“I Started A Joke”, Tribute Bands and Is It Ok?

The other day I was heading back from visiting my mum in the care home, when I decided to swing by our local theatre to find out what was on. I still had a gift voucher which ironically was acquired when I had to return my mum’s outstanding theatre tickets last year after her admission to the home. It was due to expire soon, so I needed to convert it into readies, and if not readies, bona fide tickets at any rate. When I discovered that a show called Jive Talkin’, championing the music of the Bee Gees was taking place that very night, it was a no-brainer that I would ask about seats. As luck would have it there were only two left, in a second circle box, so I snapped them up.

It took me a long time to admit to being a Bee Gees fan around here, as I know they have been heavily parodied over the years and Barry’s late ’70s falsetto has been the subject of much mirth, but only Elvis, the Beatles, and he who shall no longer be named, have outsold them. They wrote all their own songs, performed perfect harmonies and continually reinvented themselves “for the times”. I’ve written about them a few times and I suspect a new category on my sidebar will have to be set up after I press the publish button.

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The original Bee Gees line-up – Kind of obvious which of them is a Gibb brother!

But of course there is sadly now only one Bee Gee left, Barry, and I do feel for him if I ever catch him on telly, as he cuts a lonely figure without the rest of his brothers in tow. In view of the fact I will now never see them live, I had no difficulty in making the decision that it was ok to head along to our fantastic theatre, to watch this trio (plus backing band complete with string section) sing songs from the vast back catalogue at their disposal.

I wrote last year about a show called Fastlove, dedicated to the George Michael back catalogue. They took great pains to make sure that, we, the audience, realised this was not “A Tribute Act” but in fact “A Tribute” to George, so I was hoping this show would follow the same lines. As it turned out, there was a bit more of a pantomime quality to this one, but the voices were pitch perfect and from where I was seated in the second circle, they looked uncannily like the real Bee Gees.

I Started A Joke by the Bee Gees:

The first half was dedicated to their 1960s incarnation and they rattled through 16 classic hits such as Gotta Get A Message To You, To Love Somebody, Words, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (written about here before) and my personal favourite I Started A Joke from the album Idea released in 1968. Apparently the melancholic melody of the song was inspired by the sounds on board an aeroplane. To quote Robin Gibb: “The melody to this one was heard aboard a British Airways Vickers Viscount about a hundred miles from Essen. It was one of those old four engine “prop” jobs, that seemed to drone the passenger into a sort of hypnotic trance, only with this it was different. The droning, after a while, appeared to take the form of a tune, which mysteriously sounded like a church choir. As soon as we landed and reached the hotel, we finished the lyrics.”

As for me, this era of the Bee Gees just reminds me of watching telly with my parents as a child. They were frequent visitors to the TOTP studio and there were always a few raised eyebrows in our house at Robin’s vibrato, as not many pop voices like that at the time. I only realised later that the twins, Robin and Maurice, were still teenagers – A massive amount of success for those so young, the pressure of which led to Robin leaving the band for a while.

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So, we’ve had the first half where they were dressed in the classic late era Bee Gees’ uniform of black trousers, shirts and jackets, but what would the second half bring? As expected there had to be an element of pantomime, as the 1970s brought disco, and Barry’s falsetto rose to unnaturally new heights. There is nothing more unnerving than seeing a middle-aged man dressed in tight white trousers and a silver jacket revealing chest hair, but here we were. To be honest I don’t think many of the ladies in the audience cared however, we were all teenagers again, reminding ourselves of the time we heard these songs first time around – Night Fever, Stayin’ Alive, You Should Be Dancing and many more.

Up in my second circle box, no-one’s view would have been blocked if I stood up and danced along to the songs, so that was just what happened. Mr WIAA did not partake in the dancing, and was a bit bemused by the whole thing I think, but he was also aware I’ve been working really hard of late trying to support everyone, so if anyone needed to let their hair down, it was me (as he no longer has any).

Every now and again, when emotions are running high, it can only take a few bars of a familiar song, to make you feel quite overcome by it all. When the trio on stage sang More Than A Woman, I was right back in 1978, a year I’ve often mentioned in this blog as it was the summer I left school and went off to work in a country house hotel with my best friend Catriona, who sadly died at age 41. By day we were jack-of-all-trades, chambermaids, laundrymaids, barmaids (yes, still called that back then) but by night we were disco divas, trying out our routines in the local nightspots. At the start of the summer we were a novelty, new girls in town, but as the summer progressed there were a few romances that we knew would go nowhere, but still made the heart flutter. One of the songs that made the heart flutter was this one. The dancing looks tame now and frankly a bit comical, but funny how 40 years on, a warm glow came over me when listening to it – More than goose-bumps, but an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia for simpler times.

