Advent 19: Mummers, Wassailers and Yulesingers

Blessing the orchard at Manor Farm Country Park, Southampton
Blessing the orchard at Manor Farm Country Park, Southampton

Wassailing, an ancient custom from Saxon times to give blessings of good health over the twelve days of Christmas, is making something of a come-back.

Traditionally, livestock, crops and farm machinery were blessed as well as people. Blessings were taken from door to door. In Scotland and the North of England this is known as First Footing in the New Year.  The Lord of the Manor would give food (figgy pudding) and drink to peasants who worked on his estate in exchange for their blessing and goodwill.

Toasting the apple tree in the literal sense
Toasting the apple tree in the literal sense

P1130610This was the forerunner of carolling – considered too rowdy to be done in church and also the forerunner of trick-or-treating in America, as Halloween was the original New Year’s Eve in the Celtic calendar.

“Love and joy come to you,

And to you your wassail too;

And God bless you and send you

a Happy New Year”

Another example of a carol originating from wassail is “We wish you a Merry Christmas” (see Advent 15)

In the Southern shires of England – apple wassail blessings were to ensure a good crop for cider, especially in Kent which produces the best apples for commercial cider, and in the south-west for Scrumpy.   English writer Thomas Hardy wrote about wassailing in his books and short stories set in Dorset ensuring that the custom has never died out there. The proceedings for apple wassailing are led by a Wassail King through the orchard, toasting trees and pouring cider on the roots:


p1100943 Hampshire Wassail Rhyme:

Stand fast root, bear well top.

Pray God send us a good howling crop

Every twig, apples big. Every bough, apples enow.

Hats full, caps full, Tall quarter, sacks full.

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Cider is drunk, songs are sung and drums, sticks, rattles and bells are beaten to drive away bad spirits and encourage the trees to give a good harvest.

Mummers play with St George and Olde Father Christmas
Mummers play with St George and Olde Father Christmas

Mummers plays, about the Good fighting off Evil, are often performed at apple wassails too. These were known throughout the UK and Ireland and were even taken to Newfoundland with The Pilgrim Fathers. Though kept in much of Wales, the festivals elsewhere gave way to Morris dancing in England, sword dancing in Scotland and pantomime (see Advent 8) just about everywhere. Raggedy characters (literally in costumes made from rags) introduce themselves in rhyming couplets:

Policeman Plod: ‘Ello, ‘ello, ello. In comes I, Policeman Plod.

Jack the Sniffer: You’ll never catch me you silly old sod. (He exits)

Betty Bertha: He’s gone off and scarpered all hurt and affronted 

You’ve poked your nose in where it’s not wanted.

Mummer-characters have been Christian crusaders versus Moors, St George (Prince George or King George) and the Dragon, Beelzebub, Dracula, Robin Hood and the Sherif. But secondary characters kept in these plays included Olde Father Christmas and The Fool. These were obviously continued in our pantomimes.

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Dipping toast in the wassail bowl to put on apple tree branches at Manor Farm

Wassail also refers to the spiced-cider punch in the wassail-bowl. There are many recipes, which you can find online, but I use beer (left-over and flat) along with fizzy cider and a small cup of brandy in a slow-cooker. Throw in some brown sugar, the juice and rind of a clementine or two, a squirt of lemon, some apples quartered (pips & stalk removed) and Christmas spices such as ginger, cloves, cardamom and a few sticks of cinnamon. It makes the house smell lovely and is a warm welcome for guests coming in from the cold.

All photos © Southampton Old Lady

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Advent 18: The Royals

royal-jumpers

At 3pm on Christmas Day each year, the majority of British citizens switch on BBC TV to listen to The Queen’s Speech.

There will be clips of the Royals and what they did throughout the year; as well as a topic which will be the focal point of what the Nation will focus on in the coming year. This could be an emphasis on: older people who live on their own, disabled veteran servicemen and women, war and our defences, unity of faiths, what is a Christian? etc.

However the speech is really commissioned by the Prime Minister for the Government of the day. People watch The Queen intensely to see if there is a flicker of approval or disapproval in her manner while delivering the words.

For instance, in her last speech at the re-opening of Parliament in May 2016, it was virtually a list from Cameron’s Conservative Party manifesto and The Queen looked very miserable. She just looked down and read it off the paper: “Proposals will be brought forward for a British Bill of Rights. My ministers will uphold the sovereignty of Parliament and the primacy of the House of Commons…”

The programme ends with a rousing anthem of God Save The Queen and though I know of many who will be crashed out and snoring on the sofa by this time on the 25th of December, there will be others standing up and raising their glasses.

