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Sequin | 10:03 UK time, Monday, 22 October 2007

Just noticed the absence of Furrowed Brow for a while.

How about kicking off with this. After our roundup of correspondence on Friday, Eeore commented "Strange to hear an eastern european, possibly polish accent, during the reading of the letters. Strange because while it is not uncommon to hear Welsh, Irish or Scots accents, the only acceptable accent for people living in England is posh.
Can we assume that in future the programme will begin using actors with regional accents when reading the letters?"

Olga, who read the letter is actually Czech and has worked with us as a broadcasting assistant for several years.
Michelle, who was compiling the letters, used her to comment on a domestic matter - nothing to do with Eastern Europe. She wondered if anyone would comment. What do you think?


  1. At 10:33 AM on 22 Oct 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    Surely we're past the stage of pretending we're all middle-class whites? Or that RP is the only P? The sooner the BBC begins to reflect the diversity of the country we live in the better. In that diversity lies our strength.


  2. At 10:53 AM on 22 Oct 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    i did notice the accent, but my first thought was "How nice to hear a different accent to the usual posh one". Can I suggest that you use Olga to read mail out more often? After all, we have quite a large number of people from different backgrounds living here in the UK, and it would be good to reflect that in the voices heard on PM.

    btw, where's Eddie disappeared to? Not that I'm trying to get rid of you, Sequin (heaven forfend!). Just interested, that's all....

    grrrrr 502'd - Twice!

  3. At 10:57 AM on 22 Oct 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    I'm sure I've heard regional accents being used during the reading of the letters, from time to time, though I have to say that to use a Czech accent is, well, controversial perhaps.

    When I've been privileged to have the occasional comment read out, it's been amusing to hear the choice of voice - a bit like putting on a wig of a different hair colour, perhaps. The classic, though, was when DIWyman was voiced by a woman - transgenderisation probably beats the lot!

    On the general point, I think more British regional accents would be welcome, perhaps (though I have to say, there are regional accents which are perhaps less pleasant than others). In the end, however, it is the content that counts, isn't it?

  4. At 10:58 AM on 22 Oct 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    Surely we're past the stage of pretending we're all middle-class whites? Or that RP is the only P? The sooner the BBC begins to reflect the diversity of the country we live in the better. In that diversity lies our strength.


    502 502 502

  5. At 11:41 AM on 22 Oct 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    As with the silly fuss that people tried to raise when that chap with the lovely dark-brown voice and what I suppose is called 'ethnic origin' started to do continuity? It doesn't seem to matter to me so long as the voice is clear and the words can be understood, and they could -- well done to Olga, it was *fine*.

    On the text above, I don't know why it gave me a grue, but it did. The phrase 'using actors with regional accents' didn't bother me, because it is hard to see what else you could say that would make that plainer, but 'Michelle ... used her [Olga]' for some reason did. I suppose I don't like the team 'using' each other! Perhaps if it had been 'asked' or 'employed' or something I wouldn't have been eeeked by it. Very strange feeling, because generally I am shouting 'what's wrong with "used"?' at the radio when people say something can be 'utilised'!

    Anyhow, I for one can see nothing wrong with Olda's voise and I don't see why she shouldn't read out letters. Her diction is clearer than that of many native English speakers, and she sounds pleasant, so whyever not?

    (I assume, since nobody seems to have added comments during more than an hour, that the Curse of 502 may still operate, but I'll try anyhow.)

  6. At 12:59 PM on 22 Oct 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    Would like to comment. Not prepared to face constant 502 errors in the attempt. Sorry.

  7. At 01:20 PM on 22 Oct 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Sixth attempt. Attempt fifth appeared to be picked up, but hasn't appeared :(

    I'm sure I've heard regional accents being used during the reading of the letters, from time to time, though I have to say that to use a Czech accent is, well, controversial perhaps.

    When I've been privileged to have the occasional comment read out, it's been amusing to hear the choice of voice - a bit like putting on a wig of a different hair colour, perhaps. The classic, though, was when DIWyman was voiced by a woman - transgenderisation probably beats the lot!

    On the general point, I think more British regional accents would be welcome, perhaps (though I have to say, there are regional accents which are perhaps less pleasant than others). In the end, however, it is the content that counts, isn't it?

  8. At 01:22 PM on 22 Oct 2007, The intermittent Horse wrote:

    As long as we can understand what is said, what difference does the accent make? Olga was crystal clear.

