Sunday, 25 February 2018

London Belongs to Me, The Passing of the Third Floor Back, Tiger in the Smoke - and other vintage British films perfect for a Sunday afternoon

London Belongs to Me (1948) (US title: Dulcimer Street)
Based on the Norman Collins novel of the same name, this is yet another old British movie set in a London boarding house. Worth seeing for Richard Attenborough's terrific performance...

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Corbyn's response to a request to pick his favourite Matt cartoon tells us everything we need to know about today's Labour Party

The country's funniest cartoonist, Matt Pritchett, joined the Daily Telegraph 30 years ago this week. As part of its celebrations, the Telegraph asked political leaders from the past 30 years to choose their favourite Matt cartoon (some had already bought the original drawing of a particular favourite when it was first published). Here was Jeremy Corbyn's response to the request:
What a boring, joyless, petty, mean-spirited bunch of odious little wankers. Here are a few suggestions for Corbyn and his "team":

Friday, 23 February 2018

I'm preparing to bid a tearful farewell to a dear companion - my six-year old Kindle

I asked Santa for a Kindle for Christmas 2011, because we were about to run out of space for book. To be honest, I didn't know whether I could bear to read whole books on a little grey screen, or whether the lure of owning physical copies would prove irresistible. But I simply couldn't face having to choose yet more paperbacks and hardcovers to throw out to make room for new purchases - I'd conducted numerous culls over the years, and I didn't feel up to yet another bout of bibliocide.  So I was determined to give the Kindle a proper go. Turned out I didn't need to steel myself, because - with the exception of poetry, illustrated works in general and art books in particular - I was perfectly happy to read a book on an e-reader: more than happy, in fact, because I could change the font size whenever I felt like it (I had yet to discover the joy of reading glasses), and I could download articles from the web - a real boon, as I...

Cressida Dick's brilliant idea for stopping stabbing in London...

Wow! Thank God for some fresh thinking...

20 rules to turn a budding tennis player into another Roger Federer

I'd decided not to post anything more about my sporting hero, Roger Federer, until he announced his retirement - but, strangely, that day appears to be receding further into the future with each passing month. Besides, the old boy keeps rewriting tennis history. By reaching the semi-finals of the  Rotterdam Open last week he became the oldest player in the open era to reach (or recapture) the World No. 1 spot, beating the previous holder of that record, Andre Agassi, by three years. It may be the most impressive - and the most unlikely - of all his achievements. Players well over the age of 30 have been known to win the occasional slam, as well as lesser titles - but, because...

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Let the Boogie-Woogie Roll! Clyde McPhatter, Arthur Smith, Joe Maphis, Chet Atkins, etc.

I'll start with Clyde McPhatter - one the great R&B voices of the '50s - with The Drifters, on the great R&B classics of the '50s,  the joyous "Let the Boogie Woogie Roll", 1953:
I'd always tassumed B. Bumble & The Stingers' "Bumble Boogie" (the flip-side of "Nut Rocker") was the original version of the song - but here's Freddie Martin in 1946:

Sunday, 18 February 2018

The grammatical errors that drive me mad... by the man in the grammatical glass-house (glasshouse?)

This tweet by a Conservative MP contains what is currently my least favourite mistake:
"Less" youngsters? Fewer. FewerFEWER! After all, you is like talkin bout edukashun innit? This is a bit hypocritical of me, I know (or, if you prefer, a bit Brendan Cox of me)...

Why didn't the police catch the Hammersmith Nude Murders killer?

Identikit image of the killer
In my previous post, I described some of the background to the mid-'60s Jack the Stripper West London murders, based on Robin Jarossi's intriguing book, The Hunt for the 60s Ripper. What I found particularly fascinating were the author's speculations as to why the police's vast manhunt not only failed to identify the killer, but didn't actually throw up a single convincing suspect. Some of Jarossi's points are obvious - but at least one of them surprised me. Here's a selection:

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Jack the Stripper: the '60s London serial killer time forgot

His first victim was probably Elizabeth Figg, a prostitute whose partially-clothed body was found next to the Thames in Dukes Meadows, Chiswick, in 1959. She had died of asphyxiation, but there was no sign of sexual violence. His next victim may have been Gwynneth Rees, whose body was dumped at a council refuse disposal site in Townmead Road, Mortlake, in 1963. What's certain is that the six prostitutes who were abducted, murdered and found dumped in various sites around West London between February 1964 and February 1965 were all victims of the same serial killer. Because seven of the victims were found partially clothed, the murderer was given the nickname Jack the Stripper, but the case eventually became known by the rather more prosaic and inaccurate title, the Hammersmith Nude Murders - only some of the dead women were abducted from, or found in, Hammersmith, and they weren't entirely naked. The murder hunt was the largest in British criminal history until then,...