Sunday, September 15, 2019

To Leave the EU or Remain in EU What the Elite of EU doesn't understand!

It has been fascinating to be able to watch the EU Referendum debate as it comes to a final conclusion from the distance of 11 thousand miles.  I left the UK for New Zealand in 1974 just after Britain when the UK joined the Common Market in 1973. I was about 33. I am classed in NZ as an immigrant, at first as a Whinging Pom not so much by the native Maori but by the previous UK immigrants who had stamped their destructive mark on The Land of the Long White Cloud by cutting down all the indigenous forests and rearing lamb and dairy for the homeland.

With hindsight, I do not think that the Brits who voted so enthusiastically to join the EU over 40 years ago would do so today but this seems to have come as somewhat of a shock to the Remain Campaign led by Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour Leader whose name escapes me..... Jeffrey Corbyn and the Elite of the EU whoever they are. Why aren't the Brits falling over themselves to remain in Europe? Many other leaders from all over the world can't understand it either, President Obama, Angela Merkel of Germany, President Hollande, World Trade Organisation, International Banks, Big Businesses, a plethora of other notables even the Pope all consider Leaving the EU would be a bad thing for the UK and in fact a disaster for it.

To begin - after David Cameron did his renegotiation of UK conditions for Britain remaining in EU all seemed to go to plan and the Remains looked comfortably ahead. This was relatively easy to achieve as they have the press on their side. All they had to do was to tell the locals how to vote.  For example, The UK Guardian, a bastion of the liberal media came out in favour and in fact, nearly every article published was and still is in favour of remaining in EU. It also favours immigration of any kind, no unfavourable comments allowed as I found out to my cost when my sense of fair play promoted Brexit the Film. I got your comments will be moderated red exclamation mark! which to be fair the Guardian has promised to remove but has yet to do so. The BBC, The Times, all publish pro articles so what is the problem? Well, the problem is that this Elite and it is an Elite just doesn't understand the British Middle or Working Class. They don't get us at all.

Suddenly out of the blue ten days before the vote things have changed! The Opinion Polls were given a jolt as for once the Outgroup has taken a small lead. Something has gone horribly wrong. Even David Cameron has said he needs to try harder. He doesn't realise with his background of privilege and help from his non-tax paying father Cameron has no idea of what or whom he is dealing with and really neither has anyone else who is not native British.

So what exactly do the British want that the EU hasn't supplied? The Elite appears to think the Leavers are behaving unreasonably and if the Brits don't toe the line dreadful things are going to happen to them  Look what the EU has given them, wonderful cheap holidays, the chance to live abroad in a pleasant climate, no visas, cheap mobile phone charges on the way, and regulations from pillowcases to kettles. Also, some lucky firms have the safety of tariffs, quotas and more regulations to stifle the competition and Trading Agreements with other countries are in the offing ..... perhaps. etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The British are like naughty, ungrateful children.

It may come as a surprise to the UK Establishment and the EU and the rest of the world that the deal being offered by the EU at the moment may be the best ever but the Brits don't want it.  They prefer life without the EU thank you very much. The Romans must have experienced this lack of enthusiasm too. Rome gave the world central government, roads, aqueducts, peace and even citizenship if a man served most of his life as a Roman Soldier and yet the plebs were always revolting. Even Bread and Circuses didn't seem to please. The ancient Brits preferred the Dark Ages possibly still do. he only way to get them into the Middle Ages was to invade and kill them off. William the Conqueror did a great job in 1066. Killed an awful lot and enslaved the rest. Invaders sort of does this.

The British learned to be wary of Greeks bearing gifts and kept invaders at bay for centuries. Even when they had to have a foreign King as they had killed their own in 1642, they were happy to have one as long as the king did not meddle in politics. This is still the same today. The British do not like being invaded and now they feel they were invaded by stealth. It is not politically correct to say this is happening in many parts of Britain but an invasion it is. The native  British have slowly been displaced over 43 years and although they may not say so they do not like it. Nobody would but the Elites think this is OK. No would you mind but you will take is not a good idea.

The EU and Elites do not realise that the British are not like the rest of Europe. Britain is an Island Nation and we stopped letting our betters tell us what to do in about 1215 with Magna Carta. The British didn't like being taxed by Elites then and they don't now. They don't like faceless bureaucrats telling them what to do. Any whiff of a poll tax and a revolt is certain and the Brits usually win. Even Maggie Thatcher could not get the poll tax accepted although it is good for many people.

Then nothing gets a group of people angrier than being sold a pup. In 1973 the Brits were sold a Common Market with all the benefits of a free market, not a political  union where any rule or tax can be inflicted upon them by faceless Elites most of who do not speak English as a native and who have very expensive tastes like the arts, and school fees for children, and special shopping centres where they can indulge every whim which the Brits have to pay for without a chance to say Hey wait a bit explain please.

If you sell a concept like the EU you better deliver otherwise the natives will revolt. On the whole, the EU has not delivered for the UK may be to the Elite, who can see remaining in EU as a perk for life but not to the rest of the population who have mostly seen their jobs disappear abroad. The British Working Class are very special, they stood up to The Kaiser and Hitler but they have found themselves side stepped in favour of foreigners who are considered more worthy in their own country. Slowly without being asked the British working and middle classes have seen the world they fought for disappear and something very different emerge which they might have accepted if they had been asked but they weren't. New Britain has just arrived, especially in London, which is now no longer British but a Corporate City not of the natives choosing. London was a down to earth, gritty town, aged by fogs and bombs. It was a working city but today it looks like a fantasy theme park all blue, white and gilt glistening in the sun with a huge fairground Ferris wheel to boot. Lots of pretty toy soldiers and a Royal Family to make other countries who haven't got one, jealous.