    I did smile as it was read though, as I think that the piece in question was submitted by a blogger who might in reality have a bit of a brummie accent!

  9. At 02:02 PM on 22 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I liked hearing Olga and agree with the amusement value of hearing one's own words from an unexpected voice.

    As to recognising cultural diversity, more shortly from our friends at the Bank of Scotland...


  10. At 02:17 PM on 22 Oct 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Having grown up in Scotland, putting up with English accents all over the media ... I think what's important is that the voice can be clearly understood.

    I too thought it was a refreshing change, and look forward to more diversity in Radio Four voices from now on. Well done Michelle!

    (You're welcome to borrow my dulcet Scottish tones any time...)


  11. At 02:32 PM on 22 Oct 2007, Roger Sawyer wrote:

    There is, of course, the gender issue with blog names too. I am sure we've got that wrong in the past. In fact, I think Vyle Hernia has been both male and female.

    My personal preference is for reading out the outraged/sarcastic ones.


  12. At 02:51 PM on 22 Oct 2007, silver-fox wrote:

    Test 14:20

  13. At 04:25 PM on 22 Oct 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Well, at least Olga wasn't "Leveraged" on the programme.

    Roger, I don't always hear the correspondence, so I missed my feminine side.

    Chris (5) I endorse your 1st sentence. But then maybe I'd be biased about someone called Neil anyway.

  14. At 04:30 PM on 22 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Just to add my name to the list, I'll be glad to add a deep brown midatlantic/Canadian/Virginian counterpoint to Fifi's dulcet Scottish....I too like Neil Munoz's voice. At a pinch I can do a half-decent "Black-American" See

    Regarding the Newsletter, why no dead cats to go with the goats?

    What's love but a second-hand emotion?
    -- Tina Turner
    Mon Oct 22 15:22:48 BST 2007
    After five or more 502s, I get this!


    Comment Submission Error

    Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:

    In an effort to curb malicious comment posting by abusive users, I've enabled a feature that requires a weblog commenter to wait a short amount of time before being able to post again. Please try to post your comment again in a short while. Thanks for your patience.

    Return to the original entry

  15. At 04:54 PM on 22 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    From last night's Furrowed Brow:

    Bar nibbles, Food for thought?

    Mother is far too clever to understand anything she does not like.
    -- Arnold Bennett
    Mon Oct 22 16:05:50 BST 2007

  16. At 05:00 PM on 22 Oct 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Chris, I endorse your 1st sentence, but maybe I'm biased where the person's name is Neil.

    When last I looked (Dialling in makes 502 even more fun) I was relieved to see that Olga hadn't been "Leveraged."

  17. At 05:27 PM on 22 Oct 2007, Frances O wrote:

    I'm allfor regional diversity in accents.

    I've also smiled to hear a Scottish voice read out a letter/email from someone in England - though, of course. there are plenty of Scots in England - and, similarly, an English voice reading one from Scotland - though etc etc.

    The clarity is all.

    We do need to beware of going down the Liz Forgan line - anyone else remember when she gushed about having 'lovely rich Brummie accents' on R4 and it was seen as condescending.

    Right. Ist attempt (with little hope - I lost a lot of attempted posts yesterday) @ 1640


    1720 and last attempt.

  18. At 05:35 PM on 22 Oct 2007, David McNickle wrote:

    Eddie got released in the BBC shuffle. He is being replaced by a Polish plumber.

  19. At 06:52 PM on 22 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I liked hearing Olga and agree with the amusement value of hearing one's own words from an unexpected voice.

    As to recognising cultural diversity, more shortly from our friends at the Bank of Scotland...


  20. At 08:01 PM on 22 Oct 2007, madmary wrote:

    It was my blogpost that was read out by the lovely Olda. Made me sound very sexy! Much more interesting than my normal cross between native London and acquired Brummie twang!

    I did wonder if PM thought I was a bit more interesting and exotic than I really am!


  21. At 08:59 PM on 22 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    iMad Mary,

    How can you be anything less than exotic my tall darling?

    Has Chris from iPM managed to contact you? If not, perhaps you should get in touch


  22. At 09:54 AM on 23 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Monbiot on top form:

    Highly reccommended.

    Salaam, etc.

