Thursday, 31 December 2015

Imperial decree

Tiberius: "Has it ever occurred to you, mother, that it's you they hate and not me?"
Livia: "There is nothing in this world that occurs to you that does not occur to me first. That is the affliction I live with."

You will have a Happy New Year...

Empress Livia Drusilla Julia Augusta commands it!

Congratulations, Dame Jane Elizabeth Ailwên (Sian) Phillips on your overdue honour.

Monday, 28 December 2015

How, now, brown cow

Maggie Smith once went with Kenneth Williams to Fortnum & Masons to buy a bra. Upon being told the price, she replied "Seven Guineas! It'd be cheaper to have your tits off!"

Flying for the first time in a helicopter, she observed: "I never thought I’d look down between my legs and see Guildford."

As Desdemona to Laurence Olivier’s Othello, he, in full make-up, criticised her pronunciation; she faced off to him with a stentorian "How, now, brown cow!"

On completing her most famous role after six series: "I think the wig I wore in Downton is more tired than I am!"

As Serena McKellen has it, "Maggie's got a tongue on her."

Dame Margaret Natalie "Maggie" Smith CH DBE (born 28th December 1934)

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Marlene on the Wall

"I had no desire to be a film actress, to always play somebody else, to be beautiful with somebody constantly straightening out your every eyelash. It was always a big bother to me."

"I'm not an actress - I'm a personality."

"There is a lack of dignity to film stardom."

"I never ever took my career seriously."

"I was an actress. I made films. Finish."

Marie Magdalene "Marlene" Dietrich (27th December 1901 – 6th May 1992)

Friday, 25 December 2015

Xmas with the Crawfords

Better eat your din-dins!

...and don't get too close to that knife.

Felicitations, dear reader.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

We like to party, we love that disco sound

Rarely-seen photos by New York photographer Bill Bernstein charting the last days of Disco in New York are on show in London at the Serena Morton gallery, Ladbroke Grove, until 23rd January 2016.

They knew how to throw a party!

The book Bill Bernstein: Disco is available from Reel Art Press

Monday, 21 December 2015

See our little lives go past

The Longest Night Of The Year
Mary Chapin Carpenter
They say that spring will come again--
No one knows exactly when.
Still the sun's a long lost friend
On the longest night of the year.

We stare into the firelight
While December beats outside
Where the darkest hearts reside
On the longest night of the year

So keep me safe and hold me tight
Let the candle burn all night
Tomorrow welcome back the night
It was longest night of the year

I used to think the world was small
Bright and shining like a ball
Seems I don't know much at all
On the longest night of the year

We press our faces to the glass
And see our little lives go past
Wave to shadows that we cast
On the longest night of the year

...It's uphill from here on!*

Winter Solstice

*From 4.38am tomorrow, to be precise

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Mes chagrins, mes plaisirs

"I want to make people cry even when they don't understand my words."

"Don't care what people say. Don't give a damn about their laws. All I've done all my life is disobey."

"Singing is a way of escaping. It's another world. I'm no longer on earth."

One hundred years ago, a legend was born - Edith Piaf, The Little Sparrow", chansonnière, the ultimate symbol of Paris, a Gallic Patron Saint.

It is inestimable the influence this little lady had upon the French capital under Nazi occupation, at its liberation and ever afterwards - such remarkable stars as Marianne Faithfull, Nico, Serge Gainsbourg, Mireille Mathieu, Marc Almond, the Wainwrights (Martha and Rufus), Madeleine Peyroux, David Bowie and Linda Ronstadt have all cited her as an icon. Suffice to say, she is adored here at Dolores Delargo Towers, not least for these timeless gems:

Non, je ne regrette rien:

La vie en rose:


