Monday, 17 December 2012

Roller Shutters for Windows and Doors - FAQs

Direct Shutters in Adelaide is a South Australian-owned family business backed by over 25 years’ experience in the manufacture and installation of roller shutters for windows and doors in both homes and business premises.  We also specialise in the installation of security doors and window grilles.  For more information about the benefits to be gained from installing roller shutters on the windows and doors in your home, including enhanced security, a reduction in energy use, and added protection against fire, call Joe Anastasi on (08) 8244 4437 or email direct.shutters@three.com.au.  Further useful information is available on the Direct Shutters website www.directshutters.com.au

To download this article as a PDF, click here

How are roller shutters made?
Roller shutters are manufactured from high-grade aluminium, and are insulated with high-density polyurethane.  They are constructed as a system of interlocking slats, and have a fade- and scratch-resistant baked enamel paint finish.  This means that shutters are extremely strong and durable, block up to 90% of the sun’s heat, and are able to stand up to a great deal of force.

Are roller shutters made in Australia?
A wide range of Australian-designed and -made roller shutters are available from reputable local shutter installers.  You should always insist on high-quality Australian-made shutters for windows and doors from a reliable and well-established manufacturer, such as OZRoll and Croci.

What sort of properties suit roller shutters?
As roller shutter design and construction is extremely versatile, it means they can be installed in practically any home, so no matter where you are living or the type of property you have, you can benefit from the added home security, reduced energy use and enhanced fire protection that roller shutters on your windows and doors provide.

Are roller shutters easy to clean and maintain?
Their sturdy construction from high-grade materials means that roller shutters last for many years and require very little maintenance.  Surfaces have been finished in a baked enamel paint, meaning that they are extremely durable and can be easily cleaned every few months with a damp cloth or by spraying lightly with water.

Do roller shutters allow you to control how much sunlight enters your home?
Roller shutters, unlike some security bars and grilles, open fully so that you can control the amount of sunlight or breeze that you let in through your windows and doors at any time, while still maintaining a high degree of privacy when required.

Are there a range of colours and styles available?
Roller shutters come in a wide range of colours and styles, meaning that you will be able to find a design that is right for you, your home and your lifestyle.  Talk to a reputable dealer to find out about the full range of colours and designs of Australian-made roller shutters available to homeowners.

How are roller shutters operated?
Although they are installed on the exterior of your home, roller shutters on windows and doors are operated from inside, either manually with a winder or strap, by battery units, or electric motors, both of which can also be remote controlled.

Is it possible to have remote control roller shutters installed?
Roller shutters can be operated by a remote control system that is either powered by a battery, or by solar power.  A remote control system means that opening and closing your roller shutters is quick and easy, and multiple shutters can be controlled with a single remote control unit.  Furthermore, a battery-operated remote control system is unobtrusive, requires low voltage, and does not need to be installed by an electrician, saving both time and money.

How do solar power roller shutters work?
Solar power shutters are operated by a solar tubular motor powered by small, lightweight solar cells that can be attached to the window shutter pelmet, on a nearby wall, or on the roof of your home.  They are unobtrusive and compact in size, and the stand-alone system can be installed quickly and easily, without the aid of an electrician.  Solar power shutters are also especially good in remote or rural regions, where it isn’t always easy to access a power source. 

A further significant benefit is that window shutters that operate on solar power are especially valuable in bushfire zones, because even when mains power is cut during a fire the shutters can still be closed in order to protect your property from flying sparks and burning embers (see more on bushfires below).

For further information on the benefits of solar power roller shutters, click here.

How do roller shutters help reduce energy costs?
Roller shutters are an effective, cost-efficient and environmentally-friendly way in which to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, cutting down on your use of air conditioning and heating, and so reducing your electricity consumption.  The insulating effect of roller shutters means that you can more effectively control the temperature in your home, which significantly impacts on your home’s energy efficiency.  Therefore, roller shutters can help you to make serious savings on your power and electricity bills, while utilising a green technology that doesn’t increase your emissions. 

For further information on how roller shutters can help to reduce your energy costs, click here.

Are roller shutters suitable for use in bushfire-prone areas?

Roller shutters can provide a valuable line of defence against the dangers of fire.  In extreme heat, windows will frequently crack or explode, meaning the glass will fall out of the frame, and so flying sparks and burning embers can enter your home through the now-unprotected space.  However, bushfire resistant shutters have been shown to be able to withstand extreme radiant heat and so prevent your window glass from breaking, thus providing a stronger barrier against encroaching fire.  In addition, aluminium window shutters have a baked enamel paint finish and are injected with polyurethane foam, which means they are also resistant to flames, so as well as protecting your glass they can protect the fabric and structure of your home and form an additional line of defence.  If you live in a bushfire-prone region, you should look for fire resistant shutters manufactured to withstand BAL 40 (Bushfire Attack Level 40).

For further information on how roller shutters can help to protect your home from bushfires, click here.

Will roller window shutters protect against storm damage?
In strong winds and storms, damage to windows and doors is always a danger.  Flying debris and broken tree branches can be propelled at great speeds and velocity in heavy winds, while heavy hail can shatter windows or the glass in doors.

Roller shutters are produced from aluminium and have foam insulation, which means they are extremely strong and durable, and able to resist just about anything heavy winds or extreme weather can throw at them.  Also, when they are closed, roller shutters do not rattle or shake in high winds, are quick and easy to operate (either manually or by remote control), and can be closed at a moment’s notice of an impending storm.

For further information on how roller shutters can help to protect your home against storm damage, click here.

Can roller shutters help to improve home security?
Roller shutters are extremely strong and able to stand up to a great deal of force, as they are manufactured from high-grade aluminium and constructed as a system of interlocking slats.  In addition, they have an internal locking mechanism that will ensure that the shutter is locked in position when it is closed.  For further peace of mind, however, key locking can also be installed or, if you have solar powered or remote controlled shutters, these lock automatically, further preventing the shutters being opened or forced from the outside.

