Lillie wins first prize


My wonderful dog Lillie won first prize in the doggie competition at the Spitalfields Street Party on 14th June 2014.

Picture courtesy East London Advertiser – full story here

Bethnal Green Special Appearance


At Bethnal Green Working Mans Club


New York, New York

Bethnal Green Working Mens' Club PerformanceMy rendition of New York, New York went down well at the Bethnal Green Working Mens’ Club on Saturday night. Several members of the audience joined me on stage for the chorus.
Next performance New Year’s Eve – Tuesday 31st December 2013.

Miracles on tap

Whatever happened to miracles? As soon as the last page in the Bible was written, they dried up.

CharltonHestonIt wasn’t till the advent of Hollywood that they made a re-appearance. But Hollywood’s miracles were only a rehash of the Bible’s miracles, with a difference – the originals were for free, this time round you paid to see them in the cinema. Probably the most spectacular one was the parting of the Red Sea, orchestrated with such aplomb by Charlton Heston.

Hollywood was planning to update the miracle by having Chuck (his nickname) standing on the cliffs of Dover, give a glance up into the sky to get the OK, then with a wave of his hand, order the English channel to part. When informed the miracle would disrupt shipping in the busiest sea-lane in the world, M-G-M offered, in compensation, free tickets for the film’s premiere, to captains and crews of all the ships affected by the hold up, followed by a slap up chicken dinner at Nando’s. Publicity was already stating

“Why bother with technology when a snap of the finger can do the job”
“It will be a 1,000 times better than watching card tricks on the telly”
“Day-trippers can take a leisurely stroll over to Calais, and stock up on cheap plonk”

Alas, Chuck is no longer with us to take on the role he was made for. Despite looking immortal, he’s now in that country “from whose bourn no traveller returns”. So who can step into his shoes, or should that be sandals? Word has it that Bruce Willis was approached. He showed interest, but only if he could wear the blood spattered t-shirt he’s worn in all the Die Hard movies. M-G-M told him “Bruce, you’re supposed to be an emissary of God, show some respect”. When they told him he’d be getting $20m for the role, he decided to show some respect. However when having a false beard glued to his face, and donning a cloak which trailed on the floor like a wedding gown, plus being 5ft 4 in height, he looked like the grandfather of Snow White’s seven dwarves, so Bruce was out. The role is still vacant.

Should miracles be taken seriously? Many religious believers hold that the absence of a plausible explanation of a scientific theory, the best explanation therefore is, they were performed by a supernatural being, and cite this as evidence of a God.


Lets take a few more happenings open to question:

*Did Lot’s wife really turn to salt when she looked back to Sodom and Gomorrah? I have been looking up various theories and explanations put forward, which, to put it bluntly, need to be taken with a pinch of salt

*Did David kill Goliath? Again, after raking through the theories and explanations, you’ll end up where you started ie, non the wiser. Even Sherlock Holmes would be baffled.

*Do cherubs live outside of paintings?

AdamEve*Are all our imported tasteless apples descendants of the poisonous one Adam and Eve bit into, for which, the story goes, God banned them from the Garden of Eden? If so, let’s ban the ones we get till such time when overseas growers learn to put the taste back in.

Why is it I can name Adam and Eve, but can’t remember the names of neighbours living three doors away?

Long Live Miracles!

Ingrid, it’s only a movie

CutThroatThe person doing the shaving is certainly no barber. The position of the open blade indicates an upward movement. If carried out the guy’s cheek will be sliced in half. What’s being used is an imitation razor. Would you in your right mind allow someone without experience of wielding a cut-throat razor, to carve up your face? Need I say more?

Yes I will say more. Even being shaved in a movie barber shop, the barber is just a film extra who can’t hold the implement correctly, leading you to require a blood transfusion once he’s finished the carving. I don’t know if American barbers are unionized, but if they are, they should protest to Hollywood for falsification of their trade.

PS: I’m a former barber.

