Friday, 31 December 2010

Movie musings - 10 Grapefruitcrazy posts re-visited

1. The joy of Sherlock (link)
2. Alice in not quite so Wonderland (link)
3. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof - an appreciation (link)
4. The Third Man - movie magic that never dies (link)
5. 3D or not 3D, I have a suggestion (link)
6. 2.45am: nocturnal wanderings of the ageing mind (link)
7. Vanessa Paradis, the Wife of Bath, toothache, and me (link)
8. Angelina, Tom, and Cameron run and shoot and run some more (link)
9. Movies don't need to be long to be good (link)
10. 'Scream queen' Hazel Court - a British screen beauty (link)

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Creative minds - 10 Grapefruitcrazy posts re-visited

1. On beauty (link)
2. My favourite poem - Ode to Autumn (link)
3. Exclusive: the art work Charles Saatchi forgot (link)
4. The Madame Butterfly aria that places Puccini among the immortals (link)
5. I lost my Edinburgh Festival virginity over a long weekend... (link)
6. Ernest Hemingway - an appreciation (link)
7. Mozart magic - the boy wonder's Bassoon Concerto (link)
8. Gauguin at the Tate Modern - a must-see exhibition (link)
9. Gunga Din - an appreciation on National Poetry Day (link)
10. Of geeks and earthworms - in praise of knowledge (link)

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Sex matters - 10 Grapefruitcrazy posts re-visted

1. Men and sex (link)
2. Porn - protecting young minds (link)
3. Julie London - the sexiest singer ever (link)
4. Sunday morning joggers - reasons to be fearful (link)
5. Skins and Misfits and drugs and sex... (link)
6. SEX + BOOZE = ABORTION (link)
7. Satisfying sex, loose shoes and a warm bathroom (link)
8. Karen Owen's F**k List - the view from London (link)
9. What men want as much as sex in relationships (link)
10. Sex with the stars - what's in it for groupies (link)

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

London 'musts' - 10 Grapefruitcrazy posts re-visited

1. Sunday pub roast with Russell Brand. (link)
2. London's free museums - a nation's pride (link)
3. Come to Camden Market and meet the world (link)
4. The Notting Hill Carnival - Europe's biggest street party (link)
5. How to have a West End night out - and not break the bank (link)
6. GC meets Twickenham's Naked Ladies (link)
7. Primrose Hill - an appreciation (link)
8. How to make the most of your day out to St Paul's (link)
9. The Imperial War Museum and The Holocaust Exhibition (link)
10. Ten steps across Kensington Gardens (link)

Monday, 27 December 2010

People power - 10 Grapefruitcrazy posts re-visited

1. Penelope Cruz's charms
2. Bobby Moore - once met, never forgotten
3. Melvyn Bragg - an appreciation
4. Pin-up queen Pamela Green - an appreciation
5. Remembering Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky
6. The wit and wisdom of Dr. Samuel Johnson
7. Jimi Hendrix - his star still shines
8. Business leaders - the long and the short and the gross
9. Victoria Beckham - her fashion success leaves critics looking shabby
10. Philip Larkin, death, and French knickers

Friday, 24 December 2010

Put the baby Jesus back into Christmas

Britain is a pretty godless land. This is never clearer than at Christmas time. For more than a month now the approaching holiday season has dominated our high streets, press and television, and - no one can know but a reasonable surmise – everyone’s thinking.
All the planning has gone into celebrating a secular event not a religious one. Just as when I was young, families will be getting together and presents exchanged; the big difference is the story of the Nativity will not get a look in.
If my children were still at church schools or if I was a churchgoer myself, the birth of the baby Jesus would be relevant to the next few days. Popular culture seems, however, as if it would prefer to over look the story – perhaps in pursuit of misplaced political correctness.
Even though I’m an atheist, I believe the country is the poorer for erasing the spiritual significance of Christmas.
If this is hypocritical of me then so be it. I miss the carols, the stable, the manger, the shepherds, the three wise men, Mary, Joseph, and the hope that comes with a new birth.
Like any religion regrettable things have been done in the name of Christianity but I can’t see how anyone can take exception to the story of the Nativity.
The shame is these days a traditional Christmas is more likely to mean Santa Claus, Jingle Bells, pigging out, and falling asleep in front of the television.
I’m going to leave you with a favourite carol We Three Kings Of Orient Are. To finish I’d like to wish a very Merry Christmas to one and all.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