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Santa took this selfie but where did he go?  The Royals as depicted by Madame Tussauds waxworks in London

 

Goodwood Revival 2016

 

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Bubble car at parking meter outside reconstructed Piccadilly Circus

Like being on a giant film set

The first ever car-race took place at Goodwood race track 75 years ago. For the last 20 years there has also been a Revival, where vintage cars or bikes, race (and sometimes crash). There is a strict dress code for spectators; They must dress in vintage or authentic-looking retro clothing from the 40s, 50s or 60s. Goodwood also employs a number of actors and entertainers who take on characters from those eras.

For a few hours work each morning, I was able to enjoy myself for the rest of the day and take snaps. More people belong to drama groups in Britain than they do football clubs, so it is not surprising that so many make an effort to look the part. But visitors come from all over Europe and the Commonwealth.

The Sixties       (Click on photos to enlarge and read captions)

Each year there is a highlighted theme. This year because it was the 50th anniversary of the England football team winning the World Cup, it was England verses Germany 1966.

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Join in a kick-about with the 1966 England Team reconstruction
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Family day out
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We’re going to Wembley

 

Part of the grounds had a reconstructed football pitch where spectators could join the likes of ‘Bobby Moore’ in a knock-about. There was a parade around the track of traffic on their way to Wembley Stadium, which showed off owners cars that would have been around in 1966. The vehicles included vintage: police cars, milk carts, motorbikes, Mini and Bubble cars, Bentleys, Daffodils, Fords, Hillmans, Jaguars, Rolls, Sunbeams, Triumphs, Vauxhalls, plenty of public transport buses and coaches as well as Germans in Volkswagens.

 

The Fifties

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Dancing in the rain – we are use bad weather at some point during any British festival
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family fun fair
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Go roller skating courtesy of Butlins

The Forties

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Our North American allies and barbershop quartet
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Goodwood invites Veterans raising funds and awareness of D-Day
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There are vintage air displays from Goodwood Airfield. Everything from Dakotas to Lancaster Bombers

Beer tents are a must at British festivals – especially when it rains

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Heading for the Doom Bar beer tent
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Beer tents are always friendly
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Come step back in time
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stand-up atmosphere
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or you might be lucky to find a comfy chair
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There are a quite a few pub tents
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and gin bars
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Vintage cars are on sale
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One could almost forget that the main event is the racing
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Jackie Stewart (in the cap) Stirling Moss and many other first class drivers and celebrities race each year

 

Copyright © Southampton Old Lady. If you would like to use any of my photographs please consult me first.  If your stand or you yourself are in any of my photographs feel free to use them however you wish. Goodwood Actors Guild Members also have my permission to use any of these photos or add links for their profile purposes. Please credit: http://www.southamptonoldlady.wordpress.com wherever possible.  Thank you

 

We are here..

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WWI soldiers at IKEA Southampton posted on twitter and facebook with the hashtag “WeAreHere”

Today a number of young men in WWI uniforms walked about the town centre in Southampton. If approached, each soldier handed out a calling card with a name of a local solider who had died on the Somme in 1916.

I was moved to tears by this powerful piece of performance art of ‘soldier ghosts’. It was organised by the 1418 Now group using hundreds of volunteer actors in shopping centres and stations all over Britain, to mark the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

We will remember them.

For more click here

Europe – Brundecided

Should we remain in the EU?  Should we leave Eurovision?  Will we be kicked out of the Euros?

Daily Mail Euros Wallchart
Daily Mail Euros Wallchart

Europe is dominating the British media at the moment. If it is not The Euros (European football) its debate about a crucial vote on 23rd of June, as to whether Britain should exit the European Union (EU) branded as Brexit, or whether to remain (Bremain).

brexit-jigsaw-750x320I am a person who usually decides on things quickly, but this vote has me bench-crossing frequently. The Media predicts that we are split 50-50 on this decision. And there are advocates for and against, across the political spectrum.

I lived in other European countries for 18 years of my life and took full interest in the politics of the country I was in and voted where I could. I have voted for my MEP regularly from the beginning even when the majority of British never bothered.

The main problem, as I see it, is that Britain has never taken the EU seriously, putting it on par with Eurovision. Britain has taken part in Eurovision since the late 50s. It later became obvious that the winners were not those with the greatest talent, but those with the most political clout, voted for by neighbouring partners.

