30 April 2011

Paques de L'Art a Sers

All photos by Roger Morton
Pȃques de L’Art à Sers, Fȇte ses 10 ans
Last Sunday, we spent a delightful day at the fete at Sers, invited by our old friend Lucie Landa who had lived with us for nearly two years in the old Roundhouse days in London in the early 70s. Now she clowns and sings with Jean. I predict a great future for them both because they work so hard and they are so talented.
Their repertoire included songs from Isle de Reunion, Madagascar, American Blues, and traditional French songs. They were terrific. They had followed four young Capoeira-style break-dancers on stage – a hard act to follow because they also knew what they were doing and performed tricky manoeuvres with skill and apparent lack of fear. They were called Kidz of Dance and their act in the programme was described as hip-hop – but I thought it was much more complex than that. They too were from Paris.
Hopefully they, Lucie and Jean will all be back next year – that is if they don’t get too famous in the intervening months.
The fete was a friendly affair, once one paid the 2euros entrance fee, you had the run of the village. There was a  beautiful chateau with the dozens of vintage cars, an art exhibition, pottery sculptures and of course food and drink to buy.
Joselyn Duffy Morton


Tents on the White House Lawn

I thought he was a leader of integrity
defying the West
standing against Thatcher
standing against the might of America
when his country was bombed
when young children were killed.

I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

In his flowing robes
Arab style, his large tents
on the White House lawn.
He seemed to bring dignity
and respect back to the Arab race.
I was wrong, wrong, wrong.
He’s a bully who would bomb
his own people
He’s a tyrant who would kill
his own people

Libyan citizens deserve better
what mettle of leader opens
fire on his own ?
I am not alone when I
disown him.
Joselyn Duffy Morton ©

