Letters From Quotidia Episode 171 Making the Living Poetry 1

Letters From Quotidia Episode 171 Making the Living Poetry Part 1

Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, episode 171 – a podcast by Quentin Bega for lovers of music, poetry, and the Crack- that most Irish of nouns which may encompass, news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. Quotidia is that space, that place, where ordinary people lead ordinary lives. But where, from time to time, they encounter the extraordinary. Welcome to a new season of the Letters for 2022. In 2021 I published 170 posts under the Letters From Quotidia title using a variety of content formats. To kick off the New Year I will present two hitherto unpublished works in a short season over consecutive days of the week. I’ll start the ball rolling with a composition entitled Making the Living Poetry. This will be podcast in four parts this week.

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The longueur between my eyes ungluing and fitful sleep/Can challenge a score most tedious or page a-snoring./I know the ceremonies of the egg at breakfast time:/The scene has not exhausted TV writers yet-/And so, I wrote a poem: commemoration blessed/By the “Times” (TV Times, that is.)

Galahad at the kitchen sink

Reviewing his strange position sees

In memory vast battles fought

Over sauce bottles and arduous

Pilgrimages to a point where two

Can understand a simple gesture.

Most strange: he shakes his elfish

Head and wrings the dishcloth.

Later, waiting for the post I hope again…/I take a turn around the garden, smell a rose perhaps./Still later, looking at the sky, as I will often/Do outside; I gasp a gasp (small, of delight)./-I’ve read my Keats you know- I rush inside and grasping/Pen I live again and practise poetry:/

Let me say to the whole sky- Hello!

Not forget the clouds or sheets of rain

But take them too and with them take the low

Swooped birds which flatten out the rolling plain

And make mirrors of the silver rivers:

Best seen from a curtain of rarest mind

Distilled which then attuned re-shivers

Shaking out the foil that makes me blind.

My wife interrupts creative flow: “The post/Has come.” I go, and grabbing missives from beyond/Return to recognise my writing- Self Addressed Envelopes-/Their purpose you all know, myself, I sigh, too well./Not surprised and counting up the cost of postage/Am inspired to verse- strange term for despair./

 If I could affix a postage stamp to my desires

And by swift courier send my dreams direct:

By easy payment cease to feel the gnaw

Of rats and slimy presences within my heart

How I would clerk away this toil:

Forego the rant and laugh away the blasted

Urges burned upon my shrieking mind

And feel the calm of statues to the moon.

My family gives advice, they find my stuff insipid./“You’re in here while a world out there is going mad.”/They’re getting holes-in-one and winning journeys- sun/Drenched vistas kissing cardboard packets- I reply./I can take advice from anyone; not proud, I scribble/Down a souped-up-eight-line poem, full of life./

We are excited! We are ecstatic!

The world has delivered another one to us!

I was just getting bored, going to bed

But we have been rescued! We have been saved!

They say that he lived with a tiger for two months!

Taught it Zen Buddhism! Chess! And Backgammon!

Lived on raw meat! The occasional peasant!

But now he has come he will tell us it all!

I’m glad I’ve taken their advice. Feeling humble, humble,/Bumble to the pub to re-acquaint myself again, again,/With vast events which justify the forests falling, falling./Royalty is worth the trees, I see. Po-faced politicians, too./Blessed be communicators, blessed be their name, their fame./And glad to see democracy alive and well, I register dissent:

Trained at fox hunting, a guest in the Bourse

And schooled in reading the secret signs

On portals through which we blindly pass

Enables you to laugh when I say

“You are the enemy- you are no friend.”

For you point to rows of men in singlets and

Double-knits, girls in evening gowns and common prints

Who do knee bends if you but bow their way.

In the interests of realism, I hope you understand me when I say/That though I was contrite earlier today I must report/My feelings now at the masses, the hoi polloi, have it/As you will- I’d flush ‘em down the toilet-/That they’d comprehend- the language and the action!/And now the spin-off: hear and mark the next denunciation./

We have seen the winners and heard them rejoice

Tumultuously in the city squares and coffee bars.

Hanging out of office windows, whooping along the corridors

Or tastefully gloating in Laundromats or bistros.

For they are vindicated in their perfect view: a loss

Of control of the hardening shades of real power

Releases them once again to their fragrant marshes

Until another prophet points to the beast nearing Bethlehem.

Fire in my belly, actually it’s beer, and quite a lot/Judging by the path worn, not to the Guinness tap, but/To the jakes. Emboldened now I borrow pen from man who serves/This slop and bursting from the close restraint of/Eight-line verse I sally on. I now attack my critics/Who send me S.A.E.’s instead of money through the post./

Quizzically befrowned, stop and go,

Reverse and sagaciously ponder,

Sniff and cock an ear toward

The howls of dogs around you.

The task- so fitting for your prowl.

The traces faint but soon perceived:

By all means call the others dogs

But hide your doghood from them.

A likely clump, some singing bush,

A sniffing joy, a wagging trill,

On spreading haunch give voice, for, Aye,

The masterpiece has found you.

No money in polemics, I decide, and dreaming, scheming/Come to know that I won’t win the pools- notice all these/References to Mammon? Yes, I admit I’m venal and greedy/But I’m safe ‘cause lots of poets have made it big by/Bringing the Confessional into the open. I hit upon a plan-/Listen to this discussion of my coffee-table poem:

Books are passé, my dear, don’t you know?

And little games on hooks, the same, the same,

I’m sure your husband uses to keep sane

The whiling day away, I’m sure. But tell me

Do you know what I myself have found?

All by myself while polishing my belt?

You don’t! Well, let me take you in, my dear,

-To my confidence, that is- what I have found.

I bought it in the Art shop down the road:

A coffee-table poem to firm our flaccid dreams.

I stumble up the hill and meet the wife a-blazing:/“Where the blazes have you been? Your dinner’s burnt!”/I listen to the litany- I know it all by heart./And I will be revenged- I will get her back./Stamping to my room I hammer typing spite/Take that, and that, and that, thou awful kite!/

Filling up with poison like a poison sac

Suck I in and blow me out, drinking down

And then piss out some fraction of the death

I comprehend and, indeed, I apprehend

Although it makes no difference in the end.

Breathe pure air if that you really must

And drink the chlorinated water from your tap.

But why to me you come if you would know

Why flowers will not flourish under snow?

That concludes the first part of Making the Living Poetry. It’s a strange feeling resurrecting this artefact after more than 40 years. It filled a need, during the year 1979, when I was unemployed in Northern Ireland- apart from a few days of casual relief teaching at the local schools. When we re-join the versifier in part two, we will hear two of the songs he wrote in that time. These have also featured as part of the Letters From Quotidia sequence in 2021.

Credits: All written text, song lyrics andmusic (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.

Technical Stuff: Microphone- Shure SM58; (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter); Apogee 76K also used for songs and spoken text

For recording and mixing down: 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used; Rubix 22 also used for mixing of microphone(s) and instruments. I use the Band in a Box/RealBand 2022 combo for music composition

Letters From Quotidia Episode 140 Rambling Robin, Staircase Wit

Letters From Quotidia Episode 140 Rambling Robin, Staircase Wit

Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, episode 140 – a podcast by Quentin Bega for lovers of music, poetry, and the Crack- that most Irish of nouns which may encompass, news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. Quotidia is that space, that place, where ordinary people lead ordinary lives. But where, from time to time, they encounter the extraordinary.

Irish folk legend, that modern minstrel, Christy Moore, sang  Rambling Robin as the last song on his 1972 album Prosperous. This is where I first heard the band that was later to become Planxty. Moore wrote in the liner notes: I learned this song from Mike Harding of Manchester just before I made this record. Most large families have at least one Rambling Robin, and like the prodigal son he always returns, but in this case the fatted calf was not to be had. This is one of my favourite folk songs to perform.

My earliest memory, though, of people who wander the roads was from a publication I came across as  a voracious reader of books from the attic  of our house in Cushendall, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp, by W H Davies. I would have been 12 or 13 at the time, at home for the summer holidays from Aruba, which was an island paradise I was to leave the very next year. His adventures, related in easy-to-read prose, held my attention- and my regard for him deepened when I later came across examples of his poetry in 1960s school anthologies. W. H. Davies was born 3 July 1871 and died on 26 September 1940. He was a Welsh poet and writer but spent a significant part of his life as a tramp in the UK and Canada and the US, where he would have been termed a hobo.

