Friday 26 October 2007
doesn’t even begin to describe the way I feel! All this time I have been surrounded by a nest of vipers, clasping the asp to my bosom and well and truly led up the garden path by a snake in the bloody grass!
“Fish and chips!” I yelled, “Fish and bloody chips! Thirty pieces of bloody silver, it should be!”
I was sitting in the lockup at the time, having had one filthy rotten day of it. So when Kevin turned up with cod and chips for me and hake and chips for Bert Snide whose lockup it is, I was in no bloody mood for polite bloody banter, I can tell you.
The day started bad enough when Zanya and the gorilla turned up at half past eleven. She’d seen my advert in the Melody Maker and so she phoned up yesterday to make an appointment.
“I feel I have all the talents for which you seek,” she burbled.
“I’m glad to hear it,” I wittily riposted, “All you have to do is wear a see-through bra and go ‘Shoo-bop-be-do’ every once in a while.”
She paused. I got the impression that a thought was struggling into life. Then she said, “Yeah, I can do that. Maybe not straight away. But once I’ve had a chance to rehearse...”
However, when she turned up for the interview, I knew right away that she was not my idea of a Raspberry Nipple. The girls I had in mind were young, creamy of complexion, rosy of cheek, innocent as the day is long... and if they also happened to have a pair of bazoomers that could poke your eyes out, that would be a distinct advantage.
Zanya, to her credit, had the bazoomers but in all other respects she was lacking. How can I put this gallantly? She looked like a trollop. The sort of girl you expect to see leaning in doorways in certain parts of Soho (which, I should hastily add, I do not myself frequent). She must have been thirty-five if she was a day and she had thighs that went up to her waist. Of this I was certain due to the fact that the mini-skirt she was wearing came to an abrupt end about two inches below her hips.
Nevertheless, being a gentleman, I might have been prepared to overlook her age and her gynaecological mode of dress. What I could not overlook was her minder, a man whose nose had been broken so many times it no longer seemed attached to any one part of his face but moved around it, slug-like, whenever he growled in my general direction - which, I have to say, was something he did with alarming frequency.
“Hi,” trilled Zanya, “I’ve come for the job.”
“The lady,” grunted the minder, “Has come for the job.”
“Well, I said, it’s not exactly a job
, you know, not a hard and fast guaranteed job
, I mean. It’s more by way of an audition.”
The complexity of the sentence seemed to defeat the minder. He glowered at me, wobbled his nose menacingly and repeated, “The lady has come for the job.”
Behind me, I heard something move and, turning, was just in time to see a monumental heap of elasticated corsets tumbling gently to the floor as Bert made an adroit exit.
But let me not depress you with the remaining dismal events of my miserable morning. Suffice to say that, somewhat against my natural inclination but with the firm encouragement of her large and hairy friend, I finally agreed to employ Zanya as the leading Raspberry Nipple (‘Posh Nipple’ we’ve decided to call her) at a fixed income of £200 a week with extras due to personal appearances and recording royalties to be negotiated at a later date. It barely needs to be said that I haven’t got £200 a week to spare and, even if I did, Zanya would not be my preferred way of spending it. Fortunately, I was careful to avoid giving her my name. The only phone number and address they have at their disposal is Bert Sneed’s lockup, so that’ll be something for Bert to deal with. He’s got a natural talent with gorillas and women of low morals so it should be a pushover for him.
Not that there is going to be anything to deal with, it now turns out - not in terms of Dolly Pop and The Raspberry Nipples, at any rate. That whole glorious vision of my future career in the glittering world of pop impresarioship has come crumbling down about my knees like an underbaked lemon meringue pie! And all thanks to Kevin!
“Take your bloody fish and chips and shove them where the sun don’t shine!” I hissed magisterially.
“I’ll ‘ave ‘em,” said Bert who, having already devoured a large portion of hake and chips, promptly snatched away the cod and chips intended for me which (I now discovered) came complete with a pot of curry sauce on the side. This, I couldn’t help but feeling, considerably spoilt the dramatic effect for which I was striving.
Now you may be wondering why it was that I was venting my spleen in this manner upon the despicable Kevin. I’ll tell you. It turns out that all this time while I’ve been labouring night and day to recruit an all-girl pop group, Dolly Pop and The Raspberry Nipples
, Kevin has been going behind my back and whipping the rug from under my feet. Or to put it another way, he’s been smooth talking (and not just ‘talking’
, if you want my opinion!) Geoffrey - who you may recall is the A&R man whose record company is, or was
, so damn’ keen on Dolly P and the Raspberry Ns - and this same slippery Kevin has now persuaded the slimy Geoffrey that it’s not an all-girl group but an all-boy group that the record buying public craves. And need I tell you which boy Kevin has in mind as the lead singer?