Stephen O'R's Sydney

Australian Politics – a heads up – Part Two post-wedding
Recently there has been a swing from Labour by voters who find the present day Labor no longer has any relevance for them as the political decisions relating to local people are made elsewhere - take the corruption and bullying tactics of NSW Labor. The swing away from Labor correlates almost exactly with the swing to the Greens who find their candidates amongst locals. Australia has a preferential system where you can say who your second choice is if your first choice did not gain a majority. In the last two elections,
Victoria and NSW the two major parties agreed not to give their preferences to Greens candidates in an attempt to deny benefit to the greens. It seems the two big parties want to keep it that way and have succeeded.
Because Greens voters have generally come from Labor ranks quite often they have directed their preferences to Labor. In the Federal Government the support of the Greens in the senate and in the lower house is essential so that Labor has the numbers to govern. How this can continue with Labor no longer giving their preferences to the Greens is hard to see. In the recent NSW state election the greens directed their supporters not to give preferences to Labor in a tit for tat decision. The Greens are the demographic that has the biggest disposable income and see themselves as incorruptible. You can only be corrupted if you have
some position or influence to sell so at this stage they appear not to be corrupt.
Federal Labor is on a knife-edge needing not just the greens but also four other independents to govern. Given this it is surprising in recent days to see Julia Gillard, the NSW right appointed Prime Minister, launching an attack on the Greens She said that they are a political Party that does not understand the culture and real concerns of the Australian people. Obviously the 1.5 million voters who went for green are not really Australian people.
Where this madness is leading no one knows. Julia who has an ability to sound completely insincere in every speech she makes thereby ensuring nobody trusts her especially when she is likely to say the opposite in a matter of days or weeks. Half way through the last election when things were going bad she came out with the line that she was going from that day forth to be the ‘real Julia’ making all the voters who thought the unreal Julia who they did not like was some sort of ‘unreal Julia’. She only got in because Tony Abbot was an even bigger liar and a thug to boot. This failed Priest had won a boxing scholarship to Oxford so he nose a few things about beating his opponent – thankfully not quite enough.
Kevin Rudd the Prime Minister Julia dumped, with the support of the NSW Right clowns, now travels the world in his consolation-prize job as Foreign Minister sniping at her and reminding voters that she dumped him after trashing his policy on global warming.
Julia has now had a change of heart and has announced a yet to be devised carbon tax, which she calls a carbon price. To head off the expected ‘ANOTHER GREAT BIG TAX’ from the opposition Julia has promised that Australian households will be reimbursed for the
tax they pay – so they can put more down to pokies or send the kids off to a $27,000 private school or whatever.
Where will this go -who knows. The Green’s prime concern is action on global warming, which the voters clearly want trashed both by Julia and Abbot. The Australian people voted Rudd back in because he was committed to fighting global warming. Abbot
either supports it or not depending on which position offers the best advantage. Abbot and Gillard are now saying the Greens can’t be trusted because they don’t know what the people want and even if the Greens are right they can’t be trusted anyway.
Julia is swanning off to the royal wedding -presumably because the focus groups say voters like royal weddings. En route she stopped off to tell the Japanese emperor that his people are in Australian’s hearts (except the ones that built the Burma railway) She gave the
Japanese Prime Minister an Australian emergency worker’s hardhat. I guess she thought it would go with the workers outfit that all the Japanese pollies started wearing after the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear accident stuff.
When asked what she was gunna do about all those Muslims who were illegally arriving to have our lifestohl Julia says she’ll knock up an internment camp in East Timor – only she did not bother talking to the East Timorese about it first so they’ve just gone and said like - no?
This bungling gives makes PM Gillard an easy target for the Opposition leader in the Federal Government. Tony Abbott gives the appearance of a seriously deranged person as he derides Julia’s daily announcements such as her position on the carbon tax.
Abbot is usually photographed swimming in budgie smugglers or cycling around Australia in tight fitting racing gear. This failed the monk daily trots out his populist opposition to anything the Labor Government proposes. He has a gang of fellow crazies including
the dead-eyed lawyer opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop, who seems to think her stare will bring down any person, or thing that she directs it at. Next we have Christopher Pyne (Paaaiin!!!!!)who has the sneering lisp of a private school bully.
Which is worse? the chalk on the blackboard? or Pynes voice a sound that can induce severe nausea. (no prizes). Then we have the fat jolly rugby player Joe Hockey who lies about anything going in order to prove his point.
There is more but I think you get the drift.
See you round like a racetrack.
Stephen O’Rourke

BBC, Radio 4 Extra

With Union Jack flags fluttering the length of Regent Street, London, you can certainly tell that there's some sort of celebration in the air.
At Radio 4 Extra, we aren't planning to broadcast any weddings, royal or otherwise, but as an archive network on which comedy is a high proportion of our output, we do like to fly the flag to celebrate the lives of great entertainers. Throughout May there are several anniversaries which we will be marking:
On 16th May, it will be the 75th birthday of comedian Roy Hudd and in a tribute to Roy, we have scheduled a 3 hour Roy Hudd special, I Did It My Way  in which Roy chooses six of his own radio comedy programmes. These include: The News Huddlines, The Newly Discovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, Huddwinks, It's a Funny Business and Like They've Never Been Gone.
The brilliant humorist/writer/musician Miles Kington died 3 years ago. On 13th May this year, it will be the 70th anniversary of Miles's birth. To commemorate his contribution to entertainment, we will be broadcasting a selection of his radio work: Instant Sunshine, Playing a Dangerous Game and Kington's Last Tapes (poignant recordings of Miles made only days before he died).
There are two centenaries to celebrate in May:
28th May is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Thora Hird and 27th May is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vincent Price. On Radio 4 Extra, you'll be able to hear work from both of these great entertainers.
And finally, the last of our May celebrations - on Saturday 28th, it will be the 60th anniversary of The Goon Show.
The Goon Show Preservation Society has planned a ‘Grand Day Out’ to celebrate the first ever broadcast of The Goon Show. This will be held at the pub known as Grafton's which, in the post-war days, was a watering-hole for the younger generation of comedians and comedy writers. And it was in Grafton's that The Goons  were born. The pub is now re-named The Strutton Arms, and there, on 28th May, a commemorative Goons plaque will be unveiled. Goons fans will mingle, share Goons anecdotes, read scripts, and apparently a message from possibly the best-known Goons fan, HRH The Prince of Wales, will be read out.
Radio 4 Extra's celebration will be more modest: on the actual day, we will be broadcasting Goon Again, a 2001 re-recording of Spike Milligan scripts broadcast to mark the 50th anniversary of The Goon Show. Harry Secombe's part was played by his son Andrew; Jon Glover and Jeffrey Holland took on the parts played by Peter Sellers and Spike; vocals were performed by Ray Ellington's son, Lance, and the announcer was Andrew Timothy's son, Christopher. All very much kept in the family. This will be followed by Eric Sykes introducing The Affair of the Lone Banana, and the 3 hour special will end on The Last Goon Show of All, which, as part of the 50th anniversary of the BBC, was simulcast on radio and television in 1972. Sadly, it was indeed the last time those three comedy geniuses were to work together.
The Goon Show is one of what I call The Big Five classic comedies we regularly broadcast; the others are Hancock's Half Hour, Round the Horne, The Navy Lark and Take It From Here. These shows are regularly scheduled alongside many other classic comedies, which on Radio 4 Extra, we have kept in the same comedy zone, and at the same time as they were on
Radio 7: 8.00am, 12 noon and 7.00pm.
Unsurprisingly, these are our peak listening times. I hope you enjoy the shows.
Mary Kalemkerian is Head of Programmes at BBC Radio 4 Extra

