12 December 2009

A selection of Roger Morton's rock photos

Roger Daltry, Mick Jagger, Robert Plant,
The Tubes. Photos Roger Morton

Images from Kabul

Photos by Mr Mwezi

La Gavotte

The first Saturday night of every month is a night to note at La Gavotte in Riberac.
December’s Saturday night was definitely rocking. Best of all there were no styly, cranky, moody punters – everybody had a big smile on their face. It was such a buzz. The ambiance was off the Richter scale. And that was just the background. On the makeshift stage, the musicians were belting it out. There’s miracles happening up there as they jam with what seems like a common soul. At times it got very goddam seamless. This is a scene ouverte night (open mic). It’s worth travelling those narrow country roads for. The line-ups are getting tighter and the place is packed out. It seems as though every musician worth his or her salt somehow knows to be there. I was disappointed that we got there too late to hear Anvar Khan sing. She sings unaccompanied. Spell-binding doesn’t come close. Sadly we won’t be back from London in time for the next one on January 2nd, so I have to hope she’ll be there February 6th.
Dottie hadn’t planned to sing but couldn’t resist when she heard Summertime starting up and then Delta blues guitarist Stephane suggested St James Infirmary and the mood was set and the words came tumbling out. More would have been good.
The first night I saw Keith Jones he was out-front, alone making everybody stop in their tracks with the power of his voice. Now he’s got Jim on drums, Steve, Paul, Rob, Josef on guitars and Fred on fiddle and harmonica. It’s a powerful mix. I hear they’re rehearsing. They’ve consented to a gig. I believe they’re going by the name of The Seven Sons but could be the 7 Suns. They can certainly raise the temperature on a cold winter’s night.
When we reluctantly left, 15 year old Ross Heselton was confidently evoking a distant memory of a young Lou Reed crossed with a young David Bowie. Backing him, the older musicians acquiesced without being asked as they grasped every nuance that he needed from them.They were very mindful of what he was seeking. It was very touching.
Joselyn Morton

Happy 7th Birthday, Radio 7

Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.
This week is special for Radio 7 – it is not just their Christmas week, it is also their 7th birthday. So Happy 7th Birthday, Radio 7. (The Editor)

We've come a long way since our launch on December 2002, with a current listenership of 884,000, which is well above our expectations, as our first available listening figures, from early 2003, were just over 200,000.
Christmas Classic comedy kicks off with two seasonal comedies which are over 50 years old, but have certainly stood the test of time. From the Goons, The International Christmas Pudding. In the year 562 BC, the magnificent international Christmas pudding was struck by lightning and rent asunder. Now fragments of the world-famous dessert are being found, and an eccentric millionaire has decided to fund an expedition. Festive madness from Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe. First broadcast in 1955.
Thursday at 8am, 12pm and 7pm
From Galton and Simpson, Hancock’s Half Hour. This episode is Bill and Father Christmas and Warren Mitchell joins ‘the lad himself’ in this episode, which finds Sid coaxing Tony into a Santa costume. Hancock resents pretending to be Santa for Bill's sake - he's 34 years old, and still believes in Father Christmas.
Our greatest living comedy writing partnership are Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. Galton and Simpson's Christmas programme was first heard in 1958. It will be heard again on Wednesday 16 December at 8am, 12pm and 7pm
Next week our Christmas schedule will include some Charles Dickens' perennial favourites beginning with The Pickwick Papers, then A Christmas Carol in Christmas week, and his ghost story The Signal Man.
Mary Kalemkerian Head of Programmes BBC Radio 7 Christmas 2009

Poem, The Pacific Rim

The Pacific Rim
Nikau palms and punga ferns
A New Zealand heart
beats and yearns
in a London flat
where the light
doesn’t reach
and the Pacific Rim
is too far to swim.
© by Joselyn Duffy Morton

Roger Morton

Cover Picture

Gru in flight
This year the gru (cranes) are leaving much later than normal, for their flight south for the winter. Usually they have all left by mid November. It appears that this could be an indication of changes caused by global warming. Yet our swallows left early this year!

Roger Morton

5 December 2009

A selection of Roger Morton's rock photos

The famous Pete Townsend, The Who, leap.

Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stones

Debbie Harry, Dingwalls Dancehall, London

Andy Warhol

Debbie Harry, Blondie
All photos by Roger Morton

4 December 2009

Life in Kabul by Mr Mwezi


Late Friday night in Chiang Mai. December 4th 2009. The eve of the King's 82nd Birthday. Music is blasting into the night outside my window as a week long open-air music festival is finally approaching its end. Tomorrow night, out of respect for the King, the night will be mercifully peaceful.
Cloaked in darkness beyond the flashing lights of the stage lies Doi Suthep, the mountain beneath which the historic city of Chiang Mai was first established in 1296. It was on a steep winding roadside half way up Doi Suthep, over 40 years ago, that I first experienced the reverence and unconditional love displayed by the Thai towards their King, who came to the throne 63 years ago. He is the world's longest living monarch, and arguably the most beloved. That far away day in 1969, during my first visit to Thailand, I was walking along the side of the road, amidst crowds of people heading for the elephant training ground to see a special show being put on by the King and Queen of Thailand for their guests, the King and Queen of Malaysia. As the royal motorcade approached everyone - myself included - dropped instantaneously to the ground and lay face-down as the cream limousines sped past ...
Love and respect for the king has not dwindled one iota over the decades. The national anthem still plays twice a day and whether it is in a cinema before the film begins, or in the Chiang Mai evening market, everyone stops instantly whatever they are doing and stands motionless the moment the first familiar notes are heard. Since the King's recent hospitalisation more than 1.2 million people from all parts of the country have travelled to Bangkok to visit the hospital bringing flowers and letters of love and good wishes. When the King left hospital on a previous occasion wearing an elegant pink jacket, within hours it became de rigeuer to wear a pink shirt or jacket as a sign of solidarity in a national desire for His Majesty's full recovery and sustained good health. I imagine many Thais have their pink shirts already laid out to wear tomorrow.

Text and photos by Chris Mougne


When our grandson Mitchell Debrabant mentioned that his tutor had said his last critique was ‘outstanding’, I blithely badgered him to send it to me for my blog. And he did. Here it is:

Excess fat?  Eat that.

When faced with nutrient deprivation, a cell has two options: lipolysis and autophagy. Until recently, it has been widely considered that these two processes were separate and independent of each other. But recent findings by Singh et al. propose that, in fact, autophagy has an important role in lipolysis regulation.

When nutrients are abundant, cells make reserves for less fortunate times. In this way, hepatocytes sequester free fatty acids (FFAs) and convert these into triglycerides (TGs) which are then stored in lipid droplets (LDs) (Martin & Partin, 2006). Starvation triggers the hydrolysis of TGs back into FFAs, which can then be fed into the β-oxidation cycle in order to provide energy (Finn & Dice, 2006).
Alternatively, the cell can also undertake autophagy, which consists of sequestering cellular components (such as intracellular proteins and organelles) within double membrane bound vesicles (autophagosomes), which are then sent to lysosomes for degradation (Finn & Dice, 2006). This mechanism is most commonly used to  manage surplus and damaged organelles, but also has a role in providing the cell with energy.
Although these processes show similarity in function, and in regulation (by hormones insulin and glucagon in both cases), they have long been considered independent of each other. However, Singh et al.'s recent paper provides evidence they are in fact very much intertwined.

Singh and colleagues (using a variety of autophagy inhibitors, gene knockdowns and staining and microscopy methods) demonstrated that autophagy has many effects on lipid storage and the lipid metabolism's dynamics. Indeed, Singh et al.'s experiments show that during nutrient deprivation, autophagosomes target the LDs themselves, engulfing either part or the totality of the LD (depending on it's size). These lipid-containing autophagic compartments (autolipophagosomes) then proceed to the lysosome, into which they release their lipid contents. The lipids are then hydrolysed into FFAs and fed into the lipolysis cycle. This process was coined 'macrolipophagy' by Singh and colleagues (figure 1). It is important to note that in the presence of lipid supplements (in the form of oleate), macrolipophagic activity is significantly reduced.
Furthermore, Singh et al. have shown that starvation in mouse hepatocytes causes a gradual lessening of basal autophagy (i.e. not relating to sequestration of lipids from LDs) and increase in macrolipophagy.
Singh and colleagues proceeded to study the effects of a high fat diet (HFD) on macrolipophagy in mouse hepatocytes. Their results showed that a HFD causes an increase in LD number and size. This is due to higher levels of fat uptake (due to high concentrations) on one hand, and a reduced macrolipophagy function on the other. This down-regulation is consistent with the previous comment regarding the attenuating effects of lipid supplementation on macrolipophagy. Furthermore, when HFD-fed mice are subsequently starved, macrolipophagy levels are significantly lower than in mice that haven't undergone a HFD, indicating the long-term effects of a build-up of excess fatty reserves as observed in HFD-fed mice.
Finally, Singh and colleagues investigated the effects of hepatocyte-specific autophagy gene knockdowns on the liver itself. Results showed dramatically increased levels of fat deposits, and an increased organ size (due to the excess fat), characteristic symptoms of fatty liver disease, a pathology commonly associated with obesity.