While most countries send their best performers to Eurovision, Britain, after feeling let down, started sending unknown singers or our once-good, but now has-beens. Any talented British act would lose kudos if they took part: you wouldn’t catch The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Adele… going anywhere near.

Similarly with the EU, and to our great expense, we have left it to fringe MEPs (Members of European Parliament) to make decisions for us. Many did not even bother to turn up in the beginning. Embarrassingly anti-EU MEPs such as Nigel Farage (enigmatic speaker and far-right-winger) got voted in and used luxury Cunard cruise-liners (he brush passed me to board so I know) to travel to Brussels meetings and verbally insult ‘Beaurocrats’.

EU flags

As the EU has grown, encompassing many more countries that we didn’t sign up for – (Just like Eurovision – since when has Australia been in Europe?) more economic demands have been made of Britain. With increasing numbers of EU immigrants arriving daily on our small island, especially in the South East and Europe’s borders straining with refugees and economic migrants, plus suicide-bombers blasting-off worldwide – now everyone is sitting up and is being forced to make decisions.

I have seen, in person, how the division between the rich and poor is growing wider throughout Europe. Those heading the top of the EU political committees, being wealthy bankers, do not need to be elected. So if you don’t like what they are doing you cannot vote them out. This is my main worry with the EU. (Unfairly, even in Eurovision those countries who put up the most money automatically get to the finals, although this doesn’t automatically make them winners).

I believe in Democracy and do not want to become some sort of United Colors of Benetton that could easily be taken over in the near future by gangsters in a type of Mafia (I share exit thoughts here with left-winger, the late Tony Benn).

Since WW2, Churchill (a Conservative that I agree with here) felt that there should be a United Europe, especially with regard to defence and security. But is this EU working towards this aspect?

In India everything stops for tea.
In India everything stops for tea.

If we had taken the EU seriously at the beginning, it might today, have been something that we feel proud of.

As it stands now, I feel that we share more similarities with Commonwealth countries like Canada than we do with, say, Italy.  Commonwealth countries who we have historically traded with from India to Australia, not only share our similar views on democracy but share English as their common language. The World Wide Web (thanks Tim Berners Lee) has made it easier to communicate and the world is, metaphorically, shrinking.

On the other hand, most of the EU’s ‘green’ ruling that British politicians have dismissed as ‘beauracracy’ I am supportive of.  Because of these rules, Britain is leading the development of a communal ‘Big Science’ and we are producing alternative energy sources, our carbon omissions are down, our seas are cleaner, we recycle, we have more freedom, we are striving for equality of people and an end to repression of peoples because of their race, religion or sexuality.

Conchita Wurst - winner for Austria of Eurovision 2015
Conchita Wurst – winner for Austria of Eurovision 2015

I also loved the fact that Conchita Wurst won last year’s Eurovision for Austria and quite enjoyed Croatia’s song this year. If you don’t regard any of those wins as political then think again!

My dilemma now is: Is it better to REMAIN and hope that Britain will work within to strive for change, or is it too late?  Versus:  If Britain decides to LEAVE to keep our identity, will we come out of the frying pan and into the fire? What extreme unsaid right-wing policies might be implemented if we do?

So are there any others out there still undecided?

I welcome any comments or debate – but please don’t be rude!

Shakespeare 400 & Southampton

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,

Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:

Follow your spirit, and upon this charge

Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

Minature of Henry Wriothesley 3rd Earl of Southampton
Miniature of Henry Wriothesley 3rd Earl of Southampton

 

I love Shakespeare. Throughout the year Britain is celebrating Shakespeare 400.

Shakespeare died on his birthday, 23rd April 400 years ago. This is also St George’s Day (patron Saint of England). So this weekend there are special celebrations throughout the regions. I am going to many and thought I would highlight Shakespeare and his Southampton connections:

The Earl of Southampton

Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton was Shakespeare’s patron, especially during the era of The Globe theatre. Shakespeare made such a devoted dedication in his sonnet The Rape of Lucrece to Wriothesley, that many thought that there may have been a sexual relationship between the two, though I like others feel that is was just the language of the day.

Tudor Merchants Hall, which was once The Bull's Head. Although Shakespeare's patron The Earl of Southampton, had his seat outside the town, in Titchfield, he attended state functions in the town and is said to have drank here with some of the touring actors.
Tudor Merchants Hall, which was once The Bull’s Head. Although Shakespeare’s patron The Earl of Southampton, had his seat outside the town, in Titchfield, he attended state functions in the town and is said to have frequented this lodging house with touring actors.