So the upshot is that Geoffrey has now decided that Dolly Pop and the Raspberry Nipples
is a non-starter, dead in the mud and last year’s thing; and what the screaming hordes of spotty teenagers really want is Reggie Burger and The Crusty Buns
. That, incidentally, is to be the name of the group. Pure plagiarism. I mean, just because I came up with the ice-cream angle - the Raspberry Nipples - they have to come up with a hamburger theme - The Crusty Buns. Well, I tell you this: if Geoffrey knew as much about Kevin as I do, he’d know just how crusty those buns really are! And I don’t mean that in a nice way...
Ah well, let’s look on the bright side. I’m, well off out of it, I reckon. Show business, I mean. Pshaw! I shall return now, refreshed, to my true calling - investigative journalism.
So, let’s see what I’ve got lined up for the coming week. Oh yes, an interview with Jay from Bucks Fizz about her first childhood romance. And one with Limahl about his favourite school meals. All kissing, cuddling and spotty dicks then.
It’s at moments like these that I feel privileged to have been called to the great and noble art of Journalism. By Heaven, if journalism was good enough for Jonathan Swift and George Orwell, it shall be good enough for me!
Monday 15 October 2007
Auditions start today!
I managed to get a corner of Bert Sneed’s lockup for the day. Bert runs a sort of wholesale business north of Camden - washing machines, microwave ovens, hundredweight sacks of dried mango; you name it, Bert can get it. There was a huge roll of rubbery grey stuff lying in one corner, I noticed. “Industrial-strength bra elastic,” Bert says. He reckons it would stretch ten miles once it’s unravelled. I said, “Who’s going to buy ten miles of industrial-strength bra elastic?” He said, “You never heard of trampolines?” I’m not sure about Bert’s sanity, to tell you the honest truth.
I first got to know Bert while doing a photo-story with Tight Fit and bullwhips (the whips being supplied by Bert). It seems he has a keen interest in pop music, especially when it involves semi-clad young women, and even more so if the odd bullwhip can be fitted into the picture. When I told him about the auditions for the Raspberry Nipples, he was immediately enthused.
Anyway, I set up a table in one corner of the lockup, all nice and private, just behind a rack of Australian sheep and kangaroo dip (“Kills scab mite, blow-fly, ticks, keds and lice - dead!!!”), and waited for the applicants to arrive. Emma (or ‘Dolly Pop’ as I suppose I must now call her) was supposed to be there too but she didn’t turn up, which, I have to confess, did not surprise me. The A&R man, Geoffrey, did turn up - two hours late which, for an A&R man is probably as near as makes no difference to being on time.
We had six auditions to get through - the first was booked for 10.30, the last for 4 o’clock. The 10.30 one arrived at 11.30, and the 11.30 one arrived at 12.00. I took Geoffrey down the pub for lunch (he had two pints of Best and a Beef Stroganoff for which I paid as he’d forgotten to bring the company cheque book). After lunch, he scooted off for an urgent appointment with Mick Jagger (so he claims). When I got back to the lockup, there were two semi-naked girls wresting on a moth-eaten chaise longue nestling between a pile of rat traps and toilet plungers.
“Perfect, darling, perfect! Now, if you could just loosen that bra strap a little more...” - these and other, even less savoury, words of encouragement were being sputtered from between Bert’s wetly drooling lips.
“What the bloody hell!” says I, dragging Bert into a discreet alcove just behind a pile of ‘Big Boy’ gentlemen’s athletic supporters (“For the man who wants to stand out in a crowd”), “What the hell’s going on here then, Bert?” says I.
“They turned up while you was away,” says he, “So I auditioned them.”
“We’re supposed to be auditioning for a pop group,” I tell him, “Not for a Roman Orgy.”
“These girls,” he says, wiping a line of drool from his chin, “They’s got what it takes. You mark my words.”
I had a quick peep at them through a crack in the serried ranks of jockstraps. The girls were still at it on the chaise longue. It looked to me as though they’d given up auditioning and had started enjoying themselves.
“They’re too young,” I said.
“You’re never too young,” said Bert, “To be in a pop group, I mean.”
“And the blonde one’s too fat.”
“Well-built,” Bert insisted.
“But can they sing?” I said.
“I never thought to ask,” says Bert.
Anyway, the upshot is that they couldn’t sing a single solitary note between the two of them. So I sent them away, telling them I’d call them if we needed them - which is, however, extremely unlikely bearing in mind the fact that I forgot to ask for their phone numbers.
The 3 o’clock appointment didn’t turn up, which only left the 4 o’clock appointment…
She turned up bang on the dot and sang ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Kids In America’ and the Queen Of Night’s aria from The Magic Flute. She was a real professional with a wonderful voice. In fact, she would have been absolutely ideal if she’d turned up about thirty years earlier. As it is, though, fat middle-aged women who look like my Aunty Beryl on a bad day are not quite the style we are after for The Raspberry Nipples. To be honest, the five ‘girls’ I’ve seen today have all been uniformly dreadful.
Is she a potential Raspberry Nipple? The way things have been going so far, quite possibly...