Cover caption

Photo of Lucie and Jean as Titus and Carita the clowns by Roger Morton

23 April 2011


Maori soldiers in Syria
When I think of Syria
I never think of snow
yet the Maori soldiers 
in Syria, in the photo
are wearing snowsuits.
Our grandson’s
Great Grandfather, Tiwi Love
was the first Maori Commanding Officer
of the Maori Battalion;
a hero that we never knew
he was killed in 1942.

Now there is a different foe in Syria.
a state of emergency
for forty eight years.
How can one live so long in fear,
a rabbit paralysed in the car headlights?
Many citizens have had to die
for this emergency to end.

Some say Damascus is the oldest city
in the world.
It has such a soft safe sound
of silken roses, fragrance and freedom.
Surely the killing and shooting
will soon be over – before the snow
covers the desert sands, before hell freezes over.
Joselyn Duffy Morton ©


Much as I have loved the lilac and the irises, this patch of garden with this highly perfumed rose  and small yellow flowers, is now my favourite. The rose I grew four years ago from a cutting. We had spent a perfect day in Jarnac with Roger’s sister Min and husband Lindsay. There was an enormous bank of them, virtually growing wild. Louise gave me a tiny pot of the yellow flowers and I’ve forgotten what they are called. (Never mind ‘constant gardener’ call me the absent minded gardener.)
Joselyn Morton

Sunflowers and bees

I just planted 60 giant sunflower seeds at a cost of about 70 pence  (3 packets of 20 seeds from LIDL supermarket for 27p each)  they will fill about 20 yards of my garden with a dense plantation of sunflowers - as they did last year.  These attract thousands of bumblebees, honeybees, butterflies and hoverflies for the best part of a month - but the resultant seeds were still feeding greenfinches, sparrows and bluetits here, in January this last winter.
SO . . . if you can afford 27pence  you could have at least twenty 6ft tall giant flowers in your garden - or pots in a yard - that will fill your life with colour and wildlife for many months.  That is a 'lot of bangs for a buck' as they say in the USA.  Still plenty of time to plant them - and you don't need to 'stake' them - they are completely self supporting.  Great gift/project for friends and kids - and great if you keep bees or seek the company of bumblebees.
If you plant seeds direct in the ground where you live in the Dordogne,  I suspect that they are eaten by mice and voles most of the time.  I plant mine into trays - 20 seeds per tray - with about 2 inches of compost - and when the seedlings are 3 or 4 inches high (usually get 100% germination) I transplant into 4 inch pots and wait until the sunflowers area bout  8"  tall then plant outside in permanent positions.  It is equally important to protect seed trays from mice, as sunflower seeds represent a nutritional banquet for them - a single seed is full of fat and oil - which they can smell from a distance.
I would plant hundreds if I lived where you live!  You could live off the seeds in winter.  Some Italians I visited in Perugia sat me down and gave me an entire sunflower head to eat while drinking a bottle of wine - overlooking the plain to Assisi. One of those moments that stays with you all your life.      Graham White

