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Reelin’ In the Years 78: El Doomo

I remember hearing this on the radio in the 1970s and thinking it was very different indeed from the stuff Ellis produced when he was with Love Affair, but I don’t think I ever caught its title. I’m not even sure I realised at the time that Ellis was a band name. I recognised it straight away when listening to last Sunday’s Sounds of the Seventies on the iPlayer.

This is about as far from Bringing on Back the Good Times as you can get.

Ellis: El Doomo

Scottish Avenue, Empire Exhibition 1938

Another Brian Gerald drawn art postcard from the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, 1938. This time of the Scottish Avenue. It shows both Scottish Pavilions (the ones with the towers) and the BBC Pavilion in the foreground. At the other end of the avenue is the Palace of Arts, the only building from the Exhibition still standing in Bellahouston Park.

Just Like Buses

Today is another anniversary. Again just about inescapable if you’ve been near any BBC outlet the past week or so.

You wait 50 years for an anniversary and then two come along at once….

On 23rd November 1963 a strange, spooky TV programme with a first episode entitled An Unearthly Child appeared on BBC 1.

The programme was of course Doctor Who.

On Thu, 21/11/13, BBC 2 showed a good drama about its genesis, An Adventure in Space and Time. It’s on the iPlayer here.

The BBC has got a bit of a cheek calling it the longest running TV programme, though, considering they axed it for years after Sylvester McCoy’s run finished – apart from the Paul McGann one-off.

For any nostalgia freaks here are all the different title sequences.

BBC Bias

I see Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has been sniping at the BBC.

Well, sniping isn’t quite the word. Threatening would be nearer the mark.

If you recall before the last General Election I predicted this sort of thing would happen if the Tories were to win office. The only surprise is it’s taken this long for them to get round to it. Too busy demonising the unemployed and telling lies about the mess they inherited (the UK economy was growing in May 2010 when they took over. They immediately set that into spectacular reverse.)

In any case what have they to complain about? I rarely hear much criticism of the government or its policies on the BBC news. It might not be 100% suppportive. But it’s not supposed to be.

I read over the weekend that during the last government Gordon Brown was seen on the BBC twice as much as David Cameron – aka Mr Irresponsible. At the moment it’s four appearances for Cameron against every one for Ed Miliband. As I remember a similar ratio applied during John Major’s time as PM. (Now there’s the return of the undead.)

Whenever there’s a Tory government the letters BBC might as well stand for Bend over Backwards to the Conservatives.

Joining the Wildest Side

Lou Reed has died.

Member of The Velvet Underground (of whom it was said that not many people bought their records but everyone who did rushed out immediately and formed a band) and inspirer of David Bowie plus countless others.

He became well-known in the UK due to the song Walk on the Wild Side becoming a hit. Much, much later Perfect Day was turned into a magnificent BBC promo video.

I suspect everyone will be posting one or other of the above two tracks so here’s another of his better known songs.

Lou Reed: Satellite of Love

Lewis Allan “Lou” Reed:- 2/3/1942 – 7/10/2013. So it goes.


One of the mysteries – to me at any rate – of the dispute between management and workers at Grangemouth petrochemical complex is that the company that owns it, INEOS, says it is losing £10 million a month there.

The workers are faced with signing up to significantly reduced terms and conditions or the prospect of redundancy.

But…… Losing £10 million a month running an oil complex? One, moreover, that is capable of supplying all the petrol stations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and much of the North of England?

What sort of mismanagement led to this situation? How can anyone in this day and age not make money from owning an oil refinery and its associated petrochemical works?

On Reporting Scotland tonight a glimmer of an answer appeared.

It seems INEOS has been expanding rapidly. We were told – in passing – its owner Jim Ratcliffe has incurred debt in doing so even though otherwise he appears to be doing all right.

Reading between the lines it seems he wants to make the workers at Grangemouth pay for it.

The most disturbing thing about this whole rigmarole is that little mention has been made of this aspect up to now. Politicians and the media have been shying clear of criticism of the company’s conduct. Serious questions ought to be asked of the company and politicians – UK wide. I doubt the Scottish Government has much real clout in a situation like this. I’m not holding my breath for the UK coalition to do anything about it though.

But still.

Is Jim Ratcliffe a fit and proper person to be in charge of any commercial enterprise? Have the losses been built up deliberately to engineer a diminution of workers’ conditions and pay?

How on Earth was such a chancer allowed to get anywhere near control of Scotland’s largest industrial asset?

The whole thing stinks.

Poppy Watch 2013

First spotting of the season, BBC Scotland News on Friday 18/10/13. Just shy of one week less than a month before Armistice Day.

At the SNP Conference, Alex Salmond addressing the devotees – complete with poppy.

The next news item featured a farmer or something (he was in the great outdoors, whatever) who sported a poppy in his lapel. I wonder if the BBC supplied it to him.

Curiously the presenters in the studio were sans poppies. Give it time.


I spotted the sentence below on the BBC’s page about the Scottish Cup 3rd round draw (my emphasis):-

“Two Lowland Football League teams who came close to knocking shocking senior teams on their own patch on Saturday have been given away ties.”

It seems the BBC thinks Queen’s Park and Stirling Albion are shocking.

Who am I to argue?

The People’s Pick and John Henry Lorimer

Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery has a very good collection of paintings, many of them donated by Michael Portillo’s grandfather on his mother’s side, John W Blyth (his father was a Republican refugee from the Spanish Civil War.)

The Gallery’s pictures include quite a few by the Scottish Colourists particularly S J Peploe but also J D Fergusson, the wonderfully named Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell and Leslie Hunter. These counterpart earlier paintings by William MacTaggart and later ones including some by the mysteriously popular Jack Vettriano (sub-Hopper cartoonish efforts though they may be.)

My favourite however has always been Spring Moonlight by John Henry Lorimer, painted in 1896.

Spring Moonlight John Henry Lorimer

The above is not a very good reproduction; it doesn’t reflect the quality of his depiction of light. Lorimer’s faces aren’t the best but he captures the swirl of the woman’s gown very well and in the flesh so to speak you could swear that the canvas contains two yellow sources of illumination emanating from the table lamps. It is a startling effect and the artist’s style is distinctive – even if it doesn’t come through so strongly in his portraits. On visiting Kellie Castle last summer I immediately recognised the painting below as being by the same hand.

Sunlight in the South Room John Henry Lorimer

Both pictures from BBC Your Paintings

The Museum and Art Gallery reopened in June after refurbishment. Its first exhibition was The People’s Pick – paintings from the collection as voted for by readers of the local newspaper The Fife Free Press.

When I was going round I was dreading the revelation of the most popular painting fearing it might be a Vettriano.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered No. 1. was….

Spring Moonlight by John Henry Lorimer!

My taste in art is obviously less highbrow than I might have hoped.

Friday On My Mind 86: The Flashing Blade

I’m changing the arbitrary rules on this category again with this one.

The Flashing Blade was a French TV serial (Le Chevalier Tempête) set in the 1630s during the War of the Mantuan Succession which the BBC broadcast in children’s slots in the late 60s, repeating it several times ending in the 70s.

It was dubbed into English – somewhat atrociously, which added to its charm.

The thing is, though, it was curiously watchable and benefited from a catchy theme tune which had driving guitars and drums similar to Joe Meek productions of the early 60s.

I can’t remember much more about it but this website claims the final episode was never dubbed into English.

According to Wikipedia the theme song was called Fight and was released as a single by “The Musketeers” in 1969.

The Flashing Blade theme tune

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