Thursday 30 December 2010

The Box

That's all it is: a box. Oh, and a cat.

Monday 20 December 2010

The Odd Couple

With the Number One Son home on University shore leave it's time to break the seal on the Quality Street and dig out the classic films which have to be viewed every Christmas. First up, The Odd Couple. Neil Simon caught Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau at the top of their game for the 1968 big screen adaptation of the classic stage play; we know all the lines by heart but that only makes watching this film more engaging year on year. On the couple of occasions we've rented an apartment in Manhattan I've always wondered if it would be suitable to hold poker nights with Oscar fixing drinks and Felix disinfecting the cards. The Medds have been known to try and recreate such sessions taking in a few hands of Rummy, with beer from the liquor store and pizza from Ray's on 5th Avenue.

Monday 13 December 2010

Ear Worms

I was following a thread on The Word blog recently about those pesky tunes that get lodged in your brain and steadfastly refuse to leave. And it's an affliction for which there is no cure. Even deafness wouldn't get rid of them - once they're in, that's it. I have many pieces of music (sometimes only brief snippets) that nudge their way from the deep recesses of my brain and take centre stage. This is one I share with Quentin Cooper of Radio 4's Material World: despite not having heard it since I was a nipper, I still know it note for note.

Quentin ran a feature on Ear Worms and the feedback the following week was fascinating. Musical memories from our childhood right through to music played at funerals, pulling in hits of the day, muzak, radio jingles, cheesy advert music and (most interestingly) tunes you can't abide - they all find a way into our heads and take up residency. Play School aside, here's another one that gets regular airplay, creeping up on me when I least expect it:

Middle Of The Road's Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep was a massive hit in the summer of 1971 and coincided with the Medds' first ever European jaunt to Spain. And at the tender age of nine I was aware that it wasn't only us Brits who were getting off on bubblegum pop: every cafe, diner and bar my parents took me to during the hottest fortnight I'd ever experienced, all I could hear was Chirpy Bloody Cheep Cheep. On the flight back something strange happened - I'd got a window seat and was trying to sleep with my head leaning against the window when, all of a sudden, the tune started playing; it wasn't coming out over the tannoy and there was nobody next to me with a transistor radio jammed to their lug hole. No, what I was experiencing was my own, very primitive, 'in-flight entertainment.' Forty years later and I still can't find the off button.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

100 not out

Whilst all the talk this week, starting tomorrow certainly, will centre around the anniversary of Lennon's assassination, I've not seen many people pick up on Edmundo Ros' 100th birthday today.

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad 7 December 1910, Ros made his name in London from the 1940s onwards as bandleader, arranger and vocalist with his own samba and Latin American orchestras. With residencies at The Coconut Grove and The Bagatelle, his gigs were often a Who's Who of the current stars and starlets of the day. Even a very young Princess Elizabeth was known to throw a few shapes on the floor before taking on her current job.

Ros played his last show in 1994 but remains in relatively good health enjoying his Spanish retirement.

Edmundo Ros: Football Calypso

Monday 6 December 2010

The time is Nighy

It's true what they say: the best pictures really are on the radio. Everything from Paul Temple, The Goons, The Man In Black, to Start The Week and (even) The Archers work, and work brilliantly, because the listener is creating his or her own unique images to the soundtrack laid out before them. And so it was with Radio 4's recent dramatisation of Simon Brett's wonderful series of Charles Paris stories.

Paris is a struggling actor (and some say a cad) with a penchant for the bottle and pretty women. He also has a knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when various coves around him get bumped off - time then to don his sleuthing hat and, before you can say Hercule Poirot, the murderer is singing like a canary. It could all get silly and out of hand (think Diagnosis Murder) but with the ubiquitous Bill Nighy at the helm it maintains its dignity and skips along at quite a pace. Nighy, as you would expect, brings years of experience to the party and carries the listener almost single handedly through the 30 minute scripts. Though, like reading Fleming, when rereading the old stories it's virtually impossible not to see and hear Nighy in your mind's eye: I can live with that. If Mrs M is reading this, here's a Crimbo present link.