Episode 7 The Arts Show


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Episode 7

An Arts Show special filmed in front of a live audience, featuring Duke Special, Ulaid, poet Michael Longley and Wireless Mystery Theatre.


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Transcript


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APPLAUSE

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Hello, glad you could join us

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for a very special Arts Show.

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Tonight we are celebrating the art of performance.

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We have got Patrick and Cara, sculptor and silversmith,

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we also have the Wireless Mystery Theatre being dramatic, as they do.

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Yes, that is Michael Longley, and that is Duke Special.

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But first of all, I kind of like to think of them as

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an Irish traditional music supergroup.

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They are Ulaid.

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APPLAUSE

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Ulaid - Donal, Sean Og and John.

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We'll have more from them later in the programme

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with a very interesting collaboration.

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And speaking of surprising partnerships, Cara Murphy,

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what have you got to do with Number 10 Downing Street?

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I have a piece that is a desk set in Downing Street,

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that is part of the Silver Trust Collection.

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There is no other work in the collection that is

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from Northern Ireland, so when I was asked to do that,

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I wanted it very much to represent Northern Ireland,

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so it's got quite a lot of green enamel on it.

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Who uses it, the PM?

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-Yes. Whoever the current prime minister is.

-I wonder...

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I wonder who's seen it. I mean, imagine who's been in that room.

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-Yeah.

-OK, that's just me wandering!

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Now, your work covers everything from teapots to cutlery.

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That's quite functional, isn't it? Is that art?

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Yeah, and I'm really interested in that idea that it IS functional,

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but it IS sculptural, and it's looking at that idea of

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challenging what is contemporary silverware?

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I like the idea that the pieces are metaphorically growing

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from the table, but it can also be used.

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Well, this is the poshest-looking salt cellar and pepper thing

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-that I've ever seen. Can I have a go of it?

-Yes.

-So I can pick this up...

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-Yeah.

-How expensive is this? I don't even want to think.

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And then you scoop it up and...

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And then you can scatter it over your plate,

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so I have lots of conversations with farmers about furrows and growing.

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-Do you want them to be used?

-Yes.

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Because, aesthetically, they are so beautiful.

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This could be in an art gallery.

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Yeah, and there are lots of pieces of mine - I'm very fortunate that

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there are lots of pieces in different galleries and collections.

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But it's really interesting when I'm making work for clients,

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cos I look the idea that they use it, and they decide

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how they're going to use it and they decide how things might sit.

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So you could decide that these are all going to sit

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to one direction, or you can have them facing different directions,

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and I like that idea that when you own the piece,

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you are then in control of the piece.

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-Hours of endless fun at the dinner table...

-Yes.

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..deciding which direction these fellas go in.

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I still kind of get the feeling

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there's a misconception between crafts and visual arts.

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There's a certain snobbery.

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No, I don't agree.

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Oh, OK, fine, fine! LAUGHTER

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We'll not... We'll take the fight outside.

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Cara Murphy, it has been a pleasure. Aren't they absolutely beautiful?

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Thank you very much.

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-Thank you.

-Thank you so much. Now...

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When is a spoon more than a spoon?

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Well, that's the curious kind of question I think would appeal to

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the Wireless Mystery Theatre, an audio theatre company who have

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tackled everything from Sherlock to Ghostbusters.

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For us tonight,

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they have a Victorian tale which they swear is not made up.

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-The year is 1851.

-The place is Smithfield Market, Belfast.

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I am the judge who put him away.

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I am the woman he cheated and killed.

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And I am Dr Frew, apothecary, pseudo-physician,

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healer of ailments, ills and what ails ye.

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People call me a snake oil salesman.

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I say what else will give your snake

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the shiny, scaly skin that it deserves?

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If you truly love your snake, then you'll rub him daily

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with Dr Frew's Patented Smithfield Snake Oil.

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Not tested on animals.

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LAUGHTER

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So come down to Smithfield Market and ask for the doctor whose

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name is in...inverted commas.

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MUSICIANS HARRUMPH

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Order in the court!

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Now, you were saying, Mrs Montgomery,

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you rent the house to this gentleman and his wife.

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-Yes.

-Where they practise medicine.

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Oh, we never practise medicine in the house.