I returned home depressed to find a message on my answer machine. It was Emma saying she couldn’t make it to the auditions because she had a cold (which is her way of saying ‘hangover’).
I am starting to wonder if entrepreneurialship is the life for me after all. Maybe I’d be happier just writing articles for Jackie, My Guy and Blue Jeans until I finally kick the bucket. I just don’t know how many more times I can ask pop stars about their first kiss or whether they used to have lumpy custard at school. Is this an entrée into serious journalism, I ask myself? Would Bernard Levin ask Harold Pinter for his thoughts on the lumpy custard of his younger days? Who knows - maybe the Jackie journalist of today is the Marcel Proust of tomorrow...?
I can but hope.
How French literature might have been so different if Proust had written for Jackie!
Saturday 13 October 2007
So anyway, there I was waxing my hair when who should come knocking on the door but Kevin. That boy does give me the gip sometimes! I tell him, “You can come in for five minutes and have a cup of tea but then you got to go again, I’m busy.”
He says, “Right-o,” plonks himself down himself down on the settee, pours himself a stiff Glenfiddich, pops on a Gina X Performance record and says, “I decided I want to be in the group.”
“Oh yes,” I say, taking another fingerful of wax and rubbing it into my fringe which I’m trying to get into a spike like that Flock Of Seagulls fellah, “And what group might that be?”
“Your group,” he says, “You know, Dollybird and the Tits.”
“The name,” I say, sternly, “Is Dolly Pop and the Raspberry Nipples.”
To tell you the truth, I don’t think that Kevin has grasped the subtle play on words involved in that name and, as I am not sure he has the mental capacities to understand even if I explained, I decided against attempting to illuminate him.
“And what is more,” I tell him, “They’re all girls. Which means that there is no suitable vacancy.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he says, “I know they’re all girls. That’s why I want to be in it.”
By now he has put me off my stroke with the waxing so I wipe my hands on a nearby copy of Smash Hits, screw the lid back onto the wax pot, turn to look at Kevin and fix him with my most baleful basilisk glare.
“Let me try to make this simple,” I tell him, “The group is all girls. Female. Not a single solitary male involved. You, on the other hand, are of the masculine gender. QED.”
From the way his mouth is hanging open with no words issuing therefrom, I deduce that the light of understanding has yet to burst upon his few and widely-scattered braincells. So I make it simpler for him: “They are girls,” I say, “Whereas you. Are not.”
A smile spreads slowly across his otherwise vacant face. Finally, with a pause sufficient only to refill his glass, he says, “Yeah, you got it! That’s just what I thought. They are girls. And I’m not. Great combination!”
I often wonder how on earth I ever got involved with an idiot like Kevin. Then I remember that fateful night in Camden Town when I got pissed as a parrot and somehow found myself being taken back home by him. My memories of what happened thereafter are, happily, non-existent. All I know for sure is that if ever anyone sees me puking in the gutter and offers to take me home in future, I shall run in the other direction. Or at least, I shall if I am capable of so doing. Which, if I am puking into the gutter at the time, I probably won’t be. Ah, such are the terrible ways of Fate!
Anyway, by this time I am starting to wonder why Kevin wants to be in a group at all. I mean, there was me thinking that he was set up nicely with his new job as the hand and voice of Flapjack the Duck on the soon-to-be-aired late night adult humour show, ‘Big Bazoomers!’
But it seems I was wrong! Apparently in a moment of blinding sanity, whoever offered Kevin the job in the first place suddenly realised that a man with his hand up a duck’s arse going “Quack! Quack! What a quacker!” might not be the height of late-night hilarity for the more sophisticated audience which they are hoping to attract. So they cancelled Kevin and hired a woman who shoots pingpong balls from her fanny.
Anyway, when he’d drained the last drop of my Glenffidich, I finally managed to push Kevin out of the door with a vague promise that we’d audition him for the Raspberry Nipples only if we don’t get enough actual girls for the job. In his inebriated state, he seemed to find that satisfactory, little knowing that I wouldn’t audition him for the job of toilet cleaner, let alone for a Raspberry Nipple.
I’m still not really sure about my hair, you know. I mean, I’ve got the ‘beak’ effect sorted out ok, with a pointy bit plastered down between my eyebrows. But I’m none too happy about the wings out the sides. The effect is a bit too much on the Ken Dodd side for my liking.
This is the image I am striving for...
...but this is the image I am achieving:
Oh well, it’ll just have to do. I’m off down The Camden Palace tonight. Probably have a word with Steve Strange while I’m there. Give him a nod and a wink about The Raspberry Nipples. He might be interested in featuring them at the Palace one night, I reckon. Mind you, I suppose he’ll want to know what sort of music they do. To be honest, that’s a problem that hadn’t really occurred to me. The group will need some songs, I suppose. Well, I could probably knock out a few, I reckon. How hard can it be? I see that Neil Tennant who writes for Smash Hits is trying to put together a band. Load of rubbish they are, that’s what I’ve heard. But anyway, if he can do it, I’m damn’ sure I can!
