Monthly Archives: October 2009

Spike Milligan’s Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall

Chichester Festival Theatre: Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall by Spike Milligan

How does he DO that? Milligan (Sholto Morgan) admires the ability of Edgington (Dominic Gerrard) to conjure up a cuppa in the most unlikely places

How does he DO that? Milligan (Sholto Morgan) admires the ability of Edgington (Dominic Gerrard) to conjure up a cuppa in the most unlikely places

An interestingly mixed crowd of older and younger Goons fans filled much of the Festival Theatre on Thursday night for Bristol Old Vic’s sparky production of Spike Milligan’s classic war memoir.

Adapted for the stage by Ben Power and Tim Carroll, it was a strong mix of knockabout bawdy barrack room humour, Milligan’s surreal yet poignant story-telling and some classy jazz numbers from the Forties.

A talented cast, led by Sholto Morgan as Milligan, did an excellent job in a show that mixed a mock ENSA show for the troops, direct excerpts from the book, and vignettes that captured superbly the gallows humour, humanity and tragic sacrifice of wartime.

As co-adapter Ben Power writes in his programme notes, the show’s spontaneity and looseness owes as much to the ragged nature of Spike’s surreal writing as the way the action has been put together, and mirrors the freeform nature of the jazz Spike loved to play as lead trumpeter.

Giving sterling support to Sholto, as the boys of Battery D, were Dominic Gerrard (Edgington), William Findley (Goldsmith), David Morley Hale (Kidgell) and Matthew Devereux (MC), and they delivered some superb instrumental and vocal performances, handling piano, drums, saxophone, double bass, guitar and trumpet between them.

A fun night that will have prompted many an audience member to dig out those old paperbacks again, and revel in the tortured genius of Milliganism.

Ends Saturday night (24 October) before travelling to Watford, Liverpool and Nottingham. More at

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Review: Oli Brown Band, Worthing Assembly Hall

Oli Brown Band – Worthing Assembly Hall

It’s an irony that in a genre where artists get better the older they are, blues newcomer Oli Brown is turning heads while still in his teens.

Oli’s power-packed three piece – the Oli Brown Band – delivered a powerful set at Worthing Assembly Hall last night, although it was really the wrong kind of venue for this stage in his career.

Oli Brown Band on stage in Worthing

A crowd of less than 150, spread thinly around the auditorium at tables, mustered plenty of enthusiasm, but what you really wanted was a smaller, intimate club atmosphere with sweat running down the walls.

Much of material the centred around the band’s highly acclaimed 2008 debut album Open Road, with a few blues classics such as Every Day I Have The Blues and Black Betty thrown in for good measure.

Inevitably it was Oli’s blend of powerful, mature vocals and guitar heroics that dominated. Tall, thin and with a shock of shoulder-length black hair, he was a charismatic focal point, strolling around the stage playing with the casual insouciance of a veteran. Astonishing, considering he’s only been playing the instrument for seven years.

Style-wise, there were shades of Stevie Ray Vaughan in his fluid, melodic runs, and other blues masters such as BB King and Buddy Guy (the band delivered a blistering version of his Steppin’ Out, Steppin’ In), as he cranked up the tone and the drama. At times on the slower numbers his jazz-inflected tones even touched on the likes of Joe Pass and a guitar version of Oscar Peterson.

Freddie Hollis on 6-string bass was a rock solid rhythm unit with quality drummer Simon Dring, and the pair added welcome harmony vocal back-up at times, as well as having their own solo slot to show off their virtuosity.

Standouts included album opener Psycho, the rocking title track Open Road and an impassioned Stone Cold (Roxanne) which had Oli yelling his vocal refrain sans mic to the back of the hall.

When during the encore the young guitarist sauntered out among the crowd to solo at length and up close, it was just a reminder of how blues can connect at gut level. The future’s bright for this power trio. They’re great now – give them time (and they’ve got plenty) and their potential is frightening …

Further dates lined up in the south east:

4 Dec – The West Coast Live, Margate
5 – Wingspan Club, Crawley
9 – Plaza Suite, Sevenoaks
10 – The Maltings, Farnham
15 – The Brook, Southampton
16 – The Jazz Cafe, London

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The Tweets of Brandon Cummerbund, Pt 3

Wit, French polisher, amateur twinkler and whelk collector Brandon Cummerbund

Wit, French polisher, amateur twinkler and whelk collector Brandon Cummerbund

Tested zeitgeist first thing. Needs more yeast. Mongoose band rehearsal sounds like poltergeist let loose in hardware shop. Lost a cufflink

Never allow hedgehogs free rein in your lilo factory. Sometimes only a mallet will do. These observations are not connected. Scones: cheesey

Sunday is always a good day for twinkling. Plan to linseed oil the cricket bat. Cook says she’s planning adventurous menu today. Oh dear.

