Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Cleggian Rhapsody

With apologies to Queen

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
there was no landslide,
hung parliament a reality
Rolling your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see,
I'm just a Lib Dem, I get no sympathy,
Because I'm easy come, easy go,
Little high, bigger low,
Any way the polls blows doesn't really matter to
me, to me

I just killed a party,
Put a gun against its head, pulled my trigger
now its dead
Mama... power had just begun,
But now I've gone and thrown it all away
Mamaaaaa oooh,
Didn't mean to make you cry,
If I'm not back again this time tomorrow,
Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters

Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine, body's aching all
the time
Goodbye, ev'ry policy, they've got to go,
Got to leave you all behind and face the truth
Mamaaaaa oooh, (Anyway the wind blows)
I don't want to die,
I sometimes wish I'd never mentioned tuition fees at all

I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Cameron! Cameron ! Will you do the
George Osborne?!

Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening
coalition, coalition
coalition, coalition
coalition, figure go ! magnifico

I'm just a poor Clegg, nobody loves me
He's just a poor Clegg from a rich family,
Spare him his life from this monstrosity!
Easy come, easy go, will you let me go
Coalition ! No, we will not let you go
(Let him go!) Coalition! We will not let you go
(Let him go!) Coalition! We will not let you go
(Let me go) Will not let you go
(Let me go)(Never) Never let you go
(Let me go) Never let you go (Let me go) Ah
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia, let me go
Miliband has a devil put aside for me, for me,
for meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

So you think you can stop me and spit in my
So you think you can love me and leave me to
Oh, Tories, can't do this to me, Tories,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta

Nothing really worked out, Anyone can see,
Nothing really worked out,
Nothing really worked out to me...

Anyway the wind blows...

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Misconceptions about Tony Hancock

Tony Hancock has been chosen as one of the new Elizabethans - one of the notable figures in the reign of Elizabeth II.

The first misconception is that Hancock got rid of his co-stars from the radio series.  Although it is true that Hancock was unhappy about the 'snide' character played by Kenneth Williams, it was Williams himself who left the series a couple of episodes into the 6th radio series.  He was unhappy about the number and quality of the lines he was getting - but perhaps it was more Kenneths ego here than Tonys which caused the problem.

Another myth is that only Sid James from the radio series made the move to TV with Hancock  - actually both Hattie Jacques and Kenneth Williams appeared in the television version, although as supporting characters rather than as the same character each week .  Writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson say it was they who made the decision to cut down the regular supporting cast as Television is a much slower medium than radio.  Hancock can hardly be said to have blocked the appearance of Hattie and Kenneth in the TV Series.   Hattie in fact appeared with the Hancock film the Punch and Judy Man, which shows they were still friends after the TV series.

True Hancock blocked Sid James being in his films, but James made dozens of films without Hancock, and no one complains about that.

In fact Hancock had often gone out of his way to get parts for his friends as Dick Emery, Graham Stark, Hugh Lloyd, Mario Fabrizi and others attest. Hancock felt most comfortable working with people he knew.

Another myth is that Hancock fired writers Galton and Simpson, in truth they did fall out over a Film script which Hancock rejected without even reading, but, Hancock never intended the split to be final and on several occasions  approached Galton and Simpson to ask if they could provide scripts. For example before his series for ATV, but Galton and Simpson were too busy with other projects like Steptoe and Son.  They almost worked together again on a musical "Noah" but this never got off the ground - perhaps thankfully in view of Hancock aversion to long stage shows.

Another myth is that Tony died in a hotel room in Australia, this is probably due to the play Hancock's last half hour, in fact he was staying in a basement apartment linked to the house of the director of the TV series he was working on at the time.

Perhaps the strangest myth is that Hancock was never as funny solo as when he was with Sid James - Galton and Simpson rebut this - they say look at the Radio Ham, The Blood Donor, the Lift - the shows indelibly associated with Hancock and for a time British Comedy and the British Way of life - Sid James wasn't in any of them, neither was Kenneth, Hattie or Bill Kerr.

Tony strove to make his comedy 'realistic' that is if a policeman called at the door, he wanted the audience to beleive it was a real policeman, not Kenneth Williams doing a  funny voice. I think Tony was right, that is why so much of his comedy stands the test of time, even though the context has dated some of it. 

They have all this money but they are not actually happy.”


Monday, 9 July 2012

Private Godrey

Was Arnold Ridley - best known as Private Godfrey in Dads Army like the character he portrayed?

Godfrey's Ghost is written by his son, Nicholas and is an affectionate portrait of a father.   More of a memoir than a biography, it is usual is style.

Arnold Ridley was formerly known as a playwright - his most successful and well known being "The Ghost Train."  When he was through no fault of his own, in financial difficulties - he sold the amateur right to the play for £200.  With hindsight that was a very bad move, as the play went on to earn hundreds of thousands of pounds, but Ridley was never bitter or resentful and accepted that neither he nor other could have foreseen the play being so successful. The book in fact sets out how even being a hit in the first place was down to chance, luck and some sharp promotion.

The book recounts how the idea for the ghost train came to him after seeing a particularly bad play ! and how  he had spent hours on a  deserted station in the middle of nowhere at 3.30 -5.30 in the morning waiting for the connecting train to take him to his girl friend.

As his son asked - why didn't he write books, they seem so much more reliable than plays.

Other snippets - Ridley was called up for WW1 and had a dreadful time in battles like the Somme. He and a group of soldiers were recommended for a military medal but his commander recommended him for an even higher award.  In the end the others all got medal and he didn't get one.  That kind of luck seem to typify his life.   He suffered from nightmares for years after WW1 and then was called up for WWII. 

Ridely wrote his autobiography, but his son says it was not good and was repeatedly rejected by publishers.  Partly because his recollection of events (apart from his early life) was hazy and partly because despite spending so many years in dads Army he covered that in just 3 pages !

The book dwells a lot on the relationship between father and son and being the son of a pretty famous dad.   Nicholas seems clear that his dad wasn't to him "Private Godfrey" but that is the way he was often treated by the public.

Arnold Ridley won the football pools - only £1200, but enormously welcome to him at the time.

The world of repertory companies is now gone, but the often precarious nature of the actors profession remains - while some gain great wealth, for every Tom Cruise, there are those that never get beyond the bit parts and chorus, in between, are what John Le Mesuier called the jobbing actor - mostly in work, mostly not highly paid, but making a living.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A Bob for Bob - More Book Reviews

The unpublished Bob Monkhouse -  A interesting memoir about comedian Bob Monkhouse by his friend and fellow comedian of whom I have never heard.  Bob comes across as incredibly hardworking and professional, kind and thoughtful in all he did.  His friend doesn't come across so well, which at least shows commendable honesty !  There are plenty of Monkhouse jokes to make you laugh and interesting insights into his professional and private life. 

On the Way Home
is the diary of Laura Ingalls Wilder - of Little House on the Parie fame. It records a trip that she made in 1894 with her husband and daughter moving from South Dakota to Missouri. It is basically a day to day commentary on who they have met that day, the local crops, land prices, where they camp etc.  Nothing much happens, quite often they meet people in waggon going from Missouri to South Dakota seeking a better life ! It must have been a strange time in the history of the USA.  The native Americans had been almost obliterated, there was no longer a frontier or new territory to settle.  Years of bad harvests meant real hardship for many. In all a historic record of interest to few I guess.