Wednesday 10 October 2007
Have you ever seen Boy George without his makeup? It came as a shock to me, I can tell you. He looks like a pickled onion in dreadlocks.
Boy George 'Before and After' - now you know why he wears make-up!
However, it is not Boy George of whom I wish to speak but of Kevin. I am pleased to say that the lad has finally seen the light, renounced his wayward ways and got himself back on the narrow if not exactly straight. Kevin, you will recall, having decided that the life of a butcher’s boy in Plaistow was not for him, had moved into the strange and shadowy world of show business, first as the voice and hand of everyone’s favourite avian glove-puppet (not counting Rod Hull’s emu), Flapjack The Duck, and, more latterly, into the bizarre world of what, in order to spare your blushes, I shall refer to as ‘exotic dancing’.
Now, heaven knows, I’m not a prude but, in my view, if you happen to the owner of the hand that is stuck up the rear end of everyone’s favourite duck, the last thing you want to do is to get yourself photographed with that very same hand shoved somewhere where you wouldn’t want it wrapping your fish and chips, if you get my drift. Kevin, unfortunately, is a boy of high spirits and low intellect. And so, when his picture (with discreet blobs placed over two significant areas of activity) appeared all over the front pages of some of our more lurid daily newspapers, the silly boy didn’t just go into hiding, keep a low profile and deny all knowledge - he actually phoned up the feature editors and offered to do interviews!
Lucky for him, then, that just as his scandal was about to take off an even bigger scandal came along in the form of TV starlet Frankie Fischer (the grannies’ favourite) who was snapped in a compromising position with his plumptious sidekick, the lovely Shirl.
The next thing you know, Kevin’s story vanishes from the newspapers while Frankie Fischer’s story is all over them. “Frankie Says It’s Wedding Bells!” says one headline; “In A Whirl For Shirl!” says another - and before you know it what started out as a minor scandal has turned into a heart-warming romantic tale which, alas, stretches credulity to breaking point. I mean, not only are we asked to believe that the wrinkled old queen, Frankie Fischer, is a red-blooded heterosexual but also that his luscious young assistant, Shirl, has fallen madly in love with him!
Anyway, the upshot is that Kevin has got off with his reputation only slightly tarnished and, moreover, he and Flapjack the Duck have now been snapped up to appear in a late-night TV show called ‘Big Bazoomers!’ which will, I am told, be a no-holds bared ‘adult’ version of the Saturday morning kiddywinks show in which Flapjack has hitherto featured.
Meanwhile you are no doubt asking yourself: but what of Dolly Pop and the Raspberry Nipples?
Well, I am at this very moment seeking the Raspberry Nipples. I’ve put some adverts for talented and good-looking singers in the musical press and I am now sitting here awaiting applications which (I have no doubt) will soon start rolling in. I shall have to conduct the auditions myself, of course. Not sure how to do that exactly. Just play it by ear, I suppose. I said to Emma, maybe I should buy myself a casting couch. I won’t tell you what she replied other than to say that I doubt whether it would be physically possible even if I didn’t have a bad back. Ah well, such as the demands of being a top-flight impresario. Stardom here we come...
Saturday 06 October 2007
Exciting news! I have become Svengali to Emma’s Trilby!
For the benefit of those who you whose bent may not be of the literary sort, I should probably explain that when I say Trilby it is not to the headgear favoured by middle-aged gentlemen from East Grinstead that I allude.
Let me clarify. Cast your thoughts back to Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis, Brian Epstein and The Beatles, Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols; not to mention Mad Bill Evans The Blood-crazed Butcher of Tonypandy and his protégé, Jack ‘Swivelhips’ Thomas, the crooning surgical support salesman from Ebbw Vale. Yes, the Trilby to which I refer is a dark-eyed, blushing waif who fell under the magnetic and evil influence of Svengali - a story with which I am familiar thanks to University Challenge. Have you ever noticed how books that nobody reads are always coming up on University Challenge? No matter what the question, ten to one the answer’s going to be Trilby, The Diary of a Nobody, Beowulf or the collected works of The Venerable Bede. Who the bloody hell was The Venerable Bede anyway and what did he do to be so bloody venerable? Does anyone apart from Bamber Gascoigne either know or care, that’s what I’d like to know... Well, no, on second thoughts, I don’t think I would like to know. In fact, I don’t give a tinker’s bloody toss about The Venerable Bede.
Anyway, the thing is that Emma has got emotionally entangled with an A & R man - ‘A & R’ being short for... well, never mind what it’s short for, the point is, he’s a talent scout and somehow or other he’s scouted out Emma; though as to which of her particular talents attracted his attention, I can only guess. Not her voice, that’s for sure. I mean, I’ve heard her singing, usually when she’s well under the influence which, to be honest (if a shade ungallant), is most of the time. If I said she has a voice like a constipated cow, I’d be doing the cow an injustice.
