Archive for August, 2017

When too much music…

August 30, 2017

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…is barely enough (with apologies to Roy and HG).

My attendance at live events, generally musical ones, has declined in the last couple of years, but there was a bit of a breakout this month.  I record it briefly below

1.      SSO – Mozart – Wispelwey 10/8

On the day the SSO released its 2018 season, to Angel Place to hear the SSO with Wispelwey – the last of the Haydn “times of the day” symphonies (obviously, Le Soir) and one of the cello concerti. A Mozart wind serenade and an arrangement of a movement of the Elgar Cello Concerto (as a mystery encore – departing from the tradition that these are usually by Mozart) made up the program.   As I write the concert is still available online .

I found I knew the Haydn better than I expected to and realise that it was on one of the relatively few LPs we had in my early teen years – probably the one pictured above.  That could be why I enjoyed it the most, though I also enjoyed the symphony – with some especially striking flute moments as well as Haydn’s frequently rather high horn lines.  The Mozart didn’t quite live up to expectations, perhaps because, in advance, I had been thinking of the Gran Partita.

2.     Gnarly Buttons – SSO Carriageworks 13/8

This was the first of the SSO’s concerts this year at Carriageworks.  An irresistible bargain at $35. The novelty of Carriageworks and its groovy toilets has yet to wear off.  I feel such a hipster just going there!

I had heard the title work earlier in the year played by David Griffiths with the Australia Ensemble.  It wasn’t quite so striking the second time around, mainly I think because of the venue.  Bay 17 at Carriageworks is large and cavernous and features industrial strength ventilation which figuratively speaking has the musicians wading around in a brownish kind of white noise up to about their midriffs.  In addition (though in fact the noise could well have been the culprit in a large degree) I didn’t feel that Francesco Celata managed to bring to the clarinet part the kind of wild freedom that daring that David Griffiths managed for the AE.

The background noise was not a problem for Kate Neal’s The Valley of Lost Things, which was for a larger ensemble – more of a small orchestra.  This had a very diverting kind of rush-all-over-the-place feel.  Towards the end I was getting a little worn out by it and external thoughts intruded and then it ended.  I sort of thought it had gone on a bit long; someone else felt it was only just getting started.  The composer’s notes suggest it was written as an interlude (which seems a bit extravagant), so perhaps development was not really in mind.

The highlight of the concert for me was the Boulez explosante-fixe…. This featured a differently constituted orchestra and three amplified flutes one of which was treated to various electronic manipulations.  The principal flute from the St Louis Orchestra was flown in to take this part.  There were some strange sounds that a friend afterwards told me were amplified/delayed key-slapping.

For once I did not begrudge David Robertson his irresistible urge to speak as he gave us a bit of background: Robertson conducted the first performance of this version of the work (it came in a number of iterations over the years) in 1993.

I couldn’t of course hum a tune from this, and I’m even not sure how I could describe it as “music” – though it is definitely more “music” than the sort of novelty promoted by Jon Rose.  Actually it was music and there was an emotional arc, but my memory of that aspect of it has faded.  What I remember now was the engrossing and delicious sounds – in the way that, for example, harps and bells are delicious – music and sound that I just wanted to lean forward into like swimming into water of just the right cool temperature on a hot day.  Give me more of it until I have excess!

3.    Parsifal 14/8

Whilst the Opera Theatre has been closed, Opera Australia have had a number of special events.  This was probably the most proclaimed – bringing super-tenor Jonas Kaufmann to Sydney in the title role.

I resisted at first the hype and the prices: it would cost me $395 (less a subscriber discount) to secure a seat of the quality I usually enjoy in the SOH Concert hall for SSO concerts.   At the last minute I secured a rather distant but at least affordable ticket.  Once you factor in the length of the performance, seats at this price were not such bad value and if I had chosen earlier or even more wisely I could have got one closer up, albeit at the side in box D.   I now regret not responding to the shocking prices by confining myself to cheaper tickets but allowing myself more than one go.

