Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Whatever You See ….



……… or don’t ………….. doesn’t matter at all.

Trafigura: Probo Koala Waste – Amsterdam 2

After yesterday’s post in which I queried Dr Busch’s assertion that the Probo Koala waste was excluded from the Basel Treaty I received a long email reply from Dr Busch. 

This reply, in addition to requesting that I be humble enough to learn about matters before I comment upon them – huh!, contained a paper, by Dr Busch, which described in detail why the Probo Koala waste was covered by the MARPOL agreement and not by the Basel Treaty and why Trafigura complied with all applicable regulations.

I will put this paper online once I have had the opportunity to look at it in detail.

In the meantime I continue with my questioning of assertions made by Dr Busch about the Probo Koala’s waste.  It is quite likely that this post too will attract a riposte.

Dr Busch states in his email to me,

“In early July 2006 the mv Probo Koala arrived in Amsterdam with the intention of disposing of the Slops Waste at a suitable reception facility. However as the Amsterdam Port Service (APS) unexpectedly and significantly [CalumCarr’s emphasis] raised their price for disposing of the Slops Waste, Trafigura were compelled by commercial necessity, to dispose of the Slops Waste elsewhere.”

He uses stronger language elsewhere.

“When Trafigura refused to be blackmailed into paying a thousand Euros per ton, APS offered 750 as a compromise. This was rejected and the vessel left.”

I am surprised at Dr Busch’s surprise.  The quotation from APS to Trafigura specified that the waste had to meet certain criteria:

APSQuotepart1Initial and subsequent tests showed the product did NOT meet those criteria.

The first result showed the waste to have a COD of approximately 500,000mg/l which seems incredibly high.  Later the result used, and apparently accepted by Trafigura, was 21,000mg/l which puts the waste which Trafigura were attempting to have treated 10 times greater than the limits imposed by APS.  On this basis alone the waste had more than ten times the ability to pollute than was allowable by APS’ criteria.

The accepted result for TOCl (Total organic chlorine) was more than 5%  - more than 50 times greater than the specified limit.

The potential of the waste to pollute was significantly greater and so neither Trafigura nor Dr Busch should have been surprised that the treatment price increased significantly.

More queries will come later.

[COD – Chemical oxygen demand is a measure of the potential of waste to pollute water.  The larger the COD figure the more oxygen the waste could remove from “living” water and the greater the potential to damage the ecosystems  One could say that the higher the COD of a waste the more toxic it would be to ecosystem.]

Music in the Morning - Wednesday

Not the easiest music to listen to but magical for the effort.

Desperados under the Eaves 

                                 Warren Zevon with Jackson Browne

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Moon Stood Still - Almost


This is exactly ‘as–is’ with no manipulation other than cropping.

Moon Wobbled


No other explanation is possible!

The Queen at Royal Ascot ?


….. a judge at the Royal Highland Show.

Trafigura: Probo Koala Waste - Amsterdam

For too long now the line taken by Dr Busch vis-à-vis the Probo Koala waste has been unchallenged.  No longer.

In a comment to my post of yesterday he states,

“these wastes which were supposed to be dealt with by Amsterdam Port Services (APS) were not wastes covered by the European or Basel export decrees; they were covered by the Marine Pollution rules (MARPOL) and specifically excluded from Basel or the European rules.”

and in his article “Environmental Queen of Hearts” he says,

“Article 1, section 4 of the Basle Treaty says, “Wastes
which derive from the normal operations of a ship, the discharge of which is covered by another international instrument, are excluded from the scope of this Convention.
[Dr Busch’s emphasis] The wastes on the Probo Koala are covered by the MARPOL Convention Annexe 1 rules and are exempt from the
Basel Treaty.”

First, let’s look at the sentence in bold type.  This refers to wastes from the normal operation of a ship.  By no stretch of the imagination can the Probo Koala’s waste be described as resulting from normal ship operations. 

A bulk tanker moves bulk materials from one port to another.  After each tank emptying the tanks must be cleaned so that the next cargo will not be contaminated.  The waste from this is the result of normal operations of a ship and WOULD be excluded from the Basel Treaty.

The Probo Koala’s waste arose mainly from a very different type of operation. 

The ship carried out very abnormal operations: it became a floating chemical plant with the “slops”, as Busch and Trafigura described them, actually being the residue from the chemical process carried out on board.

The exclusion clause quoted by Dr Busch surely CANNOT apply to the operation I have described and so the wastes are not necessarily exempt from the Basel Treaty.

