20 August 2010

summer photos in the Dordogne by Anders Ford

Stephen O’R’s Sydney and the Federal elections are on

A week of drug-addled existence is coming to an end – I hope. No nothing expensive or exciting, no choppin-up on a mirror or hugging on the dance floor not even laughing at patterns in the clouds or at some joke on Friends or even a drive home through the back streets to avoid the breathalyser. For me its prescription painkillers - two types of neuropathic painkillers one of which is an anti-depressive and one which makes you fat and suicidal plus a mix of oxy contin and oxy codone. This is to combat the after-effect - pain (having been poisoned by the medical profession and Kodak who administered and manufactured a contrast dye around thirty plus years ago). The short and curly of it is that I have lost days and week in a daze.

Tomorrow the farce that passes for democracy in Australia has its big day out as we all wander off to the polling booths or pay a fine to elect our local member and state senators. My local member is an ex-rock and roll singer called Peter Garret who is a labour party guy and Minister for the environment and the Arts. I won’t be voting for him but I will be going to the local Labor club to experience the local ’culture’. Garret was not elected by locals but placed in his seat (safe Labour) by the powers-that-be in the Labour Party. It is said that the number of active labour party members in Australia is less than 1000 and that this is the same sort of number in the Liberal party. The real decisions about politics in this country of 21 million are said to be made by less than 400 people for all Parties. This is a country that criticises China for not being a democracy.

So the prediction is labour will lose up to 19 seats and therefore lose power but the strongest feeling appears to favour a hung parliament with the Greens holding power in the senate and three ex Country party members holding power in the lower house.

I will be there observing it at the Randwick labour Club. My vote is for an independent in the Senate and who knows whom in the lower house. Its not quite master Chef but it’s been an entertaining few weeks. Both main parties have tried to say nothing in order that they don’t give the other side some advantage. Because our Julia stabbed her Prime Minister in the back only weeks before the election it’s been a bit like two opposition leaders competing for our approval. The main difference between the parties is Labour wants to build a 43 billion dollar high speed broadband network and the liberals want to build a cheaper slower one – go figure. Both parties have said they will be tough on asylum seekers arriving on boats even though 99% of asylum seekers arrive as tourists on comfortable planes. Labour says they will send them to East Timor (who have not said yes) to be assessed whilst the Liberals want to send them to Nauru where they used to send them. (Nauruans need the money because the big end of town money guys in Melbourne stole all the money the Nauruans had made from selling their bird poo (Phosphate fertilisers). Of those asylum seekers sent to Nauru, under the Liberals, 98% were given recognition as refugees and settled in Australian after all the bullshit and hundreds of millions of dollars.

The labour party dropped its plan to combat climate warming because they could get no support in the parliament even though 65% of Australians wanted emission controls. Tony Abbott the leader of the Liberals said ‘climate change is crap’ before the elections but has since dropped the word crap while keeping the sentiment.

The taxpayers pay for all this crap with the details about who made private donations not being revealed until 2012 and then very little. The traditional big donators are mostly the usual suspect federally mining companies and Zionists while the state governments – especially Labour receive their biggest sums from Property Developers who get planning permission and Pubs who get pokie machines in return. There are many corporations who want their phone calls answered who give about the same to each party.

Julia Gillard, the Labour Brutessa, went ‘real’ after the focus groups showed voters felt she wasn’t and Tony Abbot dropped his ‘mad monk’ image for the suburban solicitor tri-athlete image, stayed awake for last 36 hours before the election because David Cameron did (and he won). The liberals, as usual the only ones who mention the arts, are talking loans for Australian films. Nobody has seriously discussed the economy, education, health, transport or anything they are supposed to be responsible for. The new go is to do 10-15 minute doorstop interviews that allow no time for questions to be answered or policies to be explained.

A photo finish is the most preferred prediction and this I will witness from a Labour club on Saturday night. I have had to promise my wife not to say whom I voted for and not to make anti-labour jokes or spend too much on the pokies. If it turns out a laugh next time I will join the Liberal party and go to their election nite party.