Do insurance companies recommend installing roller shutters?
Roller shutters are recommended by many Australian insurance companies as a means of enhancing your home security, and this can make a difference in some cases to the cost of the home insurance premiums you pay.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Ceramica Tile + Design Adelaide Offer a Design Consultancy Service for Choosing Ceramic Tiles

Ceramica Tile + Design is an Adelaide owned and operated independent importer, distributor and retailer of superior quality tiles from around the world.  They offer a wide range of design consultation services to help homeowners choose the right bathroom, kitchen, or outdoor tiles to suit their home and budget.  Contact Design Consultant Anita Sweeting on (08) 8346 6653 or info@ceramicatile.com.auVisit Ceramica Tile + Design at www.ceramicatile.com.au

Ceramica Tile + Design is one of Adelaide’s leading importers and retailers of ceramic tiles from the world’s most well-respected manufacturers.  In addition, they also offer a design consultancy service that will enable you to make all the right tiling choices for your home.

“in recent years there have been some stunning new developments in technology that have revolutionised the way ceramic tiles are designed and manufactured,” said Anita Sweeting, Design Consultant at Ceramica Tile + Design.  “This means that there are a huge number of new and innovative styles and design concepts now available from the world’s best makers.  We provide a design consultancy service for our customers that showcases the very best of these new ranges and styles, and enables our clients to choose from the latest collections now available on the international market.”

Ceramica Tile + Design work with clients to help them to discover the many exciting and innovative contemporary tiling solutions now available to homeowners in Adelaide.  They work in close consultation with customers and use their expert knowledge to help homeowners create design concepts that are unique and that make the most of what the world’s best tile makers are now able to offer.  “As experts in ceramic tiles, we understand what will look good in your home, but we also have the knowledge and expertise to guide you towards the right type of tile to suit your lifestyle and budget,” said Anita Sweeting.   “For instance, we also help you to understand what sort of finish will suit your home, how to have your tiles installed and what you need to do to maintain them in pristine condition.”

However, as they import premium quality tiles from the best manufacturers worldwide, Ceramica Tile + Design will also help you to formulate a design concept incorporating the most attractive and innovative tile designs available on the market today, and their design services also extend to other aspects of home and interior design as well.  Anita Sweeting said, “We are always happy to work with customers to develop any aspect of a design concept, whether it be furniture, fixtures or fittings, in order to create a total, integrated look.  Our aim is always to help you to design a setting that will show off your home and your new tiles in the best possible light, and our experience and expertise means that we can advise you on any aspect of home decoration and renovation.”

The design and manufacture of ceramic tiles has changed a great deal, and new innovations continue to be developed.  Therefore, if you are building a new home, renovating your existing home, or you simply want to explore the imaginative and innovative new ranges of tiling solutions that are now available in Adelaide, contact Ceramica Tile + Design for expert advice and guidance, and a design service that incorporates the very best of what the international tile market now has to offer.

To find out more about the benefits of working with a design consultant when selecting tiles for your home, click here.


Ceramica Tile + Design offer a design consultancy service

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Osteopathic Treatment in Australia - FAQs

Amber Laris is an Australian osteopath who has been treating patients in her osteopathic clinic in the heart of the Adelaide CBD for over 30 years. If you have further questions about what is involved in osteopathic treatment, or would like to find out more about the benefits to health and well-being of osteopathy, contact Amber Laris on (08) 8221 6100 or visit her website www.amberlaris.com.au

To download this article as a PDF, click here

What types of illness, injury or discomfort is osteopathic therapy suitable for?
While osteopathy is highly effective at treating specific complaints and conditions, in particular musculoskeletal problems, it also addresses a wide range of general health problems and conditions.   As osteopathic therapy is holistic, it also seeks to address your general well-being as well as treating particular injuries.

What parts of the body does an osteopath treat?
An osteopath treats almost any structure in the body (e.g. joint, muscle, tendon) that, through injury, misuse or deterioration, is not functioning effectively and is causing pain, discomfort or stress.

What does osteopathic treatment consist of?
Osteopathic treatment may involve: soft tissues being massaged; joints being articulated or mobilised; muscles being exercised through stretching and resistance; or visceral techniques, i.e., the gentle and rhythmic manipulation of internal organs.  All of these techniques are aimed at restoring balance and stimulating the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

What is Osteopathic Manipulation Treatment (OMT)?
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) involves precise amounts of physical pressure being gently applied to specific locations on the body, perhaps the affected area but also possibly at another point.  OMT may sometimes require a short, forceful movement called a high-velocity thrust, when you might hear a clicking or popping noise.  This is not painful and is entirely normal and to be expected.

Is osteopathic treatment painful?
Osteopathic manipulation and treatment is not painful, although there can sometimes be feelings of discomfort as an injured part of the body is manipulated.  Alternatively, you might experience a mild soreness immediately following a treatment session in the same way as you might after physical exercise.

Is osteopathy suitable for pregnant women?
Osteopathy is suitable for pregnant women, many of whom find it beneficial as means of reducing back pain.

Can osteopathy help to prevent injury?
If you are involved in activity that places undue stress on your body (e.g. high impact sports, or a job that involves a lot of manual labour), osteopathic treatment can help to prevent you from developing problems.  

For further information on the ways in which osteopathy can restore your sense of well-being, click here.

What can I expect at the beginning of a course of treatment?
At the outset of a course of treatment, your osteopath will require information regarding your medical history (including any accidents or traumas), lifestyle and overall sense of well-being, as well as the more precise nature of your complaint.  They may also wish to test your coordination and reflexes, and your blood pressure.  This will then be followed by a thorough physical examination that will explore your bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons.  Your osteopath may also want to test the flexibility of your arms, legs and back, and will also look carefully at your spine, perhaps examining your posture and balance.

