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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

KELLY: A MEMOIR by GERRY KELLY with DON ANDERSON

Kelly, a Memoir: Gerry Kelly with Don Anderson

Kelly: A Memoir
by Gerry Kelly with Don Anderson
Gill & Macmillan 2008

I had the pleasure and privilege of being interviewed by Gerry Kelly a couple of years ago when I was in Belfast to give a talk at the Belfast Book Festival.  On that occasion he was covering for BBC Radio Ulster's Alan Simpson on the afternoon show.

I was nervous but after a handshake and a brief chat while a record played (Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes), I felt much calmer and the 10-minute interview went well, according to friends and family who had tuned in.

I had known about Gerry Kelly for years via radio and TV shows and it was a great opportunity to meet him and get a little taste of his calm, conversational style of broadcasting.

He is best known for his long-running chat and entertainment show "Kelly" that ran live on prime time Ulster Television from September 1989 to December 2005 - (recipe - "topicality, music, audience participation and celebrity") - a show that attracted huge, loyal audiences and boasted a guest list to die for in nearly 600 shows.

The book gives some background on Gerry and his family (a narrative about his father leaving the family home chilled me because much the same thing happened with mine) and soon embarks on a CV journey include school teaching, journalism, television reporting and presenting.

But it's the "Kelly" show that dominates. It took up a huge chunk of his life and he was devastated when it ended.  Sadly, for career reasons, I was working in England during these prime years and missed a lot of great television but I caught some of the shows during visits home.

Kelly: A Memoir filled in a lot of details about the trials, tribulations, joys and delights of live TV. You'll get a flavour of the man and his work from this link I found - http://www.thekellyshow.com/profile1.html - but if you can get hold of a copy of the book, so much the better.

It is informative and entertaining, sometimes opinionated but always sincere and honest.

Gerry Kelly is an outstanding broadcaster with a professional and personal style that should be a template for some of the upstarts who think they can just wing it on TV and radio.  He is a gifted man with a great story and he tells it very well indeed.

I'm glad I got to shake his hand and answer his questions.

For the uninitiated, Gerry can be heard currently on Fridays and Saturdays on BBC Radio Ulster doing what he obviously enjoys - playing great music, chatting to great guests and championing Northern Irish talent.










Sunday, 1 March 2015

FOR YOU, THE WAR IS OVER BY SAM KYDD



For You, The War Is Over
by Sam Kydd
Futura Publications paperback 1974

Let me start with a link to a post on this blog in which I profiled Belfast-born actor, Sam Kydd.
When I was researching his life and work, I discovered that he had written a book, a memoir of his time (nearly five years) as a prisoner-of-war. (Note, the story stops in 1945, so Kydd's screen acting career is not covered, except for recollections about several prison camp productions.)

I have read several books about war but nothing like this one.  It is a pacy account of some very harrowing experiences in various prison camps in Germany and Poland as detainees fought to survive as best they could.

Everything from starvation to boredom to hard labour to hopelessness is covered and no punches are pulled in writing about the challenges of incarceration. But, the book is brimming with humour and cheer that should be at odds with the grimness and despair of the core subject matter.  The odd couple blending of tragic accounts and funny stories give the book honesty and heart and allows the reader to understand the horrors of prison camps whilst hearing the chirpy voice of someone who chose to recall his POW experiences with more than a fair dose of retrospective lightheartedness.

I suspect some of the yarns about capers here and there to dupe German guards are exaggerated but I found the book to be emotional, entertaining and an informative insight into the man who would eventually become the jobbing and busy actor Sam Kydd.

Kydd wrote in a lively way, as if he couldn't wait to get the words down on paper. It works a treat. Sadly, he did not get round to writing about his cinema and television career. It would have been a great autobiography, I'm sure.

For You, The War Is Over is out of print but can still be found on Ebay and other sites.

Friday, 27 February 2015

GOODBYE, LEONARD NIMOY

Goodbye, Leonard Nimoy,
you were Mr Spock,
amongst other roles,
but Mr Spock was the career prize
on the Starship Enterprise.

You said: "live long and prosper"
and you lived long and prospered,
but now, sad to hear,
you've reached the final frontier.

RIP.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

BEEN A BIT QUIET ON HERE......

I've been a bit quiet on here in recent weeks because, rather than post new poems, I have been writing and submitting to magazines and other outlets - so I can't publish the new work whilst it is "under consideration".

I have also been paying a bit more attention to reading poetry and by that I mean reading poetry slowly to get more out of it - enjoyment, entertainment, inspiration, emotion and, significantly, education. I want to be a better writer, so studying published and established poets seems a good larder from which to draw nourishment....and to experience new hungers.

Back soon.

p.s.
I am happy to plug (not review) new poetry books on this site - cover plus publisher's blurb - free of charge (although, gratis copies are welcomed for my education, enjoyment....see above).

Anything I post is sent out to surf the ether via Stumbleupon, Reddit, Digg, Twitter and Facebook.  At the time of writing these very words, my blog has had over 65,500 views in about four years.