His most famous poem is Leisure and who does not know the first couplet from that poem: What is this life if, full of care,/We have no time to stand and stare?/ But I want to give you, unabridged, his poem A Plain Life, that seems to encapsulate his, ah, mission statement it might be called by corporate types: No idle gold — since this fine sun, my friend,/Is no mean miser, but doth freely spend.//No precious stones — since these green mornings show,/Without a charge, their pearls where’er I go.//No lifeless books — since birds with their sweet tongues/Will read aloud to me their happier songs.//No painted scenes — since clouds can change their skies/A hundred times a day to please my eyes.//No headstrong wine — since, when I drink, the spring/Into my eager ears will softly sing./No surplus clothes — since every simple beast/Can teach me to be happy with the least.//

I often dreamed, in those days, of emulating the super-tramp, of being one of those who dare to choose the alternative path, the road not taken: to grab life by the scruff of the neck! Alas, the only thing I grabbed in such a fashion was a book or piece of music I was intent on hunkering down with! Here’s my Band-in-the-Box version of Rambling Robin. [insert song]

Isn’t it great to be in a comfortable majority? You can feel confident that your stance on issues of contention is supported by most of your fellows. You are not likely to be fearful that your appearance will attract hostile looks or, worse, actions. And when you bring along food to a festive occasion you will not suffer the indignity of your hosts wrinkling their noses in disgust at the odours emanating from your casserole dish, for you have been nurtured from the same cuisine as have they.

But majoritarianism is not always your preferred position, is it? Should you finally achieve admittance to an exclusive club with highly restricted membership, you may well fight tooth and nail to prevent a relaxing of the rules that you have so recently, and narrowly, negotiated to gaze condescendingly on the milling masses clamouring for a place within the hallowed halls you had hoped to long enjoy with just a few favoured friends. Hello? Karen here! We need a philosopher right now to sort out this problem.

But what I do know is that being in the majority is not always so comfortable. According to Wikipedia: It has been estimated that nearly 70% of individuals will experience signs and symptoms of impostor phenomenon at least once in their life. First defined by Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes in 1978,  as an individual experience of self-perceived intellectual phoniness, it may be accompanied by anxiety, stress, rumination, or depression. Me? Never mind once! I’ve suffered from imposter phenomenon throughout my existence. A recurring dream is one where I am standing in the wings, waiting to go on stage, but I am filled with dread because I have neglected to learn my lines.

I wrote about this endemic feeling of inadequacy in a piece of doggerel I put in a journal I kept in my mid-twenties: Twenty-five and nothing done/And at this age, to do/So nothing doing?/ Feel my form and find it false/ But am I just a fake/ Or merely faking?// This phenomenon knows no boundaries of gender, class, ethnicity or occupation, numbering among its sufferers politicians, poets, billionaires, actors, writers, musicians and comedians. In my case, it is also accompanied by a phenomenon known as espirit d’ escalier or staircase wit. This term derives from an account by the French philosopher, encyclopedist and art critic Denis Diderot of a humiliation he suffered at a dinner held in the home of the statesman, Jacques Necker, who was the finance minister for the French king Louis XVI.

A remark was made that left him speechless and drove him from the table. On the way down the stairs from the contretemps he came up with just the right retort- but too late, as he had left the company dining and laughing in the room above. As a corrective for all these neuroses, I need look no further than one of my favourite poets, Rudyard Kipling, and to his much-loved poem, If. Funny how much heft a two-letter word can have. I would quote it in its entirety, if space allowed, but you probably know it anyway. I’ll just give the final four lines of the poem: If you can fill the unforgiving minute/With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,/  Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,/   And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!/ Of course, it is entirely OK to substitute the words woman and daughter for Man and son- and never mind that it wrecks the scansion and rhyme-scheme of the poem- it’ll survive it.

I wrote the song, Staircase Wit, in 1981 as a commentary on my shyness and stage-fright and my tendency to freeze under pressure. I may have overcome these challenges to some degree over the decades, but I still dream of being able to approach the composure under trying circumstances of, say, a surgeon in the Emergency Department of a major metropolitan hospital or the sangfroid of the pilot, Captain Sullenberger, who landed a plane full of people in the Hudson back in 2009- with the loss of no lives after his aircraft was incapacitated when the engines lost power due to an encounter with a flock of birds. In one of those nice ironies, Tom Hanks, who is reputed to suffer from imposter syndrome, played the role of the heroic captain in the movie, Sully, in 2016!

I’ll finish on this topic with a quatrain from another sufferer from imposter syndrome, Maya Angelou. It’s from her inspirational poem, Still I Rise: You may shoot me with your words,/You may cut me with your eyes,/You may kill me with your hatefulness/But still, like air, I’ll rise/ Here’s the final song for 2021- Staircase Wit. [insert song]

And that concludes the 140 podcasts for the pandemic year 2021. I started publishing these back in mid-January and I finish now in mid-December. Encompassing 140 folk songs and tunes, 140 original compositions as well as prose, poetry and lyrics totalling over 150,000 words, comprising 40 hours of podcast time- doesn’t seem much, does it?- but I’m exhausted. So now I’ll take a break: just the traditional furlough-length of four weeks, which I hope is long enough to recharge the batteries, gather my thoughts and, I hope, return to the fray, having bested, if only temporarily, my current and hovering, contemporaneous nemesis, writer’s block! Best wishes for the holiday season and new year to you and yours from Quentin Bega- a proud citizen of the republic of Quotidia.

Credits: All written text, song lyrics and music (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.

Technical Stuff: Microphone- Shure SM58; (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter); Apogee 76K also used for songs and spoken text

For recording and mixing down: 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used; Rubix 22  also used for mixing of microphone(s) and instruments

Music accompaniment and composition software: Band-in-a-Box and RealBand 2021

Letters From Quotidia Episode 139 Logoland, Johnny McEldoo

Quentin Bega
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Letters From Quotidia Episode 139 Logoland, Johnny McEldoo

Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, episode 139 – a podcast by Quentin Bega for lovers of music, poetry, and the Crack- that most Irish of nouns which may encompass, news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. Quotidia is that space, that place, where ordinary people lead ordinary lives. But where, from time to time, they encounter the extraordinary.

At the end of episode 138 I whinged about the fact that the only reward the muses left me  for my hard labour in the salty mines of writer’s block was the first song of this post called Logoland. But, not wishing to anger the muses, I will refuse to examine the mouth of this particular gift horse and, so, I’ll just make the most of it- hoping that an exploration the topic yields something that, if not novel, at least holds some interest for an audience.

Now, I can’t prove it, but I think the first logo was actually daubed on the entrance to a cave-dwelling and the prehistoric tribe got to know that this was the doorway to desire. What the mechanism of exchange was, I don’t know for sure, nor whether the desire advertised was carnal or spiritual, or, perhaps, both. But fast forward to 1389, where, according the site 99designs.com.au, King Richard II of England passed a law requiring establishments that brewed beer to hang a sign indicating what they did (or risk having their ale confiscated). This led to businesses differentiating themselves by adding heraldic images to their signs. One pub would become The Green Dragon, another the Two Cocks.

And talking of ale, when I was last in Auckland, New Zealand, before the pandemic made trans-Tasman jaunts a thing of the past, I visited  the Shakespeare Hotel in Alfred Street and bought a Tee shirt featuring a quote from Henry V Act 3 scene 2  I would trade all my fame for a pot of ale. We incautious consumers are invited to imagine that this is the Bard himself speaking, or some other illustrious personage. The truth is less uplifting: shall I enlighten you?

We find three wastrels, about whom I have written in earlier posts. Pistol, Bardolf and Nym, who, in their usual cowardly fashion, are hanging back from the siege of Harfluer- this was a real event which took place between 18 August – 22 September 1415. They are with a boy with no name- and it is he, who utters the well-known saying. His full utterance was: Would I were in an alehouse in London, I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety. Somewhat anachronistically, I imagine that the sign swinging outside the alehouse referred to by the boy and counting among its patrons the scoundrelly trio Pistol, Bardolf and Nym, I imagine that the swinging sign features a white feather.

So, be careful what you buy into! How does that old Latin admonition go? Caveat emptor! Buyer beware. With the invention of the printing press logos began to proliferate as merchants advertising theirp wares and services began to seek points of difference between themselves and their competitors by the use of slogans and logos in the evolving print media. By the time Frank Mason Robinson designed the Coca Cola logo in 1885 the gentle lapping waves of logos from earlier times became a tsunami which is still washing over the globe today. Which one of us, amidst the churning surf of brands we are caught up in, is not wearing something that corporations have spent billions persuading us to consume.

Shall we start with the feet? How are you shod? Does the Nike swoosh feature? How about the lower limbs? If covered by denim, do the pockets or tag at the belt loops provide an iconic jeans identifier? As for Tee shirts- too easy- what percentage of you are draped in just a plain old sweat? On to the head, now- what  make of sunglasses do you display on your pretty face to make the rest envious? OK, so you’re a monk and wear only sack cloth. Good for you, but why are you listening to my podcast? Ah, penance. I understand, brother. Your superior must be a bit of a bastard, though, eh? Listen now to, Logoland, and I hope it is not too much of a penance for the monks among you or, indeed, the more orgiastically inclined! [insert song]

The next song is a hymn- actually more a frenetic tongue-twisting chatterfest- to gluttony-which is one of the seven deadly sins. The others are pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, and sloth. Margaret Atwood, in The Penelopiad, has this to say about it: Nothing helps gluttony along so well as eating food you don’t have to pay for yourself. In our final song for this post, the eponymous hero tries to get away without paying- with painful results.