Custer In the battle of the Little Big Horn sequence from the movie They Died with their Boots On, Errol Flynn, as General Custer, is the last to die. Taking this in pecking order: the first to die were privates, followed by sergeants, then the Captain, and finally, General Custer. If you’re a film extra, appearing in a remake, ask the Director to cast you as the General, as there’s more mileage in the role.

Explosion Someone is running from an explosion in a movie. When Hollywood creates explosions, only the biggest and loudest will do.

C-4 is the most common type explosion. Gasses are released at the rate of 26,000 feet per second, destroying everything in its wake. If you’re within that range, you’ll get hit by the blast and finish you off within one second. Do you think you can outrun it? No you can’t. Then how is it the lady in the picture is doing it? The best answer I can come up with, is to quote Alfred Hitchcock, who in reply to Ingrid Bergman, who asked what motivation she should bring to a scene, said “Ingrid, it’s only a movie.”

A man escaped

ManEscapesA Man Escaped tells the true story of a French Resistance Fighter who was captured by the Nazis in 1943 and sent to a notorious prison in Lyons, occupied France, to await execution. The mechanics of the film are unlike any other film depicting an escape from an impossible situation.

The ingenuity of the central character to achieve this aim is mind blowing. Unlike the bluster and noise associated with Hollywood’s prison movies, this one has none of that. The Nazi guards are seldom seen; the only violence is a few brief scenes at the beginning. The use of sounds are cleverly done – off-screen: footsteps, keys clinking, coded taps on the wall to someone in the next cell, the sound of machine gun fire signalling an execution. The main dialogue is a voice-over by the prisoner, informing us of his intention to escape.

The director, Robert Bresson, was himself a prisoner during the war and drew on his experiences when making the film. Someway into the film, the prisoner, named Fontaine, is moved to another cell. Any day now he will be taken out and shot. How is he going to get out? His eyes are centred on the cell door – that’s his way out. From then on his efforts begin to take shape.

Not having any tools, he uses what’s available for the task of getting through the cell door – a dinner spoon. I’ll stop there, because I hope you get a copy of the DVD (it’s available) and watch magic being performed.
Critics world-wide were unanimous in naming it the greatest escape film ever made.

A time for celebration

I glanced at the letters lying on my doormat. I hadn’t had so many in quite a while. Picking them up I put them on the table to read whilst drinking my morning tea. Just looking at the envelopes told me they were not from friends or relations.

The only way to find out, naturally, was to open them, which I did. All without exception were bills that were overdue – gas, electric, water, phone, council tax, rent – and would you believe, one from the Burial Society asking for my monthly payment, ensuring a decent burial when I die.

I looked into my tea, which by now was stone cold. What a start to the day. There was no way I could meet all these demands. I stared at the kitchen wall (which reminded me of a silly joke – “why do you keep staring at the kitchen wall? are you in love with it?” “Of course not, I just admire and respect it”). Well I did tell you it was silly.

They do say when one thinks of suicide the mind does go haywire, with reason flying out the window. I walked across the room, opened the window and gazed down to the street five floors below. It looked so easy, it would all be over in seconds. I put one foot on the ledge; suddenly I was distracted by someone dressed in the attire of a Town Crier (see photo) ringing a bell and shouting something I couldn’t quite catch. As he got nearer, it became loud and clear “Oyez, oyez, oyez, it is time for celebration. Let it be known on this day a future King of England has been born. God bless the Royal Family”.

Well, well, I said to myself, there’s me being negative about life and this wonderful event happens. It’ll certainly cheer up those facing cuts in housing benefits, people standing in line at food banks, and the thousands losing their jobs as a result of the recession.

Then it hit me…..the last time a Town Crier wandered the streets he was shouting “Oyez, oyez, oyez, Sweeney Todd the barber has been knicked for selling human meat pies”.