Red Lion 1The Earl’s country seat was outside of the town of Southampton, but still in Hampshire, in Titchfield. Although his wife lived there, Henry Wriothesley spent much of his time in London, as did Shakespeare.

The Earl is also believed to have frequented or owned a pub in Southampton’s City Centre where travelling actors lodged. Some say this was The Bull’s Head (now referred to as The Tudor Merchant’s House); others say it was The Red Lion Inn. It was a council chamber where the trial of traitors from The Southampton Plot took place before it became an inn. In Henry V Act II, scene II, Shakespeare has the king sentence the plotters in the Southampton council chamber, then immediately set sail from the port of Southampton for Agincourt. Shakespeare must have listened to the Earl mention the Red Lion or some believe that Shakespeare may have had a drink there himself.

Southampton’s Bargate

Southampton Bargate front view.
Southampton Bargate
Bargate touring strollers area
Bargate touring strollers area

Shakespearean actors have performed at the Bargate and in theatres around the town since Elizabethan times, including Shakespeare’s own touring actors. Every British monarch has passed through this Bargate on their way to Southampton’s Port. Hangings once took place at the Bargate and according to legend The Southampton Plot traitors, that were written about in Henry V Act II, scene II, were hanged here.

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Westgate, where Henry V troops left for Southampton's Port to the Battle of Agincourt
Westgate, where Henry V troops left for Southampton’s Port to the Battle of Agincourt

 

Southampton’s West Gate and Port

The soldiers who boarded ships at Southampton for the D-Day invasion, took inspiration from Shakespeare’s Henry V. Some of Henry V troops passed through Southampton’s West Gate to set sail from Southampton to the Battle of Agincourt.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; 

Or close the wall up with our English dead.

Daring Theatre in Southampton

Ira Aldridge, the first black world famous Shakespearean actor performed in Southampton
Ira Aldridge, the first black world famous Shakespearean actor performed in Southampton

Southampton has a long reputation for modern or innovative theatre, Ira Aldridge is recorded as the first black Shakespearean actor. He had a limited experience of acting when he arrived from New York by ship, on which he worked as crew, in 1824. But following drama lessons and a stint at a University in Scotland, he became one of the highest paid stage actors in the world.

Sarah Siddons as Lady Macbeth
Sarah Siddons as Lady Macbeth

Ira was especially loved here in the South. He performed on stage in Southampton in the title role of Shakespeare’s Othello in 1828.

Many actresses, such as Sarah Siddons (she frequently visited Southampton and there is a theatre group named after her here: http://www.sarahsiddonsfanclub.org ) and sisters Charlotte and Susan Cushman have said to have performed Shakespearean roles in Southampton in the late 1800s. Women were considered too titillating to be allowed to perform Shakespeare at London theatres at that time and certainly would not have been allowed male roles.

The Cushman sisters, Charlotte and Susan, as Romeo and Juliet in 1846
The Cushman sisters, Charlotte and Susan, as Romeo and Juliet in 1846

Quotes used are from Henry V Act III Scene 1 (Before Harfleur)

Further links: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2NKzPstNLT9cvcYMj9qdtT3/shakespeare-and-hampshire-where-his-footprints-are-lost-in-time

 

Happy Easter

chocolate factory in Austria © 2016 Southampton Old Lady
chocolate factory in Austria © 2016 Southampton Old Lady

Most Brits are such Pagans at heart. We look forward to our spring holiday. To us Easter is all about chocolate eggs, symbolising fertility. Birthing and the spring equinox, with images of lambs, chicks and rabbits. It has been a happy occasion since it was brought to us by the Germanic peoples and their worship of the Goddess Ēastre.

It was the same when I lived in Cyprus. Painted eggs decorated by children and happy picnics with lamb kleftiko and freshly baked flounes.

Flounes from a hot clay oven in Cyprus.
Flounes from a hot clay oven in Cyprus.

When I lived to Portugal though, I thought I was being clever when I said: “Feliz Pascoa” to some Portuguese friends. They were shocked!  I had said Happy Easter okay, but to most people in Roman Catholic Europe, Easter is certainly not a happy time.

“Our Lord died this day – what is happy about it?”  I was taken along to mass with a long dirge of a procession and realised that this was more like our Remembrance Sunday.

When I moved to Andalusia in Spain, it was even more sad, with religious brotherhoods in tall peak hoods carrying heavy statues of Christ in agony on the cross (this is where the Klux Klan got the idea for their brotherhood).