How many sessions will I need?
After an initial examination, your osteopath will decide upon a personalised treatment plan and will share with you the process as well as the outcomes that can be expected as the treatment progresses, alongside an expected timeframe for the treatment.  It might be that only a few osteopathic sessions are necessary, perhaps followed by an occasional check-up, or your osteopath may recommend a regular course of treatment.

For further information on what to expect from osteopathic treatment, click here.

What training and qualifications do osteopaths have?

An osteopath in Australia is required to undergo a minimum of five years’ training, which consists usually of a Bachelor degree followed by a Masters degree.  As part of their training, an osteopath in Australia will undertake studies in a wide variety of disciplines.  

Are osteopaths registered?
All osteopaths in Australia are registered with the Osteopathy Board of Australia (in association with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) and a registered osteopath is able to practise in all Australian states and territories.  Osteopaths are also required to undertake programmes of continuing professional development in order to ensure that the osteopathic healthcare services they provide are delivered to the highest possible standard.

For further information on training and qualifications of osteopaths in Australia, click here.

Do I need a GP referral to visit an osteopath?

Osteopaths in Australia are classified as primary healthcare professionals, which means that they are qualified to diagnose and treat patients without the need for a prior referral from a general practitioner (although see below re: Medicare and osteopathy).

Can I claim a Medicare rebate for treatment by an osteopath?

If you have a chronic condition (e.g. a long-standing musculoskeletal condition), you are eligible for a Medicare rebate on five sessions of osteopathic treatment, provided your condition is being managed by a GP who has provided you with MBS Chronic Disease Management services as part of a GP Management Plan (GPMP) and Team Care Arrangements (TCAs). 

Can I claim for osteopathic treatment on my private health insurance?

Most private health funds in Australia will offer either a form of ancillary or extras cover that will either entitle you to a set number of osteopathic treatment sessions throughout a calendar year (depending on the level of cover), or will make a contribution towards the cost of osteopathic treatment sessions, up to an agreed amount.

For further information on Medicare rebates and private health cover for osteopathic treatment, click here.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Renewing Your Wedding Vows in Adelaide?

Adelaide Wedding Speeches have a range of specials on offer to help you if you are planning on renewing your wedding vows.

If you are planning on a ceremony to renew your wedding vows, or are getting married and want to write your own vows, then Adelaide Wedding Speeches have three special packages just for you.

Our personalised vow writing service means that you can benefit from the skills and experience of a professional writer, who will work with you to create a unique and bespoke set of vows that will help you to express your thoughts and feelings in a heartfelt, yet clear and well-organised manner.

In addition, we will also help you to rehearse and learn your vows.  We can show you the most effective way to recite your vows so that when you speak you are able to capture the emotions and feelings that your words express but in such a way as to maintain a clear and effective speaking style.  

Overall, our services aim to ensure that on your big day you feel well-prepared and relaxed so that you will be able to speak your most heartfelt of words with confidence and pleasure.

Adelaide Wedding Speeches offer three different personalised vow writing packages, starting from just $99.

Visit www.weddingspeechesadelaide.com.au to find out more.


If you are thinking of renewing your wedding vows, contact Adelaide Wedding Speeches
Adelaide Wedding Speeches can work with you to create unique, bespoke wedding vows

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Cadogan & Hall launch new website

Cadogan and Hall have just launched a brand new website and we think it looks pretty special!

The site is designed to give a clear description of the services we provide, and it features examples of the work we have produced recently for Adelaide and South Australian businesses, such as websites, online blogs, articles and press releases.

Our new site was produced by Media Gain, another Adelaide company and, as we say, it looks wonderful!

Please come and have a look and tell us what you think!
www.cadoganandhall.com



Adelaide Writing Agency
Cadogan & Hall www.cadoganandhall.com

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Media Gain and Cadogan & Hall launch new website for Adelaide company Builders At Your Service


Website designers Media Gain and online content writers Cadogan & Hall have produced a new website for Adelaide construction company Builders At Your Service.

A new website for Adelaide building and construction company Builders At Your Service has just gone live, and is the latest to be produced by Adelaide website designers Media Gain and online content writers Cadogan & Hall.  Media Gain and Cadogan & Hall specialise in producing engaging and affordable websites for small- and medium-sized businesses throughout South Australia, and are establishing a growing reputation for helping their clients to be found online.

The two companies work together closely to ensure that there is a good blend of image and content in their websites, and support clients in getting their message out across social media as well.

“We really focus on helping smaller businesses establish their presence on the internet,” said Denise Angus of Media Gain.  “For small and medium enterprises, it can sometimes be hard to compete with bigger firms, but we think our combination of attractive design, user-friendly functionality and high-quality, professionally researched and written content goes a long way towards getting our clients’ names and services out there and known to the wider Adelaide public.”

The emphasis on top quality content is vital, and Media Gain and Cadogan & Hall work closely with their clients to create content that is engaging, informative and unique.

“In the case of Builders At Your Service, for instance, we spent an afternoon with the owner of the company Gavan O’Connor, really getting to know him and his business,” said Denise Angus.  “In this way, we were able to get a good understanding not only of the nuts and bolts of the business, but also the whole ethos of the company.  We came to understand what makes them different from other companies working in home construction and renovation, and this is what we tried to bring out on the website.  If you visit the site, we think that you’ll get a real sense of what makes the company tick, and what makes them unique.  For smaller businesses like Builders At Your Service, this is really important and so this is where we have sought to develop our expertise.”

Cost-effectiveness is, of course, also an important consideration for small and medium enterprises, and so Media Gain and Cadogan & Hall have website and online content packages that are within the reach of companies large and small.  The websites they produce are also promoted extensively across social media and this adds further value for a new business or one that is just beginning to establish an online presence.