She has, however, got a passable figure. Unless you try to pass her in a narrow corridor in which case, the opposite would be true. What I am trying to say in my roundabout way is: knockers
. I have to be honest, I am not a knocker man. I mean, I know a fine pair when I see them and the finest three pairs I’ve seen to date would be (in ascending order) Dolly Parton’s, Honor Blackman’s and Emma’s. But while they leave me as cold as a kipper, the same is not true for a goodly proportion of the male population. Goggle-eyed, slavering and twitching at the extremities would be a better description of the typical reaction.
Oh, incidentally, I have further news of Emma. She and Norm are back together again. Emma assures me that her wayward exploits with strange and exotic men of the performing persuasion is all a thing of the past and, from here on in, a rose covered semi-detached and regular doses of Women’s Hour and The Archers while snuggled up to Norm wearing slippers with bobbles on and a tartan nightgown is all she craves.
Though I, as the Svengali in this operation, might have a thing or two to say on that subject… I mean, if Emma is to become the next singing sensation, the sultry sex symbol of her day, this generation’s Suzi Quatro, Olivia Newton-John and Diana Dors all rolled into one, I have to ask myself, is Norm really going to be good for her image? Should she not, instead, be dating pop stars, rubbing shoulders (or whatever) with film stars and being found by Fleet Street photographers cavorting indiscreetly in dodgy Soho nightclubs with minor members of the Royal Family?
For, dear reader, to summarise briefly, cut a long story short and put it in a nutshell: Emma has been signed up to a major record label and I have become her manager!
My first job will, naturally, be to groom her for stardom. The next will be to get someone to do the actual singing, teach Emma to move her lips in time to the words and find her a backing group. I haven’t decided yet on the appropriate sex for the group. Boys or girls, that is the question? My first thought was to get some hunky young men as backing dancers - you know, a bit like that Boys Town Gang. But the A & R man, whose name, by the way, is Geoffrey and who is a camp as a pair of knickers, says that people might think that was a bit gay. I said people might think Boy George is a bit gay but that doesn’t stop him selling records by the lorry load. But anyway, I can see what he means. Hunky backing singers might be a bit passé. Maybe we should go lock, stock and barrel for the spotty teenage boy market? Get a group of leggy girls wearing as little as Top Of The Pops will let us get away with and get the aforementioned spotty teenage boys spending their pocket money as fast as their hormones will let them.
And on top of all that, I also have to think of a name for the group. I’m thinking of going for an ice-cream theme - you know, get across an image of coolness, smoothness and, well, ice-creaminess. Emma could be called Dolly Pop. And her backing would be the Raspberry Nipples. Yes, I like that. It’s got class: Dolly Pop and The Raspberry Nipples.
I tell you what, there’s more to this Svengali-ing than meets the eye...
Tuesday 25 September 2007
And speaking of Limahl (which, if you’ve been paying attention, I was doing only recently), I can’t help wondering if the pout is natural or if, on the contrary, his lips have been surgically enhanced.
Mind you, I always used to be suspicious of the Duran chaps too. But I am now in a position to state categorically and without any to-ing and fro-ing, that the Le Bon lips (not to mention the Rhodes and Taylor ones) have not benefited from the surgeon’s scalpel. In fact, in spite of what you may think if you’ve only seen Duran Duran in photographs, their lips are not as eerily juicy as they appear. It’s the camera that produces that effect. No, really, not a word of a lie - it’s an amazing sight to see.
There they are one moment - Le Bon, Rhodes and the various Taylors - all lounging around with lips that you’d pass in the street without a second glance and then, out of the corner of their eyes, they catch sight of a camera being raised and, snap
! their lips visibly inflate before your very eyes. The speed with which they can go from mouths at ease to the full cheeks-sucked-in and lips-thrust-out pucker is a sight to be seen. I don’t know if you watch those Jacques Cousteau programmes or, depending on your age, maybe you can remember the undersea adventures of Hans and Lotte Hass? If you do, you will no doubt be acquainted with the sight of the puffer fish swelling up and bristling with spines at the merest prod of a flipper, snorkel or harpoon gun. Well, thus it is with Duran Duran. Only the required stimulus is not a harpoon gun, it is, a camera. And their lips aren’t, of course, covered with spines as is the skin of the puffer fish. But, apart from those trivial differences, the similarity between the lips and the fish is remarkable.
But I digress. It was of the luscious Limahl that I had intended to talk. He of the two-tone hairdo. As I was saying only a while ago, I have been thinking of going a bit on the blonder side myself. Well, now I have. Not the full Duluxe Dog, I have to say. But a good deal more than just a few streaks. It’s a sort of golden ash at the sides with a blonde dangly piece flopping down in the front.