But before we come to that- how about some poetry? I first came upon the poet Seamus Heaney at Trench House where I was a student from 1968-1972. I read his first book of poetry, Death of a Naturalist in 1969. Although only a published poet for a few years at this time, his reputation was already substantial in Belfast. Later, of course, he became “famous Seamus” and snagged a Nobel prize for literature. But back to the Belfast of 1969. I found  a wonderful poem about excess in that volume, first published in 1966. I am referring to the poem,Blackberry-pickingHeaney describes a childhood memory of gathering, in late August, blackberries.

The first fruit eaten is redolent of Eden. summer’s blood was in it/Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for/ Picking… which drives the boy, almost in a frenzy, to accumulate as many of the berries as can be gathered in a variety of containers he rushes to fill. The first stanza ends with more than an inkling of the denouement: …on top big dark blobs burned/Like a plate of eyes./… our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s./ Heaney conveys wonderfully the pointlessness of getting, getting, getting more and more in the final lines where the cans, are emptied into an old bath in the byre but the boy discovers, with the bitterness that children feel keenly at the outrageous unfairness of the universe: That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot./Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not./

As a student becoming ever more acquainted with hangovers, I knew the feeling: utilizing ethanol, you pursue that magic buzz where the senses open up and the mind and tongue race across acres of possibility chasing after the zig-zag hare, crack- not cocaine, now, but the Irish noun synonymous with enjoyment- and you pour the pints down until you stumble over your feet or your thickening tongue where the fur accumulates during the stentorian snoring night and, when you reach for the sacramental analgesics in the head-splitting morning light, hands shaking, water dribbling down past a mouth barely able to swallow the pain-relieving tablets, you swear, never again, never again! And yet you know you will, that very night.

So on to the Dionysian praise of excess  that is Johnny McEldoo. I first heard it from an LP recorded by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, This was a live album of traditional Irish folk songs performed at The Gate of Horn night club in Chicago. It had the title, Hearty and Hellish! and was their second album for Columbia Records. In a January 1963 article, Time Magazine selected Hearty and Hellish! as one of the top 10 albums of 1962. Robert Shelton, writing in The New York Times, favourably compared the album to the group’s Grammy nominated first Columbia record, A Spontaneous Performance Recording. He considered Hearty and Hellish! to be “much more representative of these gifted performers.” Although, to my ears they are fairly similar. Here’s Johnny! [insert song]

You know who would have been game for that epic binge? Sir Toby Belch from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, one of the finest romantic comedies in all literature. He was a real party lad and one night he was revelling away with acquaintances, in the court of his niece, Olivia, who was in mourning for her recently deceased brother. His roistering is interrupted by Olivia’s steward, Malvolio, who bids him desist! Sir Toby, outraged at being upbraided by a servant, retorts: Art any more than a steward? Dost thou think because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale? He sends Malvolio packing with the following advice: Go sir, rub your chain with crumbs. Olivia’s gentlewoman, Maria, who had come in a bit earlier on a similar mission- to bid the revellers to be quiet now becomes the focus of Sir Toby’s attention, A stope of wine, Maria.

Malvolio, unable to say anything more to the intemperate Sir Toby, turns to Maria and snarls, Mistress Mary, if you priz’d my lady’s favour at anything more than contempt, you would not give means for this uncivil rule. She shall know of it, by this hand! And this annoys Maria so much that she sets in train a prank that will see the pompous, puritanical Malvolio humiliated a bit further along in this wonderful play. But now, it’s time to tell you about the final post of the pandemic year 2021.

The first item on the agenda is an old English folk song with the name, Rambling Robin, a favourite song of mine and one that I have performed quite a few times over the decades. The final song of the calendar year is one I composed back in the early 1980s, Staircase Wit. I’ll explain the strange title in Letters From Quotidia Episode 140. I’ll leave you with a nugget of wisdom from the hemock-sipping sage, Socrates: He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have. Ah well, he’s got me all figured out. How about you?

Credits: All written text, song lyrics andmusic (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.

Technical Stuff: Microphone- Shure SM58; (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter); Apogee 76K also used for songs and spoken text

For recording and mixing down: 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used; Rubix 22  also used for mixing of microphone(s) and instruments

Music accompaniment and composition software: Band-in-a-Box and RealBand 2021

Letters From Quotidia Episode 138 The Lark in the Morning, What More Can I Say?

Letters From Quotidia Episode 138 The Lark in the Morning, What More Can I Say?

Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, episode 138 – a podcast by Quentin Bega for lovers of music, poetry, and the Crack- that most Irish of nouns which may encompass, news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. Quotidia is that space, that place, where ordinary people lead ordinary lives. But where, from time to time, they encounter the extraordinary.

The Lark in the Morning  is not only the name of the first song of this post, but the first album-length compendium of Irish folk music recorded in Ireland featuring Liam Clancy and Paddy Tunney among other great Irish folk originators. It was recorded by Diane Hamilton and Catherine Wright on portable equipment, between August and December 1955. At the time, Liam Clancy, the youngest member of the Clancy Brothers, had not yet joined with his brothers to form The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

The Lark in the Morning,  sung by Paddy Tunney was the first track. An amusing anecdote about the young Paddy is related in his obituary in The Irish Times dated December 21, 2002: He attended Derryhallow Public Elementary School. During a visit by a school inspector, Mr Doak, the teachers were taken aback when a “song of the people” was requested. The young Paddy Tunney stepped forward and sang “Boolavogue” with all the fire and feeling that he could muster. The teachers were petrified. When he had finished singing the inspector thanked him and gave him half-a-crown. “Tis a pity,” Mr Doak remarked dryly to the teachers, “a great pity. You know we should be teaching history in the schools.

A few points to consider: Derryhallow Public Elementary School is in Co Fermanagh and the partition of Ireland occurred in the same year that Paddy was born! Boolavogue, is a famous rebel song about the Rising of 1798. In Fermanagh, so soon after partition, such a song would be incendiary. Almost certainly a Protestant because of his plum position in the education establishment, I’m not 100% sure where Mr Doak’s political sympathies lay-but I do know that half a crown was a generous sum in those days- worth more than $10 in today’s money. I imagine, also, that Paddy would have been popular upon return to his cash-strapped home.

When I was at school in the mid-sixties the teaching of history was strictly along sectarian lines and the dates and events you learned about depended on whether you went to a Protestant or Catholic school. Part of Paddy Tunney’s  legacy was to pass on to newly emerging generations of singers the songs heard from his mother’s trove of song going back generations. Listen now to what he wrote in The Stone Fiddle about this and thanks to the site Comhaltas for the following: ‘Meadow Mane rippled with corncrakes and scythe steel sang to whetstone. The air ached with the pain and joy of loving. It was the time that turned my mother to songs of love and longing. She put aside the hoops that held the cloth, where her needle and thread had wrought the most exotic rosebuds, open flowers, and intricate patterns, and wove with her voice arabesques of sound that bested the embroidery. She sang me for the first time that exquisitely beautiful song: As I Roved Out.’ Treat yourself and go to YouTube and listen to Andy Irvine from Planxty or the Voice Squad’s 2011 version to get a sense of the quality of the music Paddy Tunney promulgated over a long life.

Widely regarded as one of the titans of folk music, he accepted a long-standing invitation from Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger to make a UK tour in 1967; it was to be the first of many. The site Mainly Norfolk notes that the song, The Lark in the Morning, was: A very well-known song. Most of the major English collectors noted versions, and it was also reported from Scotland and Northern Ireland and once or twice in America. Many of the nineteenth century broadside printers put out versions, but the earliest known printed text is in an Edinburgh chapbook dated 1778 and it could be even earlier. I quake in trepidation as I attempt an essay at the song and can only hope that the shade of Paddy Tunney is not too angry as he listens in from the Isles of the Blest across the wide wastes of the western ocean.[insert song]

In  December, 1985, we were back in Ireland from Australia for as long as we had sojourned in the land down under and I was chafing to get back to the sun and a life not hemmed in by sectarian bloodshed and the constant watching where you are and what you are saying. Of course, it was not all doom and gloom: I was on a roll, creatively, during the 1980s having produced Crime on Goat Island, a play by Ugo Betti, for the Glens of Antrim Drama Society, and, also, written for radio and TV. I worked with a student of mine to produce a Jazz Suite which was broadcast on BBC Radio.

At about this time I decided to try to break away from my usual simple three or four chord regime and came up with a jazz-inflected pop song as a peace offering for my wife after a falling out over- I can’t remember what- but probably something related to my tendency to block out everything else when I am in the throes of composition involving one creative project or another.  We had been married for fourteen years and, at 36 years of age, I had known my wife for over half of my existence- having met her at 16 in the corner café in Cushendall which we kept well-fed with coins as we listened to the immense output of  1960s pop music whenever she came down for the summer holidays or a weekend break.

