Look Back In Kindness


Watching Get Carter also reminded me that I have this: A note playwright/actor John Osborne wrote to my Dad and put inside the copy of his autobiography he gave him (and I now have).


If you can’t read his writing this is what it says:

Dear John,
You said you’d read the article — here’s the book. Many thanks for all your kindness and help when I went ‘tramp’ in July 1980.

Cantos [?] Christi,
Yours,
John

I have no idea what “when I went ‘tramp’” means but knowing about Osborne — violent temper, five marriages, heavy drinker — I imagine he was on his arse for some reason.

Though Osborne is excellent in his small part as the crime boss Cyril Kinnear in Get Carter he is, of course, better known as a playwright, particularly for Look Back In Anger and The Entertainer, and is credited with revolutionizing British theatre in the 1950s. Regular readers of this blog will know that my Dad worked in the theatre which is how he would have met him.

I studied Look Back In Anger for my English A-Level which, funnily enough, I took in 1980 around the time he was going “tramp” — if I’d known my old man knew Osborne that well then and that he owed him a favour I’d have asked to get him to help me with the exam.

Download: Look Back In Anger – David Bowie (mp3)

UPDATE: Thanks to keen handwriting analysis by Martin in the comments he make have written “twang” and not “tramp” which makes even less sense to me.

Not a lot of people know that


I was watching Get Carter the other night and got to wondering what happened to the actress Geraldine Moffat (her in the knickers above) who played the gangster’s floozy Glenda. When I was a kid my mum had a paperback of the novel it was based on which had a film still of a naked Moffat on the back that really, er, grabbed my attention as that sort of thing does at a tender age, so my memory had a bit of previous with her.

She only made a handful of films and did some telly like Coronation Street and The Sweeney, then got married and had two boys who grew up to found the videogame company that created Grand Theft Auto (and apparently she appears in version 5 of the game) — which all seems very appropriate considering her character in the film takes Michael Caine for a wild drive in a Sunbeam Alpine and comes to a watery end in its boot.

Get Carter is a great film of course and it also has a great soundtrack: Classic 70s crime-film music, all funky bongos, bass, and organ, with a cold-as-ice harpsichord.

Download: Get Carter – Roy Budd (mp3)

Lucky Dip


I don’t think this song has anything to do with the film beyond the title, but it’s one of Nick’s best choons and this is a lovely version of it.

Download: Whistle Down The Wind (acoustic version) – Nick Heyward (mp3)

The Lion in Winter

“We both are old now, more sedate, more responsible, we sleep in beds and sometimes we are sober; our bones are brittle, our sinews want elastic, the optician is kept busy and the dentist’s in despair, the barber gives us shorter shrift while the tailor makes thick overcoats, but should a shining occasion present itself, why, we will run jump fight fuck wheel a barrow drive a truck and generally present ourselves, singly or in tandem, to whatever merry mayhem takes our fancy”

Peter O’Toole, Loitering With Intent

RIP the very, very great Peter O’Toole. I highly recommend the two volumes of his autobiography, and of course, the movies.

Download: Overture From Lawrence of Arabia – Maurice Jarre (mp3)

Feeling a bit peaky?


In Brief Encounter the emotionally-crushed Laura is told by her gossipy friend that she looks “a bit peaked” which struck me as being the posh version of “a bit peaky” which is how I’ve always said it coz I’m common.

For my American friends it means to look pale, wan, or sick. The internets seem a little unsure of the origin of the phrase but I assume it has something to do with having hit some sort of peak and crashed.

Anyway, get this down you. It’ll do you good.

Download: I Feel Much Better – Small Faces (mp3)

My Dad’s 8-Tracks (Again)


Originally posted January 2008

A lot of you probably recognize the blond bird in the middle of this photo as Britt Ekland: actress, sex symbol, Bond girl and former main squeeze of Peter Sellers and Rod Stewart. Some of you might know that the guy on the left is actor/director Lionel Jeffries, best known for his roles in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Railway Children. But who’s the bloke on the right grinning like he’s the happiest person in the world at that moment? That’s my old man, that is.

The picture was taken in 1972 on the set of a movie called “Baxter!” that Jeffries was directing and my old man had a bit part in it. In the 60s and early 70s Dad was a London taxi driver with dreams of being an actor, and one day he picked up Jeffries in his cab. The two got chatting and my old man told him he was an aspiring actor so Jeffries offered him a part in his new film — playing a taxi driver. If you’ve never heard of “Baxter!” that’s because it was a flop and sank without trace when it came out, it’s never even been out on video far as I know. I’ve only ever seen it once and if you blink you’ll miss my Dad and his one line of dialogue (he picks up Britt in his cab and says something like “Cheers, love” when she tells him to keep the change.) It wasn’t much but still, he was in a movie with Britt Ekland — not bad for a cab driver from Shepherd’s Bush. Unlike me he preferred blonds which partly explains his huge grin in the photo.

After this brush with fame Dad bought himself an old Rover P4 which he called Baxter. It was a beautiful car, tan exterior with cream leather seats and an 8-track player which was the latest in high-fidelity mod cons back then. Of all the albums my Dad had on 8-track the one that most reminds me of that car is Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key of Life, especially the track “Joy Inside My Tears.” It was never my favourite on the album, it followed the ridiculously catchy “Isn’t She Lovely” and always seemed such a downer after that — it sounds like it was recorded at the wrong speed and sort of plods along like it’s all woozy on cough medicine. But there’s something hypnotic about it and when I hear it now it’s that foggy and muggy warmth which reminds me of sitting in that car on a cold day with the windows misted up, having a day out with my Dad which usually involved a lunch of egg and chips with a banana milkshake and going to the pictures.

Download: Joy Inside My Tears – Stevie Wonder (mp3)

The acting thing didn’t work out for my Dad, after the movie he had small parts in television commercials for The Sun newspaper and Slimcea bread but that was all far as I remember. He did far better behind the scenes though and became a Stage Manager at the National Theatre in London where he had a very successful career — his first boss was Lawrence Olivier and he counted many famous actors and writers among his friends. He even got to meet the Queen, not too shabby.

Un Film De Saint Etienne



Those loveable popsters Saint Etienne have become quite the movie producers in recent years, having made three films about London in collaboration with director Paul Kelly. They’re hard to come by in the States so I’ve only seen the first one Finisterre, an impressionistic tribute to the city which I highly recommend.

Their new one How We Used To Live uses old footage from the BFI Library to tell the story of London’s past during the ‘New Elizabethan’ age from the 1950s to the Thatcher era — a sort of prequel to Finisterre — and looks absolutely marvelous.

The film has been selected to be part of the London Film Festival and lucky Londoners (or anyone in town at the time) can get to see it next month. I’m sure I shall see it myself eventually if it ever makes its way to this side of the pond in some form or other.

Lucky Dip


When Jenny sings, I hear violins.

Download: Wild Horses – Prefab Sprout (mp3)

Buy

Tags

What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com

For Hire

Follow me!

Reading

Listening