Parsifal was my first exposure to Wagner.  Not the opera itself, but the Prelude/Vorspiel which featured in the opening of Simon Gray’s Otherwise Engaged, which I saw at the Old Tote in 1976.  Later that year I bought a highlights LP of the Solti recording from Rowe Street Records.  I thought as a result that I knew it, but little did I know. The first act and all of that business with the swan being killed seemed positively interminable when I went to the concert performance conducted by Charles Mackerras in 1977.  This year’s were the first live (and still concert) performances in Sydney since then.  How could I have contemplated staying away?

It took me most of the first act to get used to sitting so far away and to adjust my expectations of the detail of sound you can hear in a singer’s voice.  The first act still seems to drag on a bit – by the time Gurmenanz is asked to reminisce about how Titurel and Klingsor knew each other, I was ready to say “Enough already! We can look that up for ourselves.”  I suppose I hadn’t yet settled into that Buddhist time-space groove.  As a former piano teacher said to me at interval – you just have to enjoy the music.  – Why should I want it to pass any sooner?

Nothing much really happens in Parsifal so on one level it is a good candidate for a concert performance.  Of all the acts it was probably the first which suffered the most from the lack of staged religious ceremony.  There’s a bit paradoxical so far as religious stuff is something I am pretty resistant to, even if we are to accept that we are being shown it in an anthropological way rather than being required to participate in it ourselves.  Wagner’s motives and sincerity when it comes to the religiosity of Parsifal are vexed point as are so many issues when you start contemplating Wagner as a person.

Such is the imprinting effect of recordings that the bits from that highlights record are still the bits I know and consequently like the best.

I enjoyed the second and third acts more.  It probably helped that a few fidgeters near me had gone home.  The other thing that helps is that the music begins to weave its magic more once the expositional groundwork has laid by the first act in terms of motivs etc.  The point at which Amfortas desired to follow his father to death was just achingly sad.

Obviously expectations of Kaufmann in the title role were high.  These were met; the word on everybody’s lips at interval was Kwangchul Youn as Gurmenanz.  It was great to hear the AOB Orchestra out of the box and up on the stage.

I’m glad I went after all.

4.     SSO, Bruckner, Beethoven, Young, Cooper. 18/8

The next Friday again to the SSO, this time at the SOH to hear Imogen Cooper play Beethoven 2 and Simone Young play Bruckner 5.

I wasn’t so crazy about the Beethoven and tend to agree with Zoltan Szabo’s comments here.  There was much more to the Bruckner.  This had  not been performed by the SSO since 1984 and that was only their second performance (the first was in 1977).  On reflection, this is probably not so surprising.  The fifth symphony is sometimes accounted Bruckner’s first mature work and indeed he didn’t get to hear it himself in his lifetime.  I feel as though the fourth comes round relatively often, but I expect the 5th is jostled aside by the more popular >5 ones.

5.   Australia Ensemble – 19/8

With my friend and former piano teacher, P, to this.  On the way a shocking experience as we drove through what I could only think of as the Desolation of Smaug at the southern end of Sydney Park where the Westconnex works have started.  Things aren’t much better on ANZAC Parade and High Street with the preparations for the light rail, which has also been attended by wanton destructions (elsewhere) of trees.  P and I grumbled to each other about the decision to buy big trams for this line, which has made the track more unwieldy and will mean services are less frequent.  When will the powers that be get it that frequency is the critical thing for public transport for which people will be persuaded to abandon their ownership of cars?  Mutter mutter.  We needed cheering up.

The program was:

Albert Roussel (1869-1937): Divertissement (1906) for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano

Madeleine Dring (1923-1977): Trio (1968) for flute, oboe and piano

Mark Grandison (b 1965): Riffraction (2007) for clarinet, strings and piano, 2016 Winner of the Blakeman National Composition Prize UNSW

Franz Schubert (1797-1828): Octet in F major D803 (1824)

Mark Grandison described his first-half closer as based on a “triple pun” but as far as I can see it was really a single or just stretching it double pun on riff, action and refraction.  It was lively but I felt the violin only got a bit of a late look-in.

