Archive for July, 2010

Jeremys #2: Brett

Posted in Jeremy..., TV on July 31, 2010 by Johnnie

Second in a series of short tributes to well-known people called Jeremy

With the BBC’s Sherlock on our screens, it’s worth reminding ourselves just how great Jeremy Brett was, both in and out of the role.  Brett was a truly fine actor and one of British television’s most recognisable faces, having put his sharp features and that extraordinary voice to devilish use as a variety of dastardly villains in some magnificent cult ITC series like The Protectors, The Baron and The Champions.  Indeed, he was rarely off the TV as a character actor from the 1960s onwards.

Naturally, he is best remembered for his exquisite portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in Granada Television’s The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes between 1984 and 1994.  To many, he was the definitive Holmes of his era.  Certainly, for an ITV programme, it was practically unmissable and the programmes easily stand up as dramas today.

Brett was, of course, one of those British actors – the type who would automatically be linked with what I call the holy trinity of British acting roles: Sherlock, James Bond and Doctor Who.  Continue reading

Plastic not-so-fantastic, then

Posted in Disasters, Music, Pointless Nostalgia, Star "Style" on July 30, 2010 by Johnnie

Another childhood illusion shattered, another comfort zone wrecked.  Belgian punk “sensation” Plastic Bertrand has admitted he wasn’t the singer of  his one and only UK hit ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’.  Is there nothing left we can believe in?

This is far more devastating than the Milli Vanilli ‘scandal’ of 20 years ago.  Poor Plastic (real name Roger Jouret, but why would he use that again?) is distraught at having to admit this now.  I must admit, I feel for him. 

Admitting that the voice on the record was actually that of the record’s producer, the wonderfully named Lou Deprijck,  Plastic said: “I’m the victim. I wanted to sing but he wouldn’t let me into the studio. This is going to dog me till my dying days. I’m really fed up.” Continue reading

Waiter, there’s a woman in my soup

Posted in Advice, Star "Style", Travel on July 30, 2010 by Johnnie

It’s hard to believe that the boom-time obsession with spas hasn’t gone away.  Glossy mags, weekend supplements and the provincial press are still plugging these idiotic, aery-faery dens of self-gratification, a hangover from what already looks like the tackiest bygone era in history.

We’re already well into the first year of a new decade, and a more circumspect era, you’d think.  I had hoped most of the detestable things about the noughties (Ireland’s answer to the south of England’s Thatcher era) would have dissipated like the fads they were.   I should say, it’s certainly not that the noughties were all bad – let’s face it, any decade that began with The Gray Twins, David and Macy, as its biggest selling musical artists had really nowhere to go but up.

But it did herald the worst extremes of lame, low culture – not just the obsession with self-pampering, but the lamentable cult of non-celebrities taking up magazine space where actual celebrities would be, were there any actual celebrities.  Continue reading

Oui, je bored… think I’ll just commune with the dead

Posted in Dearly Departed, Grave News, Words on July 28, 2010 by Johnnie

Whenever my friend and I were bored during the long, winter nights of the early 1980s – when we were restless teenagers, fed up listening to Tears For Fears and there was only Bergerac on the telly – our thoughts inevitably turned to talking to dead people.  Out would come the little table, the Scrabble pieces would be arranged in an alphabetical circle, and we’d complete the set-up with a lop-turned glass and a torch, because candles were dangerous – unlike disturbing the spirits of the dead, obviously.  Then, we’d begin to terrify the living jobbies out of ourselves with our earnest enquiries of, “is there anyone there?”

I remember, quite vividly, the first time we tried it.  Another friend joined us for the occasion, a lad slightly younger than us, which would later get us into trouble from our parents – his nightmares that night were quite hideous, apparently.  Anyway; be it intervention from the other side or straightforward nervous pushing from us, our polite call to the ghostly land beyond was soon answered.  Continue reading

Tea-time tale

Posted in Food & Drink, Words on July 27, 2010 by Johnnie

A few days back, a colleague and I were discussing the timing of some inconsequential matter, and I happened to estimate it occurred “around dinner time”.   He smiled and said, “so that would be tea time for me”.  It reminded me of a recent piece by an Irish journalist I’m fond of reading, who disparaged the type of people who have their dinner in the middle of the day.  Is it, I wondered, simply a class issue, or are people who still have their ‘tea’ as the last meal of the day caught in a time warp?

It took me back to the first time I had to think about the nature of the names we give our meals.  Back in the early 1970s, we were very much a ‘breakfast, dinner and tea’ family – those were the words I was taught to use, and when you’re finding your way in the world, you form comforting associations with words, times of day and, most particularly, food.  But then, only a couple of years later, the children of some friends of my parents rudely introduced me to the word ‘lunch’, and those comfort zones were destroyed forever.

