Gilbert & Sullivan

The Bad Boys Are Back

G&SCover

There’s a running gag in the Bryant & May books about Bryant and Gilbert & Sullivan that reaches its head in the the new novel out next week, ‘Wild Chamber’. I’m drawn to partnerships, the push and pull of people who can’t live with or without each other, and whatever one thinks of their music, […]

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 […]

Why Mr Bryant Loves Gilbert & Sullivan

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Is there anything more unfashionable than admitting to liking Gilbert & Sullivan? In this day and age, who would still listen to the work of two fusty gentlemen who lived over a century ago, who are routinely dismissed by classical music lovers as being of no interest or importance? And what’s their attraction for my […]

Why This Book Caused A Very English Outcry

Molesworth

First a bit of an explanation: Because I was born in 1953 I was a New Elizabethan, ie. born in the year of QEII’s coronation. My dates, therefore, match her reign, and I therefore have a fondness for Queen Elizabeth, despite only having ever seen her at the pictures. I mean she was at the […]

Blog From The Bog: Meeting Galton & Simpson

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In this occasional series I revisit past blog entries with further comments. Recently I read Graham Mccann’s ‘Spike & Co’, about the working life of Associated London Scripts, a company that included Eric Sykes, Johnny Speight, Spike Milligan and Galton & Simpson. As I get older I appreciate those last two more and more, especially […]

Bryant & May Location No. 4

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The Savoy theatre and hotel both feature heavily in ‘Seventy Seven Clocks’, the theatre especially because of its unique place in world history. Sir Richard D’Oyly Carte was ahead of his time (we honour him now in rhyming slang, the ultimate accolade, although I’m not sure he’d agree). His theatre was the home of Gilbert […]

The Grand & Secret Pleasures Of Being Deeply Unfashionable

  Never be fashionable – it has no future. It’s true that I once wrote zeitgeist novels. They were out of date within hours of publication. After I’d got over this absurd idea of reflecting fashion (remembering that books take a year to appear, at least, two if they’re in hardback first) I discovered my […]

Today’s Favourite Word: Emeute

There should be a word for thinking a word means something it doesn’t; for a long time I thought an emeute was a cudgel. It’s not, it’s an uprising. Although the word is French, it slipped into the English language because of WS Gilbert, who used it in the policemen’s chorus in ‘The Pirates of […]

It’s All Getting A Bit Gatsby

F Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ carries a lot of thematic weight, from the collapse of the American Dream to the inequalities between rich and poor, but now it also has another burden – it’s come out of copyright, which means it’s available for reinterpretation. There are currently FIVE Great Gatsby’s winging there way to […]

How America Improved My English

Listening to Gilbert & Sullivan recently I was reminded that I owe America a debt of gratitude for teaching me about something so deeply English. At school we had been taught to avoid G&S as outdated and ‘impure’ music. It was operetta, or ‘opera bouffe’ in that like Offenbach it contained recitative, and therefore was […]