The Letter Home

photo: Wikipedia

Experiments With Audio: 1. Sounds in an open air environment (Schafer method).

This is a narrative which takes the form of a letter home  being mentally written by a new arrival to Dunedin while on a soundwalk of the city centre.

The keynote sound here can be identified as the traffic which is continuously moving.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The The soundmark is the town hall clock that reminds people not only of the time but of their location while

The figure sounds come from the start of a parade, a pipe band and a busker which interrupts the narrator’s walk  and evokes some memories.

To follow the soundwalk go to; http://unitube.otago.ac.nz/view?m=d6b8_FIa6a


Pub Talk

Photo: Sue Odlin

Experiments With Audio: 2. A Bar Room Discussion

At the end of the day a newcomer to Dunedin has come across a student pub and decided to pop in to try the local brews. He will come across a couple of characters and become engrossed in a discussion about RTDs (aka Alcopops) and whats in them. The theme will touch on pub behaviour, the contents of RTDs and the motives of those who drink them. A lot of what comes out of this is opinion only.

To hear this conversation evesdrop at;  http://unitube.otago.ac.nz/view?m=DzsT_EjYtP


Experiments With Audio:

3. Old Audio Clips

Entertainment in England in the 1800s consisted of hands on song and dance, verse and pantomine, and drawing room concerts. There were larger venues as well including shelters for the poor and infirm known as Workhouses. These establishments were reputed to be dark and damp places in which to lie alone and wait for death. One of the few highlights afforded these inmates in Berwick-upon-Tweed were the concerts put on by Bill Skelly and his elder sister.

Bill made up most of his patter and verse when he was in his twenties, that’d be in the 1890s, and he could still remember a lot of it in the early 1950s when he was persuaded to make a recording. The recorder used was apparently a borrowed one and manufactured before the time of sound insulation. The operator may not have had any experience using the machine and that, coupled with a lot of motor noise, has lent a  certain ‘ambience’ to these clips. Keeping these artifacts in their exsisiting condition is a joy akin to keeping old sepia stained photographs. Bill’s accent is Scottish Borders and if you want to listen to these  old audio clips, go to;


Tom and Taringi


"Where am I?"

A little boy on holiday in the country encounters a baby bird which has fallen from somewhere and has caused a commotion amongst a murmuration of Starlings. His grandmother explains what the little bird is and where it came from. You can see these events on my podcast at  YouTube and may take a little while to load.


Accessible Alcopops

Alcopops are referred to as RTDs (Ready to drinks) in Australasia. This liquor store in the suburbs, like many others,  provides easy access to these drinks. There is an age restriction on customers but sadly some underage drinkers  may be able to rely on older friends and family to make their purchases for them.                                                                                                                                                     Alcohol content is low but so is the cost.  

Come Cruising

These prices make alcopops look an attractive buy.  In fact a few cans can cost less than a trip to downtown McDonalds. So how many kids  spend that lazy five or ten dollar note mum gave them for for their lunch on alcops instead?  

So far, there is no restriction on point of sale advertising for these drinks. It is rumoured that the colourful labels and attractive bottles and cans have been designed especially to attract the attention of younger people – a sort of subliminal message to have a good time.  

So if you’re curious and next time you are planning a party or night out think about trying out some of these products and passing on a comment about them. But a word of caution. Make sure you check the labels to see what chemicals are included with the other stuff, like colourants, preservatives, ethanol and sugar. 


And let me know what you think about John’s story


‘Poppin The Tops’


What is that mess of cans and broken glass on the sides of the road, on the sidewalks and even in peoples’ front yards?

Uh-Oh! These are not beer or soft drink containers; they are the fallout from last night’s Alcopop binge drinking sessions. They were most likely bought from the Pub or Bottle Store ‘off-licence’ for partygoers who have since disposed of the empties via their car windows.

So what are Alcopops, you might ask? They are the flavoured alcoholic beverages Australians and New Zealanders refer to as RTDs or ‘Ready To Drink’ products. Most have a Vodka base (ethanol about 5% to 9% by volume) with distilled water and tricked up with a selection of flavours like fruit essences and cola as well as colourants, sugars, stabilizers and preservatives.

RTDs come in colourful packaging with bright labels and fancy names on coloured glass bottles or decorated cans – reds, blacks, greens, silver, gold, purple and other eye catching images. Bottles hold only 270 to 330 millilitres while aluminium cans may be smaller at 250 millilitres.

So how could younger people resist these products? They are cleverly small enough to fit in your pocket, they are probably cheaper to buy than a Big Mac and they are the perfect missiles to hurl at letterboxes on the way home.

Skelly Celebrations

A correspondent has referred me to an article published in his local paper headlined ‘Skelly’s butchers celebrate 250 years of business in Berwick’. He says he’s not sure whether it is a feature story or a piece of clever advertising. The piece includes a picture of the proprietors standing in front of their shop at 114 High Street, W.R.Skelly & Son, and goes on to suggest that this business has been operating since 1760 and has been handed down through the family ever since.    SEE THE STORY HERE

Our information is in fact that William Robert Skelly started his enterprise in 1898 after he had completed his apprenticeship with Messrs Ross Bros, butchers of Hyde Hill. Bill did not take the business over from any member of his family but started from scratch.

We do not know which Skelly was in the butchery business in 1760 although it may have been the father of George Skelly of Wreighill. George was an entrepreneur who started a different family line all together and whose descendants opened a butchery business in Tweedmouth and then in the early 1800’s, at Backway, Ravensdowne.