Posted by: jkirkby8712 | December 14, 2010

Monday, 13th December 2010 – Favours go sour!

Sometimes it doesn’t always pay to do a good turn for someone else. A few years ago my son lost his driving licence for 12 months plus incurred sundry other impositions and costs [think I met some of those] because he tried to help a mate out whose car had broken down – had left his own car at home while he enjoyed a night at the ‘pub’, then drove another friend’s car seeking assistance for the earlier mishap. Result a minor collision, police called, and subsequent penalties imposed. A costly mistake & wrong call – for the sake of helping someone in s spot of bother!

Tonight, my daughter, after a game of volleyball, acceded to a request from her boyfriend’s sister [a team mate] to give her a lift home. That’s fine, except the sister had her five year child with her, and presumably made the request, fully aware that Susan did not have the appropriate legal child restraint seat in her car – why should she, had no children, and had never transported a young child before. So while that probably occured to the mother, Susan never gave a thought to the fact that she was breaking the law! Subsequently stopped at a breathalyser check point [alcohol & drug check of drivers] – no problem there, until police noticed child in back seat restrained by a normal seat belt, not the official legal restraint seat for a child that age. The law has to be applied, no dispensation or consideration of lack of knowledge and a strait out honest mistake on Susan’s fault – $300 fine and the lost of three demerit points off her licence –  and child & mother told to exit car and find another way home, in a probably restrained vehicle, this all at 9.30pm! Yes, the law must be obeyed, but is there never any flexibility – unless perhaps you are a politician or someone of fame. Susie was reasonably philosophical about the whole thing, but like myself for her sake, particularly upset apset about the loss of demerit points, which seemed a grossly unfair penalty under the particular circumstances.  I guess it will be a waste of time, but I must enquire as to any possible appeal avenues in regard to the licence points. I think the system here is that each driver is allowed 10 demerit points against their licence – apart from more serious traffic offences where you lose your licence automatically [as in Adam’s case], once you ‘lose’ those 10 points, you also lose your licence. I imagine the majority of drivers lose points for offences such as speeding, etc.

Anyway, when that bit of news came home tonight, I had been in the process of writing out some Christmas cards, having taken advantage of the fact that my computer was out of action temporarily. Suddenly, the good spirit associated with writing greetings to friends and family dissipated, and I felt quite disappointed, on my daughter’s behalf………………

Moving onto other things, on Sunday afternoon, I had a fascinating 2-3 hours playing and enjoying the music and songs of Leonard Cohen, a singer about whom I’d not taken a great deal of notice I have to be honest. Realised immediately what I’d been missing, and as a consequence, thoroughly enjoyed introducing him to myself and to all my listeners who may or may not have been as unfamiliar with Cohen as I obviously had been.  And I also had the pleasure of the company of friend Ruth, whose references to Leonard Cohen had brought him to my attention in the first place. Like most people first time up, she was a little apprehensive about coming on air but it did not take long for her to admit that ‘it’s not so bad after all’!!

Leonard Cohen has been one of the most important and influential songwriters of our time for over four decades,  and as one scribe described him, his songs [music, lyrics and poetry], have set a virtually unmatched standard in their seriousness and range of subjects including  sex, spirituality, religion, power and generally, a broad spectrum of  issues in human lives, always with a full appreciation of how elusive answers can be to the vexing questions he raises.  But, as the writer illustrates,  those questions, and the journey he has traveled in seeking to address them, are the ever-shifting substance of his work, as well as the reasons why his songs never lose their overwhelming emotional force, and have not done so through almost two generations of fans. And of course much of his lyrical work demonstrates his fine background in the composing of poetry, and literature generally. To quote again ‘his dual careers in music and literature have continued feeding each other over the decades – his songs revealing a literary quality rare in the world of popular music, and his poetry and prose informed by a rich musicality. Each of Cohen’s albums reflects not simply the issues that are on his mind as a writer, but the sonic landscape he wishes to explore as well.  The through-lines in his work, his voice and lyrics, are as distinctive as any in the world of music’.  As Ruth & I agreed, there are powerful messages behind all of his songs, but of course to get the full meaning of those messages, you need to actually listen to the lyrics. How many people listen to a song but don’t really hear what is been said?  Many I fear!

At 76 years of age, he is still touring internationally, and recently visited Australia and New Zealand as part of a world tour – in fact he appeared not very far north of here just recently, though I stupidly wasn’t aware of that at the time.  Wikipedia describes him thus: – “Leonard Norman Cohen, CC, GOQ (born 21 September 1934) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist. Cohen published his first book of poetry in Montreal in 1956 and his first novel in 1963. His work often deals with the exploration of religion, isolation, sexuality and interpersonal relationships. Famously reclusive,[ having once spent several years in a Zen Buddhist monastery, and possessing a persona frequently associated with mystique, he is extremely well-regarded by critics for his literary accomplishments, for the richness of his lyrics, and for producing an output of work of high artistic quality over a five-decade career.”

Anyway, that highlight of Sunday was part of a rather long day at the radio station, beginning with the morning classics between 6.30 am and  9 am, back at 4pm for 2 ½ hours of Leonard Cohen  – we did throw in a few non-Cohen tracks throughout the program, though I would have found it hard for anyone to become bored with the range of diversity of his songs – although Ruth and I agreed that the younger generations, including my daughters and her two teenagers were unlikely to take to Cohen!! It was also interesting to listen to a comparison of his singing from the 1960s to the past 10-20 years – the more gravelly, rich deep throated  more mature  sounding voice of today appealed to me more so than his earlier years by coincidence. One thing I did do was to compare his singing of ‘Hallelujah’ with the version sung by the late Jeff Buckley  – the Buckley version has always been my favourite, although KD Lang’s version sung at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada earlier this year was hard to look past! Anyway, I played the Cohen version, followed by Jeff Buckley’s singing of the song  – I’m afraid Cohen came a distant second on that occasion, but I had no complaint with anything else we played of him, on Sunday.  I was actually at the studio until 7.45 pm –  the station on Sunday night was presenting a live broadcast of this year’s Sunbury Carols by Candlelight service on our Village green, and we usually need someone to be present up at the main studio on such occasions. I stayed around for a while until our technical  guy was able to give it his full attention.  They were rather lucky that a major rain storm did not thoroughly disrupt the program – it did rain a little but not enough apparently to dampen the spirits of those who were on the Village Green too much!

Cohen in 2008



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