Better teaching and learning with blogging

Over the past four years our school has an intensive blogging program. Every child from grade 3 up has a blog. This has been incredibly useful in regrads to us skilling up both students and staff in web 2.0 tools. Skills such as uploading, posting, embedding, dealing with templates and so on are all very effectivly taught through blogging. Our students were mainly using their blogs as digital portfolios. In this format students are uploading content but not really doing much else.

While this skill learning is very important it is really only very basic learning and I was looking for a way to deepen both the learning experience as well as teaching using the blogging platform.

I met Richard Olsen at a recent forum on blogging and he presented a model which does exactly what I was looking for. This is a model that he along with his team at Ideas Lab had constructed along with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach of PLP Network.

The four interlinking circles all show a different phases that a learner would move through while blogging. Each phase offering different skills and learning potentials. I imagine that the phases would be moved through seamlessly. Each phase also has implications for the teacher. For instance the connecting phase would result in the teacher having to teach methods of research as well as critical consumption of information.

The communication stage which has the role of sharing information and repurposing information would lead to the implication of understanding copyright and so on.

The real power of blogging comes when linking into these ideas. Practical examples of things you can do to link into these ideas are
1.Blogs have much more power when they are niche blogs as they allow the blogger to connect to a community, they set up stronger parameters for an audience for the blog, beyond the child’s parents and grandparents making it much more authentic.

2.When the comment box is used effectively it also allows for greater connectivity, it leads to deeper discussion, potential for questions and perhaps even debate. We need to teach our students how to comment effectively in order to create discussion.

3.When tagging and categories are done correctly the same happens. Children should be taught to tag for others not just themselves.

4.Blogs allow us to work collaboratively – there is always more knowledge in the group than the individual.

5. We also need to teach our students how to link effectively – this creates a broader knowledge base.

6. Students should be taught how to subscribe to other blogs, thus deepening their knowledge base and community base.

I presented these ideas to my staff and received overwhelmingly positive response. The model that Richard and his team has come up with is a good one as it provides a language that allows us to talk about blogging relative to our teaching practice, it also gives both pedagogical and practical ideas on how to take the idea of student blogging and transform it  or develop it to a deeper learning experience. It is also a model that I feel can be translated to alot of digital literacy’s. Many teachers are STILL unaware of how to apply ICT into their classrooms and see it as being some sort of nuisance rather than required. Models like this one provide substance to those teachers and are very beneficial.

How we choose to use tech at Our School and how it’s unlike whatever you’re doing at yours.

This year at North Fitzroy Primary School, myself and Andrew Williamson (joint ICT Coordinator) decided to trial the use of hand held devises in the classroom primarily for the use of numeracy and literacy.The recent Horizon Report put the use of mobiles as a technology that will be common place in the classroom within the next three years. I believe that one of the responsibilities of an ICT coordinator is to drive curriculum and one of the effective ways of doing this is to hand responsibility for new technologies over to people other than yourself. To often the ICT coordinator is the holder of all knowledge and hasn’t developed the ability to inspire other staff members or empower them with a sense of ownership in regards to ICT curriculum. If we are wanting ICT to move seamlessly into all parts of the curriculum this has to be a key responsibility of the ICT coordinators role.
We choose two of our staff members who were already on the ICT SIT (Strategic Implementation Team) team.
Kristen Swenson and Khamal Sarkis.
They both already had a good understanding of technology and were excited by new developments. We then gave them 5 ipod touches each and told them to play around with them and see what they could come up with. With all new technologies time has to be given for experimentation and play before an effective system can be put into place. However the ipod touches are so intuitive that it wasn’t to long before apps had been downloaded and they were quickly established as part of the rotation cycle used in both literacy and numeracy groups.
The almost instant effect that the touches had in areas of student engagement has lead to a huge amount of interest from many other staff members and we decided to purchase a class set for all the grade 1s and 2s. Interest was also generated by deciding to run a PD session with staff members to demonstrate what Khamal and Kristen had been doing. We also decided to purchase IPads for the teachers as these were more effective for the teacher to model lessons on due to there larger size. Interestingly the teachers who work in a support capacity (working with children with difficulties) were very excited about the prospect of using them. Another group which has shown great interest is the group of staff members who might not be so taken by technology because of whatever reason. Once again it is the intuitiveness and relative ease of use of the touches which has gotten them interested and it is a great way to begin to introduce new technologies to that sector of your staff.
If you go down this road as a school you will have to figure out how you are going to build your touches and ipads into your existing network system. They can link seemlesly into your wireless but you will have to devise a way to purchase the apps. Itunes will let you link 5 different ipods to each program
I have included a couple of powerpoint demonstrations that Kristen and Khamal gave at our ARM as well as some of their brief notes to further demonstrate what were doing
Kristen Swenson’s Presentation
https://docs.google.com/present/embed?id=ddt4s8d2_1757c8pvfp
Kristens notes:

The Grade two classes are now in the process of setting up the Itouches and working collaboratively to plan some great activities. Each teacher is able to work off the same account and share many of the terrific apps we have found. In literacy we can use the Ipod touches to support the development of foundational skills such as handwriting, grammar, vocabulary and spelling. Teachers can also record guided reading sessions and students can developed their comprehension skills by reading and listening to audio books and podcasts. The Ipod touches can also be used to support creativity and record reflections and thoughts. Some of the new apps we have been enjoying are:

  • Maths Bingo
  • inumberplay
  • Flash Maths
  • Extinct Eggs
  • Crack the Code
  • SentenceSpin
  • Rory’s Story Cube
  • Dinomixer
  • Comic Touch
  • I Write Words
  • JumbleLine
  • Whiteboard
  • Word Bubble

Ipod touches transform the classroom from a teacher-centred classroom to a students-centred classroom. They are extremely easy to manipulate and are very intuitive and visual, which is particularly essential for children who are beginner readers. The touches are fast and allow students to access the Internet in two touches. There is no our messing about with logins, loading and heavy texts. They really enhance our teaching and learning program and are not just a gimmicky add on! They change the dynamics of the classroom and allow the children to bring technology into their world and programs – not they other way around! And most importantly the children are extremely enthusiastic and motivated to use them.
Khamal’s Presentation
https://docs.google.com/present/embed?id=ddt4s8d2_57c8m9zqcr

Khamal’s notes

Slide 1

  • new learning tool
  • provides an interactive domain for learning and engagement
  • an alternative form of discourse between student and teacher
  • examples

slide 2-

  • Early years- number recognition using a wide variety of teaching formats and mediums to cater to different learning abilities and preferences.
  • Itouch can be used to count and model numbers using outlines that must be traced with fingers.
  • The interactive nature of the tool creates the impression in the student that all we’re doing is playing a game.
  • Recognizing numbers in their different forms.

Slide 3

  • A number of counting programs
  • Very open ended including negatives and decimals
  • A wide variety of visual examples and activities to keep the activities interesting and fresh
  • Can eventually create own counting activities and patterns

Slide 4-

  • Multiple choice option allows students to answer confidently and also helps teachers to keep track of student capabilities.
  • Further creates the impression of a ‘game’ being played with the use of sound effects and graphics.

Slide 5-

  • Memory testing
  • Memorising sequences and patterns using different methods and processes
  • Open ended – increases in difficulty and can use diffenent images and even sounds
  • Location skills

Slide 6-

  • identifying shapes
  • creating shapes
  • using shapes to create images
  • manipulating shapes (flip, slide and turn)

Slide 7-

  • interactive tool
  • effective communications skills
  • collaborative
  • very engaging

Slide 8-

  • time zones
  • identifying analogue and digital
  • using both types simultaneously
  • interactive games in teams (draw an analogue time, another fill s in the digital)

