It’s almost the end of 2020. As a special gift for getting through a hard year, in this bonus episode we share one of our all time favourite pieces of radio, and a holiday classic: ‘Xmas in Merimbula’ by Kayla (then aged 8).
Some 30 years ago, aged 17, I first heard The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’ and fell in love with the city, the band and the song — and all the complexities and contradictions within.
Unlike so many other Xmas songs, there’s nothing sentimental here: “It was Christmas eve, babe; in the drunk tank. An old man said to me, ‘Won’t see another one’. And then he sang a song: ‘The Rare Old Mountain Dew’. I turned my face away and dreamed about you.” It’s not a song of solace, but a cautionary tale. There but for the grace…
As the years have passed, ‘Fairytale…’ has migrated in from the margins. Nowadays it’s played in supermarkets, and since 2005 it returns annually to the top 20 charts — MacColl’s beautiful voice (she grew up in Croydon, South London, not far from here) perfectly counters McGowan’s character’s dirty murky syntax. And when listeners turn from McGowan’s scowl to MacColl’s songfulness for comfort, they fall victim to a beautifully rendered ambush: “They’ve got cars big as bars, they’ve got rivers of gold, but the wind goes right through you it’s no place for the old.” Who are these people?
I get preoccupied with a song’s words. In retrospect, I always have. I listen to songs as a writer, zeroing in on utterances, while Shona draws meaning from the music, listening as a musician. She plays guitar, ukulele, piano, and sings. I get tangled in a song’s prose, piecing together characters’ inner lives until they forge a path beyond the song, until I don’t know who any of us will be when we reach the other side. For me, music serves as punctuation.
I don’t really care about Xmas itself, but I’ll take any excuse to see friends and family Listening to ‘Fairytale…’ is my only Xmas ritual, one I’ve not missed in three decades, so taking those five minutes out will be the only usual thing about this year. A small piece of normal in the dumpster fire of 2020. Being so far from home and with so few options to return, it’s the video calls and photos bringing us ‘everyday’ updates that keeps us going. I began the year locked down in bushfires and ended up locked down in a plague. We hope you and your family can in some small way salvage a little cheer from 2020.
Information about non-Xmas festivals during this time
All Saints Day (1 Nov)
World AIDS Day (1 Dec)
International Day of Disabled Persons (3 Dec)
Bodhi Day (8 Dec) — BuddhistDay of Enlightenment
Human Rights Day (10 Dec)
Kwanzaa (26 Dec–1 Jan): Facebook @Kwanzaanetworkuk
Ōmisoka (31 Dec) — traditional Japanese celebration
Soyal (21 Dec) – ceremony of the Zuni & Hopi peoples
Pancha Ganapati (21–25 Dec) — Hindu festival honoring Ganesha
Hogmanay (31 Dec) — Scottish New Year’s Eve.
Tu BiShvat (late-Jan or early-Feb)
Twitter & Instagram: @LDNbylockdown
The idea of travel brings with it the promise of exotic places filled with interesting people, and images of glittering beaches and crystal clear water, or adventure, relaxation, or even a family holiday. But that’s for those who are able to come and go as they please: one person’s exploration is another’s exploitation. For many, ‘travel’ has been ‘not quite right’ for centuries, bringing conquest and oppression, inequality and ecological disaster, prejudice, and at times walls to keep out ‘the other’. Celebrating ten years of Speaking Volumes, this anthology is a warning shot, an affirmation, an education ... These forty writers — new and established — speak volumes, invoking their experiences of outsiderness and their defiance against it. In forty short stories, poems and essays — by turns wry, gentle, furious, humorous, passionate, analytical and elliptical — these forty writers, new and established, speak volumes, invoking their experiences of outsiderness and their defiance against it. In this episode we’ll hear … ‘i am no less’ by Michelle Cahill; ‘We Wait’ by Rafeef Ziadah; and Prologue from ‘Abolition’ by Gabriel Gbadamosi (voiced by actors Joe Hughes, Danny Nutt, Owen Oakeshott & Rex Obano). Our guide is actor and author Pauline Melville. InformationMusic composed by Dominique Le GendreNarration by Lucy HannahExtra music & SFX by Epidemic SoundAvailable at all good bookshops, or you can order from Flipped Eye PublishingProduced in collaboration with Speaking Volumes. ...
This episode looks at Aboriginal resistance and activism in London and England — as told by First Nations people. As non-Indigenous people born on the Australian continent, Craig acknowledges he was born on Ngunnawal Country, and Shona acknowledges she was born on the land of the Kulin Nation. ************************** Every January Australia finds itself running headlong down a steep hill towards the 26th. We’re in shorts and a t-shirt, and like all kids, the scrapes and scratches on our arms and legs map our summer adventures: fishing, swimming, biking, climbing, skateboarding, bushwalking, surfing, camping. BBQs and dive bombs, mozzies and cicadas, sunscreen and ‘six and out’. Part way down the hill, about the 10th, when the annual ‘lamb ad’ hits our TVs, our legs begin to speed up of their own accord. Soon after, our head wobbles. We’re unsteady. By the 20th we’re careening, our arms and legs flail, and we can’t stop. Teetering, we trip over our own feet and we face plant the dirt, landing in a heap on January 26. Reflecting on its antiquated and jingoistic origins, Australia Day’s nervous posturing diminishes us all — not least because it’s a form of rigid militarised nationalism (that includes Anzac Day) politicised by prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating; ramped up by John Howard; and continued by the rest. No national day can represent everyone, because nations aren’t static. Personally, ‘national days’ shouldn’t exist, but since they’re A Thing, Australia needs modern symbols that embrace its ever-changing history — from invasion, occupation, colonialism and war, to multiculturalism, migration, treaty and sovereignty (and beyond). A Black GST could do it. Constituted at ‘Camp Sovereignty’ (Kings Domain, Melbourne, 2006) during Commonwealth Games ...
In this episode your intrepid lockdown travellers tackle the big food questions. ************************** What are Romanesco broccoli and celeriac and what do you do with them? What’s the great “jollof rice controversy”? How hot is too hot for a vindaloo? Shouldn’t we all eat cheese scones every day? Are vegetarian Scotch eggs worth it? ThanksOpening & Closing Credits by Unregistered Master Builder Touching Moments by Ketsa (Free Music Archive) Markus J Buehler Viral Counterpoint of the Coronavirus Spike Protein (2019-nCoV)BBC SFX Archive Information & WebsitesUK Landworkers Alliance. For the ‘World Famous London by Lockdown Cook Off’ RecipesVegetarian VindalooCheese Scones Jollof Rice (it’s so good we included two links): here and hereVegetarian Scotch Eggs ContactFacebook: @CraigsAudioWorks Twitter & Instagram: @LDNbylockdown Available linktr.ee/LondonbyLockdown ...