Use the box to contact me.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

REMEMBERING SAM KYDD, BORN 100 YEARS AGO TODAY


SAM KYDD
Frankie baldwin sam kydd

It is well known that Northern Ireland has produced and continues to produce significant numbers of talented actors and actresses.  A glance through Ulster’s theatrical history will find a dazzling litany of successful names and for decades cinema cast lists have been festooned with much locally generated talent.  Of course, not everyone can be a Stephen Boyd, James Ellis, Kenneth Branagh, James Nesbitt or Liam Neeson, to name a few.  Some, clearly, have that extra special something that takes them to top billing. 

But in the history of movie-making, the all-important supporting roles and character parts have been blessed by the involvement of Northern Irish names, and cinema has been the richer for it.  Some names survive in our fondest memories but, sadly, many are forgotten as time marches on.  One name, however finds itself sandwiched between these two notions, and that name is Sam Kydd. 

We just have to look at his film and television credits from the late 1940s to the early 1980s to realise that Sam Kydd’s career coincided with a wonderful era of British cinema and evolving television. It is 100 years since his birth and as good a time as any to reflect on his career and contributions to the big and small screens. 

Sam Kydd was born in Belfast on 15 February 1915.  His father was an army officer and, as is inherent in military life, nomadic by career choice.  The family moved to England when Sam was a child, but Belfast has fair claim to the name.  James Ellis told me that Kydd lived in the Donegall Pass area but, with the exception of his most successful TV role, which we will come to later, he rarely used a Northern Ireland accent in his work. There was, said Ellis, a wall of prejudice surrounding English directors and casting agents when it came to Ulster accents and other non-English voices. Kydd got round the problem by doing auditions mostly as a Cockney.

 In the 1930s, he was an entertainer, warm-up man and master of ceremonies in dance halls before joining the army. He was posted to France but was captured by the Germans and ended up in a concentration camp.  Later, he wrote about his time as a POW in a book called “For You The War Is Over” and recalled, amongst other experiences, his efforts to keep inmates busy and amused by organising theatrical events and variety shows. 


After the war, he was able to use his producing, directing and performing experience at the camp to find work in films.  These days, anyone at home in the afternoons, in between price comparison, pension and insurance advertisements, can often see him popping up in black and white films in various small parts.  Look out for him in “The Cruel Sea”, “Cockleshell Heroes”, “The 39 Steps”, “Carlton Browne of the F.O.”, “I’m Alright Jack”, “Passport To Pimlico”, “Reach For The Sky” and on and on.  He has played soldiers, sailors, policemen, sentries, ticket clerks, truck drivers, mechanics, postmen, engineers, milkmen, taxi drivers and all sorts of other roles as an almost never out of work journeyman actor. 

In the early 1960s on television, he had a decent role as Croaker Jones in around 40 episodes of a cargo ship sitcom called “Mess Mates”, with Archie Duncan, Fulton Mackay and Victor Maddern.  But his biggest break came along in 1963 when he was cast as Orlando O’Connor in the television series “Crane”, starring Patrick Allen.  The location scenes for the series were filmed in Morocco and the plot involved a businessman, tired of the rat race, who opts for a beach existence running a cafĂ©, with a little bit of smuggling on the side.

Kydd played Patrick Allen’s sidekick and confidante.  It was a major success in its day combining intrigue, glamour and comedy.  The series lead to a spin-off with Kydd reprising the Orlando role in a show aimed at children’s television.  It ran from 1965 to 1968. “Orlando” ended up so popular that twice as many episodes of it were made compared to the original “Crane”.  As his career progressed, Sam Kydd could be seen in shows like “Dixon of Dock Green”, “Z Cars”,  “The Dick Emery Show”, “Crossroads”, “Man In A Suitcase”,  “The Persuaders”, “Sykes” and even “Coronation Street” in which he played Mike Baldwin’s father.  In fact, in his 35-year career, he was cast in nearly 300 different film and television productions, amassing around 500 appearances in total, a phenomenal workload in a fickle business. 

Sam Kydd died in 1982 at 67 from a respiratory problem.  He was the classic example of an actor as a working man, not a big star by any means but a grafter who brought warmth and humour to the screen through his personality, professionalism, and very distinctive face and features.

Remember Orlando O’Connor?  As homage to his place of birth, he chose to use a broad Belfast accent in his portrayal. He may have left the city as a child but he nailed the voice perfectly. Many people of a certain age will recall Sam Kydd with affection.  He is one of many supporting players, unsung in a lot of cases, that British cinema and television should be grateful for.  He was a son of Belfast and proudly joins the list of the great and good from this part of the world. 

Aspiring actors and actresses should learn from him that they can’t all be big stars but they can carve out lower-key careers and earn a decent living if their ambitions are realistic.  Sam Kydd and his like can be their role models.


Note: If any of the images here violate anyone's copyright, please let me know and I will remove on request.

