22 July 2012

BBC Radio4 Extra

Hello again,
It was funny women to the fore this Saturday: Pauline McLynn talked to Ed Doolan at 8am, June Whitfield looked back over her radio career at 9am and there was late night stand-up from New York with Whoopi Goldberg at 10pm. More details below.
Two weeks ago, Barry Cryer’s Comedy Greats looked at the role of the BBC Transcription Service in adapting shows for audiences overseas. So we were delighted to hear from Gary Critcher, who began his first job with this department back in 1976 - moving on to look after the Tape Library from 1979-1983. Gary explained: "I was in charge of releasing and wiping tapes - only after a producer had put pen to paper to authorize it though". Lists were periodically agreed in order to create shelf space - and to save the BBC money by re-using the tape stock. Dealing with both radio and TV archive, Gary prides himself on saving the 1964 'Top Of The Pops' TV master tapes - a pilot sent out to overseas broadcasters to see if they would be interested in a weekly version. And just what did those two 10 inch reels contain? A mere three 'live' Beatles tracks and two interviews with the Fab Four. Happily all 3 tracks were later released on a 'Beatles at the Beeb' album.
Gary also recalls the very hefty sounding 16 inch 78 rpm Transcription shellac discs from the days of Hancock’s Half Hour - which reminds me to alert you to listen out next weekend for our exciting re-discovery. Courtesy of the late Bob Monkhouse’s very own archive - we’re playing a sketch starring the usual Hancock team that’s not been heard in over 50 years! More details in our next newsletter, which after nearly 10 years, will have a fresh new design.
Starting next week - in line with the rest of the BBC - our newsletter will look like our webpages, with better links to our programme highlights and better images.

A last word on the BBC Transcription Service. According to our office boffin Mik Wilkojc - some early programmes were transferred to vinyl for flights overseas, because of the fear that going over the North Pole would erase early tapes! Honestly, every pub quiz team needs a Mik.
Many thanks again for another cracking set of Tweets this week. We read them all - so please keep them coming via Twitter to @BBCradio4extra:
Couldn't resist any longer; had to dig out another adapter to replace my broken one so I can listen to @BBCRadio4extra."I didn't recognise you." "Why not?" "I've never seen you before." The Goon Show @BBCRadio4extra . You don't get that on the Today Program.Will be timing my lunch hour to listen to Agatha Raisin and Hammond Innes - wonderful @BBCRadio4extra ! Classic drama on R4 Extra ‘Lorna Doomed.’Come up to bed! Listening to the Comedy Club on @BBCRadio4extra : Y'know why I love listening to @BBCRadio4extra? It is impossible for the end credits to be squashed so small you cannot read them. And my quick thanks for a smashing email and a special hello to huge 4 Extra fan, June Bowden and her guide dog Rosa.
Peter Reed
Senior Producer
BBC Radio 4 Extra

