Archive for September, 2010

Tony Curtis 1925-2010

Posted in Dearly Departed, Film, Grave News, TV on September 30, 2010 by Johnnie

Very sad to hear of the death of one of my childhood heroes, Tony Curtis, at the age of 85.

A handsome, rugged and stylish man, he was a surprisingly versatile actor in his younger days.  He received an Oscar nomination for his performance as John ‘Joker’ Jackson in 1959’s The Defiant Ones, starring alongside Sidney Poitier and Lon Chaney Jr, he played the slave Antoninus in Stanley Kubrick’s magnificent Spartacus, and was the uncredited voice of Donald Baumgart in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, but he’s probably most famous for his role as Joe/’Josephine’ in Some Like It Hot, co-starring with Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe.  However, he came into my life when I was a youngster when he played New York rough diamond Danny Wilde in ITC’s wonderful TV series, The Persuaders. Continue reading

Ham roll with the changes?

Posted in Favourite Publications, Music, New Stuff, Star "Style" on September 30, 2010 by Johnnie

How did I miss this?  Have Ham Sandwich have done a ‘Sugababes’ and changed their entire line-up?  This photo beside the review of their new album White Fox in this morning’s Metro Herald is the first I’ve heard of it. 

Either that, or it’s the first published result of a wacky new Hot Press photoshoot, where Podge and Niamh impersonate famous Irish presenter duos.  Continue reading

No mo’ Haribo woe

Posted in Food & Drink on September 24, 2010 by Johnnie

Much to the delight of my children, I recently stumbled upon the existence of vegetarian Haribo.  They’re rather good too, coming in a mix of Strawberry shape/flavour, Cola Bottles and Lemon Starfish.  Jellies have always been a source of woe for my veggie kids; they love the bright colours and aromas but they also have a mortal terror of eating anything “with cow in it”.

Parties are therefore a bit of a nightmare at times, when all the other kids are stuffing their faces with bovine jelly and mine are left out.  Well-meaning friends and relatives have always given them jellies too, in genuine ignorance of the ingredients.  Some of them insisted, “no, they’re Natural ones,” as if gelatine isn’t a natural thing that grows inside cows.  There are other jellies available, usually in health stores, but few of them ever look or feel like a decent alternative to the beef ones. Continue reading


Posted in Books, Dreams, Words on September 24, 2010 by Johnnie

O would some Power the gift to give us

To see ourselves as others see us!

It would from many a blunder free us,

And foolish notion:

What airs in dress and gait would leave us,

And even devotion!

Robert Burns

Arthur and the nights around the pub table

Posted in Food & Drink, Music on September 23, 2010 by Johnnie

A doffed hat and little bow to Irish Times’ reader Michael McEvaney, who had this excellent letter published in today’s paper:

Madam, – Happy Arthur’s Day, our annual celebration of Guinness’s stranglehold on the Irish brewing industry for the past 50 years or more, a stranglehold that means Ireland is the only beer-drinking country in the world where nearly every one of its thousands of pubs have the same handful of flavourless, mass-produced beers.

Devotees of Guinness’s stout refer to it regularly as the “real” thing: how something that’s churned out by the lorryload with preservatives and pasteurisation can be called the real thing is beyond the understanding of this particular beer drinker.

Real beer must be microbrewed – chemical-free in small batches, as is standard practice in other countries. This process allows the flavours to develop and emerge. These days there are several small, independent breweries, both in and outside Dublin, brewing stout and other beers in this fashion – in other words, brewing the “real” thing, and that’s what this particular beer-drinker will be celebrating this Arthur’s Day.

– Yours, etc,


For the life of me, I’ve never worked out how a nation famed worldwide for its ability to put away drink puts up with the spectacular lack of choice available.  As Mr McEvaney says, there only are a handful of the same flavourless beers in almost every pub, ones people are apparently happy to drink by the pint until they fall over.  One must therefore conclude that people drink them only to get drunk – it’s certainly not for reasons of palate or discernment. Continue reading

Conspicuous Consumers: Sue Lawley

Posted in Conspicuous Consumers, Music on September 23, 2010 by Johnnie

You know how record shop staff are: bored, indifferent, clockwatching, hate dealing with enquiries or, indeed, any member of the general public.  Well, having celebrities stroll into your shop is easily the highlight of any day/week/ month/ year.  Incredibly famous people have to go to the shops too

And so it was one day in late 1994 when I was confronted by the wonderful broadcaster Sue Lawley while I was working in Putney Our Price.  Ms Lawley was a bit of a legend music-wise anyway, as her name would was regularly sung to the tune of The Police’s ‘So Lonely’.  Now, this is funny once, twice, maybe three times at a push, so I would have thought someone like Sue Lawley would have quickly sickened of such antics – after all, this was the woman who once had a rant about the supposed pointlessness of sundried tomatoes on live TV.  Continue reading

It’s still all pious in the sky

Posted in Ecumenical Matters on September 20, 2010 by Johnnie

Judge not…

The Pope’s visit to Scotland brought my general confusion about my religious beliefs to the surface again.  What do I believe?  It’s always been a succession of tolerance and intolerance for religion, and nothing I can do or think seems to flatten it out.

I’m like Spooky Mulder, I Want To Believe.  But so often, it’s too difficult.  People make it too difficult.  What is it religion about these days?  What was it ever about?

I’ve never been in the least bit pious, but I still detest atheism with all my heart.  I’ll always question everyone and everything and never believe in absolutes.  But that’s not what organised religion wants.  I have trouble with their terminology, even simple words like ‘faith’ – how can you have faith in something that doesn’t ever become apparent?  And yet, isn’t it the height of arrogance to believe that every one of life’s ‘mysteries’ has an explanation?  Is ‘faith’ only for those who can’t get their stupid heads around The Big Bang or the theory of evolution?  Or is it a matter of clinging to the belief that one day, all will be revealed? Continue reading