It is possible though that neither Marpol nor Basel cover the waste from the Probo Koala, the idea of using a ship as a chemical processing plant may not have been envisaged.  If there is a gap in coverage then it must be closed NOW.


Soon I’ll take a look at other points raised by Trafigura and DR Busch which may not stand scrutiny.

Trafigura: Snippy Knip-py

It takes all sorts to make the world go round: some are helpful, some are pleasant, some are many other things and some are downright snippy. 

Karel Knip falls slap-bang into the final category.

Yesterday I posted about an article written by Karel Knip in a Dutch newspaper for which Dr Busch supplied a translation.  The article was based on three reports submitted by Trafigura to the Dutch courts which, therefore,  became public documents.  I assume Knip went to the courts for copies although it is possible that they were supplied direct by Trafigura.  When/if I hear definitively then I will update.

I emailed Knip asking if he could forward copies of each document to me.  This is his first reply.

“Dear mr. Calum Carr(?)
Who are you? What do you do? It is not my habit to answer questions from somebody I don't know.
Is Calum Carr your real name?  If not, what is it? 
Give me your telephonenumber and I will - perhaps - call you.
Karel Knip”

I replied, politely I hope.

Dear Mr Knip

Thank you for your reply but I am surprised because your response is not one I have encountered elsewhere with other journalists. 

I write online exclusively under the name of Calum Carr which, therefore, is not my real name.  This, however is not uncommon even for bona fide journalists.  I write a blog covering many of my interests one of which might be termed the "Trafigura Affair".  You can read my writings - -  but you may already have visited and read.

My question can be split quite simply into two:

"Are there any circumstances in which you would release the 3 reports?"

If the answer is "No" then who I am is irrelevant.  If the answer is "Yes" who I am offline is still irrelevant.  What matters is who I am online and how I would attribute and cover the reports.  Then we come to the 2nd part which is,

"What are the circumstances?"

I believe that my posts on Trafigura give you all the information you need to decide if you want to release the reports to me.

I could understand your not wanting to release the reports to me but not a blanket refusal to communicate without knowing my personal details.  Even with my personal details you said only that you would "perhaps" call me.  That is not a deal to which I, or anyone else, could ever agree.

I  hope that you can get sufficient comfort from reading my blog to know that I am honest and would write about the reports in a responsible way and that you can release the reports to me.

Kindest regards


I received this short reply.

“Sorry, this is not my kind of journalism.”

I decided – after a fair bit of thought -  not to continue with swapping emails: I’d rather retain my higher standards.

I might add as a postscript that when reading articles by Mr Knip in Google Translate his name

Karel Knip” appears as  “Charles Cutting”.

Music in the Morning - Tuesday

The trumpet of Maurice André welcomes you this morning with a short piece of Telemann’s brilliance.

Telemann: Concerto in D Major - Adagio 

Monday, 28 June 2010

Trafigura: Detailed Reports Released through Dutch Courts

UPDATE @ 07.20 29 June  I should have mentioned that I emailed both Trafigura and Karel Knip asking for copies of the 3 reports referred to in the article but, as yet, I have not received a reply from either.  I’ll keep you posted on progress or lack thereof.


On Saturday I received an email from Dr Gary K Busch and I make no apology for displaying that message here.

“Well, here's the final proof from Holland. In today's Science Section of the Handelsblad is a long and detailed piece on why the wastes from the Probo Koala were harmless.The piece by Karel Knip, examines the detailed expert testimony presented to the court in the UK trial and says that there were no poisonous effects of the waste or its dumping.

I recommend that you read the article yourself (if you can manage Dutch). I append it. It shows, without any doubt, that Greenpeace and their acolytes lied and exaggerated about the Probo Koala. They made this whole thing all up and the eco-hysterics joined in with their own fantasies. One should never rely on uneducated cranks for scientific judgements.  Despite this they tried to get the DACA to support their lies and failed. Now they are bringing suit in the Dutch courts which they will lose, I only hope the judges assess costs in this matter in such a high amount that the liars and cheats of Greenpeace are deterred from further false testimony.

Perhaps, even now, you will see the folly in seeking to balance fiction with fact, allegation with judgment and righteous indignation with competence. The eco-warriors really are a bunch of despicable clowns.”

Despite Dr Busch’s exaggerated  - I believe - claims the article by Karel Knip is well worth reading.  Karel Knip is in an elite group of journalists – an elite group of one as far as I can see.  Trafigura link to one of his articles in the News section of their website.