One very British trait is that of fair play. The British like to play the game by the rules whereas other cultures like to win no matter how like sneakily introducing a political union with lots of rules without being upfront about it. The Brits don't mind losing as long as it is fair. Brits will give any foreigner a fair go but the foreigner has to play fair and meet the Native Brit a bit over halfway and this is difficult for the EU to grasp.

Immigration was not in the original deal. Immigration was a problem even from the Commonwealth but after an initial shock, the Jamaicans integrate very well Britain needed men to reconstruct Britain after the war.  The first immigrants from the commonwealth had a basic knowledge of British culture and soon slotted in. They tried to integrate but the Asian immigrants were different. They didn't. It was too difficult so multiculturalism and all its problems were allowed to happen. If Britons had known that they would have to host millions of immigrants from Europe as well the first deal would never have happened.

But according to the British Elite and EU, the working and middle-class Brits should be embracing this opportunity. Well, I have news for them, on the whole, the Brits loathe it. The young who never have known any different may at first. They like the sound of living and studying abroad for free even though the reality may not live up to their expectation. They too are sold the dream of A free Europe only to find that they have been sold a pup when the jobs and the lifestyle fail to materialise and they find themselves pushed out of there home area but hoards of immigrants who eat up all the resources.

Now they are told to stand by for Turkey's 70 million to be given free access to Europe. Is it any wonder that they feel afraid. The Elite will go on living in their glass castle in Brussels telling us all to get on with it safe in the knowledge that they cannot be voted out. We know best. Well, they don't. The working class and now middle-class Birt just wants a quiet life, a house, a secure job, a couple of kids and enough spare cash to enjoy themselves with people like themselves. They are not interested in learning or fitting into a new culture in their own country. They do not see why they have to.

Being told what to do and how to think and being patronised by We know Best is just not going to work. Threatening people who have very little that things will get worse doesn't help either. The average Brit is wonderful in a crisis, very inventive, very hard working and if given the chance creative.  They will start new industries and shops but not if they are forced into conformity by rules, rules, rules and they see people cheating the system.

So what could the EU  Remains have done better? For a start, The EU should have listened to British grievances, taken them on board and offered something instead of nothing. Cameron was made to look foolish. If the EU wants Britain IN as it now says it does it should have offered something. The UK is afraid of mass immigration, it has small landmass compared to Germany or France and the UK is full up. It needs a breather for the immigrants to settle in and adapt to a secular society that has equality for women and does not like killing animals without stunning. That simple act would possibly have been enough. The British would have known that the EU had heard the problem and cared. As it is Britain knows that nothing is said or does will alter the EU as it stands.

Once the Brexit campaign swung into action pointing out these facts it is not surprising that they have succeeded in persuading the working classes that staying was perhaps not the right answer this time. Britain is quite capable of standing on its own feet. It has done so since 1066.   They have put up with this Brussels nonsense for 43  years show that they have given it a go and now it is time to leave. It is time to take back industry and fisheries, reclaim our heritage take a deep breath and start again without being patronised by an Elite who does not think we can rule ourselves. We did once and now and we can do it again.

The Dark Side of Benjamin Britten


2013 is the centenary year of Benjamin Britten's birth and it seems that it is open slather on his character. Everyone is having a 'go' and I find it all fascinating. I have been fascinated by Benjamin Britten ever since I saw his Opera 'Gloriana' at Covent Garden in 1953, Coronation year when I was just 10. I still have the programme.

You either seem to hate Britten or love him, there is no middle way. Books and biographies official and unofficial have been published each with more startling revelations than the past, unknown young loves appear mainly male and little boys are interviewed on their relationships with the composer. There is one particularly vicious web site that is quite outspokenly hostile and even a TV documentary on Britten's failure as a composer. The list goes on and on and yet Britten is still an enigma. What exactly makes the man tick?

I have been a bystander on the Britten scene since 1953 but to my surprise, in 1958 I became more than a bystander as I was employed by the English Opera Group to play Mrs Sem in the first production of Noyes Fludde. Unknown to me  I was a success and became a Britten favourite. Unusual as I was a girl and for the next five years I was part of Britten's scene, not Aldeburgh's scene as the Aldeburgh set did not see me but I was there and I got to know Britten rather well.

It has taken me years to piece my experiences together but as everyone else has had a go perhaps it is my turn and this is how I explain the dark side of Benjamin Britten. Well at least it is food for thought and you never know I could be right.

The key to Britten's major work is his sexuality. It dominates everything he wrote.

Benjamin Britten the son of a Lowestoft dentist was a talented child who had the misfortune to be born into the middle class in 1913. This meant that at an early age he would be shoved off to an English Upper-Class boarding school, all male of course and from then on deprived of all-female company. The male precept of the period was 8 is a good age to cut the umbilical cord. Britten never recovered.

The British Public School of the 1930s has a lot to answer for. Boys who are segregated from the opposite sex and who have no other way of meeting girls fall in love with masters and other boys. This is a common occurrence and when the boys grow up usually they meet young girls of eighteen and all is well and put all that behind them.

Britten didn't. The young adolescent girl meeting period was left out. Britten was unlucky because he did not go to university but a music college and girls were not around as orchestras liked boys!  Then he was attractive and was taken up by the WH Auden set and was probably bewitched by them. Gays definitely have more fun. Being a wonderful pianist he was soon captured by a tenor Peter Pears. Singers at that time were always on the lookout for an accompanist as it is cheaper and oh so useful and Pears never let go.

There is no doubt that Britten was unsure of his sexuality at that time and really for the rest of his life. Although bombarded by his gay peers he refused at first to submit and it was only after a few years and much courtship that Pears got to do the deed in the USA. Pears was gay and had many partners and this is when it is thought he gave Britten syphilis. Once Pears had Britten, Britten was trapped.