Anyway, back to the song I had just written and which you will hear at the end of this post. I ran the peace offering by her when had I finished it, and she gave me a look I could not read. Alas, my dyslexia in such matters persists to this day. But reflecting on it now, with 50 years of marriage in the rear-view mirror, I suppose the hyperbole contained in the lyrics were a bit rich! On the weekend of the 30th/31st October just past we finally got to celebrate our COVID-deferred 50th Anniversary bash at Sydney Harbour in a 21st floor suite with views of the Bridge and Opera House. You know, I think that the song may have been written, oh, 36 years or so, prematurely. Rather than describe the sights to be seen from out harbour eyrie, I’ll default to a poem from a man whose output I first read as a 16-year-old. I’ve quoted him before and I may not have finished with him yet! It is, of course, Lord Byron, who wrote these verses in 1814 when he was 26 years of age.

She walks in beauty, like the night/Of cloudless climes and starry skies;/And all that’s best of dark and bright/Meet in her aspect and her eyes:/Thus mellowed to that tender light/Which heaven to gaudy day denies.//One shade the more, one ray the less,/Had half impaired the nameless grace/Which waves in every raven tress,/Or softly lightens o’er her face;/Where thoughts serenely sweet express/How pure, how dear their dwelling place.//And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,/So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,/The smiles that win, the tints that glow,/But tell of days in goodness spent,/A mind at peace with all below,/A heart whose love is innocent!// Our poets keep us humble and keep us sane. [insert song]

The two songs from next week are linked- sort of…I overcame writer’s block-again-only to produce a song called Logoland– I mean, come on, it may have been fashionable back in the day- as young’uns term it- but to be 20% into the 21st Century! However, beggars can’t be choosers, so I guess I’ll have to be content with another joust with the concept. What is the link to the short song it is twinned with- Johnny McEldoo? I first heard it off an LP  by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem in 1963. The exuberant, uninhibited gluttony it describes appealed to a young male teenager avid for excess of one sort or another. And that’s what logos do- they promote and celebrate over-consumption. As a baby boomer, I’m complicit, even if only to a minor extent, in the trashing of Mother Earth. What to do? We need to hit pause in our avaricious pursuit of more, more, more and listen to our grandkids who are less and less tolerant of our selfish despoiling of their precarious, threatened, inheritance.

Credits: All written text, song lyrics andmusic (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.

Technical Stuff: Microphone- Shure SM58; (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter); Apogee 76K also used for songs and spoken text

For recording and mixing down: 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used; Rubix 22  also used for mixing of microphone(s) and instruments

Music accompaniment and composition software: Band-in-a-Box and RealBand 2021

Letters From Quotidia Episode 137 Take What You Want, Cavan Girl

Letters From Quotidia Episode 137 Take What You Want, Cavan Girl

Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, episode 137 – a podcast by Quentin Bega for lovers of music, poetry, and the Crack- that most Irish of nouns which may encompass, news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. Quotidia is that space, that place, where ordinary people lead ordinary lives. But where, from time to time, they encounter the extraordinary.

Socrates, facing trial in Athens in 399 BC for impiety and corrupting the youth uttered the famous  statement: the unexamined life is not worth living. Facing death or exile he chose death, as living outside the Athenian polity, unable to enquire about meaning in the only society he could countenance living within was more than he could contemplate. Far be it from me to cast a ballot that Socrates should drink the hemlock, but it is worth pointing out a number of inconvenient truths about the situation:

1. Socrates was no lover of democracy and regarded the ordinary voters as little more than bleating sheep to be herded by their betters. (Free male citizens only, of course! Women were not enfranchised). 2. Socrates, openly disdainful of the mass of voters, spoke approvingly of Sparta’s closed society at a time when Athens had endured and survived two antidemocratic uprisings resulting in mass executions and confiscations of property. 3. He proposed, as a penalty instead of death, that he be granted free meals for life at a communal kitchen. Got to give him credit for bare-faced cheek!

Previously a figure of fun, lampooned by such luminaries as Aristophanes, by the time of his trial the mood of the polis was darker and less open to Socratic thought which posed an existential threat to the state. So, rather than just putting up with an ageing gadfly, for the few years left to him, the voters opted to hear him no more-permanently. As a contrarian of sorts myself, may I cite the Uighurs as proof that the examined life in China’s mass surveillance state, is not worth living either.

When I eventually got around to examining the bases of my life in my usual, procrastinatory, fashion, taking decades of drip, drip, drip, self-interrogation- what did I find? That I had inculcated the tenets of male superiority from the cradle and have only recently accepted the fact that men should identify as feminists if they wish to assert the principle that all people are and should be treated as equals. That’s the noble reason, the other, closer to the truth, is the prospect that such assertions enrage the knuckle-dragging troglodytes who infest and are the audience for those so-called news sites grotesquely masquerading as part of the fourth estate.

As an antidote(or should that be prophylactic?) to the first song you are going to hear, I shall quote a poem by an American I admire for her clarity: Sara Teasdale. This short, matter-of-fact poem is titled, After Love There is no magic any more,//We meet as other people do,/You work no miracle for me/Nor I for you.//You were the wind and I the sea –/ There is no splendour any more,/I have grown listless as the pool/ Beside the shore.//But though the pool is safe from storm/And from the tide has found surcease,/It grows more bitter than the sea,/For all its peace/ The next poet I wish to quote was just one year old when Sara Teasdale died in 1934.

Sylvia Plath’s poetry has shone darkly for me from the mid- 1970s when I first came across her Ariel poems. Here are the opening and closing stanzas from Mad Girl’s Love Song I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;/I lift my lids and all is born again./(I think I made you up inside my head.)//… I should have loved a thunderbird instead;/At least when spring comes they roar back again./I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead./(I think I made you up inside my head.)/I’ll conclude the course of verse to be applied to your sensibility for protection against the song I wrote by roaring up to date with a contemporary poet I discovered recently on that fine site, Poetry Foundation.

Jill Alexander Essbaum is a Texan-born poet and her poem, Parting Song, knocked me out!  Critic Rick Marlatt noted, “Known for their remarkable mix of eroticism and religiosity, Jill Alexander Essbaum’s poems vibrate with well-proportioned rhymes, unforgettable imagery and a unique realization of form. Here it is: First it is one day without you./ Then two. And soon, our point: moot. And our solution, diluted./And our class action (if ever was) is no longer suited./Wherewith I give to looting through/the war chest of our past like a wily Anne Bonny who snatches at plunder or graft./ But the wreck of that ransack, that strongbox, our splintering coffer, the claptrap bastard of the best we had to offer, is sog-soaked and clammy, empty but for sand./Like the knuckle-white cup of my urgent, ghastly hands in which nothing but the ghost of love is held./ Damn it to hell. Here’s Take What You Want To Take:[insert song]

The Irish Times published an obituary on 6 April 2018 for a singer/songwriter I introduced at the end of the last letter as having the CV you generally come across in spy novels. In abridged form it reads: Thom Moore’s contribution to the musical tapestry of this country was substantial. Born in Los Angeles in 1943,  he spent his formative years in Ethiopia and Lebanon. Graduating from the American Community School in Beirut; he entered the US Navy and served three years as a journalist with the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbour. Following this, he enrolled in UCLA and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Slavic languages and literature in 1969 and a master’s in Slavic languages in 1970. His innate musicality and spirit of adventure brought him to live in Sligo in 1971 where, with friends, he formed a couple of bands which had a seminal influence on the nascent Irish folk scene. Thom’s song writing skills were exceptional: he was a musician who could effortlessly marry beautiful melody lines with sublime lyrical content. His music was much sought after by other artists. Thom returned to the US in 1978 where he continued to write and perform. The signing of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty between the US and USSR in 1988 reignited his interest in Slavic culture and language, and he subsequently moved to Votkinsk in Russia where he worked as an interpreter-inspector at the permanent INF monitoring site. There, he fell in love with and married Lyuba Koroleva, a Russian interpreter. In 1993, he quit his government job and became professor of English at the Udmurt National University in Izhevsk. Thom’s linguistic talents continued to flourish in his translation of seven books by the Russian dissident writer Yuri Druzhnikov. Thom finally moved back to Ireland in November 1995. Sligo had always featured centrally in his spirit and his music.

Wow! Some CV! He died on St Patrick’s day, 2018 and his ashes were scattered from the top of Knocknarea Mountain, in legend, the resting place of Maeve, Queen of Connacht. Which brings me to the second song of this post: In 1979, his song Cavan Girl won the Cavan International Song Contest – it was inspired by the relationship of a Cavan couple, Michael and Rita Woods, who befriended him and gave his group regular gigs at their pub, Coolera House, close to Knocknarea mountain. [insert song]

That song was a favourite of Sam Beggs, who sang it frequently with our wee folk group, Banter. Would I add insult to injury by foreshadowing the theft of another of his songs for the next letter? It’s not a real question- course I would! So then, letter 138 kicks off with The Lark in the Morning a folk song first published in Edinburgh in a broadsheet in 1778. It features a ploughboy and a maiden. If you haven’t heard the song before you can probably guess the rest. The other song dates back to 1982 when I tried to break the mould of habitually writing songs using just three or four simple chords. Did I go overboard? Perhaps, listen in next week to decide for yourself- and, as you may know if you have followed the letters published over this past pandemic year, the sort of chordal complication I attempted in the song, What More Can I Say? was not a practice I adhered to at all in the subsequent decades.