17 July 2012


Contents 17 July, 2012
Mel’s Nepal: Mel Philipps
Champagne and soft cashmere: JD Morton
Claudia Ward’s cartoon
Photos: Roger Morton
Stephen O’R’s Sydney
17 July 2012
Despite my best intentions, the weeks have slipped away. Firstly we had 3 great weeks in the UK – I decided the time with our small grandchildren (and the big one) was too precious for me to skive off and do the blog. I guess the rot set in without me noticing it.
We had only been home two days when Roger got sick and it’s been a rocky roller-coaster since then. For example we were at Dr B’s until well after 7pm this evening. Tomorrow morning I drive 20k return trip to the  friendly pharmacist for the next load of anti-biotics. Meanwhile summer has finally arrived and Roger is longing to be better and for the pneumonia to be gone. Curiously, there seems to be numerous cases around at the moment – haven’t yet discovered why. I do know I was diagnosed with it at 3months old. My cousin, 3 months older than me, had already died of it. My mother was told by the hospital to take me home as I was going to die and they needed the bed. That was red rag to a bull and so of course she got me better. (She then proceeded to torment me for the next 17 years – she probably realised what an idiot she had been. My father was in the war for another 3 years. She was home with me – she could have been foot-loose and fancy free!)
Meanwhile apart from the terrible weather this summer in England and France (flooding, hailstones, no sunshine) there have been some grand scandals. France’s new President Francois Holland was put in a compromising situation by his girlfriend Valerie Trierweiler – she tweeted support to the opponent of Segolene Royal. (Segolene is the mother of Francois’s 4 grown-up children.) They are now refusing to have anything to do with Valerie Trierweiler. Tricky.
The Hong Kong Shanghai Bank is being revealed as a big-time drug money launderer. Mexican drug barons are evidently involved. Very tricky. The CEO of G4S, Nick Buckles was today in a very tricky situation. At an inquiry into the sheer incompetence of his security company, who were meant to be manning the gates of the Olympics, which start in 10 days time – he was asked to answer yes or no to it being a ‘humiliating shambles’. He eventually replied ‘ I cannot disagree with that.’ How difficult could it be to find people to work at the Olympic Games? Evidently part of the problem was that they were not prepared to pay acceptable rates– even though they had a £284 million contract. Security guys can be hard men, would you want to piss them off? As in piss off a few thousand of them! Watch your back, Mr Buckles, you may be heading for a hiding to nowhere (whatever that means.)
And before I slope off to bed, it is with great sadness that I learnt pianist Jon Lord had died of pancreatic cancer. I send condolences for their immense loss to his family, especially Sara, Judith and little Reggie. The other evening we watched the film of Maryam D’Abo (one of Roger’s old clients.) Living with my broken brain was directed by her husband Hugh Hudson and it was extremely moving. It was intriguing to hear one of the UK surgeons say ‘I am an atheist – I spend my days fixing broken bodies – how could a god sanction such awful catastrophes’. I agree.
I also agree with the possibility of banning babies and little boys from being circumcised. They don’t need this surgery. It is an outdated religious practice. It is time to stop doing it. The ruling has come about in Germany after a small buy was taken to Emergency when his penis would not stop bleeding.
The other big issue to be addressed is population. Sir Richard Attenborough points out that in his lifetime it has gone from 2.4 billion to over 7 billion. He says this has contributed to climate change. The jet stream high up in the atmosphere has been seriously affected. It has made the summer one of the wettest in history. It’s a worry. A few days ago I discovered from a friend who visited and then went on to a nearby Buddhist retreat that there were 850 devotees (when does a retreat become an avalanche?) all of them paying something like 298euros for a week and doing some unpaid gardening. That’s a cool quarter of a million. I hope some of it is going into the rural French community where all this is taking place. Enjoy the sun; it’s been too long coming.
Joselyn Morton