Meanwhile the sun is shining and the temperature is 20 plus. The girl in the posh grocery shop had her first swim today and the dollar is up. Coming up is the Bali Film Festival and my son has his first job ever as an assistant grip and runner on a n-budget film – probably because he is using our old 4wd.

Stephen O’R

Quinze aout

Quinze aout used to be

chez Rolande from midi

to six, gifts on display

bottles arranged

aperitives poured

glasses refilled

the pace ordained

Alcohol lubricating my French,

making words flow.

Twenty five people move to the shade

Everything prepared, perfected,

Rolande’s hair permed, pinny in place

we take our seats

The meal begins

comme toujours with

soup, then salad

course after course

the enormous fish that

Guy would have caught

canards reared by Rolande

beans, bien sur, obligatoire.

Each year she pulls off this gargantuan feast.

This eclectic bunch brought

together for lunch

the Dutchman who owns the nearby chateau

the Frenchwoman who owned it before,

her daughter Fanfan, a dancer in Paris

the local artist there with his wife,

the married cousin

from across the road

who winter afar in Madagascar

another cousin from another village

the only other non-French family

and the trusted friends

who were there at the end.

Now that era is over

and quinze aout is just

another summer day.

Tiny like Piaf,

the cancer was swift

the long procession

to the cemetery

was rained-on and sad

perhaps they wished they’d visited her

before she died.

Now Guy, sister-less, sits out his days

in a maison de retraite.

No more hunting nor fishing,

nor rotting plums for his eau de vie,

instead he waits, wondering if he’s dead,

trapped inside his own head.

Joselyn Duffy Morton ©

Edinburgh Free Fringe

Without hesitation, repetition or deviation - the legendary host of Just a Minute is this month celebrating 10 years of taking his show, Nicholas Parsons' Happy Hour, to the Edinburgh Fringe. The show - a mix of his own stand-up and chats with invited guests - is always a sell-out. One reviewer recently described him as ‘an icon of Post Modern Cool’, and indeed he is. It's incredible to realise that he's has been entertaining the nation for over 60 years, and has clocked up 47 years as the inimitable host of Radio 4's popular panel game. On Tuesday this week, two Just A Minute (or JAM as we call it round here) shows were recorded at the Edinburgh Fringe in the largest of the Pleasance venues - The Grand. Well ahead of the doors opening, the audience queued round the venue in what seemed like an endless snake, patiently waiting to get in to see their favourite show, whilst a separate queue gathered and grew, anxiously waiting to see if there were any returned tickets. I was lucky enough to be able to squeeze into the show, and it really was well-worth the wait. Before the recording began, as usual, Nicholas did his warm-up, and so entertaining was he - it could easily have made a show in its own right. The panellists were veteran comic Paul Merton, Fred MacAulay (fresh from recording MacAulay and Co) Jenny Éclair (the first female stand-up to win the Perrier Award, 15 years ago) and making his JAM debut - award-winning stand-up, Steven K Amos. The show sparkled with wit as the panellists competed fiercely to beat that buzzer. You can hear the JAM Edinburgh recordings on Radio 4 next Monday 23rd August and Bank Holiday Monday 30th August. At the end of the recording, which earned tumultuous applause, the panellists dashed off to different venues to perform their own shows. But as the audience filed out of the stifling hot theatre, I noticed a boy of about 9 or 10 hopping up onto the stage holding out a piece of paper - in the hope of getting Nicholas' autograph. The host stopped in this tracks, sat down and chatted to the young lad, whilst writing what I'm sure was a lovely autographed message. I felt quite touched watching this popular, genial and courteous entertainer - now well into his eighties - having just recorded two gruelling shows, about to perform in his own show - and in between shows, also launching his second memoir at the Edinburgh Book Festival this week - wasn't too busy to stop and give a young fan the gift of his time so graciously. Congratulations on your decade of performances at the Edinburgh Fringe, Nicholas, and may you entertain us with many more of your festival Happy Hours in Scotland's capital city. I couldn’t help but notice that quite a few older children were in the audience at this week's recording of Just a Minute. This set me thinking about shows with family appeal - so I took a browse through the Fringe brochure to check out suitable shows. I was surprised to spot over 100 shows specifically aimed at children on the Fringe this year. Intriguingly several are being performed by stand-up comedians; Manchester-based comic Seymour Mace is presenting his Dafternoon Show, Scottish funny man Phil Kaye's kids' show is Gimmyourleftshoe and performance poet, comedian and musician John Hegley's show is Animal Alphaboat. As I was only in Edinburgh for 2 days, I was unable to catch any of those shows but I did manage to catch a play aimed at younger children. Battling through the buggies in the Pleasance Courtyard, I joined a packed theatre audience of excited children and their parents/carers to see Charlie and Lola's Best Bestest Play. The stage show was absolutely charming. A magical mix of puppets, live action and music had the audience enthralled - both young and old. It was a delightful feel-good final entertainment for me, on my ‘less than £50 a day whirlwind McOnomy’ trip - back to the grown-up world of Radio 7.