Slide 9-

  • able to set level of difficulty
  • flexible and broad range of skills that may be required if selected
  • open ended
  • gives an indication of how the student is going
  • uses different learning and teaching skills, for eg, aural, visual and physically involving
  • uses colour- kids respond and distinguish better with colour

Slide 10

  • Weather
  • Time
  • Map reading
  • Addresses
  • Calculators
  • Maths dictionaries
  • Note taking
  • Drawing
  • Recording
  • Photography
  • Work presentation
  • Publication

Slide 11

  • Engagement- a tool that kids respond to beyond paper and pencil

Composing with Grade 5 and 6 children

As I have mentioned previously composition is at the heart of my philosophy when it comes to music education. It is also what starts to make your music classes exciting and moves them beyond the some times mundane experience of teaching skills or singing songs.

With the grade 5 and 6 students this term we are focusing on a number of compositional styles.

These include

1. Composing with Melodic Instruments

2. Minimalism

3. Chance compositions

4. Composing soundtracks

5. Composoing with Text

5. Composing Machine Compsitions

These are all styles that are very accessible to children and there are lots of great examples on you tube of composers using these ideas as the basis for their own music. Composers like John Cage and the concepts he introduced always fascinate children.

The first four weeks were spent on Composing With Melody and to do this we used our diatonic instruments. Initially to children almost everything sounds good when composing with diatonic instruments so it gets things rolling quickly and gives you a chance to help them refine their ideas.

I always get them to write four parts into this composition. A bass line a melody line a chordal accompanyment and a percussion part and initially explain the roles of each of those parts. I then get them to add a B section which we decide to be something different to the A section and something short. A chance to provide a point of difference in the music. At the end of each week I film the children and one quick viewing at the start of the next week is all that is required for them to remember where they were up to. Depending on your philosophy regarding notation you could get them to notate but I find that childrens ears are generally pretty good and notation merely slows the composition process at this stage.

In the following weeks I will blog about how I go about teaching the other musical styles and upload some video.

But here is a video of a couple of completed Melodic Pieces

Demonstrated Learnings in Movie Making

Since uploading the last movie I have been involved in a number of discussions with parents who are concerned that traditional learning methods are being forgotten when we focus on things like movie making.

So I took the trouble to create a list of demonstrated learnings according to VELS that are demonstrated in he movie example I have below. (This follows on from my previous post about film making in the classroom). The areas I looked at where ICT, Literacy and The Arts and while the initial learnings are quite low level skills based learnings it quickly develops into deeper learnings

Here is the list feel free to add or argue against it.

Demonstrated Learning According to VELS  in the areas of Literacy, ICT

Music and the Arts (Up to level 6)

1. Mouse Skills

2. Ability to locate websites (to upload video)

3. Ability to create graphics

4. File Naming and saving

5. Linking and communication between up to three different programs

6. Search engine familiarization

7. Use of Digital Cameras and tripods

8. Rendering

9. Use of concept mapping tools

10. Use of graphic organization program

11. Developing electronic portfolio

12. Understanding Networks

13. In depth use of formatting ideas to suit an audience

14. Demonstrates original ideas

15. Documents original ideas

16. Sharing information with peers

17. Demonstrate an understanding of 2 dimensional art

18. Use of code to imbed data

19. Editing to better represent ideas

20. Script writing with intended audience

21. Demonstrate understanding of narrative

22. Cinematography

23. Apply music and other abstract concepts to add meaning

24. Applying imagery to infer meaning

25. Working collaboratively

26. Student centred learning

27. Demonstrate problem solving skills

28. Storyboarding

29. Character, plot and setting development

30. Note taking

31. Summarizing notes

32. Analysis of a popular genre

33. Synthesis of a popular genre

34. Vocabulary demonstration and spelling strategies

35. Preparing a case

36. Annotated storyboarding

37. Use of visual symbols and camera shots

38. Editing to distinguish core from peripheral ideas

39. Contextual understanding

40. Cohesion

41. Viewpoint

42. Control of linguistic structures and features

43. Appropriate choice of language

44. Use of flashback

45. Resolution of a text

46. Inclusion of complex sentences with embedded clauses and phrases

47. Complex text which may include experimentation with different techniques

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=7384819&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=00adef&fullscreen=1

EYT MOVIE from North Fitzroy Primary School on Vimeo.

