Sunday, 17 April 2011

Bohemian Rhapsody - 1975

The four members of the band sit together in front of a sandy-coloured background wearing predominantly black clothing. Freddie Mercury appears to be the dominant figure, sat in front of the other three members. From left to right, John Deacon, Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor. All four individuals are looking directly at the camera with a neutral expression on their face. Above the band is some black text, printed in an elegant, italic font face. The word "Queen" followed by "Bohemian Rhapsody",  the latter of which is positioned under the band name in the same format yet smaller font.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" is a song by the British rock band Queen. It was written by Freddie Mercury for the band's 1975 album A Night at the Opera. The song has no chorus, instead consisting of three main parts: a ballad segment ending with a guitar solo, an operatic passage, and a heavy rock section.

When it was released as a single, "Bohemian Rhapsody" became a huge commercial success, staying at the top of the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks and selling more than a million copies by the end of January 1976. It reached number one again in 1991 for five weeks following Mercury's death, eventually becoming the UK's third best selling single of all time. It topped the charts in several other markets as well, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and The Netherlands. In the United States the song originally peaked at number nine in 1976; however, it returned to the chart at number two in 1992 following its appearance in the film Wayne's World revived its American popularity.

The single was accompanied by a promotional video, considered ground-breaking. Although critical reaction was initially mixed, particularly in the United States, "Bohemian Rhapsody" remains one of Queen's most popular songs. Rolling Stone ranked it as the number 163 on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of all time".

History & Recording

Freddie Mercury wrote most of "Bohemian Rhapsody" at his home in Holland Road, Kensington, in west London. The song's producer, Roy Thomas Baker, related how Mercury once played the opening ballad section on the piano for him: "He played the beginning on the piano, then stopped and said, 'And this is where the opera section comes in!' Then we went out to eat dinner." Guitarist Brian May says the band thought that Mercury's blueprint for the song was "intriguing and original, and worthy of work." Much of Queen's material was written in the studio according to May, but this song "was all in Freddie's mind" before they started. Music scholar Sheila Whiteley suggests that "the title draws strongly on contemporary rock ideology, the individualism of the Bohemian artists' world, with Rhapsody affirming the romantic ideals of art & rock. Commenting on bohemianism, Judith Peraino said that "Mercury intended... [this song] to be a 'mock opera,' something outside the norm of rock songs, and it does follow a certain operatic logic: choruses of multi-tracked voices alternate with arialike solos, the emotions are excessive, the plot confusing."

Recording began at Rockfield Studio 1 near Monmouth on 24 August 1975, after a 3-week rehearsal in Herefordshire. During the making of the track, an additional four studios—Roundhouse, SARM (East), Scorpion, and Wessex—were used. According to some band members, Mercury mentally prepared the song beforehand and directed the band throughout. Mercury used a Bechstein "concert grand" piano, which he played in the promotional video and the UK tour. Due to the elaborate nature of the song, it was recorded in various different sections, held together merely by a drum click to keep it in time. May, Mercury, and Taylor sang their vocal parts continually for ten to twelve hours a day. The entire piece took three weeks to record, and in places featured 180 separate overdubs. Since the studios of the time only offered 24-track analogue tape, it was necessary for the three to overdub themselves many times and "bounce" these down to successive sub-mixes. In the end, eighth-generation tapes were used. The various sections of tape containing the desired submixes had to be spliced (cut with razor blades and assembled in the correct sequence using adhesive tape). May recalled placing a tape in front of the light and being able to see through it, as they had been recording so intensely. It was the most expensive single ever made and remains one of the most elaborate recordings in popular music history.

"It's one of those songs which has such a fantasy feel about it. I think people should just listen to it, think about it, and then make up their own minds as to what it says to them... "Bohemian Rhapsody" didn't just come out of thin air. I did a bit of research although it was tongue-in-cheek and mock opera. Why not?"

