Tag Archives: Rolf Harris

And then what?

When do you give up on the work by someone you’ve liked and admired?

I’m thinking – again – of the latest film producer to have caused a public storm and upset. But – again – it could be anyone discovered to have seriously misbehaved and sometimes not getting found out. These [usually] men have often done great work, in film, music, theatre, literature.

And when the news breaks, some of us find that we have been fans of a monster. If it’s really bad, it’s not too hard to stop watching their films or listening to their music.

But if it’s a bit more borderline? Or they have been involved with so much on the cultural scene, that it can be hard to draw a line, or even to know where that line is.

I was relieved to learn I didn’t have to ‘respect’ Jimmy Savile, so that was no hardship. Likewise OJ Simpson. But it took me a while to know what to do about Rolf Harris. It’s not that I didn’t believe the accusations. I just couldn’t tell how it would affect my fondness for his work. It was gradual, but not slow, and I knew when it was time to delete his albums from iTunes. The books went to the local charity shop, where quite possibly they languished until pulped.

Speaking of books, I have a friend who meets famous people through her work. Luckily I’ve never read anything by the very well known, older male writer she mentioned once. I can’t unsee that unwanted kiss in my mind, and I’m just grateful he wasn’t someone I liked. But whenever I see a photo of this author, it’s all I can think of. No literary merit whatsoever.

And I know what I said in my other post, about being too polite. I was far too polite about the last Rolf Harris concert I went to. It was lacklustre. He was clearly under pressure already, except we didn’t know it.

This Weinstein business is awkward. I have no hesitation blaming the man for anything that’s being said. But he’s been involved in so many films. Good films. Do they need boycotting from now on, or was he too far removed from them, for it not to matter? I mean, I generally don’t even know who produced a film.

To go back to iTunes, I have a couple of albums on there, sung by someone I used to know. Someone who behaved in an unacceptable manner to me about a year ago. I have no problem skipping past the new album, which I didn’t like much. But the really old one; I have always loved it. It’s just when one of those tracks comes on, it’s difficult to forget what she said. It takes the edge off my enjoyment.

So I don’t know.

Criminals, and their other work

I can still recall my shock and surprise at the Post Office – where I had once worked – finding the member of staff at the counter was an old colleague of mine. Fresh out of jail, she must have been. I had heard she had been found guilty of helping herself to money from people’s savings accounts. It was all the more ironic to me, as this colleague had been the union representative and she had railed at us younger members of staff for not taking things seriously enough.

But there she was, back with her hands in the till, so to speak. Obviously no one else would want to employ her, and Swedish state employees had pretty secure job rights back then. I’m guessing they couldn’t sack her. You know; court, jail, back to work.

There is a Swedish singer I quite like. I’m not an active fan, but enjoyed his music as a child, and in recent years there are some albums I have and listen to. He was – I believe – jailed for drug crimes in the intermediate period. I don’t read gossip magazines, and living in exile it’s hard to keep up with all the news.

It didn’t worry me, nor did it surprise me. I don’t go around thinking his singing is connected with his private life or whether he is a nice person. The songs are the same, with or without the drugs/jail connection. Equally, I don’t feel my childhood enjoyment of his music has been tainted by the drugs news.

But perhaps you can tell where I’m going with this? Rolf Harris; a man I have admired and whose work I have enjoyed for so long.

When the news first appeared about the accusations of sex crimes, I hoped they were wrong, and worried about what would happen. Now, though, I couldn’t care less about him. Not only have I made the journey from fan to non-fan, but it all seems very plausible and far easier to ‘accept’ than I ever thought it would.

You see films where the other convicts spit in the food served to child abusers. I’m guessing this is what I’m feeling. There are crimes that you can see as merely crimes, and then there are other crimes that are something else entirely. I have to admit that I never worried too much about what to think of Gary Glitter. As a teenager I liked his singing well enough, but that ended and his criminal career has not caused me to dwell on what I think of him.

In both cases there are young people who have been abused. That’s very important to remember. But then there are the fans, who possibly never saw their star perform live, or at least never spoke to them.

We have a past, that now has changed. We liked someone we would never have liked, had we known. When the news first appeared, I didn’t know how I would feel about my Rolf Harris CDs.

I do now.

They will have to go, just like all everything else this man created in his life, and which people all over the world are ditching. Either because they want no connection with him, or because you can’t continue enjoying what you once liked.