More Than A Woman by the Bee Gees:

I know tribute acts are the source of much derision, but sometimes an evening of honest to goodness nostalgia is just what is needed, and that’s what I experienced this week. Because of the ongoing situation regarding how to pay for my mum’s care, stress levels have been running high in our house of late, but funnily enough, my evening with the pretend Bee Gees has put paid to that. Mr WIAA will be really glad he (reluctantly) agreed to come along with me.

Until next time….

I Started A Joke Lyrics
(Song by Barry Gibb/Maurice Gibb/Robin Gibb)

I started a joke, which started the whole world crying
But I didn’t see that the joke was on me, oh no

I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing
Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes
And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said

Till I finally died, which started the whole world living
Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes
And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said

‘Till I finally died, which started the whole world living
Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me

A Manic Summer, 50th Anniversaries and “Dancing In The Moonlight”

What’s it all about indeed – I seem to have lost my blogging momentum, that’s what, due to the fact there is just far too much to blog about at the moment and I can’t keep up! Although this place is ostensibly where I have a saunter down memory lane, revisiting the “tracks of my years”, it is also my web-log, or web diary, where I record what I’ve been up to, ponder on what’s happening in the world (rather a lot!) and post pictures taken whilst out and about.

I am still gutted that I missed writing a “moon post” on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, as between Nov ’17 and March ’19 I wrote a total of eighteen posts featuring a song inspired by the ancient name given to the full moon by the Native Americans. Most of the time the song referred to the beauty of the moon, the colour of the moon or its part in creating a setting for romance, but on the 20th of July 1969, it was all about the science. When Neil Armstrong made that small step for [a] man, his name in the history books was set in stone (or moondust).

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I watched much of the news footage between the 16th and the 20th of this month, where Michael Collins (the astronaut who didn’t get to walk on the moon) was present at the anniversary celebrations and gave some great interviews recounting their experiences. On television, some fabulous programmes were aired, and if you haven’t yet watched it I would thoroughly recommend Channel 4’s Moon Landing Live made up of original footage from 50 years ago. I was only aged nine back then so despite being really excited by the news stories of the launch and subsequent moon landing, I don’t think I would have appreciated the sheer significance of what was happening. Also, what did all those men dressed in identical white shirts and black ties do at Mission Control? Something a few kilobytes of computer fire power could probably do nowadays, but just makes it all the more impressive that in those far less technologically advanced days, it could happen at all. Poor old Lyndon B. is looking a bit hot and bothered in this clip but had it not been for this famous speech, and the statement made at 1:30, things might well have turned out differently. (Anyone else transfixed by JFK’s accent here? – Mixture of Boston-Irish, Trans-Atlantic, RP and pure Kennedy apparently.)

Coincidentally, a partial lunar eclipse took place in the UK on the 16th of July 2019, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and despite missing it last time, my friend with the perfect camera for such shots, managed to capture it.

Pictures courtesy of R.J.

Considering this post was going to be a summary of what I’d missed blogging about over the last fortnight – DD’s departure, trips to Edinburgh and Glasgow, a steady stream of guests in the holiday hideaway and my elevation to Superhost, my continuing “pain in the neck”, two more cinema visits, Mr WIAA’s stint as zoo-keeper for a day and resignation from his nice secure job (purely coincidental), the current heatwave, the new occupant of No. 10, a long lost cousin from Australia appearing with a full account of my paternal family tree, the “loft project” and the anniversary of those moon landings – I only seem to have touched on this last one it seems, but apt because of what has gone before I suppose. I will therefore include two moon-related songs, the first being a suggestion made by Brian from Linear Tracking Lives, and the second, one that just didn’t make the cut whilst the series was in full flow.

Swingin’ on the Moon was a 1960 album by Mel Tormé (with a great cover), where every track but one contained the word “moon” in the title. The moon certainly seemed to be a favourite theme for artists of a Swing/Vocal Jazz persuasion, as Mr Sinatra also recorded many such songs. Mel was probably more familiar to our friends across the pond, as he also appeared in many films and television shows in America from the 1940s onward. Here’s an interesting snippet, he apparently composed the music for seasonal favourite The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) and co-wrote the lyrics. Not a bad earner in terms of royalties that one.