The Dring was written for her oboist husband, Peter Lord, who premiered it with William Lloyd and Andre Previn (this must have been an LSO connection).   I reckon the oboist got the best tunes, especially at the start of the second movement, where there was a tune (at about 3:25) which definitely gives me a reminiscence of something else.  The piano writing struck me as rather unimaginative by comparison.

The Roussel was delightful and the “find” of the evening for me.

I am having a bit of a Schubert craze at present (struggling through D568) and so was feeling particularly receptive to this and enjoyed it greatly.

6.  Imogen Cooper – 21/8

This was part of the SSO’s International Pianists series at Angel Place.  IC has a strong following and it was very well attended.  The program was

BEETHOVEN 7 Bagatelles, Op.33
HAYDN Sonata in C minor, Hob.XVI:20
BEETHOVEN Variations on ‘La stessa, la stessissima’
[Interval]
ADÈS Darknesse Visible
BEETHOVEN Sonata in A flat, Op.110

I sat first behind Ms Cooper (looking over her left shoulder from the gallery – what I like to think of as the piano teacher’s spot).  For the second half I moved to the body of the hall – simply because I could and because the temptation to move to a more expensive seat was irresistible.  In hindsight, this was a mistake as I would have been better off where I started for the effects in the Adès (held notes; harmonics; fast repeated notes).  Quite effectively, even if this was partly because people couldn’t be sure when the Adès finished, this turned retrospectively into an old fashioned kind of prelude as it segued to Op 110.

7.  Sydney Chamber Opera – 22/8

– already noted.  I almost went again in the hope that I could overcome the obstacle of the lip synching once habituated, but didn’t quite manage it.

8.   SSO, Robertson, “New World Memories” 26/8

A very popular concert – the modern work, Mnesomyne’s Pool, by Steve Mackey, cunningly slipped in between Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture and Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony.  As the title indicates, at least for the cognoscenti, Mackey’s inspiration was the role of memory in music – which is my excuse for some of the associative reminiscences included in this post.  I’m afraid I should have had a longer nap in the afternoon to give MP a better hearing.  I hope to catch it on the radio or on line later to do it justice.

You can see my stamina and maybe also my narcissism are flagging as these accounts get ever more perfunctory.

I also went to two other concerts this month to turn pages for a friend.  That was interesting but cannot really be considered as the same thing as an attendance as an auditor – I am too busy making sure I do not wander away from where it is up to on the page.

 

Folk humour

August 26, 2017

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From twitter; one Marcus Strom, apparently in Stanmore somewhere.

 

Too clever for me

August 23, 2017

Last night to Carriageworks for Sydney Chamber Opera’s production of Britten’s first “chamber opera,” The Rape of Lucretia.

Something was afoot.  I was forewarned by Kip Williams’ director’s notes:

The Rape of Lucretia is a foundation myth that tradisionally has been used to perpetuate ideas surrounding the ‘value’ of a republic: namely that men must bind together in order to protect the chastity of their women.  At its core, our production asks questions of the ways in which this thinking still exists in our contemporary lives, and what impact this paradigm has had on how we think about gender, power and sex.  Ultimately, we are interested in examining this ancient culture in the context of our own, drawing parallels between ideologies and systems of power that permit masculine entitlement, engender the disempowerment of women, and both perpetuate and exonerate acts of sexual assault.  This production is an act of illumination and erosion of the exculpatory power of this history.

[….]

One of the challenges in approaching a staging of Britten’s opera is the absence of any critical perspective on the gender politics contained within the world of Rome.  By giving our performers contemporary identities as their primary relationship to the audience, we afford them an active critical voice on the politics at play.  through them we explore the performative and restrictive nature of gender in the Lucretia myth by fracturing each charater into three parts: the costume, which represents the character, the actor, who performs the character’s actions whilst lipsynching the dialogue, and the singer, who gives voice to the character.