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Then what were you doing on the evening in question?

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We were PRACTISING medicine. Trying to get good at it.

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They were drinking! Drunk in my good Christian home.

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No, no, no, no, we were merry with intellectual curiosity.

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-We had just discovered a potent new curative.

-A curative for what?

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We don't know, which is why we were merry with curiosity.

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LAUGHTER

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I was only there for the rent, and all I said was,

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"Doctor, I have come for what's owed me for the last time.

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"I am sick and tired." And then he bottles me in the head!

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With a bottle and everything.

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I was offering her reprieve from her sickness and tiredness.

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I was merely putting the bottle to her lips,

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but my vision was a little impaired.

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Then they roughhoused me and threw me down the stairs.

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-They tried to ply you with drink.

-It was palliative.

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As I said, we had discovered an unknown curative and were

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very excited to see its effects.

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Well, if it's such a miracle curative,

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why is Mrs Montgomery's arm still broken?

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Well, we'd drunk it all by then.

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-LAUGHTER

-But look, my arms are fine.

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Meanwhile, in 1857, another woman is about to fall foul of Dr Frew.

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BELL TINKLES

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-Doctor, Doctor?

-Yes?

-Are you Dr Frew?

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-I am.

-Oh, thank goodness.

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My name is Ellen Young,

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an otherwise local, un-noteworthy woman.

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Oh, I'm kept awake by horrible dreams.

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Well, what you need is a good night's sleep once daily.

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But you're in luck!

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I've been working on a special draught for this very purpose.

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One minute, please.

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-Take this.

-Is it meant to spit like that?

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Yes, yes, it's all perfectly natural.

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-If you say so, Doctor.

-I do, I do.

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I would stake my reputation on this bubbling, phlegmatic draught.

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Did you administer this draft to Miss Ellen Young?

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I didn't administer it to her, Your Honour. I sold it to her.

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A draught which when she took she fell into a sleep

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from which she never awoke.

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Definitely the bit about falling asleep.

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Now she cannot complain about that bit, satisfaction guaranteed.

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It was a grave misjudgement on your part.

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It was wanton medical malpractice.

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Well, it can't be medical malpractice, Your Honour,

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because I'm not a real doctor.

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If you're not a real doctor, Dr Frew, then what are you?

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Some sort of conjurer, a chiseler or a mystic woo-woo man?

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I give the people what they want, a magical cure.

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So you consider yourself some sort of mystical shaman, then, Mr Frew?

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Nothing so great, Your Honour, nothing so great.

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You can't spell "shaman" without simply "man."

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Nor can you spell it without "sham."

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Ooh.

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I hoped to never again hear from Dr Frew, but I did,

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in a folk song that ran throughout Belfast

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all through the 19th century.

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# Joe Muggins he stood by his old donkey cart... #

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To cut the 42-verse ballad short,

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Joe Muggins brings his donkey to market,

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where he dreams of the herring

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his young Sally Belle will cook for his tea.

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When he comes home, he finds her drunk and belligerent.

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# So he sent for two boxes of Dr Frew's pills... #

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One box of which pills kills Sally Belle in her sleep

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and then he takes the other to numb the pain.

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# Sally was buried as we might do today

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# Joe Muggins in less than a week

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# And out of her bosom there grew a red carrot

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# And out of Joe Muggins a leek, leek, leek

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# And out of Joe Muggins a leek. #

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All 100% natural ingredients.

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And I never heard from Dr Frew again.

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APPLAUSE

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Wireless Mystery Theatre

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and what they say is the true story of Dr Frew -

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we believe them, don't we?

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Now, for an exclusive for The Arts Show, our next guest

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has been reading the poetry of Michael Longley since he was

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at school, and he got thinking,

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what would it be like if I put my music to his words?

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He is Duke Special -

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here he is reimagining Michael Longley's poem, Lena.

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APPLAUSE

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# The first person I did not want to die

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# Was Lena Hardy, the country girl

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# Who during the war took care of me

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# She didn't die, she went away

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# Lena

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# I remember where I haven't been

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# A townland that overlooks a lake

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# We are strolling among the Wee Homes

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# We are trying to find the Beggars' Bush

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# Lena

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# The first person I did not want to die

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# Was Lena Hardy, the country girl

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# Who during the war took care of me

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# She didn't die

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# She didn't die, she went away

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# Lena

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# Lena. #

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APPLAUSE

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Well, we did say it was pretty special.