My next pick is a song that features dancing in the moonlight, which is a fine pastime I imagine if you live in a country where it is warm enough to do so. I don’t (current heatwave aside), but I still like the idea of it. The band Toploader had a big hit with a cover of Dancing in the Moonlight in the year 2000. I always loved the intro to this song (great percussion) but didn’t realise at the time it had been written and originally recorded by the French-American rock group King Harvest. It was released as a single in 1972 and reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. In view of the fact I recently discovered the band Looking Glass, who look and sound very similar to King Harvest, not much wonder it is now my favourite version of the two.

Dancing In The Moonlight by Toploader:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I don’t think I knew what I was going to end up writing about when I sat down at my desk today, but nice to be back, and I’ll try to keep up the momentum now I’ve cleared the blockage, so to speak.

Two years ago I had a very distinct routine to my day and to my week, but with all the changes that have happened since then every day is now different, with no discernible routine at all. The biggest change is that we will now have to earn all the spondulicks from self-employment alone and Mr WIAA is trying to be the calm one, whereas I’m running around like Corporal Jones shouting, “Don’t panic!”. Can I justify putting as many hours into blogging when I should really be trying to earn a crust? Probably not, but as has been pointed out around here many times, it does serve as a great stress-buster. I suspect I won’t be going anywhere soon, and to those of you who came up with a number from the master spreadsheet of “posts pending”, I have not forgotten about you, I have just been distracted.

Until next time….

Dancing In The Moonlight Lyrics
(Song by Sherman Kelly)

We get it on most every night
When that moon is big and bright
It’s a supernatural delight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

Everybody here is out of sight
They don’t bark and they don’t bite
They keep things loose, they keep things light
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

Dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

We like our fun and we never fight
You can’t dance and stay uptight
It’s a supernatural delight
Everybody was dancing in the moonlight

Dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

Everybody here is out of sight
They don’t bark and they don’t bite
They keep things loose, they keep things light
Everybody was dancing in the moonlight

Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight (everybody)
Dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight (everybody)
Dancing in the moonlight
Everybody’s feeling warm and bright
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight

The Sweet, “Little Willy” and Jings, Crivens, Help Ma Boab!

One for the Scottish contingent of bloggers. Out and about yesterday evening tracking down the “Wullies” that have come to town via this summer’s Big Bucket Trail!

Oor Wullie is an iconic figure in the world of comic strips, and along with The Broons, kept generations of Scottish kids amused on a Sunday morning, as we read of their antics in the “funny papers” as the Americans call them.

Oor Wullie’s Big Bucket Trail will run for 11 weeks from 17th June to 30th August culminating in a series of Farewell Events and nationwide auctions in each of the five host cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness. Scotland’s first ever national public art trail aims to unite the country as it raises awareness and vital funds for Scotland’s children’s hospital charities.

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As for a song, what else to include but Little Willy by Sweet! Scottish born Brian Connolly could not have looked more different from Oor Wullie with his enviable long blond hair and “glam” clothes, but Sweet but were one of the biggest bands of the 1970s, first of all releasing records of the bubblegum pop persuasion but evolving into more of a hard rock band by the latter part of the decade. This single was one of their early ones from 1972 and looking at the clip I’m pretty sure I had a shirt/trouser/tank top combo very similar to the one worn by Brian at the time. It never ceased to amaze me how he could simultaneously look somewhat girly, but also very macho.

Anyway, a short picture post this one as I have lots to do before next weekend, as I have a trip planned. It’s going to be a blogging first for me and one I’m looking forward to immensely – Watch this space!

Little Willy Lyrics
(Song by Mike Chapman/Nicky Chinn)

North side, east side
Little Willy, Willy wears the crown, he’s the king around town
Dancing and glancing
Willy drives them silly with his star shoe shimmy shuffle down

Way past one and feeling alright
‘Cause with little Willy ’round they can last all night
Hey down, stay down, stay down down

‘Cause little Willy, Willy won’t go home
But you can’t push Willy ’round
Willy won’t go, try tellin’ everybody but, oh no
Little Willy, Willy won’t go home

Up town, down town
Little Willy, Willy drives them wild with his run-around style
Inside, outside
Willy sends them silly with his star-shine shimmy shuffle smile

Mama done chase Willy down through the hall
But laugh, Willy laugh, he don’t care at all
Hey down, stay down, stay down down