Singh et al.'s findings may be of utmost relevance in present times, where diseases related to accumulation of excess fat, such as heart-failure and fatty liver disease, are some of the most common causes of human death. Indeed, with a recent and significant increase of fat levels in our diets, we may be approaching the high fat diets that the mice in Singh et al.'s experiments were subjected to. Thus, under these conditions, we could expect to suffer from the same symptoms.  Furthermore, the aforementioned down-regulation of autophagy caused by a HFD could trap us in a vicious circle of positive feedback: high fat levels leads to decreased macrolipophagy leads to high fat levels etc. Moreover, we know that ageing can lead to decreased autophagic function which in turn could lead to accumulation of lipid reserves in the liver, a common occurrence in the elderly. Interestingly, it may in fact be the gradual life-long accumulation of LDs in hepatic cells itself  which leads to the observed decrease in autophagy associated with ageing; reason more to investigate possible treatments for such metabolic syndromes. Singh and colleagues propose that therapeutic strategies involving the up-regulation of autophagic function may provide a solution for the metabolic disorder and its related pathologies. Indeed, approaches like these will act against the aforementioned vicious circle, and may even be able to reverse the established effects of a HFD.

In order to further our understanding of these processes it is primordial to characterise in more detail the precise mechanisms that govern the sequestration and degradation of LDs by macrolipophagy. This in turn would allow a more learned approach towards the development of therapeutical treatments. Singh et al. hypothesised, that proteins associated
with the autophagosome membrane are recruited to LDs where they bind and initiate the formation of a double membrane around a section or entirety of the LD. However, this only addresses a small fragment of the potentially intricate and complicated mechanisms that drive macrolipophagy.

Text Box: References: 
Martin, S. & Parton, R.G. (2006) Lipid droplets: a unified view of a dynamic organelle. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 7 : 373-378.

Singh, R., Kauhik, S., Wang, Y., Novak, I., Komatsu, M., Tanaka, K., Cuervo, A.M. & Czaja, M.J. (2009) Autophagy regulates lipid metabolism. Nature 458 : 1131-1137.
Finn, P.F. & Dice, J.F. (2006) Proteolytic and lipolytic responses to starvation. Nutrition 22 : 830-844


         THE LABORATORIES OF NIGHT             
The dieticians tamper with
our chromosomes
and the food chain of desire
makes a liar
of our hormones
and the line between
x, and y, is blurred
and a chest becomes
a breast
and a penis
turns to Venus
and the male and female mingle
where double turns to single
and fantasies are put to rest
as the cells are put to test
in the laboratories of night
where left turns into right.
In those clean and sterile places
where no one knows the faces
or what dieticians can do
when they pump hormones into you.

© Joselyn Morton


United Arab Emirates (UAE)

This week Dubai dominated the news. The religious holiday Eid al -Adha in the Middle East and the closure of the American financial markets for thanksgiving contributed to the uncertainty - that plus a computer crash for 3 and a half hours at the London Stock Exchange, which is 21% owned by Dubai,  left dealers unable to trade. (See editorial.)
Joselyn Morton

Student Radio

The Student Radio Association, (SRA) is an organisation which represents the UK student radio community, encouraging universities and colleges to set up their own radio stations, offering support, advice, and organising events to bring together student radio stations the length and breadth of the U.K.
Student Radio has provided a starting point for young people who hope to work in the radio industry, and it has launched the careers of several radio presenters, including Simon Mayo, Scott Mills, and Kevin Hughes.
On Tuesday this week, the annual Student Radio Awards were held at the IndigO2, with an audience of over 700 which included professionals from the radio industry and students from all round the country. The awards were hosted by Fearne Cotton, Scott Mills and Greg James.
There were 14 categories in all, ranging from Best Scripted Programme to Best Interview. Names to look out for in the future must surely be the winners for Best Female Presenter and Best Male Presenter.
Respectively, they were: Julie Ann Lough from RaW (Warwick University) and Fergus Dufton from URN (Nottingham University)
And the Winner for Student Radio Station of the Year was LSRfm from Leeds University.
Congratulations to all of the winners, and also to those who made it to the list of nominees. And to those students who are keen to work in the great medium of Radio, I wish you every success.
You can find out more information about the Student Radio awards on  www.studentradioawards.co.uk/.
Mary Kalemkerian, BBC Head of Programmes Radio 7


The shame of Denmark

This happens every year in Feroe Island in Denmark to the Calderon dolphins. The main participants are teenagers.The dolphins are cut 2 or 3 times with hooks. They don't die instantly. The dolphins' cry sounds like a new-born baby.They are shown no compassion and these sweet creatures slowly die in their own blood.
The sea is stained red. It is not because of any climate changes. It is a shame which needs to be changed. I have been emailed a list to add my name to. Email me on rogerjoselyn@gmail.com if you want to add your name to the list.
Joselyn Morton

The white cliffs of Dover are a very welcome sight to seafarers. This picture was in June and the sea was placid. A beautiful peaceful picture. The next trip will be in December and the sea promises to be not so placid. I expect the white cliffs of Dover will be even more welcome this time.