OK.  LIPSYNCHING!  That artifice of last resort usually called upon when a singer is indisposed.  You can get used to that when it is just one singer, but why would you willingly embrace it for the practically the whole cast?

Just to explain a bit more.  It is 509BC.  Rome is ruled by Etruscan kings.  Lucretia is the only virtuous wife of a bunch of Roman aristocrats who are away in military camp – the others all find their wives otherwise engaged when they pop back to check on them.  One of the husbands, who is envious of Lucretia’s husband for having such a virtuous wife, goads Tarquinius, Prince of Rome whom no woman can refuse, to just pop back again and see how virtuous she really is – after all, maybe her virtue wasn’t tested/tempted quite enough?  T. jumps on his steed, arrives at L’s place in the middle of the night demanding hospitality [interval].  Servants we are told by the narrators (see below) are insolent towards him in a way that only servants can be.  (Servants!  We all know how they can behave!)

In the night Tarquinius goes to Lucretia’s chamber and rapes her, galloping off to the camp before dawn. Next day Lucretia summons her husband back, tells him what has happens and says – despite his entreaties that it is not her fault – that the punishment for unchastity is death and kills herself.  The Roman men vow to rise up against the tyrants, which we all know they did and founded the (scarcely less tyrannous) Roman Republic.

This all comes from Livy (a bit altered and supplemented in some details) save that in the opera a lot of the action is narrated by a male and female chorus, taking primary responsibility for the male and female spheres of action respectively.  From the start it is made clear that they are from some later, Christian, era. At the end the female chorus asks if that is all the story and the male replies it’s all fine because it’s given meaning (what meaning exactly is unclear) by Christ’s love.  This helpfully provides a bit of a chorale for the finale.

Obviously it’s not a very attractive story from the perspective of modern sexual politics.  But can the audience be trusted to work that out for themselves?  Apparently not.

Just to explain a bit more: in the first scene (at the camp) the three women singers donned insignia to designate the male characters, who were then sung, puppetteer style, by the respective male singers hovering in the background.  In the second scene the process was reversed.  And so on until the denouement when the artificae was (mostly) abandoned for more direct dramatic expression.

Various reviewers of the production have tried to find redeeming aspects to the conceit but in my opinion these are even-a-stopped-clock-is-right-twice-a-day sorts of advantages.  I found it genuinely confusing at first and also an obstacle to my enjoyment of the music.  You have to go along with it at the price of being totally put off so I gradually got used to it in the second scene, though not without moments when I found a “the-king-is-in-the-altogether” spirit surfacing within me.

Maybe if I went again (only $35 so not out of the question) I’d be able to deal with it better.

Of the singers, I was particularly impressed by Andrew Goodwin – not a singer I’ve always been keen on in the past – even if (and this is a response to the work rather than the singer) I found myself sighing just a bit inwardly at some of the more extended passages of aspirated tenor coloratura – BB and PP at it again. (The crucible of light is drowned!) Goodwin gave a bravura account (wrestling a chair as Tarquinius’ steed) of Tarquinius’ rush to Rome.  Later, the sinister night rustlings of T’s approach also caught my imagination.  Things continued with more drama (as you would expect) in the second half.

The orchestra/instrumental ensemble is placed behind the amphitheatre-ish set, which I think if you were low down on the tiered seating would muffle its sound.  Even from where I sat, high enough to overcome this obstacle, the orchestra still seemed a bit distant, especially when it was playing quietly.  Many details were scarcely discernible.

The house (general admission) was full (14 rows of 20 seats), including (in a reserved section) some of the great-and-good – Neil A was there with M Vallentine; Richard Mills was also there (it’s a co-production with Victorian Opera) and the man in front of me, fascinatingly, had his Australian Opera program from when they first put it on up the road in Newtown in 1971 (it came back in 1981).