‘Cause little Willy, Willy won’t go home
But you can’t push Willy ’round
Willy won’t go, try tellin’ everybody but, oh no
Little Willy, Willy won’t go home

Little Willy, Willy won’t
Willy won’t, Willy won’t
Little Willy, Willy won’t
Willy won’t, Willy won’t
Little Willy, Willy won’t
Willy won’t, Willy won’t
Little Willy, Willy won’t
Willy won’t, Willy won’t

Little Willy, Willy won’t go home
But you can’t push Willy ’round
Willy won’t go, try tellin’ everybody but, oh no
Little Willy, Willy won’t go home

Little Willy, Willy won’t go home
But you can’t push Willy ’round
Willy won’t go, try tellin’ everybody but, oh no
Little Willy, Willy won’t go home

Little Willy, Willy won’t go home
But you can’t push Willy ’round
Willy won’t go, try tellin’ everybody but, oh no

Postscript:

Couldn’t get a picture of this one last night as inside the locked Shopping Centre. Got one today though, so that completes the set of 10 Wullies.

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Cher and Dolly Get a Pass, and It’s Not One For the Bus!

I’ve been meaning to write this one for a while, so here goes.

At what age do we start to feel old nowadays? For me it happened last year, and nothing to do with my chronological age or any physical changes that have come over me, it’s just that a new epidemic, in a very stealthy fashion, has taken the country by storm.

Never a week passes by without some female actor, presenter or well-known musician suddenly appearing on our screens looking ten years younger. I sometimes have to do a double take, as I find it hard to delve behind the frozen expression to find the lady within, one whom I often used to warm to greatly because of their enthusiastic and energetic performance. Now the acting seems wooden, as facial expressions are restricted to the mouth and chin – Nothing else moves a muscle, literally, for they are frozen into place with all manner of toxic bacteria.

How have we got to this point in our evolution? There seems to be no turning the tide either, as even those whom I thought would never partake, seem to be coerced into such madness for fear of their careers being over without it. We all know which “celebrities” are roughly the same age as ourselves (that would be 58 in my case) – Jeremy Clarkson is allowed to get grey and crinkly, whilst Carol Vorderman now looks about 20 years younger, and sports that polyurethane type of skin best suited to a child’s baby doll.

“They look really great for their age”, is a remark I often hear bandied about – Well yes, of course they do, as they’ve spent thousands of pounds nipping, tucking and freezing everything into place! I can’t help thinking some of these poor souls are going to suffer greatly in the years to come, as those syringes full of chemicals and fat, start to take their toll. There can be difficulty speaking, and a breakdown of the skin. Whoever decided a fat top lip was a good look anyway? It is the natural order of things that our bottom lip should be the predominant one, no doubt having evolved that way to best support feeding ourselves, talking and breathing.

thI3DN6OZONothing to be done but just accept that as a gender, females in the public eye are no longer allowed to grow old, which makes the rest of us who are not in the public eye, and have no intention of transforming ourselves, feel a bit shit. Just as well I’m a blogger and not a vlogger, as my 58-year-old appearance would no doubt have you faithful readers running for the hills.

But of course there are a few exceptions to my ire, and they are ladies who have made no secret of changing their appearance over the years, and who exist in the firmament of stars because they are indeed masters of human transformation – One of these is Cher and the other Dolly Parton. I can’t believe neither of these ladies have put in an appearance around here before, as I am a big fan of both.

Cher is now aged 72 and had a cameo role in the second of the Mama Mia! franchise of jukebox musicals last summer. We went to see it when on holiday, and the most hilarious scene in the entire film was when flawless “grandmother” Cher looked across the courtyard, only to catch the eye of her beau of many years previously, Fernando. This was a convoluted turn to the plotline indeed, but an excuse of course to include the song of the same name. Whilst promoting Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Cher confirmed she was working on an album that would feature cover versions of songs by the band Abba, and Dancing Queen, was released in the September of 2018. It topped the Billboard Album Sales chart (the crowd-pleasing one), making it Cher’s first ever number-one album.

Another septuagenarian who popped up on our screens recently is Dolly Parton. She was across in the UK promoting the new West End extravaganza, 9 to 5: The Musical. Here is a clip from a few years ago when she appeared in the Legends slot at Glastonbury. I don’t know what Dolly’s undergarments are like, or if it’s all cosmetically augmented, but she certainly has a perky bottom for someone of her years.

