease the purists. So well played, The Proms for this improvised Fantastic Voyage with all time lows and heavy swells.

Categories: General Tags: ,

American vignettes

July 27, 2016 12 comments

It’s now official, God help us. These two should be on Comedy Central and not C-Span.

Hill Liar: Compulsive liar. All the big lies are in the public domain but there’s a lot of little ones as well lurking in the atmosphere. It was the late Christopher Hitchens that wrote about the meeting of the two famous Hillarys in Asia in 1985. Mrs Clinton claimed she was named after the mountaineer. It was only later that the truth came out. Clinton was born in 1947, six years before Edmund scaled the summit. All those lies, big and small, have led HC to touching distance of the ultimate peak.

Vladimirump: Compulsive thief. Anne Applebaum and the chess expert turned astute political analyst, Garry Kasparov are just two to have written that Trump is a pawn of Putin. It is a big story in Washington at the moment. Donald’s extensive business interests in the Motherland are reason enough for him to not go to war if Russia invades the Baltics. For Commander in Chief Trump the NATO pact is not worth a rouble. Luckily for Donald there is no HUAC to grill him about his Siberian links only an Azeri Grandmaster.

With the choice being between Scylla and Charybdis expect a low turn out on polling day as voters won’t know where to turn. As Kissinger said “It’s a pity they can’t both lose.” Maybe, they can. Is there an honest, hard-working, clean-cut, intelligent Independent candidate out there that could upset the apple cart? Could the 45th POTUS be a dark horse elected by tactical voting?

The Madness of Painters

July 23, 2016 12 comments

Vincent van Gogh will be getting the Book of the Week treatment next week on Radio 4. The book is unimaginatively called Van Gogh’s Ear. Poor Vincent, all those sunflowers and wheat fields stem into insignificance next to his self-mutilation that fascinates us to this day. Not even the subsequent self-portrait with bandaged ear could get him noticed in the art world. Only in death would VVG  become famous.

My first impression of this painter was in a negative light and my post-impressions haven’t changed. Canvases smudged with more paint than a courtesan’s make-up. Unrealistic facial portraits and inaccuracies in anatomy. Then there’s all those flowers. He should have cut them up.

I’ve avoided the temptation to put this painter in the Overrated series because all painters are off their head. Hours puzzling over light and shade. Mixing oils and cleaning brushes. All this painstaking preparation when the landscape or sitter could be captured with the click of a camera.

My ears have heard many pronunciations of the painter’s last name. Obviously, I use the popular Goff but other versions include Go and the guttural Hock. Maybe, it’s Hoff or Ho, who knows?

Lastly, it was in 1888 that Vincent took the razor to his ear. What a terrible year was MDCCCLXXXVIII. Jack the Ripper was serial killing in Whitechapel and the seed was planted that birthed an Austrian monster.

A Fest of Lit.

July 23, 2016 3 comments

As an aspiring writer, my big breakthrough piece of fiction is still unwritten, I have always wanted to visit the Cheltenham Literature Festival. The chance to hob-nob with fellow unpublished sorts and to see in the flesh real authors would be happiness unbound.

Mingling at social gatherings with the lit-set I would forgo the glasses of bubbly on the trays and demand a beer from the Jeeves-like waiter. After all, With Faulks’ powers faltering, I’m the next big thing in town. I’d also ask Jeeves for the big daddy of vol-au-vents, a scotch pie. And I’d tell him to drown the pastry with Bertie Worcester sauce. Read more…

Restoration of the House Of Lancaster

July 19, 2016 7 comments

Pakistan deserved to win the first test and as fate would have it, the reformed Mohammad Amir scored the winner. That’s sport for you. England have made a few changes and should be stronger. Another thing to take into account is the second test will take place in God’s County: Lancashire.

