Barbra, Ariana and Carly – A Week of Highs and Lows

Well, emotional times indeed.

First of all it’s Chelsea Flower Show week and back at the beginning of this week I had fully intended to perhaps write a heart-warming story about my dad, who in my opinion, had one of the nicest gardens in our village – It was small but perfectly formed and just about all the plants were grown from seed in his greenhouse. I thought I’d include a few pictures and find an appropriate florally-inclined song to accompany the post. Having already shared Barbra Streisand’s duets with both Kris Kristofferson and Barry Gibb, it was perhaps time to revisit the duet she recorded with Neil Diamond.

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers by Barbra and Neil:

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (Any More) was actually a song about a couple who have drifted apart but somehow, taken literally, that song title really struck a cord with me this week. My dad died back in 2003 but prior to that he always used to arrive on this, the last week of May, with scores of bedding plants for my garden as he always produced way more than were needed. His green fingers meant that I too ended up with a colourful summer garden but of course since 2003 there have been no trays of bedding plants which is what made me think of that song. (Pictures from Dad’s garden below.)

Secondly, on Monday night before going to bed, I spotted a Facebook update from one of darling daughter’s best friends (so close she features on his FB profile photo). He was in Manchester at the Ariana Grande concert and it was obvious there was much excitement in the air. I knew very little about Ariana Grande before this week but now of course we have all heard of her and not for the reasons she would have ever wanted. It appears she started off in musical theatre which led on to a role in a very popular Nickelodeon television show and from there to life as a recording artist. She is very, very pretty (in a Cheryl Tweedy/Cole/Fernandez-Versini kind of way) which always helps, and although much has been made of her fan base being teenage girls, I know from personal experience that she is also much loved by young gay men. Fortunately, the young gay man we know who went to the concert came to no harm on Monday night but of course the same cannot be said for those in the foyer area who found themselves at the mercy of a happening I find very hard to comprehend.

manchester

The people of Manchester have shown themselves to be predictably strong, caring and full of community spirit, with many stories of random acts of kindness unfolding in the course of the week. From taxi drivers to homeless people to nurses to schoolchildren, everyone rallied round. Life must go on as before and that great city has certainly shown that they will be doing just that (some even grudgingly applauding the fact that Man U won their match on Wednesday night). The electioneering all had to grind to a halt for a while for which I was grateful – Coming from Scotland we have now had five trips to the ballot box in just over two and a half years and for once I will not be staying up all night to watch the results come in. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m all electioned-out.

Ariana Grande herself has announced she is to return for a benefit concert in aid of the bereaved families and I’ve just had a quick delve into the music database to see if we have anything of hers stored there – It appears that we do, from back in 2013, before darling daughter went down different music purchasing avenues. Having just listened to it and watched the video, I don’t feel I can include it however, as just a bit too raunchy for this place but in the meantime here is Ariana on the Jimmy Fallon show doing some of her great musical impressions. I do think this young lady is going to have a hard time dealing with what happened on Monday night so I really hope she gets the support she will no doubt need.

Finally, this week we heard of the death of Roger Moore. He was 89 so not one of those shock deaths we had got so used to hearing about last year, but still the end of an era for those of us who remembered him well as The Saint, Lord Brett Sinclair and of course as the most light-hearted, comedic James Bond of them all. Last year I wrote a post about Bond themes (Bond Themes and Nancy Sinatra) and ranked them by personal preference. Although You Only Live Twice came at the top, it is interesting to note that the next three were from the Roger Moore era so perhaps a bit of a golden age, if not for the franchise, for the theme song. (We’ll not mention Moonraker however which came at the bottom of my list!)

thQY1FAW1J

Not in the mood at the moment for the big production number that is Live and Let Die nor for Sheena Easton so instead I’ll end this meandering post with the theme song to the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me, which was Roger’s third outing as Bond. Nobody Does It Better was composed by Marvin Hamlisch, the lyrics were by Carole Bayer Sager and it was performed by Carly Simon. It was the first theme song with a title that was different from the name of the film and for many, nobody did Bond better than Roger.

Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon:

So, “What’s It All About?” – Despite the fact that this week has turned out to be one of great sadness, it has also provided a fair few highs as well. Because our back garden is now a much more open space with fewer bedding plants, it is perfect as a gathering place for the young people, who held an impromptu get-together to welcome the return of their friend from Manchester, unscathed. The weather has also been absolutely glorious over the last few days so tonight there is to be a party in another garden to celebrate a neighbour’s 90th birthday. Poor Roger didn’t make it to 90 but Albert has, and although he didn’t ever drive a Lotus Esprit or meet Barbara Bach, he did once serve Princess Margaret breakfast in bed. Yes, you don’t get to be an nonagenarian without having a fair few tales to tell and that one is perhaps again, for another day!

Until next time….

Nobody Does It Better Lyrics
(Song by Marvin Hamlisch/Carole Bayer Sager)

Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you’re the best

I wasn’t looking
But somehow you found me
It tried to hide from your love light
But like Heaven above me
The spy who loved me
Is keeping all my secrets safe tonight

And nobody does it better

Though sometimes I wish someone could
Nobody does it quite the way you do
Why’d you have to be so good?

The way that you hold me
Whenever you hold me
There’s some kind of magic inside you
That keeps me from running
But just keep it coming
How’d you learn to do the things you do?

And nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, baby, darlin’, you’re the best

Baby, you’re the best
Darlin’, you’re the best

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

15 thoughts on “Barbra, Ariana and Carly – A Week of Highs and Lows”

  1. A lovely post Alyson – you’ve perfectly encapsulated the highs, lows (and many shades in between) of life and, in particular, this past sad week. It’s such a difficult, troubled world, isn’t it, but the highs of your post are uplifting: sunshine, music, James Bond, happy memories and flowers – would love to hear more of Albert’s tales too!

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    1. Yes a difficult week to write blog posts as you don’t want to dwell on the negative stuff but hard to avoid mentioning it. Just back from town this afternoon and heavily armed police patroling our little high street – What the heck!

      As for Albert, I have a feeling there will be a fair few more stories being told tonight so will report back tomorrow perhaps with more on his Royal connections.

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    2. Well, as anticipated we got many more of Albert’s stories last night and before I go round and help with the clearing up I’ll just mention one of them. His son read out a bit of a summary of his life (although as he pointed out he had tried hard not to make it sound like an obituary!) – Born in the ’20s, he was one of 7 children and had a very hard childhood with food sometimes a rare commodity. He did however get himself a job with British Rail and started off in the dining car. Being a go-getting kind of chap he quickly rose up through the ranks and was chosen to work on the Royal Train coming up close and personal with all the older members of the Royal Family and their predecessors. Can’t give any more detail than that here but you can imagine the tales he could tell (of course he very loyally and diplomatically chooses not to). Albert worked for British Rail all his life ending up as one of the managers for the whole of Scotland. His boss, from 25 years ago, came up from London for the party so just shows how well-loved he was.

      He had a lovely evening last night as the party was a bit of a surprise but he managed a heart-warming speech and told us all he was now “going for the ton”, which I have a feeling is on the cards!

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      1. Ah, thanks for the update, sounds like a good party and I love that “going for the ton”. I often think we take old people so much for granted, especially in a society where they start to become sort of ‘invisible’ and even second-class citizens. Far better to look around at all our elders and remind ourselves that many of them may have led the most fascinating, experience-filled and action-packed lives that would put our own to shame (although I know they won’t all be quite in the realm of Albert!)