    Stay away from flying saucers today.
    Tue Oct 23 09:47:53 BST 2007

  23. At 01:07 AM on 24 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    From the New York Times:

    BAGHDAD, Oct. 22 — Deadly raids into Turkey by Kurdish militants holed up in northern Iraq are the focus of urgent diplomacy, with Turkey threatening invasion of Iraq and the United States begging for restraint while expressing solidarity with Turkish anger.

    Yet out of the public eye, a chillingly similar battle has been under way on the Iraqi border with Iran. Kurdish guerrillas ambush and kill Iranian forces and retreat to their hide-outs in Iraq. The Americans offer Iran little sympathy. Tehran even says Washington aids the Iranian guerrillas, a charge the United States denies. True or not, that conflict, like the Turkish one, has explosive potential.

    One man's Terrorist is another man's Freedom Fighter....

    Assalaam 'alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu
    Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you

    Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded responsible thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money
    system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.
    -- Valerie Solanas

  24. At 04:47 PM on 24 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    The Big "R"?
    24 10 07 16:39

  25. At 08:10 PM on 29 Oct 2007, mittfh wrote:

    I heard earlier today that the debate over Channel 4's "Bringing up baby" still continues unabated - the NSPCC have now weighed in attacking the principle of "forcing" the baby to stay awake during the day so it will sleep through the night, saying that this causes the baby undue distress, raises cortisol levels and impacts brain development etc. etc.

    Err, hang on though, although the some of the methods used in the programme aren't officially recommended nowadays, surely millions of babies throughout the past few decades have been brought up by these methods with no known ill effects on their development?

  26. At 01:04 PM on 30 Oct 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    mittfh - That's right. They'll be all those hyperactive friends who can't focus properly, constantly on the lookout for trouble etc - cortisol really does have a lot to answer for.


  27. At 03:16 PM on 31 Oct 2007, Martin. wrote:

    In my opinion Scotland is dead. It passed away on September 11 1997, the date of the referendum on devolution of power that Tony Blair had promised prior to his 'winning' the election on May 1st.

    Since then, I think Scotland's public life has been a twitching corpse, not a working democracy but a cheap, grisly and tawdry parody of what a successful democracy in a very ancient, proud and democratic country should be.

    Devolution from Westminster to Edinburgh was given an overwhelming mandate on 9/11/97. It became the duty of Donald Dewar, Blair's Secretary of State for Scotland, to make the necessary arrangements for the handover of power.

    Not all powers were passed. Westminster retained control of matters of state such as defence and foreign affairs, while Edinburgh would legislate for bread and butter issues such as health, education, agriculture and fisheries.

    It soon became clear that the Scottish Parliament was to be elected on more consensual lines than the classic 'first past the post' system used for Westminster contests. Two-thirds of MSP's were to be directly elected for constiutuencies that mirrored those of Westminster, with the remaining third were to be elected on a 'List' basis, whereby their election depended on the number of votes they received as 'second' and 'third' choices on the ballot.

    The inevitable consequence of this system is that Scotland ended up with a higher proportion of legislators per head of the population than the United Kingdom as a whole. Another inevitable consequence was the proliferation of small parties representing the worst facets of extremism. In the first elections held in 1999, it resulted in the List election of one Tommy Sheridan, the leader, or 'Convenor', of the ultra-Trotskyite Scottish Socialist Party, the worst extremists of them all.

    Showing great contempt for the history and significance of the Loyal Oath required of all Members of the Scottish Parliament, the taking of which was required in order for him to receive his very generous taxpayer funded salary and expenses package, a package it is likely he would not have the qualifications to attain in the private sector, Sheridan took it with his fist clenched, Black Panther style; the posture of a knave.

    The first Scottish Parliament of 1999 to 2003 was not a success. It was dominated by an ongoing, almost interminable, scandal surrounding massive escalations in the construction costs for a new parliament building, from £50 million to £400 million. Despite the fact that a fully operational parliament had been constructed in the old Edinburgh Royal High School in the 1970's, when the devolution dragon last raised its head, Dewar did not wish to use this site as apparently to do so would have conceded a political victory to the Scottish National Party. Instead, without consultation, Dewar selected a site at Holyrood, at the bottom of Edinburgh High Street ('The Royal Mile'), very close to Holyrood Palace, the monarch's official residence in Scotland.