Mary Kalemkerian Head Of Programmes BBC Radio 7

Nicolas Parsons JAM

92 years later …

A bible found in the trenches in the 1st WW has been traced 92 years later to a NZ soldier.

After serving in the 1st WW, Herbert Hodgson (1893-1974) became the acclaimed printer of the rare 1926 edition of Lawrence of Arabia’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom. In his memoirs – entitled Impressions of War and just published by Martlet Books – Hodgson describes how he fell into a shell hole in April 1918 during an attack:

‘My hand grasped something in the mud. It was a book. I shoved it in my pocket, got up and carried on. A shell landed nearby and the blast knocked me out. I was picked up by a stretcher party and carried back to the line. When I came to I remembered the book. It was a Bible, encrusted with mud. There was no name inside it but the army service number 34816 had been written across the top outer edges of the pages.’

That Bible is currently in the possession of Bernard Hodgson, Herbert Hodgson’s second son. Ninety-two years later, the original owner of the Bible has been traced to Private Richard Cook of the Otago Regiment of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, who died aged 26 of wounds on 8 October 1917 and is buried in Étaples Military Cemetery in France.

This October, on the anniversary of Richard Cook’s death, relatives of both Richard Cook and Herbert Hodgson will carry out a commemorative ceremony at his grave in honour of the two great soldiers.

Herbert Hodgson’s family will generously donate the Bible to the National Army Museum in Waiouru in New Zealand at another ceremony in March 2011.

Major Ian Passingham, (author of Pillars of Fire: The Battle of Messines Ridge 1917, and The German Offensives of 1918: The Last Desperate Gamble)

describes Impressions of War as ‘a must-read for anyone wishing to put the First World War into its proper perspective.’

Professor Peter Simkins, former Senior Historian of the Imperial War Museum, writes: ‘Herbert Hodgson's Impressions of War provides the reader with a splendid example of the extraordinary insights which even a private soldier from a working-class background was able to offer concerning life, death and conditions on the Western Front.’

See http://www.martlet-books.co.uk/impressions-of-war.htm for details.

(Mary Kalemkerian is in the depths of the Edinburgh fringe – instead of her usual news on BBC Radio 7, she suggested we use this piece on Impressions of War as she thought the connection between France and NZ would be of interest.)

Cover by Roger Morton

14 August 2010

ferry lights is a new play by new playwright Claudia Ward. In Claudia’s family, drama and theatre were its bread and butter and as she is a delightful, insightful and very wise for her age, young woman – I’m sure this piece will raise a few eyebrows.

Not everyone has ventured south to Brixton but now Boris has got the Tories on bikes, all sorts of extraordinary places must suddenly seem very accessible.

