Can you hear it, that crashing sound? Uh-huh… there it goes again. Another wall falling as another male bastion tumbles to earth, torn down by the shrieking hordes of rampant feminism. It’s now a daily occurrence – so much so that I let most of them pass over me now. But enough’s enough I say: it’s time to make a stand because the loss of this particular bastion has got me more rattled and uppity than most. I’m referring, in case you missed last night’s news, to the bombshell that a woman conductor is to lead the Last Night of the Proms later this year. A woman! I tell you, women and music just don’t go. Well, have you ever heard of Marin Alsop? Come to that, could you even name a woman composer of note? No? Okay, a performer then (a handful of sopranos aside – oh aye, and Evelyn Glennie who’s had stunning good looks and the benefit of a rattling good PR tale to help her cause along a bit on account of the fact that she’s been profoundly deaf since the age of 12)? See? Told yer. Not only that, but to make matters worse, Ms Alsop – now entering the charts as the 118th conductor of what’s unquestionably the most flag-wavingly British event of the year – is a Yank from somewhere called NooYoik, fer chrissakes! I’m gutted. If he was around today, Sir Thomas Beecham’d have a fit o’ the screaming abdabs. Without a doubt one of our greatest conductors even though he never got to – or more likely didn’t want to – lead the Proms, he’d have a thing or two to say about this last turn of events on two accounts at least… He it was who once famously said that all the arts in America are a gigantic racket ‘run by unscrupulous men for unhealthy women’. But more tellingly, he didn’t like women in any role in his orchestras. That particular horror came to a head in the 1940s when he was forced to accept women musicians for the simple reason that the cream of male performers was off fighting a war. Not best pleased at being forced to compromise, he’s said to have withered a below-par female cellist with an observation I only wish I’d made: ‘Madam, you have between your legs an instrument capable of giving the utmost pleasure to man and all you can do is scratch it!” I’ll go along o’ that, me old musical china. Oh hello… did you hear that? Yet another sound to go with the walls a-crashing down – this one a distinct whirring. That’ll be Sir Thomas turning in his grave. Wanna be in my gang?
Tags: Evelyn Glennie, Last Night of the Proms, Marin Alsop, Sir Thomas Beecham
Tags: Doctors waiting rooms, National geographic, Worcester, Worcester Library
In the year 2000 – November to be precise, though the actual day sadly eludes me – 300,000 Nepalese were suffering from cataracts. How do I know this? ‘Cos I read it in a magazine. Nor was it any old rag of a magazine: I’m talking here of no less august a publication than the National Geographic. What’s more, the information was, as common parlance has it, correct at the time of going to press – a fact I can relate with some degree of certainty as this particular NatGeog was dated November 2000. So? I hear you sighing. I’ll explain…. the place I’d come across it was a doctor’s waiting room and the day I came across it was the day before yesterday. I kid you not: a 12 and-a-half year-old magazine in the doctor’s waiting room (not my doctor’s I hasten to add, but that big swish new one in Newtown Road where I’d been asked to attend for tests on… well, you don’t want to know about that). Nor was it alone in its dotage: I believe most of the magazines’ pedigrees littering the upstairs waiting room stem from around that date, making them a fair whack older than the building they’re housed in. I was hoping to find out how the Titanic got on in her maiden voyage but I was called in before I could get that far. Watch out, The Hive: you’ve got a rival – and not a gold plated tile in sight.
Tags: Bob Backenforth, Worcester
Well, fancy seeing you here… and after all this time too… my, but you haven’t changed a bit. D’you know, it’s been nigh-on eight months since we last chatted. Jeeeeeez, how time flies. Anyway, I’m back now and from here on in, I’ll be picking up where I left off. I’ll tell you summat odd, mind… I didn’t scribe a blog since June, yet for some reason that’s quite beyond me, I’m almost daily adding new Twitter and FB followers. Yet me old mate and life-long drinking pal, that ever-so-slightly schizo and passionate bar propper-upper Bob Backenforth who’s been trying to out-blog me since I went away for a while, has only got about half as many. Ha! Funny, somebody said the other day that they never see me and the other Bob B in the same room together… Still, I don’t like to see him down and sulking, so why don’t you go on over to http://bobbackenforth.wordpress.com and cheer him up a bit – we’re all virtually family anyway. And besides, he makes my life hell when’s he’s got one on him. Wuddya do that for me? Bless ya. Thanks. ‘Tis appreciated. Tarra a bit. See you tomorrow.