Credits: All written text, song lyrics andmusic (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.

Technical Stuff: Microphone- Shure SM58; (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter); Apogee 76K also used for songs and spoken text

For recording and mixing down: 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used; Rubix 22  also used for mixing of microphone(s) and instruments

Music accompaniment and composition software: Band-in-a-Box and RealBand 2021

Letters From Quotidia Episode 136 The Parting Glass, 237 Dollars

Letters From Quotidia Episode 136 The Parting Glass, 237 Dollars

Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, episode 136 – a podcast by Quentin Bega for lovers of music, poetry, and the Crack- that most Irish of nouns which may encompass, news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. Quotidia is that space, that place, where ordinary people lead ordinary lives. But where, from time to time, they encounter the extraordinary.

The Clancy Brothers Song Book first published in 1962 and still in print was the book I used to learn the guitar. I bought it in 1967 and started working my way through it. Wikipedia tells us that The Parting Glass is a traditional song, often sung at the end of a gathering of friends. It has long been sung in Ireland, enjoying considerable popularity to this day. The earliest known printed version was as a Scottish broadside in the 1770s. However, it was known at least as early as 1605 as a poem- Armstrong’s Goodnight, by one of the Border Reivers  executed that year for the murder in 1600 of Sir John Carmichael, Warden of the Scottish West March. The Reivers were raiders along the Anglo-Scottish border from the late 13th century to the beginning of the 17th century.

In 1757 Oliver Goldsmith wrote in a letter : “If I go for the opera where Signora Columba [Mattei] pours out all mazes of melody, I sit and sigh for Johnny Armstrong’s Last Good Night. In 1759 in his essay Happiness in a Great Measure Dependent on Constitution he remarked that the “music of Mattei is dissonance to what I felt when our old dairy-maid sung me into tears with Johnny Armstrong’s Last Good Night, P. W. Joyce, in his Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (1909), gives the tune with a different text under the name Sweet Cootehill Town, noting, “The air seems to have been used indeed as a general farewell tune.” Irish folk song collector Colm Ó Lochlainn has taken note of this identity of melodies between The Parting Glass and Sweet Cootehill Town.

Of course, there are those souls who delight in arguing the toss over whether the song and/or tune originate in Scotland or Ireland. As someone born in the Glens of Antrim, within sight of the Scottish coast, and with Scottish forebears as well as Irish, I can easily imagine, over the centuries, that the tune and words would have travelled back and forth to be sung in both islands by those who care not a whit about true origins, et cetera. The tune appeared, with religious lyrics, in 19th century American tune books and is still widely sung by Sacred Harp singers under the title Clamanda.

The Parting Glass was re-introduced to mid-20th century audiences by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. Their rendition featured a solo by Liam Clancy and first appeared on their 1959 Tradition Records LP Come Fill Your Glass with Us.  The rendition by the Clancys and Makem has been described as “by all accounts… the most influential” of the many recorded versions. As I have indicated elsewhere in my Letters, I am a slow study. I didn’t recognise the quality of the song when I was learning the guitar back in the late 1960s. Too slow for me and I didn’t worry one bit, as a 17-year-old, if I were I to part from friends and acquaintances-with pastures new and far horizons beckoning. Of course, with the passage of time and as I learned more about the song’s background, my appreciation of it deepened.

The overlay of mortal sadness, of one facing execution, has seeped into the melody and I am reminded of that amazing poem by the 24-year-old Chidiock Tichbourne who was executed by being hung, drawn and quartered for his role in the Catholic Babington plot to assassinate Elizabeth I in 1586. He sent this moving examination of life and death to his wife on the night before his execution:  My prime of youth is but a froste of cares,/My feaste of joy, is but a dishe of payne,/My cropp of corne, is but a field of tares:/And all my good is but vaine hope of gaine:/The daye is gone, and yet I sawe no sonn:/And nowe I live, and nowe my life is donn.//The springe is past, and yet it hath not sprong/The frute is deade, and yet the leaves are greene/My youth is gone, and yet I am but Yonge/I sawe the woorld, and yet I was not seene/My threed is cutt, and yet it was not sponn/And nowe I lyve, and nowe my life is donn.//I saught my death, and founde it in my wombe/I lookte for life, and sawe it was a shade./I trode the earth and knewe it was my Tombe/And nowe I die, and nowe I am but made/The glasse is full, and nowe the glass is run/And nowe I live, and nowe my life is donn. This is the first time I have ever sung the song but almost two years of the COVID pandemic with its attendant lockdowns here in Sydney and having lost several people close to me has brought a finer understanding of this song, so, now, I present my version of The Parting Glass: [insert song]

Back in 1979, I wrote a song about Major Claude Eatherly, one of the pilots of the Hiroshima bombing raid of August 6, 1945. He piloted the Straight Flush, a weather reconnaissance plane and radioed the Enola Gay, the plane which carried the atomic  bomb, Little Boy, that the weather was perfect for the strike on the unsuspecting city. My first reading about his life left me with the opinion that he was a hero. Later,  I read material that painted him as a derelict husband and father, a crook and opportunist willing, for example, to bomb Havana, Cuba, for $100,000. To this day I remain torn between these readings. So, what to do? The song has been long-written and was unearthed when I fossicked in the front of my garage in September just passed.

I’ll quote a couple of views from the mainstream media. J. Y. Smith, in The Washington Post, just one week after Eatherly’s death from cancer at age 57 in the Veterans Administration hospital in Houston, Texas on July 1st 1978 wrote: His role in ushering in nuclear warfare remained the central episode of his existence until he diedClaude Eatherly was a major in the Army Air Force and a B-29 bomber pilot in World War II… “Every night for 15 years, I have dreamed about it,” Maj. Eatherly told Parade Magazine in the early 1960s. “I see great fires, boiling fires, crimson fires, closing in on me. Buildings fall, children run – living torches with their clothes aflame. ‘Why did you do it?’ they scream. I wake up paralysed with fear, screaming, sweating because I have no answer.”… Eatherly was hospitalised several times for mental disorders and was arrested several times on charges ranging from armed robbery to forging checks. Police officials said he seemed to want to be caught for his crimes.

More recently, Anne I Harrington, in The New York Times magazine of August 6  2020, the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, wrote: Passing judgment on whether he was a hero for speaking out about his suffering, or a malingerer out to capitalise on his wartime experiences became a way to stake a claim within the debate about nuclear weapons. Do we believe what we want to believe, then, regardless of facts? Does it really depend on which side of the nuclear debate we are on? Me? In a world where I’m lied to constantly by a burgeoning variety of clever and manipulative government and non-government actors, all I know is that I’m on the side of music, poetry, compassion and humanity. So, I’ll play you the song and leave you to decide whether Major Claude Eatherly is worthy of this attention: its title is, 237 Dollars, the amount of his monthly government pension. [insert song]

Next week I will present another song from the front of my garage; one written in the mid-seventies. I barely recognise the twenty-something person who wrote this song with the ponderous title: Take What You Want to Take or Take What You Need. It is a testosterone-fuelled swagger which is off-set, I am pleased to report, by the wonderful  song, My Cavan Girl, popular among folksingers in Ireland and far beyond. It was written by a talented American with the sort of C.V you generally come across in spy novels. But I’ll tell you more about this when next you drop into Quotidia for a listen. So, until then, to quote from The Parting Glass-good night and joy be to you all…

Credits: All written text, song lyrics and music (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.

Technical Stuff: Microphone- Shure SM58; (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter); Apogee 76K also used for songs and spoken text

For recording and mixing down: 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used; Rubix 22  also used for mixing of microphone(s) and instruments

Music accompaniment and composition software: Band-in-a-Box and RealBand 2021

Letters From Quotidia Episode 135 Bomber, Standing on the Moon

Letters From Quotidia Episode 135 Bomber, Standing on the Moon

Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, episode 135 – a podcast by Quentin Bega for lovers of music, poetry, and the Crack- that most Irish of nouns which may encompass, news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. Quotidia is that space, that place, where ordinary people lead ordinary lives. But where, from time to time, they encounter the extraordinary.

On the 23rd of April, 1965, a vivacious 22-year-old female student, on her way to attend an anti-Vietnam War rally at the University of Oregon in Eugene, wrote, in large letters, on an envelope she attached to her sweater, “Let’s make love, not war.” A photographer with the Eugene Register-Guard newspaper, Wayne Eastburn, remembers taking the shot. He sent the picture to the Associated Press and the rest is history. The original slogan was shortened to the more declarative Make Love Not War. The name of that student: Diane Newell Meyer. I am happy to report that she is, at the time of preparing this podcast, still an activist, environmentalist, writer and photographer with a presence on social media, including Pinterest where you can see a print of Wayne Eastburn’s original photograph.

The feisty-looking 78-year-old woman, staring out from the site warms the cockles of my heart. Her, meme, I suppose you would call it now, reached across continental America and the Atlantic Ocean deep into the glens of Antrim where, in the summer of 1967, I remember walking with a couple of friends along a country road fringed with blooming hedgerows. We were shouting that slogan as we placed flowers in our hair (not quite long enough to pass as hippies but way too long for the likes of our parents- the oldies. Ah well, it has ever been thus.