It is only on for 3 nights, opening on Tuesday 24 August at 7.30pm. Do get yourself there and tell Claudia “Jos sent you”.

A beginning in Brixton, what could be better?

Joselyn Morton

Theatre Ninjas

Dispiriting rows of empty seats could soon be a thing of the past at the Fringe, if Theatre Ninjas have anything to do with it. The fantastic initiative, set up by a group of theatre-makers all aged under 25, makes around 700 free tickets available every day via its website (theatreninjas.co.uk). If producers have spare seats to fill half-an-hour before curtain up, they can offer up to 10 free tickets online to whoever gets to the venue first and quotes the correct code. So there you have it, flyers for the iPhone generation.

Hello again, What is recognised as the world's biggest annual arts festival began last Saturday in Edinburgh, with more shows than ever running over the 3 weeks - a record 2,453 this year. The Fringe brochure is bursting with information on a myriad of entertaining, funny, challenging and moving shows performed throughout the city for those few heady weeks. This can be an expensive time to visit Scotland's capital, so an article in a national newspaper last weekend attracted my attention. It was the headline that appealed: ’ Edinburgh on less than £50 a day. Impossible at Festival time, I thought, but then on further reading I learnt that it could actually be done if you travelled there in an overnight coach and spent the weekend in a campsite, or in a ‘wigwam’ - something I've never seen in Edinburgh, but apparently there are 8 of them, each of which can accommodate up to 5 people. This left me with visions of arriving on a tandem in the style of Charles Hawtrey in 'Carry on Camping' ! But whilst musing on how to enjoy the Festival on a tight budget, I noticed that a burgeoning number of free shows are on offer, in what is now well- established as the ‘ Free Fringe’. This admirable idea was hatched in 1996 with a free-entry comedy show performed by Peter Buckley Hill and Some Comedians and the ethos of providing free venues to performers, and free entry to the public still stands today. Mind you, the concept has grown and developed since then, so that this year there are over 300 shows in the on-line programme, with intriguing titles such as Three Men and a Hoover, Mirth of Forth's Comedy Packed Lunch and Hammer and Tongue's Open Poetry Slam. And don't forget all free! http://www.laughinghorsecomedy.co.uk/freefestival/index.htm Other free shows are the excellent BBC radio recordings. Old favourites coming from Edinburgh this year include Just a Minute, Front Row, Loose Ends and An Audience with Ed Reardon. Adding to the Radio 4 repertoire will be Arthur Smith's Edinburgh Bash, in which Arthur will take the audience and listeners around the nooks and crannies of The Pleasance and there's also a delightful burlesque music show, Curiosity Killed the Cabaret. Radio Scotland's programmes include Comic Fringes (comedians reading stories) MacAulay and Co and the Festival Café. So you can enjoy the spirit of the fringe without even spending £50 a day, by tuning in to BBC Radio. Listings for the Radio 4 shows are on the Radio 4 website, and Radio 7 will continue with MacAulay and Co across next week. You can hear the first of the Festival Café this Saturday. We have also sent Alex Riley loose as far afield as Edinburgh's Royal Mile and the Cowgate, where he'll be interviewing as many comedians as he can interrupt to appear on his Comedy Club. You can see Alex almost in action on the Radio 7 website. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio7/

And finally: Following the radio industry Radio Amnesty which I mentioned back in May, 2,500 traded-in and reconditioned radios are being sent to South Africa. The radios are being donated to children in the wards at the Red Cross War Memorial Hospital in Cape Town and will provide much needed external stimulus. Other children who are involved in setting up and developing an in-hospital radio project from St Joseph's Home will also be included in the radio donation. The ‘Radio Amnesty’ ended on 26th June, but I've now been informed that two major retailers in the UK have decided to continue with the Amnesty - all radios traded in will be recycled and variable discounts are offered on a good range of digital radios. More information can be found at www.getdigitalradio.com Happy listening!