Allow a badger to sharpen your kitchen knives, and a pigeon will soil your birdbath. Had to use cooking oil on cricket bat. Mustard: English

Chum of mine: Clicktwiglet von Drenchstartler – neurotic Teutonic inventor. Need to buy more blotting paper. Coffee of the day: mochalulu

Matron, someone’s forgotten to butter the parsnips. My beard is being trimmed by a squirrel with a mincer. [&%@!!*] No more evening naps …

If it’s possible to be non-plussed, why isn’t it possible to be plussed? A tiepin can be a mirror to a man’s soul. Vegetable of day: swede

Salmonella Fitzgerald – deadly, but enjoyable to listen to. What is the difference betwixt lingering and malingering? Fruit of the day: pear

Gad – humble apologetics for one’s lack of tweet yesterday. Sudden attack of sunshine, an ample breakfast and an escaped mongoose. Fine now.

Boot boy gainfully employed in oiling my laces. Tomorrow’s tip: lather up well before you shave. Mrs C learned the hard way. Tea: Darjeeling

Chum of mine: Nosferatu Bunting – Gothic local fete organiser. The art of conversation should be a subject taught for school examinations.

Hullabaloo in the Cummerbund household. Exploding blancmange, mongoose has snake flu, butler with lockjaw and no tea bags. Cordial: lemon.

Butler’s jaw unlocked, mongoose still hissing, blancmange cleared up (cook still shakey), shooting stick went off in pantry. Chin chin, eh?

Chum of mine: popular music yodeller Wopbopaloobamawopbamboo Smith. Mongoose now just slithering slightly. Biscuit of the day: Bourbon

Gargling incident with toothpowder. Mrs C covered in paint. Bootboy sent off in search of brown laces. Tea: lapsang souchong. Toast: French

Some days I mourn the decreasing use of … galoshes. A little anchovy paste spread on the nose will certainly excite comment. Wine: Shiraz

Every clock in the house has stopped. Clock winder sacked. Longer in bed though. Mongoose disorientated. Cook flapping. Breakfast: cereal

Pencil drumsticks are at their most effective if not sharpened to a point. Chum of mine: Hospitality Planks, affable joiner. Quaff: pale ale

Shaving incident involving cheese grater, tweezers and industrial sander. Cook has been warned, police informed and mongoose hosed down.

Taramasalata alert. Silly name for a cousin but there you go. Cook puts locks on cupboards. Mrs C in flurry. Not going to McDonalds again.

Take a bowl of meat stock and add a quart of strawberry jelly, two buttons and bookmark. Simmer then pour down drain. On no account, eat it.

Mr Spatchcock round to borrow bicycle pump. Cook was using it for souffle. Has now sent boot boy out to buy some bellows. Breakfast: muffin

draeb rof srezeewt etsap hsif seotamot – gah, never try copying shopping lists off blotting paper. Never works. Rather like gardener Botley

Celia Catflap popping in for spritzer. Mrs C flapping. Boot boy beating carpet. Cook beating egg. Mongoose beating up next door’s cat. Joy!

Next door returned spatula. Botley found in hedge, clutching trowel. Toast burned. Watched the cricket. Found whistle. Mrs C has hidden it.

Sorry – incommunicado. Shut in cellar after turnip incident. Hunky dory now. Boot boy accused of suet experiment. Investigators called in

Botley has dug up the petunias. Mrs C fuming. Cook fizzing after boot boy switched tooth powder for bicarb of soda. Hey ho. Breakfast: whelk

Huzzah! Back on British soil after three days of fromage, undercooked meat and no decent tea. Mrs C lightly tanned. Out of sardines. Tallyho

Weather set to steam bake us. Mrs C has parasol. Botley has red bald patch. Boot boy offering me espadrilles. Mongoose wearing hat. Scorcher

French cheese gone walkabout from larder. Last seen scaring the staff. Mongoose sent off to track. Mrs C has had a turn. Time for a snifter!

Mangle undergoing repairs. Boot scraper out of action – has hurt his knee. Own silly fault. Cook in brown study (Brown not using it). Voted.

Pilchards lost. Search party despatched. Butler sent off to source more satisfactory corduroy. Mangle fixed. Painted ukulele. Lunch: panono

Spatchcock has returned bicycle pump. It is bent. What’s he been doing with it? Shall quiz him later. Good gargle today. Breakfast: kumquat

Mrs C is plastering camomile on to deter sunstroke. Bootboy has discovered espadrilles. Butler in shock. Mongoose in larder. Cook in strop

Well great jumping Jehosophat! If it’s not a week since I last updated you chaps, I’m gaiter full of blancmange. 12th gin sling to blame …

Boot boy doing strange walk, cook more morose than usual, butler has gelled hair, Mrs C humming odd ditties. Gad! Party or wake? Kippers off

Vagabonds ahoy! The smelter has smelted the grate, and the milk’s gone orf. Linen recommended for clothing the limbs amidst summer sunshine

Can’t see wood for trees. Trees *are* wood, so damn silly saying. Promises to be a steamer today. Fizz on ice, batten down hatches, yip yip!

