A Curmudgeon Repents…sort of

The media has been full these last few days of pre-Olympic curmudgeons like myself holding up their hands and saying ‘Got it wrong. The Games were a fantastic success. Every day something happened that made me proud to be British. Didn’t think it would all work out like this. Got to take my hat off to…

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‘Still Fairer Hopes’ – George Gershwin 75 years after his death

(this article is published online by Gramophone magazine) During the thirteen years of their almost exclusive collaboration, George and Ira Gershwin produced nearly one thousand songs, for a dozen shows and four films. Imagine the fruits of that partnership if George had been granted even ten more years – let alone forty.             Someone once…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (July) The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God

THE GREEN EYE OF THE LITTLE YELLOW GOD is a poem written in 1911 by the English actor and poet J(ohn) Milton Hayes (1884-1940). It was a great favourite of the actor Bransby Williams, perhaps the most famous ‘monologist’ of the time, during the early years of the 20th century.  Obviously inspired by the ballads of Rudyard Kipling,…

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Richard 11 and This England

Shakespeare’s plays (like opera) rarely work on the small screen. Even in the cinema they tend to be heavy-handed with performances played at the same level as on stage. The production of Richard 11  on Saturday night (BBC2) was a shining, magnificent exception. On every level – performances, costumes, direction, decor, lighting, editing, verse speaking – the…

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A Richly-Deserved Honour

Whatever you think of the New Year and Queen’s Birthday honours – anachronistic, an agreeable way of rewarding endeavour, a baffling lottery, public recognition for public service – there is something intrinsically pleasing when a name leaps out from the long list of those honoured and you say ‘Hurrah!’ At least that was my reaction when…

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England Expectorates

I don’t normally watch football matches. Being a devotee of the oval ball, the earnest pontifications of soccer pundits with their verbal clichés, and the overpaid, tattooed brats who play the game pass me by. To say nothing of the foul people who trot along to matches for the pleasure of yelling abuse without getting arrested…

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