Freddie Mercury

70s Retro - The Raleigh Chopper

The Raleigh Chopper was a children's bicycle, a wheelie bike, manufactured and marketed in the 1970s by the Raleigh Bicycle company back in Nottingham. Its unique design became a true 70s cultural icon and is fondly remembered by many who grew up in that period, especially myself!. Based on the look of a customised Chopper Bicycle, made popular with films such as Easy Rider the Chopper bike was the "must have" item and signifier of coolness for many children at the time.
US Raleigh Chopper Mk1.
(This example is missing the rear seat springs and the chainguard)

Ogle Design claim to have designed the Chopper for Raleigh. They actually only produced concept art for the Raleigh design department headed by Alan Oakley; only the seat and spoke protector were taken up. The final design of the Chopper was submitted by Oakley's department to management and production started in 1968. Raleigh themselves built a copy of the chopper-like Scwinn Sting-Ray they called the Rodeo, which was launched in the US in 1966. It was not a success, but its design clearly was a forerunner of the Chopper. This lack of success prompted Raleigh to send its chief designer, Alan Oakley, to America to investigate first hand the U.S. youth market. Oakley saw that a new bike was required, in a very non Schwinn style. On the aeroplane home Oakley pencilled the first outlines of what would become the Chopper onto the back of an Airmail envelope. The popularity of the Chopper also led to a range of smaller bikes following a similar design theme. These included the Raleigh Chipper, Tomahawk, Budgie and Chippy models aimed at younger riders.

The North American Version of The Mk2 Raleigh Chopper

The Original Chopper: Tall Frame

The Chopper was patented in 1967 by Raleigh for the American youth market. The Chopper was introduced at American trade shows in January 1969 & first shipments to North American dealers in June 1969. It is introduced in the UK in 1970. The bike featured a 3-speed, 5-speed, and single-speed Sturmey Archer gear hub, selected using a frame-mounted console gear lever — one of its "cool" features. Other features that appealed to the youth market were the unusual frame, long padded highback seat, sprung seat at the back, high-rise (ape hanger) handlebars, 'bobbed' mudguards (fenders) and differently sized front (16") and rear (20") wheels. The rear hoop above the seat resembled a motorcycle 'sissy bar' Even the kickstand was designed to give the stationary bicycle a lean reminiscent of a parked motorcycle. Tyres were wider than usual for the time, with a chunky tread on the rear wheel, featuring a red line around the sidewall. The price was from approximately £32 for a standard Chopper to £55 for the deluxe.

The Fastback 100

The Raleigh Chopper sold through Eatons of Canada as a Glider Fastback 100, Fastback XT101, Fastback Princess, and MACH-2 models.

The Mk 2

The Mk2 Chopper was an improved version from 1972. It had the (rarely purchased) option of five-speed derailluer gears, and the gear lever shifter changed from a knob to a T-bar-style shifter. The frame was subtly revised, and the seat moved forward, to help prevent the bike tipping up. A small rear rack was added. The handlebars were welded to the stem to stop children from inclining the 'ape hanger' bars backwards, (thereby rendering the bike almost unsteerable). A drop-handlebar version, the Sprint, was also produced, this differed from the standard Mark II as it had a slightly taller frame. The Chopper remained in production until 1981, by which time the BMX had taken over its market. However, the Chopper almost single-handedly rescued Raleigh , which had been in decline during the 1960s, selling millions worldwide.

Handling and Safety Issues

The original Chopper is fondly remembered, though it was not without problems — it was less stable than a conventional bike, and trickier to ride. It was slow and heavy, the wide tyres creating significant rolling resistance; the Chopper was not suitable for long distances. At moderate speeds it suffered speed wobbles. After several reported accidents, it was attacked in the press as a dangerous toy. The long seat lent itself to giving lifts to others, and accidents were not uncommon. It could perform involuntary wheelies readily, again a frequent cause of accidents. The position of the gear lever could also contribute to injuries sustained in a crash.

