America, Countries, Europe, UK

John Glenn and other space cadets

Many have said it about me, so on the 60th anniversary of his becoming the first American to orbit Earth here’s to John Glenn and other space cadets.

And a nod, of course, to NASA HQ in Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

And our friends, a visiting spaceman among them, who shared their world with us.

Including witnessing multiple sunsets.

Take me to space: Bandanaman and Spaceman

The bould John, 95 years young, last went into space when he was 77.

Now that space tourism is a thing and is no barrier to age as Captain Kirk, William Shatner, 90, proved let’s look to the stars.

Through the Rainy Days and Songdays songs that have inspired us the Space Race generation.

A Mars a day

Making it up as he goes: David Bowie

Life on Mars, David Bowie: And no, not Bowie’s first space song, nor his last.

Think Space Oddity, The Man Who Fell To Earth and Ashes to Ashes.

But Life On Mars from the album Hunky Dory is certainly his best.

And to bring it back to earth Bowie name checks Ibiza and the Norfolk Broads … both stop-offs for this space cadets.

Rocket science

Making a spectacle of himself: Elton John

Rocket Man, Elton John: Elt was spaced all right when he put the score to his pal Bernie Taupin’s lyrics.

So we can’t place him anywhere though we imagine that the-then coked-up Mr John would have been seeing a lot of The Troubadour in West Hollywood then.

Swing among the stars

What he just said: Frank Sinatra

Fly Me To The Moon, Frank Sinatra: We don’t know if they’ve got old blue eyes out in space but Frank’s voice is out of this world.

Obvs we want to name check Hoboken, New Jersey and the other cities that he bigs up, New York, Chicago and LA.

But the closest we got was Las Vegas and this inscription to the Rat Pack in Neon City

All-Hit Radio

Sibling space cadets: Karen and Richard Carpenter

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft, The Carpenters: Now this one is a new one on us but this was actually originally written by the Canadian band Klaatu (no us too but they were named after an ambassador from the extraterrestrial confederation in the film The Day The Earth Stood Still).

But it was in the hands of Richard and Karen Carpenter that the song really took off.

And it naturally has that Californian twang with the unique lead-in of Mike Ledgerwood on All Hit Radio.

This song will be heard once again

De Burgh was here: In the Nativity Scene

A Spaceman Came Travelling, Chris De Burgh: Only Chris De Burgh could come up with anything quite as overblown as a space hook to the Nativity Story.

But the Irishman did after reading Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Daniken, with a sprinkle of WB Yeats and his belief that every 2,000 years something cataclysmic happens.

Never mind that the Nativity Story is only mentioned in two out of the four gospels.

And the Monty Python boys went this way too when they had a spaceship land in Bethlehem in the Holy Land in Life of Brian.

A Galaxy far, far away

Idle life: Monty Python

Which brings us neatly to Eric Idle’s pithy reflection on the human condition in Galaxy in The Meaning of Life.

So it applies to us all, John Glenn and other space cadets.



Our Love Island – what’s yours?

The fact that the Love Islanders never get out of their bed, or each others, in Ibiza says it all about them.

La Isla Blanca (Ibiza) and the Balearic Islands, Majorca, Menorca and Fuerteventura are more, of course, than chavs and raves.

I’ve savoured all the islands and revisit whenever I get the chance.

I would of course though like to get my Valentine out there on my own without the family.

And when I do I will definitely get her on the pedalos by Soller in the north of the island where the Brits never go.

The family’s designated driver she’ll not go careening towards mine which my ditzy colleague did way back then.

Each of course are perennial favourites with us British.

And each have their own identity if only you escape your own tribe.

Magical Majorca

And there are gentler slides too

Majorca: The best thing about Magaluf is the road out and you really don’t have to go that far to arrive at more exclusive and less Britified Majorca.

You know you really don’t want to be eating a full English breakfast wtih a pint of lager under the beating heat with your top off, men! And watching Del Boy on the telly.

You’re better getting along to the nearby Western Water Park.

But watch out for the the salmon-pink Brits making a big splash and dousing you and your young lad just coming off The Beast.

Menorca rocker

Pour me another

And one from my childhood here where my parents got on board the fashion for all things Balearic back in the 70s.

