Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Kinks, Dave Davies

Dave Davies is the younger brother of Ray Davies of the rock band the Kinks.

Dave Davies website describes his autobiography as a cult.

It is an fascinating and incredibly honest read.
I do part company with his over his use of psychic powers and messages form UFO's :-O   but if you want a very good account of life in a  rock band and his complex relationship with his brother and other people, this is a very good book.

I think it is right to say that Dave has and will be over shadowed by his brother, but that his contribution to the music of the Kinks has been very undervalued.

Interesting for me, Dave is a fan of Tony Hancock and recently attended the Tony Hancock Appreciation Society Dinner as a guest speaker.

Monday, 29 August 2011

what's his name from the carry on films

Charles Hawtrey has been destined to be remembered as whatshisname, the skinny one with glasses from the Carry on films.  You know the one a bit like Kenneth Williams.

In a cruel irony, Hawtrey career was blighted by arguments over billing.  He would often lose out on work or put people off employing him because he wanted to be top or higher up the bill.

Far from being just that chap in the Carry on films, Hawtrey had a incredible career.

He started out as a child actor in silent movies and in the theatre, he was Englands leading boy soprano with 'hit' records. He worked with a vast who's who  of film and stage in the 1930's and 1940's.  Errol Flynn, Lawrence Oliver, Douglas Fairbanks Jr,  Max Miller, Alastair Sims, George Formby and on almost endlessly)    Admittedly he would exaggerate his links with such stars. 

He was a writer, director and composer. (although without great success, except in one murder mystery where he played a role in drag only to be revealed as a man at the end of the play, so convincing was he, even theatre critics were stunned by the revelation)

The Henry and Norman Bones Mysteries (No I've never heard of them either) which he starred in with Patricia Hayes ran for 17 years on Radio, yet his involvement ended over an argument as to whether the billing should be Charles Hawtrey with Patricia Hayes, or Charles Hawtrey and Patricia Hayes.

Our House - an hour long sitcom on ITV he starred in with Hattie Jaques and Joan Sims ran to 39 episodes and a spin off series best of friends a further 13.

More remembered are his film with Will Hay and perhaps his time in the Army Game, another early sitcom.

In his early days, Hawtrey was well known for being utterly professional and very talented as a performer.
Unfortunately, Hawtrey acquired a drink problem which descended into alcoholism.  For most of his later years the only people who would employ him were the Carry On Films and one organiser of theatre shows - Aubrey Philips who had to work round his drunkenness.

In another cruel twist of fate, Hawtrey felt he wasn't given big enough roles or high enough billing - which no doubt fueled his drinking and his awkward and rude behaviour - but these were the reasons people felt they could not give him bigger role or higher billing.

For the Carry On Film he was paid £2000 a time, (for 6 weeks filming) compared to £5000 commanded by Sid James and Kenneth Williams.  Although he grumbled about the films, he was usually keen to promote them, as it meant a free meal., drink and being treated like a star for a day.

For touring in panto and such, he could get £250 a week plus expenses. Not bad, but not the £1000+  a week top stars would expect.

Well known as an eccentric - he would buy cheap cigarettes and expensive champagne. He's drink tea and bring sandwiches when filming to save money yet take a taxi for ridiculous journeys.

He did become very reclusive towards the end of this life, but was not without friends.  It was his wish that few people came to his funeral.  Admirably he was one of the first stars to come out as being gay.

People would ask for autographs thinking his name was Kenneth Williams or Kenneth Connor, so much so that he started saying "I suppose you think I'm fucking Barbara Windsor" and would be incredibly rude.

Did this mean he was right to be so concerned about billing all along ?

He felt typecast by the carry on films, yet without them and the endless repeats, for which he received no money, he would probably be hardly remembered at all.

whatshisname - the life and death of Charles Hawtrey by Wes Butters ISBN 13:978-0-9557670-7-4

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Jeremy Kyle

The Jeremy Kyle Show - shorthand for dysfunctional lives, trash television watched by students, the unemployed and housebound.