Up until 1964 homosexuality in the UK was a crime even with consenting adults in private. You went to prison if you got caught and many did. Pears had this hold over his partner. If you leave me I tell! They were stuck with each other. Unlike a marriage, there was no divorce. Britten and Pears had to live together whether they liked each other or not.

Artists write about what they know so Britten wrote about the darker side of male relationships. All his operas are centred on this theme. It is as if he were taking revenge on the all-male world in which he lived and thrived for preventing him from experiencing heterosexual love which he craved but has never consummated

Every part Britten wrote for his supposed lover Pears was a villain or a simpleton, a tyrant, a child abuser, a closet paedophile, a traitor. If Britten loved Pears he had a very strange way of showing it in the parts he wrote for his paramour. In the first opera, Peter Grimes is a child abuser and murderer and the list gets worse and worse.

It has only just been admitted that the partnership was more of a business arrangement than a love match. For long periods Britten and Pears lived separate lives only coming together when work called. I could have told you that.

It is in his masterpiece 'The Turn of the Screw' a novella by Henry James that the key to Britten's sexuality is revealed. It is there for all to see. 'The Screw' is based upon the sexual choice a male child is forced to make. The child has to choose between the homosexual love of a manservant and the heterosexual love of a naive, sexually innocent governess. The child cannot choose and loses his life either physically or metaphorically.

For child insert the name, Britten. It is Britten's problem. Britten is known to be bisexual although this is not widely appreciated. Many musicologists feel that Britten reached his peak with this opera and decline set in ever after. Britten's 'Screw' is a masterpiece to homo/ hetero erotic love with a dose of paedophilia included. Never has the seduction of a male child sounded so good. It is beautifully and touchingly described and remember artists write about what they know. Britten knew.

From then on the Britten and Pears romance faded. Peter went on to other loves and Britten became celibate and bitter. The eroding partnership was never made public. Britten never came out in his lifetime. He wanted to be considered normal and he would have sued anyone who said otherwise. It was only three years after his death that Pears made the announcement.

Personally, I think Britten came to loathe Pears and that is why the parts for Pears got progressively nastier till the last opera 'Death in Venice'a cruel depiction of a dying man lusting after a young pubescent boy when Pears went on record as saying that 'Ben is writing an evil opera and it is killing him.' 

It is not known if Britten ever experienced physical heterosexual love. He never got the chance. Britten was too well guarded. Britten certainly loved Galina Vishnevskaya and I know he liked me a lot and although Rita Thompson will never admit it Britten liked her too, banishing Pears to the USA.

Britten always loved looking at young boys whether he followed through is not known.  Maybe his young groomed conquests are just too nice to say but if my experience is anything to go by Britten would have controlled himself. It is as if he had the classic Peter Pan complex about being a young boy forever and never grew up and pleasing himself by inviting children to the wonderful world of 'Aldeburgh Never Never Land' to make an opera. A case of arrested development pas excellence.

There is no doubt Britten loved men but he could have loved women too if given a chance, he wasn't and he made do with young boys.

My theory is that Britten's main tragedy is that of Miles in his masterpiece. Britten was just unable to choose and for him he had to live on in bitterness and disillusionment wondering what he had missed, hating his partner and taking horrible revenge by writing despicable roles for him for the rest of his life and regretting that he was never able to write an opera about heterosexual love.

I liked the man. He was one of my admirers, a notch on my belt, he had everything I wanted but too old. Pity he did not meet me when he was 19 or even 30! But it was too soon for me and too late for him. But Britten did give me my career and place in posterity and for that, I am extremely grateful.



