Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Musical Monday #23

Anything Goes from Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
Performed by Kate Capshaw
Written by Cole Porter

Er… yeah… about Musical Monday, I seem to have done it again.

Oh come on, it was a bank holiday yesterday, so it barely counted as a Monday, did it?  So today can be Monday.  Just go with me.

I’ll give you TWO musical numbers to make up for it.

Thanks For The Memory from The Big Broadcast Of 1938 
Performed by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross
Written by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin

Monday, 19 August 2013

Musical Monday #22

It's never too late for Musical Monday:

Ya Got Trouble from The Music Man
Performed by Robert Preston
Written by Meredith Willson

Friday, 16 August 2013

A is for…

Which ‘A’ do YOU think best encapsulates me?

Answers in the comments, please.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Musical Monday #21

Y’know how things in dreams are often wrong but you don’t notice because it’s a dream?

I notice.

When I was a teenager, this wasn’t a problem.

These days however, I’ve lost that lucid ability.

So I just spend The Entire Dream doing this:


So today’s Musical Monday is in the form of a dream.  Yeah, I put THOUGHT into this.

My Lovely Horse from Father Ted
Song performed by Neil Hannon, scene performed by Dermot Morgan and Ardal O'Hanlon
Written by Graham Linehan, Arthur Mathews and Neil Hannon 

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Top Shelf Books #5 – Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg

The Next Addition to The Top Shelf is

Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg

It’s a book of verses about primary school, both from The Points Of View of the pupils and the teachers, covering everything from whining children and grumpy teachers to underachievement, best friends, excuses, snow, monsters, guilt, supply teachers, God and missing scissors.

‘Please Mrs Butler
This boy Derek Drew
Keeps copying my work, Miss.
What shall I do?’

More often than not I don’t like poetry, so I’m particularly impressed with the collection in Please Mrs Butler, which are (is?) detailed, evocative and funny.  They also vary a lot in tone and style, some aimed more at The Child Audience, frenetic, repetitive, rhyming and silly, while others are more thoughtful or atmospheric.

I was first acquainted with some of The Poems (especially the title poem itself) early in infant school, as The Teacher often read it to us.  It was a firm favourite with The Class and as such was less of a favourite with me.

But when I was a little older, I got a copy of the book myself and was able to appreciate The Poems properly.  I recall The Mother was always very fond of ‘Slow Reader’.  One of my favourites, for its perfect ending, is ‘Glenis’.

It’s a testimony to Ahlberg’s acute observational skills that the book was published before I was born and yet by the time I was reading it his evocation of school life was still vividly recognisable.

I enjoyed these poems when I was a child because I was immersed in this world and enjoyed the parody of the familiar, while it works just as well in retrospect because as an adult I can now better understand the perspectives of the adults in The Poems as well as enjoy The Strong Sense Of Nostalgia it creates.

There’s a sort of sequel

Heard It In The Playground

As a child, I was more familiar with this follow-up because I owned it first, although I knew Please Mrs Butler from school.  But rereading them both as an adult, although Heard It In The Playground is still very good, it doesn’t surpass the first collection.

Heard It In The Playground also has songs and group performance poetry, which gives it a slightly more ‘aimed at school children’ feel, but it’s still enjoyable to read alone.

These poems aren’t just for children.  Anyone who’s ever been through a school, pupil, parent or teacher, will enjoy them.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Before I Could Write – Part 11

Today’s instalment of ‘Before I Could Write’ comes from when I was sixteen, which was probably around the time I started writing all the time.

Oh let’s just get this over with.

Me at sixteen.


This mist swirled in ever decreasing rings, till the coachman could no longer see his fingers gripping the reins.  The coach rattled on, now relying only on the two jet horses to guide it safely.

The coach turned off the main road, disappointing many a highway robber lurking by the roadside ready to stop such grand coaches, on to a twisting mud track, not used for many a year.  The track led to an old village, shunned from the world 17 years before as a confidante to the devil, after three young girls were burnt alive for stealing.  The items were never named and proof was never given, suspicion hung over the case and the world shut its doors on Ravensnow village.

Ebony and Ivory, two girls from Ravensnow were celebrating their 17th birthdays.  This was the year when they would wed.

Ivory was born one day before the burnings, she had blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin, a sign of the purity of Ravensnow.  Ebony was born one day after the burnings, she had black hair, brown eyes, dark skin, a sign of the wickedness the village had adopted.  So the world had labelled them.

Ebony was long suffering from being branded in such a way but never spoke of it, she was brave to face the names she didn’t deserve.  She was generous, helpful, fair and SO humble about it all.  Ivory was hardly any of those but was given the reputation of a saint and through all this she ENVIED Ebony.  Ebony deserved so much more than Ivory but it was Ivory who got it.  Ebony must have known that but she never complained.  To be so content was what Ivory envied.

There was a mysterious person at the celebration.  No one knew who he was, he had come in a coach that had just appeared from the mist and had said but three words.  “Is this Ravensnow?”

Although there was nothing to suggest it, he was a villain.  Anyone who came to Ravensnow had left something sinister behind them.  This had become the villagers’ opinion over the last 17 years.