Spanish tourism photo
Spanish tourism photo

I follow a wordpress blog called “Wandering Wives”. The two British women explained that they went to a Remembrance Day service in a small French village and it was a happy occasion there – it was in honour of the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and that meant “Liberation!”

So it occurred to me, that there are certain times of the year, usually around equinox and solstices where we all get spiritual – sometimes in celebration and sometimes in commemoration, but that these vary according to climate, country and culture.

So Peace to all – and may your god or goddess go with you

Amazing People Nº4: Julia Hilling (1925-ish – 2015)

Julia Hilling, one of my most charming friends died last August.

Her stage name was Julia Bretton. She began her career at the age of 17 as a Windmill Girl at London’s Windmill Theatre.

The Windmill was known worldwide as the theatre that “never closed” or should that be “never clothed”?  Scantily-clad beauties performed in this basement theatre throughout WWII to keep up the morale of allies and locals alike. It was seen as an important beacon to keep spirits alight during a frightening time and always remained open while bombs dropped.

It was the subject of the award winning film “Mrs Henderson Presents” starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins, and is currently being staged as a musical at the Nöel Coward Theatre in London’s West End.

Promotional photo for "Mrs Henderson Presents" at the Noel Coward Theatre, London
Promotional photo for “Mrs Henderson Presents” at the Noel Coward Theatre, London

julia windmill

Julia explained to me how, with the other ‘girls’ she slept at the theatre in their dressing room while performing in revues alongside people like Sir Bruce Forsyth. “We were well looked after and any men backstage behaved very gentlemanly”.

As well as starring in other staged musicals as Julia Bretton, she had minor roles in films (talkies) in the1940s.

She outlived five husbands – all of whom were, “absolutely wonderful! – “I loved them all!”  One of whom is buried in a cemetery in the New Forest, Hampshire, but she could never remember whether it was in Lymington or Lyndhurst.

Julia 4I first met her when I called auditions in the mid-90s. She had retired to live in Spain and I was directing The Sleeping Beauty, a pantomime I had drafted for the Salon Variétes theatre in Fuengirola. Julia was having problems remembering lines and moving around the stage by that time, but she had such audience charisma and was so regal that I gave her the part as the Queen, sat her on a throne and taped her lines to props. She was marvellous and even brought her own little Spanish hairdresser to tidy up her locks while she was off-stage.

Although much older than me, we remained friends as we both had a love of opera and Cole Porter. She did a wonderful rendition of “Mad About the Boy” and she belly-danced at my 50th birthday party. When theatre crowds are renowned to be bitchy, no-one I know has ever heard Julia utter a bad word about anyone.

Julia 3

In 2005 she, along with other colleagues on the Costa del Sol, was sold a dodgy, equity-release investment package by fraudulent financial advisors. After handing over the deeds to her home in return for living expenses until death, she was only given living expenses by the Rothschild bank for the first two years, then was expected to hand over her apartment. She took all this in her stride and refused to move.

This enigmatic woman deserves to be on the amazing-people-I-have-known list. She had charm, class and even well into her 80s, had sex-appeal.

 

Julia talking to Sid at the Manilla Bar, Costa del Sol 2014
Julia talking to Sid at the Manilla Bar, Costa del Sol 2014

Before I left to return to England she started dating another ‘amazing’ friend of mine called Sid – a famous Talk of the Town pianist who accompanied 1960s divas from Shirley Bassey to Julie Andrews.

Julia had a big sexual appetite apparently, and despite both being in their 80s then, Sid complained about the amount of viagra he was having to take to keep up. Sadly he also died. So she outlived him too.

My biggest memory is bumping into her in a Lidl supermarket one morning. She was wafting around with a trolley, just after opening time, wearing a cocktail dress and full make-up including false eyelashes. “Julia! Look at you –  always so glamorous”  I remarked.

“Oh! I haven’t been home yet, Darling!” She explained: “I’ve been to a party. It lasted all night!”

RIP Julia. Life is a cabaret old chum!

Netflix – The Crown

the-crown-netflixStreets are being blown up in Winchester today – not far from my city in Hampshire, as part of Netlflix/Sony filming a big-budget historical drama series called The Crown.

College Street and Kingsgate Street have all been cordoned off  except for actors costumed in 40s attire, and rubble has been placed outside The Wykeham Arms pub for the re-enactment of World War II scenes.