'Scream queen' Hazel Court - a British screen beauty

Britain has produced its fair share of screen beauties. Some like Vivien Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor became the very stuff of movie legend. Jean Simmons and Deborah Kerr were at the same time English roses and formidable actresses. Julie Christie was an icon of the Swinging Sixties.
Moving closer to today box offices cherish Catherine Zeta Jones and Kate Beckinsale even if they haven’t always found the scripts to match their talent. Keira Knightley isn’t afraid of a challenge whether the subject is costume drama, bounty hunting, or infidelity.
In the most recent crop beauty and ability come in the different shapes of Gemma Arterton and Emma Watson.
To their number I’d like to add Hazel Court, the flame-haired, emerald-eyed ‘scream queen’ who did her best work for horror movie director Roger Corman in The Raven, The Premature Burial, and above all the The Masque of the Red Death.
Court’s ample cleavage deserved a screen credit in its own right and back in the 1960s when I was a teenager it was as outrageous as the gory plots in her Edgar Allan Poe-inspired films. But Court was an established actress before she made her first fantasy movie in the 1950s.
Apart from her powerful physical presence, Court brought absolute belief to her roles. Acting opposite super-hams such as Peter Cushing in her work for Hammer and Vincent Price with Corman, any campness on her part would have sunk the movies under the weight of their own knowingness. As it is Masque is Corman’s masterpiece.
There is an appealing interview with Court on the Temple of Schlock website.
She died in the US at the age of 82 in 2008 having moved to America many years before. In researching these brief words I was pleased to find Court’s obituaries paid proper respect to her place in movie history and that a personal reminiscence remembered her with great affection for a life well spent.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Something about The Beatles and Abbey Road

It’s great news for all Beatles fans that the pedestrian crossing featured on the cover of the Fab Four’s 1969 album Abbey Road was designated a heritage site earlier today. It is the first time so-called Grade II status has been granted to anything other than a historic UK building.
My February 16th post Come together to celebrate The Beatles at Abbey Road focused on the importance of the North London recording studio - which is adjacent to the zebra crossing – and the central role it played in The Beatles story.
The BBC found tourists today delighted despite sub-zero temperatures to make a pilgrimage so they can follow in their heroes’ footsteps (even though the crossing has been moved a few metres from its original position).
The Beatles are as relevant as ever. This recent entry from the features section of the website of guitar kings Gibson.com names The Beatles as "the greatest band of all time" and awards the group premier ranking in its Revolutionary Hall of Fame.
My favourite track on the Abbey Road album is Something. It’s composed by George and was rated by John and Paul as the best song he ever wrote. Have a look too at the love song's promotional video below, which features the four with the women in their lives. Perhaps you’ll agree, it is a celebration of their lives yet sad to the point of tears knowing what was to follow.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Vince Cable's flirtation with high office has come to grief

What does a gobby, self-important minister have to do to get fired from the Coalition front bench? Vince Cable was already in the doghouse for telling two undercover Daily Telegraph reporters – Holly Watt and Laura Roberts, who had posed as giggly constituents - that if, pressed he could resign and bring down the Tory-LibDem government.
Cable should have been sacked when it was later revealed he’d also boasted he was “at war” with the Rupert Murdoch empire. His mind appeared already made up ahead of receiving the Ofcom watch dog’s advice on the media mogul’s plan to take control of BSkyB.
Party leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg have been forced to grit their teeth and allow Cable to remain in his post as business secretary though relinquishing his role in the future of the BSkyB bid. Hardly anyone comes out of this mess with credit - least of all Cable.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Heathrow chaos - trying to keep a grip

It must be hell for the thousands of passengers marooned at Heathrow and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for my daughter who hopes to return from Spain to Gatwick tomorrow. But I am concerned that one of Britain’s national characteristics – self-denigration – is surfacing to no good purpose in response to the foul weather.
It is one thing to poke fun at ourselves in a self-effacing Hugh Grant sort of way but quite another to embark on a exercise of self-flagellation, because our transport system is unable to cope with the extreme conditions.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Buying haemorrhoid cream - and other pains in the neck