And while they topped up on their tans and made friends with people from their own neck of the woods in I did my bit for international relations.

I had not a word of German but befriended Uwe over games of sand bowls on our Menorca beach.

Being German I think he beat me in a sudden-death shoot-off.

Viva Ibiza

The White Island

The sun must have got to my folks because they allowed me a freedom in the Balearics that they would never ever sanction at home in Scotland.

And that meant allowing me a half a glass of vino in Ibiza.

Pepe, the waiter from Seville who worked in Portinax , topped it up a little bit more!

Ole, ole, ole, ole!

Open wide in Fuerteventura

Take a trip out on a wine boat

Now I blame those very same parents, just like Philip Larkin did, for my drinking habits on those early Thomson, now TUI holidays.

My Dear Old Dad love the exoticism of ordering a Cuba Libre (a rum and coke to you and me) from the beach shack.

And they were changed days as I would be sent to collect them. I would always ask for an Orangina which had specks of actual orange and came in a funky bottle.

And that took the edge off this nine-year-old’s sore head from the previous day’s outing on the boat to Fuerteventura, something a bit like this.

Find out first if they’ve got a porron.. and this is how you do it.

Although Mum knew that already despite never having seen a porron before. She is from Ireland after all where every drop of alchohol is saced!

So where is your Love Island… let me know and we’ll share.


America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – Si Senor, we can boogie

We all need a certain song and for us Scots that certain song is Spanish disco classic Yes Sir, I Can Boogie.

The story goes that one of the Scottish footballers who qualified for the Euros, Andrew Considine, had sung the song on a bachelor’s party while dressed in drag.

And the squad adopted it and partied to it after they beat Serbia to qualify for the finsls.

Boogie nights

All night long: Andrew Considine (centre)

It’s not unusual for Scottish men to wear skirts, of course.

And some of us have even twirled the skirt in destinations from Ireland to France to Turkey.

And all the better when it’s to a Spanish beat.

Mad Madrid for it

Yes Sir I Can Boogie (Baccara): And Mayte and Maria are two Madridistas.

Who reached No.1 in the UK in 1977 for a week at a time when Scotland were again on a roll and preparing for a World Cup.

The two senoritas went onto represent randomly Luxembourg at Eurovision.

Where they finished seventh behind winners Israel but two places ahead of the Spanish entrant.

Maracca cracka

Where’s the hat?

Y Viva Espana (Sylvia): That’ll be Sylvia Vrethammar to you and me.

Sylvia Vretwho… well, yes, she was the chirpy Swede who held her Spanish hat coquettishly before launching into this party favourite.

Which every family sang on their way to Spain, and yes, guilty as I tagged along with my family to Ibiza.

The track which Sylvia took to No.4 in the UK charts was actually written by a couple of Belgians and did the rounds in Europe in a number of languages.

Macarena in the arena

Macarena (Los del Rio): Always better in the Spanish with Los del Rio meaning Those from the River… and Macarena, well the name of a woman

And these guys hail from Dos Hermanas, near Seville in Andalusia.

This duo, Antonio Romario Monge and Rafael Ruiz Perdigones, were formed in 1962 – and remember The Beatles first charted in the UK that year.

It took the two amigos 33 years to get their ten minutes of fame and Billboard named the best one-hit wonder of all time.

Though they had to settle for No.2 in the UK.

Wham bam Bamboleo

Bamboleo (Gipsy Kings): And this literally means wobble although it is slightly more sensual to describe it as swing.

The band are Gitano-French, Romani or gipsies, from Arles and Montpelier in the French Riviera, hence the title they gave themselves,

Can’t find the chart position here for Bamboleo, a bit of a wobble here on my part then.

And La Bamba too

La Bamba (Ritchie Valens): Ritchie Valenzuela achieved immortality through this song.

Born in LA, the son of Mexicans, Ritchie’s life was snuffed out in the same plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.

Lou Diamond Philipps played Ritchie in the 1987 biopic where Los Lobos had a No.1 international hit with the song (Ritchie had only got to No.49).

So in tribute to the Spanish sound I’m off to practise my boogie ahead of the Euros.