To find out more about the affordable website design and online content packages being offered in Adelaide by Media Gain and Cadogan & Hall, contact Denise Angus at denise@mediagain.com.au or visit www.mediagain.com.au


Affordable website design in Adelaide
Adelaide Web Designers Media Gain

Press releases, articles, online content in Adelaide
Adelaide Online Content Writers Cadogan and Hall
Adelaide Building and Construction Company
Adelaide Building and Construction Company Builders At Your Service




Saturday, 21 April 2012

On Reading Other People's Diaries (Part 1)

On Reading Other People's Diaries (Part 1)

The first in a short series of articles on the enduring popularity of diaries, including some of the most engaging examples from across a range of styles and times.

The diary as a literary form remains with us and continues to engage and enthral.  What lays behind its enduring appeal?  Firstly, there is the sense of intimacy - we are able to witness (at second hand, at least) events as they unfold.  In the case of political diaries, we are able to gain some insight (depending on the author's proximity to events) into the thinking behind occasions of importance and significance to which we might not otherwise have access.

We are also able to learn about the author in a manner different to that of a biography or autobiography.  In the case of the latter, there is always the tendency (however subconscious) for the subject to portray themselves or their role in events in a more positive light.  The benefit of hindsight works wonders, and the autobiography (particularly in the political sphere) often winds up being a litany of self-justification (when things went wrong) or self-congratulation (when they went right).  This doesn't happen with diaries - we see people's vacillations, indecision, and sometimes their sheer bewilderment at what is happening around them.  What an honest and forthright diary captures is the changes in the state of mind of the author - today, life is hopeless, tomorrow it will be exhilarating.  An engaging diary should remind us that our perspective on the world on any given day is not an irreversible, indelible truth.  Rather, it is a reflection of circumstance, mood and our relationships with others on a given day, and is always subject to change at short notice.

The diary has not been superseded by the blog.  They serve very distinct purposes and so their intrinsic characters will continue to remain separate.  The blog is written with the intention of its being published and read immediately.  It is written with a particular audience in mind and often invites instant comment or feedback.  This undoubtedly affects how we read a blog, as we take it in instalments as they are produced, and this doesn't always provide opportunity for detailed analysis or comparison, or allow us to stand back and take an overview of the author's changing perspectives.   The blog is not designed as a record, more of a running commentary, and so for that reason it will often tend to lack a sense of perspective.

The diary, on the other hand, while also recording events contemporaneously, is nevertheless not designed for immediate consumption.  We are able to digest a longer period of time in one sitting, and so we have more points of comparison and reference.  To push the analogy, we are able to order from the full menu at the outset, rather than simply taking each course as it comes.  The diary often offers such an engaging insight into events because it manages to combine both immediacy and overview at the same time.  We have events being recorded as they unfold, but we can simultaneously gain an understanding of the full story from beginning to end.

With the above in mind, we would heartily recommend the series of political diaries that have been published recently by the former British Labour MP, Chris Mullin.  Mr Mullin, as well as being the author of the 1982 novel A Very British Coup, led the campaign for the overturning of the wrongful convictions of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four.  His diaries cover an historic time in British politics - the birth and rise to power of New Labour including, perhaps most significantly, the time of Britain's decision to join the allied invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

As can be deduced from the titles, A View From the Foothills (2009), Decline and Fall (2010) and A Walk-on Part (2011) Mr Mullin was not a big-hitter in the New Labour regime (rising only as high as a junior cabinet minister), but the diaries are all the richer for that.  He is both an insider and an outsider at the same time, with access to the decision-making process beyond the rest of us, while still being (frustratingly, for him and us) a long way from the real heart of the action.

Mr Mullin is a wonderful diarist.  He writes with clarity, honesty and a degree of self-effacement that is extremely engaging.  We share his frustrations at the powerlessness (at times) of the backbench MP, his efforts to fight bureaucratic indifference on behalf of his constituents, and his moments of (admittedly) small triumph in the face of overwhelming odds.  The sections dealing with his elevation to junior minister ranks in the Department of the Environment are especially interesting, as are those dealing with his later return to government in the Department for Overseas Development.  What we see is a principled, decent and honest MP (and as the diaries reveal, the latter is in short supply) struggling against inertia to achieve positive change on behalf of his constituents and the nation.

Perhaps the most horrifying part of the diaries is the vacuousness at the heart of the New Labour project that they reveal.  Mr Mullin rightly details the successes of the Blair/Brown years (and despite everything, they did undoubtedly improve the lot of many people in need), but he also chronicles their lack of vision and cohesion.  The infighting, political machinations and sheer opportunism of leading politicians is laid bare and, while none of this should come as a surprise, it is nevertheless a salutary lesson to us all.  This is nowhere in evidence more than on the debates regarding British involvement in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Mr Blair is revealed to have essentially taken the decision to join the invading alliance of his own accord, with little or no pressure on him from either the electorate or members of his government.  Whether the decision was right or wrong, the lack of consultation, rational debate or disclosure of facts should give us all pause.

Mr Mullin undoubtedly ranks alongside Richard Crossman and Alan Clark as the pre-eminent political chroniclers of their times.  Anyone with an interest in recent international history, the nature of politics or simply engaging, well-constructed writing, should seek them out.

Chris Mullin's website can be accessed here

Chris Mullin writes about the genesis of 'A Very British Coup' in the 'Guardian'







Saturday, 10 March 2012

Adelaide Fringe Review - The Right Dishonourable Dickie Daventry

Adelaide Fringe Review - The Right Dishonourable Dickie Daventry at The Austral (The Bunka) Saturday 10 March

Having spent a bright and beautiful Saturday buried in the bowels of the Barr Smith Library researching Singapore's historic role in ASEAN, it is not hard to imagine that I was approaching my appointment with the Right Honourable Dickie with something approaching gay abandon.  A hour or so in his company brightened my day considerably.

The former Tory MP and all-round old school cad is the wonderful comic creation of actor Dave Lemkin.  Part Alan Clark, part Sir Rowley Birkin, part Lord Morgan of Glossop (spot the odd one out), this is intelligent and thoughtful comedy that somehow seemed entirely out of place in a back room at The Austral - if only he could have appeared at the Royal Institution (the former Adelaide Stock Exchange) all would have been perfect (there are rooms there decked out with Chesterfields and wing back armchairs!)