Also, Sam Kydd's actor son Jonathan Kydd has a website that includes a terrific section of his Dad. It is well worth a look - http://www.jonathankydd.com/

Saturday, 14 February 2015

THE 13 DAYS OF COURTING

From Only Drools & Corsets (Funny poems and silly stuff about love, Valentine's, etc)

Only Drools & Corsets
TO LOOK INSIDE, PLEASE GO TO AMAZON......





A sort of tale of the unexpected................


On the FIRST day of courting,
My true love sent to me
A gift box
With a small lock of her hair.

On the SECOND day of courting,
My true love sent to me,
Two nail clippings
And a gift box
With a small lock of her hair. 

On the THIRD day of courting,
My true love sent to me,
Three tear-stained tissues,
Two nail clippings
And a gift box
With a small lock of her hair. 

On the FOURTH day of courting,
My true love sent to me,
Four eyelash trimmings,
Three tear-stained tissues,
Two nail clippings
And a gift box
With a small lock of her hair. 

On the FIFTH day of courting,
My true love sent to me,
Five laddered stockings,
Four eyelash trimmings,
Three tear-stained tissues,
Two nail clippings
And a gift box
With a small lock of her hair. 

On the SIXTH day of courting,
My true love sent to me,
Six bitten toffees,
Five laddered stockings,
Four eyelash trimmings,
Three tear-stained tissues,
Two nail clippings
And a gift box
With a small lock of her hair. 

On the SEVENTH day of courting,
My true love sent to me,
Seven toothpicks chewed,
Six bitten toffees,
Five laddered stockings,
Four eyelash trimmings,
Three tear-stained tissues,
Two nail clippings
And a gift box
With a small lock of her hair. 

On the EIGHTH day of courting,
My true love sent to me,
Eight olive pips,
Seven toothpicks chewed,
Six bitten toffees,
Five laddered stockings,
Four eyelash trimmings,
Three tear-stained tissues,
Two nail clippings
And a gift box
With a small lock of her hair. 

On the NINTH day of courting,
My true love sent to me,
Nine blobs of earwax,
Eight olive pips,
Seven toothpicks chewed,
Six bitten toffees,
Five laddered stockings,
Four eyelash trimmings,
Three tear-stained tissues,
Two nail clippings
And a gift box
With a small lock of her hair. 

On the TENTH day of courting,
My true love sent to me,
Ten empty beer cans,
Nine blobs of earwax,
Eight olive pips,
Seven toothpicks chewed,
Six bitten toffees,
Five laddered stockings,
Four eyelash trimmings,
Three tear-stained tissues,
Two nail clippings
And a gift box
With a small lock of her hair. 

On the ELEVENTH day of courting,
My true love sent to me,
Eleven ultimatums,
Ten empty beer cans,
Nine blobs of earwax,
Eight olive pips,
Seven toothpicks chewed,
Six bitten toffees,
Five laddered stockings,
Four eyelash trimmings,
Three tear-stained tissues,
Two nail clippings
And a gift box
With a small lock of her hair. 

On the TWELFTH day of courting,
My true love sent to me,
Twelve effigies,
Eleven ultimatums,
Ten empty beer cans,
Nine blobs of earwax,
Eight olive pips,
Seven toothpicks chewed,
Six bitten toffees,
Five laddered stockings,
Four eyelash trimmings,
Three tear-stained tissues,
Two nail clippings
And a gift box
With a small lock of her hair.

On the THIRTEENTH day of courting,
I don’t know what she sent,
'Cos the strain and the stress
Made me change my address
And in answer to the choice –
Man or mouse? Mouse.
But at least a mouse
In a police safe house!

Friday, 13 February 2015

PAIRS - POEM FOR VALENTINE'S DAY

We go together
Like crackers and cheese,
Like thank you and please,
Like skip and rope,
Like water and soap,
Like moon and stars,
Like jams and jars,
Like Morecambe and Wise,
Like pork and pies
Like seek and hide,
Like Bonnie and Clyde,
Like comb and hair,
Like table and chair,
Like Ant and Dec,
Like Fiona and Shrek,
Like peas and pod,
Like hook and rod,

Like bread and butter.
Like mumble and mutter,
Like Minnie and Mickey,
Like glue and sticky,
Like Adam and Eve,
Like ho and heave,
Like Batman and Robin,
Like thread and bobbin,
Like Homer and Marge,
Like canal and barge,
Like Barbie and Ken,
Like cluck and hen,
Like Jack and Jill,
Like Ben and Bill,
Like Hansel and Gretel,
Like flower and petal,
Like Tom and Jerry,
Like Christmas and merry,

Like bacon and eggs,
Like stockings and legs,
Like Black and Decker,
Like wood and pecker,
Like bow and arrow,
Like wheel and barrow,
Like click and clack,
Like train and track,
Like fish and chips,
Like walnuts and whips,
Like Watson and Holmes,
Like barbers and combs,
Like Wooster and Jeeves,
Like autumn and leaves,
Like finish and start
(And, I do apologise),
Like beans and fart.