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Reelin’ In the Years 96: RIP Alvin Stardust

A few days ago it was Raphael Ravenscroft, now Alvin Stardust. In the words of another 70s song, “They’re dropping down like flies, man.”

I don’t remember Alvin Stardust’s first pop incarnation. (Apparently on his comeback, Tony Blackburn – who has a running joke with Graham Norton that he still hasn’t been arrested – bumped into him backstage on Top of the Pops one week and said to him, “Didn’t you used to be Shane Fenton?) I’d heard the name but couldn’t put a tune or face to it.

I do, though, remember the 1970s records and leather clad appearances on TV – complete with outrageous size ring worn outside his glove – and thought he was rather sending up the rock hard man schtick.

I haven’t opted for either of his two big hits, Jealous Mind nor My Coo Ca Choo, though.

Alvin Stardust: Red Dress

Bernard William Jewry – aka Shane Fenton; aka Alvin Stardust. 27/9/1942 – 23/10/2014. So it goes.

Reelin’ In the Years 95: RIP Raphael Ravenscroft – Baker Street

Sad to hear that the man who really played the signature saxophone solo of the 1970s, Raphael Ravenscroft, has died.

Apparently he wasn’t satisfied with his famous contribution to Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street. “I’m irritated because it’s out of tune,” he said. “Yeah, it’s flat. By enough of a degree that it irritates me at best.”

Judge for yourselves.

Gerry Rafferty: Baker Street

Raphael Ravenscroft, 4/6/1954 – 19/10/2014. So it goes.

Oscar Pistorius

At time of writing I do not know what sentence Oscar Pistorius has received for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. (My personal view is that only custody for a reasonably lengthy time would be sufficient punishment.)

My main bugbear though is the nature of his defence.

As I understand it he pleaded not guilty on the grounds that he thought he was shooting at a burglar.

So his defence against murder is that he was deliberately shooting someone?

How does that work?

Is it a tenet of South African law that you can freely shoot burglars? That notion strikes me as bizarre.

Glenn Cornick

I just read today of the death of Glenn Cornick, first bassist for Jethro Tull. This was at the time when the band had a very bluesy sound.

At first I thought of marking his passing with Driving Song, the B-side of the Living in the Past single, but its last line isn’t very appropriate in this context.

Instead I’ve chosen Tull’s first – albeit minor – hit.

Love Story was the first time I’d heard Tull – it wasn’t till a few years later and the Living in the Past compilation LP that I realised there had been two singles before this; their first was credited erroneously as by Jethro Toe!

Jethro Tull: Love Story

Glenn Douglas Barnard Cornick: 23/4/1947 – 28/8/2014. So it goes.

Tim Whalen

I have just seen on the club website the news of Tim Whalen’s death.

Though I do not recall seeing him play I’m sure I must have done as a little boy. I well remember his playing comtemporaries Hughie Gallacher, Tommy Govan and Andy Jardine though their stays at the club lasted beyond Tim’s.

Whatever, my father used to mention Tim in reverent terms and he is widely regarded as one of the club’s greats.

Tim Whalen. So it goes.

Another Anniversary

Barely a month after the hundredth anniversary of Great Britain’s entry into what became known as The Great War, today is the seventy-fifth anniversary of the similar joining (more a sidling in than any sort of assertive entrance) of what would grow into the turmoil that overshadowed not only the lives of its participants but also the childhoods of the generation born just after it, my generation; to wit the Second World War – an altogether more vicious, horrific and all-encompasing meat-grinder than its earlier counterpart, despite the perceptions of the two conflicts in this country.

I noted its seventieth anniversary five years ago. Five years gone in a flash.

The war was later described as six years of utter boredom punctuated by ten minutes of sheer terror. That would be a British perspective. I think the Great Patriotic War as fought in the Soviet Union was pretty much sheer terror all the way. The soldiers there would have considered World War 1 trenches a doddle by comparison.

My father was in the Territorial Army and so was called up immediately and travelled into France, without benefit of passport, and Belgium on the end of the Phoney War. Like the rest of the BEF he was soon back in France again (briefly, before being evacuated at Dunkirk) after at one point being a field away from an oncoming German tank. In later 1940 he spent days jumping off a ship into the North Sea in what was apparently a ruse to con the Germans into thinking we were going to invade Europe that year. (I doubt it worked.)

He re-entered Europe some time after D-Day (again without benefit of passport) spending the winter of 1944-5 in Holland but never actually saw action. I was perhaps lucky there. If he had he might have been killed in which case I could not have been born. A sobering thought.

He finally obtained a passport in the 1980s.

This Year’s Hugo Awards

These were announced at the SF Worldcon in London.

(I know I really ought to have gone but it was in Docklands rather than London proper and I don’t even like London much. Perhaps I’m tired of life.)

The winners for fiction were:-

Best novel: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Best novella: Equoid by Charles Stross

Best novelette: The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Best short story: The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu

Of these I’ve read only the novel winner but congratulations to all.

Busy, Busy

I’ve been busy on and off and haven’t had much time for blogging.

Bête  cover

I’m not mentioning Saturday’s result, I’m too depressed. Just as well I didn’t make the trip. I feel I ought to turn up at Easter Road for the League Cup game though.

My latest Interzone review book has arrived. It’s Adam Roberts’s latest, Bête. (It’s not that long ago I read his Jack Glass.) The review will appear in issue 255.

I think I forgot to mention issue 253 had come out.* That one has my review of Kieran Shea’s Koko Takes a Holiday.

*Edited to add. My memory is mince. I did mention it, when I reviewed the fiction in issue 250.

Lauren Bacall

And so now it’s Lauren Bacall.

She was the good lady’s favourite actress, but then again Humphrey Bogart was the good lady’s favourite actor. (Childhood weekends spent watching on TV old black and white films which her father could remember from the first time around.)

Bacall probably had one of the most intriguing entrances to a film career of any actress in that scene from To Have and Have Not. In many ways it was only downhill from there.

Still; she had a long life.

Lauren Bacall (Betty Joan Perske):- 16/9/1924 – August 12/8/2014. So it goes.

Robin Williams

I was so sad to hear of the death of Robin Williams.

I first remember him from, of course, the US TV series Mork and Mindy where Williams played Mork, an alien sent to Earth from the planet Ork in order to observe its customs. He reported back to his superior, Orson, at the end of each episode which allowed fun to be poked at our human peculiarities. The programme wasn’t SF, it just borrowed one of the tropes for comedy purposes. His manicness was apparent even then. He blazed through that show like a meteor.

The first film I saw him in was The World According to Garp, where his serious acting talents were displayed. In Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs Doubtfire he showed a talent for acting in all its variety. By the mid nineties though I had pretty much stopped going to see films nor did I have time to watch them on TV so I haven’t seen much else of his.

He brought a lot of joy with his comedic abilities. It’s regrettable that gifts such as his so often come with a downside. A downside that seems to have cost him his life. So it goes.

Mork signs off.

Robin McLaurin Williams: 21/7/1951 – 11/8/2014. Na-Nu Na-Nu.

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