The grey sausage roll

GreyCapsIts obviously a joke, advertising a film, probably. And yet I was intrigued. I turned the radio on and tuned into Radio 4; but no, it wasn’t a joke. A future king had been born. The announcer was saying “people of England, go out into the streets, link hands with strangers, swear your allegiance to this seat of majesty, this sceptered isle. Home owners, say good morning to your next door neighbour, for the first time since living there for the past 30 years. Dancing round maypoles (see picture) should add to the general frivolity”.

Despite being a dyed-in-the-wool Republican I got caught up in the excitement and decided to join the crowds in the Mall, waiting to catch a glimpse of the Royal Family on the balcony of the Palace.

Before going I rummaged through a bottom drawer for an old flat cap, the ideal headwear to doff in the presence of Royalty (see photo).

I had read that the Queen was holding a banquet that very evening for the great and the good. My socialist instincts told me the list would not include nurses, firemen, grave diggers, care-workers, dustmen, midwives et al.

Mingling with the crowds outside the Palace gates, I observed a young woman eating a grey looking sausage roll, bought from an unshaven trolley vendor with black fingernails, and two-inch ash on a cigarette hanging from his lips. “Excuse me”, I said to her, “are you not concerned you may get food poisoning from what you’re eating?”. She replied “if I get it after seeing the Royal family on the balcony, then I don’t mind too much”. I said to myself how admirable the stoical outlook of the English; it’s people like this that should be around that banqueting table tonight. My thoughts were interrupted by a blast of music from an assembled brass band behind the Palace gates, the doors of the balcony swung open, and out stepped the Royal family.

The baby is on the table

MaypoleThe roar of the crowd ensured it would be a long time before this sceptered isle becoming a Republic. I was about to scoff my cap when I noticed many other flat caps being thrown in the air. I followed suit, but it fell and landed I know not where. Someone nearby started to sing “for he’s a jolly good fellow” with more voices joining in, followed by “roll out the barrel” and “There’ll always be an England”. A voice called out “where’s the future king?” another replied “he’s probably crawling along the banquet table tasting a prawn cocktail”. Laughter all round. After another blast of music, the Royals disappeared behind the balcony doors, no doubt to enter the banqueting hall to find prawn cocktails scattered all over a Louis XIV embroidered carpet. What a naughty baby the future king is, already behaving like his uncle, Prince Harry.

The show being over, people began drifting away down the Mall. I picked up some of the flat caps strewn around, tried them on, till one fitted me. Entering Buckingham Palace Road, I spotted the unshaven, black fingernails, cigarette ash spotted apron of the grey sausage vendor. Feeling a bit peckish, and throwing caution to the wind, I bought two. One to munch there and then, the other to put in my oven for a late night snack.

Arriving home the first thing I noticed were the unpaid bills, which I promptly tore into tiny pieces, I knew what I had to do the following morning, only a miracle will stop me. Dismissing it from my mind, I reheated the sausage roll, settled in my easy chair and promptly fell asleep, leaving an uneaten grey sausage languishing on a plate

In the money

Awaking the following morning, I decided not to waste any more time; went to the window, opened it, put one foot on the ledge, gazed around the room, to say goodbye, when unbelievingly I heard the voice of the Town Crier again. I looked down, and sure enough there he was, ringing his bell and bellowing something I couldn’t catch. For a moment I thought he mentioned my name. It can’t be, but yes it was, LOUD and clear ““Oyez, oyez, oyez, this is a message for Mike Myers. You have won the Euro Millions lottery. The jackpot is 500 Million Euros”. I shut my eyes tight, then opened them, looking down, the Town Crier had gone.

I decided now was not a good time for jumping out of windows, it was also a good time for believing in miracles. So there is a god, after all. How can I repay him for this luck bestowed upon me? I got down on my knees, clasped my hands together, looked up, and said “dear God, wherever you are, I now see the error of my Republican beliefs, which I hereby renounce as of this moment. To show my sincerity, I’m prepared to go into seclusion atop a mountain in the Himalayas, with just a bible for company, but if I did that, lots of greedy people will steal all the lovely lolly I’ve won and live the life of Riley. I’m sure you agree with me that we can’t allow this to happen, so maybe my trip to the Himalayas be postponed till such time when the money runs out”.

