Why John Steed is the Greatest TV Character

Tribute to a unique Dandy

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Patrick Macnee, who played John Steed in the hit 1960s and 70s British cold war / spy / sci-fi programme The Avengers, passed away in Los Angeles aged 93.

Macnee’s long career was varied and distinguished, but it was as Steed that he played a commanding role in the quirkiest, campest, sexiest and most irreverent British programme ever made.

The programme’s creators, upon casting Macnee in the role, allowed the actor to portray the character as he saw fit. This meant that Macnee, a veteran of the Second World War, rejected the plan for Steed to carry a gun, despite the show starting out as a relatively conventional cold war drama.

Reflecting on being told he would have to use a gun, Macnee told the AP in 1997: “I’ve been in World War II for five years and I’ve seen most of my friends blown to bits and I’m not going to carry a gun.’ They said: ‘What are you going to carry?’ I thought frantically and said: ‘An umbrella.’”

This moment of clarity meant that Steed became a secret agent like no other, welcoming assailants in to his home by opening a decanter of Brandy, and rather than the cruder forms of violence he would knock them out with his bowler hat, and once even tickled an enemy agent in to submission.

As Steed, Macnee was never anything less than graceful.

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Co-starring our local heroine Honor Blackman, the early Avengers series were filmed for live TV. With the programme’s charm and Hollywood calibre storylines, Blackman became a star in James Bond and was replaced in The Avengers by Diana Rigg. Rigg and Macnee provided the best of the Avengers’ double acts, with Mrs Peel way ahead of Steed in intellect and physical prowess.

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But Macnee remained the Avengers’ mainstay, his humorous one-liners, ability to be enigmatic, mischievous and brilliant in equal measure and his tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a British establishment figure maintained the show’s unique appeal.

With only two television channels in Britain at the time, The Avengers’ viewing figures were well over 10 million during its peak. Rigg also became a star of 007, and was replaced by Linda Thorson as the younger, greener, cuddlier Tara King.

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By now in glorious colour for the American networks, Steed took on a more paternal role as Miss King’s mentor. Viewing figures declined, but the storylines remained the best and most accessible of their time.

Reprised in the 1970s with Joanna Lumley as Purdey in the much edgier New Avengers, the enduring appeal of Steed and Macnee was back again. And when C4 showed re-runs of the colour Rigg and Thorson seasons in the mid-90s, a new generation got The Avengers.

A true original and a dapper gentleman, Patrick Macnee was much closer to the Wildean dandy than today’s urban dandy. But this is a broad church and Steed will live on as an honorary urban dandy blessed with incredible warmth and wit.

 

Daniel Patrick Macnee, February 1922 – 25 June 2015

By Tom Charles, who has five tropical fish, for Urban Dandy

Stand 52

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Urban Dandy would like to bring to your attention the loss of a beloved community member. Stand 52 is not really what you would have in mind when asking for a half a pound a grapes but if you are from the area you would have used stand 52 many times.

Tommy from stand 52 Portobello Market, for some is Portobello Market, having supplied us with fresh fruit and veg for years. I can say from experience that he was one of the faces that you got used to seeing every morning on the corner of Portobello Road and Blenheim Crescent, arranging that lovely coloured nutrition in delicious order offering to quench your thirst and satisfy your body’s need for vitamins and minerals.

It’s interesting that with all the supermarkets popping up here there and everywhere, the question of local loyalty is underlined. I must admit within my own experience there is some guilt as I have a very specialized diet for health reasons, but that said I do what I can where I can and would only hope that most like myself will be also sad to see the end of a Portobello market legend.

Here is a man that took only two weeks off work each year. This is a very rare form of dedication. As noble as this may be, sadly it took the dreaded cancer to force a year’s break from the market.

In a brief conversation with Maureen, Tommy’s wife, I learned that his dedication and commitment to us as customers went way beyond Portobello Market and into his own domestic environment as when the question of marriage occurred Tommy was reluctant to take time off on a Saturday, so we should all feel privileged standing in the way of their wedding vows.

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Portobello Market is made up of some tremendous locals just like Tommy who really tend to smile through everything they face including the decrease in turnover based on their goliath super-chain competitors, yet they continue.

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Even those who didn’t know you knew your presence, work and commitment. On behalf of the family, extended family and every other market trader we say Rest In Peace Tommy Kane.

Thank you

R.I.P. Tommy

Hang – Review

The Royal Court, Jerwood Theatre Downstairs until 18th July 2015

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What is the theatre for? To entertain? To educate? To question? When these three facets align in a work, the impression left by it, can cause us to question our own perspective of a thing far more deeply than we thought previously possible.

debbie tucker green (all lower-case) has, in her latest play, hang, sought to position victimhood centre stage and write a bold and impassioned piece, reminding us of the red-hot anger, savage bitterness and unbridled hatred that can curdle in the hearts of victims of violent crime.

hang begins with three characters, all unnamed, arriving in a sterile and nondescript room. Two of the three are dressed in the ubiquitous office uniform, white shirts without ties, of some agency or other, whose job, it soon becomes clear, is to facilitate the punishment of an unnamed criminal. The third character, and centre of the play, is the victim of that criminal whose violent act has destroyed her life and the lives of her family. The victim has been called to this place so she can make a decision on a fitting punishment for the unseen perpetrator.