Jolene by Dolly Parton:

There is of course so much I could write about these two ladies, but for another day probably. In the meantime, as if proof were needed (no not really), here is a photo-montage of two remarkable artists who have both been around since the 1960s, but like Peter Pan, don’t seem to have aged one iota. Both freely admit to having had “absolutely everything done” when it comes to holding the years at bay, but as neither of them seem to ever take themselves too seriously, I don’t begrudge them the squillions of dollars that must have taken one bit.

As for the song Jolene, even to this day Mr WIAA winces when he hears it. It came out at just the wrong time for him, before he’d had work done to remedy his slightly discoloured teeth, which had come about because of the tablets his mum had taken for morning sickness ahead of his birth. Oh yes, kids can be cruel, and because his teeth had a “greenish” hue, his classmates’ playground taunt was Joe Green, Joe Green, Joe Green, Joe Green…. , sung along to the melody of Dolly’s famous 1976 hit. Needless to say, his schooldays weren’t “the best years of his life” but it just goes to show, sometimes a bit of “work” is needed to make life as a teen just that little bit more tolerable.

Until next time….

Jolene Lyrics
(Song by Dolly Parton)

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him just because you can

Your beauty is beyond compare
With flaming locks of auburn hair
With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green

Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
And I cannot compete with you, Jolene

He talks about you in his sleep
There’s nothing I can do to keep
From crying when he calls your name, Jolene

And I can easily understand
How you could easily take my man
But you don’t know what he means to me, Jolene

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him just because you can

You could have your choice of men
But I could never love again
He’s the only one for me, Jolene

I had to have this talk with you
My happiness depends on you
And whatever you decide to do, Jolene

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him even though you can

Jolene, Jolene

Music from Guardians of the Galaxy #3 – Looking Glass and “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)”

Last time I wrote about my new venture I said I was a bit disappointed, but business models change and I have had to quickly adapt to a new reality. It seems the modern-day traveller/holiday-maker wants limited or no interaction with their host, but they do want all the nice touches that transform a trip from being an ordinary one, to a really special one.

So, I am now akin to the Scarlet Pimpernel (which is very apt as most of my guests so far have been French), where no-one ever sees me in person but each party now gets tailor-made treats and helpful local guides left for them. It only took a month, but already Alyson’s Highland Adventures (AHA) has had to be truncated to Highland Adventures (as Alyson is now nowhere in sight). My favourite sesame seed snack is now redundant!

The upside of this covert behaviour is that I get to spend a lot of time on my own in the holiday hideaway getting it ready for the next set of guests, and in the corner of the kitchen I have placed the high quality radio appropriated from my mum’s old retirement flat. I love listening to the radio, which is why I can’t work at home on my computer with it switched on (would be far too diverting). Listening to the radio whilst doing all those practical jobs needed to get a house ready for guests however is a totally different matter, and something I’ve been really enjoying. This week, whilst doing probably the seventh “deep clean” in a month (got to keep those 5 Star reviews coming), this song popped up on the airwaves and it was a joy to listen to. My feather duster and I had a fine old time flitting from room to room, like Cinderella without all the wildlife in tow (or was that Snow White?).

Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) by Looking Glass:

Until I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 at the cinema a couple of years ago, I don’t think I had ever consciously listened to Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) by Looking Glass before, but it played a big part in the movie, just as the songs from Awesome Mix Vol. 1 had done for the first film in that really popular franchise. I had been meaning to write more posts featuring songs from GOTG for a while, as I have a whole category dedicated to them on my sidebar (link here), and here it was falling into my lap.

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Awesome Mix Vol. 2 was also full of ’70s songs that were played over and over by the lead character on an old Walkman, as a link to his dead mother and home in Missouri. Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) plays in the opening scene, a flashback to before the lead character Peter, played by Chris Pratt, was born. When Peter reunites with his father Ego, played by Kurt Russell, the song comes to represent their conflict. To convince his son to help him rule the universe (Ego was aptly named), he quotes the song – Just as was the sea for the sailor who left Brandy behind, Ego left Peter’s mother to die on Earth while he went off to conquer the universe.

Here is a clip of that opening scene where they make great use of the Looking Glass song. It really threw us however when we went to see it, how young Kurt Russell looked in 2017. I thought they had maybe cut and paste old footage of when he was a young buck, but I have just discovered it was 20 per cent good make-up and the rest was done via the wonders of CGI, where they used a very similar looking younger actor and mapped his features to the older Kurt’s. Of course in interviews at the time, Kurt said very little of it was down to CGI and all that was needed was a bit of make up. Tut tut Kurt, your own egotism was getting the better of you I think.

