Archive for the ‘dexys’ Tag

Looking down on Stars of Brighton by the gutter

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

― Oscar Wilde, ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’

 

“…he happened to have a first-class ticket for Worthing in his pocket at the time. Worthing is a place in Sussex. It is a seaside resort.”

― Oscar Wilde, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’

East of Worthing, east of Hove, at the eastern end of Brighton, just below Kemptown, sits Brighton Marina (site of ArkAngel Productions’ regional office). It was built from 1971 to 1978 and opened in 1979 with the age of Thatcherism. Rumour had it that it was some kind of scam to secure European (EEC) money.  In 1985 it was taken over by Brent Walker, nicknamed ‘Bent Walker’, a property and leisure business run by the former boxer and Soho gangster George Walker. Earlier in his career he was jailed for stealing nylon stockings in Victoria Docks, London.  

Among the shops Walker established in the Marina is a rather incongruous Walk of Fame, a set of stars built into the pavement Hollywood-style. I’ve walked over them often over the years, frequently asking myself the question what have they got to do with Brighton? Like Kevin Rowland of Dexy’s Midnight Runners – he’s a Brummy as far as I know (Wolverhampton?), of Irish descent (Co. Mayo) and he has lived in London a fair bit, but what’s Brighton got to do with him?

Young soul rebel in 1980 (front left)

Whilst tramping over them during the summer I decided to use the stars as the basis of an occasional series on Simple Pleasures Part 4, of which this is the introduction.

So Brighton Marina’s Walk of Fame is the first such one in the UK. It was the brainchild of David Courtney, a Brighton-born songwriter/music producer who had an internationally successful partnership with Leo Sayer in the 70s which brought him to L.A., spiritual home of Walks of Fame. That prompted him to bring the concept back to his home town and to the Marina his uncle, Henry Cohen, helped conceive and realise.

So the first star in this series, given the business of ArkAngel Productions, will be Ray Brooks.

Ray Brooks is the voice of Mr Benn, the sober suited businessman from Festive Road who made regular visits on the sly to a certain dressing up shop. There The Shopkeeper offered him outfits to try on and when he went into the changing room there his magical adventures began. From knight in armour to cowboy, he lived a more colourful, adventurous life for a brief while until the Shopkeeper fetched him back to the changing room. The character was conceived by David McKee originally for children’s books but became the star of a much-loved BBC animated series in 1971/72 (the year the Marina was born).

I worked with Ray Brooks only once – he did the voice-over for a film I directed for Barnardos about whistleblowing, ‘Sounding the Alarm‘. 

His Brighton connection is simple: he was born there just before the Second World War. His career as an actor started in ‘Coronation Street’ in the early 60s. A breakthrough came in 1965 when he joined Michael Crawford and Rita Tushingham in Richard Lester’s comedy ‘The Knack …and how to get it’ which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes that year. 

Interlude: Coincidence No. 266

That’s the second time ‘The Knack’ has come up in the last couple of days. Someone in my circle posted a picture of the LP sleeve of the soundtrack by John Barry because they’d dusted it off and were giving it a Lockdown2 listen.

The following year Ray appeared in the landmark ‘Cathy Come Home’. Throughout the 60s he got parts in cult classics from ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Danger Man’ through to ‘Dr Who’. 

He was the voice of the storyteller in ‘Jackanory’ throughout the 70s. At the turn of the millennium he starred in ‘Two Thousand Acres of Sky’ with Paul Kaye and did a spell in ‘Eastenders’ in the mid-noughties. 

He lives in London but still goes to Brighton to write. He clearly remains attached to the place as his final blog post (17th March 2019) ends with a reference to it as the place he’d go to get rid of his ego:

But what could I expect.? The old ego was popping up again. I’ll put it into a box and chuck [it] off the Brighton Pier I’m sure David Attenborough  wouldn’t complain ‘cos fish with egos wouldn’t eat plastic bags any more they’d be too full of themselves.

Jane Birkin (uncredited) & Ray Brooks in ‘The Knack …and How To Get It ‘ (1965)

Jane Birkin was married to John Barry, composer on ‘The Knack …and How To Get It ‘ before moving on to hook up with Serge Gainsbourg at the end of the decade. This is a CD cover my old friend Marcelino Truong drew and designed for Gainsbourg. Marcelino has stayed at ArkAngel South-East in Brighton Marina.

