Preserving memories

Its fair to say that since leaving work in the betting industry, that my interest in horse racing has dropped off pretty considerably. So much so, that this year, I even wondered if I was going to bother to bet in the Grand National, the biggest betting race of the year. History shows that I did, and did the right thing, as one of my 3 horses was placed, and I made a profit on the race. Even so, next years event will be my next bet…maybe?

In truth, the only racing I go out of the way to watch now are the very big festivals, or the quirky races. Hey, I didnt even really care that I missed 1 day of the Cheltenham Festival this year, because of the trip back to the flapper era in Blackpool!

So what do I mean by quirky racing, I hear you ask? Well, probably the most obvious is the race meeting on the beach, at Laytown, in Ireland. Yes, they literally set up a mile long straight on the beach nowadays, once a year, and race there. There did used to be a longer, circular course, but due to the iniquities of the tide, and Health and Safety regulations, no more.

The other quirkiness is what they call cross country racing. Instead of standard hurdles, and fences, you get grass banks that they run up, and either run down again, or jump off, according to taste, and the like. Cheltenham doesnt have any really weird fences on their course, but Punchestown actually has a stone wall they have to jump on the course, albeit a very low one!

Thankfully, the biggest, and best cross country race of the year, at Punchestown, was run today, on my day off. I’ve had the delight of seeing it live numerous times in the past, and managed to catch it a few more times on TV, now that racing has its own channels on this modernity known as cable TV. Irish racing, up to this year at least, has been on a channel that you dont have to pay any extra subscription to watch. Sadly, in the world of racing politics, this is the last year it will be there, as next year, Irish racing is changing channels to a subscription one, and I certainly wont be paying that for 2 days racing a year!

So yes, today I said goodbye to an old friend, as lets face it, I’m not likely to get to the festival again now, given my much lessened interest, and the amount of money it would take to get there! There will be another race there, later this year, but its only over part of the course, and given its on a Saturday, I’ll be at work, so will miss it. Laytown races, yes, one last time, in September, as its on a Thursday, the week before my holiday, I should see it then. I’ve always said I wanted to go there, but I’m beginning to realize its probably not now going to happen, shame! But given where it is, and the state of my back, I suspect not.

Video time, a real oldie! I dont fancy my chances of sitting on a park bench at 70, unless I’ve moved somewhere a lot hotter than here!

Movie star interview (ha ha) followed by meeting a few old stars

OK, lets try and catch up on things. I’ll own up to one issue with this, I cant for the life of me remember what I did Thursday. I know, blonde and all that, just calm compared to the other 3 days, so…Maybe I was time travelled back to the 30’s, to work in the movies as Jean, and they had to erase my memories afterwards (yes, I am joking, I think?), but anyway…

Wednesday was an early start for me, in the sense I had to leave here on the 10.00 bus. OK, fine, I can follow its progress online, and at some point it had got delayed, and only left about 10 past. As I say, the beauty is, I knew that, so had a few extra minutes here. Oh, I eventually let Jean Harlow influence me, and wore a white summer dress for the performance, some at least will get the connection.

The interview seemed to go fine, I had no idea the half hour was actually up until Alexia started winding things down, to be honest. Its garnered a few questions on Sqeeqee, so clearly a good number watched it at least. I think it went well, but I’ve had no comments on that line, nor any offers from generous benefactors, so who can tell? Fine, my lack of success has probably jaded me on such issues, so…

Afterwards, I headed to Universal Studios, not to make a movie, or to go in the adventure park, but for a bit of lunch. I then had 2 choices. I could either come back here, relax, and wait for the fan mail to come pouring in (ha ha), or I could travel out, and see a few more places. So, I did the latter. The Orange line of the metro doesnt have rails, or indeed a train. its a bus, but it doesnt travel on public roads. I went out to the Warner Centre, where maps were suggesting there was a shopping centre, so I thought I could have a coffee, or something, before heading home. OK, this is the shopping centre that the public forgot! Very few people, very few shops, so I gave up, and headed home the same way.

Thursday, as I say, if I ever remember what happened, I’ll let you know!