Thursday, June 21, 2018

Oxford University versus The University of Life Janette Miller

Oriel College Oxford University - Wiki creative commons

I have always felt jealous of anyone who is clever and privileged enough to receive an Oxford/Cambridge education. Now as a 75 year woman who has had to go through life with no formal education at all, and most women of my age had to do this, Lady Di is a good example, she got just two GCEs  and had to be Princess of Wales, I envy anyone male or female who has achieved and survived this exalted education.
If I had been a boy, my father who had the very best education money could buy would have seen to it that I went to decent schools and had I been bright I should have ended up at Oxford or Cambridge but in 1947, instead of the North London Collegiate that was at the bottom of my road I was sent to the local convent to be taught by Irish 18-year-old nuns who could barely read and write themselves and had no idea how to teach. I survived the first two years where I discovered that although everyone else could see God I could not and it was not until I was 7 that I got the hang of reading.
I had heard of a university but I could no more imagine going to one than flying to the moon. I was lucky because I self-educated right from the age of 5 as in 1945 my grandfather had one of the first televisions and Lord Reith who ran the BBC went in for Educate, Entertain and Inform and so I had seen most of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Wilde plays by the age of 11 not to mention operas and ballets. I had also seen Belsen and GB Shaw in an interview in 1949. When I could read I started on my grandfather's library but this self-education meant I had absolutely no formal qualifications at all. The only thing I knew positively about Oxford was that its colour was dark blue and it always lost the boat race.
I did learn Latin which in those days was necessary for university entrance. The nuns were good at Latin. At the age of 12, my father decided that as my educational standard was so low, I could not spell and one mark was taken off GCE O levels for every incorrect spelling so my chances of passing anything was nil. He thought all my brains must be in my feet. As I was good at ballet I was removed from the convent and sent to a ballet school in London, Portman Square just behind Selfridges at the age of 12. This was a secular specialist school which gave children the opportunity to be employed in professional productions as well as providing a basic education.  Basic English, arithmetic (no algebra or geometry), French,  history, and art for three hours a day. The rest was taken up with ballet, tap, drama etc and the chance to be on the stage and get paid if you were fortunate.
You can see my chances of an Oxford education were very minimal. I so admired my clever friends or anyone who got masses of O levels and A levels and who went to universities of any kind. I had no idea of how they did it or what they did when they got there. I was told it was magical and for many the years at Oxford was the best thing in their lives. They got into jobs of which I could only dream, the BBC,  publishing and politics and I could only look on.
I was not alone. Most of my ordinary middle-class girlfriends were in the same boat. They became secretaries, nurses and teachers and the aim was to marry well. A teacher, a lawyer or a doctor, doctors who went to Oxford were the prizes as there were so few of them and strangely these clever men really had no choice but to marry us as there were so few female graduates and those that were available were generally blue stockings. Educated men had to put up with uneducated wives.
In May 2018 at the age of 75, I watched a YouTube Blog MollyatOxford of a charming, intelligent young woman who was studying Classics and English at Oriel College Oxford. She was doing the very thing that I dreamed of doing all those years ago. In 1964 I met a gorgeous Oxford educated GP, Oriel/St Mary's at Queens Ice rink in Bayswater. Doctors like ice-skating. It is splendid exercise, can be done alone and at any time. For 8 years I was just a pair of skates on legs and a useful ice dancing partner until one day he found out what I did for a living. He was amazed, took me to the opera at ENO that night and I married him a year later.
The first thing Miles did was to take me to Oxford and show me his college which was Oriel. I got a brief tour, just two quads and the staircase to his room. The delightful Oxford blogger did a much better job than my husband in this area but Miles was good on punts. My Oxford blogger has not ventured out in that area as yet. I became his Lady and overnight I had to be accepted by this privileged group of highly educated people. I still think some of them raise an eyebrow as to why a brilliant Oxford scholar should have chosen a ballet dancer as a partner and I bet none of them thought our marriage would last because I was considered uneducated.
As I said at the start until now I had no idea of what went on at Oxford or how they taught.  My husband did medicine which is taught in a different manner to say that of Classics. It is usually a big secret so unknowingly my Oxford blogger, Molly has given me the opportunity to find out what I missed all those years ago. I found it riveting to see what Molly was doing between with her life between the years of 16 to say 23 getting all her O levels and A Level qualifications and compare it to what I was doing during those same teenage years with none. For a start just being a woman would have kept me out of my husband's college as Oriel was the last bastion of misogyny to fall. Took until 1990ish for women with qualifications to be admitted.

The Oxford Undergraduate experience is considered the pinnacle of education and will lead on to an enhanced status for the rest of their lives so what makes it so special?
Getting to Oxford as an undergraduate seems to be the major obstacle and major achievement. It is a long hard academic slog, many are called but few are chosen, but once there it really seems to someone like me who worked my way through the teenage years a really cushy existence and about two hundred miles from reality. How can this cosy isolation arm you for life in the real world? Where is the real world?
Only short terms, 8 weeks in very pleasant surroundings and accommodation, all food found for four years of the most formative years of one's life. For Molly, her life consists of writing an assignment a week and a few exams at the end of the first year with the next set of exams three years down the track. No travelling involved, a social life provided if you care to partake, some lectures to attend, a tutor to give you hints and put you on the right track and really no responsibility at all while one lives in this enchanting atmosphere and architecture. The life of a student under these circumstances is very gem├╝tlich indeed! The only fear is not handing in the assignment on time.
It is learning for the sake of learning as most of what students has been well trodden before and the opportunity to find something original in Classical texts that are over 2,000 years old is highly unlikely.  Molly had not studied Latin at school so coming to Oxford unprepared in this area and expected to do translation in her first set of exams must have been daunting. My Latin was possibly better than hers at first and I am no Latin scholar although I do enjoy it now. I know how it feels to behind in an essential subject. Oxford ought to have warned her of this. How can you translate if you don't know the language? Takes years to really learn Latin.
Next thing that surprised me was Molly's weekly search for books. Really two days of each week were taken up in the hunt for the set texts. What a waste of time and energy. Surely Oxford should supply these books online to its students. This would give the undergraduate more time for study and less foraging around. Actually, this book weekly book search shocked me. Molly seemed to have little time left for socialising which is an important part of university life, for life after university perhaps the most important part. Molly rarely attends the lunch so possibly does not gain as much as she should in this area as she does not meet students from other disciplines on a daily basis to broaden her knowledge of real life if there is such a thing in Oxford. Does Molly get out on a punt a  la Dorothy L. Sayers?

By Molly's age, I had mixed with princes and spent time at the local Labour Exchange with the unemployed. I was often one of the unemployed.  I had travelled the length and breadth of UK on a train. I saw the poverty and hopelessness of the way many citizens lived. Bradford was an awful wasteland in 1964 and still is today. Glyndebourne, where I wined and dined, was very different. I became an Equity deputy and I admired Venessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson with whom I worked.

The May Ball, which I had been lead to believe was the height of sophistication looked disappointing too. In a tent with earphones. Now Sandhurst  Ball was quite something in my day. Very elegant. I had expected the May Ball to be like that. First night of theatrical productions in the West End are good too with lots of champagne and flowers whether they are successes or not.
Socialising is so important and seems to be getting lost in hunting for books and essays on time. For me, rehearsals were the perfect time to meet and talk with cast members and musicians and management. You get to know them well on long train journeys too. I learned from the best this way and as I was interesting to talk to and had original ideas I was accepted. Molly doesn't seem to meet anyone above her on a daily basis. Only a tutor once a week. It seems very limited to me.
Molly's sole day trip to London was a highlight of her week but she went to a Harry Potter Exhibition! Admittedly she did go to the Ashmolean and has a student ticket for Radcliff Camera for her book search but after school, I could go anywhere. I lived at the Wallace collection and National Gallery and while working on the opera The Turn of The Screw for TV for six weeks I had the British Museum every day at lunch. She went on a family holiday to Croatia and spent one holiday as an intern for work experience.

