Saturday, 30 November 2013

alexander dolgun's story (with patrick wilson) - an american in the gulag

Some people have had a hard life.
Alexander Dolgun came to Russia as his father got a job there before the Second World War (1933), but had difficulty returning to the USA afterwards.  Alexander then got a  job in the United States Embassy, and was living the high life, until 1948, when he was suddenly arrested and sentenced to 25 years in the Gulag (after being interrogated and tortured) on trumped up anti soviet charges.  The book is the story of his arrest and eventual release (in 1956), plus how he managed to leave Russia afterwards and return to America in 1971 (with great difficulty).
It's amazing how some people can adapt to atrocious conditions and circumstances, even if there seems to be no end to the suffering, and no rhyme or reason behind it.  Obviously a lot did not survive, and it's ridiculous what little had to be done to incur the wrath of the powers in charge, and also receive a 25 year sentence.
Oh, l nearly forgot, his parents are also questioned and tortured, and this sends his mother mad.
Not a cheerful read by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly interesting.

toodle pip

Friday, 29 November 2013

having faith in your product - testing a bullet proof vest in 1923

Now this is what l call having complete faith in your own product.  The photographs (one colourised) are from Washington, 1923, and show W.H Murphy, of the Protective Garment Corps, testing out a bullet proof vest, with the aid of the local constabulary.  Obviously it worked, but it is still going to hurt, and l think if it was me that had made it, l'd have paid somebody else to act as the target practise.
Mind you, l bet this exploit garnered a hell of a lot of publicity and sales, so he was probably hurting all the way to the nearest bank.

toodle pip

Thursday, 28 November 2013

gravity - alfonso cuaron (2013)



Well, we got to go and see Alfonso Cuaron's 'Gravity' film this afternoon at Richmond Station, and it was well worth the time, effort and money.  The 3D made it seem as though you were in space with the astronauts, and the cinematography (by Emmanuel Lubezki) was outstanding, especially when the viewpoint changes from outside of a helmet to the inside.  I wasn't too keen on some aspects, as a lot of the film seemed to be an excuse to show Sandra Bullock in her grundies, but George Clooney was pretty cool, and provided an unexpected twist which certainly caught me out. I also appreciate the fact that the film clocked in at an hour and a half, which to me, is long enough for any movie, and left plenty of time to hit the pub afterwards.
Marvellous stuff.  I may even consider going to see it again, while it is still showing at the large cinema screens, and trust me, that is a rare occurrence.  
At the end, l had a flashback and commentated that it was like 'Planet of the Apes' when they first land back on Earth. It turns out l was correct, as the lake is the same one (Lake Powell).  Maybe my brain hasn't completely given up on me yet (although it's only a matter of time). 

toodle pip

Monday, 25 November 2013

napoleon's death mask

My best mate's parents were from St Helena, the place that Napoleon was exiled to (after he had already escaped from Elba), and the place where he died.
Until just recently, l was unaware that a death mask was made of him, but here it is.
I don't know about anybody else, but he looks like nothing l imagined him to be like, although you do get a real sense of how he must have appeared at the time.
Bringing history to life - the gory way!

toodle pip

Sunday, 24 November 2013

slyde alive at darlington forum

A top night in Darlington yesterday with Stevie T (kitten), watching Slyde Alive at The Forum.
It was good to catch up in the pub beforehand, and (of course) nonsense was talked by both of us (no change there).
The Forum was packed, and the band were a lot better than we had hoped for, with the singer sounding just like Noddy Holder, and from a distance, in the dark, with our fading eyesight trying to peer through the dry ice, actually resembled him. Top hat with mirrors? cloth cap? tartan trousers? whiskers? stripey socks and platform boots?.  Yes siree, all present and correct.  The rest of the band looked bugger all like the other members, and the Dave Hill of the band had certainly let himself go, but the sound (boosted by an extra guitarist) was spot on, and if you closed your eyes, it could have been Slade themselves, although l was a bit disappointed there was no fiddling during 'Coz I Luv You' by their version of Jimmy Lea (the one semi attractive member). That didn't stop everyone getting down and getting with it, clapping their hands and stamping their feet, which created a great atmosphere, even if some older blokes had their tops off (not us), and there was nearly some fighting (with one lad being escorted out).  Tension hung in the air (also not us), but it all worked out fine, and of course, they finished with 'Merry Xmas Everybody', augmented with Santa hats and fake snow.
I was already in such a good mood prior to the show, l even handed in a five pound note l found at the bar in the Greyhound pub, which they put in their 'charity' box.
I must be losing my marbles (or diluting my scouse genes).
The above video is not from the Darlington gig, and looks a lot more sedate, but it gives you an idea of what it was like.