So many children – and adults – have had their memories tainted. I have decided to let my earlier blog posts remain for the time being. I somehow feel I don’t want to be forced to erase my own past, even though my feelings and opinions have changed. And now I understand why Rolf Harris looked so stiff and was in such a foul mood at the last concert at the Lowry. I was just too polite, and too much of a fan, to draw attention to it.

I shouldn’t have been.

My big fear is finding out who will be next. I very much doubt this is all there is. We will find more heroes with feet of clay. The question is who.

When.

Rolf Harris at the Lowry

Rolf Harris sauntered onto the Lyric Theatre stage at the Lowry last night, dressed in a white shirt and sun hat, looking for all the world as though he was in Provence. He wasn’t far out. It was a glorious day, even in Salford, and so much better for Rolf being there. Maybe he’d got the wrong postcode, maybe not.

That’s the thing with Rolf Harris. You don’t know how much is an act and what actually happened. Maybe they really did drive round looking for the Lowry. (It’s an apt name. One painter to another.)

Rolf Harris programme

He started with Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, sticking to the same script he’s used for a while. We got emotional, we stopped clapping, we did everything Rolf told us to do. We sang. (Is there a discount when you become part of the act?)

Then he rambled a bit. Sang the intro to Kangaroo in Dutch. Spanish. Claimed he didn’t know the Japanese translation, although that didn’t stop him. Sang Kangaroo in Russian, which somehow turned into Kalinka. And Rolf finished with the Nashville version.

This all took a while, as you can understand.

A Japanese joke swiftly (no, pretty slowly in a roundabout way, actually) took us to Christmas and Six White Boomers. Then he moved via Aborigine art to Uluru and Raining on the Rock. He tried on his accordion for size. Several times. Then he finally played it, for tongue-twister Court of King Caractacus. The audience followed, still singing along. Was it an act, or was it for real? Rolf ‘completely lost it.’ Doesn’t matter.

You Are My Sunshine, with another slight hiccough. Who cares? We were all smiling in the sunshine. We sang Waltzing Matilda, and Rolf reminisced about singing it at Glastonbury with 130,000 index fingers counting ‘one, two, three.’ We found it hard to match this, having fewer fingers at our disposal.

Rolf Harris programme

We got a didgeridoo lesson, with Rolf doing unspeakable things with his glass of water and one belonging to a member of the orchestra. Basically, you blow raspberries while avoiding drowning yourself with the water. Don’t try it at home. This lead to Sun Arise, the most boring song the original musicians had ever played. Even George Martin felt it needed something a bit extra to counteract its mesmerising drone, and after three months on Radio Luxembourg it would have made it to number one had it not been for that upstart Elvis.

A short five-minute break for ten to fifteen minutes, meant we were back in 20-25. I’ll round that up to half an hour.

Rolf needed the time. He had a third leg to grow and clothe (orange trousers?) and a green tartan coat to put on. Yes, it was Jake the Peg, who had not only an extra leg, but sang the same bit a second time. Or tried to.

Rolf Harris programme

Once rid of the outfit and the spare leg, Rolf wore his cerise shirt, which he immediately covered up with a blue one so he could splash paint around. It was time for the painting. Fairly small canvas, for Rolf, but a great piece of work, nevertheless. Someone in the audience shouted out ‘can you tell what it is yet?’ I suppose it was worth checking he had some idea of what he was splashing the paint on. (Uluru, in case you wondered. With rain.)

The time spent painting, Rolf asked for permission to tell non-pc jokes. It was something about two Albanians, one of whom was called Patrick… He does do accents very well. You tend to forget this, in-between concerts.

Delilah and Stairway to Heaven raised the roof somewhat (we did sing very well, even if I say so myself). I now have a mental picture of Miss Given, for future use. Pavlova, on request, followed by Two Little Boys. I wondered how you can follow that with anything else, but Rolf did a rude version of it, which ‘lowered the tone’ sufficiently.

A lot of background information on Leadbelly, who wrote lots of songs, but not Sixteen Tons, which is why Rolf didn’t sing it. He forgot stuff. He dropped his money. And Leadbelly wrote Goodnight Irene, which will be why Rolf sang it.

Rolf Harris programme

Avoiding encores, we were firmly informed Rolf would finish with the British version of Kangaroo. We sat up straight and legs were uncrossed, and what we got was Kangaroo Elgar style. Or perhaps Land of Hope and Glory with dying stockmen. Seeing as it was the Last Night of the Proms, we felt we hadn’t missed out. And not a single varicose vein exploded.