To this day, I still think the word ‘lunch’ was invented in the mid-’70s by snooty, upwardly-mobile bullies.  I have no idea why I adopted it, but it was probably under duress, as I remember quite clearly being sneered at for not using it.  Continue reading

Pipe down, it’s a no-shit Sherlock

Posted in TV on July 26, 2010 by Johnnie

Benedict Cumberbatch sounds gloriously anachronistic, a name to do a little more than conjure with.  He should be a Dickensian cartoon character, if such a thing could possibly exist.  Crazy name, crazy face,  he must surely be a crazy guy.  How perfectly cast he is, then, as Sherlock, the latest TV incarnation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes, brought to BBC1 by Doctor Who writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.

It’s now set in 21st century London but, as soon as it gets the plot point of Dr John Watson’s (Martin Freeman) recent, troubled past in Afghanistan out of the way, ‘A Study In Pink’ proves remarkably true to the adventurous spirit of Conan Doyle’s original Holmes stories.  As Doctor Who fans already know, Moffat and Gatiss wouldn’t be involved unless they were huge fans of the source material, and would protect its legacy jealously.  Continue reading

Of all the small things…

Posted in Disasters, Grave News, Music, New Stuff, Star "Style" on July 26, 2010 by Johnnie

Congratulations to Ireland’s musical pride and joy Jedward, who yesterday crashed into the UK Singles Chart at number 80 with their magnificent cover of Blink 182’s ‘All The Small Things’.   Continue reading

The terrifying beauty of the Monopods

Posted in Art, Books, Dreams on July 25, 2010 by Johnnie

I was at primary school when I read John Christopher’s brilliant sci-fi novel The White Mountains and it terrified me.  This was around the time I’d first heard Orson Welles’s The War Of The Worlds broadcast, and a good few years after I’d had my first nightmare about a Dalek invasion of my village, so reading about the alien Tripods’ takeover of earth had quite an effect on me.

Being a youngster of fertile imagination, and desperate to believe in anything supernatural or extraterrestrial, I was awe-struck by the Tripods’ scale and power.  When you’re the sort of child who grows up seeing a Dalek every time you happen across a council-issued dustbin, a lot of stuff nestles in your subconscious, only to leap out at you in your dreams later.  The Tripods never quite left me but it was only recently that I realised this.

On a trip home to my family seat on the Ayrshire coast, after an absence of a couple of years, I caught my first glimpse of our new Monopod masters.  Huge windmills were peeking over the tops of the hills and I was awe-struck all over again. Continue reading

Alex “Hurricane” Higgins 1949 – 2010

Posted in Dearly Departed, Grave News on July 24, 2010 by Johnnie

R.I.P. Alex “Hurricane” Higgins.  No matter what happens in world snooker, we will never see your like again.  There will be many tributes paid to the most entertaining player snooker has ever known and most of them will speak of a great, if wayward, man who tore up the rule book, transgressed the written laws, and stuck two fingers up at the stuffy dickie-bow-and-Brylcreem authoritarians who wanted to keep the game conservative and exclusive.

Higgins was The People’s Champion, the true antidote to murderously slow, deliberate players like Cliff Thorburn and Terry Griffiths.  Even the 70s and 80s ‘playboys’ Kirk Stevens and Tony Knowles couldn’t hold a candle to him for entertainment on and off the baize.  His old sparring partner Steve Davis, whom Higgins called “the apprentice Grinder”, described him as “the one true genius snooker ever produced”.  Amen to that.

I was 12 when Higgins beat Ray Reardon 18-15 to become World Snooker Champion for the second time in 1982.  No one who saw that match, while rooting for The Hurricane, could ever forget the emotional scenes right after the game when he tearfully embraced his baby daughter Lauren.  I’ve watched that final frame more times than I care to remember, and I still get the shivers and the tears still well.  It’ll be tough to watch again now that he’s gone. Continue reading

Mary legging it to the top again

Posted in Unwanted Comebacks on July 22, 2010 by Johnnie

This is especially for those people who keep arriving at this blog after Googling “Mary Coughlan legs” (hello again, you lot – you’ll be pleased to hear you’ve long since overtaken those looking for ‘Carol Smillie spanking’), here she is (centre) in yesterday’s Irish Independent modelling a courageously short dress.  And her new “Anne Widdecombe” hairstyle.

Actually, her attire is perhaps not a surprise, given that she was unplaced in Social & Personal’s Sexy Legs Top 20 last year, having been perched in 20th position in 2008.  Her party needs all the help it can get, no matter the poll.  Of course, her prize assets were given a celebrity endorsement by St Bob Geldof last year but I’m not sure her new hair is the right accessory.  That said, Anne Widdecombe reckoned her own best features were her legs (which she apparently never shaves), so perhaps there’s more than just an economic policy bonding these two female politicians. Continue reading


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