Mel's Nepal

One positive thing about a sweltering monsoon heat is how many kilos you drop from just brushing your teeth ...which is necessary after all that bread,cheese and meat we consumed, hungrily, back in N.Z. We spent most of our Bangkok time holed up in our giant family room, AC blasting, Circle K food wrappers blowing about, watching Terminator trilogy. Or we were in the malls gawping at the tsunami of shoppers surging down internal escalators loaded with carefully crafted bags of...every kind of shit you would ever need! And we were envious as hell! Our last minute lotto ticket had once again dashed all dreams of spending huge amounts of dosh and carry some of this stuff away with us. We could have used it to help fill the 10 metre hole our tenant has dug in the vege patch...but more on that later. We arrived pretty much as we expected to Kathmandu, absolutely knackered! Found a tidy guesthouse with running water and clean sheets, great rooftop and even a small flat screen to watch the EURO FINAL...ice-cream  on a stick!! Munched on complimentary popcorn whilst waiting an hour for the dhal bhat feast...small consolation but they are trying! Reminded ourselves that we could no longer gurgle water from the tap and crashed for 9 hours straight without catching even a smudge of the 'Final' festivities. Malcolm did of course, stellar sport spectator he is! Hired a van and began the 7 hour journey out of the Kathmandu Valley to Pokhara. The heat was stifling and we were like toffee on the seats bouncing along, heads smashing on the roof at each grater that makes up most of the highway to Pokhara. It’s only 200 k but the roads are horrific and the drivers worse. At least there is calm in their madness, unlike us...typical Aucklanders. Making faces, a few 'birds' out the back window...you know how it is when you have somewhere to get and the idiot in front is driving the speed limit and breaking before corners, stopping on orange lights!!!....what the hell! But here, no one seems rattled in the slightest, no limits, no lights, NO TIME...hence we sat back in our puddles and looked out the window, bracing for the next crunch. Besides Mal is a great co-driver..."No!...not yet! .O.K...go now!" It was very exciting coming into the town and seeing familiar landmarks and even faces...so began our anxiety at what we may find at our home. I had been mentioning many known disappointments to the kids previous to arrival, mainly Shadow's condition. They knew for a fact that although most Nepali street dogs are well fed and spend some part of their day with some level of affection. So if worse had come to bloody worse, then he would be street smart, skinny and full of worms and not keen on a leash! We had been told he was running free all day for 2 months, looking for scraps and only returning at night...at least, to a dry safe home...so we held concerns. I hoped more than anything he was there, around. It had been a mammoth journey of 3 months to???..I can't remember half of it, will wait to see photos. It did really feel very special to be back and I checked the other faces bobbing along and saw how tired we were and hoped to death, our house was in some semblance for a good night’s sleep!  Well let’s just say, our dog was as expected. Mainly because of those who had bedded themselves on the furniture for 6 weeks, discussing through a cumulus of toxins, the necessitiy of a new world, a new consciousness, love will heal all blah, blah...and had forgotton the only 'living' being in the house! He had been hanging out at one of our favourite restaurants and because they knew he was ours, they let him stay there and fed him scraps. He must have been so stressed because he crashed for 3 days staying virtually under our feet. Our home-visiting vet arrived with a bag of goodies and Shadow is looking really well. He is clever and a survivor and likes to have his boundaries.... and home cooked meals! We feel very grateful he is here! We heard all we needed to hear within the first few minutes of walking in the gate...the benefits of nosey neighbours, and we just got on and unpacked what we needed, to rest a few days. We would wait for the only person responsible, and he was held by rain in the Panchasse Mountains for another week! The first rewarding thing was the fact that all our plants had grown extraordinarily in that time and although our resident  houseboy began frantically to cut the lawn with a blunt scythe it was obvious gardening duties had been neglected! Still I had suspected 'nil by mouth' may have killed them all. Poor ole; 'Deepu' was going to be in very DEEP PU, once we had finished customary pleasantries...the suspense was literally killing him! We have kept him waiting...in the meantime he has been very helpful as we fix up the house! We heard news of our dear orphaned friend who had recently developed epilepsy, had drowned amongst mates in the lake. Our Belgium friend was mercilessly requested to help with extraction, identification, and cremation of his wee 10 year old body. An experience that has left her so distraught she has asked us to oversee her property whilst she 'gets out; for a while. His dog frequents our house and to not see Sagar following behind is deeply saddening. Life continues on, and as all these things have come from god...grief is quickly surpassed by hope; for a better life next time. We heard of wild parties, some at our house, where large amounts of mushrooms and LSD oil were consumed by visiting travellers crossing from India. Obviously things spiralled out of control as they can so often do when taking copious amounts of mind jumbling drugs, and police were called. Two travellers were imprisoned for resisting arrest, our mattress was set alight and thrown from the top floor balcony, as you do...community put pressure on the police to take action, and the remainder of the fried, smelly posse where sent onwards! With India now requiring foreigners to leave the country for 2 months between visas, Nepal is unfortunately the most preferred destination to wait out the 2 months. Guesthouse owners are becoming irate and the energy around at present is one of caution and suspicion. It is difficult not to make judgements but i have very little time for anyone barefoot with feathers in their hair jumping up and down to  fluted music in the middle of the road...must be getting old? Because of water shortages our 'tenant' decided to build a well in the
veggie patch to supply not only us but surrounding homes also. The labour was extremely arduous as you can imagine with a small spade in heavy rain, but he managed to dig 10 metres down and then...well, that’s it. He then decided it was all too much and moved into the mountains  for some 'shanti shanti' good vibes. Meanwhile monsoon swirls through and underground streams converge to collapse the well and suddenly the entire patch is extremely treacherous.
Still our friend does not return from his mountain hideaway so we have started filling it with anything we can find....river rocks, cement, garden waste and of course burnt mattresses. A personal landfill you might say...how thoughtful!! He has however contributed ample sums of money to garner some forgiveness and complete contractual agreements.
Anyway, rather than spend our days in uncomfortable, spontaneous bouts of rage and torment we have built a 'bridge' and are slowly crossing over. Besides the landscapes are superb and cool rain descends from the mountains each day, shrouding, pacifying. Our home is looking and sounding once more like a home. The kids are walking, biking and have returned to school rountines with Teshi and Mayr at a new Montessori and Ezra designing his own timetable to fit in all his subjects. He has an English friend who meets him after her home study and they walk the lakefront for chapatis or cakes. When the heavens teem down and we are forced indoors, we play wii guitar hero (I suck) and lego, movies etc...all the mod cons! We have 5 months on our visa before we have to decide on our next move. Whatever we decide, we have this home for 5 years, a recent meeting suggests that could be up to 10 and we believe we have a certain gem that could be managed without us being here...a small matter of tidying, advertising (possibly through our future agent office) and most importantly and equally challenging, a reliable manager! Malcolm is still keen to study and look for an outside contract until we begin profiting from our numerous, newfangled ideas. None-the-less we are swept back into developing world calm/chaos with fresh minds, enthusiasm and courage too. I feel I am at the helm of this vessel although my first mate remains sanguine. For how long, is unknown...he does like his comforts and although beer is cheap, it is best savoured with like-minded friends.
We continue to reminisce our travels to wondrous lands, Laos, Bali, NZ and acknowledge we have only just started! Namaste to you all and will promise better transmission, from me anyway...thanks for listening. Will prattle on again soon! Much love. x Mel