toodle pip

Saturday, 23 November 2013

the manchester united sun socercards



I've mentioned the Sun Soccercards before, because of their grotesque portrayal of the rather magnificent Willie Morgan (on the wing).
Now l am not in any way paranoid,imagining that the artist (or The Sun newspaper) had it in for the Manchester United players, as there were plenty of unflattering portraits amongst the series, but take a gander at a selection of some of the United players above.  Jimmy Rimmer looks like one of the undead, and Gorden McQueen looks like he is going to explode.  Compared to them, Denis Law (the King) and Willie Morgan didn't fare too badly. I could paint better pictures by dipping my hair in a paint pot and randomly flicking it at a canvas while blindfolded and hung upside down naked (don't ask me how l know).
That to me, screams that somebody had an agenda, and if not, why on earth did they think that kids (who the cards were aimed at) would love to own them?
Apart from me of course, but then again, l'm an idiot horder.

toodle pip

Friday, 22 November 2013

the life and times of little richard - charles white

Charles White's autobiography of Little Richard is the sort of upfront Rock and Roll memoir that all others should be judged by.  Little Richard (or Richard Wayne Penniman to his family) is upfront about all his past exploits, eve though the book is from 1984, when he had gone back to the church, thus renouncing his old satyromaniacal ways, and especially his past homosexual experiences (although he swung both ways, and wasn't fussy).  He wasn't just the king (and queen) of Rock and Roll, he also describes himself as a king of jacking off (while getting his titties sucked) and was heavily into voyeurism, mentioning various famous Rock and Roll stars along the way.
He has obviously had conflicting sides to his character all through his life, wanting to be a maniacal performer, putting on a better show than any of his supposed peers, indulging in (what some might say is) extreme behaviour with sex and drugs, while at the same time, believing in the Lord, being good to his family, and always carrying and quoting from the bible.
This (apart from his ground breaking early music) is what makes him such an interesting character, and l am sad to hear that he is not in the best of health at the moment. Mind you, he is not exactly a spring chicken any more (like us all), and is just about to turn 81 years of age.
One of the true greats, and for that, may the Lord make us eternally grateful.

toodle pip

Thursday, 21 November 2013

out and about recently

 Newcastle trip out to see the dentist, partake in the odd ale, and do some shopping at the Chinese supermarket

 Colburn Gym.  Not for me (I couldn't be more perfect), but work related

 Darlington hospital tapestry.  Once again, a work related trip.

 More from Darlington hospital (exciting stuff!)

 J.T's bar at Catterick

 The Parkmore hotel just outside Yarm.  The venue for some Moving and Handling training.

The Percy Arms pub in Newcastle, where l discovered their is a regimental get together each month for ex soldiers, who l got into conversation with.

Out and about recently.  It's all go around these parts.
Saying that, l'm of to see a Slade tribute band in Darlington on Saturday, and the Gravity film in 3D next week, so the excitement levels will be set to stun mode. 
I was meant to be going to see the film last night, but the weather was atrocious, so we ended up putting it off until next week, and hit The Wine Bar instead, then back home to annoy Mr Parrot.
A wise move.

toodle pip

colburn council houses being renovated

My sister lives in a council house in Colburn, Catterick (the lucky woman), and Richmond council have recently been tarting them up a bit.  However, their plan for the outside wiring was to leave it exposed, as in the photographs above (the brown bits).  Of course nobody is happy with this, and the tenants have protested.
Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to leave the houses in that state?  I'm sure they wouldn't want their own houses to look that way, so why should the council tenants have to put up with it?
The last l heard, talks were ongoing.

toodle pip

the colburn lodge is being renovated

At long last!  It doesn't look it in these photographs, but at long last, The Colburn Lodge  pub in Catterick is being renovated.  Apparently it is going to be some kind of restaurant which will also sell meat.  That is the gossip the the pub, but who knows, it might be completely wrong.
No doubt we will be finding out soon, but l can't see it being open again until well into next year, no matter what is being done.
At least it is not being knocked down, as it is a local landmark, and the scene of many a happy night out over the years, especially when 60 squadron used to be based over the road from it.

toodle pip

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

dairy milk mousse snowman

Ohhhhh Santa must be excited this year.  It's hard (fnaaar) to believe that this is a genuine product, but go ahead, fill your boots (fnaaar again), it's true (and funny as f###############k)

toodle pip.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

me being a senile old git and forgetting about rupert thomson books

l am definitely losing my marbles, my memory, or both (have l already written this?).
One of my recent second hand purchases was 'Soft' by Rupert Thomson, as l have been reading some of his other works, enjoyed them, and thought l would read more of the same (as you do).
One tiny snag is, once l started reading it, l realised l had already read it.  I had completely forgotten l had, and can hardly remember anything about it, apart from it involves an addictive drink. I blame the different covers (and God).  They confuse a senile old git like me.
Now l don't know whether to feed it to my parrot in disgust, or just crumble, admit l am a doddery, drooling, half mad imbecile, and read it again.
The trouble is, if l re-read it, l feel as though l am wasting valuable time that could be spent reading something else that l haven't already read, as l always have a pile of books waiting to be cracked open, and life is short.
Time for my nap, l'm getting a headache thinking about it..

