Thursday, 30 June 2016

Interesting Times............

It is an ancient Chinese Curse:

"May you live in interesting times".

We certainly are doing that.

I do not wish to add to the ordure in the latrine trench of public opinion that is Facebook, Twitter and the greater blog-o-sphere with any of my own.

Instead, I offer only this, from Lindsay Anderson's "Oh lucky Man" of 1973.

Says it all, and in quite a few European languages..........

Monday, 14 March 2016

A Day Out with The Alvis Owner Club.

Now, like Groucho Marx, I've often felt I shouldn't be seeking to join any club that would have me as a member........

But the Alvis Owner Club has decided it would......

On Saturday I was whisked from The Parish to a village in Darkest Suffolk to participate in the A.O.C. East Anglian Section Workshop Day.

This was my ride:

My friend Roger's Alvis Speed Twenty-Five.
Cool, eh?

I saw this

And this

And this

And this

And this

Well, what can I say: it's a rough old life..........

And speaking of 'rough', and 'old', there's more than a fleeting chance my TA14 will be joining them before long!


Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Now we are in March......


January was crap.

Too many of our greats died.

I know, I know..... we all must....

And yet they are missed.

But now we are out of February and into March......

The "First Day Of Spring"....

So let's look to the future.

Have you heard of a band called 'Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats'?

I think they are pretty good........

In 1979, when I was a callow youth of a mere fifteen summers, I first heard the opening bass chords and drum beats of 'Walking on the Moon' by The Police.

Kids, if you weren't there, and didn't hear, nay FEEL, that cleansing, strange, NEW sound, then you will never get how important it was...... not important in the history of popular music, but important then, then, uniquely then......

Please. please don't listen to it on shitty little speakers.

It needs WATTS.................

And amps, (preferably valve....).......

And Ohms........

And a long, cool, dark moment to hear it in.....

Hearing it was short-hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck-goosebumps-shivering...... Artist: The Police

Okay, the video is of it's time, (i.e. pants....), but the sound, The SOUND!!!!!!!!!!

So this spring, it's good to relate that after a winter of loss and despair, I've had a very similar moment.

I've been aware of Mr Rateliff and his band for a while.

It took their appearance on Jo Wiley's show on Radio Two this evening to make me realise exactly how good they are......

The few songs that they were allowed to play, (while Ms Wiley simpered and gushed and naffed and patronised and couldn't wait for it to be over so she could tell you all about tomorrow's show which was clearly going to be much more brilliant), were as superb as Wiley was embarrassing.

So they were pretty damn good.

But John Peel must be spinning in his grave.................

There are lots of internet clips of them, their rather over-produced and a little too slick version of S.O.B that you'll find on VEVO being a not brilliant example.....

For the In-Your-Face-Double-Bad-Maximum-Tingle, you need this:

In the words of the poet, Ba-Ba-Ra-Ra-Coo-Coo-Da-Da........!

In the words of my beloved father, Trevor Witts ( 88 years old 29/03/16.............. and said in a way that implies disapproval while secretly loving it.......)

"That's Hooligan music, my boy!


Monday, 1 February 2016

The end of January.

I don't know about you, but I am absolutely exhausted.

We have lost so much wonderful talent this fatal January.



And now, Terry Wogan.

During the spring of 2009, I emailed his Breakfast show with a silly skit about cars backfiring. This had been prompted by a story line in "Eastenders": one of the characters had been shot, another was heard to remark they thought it was 'just a car backfiring'. This caused much ribaldry on the show along the lines of 'when was the last time you heard a car backfire?'

I emailed the show roughly thus (I didn't save the original: I'm not that sad, though I wish I had, now.......)

RE: Cars Backfiring

I'll have you know I had a spot of bother getting the car started the other day. The old starter motor was whirring away but to no avail. So I opened the bonnet, cleaned the plugs, checked the points and rotor arm, charged the battery up a bit, and finally swung the thing into life with the starting handle.


My ears are still ringing........

The car in question is a 1948 Alvis TA14.

It was customary to use a pseudonym when emailing the show, so I entered it under the name Rusty O'Heap...........

Best I could do...... :-)

I wasn't half surprised and, needless to say, delighted, when those familiar tones read it out verbatim!

This started a bit of a run of emails to the show.

It was great fun.

Rusty wrote in complaining about 'our esteemed chancellor' conning the togs into scrapping perfectly good cars (a measly £2000 quid to scrap the old Alvis? Over my dead body!) while the 'current Mrs O'Heap' got confused over which old crock she was getting rid of under the deal (turns out she thought she could keep the Alvis and replace me!).

By a happy accident, I emailed this in on his wedding anniversary. It closed the show.

Everyone knows Sir Terry was virtually synonymous with Children in Need.

At the 2009 Alvis Owner Club End of Season Meeting in the Coach and Horses in Mayfair, I got everyone who wanted to participate to buy a Wogan style pseudonym for a fiver, all proceeds to the Charity. Thus, we had such club notables as Lorelei Kandling, Truly Warne-Mainbaring, and Lou Stappets ( you get the idea from these few examples.....) signing a card which we enclosed with a cheque for about £100, I think.

I posted this off to the show with a framed replica white Five Pound note.