Ostensibly, the show is a political memoir and the Rt. Hon. Dickie takes us through his life and career - Eton (buggered senseless), Christchurch College, Oxford (buggered senseless) and then, with remorseless inevitably, into the upper echelons of the Conservative Party.  Along the way, we hear about his marriage to Marjorie (drowned in a sea of her own lesbianism), his feckless children and his rampant sexual encounters with Margaret Thatcher that involved Dickie dressing up as Breshnev on the outskirts of Wolverhampton (it's hard to work out which part of that is the most frightening!)

This is a beautifully imagined character in the Wodehousian tradition, and appropriately Mr Lemkin uses language and verbal dexterity with great aplomb.  Having known one or two chaps in my time not that far removed from Dickie,  everything about Mr Lemkin's creation resonated, from the genteel poverty suggested by the slightly shabby tweeds that had seen better days, to the hair with a mind of its own (a la the Mayor of London), although I am afraid that I had to take exception with his shoes which were clearly not from John Lobb as one would reasonably expect from a man of Dickie's pedigree.

The fact that I would appear to be engaging with this character on a level that takes almost no account of Mr Lemkin's contribution to the entertainment goes to show just what a fine portrait he has created.  This was old-fashioned character acting and story-telling of the first order.  The fogeyish inability to engage with a mobile phone, the condescending attitude towards the colonies and the muddled retelling of one of the funniest 'An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman go into a pub...' jokes you will ever hear all added up to a splendid entertainment that was thoroughly engaging and inordinately witty.  My only regret is that it didn't go on for longer - a long convivial lunch and a dangerous third bottle in the company of the Right Honourable Dickie Daventry would be the perfect way to unwind on a late summer's afternoon.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Adelaide Fringe Review - Bob Downe: 20 Golden Greats

Adelaide Fringe Review - Bob Downe: 20 Golden Greats at the Arts Theatre, Friday 9 March

I first saw Bob Downe on TV in London in, I think, about 1992.  For some reason, the self-styled Prince of Polyester resonated with me and I found him hilarious without ever quite knowing why.  Nothing much has changed.  I may be fatter, older and balder but Bob still looks as youthfully effervescent at the age of 53 as he did all those years ago, and is just as wonderfully funny.  If only he still wore the legendary beige safari suit...

There is something quintessentially Australian about Bob Downe, but I don't quite know just what it is.  Perhaps it's his warmth and the sheer delight he seems to take in performing.  You cannot help but think that he lives to be on stage and that really does reach every corner of the theatre.   Mind you, the feeling is very much reciprocated.  Many performers have fans who enjoy watching them, many have devoted followers, but I have rarely seen a crowd that so adores their idol.   Genuinely adores him.  Bob (we can't even conceive of him under his real name, Mark Trevorrow) could literally do anything on the stage and he would have the audience in raptures.  And what a mixed audience it is - he has a demographic that other acts can only dream of.

For those of you who have never seen Bob perform, his genre is probably best defined as retro-kitsch (another sign of the impact he has made on me, as this sort of thing is not normally my cup of tea at all).  He performs classic pop from the 60s, 70s and 80s punctuated with gags and banter, and enhanced by nifty but naff dance routines.  But I think it is the eyes and teeth that really seal the deal.  He has a piercing, wide-eyed stare and stage-school smile that have to be seen to be believed, topped off (literally) by the most immoveable hairdo known to man.  He started the show in a 70s style tracksuit, but then stripped down to reveal his Caribbean Cruise Collection - floral shirt and stunning white polyester slacks, while a mirror ball whirled away gaudily above.  You get the picture...

It is only right and proper to point out, however, that Bob Downe really can sing.  I have never seen Mr Trevorrow in any context other than as Bob Downe (except in some episodes of Kath and Kim) but it would be great to hear him belting out some big band classics, as under the playful camp there is unquestionably a truly fine interpreter of a song.  I would also love to hear him doing some Sondheim one day, or perhaps some Noel Coward.  That I would travel a long way to see.

It is also worth mentioning that Bob really does seem to know and like Adelaide and his many knowing references to the city and its personalities are very entertaining and only made the crowd love him more (if such a thing were possible).  And, as a final coup de theatre he is joined on stage by a local living legend, who tells a truly scandalous story about William Shatner, a yellow sports car and a trip to Windy Point.  Get along to the Arts Theatre if you want to find out more...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Adelaide Fringe Review - 5-Step Guide to Being German

5-Step Guide to Being German
Austral Hotel - The Bunka, Saturday 3 March 2012

"You know this whole five step thing, it's just publicity.  Of course, there aren't really five steps to being German.  There are eighteen.  Five just makes you Austrian"*

Thus begins our guide to the Fatherland with Paco Erhard leading the way.  Amidst the humour he makes some serious points about being German today (his riffs on German school children being good at maths simply as a way to avoid yet more history lessons was extremely funny) and poses questions about what it means to feel patriotic pride in the 21st century.  However, this is no polemic and the jokes come thick and fast, aided along the way by some amusing homemade visual aids.

Mr Erhard is a somewhat frantic performer and he tends to be a bit all over the place physically, but this in a way ties in quite neatly with his attempts to poke fun at German stereotypes (efficiency, order, etc.) as he seems to be an embodiment of their antithesis, in that he's pretty scruffy and rather uncontrolled.   He is at his best when exploring the characteristics of the different regions of Germany and how Germans behave when abroad.  The latter got many laughs of recognition from a fairly large and enthusiastic audience.

