21 November 2011


Oyster beds
Photos: Roger Morton Algerian church near the oyster village of Canon


My Husband

my husband
stands stock-still
and stares
at a beautiful
young girl

(Her beauty
did not come as
a shock
her mother was
beautiful too.)

Why should you be
This year’s butterfly
is always as
as last year’s
Joselyn Duffy Morton ©

Stephen O'R's Sydney

So once again the pool gets a green tinge as the algae is spurred on by heat and lack of chlorine. Trusting in the same chemical companies that killed millions of my daughters’ ancestors and poisoned my body I gaily added a bit of this and a bit of that and hope in the morning to wake to a sparkling clear pool warmed to about 34 degrees so that my crippled right leg may be exercised and the blood encouraged to run in an excited manner around my body as if 65 years was a mere snip when it came to years lived.
 We will skip the guilt about how the 34 degrees was attained because I have just finished watching Noam Chomsky talking - he has been in Sydney to collect the Sydney Peace Prize. His talk dealt with how we are less inclined to gaze upon the horrors in our own backyards when it comes to thinking about war and destruction.
 For example in Australia we could be thinking about how we stole this country from the indigenous people who have not inconveniently refused to die off but live on in a painful and conspicuously unhealthy way for those of us who are unfortunate enough to have to witness their existence. Like most poor people, indigenous people live in poor parts of town and often in country towns. 
 We don't have laws that allow poor people to have hand guns, or even long guns in most cases so the problem of the indigenous people striking back has been mostly avoided. Of course the indigenous people one meets in the film business are cool. Smart funny, hardworking, switched on and to use their word 'deadly'.
Fred Schepsi  made a very good film made called The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith in which an indigenous man had a go but he only used an axe so of course he didn't last long. The most successful indigenous warrior was a man called Pemawoy who drove the British out of Paramatta but the wily Brits knew he had a habit of strutting up and down after his victories so they left a sniperbehind and he was killed mid strut.
The other great advantage of Australia is that we are on an Island bigger than Europe or the USA so it's a lot harder for our brown and black or even white brothers and sisters to lob in here and stay as illegal migrants. I mean it happens and there are thousands of them - mostly English or Irish who arrive as tourists and just overstay their visas although they mostly eventually go home. The real stayers are the Chinese who are looked after by a well-established system of family businesses or exploiters. When it comes to exploiting people the anecdotal evidence appears to be pretty damming. Not just in the sex industry where you might expect it but right across the board.
My son had his first accident - texting at the traffic lights, cars move; so he takes off and wham! Whack ! Into the back of a shiny new four-wheel drive. He gets out, gives them his name , licence etc and comes home with just a phone number and a name for the other driver Peter Yeo. Not wanting my son to start his life with a bad insurance record I ring to negotiate a cash settlement. In NSW if the damage is $500 or over then you are supposed to call the police. They take hours to come if no one is injured and they will always find someone at fault and issue a ticket so people tend not to call them. So I call this Peter Yeo and I get a Chinese guy with a Hong Kong accent who tells me I have the wrong number - by one digit it turns out.
A few weeks go by and no one calls so Jack gets off scot- free from his first accident. I buy a few second-hand parts to fix up our old Jeep that he was driving but I can see by the damage to the Jeep that the other vehicle must have sustained a fair amount of expensive damage and after a while I begin to wonder if the driver was maybe an illegal who wanted no trouble with the law. I talk about this with friends and start to hear other stories. It's not uncommon although some Chinese try on for a cash in hand approach, not seeming to understand that most people have insurance and leave it up to the insurance company to part with the readies.
Ah sub culture its fascinating isn't I mean not quite Dylan but better than TV.
So Xmas is coming. We have lost our entree guest this year. Lee-Anne who has just left the top talent agency to start her own after a run-in with the office bully will not be joining us this year cos her bestie the famous Kate Winslet( who is also a sort of bestie of ours but not as bestie as Lee-Anne) Well anyway Kate is a super hero and she saved Richard Branston's mum when she carried her out of a burning house they were all staying in somewhere in the Caribbean and now she is Richard Branston's bestie and she is taking our entree maker to Richard Branston's private Island in the Caribbean for Chrissie so we have to make our on entrees. Well fuck Richard Branston  is what I say, has he not got  enough help?  I told Lee Anne there was no water there - I read in Harpers Bazzar or Dolly or something they have to barge it in. But you know she did not care. That Kate is such a goer. When we had lunch with her last in gay Paree she was lying to Sarkozi about how she could not come to dinner with him and Carla cos one of her kids was not well.
And to top it all we have dry rot in our balcony support beam and have joined the " it must be done by Xmas" home improvement club. Dry rot!! It's so rare here it's almost a status symbol except that it chooses you. It just floats around lands and if you are unlucky enough it takes a shine. Since 1945 the building regulations have pretty much stopped it occurring in Austraya but we just got lucky.
I have discovered I can't stand the Norspann patches for more than a few days so I do 3-4 days on the patch then a day or so with nothing then it's back to the narcotics with 25 mg of oxcycodone/oxcycontin at nights (down from 55-60) playing Russian roulette with hyperalgesia??  I don't know - will discuss it with the pain specialist next week.
The patches  are like having a chemical flow into my teeth and after a few days I wake in the middle of the night in a panic attack and rip the patch off my body. Weird thing is that the patches were prescribed to people who got panic attacks. I have never had panic attacks before but the way I experience them is the feeling that something or someone is about to cut of my air supply and suffocate me. Not fun.
Least favourite thing  after panic attacks was a bad production of Julius Caesar by Bell Shakespeare. Oz Actor went to UK in '60s, came home and started Bell Shakespeare cos he loved Shakespeare so much. Oh yeah well John if you love Shakespeare so much how come your company does such shit productions. I took my wife and son on my 65th birthday because I thought it would be good to hear the bards words on my birthday. WRONG.
At half time I gently said " If anyone wants to go that's ok by me . My son was about to say I'm out of here, stay if you want. My wife middle class to the death hated it but did not dare say it because it was my birthday wish and on the way home we totally demolished this pathetic appalling REWRITTEN production where the only person who could speak verse was the guy playing Caesar and he was dead at half time.  Who keeps this crap going?
I once took over the part of Sahtin in Gorky's "The Lower Depths"  from John Bell.  He was so famous he was allowed to have a few weeks off. He had me watching every move he made and every sound he made for about six weeks - not a pleasant thing to have to bear. When we parted he said he was going to put me on the cover of a book he was writing called " Turds I have Known".
At least he did not write a book on "why I should be given a theatre company named after me which will only perform Shakespeare."
That would have been a funny book to read doncha think?
Sent from my iPad
Stephen O’R
The right wing Prime Minister John Howard did a very big pr event and forced a buy-back of guns after some looney shot about 35 people in Tasmainia with a Chinese military rifle. This was a very popular move with voters of all persuasions except for serious gun people who just sold their old worn guns to the government and bought new ones with the cash. Now we have more guns than before the buyback. The NSW Liberals (right wing) rule with the vote of the shooters party in NSW and have opened State forests to hunting (pests such as pigs, deer, dogs, cats, rabbits, stoats weasels - all imported by europeans). To own a gun you have to be fully vetted by your local police to get a licence. Any tax paying, wife beating, ute driving white guy who does not have a policerecord and belongs to a gun club can get one.
Happy daze

