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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Dambusters raid - 60 years ago today

Triple P is packing for an extended overseas trip so does not have the time to give the brave men who took part in this daring raid a proper tribute but here is a photograph we took of the Battle of Britain flight Avro Lancaster a couple of years ago.  We saw it again last week doing a flypast at Cowes.  A stirring sight (and sound!) as ever.
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Cannes Film Festival

The 2013 Cannes Film Festival begins today and one of the most interesting visual aspects of it are the excellent official posters used to promote the event.

Athough many are abstract in design many feature, as you would expect from the French, images of actresses and other women (much more so than they have  images of men).

The first festival was held in 1939 and set up by the French, British and Americans as a deliberate challenge to the then fascist Venice Festival.  Louis Lumière, the inventor of cinema was all set to preside over the first festival but then World War 2 broke out in September and the event was cancelled.  The first festival was, therefore, in 1946 but in 1948 and 1950 the organisers didn't have enough money to run an event.  

In 1951 the festival was moved from September to May, when it has been ever since. In 1953 a teenage, pre-blonde starlet called Brigitte Bardot made her first appearance.  1955 was the only year that the same film won the Palme d'Or and the Best Film Oscar, the now largely forgotten Marty, starring Ernest Borgnine.

Bardot causes a stir in 1953

Under-dressed starlets frolicking on the beach below La Croisette have always been a feature of Cannes.

In 1962 the first "critics Week" took place and in 1968 film directors including François Truffaut, Claude Berri,  Claude Lelouch, Roman Polanski and Jean-Luc Godard blocked the screen and caused the festival to be abandoned in support of rioting students in Paris.

The festival had its 25th Anniversary in 1971 and in 1975 three more categories of films were introduced into the competition for works which looked at other arts, dealt with contemporary issues and examined the cinema.

In the year that Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind would dominate the world box office the festival poster had a presciently space age feel to it.

In 1987 the festival, now the biggest in the world, reached its fortieth anniversary.  This was also the last year that a French film has won the Palme d'Or. It was now a huge affair compared with the couple of hundred people who had attended in 1946.

In 1993 the first woman director, Jane Campion, won the Palme d'Or, for The Piano.

In 2002 Cannes ran a special tribute to Bollywood, acknowledging the world's biggest film industry.

Last year saw the festival's 65th birthday.

Next we will try to find some more starlets on the beach at Cannes!
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Giro d'Italia 2013

The Giro started this weekend with a great win for Mark Cavendish on the first stage.  The Giro podium girls seem to give proper smackeroonie kisses not the little pecks the oh so refined Tour de France girls manage.

As usual it gives the jovially politically incorrect Italians the excuse to parade lots more examples of the splendid local femininity.  Above we have some pom pom girls from the team presentations.

Everything we like about Italian girls in one pink package.  None of this size zero anorexic look here, just a young lady you could take out to dinner and she'd eat a proper meal and not prod a bit of lettuce about her plate.  Deliziosa!
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Calendar Girl May: Nicole Neal

Nicole's Calendar Picture

May's Calendar girl is another young lady we haven't heard of largely, we suspect, because we don't "read" Nuts, Front or other such lad's mags.    Nicole Neal is a glamour model who actually isn't from Essex!  She hails from genteel Bournemouth; a pleasant seaside town which is popular with retired people.

Agent Triple P went to Bournemouth on a team building/management course with one of his previous employers twenty years or so ago.  We had a nice hotel room with a view of the sea and spent three days doing nonsensical things with Lego and eggs.  We hooked up with a very busty girl from one of the firm's other offices which resulted in neither of us getting enough sleep to undertake the wooden puzzle we had to do the next morning.  Unfortunate, as it was revealed that it came from The Early Learning Centre and was designed for really quite young children.

The lady concerned was bouncy in every way and certainly enhanced what would otherwise have been a rather dreary time, as it was the middle of winter and not a good time to visit a seaside resort.

Nicole, a former fine arts student, has studied ballet and tap dancing and demonstrates some enviable flexibility in many of her photo shoots.

Unlike most of the FHM calendar girls we feature here, we can find very little about her on the internet.  She does not have a Wikipedia entry, for example.

Nicole: Page 3 girl

We have discovered that she has been a Page 3 girl for the Sun.  Usually the calender girls we have on The Adventures of Triple P are a little more covered up than Nicole but we have found it quite difficult to find that many pictures of her dressed.  Which is not a bad thing.

Miss Neal, coincidentally, was born on the same day as Agent Triple P, albeit 32 years later.  Hopefully, she will keep posing for shots such as this which will enable us to feature her again when our birthday rolls around once more.  Nicely toned legs in this one.

She has a really rather splendid figure with a very pert and toned posterior which may be as a result of the dance training.  Some of these shots were done for high street lingerie/sex shop Ann Summers.  Recently we looked after some ladies from an American university who were surprised to see a shop selling vibrators, handcuffs and other such items on British high streets.  Over 70% of Ann Summers' customers are women and the chain sells over 2 million vibrators a year.

Nicole for Ann Summers

In March Ann Summers announced that high street chemist Superdrug will be selling their sex toys in their stores.  Other major UK chemist (drugstore) Boots tried something similar in 2010 but had to withdraw the range of sex toys from their shops following protests by (largely) mothers.

 Real? They look like it

Nicole has a particularly nice bust with splendid nipples and a lovely overall shape.  They are such a nice shape that we wondered if they might be artificially enhanced but examination of a number of videos of her leads us to believe, given the way they move, that they are real.

Here Miss Neal seems to have annoyed another finely constructed young lady, one Danielle Sharp, to the extent that the latter feels she has to restrain our calendar girl.  Fortunately, all arguments seem to be resolved and they kiss and make up.

So, we admire Miss Neal's fine form and pretty face (and not all such models are as pretty, we have to say) and certainly will be looking out for more pictures of her to use to celebrate our birthday in January.
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