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Peter, come on and join us over here,

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myself and the man himself, Michael Longley.

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Michael, what did you make of that?

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Did he do your words justice?

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I thought it was beautiful. Really.

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I think Duke Special is brilliant.

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We met properly about a year ago

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and it was amazing how many things we liked together.

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Like what, Peter?

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Chips.

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Ivor Cutler, Leonard Cohen,

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and it was...

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a completely relaxed conversation we had about music.

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I was very touched when he said he wanted to set some of my poems

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to music. That's the first one, I think, isn't it?

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Yeah.

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And why did you choose that one?

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-Um...

-Short.

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Brevity always helps!

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Yeah, I guess whenever... Like anybody that thinks about

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creating something, you're not sure why it is

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that you're drawn to something,

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but it felt like an itch, is the only way I can describe it.

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It's been brewing for this year now

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and that's the only one I've set to music so far, actually.

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And did you do it first and then tell Michael?

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And then ask permission.

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-OK, yes.

-Better to say sorry than to ask permission.

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Duke sent me a CD and I was captivated

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and I can't wait for other ones.

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And has he been allowed to change... because this is the thing

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about collaborations, because it's not song lyrics. It's poetry.

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Even though Bob Dylan did win the Nobel Prize for literature,

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they are lyrics, so there's a different meter, a different rhythm.

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So what do you do? Were you able to change anything in Lena?

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I think I just repeated a line, perhaps, but for me,

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like a song lyric is poetry.

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And for me it's about communicating something.

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For me, I don't know where it's going to go in terms of what songs

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will come out of it, and that frightens me

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and also really excites me as to the unknown.

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Well, we can't have Michael Longley here without reading

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some of your poetry.

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You've chosen one for us tonight.

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This is Swans Mating, and why this particular one?

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It goes back to when I was in my 30s.

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It's a love poem from my youth,

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and it's rather difficult to write love poems like this

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when you're 77 and a half, but...

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I think there's plenty of life still there

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for a love poem or two, Michael.

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I like this poem because it describes a happy moment

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on the canal in Dublin when I was a student

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and then it went into the back of my mind, and one day,

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I was walking down the stairs in our house,

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and the second stanza, it just came into my head complete.

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I went to a typewriter nearby

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and I thought it needs a first stanza and I rattled that out.

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So if this is the best poem I've ever written,

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it only took about five minutes.

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Swans Mating.

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Even now I wish that you had been there

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Sitting beside me on the riverbank:

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The cob and his pen sailing in rhythm

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Until their small heads met and the final

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Heraldic moment dissolved in ripples.

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This was a marriage and a baptism,

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A holding of breath, nearly a drowning,

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Wings spread wide for balance where he trod,

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Her feathers full of water and her neck

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Under the water like a bar of light.

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A round of applause, please.

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APPLAUSE

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Michael Longley reading Swans Mating, and you heard it here,

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or maybe you didn't hear it, but he turned to Peter there and said,

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"Do you want to set that one?"

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So no pressure, fella!

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You're so busy at the moment,

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we're going to hear you at the end of the show with those Ulaid boys

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from the opening,

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so collaborations are very much in your life at the moment?

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Yeah, I like feeling out of my depth.

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LAUGHTER

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-Put it that way.

-And YOU are never out of your depth.

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And you've got a new collection - how fantastic is that to hear.

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-A new collection coming out soon.

-In June.

-In June.

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My 11th collection. And it's called Angel Hill.

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Which is a Neolithic little hill above my daughter's cottage

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in Lochalsh in the Western Highlands.

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And...needless to say, it's my best book so far.

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LAUGHTER

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-Yeah.

-We will be the judge of it, I think. There are many, many fans of

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yours here. Thank you both so much and don't feel out of your depth...

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-I think...

-That's a good thing. I mean it as a good thing.

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A lot of people will be rooting for you for this to work.

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Please put your hands together for Duke Special

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and Michael Longley.

