Witty Songs: A Brief Guide (Part 2)

Badgermingo

We came a long way from the Victorian music hall songs and monologues of stars like Stanley Holloway and Joyce Grenfell. After, we had Lonnie Donegan’s ‘Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavour On The Bedpost Overnight?’, Max Bygraves singing ‘You’re A Pink Toothbrush, I’m A Blue Toothbrush’, comedy songs like ‘When Father Papered The […]

Witty Songs: A Brief Guide (Part 1)

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Like the Fado is to Portugal and the tango to Argentina, the witty song is to Britain. We were always better at words, especially if they weren’t about love, which simply embarrassed us. We have Gilbert & Sullivan to blame for this, with their gymnastic lyrics. Here the Major-General lists his abilities, being a military […]

Things To Make & Do

Beezer

Never begin a sentence ‘When I was young…’ and never continue with; ‘we made our own amusement.’ However, when I was young we made our own amusement, from which something fell out of the Jamboree Bag of my mind; giveaways in British comics, one of which was a piece of cardboard folded from corner to […]

I Don’t Know How To Write

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I’m not a huge believer in How To Write guides. I’ve tried to read several books on writing novels, but the only one I enjoyed was Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, because it’s more of a pulpy, bouncy memoir about being a popular writer than a proscriptive list of dry rules for story structure academics. In […]

A Postcard From: Lisbon

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Ah, the steep hills and winding gardens, the trolley-buses, the great spanning bridge, the earthquake. I must be in Lisbon. I could have added ‘the Fado’ and given the game away – that mellifluous, doom-laden guitar is never far from any street corner. But the first thing you notice is how Lisbon glitters. Its streets […]

Why You Can’t Bugger Up Hamlet

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How many ways can you perform it? And why does it periodically take such a grip on Britain? The furore over Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet grew to fever pitch this summer, ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ shunted to the front of the play, then back, and tickets changing hands for absurd amounts. ‘Cumberbitches’, for God’s […]

English Peculiar: Mr Pastry

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While I was staying in a very English cottage Kent last weekend, I noticed that the guest book pointed out other former residents, including Mr Pastry. This one is as peculiar as it gets, so stay with me. Britain was once awash in novelty acts, from the man who sang ‘Mule Train’ while bashing himself […]

The Tin Pan Alley Horror

Tin Pan Alley

Get ready to say goodbye to parts of Denmark Street, London’s Tin Pan Alley, where everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Sex Pistols tried out their guitars in the shops and studios. The demolition squads are heading for the street and its alleyways, including Denmark Place, a row of battered terraced houses off Charing […]

How I Decide What To Post

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To anyone stumbling across this site the selection of subjects must seem random in the extreme. Actually it’s quite deliberately planned. I don’t carry advertising, and I don’t write much about politics or religion because I’m a confused liberal atheist who has watched the arrival and departure of a thousand political candidates with bemusement ever […]

New Heights Of Vulgarity

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Just when it seems that London’s bling-property economy may be faltering (as reported in the press this week), the ‘developers’ of the new FutureSlums (sorry, ‘Luxury Loft Lifestyle’ Apartment Buildings) at South London’s Nine Elms are planning to bring to our fair city, or at least 1% of 1% of London, this hilarious Six Senses-style […]