My life was so different. 

I worked full time for a living and learned on the job. You have to be better than the best. There are no second chances in the West End and London Theatre. This started young. At 12, I got up at 7am, walked a mile to the station, took the tube from Canons Park, Changed at Wembley Park for Baker Street, then walked or took a bus to Portman Square all by myself. Ballet class was at 9.30 am followed by another vocational subject. After lunch, school till 4.30, the English was excellent. I can parse my way out of a paper bag. Then off to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden for the ballet performances. This usually finished at 10.30 pm where my mother would come up and take me on the long journey home. Ballet dancers have to be ready for professional work at 16 and some become ballerinas at 18. Life is short in ballet. Ballet dancers are brilliant, know how to work and deferred gratification. Very different from Oxford essays. I did this for two years.
At the age of 12, I was out in the world doing voice-overs for commercials. Huntley & Palmers Biscuits relied on me on TV to sell Ginger Nuts!  At the age of 14, I was chosen to be in The Royal Ballets first performance of Petrushka in 1957 at a Gala Performance. The two children were something of a hit and I spent the next two years with the Royal Ballet where I met everyone from Margot Fonteyn, Fredrick Ashton to Sir Malcolm Sargeant.
In 1958 at 15 I was chosen by Benjamin Britten for the first performance of Noyes Fludde at Aldeburgh and then in 1959 for his opera as Flora in the "Turn of the Screw" live on British Television and at Aldeburgh. Because of my knowledge of opera and ballet, I got to know Britten well and in fact all my papers of that time and my score signed by all the cast I have left to the Bodleian Library. I deserve a PhD for my take on why Flora is so important in her own right and not as a back up for the boy! I can tell you Britten never told me all this. Britten would not have dared.  I had to work it out myself. Britten admired me for doing this.

I have three O levels which I taught myself as I had to change to a school that did not do GCE's. I had a brilliant headmistress who taught me the three English Lit books in just three weeks. I got 87% and the remark that "as my spelling was so bad we would never know your true academic value". Yet I am considered uneducated. Many of my schoolmates were in the same position. One Jackie Collins went on to have quite a career. She never passed anything.
At 17 went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where at 18 I won the Production Prize but could not get a job as BBC did not employ women and preferred male graduates from Oxford and Cambridge and yet I was really good. I met this obstacle constantly but eventually, I did sell a ballet series to BBC. I had to go to New Zealand to do this 16 years later.
Spent next two years working my way up in musicals, eight performances a week starting with a major tour of "Stop the World I want to get off" around 14 of the major towns in England including The Oxford Royal. Visiting these towns was a great educational eyeopener.  We travelled by British Rail on a Sunday, for 14 weeks. These journeys were again and eye-opening experience. We were paid a pittance and the work was never ending. We had no day off.
Then I had to do pantomimes as a principal girl. This is the University of Musicals and stage productions. Sometimes 12 shows a week for over two months in the  bleak provencial cities. Very hard work. I also did drama, films and TV productions.
By the age of 24 I was starring in the West End. For a year it was 8 shows a week. We had nightly audiences of over 2000. The responsibility for quality performance was enormous. You don't get a BA for doing this and yet you should.
My workload makes Molly's weekly essay and life experience look like an afternoon picnic on a sunny summer's day. It is so isolated from real life.
However,  Molly is officially recognised as educated and I am not. Her BA from Oxford for a few essays will trump my University of Life any day of the week. I am just astounded at how easy it is Oxford graduates to succeed in life. My husband was an example. He was given an MA Oxon for just completing his medical degree. Not an essay in sight!  Everything was given to him on a plate including a wonderful pension. Artists do not get pensions as Margot Fonteyn found out.
Up until yesterday, I envied Molly and her sojourn in Oxford.  Surprisingly, I think the University of Life is far richer than the Oxbridge University version. At a pinch I could do what Molly does very easily, I should have to revise my Latin and use a spell check but don't we all. There is no way that Molly could do what I do or have done with her education which seems so limited.  I was lucky not to be able to spell and sent to a ballet school but I should have liked a PhD and a pension of my own and to be recognised as educated in my own right.
I was lucky to experience Oxford second hand via my husband who always said there is only time in life or the best and he chose to marry me. I suppose that is a compliment. However, if I had been given the opportunity to go to Oxford when I was Molly's age I think I should have taken it and look what I should have missed.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Why not bring back the Temporary Employment programmes of the 1980 in NZ ?


Why not  bring back Robert Muldoon's amazing 
Temporary Employment Programmes of the 1980's?


My mother had a thing about jobs! She believed that everybody who wanted to work should have a job and that governments tampered with employment at their peril. "It is easy to close a business and sack people" she used to say as another business was closed down or sent offshore "But it is expensive and sometimes impossible to start them up again as all the skills have been lost". She was right. Peoples jobs are the most important thing they possess in their lives. Ordinary people hate losing their jobs. It is so stressful, degrading, and humiliating when one wants to work but the jobs are not there.

All performing artists and musicians need to perform. They cannot wait until they are dead. I was lucky in UK at that time in the 1960s there was a career path that could be followed.  It took me from 18 to 24 to get into a leading role in  London's West End. Six years of almost daily performances to learn my art. When I came to Auckland with my GP husband I was astonished at the standard of the local performing artists here in Auckland. If they had been in the UK they would all have been stars. Kiri Te Kanawa was not an exception, others were as good as if not better and all had little if nothing to do. They needed jobs.

The year was 1982 and Robert Muldoon the Prime Minister believed in employment and giving people a chance to get a foot in the door by offering full time employment for six months on a Temporary Employment Programme on full salary. Yes, full salary that was paid by the government. The employer had to provide everything else.

