On rotation a bloody awful Cd. Almost certainly called “Power Ballads 2” or something dreadful. Track after dreadful track after dreadful track. Then BOOM! A song from my past. A song I loved. I had not heard it for many years; indeed had forgotten about it, but here it was and instantly I had a smile on my face.

What a song. Yes it shares DNA with some truly awful songs. I am sure it is distant cousins with the worst of 80’s soft metal; probably related by marriage to Tpau……..but what a song. Why? The gear changes. It’s the gear changes that make this song into something wonderful. They give it an epic quality, but allow it all to hang together somehow. Dunno really, but it works.

So I got home had a look on the internet and saw it was pretty much the work of a one hit wonder band called “Scarlet”, from Hull apparently – a bit more research revealed a singer called Cheryl Parker. But not much more. Puff….disappeared in thin air it seems. Anyway, what a song…thank you Scarlet, you took me unexpectedly and beautifully back to the mid 90’s. And let me tell you it takes a lot to do that to man temporarily stuck in Dereham on wet, Saturday afternoon.


The verbal attacks on Israel continue unabated. The seizure of the aid ships from Turkey are of course a fairly typical example of Israeli unsubtle assertiveness. Breach of international law, deaths, denial…it is poor jusgement on their part and not a good look.

But I am constantly annoyed by the tone the left (of which I count myself) adopts towards Israel. Anyone would think listening to some people speak that they are one of the worst regimes in the history of the world.

They are not. They are an edgy, blunt, reactive and fearful country, who are more than capable of putting their foot in it. A country whose actions towards the palestinians are wrong, misguided and harmful.

But the left must show understanding to Israel. We routinely nod our heads when we talk about the imperial legacy for sub-saharan Africa, for India, for the displaced African people in the Americas, for Irish catholics. We know that ongoing problems and issues for these peoples are in part a legacy of past ill treatment; the effects of which will still last for decades. We know all this, but why does it not apply to Israel?

Think about it…the holocaust; pronounced anti semitic movements in many developed countries; near neighbours talking about and perhaps plotting its destruction. Is it any wonder that they behave as they do? Not really. Does it make it right? Of course not.

I do not ask for us to approve of what they do or for us to stop attacking their immoral blundering, but only that we remember their past in the rhetoric we use.

British Prime Minister John Major once said that society in its treatment of criminals should “condemn a little more; and understand a little less.”

He was wrong about that. “Condemn as much as you do, but understand a little more” would be my remix of this for those who castigate Israel.

Ken Barlow

February 6, 2010

Is there a more depressing stage direction than “Enter Ken Barlow” – apart from “and then everybody dies and the world blows up”  ??

Not sure that there is.

These two pictures are not hugely encouraging for feminists and indeed anyone who thinks a little bit more gender equality might help this troubled planet of ours……..

Those with the power

Those with the power

At the side of those with power

At the side of those with power

I have just finished a stint of teaching in a charming little place called Mt Sylvia.

The school sits in a valley south of the main Brisbane to Toowoomba highway; a rich slither of fertile land. On leaving the post I was given a copy of a local history of the area. It is a really impressive work – a thorough research project by a former pupil Ketura Witt – 13 at the time of writing. It seemed to have caught the eye of people beyond Brisbane. A forward by an academic from Griffith university highlights the book’s quality believing it compares favourably to much work he gets from undergraduates.

Anyway, my favourite part of the book details Mount Sylvia’s punishment log. It is not dated but features in a section called “100 years of education.” It really is maginificent……..

The Punishment Register

(Regardless of sex)

Cruelty to a lizard – 2 cuts on hand

Biting a companion – 2 cuts

Placing a slate pencil in upright position for companion to sit on – 4 cuts

Indecent handling of another boy – 2 cuts

Stealing lunch -4 cuts

Revolting cruelty to a stray cat -4 cuts

Fighting with stones in creek at 5pm – 2 cuts

Continued Cruel Treatement to Smaller Children – 2 cuts

Homework not prepared – 1 cut

Gross misconduct – 2 cuts

Insulting language on public rd – 2 cuts

(Pg.147 “A history of Left Hand Branch at Mt Sylvia” Ketura Wit)

Nowadays we bemoan the requirement to record everything in mind numbing detail and lay it squarely at the door of accountablility, or covering one’s back as it really should be known.

But what was the motivation then? A belief maybe that everything needed a record? – I am not sure, although clearly life would have been simpler and thus easier to chronicle.

Martha and the Muffins “Echo beach” – that’s it. Problem solved.

Jo and I are in a department store and the song comes over the system.

I say to Jo “I remember this; lovely song”

She says “Yes Martha and the Muffins”

And I think “oh, must be an Aussie classic – what with me not knowing the band, Aussie Jo having the name to hand, the fact we are in an Australia and the ending.”

Yes the ending – reminds me of The Church and the Go- Betweens…yes this is the great Aussie pop song. It is the all there. I don’t know what, but it is all there…..this is the one. It is the haunting ending that makes it. It’s perfect. It chimes. It is probably where that Aussie alternative sound started. Pioneering too then. Probably had a big influence on Nick Cave, The Triffids and INXS. Hey! even Kylie probably owes a great debt.

“Echo beach, far away it time, Echo beach far away in time…….” Beautiful. Is it in Queensland?

One month later I hear the song again in another shop. It sounds just as good. The great Australian pop song. I wonder if other people think this? Perhaps they do? I will check it out on Youtube when I get home.

“Echo beach, far away it time, Echo beach far away in time…….” Beautiful. New South Wales perhaps?

I get home and I am right, it really is a great song, everyone agrees and I think it fair to say that Martha and her Muffins would no doubt be the creators of the definitive Aussie new wave moment if it were not for the fact they were Canadian.


Crowd outside

August 20, 2008

Is it the bald men searching,

searching for the man who promises lustrous locks for $9.99?


Is it the man who promises lustrous locks for $9.99 running,

running from the bald men who want a full refund?