As for Looking Glass, they were an American pop rock group that formed part of a genre called the Jersey Shore sound. Although this 1972 song was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard chart, it didn’t ever feature on the UK Singles Chart, which is why I probably hadn’t heard of them before. The song was not typical of the band’s sound however, which caused a problem at concerts. Audiences expected pop songs like this one, but Looking Glass usually played rock, which left the crowds disappointed.

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have a feeling the song only appeared on the radio the other day because there is a lot of interest at the moment in all things Marvel-related. The film Avengers: Endgame was released recently and amongst many other fine actors, it stars local girl Karen Gillan from the GOTG series. I remember well going to see her in school concerts what seems like no time ago – Just look at her now. I have also noticed my GOTG posts getting a fair amount of views of late, so here’s another to add to the series.

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Karen Gillan/Nebula

I have sought out many Scottish-themed DVDs for the holiday hideaway, but perhaps I should add some GOTG ones as well. Fans of Karen/Nebula might want to travel to the Highlands to find out a bit more about where she comes from. As it turns out, just a few streets away!

Until next time….

Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl) Lyrics
(Song by Elliot Lurie)

(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda)

There’s a port on a western bay
And it serves a hundred ships a day
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes

And there’s a girl in this harbor town
And she works layin’ whiskey down
They say “Brandy, fetch another round”
She serves them whiskey and wine

The sailors say “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“Yeah your eyes could steal a sailor from the sea”
(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

Brandy wears a braided chain
Made of finest silver from the North of Spain
A locket that bears the name
Of a man that Brandy loves

He came on a summer’s day
Bringin’ gifts from far away
But he made it clear he couldn’t stay
No harbor was his home

The sailor said “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“But my life, my love and my lady is the sea”
(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

Yeah, Brandy used to watch his eyes
When he told his sailor’s story
She could feel the ocean fall and rise
When she saw his ragin’ glory
But he had always told the truth, Lord, he was an honest man
And Brandy does her best to understand
(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

At night when the bars close down
Brandy walks through a silent town
And loves a man who’s not around
She still can hear him say

She hears him say “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“But my life, my love and my lady is the sea”
(Dooda-dit-dooda), (dit-dooda-dit-dooda-dit)

“Brandy, you’re a fine girl” (you’re a fine girl)
“What a good wife you would be” (such a fine girl)
“But my life, my love and my lady is the sea”

Suzi, Smokie, The Snowdroppers and a Film About A Red Dog

Well, I have so many big things going on in my life at the moment I don’t know where to begin – So I won’t! I do however need to throw down some words and share a tune, just to keep my hand in as they say, so this post is going to be about the film Red Dog which I’ve just finished watching with the other half.

I think I’ve mentioned this around here before, but back in 2012 I put in place a regular monthly event where a group of around seven of us from my neck of the woods would go to our local theatre/cinema to watch whatever turned out to be showing on the last Thursday of the month. It ended up being a great way of randomly trying out new genres, or foreign language films, as well as potentially catching the big Hollywood blockbusters of the day.

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As regular visitors around here would probably expect, a spreadsheet was kept, where I recorded all the films we went to see, who the lead actors were, the directors, the country of origin, and of course a star rating. Of late my little group has dwindled and I can see the demise of Film Club soon, as some of us have retired and grandchildren have started to put in an appearance. We had a great run of it though, and as fate would have it, back in 2012, the first three films we went to see all starred animals. The first was War Horse based on Michael Morpurgo’s 1982 novel of the same name. The second was The Artist, the French Oscar winner shot in the style of a black-and-white silent film and starring (amongst others) a little dog called Uggie. But best of all for me, and the recipient of a 5-Star rating, was Red Dog.

Red Dog was a 2011 Australian film set in the 1970s, based on the true story of a dog adopted by the workers of Dampier, a tough mining town in Western Australia. I won’t give too much away, but suffice to say, the storyline revolved around the theme of loyalty and nothing gets to me in a movie more than the undying devotion of a dog – Many tears were shed that first time I watched it in the cinema, and even tonight, on probably the 5th viewing, a fair few tissues were needed to see me through. Red Dog was known locally as the Pilbara Wanderer, and there is still a statue of him in the town of Dampier, erected by the workers of the mining company in his memory. He was indeed the Greyfriars Bobby of Australia.