    A public enquiry under Lord Fraser of Carmyllie which reported in 2004 found that the hideous over-runs arose out of a series of systemic management failures at both the political and administrative levels. The type of contract selected, Construction Management, was the option that should have been chosen if the aim was to maximise taxpayer risk. The architect, a Catalan called Enric Miralles, did not possess current indemnity insurance and was prone to making last-minute design changes, all of which resulted in the building becoming larger and larger. it has been alleged that European Union rules on public tendering were broken by failure to award the building contract to the company which had submitted the cheapest tender.

    Inside the debating chamber, Dewar's Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition quickly began to show what their true agenda was - the creation of a secular, politically correct hell on earth in the land that produced Adam Smith, John Paul Jones, Robert Burns, James Watt, Andrew Carnegie, Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander Fleming and John Logie Baird. One of the Scottish Executive's first acts, under the stewardship of Dewar's lieutenant Wendy Alexander (the daughter of one of his oldest friends from the Glasgow University Labour Club in the 1950's) was to legislate the repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. Section 28, one of Margaret Thatcher's very few pieces of socially conservative legislation, had outlawed the 'promotion' of homosexuality in schools. Wendy's brother Douglas is now a Cabinet level Minister at Westminster.

    Dewar's death in 2000 caused the rank and title of First Minister to pass to former professional soccer player Henry McLeish. During his year in office, McLeish facilitated the most important piece of legislation to pass from the parliament, entitling the elderly receive free personal care at taxpayer expense. His resignation was prompted by what might be called a state of confusion over his arrangements for the sub-letting of his constituency office, which McLeish himself decribed as 'a muddle, not a fiddle'.

    So in 2001 Scotland was left with an Executive which had lost two chiefs in a year and whose biggest problem was its own rapidly failing credibility, all caused by a hole in the ground at the bottom of the Royal Mile. As with all disputes between socialists, the fighting was intense, but it fell to an apparently colourless apparatchik called Jack McConnell to assume the mantle of First Minister of Scotland upon beoming the leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

    Apart from leading Labour back into coalition government after the 2003 elections, the act for which McConnell will be most widely remembered is the choice of clothing that he wore to an event he attended while on a junket to New York City's so-called 'Tartan Day' celebrations in 2004. Eschewing tartan and the traditional kilt, McConnell wore what can only be described as a skirt. It made him a laughing stock, and made a laughing stock of Scotland in the process.

    However, one of McConnell's more significant policy initiatives has been the adoption of the 'One Scotland, Many Cultures' policy. As its title might suggest, it proceeds on the assumption that all white Scots are frothing racial bigots; a strange assumption in a country where people are more likely to be murdered on account of what soccer team they support than on account of their skin tone. All the while, the most basic statistics are working against us - male life expectancy in Scotland continues to drop. A male in the west of Scotland now lives an average of 11 years less than a male in the south of England. The simple act of creating more politicians does not seem to have had any profound effect on this fundamental meter of national well-being.

    The elections of 2003 were characterised by an extremely low turnout; perhaps a signal that the Scottish people had seen what devolution looked like, and didn't like what they saw. However, by now the genie was out of the bottle and Scotland would soon be able to see the lunacy of the Scottish Socialist Party in all its tarnished glory.

    Between 1999 and 2003, Tommy Sheridan had been Scotland's lone voice of taxpayer-funded Trotskyism. In 2003, he was joined by five others, and all of them came from 'The List'. One of them was a single mother of two from the South Side of Glasgow called Rosie Kane.

    Sheridan's disgraceful performance at the swearing-in ceremony of 1999 was more than matched by his new colleagues in 2003. He gave a clenched-fist encore, while another, Colin Fox, insisted on singing verses of Burns' 'A Man's A Man For a' That. Kane's contribution was to display on her raised palm the words 'My Oath is to the People', while taking the Loyal Oath.

    By itself, all this would show a country in a severe state of decadent and terminal decline were the Scottish Socialist Party not an extremely dangerous, almost subversive, group. Sheridan resigned in 2004 on account of sex allegations. At their party conference in February 2005, they gave what the BBC called 'a qualified expression of support to the popular resistance' fighting, and killing, British soldiers in Iraq.