My only real issue with Mr Erhard's show is that I would have liked to hear more on his observations on Australian life and culture.  There are some passing references to dangerous outback creatures, and one good crack at Adelaide's latte drinking classes, but given the nature of the show and the overall accuracy of his observations, I was hoping that he might have poked fun at us a little more.  Mr Erhard lives and works in London and there was perhaps a little too much material from his sets there focussing on the nature of Anglo-German relations.  I would like to have heard some more new material written especially for an Adelaide Fringe audience - this is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that he is actually performing in a venue called The Bunka but amidst all the Hitler jokes makes no reference to it!

This is a good show without being a great one. Mr Erhard is a lively and engaging performer and it was the perfect show for a Saturday afternoon.   I would have no hesitation in going again but, as I say, the material could do with a little more reworking for an Australian crowd.

*  I am paraphrasing wildly here.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Adelaide Fringe Review - Wee Andy at Holden Street Theatres

Review of Wee Andy, Holden Street Theatres, Saturday 3 March 2012

It seemed somehow sadly serendipitous to be seeing this play the night after it was reported that five people have been arrested in connection with gunshots being fired in Hindley Street on a busy Friday night.  This play dissects violence and the fallacious notions of 'respect' that inspires so much of it and, although set in a bleak Glasgow housing estate on the face of it a million miles away, it should rightly have resonance for us here in Adelaide in the way that it explores a largely unseen and unacknowledged sub-culture that exists in parallel, but without ever really interacting with, mainstream culture.  Without wanting to seem unduly pessimistic, if one stops to consider for a moment our own highly fractured and segmented society, the world of Wee Andy suddenly doesn't seem so far away after all.

This is a stunning piece of theatre.  Paddy Cunneen has created a muscular, powerful blank verse that is incredibly versatile and eminently suited to theatre.  Quite simply, this is the best contemporary verse I have ever heard on a stage.  Both down to earth and poetic, both narrative and rhapsodic, the language of the play is so rich in its imagery and the evocations of both scene and atmosphere so compelling that there were moments when the audience seemed to be collectively holding their breaths as they were transported to the scene of the crimes that are at the heart of the action.

Mr Cunneen's direction is also exemplary.  The play is staged very simply (no setting, a couple of chairs the only furniture) and so the language is accordingly allowed to do the work.  Movement on the stage is measured and minimal on the whole (but at times, suddenly explosive), yet the events being recounted are frenetic and disturbingly violent.  This contrast is wonderfully effective and allows the actors to exploit the language to maximum effect.  There are some very simple devices employed to show the end results of the violent acts that take place in the play - rubber bands on the head are used to show knife wounds, cling film the horrifying effects of an acid attack - but they were entirely appropriate and effective.  Mr Cunneen's language here again takes the credit - we don't need to see a literal depiction of someone whose face has been slashed with a knife as the playwright has already shown it to us in words.

The acting on display is also first class.  Although I may have been carried away by the language, the actors are not - they treat it as though it is their natural speech and therefore, perhaps paradoxically, they are in this way able to give full weight to the graphic imagery and poetic turns of phrases with which they are working.  The narrative and the characters' plights drive them, not a desire to speak poetry and so, as should be the case in verse plays (but sadly usually is not) the structure and carefully crafted composition of the language almost passes us by as we become engrossed by the stories these characters have to tell.  It is a very strong ensemble cast, but the extraordinary performances of Pauline Knowles as Andy's Mum and Andy Clarke as the surgeon are of the sort that make sure, despite all the disappointments it so often brings us, the theatre keeps dragging us back in.  Ms Knowles' grief and bewilderment as she recounts hearing that her son has been horribly wounded in a vicious knife attack is mesmerising, while Mr Clarke exquisitely portrays the dilemma confronting the detached professional surgeon who is battling with his own pent up rage at having to stitch too many people back together.

We have not booked tickers for Fleeto, the companion piece to Wee Andy.  We shall be doing so first thing tomorrow morning.  Opportunities to see theatre as good as this come along rarely - we urge everyone not to miss this one.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Adelaide Fringe Review - Charles Barrington: Inside the Actor's Studio Apartment

Charles Barrington: Inside the Actor's Studio Apartment
The Tuxedo Cat, 28 February 2012


"I am not a comedian.  I am a comic actor.  This means that if you are laughing, I must be doing a very good job.  If not, blame the writers."

Charles Barrington welcomes us in to his studio apartment with these words, but he need not have feared.  The small but enthusiastic audience did indeed laugh a good deal, and rightly so.  Barrington (as portrayed by Anthony Rogers, runner-up in the 2009 Raw Comedy Awards) is an engaging if somewhat shambolic character who has a fine way with a joke.  There is a sense of self-deprecation and arrogance at work in him at the same time; he wants us to laugh but at the same time he couldn't care less if we do.  This makes for a style that is laconic and throwaway at times, at others declamatory, and this mix creates a somewhat unique tone to the performance.

The riffs on bee keeping and making a garden salad are beautifully timed and well constructed, and he is a performer who is not afraid to take his time and let his material wash over us.  No machine-gun, rapid fire delivery in this show (which is entirely right and perfectly in keeping with the persona of Charles Barrington), while the pseudo-rap version of Shakespeare demonstrated Mr Rogers' innate sense of timing and rhythm exceptionally well.  We have always enjoyed characters that seek to undermine the pomposity of performers (think back to Nigel Planer and Christopher Douglas' creation in the 1990s, Nicholas Craig) and there are the beginnings in Mr Rogers' Charles Barrington of a similarly entertaining comic persona.

However, ultimately this is a show in search of a dramatist (or at the very least, a good script editor).  In order to give his character a chance to really grow and breathe, there needs to be a greater sense of structure and some reworking of the material.  By this I don't mean the jokes - many of these are extremely funny indeed - but in the way the character of Barrington comes to the jokes.  There is no real journey in the show, no sense, for want of a better word, of a format.  If you think about the most successful solo character creations of recent years (Alan Partridge, Giles Wemmbley-Hogg, Ed Reardon), they all have strong narratives from which their comedy can grow.  Mr Rogers' show could do with some similar sense of coherence; an evening with him in his apartment is a good enough starting point, but there seems to be no real reason for our being there - there is nothing in particular he wants to tell us, no great revelation to drive the show along.  If the performance could be developed in such a way as to find a strong narrative line which could be used as the starting point for the jokes, anecdotes and recollections, then there is the potential for Charles Barrington, actor, writer, director and bee keeper to become a significant comic figure.