Hello again,
On Wednesday this week, The Writers' Guild of Great Britain held their annual awards ceremony celebrating the best writing across media as varied as Television, Film, Literature, Video Games and of course Radio.
The awards were presented by David Quantick, an award-winning writer himself, whose work you might have heard on our network includes: Parsons and Naylor's Pull-Out Sections, On The Hour and The 99p Challenge.
David has also recorded a Comedy Controller for us (which you can hear again on Radio 4 Extra in the new year).
The Best Radio Comedy was awarded to John Finnemore, for his Radio 4 comedy, Cabin Pressure, and I'm pleased to say that we have scheduled a Cabin Pressure Christmas Special, to be broadcast on 21st December. And the very first series of this popular airline comedy is set for take-off once more on 4 Extra in the new year.
The Best Radio Drama award went to Ed Harris for Troll and the Best Short-Form TV Drama was awarded to Peter Bowker for his fascinating TV drama, Eric and Ernie, the story of the early careers of Morecambe and Wise. The original idea for the play apparently came from Victoria Wood, who also played Eric's mother in the production.
Victoria is a wonderful performer and writer, and it came to me as no surprise to see that she was honoured with the top award of the evening, the Special Award for Outstanding Writing. It's the first time a woman has received this accolade.
Victoria is best known for her television comedies such as Acorn Antiques and Dinner Ladies, but she has also appeared on radio, notably in the radio version of Pat and Margaret  and also as a castaway in Desert Island Discs (recently repeated on Radio 4 Extra) plus a delightful spoof on The Archers - Victoria Goes to Ambridge (produced for Comic Relief).
My congratulations to Victoria on her award, and I hope we can repeat more of her radio work soon on Radio 4 Extra.
Mary Kalemkerian, Head of Programmes, BBC Radio 4 Extra

Cover caption

Photo: RogerMorton. Curious road sign spotted in Dorset.