  • As a child born of Moroccan-Italian-French burlesque-performing parents, she was abandoned by her mother and raised in a brothel run by her grandmother.
  • She often sang in brothels, bars and clubs in her local Belleville dialect; the Parisian equivalent of London's Cockney.
  • She rose to fame from the backstreets of the Pigalle to appearances on the Champs-Élysées, to a recording career and sell-out concerts at the Paris Olympia with the help and support of friends such as Jean Cocteau and Maurice Chevalier and, it is rumoured, the Mafia.
  • She helped launch the career of Charles Aznavour, and had affairs with Yves Montand and world champion boxer Marcel Cerdan (who was killed in an air crash).
  • Matron-of-honour at her first wedding was none other than Marlene Dietrich; her second husband was a Greek hairdresser twenty years her junior.
  • By the end of WW2 she was the most popular entertainer in France, and eventually conquered the whole of Europe and the Americas - Mlle Piaf played Carnegie Hall twice, in 1956 and 1957.
  • She sadly died aged only 47 (after years of alcohol and drug abuse); tens of thousands of mourners lined the streets of Paris for her cortège (it is said that the traffic stopped in the city of Paris for only the first time since the war), and the ceremony at the cemetery was attended by more than 100,000 fans.

Édith Piaf (born Édith Giovanna Gassion, 19th December 1915 – 11th October 1963)

Friday, 18 December 2015

“Bicycle face”, blushing turkeys, Albert Einstein’s eyeballs and an official yeti hunter

The brainy BBC quiz QI, hosted (at least for the moment) by the eternally droll Stephen Fry, is a staple of our viewing here at Dolores Delargo Towers. Now, just in time for Xmas, the "QI Elves" (the nickname for the programme's tireless researchers) have compiled a new book - 1,234 QI Facts to Leave You Speechless.

From (of all unlikely places to find facts) the Daily Mirror, here are 60 of the most bizarre...
  • The Big Bang was quieter than a Motörhead concert.
  • The scientist who analysed the plutonium for the first atomic bomb was called Mr Doom.
  • The president of the World Chess Federation believes that, unless we play more chess, the world will be destroyed by aliens.
  • The world champion of French Scrabble doesn’t speak French.
  • The ancient Greek cure for cataracts was to pour hot broken glass into the eyes.
  • There are at least 17 types of ice, but only one exists outside the laboratory.
  • Magic mushrooms grow in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.
  • Table tennis was banned in the USSR from 1930 to 1950 on the grounds that it was harmful to people’s eyes.
  • Wearing white at Wimbledon began as a way of hiding the fact that women sweat.
  • In 19th century London, fake ice cream was made from mashed turnip.
  • Kim Jong-un is the only person in North Korea called Kim Jong-un.
  • The four most common first names among New York cabbies are Mohammad, Mohammed, Muhammad and Mohamed.
  • Not a single car was sold by Buzz Aldrin in the six months he worked as a car salesman on his return from the Moon.
  • More people monitor the internet for the Chinese government than serve in its armed forces.
  • Four million songs on Spotify have never been played.
  • Kaiser Wilhelm II loved riding so much he sat at his desk astride a saddle. He said it helped him think more clearly.
  • Albert Einstein’s eyeballs are in a safety deposit box in New York.
  • Dolphin’s milk is as thick as toothpaste.
  • In the late 19th century, women cyclists were warned they might get “bicycle face”, giving them a jutting chin and bulging eyes.
  • In 1900, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle caught fire during a cricket match at Lord’s. The ball hit a box of matches in his pocket.
  • In 2011, two Iranian football players were suspended for celebratory bottom-patting.
  • Mini golf was invented for women not allowed to play real golf.
  • The Pope cannot be an organ donor because his body “belongs to the whole Church”.
  • Baths kill more people than terrorists.
  • In 2014, more bets were placed on who killed Lucy Beale in EastEnders than on the Champions League football final.
  • 15,000 years ago, cannibalism was practised in Somerset.
  • Immediately after the Wright brothers’ first flight, a gust of wind flipped their plane over and broke it.
  • When male turkeys see female turkeys, they blush.
  • A live chicken strapped to the body was thought to cure plague In the Middle Ages.
  • Mary Shelley kept Percy Shelley’s heart wrapped in a poem for 30 years after he died.
  • Abraham Lincoln was a licensed bartender.
  • Rod Stewart lost his job as a wallpaper designer because he was colour-blind.
  • Vladimir Putin’s grandfather was a chef for Stalin, Lenin and Rasputin.
  • The Ancient Greek translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the longest text in that language since 3AD.
  • Agatha Christie talked to imaginary friends well into her 70s.
  • Afghanistan is the world’s most accurately mapped country.
  • The first cow to fly in a plane was Elm Farm Ollie in 1930. Cartons of her milk were parachuted down to spectators.
  • Jingle Bells was the first song played in space.
  • Americans eat 350 slices of pizza every second.
  • After six months monitoring two suspected Chinese spy drones invading their airspace in 2013, the Indian army discovered they were Jupiter and Venus.
  • The Tlatelcomila cannibals of ancient Mexico ate human flesh with chilli sauce.
  • Ninjas sent secret messages using coloured grains of rice.
  • Every hour, one US war veteran commits suicide.
  • Bhutan has an official yeti hunter. (Found any? Not yeti).
  • US chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer was at school with Barbra Streisand. She had a crush on him.
  • Teddy bears are named after US President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.
  • Roosevelt’s sons Theodore and Kermit were the first Westerners to shoot a giant panda.
  • The Hodges Meteorite is the only meteorite known to have hit a person: it slightly injured Mrs Ann Hodges in Alabama in 1954.
  • Walt Disney put his testicles in ice to boost his sperm count.
  • Under medieval Welsh law women could divorce their husbands if they had bad breath.
  • Aztec mothers who died in childbirth were regarded as highly as warriors who died in battle.
  • One of the world’s biggest lift firms is called Schindler’s Lifts.
  • Misbehaving policemen in Thailand have to wear Hello Kitty armbands as a punishment.
  • In 1952, the Great Smog of London was so bad that blind people led sighted people home from the train stations.
  • Due to heavy snow in 1891, the 3pm train from Paddington to Plymouth left on 9th March and arrived on 13th March.
  • Bees can fly higher than Mount Everest.
  • Eating chocolate improves your memory, but only if you eat so much it’s bad for you.
  • There is a village in Russia where every single person knows how to tightrope walk.
  • You can smell a flock of Macaroni penguins from six miles away.
  • Actor Basil Rathbone led covert First World War missions disguised as a tree.
QI (Quite Interesting) website