Yesterday, I started watching the play off game from Toronto, which started about 9.30 in the morning over here. My thought was that I would watch that, then head down into Hollywood, have a late lunch, and do a little sightseeing, before heading back here, to change into something vintage, and head for the Art Deco society cocktail soiree at Union Station. Fine, 14 innings, and about 5 hours later, the Toronto game ended. By which point, if I’d headed down town, I would barely have eaten, before I had to come back up here to change. So…I started watching the remains of the Kansas City game lol. I went with the blue summer dress, rather than anything more old fashioned, because it was very light, which was handy, given it was about 100 outside! Fine, its a 50’s look, but it was the most modern looking outfit by about 20 years! It was a lovely evening, but for 1 thing. Union Station lacks for air conditioning! Therefore, given the place was crowded, and the heat, oh my, it was hot.

You’ve noticed one thing, no main meal. So when I got back to Hollywood/Vine station, I went looking for somewhere quick (and hopefully cheap) to eat. I found a place called Feast, which fitted both roles, and was solidly filled by chicken, rice, and veg. Beyond the personal thing about firm veg, it was great for the price! Then, I walked it off, coming home.

Today was equally hot, I might add. (It was 99 earlier, now calmed down to 86, but this is after 7 pm!) Someone was booked on the Art Deco society guided walking tour of Hollywood Forever cemetery. Some of it was shaded, but unfortunately, most wasnt. Even with a bottle of drink, it was hot work, for over 2 hours! The tour was fascinating, and I now know a lot more of the history of LA, both in a movie, and business sense. Afterwards, I headed back into town, found somewhere indoors (and air conditioned) to eat, and took my time, allowing my feet to recover, and my body to cool down slightly!

One snag I’ve discovered over here, is that not all sites over here will take a UK credit card. They want a zip code in your billing address, I havent got one, so nothing happens. So I tried to get a movie ticket in person for tomorrow night, instead of online. I tried to explain this to the guy at the theatre, but he wasnt getting my message, and besides, their ticket office didnt open at weekends, so…! I came home, and tried my luck. Fortunately, its one of those sites where it does work. So tomorrow night, on a rooftop setting, I’m off to see Sunset Boulevard. Yes, the 1950 film, not the street, though the latter is not that far from the theatre! Given tomorrow night’s low is forecast at 70, I dont think I will get cold, even if I just wear a nice dress!

Further plans? Well, the same place is showing Breakfast At Tiffanys on Tuesday, so could well end up there. I know, a bit modern for me, but I’ll live. Yes, the Hepburn movie, not the music video from the 90’s! I also want to get to Pacific Palisades again, and Pasadena for the first. Beyond that, we will see?

Right, the video, before this hits 4 figures for words. You could say I met a few of these, from the movie past today

A special pair of ladies

Yes, I know, this is technically one holiday early, but its because of my reading material on the journey over to Manchester this afternoon. Yes, those famous Kansas ladies, Louise Brooks, and Jean Harlow, both of whom cause their fair share of controversy, for one reason or another.

I am currently reading (when computer isnt available) Barry Paris’s excellent biography of Louise Brooks, and loving it. But it has to be said, however much you adore her work, the woman must have been a complete nightmare to deal with! Arrogant and awkward are just 2 words beginning with A that come to mind, and with Louise, you could probably run the whole alphabet! Yes, E might be for entertaining, as long as you werent doing personal business with her! And I havent even reached the point where she started making films yet!

Yes, I knew she had never been likely to win any diplomacy awards, but even so…! Still, might have been nice to meet her, just once in her old age, though I gather she was still quite hard to deal with, even then!

Funnily enough, the Harlow matter that has raised itself again on the internet isnt one where the flak is thrown at her, but at her mother. Last weekend, was Mothers Day in the US (we celebrated 2 months ago!), and someone posted a picture of Jean, and her mother together on Facebook, to celebrate the day. From there, the explosion started. Its fair to say in this matter, that there are 2 camps. Those, including myself, who realise that back in the 1930’s, Uremia (Kidney Failure) was fatal, there was no dialysis, no transplants back then for her to have. Jean suffered from Scarlet Fever in her teens, it damaged her kidneys, and eventually caught up with her, causing her death. Thats a fact, but this is where the 2 camps split violently. There seem to be a group who believe she only died because of her mothers religious beliefs, and she stopped Jean getting treatment. Wrong!