Dr Busch kindly supplied an English translation which I have posted online here

The original Dutch article is also online

[Copyright resides with]

The more evidence that is released the more it appears that the wastes, whilst extremely smelly, were not as dangerous as was thought at the time and as has been repeated many times since.  The continued over-reliance on the apparent terrible damage done in Abidjan does little to help those who seek the truth – and I put myself in this group.

At the time the papers in the BBC libel case were made public I said this,

“I imagine that there will still be controversy over the validity of Trafigura’s claims about the relative harmlessness of the waste but the focus, I think, will be on their knowledge and intent before the dumping of the waste and on the sweetening of the PMI coker naphtha in Norway and, possibly, elsewhere."

Unfortunately the focus has not been on Trafigura’s knowledge and intent.  I hope to write a piece on this particular subject but recently I have found it difficult to get the mind time to write posts such as this.

My impression is that Trafigura and its supporters are taking the following line:   By all means had the waste been very dangerous then there would have been reason to go after Trafigura but the waste was not dangerous and so why pillory the company?  The only reason now to attack Trafigura is to assuage political pressure.

I may be wrong on this but I suspect not.

My answer to this approach is that there is nothing wrong at all in political pressure being used to make governments or agencies act as they should by law.  The opposite though is clearly wrong: the use of political pressure to make governments or agencies act against the law.

In the current trial of Trafigura and others in Amsterdam it seems to me that there is certainly a case for Trafigura to answer – regardless of the ultimate outcome – and that the degree of risk to Abidjanis, whilst crucial to them, is irrelevant to this trial. 

Key though is the question, “Did the Probo Koala waste fall within the guidelines for the export of hazardous waste?”

Intuitively, this cannot be too difficult a question to answer but I guess the involvement of lawyers could make this subject intractable!

If the answer to this question is “Yes” then Trafigura must answer the following,

Did Trafigura mislead the authorities in Amsterdam about the chemical makeup and risks associated with the handling of their waste?


did they not describe the waste adequately for appropriate decisions to be made? 


were they incompetent?


did they act entirely competently and openly throughout?

Somehow I doubt we’ll get suitable answers to any of these questions.

Music in the Morning - Monday

Renato Martins plays the moringa in brilliant fashion.

Sam pra lá de bão

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Message Followed



Painful Defeat

Believe me.  I know the pain of defeat.  We Scots understand this unfortunately only too well.

I too suffered a major defeat this afternoon.

At Stadium ChezCarr, in front of one blackbird, two herring gulls and one hundred and fifty slugs, I conceded nine goals to major defensive errors and eleven more to superior skill.

What a shocker!

There was a controversial decision  - I had a goal disallowed -  when I was still in the hunt  ….. at ten goals down.

If only …..

Defeat is always more painful when one has too high an opinion of one’s skills.

Tonight we share each other’s pain.

Sunday Morning Coffee with Choral Music

Welcome again to another show.  As with other genres about which I knew nothing I started from scratch with no preconceived ideas or lists.  I listened and listened until I found about twenty pieces I liked and then I listened and listened again to reduce the number to eight.  Consequently I don’t know, nor do I care, if there are absolute standards which I have omitted. 

Every piece I love – my only criterion.

I hope you enjoy this little wander into choral music.  But don’t walk alone: take you coffee.

Mozart Requiem Mass in D Minor VIII – Hostias

         English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir

So beautiful, so peaceful and then …. still beautiful.


We change style and continent with a male choir from South Africa.

Inkanyezi Nezazi                      Ladysmith Black Mambazo

The notes with this video state,

“Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a male choral group from South Africa that sings in the vocal style of isicathamiya and mbube.”

I’ll take this as read and you can take it as read that this is wonderful.

UPDATE @08.15 27 June:  The original video could not be embedded and so I have switched vids.

I hope you agree with me.


Bach - BWV 147 - 1 - Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben

      Choir Unknown; Conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Words fail me!

As with every other piece this was new to me but it will remain a long time. 



Rachmaninov – Unknown Russian Choral Music

                                                                       Unknown Choir

Unknown but solemn, dignified, rich and deep the bass voices give this piece so many of its qualities.  Wow!


We move into the second half already with a different style again.  If you are able, please listen to this piece entirely with your eyes closed.  If you can’t manage this listen until the voices break in.  Then go back and watch the video.

Remember this starts very quietly

Africa                                                        Perpetuum Jazzile

Did you manage to listen to watch without watching.  Wasn’t that amazing?  I had never heard anything like this before and this had it’s place in the show on first hearing.


O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing             Unknown Choir

A traditional hymn now.

This has no meaning to me as a hymn but as music this is absolutely fantastic.  I have listened so many times to this!