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Fabulous, darling

As James St. James at The WOW Report puts it:
It’s the Joan Collins auction you’ve been waiting for your whole life! Julien’s Auction House is auctioning off items belonging to the legendary Dame Joan Collins – including some god-awful ’70s furniture, a “silver articulated lobster,” a monogrammed silver julep cup, several outfits from Dynasty, the dress she wore in a recent Snickers commercial (!), and some reeeeally fun Versace aerobic wear.
To view it in all its glory, here is the programme:

The Collection of Dame Joan Collins

Saturday, 12 December 2015

10 pounds of cock

"Whatever else has been said about me personally is unimportant. When I sing, I believe. I'm honest."

"If you possess something but you can't give it away, then you don't possess it... it possesses you."

"And may the last voice you hear be mine!"

"Frank's only 110 pounds, but 10 pounds of it is cock!" - Ava Gardner

It is the centenary of Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra (12th December 1915 – 14th May 1998)

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Goodbye Nanny Stern

"Mr Marples, for Nanny Stern."
"I thought Mr Marples was for House of Pain."
"No, winkie-poos and bot-bots."
"Oh, God! It's taken me an hour to get into this lot!"

And so we bid a sad goodbye today to one of our favourite character actresses here at Dolores Delargo Towers, the ineffably cool Miss Shirley Stelfox.

During her long career, she appeared in dozens of best-loved TV shows including Nearest and Dearest, Making Out, Brookside, Juliet Bravo, Coronation Street, The Bill, Keeping Up Appearances, Emmerdale and Crossroads. But it is her superb turn as the worldly wise prostitute and best friend to Julie Walters' "Cynthia Payne-esque" lead in one of our all-time favourite films Personal Services for which she is dearest to our hearts...

Farewell, dear "Shirl".

Shirley Stelfox (11th April 1941 – 7th December 2015)