And speaking of blonde pieces... did you see that photo in the paper this morning: Freddie Fischer! Well, it wasn’t the most flattering picture I’ve ever seen. To say he looked rat-arsed would be to do rats an injustice! He had his arm around that mouthy blonde piece from the telly. Shirley something. You know, the one who’s meant to be his glamorous assistant. They do quizzes and stuff. On a Saturday, I think. Well, according to the paper, there was some party over the weekend and she was caught assisting him with more than his quizzes!
I have to say I find that very difficult to believe. I mean, talk about camp! Stick Frankie Fischer in a field and you’d have boy scouts singing songs around him in under five minutes: gingling their goolies or whatever it is that they do. That’s how camp Frankie Fischer is.
‘Ey, I wonder if that was the party that Welsh Willy was trying to get me to go to? That’d have been a laugh! Wish I’d gone now. Not that Frankie Fischer is my favourite TV personality. Not by a long way. Now, if it’d have been Larry Grayson giving a party, I might have gone. Or Bruce Forsyth. If it’d have been Les Dawson, I’d have been in their like a shot. Or Rolf Harris. But Frankie Fischer...? Oh, I don’t know. Somehow I have a feeling one of his parties would be all Mantovani and vol au vents
Friday 21 September 2007
Busy week. Interviews with Haircut 100 (nice boys - tell lies like they’re going out of fashion), David Sylvian (we compared skin care tips, picked up a few handy hints using easily available household products), Modern Romance (they’re going through a pink suit phase - either they haven’t yet tried wearing pink suits in the streets of Streatham or else they are a lot tougher than they look) and Sal Sol - a man who looks like Uncle Fester on a diet and sings with a group called Classix Nouveaux whose music, I must say, is really pretty decent which is more, alas, than can be said for their hairdresser.
But enough of work. The big news of the week is my acquisition of a new cassette recorder - a Sony WM-R2. This is so small you wouldn’t believe it! It actually fits in my jacket pocket. No, honest, it does. Only just fits, I would have to admit, and it’s true it does stretch the seams a bit, but even so... I mean, my last cassette recorder was about the size of a box of Kleenex and I had to carry it on a strap around my neck, whereas this little beauty can be held in the palm of my hand and weighs less than a pound (I know that for a fact as I just shoved it on the scales). You got to give it to them Japanese, they may not be hot shakes when it comes to pop music, but when it comes to small, there’s no beating them.
So small it fits in the hand! Whatever will they think of next...?
Anyway, I went down a shop on Tottenham Court Road to buy it. By a stroke of bad luck, who should I meet on the way in but Welsh Willy. Now, I don’t think I’ve mentioned him before so I’d better explain. Welsh Willy is, as his nom de guerre suggests, of Welsh origin.
There are, as I have often had occasion to point out, many fine and noble talents from the Land Of Song, such as Bonnie Tyler, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Shakin’ Stevens and that bloke who sings ‘Nessun Dorma’ while cleaning the gentlemen’s urinals in Camden Town. But Welsh Wiley is not among their number. By which I don’t mean that he’s not every bit as Welsh as they are but that he is, rather, notably lacking in the fine and noble talents with which those aforementioned luminaries are so plentifully graced.
I am, as it happens, myself of Welsh origin, so you may draw from that fact your own conclusions.
Contrary to what you may suppose, not all people of Welsh origin are characterised by the finer qualities of which I speak. You only have to take one look at Welsh Willy to see what I mean. He has one pierced ear from which dangles a golden ring. I think that says it all. He comes from Abergavenny, I believe, or possibly Abernant - anyway, one of those Aber-places, which, in my book, is another thing to hold against him.
He was all jaw as usual. He is one of those chopsy Welsh boys who give the rest of us a bad name. Once he gets jabbering, there’s no stopping him. Some swanky party or something he’s off to and did I want to come, he was sure he could get me an invitation if only he was to have a word in the right ear. I told him I had better things to do than to go to ‘swanky’ parties (his word, not mine) and fortunately who should swan into the shop just at that moment but Bruno Brookes, the Radio One DJ with whom I am the very closest of chums, having once interviewed him in Battersea Dog’s Home for Jackie magazine (a story for which the world is not yet prepared).
Bruno was browsing for a cassette recorder as it happened so, making my excuses and leaving Welsh Willy over in the batteries and accessories department, I shimmered over to Bruno and showed him mine and you could tell by the look in his eyes that he’d never seen anything like it before. “Japanese,” I said, “Rubbish they may be, when it comes to music. But when it comes to small, you can’t beat them.”
I don’t think it was the right thing to say in retrospect. Well, Bruno, you see, is what you might call somewhat dainty in stature and his manner towards me suddenly became quite frosty. “I think I’d prefer a British make,” he said.
“Suit yourself ,” I thought, “See if I care if you end up walking with a limp!”
Funny that, now I come to think about it. How all the Radio One DJs are so small, I mean. There’s Peter Powell, Bruno Brookes, Mike Read. None of them are giants.
