Festival Hall

Was wandering through the new Festival Hall tonight. Er, sorry, but it looks EXACTLY THE SAME as it did before! What did they spend the £130million on, precisely? It still had ropey looking floors with stains on.

It is obviously some sort of New Labour plot. Close it for two years. Do bugger all to it and then re-open it to great fanfare and create a great media buzz.

What a wonderful suit of clothes, oh emperor!
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Pulp Film Babe Showdown 1: Jennifer Connelly v Penelope Ann Miller

Agent Triple P enjoyed both leading ladies in The Shadow and The Rocketeer but which does he prefer?

It's a showdown between:
Busty, dark-haired Oscar winning Jennifer Connelly

and feisty red-headed Golden Globe nominee Penelope Ann Miller

Because of the late thirties setting both had the opportunity to dress up for the part, notably in nightclub scenes. Jennifer Connelly in The Rocketeer got to wear a clingy sheer oyster silk number with long gloves (always a favourite)

Now Jennifer is quite a busty woman and to my taste, although she looked very fine, she did seem rather top-heavy in her evening dress and did not really have the profile of a fashionable 1930's woman.

So whilst Jennifer looks very fine indeed in a plain cotton vest maybe the fashions of the era did not suit her as well as they might.

So, Jennifer, outstanding though you are, maybe you are more to Agent DVD's taste..

Penelope Ann Miller is not so well known but we did enjoy her running around in a little black dress being chased through a musem by an Amazonian mutant creature in The Relic.

Now, Penelope Ann had a far more impressive wardrobe in The Shadow, not having just the one evening outfit but a whole host of splendid frocks. The white nightclub dress with fur stole was stunning, in particular.

With her hair blonde and cut in a thirties way she captured the look of the period much better than Jennifer.

Nothing wrong with her bust, either (as she showed playing a stripper in Carlito's Way) but it fit into her dress rather more elegantly than Jennifer's. So I think that I prefer the slightly more subtle charms of Penelope Ann, partly because she does feisty much better but mainly because she is a real, magnificent red-head!
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Ramblings on pulp comics inspired films: 1

Watched the film The Shadow this weekend, starring Alec Baldwin an actor with almost no charisma whatsoever, and Penelope Ann Miller, more of whom later. We're not sure if it is based on an old comic strip or is one of those retro comics that is designed to look as if it was an old one, like The Rocketeer, which we also watched recently.

We have never understood the American (and French and Japanese) fascination with comic books. Surely the definition of growing up is reading books with no pictures in them? Admittedly some of the graphic work on the covers is often eyecatching (like these by Michael Kaluta)but they are usually disappointing inside and..they are comics! When Agent Triple P was little he used to read Look & Learn magazine which featured a comic strip called The Trigan Empire with art by Don Lawrence. This was serious painting and we haven't really seen anything to match it since.

Hollywood seems constantly surprised by the regular failure of films based on comics, not seeming to realise that just as Hollywood has to dumb down a book for the screen it has to dumb down a comic book; except you are starting form a much lower level of dumb to start with. The only film that made an impact with Agent Triple P being Spiderman 2 which cleverly employed double Oscar winning screenwriter Alvin Sergeant to give the sort of polish to the script so sadly lacking from The Shadow and The Rocketeer.

Both films look rather good, set as they are in the late thirties, but, as someone once said, you don't come out of a movie whistling the sets. On balance I would give the nod to The Rocketeer for catching the look of late thirties Hollywood so well. The nightclub set is a wonder to behold and so is the clever pastiche of the set of The Adventures of Robin Hood. Interestingly, The Phantom also has a nightclub scene (it is set in new York rather than Los Angeles) but the design is not so memorable, although some of the other sets are quite striking. Three years extra development in the world of digital effects is apparent in The Phantom as well; some of The Rocketeer effects are a bit ropey.

Musically, although The Phantom has a score by Jerry Goldsmith, it is one of his by the numbers jobs and doesn't hold a candle to one of James Horner's best scores for The Rocketeer.