Mary Kalemkerian,Head Of Programmes BBC Radio 7

Cover by Roger Morton Was that hot or what?

6 August 2010

British Guy Denning now based in Breton, France, spoke to The Independent Online today ahead of his new show 'Behemoth,' which opens at The Crypt Gallery in London in September:

Sarah at Red Propeller has just invited us to the Opening but sadly we won’t be able to go because it would be great to see such stunning, politically controversial and meaningful work.

Joselyn Morton

Local Vernissages

Vernissages continue apace, although not often with local French people, as around here, they tend to be agriculteurs. (Though the vivacious and highly-charged galeriste Mana is often in attendance in one capacity or another.)

In the nearby Charente town of Villebois Lavalette, a large new building was recently opened. This is Mediatheque d’Horte et Lavalette. Its on the Chemin de l’Enclos des Dames (which ends at the splendid ancient covered market.) Local artist Val Blake obviously heads a clan of talent. Her daughter Polly Blake and partner Alex Currie (from Brighton) are exhibiting at the Mediatheque until 30 August. The exhibition is called Paysages Contemporains – photographies and peintures. The work is very approachable and likeable. Alex’s photographs are industrial sites of one kind or another with human touches that appeal – small boats tucked into the corner of an industrial wharf, a yellow corn cob emblem on the steel side of a container, a vivid red traffic sign beside tall towers, a drab weighing station coming out of the mist., the curve of sand against a metal structure. Polly’s landscapes are deserted and stylized in delicate shades with a dreaminess that softens the bleak subject matter.

The second vernissage was an invitation from John Mitchell where he was showing at l’atelier au Bourg de Lusignac alongside peintures of Hans Smit. At the entrance was a roughly-hewn tree trunk. Inside were John’s polished, sophisticated and masterful wood sculptures. The finish is sublime – as elegant as silk and steel but made from wood. His latest pieces are more elaborate, painted in different colours with clever, intricate almost Aztec cutting and shaping. They are eye-catching and yet I still prefer his strong, smooth original pieces. Choices!

The exhibition runs until Saturday 22 August.

Joselyn Morton

Gypsies Last week, the cover of the blog was a photo taken by Roger Morton begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting. I felt the issues needed a little more explaining and so after a search on the net - here are a few extracts of opinions from Yahoo News and from Bruce Crumley/Time/Paris (ed) Sat 31 July 2010 Sarkozy has stirred controversy by warning that some members of the itinerant minorities posed security ‘problems’ in response to an attack on a police station in Saint-Aignan, central France last week. Masked rioters tried to break down the door of the station, damaged other buildings and burned cars during that attack, sparked after police shot dead a Gypsy during a car chase.

He called a meeting of ministers and police chiefs to review what he dubbed ‘the situation of travelling people and Roma and the problems that certain members of these communities pose to public order and safety.’

As happens too often in history, Gypsies are once more being made scapegoats by a ruling class tangled up in political and financial scandals," the Gypsy rights association UFAT said in a statement.

"If Nicolas Sarkozy must repeat his declaration of war, the Collective of Gypsy Associations will be prompted to take legal action for incitement to racial hatred," it added.

The group said it wanted Sarkozy to meet its representatives to begin a dialogue to try to find a solution for the 400,000 Gypsies and travelling people in France.

Authorities estimate meanwhile that in France there are about 15,000 Roma, an ethnic group widespread in eastern Europe.

Most in France are thought to be from Romania and Bulgaria, which both joined the EU in 2007. Many live in slums in suburbs such as Aubervilliers on the outskirts of Paris.

There Socialist mayor Jacques Salvator runs an ‘insertion village’, a cluster of publicly-funded plastic cabins that are home to about 12 Roma families while they wait to be allocated public housing.

Salvator said that "50 projects like this one would be enough to solve the problem in the Paris region." "I don't like the fact that the Elysee holds a summit at a moment like this," reacting only in the wake of the violence, Salvator said.