Stephen O'R's Oz

The mansion Eddie Obeid almost bought 

Australian Politics – a heads up – Part one

Mark Latham was the leader of the opposition for the Labor party a couple of elections ago, he played the game in a new way saying exactly what was on his mind - the best example of this was when he described the governing party (the Liberal Coalition headed by a miserable sot called John Howard) as a ‘conga line of suck holes’. Of course most of us Astrayins did not understand it and everybody said he was crazy and he lost the election. Recently I saw him being interviewed on an in-house Monash University political programme and I was very impressed by his lucid analysis of Australian politics in particular The Labor Party. He explained why Labour had become ‘Labor’ and lost its base i.e. working class Australians. What follows is my clumsy attempt to bring youse up to date with things political here in Oz:
In NSW the recent state government election delivered a massive swing against the Labor party, which had ruled for nearly eleven years. The Liberal Country Party Coalition was elected with a massive swing of 20% giving them a 69 to 20 win over Labour.
As in most democracies, governments get voted out not in and NSW Labor had had 11 years to build up voter antagonism.
What has happened here is that the working class has dumped the workers party and has given the other side a go. More than that the electors in ‘safe’ labour seats have stopped supporting Labor by 30% in some seats over the past 4 years. The ‘ voter’ that is sought by Labor and Liberal is the aspirational voter. The ‘A’ voter aspires to private schools for their kids, Bali instead of a caravan for
their holidays and the latest fashion car for mum to drive the kids to soccer, ballet, tutoring, cricket, the Nippers (junior lifesavers).
The Vietnamese and Chinese and other migrant groups who until recently had voted Labor and lived out west, now followed the Greeks and the Italians and went for the money. Liberal politicians these days are mostly not from a ‘rich’ background’ but now in their 2nd or 3rd generation had the money to move east into the traditionally better off suburbs.
Labour was born out of a real feeling that society needed to change in order for every citizen get a fair go. Decent working hours, wages, schools, hospitals, and transport were hard won slog. Labour people were by committed and passionate people fighting in a united front against ‘the born to rule’ mob. The post-WWII Labour Prime Minister Ben Chifley had been a railway driver before he
became an MP. Chifley travelled by train from his house in Bathurst in the coalmining area west of the Blue Mountains. When he lived as Prime Minister in Canberra he lived in a room in a simple hotel that housed most MPs. He left his wife at home so that her life was not dominated by the political life.
Chifley would not have much of a chance getting into parliament today because the grass root system that elected ‘real’ and ‘local’ candidates no longer exists. The Labor (no longer Labour) party hardly exists anymore with some branches down to a handful of members who have to call on relatives to man voting booths. Labor in NSW – and it could be said Australia-wide - is longer a democratic organisation where candidates for seats are voted in after proving themselves to fellow members that they were known too. They were local people who proved to their peers that they had the ability to win in the Parliamentary debate.
About 12 people today run NSW Labor and this group is mostly Union Leaders and a few old right wing members, who dominate the selection process. This small group now have the final say of who gets to stand, usually ‘parachuting’ in celebratory candidates. They also dictate who says what in the Parliament.
When their focus groups told them that electors were against political staffers and Union Reps Labor NSW stopped doing this and in one seat appointed a ‘tradie’ to a Labor seat. (Focus groups must have identified that tradesmen are franchised heroes in some people’s eyes – well paid workers who are real blokes and are their own bosses) So although this candidate was a tradesman and
a worker he was completely unknown to the electors in that seat and further more he did not even live in the seat. This is called parachuting in by the ‘shock jocks’ or should I say schlock Jock.
Every year Labor has a conference to discuss the state of play. 50 % of the seats at the conference are given to Union reps picked by the Union Leaders while union membership is now less than 15% of the population.
Labor gets its financial support from the Unions as might be expected but the next biggest group are Property Developers who repaid by Labor Governments override local government planning where to suit the developers needs. The NSW right wing Labor ‘bad guy’, Eddie Obeid -who has been in Parliament on a back beacher’s salary for twenty years - recently bought a mansion in a ‘quality’ suburb at the knock down price of 8Million – reduced from $13.5Million. Nice if you can get it I suppose. Unfortunately someone broke in before the settlement,  put all the plugs in all the basins sinks and baths and left the taps running. On top of this they scratched all the marble floors and mirrors.
In the old days the NSW right wing Labour would have paid a visit to a dissenting MP and punched his head before ringing the media so that we could get the news front page in the morning.
Stephen O’R

