Sunday, 5 April 2009

The speedy spinster

Two weeks ago, Dulcibella King-Hall heralded her 107th birthday by whizzing round Brands Hatch at 108 mph (90 seconds):

During the last war Miss King-Hall was a military test driver, assessing vehicles commandeered from civilian use.

Asked why she loved the thrill of speed, she reportedly replied: "Why shouldn't I? Don't you like it?

"I have a driving licence. I can drive any vehicle."

She must surely be a relation (perhaps a younger sister?) of the author, dramatist and independent MP Commander Stephen King-Hall, later Lord King-Hall of Headley (1893-1966).

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Many thanks

…to whoever it was who linked to this blog, or otherwise drew attention to it, last Saturday, causing a dramatic spike in traffic.

You rang, my curmudgeon?

The late Lord Kilmarnock was Kingsley Amis's butler.

Art Colony Perverts

Another of those great titles.

Salty old sea blog

Launched this week, Voyage of the Vampire is the never-before-published diary of 20-year-old Captain Sir George Scott Douglas, Bt, as he sails through the Greek islands and on to Istanbul in 1846-47.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

There's only one Mary Moriarty

…and she only retires once (see "Leith's heroine" below), so let's take a stroll down Memory-obliterated-by-hangover Lane…

Here's a brief but heartfelt tribute to her - slightly premature, as it turned out - from South Leith Kirk, with a really nice photo.

Peter of Naked Blog, her longest- (or longest-equal-?) serving regular, responds to her seventieth birthday last year.

The Evening News had an amusing Dinner with Mary Moriarty in 2002…

…while Liam Rudden did a splendid interview with her in the same year.

And I very much liked this review of the Port in 2003.

Mary - thank you for so much, and every blessing.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Queen of the Nightmare

The agonisingly useless Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944) massacres Mozart's "Der Hölle Rache", while dozens of cats suffer (4 minutes):


He's now the all-time oldest British man.

Making music with old computers

Take a bow, Pixelh8.

Enter if curious

"Urban explorer" Simon Cornwell goes where he shouldn't (derelict lunatic asylums, &c) and takes us with him.

London's best pubs

You mean there are still ten?

Man after my own heart

Paul Clark earned his hilarious Guardian obituary just by being Paul Clark.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

On the Ganges, 1899

Massive stonework, crowded intricate life: a boat-mounted camera glides past the holy city of Benares (not Calcutta as stated - 90 seconds):

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Lammy doesn't know

The Higher Education Minister showed dismaying ignorance on Celebrity Mastermind. Matthew Norman gives him both barrels.

Pushkin: The Sequel

He died after a duel in 1837. Is it time to clone him?

Hat tip: William Bennett

Smile at us, pay us, pass us

Lucy Mangan on Jade Goody:

Despite the supposed democratisation of television, the truly uneducated, those marked by true poverty and deprivation, rarely appear in our light entertainment schedules. And suddenly, there was Jade, an unapologetic and unadorned symbol of all sorts of uncomfortable truths… Because they are so rarely seen in public life it is easy to forget that the people in this country for whom Jade was a peer, not an affront, are in the vast majority.

Suitably Gleanings-esque good cause

Most of the four million people on the shores of Lake Malawi have no access to healthcare by road.

But they do have the oldest ship in Africa, the Chauncy Maples, built in 1898 to the designs of Henry (son of Isambard Kingdom) Brunel.

Solution: turn her into a floating clinic. Simples! (kissing noise)

Thrown out

Three years ago the writers Jonathan and Julie Myerson banned their teenage son Jake from the family home. Now, controversially, Julie's written a book about it.

Ian Jack sets the scene; Julie gives her account of events; Jake responds; and Jonathan adds his version.

LATE EXTRA: Jake changes his surname.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Free screen cleaner

Handy little gadget, though you do have to walk it every day (20 seconds):

Four screensavers in the same vein here.

Not their best side

Sexy People - a twilight home for the less fortunate portrait photos of bygone decades.

What past?

The fiendish plot to close the Museum of Oxford.