"The state and Europe must unite to develop a public policy for the Roma," he told AFP. "We are cobbling a system together locally... but for moment we are cobbling it together on our own."

Yahoo! news

Those comments came after a weekend of violence in central France, when young men from a community of travelers, enraged at the July 16 shooting of one of their peers by a policeman, rioted through the sleepy village of Saint-Aignan, south of Blois. For two days after 22-year-old Luigi Duquenet was fatally shot while a car he was in charged a police roadblock and allegedly hit an officer, around 50 youths from Duquenet's encampment attacked the Saint-Aignan gendarme station with metal bars and axes and also destroyed small local businesses, burned cars and damaged public property. The situation had calmed by July 18, but many people in France interpreted the violence as evidence that the widely held stereotypes of gypsies as criminals, troublemakers and outcasts are true.

That such prejudice endures is partly the fault of France's authorities. Despite laws requiring that towns whose populations exceed 5,000 provide suitable camping grounds for traveler communities, France was recently chided by the Council of Europe for largely ignoring that obligation. Nomadic communities are often relegated to staying outside town walls, usually either in makeshift camps with few facilities supplied to them, or - for the poorest - in shantytowns and squats. That segregation means few urban French know much about travelers or the diversity of the traveling community. The generic label gens du voyage (travelers) covers not only tsigane (roughly "gypsies"), who went to France over the centuries, but also manouches who arrived from Germany in the 19th century, Spanish-origin gitanes and the more recent Roma.

Critics claim that Sarkozy's new hard-line focus seeks to play last week's unrest at Saint-Aignan for political gain. With his approval rating at a personal all-time low of 25%, his government dogged by spending scandals and his Labor Minister, Eric Woerth, ensnared in the intrigue surrounding the inheritance battle between L'OrÉal heiresses Liliane and Francoise Bettencourt, detractors say Sarkozy's latest law-and-order charge is simply an attempt to change the topic and score points at the expense of a population that few people are eager to defend.

"To better make people forget the scandal he's marred in himself, [Sarkozy] has invented a new diversion with a new category of scapegoat," Green Party legislator Noel Mamere declared on Wednesday night. "He serves up to the good folk of France people who've always been rejected to the margins of society, [and he] plays on confusion by suggesting that all Roma, all travelers, are all foreigners."

Opposition pols aren't the only ones crying foul. France's League of Human Rights has decried Sarkozy's "racist stigmatization of Roma and traveler populations through unacceptable amalgams." Samir Mile, spokesman of Voice of Roma, an association defending the rights of France's nomadic communities, told France Info radio on Thursday, "We're preparing to take it right in the face as we always do during political crises," adding that when "France is going poorly, [and] the President is doing badly, he seeks to divert public opinion toward easy targets." (Read "Why France's National Identity Debate Backfired.")

This time, the controversy that Sarkozy's new law-and-order pledge has created seems to have replaced the applause that his previous anticrime crusades have provoked. It could be that by targeting travelers - the eternal scapegoat - Sarkozy may find that his unbeatable trump card has finally lost its magic.

Hummingbird Hawk moth photographed in Dordogne garden by Angus Hogg

The Neighbour’s Pool

Swimming in the neighbour’s pool.

Listening to the Dark Side of the Moon

Vendoire chateau outlined against the sky

Disturbing, chilling

I want to twirl and twirl

instead I float weightless, mindless

Dave Gilmour’s voice reminding me of

things I once knew.

Now wet and content

the past well-spent

the mysterious future has no fears

the present so pleasant.

