Thursday 6 December 2007

The Power of the Poddie

I've been online for years, but only recently discovered the joy of podcasts. So, for something a bit different to the usual "pastor general's new clothes" routine, here's a list of what I currently listen to, beginning with something of no relevance whatsoever to the subject of this blog. In return, feel free to recommend your own favorites.

Category One: Nostalgia. When I was but a lad in short trousers, the family radio - a wooden cased monstrosity with valves - was permanently tuned into what later became Radio NZ National, the Kiwi equivalent of NPR. In those far off days people who were born in NZ would still speak of Britain as "the old country", and the cultural cringe extended to BBC entertainment shows. This had its benefits with some outstanding comedy (The Goon Show, The Navy Lark, The Men from the Ministry...) and an early rustic soap called The Archers, set in the fictional town of Ambridge, which I particularly remember as it was broadcast soon after I'd get home from school, and listening in was slightly preferable to doing homework. The accents were fascinating (was that really English?), but the theme music - actually a maypole dance! - especially burned its way into my memory after the thousandth episode or so (only a slight exaggeration as the 13,546th episode was aired on St Patrick's Day 2001.)

Sometime in the 1970s most New Zealanders finally worked out that they were something other than transplanted Poms, and local news pushed the BBC bulletin off the air, the silly but erudite quiz shows disappeared, we dumped God Save the Queen as the national anthem, and The Archers disappeared among the detritus of Empire.

A few weeks ago I discovered that BBC Radio 4 was still running the show six days a week, the theme music was still the same, and lo and behold, The Archers was even available for download as a poddie. Now, in an act that would disgust my younger self, I religiously listen to the show in the evenings, though each episode has no more pace and excitement than a herniated tortoise. I'm now at the stage where the characters are starting to gel together and it's possible to make sense of the loose story line: almost certainly a sign of geriatric decay on my part. You probably need to be somewhat advanced in years to appreciate this one!

Category Two: Skepticism.

(To be continued)


DennisDiehl said...

It might not be so far off topic as you think!

I got rid of my television six years ago because it dawned on my how inane most of it was. I never had cable and when I had the remote to use at the homes of people who did, all I did was not wish to see what was on, but see what was on next. Forget that.

I opted for XM Radio. AHHHHHHHHHHHH, I can listen to the Lone Ranger, The Shadow, great books and plays along with anything else I wish. Listening is far more immaginative than watching I have found.

I do miss Discovery Channel and such however, but youtube fills a nice gap since most of that ends up there to watch in segments.

Along with a collection of Early Hominid tools from Olavai Gorge, some Ice Age points and other artifacts from our American past, Im good to go.

Well, off to Asheville, NC for an advanced deep tissue massage seminar. Nothing like a weekend with a bunch of MTs! They have asked me to give to opening invocation to Gaia since I am the High Priest of Marduk and all. :)

Anonymous said...

Ah, hadn't thought of mangel-wurzels in years! Oh yes, the sweet smells of the English countryside. Why, even Bricket Wood had a farm. (How about that for a segue back to the purported theme of your blog?!)
Did NZ tv ever show Bill and Ben, flowerpot men, and their nemesis, Weed? I still smile when I think of them.

Lussenheide said...

I only recently discovered the joy of

There (For Free!) you can design your own radio station that plays only music from lineups that you pick. There are no commercials or annoying DJs either.

Within the genre that you pick, you can, if you like, add info of whether you liked the selection or did not, and then the database learns more about you and can select better choices for you in the future.

You are also allowed 6 "skips" of songs each hour. I have about 14 gernres that I have created over there, and usually play them with the "quick mix" option.

Bill Lussenheide, Menifee, CA USA

Stan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stan said...

Dennis said:

"Listening is far more imaginative than watching I have found."

Quite right. Orson Welles would agree.


Robert said...

You can get some podcasts of some old BBC classics that were aired on Springbok Radio (South AFrican radio). You will have to join to gain access to the file.

I don't remember any of them, but they have Squad Cars, Men from the Ministry, Unsolved Mysteries, Vintage Radio.

