Jeff Conaway

Sad news today that the family of actor Jeff Conaway have taken the decision to turn off his life support machine, after ongoing problems with drug and alcohol addiction.

The news is concentrating on his involvement in Grease, but for many sci-fi fans like myself he will be much better known for his ongoing role in the superb series Babylon 5 where he played security officer Zack Allan, ending up as security chief by the end of the series.

As a little tribute, here is the last five minutes of Babylon 5.

The Band You Know Well – But Have Never Heard Of

Of late I’ve been listening to a new album, called Don’t Ya Love Life, I’ll venture that you’ll not have heard of the band, the Tommy Blaize Band, although like me you’ll probably find the name a little familiar.

Of course the reason you’ll not have heard of them, is because you know them as something else, something that becomes clearer when you realise that the keyboards on Don’t Ya Love Life are being played by a certain Dave Arch, a name familiar to many millions of people as being in charge of the house band on Strictly Come Dancing. Then when you take a look at the Strictly Come Dancing album and find that Tommy Blaize is one of the regular singers on the show, suddenly all the pieces start to fit together.

At it’s core the Tommy Blaize Band is the same group of singers and musicians that we see every Saturday night on BBC1 during the autumn, but this is them playing mainly their own music and under their own name. Whilst on the show they turn their hands to pretty much any style the dancers throw at them, on their own there is a definite motown, old school feel to the music on the album, with brass sections and an orchestra in evidence on certain tracks. Across the whole album it is easily up to the quality of the cover versions they produce week by week on our televisions.

The album justifiably deserves to do well, and give an excellent bunch of musicians a bit of recognition in their own right, rather than just as the Strictly Come Dancing house band.

You can find the album in a number of places, including from Amazon – buying from the link below gives us a little help funding the site here.

Not Easily Impressed

This is probably my favourite shot so far, not for Obama and Cameron having a great time reliving battles across the ping pong table from the sixth form common room, but because of the distinctly unimpressed voter of the future behind.

Maybe she’s just not impressed by a couple of politicians playing table tennis, or maybe she was the one who had the table tennis table booked for this particular slot and has been bumped for the photo opportunity!

Hands Up Anybody Who Thinks These Two Actually Cooked This…

With the White House, Number 10 and Royal Family Flickr feeds all publishing pictures from the Obama State Visit there are loads of great shots coming out. This one is from the barbecue in the grounds of Number 10.

Maybe I’m doing them an injustice and Obama and Cameron tended the coals all afternoon cooking the burgers, but somehow I doubt it…

Over the Sea to Skye

Once upon a time there were three ferry routes to Skye. The ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh, which has now been superseded by the Skye Bridge, and the longer ferry route from Mallaig exist largely thanks to the railways – the ferry route from Glenelg is a bit different – and much, much older.

Glenelg sits across a stretch of water called the Kyle Rhea narrows, the narrowest stretch of sea between Skye and the mainland, historically it was the point where routinely cattle raised on the island were made to swim across to be herded to market, it is also from here that Dr Samuel Johnson made his crossing in 1773. This was once the main route to the island. Now on both sides of the narrows the approach is via minor roads, much of it single track with passing places, and with the proximity of the bridge and the main A87 road why would anyone want to take the diversion over the Bealach pass to catch the ferry any more?

Now I have to say that the A87 is a great road, whilst you do get the odd speed freak and plenty of caravans, the road is wide enough and with enough clear stretches to make passing the caravans straightforward and give the speed freaks the chance to pass without too much tailgating. It’s certainly got some spectacular scenery along the stretch you’d miss taking the ferry, and the bridge is quite a spectacular engineering feat in itself, but it certainly isn’t quite the same experience as taking the ferry. If you’ve got the time to spend, I can recommend taking a ride on the now community owned Glenelg ferry.

Unlike the bigger ships running the route from Mallaig, the community are running the route from Glenelg with the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland, now forty years old. The service runs as required, and amazingly is operated by only two people, even turning the turntable itself with up to six cars on board. The crossing takes barely five minutes, but especially if you’ve just driven the long drive up from the lowlands there is a chance to pause and take in the quiet and stunning scenery before boarding.

On our last trip up to Skye I took the opportunity to film our whole crossing – watch out for a curious seal who pops out of the water as the ferry nears it’s destination.

So there you have it, it certainly isn’t the fastest way to Skye, but it is a much more memorable way to start your time on Skye and along with that you’ll be helping to keep a little bit of the history of the area alive.