Here he comes at last; Rolf Harris at the Lowry

We trooped out to the foyer where Rolf was going to sign. (They never said what, though. No merchandise, only programmes. And with no photography allowed inside, I have taken to photographing the programme to illustrate things. Sorry.)

It was a long wait, and a long queue. They had time to replace the pot of tea for a fresh one as we waited. I took a few photos and scarpered, so have no idea when the last ones left. This morning, I imagine.

Rolf Harris at the Lowry

I got to the tram stop as Rule Britannia was belted out on the façade of the BBC. Very nice.

Rule Britannia in Media City

It was all very nice. And if someone had suggested forty years ago that I would ever attend the concert of an 82-year-old, I’d have said they were crazy. But crazy would be not to go. This is feelgood stuff at its best.

Rolf Harris at the Lowry

I’d say come back soon, but I am a nice and generous person, so will say that it would be great to see you again, Rolf, but there are other deserving parts of the country, too. Probably.

Rolf is 80!

Rolf Harris

I’ll keep this short and to the point, seeing as I’ve waffled a bit about Rolf Harris in the past.

It’s Rolf’s 80th birthday today, so wherever you are

Happy 80th Birthday, Rolf!

Rolf on my mind

He’d been on my mind for a day or two. Mainly, I think, because Rolf Harris had popped up disproportionately often on iTunes that day. I don’t mind, because I like Rolf. A lot. But then I walked into the local charity shop, just as one of the helpers was standing there pricing books that had been handed in.

She held up two Rolf Harris hardbacks, in a helpless sort of fashion, and asked ‘who’d want to buy them?’ Since she wasn’t talking to me, I didn’t say that I wouldn’t mind (except I already had one of them), but I felt it was a little rude and ill-informed. The other helper muttered something about not having a clue, but she had really liked him when he was on television.

I expected her to say how lovely Rolf was on Animal Hospital, since it seemed at the time as if half the country was watching. What she had liked however, was ‘when he did those clever pictures’ on his show. That was a while ago. They were still talking when I left, not sure whether they’d simply chuck the strange books out. I was happy to see they had actually put Rolf in the shop window, when I next walked past.

Having thought that Rolf would be close to being labelled a National Treasure, these ladies really surprised me. I’m old enough to have watched the Rolf Harris Show in the 1960s. Us Swedish peasants didn’t have much to watch in those days, so his show on a Saturday night was eagerly awaited.

Then it was quite a jump to Animal Hospital, but that, too, was something not to be missed. And in my Rolf Harris revival mode I bought several CDs with his songs, which now shuffle merrily on the iPod. We went to one of his concerts, bought all the merchandise, so now Daughter sleeps in those t-shirts with Rolf’s art on. The old witch has his autobiography, and a couple of other books.

So I don’t really understand the attitude of the ladies in the charity shop. Misguided, I suppose.

Happy 79th, Rolf Harris!

Rolf Harris is 79 today. Let’s hope he’s not in Australia right now, as in that case it will almost be tomorrow, and I’ve missed it.

When she was much younger, Daughter went round telling people (=strangers) that I love Rolf Harris. I do, but not quite the way she made it sound. Even Swedes got to see Rolf’s show on television in the 1960s, but after that he disappeared off our radar. It was good to find him crying over the fate of animals on Animal Hospital, decades later. Not good that he, and we, were crying, but the programme was wonderful.

When Offspring were much younger we went to a Rolf Harris concert in Liverpool. It was one of those occasions when you nearly get divorced or have a nervous breakdown while trying to find where you’re supposed to be going, but the concert itself more than made up for the travelling. It must have been one of the most wonderful, and successful for us, shows we’ve ever been to. It’s a rare thing to find someone with an audience in every age group, and nobody looks as though they’ve been dragged there, kicking and screaming.

Another bonus for me, is that Rolf is friends with Roger Whittaker. I tried finding a video to show here, with the two of them singing Ye Le. It’s great! But not on YouTube, so buy a CD instead. To make up  for that I give you Two Little Boys, with Rolf and male voice choir.

I had to do some market research to find the best version, so could have used some of  those hankies from last night. I suffer for my blogging. The witch is partial to male voice choirs, so that’s why I picked this one.

And just as I put iTunes back on to shuffle, it was Rolf himself who popped up.