Thursday, 7 April 2016

F is for Fable - #AtoZchallenge

A Fable is a story with a moral and the famous are Aesop's Fables.
Aesop was a Greek story teller. No writing by him exists and there is a question as to whether he really existed or not but there are a number of stories accredited to him. His stories include 'The Lion and the Mouse', 'The Goose that laid the Golden Egg' and 'The Boy who Cried Wolf'.
The Boy that cried wolf is the story of a shepherd boy who claims that there is a wolf attacking the sheep and the villagers rush to help but find there is no wolf. He does this again and then the third time when there really is a wolf no one believes him. The moral of the story is that you shouldn't lie because people won't believe you when you really need them.
Another well known story which includes a wolf is Peter and the Wolf. This is a composition written by Prokofiev and is assumed to be an allegory for the situation in Russia at the time. Russia and the soviet state was written about in secret by many of its great novelist including Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Solzhenitsyn.
Solzhenitsyn wrote many semiautobiographical books including Cancer Ward - about his time on a cancer ward - and A day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich .
A Day in the life document a day in the life of someone serving in the gulags in Siberia.

And so from the fables of ancient Greece and across eastern Europe to the wilds of Siberia.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

E is for Each - #AtoZChallenge

Say the word each to me and I always think about people selling raffle tickets. '20p each or 5 for £1' was how the sales pitch used to go.
I remember as a child often attending Christmas parties and works socials where there would be a raffle.
With a raffle, tickets are drawn at random from a tub and the holder of the winning ticket gets to pick a prize and then draw the next number. This continues until all the prizes have gone. The prizes usually included a few bottles of wine, some beer and a cuddly toy.
A cuddly toy was also one of the prizes in The Generation Game. The Generation Game was a game show shown on a Saturday night where three couples competed against each other in a number of tasks. Which ever couple made it through then had to remember prizes as they passed them by on a conveyor belt. Everything they could remember they won.
The Generation Game was hosted by Larry Grayson and Sir Bruce Forsyth.
Sir Bruce also hosted Strictly come dancing up until 2014 when he retired due to the pressure of live television. The show is now hosted by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman. 
Claudia is also co host of the BBC's film programme Film16. The Film programme was originally hosted by Barry Norman between 1972 and 1998.

So we move from Each to Barry Norman in six easy steps.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

D is for Dab - #AtoZChallenge

Dab Can be many things but I like to think of it as the dab of ink you put on a bingo card to denote that one of your numbers have been called.
Bingo is a game where people have a number of cards all with 15 numbers on them. 5 on each line. Numbers are called and prizes are awarded for the first person to get a row, two rows and then a full house. Bingo had a resurgence in the nineties with Gala and Mecca setting up clubs that were a huge step up from the grimy bingo halls of the sixties and seventies.
At the seaside bingo callers us different names to highlight the numbers. Calls like 'any way up 69', 'legs 11' and 'two fat ladies 88' are often heard.
Two fat ladies was also the name of a cookery show which featured Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jenifer Paterson and two chefs who travelled around the country with a motorcycle and sidecar.
Another couple often see out and about with a motorcycle and sidecar where Wally and Nora Batty in The Last of the Summer Wine. This was a comedy set in Yorkshire and highlight the pit falls of three elderly gentleman and the scraps they somehow managed to get themselves into. One of the main characters until his death was Compo played by Bill Owen. In everything else I have ever seen him in he was always smartly dressed and well spoken but in Summer Wine he is a grubby little man with holes in his clothes and often weasels in his trousers.
Bill had a part in the very first Carry On film - Carry on Sergeant. The carry on films are much loved comedies based upon the seaside humour of saucy seaside postcards. These films starred many stalwarts of the British film industry in the sixties and seventies and you will often be amazed by some of the bit part actors who starred as youngster in the early films and went on to enjoy there own success.
They had Juliet Mills - daughter of Sir John Mills - and a future bond girl Shirley Eaton.

