Thursday, 28 February 2013

Valerie Leon, Desperate Housewife

A frustrated Valerie Leon prepares herself for a visit from local odd job man / village stud Barry Stokes in 1975 smutter 'The Up's and Down's Of A Handyman'. Imagine her disappointment when she discovers that Barry is indisposed and has sent Young Mr. Grace from 'Are You Being Served?' instead. What a waste of a negligee.

Don't worry, though, she (sort of) gets the right man in the end, and shows off even more lingerie. She certainly is game, I'll give her that.   

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

F*** Me, It's Freddie!

FMIF as Sweeney Todd in an episode of Thames TV's 'Mystery and Imagination' from 1970. One of Mr. Jones' few starring roles, we will return to this in the future, when we will be all over it.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Biology 101

Some outer space imagery from the inner spaces of nature, taken from an old BBC Schools programme. Virtually every frame of the show is worth posting.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Freedom To Roam

Ah, Caravans. Not a British invention, but a British institution. For such a diffident, singular race, the caravan provides a fantastic way for us to exercise our freedom to go wherever we damn well please, but to take our own private space with us. A caravan is a little like a mobile embassy: wherever it stops in the world that patch of ground technically belongs to the family inside, who will normally be brewing up and remarking upon how wonderful it is to be able to make a cup of tea whenever you feel like it, despite not being at home.

Here are some images culled from a BBC documentary called 'Caravans: A British Love Affair'.

I wonder what she's looking at? Rhyl, perhaps.

Family time. There's nothing else to do.

An early wooden caravan / home from home.


A typical caravanning trip.

England, Paris.
Sam Alper, the Henry Ford of the UK caravan industry

NOT Kessingland.

When I was in my teens, we had a caravan. We did Wales and Devon and Cornwall and all that but, mostly, we went to Kessingland in Suffolk (about sixty miles from home). It's a lovely place, but there's not much to do there or in nearby metropolis Lowestoft if you're 14, and you soon exhaust that small supply of excitement if you go every fucking weekend, so I grew to resent the place and the way it cut into my burgeoning social life. Now I have a job and a family of my own, of course, I'd love to go to Kessingland every weekend, especially now Lowestoft has that new wind turbine.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Interesting Postcards

Baby Elephants and Keepers,
Clifton Zoo,

Naturally, the appealing picture makes you think of people skidding on shit in the 'Blue Peter' studio, but the most extraordinary aspect of the postcard is that it got to its destination at all given how muddled the address is. It would be in the bin as soon as it got to the sorting office these days. Ah, 1964, when postmen would salute passers-by and never, ever nick your birthday money.

My favourite bit in the message is 'We have nearly finished hay making. Good luck with exams. I hope you go right to the top.' Nice sentiment, Julia, I hope Susan did exactly that.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Makes Your Blood Run Cold

Sieges are great subjects for films, aren't they? Tense, exciting - and even more tense and exciting if you have a mix of ruthless criminals and sympathetic innocents, say an international criminal and a trigger happy drunk holding an asthmatic child, an old man and a lady doctor at gunpoint? No? Not exciting enough? Well, what if there was a Black Mamba loose on the premises? What about that?  Yep, now you're interested...

'Venom' is really stupid. But as really stupid films go, it's a corker. I needn't go into how the deadliest snake in the world was given to a small child by accident, or how that very snake gets loose in a house and inadvertantly becomes a key character in a foiled kidnapping attempt, so let's just say that it happens and move on. I also won't go into why the house in question, a large Georgian terrace, was thoughtfully built 250 years ago with a massive stainless steel air conditioning system for the venomous killer to slither around in.

What I have to say, however, is that this film has one of the most eclectic and downright bloody dangerous casts ever assembled: Oliver Reed, Klaus Kinski, Nicol Williamson, Sarah Miles and Sterling Hayden - a collection of unreliable nutters, troublemakers, malcontents, free spirits, drunks and degenerates that shouldn't even be able to co-exist in the same small space in the universe. The insurance premiums must have been through the roof. Shame Brando wasn't available.

Throw in Susan George as a scheming maid who gets her kit off in minutes and then turns dying from a snake bite into something wanton and erotic and you have half a dozen reasons for watching, and that's before you even get to the quite amazing finale where an out of control Kinski grapples frantically with a rubber snake, trying to blow the synthetic serpent's head off as he himself is shot repeatedly by Police snipers. It's like something out of a Norman Wisdom film. That one with the guns and the snakes.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that Ollie Reed gets bitten on the bollocks. That's one brave hisser. Mr. Reed also suffers the indignity of a really nondescript credit, and I say that as someone who (much like everyone else) has several mates called Dave.



Friday, 22 February 2013

The Devil At Longleat

‘Blue Blood’ is a bit like Pinter's ‘The Servant’ in its tale of a man overcoming his master, but with added sex, drugs and satanic ritual. Yes, it does sound good, doesn’t it?
Derek Jacobi plays Lord Gregory, an enormously rich nobleman living in a huge stately home in the country. The selfish and spoiled Lord does very little during the day apart from painting erotic murals but, in the evenings, he throws lavish parties and sleeps with as many women as he can. In true feudal style, he keeps a retinue of ladies onsite to provide him with sons although, rather dopily, as he is married, very few of the kids can count as legitimate heirs. He obviously  just likes having his peerage polished.
Behind every decadent Lord there is a psychotic, jealous servant with a big moustache, and here that role is played by force of nature Oliver Reed as head servant, Tom. Tom knows he is a better, stronger, more powerful and more deserving man than his master, and has decided to take the house, the possessions, the wife, the ‘wifelets’ and the life and freedom that Gregory takes for granted away from him, and Tom has no qualms whatsoever in achieving his goal.
I like Oliver Reed a lot, but he’s not at his best in this film. He has the dark, glowering physical presence required, of course, and he delivers some key speeches brilliantly, but he saddles himself with an exaggeratedly working class accent which makes his character sound ridiculous and comedic rather than manipulative and menacing and fatally damages what he’s trying to achieve. Director Andrew Sinclair should have told him but then he may very well have been scared to broach the subject lest Ollie go mental and start flashing his tattooed cock.   
An uneven, sometimes queasily psychedelic film, the production benefits enormously by being filmed at Longleat House, the ancestral seat of the Marquis of Bath, a place of opulence and isolation, a real place with the feel of a fantasy. The Marquis’ son and heir, Alexander Thynn, wrote the book the film is based on, and also serves as the model for the promiscuous but slightly pathetic Lord Gregory. Thynn inherited the title (and the house and safari park) in 1992, becoming known as ‘The Loins Of Longleat’ in the tabloids for his interesting love life and unconventional lifestyle - although, as far as I know, this did not include employing a mad, bullying butler. Oh well, his loss.

Blue Blood


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

This Is The Basic Idea

A short but chilling picture from 1972, in which the zenith of human progress apparently equates to a travelling salesman checking in to an anonymous motel, walking past a group of silent people in a fish bowl type restaurant, then entering a tiny room, throwing his briefcase onto the orange banquette and, totally ignoring the three channel telly, starting his nightly routine of getting very pissed, completely alone, before tearfully phoning his estranged wife or trying to have a wank.

He'll regret it in the morning, especially when he realises he's been sick into the electric trouser press.