Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Demis Roussos sang with Nana Mouskouri on the show that was on BBC4.  Mercifully, the bloody King's Singers were kept at bay for a couple of minutes.  

Nana told Demis that he was piling on the pounds, which was a bit tactless.  Gok Wan would not have approved.  "You shouldn't be hiding your voluptuousness behind that shapeless kaftan, Demis!" he would have exclaimed.  "Get a corset on and get yer bangers out!"

Demis was the subject of a discussion during a family gathering in my parents' house in the 1970's. Present were my gran, my auntie and my mum.  

He was caterwauling his way through When Forever Has Gone on TOTP.

My gran - a woman who made it her life's work to balance at least five illnesses at once, informed us that this was a beautiful song.

"HAH!" my auntie retorted.  "It's complete rubbish and he can't sing!"

My auntie was the nearest thing to a modern woman in my mum's huge family.  She actually had opinions and stuff, a job outside the home, was quite young looking and hadn't just "given up" on life when she reached thirty.   

You know the way that some people always stick with the look they had when they were in their late teens?  Well, that's the way my auntie looked - as if it was 1960.  She used to be rake thin, have short bouffant mousy hair, bad skin and a wardrobe compiled of car coats, cropped trousers and turtle neck jumpers.  A lot of Crimplene and pastel colours were involved.  She looked like a Smiths cover star, in other words.

Actually, her husband used to complement her in this respect.  Those bum freezer jackets and boots with the elastic in the side, and a big ash blond quiff.  Wide screen features and very pale blue eyes ... ahem ... is it a bit off to say that your uncle was quite fanciable really?  He used to manage a car showroom in Walsall.  Very glamorous.

Theirs was an aspirational family (by 1976 standards) and they were the envy of all my other relatives because they had an oil lamp, a bricked up chimney style fireplace and one of those long, snaking sofa/chair things with the units in between!  The upholstery was chocolate coloured velour!

My mother said nothing (as was usually the case in any social gatherings, unless she'd laid into the Cherry B).

My gran got very emotional.

"It's a lovely song.  It makes me want to cry."

"HAH!" my auntie once again retorted.  "He's making IDIOTS out of people like you, all he's doing is raking in the cash from people who don't know any better like YOU".  She made some theatrical gestures of an EVIL person (presumably Demis) counting cash in their EVIL castle, grinning fiendishly and rubbing their hands together in an EVIL way.

"I don't care, people of your age don't understand.  One day you will.  I like this and I like Slim Whitman" my gran whined.  It's one of the few times I ever heard her express an opinion on anything, or, indeed, talk about anything apart from her illnesses.

I was hoping that this would, for once, lead to a huge family feud, or at least a heated debate.  It didn't.  Nothing ever did in my family.  People used to talk about each other behind their backs though.  This is part of the reason that I think families are shit.

My auntie, who was young and healthy and lively, died of a stroke at forty four.  Yikes!  I've outlived her!

My gran, who was always claiming that she would be dead soon, lived to the ripe old age of eighty nine.

Anyway, this has rambled off into a blind alley, and is completely pointless, which is the way I like it. There's nothing worse than a well written blog post, is there?

Um, Demis.  Here's Demis with the awesome Aphrodite's Child.

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Everyone should have an Auntie who looks like Myra Hindley.

I bet your Gran would have forgotten her illnesses if the chance of a soft shoe shuffle with Rodney Bickerstaffe had presented itself.
Or a lambada with Tom Jackson.
According to Mr Wackypedia, Nana Mouskouri has sold over 230 million albums.

You try finding someone who will admit to possessing one though...
Your uncle sounds a bit like Swiss Tony.
I bet your mum wouldn't have had chocolate velour - it would show the dust wouldn't it?.
230 million? I bet there's people with more than one.
Demi looks like he could be Russell Brand's father.
Garfer - nooo, she didn't look like Myra Hindley. Gawd forbid. I think that there was nothing that would have made my gran forget her illnesses, even a grope behind Cannock bus station with Slim Whitman.

Tim - no, really, my gran was too obsessed with her illnesses to devote any time to having crushes on trade union leaders. Not like me at all then.

Murph - Nana bought 220 million of them herself. She's possessive like that.

Kaz - he wasn't like Swiss Toni, despite the car showroom. Didn't have a moustache, for starters, and didn't woo the ladies with fine wines and Belgian chocolate. I think he did have one or two other women in the background though shall we say, hem hem. Unfortunately we ended up getting a russet coloured velour suite which showed up the dust. Foolish move.