I wonder what underwear Bruno favours? I suspect he’s a Y-Fronts man. I have a theory that all the Radio One DJs wear Y-Fronts. Apart from Tony Blackburn, that is. I’d imagine Tony in boxer shorts. For the freedom of movement, if you get my drift...
Friday 14 September 2007
Funny bloke, that Pete Burns. You know, that chap from Dead Or Alive. I did a phone interview with him yesterday. For Jackie
magazine. They wanted something ‘light and frothy’, they said. But all he talked about was being whistled at by builders, wearing fishnet stockings and high-heeled shoes.
Him, that is - wearing the fishnets and high heels, I mean - not the builders. The builders, as far as I can recall from our conversation, were too busy whistling to bother about the finer details of their evening wear. Well, to be accurate, Pete Burns wasn’t wearing fishnets either as (curiously, I thought) he says he doesn’t care for them. He is, I gather, open to the possibility of high heels, but when it comes to a choice between thermal long johns and fishnet tights, the long johns win hands down.
Or should that be legs up? But I digress...
To say that to say that this past week has been traumatic would be an understatement would be an understatement. (I hope you are following this. If not, pull yourself together, read slowly and concentrate!)
As you know, my life in recent times has been plagued by the increasingly unpredictable behaviour of a certain Kevin who, far from being the simple butcher’s boy from Plaistow for whom once I took him, is, au contraire
, none other than the hand behind the duck - the duck being Flapjack, the lovable glove-puppet of children’s TV fame and Kevin’s being the hand which, stuffed up Flapjack’s rear end (the parson’s nose, as you might say) is responsible for said duck’s hilarious antics.
Kevin has fallen in with a bad lot of late. It all began after her met my friend Emma’s boyfriend (one of many, I must disapprovingly confess), a large man (in all respects) by the name of Jimbo.
Kevin is one of those poor, weak-willed souls for whom the smell of the crowd and the roar of the greasepaint is temptation beyond endurance. I suspect the smell of crisp five pound notes stuffed down his jockstrap by inebriated audience members may further add to that temptation. But more on that subject I am not at liberty to say. I have vowed that not a word on the subject of baby oil, athletic supporters or ostrich feather boas will pass my lips. So the details of Kevin’s recent activities are my closely guarded secret.
The trouble being that not everyone is as tight-lipped as I am. Word, it seems, has got out. Along, worse still, with photographs of a smudgy and unflattering nature with the a ‘censored’ banner emblazoned right across Kevin’s bulging five pound notes. I speak, dear reader, of the tabloid press. For that is the medium wherein this unseemly spectacle has been flaunted for the sordid gratification of the common throng.
As well you may imagine, this has caused ructions! I mean, this, after all, is the man whose hand has been stuffed up the country’s favourite duck, the man whose mouth has uttered that well-known and much-loved catchphrase, ‘Quack-quack! What a quacker!” - and this is now the same man who has been discovered doing things the nature of which the good burghers of East Grinstead, Hove, Neasden and Esher have hitherto little dreamed.
Well, I tell you this - the scandal could hardly have been worse if Harry Corbett had been discovered having an unnatural relationship with Sooty!
What consequences it may all have, I really cannot guess.
My only hope is that the scandal does not rebound upon yours truly. If the readers of Jackie magazine were ever to discover that this cub reporter had been on intimate terms with the man who dragged Flapjack The Duck’s reputation in the mud, my career, I fear, would be at an end.
Which, indeed, it also would be if I were to send in the uncensored version of my Pete Burns interview. On the whole, you see, Jackie prefers nice, family-friendly interviews with as little as conveniently possible on the subject of men in high heels being whistled at by builders. Thank Heaven that, in the closing moments of the interview, I had the presence of mind to guide topic of discussion around to school dinners. With a little creative editing, I think I might be able to turn out a reasonably passable account of Pete’s find memories of lumpy mashed potatoes and pink custard. Dull, I know, but safe...
Saturday 01 September 2007
I been thinking of going blonde. What d’you reckon? I mean, it’s the in thing now, isn’t it – there’s that David van Day from Dollar, then there’s he chap in Duran Duran and the two blokes from Bucks Fizz. Not to mention Kim Wilde, Debbie Harry and Dolly Parton!
Now, I don’t want you to think I’m name dropping but that was who I interviewed last week, as a matter of fact! Which is what got me to thinking about going blonde in the first place. No, no, I don’t mean Dolly Parton. I’d love to have interviewed her but that opportunity has not yet arisen. It was other one who I interviewed, the chap I mentioned before - you know, that David van Day, the bloke in Dollar. The one who looks a bit like a gerbil in a dinner jacket.
Nice bloke, as a matter of fact. Lives in a mews house in a little cobbled street in one of the more fashionable slum areas of London. I’d tell you where it is but I dare not on account of the ravening hordes of underwear-obsessed fans who would no doubt descend upon the poor chap in a lustful frenzy fuelled by cheap beer and barley wine and whisk off his boxer shorts at some unearthly hour of the morning. Ah no, it is a heavy burden of secrecy which we gentlemen of the pop music press must bear and wild horses would not drag David’s address out of me - though it is quite possible that a few banana daiquiris and packet of pork scratching might loosen my tongue...