The Glider Fastback 100 version was sold by Eatons of Canada

Revival: The Mk 3

File:Raleigh Chopper Mk3 in a UK collection.JPG

A new version of the Chopper, the Mk3, was launched in 2004, after being out of production for almost 25 years. The Mk3, in deference to modern safety concerns, adopts a more conventional saddle design to discourage "backies," and has dropped the groin-catching gear lever in favour of handlebar mounted gear controls – to commemorate this former feature the Mk3 has a sticker where once the lever had its place. The frame is made from aluminium alloy tubing rather than the originals' steel, to make the bike lighter. The wheels are again 20 inches for the back wheel and 16 inches for the front wheel.

Bagpuss: Emily's saggy cloth cat - 1974


Arrrhhhh, yes. The memories do indeed come flooding back. This enchanting kids series from days long gone holds so many special & wonderful memories for me.

Bagpuss came in to being back in 1974. It was the brainchild of Peter Firmin & Oliver Postgate and made through their company, 'Smalfilms.'

The title character is an old saggy cloth cat, baggy and a bit loose at the seams. 13 episodes of this wonderful series were ever made, however, it remains fondly remembered and has often been repeated.

The programmes were made using Stop frame animation. Bagpuss is an actual cloth cat, but was not intended to be such an electric pink. "It should have been a ginger marmalade cat but the company in Folkestone dyeing the material made a mistake and it turned out pink and cream. It was the best thing that ever happened," said Firmin.

Madeleine the rag doll was made by Firmin's wife, Joan, with an extra long dress to hold their children's nightdresses, but Postgate decided it would serve better as one of the characters.

Gabriel the Toad was the only character in the series who could move freely without the use of stop-frame animation. Scenes featuring him playing the banjo and singing would have taken quite a bit of time, so Peter Firmin created a mechanism that helped him control Gabriel through a hole in his can.

Bagpuss has now retired to the Rupert Bear Museum in Canterbury (part of the Museum of Canterbury), together with other characters and Emily's shop window.

Most of the stories and songs used in the series are based on folk songs and Fairy tales from around the world. The round sung by the mice (starting with the words "We will fix it...") is to the tune of "Summer is I cumen in", dating from the Middle Ages.

Bagpuss - The Story

Bagpuss began with the words,

“Once upon a time,

not so long ago,

there was a little girl and her name was Emily and she had a shop,

there it is.

It was rather an unusual shop, because it didn't sell anything.

You see,

everything in that shop window was a thing that somebody had once lost

and Emily had found and brought home to Bagpuss.

Emily's cat Bagpuss,

The most important, the most beautiful, the most magical, saggy old cloth cat in the whole wide world

Well now,

one day Emily found a thing and she brought it back to the shop,

and put it down in front of Bagpuss,

who was in the shop window fast asleep as usual.

But then Emily said some magic words:

Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss,Old fat furry cat-puss,

Wake up,

and look at this thing that I bring,Wake up, be bright, be golden and light,


oh, hear what I sing."

And Bagpuss was wide awake,

and when Bagpuss wakes up all his friends wake up too.

The mice on the mouse-organ woke up and stretched.

Madeleine the rag doll.

Gabriel the toad,

and last of all Professor Yaffle,

who was a very distinguished old woodpecker.

He climbed down off his bookend,

To see what Emily had brought.”

Bagpuss - Emily Emily was a little girl who owned and loved Bagpuss. They lived in a shop which didn't sell anything. It was a shop that displayed items that were either lost or in dire need of repair, waiting for their owners to reclaim them. These items were subsequently repaired by Bagpuss and his friends. Not to mention a certain bit of magic!

BagpussBagpuss was a big, fat, furry cat puss. A cuddly toy that was covered in Pink & White stripes. Bagpuss only came alive when Emily wasn't around and she'd left something. After one big, gigantic yawn, Bagpuss woke and after Bagpuss was awake, all his friends woke too. Let's face it, this is one smart cat!