South Africa didn't have TV until the 1970s so radio was one of the only means of entertainment back in the old days.

BBC personalities would make Radio programmes exclusively for Springbok Radio.

In my day the only one I listened to was Just a Minute (on Radio South AFrica). Mostly enjoyed the whinging Kenneth Williams who made the show!

Robert said...

Beyond Our Ken,

Listen to the first episode.

Later became known as Round the Horne. Very popular show with numerous characters.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

I miss Bob and Ray. They are available on iTunes now.

Another great one from the 70s was the Fire Sign Theatre, very creative radio if not a bit psychedelic.

Anonymous said...

As a budding biker in high school, I think I was cognizant of the fact that BSAs and Triumphs were British bikes. And, like many of the kids of the era, I was aware of the British pop groups, like the Beatles, the Stones, and my favorites, the Animals. But, when I had to make a choice between going to Bricket Wood, or Pasadena, there really was no contest, at least in my mind. My head was really into the Beach Boys, the California sun, the beaches and mountains, so I listed Pasadena as my preference, and at the end of the summer following my senior year, I was on an airplane to what I considered the promised land. Good thing, too, as I understand that Bricket Wood was an even stricter environment than either Pasadena or Big Sandy.

While at AC, I met several students who had transferred from Bricket Wood, and one of them, who happened to be my dorm monitor, told me stories about the Goons, the BBC, and his escapades with Triumph motorbikes (as they called them across the pond). I think he might have run with the Teddy Boys prior to conversion and attending AC. I hadn't known anyone from England growing up, although I had met an Australian lady who had an intriging accent.

One of the things I really liked about AC was that we did get to know people of different cultures. Since my head was always into music, specifically of the rock genre, knowing people similar to the musicians I admired gave me a better understanding of the art, and the cultural phenomena which had influenced it.
I learned that the media, as an example, was under government control for the most part. TV and radio, until the advent of the "pirate stations" basically meant the BBC, or "the beeb" as it was sometimes called.

As I became immersed in the second wave of British music, in which the musicians, rather than imitating Chuck Berry, took the music to a totally new level. Led Zeppelin and Humble Pie, as well as Deep Purple soon became my new favorites. And, I became aware of archival programs from the beeb on which my heroes had first performed. Right now, I have a double CD set of some of the Led Zep BBC sessions, and a video of some of the performances from very early Fleetwood Mac. Having attended many concerts stateside, I was somewhat mystified by the polite clapping of the British audiences as opposed to the riotous enthusiasm one would normally encounter at, say, an Aerosmith or ZZ Top concert.

For years, I was somewhat of an Anglophile, really getting into the Triumph motorcycles, and devouring any written materials I could find on Eric Clapton, the Who, Led Zep, and the many other groups who were regularly charting during the 1970s. I loved the movie version of the Who's opera "Tommy", as it provided a slice of the British experience starting with WW II, and extending into the '70s. Shockingly, I really never did get into the Beatles. I held them responsible for turning much of my generation into anti-war hippies. I guess I really had my Herbert W. Armstrong filters on to come up with such an attitude.

There are now some British TV programs on PBS, some of which I occasionally enjoy, such as "Chef", and "Keeping up Appearances".

I can fully understand Gavin's nostalgia, and everyone else's appreciation for things British. It's nice to live in the times in which we do, as there are many opportunities to learn about our fellow humans around the globe, and their cultural experiences. Just don't ask me to eat any eel pie!


Neotherm said...

Gavin wrote: "Sometime in the 1970s most New Zealanders finally worked out that they were something other than transplanted Poms"

My wife and I visited England and Scotland some years back. I recall listening to a conversation in the lobby of a Bed and Breakfast in Scotland. Some Australian couples were talking to our English hosts. And they kept referring to England as "home".

This is something that Americans would never do. We have no "homing instinct" centered on the British Isles. Our English hosts must have thought this reference to home by the Aussies to be droll, because they think of these peoples and other colonists as the degenerate offspring of convicts.

