The Sixties? I was there ... I think


Captain Moonlight: Funky Phil is a right royal raver

SOMETIMES I think the Royal Family just can't win. Too posh for some, not highbrow enough for others. Take tastes in music. Some people might sneer when they read that the Duke of Edinburgh is a big Bee Gees fan; not the Captain. So taken was I by the revelation that the Duke has been known to get down at the Royal Yacht Squadron Ball in Cowes to the beat of 'Night Fever' that I commissioned an impression of the occasion. The Queen, I recall, has slightly less exuberant tastes. She used to like 'Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud' a lot. The Prince of Wales, for once, follows his father. His favourite 'group' has long been The Three Degrees (remember 'When Will I See You Again?' That was their big hit. It was some time ago, but the Prince has stayed touchingly loyal). The group will be here next month for an engagement at the Cafe Royal, and, I hear, a special performance for the Prince is in the offing. Personally, I find myself more in sympathy with the Queen Mother, for whom Flanagan and Allen are matched only by Gracie Fields, the Captain's especial favourite.

DIARY / Hurd enforces Kent no-fly zone

AT THE eleventh hour, Douglas Hurd is trying to prevent the reopening of one of Britain's most historic airfields because he fears it may be used for an aerial attack by terrorists on nearby Chevening, his official country residence. Upon learning last week that a Kent farmer, Timothy Barr-Smith, had gained both the support of English Heritage and Sevenoaks development control officers to reopen an airstrip built in 1909 at nearby Sundridge, the Foreign Office leapt into action to intervene.

THEATRE: How deep is their love?: Paul Taylor reviews Penetrator at the Royal Court

Life is certainly no picnic for the teddy bears who feature in Anthony Neilson's Penetrator, newly transferred to the Royal Court's Theatre Upstairs. As if they didn't have their paws full already (being forced to have sex not only with each other but also with male human beings), one of them is eventually held at knife-point by a maniac who threatens to give it him 'up the ass' if his owner doesn't confess to being a clandestine 'penetrator'. Teddy's slashed-out innards are soon, alas, cascading on to the carpet. By the end of the play, the stuffing has been knocked out of just about everybody.

Dear Robin, Barry and Maurice

Could this be the biggest thing in pop? Tonight the nation's favourite castrati have a gig with a planning committee.

ROCK / But where was John Travolta?

MIKE READ: age shall not wither him. Compering Capital Gold's Giants of Seventies Soul extravaganza at Wembley Arena, Read doesn't allow his composure to be ruffled by a profusion of technical hitches. The Wembley bar prices - normally a powerful incentive to temperance - have had no effect on this hardened crowd of superannuated soulboys, and these are not people to be messed with even when sober. Luckily, the acts themselves process smoothly. George McCrae ('Rock Your Baby') confounds those who believed him to be dead. The Real Thing counsel, 'Don't forget our new single, it's called, erm . . .' And the vocal harmonies of the Tavares are miraculously intact, though cricketing brother Chris is sadly missing. What exactly were the Bee Gees thinking of when they wrote the words to 'More than a Woman'?

TELEVISION / Small tragedy of two into one

Over 10 years ago, I was sitting in an examination hall staring at a paper called Tragedy. The only thing to penetrate my thrumming brain was a song then at No 1: 'Tragedy, when the feeling's gone and you can't go on.' The Bee Gees weren't of much immediate help with Oedipus at Colonus. In fact, they were the toothsome embodiment of a culture that had reduced tragedy to its new tabloid definition: the Heart- Op Hope Kid; Gazza's yellow card. High tragedy involved the fall of a great guy because of a fatal flaw, and would elevate the spirit. Television is now groaning with low tragedy (999, Fighting Back) that won't elevate anything except the ratings and is certainly not short on fatal flaws. But every so often you see a programme that transcends the grotesque or the prurient to produce something acutely moving, and so it was this week with First Tuesday's Katie and Eilish (ITV).
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