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‘Viscious’ – vacuous viewing

There is a gap in the market for a sit-com about a couple of old queens. ‘Viscious’ has all the right ingredients: a failed actor and his long-term partner straight out of Grace Brothers’ department store (‘Suit you, sir’) living in a run-down, faded flat. For stereotype neighbours we have a randy single lady of a…

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Thatcher Tributes 8 April 2013

I came into the kitchen for an early lunch just as the news of Margaret Thatcher’s death was announced on Radio 4, breaking into the final minute of  ‘You and Yours’. The continuity announcer was, unfortunately, Neil Nunes, who caught the spirit of the occasion with a cheery ‘OK – that’s an extended News at…

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Two Richards RIP

The deaths of Richard Briers and Richard Griffiths have robbed us, far too early, of two of our finest actors. How different they were, the one all nervous energy and crisp delivery, the other avuncular and lugibrious – though such short-hand descriptions hardly do justice to either of them. I would have loved to have worked…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (April) Mary had a little lamb

MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB Surprisingly, perhaps, this nursery rhyme is of American origin and based on a true story. Mary Sawyer was a schoolgirl in Sterling, Massachusetts, and took her pet lamb with her to school. The event caused some consternation and the story was picked up by a Sarah Hale, put into verse and…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (March) The Pigtail of Li-Fang-Fu

THE PIGTAIL OF LI-FANG-FU Sax Rohmer (1919) Sax Rohmer was the pen-name of Birmingham-born writer Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward (1883-1959), a prolific novelist most remembered for his series of novels featuring the master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu. Rohmer wrote both text and music for this ‘Musical Monologue’ in 1919 with the piano part transcribed by the composer T.W.…

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The Best Dance of Death?

My friend the great Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire sent me this link a few days ago without comment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8SofSH-Whk&feature=share Here’s my comment. As you can see, it’s an unpublished performance of Liszt’s Totentanz conducted by Rafael Kubelik with Freire as soloist. For  me this is the most thrilling, convincing performance of the work I have ever…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (February) Eton Boating Song

 The words of the Eton Boating Song were written by a master, William Johnson, at Torquay over Christmas 1862 for the school’s famous Fourth of June celebrations in 1863, an annual holiday with a Parade of Boats marking the birthday of King George 111, Eton’s greatest patron. The music was composed by Old Etonian Captain Algernon Drummond…

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THIS MONTH’S PARODY (January) Oh dear, what can the matter be?

OH DEAR! WHAT CAN THE MATTER BE? Trad. Nursery Rhyme (1780s) O dear, what can the matter be? O dear, what can the matter be? O dear, what can the matter be? Johnny’s so long at the fair. He promised he’d bring me a bunch of blue ribbons. He promised he’d bring me a bunch…

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