Gainsbourg ‎– Mon Légionnaire (1988) by Marcelino Truong

Oh Geno (Gee Knows)

screening of oh geno at curzon bloomsbury 23 october 2018

Curzon Bloomsbury 23 October 2018 – Dalton Deverell (Prod) Sophie Shad (Wr/actress) Onyinye Egenti (Dir) GENO Washington ??? (Ram Jam Band bass player)

On arrival at the Curzon Bloomsbury on Tuesday evening to see a drama-doc short ‘Oh Geno!’ I was greeted with a lovely surprise – the director Sophie Shad welcomed me and explained that the film had come about because of me. I had no idea. But was delighted. Here’s how it happened…

I was introduced to Sophie through a fellow trustee at the Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley, the oldest purpose-built cinema in the country (which is about to join the Curzon group – there’s a Company Members’ meeting going on as I write but I’m 8,000 feet above Finland so unfortunately can’t be there).

Sophie had just produced her first scripted short ‘Kitty’s Fortune‘ (2016), a story set in Auschwitz, and came to see me at Channel 4 about next moves with her producing partner Dalton Deverell. They were thinking of following up with another holocaust story. During the course of the chat it came to light that Sophie’s grandfather is none other than Geno Washington, the soul singer (who I first came across through Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ eponymous song).

That man took the stage, his towel was swingin’ high
(Oh Geno!)
This man was my bombers, my dexys, my high
(Oh Geno!)
How the crowd, they all hailed you, and chanted your name

I gave the opinion that at that particular juncture a holocaust story might be especially challenging to get off the ground and perhaps the Geno connection was a more joyful route for the times and a better use of weapons in their young armoury.

We discussed a short form documentary series in the wake of that meeting but it never quite came together, I left Channel 4 and our ways parted (largely because their focus was on scripted).

geno washington ram jam band my bombers lp cover design

A few weeks ago an invitation arrives for the screening and I am surprised and delighted the Geno project came off. What I hadn’t realised was that it was on leaving that initial meeting at Horseferry Road that the pair of them determined on making a film about Geno.

Sophie kindly explained my role in the genesis of the film in the Q&A after the screening to 150 delighted audience members. Besides her and Dalton on the panel was the director,Onyinye Egenti, and the great man himself, Geno. Geno bantered with me in the audience, saying I was to blame, with his crazy infectious laugh.

Oh Geno short film poster geno washington

The film is to debut at Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York next month. It is a really well scripted piece focused on the meeting of Geno and his wife-to-be, Frenchy (Sophie’s grandmother) in a London club in the mid-60s. He was just out the US Air Force, getting to love Britain. She was a Jewish refugee from France, a single mum and feisty club manageress. Sophie plays her own grandmother – which has a certain resonance – with a beautiful stylishness (the camera loves her). The moment zoomed in on is just right to capture the essence of an extraordinary couple. And the ending is pulled off with aplomb – avoiding the common pitfall of the punchline-type ending of short dramas (it has the punch-line dynamic but it is subtle and judged just right).

sophie shad plays frenchy in oh geno short film

Sophie Shad plays Frenchy

At the screening I found myself sitting beside the young actor who portrayed Geno, Edward Nkom. He captures the physical charm of Geno well.

Edward_Nkom_actor HSA_associates

Edward Nkom plays Geno

It will be interesting to see if this nugget develops further and into what – scripted, drama-doc, it could go in various directions. I’d love to see it evolve into an iterative project centred on this fascinating couple.

Geno_Sheet_Muisc_1 dexys midnight runners

Coincidence No. 402

fo_9935711_schreibfeder_raoul-fesquet

I’m sitting listening to Let the Record Show (the Dexys LP of 2016, their versions of Irish standards) whilst doing my 2015-16 accounts (close to the wire as usual). I get to the last track, Carrickfergus, and the lyrics

…as black as ink

just as I’m signing the cover letter to my accountant, switching from the red Pilot fountain pen I’ve been using to tick off the enclosures to a black biro because it’s just plain odd to sign stuff in blood red.

***

screenshot-2017-01-07-12-20-31

I saw Dexy’s play Carrickfergus in 2016 at the Festival Hall at Imagining Ireland, the London celebration of the Easter Rising centenary.

Now in Kilkenny it is reported
On marble stone there as black as ink
With gold and silver I would support her
But I’ll sing no more now til I get a drink
Cause I’m drunk today and I’m seldom sober
A handsome rover from town to town
Ah but I’m sick now my days are numbered
Come all me young men and lay me down
Come all me young men and lay me down

I got to know this song through Van Morrison’s version. During 2016 Robert Elms took Kevin Rowland, lead singer of Dexys, to see Van play at Nell’s in West Kensington. I happen to know this because Robert mentioned it in his excellent, traditional annual music round-up. Which neatly rounds up today’s circle of connection and coincidence.

carrickfergus-castle

Best of 2012

[a work in progress]
Silver Linings Playbook

Film:
Silver Linings Playbook
Runner-up: Untouchable

Speedy – accompanied by Evelyn Glennie & Talvin Singh (Not So Silent Movies)
West Side Story with live orchestra (Albert Hall)
Searching for Sugarman
On The Road
Woody Allen: A Documentary