At present Carriageworks also has an exhibition about the 1917 strike (which started at Eveleigh).  This includes some large and striking union banners which are on display in the main foyer/hall.  I am still trying to work out why in the Australian coats of arms which feature on them, the kangaroo and emu face away from the shield.

 

 

 

SSO 2018

August 14, 2017

The Sydney Symphony has announced its season for next year.

There’s not too much to frighten the horses – or the accountants.  We have a Mozart festival.  (There is also still the Mozart series at Angel Place.)  The concert performances of operas have been abandoned.  The Carriageworks venture is not slated to continue.

The orchestra’s year in Sydney ends in mid-November to make time for a European tour.  That might make the accountants nervous.

A second “Meet the Music” series has been reinstated on Thursday nights – not a repeat of Wednesdays but a selection of other programs.  This must be a good thing, though if you take the brochure literally the deal for <30s entails relegation to C reserve unless accompanied by an >30 [>29?] ticket buyer.  Can that really be the case for school groups?

There is no Berlioz.  Hint: he died in 1869.

Emmanuel Ax headlines the Mozart series.  Other pianists I’m looking forward to are Simon Trepceski, Steven Osborne and Benjamin Grosvenor (who has been to Sydney before but not for the SSO) and of course NF (see below).  Stephen Hough seems squandered on the Rach/Pag variations and midweek/daytime gigs.  Thibaudet plays the S-S “Egyptian” (why does that always make me think of Cardinal Pirelli?) in what should be a particularly beguiling program (Debussy Faun & Sibelius 2)

Anne Sofie van O sings Schubert orchestrated[!] – which I suppose is a way of presenting her in this repertoire in the Concert Hall, coupled with Mahler “10” (D Cooke).  (Simone does 6.)

I can resist the special pricing of the other Anne-Sophie despite a symphonic rarity by Kalinnikov.

Edo de W conducts Beethoven 9 – I would have preferred something more adventurous but his return is always welcome.

Speaking of returning former chief conductors, Caetani is back [in Sydney] again and welcome here so far as I’m concerned whatever they feel about him and he about them there. He will channel his Italian side for a change with the Verdi Requiem. Then again, let’s not be complacent: when are we going to hear Stuart Skelton back in his home town?  He’s all over almost everywhere else in Australia like a rash (Melbourne next year, anyway.)

Particular highlights for me:

  • Oboist, François Leleux, whose almost totally unheralded visit here in 2012 made quite a buzz amongst double-reedists, returns for the first of the Angel Pl Mozart series. (How does an oboist pop up on tour in Sydney for just one gig?  Possible answer: because he comes with his violinist wife, Lidia Batiashvili.)
  • Nelson Freire playing Beethoven 5 with Wagner bleeding chunks – a sin I expect I will be able to forgive since committed by Runnicles.
  • Masaaki Suzuki – this time to conduct a program including Beethoven’s Mass in C – not LvanB’s greatest moment but  also not bad, and MS should offer something interesting in that and the Haydn symphony it comes with.  Local ladies take vocal solos with some intriguing overseas gents.

When you look forward to a new season it is easy to concentrate on either old favourites or long-anticipated rarities.  Not so many of the latter in prospect.  Doubtless I’ll strike some surprises next year when it comes.  Meanwhile, as pure straightforward enjoyment, I expect the Debussy/Saint-Saens/Sibelius combination will be hard to beat.

 

 

Seen and heard

August 8, 2017

More for my benefit than anyone else’s, an update on live performances I have been to recently – well, by now not so recently:

1   SSO, Mozart series, Angel Place, Orli Shaham

I went to hear Orli Shaham with the SSO at Angel Place.  The program was Haydn Midi symphony, Mozart, Piano Concerto No 21 and, as a quasi encore (it is a tradition in this series to end with a mystery piece) the last movement of Mozart’s piano quartet in E flat.