BBC, Radio 4 Extra

Hello again
We regularly receive requests to repeat programmes, in particular radio drama productions which listeners would love to hear again, and often in the correspondence appreciation for the writer is mentioned.
We received one such email a few days ago. A listener contacted Radio 4 Extra to ask if there was any chance of us scheduling the Caesar! series, written by the prolific radio dramatist Mike Walker. The listener added to his email, " Mike Walker's work is always worth a listen " and then mentioned further plays written by Mike, which are certainly well worthy of a place on the Radio 4 Extra schedule.
Now just as I was reading the email, bang on cue. who should walk into our open plan office than Mike Walker himself! He was on his way to meet the Radio 4 Drama Commissioning Editor, and of course it was perfect timing to be able show Mike his fan email, hot off the press as it were. Mike, who is a very unassuming man, was pleased to note that his work is enjoyed by so many of our listeners. His radio work include original dramas written for Radios 3, 4 and the World Service, such as the award-winning Alpha, Omega, Babel's Tower, Something Happened and The Gun Goes to Hollywood.
In 1966 Mike was awarded the British Writers' Guild Award for his dramatisation of The Tin Drum, by Gunter Grass (a marvellous production which you have probably heard several times on Radio 7) Other titles in his impressive list of his adaptation greats which we have also previously scheduled include The Woman in Black, The Old Curiosity Shop, Crime and Punishment, Nicholas Nickleby , War and Peace and Rendezvous with Rama. And there are still many more Mike Walker works which we are in the process of clearing and bringing to you later in the summer.
Mary Kalemkerian, Head of Programmes, BBC Radio 4 Extra
Here is an extract from another email
"I heard with trepidation that Radio 7 was going to be changing to Radio 4 Extra and wondered what would happen to the programme schedule. I have to say most of my fears were unfounded save
One - can you tell me why the Crime and Thrillers hour has been moved from its 1am slot? I appreciate that the new air times are probably more convenient for lots of listeners but unfortunately not for me ..... I have my radio on all night and the sci-fi hour followed by the Crime and Thrillers hour has always been my favourite part of the always enjoyable schedule. I know you cannot consider changing it around again just for me but surely I'm not the only listener who's missing Hercule Poirot,Lord Peter Wimsey,Miss Marple et al in their old familiar slot? It would be wonderful to see them back where they belong to help me, and I'm sure others to while away the wee small hours of the night. In hope.... Frances .

Well I have good news for Frances and all you other night owls. We are re-instating the 1.00am Crime and Thriller repeat as from week beginning 16th May. You'll be able to hear The Toff on the Farm, John Creasey's thriller starring the late Terence Alexander, and a new Radio 4 Extra commission: Topkapi, based on the stylish thriller, The Light of Day, by Eric Ambler. It will be read in six 30min episodes by Alistair McGowan.
My best wishes for a very happy Easter.