But I am making this film sound a bit depressing whereas it is anything but. Labelled a comedy-drama for good reason, there are moments of great hilarity throughout which is what you would probably expect from an Aussie film about a bunch of sex-starved males on a red, dusty outpost of that vast country. It also had a great soundtrack made up of carefully selected ’70s music and songs performed by The Snowdroppers who played the role of house band at the local bar. This Australian blues band have been praised for their energetic live performances and on-stage musical theatrics, drawing influence from not only blues but also rockabilly and punk. This is not a clip from the actual film, but the song Do The Stomp is the one they perform in the bar, which has more than a touch of the old Wild West about it.

The big surprise for me however was the inclusion of the song Stumblin’ In by Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro, but it fitted a particular scene in the film really well and I ended up downloading it when I got home. It only reached No. 41 in the UK Singles Chart, but had hit the top spot in Australia, which is how it probably came to be included. Despite the film being set in the early ’70s, this song was from 1978, but watching the pair of them in the video clip here, they do represent that earlier phase of the decade perfectly, before punk and it’s antithesis disco took over. The song was written by that prolific partnership comprised of Mike Chapman (an Australian) and Nicky Chinn who between them scored a succession of massive hits written for the likes of glam-rockers Sweet, as well as for Mud, Smokie (of which Chris Norman was a member) and Suzi. (Excuse the cringeworthy clip here, but it seemed to be de rigueur at that time to re-enact the lyrics whilst singing these two-handers.)

Stumblin’ In by Chris Norman and Suzi Quatro:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I have been so busy of late I needed some downtime this evening, and watching a favourite old movie is sometimes just the tonic we need. A good soundtrack can really lift a film and the song choices for Red Dog were excellent I thought.

In case you are wondering where my full moon post is this month, I think I’m actually all mooned-out at the moment, as there is nothing left for me to learn about our only satellite. We should all have been witness to the Pink Moon on Friday night though, and if anyone wants a reminder about how it got that name, here is a link to my Nick Drake post from last year.

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We don’t really do Easter is a big way here in Scotland but if you do celebrate it, hope you have a good one. The perky weather presenters are promising us an exceptionally warm weekend for the time of year, which would be all well and good if we didn’t know that it’s only because we’re killing the planet. In a few years time Scotland will look like the  Western Australia of Red Dog if something doesn’t change. Those with the power to do something about it are all so consumed with the mechanics of Brexit, that none of the really big stuff is being tackled at all, and I fear we are all stumblin’ in to something much, much bigger.

Until next time…

Stumblin’ In Lyrics
(Song by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn)

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

Wherever you go, whatever you do
You know these reckless thoughts of mine are following you
I’m falling for you, whatever you do
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I never knew
Whatever it takes, baby I’ll do it for you

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in

You were so young, and I was so free
I may been young, but baby that’s not what I wanted to be
Well you were the one, oh why was it me
‘Cos baby you’ve shown me so many things that I’ve never seen
Whatever you need, baby you’ve got it from me

Our love is alive, and so we begin
Foolishly laying our hearts on the table
Stumblin’ in
Our love is a flame, burning within
Now and then firelight will catch us
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in
Stumblin’ in

“Jilted John”, Gordon and 21st Century Student Life

Well, a totally different routine for me this weekend, as for only the second time since I started my college course last September, I am meeting up with my classmates in a non-virtual fashion. Turns out courses like ours are mainly done online nowadays, with lectures being given via Video Conference. ‘Tis the times, but I had hoped, like last time around, I would make lifelong buddies. A slight flaw there in that most of them are just starting out in life, whereas being realistic, I am already over two thirds of the way through my life. Also, the only communication between students nowadays seems to be via social media/group chat and the like. Although I seem to have mastered blogging, that world is still pretty much alien to me (and being older than most of their parents, I think I am possibly out of the loop anyway).

But hey ho, I rolled up to the village of Cromarty yesterday at 4pm on the dot, as that was the time our weekend programme of activities was supposed to begin. The centre where we are staying is an old brewery, so what better name for this quite fabulous centre for the arts than, The Old Brewery. I am local-ish, so know the village well, and Mr WIAA’s very first job was at the local pottery (it is a very artsy place), but for people who have never visited before, it really is quite something – Almost a time capsule from the 18th century when Cromarty was one of the most prosperous places in Scotland because of trade with Northern Europe, and because of the vast shoals of silver darlings (herring to you and I) that were caught off its shores.