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Well, I've heard stories of how people become artists

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but turning to ceramics after a rugby injury is a whole new one

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for me. Patrick Colhoun, the muck of the ruck was replaced by...

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-latex, pigskin, hosiery?

-It was, indeed, yes.

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You're self-taught?

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Pretty much, yep, started for me

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at night school after I couldn't play rugby any more

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and I was just looking for the next thing to do

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and it turned out to be basic pottery.

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-Really?

-Yep. So...

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And had you any idea before that?

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Cos you'd been working in construction, hadn't you,

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-for 20 years?

-I'd... I had no real art background,

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no art school, no... even art at school...

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I made bits of wood and stuff with my father when he,

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when he had a workshop...

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But I picked up a prospectus and saw pottery

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and was drawn to it and learnt to throw on a wheel and, er...

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-sort of went from there.

-And talk to me about the materials

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that you use for this, cos they're quite provocative,

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-aren't they?

-Erm, it's basic clay, you know,

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it started as quite abstract forms into the local craft scene.

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When it came to developing it a wee bit, a couple of years later,

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-I started introducing other materials.

-It's a bit

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Fifty Shades Of Grey, isn't it?

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HE LAUGHS

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-With the old latex and the hosiery.

-It was primarily to, erm...

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take it away from it being craft to more of a contemporary art

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and I was aiming, at that stage, at maybe the London market

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and had a few successes where I was selected for some

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good shows over there, which built my confidence

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and I just sort of went further and further.

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And was there a bit of a snobbery about the fact that

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you were self-taught and that you didn't go to art school?

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-I didn't think about it too much...

-Right.

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Because I was enjoying what I was doing, I was

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getting, I suppose, the return from it. I was enjoying it so much.

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And I think, you know, gaining these sort of tiny steps of...

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little bits of success along the way just built confidence

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and the more confidence I got,

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the more I sort of, you know, changed things around

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and...and took the next step.

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Well, I'm sorry for the injury but we got a sculptor out of it.

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-Patrick Colhoun, thank you so much, thank you.

-Thank you.

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Patrick Colhoun, thank you. And thank you to all of

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the performers and guests here this evening.

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You can keep in touch with us online and on radio as well.

0:23:240:23:27

You can't get away from us, you know.

0:23:270:23:30

Now, we end with bold, collaborative spirit.

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The idea of Duke Special and Ulaid teaming up together

0:23:320:23:36

was dreamt up over a pint in a local pub.

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They've now produced a brand-new suite of music called

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the Belfast Suite. Please put your hands together

0:23:430:23:45

for Ulaid and Duke Special. Goodnight!

0:23:450:23:48

# Int en bec

0:24:230:24:26

# Ro lec feit

0:24:270:24:30

# Do rinn guip

0:24:310:24:35

# Glanbuidi

0:24:360:24:38

# Fo-ceird faid

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# Os Loch Laig

0:24:440:24:46

# Lon do chraib

0:24:470:24:48

# Charnbuidi

0:24:510:24:53

# The little bird

0:24:550:24:57

# That whistled shrill

0:24:580:25:00

# From the nib of its yellow bill

0:25:020:25:07

# A note let go

0:25:090:25:13

# O'er Belfast Lough

0:25:130:25:17

# A blackbird from

0:25:170:25:21

# A yellow whin

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# The little bird

0:25:550:25:57

# That whistled shrill

0:25:580:26:01

# From the nib

0:26:030:26:05

# Of its yellow bill

0:26:060:26:08

# A note let go

0:26:100:26:12

# O'er Belfast Lough

0:26:140:26:17

# A blackbird from

0:26:170:26:20

# A yellow whin

0:26:210:26:23

# Int en bec

0:27:490:27:52

# Ro lec feit

0:27:530:27:55

# Do rinn guip

0:27:570:28:00

# Glanbuidi

0:28:010:28:03

# Fo-ceird faid

0:28:050:28:08

# Os Loch Laig

0:28:090:28:11

# Lon do chraib

0:28:120:28:15

# Charnbuidi. #

0:28:160:28:19

CHEERING

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The Arts Show kicks off 2017 with a special programme filmed in front of a live audience, featuring Duke Special, Ulaid, poet Michael Longley and Wireless Mystery Theatre.