I applied and was given such a scheme for Auckland Artists. It was based in The Concert Chamber of Auckland Town Hall and the idea was to start up a small opera/ballet company from scratch using a core of artists and production staff for each production and the opportunity to give many others part-time employment as well.

To begin I had six young ballet dancers straight out of ballet school, one ex NX Ballet, two from the NZ Ballet School in Wellington, but the rest from Auckland. These six young dancers were the luckiest ever as they got paid the same as the NZ Ballet, three full time opera singers, who had to help with the administration when not in an opera, a full time ballet director, Pauline Tronson who was amazing, A manager and secretary, a box office manager, a cafe manager, two stage managers. 

Was it easy? No, as most of these had never worked in a fulltime theatre before, so I had to teach and train them as well but it gave them a start. We did some amazing productions with nothing but NZ raw talent and many went on to have remarkable careers, including me as it gave me a start too as an opera director, women no allowed here too at this time, although I was one who did not get paid.

So how did this Temporary Employment programme turn out in the long run?

Take a look at the painting above.  I commissioned it personally and paid for andcommissioned the practically destitute Tony Fomison to do the mise-en-scene for our first opera Fidelio by Beethoven. Fomison was Hamish Keith's suggestion. Fomsion was the only artist I have ever met who was prepared to starve for his art. Admittedly he was not on the scheme but because of the scheme I was able to commission him, employ him and give him work. Fomison needed it. Today the painting above Fidelio Act 2 is one of his most beloved works. It is worth a fortune. I have to fight for my copyright and ownership as one has somehow landed up in The Auckland Art Gallery and one in the BNZ who are not keen on giving them back to the First Owner. Without me and the TEP production, these would not have seen the light of day as Fidelio would never have been produced. One day it will be produced again. It was amazing and full media mix of ballet opera and mise en scene and now Fomison is famous I should get the Aotea and the NZSO. 

Artists who got employment because of this scheme, Amanda Price/Scog who for years managed the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Pauline Tronson, Ballerina, Chick Littlewood,  Lousie Malloy, Wendy Dixon, Ingrid Walberg, Moya Rae, Gillian Trot, Lyndsay Freer, David Guerin, Katie Smyth, Malcum Burn, William Dart, Rodger Craig, Marcus Craig, Patricia Swift and many others. Steven Bradshaw, who could not dance a step got his professional start with me, later he was not grateful but then that is par for the course and that is what TEP schemes are for.

For me, by accident, I discovered the world of children's shows. The council admin staff, who did not help one tiny bit, threw me out of my small 480 theatre during the school holidays but then felt guilty at what they had done for it was a disaster as although my TEP employees got paid I had to pay for everything else including the rent of the Concert Chamber. The Council offered me the Town Hall morning and afternoon for $300 a performance. I threw on The Tales of Beatrice Potter and bingo over 23,000 turned up!

When my TEP scheme finished I had enough money to carry on with highly successful children's shows that subsidised my serious opera and ballet productions as you can see in my live CV.  These ended up on NZTV and the BBC. Without this Temporary Employment Programme this would never have happened.

The productions, one or two I had videod, still look acceptable today as you can see in my live CV I made when YouTube first started.  Sadly I needed just $75,000 as a grant to continue to build this small company. It was not granted. The QE II Arts Council needed exactly $70,000 to upgrade its new offices in His Majesty's Arcade which it did. A short time later  His Majesty's Theatre and the newly decorated Arts Council Offices were pulled down. Such is life but my Fomisons live on! Think what Auckland could have had if I had been able to continue.

Was it easy to do? No. Did I enjoy it? No. Would I do it again? Yes. It was socially well worthwhile. I could never have raised the money to do this startup. These skills would have been lost, especially the dancers as they needed continual employment. To have a rich society one needs to make sure that the talents are used and that means in some cases it is the government's responsibility to fund such ventures as taxation is so high. 

Firms we have lost abroad Fisher & Paykel, Moontide, Cadbury's, all should have been saved. 

Everyone deserves a job not just the fortunate few. I applaud Robert Muldoon for doing this. Muldoon had his faults but he was right to do it.





Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Amazing NZ Copyright Commissioning Rule by Janette Miller


Above is the amazing and unique New Zealand  Copyright Commissioning Rule. 

New Zealand is the only country in the world that has this very special Commissioning Rule.

As you can see in the table if you commission an object, a doll, a painting, a design for a Thing-a-me-jig, and especially a photograph it is a good idea to have a very good understanding of this extremely powerful  NZ Commissioning Rule for unless the person you asked to create your idea, known as The Author in this article, asks for a transfer of copyright in writing before starting to work on it you, as the commissioner, own everything, the copyright, first ownership, everything, 

The author/artist/ photographer/etc owns nothing. From the very beginning that the work starts the commissioned artist,  owns nothing. If you don't pay because the work is not what you commissioned, the /author/artist/photographer cannot sell it to someone else to get his money back, or copy it and sell copies or destroy it for that would be harming the commissioner's interests. The photographer who has been commissioned is stuck with it.

Sounds wonderful! The problem is that hardly anyone in New Zealand knows about the NZ Commissioning  Rule. Try asking artists, art agents, and even art directors of well-known art galleries and the answer trips of their tongues like treacle off a spoon. The commissioned copyright follows the artist.  They are all wrong for in the NZ  Commissioning Rule the copyright follows the commission NOT the Artist who is only the person asked to do the job on behalf of the commissioner.  NZ Copyright Act 1994  Sec 21,3, (b) & Sec 4 (a)(b).