I did say it was almost an 18th century time capsule however, and that would be because if you look west along the firth, the view is something like this. I went out for a walk last night amongst the quaint streets of the old fishertown, but when I joined the shore road, I was quite mesmerised by the scale of the lit-up structures attached to the oil fabrication yard on the north side of the firth.

Drilling rigs are parked up in the Cromarty Firth near Invergordon, Scotland
The Oil Fabrication Yards at Nigg

But this morning, I woke up to this – What a weird mix of old and new, but strangely alluring too, as it brings a modern-day sharpness to the quaint and slightly twee village.

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The quaint village of Cromarty

But what of our programme of activities? Well despite there being a timetable with carefully allocated slots, it seems that artsy kinda people don’t hold with sticking to timetables, so I’ve been a bit thrown, as I like to have a clear structure to my day. The other thing that has thrown me is that the students of today eat very healthily and don’t go the the pub. Forty years ago, when I was a student first time around, our very educational Field Trips were an excuse to do little else than go to the pub and get very, very drunk. Last night I suggested we head out for some food but nearly everyone had brought little microwaveable pots of grains, vegetables and unidentifiable gluten/dairy-free substances. What the f**k? I did persuade one other soul to come with me, but when we got back, having consumed some very unhealthy scampi and chips, everyone else had headed to bed (alone). No alcohol allowed on the premises so not much else to do but join them.

On the upside, I’ve had a really busy and stressful time of late, so for a couple of days I’ve hopped off the hamster wheel and can just relax. The clocks change tonight, so an hour less in my little student bed than I had hoped for, but if I’m in it by 10pm (as seems highly likely), I’ll still rack up more hours of sleep than usual.

What song to include though? Back in 1978, when I was a student first time around, this song, Jilted John by Jilted John was in the charts, and whenever Gordon X, the President of the Student’s Representative Council was called upon to speak at an official ceremony in one of the ancient university’s impressive auditoriums, he had to suffer the ignominy of having it sung to him by the mass student body.

I think I now miss those days.

Jilted John (Gordon is a Moron) by Jilted John:

Until next time….

Jilted John Lyrics
(Song by Jilted John)

I’d been going out with a girl,
and her name is “Julie”.
But last night she said to me,
when we were watching telly…
This is what she said;

She said; “Listen John, I love you,
but there’s this bloke I fancy.
I don’t want to two-time you,
so it’s the end for you and me!”

“Who’s this bloke?” I asked her.
“Gordon” She replied.
“Not that puff!” I said dismayed.
“Yes, but he’s no puff” She cried.
“He’s more of a man than you’ll ever be!”

Here we go. Two Three Four.

I was so upset that,
I cried all the way to the chip shop
When I came out, there was Gordon
Standing at the bus stop.

And guess who was with him?
Yeah, Julie!
And they were both laughing at me!

Oh she’s cruel and heartless
To pack me for Gordon!
Just ’cause he’s better looking than me
Just ’cause he’s cool and trendy.

But I know he’s a moron!
Gordon is a moron!
Gordon is a moron!
Gordon is a moron!

Here we go. Two Three Four.

She’s a slag! He’s a creep!
She’s a tart who’s very cheap!
She is a slut, and 50 tough.
She is a bitch, and he’s a puff!
Yeah, yeah! It’s not fair!
Yeah, yeah! It’s not fair!

I’m so upset.

I’m so upset! I’m so upset!
Yeah yeah!

I’m gonna smash his face in!
Yeah, but he’s bigger than me In’t he?
I know! I’l get my mate Barry to hit him!
He’d flatten ‘im!

Postscript:

Jilted John was a character played by comedy actor and musician Graham David Fellows. He was a drama student at Manchester Poly when he first came to prominence as the eponymous singer of the novelty record Jilted John, a first-person narrative of an embittered teenager whose girlfriend Julie had left him for another man called Gordon, just because “he was better looking” and “cause he was cool and trendy“. The song became known for the refrain “Gordon is a moron” repeated many, many times.

Jilted John was first played on national radio by BBC Radio One’s John Peel who commented that if the single was promoted by a major record label he could see it becoming a huge hit. This proved to be the case. The song was introduced on TOTP as “one of the most bizarre singles of the decade”, and reached No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart.

The lyrics are most definitely questionable and wouldn’t be included in a mainstream pop hit today but ’twas the times, so I left them in as they were written 41 years ago.