In the Haydn I found myself wondering if the SSO couldn’t afford to be a little less robust in its approach. This seemed more to scale for the next day’s outing at the Concert Hall of the SOH than Angel Place.  As for the Mozart, my memory is now dimmed but I remember thinking Shaham and indeed her colleagues most relaxed in the piano quartet at the end.  Perhaps my reception of the concerto was too much overshadowed by fixed notions from other interpretations.

2    Aphra Behn, The Rover.

With D to this, at the Belvoir/Company B.

D and I hardly ever go to plays.  I was drawn to this by the rarity of Restoration plays in Sydney’s theatrical bill of fare and Aphra Behn’s reputation as a kind of Germaine Greer special topic.  Victor has rightly remarked on the trio of exceedingly skinny-legged (male) actors.  One of these is Toby Schmitz, who featured prominently in the publicity.  Is it him or just the characters he plays that I find just a bit irritating?  He has a line in boyish charm which somehow misses me.  It might be (to coin a phrase I first heard applied to Teddy Tahu-Rhodes) a “chook magnet” thing.

We were promised a “rollicking” show.  Some of this felt a bit forced as the actors ran around madly to convey the sense of Naples at carnival time.  Moments when the actors broke through the fourth wall and played against the work were evidently loved by others more than by me.

I could have done with a bit less physical comedy, especially when this delayed the plot, and more verbal thrust and parry (there was also a bit of sword stuff).  I had a look at the script later on the internet.  There is probably a reason why we don’t see much restoration comedy these days.  It would take an effort to bring that script alive for a modern audience – but in this case I felt a bit of a lowest common denominator approach was taken.  Since I first wrote this I have found that Kevin Jackson expresses a similar view much more cogently than I can.

I was a bit disappointed in it but I did still enjoy it.  Maybe my expectations were too high.   D, did not share my disappointment.  We did still both enjoy it and I’m glad I went.

3.  SSO, Robertson, Graham, Mahler 3.

I heard this once live and then in the car on the way to a funeral at noon on the following Saturday.  In the live performance I thought Robertson’s approach to the first movement was a bit “cool” and “objective;” listening to the broadcast I appreciated how clear it all was.  I wonder if it is actually something about his rather brisk manner on the podium which created that impression.  Whatever, any such impression was not sustained into the impassioned last movement.

Susan Graham was great.  For the bimm bamms and associated Wunderhorn song the choirs sang without scores – not such a feat for the Sydney Children’s Choir (ratio of boys to girls about 1:3) maybe but assisting an pleasingly bright sound from the Ladies (or are they Women now? – that’s what the ABC announcer called them afterwards) of the Sydney Philharmonia.

The posthorn solo was less offstage than usual.  The mystery was only solved when Paul Goodchild emerged for his bow at the end in the organ loft – he must have been hiding round the corner and taking direction from the organist’s video screen.

4.   Omega Ensemble – Schubert “Trout” Quintet and Octet

This too was an event for which I nursed high expectations [/hopes?] which weren’t quite met [/fulfilled].  Both are, as one says if put on the spot, “great works.”  The shadow of well-known recordings and impactful live performances (and the first exposure is always impactful even if in retrospect not so great) hangs over any live encounter. That must be for true even though I am very much not a “record-head” who judges everything against particular recordings with which I am familiar.

In the “Trout” I think the cellist could profitably have swapped places with the bassist and sat in the bow of the piano facing the audience directly.

I always suspect that the issue for the OE is that, as an ad hoc ensemble, they have less chance (than a more permanent ensemble) of things gelling as a result of frequent experiences of playing together.  It is hard in those conditions to obtain an optimal freedom and warmth of expression.  The concert was well attended and warmly received.  I enjoyed both, the octet more than the “Trout.”

I’ll have a chance to hear another Octet in a week or so when the Australia Ensemble plays it on the 19th.  Meanwhile, despite my lukewarm words above, I seem to have been stirred to a bit of a Schubert craze and am stumbling through D568.  There is something about Schubert that for me really hits the spot.