So who owns the copyrighted work?  Who is the First Owner and who is the Author. The copyrighted work is the special name given in The Copyright Act 1994 under Sec 2, Definitions and Sec 14 Property for the actual physical article. Is it the Commissioner? Is it the Author? Can the Author sell it and give the First Buyer Title? This is critical for the Buyer of an artwork has to have a valid Title to sell on legally.

The confusion arises because in the rest of the world the NZ Commissioning Rule does not exist. In the rest of the world, The Commissioner gets the copyrighted work or a photograph but the expression of copyright or the image and the negative follows the Artist.  This breaking of the two parts of the copyright leads to no end of confusion.

A lot of unpleasantness can follow if a commissioned  NZ Artist, not knowing the NZ Commissioning Rule, decides he is The First Owner and sells on to an innocent third party as when the Commissioner finds out the artwork has to go back.

The NZ Commissioning Rule is easy to understand if you consult the above crib sheet above. The whole thing is as clear as crystal. There can be exceptions as there are to all rules but the basics are easy to understand. In a Commission in NZ, the Commissioner comes out on top. For Employers of artists in NZ, say like an NZ Walt Disney, it is the same.

In New Zealand, if the copyrighted work is the artist's own idea and creation, the artist has hit the jackpot. The artist gets the lot, copyright work, copyright of an image, full control, everything till 50 years after his death.

But and it is a BIG BUT - if the artist is commissioned in NZ  the commissioned artist gets nothing, absolutely nothing. Not the copyright work, that belongs to the Commissioner right from the moment the commissioned artist sets to work. The title belongs to the Commissioner and even if the commissioner does not pay up, the commissioned artist has no right to sell it on to get his money back. The artist s not allowed to make copies to sell either or to destroy the work as it does not belong to the artist and may damage the commissioner's property.

If the artist is foolish enough to do this and sell the copyright work by pretending that it is an original work of the artist and a third party buys in Good Faith and does not do due diligence the copyright work has to go back. It still belongs to the Commissioner even though years and years may pass.

 Why? Usually, The Sale of Goods Act 1908 protects Third Party buyers. It does but only if it is the artist's original work and the artist own the copyright. Artworks are property and like cars and houses have titles. Artists ought to give Certificates of Title but in NZ they don't bother.

Copyright Acts all over the world are so powerful. If they were not people would be ripping off ideas left right and centre and nobody would ever profit from creative ideas.

As it is people rip off other peoples' ideas every day and see nothing wrong with it. Well, there is! It is theft and once discovered the copyright work be it a DVD, CD or a photograph has to go back.

You cannot buy an illegal copy of an article, say a stolen genuine Rolex watch even it is a genuine copy with papers to go with it, if it were stolen and after five years claim under a statue of limitation that you bought in Good Faith,  because the Copyright Act gives the Commissioner a right of property too. There is no time limit on stolen copyright articles. as a lady in the USA found out. Her coffee table from Roman Times bought in Good Faith 45 years ago had to go back to Rome.

An infringement of many years ago is still as fresh as a daisy today. The copyright object goes back to the commissioner and to make matters worse the Innocent Buyer can face a huge fine and imprisonment if the buyer had infringed copyright if they find out and do nothing. In the USA where similar copyright laws, but not The Commissioning Rule are in force,  people go to prison every day for using copyright articles, for example re-selling illegal copies of DVDs even if when they bought them they thought they were genuine.

This is just a short introduction to this fascinating law. If you are likely to make a commission or be commissioned it would be a good idea to hone up your skills in this area and prevent disaster for both parties.

Here are a couple of articles by Clendons Law Firm that give a quick overview.









Saturday, October 28, 2017

To all those who struggle to speak French the way the French do it. Janette Miller



I have been trying to speak French all my life with no success as nobody in France will speak to me in French when they hear my English except at railway stations where nobody speaks English. I started to think. Why is learning speaking French so difficult?
Yesterday it hit me. Bit late, I am over 70 but it hit me. The French way of saying things is completely different and unless we  English, learn to think the French way we shall never do it.
I never had this problem with Latin, Yes at school I learned Latin. In Latin, the verb goes at the end of the sentence. That is so odd that it is fun to speak in this manner. Children went around speaking English as though it was Latin. "Oh George, on the chair, sit", "Steven to the gym, go" we carried on conversations like this for days, and teachers too and we all became very good at it. After a bit, it did not sound strange and we gave it up. But after that, the verb at the end of the sentence did not feel odd and made life so easy. Why didn't we do this for French?
By coincidence, yesterday I translated a few pages of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" for educational purposes into English the way the French say it and it sounds very strange indeed but it does not sound strange to the French and this is the way we have to think if our French is to be beyond the well I learned this phrase, now how the hell can I adapt it to this situation.
I won't bore you but here are a few examples spoken in English the way the French say it.

I choose an easy children's book by Beatrix Potter which most of us know by heart. 
To begin The Tale of Peter Rabbit becomes Pierre Lapin, The Tale is untranslatable. French don't do Tales as we do. History, stories, fables, yes, Tales? No. Of course, it is a pun too, but the French, on the whole, do not do puns.
Read carefully each word as you will skip the best bits:

He there had a time four little rabbits who themselves called, Flopsy, something, Tail of cotton and Peter. They remained with their mother in a burrow, sandy, dig under the roots of a very large fir.
"Today my darlings," said Mother Rabbit "I you will allow of to go in the fields, or of to descend the path, but not enter not in the garden of Mr. Mac Gregor.
 An accident frightful arrived at your poor father in this damn garden. He was caught and placed in pie by Mrs. Mac Gregor.

Now, know you; and not make not of mistakes. 

Me! I go to the provisions" 

Mother Rabbit takes his basket and his umbrella. She crosses the wood and then herself there goes home the baker to buy a loaf of bread, twice and five buns.

Now if you translate this word by word into French it will be perfect. See the problem?