Bagpuss - Professor YaffleProfessor Yaffle was a carved, wooden book-end in the shape of a Woodpecker. He lived high up, looking down on the others. Once Emily had been and Bagpuss had woken, Professor Yaffle would descend from his home down a pile of books, arranged like a staircase, to see what Emily had left.

Bagpuss - The MiceThe Mice on the Mouse Organ did most of the work repairing the item that Emily had left. They sang a song as they were working, "We will fix it, we will fix it!" They had a real talent and fooled Bagpuss and the others a few times, like making chocolate biscuits out of butter beans! They also powred the marvellous, mechanical Mouse Organ which showed a story on the screen that was related to the item Emily had left. Occasionally, after the story had finished, the item had miraculously been repaired.

Bagpuss - MadeleneMadeline was a Rag Doll who lived next to Gabriel the Toad. Madeline was the Mother figure over the rest of them.

Bagpuss - GabrielGabriel the Toad wasn't an ordinary Toad, oh, no! Gabriel was a musical Toad who carried a banjo everywhere that he went. As the stories were being told he would provide some of the music and sing songs to accompany them.

At the end of each episode Bagpuss would start yawning again and as he fell asleep he and the others all became toys again.

"And of course,

When Bagpuss goes to sleep,

All his friends go to sleep as well.

The Mice were ornaments on the Mouse Organ,

Gabriel and Madeline were just dolls,

Professor Yaffle was a carved, wooden bookend,

In the shape of a Woodpecker.

Even Bagpuss himself,

Once he was asleep,

Was just an old saggy cloth cat,

Baggy and a bit loose at the seams.

But Emily loved him."

And so say all of us!

15 Coronation Street - The Corner Shop: 1960 - 1969

During the course of the past Fifty years, along with the Rovers Return, the Corner Shop has played a major part in the everyday lives of those Weatherfield folk.

Accompany me as I take a nostalgic gander down memory lane and look back at the shop's inhabitants & staff from the Street's first decade.

1960 - 1969

Elsie Lappin: is the original owner of the Corner Shop on Coronation Street. She speaks the first words in the show, when she is explaining the ins and outs of the shop and its customers to Florrie Lindley, with whom she becomes friendly with. Once Elsie hands over the lease to the shop to Florrie, she leaves the Street.
Elsie Lappin
Portrayed byMaudie Edwards
Created byTony Warren
Introduced byTony Warren
First appearance9 December 1960
Episode 1
Last appearance14 December 1960
Episode 2
ClassificationBit Part

Florence Lena "Florrie" Lindley: was played by actress Betty Alberge until 1965. Florrie is one of the show's original characters and appears in the very first scene with Elsie Lappin, the original owner of the Corner Shop who sells to Florrie prior to the first episode. As a newcomer to Coronation Street, the character is used at the beginning as the series' "eyes and ears", as she, along with the viewers, are introduced to all her new neighbours. She later renovates her shop in 1964 to include a post office agency, and takes in lodgers including Doreen Lostock and Sheila Birtles. Her biggest storyline occurs in September 1964 when she has a nervous breakdown, and smashes up the shop. Her shop assistant Irma Barlow has to run the shop while she recovers. In 1965, as part of an exit storyline for Florrie,Coronation Street retconned the previously established aspect that Florrie was a widow, and to everyone's surprise, she is reunited with her estranged husband Norman Lindley, who it is claimed has been working as an engineer in India. Florrie and Norman left the series by emigrating to Canada in June 1965.