Happiness, my boy, is a pilchard on toast and feet in a mustard bath. Bootboy flagging down ice cream vendor. Mrs C just flagging. Geronimo!

Fig poultice, olive oil marinade, sprinkling of paprika and wrap in brown paper. Unusual skin treatment in this weather, but it works for BC

Hefty rain yesterday: boot boy wearing water wings, Botley gardening in sou’wester. Mongoose has goggles on. Ridiculous. Tiffin: muffin

Gardener, boot boy in huddle. Cook in muddle. Mrs C learning fiddle. Crossword a doddle. Eggs coddled. Mongoose waddled. Twaddle. Sozzled!

Laundry invaders: jodphurs and deerstalker. No-one rides or stalks, valet to investigate. Mongoose sulking as no post today. Poppycock say I

Impossible pudding last night: spoon stuck in it. Botley has planted succulents. Mongoose still sulking. Tin opener covered in aniseed. Why?

Hollyhocks wilting, mongoose moulting, Mrs C quilting, boot boy bolting breakfast. Stiff neck: linament required. Gargling well! Tickety-boo

Breakfast: grilled anchovy. Found cufflinks under diced kumquat. Read Psychics Nostalgia weekly: yesterday’s news tomorrow. For betting tips

Urchin calls, selling nosegays. Mrs C sends away with flea in ear. We have oranges and lots of open windows instead. Boot boy’s feet remain

Am being followed by a compulsive tweeter: 12 tweets at once is madness, woman, so stop it. Urchin to sue because of flea. Breakfast: sole.

Have not had gout. Would be glad not to get it. Have never had chitterlings either, but have had chipolatas. Highly satisfactory. Lunch: egg

Gad, sun is shining. Botley out of shed where rain has has him pinned for two days. He says. Familial gathering today around roasted meat.

Cricket bat covered in taramasalata. Boots have sugar mice in them. Plot thickens

Walrus in aspic. Boot boy in clover. Cook in hock. Botley in nettles. Mrs C in high dudgeon. Tweezers in vaseline. All possible band names.

Gah! Just escaped from coal bunker. Shut in by Mrs C after the tweezer incident. Plotted a novel and discovered anthracite. Invented yoghurt

Muffins ahoy! Crumpets at one o’clock! Scones beneath! Buns above! Crossants a droit! Pain chocolate a gauche! Baking day a-go-go! Huzzah!

V little sleep. Dreamed couldn’t wake up. Now not sure if conscious or not. Mrs C snoring like trooper, though I’ve never heard one. Piffle!

Back from jaunt to the coast. Quaffed local ale and sampled local mussels, hake, pasties and weekly paper. Old homestead looks dull. Pah!

#bestholidayever Mrs Pocklington’s Guest House for Gentlefolk, Broadstairs – splendid trouser press, rather ample foodstuffs and no Botley

Time for a constitutional after much industry this morning. Buffed up the leather patches on me jacket and straightened all the pipecleaners

Just added myself to the twitter directory under: #bloomsbury_london #spats #toastmasters #edwardian #entertainer #bear

Feel like toasted pilchard, and half as athletic. Time for glass of something medicinal and game of darts at boot boy. Mongoose quivers (6)

Bally rain. Leaky shoes. Damp plus fours. Soggy spats. Grumpy Mrs C. Sweaty kipper. Broken brolly. Sleeping gardener. Prod with hoe. Cheered

Spending this evening with the following: taramasalata, spirit level, plunge bath, flange, Illustrated London News, Mrs C. Jollity ahoy!

No shillyshallying today. Can’t be doing with every Tom, Dick and Harry. Piper calls the tune. Time waits for no man. Breakfast: kidneys

Mellifluous shennanigans in conservatory. Botley discovered with trowel, pot of honey, chamber maid. Evidence being gathered. Lunch: bagel

Unsavoury incident with quiche. Cook delivered it, Mrs C had taste – sweet not savoury, sent it back. Thumps and clangs. It’s never dull.

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Rusty spade

It’s National Poetry Day
And I have not, so far, written anything poetic.

Maybe I have said something of a poetic nature
to someone.

Thinking about it, I’d consider that unlikely.

It’s possible there might have been
an action
a glance
or a thought
that might be considered
in some way lyrical.

To be honest, it’s not been that poetic a day.

But it’s National Poetry Day,
so I’m writing this.

Which may not be much compensation
for today’s poetic vacuum.

But it’s the best I can come up with.

Some days words are your paint
your instrument
and the love of the universe coiled in sound.

Other days, they’re a heavy, slightly rusty spade
that doesn’t really do the job.

This was one of those days.

8 October 2009

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