Given a wet Sunday afternoon Agent Triple P would probably choose The Rocketeer as mindless entertaintment but that is perhaps more to do with the rather lighter tone of the piece. In our next post we will turn to the critical duel between the two leading ladies.

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Leopard Print Skirt

Just been out to lunch at the tapas bar with agent DVD. Third time in there this week, slightly worryingly.

From our first floor vantage point we spied a girl in a fetching leopard print skirt. Not an easy fashion item to carry off but this girl did it. We felt we had to compliment her in passing!
Just been to Agent Provocateur to see if we could get anything leopard print for I but had to settle on plum coloured satin. Never mind, there is more than enough big cat in I anyway.
Better head off for my afternoon rendezvous..
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Men of Garlic

So wacky Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has decided to transmute his personal hatred of garlic into an Italian-wide ban. Italy without garlic would be like Germany without jackboots. Both define the nation despite the fact that, perhaps, they would rather it didn't.

Having had a slew (if that is the collective term-perhaps risotto is better) of Italian girlfriends in the late eighties and early nineties we soon got used to the fact that they often exuded garlic aromas (particularly if you were engaged in post lunchtime escapades as we often were). Added to this is the fact that one of these ladies, L, was, until recently, one of the most senior people in the Berlusconi organisation. I can well recall her reeking of garlic on more than one occasion but obviously this is something that she has now learned to control. She is now so famous in Italy I cannot comment any further on her!

Keep eating the parsley!
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Sir Samuel White Baker

Agent Triple P watched a documentary about the source of the Nile this weekend which featured a little bit about Sir Samuel Baker. Baker was one of the most active of African explorers in the 19th century and was one of those in the race to find the source of the Nile, which was eventually discovered by his friend John Hanning Speke who trekked inland from Zanzibar. Baker took the more conventional, but no less arduous, route of following the river from Egypt.

Born in 1821 he married a conventional wife, a vicar's daughter, and dragged her off to Ceylon for eight years where he successfully bred cattle and embarked on many of his characteristic hunting forays into the wilderness, publishing a number of books including the splendidly named The Rifle and the Hound in Ceylon. His wife was obviously not so robust and died out there in 1855. Undeterred, he returned from Ceylon via Constantinople and the Crimea, building a railway in what is now Bulgaria.

Whilst hunting in Vidin he attended an Ottoman slave auction and saw on the block a beautiful teenage Transylvanian girl, Barbara Maria Szász, who had been orphaned in the Hungarian uprising and brought up in a harem where she had been given the name Florenz. Despite having being bought by the local pasha Baker stole her away and the couple fled back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire on horseback.

In 1861 he travelled to Africa with Florence, as she was now known, who he called his wife (although they were certainly not married at this stage). He explored and hunted in the Sudan and Abyssinia before setting off from Khartoum, still accompanied by Florence, for his journey up the Nile. They met Speke returning from Lake Victoria which he had rightly identified as the source of the Nile, although his inability to conclusively prove it led to his suicide shortly after. The Bakers went on to discover and name Murchison Falls and Lake Albert.

Returning to the UK after four years in Africa he was awarded the Royal Geographical Society's gold medal and got officially married in 1865.

In 1869 he led a military expedition (with Florence) to fight slavers in Equatorial Africa and was made Major General and Governor of Equatoria by the Viceroy of Egypt with a salary of a staggering £10,000 per annum.

The Bakers returned to Britain in 1874 and bought an estate in Devon. He continued to travel and write books until his death in 1893.

Baker has never been as well regarded or famous as his contempories Burton, Livingstone, Speke or Stanley. Although he was knighted in 1866 there were always rumours and innuendo about his relationship with his wife and her unconventional origins. Although Sir Samuel and Lady Baker were personally charming enough to conquer most of Victorian society the Queen refused to have them at Court as she believed Baker had been "intimate with his wife before marriage", as indeed he had.