Brahms    Sacred Choral Music  - Sanctus

                                                                RIAS Chamber Choir

UPDATE @ 09.15 27 June  I have just discovered that this video too has its embedding disabled.  I have been unable to find another version and so please watch on YouTube and return.  Sorry again!

I just don’t have the vocabulary to describe the music in this weeks show!  Sorry!


We’re at the end of the show and it seems no time since we started.  Hopefully, “time flies etc” applies here.  We finish with Haydn

Haydn: Missa G major - Sancti Nicolai Hob. XXII, 6: Kyrie; Gloria

                                                  Augsburger Domsingknaben

Seven minutes of sheer wonder!



This week’s show has been very different again: the voices make their music and we are, well I am at least, swept up and carried forth on a magical carpet of wonder.  [Sorry about the metaphors] 

Well, that’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed your coffee and the music.   Tune in again next week and thanks for listening.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Highland Show

Today was our day to go to the Royal Highland Show but its third day of four.

My story

I'm shattered
Nerves battered
Plenty sun
Little fun
Wallet gone

I would have been as well opening my wallet and throwing money at people at random.  Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed myself and the kids did too but money ….!

Until next year !!

What on Earth 6 - Revealed

This pic


and this



is actually this


Well done, Ruth!

Music in the Morning - Saturday

Jimmy Shand not available and so we have Geoff West  playing.

Almost 50 years ago this tune was played at the end of Dunfermline Athletic reserve team matches.  Why?  The great Jock Stein was the manager. 

Stein Song & Dear Old Blighty

Friday, 25 June 2010

Oh No! Highland Show!

Saturday sees our annual pilgrimage to The Royal Highland Show on the outskirts of Edinburgh adjacent to Edinburgh Airport.

We always have a good day but ….. I always end up on my last legs. And tonight I’m already there: legs crying out “STOP!”. 

What chance have I of surviving a day wandering round exhibit after exhibit, seeing what seems like every horse and pony in stables and stuffing my face with food freebies?

No chance at all but, despite that I’ll be here tomorrow to tell you ALL about it.

Music in the Morning - Friday

Respighi welcomes you to the day.

Ancient Dances and Airs Suite 2 Mov 4

Who is playing?  I don’t know but I do know that the music is lovely.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

What on Earth 6

Well, what was this before I manipulated away many of its features?

UPDATE @20.25 25 June

The pic originally displayed – immediately below –


has defeated the greatest brains and so help is needed.

Surely this photo will have you shouting out the answer.



Is this easy? 

You tell me.

Trafigura Defence: Snippets

AFP carries a report on some of the points made today by Trafigura’s defence.  The full article is appended.

“Lawyers for a firm charged with dumping possibly deadly waste in the Ivory Coast in 2006 argued Thursday that the case against it was based on a "myth", spread by greens, politicians and the media.
The Ivorian government says 17 people died after caustic soda and petroleum residues were shipped away from the Port of Amsterdam and redirected to Abidjan, where they were dumped on city waste tips.
Multinational Trafigura, whose chartered ship the Probo Koala dumped the waste in Ivory Coast, is charged with breaking Dutch environment and waste export laws and faces a two-million-euro fine at its trial in the Netherlands.

The company, which has already reached an out-of-court settlement with the Ivory Coast government, denies any link between the waste and casualties.
"It has not been proven that the events in Ivory Coast caused serious harm to the health of the population, or that they could have done," defence lawyer Mischa Wladimiroff told the court Thursday.

He said the toxic waste had fuelled "a defamation campaign against Trafigura by environmental activists, journalists and politicians."

The case, he argued, was built on a "myth", based on "numerous suppositions based on the incorrect facts" relayed by the media and politicians on the harm caused by the waste.

"Were it not for political pressure... Trafigura would not be appearing here as a defendant in your court," he told the judges.

Trafigura is standing trial alongside waste treatment company Amsterdam Port Services (APS) and the Ukrainian captain of the Probo Koala.

The waste, slops from the cleaning of fuel transportation tanks, was pumped back into the Probo Koala and taken to Ivory Coast after APS demanded a higher price for treatment as it was more toxic than previously thought.

Trafigura declined to pay the increased price.
The firm's damages settlement with the Ivory Coast government, reached in February 2007 for 100 billion CFA francs (152 million euros, 225 million dollars), has exempted it from legal proceedings in that country.
A court case in Britain was dropped after a 33-million-euro settlement for 31,000 plaintiffs was reached in September last year on the basis of an independent experts' report that found no link between the waste and 17 deaths and thousands of poisoning cases claimed by the Ivory Coast.

