Happy Birthday Cheryl!

Cheryl in Los Angeles yesterday

Agent Triple P's former neighbour, Cheryl Cole, is 30 today and even though she is no longer the nation's sweetheart (she tried too hard, couldn't sing and was generally a bit rubbish) we still think she is a very attractive young lady.  And, in some versions of the universe (certainly the one inhabited by these blogs), that in itself is enough. 

Born in Newcastle, a city we have never been to and have no desire to visit either, she was, it seems a right stroppy madam from the start.  Winning a place in manufactured group Girls Aloud in 2002 started her climb to stardom (at least in Britain -it seems Americans couldn't understand a word she said).

Cheryl in 2002

Many women don't seem to like her but then many women don't seem to like other attractive women which is odd considering the whole fashion industry is built around showing women pictures of more attractive women in (they would claim) an aspirational way.   You would think, therefore, that Cheryl would be a fine role model going from dumpy, council estate brawler to international fashion icon (because she's worth it).

Anyway she has posed for some fine images in the past which is enough for Triple P and she waved us out onto the main road once where we live.

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Black and White Babe of the Week 30: Edita Vilkevičiūtė

Well, we were shocked to discover that we haven't posted a black and white babe of the week for over two years (you can see where the concept has utterly failed).  This is because we now, largely, post our pictures of women on our Venus Observations blog which did not exist when we started this one.

In fact, we notice that our last black and white babe (the peerless Monica Bellucci) was posted to coincide with Agent DVD's birthday.  So why not post another one, we thought?

The subject matter soon became apparent.  This week we have been having discussions with a former business colleague in Lithuania (actually she became rather more than that for a time).  Coincidentally, Agent DVD is in (or, perhaps, just returning) from a holiday in the Baltic States.

So we decided to go for a black and white babe from Lithuania.  Agent Triple P has visited Lithuania  at least half a dozen times and it really does have some of the loveliest young women on the planet and they are now very common in the modelling scene.

The only thing that holds them back from greater world recognition, we suspect, are their engagingly complicated names, which do not exactly trip off the tongue.

Here then is Edita Vilkevičiūtė who was born in Kaunus on New Year's Day 1989. After winning a modelling competition there she debuted in 2006.

After a few seasons working in Spain she broke into the Paris, London and New York arenas.  Recently she has figured in high profile campaigns for Calvin Klein, Louis Vuiton, Emporio Armani and Karl Lagerfield.  She has also been a Victoria's Secret angel.

She really is a classic Baltic beauty and at 5'9" possesses the sort of willowy figure you often encounter wafting around Vilnius (or, indeed, Kaunus) in the long, light evenings in the summer.

Unlike most American models she is quite happy to be photographed wearing nothing at all and, in fact, it was quite tricky to find any black and white pictures of her dressed.

Utterly gorgeous!

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Favourite record covers: Strings for Pleasure Play the Best of Bacharach

Here is a favourite record cover from Agent Triple P's (very much) younger days.  From the budget Music for Pleasure range this collection of covers of Burt Bacharach hits from 1971 was often played during Saturday morning housework sessions in Triple P's home.  Although, even then, we didn't like cover versions Bacharach's melodies were strong enough to survive any interpretation.  In fact, we remember it being rather good until it got so warped it was unplayable.

Two other things generate fond memories: Firstly, we thought the cover girl was absolutely gorgeous and we were intrigued by the lump on her otherwise perfect nose: something we still appreciate on a young lady.  Secondly, it was the record we had on during our very first serious kissing session.  We remember wondering whether to get up and change sides on the record  as we were worried the young lady in question might get up and break the mood.  She didn't, fortunately, and we flipped the record quite a few times afterwards.  

Triple P has managed to track down a copy of this so, hopefully, we can get our digital conversion turntable working again.
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Calendar Girl June: Keeley Hazell

We have featured the splendidly pneumatic Miss Hazell before in calendar girl of the month but she has reappeared for June posing in one of those suggestive girl with hose shots that glamour photographers love so much.

Since 2008 Keeley has given up modelling, tried to launch a Hollywood career and returned to modelling.  She did appear in 2011 micro-budget independent film Like Crazy and has appeared in several other films and TV shows in the last few years.

Keely, no doubt in order to offer some variety in her posing, which almost inevitably focusses on her massive bust, also has a "spread your legs as wide as possible" technique which she utilises to great effect.

Despite being in the glamour business for years she is still only 26.  Unlike some Page 3 girls she has a genuinely pretty face and scrubs up very well. 

From Triple P's point of view she looks equally good from the rear as well.  Given her extravagant proportions she is a surprising 5'6" tall with a 32F-24-36 figure.

It's all really about that bust, though, and it's not surprising she won the Sun's  Page 3 Idol competition in 2004, which is what launched her career.  From 2006 until 2010 she was in the top 5 of UK FHM's sexiest women in the world no less than four times.

Triple P doesn't usually go for big-busted Page 3 girls but have to say we find Miss Hazell rather appealing!
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Fit girl: Lily James

We came across this splendid picture of young English actress Lily James while looking for something else (what it was we can no longer recall).  It is from last year's low budget independent film Fast Girls (2012) about lady sprinters not competing at the Olympics (they couldn't get the necessary clearances).  We haven't seen the film and it has had mixed reviews but given this very fine study of Miss James it may be worth a spin.

The actresses had six weeks to get in shape for the role and Lily nearly didn't get the part as she missed the running audition and had to send in a video of herself running instead.

The lovely Lily was born in Esher, just a couple of miles from where Triple P lives. 

Although Lily looks very fine indeed she really isn't a convincing looking sprinter and looks more like an 800m runner.  She needed to do a lot more sit ups to get a Jessica Ennis stomach!
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Big Breakfast of the Week 14: A big egg for breakfast!