The documentary used footage from the 1971 mini-series The Search for the Nile where Florence Baker was played by gorgeous Hungarian actress Catherine Schell (or Katherina Freiin Schell von Bauschlott to give her her real name). Florence too, was from an aristocratic Hungarian family, by a nice coincidence. She outlived Baker by 23 years and in later life was looked after by her step daughters, one of whom was only six years her senior.

So, top marks for a true Victorian hero with an excellent taste in feisty young women and the determination to ignore conventional behaviour. Top marks too for Lady Baker who was as handy with a rifle as she was cooking hippopotamus or making bead necklaces to give to the natives.
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Miss Finlands

We enjoyed our trip to Helsinki despite feeling rather out of sorts on the last day. Our usual assessment of local women is based on their candidates for Miss World and Miss Universe.
The average Finnish girl seems to be blonde, if their Miss Universe and Miss World contestants are anything to go by. Although we are not a big fan of blondes, given that most of them are fake, we do enjoy natural blondes and Helsinki seems to have a surfeit of these.

We were very impressed by the lovelies on display in the parks in Finland and, indeed, working in our hotel. Definitely a country we wish to revisit in the summer.

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Lithuanian Girls

Agent Triple P is rather shamefaced given he has just returned from a lunchtime liason with a lovely Lithuanian girl of his acquaintance, I.

We have known I for about five years and have almost but not quite ended up in a compromising situation many times. It was rather unexpected, therefore, that we ended up in her hotel this afternoon.

Never mind, we feel most refreshed, and are prepared to venture that Lithuanian girls are the most attractive in the Baltic States.

We usually stay in the Reval hotel in Vilnius, which is a dull ex Intourist hotel entirely redeemed by it's world class cocktail bar on the 26th floor. We have never failed to score in this babe magnet location with it's split-level bar overlooking the city.
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Slovenian National Day

Agent Triple P enjoyed the Slovenian National Day reception in Pall Mall yesterday. The actual national day is 25th June but this is near enough I suppose.

The ambassador's wife wore a daringly low-cut white dress which she carried off with remarkable style thanks to her very good, natural, anatomical features.

There were some other very daring cocktail dresses on display: low cut at the front, low cut at the back or thigh revealing. The trick, of course, is only to display one area, as two can look tarty. Sadly, not that many Slovenian girls there which is a shame as Agent Triple P visited Ljubljana for a couple of hot sunny days last September and was very impressed by the local scenery. Hoever a very good showing from one or two of the other Balkan countries. Particularly the lovely D who was there with her very fetching girlfriend who was very reminiscent of the lady below.

This is most famous Slovenian model of course, Melania Knauss, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model who married Donald Trump. I'm sure she loves him for his personality.

Unfortunately, given the number of attendees last night, the canapes were rather thin on the ground and finding one was rather like locating a cod in the North Sea. Full marks for providing Slovenian wine but loss of marks for providing a Chardonnay which tasted like old style Yugoslavian "comes in a litre and a half bottle" plonk. I have had some superb wines in Slovenia but this was not one of them.

Consequently, come eight o'clock Agent Triple P was feeling thirsty and hungry and was very grateful when A, a coffee-coloured representative of the government of one of our former African colonies, agreed to have dinner with him at a nearby oriental restaurant. A was already engagingly relaxed (she obviously didn't have any problems with the Slovenian chardonnay) and had an enjoyably flirty dinner with a pleasing amount of illicit over (and under) the table physical contact. Well worth pursuing..
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Finnish Parks

Agent Triple P has recently returned from Helsinki (the second most northerly national capital-after Reykjavik) where he did not feel too well during his last day. He is not sure if it was too much South African sauvignon blanc, the previous night's roast reindeer or the depredations of B who is now safely back in Frankfurt. Feeling a little delicate after saying goodbye to B, therefore, I took a walk in the park opposite the hotel. Not much of a park we have to say but it had a lake and trees and those outcroppings of rocks that pop up in the most unexpected spots all over the city.

