Category Archives: Podcasts

Podcast: Mum Says My Memoir is a Lie

If you saw Q&A on ABC last Monday, you would have seen Rosie Waterland as one of the panelists.  “Who’s Rosie Waterland?” you may ask. It was, in fact, the first time that I have seen Rosie Waterland too, but she sounded very familiar because I’d been listening to her podcast ‘Mum Says My Memoir is a Lie’ for 22 episodes, over several weeks. You can find  it here.

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Rosie Waterland wrote an award-winning memoir about her troubled and dysfunctional childhood called The Anti-Cool Girl in 2015 . Her mother Lisa, an alcoholic, had been warned by her friends not to read it and, given her health and other problems at the time, it was highly unlikely that she would have done so.  Two years later, however, Lisa had cleaned up her act and was sober and she read the book.  This podcast, as mother and daughter face off over the veracity of  Rosie’s memoir, is the result.For the first few weeks of listening to this, I found myself talking about it to anyone I came across, urging them to listen to it.  It is graphic, disturbing, but also illuminating and thought-provoking.

Lisa, now in her 50s, has had her own troubled life, but has worked (remarkably) as a psychiatric nurse, and from her vocabulary, is clearly well-educated. From her voice, and accent, however, you can detect the effect of years of drug and alcohol abuse and some pretty hard living. Rosie sounds young (she is in her early 30s) and likewise, bears the traces of a private school education in her voice as well, mixed in with the effects of some pretty hard living in her own right. They often clash: sometimes over the veracity of Rosie’s obviously coloured memoir, which combines humour with real tragedy, but more importantly, often  over blame and responsibility.

You don’t need to have read the book, because each podcast starts with Rosie reading a chapter until she reads the whole way through. There’s mutual embarrassment here, when Rosie is reading about her own, or her mother’s, sex life, and discomfort when she exposes Lisa’s multiple failures as a mother.  Then, after Rosie has finished reading the chapter, they ‘discuss’ it. Sometimes it’s outright denial from one or the other of them; other times it’s reflection and a step towards reconciliation.  At other times, it sparks off an argument that you just know has been had many times before.  It’s interesting (and somewhat voyeuristic) listening to the whole of an argument, as distinct from just overhearing snatches of it on the phone, or worse still, being involved in the altercation yourself.  You hear the shifts in the logic; the outright stupidity; the inadequacy and immaturity of other parts of the argument. Your sympathies shift back and forth.  I noticed this most with the episode about Rosie’s weight gain.

Is it my age perhaps? For all Lisa’s flaws (and they are legion, as they are with us all), I found myself more often on her side. I wish her well.

But I must confess that by the end of the series,  I was tiring of it. The next-to-last two or three episodes could be easily skipped, with just the final episode as closure (and even that last one went on too long).  I wondered why she felt Rosie felt that she had to abnegate herself through her revelations (TMI, you might say) and combined with her weight problems, I started to feel too voyeuristic and even complicit in heightening Rosie’s pain.  Will she still want this podcast to be around in ten years? I wonder.

But the first, say, 15, episodes I found absolutely compelling.  Brave stuff- from both of them.  And when I saw her on Q&A the other night, I felt as if I were hearing the voice of a friend.

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Podcasts: Rear Vision

I still grieve the loss of Hindsight on Radio National. It was a 50 minute podcast on historical issues that had enough time to tease out a question, and it had good historians as contributors. However, as part of Radio National’s quest for younger, flightier audiences, 50 minutes was obviously deemed to be too long, and Hindsight’s stunted sibling Rear Vision survived where Hindsight was axed.

Nonetheless, even in its truncated 30 minute form, Rear Vision an interesting podcast.

So, two Rear Vision podcasts that accompanied me on the bus while the railway works are taking place this week:

  1. Church and State in Australia which first aired on 15 October 2017, in the midst of the marriage equality survey.  It features Roy Williams who wrote Post God Nation and Michael Hogan from the University of Sydney.  Michael Hogan points out that under the Australian constitution, the states (but not the Commonwealth) still have powers to impose religious observance, not that they would exert them and they would be constrained by other laws passed since.  Roy Williams makes the interesting observation that the Church and State were most in synergy during the first twenty years of the twentieth century, when the social legislation governing temperance, gambling and prostitution laws were passed. Michael Hogan talks about the toxic effects of Ne Temere, the edict issued at the beginning of the 20th century by the Vatican which invalidated marriages between Protestants and Catholics.  The podcast concludes with Chris Soper, one of the authors of The Challenge of Pluralism; Church and State in Six Democracies, who compares the State/Church relationship in Australia with US, UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
  2. A Brief History of a National Obsession, which aired on 20 August 2017, examines home ownership in Australia from a historical perspective. The program features a number of economists, urban designers and policy specialists, but it also features one of my favorite historians, Graeme Davison, who makes some really insightful contributions.  He is best known for The Rise and Fall of Marvellous Melbourne, Car Wars and he has a recent book City Dreamers, the Urban Imagination in Australia which I have here on the shelf and must read one day. (He also wrote his memoir Lost Relations which I reviewed here). The topic is approached chronologically, leading up to about the last 20 years.

 

Podcasts: Wrongful

This is a series of Australian podcasts, produced by ABC Radio National for their Earshot program. They explore five cases of wrongful conviction that have occurred in Western Australia over recent decades.  They are well-produced and chilling.  Most of the time there was a journalist digging away in the background, sometimes for decades, and the wheels of justice creak very, very slowly.