Similarly, the actorly anecdotes include his impersonating people like Marlon Brando, Michael Caine and Christopher Walken (these impersonations are done very, very badly and I am assuming that this is intentional).  Yet there must be more contemporary figures in the Australian theatrical scene worthy of parody.  It is in this way that the selection and style of the material perhaps needs some development, or at least a critical outsider's eye cast over it; in essence, it needs to go further in its satire, to be perhaps more contemporary in its choice of celebrity.

I should say, however, that I am talking here about making a good show into an exceptional one.  I enjoyed Mr Rogers as a performer a great deal and he clearly knows how to write a joke and to make it work very well.   If he can team up with the right writer or editor, and perhaps sharpen the focus of the material and ground the character more firmly in a world in which he can grow and flourish, there are the foundations here for an extremely entertaining comic persona. As it stands we have a very funny show that is well worth seeing, but one that leaves us with the sneaking suspicion that we could have seen even more.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Adelaide Fringe Review - Judith Lucy: Nothing Fancy

Judith Lucy @ Thebarton Theatre Friday 24 February

Judith Lucy's new show Nothing Fancy comes to Adelaide after a run in Sydney, and we are undoubtedly the beneficiaries of this.  The show is well-timed, her material is well chosen, and she is clearly in confident and buoyant form.

Ms Lucy has two great strengths as a performer - her warmth and the sense of physical control she exhibits on stage.  The show began with some interplay with members of the audience in which she interacted and improvised with the punters in a way that set the mood for the evening, in that her aim was not to mock and denigrate as is often the case with less secure performers - instead, the comedy came from the way in which she took the audience's contributions and then built upon them.  She was not afraid to give these exchanges time and space and was rewarded with rich material that she then proceeded to develop.  Throughout these exchanges, there was never the sense that audience were potential 'victims' - rather, they were contributors and appreciated as such.

On stage, Ms Lucy is probably not generally thought of as a particularly physical performer, but this is to underestimate the level of physical mastery she has over her craft.  Not for her the annoying tics and idiosyncrasies that seem to afflict less accomplished performers when they attempt to inject 'energy' into their routines.  Instead, her movements are measured when necessary, exaggerated when desirable, but at all times there is a sense that how she moves is indelibly linked to and reflective of her material and has been well planned and considered.  She does not wander aimlessly about the stage, use redundant gestures or seem uncertain as to what she should do with her hands.  The theatre was very nearly full and Ms Lucy was all there was to look at, and so her movement and her entire physical demeanour reflected a sense of design and careful thought.  Watching a solo performer can sometimes be dull, sometimes be downright tiring, but with Ms Lucy no gesture is wasted or unnecessary and you are watching a performer who is confident and in control.

I am sure we are not the first people to remark that Ms Lucy's voice can at times resemble that of Dame Edna, or that the frock she chose to wear made her look (in the opinion of one member of our party) a little 'frumpy', but these are very minor caveats.  Much of the material in Nothing Fancy related to Ms Lucy's experiences while making her recent television series and this made us want to see it, in order to be able to see more of her.  This seems to us as about as high a recommendation as we can make.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Classic Books for Boys


Our Man in Havana (1958)  Graham Greene
The archetypal Greene work, the novel is set in Cuba prior to Castro coming to power.  James Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman, is enlisted by the British secret service and agrees  to ‘spy’ for them in order to cover his teenage daughter’s very expensive tastes.  However, Wormold’s spying is at first entirely imaginary, but his life begins to unravel when his fantasy world and the real world begin to coincide.
A classic work for boys in terms of its subject matter, but more importantly Greene’s direct yet poetic prose style has turned many a sceptic into an enthusiastic reader.
Rogue Male (1939) Geoffrey Household
A British sportsman attempts to assassinate Hitler in his rural retreat. However, he is captured and tortured although he finally manages to escape. He then finds himself on the run from a mysterious figure and the two engage in a riveting and deadly game of hide and seek (the scenes in the London Underground are a particular highlight).