However the main attraction of the park was the dozens of nearly naked Finnish girls taking advantage of the rare hot sun. Rare is the operative word given that they are all very fair-skinned and hot sun seems to take them unawares (now there is a thought). Most of them would have been well cooked by the time I got to the airport. All they would then need is someone to rub olive oil into their skin..

Toned but toasting..

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Miss Finland

Well, Agent Triple P is struggling today for many different reasons.

Firstly, his bio rhythms are put out by the fact that he is writing this in Helsinki and it is still completely light at 10.35pm and he is two hours ahead of London time.

Secondly, the template for making this entry is in Finnish which is most confusing.

Thirdly, he has Miss B, a German contractor, wandering around his room in a very small coffee-coloured silk chemise.

Fourthly, he has just drunk a bottle of Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc and eaten some reindeer.

Fifthly, he has become rather dehydrated today on account of the fact that it has been 25 degrees centigrade here (the first time he visited Helsinki it was minus twenty five degrees centigrade).

So while he intended doing one of his periodic assessments of foreign women he is rather distracted and feels unable to go into the usual detail.

The best litmus test of local women are, of course the Miss Universe and Miss World competitions as what is locally attractive gets the vote for Miss Finland, or whatever.

In the case of Finland we don't have to look very hard for a common denominator. Blonde.
We have been having trouble uploading pictures of the various Miss Finlands, but frankly they all look the same. The picture we took today has loaded with no trouble and she is typical enough to make the point. Her name is Anna and she works for the caterers providing the lunch at the event we attended today. Sad to see that this ridiculous leggings fashion has caught on here too. In truth, many of the Finnish girls we have met whilst undoubtedly pretty (not as pretty as German women, of course) tend to be stocky girls with child bearing hips and rather solid legs. Very blonde though. Don't really like blondes, of course.
Miss Finlands will have to wait until we get home. We need to concentrate on Germans tonight..
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Miss June: Fernanda Motta

So, Miss June is 26 year old Brazilian Fernanda Motta.

We like Brazilian women at the moment; there are several very fine specimens working in the tapas bar. They tend to be flat chested but with good behinds; very much to our taste.

So we very much approve of the sinuous Miss Motta who is suitably sultry for June.

She also looks good in neoprene, a metrial we partcularly appreciate on our bathing beauties: VA had a neoprene swimsuit as did R. Nice big ring pulls on the zips..

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Dancing Girls

Agent Triple P has been enjoying dancing girls this week.

Several Saturday evening TV programmes are featuring very fine, good old fashioned dancing girls of a type we haven't really seen on British TV since the seventies. Italian TV, of course, uses scantily clad dancing girls at any possible opportunity-even on young children's shows. I used to have a colleague M whose niece was a Bluebell Girl who then moved to Italy as there was so much work. Many of the dancers on European TV are British.

They get their first experiences of dancing onstage at events like the one I attended in a London theatre this week. The final of a national performing arts competition with a strong dance element. Modern, tap, ballet all performed by the successful, under eighteen years old, finalists. The quality of both the dancing and the dancing girlies was first class.
There were a lot of fishnets on display and these fine young women were very happy to show off their skills and fine physiques.

Dancing girlies, as I found out on my recent visit to the British Museum are a universal standard. Wherever and whenever in history we are so there are dancing girlies. Quite right too!
The very finest dancing girlies I have ever seen were in Crazy Horse Too in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Total physical and artistic perfection!

We have also greatly enjoyed Belly Dancers (what a fine artistic idiom) in the Ciragan Palace in Istanbul and the Inter-Continental in Cairo.

This fine young lady is Danielle Clery the first dancer to appear naked on the Parisian stage at the Folies Bergere.
So here is to dancing girlies of every persuasion and as my father used to say to me "dancing is for women, children, black people and homosexuals"
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