It's ages since we have had a big breakfast post, not that we have stopped having them just we have been too busy doing other things to post about them.  Latterly we have been in South America, staying at three separate hotels, but none of them did a proper cooked breakfast.  They all managed scrambled egg and a couple could do a fresh omelette (oddly Triple P doesn't enjoy omelettes very much) but processed ham in hot water does not make a suitable accompaniment to eggs we think.

Anyway, returning from Colombia at the weekend we were sorely in need of some proper tea (not the horrible fruit and flower types on offer - which are for girls) and a decent breakfast.  We were in Waitrose on Monday and noticed that they had some of their goose eggs on sale at half price.  This, we thought, was a great opportunity as, frankly, £6.99 for one egg is a bit pricey.

Hen's egg compared to a goose egg

We weren't sure if you could fry one, as the Easter egg-type box it came in only mentioned scrambled eggs, but thought if cooked slowly enough it would be fine. So we put a little olive oil in our Le Creuset frying pan and gave the egg  good crack.  It broke easily, although the shell is tougher than a hen's egg shell; as you would expect from something a lot larger.  A goose egg is, apparently, equivalent to two and a half normal eggs.

It perfectly filled the pan and we cooked it over a medium heat for about five minutes.  We had it with sausages, grilled tomato, toast, baked beans, wholegrain mustard and HP sauce.  The egg was deliciously creamy and we would certainly get one again - but not at full price given you can get six normal eggs for around £2.  Goose eggs are only in season from February until early June so we may have to wait a year!
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Eurovision Song Contest: Poupée de cire, poupée de son

Agent Triple P loves the Eurovision Song Contest with all its bizarre musical styles, political voting, underdressed singers and dancers from countries you didn't even know were in Europe, an incomprehensible half time show and the dreadful inevitability that Britain will finish in the bottom five. We usually look forward to sitting down with some unhealthy snacks and pouring derision on the whole enterprise, which is what British people always do, much to the annoyance of those of our European neighbours who take the whole thing far too seriously.  Triple P was once told by a senior politician in a Baltic state that winning Eurovision, with the opportunity to showcase your country to swarms of potential tourists, was worth tens of millions to the economy.  This particular country had yet to win (unlike their two fellow Baltic States to the north) so they were going to get some "top people" on it to concoct a suitably catchy Euro anthem.  Sorry, Lithuania, but you still haven't made it.  

Britain was running equal second as the country that had won Eurovision the most (with France and Luxembourg) after top placing Ireland.  Then last year the Swedes won again to draw level with us at five wins each (although Britain still has by far the most second places).  In Eurovision, however, second is nothing as the winner gets to host the following show with all the touristic marketing opportunities that offers.  When it was hosted in Azerbaijan the host nation poisoned every pigeon in the city to avoid tourists being dive-bombed by the pesky flying rats.  I am sure that this year's Swedish hosts won't go to such extremes.

Britain hasn't won since 1997, which has variously been blamed on the fact that we invaded Iraq, we don't support the EU or that we treat most foreign countries like fiddling little irrelevancies and since a lot of these joined the EU they are getting their own back.  The real issue is that most of our songs, singers and productions are just boring.  Letting the British public vote for the singers to represent us was a total farce so recently, the BBC (who fund a good part of the budget which means that we don't have to qualify for the final) has taken a more (and characteristic) dictatorial approach in just choosing our singers and songs.  this has not really worked any better, with Engelbert Humperdinck coming in dead last (again) in 2012. Much as we love Bonnie Tyler her time has long since past and, worse, her song is terrible.  Still, it could be worse.  France, another five times winner, hasn't won since 1977.

We still own this record

Speaking of France, the first Eurovision song we remember was when we were holidaying in the South of France with our family in 1965.  The same song, which we soon discovered was the Eurovision winner, was played again and again in cafe's shops and on the radio, even though the contest itself had been back in March.  This was Poupée de cire, une poupée de son by France Gall and Triple P's father set out to buy this extraordinarily catchy tune on record.

We still own this record as well

Of course by this time the French chart had moved on so we ended up with a cover version by a French chanteuse, Dominique and France Gall's next record.  Both of these singles had, unlike British ones, four tunes on and we were very taken with France Gall's efforts, particularly Attends ou va-t'en and Mon bateau de nuit.  We did wonder, at the time, why French singers insisted on being photographed with dogs for their record covers.  Subsequently we discovered that France Gall had competed for Luxembourg not France and this record also contained a cover of the French entry that year, N'avou jamias.  Cominciamo ad Amarci had been an entry in that year's San Remo Festival, which had been the original inspiration for the Eurovision song contest.  Perry Como would cover it the following year on his Perry Como in Italy LP.

Decades later we managed to buy a CD of France Gall's music in Berlin and so got the original of Poupée de cire, une poupée de son for the first time, whereupon we discovered that Dominique's cover version was a very good one indeed.

Gall was only eighteen when she won Eurovision with Serge Gainsbourg's clever, punning song (it really doesn't translate at all well into English). Her live performance was far from brilliant and in rehearsal the song was actually booed. Gall later stopped working with Gainsbourg after he got her to sing a song about lollipops, Les Sucettes, which really wasn't about lollipops at all...

There is an interesting version of Poupée de cire, une poupée de son, called Lonely Singing Doll, by largely forgotten British teenage singer Twinkle, which also takes its theme as disillusionment with the life of pop singer without being an actual translation of the original.  Triple P also has a version in his collection by American band Les Sans Culottes which sounds very much like Blondie.  Perhaps our favourite cover is by Swedish symphonic metal band Therion where their version is driven by lead singer Lori Lewis' classical soprano backed by the band's thrash metal guitars.

We are certain that whatever wins this year it won't be as good a song as Poupée de cire, une poupée de son. 
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