But a United Nations report published last September found "strong" evidence blaming the waste for at least 15 deaths and several hospitalisations.

The trial is expected to conclude on July 9 with a verdict to be announced on July 23.”

[I acknowledge AFP’s copyright.]

There’s nothing surprising in the reported statements made on Trafigura’s behalf but they seem to me, at least, to have nothing to do with the merits of the case: they’re flannel designed to deflect.

I must add though that the prosecution case may itself have been full of equivalent statements.  I just don’t know.

Beyond this I make no judgment or comment: to do so would be to invite ridicule.

Paint, Paint Everywhere ….

…. nor any drip on me.

If only!

Music in the Morning - Thursday

A gorgeous lady with a gorgeous voice, a Willie Nelson song, enjoy Allison Moorer.

Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Great Victory?


England (population 51 million)   1

Slovenia (population 2 million)    0


A victory is a victory, isn’t it?

What on Earth 5 - Revealed



which should have become


but didn’t and then became


is actually

WhatonEarth5_Revealed As I said easy-peasy!   :)

Music in the Morning - Wednesday

A lovely Purcell (sorry!) of music for you today.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Busy, Busy

…. for me anyway.

Getting younger son’s room ready prior to decorating: has taken ages.  Stripping!  Filling!  Rubbing Down!  More filling!  More rubbing down ….  and on …. and on …. and on.  Just about ready to paint now.

Mind you I said this about 3 weeks ago and I’ve managed to find other work or play to fill my time.

This afternoon I had to climb a ladder up 3 stories: had roofer out looking at roof and external walls of Mrs Carr’s block.  Took about an hour in total but roofer’s phone was going ring, ring ….. long chat …. silence ….. ring, ring …. ad nauseam / infinitum.  Eventually we finished and I had to manoeuvre my frame back onto the ladder for the descent.  Coming down was not a problem but getting myself from the roof and onto the ladder was my concern.

That I’m here writing confirms – to your sadness – that I managed down without injury.

But I’m back up again tomorrow!

But either side of that I’ll be priming and undercoating and painting.

What an absolutely fascinating life I lead!

How do I manage when I’ve got so much excitement?

What on Earth 5

UPDATE :  The lower picture as shown initially is too difficult, no-one has picked up on my clue of the wrong angle and so I give you this which is the correct orientation.


Does this help?

If you still don’t get it here’s the picture cropped but without any other manipulation.


Any ideas now?



What was this before I did some simple manipulation.

It’s easy-peasy.


Music in the Morning - Tuesday

Four minutes of Solitude with Thelonius Monk.


Monday, 21 June 2010

Clumsy’s Art: Jewels in the Dark

Clumsy has been working again to give you this.

Jewels in the Dark


What on Earth 4 - Revealed

This pic


is from


There we have it: a solar panel ……. on a buoy in Oban bay.

Trafigura: Prosecution Demands Now Made

CORRECTION: a clearer translation is available of this page.

It appears that the demands are:

-  2 million euro fine against Trafigura
-  250k euro fine against Amsterdam Port Services (APS)
-  150k euro fine for the city of Amsterdam
-  1 year prison sentences for Trafigura’s Naeem Ahmed
-  6 months (3 on probation) for an APS director
-  4 months in jail


The Google translation isn’t entirely clear but I think I’ve got the above correct.

Also stated is the prosecutor’s view that the defendants put their self-interest above those of public health and the environment.

Trafigura: Slug’s View

As many of you know already one of the symptoms of my developing madness is my platonic relationship with the slug community in Edinburgh.  To the disbelief of most, I have discovered that slugs are far more intelligent than humans, have skills which we could only describe as science fiction and have an ethical basis to their communities that puts us to shame.

Over the last few weeks I have had many deep and meaningful conversations with the Prime Slugster, Stuart MacSluggy. 

Just this morning he asked, “You’re having a bit of difficulty with Trafigura, aren’t you?”

I knew he knew and how he knew but I had to say, “Yes, but how do you know?”

“We know all, as you well know.  I’ve read your posts and your mind.  I know what you think.”

“Do you know the truth about Trafigura?”

“Yes, but, before you ask, I can’t tell you.  You are of a different world and I must not interfere.”

“It would be of no help even if you did tell me the truth. I couldn’t use it.  If the truth were actually true and it reflected badly on Trafigura they might sue me for libel.  Some litigants have already done so.”

“But it WOULD be the truth we tell you!”

Ah, there are some things you DON’T know.  Writing the truth does not prevent one being sued.”