Well that’s all I have to say at present, but I’ll get back to you quite soon, if not from my miserable flat, then probably from a chateau in Switzerland or a castle in sunny Spain. I shall go out shortly to visiting a few places of worship, to put a few coins in their collection boxes, just to show my heart’s in the right place. I rose from the floor to go out and do my good deed, when it hit me – HOW DID THE TOWN CRIER KNOW I HAD THE WINNING TICKET? I never buy tickets for that lottery. On that puzzling question, I woke up in bed in a cold sweat. IT WAS ALL A DREAM. I know that for a fact as there was no trace of an uneaten grey sausage anywhere in sight.

Long live the Republic.

Even barbers have talent


Still trying for another hit

I’m sure everyone has heard of Monty Norman. What, you haven’t!

I’ll put you out of your misery… Monty was a barber from Stamford Hill, London. I can hear you say “who cares?”. Fair enough. But let me continue. One day in 1961, Monty sat down and composed the James Bond theme, which opens all the Bond movies.
OK so now you know about Monty the barber – but what about Sam the barber?

This time I’ll sympathize with you for not knowing Sam. Sam was the barber at the Twentieth Century Fox studio in Hollywood in the 1940s. Sam Silver wrote a synopsis for a musical comedy; he called it Carnival in Costa Rica. He submitted it to the studio’s story department, and to his joy it was accepted to be filmed. At the time, the studio was noted, together with MGM, for making the best Hollywood musicals. A strong cast was lined up for the film, to include their top crooner, Dick Haymes, and dancer, Vera Ellen. It was released in 1947 and became a spectacular flop, the worst musical ever released by the studio. Having seen it, I concur.

As the picture shows, Sam’s still trying.

The man who won't go away

Ripper1Marie Belloc Lowndes (1888 – 1947), an English novelist, wrote a novel in 1913 – The Lodger – based on Jack the Ripper murders. Little did she know her novel would eventually be adapted for the screen five times, beginning with a silent version made in London in 1927, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, followed by another London production in 1932. The third was a major American film. The high production values of Twentieth Century Fox studio ensured a faithful replica of Victorian London, complete with swirling fog.

What carried the film was a great performance by a relative newcomer to pictures, Laird Cregar, (see photo) as the Ripper. This film version is considered by many to be the best. Next one up, 1953, had the title changed to The Man in the Attic. No great shakes, but the one following, 2009, with original title restored, saw a change in locale, with the Ripper murdering prostitutes along Hollywood Boulevard. Panned by the critics, and after a limited release, went straight to the video bin.

The bridge that wasn’t there

Ripper2In the 1944 version the climax of the film saw the Ripper jumping off Tower Bridge, which at the time of the murders, 1888, was beginning to be constructed. The foundations were in the process of being laid beneath the river, the actual structure had yet to be erected, being finally completed and opened in 1894. So how did Jack scale a bridge that wasn’t there yet? Someone call for Sherlock Holmes.

Then again, those involved in the mystique of who the Ripper was do come up with some logical theories. Most, if not all, surround the involvement of Royalty.

Back in October 2011, I wrote an article on this site, based on a book – Jack the Ripper – The Final Solution – written by Steven Knight, in which he puts forward a theory I think is worthy of consideration. Yes, he does have Royalty involved, expanding it to the artist, Walter Sickert, and the world of that part of London, then known as Bohemia. The book has rave reviews by readers and is still available to buy on the net at a very reasonable price. I recommend it.


  • Saturday 6th December 2014

Water Poet, Folgate St

  • New Year's Eve - Wednesday 31st December 2014

Bethnal Green Working Mens Club


My Funny Valentine

That Old Black Magic


Mike Myers Spitalfields Crooner

Mike Myers, The Spitalfields Crooner