    Although that might be regarded as treasonable, what has prompted this article was seeing the news today that Rosie Kane is going to Cuba this week, as she puts it 'in the spirit of international solidarity for truth and justice and I'll be taking the message that the people of Scotland stand alongside the people of Cuba in opposition to the warmongers in the White House. From Cambuslang to Cuba the brutality and greed of capitalism can be seen easily with the naked eye". She will also be "seeking a meeting with Fidel Castro so that I can deliver a message of solidarity and unity from the Scottish Socialist Party to the people of Cuba against the US blockade."

    Rosie Kane, with all her affectations of the most gutteral Glaswegian speech, is perhaps what some would call a 'useful idiot': I might quibble about the choice of adjective. On the other hand, she's a paid public servant on a very good salary who has no trouble reconciling her conscience to seeking a meeting with a tyrant who keeps political prisoners - even making prisoners of librarians.

    But the greater fault for this situation lies with us, the Scottish people, for electing them. As a rule, the Scot is a slave to his grievances, and one cannot help but wonder whether the industrial decimation of the 1980's created such a strong sense of grievance against Westminster that people actually thought that a Scottish Parliament would not turn out as it has, filled with failed local politicians, former shop stewards and others culled from the ranks of the talentless and visonless. Even the Conservatives do not stand absolved of blame. Opponents of devolution even up to the date of the referendum, they have jumped on the bandwagon wholeheartedly, and may even be ready to disengage from the national party if that will further their electoral chances.

    Was electing Tommy Sheridan and Rosie Kane a price worth paying for getting one over on the English? Did everyone who voted 'Yes, Yes' in 1997 really think it was going to be Bannockburn all over again?

    For what sort of people have we become when we see merit in electing the heirs to an ideology which has been responsible for the deaths of millions? What values do we have?

    The answer is, we have no values - and without values, we're not going to survive.

  28. At 05:19 PM on 31 Oct 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    If you're lost for something to do, why not sign my petition against having an election this year

    As I say on the site, "In this country we do not elect our Prime Minister. We vote for MPs, and they choose the Prime Minister. A general election might appear to give Gordon Brown a mandate - but it would also be an unwelcome step towards a presidential system."


  29. At 09:03 PM on 31 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Martin (27),

    YOU WISH! Scotland is alive and well, as you would know if you didn't have your head buried in a manure heap.



  30. At 11:58 PM on 31 Oct 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Attacking Iran for Israel?

    Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is at her mushroom-cloud hyperbolic best, and this time Iran is the target.

    By Ray McGovern

    10/31/07 "ICH' -- -- Her claim last week that “the policies of Iran constitute perhaps the single greatest challenge to American security interests in the Middle East and around the world” is simply too much of a stretch.
    To gauge someone’s reliability, one depends largely on prior experience. Sadly, Rice’s credibility suffers in comparison with that of the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed ElBaradei, who insists there is no evidence of an active nuclear weapons program in Iran.
    If this sounds familiar, ElBaradei said the same thing about Iraq before it was attacked. But three days before the invasion, American nuclear expert Dick Cheney told NBC’s Tim Russert, “I think Mr. ElBaradei is, frankly, wrong.”
    Here we go again. As in the case of Iraq, U.S. intelligence has been assiduously looking for evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iran; but, alas, in vain.
    Burned by the bogus “proof” adduced for Iraq—the uranium from Africa, the aluminum tubes—the administration has shied away from fabricating nuclear-related “evidence.”
    Are Bush and Cheney again relying on the Rumsfeld dictum, that “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence?” There is a simpler answer.
    Cat Out of the Bag
    The Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Sallai Meridor, let the cat out of the bag while speaking at the American Jewish Committee luncheon on Oct. 22. In remarks paralleling those of Rice, Meridor said Iran is the chief threat to Israel.
    Heavy on the chutzpah, he served gratuitous notice on Washington that effectively countering Iran’s nuclear ambitions will take a “united United States in this matter,” lest the Iranians conclude, “come January ’09, they have it their own way.”
    Meridor stressed that “very little time” remained to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. How so?
    Even were there to be a nuclear program hidden from the IAEA, no serious observer expects Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon much sooner than five years from now.
    Truth be told, every other year since 1995 U.S. intelligence has been predicting that Iran could have a nuclear weapon in about five years.

    Same old same old, I guess...

    Namaste -ed

    Marriage is a romance in which the hero dies in the first chapter.

  31. At 03:11 AM on 01 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    And, right on cue:


    ... eighty years later he could still recall with the young pang of his original joy his falling in love with Ada.
    -- Nabokov

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