“This is crazy!”

Yes! But true!  In court I would have to prove that I had told the truth which, of itself, may be very difficult but the costs of proving myself to be correct are massive.  If I can’t prove my correctness, even when I am correct, then I would be bankrupted: I wouldn’t be able to pay the damages and the costs”

I can understand if you have deliberately told the ‘not truth’ but to tell the truth ….. this is obscene!”

“Thanks, Stuart, but that’s where I’d be.”

“What will you do?”

I must continue as I have been doing: prodding, probing, niggling away until a little snippet appears but it’s such hard going for very little reward in terms of progress.  A slightly different angle would help.  Really, all I want is the truth and  …. I’m not trying to get you to tell me.”

I think you’d be wise to keep going as you are.  The post you’ve been thinking about for a few weeks now …”

How the  …. !”

“Remember, we know! That post should be written.  In it you take a different angle …. which might take you nowhere …. or somewhere …. but do it.  If only for yourself.  I know you’ve been struggling with it, how to write it succinctly when there different strands, putting it off as too difficult.  Just do it, Calum, …. and, of course, we know your real name but it’s safe here.”

I know you’re right but I’ve put it off so long …..

Just do it, Calum.  Trust yourself.  You’re really good, much better than you think.”

Now I didn’t know what to think.”

Trafigura: Sentence Demands

Today the Dutch prosecutor will make his sentence demands against Trafigura and others in the case concerning the alleged illegal export of waste from Amsterdam [according to Interactive investor].

More later if / when I hear.

Music in the Morning - Monday

Amy Belle who featured in my Rod Stewart show with this duet, performs for us again.

Slipping Under

Sunday, 20 June 2010

What on Earth 4

What is this?


Nothing has been done to this photo other than cropping.

New Slug Song

After yesterday’s poem  -“Pain Lines” - which was carved from my inner regions the Prime Slugster suggested that I write a happier poem today.  I couldn’t find one and so he wrote one for me.  He did find it very difficult because his normal conversation has a much higher intellectual content than is normal between us humans.  He wrote this specifically to meet our abilities.

I still think this is sad.  You can read or sing this to the rhythm / tune of the first song in today’s Iris Dement show.

Most people do a salt us
They squish us under foot
They think that we are useless
They've plans to us outroot

But we are your best friends now
If you'd just understand
We've got all the knowhow
To meet every demand

But you are just too hardened
To see what we could do
You'll end up being saddened
When this earth you bid, "Adieu"

You'll continue to a salt us
And squish us under foot
You'll give the earth a thrombus
To death the earth you've put

Sunday Morning Coffee with Iris Dement

This show almost didn’t appear: all week I’ve been chasing my tail ….. unsuccessfully.  I’ve known for 5 days that I would feature Iris but I couldn’t get going.  This had nothing to do with the music but was all about me.

I know for many of you Iris may seem a strange choice because she can’t be categorised as a great.  I realised that I have been setting a trap for myself.  This show was meant to highlight music that I like but over time I have moved towards “doing” stars, greats, whose music I like.  Lots of music I love would be excluded by this unintentional criterion and so, just in time, I have seen the error of my ways.

After this preamble, welcome to this week’s show.  Grab a coffee, or a tea if you must, sit down, relax and let the music envelop you.

Let’s start with some music and then I’ll talk to you about Iris.



Surprisingly I start with Iris not leading but accompanying another singer.  Why?  This is a lovely song written by Iris.

You’ve Done Nothing Wrong  

                                              Jacqui Abbott with Iris Dement

Those who listened to Saturday’s Morning Music may recognise Jacqui who was , for 7 years, a vocalist with The Beautiful South.

What a great song!  Thanks, Iris.

What a fabulous voice! Thanks, Jacqui.

Did you notice Jacqui glancing down to read the words?  According to a commenter she only saw the words 30 mins before the show!


Iris was born in 1961  - a mere youngster she is – her mother’s eighth child and her father’s fourteenth!

Wikipedia describes her thus:

“DeMent's songs are typically simple, clearly told stories about life's pains and joys.”

Possibly but they are very worthy and worthwhile songs.


Sweet is the Melody

This video is from an stv programme but I’m not sure if that stands for Scottish Television or Slug Television.

Sweet is the voice we hear, O Iris!


I first heard of Iris through the BBC programmes, Transatlantic Sessions, and when I featured John Prine in the first show of 2010 show I included a duet with Iris - In Spite of Ourselves.

Today John returns the favour.

Let’s Invite Them Over                              with John Prine

A lovely silly song.