This is how the French say it and why it is so hard for us to translate off the cuff. This is the way the French think and this has to be taught if we are to succeed.
Thank goodness God speaks English! (Irony)

To finish here is just one of the three occasions when  I could not find anyone to speak English at a time I really needed to be understood. All three disasters have happened at railway stations.


I was in Karlsruhe Station in 1990, the second-largest city in the state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg, in southwest Germany, near the French-German border. I wanted to go to Venice! It was 6 pm and a long queue behind me.
I speak English beautifully ( I do)  and a little German badly. I asked for two tickets to Venice. Absolute consternation. Not one person in this large station had heard of Venice! The whole station came to a full stop.
"Venice, Venice, Venice!" I repeated over and over again. The crowd muttered and after a minute someone tried. Wein? I didn't think that sounded right. I had no idea where or what Wein was that night. (Vienna is the translation).
Everyone became more and more frustrated as I tried to buy two tickets to Venice. I thought everybody in the world had heard of Venice. Not it Karlsruhe station.
Eventually, after a good three to four minutes of impasse with tempers rising to fever pitch, somebody way down the queue suggested Venezia. That sounded promising, everyone heaved a sigh of relief and I got my two tickets to Venezia keeping my fingers crossed that I had the correct translation.
Usually when I travel and I travel a lot I am not allowed to try to use my foreign language skills as tout le monde likes practising their English on me, which is understandable, but in stations I have found nobody speaks English, Brussels, Paris, Karlsruhe, not a word of English is understood especially when one is in a hurry.
So if you don't speak German and French fluently stay away from Railway stations!

Below this French Folk song really should be sung in French. I have never dared to do this!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Music Education for those who cannot read Music -


Music Education is now only for the wealthy 

To enable more children to learn we must stop teaching in such an academic way 
So says Charlotte C Gill in an article in today's UK Guardian.  I wanted to comment but by the time the Guardian hits NZ the comments had closed so I had to write on her blog and comment here.Sadly this will only be seen by a few so here it is although I have written on this subject once before so here is what I wrote.

I read the above with much interest. I know exactly where you are coming from because I am in the same position as you. Although I have spent a lifetime trying to read and learn the conventional musical notation I have never mastered  it. I have been called unmusical and looked down upon just because dots mean nothing to me.

I am a professional singer. I am now 74.  In my youth girls were not taught to sing. No choir schools for them where they could learn the language of sight singing but fortunately I lived with an aunt who played the piano and music teacher at my convent school, a Miss Carmen! who encouraged me to sing. I learnt everything by ear although she did try to teach us to sight sing. I was OK on theory but playing the piano was a disaster. I have since learned when I was 60 that I have a problem with my hypocanthus which prevents me from retaining sequences which means every time I face a piano or a typewriter it is like meeting it for the first time. Practising does not help and I did practise. I had to translate each dot every time and I was just too slow.

Young girls who could sing were rare in the 1950's. Benjamin Britten auditioned 40 little girls for "Flora" for "The Turn of the Screw" and gave up and used a small adult. Finding a boy soprano was no problem. Ten a penny. Britten put "The Screw" back on the shelf until he found one. I was in the original "Noyes Fludde" with Michael Crawford who I don't think sight sings and I feel sure David Hemming's could not sight sing either. I made an impact and Britten found his first young "Flora". Britten knew that many children who have talent are no academic training can still be the best choice. We were all trained by rote. I had the honour of being accompanied at an Aldeburgh  Wagner recital by Britten, possibly the only girl who has ever done this.

All my career in opera and musicals I learned roles by rote. I taught myself "The Screw" by records and picking it out slowly on the piano and it worked well. 

When I retired I was lucky enough to marry an Oxford educated GP  Miles Heffernan who played the piano and loved Schubert and every morning for 30 years we would make music together for our own enjoyment. Then he died. I had lost not only my husband but my accompanist! I knew I could never afford to sing like this again and for 6 years I didn't.

Then came the computer revolution and I discovered Garageband. I just played about with the loops for a couple of years and then one day I discovered 'The Piano Roll' and this application changed my life. I had to change a couple of notes and I thought if I can write out a couple of bars maybe I could write out the accompaniments for my Schubert Songs. The first song "Hark Hark the Lark" took a week but I could sing again. I could change the key, I could choose my own time, No wrong notes. It was like being born again. It felt like the day spell check arrived for people who cannot spell. I went on to learn how to orchestrate and have become very efficient at it, orchestrating Richard Strauss and The Songs of the Auvergne which you can see on YouTube

Garageband piano roll was the musical notation I needed. I can see an orchestration in  the way traditional musicians can see it in the dots. 'September' Strauss which is one of the most dense orchestrations ever written was a revelation . I could see the structure with the bees humming and the rain softly falling and  as winter approached all life faded away until down to a single French horn.

So why isn't this type of notation taught to people like you and me? Because the Boards of Music are too set in their ways. Britten hated his music college and I thought mine was pretty hopeless too. I was fine on theory but would never have passed the sight singing. Fortunately I had many strings to my bow.

I now can orchestrate anything I wish and I do but I am like a prophet crying in the wilderness. Traditional musicians don't need it but singers who cannot read music do. 

I suppose I should put this up on my blog. I think I wrote a similar piece a few years ago. So congratulations on behalf of all of us who have this problem and let people know there is still hope left. Learn to notate in Garageband. It is easy and free if you have a Mac or a midi programme.

You can see my efforts on my YouTube Channel - Janette Miller. All orchestrations are done in Garageband even the Mahler and Schoenberg and you can see me when I was 16 in the UK TV 'Turn of the Screw' and yet a traditional musician will still say I am unmusical because I do not read music.

Sincerely

Janette Miller/Heffernan