Keep it simple

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Leith's heroine

Mary Moriarty, the unchallenged Queen of Leith, steps down next month after 25 years as landlady of that endlessly nourishing alternative universe, the Port O'Leith Bar.

Peter Ross in Scotland on Sunday beautifully captures them both.

Photo credit: Kaya Kanda

Wasnae me

What evildoer gift-wrapped this postbox, just ten minutes' walk from my home?

Not a silly hat in sight

Trad jazz doesn't have to be wacky, slovenly, or smirkingly arch - a warm welcome please for my eighteen Slovakian new best friends, the Bratislava Hot Serenaders (3 minutes):

Astonishing physical resemblance

Have any of your readers noticed…?

Great telephone conversations of the 20th century, #1

New York, early spring, 1971…

Unknown voice: "We are going to castrate you and then kill you."

W H Auden (for it is he) : "I think you have the wrong number."

Quoted in W H Auden: The Life of a Poet by Charles Osborne

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Thunder from New Zealand

John Smith's opponent in the 1992 Labour leadership election denounces the Blair-Brown Government.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Bride of the Nearly Man

Times and Telegraph offer contrasting obituaries of Mollie Butler, widow of Rab, dead at 101:
"I have never met anyone with whom it was so consistently amusing to be. His company was like a fire on a bitter night which both glowed and sparkled. No wonder I was happy."

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Obama's Elf

He wants out (18 seconds):

Dahl's den

An interactive tour of Roald Dahl's writing hut.

Do something useful

Help classify a quarter of a million galaxies.

Cocktail horror

Fear the McNuggetini.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Heil Sailor

Hitler (Harry Enfield) gets in touch with his stereotype-homosexual side (4 minutes):

Cult ruin

Uncle Monty's cottage from Withnail and I is up for sale.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Oldest British author ever

Edward Upward, last voice of the Thirties, dies at 105.

(This profile from 2003 is good stuff.)

"War without its glory"

Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth is to be filmed.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Distilled to her essence

Approaching eighty, Eartha Kitt (who died last Christmas) performs Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" like no one else in the history of the world (5 minutes):

Friday, 13 February 2009

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

What does Hazel Blears stand for?

To reach the wastepaper basket!

Shut up, growls George Monbiot, it's a serious question.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Compare The Meerkat

An inspired idea for an ad (30 seconds):

And the website really exists…

One hell of a life

Don't think I'd heard of the Broadway star Libby Holman before today - but blimey.

Roadkill carpet

Turns your living room into a dying room.

Dogs in early cinema

Ruddy scene-stealers.

Monday, 9 February 2009

What's French for Asbo?

Over-exposure to Rocky leads Rémi Gaillard into all kinds of mischief (3 minutes):

There's Probably No Point

Now relax and enjoy the Bus Slogan Generator.

Don't fire this Canon

To know John Fenton even a little was to like him a lot, and, somehow, to revere him.

Bar bans bad language

Everyone's swearing about it.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Final glimpse

Laurel and Hardy together on camera for the last time, in a 1956 home movie (4 minutes, but Hardy vanishes after the first 80 seconds):

Thank President Bush

You know you want to.

Pets In Uniform

Draft your dog, conscript your cat, pressgang your parakeet here.

If they'd had Facebook in 1813

What Pride and Prejudice might have looked like.

Hat tip: Donkin Life

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Losing it bigtime

When Christian Bale unleashed a foul-mouthed rant on the set of Terminator: Salvation, Lucian Piane deftly turned it into a dance track, with Barbra Streisand spliced in (3 minutes):

Not so innocent

George Davis's disillusioned ex-wife dies.


In today's balmy economic climate, and with Christmas coming up, don't we all want to buy millions of cheap books for ourselves, our friends, our relations, our enemies?

And where better to find them than at README BOOKS, otherwise known as my mate Glen?

To whet your appetite, Webside Gleanings is privileged to publish this authentic portrait of Glen by stained glass artist Andy Johnston:

Kill the myth

(Still prefer my own version: "There's probably no bus. Now relax and get run over.")