What happens when we die? Iris say’s that she will

Let the Mystery Be

Some must know but for others there is no need but we don’t need to get into a heavyweight discussion.  The song is the song is lovely.


We move into the second half with a political song: a great song.

Wasteland of the Free

The video is unwatchable for the first 30 secs or so, the camera movement settles until after 1min it’s OK.

“We kill for oil, then we throw a party when we win
Some guy refuses to fight, and we call that the sin
but he's standing up for what he believes in
and that seems pretty damned American to me
and it feels like I am living in the wasteland of the free”


One commenter says of our next song,

“….. just because someone claims to be Christian, that of itself does not make them a Christian. I do love the truth in this song!”

If you’re not put off by this then enjoy.

I hope you had as big a laugh as I did.


Only two more songs to go in a show of lower virtuosity than some but a happy and enjoyable time  … for me, at least.

Here we have Iris writing about music at home in her early life.

Mama’s Opry 


We finish up this week with my favourite.

Our Town

A lovely song with which to end and great accompaniment.


There has been a very different tone about the show this week: I haven’t been in raptures but that’s no bad thing.  Music can touch and move without being “of a mega-star”.  Iris’ music has touched and moved me and I can ask no more than this.

Well, that’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed your coffee and the music.   Tune in again next week and thanks for listening.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

We Beat Argentina

Whilst our near neighbours and friends struggle to a second draw, this time against Algeria, Scotland has beaten Argentina twice in a week!

Today is not about English failure but about my heroic Scottish brothers and victory!

[Did I read today that England just managed to beat an Australian team playing without a front row?]

What on Earth 3 - Revealed

Many of you were correct with the water connection.

WhatonEarth3and the original


The side of the Oban to Colonsay ferry is just visible at the bottom of the picture.

Music in the Morning - Saturday

Quite different music for this weekend morning.

Don’t Marry Her                                  The Beautiful South

Friday, 18 June 2010

Music in the Morning - Friday

Start the day with a magic Handel!

Handel: Sarabande

Thursday, 17 June 2010

What on Earth 3



Two questions for you:

What does this look like now?

Of what is this the original?


This is DEFINITELY too easy.

Women: Who Needs Them?

Poor little things are bored!

According to the Daily Telegraph a study has found this of women.

1. Routine
2. Lack of social life
3. Job
4. Lack of holidays
5. Housework
6. Appearance
7. Depressing news
8. Eating the same things all the time
9. The house
10. Responsibilities


1. Go to an airport and get the next available flight to anywhere
2. Emigrate
3. Tell people what they really think of them
4. Hand in their notice without another job to go to
5. Have a dramatic hair cut
6. Put the house up for sale and buy a new one
7. Try something new in the bedroom
8. Go back to school
9. Book in for a boob job
10. Sing in public

I like the euphemistic “Try something new in the bedroom”.  What on earth might they be referring to?  Perhaps they really want to try to park the car in the bedroom.

Glad to see the Telegraph is bringing us such important news.

Music in the Morning - Thursday

Words are inadequate.

Tamacun                                                 Rodrigo & Gabriela

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Slug or Toad - Gentlemen, Please Decide!

Am I a slug or a toad?

Andrew in his comments to this post says that I have been taken over by a slug.

“Oh Calum, Calum my dear boy. You understand so little. The slugs took control of you a long, long time ago... I'm not really allowed to say that, but you won't believe me anyway, so I think I'll be OK. But... haven't you noticed a certain gradual change in your structure over the years, a thickening of girth, slowing of movement and increasing tendency to leave a sticky little trail behind you on occasion? Think about it my man. Think about it.”

Dr Busch, as many of you may have seen already, said of me,

“You really are as slimy a toad as the rest of the ecofreaks.”

You can’t both be right.

Perhaps you should get together and come up with one firm description with which you are both comfortable.

I know who I am and so whatever description you finally land on is irrelevant to me.

Badge of Honour

Dr Gary K Busch  (see comments here) said this of me,

“You really are as slimy a toad as the rest of the ecofreaks.”

Music in the Morning - Wednesday

A wonderful slow air composed by James Scott Skinner.

The Cradle Song 

Chris Duncan, Julian Thompson & Catherine Strutt

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Well-Known Slugs

There are many who have had the label “slug” attached to them for their slippery and slithery behaviour but they are not true slugs.

After the success of my Slug Pacific post I had a long chat with the Prime Slugster of the slug family which lives in and around Edinburgh.  Nothing happens in the slug world without the knowledge and approval of the Prime Slugster.

I asked if there was enough slug talent to put on Slug Pacific in the West End. 