Now, older baby boomers among us may remember Governor (later, President) Ronald Reagan’s quip when he was confronted by protesters chanting Make Love Not War: they don’t look like they could do either! Good one, Ron. The linguistic nexus between sex and violence, love and war has been around since time immemorial. All’s fair in love and war, anyone? Wikipedia’s dictionary defines it thus: in certain highly charged situations, any method of achieving your objective is justifiable. A definition not likely to commend itself to any reasonable person let alone the hashtag-Me-Too Twittterverse.

Protection against sexual harassment, exploitation and violence is a developing area of legislation and jurisprudence that proceeds apace in many, if not most countries. Even if, in places such as Afghanistan, it has gone backwards-  and not just by one century, but multiples of this. The protocols of the Geneva Conventions to protect the vulnerable in situations of war were drawn up in the first half of the 20th Century to rein in abuses by the military of nation-states. These protocols are frequently ignored by conventional forces  and rarely adhered to by paramilitary groups, alas. Nevertheless, they do form the basis of criminal prosecution of those who can be identified and apprehended for atrocities they commit or condone. It’s a lot better than nothing.

I wrote the song Bomber around the time of the first Gulf War, thirty years ago. Wikipedia informs us: For 42 consecutive days and nights, the coalition forces subjected Iraq to one of the most intensive air bombardments in military history. The coalition flew over 100,000 sorties, dropping 88,500 tonnes of bombs, which widely destroyed military and civilian infrastructure. These figures boggle the imagination but who recalls them now? 2278 Iraqi civilians were reported killed in this phase of the war. Too much for me to get my head around in any meaningful way so, I bring the whole thing down to an imagined and, it must be said, impossible conversational exchange between a young woman in a city apartment in Baghdad and a young male pilot flying sorties from an airbase in Saudi Arabia, perhaps, or it may be from an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

The language of love is used to propel the surreal narrative. And the power here is unequal. The woman has one four-line stanza at the beginning of the song- which is repeated-once. The man’s part in this sinister colloquy has five times the content of the woman’s and, far from merely repeating phrases which is her linguistic contribution to this drama, his develops throughout: in other words, it dominates, subjugates and, finally, exterminates. So don’t be fooled by harmonious chord progressions and a soulful melody- this is a deeply unpleasant song. [insert song]

As I said, that song, Bomber, is deeply unpleasant, but, 30 years ago, I had intended it to carry a cautionary message within the toxic twisting and subverting of the phraseology of love; it was to be a warning of the dangers of misusing  the tropes common to romantic language. And now- the Rant begins! As I survey the offerings on prime-time TV which largely consists of dating shows, cop dramas, period bodice-rippers, real estate reno extravaganzas and the like, I am tempted to venture into the digital domain, only to be enticed by proliferating sites offering whatever my loins desire. It seems to me that pornography has become increasingly normalised in our depraved media landscape. Rant over! Now I know, in small measure, how trolls feel after a foray into cyberspace to leave their slimy spoor and to deposit their anonymous, fetid, reeking scat on the websites of their prey. Of course, any reasonably educated and informed person finds it possible to negotiate a way through the malodorous dreck on every side to find oases of quality catering to a wide variety of tastes. For me, music, science, and literature posts on sites such as Flipboard and YouTube ensure that I am not drenched in the aforementioned dreck.

At around the same time as Diane Newell Meyer was scrawling her  soon-to-be iconic slogan on the back of an envelope up in Eugene, Oregon, a 24-year-old  Robert Hunter was writing lyrics for a San Francisco band called The Grateful Dead. His worked mainly with Jerry Garcia over a forty-year period until Garcia’s death in 1995. As a non-performing member of the band, his contribution to the ethos that the band established over the decades can be overlooked. Suffice to say that his lyrics underpinned some of the Dead’s best-known songs- and he wrote more than eighty! I’m going to cover one of them as my second song for this podcast. Here’s a  handful of favourite tracks I have listened over the years: Terrapin Station, Touch of Grey, Franklin’s Tower, Black Muddy River and the oft-twinned Fire on the Mountain/Scarlet Begonias.

To prepare for the song at the end of this podcast, here is a lovely short poem about the moon by imagist poet T.E. Hulme, who was killed in action during World War One on 28th September 1917: Above the quiet dock in mid night/Tangled in the tall mast’s corded height/Hangs the moon/What seemed so far away/Is but a child’s balloon forgotten after play. In 1989 The Grateful Dead released their final studio album which several critics have pretty much dissed- I wonder if they stuffed cloth into their ears when Standing on the Moon was playing? I think it showcases Robert Hunter’s lyrical prowess and Jerry Garcia’s plaintive voice perfectly. Here, I hope to do it justice on my basic equipment. [insert song]

If Bomber was filled with angst and Standing on the Moon filled with pathos, what contrasting themes and emotions will permeate the brace of songs on offer next week? More of the same, I’m afraid. I’ll start with a song of farewell and remembrance that I first came across in my copy of The Clancy Brothers Songbook-first published in 1962 The Parting Glass is the song. My original composition dates back to January 1980: I had been reading an account of the life and death of Major Claude Eatherly- the only member of the Army Air Force team who expressed any regret for the bombing of Hiroshima- the first use of a nuclear weapon. I found it in my garage while searching for inspiration one hot day in September. I was able to retrieve from memory the melody, such as it is, when I found the chords which accompany it. Its title is 237 Dollars and I’ll tell you more about it next week.

Credits: All written text, song lyrics andmusic (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.

Technical Stuff: Microphone- Shure SM58; (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter); Apogee 76K also used for songs and spoken text

For recording and mixing down: 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used; Rubix 22  also used for mixing of microphone(s) and instruments

Music accompaniment and composition software: Band-in-a-Box and RealBand 2021

Letters From Quotidia Episode 134 Armistice Day Special

Letters From Quotidia, Episode 134 No Man’s Land, And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, episode 134 – a special podcast by Quentin Bega to commemorate the end of World War One in 1918. Quotidia remains, of course, that space, that place, where ordinary people lead ordinary lives. But where, from time to time, they encounter the extraordinary.

Armistice Day marks the end of World War One, where, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, all hostilities were to cease. It would be nice to think that at this precise time all guns stopped firing, all conflict ceased across the war-torn globe and that not another person was killed. A fine and noble thought but truth is: the artillery kept pounding the hapless men on either side until night had fallen over large swathes of the battleground. In Kenya, two weeks passed before the German and British officers got together to stitch up a ceasefire.

Really! Was the telegraph down all that time and were radios inoperable owing to sunspot activity? Did these outages, perhaps, mean that the news was transmitted, instead, by  messengers strolling from London and Berlin to Nairobi taking the scenic route? Armistice Day remains a public holiday of note in France. In Commonwealth countries it became Remembrance Day after World War Two and in America it became Veterans’ Day. Anzac Day on 25th April has become the major date of commemoration in Australia. But this day, whatever it is called, is worth remembering.

The reason? From an Australian population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men enlisted, of whom 62,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner. What may surprise some of the listeners to this podcast, given the history of Ireland, is that 210,000 Irishmen fought in the First World War, in several theatres and either 30,000, or, if one includes those who died serving in armies other than Britain’s, 49,400 men died. And this from a population of four and a quarter million! So, the proportions from both countries are about equal. Many, if not most Australians, have a personal connection to the Great War, as well as other conflicts up to and including the Afghanistan War, through personal involvement or through the involvement of their relatives and forebears.

In my own case, just over four years ago, on September 18th 2017, I watched, over an internet link sent by my nephew, a Mass in Genarriffe, Co Antrim, to mark the centenary of the death of my great-uncle Private John Joseph Mitchell (of the 22nd battalion, A.I.F.) who embarked from Port Melbourne, Victoria, on board the troopship Ayrshire. Now, I didn’t even know my great-uncle existed until my nephew wrote to me about his life and death ten or twelve years ago. Since then, whenever we visit Canberra, we place a poppy next to his name in the Roll of Honour.

He died at the Battle of Passchendaele, where half a million casualties fell in one hundred days for only five miles or eight kilometres of territory. That means fifty men were killed for each step of ground gained.  Can you imagine walking for almost two hours and witnessing fifty men fall around you at each step? Its horror is beyond my imagining- thank God. A link to my song about him can be found here: (I Wasn’t With The Diggers) Marching Home From That War – Quentin Bega’s Blog Listen now to my version of Eric Bogle’s great song, No Man’s Land  also known as The Green Fields of France or Willie McBride. [insert song]

‘Passchendaele’ was not only an episode in the history of the First World War; it became a concept, an international symbol of the great futility of the violence of war in its most horrific form. Here’s another Irish connection that shows the complexity of the Irish involvement in the First World War. Nationalist poet, Francis Ledwidge, was a Lance Corporal in the 10th (Irish) Division of the Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was killed in action in July 1917 on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele while repairing a road in West Flanders, Belgium. He had joined the Inniskilling Fusiliers in October 1914, believing he was furthering the cause of Irish Independence.