Part military survival manual, part thriller, part old fashioned heroic tale, the pace is gripping, the descriptions of the protagonists’ plans and tactics for survival are compelling and right triumphs at the end.  A boy can ask for no more.
The 39 Steps (1915) John Buchan
Prior to the outbreak of World War I, Richard Hannay has returned to London from Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) when a mysterious man calls upon him and desperately seeks his help to stop a group of German spies known as the Black Stone.  However, when the man is murdered in Hannay’s flat he is forced to go on the run.
A complicated and twisting plot, treachery, betrayal and some good old fashioned murder and mayhem make this the father of all ‘man on the run’ novels and films.  This, combined with the glimpse back in time to a world that no longer exists, makes it a vital and necessary part of every young man’s education.
Right Ho, Jeeves (1934) PG Wodehouse
Bertie Wooster finds himself in one of his usual scrapes: trying to reunite his friend Tuppy Glossop with his estranged fiancée Angela, avoiding getting married to the soppy Madeline Bassett and trying to stay on his Aunt Dahlia’s good side so that she doesn’t ban him from eating any more of her peerless chef Anatole’s (“God’s gift to the gastric juices”) sumptuous dinners. Thankfully, at Bertie’s side throughout is the inimitable Jeeves, his gentleman’s personal gentleman, who is always there to ensure that he avoids the ultimate peril.  A classic set piece is the laugh-out-loud scene in which Bertie’s friend Gussie Fink-Nottle drunkenly presents the prizes at Market Snodsbury Grammar School, which once read will be never be forgotten.
Quite simply, this is the funniest, most well-written, warmly generous book in twentieth-century English literature.  Life would be unbearable without it.
Lucky Jim (1954) Kingsley Amis
The eponymous hero Jim Dixon is a Medieval History lecturer at a provincial university in the north of England. Despite the ironic title, nothing quite seems to work out for Jim and he struggles to find a place in the world, a world from which he feels increasingly isolated.
In this great ‘outsider’ novel, Amis captures the anger and frustration of a young man who sees his way thwarted by those with better connections but far less talent. A must-read novel both for its delicious humour and its fascinating evocation of a grim, grey post-war England.
All Quiet on the Western Front (1928) Erich-Maria Remarque
Paul Bäumer joins the German army at the beginning of the First World War. He arrives at the Western Front with a diverse group of friends whose fates intertwine. The book focuses not so much on warfare and fighting, but rather the horrendous conditions in which Paul and his comrades find themselves living year after year.
The book is always a favourite amongst boys for its toilet humour, scenes of mayhem and schoolboy pranks that all take place against a backdrop of terrible doom and danger. The last chapter of the book, a single paragraph from which the title is taken, is painfully moving and only serves to highlight the senselessness of conflict.
The Red Badge of Courage (1895) Stephen Crane
The novel is set during the American Civil War and has as its hero Henry Fleming, a private in the Union Army. Much of the book revolves around Henry’s questioning of his own (untested) courage: how will he react in the face of the enemy? In several graphic yet honest depictions of conflict, Henry discovers more about himself than he cared to know.
A truly great war novel in which Crane is interested in exploring concepts of valour, duty and loyalty, but from a surprisingly modern standpoint given the the time at which the book was written.  It is also extremely interesting to read in the light of what society was to learn about the nature of warfare only twenty years later.
Animal Farm (1945) George Orwell
The animals on Manor Farm rebel and overthrow the farmer.  They then assume control of the farm themselves.  The novel (invitingly short!) details the trials and tribulations of the animals as they fight to control their own destiny amid attempts to destroy their solidarity both from without and within.
Orwell’s classic parable of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union is flawless. The writing has a directness that is unparalleled and this, combined with his restless and ruthless search for truth behind ideology, makes this the greatest political novel ever written. However, it is far from a polemic and there are moments of real human (animal?) tragedy that would move even the most dialectically detached Marxist!
Of Mice and Men (1937) John Steinbeck
One of the first credit crunch novels. George and Lennie, two itinerant workers in California during the Great Depression, land casual jobs on a ranch, hoping to “work up a stake” and buy a place of their own. However Lennie, who despite his immense physical presence has the mind of a child, accidentally brings tragedy and misfortune down upon the two friends’ heads.
A road novel, an astute piece of social analysis, a brilliant study in character and dialogue – all of this and more can be said about this masterpiece.  Popular with boys, initially at lest because it’s short (I am sorry parents, but it’s true - this matters a lot!), the story soon engulfs all but the most unwilling reader. You’d have to be made of stone not to be moved to tears by the book’s concluding moments.
The Diary of a Nobody (1888-89) George Grossmith (illustrated by Weedon Grossmith)
This hilarious pseudo-diary first appeared in Punch magazine in 1888-89. Mr Charles Pooter is a social climbing, irredeemably snobby clerk in the City and his diary details his everyday life as well as significant social and family occasions. Mr Pooter’s pretensions and lack of self-awareness provide the richest veins of humour, but nevertheless he is a lovable figure and is perhaps one of the finest examples of the inconsequential suburban hero.
This book, helped in no small measure by its charming illustrations, cannot but help to delight. It serves in one sense as a fascinating social document in the way that it lays bare lower-middle-class life in the Victorian age, but is also startlingly modern at times, especially in the depiction of the strained relationship between Mr Pooter and his son Lupin, which is stunningly contemporary in the way it dissects the generation gap and the despair a father feels at seeing his son’s potential go to waste. This is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable books you will ever read.


Saturday, 11 February 2012

What we will be seeing during the 2012 Adelaide Festival and Fringe

It is always the same with major festivals - how is it possible to fit in everything you want to see along with still trying to do at least some work, keep up with research and still find the time to do all the other things that go along with modern life?

Therefore, after much deliberation, juggling of calendars, shifting of appointments and generally clearing the decks, the Cadogan and Hall Festival and Fringe programme of events is as follows:

Judith Lucy: Nothing Fancy - Thebarton Theatre, Friday 24 February @ 8.45pm
Charles Barrington:  Inside the Actors Studio Apartment - Tuxedo Cat, Tuesday 28 February @ 8.30pm
5-Step Guide to Being German - The Austral, Wednesday 29 February @ 8.15pm
All My Friends are Leaving Adelaide - Pembroke School, Friday 2 March @ 7.30pm
Wee Andy - Holden Street Theatre, Saturday 3 March @ 9.00pm
Legacy of the Tiger Mother - Adelaide Town Hall, Sunday 4 March @ 7.30pm
Bob Franklin:  An Audience with Sir Robert - Rhino Room, Wednesday 7 March @ 7.15pm
The Right Dishonourable Dickie Daventry - The Austral, Saturday 10 March @ 5.45pm
Your Days are Numbered: The Maths of Death - Science Exchange, Saturday 10 March @ 8.00pm
The Ham Funeral - Odeon Theatre Norwood, Sunday 11 March @ 3.00pm
Sarah Furtner:  The Good German - Gluttony, Sunday 11 March @ 6.00pm
The Caretaker - Her Majesty's Theatre, Tuesday 13 March @ 6.30pm
Bob Downe:  20 Golden Greats - Arts Theatre, Wednesday 14 March @ 7.00pm
Iolanthe - Opera Studio, Friday 16 March @ 8.00pm

Thoughts on this list appreciated - have we made some terrible mistakes?  Any sure-fire winners amongst this crowd?  Where have we wasted our money or where are we amongst the avant-garde?

Reviews will follow in due course...