The county of the Red Rose  is famous for many things: Betty’s hotpot, Eccles cake, Lancashire tea, The Big Dipper. With its bold and big landscape there is definitely a case for Lancashire to Engexit and become an independent state. As a naturalised Lanky, I’d go for it. I await an Ambassador’s role in the near future.

lanky-and-dr-devil

Pakistan’s Yasir Shah, the Messi lookalike mystery spinner is ranked #1 in the world at bowling. He is only keeping the spot warm for Jimmy because “our” Jimmy is back. James Anderson is a Burnley man, that makes him one of our own. As England’s leading wicket taker “we” expect him to add a lot of Pakistani scalps in the forthcoming contest. (Pity “we’re” not playing India. That sentence would be better with Indian scalps, wouldn’t it? )

With Lancashire doing so well in the County Championship, and Independence looming, it’s only a matter of time before we receive Test playing status and play the rump of England then go for the stumps of Australia.

Margot’s the name (Hollywood’s latest Flame)

July 18, 2016 11 comments

Your friendly, neighbourhood contemporary culture editor is back again. (Stop groaning at the back)

The only show me the money to be made in Hollywood today is in Superhero flicks. The Days of Wine and Roses are gone replaced by spandex and CGI. Even a devoted Marvel Man like me is getting tired by the regurgitated clunkers that have been produced recently.

The latest shlocker is by our Distinguished Competition (That’s DC, folks!) and is called Suicide Squad. It has been hyped to the gunnels and expected to break all box office records. One thing going for it is it features an up and coming starlet from Australia named Margot Robbie. She’s currently at the cinema appearing as Jane in The Legend Of Tarzan. (Still think Maureen O’Sullivan is the ultimate Jane. That time she started the fire with a couple of twigs in Tarzan and his Mate. Yodel-Lodel-LEEEE)

Margot, naturally, cut her teeth in Neighbours. That soap opera has produced more studs and mares than the Darley Arabian. Here’s a wee photo of Margot as a super baddie.

Overrated: Gardening

July 16, 2016 20 comments

The gardening lobby are a dismissive lot. According to them everything else is as exciting as watching paint dry. Bog Sage, these are the people that watch grass grow!

A garden should consist of a flat lawn and that’s it. Nice and simple, nothing fancy but the world is full of would-be Percy Thrower’s. Who really wants the hassle of extra work and of doing it outdoors? Mowing, sowing, cutting, potting, digging, raking- boring. All those -ings are nothing more than a recipe for sleeping. Endlessly working, always renovating, this gardening charade is nothing more than being an eternal horticultural barber. Just give it a Kojak and be done with. Read more…

Return of the Amir

July 13, 2016 17 comments

This Thursday England lock horns with Pakistan in the first test at Lord’s. In the tourists side will be the fast bowler, Mohammad Amir. Now aged 24, Amir was found guilty of spot-fixing on his last appearance at the home of cricket, six years ago. He was banned from cricket for five years and served three months in prison. Debate still rages on at all levels of the cricket community over whether Amir should still be allowed to play.

I take Morgan Freeman’s side on this. These are his words from The Shawshank Redemption when he faced the parole board.

There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then, a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I wanna talk to him. I wanna try to talk some sense to him — tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone and this old man is all that’s left. I gotta live with that.

A first time for everything

July 9, 2016 13 comments

First time in a pub: was 15, was smuggled in by older boys, had three vodkas and orange, was stretchered out.

Son’s first cup of coffee: I don’t drink the stuff and neither do the offspring, though my younger son decided to take the plunge into the unknown for experimental reasons. He said “JW Jnr’s first cup of coffee”. After much gurning and vomiting he said “JW Jnr’s last cup of coffee!”

First ever video recorder owned: Betamax!!!! The boffins at school (FEEG and all his gang) claimed it was the superior technological weapon in the VCR wars. Later, the hegemony of VHS was ended by DVD. In hindsight, maybe the makers of Betamax should have abbreviated their product: BTX.

First time ever I saw your face: First heard this on the underrated Clint Eastwood film, Play Misty for Me, sung by Roberta Flack. Multitude of singers have covered this song. One of the best is the haunting version by Johnny Cash.

First blog ever written: Was on Bebo ( who remembers Bebo?). It was a strange tale of me in the waiting room at the doctor’s, sitting beside some famous figures. I asked Darth Vader if his sore throat was getting better. As debuts go, it was a precocious start. It’s been downhill ever since.

Anybody out there got any unusual firsts (or seconds) they’d like to share. Keep it clean, guys (and MrsO).