She had nurses looking after Jean, once she got seriously ill, but there was nothing that could be done to save her. In fact, she got the best she could find to look after her, but…
At the time, Louis B Mayer, the head of MGM, tried to take Jean off her hands, and get someone else to look after her, not realising just how serious things were. Mama Jean, suspecting he was more concerned about his film star, than her as a person, said no.

Of course, when Jean died (which was going to happen anyway), Mayer started a string of stories blaming her mother for her death, all totally factually inaccurate. But some, even now, want to believe them!

Jean Harlow as a person, I find hard to read. She was known as ‘Baby’ for a reason, not just her height. Many things suggest that maybe she was a bit innocent, prone to peer pressure, and other things besides. Then you get the rumours that she was secretly a wildcat, wrote a raunchy novel that MGM dumped, as far too sexy, and other things. I do wonder if these again were just stories created by MGM to boost business (given they tried to suggest her original surname was Carpentier, to sound more sexy, among other things), who knows?

I guess all in all, 80 years or so on, its all going to stay as conjecture and rumours now. Unless her ghost (assuming that story is true) wants to do a full reveal lol!

The video, given the neuroses surrounding both, and the fact that Art thought this pretty neurotic, seems apt

Next blog, from Jersey, hopefully something more current holiday based lol!

The woes of baseball

Sorry, if there are any Yankees fans reading this, you might want to leave now.

Yes, for my pains, the Mariners are my No 1 baseball team, and believe me, they provide me with plenty of pain. But second in my list, well, it might just be the Red Sox.

Have I ever mentioned before that Fenway Park is a wonderful old stadium, and other than perhaps Wrigley Field, I’ve never been anywhere like it. So yes, even without Kate’s influence, I sort of follow the Red Sox too. The last 2 seasons, horrible. First, the September collapse in 2011, and then the whole season collapse last year, it hasnt been good. And all the talk this year was of more of the same. So, take a look at the AL East table, and see who’s on top. Yes, thats right, the inhabitants of Fenway! 🙂 Fine, we could have yet another September collapse, but it seems a whole different team, and attitude this year.

Oh, sorry, did I mention the Yankees? Oh my, what a mess! And not just the A-Rod issues, though there seem to be plenty of them, they’re limping along in the division too. Whats that, hate the Yankees? Yes, I know, shock horror, a Red Sox fan who doesnt care for their biggest rivals. Alright, I dont hate all things Yankees, its impossible to dislike Derek Jeter at least. But otherwise…

I had to laugh last night, hearing the Fenway crowd booing A-Rod as he came out to bat. Funnily enough, when he joined the Yankees in 2004, the other big contender for his signature, was the Red Sox, werent they lucky to miss out! Yes, I know, he used to play for the Mariners, but that was a long time ago! A-Rod, boo…!

In case you dont know, steroids, trying to cover up the evidence of doing so, and everything else doesnt make him the most popular man in baseball at present.

Oh, the other delight this season, it looks like the Pittsburgh Pirates are finally going to have a winning year, its been over 20 years since they did so, just delighted for them. Funnily enough, guess who I’m watching while typing this? Yes, the Pirates.

The video, mentions a true baseball legend, and one who did it on natural talents.

Come to look, and admire

I’ve seen a few acts live in my time, though with the one exception, all when I was much younger. I am glad I saw OMD again this year though, that was quite special, even if my body didnt think so on the night. All that standing, at my age, with my knees,…aargh!

But there is one act I always wanted to see live, and never got the chance to do so. No, not my close namesake, and a few will know who I mean, but in this case, I mean Simon and Garfunkel.

Generally I had a fair reason for not seeing them live, the first, and major split was when I was still a small child, and far too young to go to pop concerts. They have had one or two reunions (see the video for an example), but apart from one, very expensive possibility in London some time ago, I’ve never had the opportunity, even if I could have done.