He said that because Britain, and I quote, “stood between Ireland and an enemy common to our civilisation and I would not have her say she defended us while we did nothing at home but pass resolutions”. He is buried near where he fell at Artillery Wood cemetery and, close by, a memorial to him was erected and inscribed with lines from a verse of his poem ‘Lament for Thomas MacDonagh’ his fellow poet and friend who was one of the executed leaders of the Easter Rising: He shall not hear the bittern cry/ in the wild sky where he is lain.

I’ll read the concluding lines to Ledwidge’s poem, Soliloquy: And now I’m drinking wine in France/The Helpless child of circumstance/Tomorrow will be loud with war/How will I be accounted for?//It is too late now to retrieve/A fallen dream, too late to grieve/A name unmade, but not too late/To thank the gods for what is great;/A keen-eyed sword, a soldier’s heart/Is greater than a poet’s art/And greater than a poet’s fame…/A little grave that has no name.

Now to the other side of the religious divide in Ireland. I refer to a short poem which was written in 1918, by  William Butler Yeats, to commemorate the death of Major Robert Gregory, son of Yeats’ patron, Lady Augusta Gregory. Robert Gregory was a multi-talented Renaissance man, a scion of titled Anglo-Irish gentry, athlete, aviator, scholar, and artist who, even though over the age for compulsory military service, enlisted in World War I. He did so, like so many other men, especially in the early months of the war, because they thought that it was a magnificent avenue for adventure.

In An Irish Airman Foresees His Death, Yeats presents his airman as being motivated neither by love of country nor hatred of the enemy but rather, “A lonely impulse of delight/ Drove to this tumult in the clouds; Yeats posits the aviator as weighing up the past and the future, seeing little of value in either, concluding: In balance with this life, this death. In an era long saturated with anti-war sentiment and rhetoric, such gung ho feelings and responses towards war seem alien, and, indeed, I’ll wager that the majority of soldiers fighting on either side felt terror or disgust or repulsion or any range of negative emotions when faced with the realities of trench warfare towards the end of the conflict.

But there is ample evidence in diaries, journals and letters that many young men felt that pleasant anticipatory surge of adrenaline when faced with the prospect of battle, particularly in the newly-fangled arena of aerial combat where some semblance of chivalry still remained in a war where the concept had been butchered wholesale. The concluding song about that first global conflict is also by Eric Bogle, a Scottish-born migrant to Australia, whose songs our group Banter has covered over the decades. The song: And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda, written in 1971 when anti-Vietnam protests were at a peak. The song took some time to spread among the folk crowd and I first heard it in the mid-1970s when I attended a folk session at a Hawkesbury River farmhouse near Windsor, New South Wales.[insert song]

Tomorrow, Friday 12, November, will see the publication of my regular Letters From Quotidia podcast. The first song featured is one I wrote in the 1970s about a sinister sort of relationship between someone on an aircraft carrying bombs and a young woman far below. The second is a song written by Robert Hunter in 1989 for The Grateful DeadStanding on the Moon.  I end this podcast with the traditional ode for fallen by Laurence Binyon.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old/Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn/.At the going down of the sun and in the morning/We will remember them/.

Credits: All written text, song lyrics andmusic (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.

Technical Stuff: Microphone- Shure SM58; (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter); Apogee 76K also used for songs and spoken text

For recording and mixing down: 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used; Rubix 22  also used for mixing of microphone(s) and instruments

Music accompaniment and composition software: Band-in-a-Box and RealBand 2021

Letters From Quotidia Episode 133 The Rooster Calls, Four Green Fields

Letters From Quotidia Episode 133 The Rooster Calls, Four Green Fields

Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, episode 133 – a podcast by Quentin Bega for lovers of music, poetry, and the Crack- that most Irish of nouns which may encompass, news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. Quotidia is that space, that place, where ordinary people lead ordinary lives. But where, from time to time, they encounter the extraordinary.

In 1962 we flew from Aruba to Puerto Rico for a holiday: my mother and father, my two sisters and me. Sixty years later memories are rather hazy: I remember a day at a beach; also, stopping off at a waterfall on our journey up into the mountains of the rainforest and horse-riding with my sisters at the resort we stayed at. But the most vivid memory is of an incident on the flight back to Aruba on the propellor-driven aircraft. Someone noticed black smoke pouring from an engine on the starboard side.

Amid the shouts of alarm and consternation, the salient feature for me was seeing several passengers on their knees in the aisle with their rosary beads in their hands as they prayed, volubly in Spanish, for deliverance while the cabin crew struggled to regain control of the situation- as they did, after a few moments. The propellor was feathered and the pilots cut the supply of fuel to the errant engine: so, we continued on our way with only three propellors, disembarking without further upset.

That memory became incorporated into a song that I wrote, or more accurately, started to write, in Wollongong in 1978. I finished the song by appending a last verse after we had returned to Ireland in 1979. I must have been obsessing about how I had failed to live up to one ideal after another. The more sceptical songwriter I have grown to be over the decades would not write such material now, but the theme of betrayal endures as one of the most potent of tropes.

As Wikipedia notes in its article on the denial of the premier apostle, Peter: All four Canonical Gospels state that during Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples, he predicted that Peter would deny knowledge of him, stating that Peter would disown him before the rooster crowed the next morning. Following the arrest of Jesus, Peter denied knowing him three times, but after the third denial, he heard the rooster crow and recalled the prediction as Jesus turned to look at him. Peter then began to cry bitterly. As well he might! I must say, though, that I can’t recall crying at any stage in the various betrayals I portray in the verses of this song,  but, obviously, I felt just bad enough to write about it. Handy, that, don’t you agree?

Nevertheless, the theme of betrayal resonates: remember Et tu, Brute? As the dying Caesar, witnesses his noble friend Brutus wielding the blade delivering the fatal stroke. And William Blake reminds us it is easier to forgive an enemy than a friend. How much harder, then, to forgive ourselves our own trespasses. Listen now to The Rooster Calls. [insert song] Have you noticed how the words meme or memes have entered common usage and seem to have supplanted, what, at first glance, is the perfectly serviceable term, image.But let’s examine this contention more closely. Wikipedia’s dictionary yields the following: Meme

NOUN

  1. an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by internet users, often with slight variations.[for example]

“celebrity gossip and memes often originate on the site” · 

  • an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means. [sorry you can’t claim your kids as  memes, no matter how cute they are! Unless they do something weird on Tik Tok, of course ]

VERB

  1. create an internet meme from (an image, video, piece of text, etc.). [for example]

“there’s always one audience reaction shot at the Oscars that gets memed” [Good Lord!]

Three points here: it can be any form of text not just a visual image. It is typically humorous which fits in with one of the main drivers of internet use- entertainment. It can be used as a verb- who knew? But, as we all know, the internet is not all kittens playing piano. There is also vile, exploitative content such as child pornography. The troll farms in Russia churn out disinformation on an industrial scale. QAnon holds in thrall countless thousands of followers who, isolated in their echoing silos, fear the lizard overlords who are plotting their destruction.

I am reminded of one of W H Auden’s poems, Gare du Midi, a short eight-line account of a man getting off a train in the middle of a city. He is anonymous but there is something about the mouth which distracts the stray look with alarm and pity. The last lines are truly ominous, clutching a little case/ He walks out briskly to infect a city/Whose terrible future may just have arrived. At the time of writing, Australia is still on tender hooks. Will the NRL Grand Final in Brisbane go ahead or has someone from interstate walked out briskly recently to infect the city of Brisbane with COVID?

On a personal note, will our once deferred 50th Wedding Anniversary weekend in a swish apartment overlooking Sydney Harbour still go ahead? Both  these questions will be answered by the next post. Whether Auden’s poem, written in 1938, refers to a man carrying a suitcase full of vials containing biological agents or, more metaphorically, pamphlets extolling fascist  or other extremist ideology, doesn’t really matter- either is deadly if it spreads throughout the population. The power of image and metaphor existed long before internet memes. The many  paintings adorning Medieval churches and Renaissance palaces attest to this. But not everyone has the wherewithal to appreciate such glories of art either in person on via those vivid OLED screens.

The rest of us make do with the images held in the art gallery of the mind and imagination. And it is one such image that I wish to explore from the second song of the podcast: Tommy Makem, with the Clancy Brothers, kick-started the resurgence of Irish music in the 1960s. He performed solo and with others throughout his life until shortly before his death in 2007. He wrote the song, Four Green Fields. Wikipedia informs us: The song is about Ireland (personified as an “old woman”) and its four provinces (represented by “green fields”), one of which remains occupied…The song is interpreted as an allegorical political statement regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. The four fields are seen as the Provinces of Ireland with Ulster being the “field” that remained part of the United Kingdom after the Irish Free State separated. The old woman is seen as a traditional personification of Ireland herself.