Joselyn Duffy Morton ©

BBC Radio 7

Hello again The role of the presenter is key to the smooth running of Radio 7. As a pre-recorded network, we require our presenters not only to introduce and guide you through our programmes, but to be able to research archive material, write linking scripts and to interview contributors. Most of our programmes are sourced from Radio 4, and are therefore timed to fit within that network's schedule, allowing for regular news bulletins and weather reports. As Radio 7 is ‘a no-news/weather/sport’ network, this does leave us with extra time to fill, and that's where our presenters come into their own. We know that some of you are interested in the ‘faces behind the voices’ and for that reason we have a Radio 7 presenters' page on our website. Up until recently the page was somewhat ad hoc, with very little consistency in style. Some of the photos were in colour and some were black and white (mostly taken with the office camera - not quite a box brownie but almost of that vintage). Thanks to one of our producers, Mik, who brought in his superior photographic equipment, and to Tim, one of our broadcast assistants who re-arranged the web page and edited the information, we now have an updated and freshened up presenter page with much better photographs and information plus introductions to some of the new presentation talent on Radio 7. So, if you'd like to admire the new photographs and ‘put a face to the names’ you can meet them all here: www.bbc.co.uk/radio7/presenters. The joke currently going around in the office is that they all have good faces for radio - and as far as we know, none of them have yet appeared in the Crimewatch Rogues' Gallery!

Mary Kalemkerian, Head of Programmes, BBC Radio 7

Gidday from Sydney

Cymbalta -the drug you don’t want take – has robbed me of nearly three weeks. During this time the disaster that is laughingly called, the federal election,has polluted our newspapers and airwaves.

Having disposed of their Prime Minister just three weeks before the election, the Labor party, going for its second term, has nothing to run on. As incumbent Gubments are supposed to run on their record but as that record belongs to the man they sacked what can Labor do.? The opposition offers only campaign promises, which they can’t afford, – so it’s a policy free zone this election.

The mad monk Abbot, dressed in a 1950’s wowser suit, white shirt and tie to replace the budgie smugglers and lycra that he is so famous for has dropped his aggressive mudslinging style and appears surprisingly normal while Prime Minister Gillard is dressed in pearls and pants suits that accentuate her large breasts and large bottom and hobbles along as if she has trouble walking on her high heels.

Mysterious leaks from Labor (not Labour interestingly) insiders have undermined Gillard’s credibility. She is supposed to have argued in Cabinet that it was a waste of time to increase money to pensioners and old people because they always voted for the Liberals. This was a hard one to explain away so she didn’t. Instead she promised that she would sack the leaker(s) when she found them. The result is that Labor dropped 4 points in a week giving the opposition a 52/48 lead in the polls.

The Greens are beside themselves at the possibility of controlling the upper house with an increase in their vote looming large. The Liberals are riding high having won the first two weeks hands down - with no policies and no one in the press questioning the cost of their promises.

Yesterday Julia Gillard struck back saying now we are going to see the real her. What was the ‘her’ we saw for the past two weeks. Gone are the pearls and the pants suits along with the high heels. Flatties and casual gear are now the go.

All the ‘weirdo’s’ have come out to stand for the senate as if indicating readiness for a show of ‘a pox on both their houses’ by the voters who are desperately searching for someone to vote for.

The Sex party, The shooters party, Families First are but a few.

The candidate I am going to vote for was once the leader of the Australian Democrats in the senate. She was seduced into changing to Labor and given a high position. Then shit bag Laurie Oatbag, head of the parliamentary press corps, announced she was having an affair with a married Labor minister - so she was thrown out at the next election. I like her though, she is a good sort with a friendly smile is our Cheryl Kernow.

Meantime the economy apparently on autopilot, rolls on with the good times and people crowd the parks to play touch footy and BBQ, in the warm winter sun. Coal ships line the horizon waiting their turn and the dollar is up for those of us heading north or east.

So a sunny coast line and a rising dollar keeping the plasmas and BmWs down in price encourages us all that ‘whatever’ the sun will shine and ‘its all good’.

Stephen O’R

(I read yesterday I think in the Independent that 14,000 people lived in the Northern Territories in poverty. There are 4 social workers assigned to them They burn out pretty quickly. ed)

Cover: Roger Morton