I have a big concern about  the "lie dectector' tests - as it ought to be well known that they do not detect lies and can be deceived.

I suspect Jeremy knows this, but doesn't tell his audience what he knows. But how cane we find out ?  Perhaps he ought to be made to take a lie detector test?

Deal or No Deal

Deal or No Deal, hosted by Noel Edmunds can be a compelling programme to watch.  The format is simple, but the psychology is interesting.

Noel Edmunds is well known for his belief in cosmic ordering - you order your hearts desire and the cosmos will arrange it.  Noel asked for a revived TV career or not depending on your point of view :-)

Despite knowing that they can't actually change the value of their box, everyone is encouraged to hold hands, cross their fingers, send vibes and above all be 'positive'  to help the contestant choose a low value box for elimination. This all switches of course when a deal is made with the banker and then everyone has to send positive or negative vibes wishes etc that the box is of high value.

I don't think anyone yet has just started with box number one and worked numerically through them, although mathematically, it ought not to affect the outcome.

The programme is quite sad in that people are encouraged to "be brave"  and believe that they are fated to have been dealt a high value box - and so plough on to the end,rejecting all offers from the banker, with usually disappointing results.  This is worse when it is people who would find even the relatively small wins
"life ttransforming"

I am sure there is a website somewhere which lists all the games ! 

Monday, 22 August 2011

Bring back national service ?

Brian Sewell, art critic sets out why he thinks national service wouldn't work.

Paul Daniels (Magician)  amongst other suggested young offenders be sent to help the troops in Afghanistan.
Tempting though this might be, it probably just shows why national service wouldn't work.   The army these days would like to think it has come a long way from squaddies mindlessly obeying order.  It it not very likely you would wish to put your life int he hands of a useless young offender.

When people talk about community work - it's usually something like litter picking or painting over graffiti.
Firstly this assumes there is an unending supply of litter and graffiti (there may be)  and that it is a suitable and worthwhile punishment.

Riots etc

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Custer, Sitting Bull, and the famous battle and other library books

The last stand , Custer, Sitting Bull and the battle of the little big horn by Nathaniel Philbrick - ISBN 978-1-847-920009-6

Probably more than anyone needs to know about the Battle of the Little Bighorn and more.

One of the advantages of being a historian in this day and age is so much more information is available for you to study. Not just in different recollections but also in archeology. Hilbrick does an excellent job in weaving all this into a gripping narrative.

A large amount of coverage is given to the fights involving the other part the Seventh Calvary led by  Bentine and Reno,  where accounts by survivors give a greater certainty as to what took place.

Buildings that changed the world - Klaus Reichold and Bernhard Graf - ISBN 3-7913-1945-0
Pyramids, Great Wall of China, Windsor Castle, Macgu Picchu, Taj Mahal, Chartres Cathedral, you get the idea. I was rather sad that Persepolis was destroyed by Alexander the Great - it is said in revenge for the Persian destruction of the Acropolis in Athens.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

It's Absurd - people are turning into rhinoceri

Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco is a play written in 1959.  The story is that people are shocked to see a Rhinoceros charge down the street. Soon it emerges that people are turning into Rhinoceros.  Eventually everyone has turned into a rhino apart from Berenger.  He wants to, he tries to, but he is for some reason unable to become a rhinoceros.  It is part of the Theatre of the Absurd - but it is not absurd, it is an allegory for conformity.

A film has been made and several stage plays - but I imagine that none have done it justice.  At one stage around 1963/4 plans were made to make it into a film staring the Comedian Tony Hancock as Berenger. In his prime, he would have been brilliant, perhaps even at the time, he would have been great, but for various reasons the film wasn't made.

In these days of computer generated special effects, a film version would be more fantastic than ever. 

In the lead role, someone like Jack Dee.

Articles that say something very well