toodle pip

the bar bill at mortons private club

Spencer Matthews from 'Made in Chelsea' (whoever and whatever he/that is) has tweeted a bar bill from Mortons private club in Mayfair, which shows the amount paid as £488706.08.  Now this might not be his bill, it could be printed out as a laugh, and some on t'net think the bill was actually £48,706.08.
The thing is, even if it was printed out as a laugh, it is not too difficult to imagine some posh bastards on a night out spending that kind of money.  A Methuselah of vintage Crystal goes for about £40,000, so the bill can soon start totting up, especially if you are flashing the cash, sharing the booze, and trying to impress people. I thought l was living the high life in New York a few years ago ordering $300 bottles of champagne (I blame the drugs), but this is ridiculous.
England has always had an elite hierarchy, and a gap between the  poor and the very rich, but the current government is making the gap between them expand  at an alarming rate, while simultaneously trying to victimise the poor, sick and vulnerable members of the society they are meant to represent.
Meanwhile, the rich have the time of their lives, and inhabit a different planet and mindset.
Time for a revolution brothers and sisters.

toodle pip

Saturday, 16 November 2013

psychics and rock stars getting charged

There were two bits of news today that may well be the start of something larger.
The first one was the conviction of Sylvia Mitchell, a 'clairvoyant', who has been jailed for up to 15 years for conning vulnerable people out of their money, saying that their 'attachment to money' created 'negative energy'.  Of course the people were idiots for believing her and handing over large amounts of money to her (one handed over about £75,000), but it is still fraud, and if l had my way, a lot more would also be charged, and who knows, after this case, may well be.

Sylvia Mitchell

The other news is that the now 72 year old Roy Harper, an English folk singer who has sang on Pink Floyd albums and is a close friend of Jimmy Page, has been charged with having sex between 1975 and 1977 with a girl who was 12 when it started. (a charge he denies) and will appear at Hereford court on Monday.
If they are going to start arresting non light entertainment stars now, there are quite a few rock stars that will be crapping in their satin loons, as there is plenty of proof of underage sexual exploits amongst some of the most famous bands in the UK (with Jimmy Page and Bill Wyman being two that should be more than a little worried).  It will be interesting to see how this line of enquiry develops in the future.

Roy Harper

Saying all that, if someone is named and shamed, and there is enough evidence, they should be bought to court and given a chance to free their name, and not have the allegations drag on for what must seem like forever for them.  Some of the Operation Yewtree cases need to have closure of some kind pretty soon, one way or the other.  If they are guilty, they need to be sentenced. If innocent, they need to be exonerated.  As it is, most will never live down the allegations no matter how their cases pan out, and some of it just feels like a witch hunt.
Watch this space.

toodle pip

Friday, 15 November 2013

the insult - rupert thomson

Rather like the last book of Rupert Thomson's l read (The Book of Revelation), l thought there was too much gratuitous sex, but maybe l'm just a boring old sod.  I'd have probably loved it when l was younger. As for the story itself, it was top notch, and kept you interested and trying to guess the outcome all the way through.
Martin Blom's tale is told in the first person, and he has woken up in hospital after being shot, to be informed that he has lost his sight, which is irreversible.  His specialist (Dr Visser) explains that Blom may have hallucinations and think he has regained some sight, and most of the book concerns itself with Blom believing he can see when it's dark, but pretending he can't.
After distancing himself from his family and his old life, he moves away, whereupon he meets a girl and makes some new friends.  He then becomes a suspect in the disappearance (and possible murder) of the girl, and starts believing his vision is being controlled by radio transmissions, and he is an experimental case of Vissers.
The last part of the book has a different narrative, about families, rapes and murders, but it all links together at the end.
Is any or all of it true?  I won't give the game away, but it's well worth checking out, even if you are a bitter twisted git like me who wouldn't buy it full price (see my review of the Revelation book).  It will probably be found in your local charity shops (where l found my copy), so start searching.

toodle pip

Thursday, 14 November 2013

some colourised famous people

Albert Einstein

Charles Darwin

Charlie Chaplin (aged 27)

Grace Kelly

HG Wells

Mark Twain

Walt Whitman

Elizabeth Taylor

Further to the Hole in the Wall gang picture (last post), here's some more colourised photographs from Mads Madsen.  He's got loads more on his site, including plenty of American Civil War ones.  Well worth a visit.

toodle pip