One of the threads on the show was that of the old Shakespearian actor, Chuffer Dandridge, who was still looking for the old white fiver he'd lost while on tour in the 1950's. Rusty had previously emailed the show in high excitement to say he'd found it down the back of the rear seats of the Alvis while looking for some change to purchase a packet of 10 Players Weights........( I know it's Chuffer's, it's signed on the back C. Dandridge Esq, Mrs MaCavity's Hygienic Digs for Thespians, Catford).

All this warm-hearted whimsy was great fun and it was lovely to hear it acknowledged on the show.

And now the broadcasting phenomenon that was Sir Terry Wogan is no more.

If you were a listener, you felt like he was speaking only to you, and he was your friend.

Goodbye my friend, and thanks for the warmth, the laughter, and all the good fun in your company.

Friday, 22 January 2016

And another left........

That's the title of a chapter from Dornford Yates' "The Courts of Idleness", a bitter-sweet and elegaic volume of short stories about the era that ended in the cataclysm of The Great War.......

Worth a read if you can find a copy. I have a feeling it's long out of print. But Yates writes beautifully, even if he's dismissed now as a purveyor of sub-Bulldog Drummond spy stories or sub-Wodehousian yarns with his 'Berry' series.

Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister might have approved: perhaps surprisingly, he was, by all accounts, a great fan of Wodehouse..........

For this fell January continues to cut a swathe through the talent that delighted and amazed us though the seventies, eighties and nineties.

Dale Griffin, drummer with Mott the Hoople and Glenn Frey of the Eagles will, in Yates' words, 'haunt the Courts no more'.........

You might find my pre-occupation with these sad passings a rather morbid topic to choose after so long an absence from blogging.

Perhaps it is.

Those of us in our fifties and sixties, who were around when the music of Bowie, Mott the Hoople, The Eagles, and Motorhead was brand spanking new, are having to face up to the fact that with the death of these musicians, our youth, though long fled, has truly become history.

And that in little more than the blink of an eye, we shall be history too.......

It takes some facing up to........

In the meantime, I'd like to share the following clips. It's the usual left-field mix of oddness, but is my little tribute to those who have left the stage this January and will haunt the Courts of Idleness no more. (You'll have to cut and paste into your browser as I'm too thick to make a link work.......)

Some cheesy Swedish vibe is goin' down in Groovetown, but I think it's important to say "Thankyou" all the same.

Now who can deny the central premise of this? David, Glenn, Ian, and Dale......... We didn't know what we had until now......

This one's really out there: I think he came third in the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest with this.

You're about to see why....... though I still think Cliff was robbed!

Yes....... The music WILL never end......

Power to you all, you boys who played rock and roll, and made our lives so sweet, and power to you, though we never met, my lovely, lovely friends.


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Time of Endings

I suppose any time is a Time of Endings......

It just depends on where you are standing in relation to the beginnings.......

So, callow youth of this day, hearken ye unto the musings of this old codger, nay, indulge him with a hearing.......

For soon, so soon, time's fleet foot will have marched the seemingly impossible distance between your "now", at your Absolute Beginning, and will have taken you right to the very threshold of your "then", that far-off, nebulous, theoretical-seeming door marked 'Exit'............

I speak as one who knows only too well he is standing if not in the doorway itself, then much closer to the approach to it than is in all conscience comfortable.

And I wish to clap, whoop, cheer and applaud those who pass through it before me.

David Bowie is dead.

No-one born after a certain date will have any idea of how influential he really was.

No, really.......


I watched him on TV as Ziggy Stardust in the early Seventies. My parents were watching with me. They had lived through World War Two. Of my grandparents, then living, two were Edwardians and one was a Victorian..............

Imagine then, their reaction to Ziggy.

"Slack-jawed disbelief" doesn't even get close.........

Ian Kilmister is dead.

If ever there was a life lived at full throttle, all the way to eleven, maximum overdrive, then his was that life.

Ed Stewart is dead.

As far from being a pop/art/acting/style-icon or fully flipped-out sex and drugs and rock and roller as it is to imagine, yet dear in the memories still of those of us who were Children of the Seventies.

And I will cheer and whoop and holler to the skies for them all.

As one ages, time appears to accelerate. The years go by much faster, it seems.

I have considered why this is so: when we are twenty, a year is one twentieth of our lives. At sixty, one twentieth of our lives is three years. So what took a year when you're twenty lasts only four months when you're sixty.......

Thus, do we and our little lights accelerate ever the more quickly toward the heart of the BlackStar?

And vanish into a naked singularity?

If so, let us be kind, and comfort each other while we may.

And be not afraid of The Dark.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

I would always rather laugh than weep........

.....for were I to weep, my tears would be of an all too impotent rage.

There has no doubt been a veritable snowstorm (sp?....Ah, the Auntie Mary Filter is still up and running, despite the lack of use due to low blog traffic these last few months.....) of commentary on blogs, forums, Facebook, Twitter and all other forms of Soshul Meedja concerning the killing of a majestic lion in Zimbabwe by a bow and arrow wielding tourist by the name of Walter Palmer.

I cannot bring myself to add to it.

What do you say about someone so entirely deficient in every respect that killing animals for fun is, for them, not a sign of deep dysfunction that should get them straight into therapy, but a perfectly respectable hobby?

Where is his moral compass?

What sort of magnetic field has warped it so badly that this sort of behaviour is not only considered acceptable, it is also not merely excused, but is actually condoned by his peers?

The answer lies in his profession:

It's good to know that he's in the right job, at least.........