Even in the dull night air he seemed shrouded in darkness.  The mayor reported to Ivory and Ebony, this man seemed impenetrable – almost without any feelings, but obviously wealthy.

The two girls could see he was attractive.  They knew the mayor’s opinion to be often flawed so moved to greet this stranger.  He turned and conversed with them.  He was charming.

Many a person had fooled the people in this village.  A thin layer of grace and pleasantness spread over their true character trapped the naive villagers, but Ebony and Ivory were never fooled.  Ebony’s purity didn’t allow her to be suspicious of people, but if they were good she knew and if they were bad she could tell.  Ivory could see through such pretence because she kept it up herself.  So both knew this man was simply seeking a wife and willing to give anyone a chance – even an ill omened village.

Ivory felt suddenly proud of her saintly status.  She spent the evening saying how she wished she had so many things, often getting angry and being exceedingly lazy.  Ebony was nothing but virtuous.  The gentleman chose his wife.

Three days later the mist lifted and the coach set off.

Ebony sat helping a young girl with her breakfast, pure as ever.

The coach turned off the mud track on to the main road.

Ivory was peaceful.  For the first time, she was no longer envious of Ebony.  The life in heaven Ebony had earned would be everlasting, the love Ivory had got was too.

Rain began to fall, washing away the hoof prints and wheel tracks, leaving no trace of the coach and its passenger that had passed a few minutes before.

Make me STOP.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Top Shelf Books #4 The Superior Person’s Book Of Words by Peter Bowler

The top shelf of my bookcase is for any book that I’ve read more than once and still enjoy.  So far I have a series of children’s picture books, a post modern fantasy novel and a children’s novel up there.  Now joining the shelf is a funny non-fiction book.  The kind of thing you’d probably give as a gift.  I’ve read this twice and for a humorous distraction it does just what it’s supposed to.

The Superior Person’s Book Of Words by Peter Bowler

'Words are not only tools; they are also weapons.'

A good friend (The Butler) gave this to me.  It still has his post-it note on the front:

As we are both superior people who use big words I thought this was a perfect gift.  If you don’t like it feel free to defenestrate it and then lustrate yourself.  Or if you are feeling particularly nummamorous, sell it.

The book’s a collection of long and mostly obscure words, with meanings and usage and sometimes origin explained and as such is enlightening.  But where most books on lexicography (and people love to give me books about words) are interesting, this one is funny.  The descriptions are sarcastic or facetious.  The point of the words is to learn how to make your conversation incredibly pretentious, annoying and/or confusing.

'ET HOC GENUS OMNE phr. And all that sort of thing.  Why say etc. when you can say et hoc genus omne?'

I particularly like how the examples of situations in which to use the words are varied.  It’s not age or gender centric, each example is from a different point of view, so this book is aimed at anyone, so long as they are superior, of course.

If you like words, then The Superior Person’s Book Of Words is worth a good chuckle and you might learn something too.

From the Acknowledgments:

'I cannot let these definitions go before the public without acknowledging the contribution made by Dr. Ernest Foot, of The Chambers, Cheltenham, who worked with me on the manuscript and wrote several of the definitions.  To me should go much of the credit for whatever virtues this book possesses; the odium for any faults must rest entirely with him.'

Monday, 5 August 2013

Musical Monday #20

Some days, only Nathan Lane will do.

There's No Business Like Show Business from Love's Labour's Lost
Performed by Nathan Lane
Written by Irving Berlin

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Why I Never Became An Actor #1

Reason Number 1: Easily distracted.

When I was a kid I wanted to be an actor.  Somewhere along The Line it all went wrong.  So I thought I’d chronicle some of The Low Points on this path to why I didn’t follow this particular dream.

Every year I tried to get roles in The School Play, usually with humiliating responses.

When I was eight, during The Annual Christmas Play I was relegated to The Usual Role of nothing.  At lunchtime, I sat with The Friends in The Lunch Hall.

My shaking walk was slow and heavy.  When I finally reached The Headteacher’s Office, she was going on about bells.

Eventually, when I could hear again over The Flow Of Blood in The Head, I worked out that I wasn’t in trouble and that she needed some children to play The Bells in The Show.

Why she had me called out at lunchtime, why I was picked at all and why she seemed to think I should know what she was talking about, wasn’t explained.

But my part in The Tune was simple.  I was The Tallest, therefore I had The Biggest And Deepest Bell.  The others played a tune, and at The End, I went DONG.

The others were idiots and could never remember The Tune.  I tuned out.

So The Day of The Performance came.  I wore a gold waistcoat, mainly because I loved any excuse to wear a waistcoat, but The Gold had a bell-like charm.

And in we went as The Hall filled up.  But when we went over to The Orchestra, The Angry Conductor, who had never seen us before, chased us away.

So we joined The Choir, where we were chased away for having instruments.

We returned to The Orchestra.

This farce continued a few more times until we were found a space in front of everyone.  The Play rolled on, and then came our tune.

The others got it right.  They finally got it right.

I couldn’t believe it.  My moronic team hadn’t had one successful rehearsal but they had finally cracked it.

I had one role in this show and it was The Cue for The Wise Men.

I’d forgotten The DONG.