Those earnest folksies at Friends Reunited didn’t need to conduct yet another ‘in depf‘ survey about us Brits feeling up-beat and positive about our national identity – as reported in the Huffington Post the other day: they only needed to have asked me and I could have told them right off that yes, we’re all feeling pretty much ticketty-boo and jolly soopah about the old country right now, what with the Queen’s Jubilee still fresh in our memories and the Olympics just around the corner doncherknow, eh what, and all that frightfully English stuff you used to hear a lot but don’t anymore. Mind, as for the symbols folks are reported to most associate with Britishness, I can only say that not for the first time in my life, I’d pitch mine against yours any day o’ the week: fish and chips, the £, tea, Wimbledon, rain, The Beatles, cricket, football, a stiff upper lip, a love of the monarchy and the Imperial measures system. Hmmmm….okay, fish’n’chips I’ll go along with – on the condition that they’re eaten out of yesterday’s newspaper, cooked in beef dripping and not called ‘feeshasheep’ by the grinning chippie. As for the others? Well, here’s my four penn’orth… Dimpled beer mugs, even though I’m a ‘sleever’ man meself. The Union Jack – provided it’s hung the right way up and not upside down like it is far more often than it should be. Green grass and its associated whiff when you take in two great lungs-full of fresh-mown. Half-crowns and the old tenner with Mr Elgar and Worcester cathedral proudly shining off’f the reverse. The pomp and circumstance – to quote the selfsame Mr Elgar: I mean, tell me who does ceremony better, eh? The music: despite the recent Eurovision Screeching Contest fiasco there’s only two countries in the world producing great music – us (lower case) and US (upper case). Brass bands – especially if they’re wearing bowler hats – and I’ll even chuck-in trad jazz bands for good measure: ditto the hats. Morris dancers –with certain reservations. Country pubs of the kind the entire world is trying to copy while we’re doing our level best to destroy ours. Minis (cars, not skirts – oh I don’t know though) And… No, I’ll let an old Yankee pal sell you this one. When asked at Warwick Castle what he liked most about England, a very special colonial pal New Hampshire Bob had no hesitation telling ‘em straight: ‘the folks’. And that one tops the lot. Which just goes to show that sometimes it takes a foreigner to point out the things the rest of us so often take for granted. Thanks Bob and Britannia Rules, OK?
PS: this blog was written on May 31st the day my computer crashed. I’ve just got it back having been struck deaf, dumb and blind, walking round in a kind of deprived haze and daily accused of being like a sulky kid who’s broken his best toy.
Tags: Alan Sugar, Lord Sugar, The Apprentice, The Only Way is Essex
I was only finking the uvver day… we’z all turning into bladdy Cockerneys, ent we eh? Ve fort strack me in one of de pabs in the Tyving on Fursdee when da geezer next to me – a sahnd Worcester lad frew an’ frew, wiv a Worcester accent ter match, aps and ahts wiv it… “Eea gavnah, wot the bladdy ‘ell is ‘at?” Ahem… back in Worcester mode now (sighs of relief). Seems his larf an’ titter (bitter) was not up to the standards we’ve come to expect in Worcester but was more like the cat’s we expect when we venture down South. As I see it, there’s two reasons for this worrisome switch in the way we’re beginning to talk. Reason#1 ‘The Only Way is Essex’, but as I’ve already had a poke at that nonsense once or twice, this time I’m laying the blame firmly at the plates of Reason#2: Sralan, now Lawd – Shuggah. You can’t have not noticed that on account of this one geezer alone, ‘money’ is no longer pronounced as it’s spelled but, thanks to his fascinating quest for some kind of business ‘oppo, is now ‘manney’. Nor can you have failed to notice how that most inoffensive of swear words, good old ‘bloody’ – which once upon a time rhymed with hoodie – is now universally ‘bladdy’? Now, though I confess that with precious few exceptions the only TV show I bovver wiv (oops sorry, momentary lapse there) is ‘The Apprentice’, I don’t actually believe it to be a genuine search for a sharp mover’s business associate. ‘Whaaa-a?’ I hear you cry, shocked beyond measure wiv a sharp intake of breff (note to self: get a bladdy grip, Bob). Well, no I don’t. It’s a statement I make on account of the fact that you could probably trawl any street in Worcester two hours after the pubs have closed and still come up with more likeable, talented, amusing and coherent prospects. And also because in my view the programme is just the front for a covertly underground – though quite brilliant – national ploy to turn us all into bladdy Cockerneys. Why? So’s they can charge us even more bladdy manney. See? It en ‘arf workin’ well, innit?
Tags: Aretha Franklin, Eurovision Song Contest, Gigliola Cinquetti, Kate Bush, Pearl Carr, Shirley Abicair
You mark my words, last night’s Eurovision Screeching Contest will go down as ‘classic’ in the so-called song competition’s history. I say ‘so-called song competition’ on account of the fact that the whole thing is less about anything even vaguely musical and more about legs, teeth, hair extensions and voting for your neighbours – but then, you already know that, right? So what’s new? I tell you, last night the old screechometer – which I apply to all the female singers regardless of the country they’re representing – shot right off the scale! Don’t they realise that screeching is precisely what most of us go out of a night in order to avoid? Of the twenty-six acts, fourteen were the hissy screechers, 10 were blokes, Iceland cancelled each other out on account of they were a couple, and then there was Jedward (who I thought did just foine sure). Take it from me, Pearl Carr or Shirley Abicair’d have a fit o’ the screamin’ abdabs if they’d been around last night. Now don’t get me wrong: it’s the glitz, the glamour, the sparkle and the eye-popping gorgeosity of the contestants from the distaff side that makes the Eurovision Ear’ole Bending Contest what it is (Russian Grannies excepted). But ugh… spare us the shrieking and screeching, per-leeeeeeese. All that was missing was Kate Bush and Aretha Franklin and we’ve have had the complete set. So by my reckoning this is what the actual result should be, based entirely on screechability with the higher the screech factor, the lower the position. In my view anybody with a screech factor over 5 should be banished to an underground cave and never heard of again.
1: Russian Grannies 0 2: Bosnia+Herzogovina 2 3: Romania 3 4: Denmark 4 5: tied – FYR Macedonia and Italy 5 7: Greece 6 8: Cyprus 7 9: tied – Ukraine and France 8 11: Sweden 9 12: tied – Azerbaijan and Spain 10 14: Albania 36
Now here’s the way one Eurovision entrant won the contest – and not a screech in earshot. Enjoy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Utd9cHBPfRA&feature=related