What ensues is a tense and strained situation, at times bleakly funny and at others, harrowingly painful, where the victim, played with great force and twitching anxiety by Marianne Jean-Baptiste, tries to disclose the effects of this violence on her life and the lives of her family. The comedy and pathos of the piece often comes from the inability of the agency employees to abandon their protocol and stifling codes, which act only to distance them from the feelings and frustrations of the victim.

Photo from thestage.co.uk

The drama of the piece simmers nicely as information is released to us in a slow and steady trickle, keeping us hooked, line by line, as to what’s coming next. Unfortunately, the iron resolve of Jean-Baptistes character as to what her decision will be leaves the play slightly underpowered and causes the all-important final dramatic-hit to be a smidge underdone. It would’ve been more compelling to see the victim struggle more with her decision, and therefore awaken those thoughts and feelings in the audience as well.

Having said that, the writing is at times tremendously skilful, tucker green has an expert’s ear for the intonations, glitches and inflections that pepper people’s speech in nervous situations, and she makes full use of stuttering unresolved sentences, repetitions and the small talk that attempts to cover that nervousness.

Jean-Baptiste’s powerful performance was matched adroitly by Claire Rushbrook and Shane Zara, in their roles as the agency employees.

By putting victimhood centre stage at The Royal Court, this thought-provoking, entertaining play also manages to leave a strong impression and opens up profound questions as to how we treat and think of what it means to be a victim.

 

Bradley Russell.  

Saturdad…

The week passes like a snail

Slowly often without purpose

Then Saturday comes,

I’m a Dad for a day,

Knock at the door

Those rushing footsteps

Shouts of it’s Daddy! Daddy!

 

It melts my pain

Once again the crust drops away

Now an eagle soaring, Flying

Seeing clearly,

the drudge of the week falls away

seeing your faces, hugging you both,

Loving you eternally…

Six days battered within, inside my

head, Knocked out in the heart

But I still stand, for I forever

see your faces, your smiles, holding you both

close inside…

 

Whatever the world throws at me

its schemes, its trickery, it can never

take you away,

Monday comes again, time spent

with you a beautiful memory,

re-Fuelling me to Fight once more

a once a week Daddy,

but not a weak man,

at times I’ll be on the Floor

as the rat with no pity Gnaws

at my heart…

Yet Saturday will come around again once more

 

 Saturdad

©Mark Bolton

‘Brush’

Angel Lewis

Buy it here

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‘There was a time when earthlings were pure creators and not really concerned with external opinions to express. There was a feeling of attachment to the source and a comfort in expression. Unimpressed by visitors like me because we were closer in thought until that thing happened. Earthlings lost their minds, their confidence and self-control, it was given over to external things.

It still baffles me how this can be your norm today.

The soul reason for all of this loss was fear. Humans are still creators but all creation is born out of fear and no longer from love. How many regions are in wars from fear of being invaded or relationships for fear of being alone? The truth is invasion is very unlikely if you are communicating but you will always be alone and all you can do is embrace it for the great thing that it is. When humans can learn to think again, outside of the metaphorical box it becomes clear that being alone means being al-one….’

An alien viewpoint on the art of creating form from ‘BRUSH’ by Angel Lewis.

Whose Judge are You Anyway?

by Tim Timing for Urban Dandy

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The previous Urban Dandy article asks whether Mothers have “totally lost their power to men with hammers in witches’ outfits”, decisions on the welfare of children being made in a “cold, clinical, lifeless, male milieu.”

To continue quoting: “this seems quite absent of the very female spark that initiated the offspring and all offspring for that matter”.

A good summary of the secret trials that seal the fate of so many children, and our dislocation from our true nurturing nature as a society.

In the much-publicised case of Rebecca Minnock, the latest news is that the boy is safely back with his father and Judge Wildblood* has stated that the mother had “positively invented allegations against the father on two occasions”.

The hype has died down and the media shuffled off elsewhere. We didn’t know much about the case anyway. But what do we know about the family court system?

We know that over 70% of judges are privately educated,

Were they loved at boarding school? Did they see more of their nannies than their fathers? Did their fathers express their love for them or were they just too painfully British for that?

We know that these are the people secretly deciding the future educational attainment, mental health, drug usage and ability to form healthy relationships of increasing numbers of children across our country.

We know that Solicitors, Barristers and the family law industry get fat off this,

“Family law firm of the year”,

“Legal aid law firm of the year”,

Better call Saul,

These awards were given by Johnny, aged five and Keira, aged two – she can’t remember her dad and has never been happier. He has behavioural issues but it’s OK, when he gets to primary school/secondary school/gets a job/gets off drugs/comes back from Syria (delete as you go along) he’ll be fine.