The Wykeham Arms

The Wykeham Pub and Cornflowers on College Street, Winchester
The Wykeham Pub and Cornflowers on College Street, Winchester

www.dailyecho.co.uk/photographs/news_galleries/2016/january/the_crown_in_winchester

I expect that Hampshire Council will well-paid for this inconvenience – at £100 million, the filming budget is said to be the most expensive television show ever produced in Britain.

My family and friends have travelled to various parts of Britain to work as extras since filming commenced last October. Despite having signed secrecy contracts, the scenes at weddings, funerals and stately homes are all over the internet. Netflix have also released a trailor on YouTube: https://youtu.be/n8Q0bJ_zO7w  More stills appear on https://youtu.be/P8fodkCDKLQ

The first two of an eventual series of six, concentrate on the Queen’s early years, her marriage to Prince Phillip, the death of King George IV, her Coronation and the Blitz. These are expected to be released all in one go this Autumn, after the last series of Downton Abbey has been aired in USA and Canada.

If the Netflix binge-watch is financially successful (and these sort of dramas have world-wide appeal) the next two series will be filmed.

The Crown’s creator is Peter Morgan (of award-winning films The Queen and Frost/Nixon). It stars Claire Foy (Anne Boleyn in the Wolf Hall series) as Princess Elizabeth, Matt Smith (Dr Who) as Prince Phillip and American actor John Lithgow as a very convincing Churchill.

UPDATE 4th NOVEMBER 2016 – The first 10 of the series is being released on Netflix tonight.

Amazing People 5: David Bowie

Everyone seems to be writing obituaries to David Bowie who, sadly, died yesterday, so I will try not to repeat anything from those. I just want to give thanks for the profound influence he had on my life. He gave me belief in myself.

Bowie with the Buzz at Southampton Pier
Bowie with the Buzz on Southampton Pier

I first heard of him around 1965 when David Bowie and the Buzz performed in Southampton. Everyone thought that this androgynous bloke who dressed a bit different was enigmatic. He had one of those distinctive voices too whereby you could still hear his London accent even though he was singing a range of things. In 1969 Bowie wrote Space Oddity in time for the first man on the moon – it had got on Top of the Pops by  1970 and at this time he was wearing ‘really weird clothes’.

I had been brought up in second-hand clothes and had always felt an outsider because of it, so I created my own style. Bowie not only made me feel okay, he made me feel cool. Suddenly I was an ‘it girl’. In the early 70s he was due to back Lou Reed on his Transformer tour at Southampton Guildhall.  Everyone rushed for tickets – mainly to see David Bowie, but I couldn’t get hold of one. I waited outside the Civic Centre and just begged others to sell me their ticket. As one woman had only really wanted to see Lou Reed, she agreed to come out for five minutes and lend me her ticket for one song if I bought her a pack of cigarettes, around 5/- or there-abouts (25p in the new decimal currency).

Bowie was dressed so theatrically – I vowed then to always do the same. The song I listened to?  Life on Mars – which I adopted as if it had been written for me.

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Bowie onboard the QE2 Southampton during his Ziggy Stardust tour
Bowie onboard the QE2 Southampton during his Ziggy Stardust tour

It’s a God awful small affair
To the girl with the mousey hair,
But her mummy is yelling, “No!”
And her daddy has told her to go,
But her friend is no where to be seen.
Now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seats with the clearest view
And she’s hooked to the silver screen,
But the film is saddenin’ bore
For she’s lived it ten times or more.
She could spit in the eyes of fools
As they ask her to focus on

Sailors
Fighting in the dance hall.
Oh man!
Look at those cavemen go.
It’s the freakiest show.
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy.
Oh man!
Wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best-selling show.
Is there Life On Mars? 

Later in the early 80s a band consisting of four blokes from Winchester, named 4 People I Have Known, asked me to write them a song. Heavily influenced by Life on Mars, I wrote a song along the lines of:

PERMISSIVE SOCIETY

Just finished with my girl
and I’m feelin’ pretty mean
Went down into town
to watch the silver screen
but its dogs eating children
(can’t remember this bit)
so I pick up someone new and leave
Permissive society, such variety
Man! Is this the only way to live?  
Embarrassing now when I look back, but DJ John Peel liked it and played it his radio show.
David Bowie played at Southampton Guildhall on two or three more tours, but as an art student I couldn’t afford the rocketing prices. I did get all of his albums though and happily moved along all the trends from Glam Rock to Punk to New Romantics with all the glamour and creativity that dressing up and escaping poverty could bring.
Click on this link to hear the Southampton Ukulele Jam session of Ground Control to Major Tom at The Last Night at The Brook 
R.I.P Darkstar