But I digress.
The burning question is: ash or platinum?
I have to say that I’m a bit of a traditionalist in these matters. ‘Honey dawn’, ‘Silver shimmer’ and ‘Arctic moon’ hold no attractions for me. As far as I am concerned, if you are going blonde there are only two shades worth the time of day: ash (à la Kim Wilde) or platinum (à la Dolly). David van Day veers more towards the ash end of the spectrum, I’d say. Another possibility is that he just hadn’t washed his hair when I met him. I always think ‘ash’ is just a polite way of saying ‘dirty platinum’, really.
Oh, what the heck! Platinum it is! By Jove! If it’s good enough for Dolly, it’s good enough for me. I don’t mean just streaks, neither. I’ve already got a few streaks in, anyway. It’s a nightmare having them done. They put this rubber cap over your head and stick crocket hooks through little holes to pull clumps of hair through. Usually they also stick a few hooks gratuitously in your scalp while they at it! Then they plaster all the bleach over the whole lot and the theory is that you end up with only the clumps sticking through the holes going blonde. Which, in theory, is supposed to look attractive. Though, in practice... well, suffice to say, my streaked days are now a thing of the past.
Marilyn reckons I should get myself some ‘extensions’ which, in case you don’t know, are bits of other people’s hair that you tie on to your own. Yuck! Why would I want other people’s old hair dangling round my head...?
I suppose I could do the Limahl thing. Black on the sides, blonde on top. The Old English Sheepdog-look, I call it. Makes me think of non-drip paint whenever I set eyes on him.
Oh, and speaking of paint, did you ever clap your eyes on those Spandau chaps in that video – Paint Me Down
? Rolling about starkers they were, on Hampstead Heath. An activity which, if you are not very careful indeed, can easily be misconstrued.
Which reminds me, I was about to tell you all about Kevin’s latest exploits. As if the baby oil and the snake wasn’t bad enough, he’s now started taking an unhealthy interest in ostrich feathers.
Oh, you’ll have to excuse me. My phone’s ringing. I’ll give you the lowdown on all that later...
Sunday 12 August 2007
It’s been hectic this past couple of weeks. I did the interview with Annabella, then I met Martin Fry from ABC (in a cheap caff in Notting Hill Gate – and I
had to pay for the teas – bloody cheek!), then there was an interview with the Stranglers. They turned up two hours late and their press person warned me not to annoy Jean Jacques Burnel because he doesn’t like journalists, apparently, and Barry (the Flexipop! editor) said Jean Jacques would probably throw me out of the window and then he laughed and added, “...and I’d give him a helping hand myself!”
Very dry sense of humour, that Barry. He wasn’t in a good mood though, really, as he’d bought 200 red carnations from the local florist. He wanted a picture of The Stranglers lying on the floor covered in flowers for some reason and he’d asked the florist if he could rent a few bunches and take them back when we’d finished, but she was having none of it. “The only flower that leaves this shop is a flower that’s bought,” she said, “We don’t do sale or return, you know.” In the end Barry negotiated a 20 per cent discount and she chucked in a free cactus.
Anyway, back to the big news, which I was about to tell you before all this work got in the way, about Emma and her new boyfriend. He is, it now transpires, not a Spanish contortionist at all but, au contraire
, a novelty act by the name of Elvis Aris (‘the amazing bottom impersonator’) who has made it big (according to Emma, who didn’t actually specify what ‘it’
might be but, given her well-known predilections, I think I can hazard a guess) on the club circuit up North.
The gist of his act, as far as I can gather, is that his talented buttocks do impressions of famous people. He exposes his bum to the awe-struck audience and, thanks to extraordinary muscle coordination, a bit of miming and a few well-placed props, he entertains them with hour after hour of life-like impersonations of celebrities past and present. Sir Winston Churchill is one of his specialities – he does the ‘This is our finest hour’ speech, complete with cigar! He also mimes to the hits of the late and great Elvis Presley – Love Me Tender, Jail House Rock
and (the climax of his show) All Shook Up
Emma really does have some very strange tastes in men. Norm is the only boyfriend she’s had who would merge into a crowd. Unfortunately for Norm, he is so mergeable that, once merged, you’d never be able to find him again. Personally, I reckon Elvis Aris is just one of her passing infatuations. I have no doubt that he could entertain her of an evening in ways that are unknown to Norm. All the same, if you want my view, her heart belongs to Norm when all is said and done...
Oh, I’ve just remembered. I haven’t brought you up to date with Kevin’s latest exploits, have I? He’s mixing in with a bad crowd, if you want my opinion. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a prude but, I mean to say, the baby oil was bad enough, but the snake is taking it all one step too far!
More on that later...