I suppose because my first major influence by music came at such a young age (6, or 7), I grew up on their music, and that of the flower power era, as my first chance at becoming a fan. By the time I was old enough to go to concerts, they were gone from the scene. But yes, I still hanker back to that music, even now. Its funny, you would think that this many years on, that they might have lost the edge, but clearly they havent

Probably my favourite song of theirs, but it would be a close run thing. But given that in less than 7 weeks, I’ll be looking for America, so…

Other things, I’ve seen the pictures, they are quite amazing, and in a few weeks time, when they arrive, I’ll post a couple here. I will also post one on the author profiles, so if you go hunting the books down then, you might find it. Though seriously, I wouldnt mind one or two going to the book site, and buying now, all the same. Lets just say the new story isnt flying up the internet sales listings at present!

Reminder, they are at

Right, I’ll try and post something more thought provoking over the next couple of days, but no promises made, depends on time, and things.

Homeward Bound

Though my moment was at Leeds station tonight, not Widnes, the station that its believed Paul Simon wrote this song about. Its the one that holds the plaque, though details now make it unclear if it was the exact one. But…

My entertaining moment tonight had nothing to do with a song, and more to do with the fact it was a hot, summer Saturday evening, and a few men reacting to it. I arrived on the platform to be greeted by 1 topless man, not a pretty sight. Not that that was enough, very soon another one arrived, complete with family, and looking very ‘pink’ to say the least. Before the train arrived (yes, it was a few minutes late, major shock…not!) another, who at least had a vest on, but it wasnt covering much, to say the least.

If I was interested in men romantically, believe me, those 3 could have put me off! Seriously, do some men think thats a suitable style of dress for a public railway station, especially if your figure is, err, less than perfect, shall we say?

Anyway, enough of those scary thoughts, enjoy a classic video

Other news, the photo shoot happened on Tuesday, not quite sure when the pics will be here, but I’ll post some when they are. Viewing was meant to be next Tuesday, but has been delayed slightly, so be patient. Oh, and a new ebook story from Ms Brooks will appear next week, either Tuesday or Wednesday, I suspect. Oh, and for Paypal purposes at least, I am now Merry Brooks Publishing! Feel free to buy any of the stories, I’ll provide a link to the new one when posted.

A homage to another Ms Brooks, shall we say?

To look for America

Yes, thats what I’ll be doing on Saturday, looking out for America. Snag is, at 35,000 feet, there arent too many signs to say that you’re entering US airspace lol! I know, they have that map thing on the planes, but lets face it, telling exactly when you cross into the US isnt quite as easy as that. I will know, clouds permitting when we reach Canada though lol. I’ll know when I actually land on US soil though, at New York, unless the plane has the most unique landing system known! Funnily enough, it will be a moment of deja vu, as the first time I left US soil, it was from JFK, and that was 25 years ago. And do you know, I havent been back there since, before Saturday. And of course, one week later, it will again be the last piece of US soil seen by me for a while. Who knows, I might even get back there again, in less than 25 years from now! I suspect I wont be travelling like that by then anyway, given I’ll be 80 by then!

Its a funny thing though, if my ancestors, just over 100 years ago had gone west from Ireland, instead of east, well, I wonder where I’d be now? Maybe I’d be holidaying regularly in England lol! Probably not, but…

Its fair to say that this year, not only am I looking for America, I’m looking for one specific person from America, and yes, its not hard for regular readers to know her name, Louise Brooks. Thats why I’m heading for Rochester on Saturday, and Kansas in September! Yes, I know, in her life sense, its the wrong way round, but anyway…I’m looking forward to it, a return to Rochester after 25 years too, though as far as I can remember, all I saw then was the route to Lake Ontario, and the lake itself, on the way out, and a motel just off the interstate on the way back. So saying its a return visit may be pushing it a bit lol!

Ah, the video, yes, as so often, the title is a giveaway. Finding an original live performance of this, no, I failed, hardly surprisingly. But this is definitely live, so…