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  2. I don’t have the vocabulary to properly address the appalling atrocity that took place in Manchester last week. My heart goes out to everyone involved and effected, up to and including Ariana Grande herself. I admit that I didn’t know her prior to this tragedy either, but from the Fallon clip she seems to be a talented young lady.
    I’m glad that your week ended on positive note though, with Albert’s birthday bash. What a character he sounds and what a life he’s lead – long may it continue. Someone should encourage him to write it all down.
    Marc Riley, based in Manchester himself, played ‘Nobody Does It Better’ on his 6Music show as a tribute to Roger Moore (Marc’s about our age). Apparently I wasn’t alone in having shed a few tears by the song’s conclusion.

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    1. Hi there – Yes a pretty appalling week but it did end well for our neighbour who thoroughly enjoyed his birthday bash. To be honest one of the reasons I think I’ve taken to blogging so much, is because it’s a chance to record the various “stories” for posterity. Inadvertently I have a fair few recorded now that otherwise would never have been put to print. Hopefully Albert will have passed on his to his family, as real bobby dazzlers!

      Yes I know Marc Riley from his Mark and Lard days. I can imagine that Nobody Does It Better would have done him in – Not been too many tributes to be written yet this year and this one not as tragic as so many last year but still the end of an era, especially for those of us of a certain age. Talking of which, I have a plan to do something a bit similar to your 55 in 55 series ahead of my forthcoming birthday – but with less years involved. Hope you don’t mind me copying the idea but look out for it later in the week!

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      1. I look forward to reading that Alyson. I wish I could do my own series over again and make it a bit more coherent! I only decided on the format a couple of days before I actually started and didn’t do any forward planning at all. It ended up being quite a different beast to the one I’d initially intended. Good fun though. I’ve no idea where I found the time to do it all actually, I rarely seem to have a spare minute to blog at the moment.

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        1. Funny your comment came in just now as I was about to do another reply saying that I had perhaps bitten off more than I can chew at the moment – I really need to publish the first post tonight in order to countdown in a week and there is no way I’m going to have time to finish it. You probably attacked it the best way by just starting it off and keeping it going without too much forward planning – Oh well, seemed like a good plan earlier this week. A single post it will have to be I think and the big countdown will have to wait until another year. Very scarily there is a BIG birthday coming up for both of us in not too many years time – How the heck did that happen!!

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            1. Mr SDS’s big one is just a couple of weeks a way so he can pave the way for you two! He wants nothing special, just to be left to do his own thing and have a normal day with no specific age-related acknowledgement. So I won’t be getting him one of those “I am — today!” badges! Might treat him to a curry though 🙂

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              1. Sounds like a good plan – I can’t believe I’m even thinking about it all as it always seemed just such a long way off but now, not so much. My sister-in-law did have a really big “age-related” bash last year but they are real party animals so was appropriate. I had hoped to do a series of posts leading up to my birthday this year as was impressed by what Mr S did a couple of years ago – sadly just don’t have the time it seems so if I’m still blogging in 2020 (?!) will go for it – By then I may be ready for the big reveal!

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  3. Keep trying to find happy thoughts to counter all the sad ones we’re faced with at the moment. I loved your re-interpretation of You Don’t Send Me Flowers, the perfect example of how a lyric can take on a deeply personal meaning.

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    1. I think we have to but as blogs are in effect web-logs, difficult to avoid mentioning the sad stuff as well.

      Glad you mentioned the You Don’t Bring Me Flowers reference as wasn’t sure that it worked somehow, but as this would have been the week my dad always arrived with hundreds (literally) of flowering plants the song title and “any more” extension just fitted the situation perfectly.

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  4. Sad news about Roger Moore, he was my Bond growing up. The internet has advantages, but too easy for groups to plan despicable attacks on innocent people. The 24 hour news services giving the perpetrators free publicity is hardly ideal. At least the musicians were able to rise above it by doing that benefit concert in Manchester last Sunday.

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    1. Yes sad about Roger but he had a wonderful life I’m sure.

      I did think that the concert on Sunday was perhaps too soon but I did watch it and found a new admiration for these young artists. Yes having 24 hour news channels is not ideal – Been a very difficult couple of weeks.

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