Having ceased full-time employment nearly two years ago, I now have the time to consider how fraught with embarrassment are even the most trivial of social encounters. As each day passes I’m becoming more sensitive to the shortcomings of my fellow human beings. Here are a selection.
1. If there’s one thing more disconcerting than queuing to buy haemorrhoid cream in a supermarket or pharmacy, it is standing behind a woman shopping for tampons. I don’t need to know she’s expecting or even on her period. It would be much better if women were allowed legally to shoplift their sanitary requirements - and men tend to their piles under the same legislation. Meanwhile anyone over 65 purchasing KY Jelly should have a street named after them.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Julian Assange - hero or villain?

I don’t think WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange walks on water. The hero worship he’s received in some quarters smacks of Leftie glee at the discomfort of the authorities rather than any genuine espousal of diplomatic transparency.
Let’s see some Chinese or Russian secrets exposed or those of any regime where dissident journalists put their lives on the line.
Some of the ambivalent attitude to Assange among both the public and media can be traced back to the rise of whistleblower WikiLeaks at the same time as the loss of trust in our governing establishment.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

John Pilger's The War You Don't See questions the illusion of a free press

For anyone who values the freedom of the press as one of the keystones of democracy, John Pilger’s documentary The War You Don’t See on ITV1 last night would have been disturbing. For someone such as me a journalist for more than 40 years, it was deeply troubling.
Pilger is a veteran investigative reporter with an anti-establishment agenda. He believes the West – especially the US – is on a constant war footing as a policy of controlling weaker countries and extracting their mineral wealth. It is as though there is a conspiracy between capitalist governments and their defence industries to forever re-cycle taxpayers’ money.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Crossing fingers the Bank of England is right on inflation

The Bank of England lost its reputation for infallibility long ago. Even before it was party to the near collapse of the UK banking system - along with the more culpable Treasury and Financial Services Authority - its forecasting ability had been called into doubt.
The founding remit of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee in 1997 was taming inflation when the incoming Labour government gave the MPC control over the setting of interest rates. Hindsight has shown this to have been a mistake; economic growth targets should have been incorporated into the ground rules.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Sex with the stars - what's in it for groupies?

Comedian Russell Brand has told The Big Issue magazine that at the height of his womanising often he had sex with different women daily – once as many as nine. I don’t suppose it matters that his record ‘conquest’ took place in Ireland.
Recently Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall apologised for his sexual waywardness in the 1980s, which saw him have sex with 3,000 women in a three year period.
I commented on what might drive men to have multiple sexual partners in my August 9th post Why would Peter Crouch cheat on Abbey Clancy?
Just as interesting as the motives of what drove Brand, Hucknall and other celebrity sex addicts are those of the legion of mostly anonymous young women eager to have sex with star names.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Charlie Gilmour - regretting your mistakes is part of being young

The words of contrition from Charlie Gilmour, the 21-year-old stepson of Pink Floyd guitarist David, who was caught on camera swinging on a Union Flag at the Cenotaph during yesterday’s student fees riot in London are probably not his own.
Someone who is so thick not to recognise Britain’s most revered war memorial – despite being a history student – is unlikely on his own to have come up with the apology, “Those who are commemorated by the Cenotaph died to protect the very freedoms that allow the people of Britain the right to protest.”
“Running along with a crowd of people who had just been violently repelled by the police, I got caught up in the spirit of the moment.”
He could have added, “I’m a spoiled rich kid who will never have to worry about the size of my Cambridge University tuition fees and yet aren’t bright enough to know my picture would be splashed across the country and would be quickly recognised.”