You can download each of the podcasts from this link:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/earshot/features/wrongful-stories-of-justice-denied-and-redeemed/

 

Podcast: Tom Griffiths on ‘Radical Histories for Uncanny Times’

Tom Griffiths is one of my favourite Australian historians. He is the Director of the Centre of Environmental History ANU, and a fiercely intelligent and very human man. He’s a beautiful writer, who captures images so well in words, and he provides sharp insights and the telling anecdote. While listening to this program, we were driving through the bush around Marysville that had been ravaged by the 2009 bushfires, and it seemed particularly apposite to consider the anthropocene and the recuperative power of the earth that is so under threat through climate change.  His lecture at the Australian Museum is a clarion call for the humanities in a wide-ranging, erudite and thought-provoking podcast- well worth a listen.

Listen or download at http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/radical-histories-for-uncanny-times/9478670

UWA_Wheatbelt_Cover_RGB_1024x1024Griffiths was also featured briefly on Geraldine Doogue’s Saturday Extra (an excellent program!). He picked up on one of the points he made during the Australian Museum address: that of the emergence of new regional histories that combine the environment and emotion, history and literature.  He was followed by Tony Hughes-d’Aeth, speaking about his new book Like Nothing on this Earth, which Griffiths praised highly, and which looks at the Western Australian wheatbelt through the eyes of regional writers like Dorothy Hewett, Tom Flood, Albert Facey and Jack Davis.

Saturday Extra is going to feature a historian writing one of these new regional/environmental histories each week during March.

Podcast: The Octoroon and Other Fantasies

I wish I could just pop over to The Jewish Museum of London to see their current exhibition ‘Blood’, which is open until 28 February 2016. Being on the other side of the world, there’s little chance of that happening, but it looks fascinating.

The next best option is to listen to Professor Roger Luckhurst, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birbeck, University of London. He  gave a presentation there on 26 November 2015 which riffed on the topic of blood, called ‘Blood Fractions: The Octoroon and Other Fantasies’.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the slave trade, colonial administration and racial science developed a whole structure and language for calculating the precise mixture of blood in the offspring of white Europeans and their subject populations. The official line was that mixing was impossible, but the improvised language of ‘half-bloods’, ‘quadroons’, ‘octoroons’, and other terms suggested otherwise. This was the vast mixed population that existed ‘beyond the pale.’ In Victorian culture, the octoroon (a person with one-eighth black blood) was a kind of vanishing point, a focus of anxiety about detecting the taint of ‘bad’ blood. While in the twentieth century, the Nazis sought to protect ‘pure’ German blood from becoming tainted by the blood of Jews. In this talk Professor Luckhurst explores literary and cultural representations of mixed bloods.

You can hear it at Backdoor Broadcasting at

http://backdoorbroadcasting.net/2015/11/roger-luckhurst-blood-fractions-the-octoroon-and-other-fantasies/

After warning that much of his talk would be offensive and placed in air quotes, he starts with a digression on Dracula before moving on to the gradations of colour described in the literature of slave owners.  Calculations down to 1/512th ‘negro’ heritage were reflected in some of the sensation literature of the day, but were revisited in the research justifying the anti-semitism of Nazi Germany.  Lest we think that such concepts are firmly cemented in the past, he closes by looking at the blood quantum laws that define membership in some Native American nations today.

A wide-ranging and interesting podcast.

He’s b-a-a-c-c-k-k

Mike Duncan, that is, at the revolutionspodcast.com  website.

He’s just embarked on the Haiti Revolution.  He finished up a few months ago on the French Revolution (which took about a year), then took a few months off while his wife had their second baby. In recent years, he’s also covered the American Revolution and the English Civil War.  He started off with the History of Rome, but that was before I started listening to him. All his podcasts are available on the site.

There’s nothing very high-tech or overly academic here; just a pleasant American voice, good story-telling, and an ability to draw out the narrative from a mass of details.

I’m glad he’s back and I’m happy to travel (mentally, at least) to the Caribbean for a few months.

My new best friends on podcast

I’m really enjoying Chat10Looks3, a podcast put together by Leigh Sales and Annabelle Crabbe.  You can subscribe on I-tunes or download them from their website at  http://www.chat10looks3.com/   It’s worth downloading them all and listening from the beginning because there’s quite a few in-jokes.

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They rabbit on about the books they’ve read, films they’ve seen, a little bit of current affairs and politics, favourite recipes and -yes- they cook cakes and biscuits for each other. Podcasts are often interrupted by their children coming to the door, the sound of them eating their delicious gifts to each other and bursts of laughter.  It’s like sitting beside two uproariously funny girlfriends having a coffee.

It was through Chat10Looks3 that I heard about a fantastic podcast called The Living Room by Diane Weipert

https://i1.wp.com/loveandradio.org/wp-content/uploads/window3-752x490.jpg

(http://loveandradio.org/2015/03/the-living-room/)

What a podcast! Within 30 I found myself recoiling in disgust at the narrator’s voyeurism, sobbing at the sadness of what she saw, and wondering if, by making this podcast, she has committed an even more egregious betrayal.   It’s one of the best podcasts I’ve listened to- see if you agree.