“How’s the serenity?”**

August 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.*

This is of course the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) serenity prayer. It’s been a valuable thing for me to have in my tool kit during recent attempts to reduce my alcohol consumption.

I’m neither religious, nor am I connected with AA, but I’ve left references to God in here. I hope it doesn’t make any atheists (or temporarily abstaining folks for that matter) feel uncomfortable.

In his recent book “Religion for Atheists”, Alain de Botton says of this secular age that we shouldn’t “throw out the baby with the bathwater”. He essentially says that cherry picking the good and useful aspects of religion is perfectly legitimate.

A sense of community helps drive Hello Sunday Morning (HSM). This is an online group where people support each other in “taking a step back” ie reviewing and moderating their alcohol consumption. Of course there’s still no substitute for face to face contact with terrifically supportive fellow humans. I’m tremendously grateful to my friends, family and colleagues who’ve helped me on my quest to find my booze “off switch”.

So HSM is a temporary “secular” break from booze and AA is a permanent, somewhat religiously inclined one. They’re both cut from similar cloth, but I’ve found HSM to be a pragmatic approach to regaining control of one’s alcohol consumption through the use of a social media style forum in lieu of formal meetings, sponsors and religion.

I reckon Alain de Botton would love the concept of HSM…. I know! I’ll ask him!
His twitter handle is @alaindebotton

PS Here’s the original unabridged serenity prayer, attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


*According to Wikipedia, the abridged AA serenity prayer is from a longer prayer, attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, although it may have been “floating around for centuries”. In the latter stages of WWII (1944) it was included in a Federal Council of Churches (FCC) book for army’s chaplains and servicemen. After 5 years of bitter fighting and destruction, soldiers, their families and civilians would’ve definitely needed the solace these sentiments had to offer.

**And of course “How’s the serenity” is a quote from one of the most beloved Australian movies of all time, “The Castle”.

Tour de France

July 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

C’est l’hiver ici. Pas très bon pour le vélo aujourd’hui. Mais en tout cas le café est bon ici

Tour de Swan Valley en hiver.

Alan Jones vs responsible media

October 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Alan Jones has hijacked sensible factual political discourse for a surprising number of years. His “pick and stick” approach is to bully and harrass those who disagree with him and praise those who pander to his point of view, which he in turn presents as “fact.”

The only way to circumvent this is to neuter his “credibility” through financial, political and factual means. If sponsors withdraw their support, politicians refuse requests for “interviews” and everything he says on air continues to be scrutinized for its veracity, his Jurassic media model faces extinction and he knows it.

But he won’t go down without a fight. He’ll be kicking, screaming and spewing forth bile whilst encouraging his apoplectic listeners to call in and do the same. This is how the shockjock’s feedback loop works. He’s probably loving the attention he’s getting at the moment, but as his sponsors begin to evaporate he may start to realize that this time, like Icarus, he’s flown a little too close to the sun.

2GB holds a broadcast license. With that license comes the right to broadcast his points of view. With that right however comes their reponsibilty to observe the required standards of how those views are expressed.

Although Jones’ remarks about the Prime Minister were made off air, they were made in a public forum. One which hailed him a hero in the wider political debate. Prime Minister Gillard has chosen not to dignify Jones’ most recent offensive remarks and his quasi apology with an official response.

If politicians of all persuasions were to boycott Alan Jones’ radio show his ratings would nosedive.

Freedom of speech is a right we all share.

I’m exercising mine now.

Exercise yours if you like by signing the following online petition.

Who stopped the music?

May 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

The parlous state of music in public schools means not only are our children missing an important dimension in life, but they miss out on something that promotes brain function and social skills. China and Venezuela understand the value of music very well, and so do Australian parents, but our politicians are tone deaf. Reporter: Stephen Crittenden

A link to the Radio National show from 2009 examining this important question can be found here

link to “Who stopped the music?”


Perth on a Tuesday night in Autumn

May 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

20120523-135145.jpgAs I headed home on a crisp autumn night from His Majesty’s Theatre (The Maj) I spied activity through the window at the Ellington Jazz Club.  I’d just played some exciting and uplifting scores with the WASO for the WA Ballet as part of a show called “Diamonds” and didn’t feel like heading straight home.

Kat Tonkin, the Ellington’s charming manager on duty last night greeted me warmly at the door. I ordered a Squires cider off the tap and leant against the beautiful copper-topped bar.

The atmosphere was simply electric.  Jazz students and regular customers filled the place. Tenor sax giant Jamie Oehlers was in blistering form and his young protégés hung on his every phrase and nuance. What a treat. On a Tuesday night, here were some of Perth’s top jazz musos tearing the place apart. (I mean this figuratively, not literally. It may be a Northbridge night club, but here it’s all about the music).

SO glad I stopped by.

The musos last night.

Tal Cohen- piano
Jamie Oehlers- saxophone
Nick Abbey- bass
Bronton Ainsworth- drums

You can catch Nick Abbey tonight.

You can catch Jamie and Tal with Emmy and Grammy award-winning bassist Bob Hurst on the 30th and 31st of May

Even though they’ll only be tearing the place apart in a figurative sense next week, the Ellington may still need to replace some of the furniture after the gigs ;)

Here’s a taste of the quartet from the Jazzaziz Vol 5 CD Launch at the Art Gallery of WA last year.  Of course, video clips are never a substitute for actually being there…

Cappuccino Concerts at the Bodhi Tree Cafe

July 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

Dear classical music lovers!

After the runaway success of their Grove Classics Series at the Grove Library in Peppermint Grove, Cappuccino Concerts are pleased to announce two concerts at the Bodhi Tree Book Café on August 7th and 14th at 3.30pm.

On August 7th, I’ll be joining the ensemble on clarinet for the charming and deeply moving Trio Pathetique by Russian composer Mikhail Glinka and Beethoven’s exquisite trio Opus 11 for Cello Clarinet and Piano. Be warmed by the smell and taste of delicious coffee while listening to these sublime works in the intimate setting of this very special café.

Sunday August 7th 3.30pm

M.Glinka Trio Pathétique

M.Ravel “Pièce en forme de Habanera”

L.van Beethoven Trio op.11 ’Gassenhauer’

Irina Vasil’eva – piano
Alex Millier – Clarinet
Eve Silver – Cello
Hear chamber music in a cozy café!
For details/bookings at
Cappuccino Concerts have even given me my own artist’s page!  Thanks Tina!

El Sistema

October 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Update… this argument by Stephen Fry debating against the motion that “classical music is irrelevant to todays’ youth” echoes many of the sentiments expressed by Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema.

“Music has to be recognized as an … agent of social development in the highest sense, because it transmits the highest values — solidarity, harmony, mutual compassion. And it has the ability to unite an entire community and to express sublime feelings.”
(José Antonio Abreu – founder of El Sistema in Venezuela)

The results of this incredible music system can be seen here in following inspirational clip of the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra.

Here in Western Australia we have the WA Youth Music Association
It should be supported nurtured and cherished by all West Australians.

“Established in 1974, the Western Australian Youth Music Association (formerly the Western Australian Youth Orchestra Association) has enriched and diversified music practice in Australia, which in recent years has been through the delivery of eight ensembles, comprising close to 500 members.  The Association regularly reaches live audiences in excess of 30,000 per annum.”


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