(2011 winner: Midnight in Paris)
(2010 [reluctant] winner: Toy Story 3)
(2009 winner: Inglourious Basterds)

Actor:
Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
Runner-up: Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock), Jared Gilman (Moonrise Kingdom)

(2011 winner: Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris))
(2010 winner: Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network))
(2009 winner: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds))

Actress:
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Runner-up: Helen Hunt (The Sessions)

(2011 winner: Carey Mulligan (Shame))
(2010 winner: Julianne Moore (The Kids Are Alright) )
(2009 winner: Carey Mulligan (An Education) )

Supporting Actor:
Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)
Christopher Walken (Seven Psychopaths)
Alan Arkin (Argo)
Xavier Bardem (Skyfall)
William Macy (The Sessions)

(2011 winner: Corey Stoll (Midnight in Paris))
(2010 winner: Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are Alright) )
(2009 winner: Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds) )

Supporting Actress:
Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)
Helen Mirren (Hitchcock)
Kristen Stewart (On The Road)

(2011 winner: Shailene Woodley (The Descendants))
(2010 winner: Rebecca Hall (The Town) )
(2009 winner: Kristin Scott Thomas (Nowhere Boy) )

Director:
David O. Russell  (Silver Linings Playbook)
Runners-up: Walter Salles (On The Road), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)

(2011 winner: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris))
(2010 winner: Ben Affleck (The Town) )
(2009 winner: Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds) )

Script:
David O. Russell  (Silver Linings Playbook)
Runners-up: Chris Terrio (Argo), Martin McDonagh (Seven Psychopaths), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)

(2011 winner: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris))
(2010 winner: The Social Network)
(2009 winner: The Hangover)

Cinemtography:
Roger Deakins (Skyfall)
Runner-up: Eric Gautier (On The Road)

Dean and Marylou getting it on

Dean and Marylou getting it on

TV:
Olympic Opening Ceremony (BBC1)
Runner-up: The Audience (Channel 4)

Homeland, seasons 1 + 2 (Channel 4)
Grand Designs  (Channel 4)

Gig:

Van Morrison – Ronnie Scott’s
Dexy’s – Empire, Shepherds Bush
Bat for Lashes – The Forum

Gregory Porter – Bloomsbury Theatre
Patti Smith – Troxy, Limehouse

(2011 winner: Sinead O’Connor – St Johns at Hackney church)
(2010 winner: Gil Scott Heron – Somerset House)
(2009 winner: Hothouse Flowers – Community hall, Baltimore, West Cork)

LP:
One Day I’m Going to Soar – Dexys
How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? – Sinead O’Connor

This is PIL – Public Image Ltd.
Holly Cook – In Dub

(2011 winner: Johnny Boy Would Love This – various)
(2010 winner: Praise & Blame – Tom Jones)
(2009 winner: Sea Sew – Lisa Hannigan)

Single:
Harder Than You Think – Public Enemy
She Got a Wiggle – Dexys
One Drop – Public Image Ltd.
Reason With Me – Sinead O’Connor

(2011 winner: Movin’ Down the Line- Raphael Saadiq)
(2010 winner: What good am I? – Tom Jones)
(2009 winner: Glass – Bat for Lashes)

Book:
The Typewriter is Holy – Bill Morgan

(2011 winner: The Sisters Brothers – Patrick de Witt)
(2010 winner: Freedom – Jonathan Franzen)
(2009 winner: The Great Lover – Jill Dawson)

Art:
The Mystery of Appearance (Haunch of Venison)

Musee d’Orsay (post 2012 revamp)
(Preraphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde (Tate Britain))

(2011 winner: Angelheaded Hipsters – Allen Ginsberg (National Theatre))
(2010 winner: Paul Nash – The Elements – Dulwich Picture Gallery)
(2009 winner: Dream – Jaume Plensa)

Can We Talk About This?

Can We Talk About This?

Play:
Can We Talk About This? – DV8 (Lyttleton, NT)

Travelling Light – Nicholas Wright (NT)
She Stoops to Conquer – Oliver Goldsmith (NT)
Singing in the Rain (The Palace)
Jesus Christ Superstar (Millennium Dome)

(2011 winner: Frankenstein (NT))
(2010 winner: Jerusalem)
(2009 winner: August: Osage County)

Sports event:
London 2012 Olympic Games

Website:
Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

(2011 winner: Instagram)
(2009 winner: Posterous)

Saddest loss:
Neil Armstrong
Dave Brubeck

One Day i'm going to soar cover
Best of 2011
Best of 2010
Best of 2009

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