And so once again the six degrees of separation has led on a magical mystery tour that took us from Dab to Shirley Eaton. Strange were these things lead us.

Monday, 4 April 2016

C is for Cab - #AtoZChallenge

Today we start with Cab.

Being English I always think of black cabs like the hackney cabs that drive around London. In order to be a black cab driver in London you have to take a test called The knowledge. This is a test that shows that a black cab driver can get anywhere in London without the use of SatNav. One of the most famous black cab drivers was Fred Housego.
Fred won Mastermind in 1980. His final specialist subject was The Tower of London.
The Tower of London was built in 1078 and added to over the next 300 years. It sits on the North bank of the river Thames. It used to house a zoo and still has ravens living there.
Rumour has it that when the Ravens leave the Tower the kingdom will fall.
There is a Raven Master and there are seven Ravens in the Tower of London. The ravens are fed 170g of meat and bird biscuits soaked in blood every day.
Ravens are carrion birds and are part of the same family as the crow and the blackbird. Another member of this family is the Rook.
The Rook was once used in a sketch by the Two Ronnies. Ronnie Corbett and his partner go to a restaurant called the Rook and try to order a meal. The menu is made up of many dishes all containing rook. When they eventually make up there minds they are told 'Rook's off.'
The Tow Ronnies were of course made up of Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.
Ronnie Corbett sadly passed away last week but I will never forget the time he fell off the travelator during the filming of Peter Kay's Is this the way to Amarillo video. True comedy gold.

And so today we have managed to get from Cab to Ronnie Corbett in six degrees of separation and in the process pay my tribute to a comedy legend. RIP Ronnie.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

B is for Babbit - #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to today's six degrees of separation.

Babbitt is one of a number of alloys used in bearing metal. When someone says alloy to me I immediately think of copper and Brass.
Brass brings to mind the well known saying 'where there's muck there's brass' which was the main premise centred around the old TV show called Brass and staring Timothy West.
Timothy West is famously married to Prunella Scales who I can not think of without smiling fondly when I remember her wonderful portrayal as Sybil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers.
The sitcom is set in  Torquay and tells the tale of Sybil and her down trodden husband Basil as they try to run a  guest house. This would work perfectly if it wasn't for the guests who Basil finds particularly difficult to deal with.
Only twelve episodes of Fawlty Towers were ever made and it was written by the real life husband and wife team of John Cleese and Connie Booth.
Booth is no longer an actress of writer and is now a trained psychotherapist. This was a very similar career path to ex not the nine o clock news writer and actress Pamela Stephenson.

And so today we have somehow found our way from Babbitt to Pamela Stephenson in just six degrees of separation.

Friday, 1 April 2016

A is for Aardvark - #Ato ZChallenge

Day one of the A to Z challenge and I am going to see where the word aardvark leads me.
If you want more details about the A to Z challenge and what I am going to try to do in blogging terms over the next month check out my launch blog here.

Aardvark is a kind of anteater but is also the name of many building and taxi firms. They used Aardvark in attempt to get their adverts shown first in the yellow pages. This worked fine until people realise that numbers came before letters and then the million and one taxi firms called A1 appeared.
The A1 is also one of the longest roads in the Uk and runs from  London to Edinburgh. Another thing that ran from London to Edinburgh was The Flying Scotsman.
The Flying Scotsman was a steam train that could hit speeds in excess of one hundred miles a hour and was called the Flying Scotsman due to the journey it took. The Flying Scotsman is probably one of the most famous steam trains of all time only beaten in fame terms by the Rocket.
The Rocket was built by Robert Stephenson and was one of the first operational steam trains.
Robert Stephenson should not be confused with Robert Stevenson an engineer who built lighthouses, most notably the Bell Rock Lighthouse in the North Sea. He equally should not be confused with Robert Louis Stevenson who was his grandson and famously wrote Treasure Island.

And that is how on day one of the A to Z Challenge we get from Aardvark to Treasure Island in just six degrees of separation.

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