The class system feeds itself,

“We’re here for one thing only, the welfare of this young child,” they say with the straightest of faces, as the lawyers relax, their cover in place. £££.

“Yes your honour”

“No your honour”

“Why don’t you take that f*$##** wig off and have a conversation with me?”

Poor woman stays in her place – burdened with a cover of empowerment,

Poor man stays in his place – Condemned with a cover of liberation.

Britain needs to open up and sort out this system…

Or does it? Today you can guarantee behind every monster there is a genius that knows the nature and limitations of his beast. Like a crazed animal, only when it bites him is it a problem worth solving, otherwise it’s business as usual. Did anybody actually see the last Iron Man?

Editor’s note: This leads on to our upcoming post, another beautiful poem by Mark Bolton. Watch this space…

Better call Saul

* great, great name (ed.)

Whose child are you anyway?

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Ethan Minnock

Take a look in this child’s face. Look deeper. What Mother would want to give him up? Not Rebecca Minnock anyway.

After the court ruled custody in favour of Ethan Minock’s father, Rebecca Minnock did what any sane Mother with a supernal relationship with her child would do; Run. What? Well rather than question my odd angle on this, the question should really be what would it take to find the courage, or to some the stupidity, to take YOUR own child into YOUR own hands? That defining  moment could only have been a moment of connection as it is hard for me to believe that somebody who didn’t feel capable of raising their child would risk everything running away for just a short chance to be with them. Maybe the consequences weren’t weighed up, even more to the credit of Mothers hyperarousal.

One thing is for sure, several decades ago this would have been a natural response. Has society really been so caught up in modern legislation in the guise of law that thay can no longer appreciate what it is to be a human attached to their seed? For me, the balancing outlook comes from simply observing nature. I have seen animals less bothered with politics and court murder or even throw themselves in harms way when much more preponderant animals come within a few dozen metres of their progeny. So what’s the big deal? It’s natural.

I would like to think every Woman would at least consider this just so I know that they haven’t totally lost their power to men with hammers in witches outfits. You could maybe see Rebecca Minnock like a Rosa Parks or a Harriet Tubman. There’s something powerful about when women become restive, it feels veracious and begins just where a male’s manhood ends. Maybe the whole event asks a question that nobody wants to ask. I say this because at the core of it there is something innate within the Soul that knows its own property whether it’s the actual body or the body it created, even though most are afraid to act on it. But then again as always there is another side. Less than six months ago a woman on my own street killed her husband and child in a knife attack. With such a large number of people with failing mental health within domestic environments, largely spurred through undiagnosed post-natal depression that can last more than just a few years, what do you do to protect the child and who’s business is it?

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks

In 1666, just after the great fire of London, The Ceste Que Vie Act was signed and went into action immediately. The gist of it states that, by Maritime law standards, any individual born after the said date would be considered lost at sea unless within a seven year period after berth they would come forth and state otherwise. Strange as it seems it appears to me that what is being stated here is that all men born are considered by the courts dead unless they prove that they are not. Well what rights can a dead man have? I’m sure all things that would be considered property would be held in trust by the state, No? If I sound crazy by translating my own thoughts on the act, which by the way didn’t take too much thought on my part, then see what you make of it. After all it is not a belief but something enacted into your legislation.

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All that aside there are many, many opinions on whether or not the law is the law of the land or the law of the sea based on the Union Jack being a flag of the high seas and ra ta ta….However, whatever your position, the fact remains that decisions that only Mothers can make in sound mental health regarding their sentient child, are being made in a cold, clinical, lifeless, male milieu. This seems quite absent of the very female spark that initiated the offspring and all offspring for that matter. One shouldn’t have to take the form of a woman to know her role and connection to decisions of nurture unless, in a Shakespearean prophetic manner, one is born of a glass tube. In this case the microchimeric cell attachment they share may well be severed but anything short of this proves that the creator and the creation remain together for eternity according to recent neuroscience discoveries.

A 'Lancashire lassie' being escorted through the palace yard, Westminster Palace, London, 20th March 1907. A young woman is reluctantly escorted by two policeman who are holding her by the arms. The woman is still protesting as she is led away. The last line of the verse at the bottom says 'For Women's Rights anything we will dare; Palace Yard, take me there!' (Photo by Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Rebecca Minnock said ‘No’, whether it was a sane ‘No’ or a psychotic ‘No’ is the question here; but the larger question to all Mothers should be where does the state get the right and is it really a right or an antiquated legislation created, not for the health of the community but the capture of booty? This would then make it no less than a raping of the soul. But I will leave the burden of deciding with you dear Mothers, but whatever you decide I will only agree because I am just a mere man, the creation of a woman.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pMNzFow40I

For Emily Davidson & Mum.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVPTXmesMpo

Angel Lewis