Champagne and soft cashmere

Polystyrene and beer
champagne and soft cashmere
brazen banks, homeless chaps
tax evasion, food collection,
artificial inflation
of artists prices by
their agents – another
of life’s expensive wanks.

Obsessive desire
for personal enlightenment
old-fashioned generosity
is but a distant memory.
Forever love hormone,
oxytocin lives on in
two polished brass plaques
though one of the doctors
died two decades ago.

Respect to the thirteenth
century poet Arnaut
Daniel who invented
la sextine (more to do
with six than sex) smiles for
Les Anges de printemps
red roses and daisies
hope flies in the air
not fear and despair.

Joselyn Duffy Morton©

Claudia Ward

Photos: Roger Morton

Bill McAlister and David Hockney – displayed on board HMS President, the Embankment, London.

Putney Jubilee street party
Young people celebrating the Queen’s 60th Jubilee
 Union Jack dogs
Union Jack legs
Young Star and her flag
Us on the balcon
 On the balcon
 Albert Bridge
Boats on the Thames
 Boats by the Albert Bridge
Queen on the river
 The Royal barge
 Small Maori waka
Ducks on the wall
 Romantic statue, St Pancras
 Queue for Degas nu, Paris
 Inside Musee D’Orsay
 Exquisite marble statue, Charles Cordier (no relation to Philippe Cordier, parrain de Meac’s exposition, Chateau Tinteillac.)
Château de Tinteillac – exposition 2012, du 30 juin au 15 août. (The exhibition of 12 artists includes Roger Morton’s photographs.)
All Photos: Roger Morton