Billy - exactly, Nana bought 220 million of them, and a lot were bought up by the Greek Tourist Board to help promote the fact that Nana Mouskouri HAD SOLD MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF RECORDS AND WAS FROM GREECE.

MJ - yeah, I can see it. Both of them are fairly hirsute. I wonder if Russell will pile on the pounds in a few years?
My, Vangelis does have an impressively pulsating organ.

And maybe it's my eyes, but I'm sure the drummer played one of the Mexican farmers in The Magnificent Seven.
My dad brought about one of those 'let's stop talking behind each other's backs and say what we really think' things in my mum's family.

Two of her sisters didn't talk to him for years.

In hindsight, maybe that's what he was after?

...last night I dreamt about you & Geoff. I thought you were supposed to be anti-social??
Betty, I wish you'd carried on there, talking about your family. I felt as though I was being magically transported into a open university film on BBC4 about the working class in Staffordshire in the 1970s, or whatever.
I don't know who these people are, which makes me feel smug and youthful.

'70s decor is one of those things, like Le Corbusier or chihuahuas, where you look at it and think "How did they ever think that was a good idea?"
If you ever find the Four Horsemen on YouTube let me know. It has my vote for bestus hallucigenic-air-guitar-solo-at party song EVER!!

And when the lamb-mb-mb-mb
opened the First seal,
I saw-aw-aw-aw-aw the first horse.
The horseman held a bow

Now when the lamb-mb-mb-mb
opened the Second seal,
I saw-aw-aw-aw-aw the second horse
The horseman held his sword

(*sung in the same register as cats being neutered before administering freezing to their bits)

The leeeeeading horse is white
The second horse is red
The third one is a blaaaack,
The last one is a greeeeeen

Tim - Vangelis has got an even bigger pulsating organ on the song It's Five O'Clock (check YouTube). That drummer was an extra in The Spirit Of The Beehive too. Well, you have to forge some kind of career when you're The Other One from Aphrodite's Child, or, even worse than that, The Drummer From Aphrodite's Child.

Beth - well, my dad was Yugoslavian and very much in favour of "speaking his mind" (very much the East European way) which meant that he fell out with virtually all of my mum's relatives, and there are hundreds of them! As for the dream, I hope we were as gorgeous looking as we are in real life.

Fathorse - ah, the young people of today, they don't know they were born. Having to watch Demis Roussos on telly while your nan and auntie were exchanging opinions was very character building, y'know. Were chihuahuas invented in the 1970's then? That explains a lot.

Donn - Four Horsemen is superb, isn't it? There's a YouTube of it with a photo montage -


Sadly, no footage of the boys in velvet suits, frilly shirts and bow ties, but you can't have everything, can you?
Groovy as your auntie sounds, there is something cruel about trying to talk someone out of liking music they enjoy, or even taking the piss out of it.

I never knew Demis when he was young and svelte, only in his big kaftans/tents. And my mum was frequently mistaken for Nana Mouskouri in the 70s, people asking for her autograph and everything, she pretended she didn't like it but she loved it really.
Tom - but ours was a very boring family. In fact, I'm sure that the other families I knew were very boring as well. Paul Watson's The Family is the definitive study of the time, and he managed to make a pretty boring family seem vaguely interesting!

Annie - yeah, I suppose my auntie was a bit tactless really. I'm not surprised that my gran was miserable all the time. It was a self fulfilling prophecy. She was miserable, so everyone used to take the mickey out of her, so she became even more miserable, and so on. I hope people didn't ask your mum to sing for them. That could've been a bit embarrassing in the supermarket.
"There's nothing worse than a well written blog post, is there?"

...and that was nothing like a well-written...etc. etc.

Triffic stuff - right down to the elasticated sides of the boots. I could *smell* the sideburns, Bettster...

Have some reet treats for you on #57 - Phillybusters vol. 4 just kind of fell into my hands.....oh yes!


wrud poncification: ingro

Isn't that what happens to your toenails?
Bob - thanks! Just as well you can only smell the sideburns, and not the boots. Will give the podcast a listen. A Rodney Bickerstaffe special, by the look of things. My word verification is "ectrauts", who I think was that German goalkeeper who played on with a broken neck in the FA Cup Final.
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