12 November 2011

Stephen O'R's Sydney

Sydney Nov 2011
Weather hot, balmy
This time of year near me there is an event called sculptures by the sea where a large number of sculptures are installed on the rocks between a pathway that runs between Bronte Beach and Bondi beach. (www.sculpturebythesea.com).
This pathway is sublimely beautiful twenty minute walk and even before the artworks arrive. Waves crash in over jagged rocks in a constantly changing series of mini vistas linking little beaches.
Now the thing is that many people who live in beachside suburbs hate that other people come to use their beaches and their surrounding coastlands. Beaches are supposed to be empty according to the narrative and narcissists who like their bodies brown and well shaped like to work out in peace. No group is more aggressive in the protection of their rights to have complete freedom to dominate the coastal pathways that have been built with community funds (their rates) than the joggers, who insist on maintaining their speed no matter what, so when for three weeks every year people are mowed down when the pursuit of the perfect body clashes with the lingering look.
We await the outcome of this clash of civilisation.

I had an email from a dear friend who came to Sydney as part of a small group with an Iranian film in 1986 (The Runner, Director Amir Naderi). She had returned to visit her family but months had past and I had received only one short email saying that computers were hard to get to.  In my paranoia I began to worry that she was trapped there I went to her house to try and find some news of her. She lives in a part of Sydney where women mostly wear least the hijhab, many the burga and even men are dressed in medieval Islamic costumes. Station wagons driven by Muslim women with children and scant regard for the speed limit, as they negotiate their lives on phones. The young ones in pairs drive even faster texting, seemingly without looking, as they overtake on the inside down dusty streets.
I get to the house the garden is dry and overgrown my anxiety increases.  My friend had transformed the small rundown wooden house into a beautiful haven with a garden that was an Oasis. Now I have paranoia 101 ‘they’ have knocked her off in Iran and stolen her identity and now they have her house. I knock. No answer, I hear movement. No answer. I knock again. “Who is it?” calls a heavily accented voice. “Hello” I call out.  The door unlocks and opens.  A bearded man looks around it. “ I am looking for Beh’Naz”,  I say.  “She is in Iran”, he says.
He tells me she will be back in October but when I turn 65 on November the 8th and I think who I want to come to my birthday lunch I realise Beh’naz is still not back. I call her house, her mobile phone, I text her, I deposit $50 in her bank with a note for her to call me, I email her.  I am now really concerned. I realise I don’t know her daughters phone number or address. I remember she had a fried Nas’ran whose husband worked for Qantas. I call them. They think I am mad. I plan to drive back to her house and talk to the bearded man again. What if she has just died, maybe the cancer came back. Maybe this is what happens when we have friends who live in other parts of the world they just disappear and that’s that. Finito. No more. No good byes. Just no more.
I turn on my computer check the stock market stupidity for the day then the emails and there at the top of the list is an enquiry from Jos about a piece while at the bottom of the list is an email from Beh’naz.
She is returning Dec 9 to pack up and sell her house. Her mum is dying, her sister is sick, her brother is tired of looking after them on his own and she thinks that a small house in a village in Iran might suit her just fine.
Stephen O’R

