Lucky Dip

Some days you just feel like a right old soppy drawers.

Download: Make It With You – Bread (mp3)


What a Drag

Jesus Christ! Superstar!
Walks like a woman and he wears a bra.

Playground song, early 1970s

I once had to wear a dress for a school play though I swear I’m not usually that way inclined (it was Shakespeare! I did it for art!). But if I was I could have had quite a lucrative career in England where we seem to love few things more than a man in a dress. In most countries cross-dressing is confined to kitschy bars in the gay part of town but in England camping it up a nice frock, make-up, and heels will make you something of national icon loved by all the family from Charley’s Aunt to Danny La Rue, Boy George, Eddie Izzard (“I’m an Executive Transvestite”) and Lily Savage — and it certainly didn’t hurt David Bowie’s career. Then there’s the stock English character of the accountant in suburbia who likes to slip into the wife’s little cocktail number and mince about while she’s out down the shops. I’m sure this all says something deeply kinky about us as a nation but that’s a box I’d rather not open.

Probably the most famous pop song about transvestites is “Lola” by The Kinks (English band, naturally) which was given a brilliantly inspired cover by feminist post-punkers The Raincoats in 1979. The idea of Ray Davies’ ode to cross-dressers being performed by an all-girl band constructs such a Hall of Mirrors of gender bending and sexual ambiguity you’d need several PhDs to deconstruct it. It’s like the song itself is in drag.

Download: Lola – The Raincoats (mp3)

OK, I admit it, that dress was really comfortable.

Remembrance of taunts past

You wouldn’t think a record as inane and fluffy as “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” would have painful associations for anyone, but I do. When I was young some kids at my school used to taunt me about my one-parent status by singing “Where’s your papa gone? Where’s your papa gone? Far, far away” at me, and even over 35 years later I can’t hear it without having flashbacks to that and feeling a little twinge of how upset it made me at the time. The little bastards.

Still, the sight of lead singer Sally Carr in her trademark hot pants helps to ease the pain somewhat.

Download: Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep – Middle of the Road (mp3)

Hart Taken

Another legend of British children’s television has passed away: the great Tony Hart. He was the type you don’t seem to get on kid’s telly anymore, an older man who wasn’t in the slightest bit trendy but was passionate and enthusiastic about his craft. Less your best mate than a favourite teacher or uncle.

His death is particularly sad for me as an art school boy who grew up loving his shows and was inspired by his creativity. I even used to get his books out of the library and try to copy the projects in them. How many other kids are there like me out there who really got into drawing and making art because of him? How many of those eventually went to art college and had a career in the creative fields? I’m guessing a lot. It could be that humble Tony Hart was the biggest influence on British art and design in the past 40 years.

What a bummer.

Download: Art for Arts Sake – 10cc (mp3)

I wish I was a Wild West hero

This might be a typically-pessimistic assumption on my part but do kids still play Cowboys and Indians these days? I find it hard to believe that they do. Why would they? The Western is nearly dead as a genre in popular culture, at least it is in any form that could be watched by children. To a 21st century kid with his video games and superheroes, Cowboys and Indians must be like playing Cavaliers and Roundheads.

I also imagine that any kid who shouted “Bang! You’re dead!” at a friend in the school playground would immediately be carted off by social services for counseling.

So that means people will one day stop writing songs like this. One of the best singles of the 1970s, presented here in its album-length, widescreen Cinemascope version.

Download: Silver Star – The Four Seasons (mp3)

Picture Post

Even if I gave you a million tries you’d never guess what was going on in this picture. Believe it or not, the caption with it reads: “Models in bikinis deliver a letter of protest about French nuclear testing to the French Embassy in London, 1973.”

I don’t think this was some clever reference to the famous nuclear test site of Bikini Island because the French testing was going on elsewhere. No, I think it might simply be a case that in the 1970s if you wanted the newspapers to cover an event you had to involve half-naked dolly birds.

Download: How I Learned To Love The Bomb – Television Personalities (mp3)