Thursday, 26 February 2009

To unite Europe in Song.....

It seems a long way away now, bu tin the middle of May the 54th Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Moscow. These days it's become nothign more than an excuse (allegedly) for the former Warsaw PAct and Russian states to show their firends they are still friends, but back in the day ti was legendary for the peculiarity of the voting, never mind the songs.

So, every so often 'twixt now and then we're going to take a look at the winners, and the UK entires if the two are not the same, for this unique cultural event. Hold on to yoru hats - this could get bumby.....

We start with the first contest in 1956, which was won by Lys Assia for Switzerland with Refrain - Lys?

There is a tradition now with this contest (the first was held in Italy) that the winner hosts the following year, but that wasn't the case then. The UK didn't take part in the first contest - the entry was late - so in 1957 they met again, where the UK entry was All, sung by Patricia Belden

They didn't win - that was the honour of Corrie Breckon from Holland, with a little ditty called Net als toen

We didn't take part again in 1958 - that contest was won by a man called Andre Claveau for France with Dans, Mon Amour.

Trivia note - the 1958 Italian entry was a little ditty called Volare, which Dean Martin later had a hit with.

Finally for the 50's, in 1959 the winner came from Holland again - Teddy Scholten singing N Beetje

The UK took part again that year, with the first of a strign of legendary Eurovision entries - Sing Little Birdie, sung by Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson.

At this stage, it still resembled a proper singing contest, but that would change. Join us again next time for singing scotsmen and more songsters in monochrome.....

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Things that make me wonder (part 2)

I have a picture to show you of a young lady.

Lovely looking girl, isn't she? Her name is Cerrie Burnell, and she is a presenter on CBeebies, a channel run by the BBC aimed at under 8's. By all accounts, she is good, polite and does an excellent job. So why are some parents callign for her to be taken off the air and claiming they are scaring her kids?

Let's have a look at Cerrie again, shall we.

As you can see, she was born with only half of her right arm, and it is this that some viewers claim is scaring their children. In this article, we have the following lovely quote.

"Is it just me, or does anyone else think the new woman presenter on Cbeebies (Cerrie Burnell) may scare the kids because of her disability?

"I didn't want to let my children watch the filler bits on the bedtime hour last night because I know it would have played on my eldest daughter's mind and possibly caused sleep problems... and yes, this is a serious post."

I love it when our prejudices show through. Firstly, this is not the girl's fault - she was born with this disability, and it hasn't stopped her making a career and a life for herself. Secondly, this smacks of the "different is bad" mindset - better our children are shown this in a way that encourages them to accept than to hide from it.

Thirdly, however, it shows we haven't learnt anything in forty eight years, since the Thalidomide babies were born. We should never, ever judge on appearance, but on what the person does and says - and for that reason alone, I think this is knuckle headed thinking at the worst level.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Where the hell was I?

Locked in a padded room. Well, almost....

Sorry I haven't been around here recently, but things just got hectic for a while there. As some who read this know, I'm a moderator on the Captain Comics community, and I was doing a series of articles there on the favourite limited series for the members of that community. Towards th eend, that and a couple of other things were bringing me close to burn-out, so I took a break from blogging.

I've also been writing presentations and courses for a couple of trips I have coming up. So, be warned - in March I'll be blogging from Berlin for a few days, and in April from the USofA for two weeks. Who knows what I may find to say then.

For now, however, some random thoughts....

The Oscars? We called it a few weeks back at the British Academy Awards - except for Sean Penn instead of Mickey Rourke. Elsewhere, I also call Kate Winslet as this years "Butterfield 8" winner, named in honour of the Oscar Elisabeth Taylor got for that film the year after she SHOULD have got it for Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Kate Winslet should have got the award years ago, so good for her she finally got it.

On films - Watchmen gets an 18 certificate in the UK, so I cannot keep my promise to my older son to take him to see it. I understand why they've done it, but it's still a pity.

The papers report a twelve year old boy has fathered a child to a fifteen year old girl. If I remember the UK law correctly, if that boy had been over 18 he would have been charged with having sex with a minor - but as he's a minor himself, the parents get the blame. Wrong - we all have to take partial blame for having a society where this as an accepted, if unusual norm.

Years ago, when I frequented the IMDb boards, we made fun of Big Brother 3, and especially Jade Goody. I apologise now for all I said about her - she is showing true courage in the face of her own death, and I applaud her for that.

Enough for now - more tomorrow, and even in a coherent manner, I promise.

Well, I'll try anyway.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

25 random facts about me

It seems to eb doing the rounds at the moment - so here, after seeing it on other blogs, are my 25 random facts.

1. I was actually born in Weiberg, West Germany, but only lived there for about four months before my father was posted back to the UK. So, if you go by birthplace, I'm German, but I'm not.

2. In my first year at school, I played one of the seven dwarves in a school panto - and my older brother was one of the prince's attendants.

3. The first song I ever learned to sing was "Morningtown Ride" by The Seekers.

4. I also sang in school and church choirs, but when my voice borke it broke in spectacular style.

5. I have a fear o fdogs, mainly because when I was eight I was attacked by one when I was walking along a wall near my home. Broken Arm, mangled ear and lacerations - but I still made it to the shop where I was going to buy some things.

6. Since childhood, I have been able to eat almost anything - except shellfish and ox toungue.

7. I turned down the chance to be a steward on the route for the wedding of Charles and Diana.

8. I actually gained the Queen's Badge in the Boys' Brigade, and trained to be an officer in the organisation.

9. I and two friends won a business competition in our last year at school - despite none of us studying Economics or Accounting.

10. There have been two serious relationships in my life - and I married the second of those.

11. The most embarresing thing I did at University was to ask the DJ at a party I wa sat to play a song because I thought we all needed to chill out. The song was "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

12. As a child, I actually appeared in a couple of schools programs for BBC Scotland.

13. I applied to four universities to attend. One was Edinburgh, which rejected me without an interview - mainly because I put it below Stirling University in my order of preference.

14. My father was in the company that discovered Belsen.

15. I have cooked dinner for James Fox and his family - but it was twenty years ago when he was a worker at a Christian university group.

16. When I first submitted my Doctorate thesis and went through the examination, I failed - not because of the content of the work, but because the standard of the English was not good enough.

17. The first computer I ever used was a BBC Micro - with a 12" disk drive.

18. I have a ferret sticking up my nose.

19. My wife, Doreen, got better grades in mathematics at school than I did - and I'm the one working as a statistician!

20. I proposed to Doreen in the second carriage of a train from Newcastle to Kilmarnock, via Carlisle, in May 1989.

21. In a previous job, when redundancies were announced I went to my boss and offered to jump if my name was in the frame, which I knew it would be. He said not to do so and wit it out. My name was picked - and I ended up with an extra eight weeks redundancy money as a result.

22. My favourite books are "To Kill A Mockingbird", "Les Miserables", the complete stories of Jeeves and Wooster and the Complete Sherlock Holmes stories.

23. The stupidest thing I ever did for charity was a twelve hour sponsored bin sit - in the middle of winter. I was ill for two weeks afterwards.

24. I have run a half marathon in one hour fifty minutes, and some day I may do it in under two hours again.

25. I enjoy writing, even if I'm not very good at it.