Florrie Lindley
Portrayed byBetty Alberge
Created byTony Warren
Introduced byTony Warren
First appearance9 December 1960
Episode 1
Last appearance2 June 1965
Episode 467
ClassificationFormer Regular

Irma Barlow: was played by Sandra Gough between 1964 and 1971. Having previously changed her name from Freda and moved, Irma came to Weatherfield with the sole purpose to escape her family, with whom she did not get on. Just months after arriving however, the Ogdens - mother Hilda, father Stan and brother Trevor - followed Irma and moved into number thirteen on Coronation Street. It is in April 1964 that Irma is taken on as an assistant in the Corner Shop by Florrie Lindley. Irma strikes up a relationship with local footballer David Barlow in 1965 and the pair go on to marry in December. Following David's decision to cut short his footballing career after several setbacks, David and Irma choose to go into business together, buying the Corner Shop when it goes up for sale in 1966. Settled in their new life, Irma and David decide to try for a baby in 1967 but sadly after a brief four-month pregnancy, Irma miscarries. Broken hearted, she resigns herself to the fact she may never have children. Irma eventually grew tired of life as a postmistress, and David began to relaunch his football career. On being signed to an Australian team, the Barlows moved to Australia in April 1968. Whilst there, Irma discovers she is pregnant and gives birth to a son, Darren Barlow, in November.

Irma Barlow
Portrayed bySandra Gough
Duration1964–1968, 1969, 1970–1971
First appearance27 January 1964
Episode 326
Last appearance8 December 1971
Episode 1137
Date of birth28 September 1946

Lionel Petty arrived on Coronation Street as the new owner of the Corner Shop, which he previously bought from Florrie Lindley. He was an ex-Sergeant Major, and life as a shopkeeper was never his game. Lionel failed to fit in on the Street and left for Wales in January 1966 to go into business with his brother. Dennis Tanner is taken on and helps out on the shop for a couple of months.
Lionel Petty
Portrayed byEdward Evans
Created byHoward Baker
Introduced byJack Rosenthall
First appearance31 May 1965
Episode 466
Last appearance26 January 1966
Episode 535
ClassificationFormer Regular

In Jannuary 1966: The Pettys move out and sell the shop and flat to David and Irma Barlow for £1,750, plus £200 for the stock. David's first move is to close down the unprofitable sub-post office, and it reverts back to a traditional shop layout. In the June, Irma's Mother Hilda Ogden helps out inthe shop until August. In December 1967 David & Irma foster a little girl, Jill Morris for Christmas & New Year and lives with them in the shop accommodation. In April 1968 David & Irma emigrate to Australia to Les & Maggie Clegg. The shop then becomes, 'Cleggs Provisions.'

Les Clegg was played by John Sharp. Les was an alcoholic and this leads to the breakup of their marriage; Maggie divorces Les in 1970.

Margaret "Maggie" Cooke (née Preston, previously Clegg) was played by Irene Sutcliffe. She ran the Corner Shop from 1968 to 1974. Maggie's storylines included her life with alcoholic husband Les, who she divorced in 19470, a son Gordon who wasn't really hers (he was her sister, Betty Turpin's love child) and a further marriage to reformed alcoholic, Ron Cooke on 10 July 1974. She emigrated to Zaire after the wedding but made a brief return to the street in December of the same year when Gordon found out that Betty was his mother. She rejoined her husband the following month and has not returned to the street since.

Les Clegg
Portrayed byJohn Sharp
Introduced byMichael Cox
First appearance1 April 1968
Episode 761
Last appearance12 June 1969
Episode 782
ClassificationFormer Regular

Maggie Cooke
Portrayed byIrene Sutcliffe
Introduced byMichael Cox (1968)
Susi Hush (1974)
First appearance1 April 1968
Episode 761
Last appearance13 January 1975
Episode 1459
ClassificationFormer FRegular
Date of birth12 June 1924
OccupationShop owner (1968-1974)
Morphine worker (1974–)

June 1968: In an attempt to beat his alcoholism, Les Clegg leaves to live in a hospital and never returns. Ena Sharples becomes shop assistant. September 1968: Valerie Barlow becomes shop assistant. In June 1969: Maggie's older sister Betty Turpin arrives to help her out, but Maggie soon encourages her to take a job at The Rovers.