Thursday, December 24, 2009

And so we come to the last day of Advent, and the last window on our calendar. A couple of people have wondered aloud whether it is possible to top yesterday's entry, a view with which I have some sympathy. Vincent Price predicting Keith Floyd 15 years before his rise to fame is something to savour. However, while the Vincent Price thing is funny, the clip that follows is funny, utterly adorable and just the thing to spread very welcome tidings of comfort and joy. From Christmas Eve 1961, here are Hattie Jacques, Eric Sykes and Billy Cotton with a little help from a Beverley Sisters record. Merry Christmas, grownups.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nearly there, and to help us to day 24, we have Vincent Price in comedy mode on the 1970 LWT Christmas spectacular Holiday Startime. Your hostess is Australian person Maggie Fitzgibbon. No, me neither.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

With barely a couple of minutes of day 22 left, it's time to open another window. Through this aperture we are whisked back to the late 1980s and Top of the Pops, but not as we know it. Using a library piece that sounds enough like Paul Hardcastle's 'The Wizard' to get the point across, while at the same time sounding absolutely nothing like it at all, this is the opening of the British Gas Video Unit's attempt to create a pop chart of great inventors, aided by David '(Who are you trying to) Kid' Jensen. The true glory comes when a rather more sober voiceover chap takes over talks of the lasting influence of inventors compared to the "here today, gone tomorrow" impact of pop stars. Up pops a Quantel extravaganza of pop star mugshots. Who, he asks, 20 years on (which is just about now, as it happens) will remember these faces? Yeah, what did happen to Kylie Minogue, Bono and the Pet Shop Boys? If anyone wants to see the rest of this 12-minute edition of Engineering's Not Dull, just say.
Apologies for the delay. Here are the contents of yesterday's window back-dated. It's the Peddlers with an organ shuffle thing called Southern Woman. How does one move like a mustang, exactly? Still, smashing groove.

PS Have this to make up for the delay.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 20, and a clip with a personal connection, taken from the 21 February 2001 edition of BBC Breakfast. Tiger Tim Waterstone was threatening to launch a takeover bid for his old company, and, desperate for someone with a bit of book trade nous to fill in the background, reporter Brian Milligan (no relation to Spike, but brother of Stephen) called the offices of Publishing News and asked to speak to chairman and all-round grumpy old sod Fred Newman. Milligan and crew duly turned up and, for some unknown reason, it was agreed that it would be best if Spint (as Fred was known - long story, some of which can be found here) sat on my desk to deliver the piece. So, from about 1:41, you can see a bit of my personalised partition, covered with detritus designed to elicit a chuckle during the darker moments of press day. Just behind Spint's right ear is the Times obituary for Rev Bill Westwood, former Bishop of Peterborough and father of 'urban' music advocate Timothy. If this were in HD, you'd be able to see the rap slang speech bubble that my colleague Ralph Baxter had added to the accompanying picture of the deceased churchman. Then, by Fred's left ear, you can see a masthead from Simon Heffer's Daily Mail column with something obscene or absurd (I forget exactly what, but it looks like a pie of some description) scrawled on it by me or Ralph in a moment of severe vexation with the Tory philosopher. You can also see the luxuriant pube-like thatch of Roger 'Eraserhead' Tagholm bobbing about in the background, no doubt thinking up clever but unfunny punchlines for the diary page. That's no judgment of Rog, who is one of the funniest people I know. It was a sort of challenge among him, me and Ralph to put in the most laboured yet unamusing shite we could think of. My personal best was describing Politico's bookshop as "a home from Douglas-Home". Geddit? No? Good. Love the misspelling of Spintola's name and Tanya Beckett's pay-off, by the way. "A very interesting story, and a very interesting man...indeed. Another interesting man..." [Creak, groan, rictus grin, etc]. We'll be the judges of that, thank you, Tanya, unless you were talking about Fred, in which case, oh yes. A fascinating study.