Makem would often preface his song in concert by reciting Requiem For The Croppies, by Seamus Heaney. The poem details the guerrilla tactics of the Irish resistance after the rebellion of 1798. It ends: Until on Vinegar Hill the final conclave/Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon./The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave./They buried us without shroud or coffin/And in August the barley grew up out of our grave.[insert song]

The image, Four Green Fields pre-dates the Makem song which was written in 1967. Irish artist, Evie Hone was commissioned to provide a stained-glass work for the Irish Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. It is presently installed as the main window of the entrance hall to Government Buildings, a large Edwardian structure enclosing a quadrangle on Merrion Street, Dublin.

Next week, there will be two posts: first, for Thursday, 11th November. This is the date of the Armistice which ended the slaughter of World War One. I will feature two songs about this conflict by Eric Bogle, one of Australia’s best-known songwriters. I’ll admit that I had toyed with the idea of shifting this podcast one day forward to Friday- my usual podcast day but decided that to do so would not be…right. What! my better angel sneered, so you’ll have to expend a little more effort for this week? Mmm, not so great a sacrifice, the podcaster decided upon reflection, compared to those made by so many, including relatives I have written about elsewhere in these letters.

The songs commemorating Armistice day are: The Band Played Waltzing Matilda and No Man’s Land a.k.a. The Green Fields of France in Ireland, thanks to Finbar Furey! The regular Friday podcast will feature two songs: first, Bomber, an original composition. The second is one I have yet to  arrange or record but one I had long wanted to cover in public: Standing on the Moon by The Grateful Dead, which featured Jerry Garcia on guitar and vocals. But it never happened. Instead, an internet premiere on Friday the 12th.

Credits: All written text, song lyrics andmusic (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.

Technical Stuff: Microphone- Shure SM58; (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter); Apogee 76K also used for songs and spoken text

For recording and mixing down: 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used; Rubix 22  also used for mixing of microphone(s) and instruments

Music accompaniment and composition software: Band-in-a-Box and RealBand 2021

Letters From Quotidia Episode 132 The Foggy Dew, Descent

Letters From Quotidia Episode 132 The Foggy Dew, Descent

Welcome to Letters From Quotidia, episode 132 – a podcast by Quentin Bega for lovers of music, poetry, and the Crack- that most Irish of nouns which may encompass, news, gossip, fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation. Quotidia is that space, that place, where ordinary people lead ordinary lives. But where, from time to time, they encounter the extraordinary.

Between September 1968 and June 1972, I was a student at Trench House, more formally known as St Joseph’s College of Education in Andersonstown at the top of the Falls Road, Belfast. For the first couple of years, I engaged in the extra-curricular activities on offer much more diligently than the academic: music, drama, student politics, co-editing the college rag we called TET,  frequent drinking and disputation sessions at The Hunting Lodge, handily, just a short walk away from the half-empty lecture theatres we often absented ourselves from. My tertiary studies coincided, also, with the latest iteration of The Troubles,  which soon put paid to my continuing activism as a student politician and student-journalist.

My penchant for satire, contrarianism and, it must be said, my adherence to the principles of liberal democracy, which I still hold dear, found little favour in the new dispensation and, by the end of my second year, I walked away from all that, got married on 3rd July 1971 and embarked on the much more perplexing role of being a husband, and, later, father- all the while persisting to be, involuntarily,  an habitually penurious student, supported, largely, by my wife, who clambered over barricades, pregnant, to travel to work in the Electricity Department of Belfast City Council from our rented house off the Whiterock Road.  

Fifty-five years before this, in 1916, the Easter Rising in Dublin and the subsequent brutal executions of the leaders of that rebellion engendered the birth of the terrible beauty that Yeats wrote about in his remarkable poem about those history-making events. Over 210,00 Irishmen had enlisted on the allied side in World War One and, initially, the rebels were reviled by the majority of Dubliners and wider Irish society: but the shooting, by the British, of Padraig Pearse and fifteen other leaders of the rebellion, in a space of just  10 days, between the 3rd and 12th of May, provoked waves of revulsion, and the tide of public opinion soon swung behind the Republican cause.

And here’s where the family connection to the first song of this podcast comes in. It was written by Father Charles O’Neill. In 1919. He had attended the first sitting of the new Irish Parliament, the Dáil. The names of the elected members were called out, but many were absent. Their names were answered by the reply: “locked up by the foreigner” in Gaelic. This inspired him to write the words of one of Ireland’s most recognised songs of rebellion, The Foggy Dew. The music and words are from a manuscript that was in the possession of Kathleen Dallat, sister of Father Michael Dallat of Ballycastle, a town on the north of Antrim coast.

Now, Michael Dallat became the Principal of Trench House when I was a student there. A formidable intellect, he was bemused when confronted by a pimply student politician in denims ( that would be me, by the way) who demanded- you know, I can’t remember, at this remove, what urgent matter had me frothing in his office. But he didn’t hold this against me, writing, later, a wonderful and generous reference for me when I applied to the NSW Department of Education for a job before I had actually graduated from Queen’s University as a Bachelor of Education.

My late sister Mary, whose loss to cancer, earlier this year still hurts me deeply, married one of his nephews, John Dallat, a computer wiz who moved with her to Germany and still resides there with their son and daughters and grandchildren. Which just goes to show you, that, everywhere, family connections are powerful and really do resonate down the years. The oft-advertised new world of the metaverse, constructed of zeros and ones and lacking any sinews or blood  or humanity, but beloved by sundry balding billionaires in Silicon Valley’s high-Tech companies, will never get anywhere near to the real world of visceral connection.

If you don’t believe me, just look at the recent history of that benighted, yet, some say, beautiful, country- Afghanistan. This song has been covered by some of the world’s best artists: but will that deter me? If you’ve been following my podcasts- you’ll know, that is no impediment at all! [insert song]

This leaves me very little time to talk about the song that closes this podcast, Descent. And, do you know, this is not really a problem to me. One gift that living longer gives to you is a contextualising perspective of the life you have lived: you get to see that things that once seemed important are- not necessarily so! A confession: I might be closer that I’d like to admit to those balding billionaires of Silicon Valley. Not insofar as filthy lucre is concerned, of course!  (I remain, at my core, a penurious student.) But I have fantasised about what a truly and genuinely authentic, transcendental life might be.

And, fuelled by a rather tasty New Zealand Pinot Noir, I can admit, in the throes of in vino veritas, that I have always failed to really measure up to the ideal, metaphysical standard- whatever that may be. Kevin Baker, poet and folk musician here in Australia, and long-time friend, who also departed earlier this year from this realm, whispered, when he was in his cups out there on Lough Erne with me in 1981, on a fishing trip during his visit to us in Northern Ireland: you know, Bridie (he is talking here about my wife) is the real deal, I have learned more from her about the politics and working class of Belfast, in a few days, than all your pontificating over the  years we’ve known one another in Australia!

Good to know, Kevin, good to know. Not that it came as any surprise to me. I had learned long before that my wife is on a different and superior level to me. Lots of men of my vintage may well chime in- in agreement, about their significant others as well! The song you are about to hear is influenced by Lord Byron, a poet I have revered from my mid-teens; Bob Dylan, likewise; Robert Frost, of course; the Bible, naturally! But really, how can you itemise all the people, all the poems, all the music, and all the  stories and lived experiences that flow into the stuff that you create and claim as yours alone?

Would I write such a song today? Nooo. This fragment of a more feverish past life could have been consigned, again, to oblivion. So why does it make the cut? I think because it utilises images, tropes and themes that have been a part of my creative output for more than fifty years. I still struggle with the need to integrate the various components of my existence: the physical, emotional, spiritual, artistic and…and…yeah, there it is…what else is there? There is more, I know it. So, still, I am on a quest to find what else there is. Listen now to the song, Descent.[insert song]

Guy Fawkes is a villain or a hero. Depends on where you stand. When next you tune in to this podcast, it’ll be November 5th and you will be either making a bonfire to dance around, or, like me, just  picking up the morning newspaper from your front lawn. There can be no other possibility in the Quotidian universe! But the brace of songs that will be on offer next week are instructive, I think. Four Green Fields, composed by Tommy Makem in 1967, stands, to this day, as one of the finest folk songs ever written. The Rooster Calls is one of my first attempts to write about my life and connect it to the history unfolding around me.

How can I presume to set such a composition against a classic?  I don’t really know but vaguely see, outlined in my mind, fools and angels milling about, each group wondering whether to rush in- or not. But can I leave you with this thought by Robert Frost who states at the end of a fine poem: And further still at an unearthly height,/One luminary clock against the sky/Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right./ I have been one acquainted with the night

 Credits: All written text, song lyrics andmusic (including background music) written and composed by Quentin Bega unless otherwise specified in the credits section after individual posts. Illustrative excerpts from other texts identified clearly within each podcast. I donate to and use Wikipedia frequently as one of the saner sources of information on the web.

Technical Stuff: Microphone- Shure SM58; (for the podcast spoken content) Audio Technica AT 2020 front-facing with pop filter); Apogee 76K also used for songs and spoken text

For recording and mixing down: 64-bit N-Track Studio 9 Extended used; Rubix 22  also used for mixing of microphone(s) and instruments

Music accompaniment and composition software: Band-in-a-Box and RealBand 2021