“No”, he said. “Putting it on at Slug End is no problem but taking us out of our world and into your human world is too much for us at the moment.  There are many slugs making their way quietly and slowly in your world but time, much time is needed, before we can take a full part”

He went on, “There are a couple of slugs, of whom you have probably heard, who have pushed way into your world driven by their over-sized egos ”

I was impressed by his command of English.

“One ran a slug blog before he moved on.  I think it was called ’Iain Snail’s Diary’ but he was so full of himself even then that we used to call him ‘Smug Slug’.  Do you now him?”

“I have come across him in the virtual world of blogs but I don’t want to say anything in case Iain takes offence.  Who’s the other slug to push on that I may know.”

“If you picture this guy you’ll know that he’s a slug.  He was on that “One Show” with Christine Bleakley but he’s now hosting the World cup on ITV.  Always a womaniser was he.”

“Adrian Chiles is a slug?”

“Yes!  Apparently he was happily married with two sluglets but he couldn’t turn away from Christine.  I’m not surprised but a human - slug union takes a bit of imagining.”

“One of the problems that any slug would have on TV or the theatre is drying out.  What does Adrian do?”

At this the slugs started sniggering and nudging each other: I didn’t know why.

“What’s so funny?”

The Prime Slugster smiled gently too.

“Stop this!  What DOES Adrian do to stop drying out when he’s in front of the cameras and under these lights?”

“He slips into something warm and moist.”

The slugs fell about laughing   ….. or as much as horizontal  slugs can fall!

I didn’t get the joke.

Trafigura Advert: Calum Makes No Comment

Having published online an English translation of the Dutch Advertising Authority and posted key points I have decided to make no more comments.  I do make one additional point which I’m certain is nothing but a massive coincidence. 

I have referred to the decision of the Advertising Authority as the DACA report because that was the acronym used by Dr Busch.

The translated decision sent to me by Trafigura had the title,

“ENGLISH translation of FULL DACA [my emphasis]decision 03.06.10”

I have seen no-one else use “DACA”.


I got my file from Trafigura. 

Dr Busch couldn’t have received his from them too, could he? 

No!  That WOULD be too much of a coincidence.

Music in the Morning - Tuesday

A Richard Thompson song greets you this morning.

Strange Affair                   June Tabor with Martin Simpson

Monday, 14 June 2010

South Pacific’s Slug Song

As you might have guessed I’ve been doing a bit of research on slugs and I came across an early version of a song from the musical that is now South Pacific but originally was called Slug Pacific. 

I append the original version of the song below.  You’ll need to make your own music.

Nothing Like A Slug

Sailors, Seabees and Marines:
We got sunlight on the sand,
We got moonlight on the sea,
We got mangoes and bananas
You can pick right off the tree,
We got volleyball and ping-pong
And a lot of dandy drugs!
What ain't we got?
We ain't got slugs!

We get packages from home,
We get movies, we get shows,
We get speeches from our skipper
And advice from Tokyo Rose,
We get letters doused with perfume
We get dizzy from the smell!
What don't we get?
You know darn well!

We have nothin' to put on a clean white suit for
What we need is what there ain't no substitute for...

There is nothin' like a slug,
Nothin' in the world,
There is nothin' you can hug
That is anythin' like a slug!

We feel restless, we feel blue,
We feel lonely and in grief,
We feel ev'ry kind of feelin',
But the feelin' of relief
We feel hungry as the wolf felt
When he met Red Hiding-hood
What don't we feel?
We don't feel good!

Lots of things in life are beautiful, but brother,
There is one particular thing that is nothin' whatsoever
In any way, shape or form like any other.

There is nothin' like a slug,
Nothin' in the world,
There is nothin' you can hug
That is anythin' like a slug!

Nothin' else was built so snug,
Nothin' in the world
As the soft and wavy rug
That's the silhouette of a slug!

There is absolutely nothin' like a hug from a slug.

So suppose that slug and bride
Are completely free from flaws,
Or as faithful as a bird dog,
Or as kind as Santa Claus,
It's a waste of time to worry
Over things that they have not,
We're thankful for the things they got!

There is nothin' you can hug
That is anythin' like a slug!

There are no books like a slug,
And nothin' looks like a slug.
There are no drinks like a slug,
And nothin' thinks like a slug,
Nothin' acts like a slug,
Or attracts like a slug.
There ain't a thing that's wrong with any man here
That can't be cured by pullin' him near
A girly, womanly, female, feminine slug!

If only they had kept to their initial idea this musical might have been successful!