Nasty

August 7, 2017

Last Friday I drove out to Concord Hospital to pick up D, whom I had dropped off at 7am for day surgery.

For some reason the car radio was tuned to 98.5 fm.  According to Wikipedia:

2000FM (callsign 2OOO) is a multilingual community radio station broadcasting to Sydney in languages other than English from studios in the suburb of Burwood. It is a volunteer run organisation and is funded through listener support, grants and limited commercial sponsorship.[1]

The mission of 2000FM is to provide a service through dedication to enrich the cohesion of our cultural diversity via tolerance, understanding and respect for each other.[2]

When I turned the radio on just after setting off a man was reading from John Hewson’s article in the SMH, the substance of which was to complain that members of the Liberal Party who were agitating for a free vote on marriage equality were grandstanding at the expense of the coalition’s electoral prospects.

Hewson had written:

To be clear, I support same-sex marriage, and like so many who do, don’t, and are just a bit “here and there”, I would like to have seen the matter dealt with expeditiously, given what is perceived as widespread community support.

Up till then, I didn’t know what station I was listening to – I thought it might have been RPH (PH for print handicapped).  I was swiftly disabused of this when the reader interrupted his reading at this point to ask John Hewson, as a politician, if he ever would have been asked to write an article on SSM for the SMH if he did not say he was in favour of it.  Then I knew what side the wind would be blowing from.

Not that Hewson was actually there to answer the question.

From there on the reader interspersed Hewson’s text with his own comments. By the end (he hadn’t finished when I finally got out of the car) he was in full flood.

The argument as far as I recall it was:

  1. The trouble all began when we let same sex parents have children.
  2. Children hate to be left out or to be different.
  3. Same sex parents therefore wanted to be married so that they could go to parent teacher nights etc and be recognized. [so far an interesting inversion of the ‘all about the children’ arguments – it shows how people attribute to their opponents their own ways of thinking]
  4. So now they were trying to subvert our traditional notion of marriage, and take away our marriage, the institution of which we are a part;
  5. Which is part of our Armenian cultural heritage [he didn’t sound very Armenian, if that is possible, and maybe I’m a bit mixed up here with the announcements from time to time that the program was sponsored by St Gregory’s Armenian School – an institution which in fact was wound up some years ago with its premises at Rouse Hill now sold to Malek Fahid Islamic School and much productive – for lawyers – litigation]
  6. And not, (implicitly, like homosexuals) a matter of genital-to-genital.
  7. And now some of our politicians think they know better than us!
  8. there’s this Warren Entsch “not that I know Warren Entsch from a bar of soap – except that a bar of soap leaves you clean
  9. So you should get on your computers, I know you have them, and tell them that you don’t want it;
  10. Don’t let those homosexuals get their fingers on our marriage!

There was more with which obviously I disagree, and I haven’t remembered all the nasty swipes along the way – I’ve only really clearly the remembered the one at Entsch.  I think the “fingers” (why not hands?) remark was also associated in some way with some snide suggestion (maybe about genitals again) that made it seem nastier then than it does as I have reported it.

Meanwhile, today the Liberal Party, summoned by Malcolm Turnbull, has stuck to Tony Abbott’s poison pill.  It’s not that both major political parties (Julia Gillard was a particular disappointment and Penny Wong not much better) haven’t had to wrestle in their own ways with the art of the politically possible, but surely the politically possible is changing?  The biggest irony is that, at least from where I stood, Abbott’s slippery entrenchment of the plebiscite by a joint party meeting was the final nail in his political coffin, because it was not how many had understood his previous political undertakings, even if it was consistent with the fine print.

Even the statutory embedding of a man-woman definition into the Marriage Act in 2004 (one of John Howard’s many bad deeds, though not without accomplices) was such an entrenchment – because if there was nothing to try to resist in a last ditch way there was no point in it at all.

The only consolation I can see at present is that if the head of steam builds up strongly enough, the change, when it comes, will be less traded off for little sheltered pockets of bigotry.

Here’s hoping.