Ramblings 5

I rarely watch more than a couple of hours of TV at a time and usually no more than two or three days a week. Last night (Saturday) I tuned in to the ABC and SBS for four hours straight in what was quite special entertainment.

It began with Father Brown, the off-beat detective program based on the GK Chesterton stories. I probably shouldn’t like it but I do. I’m sure I’ve been to the cricket ground which was featured – somehow the ring of oak trees rang true as did the tiny clubroom which I’ve entered as well although simply for cakes and tea and not to follow the sound of a shot and discover a corpse. It was my friend Robert Seeckts, a former member, who took me there in 2009 and, if it’s the ground I think it is, it’s located near the border of Sussex and Kent.

DCI Banks is one of my favourite detective series and the tension between the two women detectives (Helen Morton and Annie Cabbott) and Banks himself provides added drama apart from the exciting twists and turns in the cases they are investigating. I can’t miss this show.

Then it was a switch to the second half of Rockwiz in the 1950s with Col Joye as one of the special guests. The man is a handsome octogenarian. I had to be amused when he said he played to a lot of Elderly Citizens clubs these days and was older than most members of his audience.

Finally, The Commitments and what an amazing film that was, so full of humour and passion besides the brilliant music. It was only a shame to read afterwards that so few of the stars have gone to major careers. Nevertheless, an outstanding piece of work by director Alan Parker from the Roddy Doyle novel. Naturally, the songs were played at full blast.

New Ashes Treasures

ASHES TREASURES 3bASHES TREASURES 3a Groucho Marx said he only ever bought second editions because every book has a first edition but did he buy third editions. Carlton Books have done it again and Allen & Unwin are on board in Australia. Gus Fraser and Boony have written the forewords.

New book: Way College 1892-1903

New book: Way College 1892-1903

I’m very excited to be associated as publisher for my friend Bob Petersen of this outstanding new book on one of Australia’s truly innovative schools. The school was very successful and closed only because the Bible Christian church which operated it dissolved upon amalgamation with the Methodists. The book may be purchased from the author at bobzilla@yahoo.com.au

Ramblings 4: Ravi Shankar at Apollo Stadium

Ravi Shankar has just died. Eighty-six. I saw him give a concert at Apollo Stadium in Adelaide once – a basketball stadium! I wonder how many concerts he gave in basketball stadiums.

I didn’t know he was a classical musician then (c1969) and my knowledge of his music was limited to seeing him play during the closing credits of the film of the Monterey Rock Festival.

I guess I thought he was pretty cool and his instrument (sitar) was cool too because George Harrison had taken it up, but I’ve no idea what I expected him to play at Apollo.

His only accompanist was a drummer (tabla) and the tunes (ragas) all lasted about half an hour each. The rhythms were OK I guess except they went on and on. If they’d been five minutes I could’ve hacked that. I just didn’t dig classical music.

Some people probably got doped up before they went. If I had I might’ve said he was suREAL using some groovy/goofy expression of the time.

But no. It was the wrong gig, the wrong venue and, I suspect, entirely the WRONG AUDIENCE.

How many Indian classical music buffs were there in Adelaide in 1969?

Ramblings 3: Breakfast with the Premier

The same week I began work as a labourer on the road gang of the City Council (see Ramblings 1) I had breakfast with the Premier.

Well, not me alone. As editor and co-publisher of Football Times I’d been invited by the Norwood Football Club to a celebratory breakfast leading up to the 1975 South Australian National Football League Grand Final. As a gentleman of the press (and attired in a pin-stripe suit) I’d been assigned a seat on the top table with the club chairman and various dignitaries. Don Dunstan as the Member for Norwood and number one ticket-holder of the football club (as well as Premier) had a number of qualifications for his seat.

The last issue of Football Times had just hit the news-stands and I had no other visible means of support, hence the reason for signing on as a casual labourer and swapping the suit for overalls a couple of days later. I needed the bread, man.

When the foreman gave me a pointless instruction about not leaning on a shovel I made no reply, consoling myself with the thought that I was the only gang member who’d dined with the state’s leader that week.

Come Saturday, shirt, tie, sports-jacket, I was in the Press Box at Footy Park. The Redlegs got up too. Perfect.