11 November 2011

BBC Radio4 Extra

Hello again,
Armistice Day is always a poignant time, as we pause and remember those who lost their lives, not only in two World Wars, but also in conflicts and wars since then.
The eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the Armistice was signed is marked today, in an eleventh year, 11/11/11/11, making a magical mathematical number - an eight digit palindrome (12 digits if you include the 11th second and 11th minute).
To commemorate such a special day of remembrance, we wanted to bring you some very special programmes, some of which have been highlighted this week in several press previews.
In the current Radio Times, Radio Editor Jane Anderson recommended in her Today's Choices:
"Not one, but two outstanding drama productions on Radio 4 Extra to mark Armistice Day. First of all we have the 2008 production of Michael Morpurgo's War Horse, which stars Timothy Spall, Brenda Blethyn and Bob Hoskins....This is followed across the day by an epic drama documentary (Bomber) about an RAF Bomber Command raid on Germany in 1943. It is broadcast in real time and includes reminiscences from the men and women who were involved on both sides."
And journalist/radio reviewer Gillian Reynolds selected Bomber in her Pick of the Day:
"The repeat every drama fan has been waiting for, Len Deighton's novel, dramatised by Joe Dunlop. Starring Samuel West and Tom Baker, directed by Adrian Bean, first broadcast across a Saturday in 1995....Held in memory as a landmark ever since."
We managed to track down the producer of Bomber, Jonathan Ruffle, and he has written a blog for Radio 4 Extra about the making of the gripping drama/documentary. Here is an extract:
"Repeating Bomber on Armistice Day of all days is a massive compliment to everyone involved in the programme. We have also been paid a more subtle accolade. Radio 4 Extra is replicating the original real-time nature of the broadcast....there are other things about Bomber not least the performances, the script, the direction, the authenticity for which we strove, and the remarkable reminiscences I recorded in sitting rooms in Britain and Germany, dovetailed into the action; the effect of all these will, I promise you, be multiplied if you are able to follow the story in real time. Park the iplayer for this one!
As one listener wrote "Thank you for Bomber. It completely ruined my day. I had planned a dinner party, but my guests and I were compelled to sit by the radio right through to midnight."
You can read Jonathan's full and fascinating blog on: www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio4/
Bomber starts today, at 2.30 and continues until midnight. Highly recommended.
Mary Kalemkerian, Head of Programmes, BBC Radio 4 Extra

Protest at St Paul's Cathedral

Overflow at Finsbury Square
Photos by Roger Morton

Around the world people are protesting against bankers. I like the Spanish slogan ‘if you won’t let us dream, we won’t let you sleep.’ The protestors against the London Stock Exchange and the City of London have ended up in tents outside St Paul’s Cathedral with a spill-over into Finsbury Square. I hope they achieve some success because simplistically put “ rich people won’t be able to enjoy their wealth if the world is full of violence and discontent caused by poverty.” St Paul’s is at odds with itself because the Christian church preaches how Jesus overturned the moneymen in the temple. Already two of their main men have resigned. (I was horrified to discover that they charge £15 for a tour of the cathedral.) ed

Imperial College

 Our grandson graduates from Imperial College. The ceremony is held at the Royal Albert Hall with a 14-string orchestra, a choir and a massive organ. The many hands are shaken by Baroness Manningham-Buller. She used to be head of MI6. She looks very motherly, capable and approachable. We were wondering if she was recruiting spies. But that would be a secret. The sun shone from a bright blue sky. It was a memorable day for all the graduates and their proud families. ed
Early British attempt to put a man into space (see Private Eye) otherwise known as the Albert Memorial.

10 November 2011

BBC Radio 4

Gwyneth Williams Controller, BBC Radio 4

One of our many action-packed, evenings was at BBC Broadcasting House. Ranging round the block was a long resigned and patient queue waiting to be admitted to participate in the recording of Sandi Toksvig’s Newsquiz. Without any guilt, we slipped through the revolving doors to collect the passes, Mary K had organised for us.
Later, we discovered that the team were working furiously to incorporate the news of the death of Gadaffi into the evening’s programme. Without any doubt, Newsquiz is my favourite radio programme. They are clever-rude-funny and Sandi is the Queen of sharp, pointed, well-informed piss-take. (Regardless of the rubbish Julie Burchill wrote about her.)
However, before that we had a glass of bubbly alongside city gents who the BBC had invited to initiate them to the cause of ‘Children in Need’. I firmly believe all children should be protected and cared for and so I hope those business folk wrote some hefty cheques. Various BBC heads of departments, including Gwyneth Williams, Controller of Radio 4 spoke convincingly for ‘Children in Need’.
Mary introduced is to Jeremy Howe – friendly and charming, he has just written a book Mummy Daddy outlining the senseless murder of his wife by a random killer and his efforts at bringing up his two young daughters. The title of the book was created years ago when he asked his young daughter why she had drawn him with one head and two bodies and she replied “that’s your mummy body and that’s your Daddy body.” Life throws up some immense and unexpected challenges.
Joselyn Morton
Jeremy Howe and Mary Kalemkerian
Sandi Toksvig in The news Quiz
photos: Roger Morton