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Students fees - the LibDems jumped into bed with the Tories and were smothered

Whatever your position on university tuition fees, it is difficult to see why you would ever vote for a political party prepared to renege on a central plank of its election manifesto – a pledge to resist higher charges.
Even though it is more than four years away, the decision by the majority of LibDem MPs to back the Tories in pushing the increases through the Commons today will be a millstone around the party’s neck for the rest of this parliament. The LibDems got into bed with the Tories seduced by the prospect of ministerial office – and have been smothered.
The Coalition has failed to ‘sell’ its plan to raise the tuition charges ceiling to £9,000 a year. But I can’t see any great advantage coming to the Labour Party.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

L'homme de ma vie - a French rom-com treasure

Without going overboard, one of life’s small pleasures is to discover a movie you’ve never heard of and thoroughly enjoy. Such was the case with L’homme de ma vie (The man of my life) which I watched today.
I’d picked up the DVD at my library; other than registering that it was a French rom-com its director Jean Charles Tacchella meant little to me – and its female lead Maria de Medeiros hardly more. That’s Medeiros (above) in a clinch with Bruce Willis in a still from Pulp Fiction (I’ll explain why later).

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Hampstead's unique pubs - the heart of a London 'village'

I’ve seen Hampstead, the enclave of the well-heeled in north-west London, described as a “fascinating hill-top village” – in other words a must-see destination like Montmartre. But frankly any tourist on a tight schedule can give it a miss - unless they have a passion for English pubs.
The winding lanes that lead from Hampstead tube station are unusual but the caf├ęs, restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries are of a good standard but not exceptional.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Remembering Formula 1 champion James Hunt

Two Radio 4 stalwarts James Naughtie and Andrew Marr stumbled over the surname of culture secretary Jeremy Hunt on air this morning re-naming the minister with the rhyming c-word. The boob by these broadcasting veterans seems to have greatly amused rather than outraged the British listening public including Hunt himself.
Its response underlines my post of April 20th regretting the decline of the c-word’s power to shock and that the expletive is headed the same way as the French con which now means no more than idiot.
However, such is the circles to be found in the windmills of GC’s mind that memories of another Hunt have come flooding back.

Friday, 3 December 2010

The best way for English football to shame Fifa

Now we know the bidding process for staging the 2018 World Cup was a stitch-up, the best way for English football to shame Fifa is to win the competition before too long.
In the light of our miserable showing in South Africa this summer, this is never going to happen until we develop a squad of exceptionally skilled players rather depend on one or two stars having a good tournament. Here are a few thoughts in no particular order how this might be achieved one day.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

World Cup - if we can't stage it, let's win it

I didn’t realise how much I wanted football’s World Cup to come to England in 2018 until our bid was voted into last place by Fifa executives in Zurich today.
On a comparative scale of emotions I was more depressed by this news than I was pleased by London winning the 2012 Olympics. Football is our national game – beach volleyball and synchronised-swimming isn’t.
Our final Fifa presentation couldn’t be faulted. David Cameron and Prince William did their stuff and it cannot be long before the third ‘lion’ David Beckham receives a knighthood for his services to football.
There was something fishy in the comprehensive manner our bid was rejected in the first round.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Frankie Boyle drowns in his Tramadol cesspit

Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights on Channel 4 at 10pm yesterday lived up to the billing of its sponsor Foster’s lager as representing original comedy. A laugh-free 35 minutes of combined stand-up and sketches were certainly a new approach to the format.
The studio audience must have been tanked up before they arrived to mistake the Glaswegian’s flood of obscenities as humour.
The biggest laugh was off-stage. There was no preview material available for critics ostensibly because the show was said to be so topical. This excuse hardly seemed to square with long unfunny sketches based on piss-takes of Knight Rider, The Green Mile, and something to do with Brokeback Mountain.
Boyle’s stand-up patter could hardly be classed as up-to-the-minute either taking digs at the Pope’s visit to Britain, grunting tennis players, and George Michael’s traffic accident. Where was his take on rioting students, for example?
For the most part Boyle sought outrage with references to either sexually abused or dead children. I doubt if Calpol will be taking any more advertising slots in the show’s half-way spot.
Boyle’s unpardonable crime wasn’t that he was obscene and completely tasteless – he wasn’t funny. It was as though Bill Hicks had never lived or that Ricky Gervais hadn’t shown how there was laughter to be had in the darkest stand-up material.
There was a good sight gag where the panellists on the Iranian version of Loose Women were instantly hung. But it was all too soon back to Boyle.
Frankie on this performance, don’t think about giving up your night job.