As one Brit told me, "I have never met an Australian that I liked." The British attitude towards Americans is about the same. Another Brit told me that he could not tell the difference between Americans, Canadians and Australians. At the time, I did not realize being lumped together with Australians was a low blow among the English.

My guess is that their attitude toward the New Zealanders is somewhat similar. All these colonists may have pretensions to being POMs but they are not in British eyes. They are the people who were not worthy to live in England.

I have at times explained that my European ancestors came to the New World because they were Quakers and migrated to escape persecution. The change in attitude when I explained this was noticeable.

It is difficult to blame the British for this view of colonists. A favorite story among Americans is that a remote ancestor who came from Britain was exiled to a prison colony for some slight crime -- like stealing a slice of bread to feed a starving baby.

I read a social history of the United States and the author found that such stories are fabricated. Records indicate that the English exiled hardened criminals to the colonies such as murderers, prostitutes and thieves. The root stock of the British Commonwealth.

I knew a girl at Big Sandy whose family retained knowledge of how they ended up in Australia. Her Grandfather killed a policeman in one of the Irish uprisings.

I think the Anzacs should forget the "home" bit like Americans. They are just as unwelcome in the British Isles as any other foreigners.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

How do you explain why Hillsong's Brian Houston looks like the Goon Show's Spike Milligan and Four Corners' reporter Paul Barry looks like Monty Python's Michael Pate ? It's up to Australia's new Chinese-speaking PM Rudd to end this Anglo mirror image by opening the floodgates of immigration,turning Australia into a down under version of Rudy (sanctury city) Giuliani's overcrowded ethnic patchwork quilt.

Anonymous said...

is there some kind of rule against political posts in NZ?

first, the Romney post is gone, and then my question about it disappears without a trace.

        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

I think the Anzacs should forget the "home" bit like Americans. They are just as unwelcome in the British Isles as any other foreigners.

-- Neo

Have you read Fatal Shores? Its an excellent book about Australia's roots as a penal colony. A good many of those people got sent there for stealing a loaf of bread under "zero tolerance" laws.

BTW POM (originally POME or POMMIE) stands for Prisoner of Mother England. Its what the old prisoners called the new arrivals - and eventually it came to mean English people in general.

It was the belief of the time there was a "criminal class", and that it was bad genetics that caused crime.

America was the original dumping ground of the "criminal class" until we revolted and cut off this relatively close convenient dumping ground of England's disposable human beings.

If Australia has proved anything, its that there's no such thing as a criminal class, and that even the rejected can build a first rate nation for themselves.

I lived in the UK, and one thing I noticed was that it was the Colonists who were most active in London starting and running businesses. Kiwis, Kenyans (white and black), South African, Aussies were everywhere.

Commonwealth countries do offer each other lenient work permits which aids this work entrepreneual force.

Questeruk said...

In my experience in the UK, I have found that people I have met from Australia and New Zealand are much more on the same outlook as British people, compared to those from the US. I often forget they are not actually British! (Something that rarely happens with those from the US).

I suppose that most of the people I am talking about have come from one or other of the COG groups – don’t know if that makes a difference.

Gavin said...


The Mitt Romney post (Gott "Mitt" Uns) has gone back into my draft folder - I posted it in error before it was finished.


Neotherm said...

I too have a soft spot in my heart for the Brits, but I know that the feeling is not reciprocated. I enjoy the series "As Time Goes By" on PBS. But when I was in England, I distinctly felt like a second class citizen.

The Anzacs should remember Gallipoli. And then ask themselves if Britain is really home.

-- Neo

Anonymous said...

whew! mystery solved!

thanks Gav

Anonymous said...

Ee,ba goom, Gavin.

Thee is showing thy age.

Doris and Dan and Phil Archer from Ambridge.Uncle Tom Forrest,Ned Larkin and all.

There's nought like a little bit of rust-hic( must be that cider) reminiscing to bring tears to thine eyes.

Keep it oop,lard.


Anonymous said...

Ooh,agh, Squire Gavin.

Be thou plucking a pheasant for this 'ere coming Yuletide,and keeping a firkin of best apple soyder close at hand.

May thy festive season be the best.