This is a movie created by North Fitzroy Primary School grade 6 students as part of a Extend Your Talents program.

Movie Making and literacy skills

In term 3 this year I worked with a group of year 6 children with the idea of creating a movie. Movie making is fantastic because it works on so many levels that I think are important in regards to education.

The most basic level it works on is ICT skills. Kids will learn how to use hardware such as cameras, lights, tripods, zooms, microphones, mixing desks etc. They will also learn how to use software programs such as IMovie, final cut etc.

I Movie is a great place to start but if your moving into some more indepth learning in regards to multipl camera, the importance of sound etc you will quickly become frustrated with it and that is where a far more powerful program such as final cut express will become very useful. I was initially doubtful about the kids ability to use a more high end product such as FC but once again I was surprised to discover that with a very short introduction by myself the kids were all over the program instinctivly.

Other ICT skills include uploading, downloading, saving to a server, cutting of files, manipulation of files, integration of different software etc etc all part of the VELS expectancies for ICT.

But that is all base level learning on a far deeper level kids will be expected to create a narrative, manipulate that to suit the format of film, storyboard, gain an understanding of the language of film which includes ideas such as power that a camera angle can generate, rule of thirds and other film concepts. They are also learning the importance of music to the medium of film. Music is fulfilling a very different role to what they might be used to and should be treated differently. Also this is a great time to use sound as music that they might not normally associate with music. Scraping or scratching sounds or anything you like can all be arranged in a meaningful and powerful way to enhance the visual concepts. These are all powerful literacy concepts.

But beyond that againg there is the ideas of student centered learning. The kids are creating personal, meanigful things not another task set by the teacher. The teacher is acting merely as the facilitator, guiding the learning to a deeper place. The ownership of the product gives the students motivation and a greater sense of enjoyment which always enhances learning. In my role as teacher for this project I introduced the idea, showed them some simple concepts and ten basically handed it over to them, always assisting when needed and giving guidance when appropriate

Kids also need to learn how to create as part of a group. One person needs to be the director or leader who takes ultimate reponsibility, others need to fulfill important roles, such as actors, camera men editors etc for a successfully created product.

Finally filmmaking is a great way to use ICT to provide another medium for children to express their creativity and their thoughts. Creative expression is one of if not the most iportant part of life.  Humans have a desire to create and if we can use ICT to better enable children to do that while effectivly communicating their creations to others than that is fantastic..

Here is the movie.

Kynan

This is a movie created by North Fitzroy Primary School grade 6 students as part of a Extend Your Talents program.

The Success Of Student Blogging

The success of our “all school” student blogging program. A unique program, unlike anything else currently in schools anywhere in the world

As a senior leader and head of ICT at NFPS, I helped initiate an all school blogging program this year. In the space of six months, we have managed to have every staff member start their own blog, every classroom has its own blog, most departments have a blog and every student in the 3 to 6 levels have their own blog. While the process has been large regarding organisation and PD, it has proved to be extremely successful in several areas.

We have been looking for a way to integrate ICT across the school curriculum. It becomes an integral part of each curriculum strand rather than a separate unit. This is how it is in the world and how it should be within a school structure as well. Blogging has been one of the platforms that has helped us achieve this aim.

Secondly, we were trying to move the school to focus more on Web 2.0.

While the world has rapidly understood and accepted this change, bureaucracies are always slower on the uptake merely because of how they are set up. Issues such as control and fear are constantly hindering the effective teaching of up-to-date practice regarding ICT. While our school was doing OK regarding the creative use of computers (making movies, animations, podcasts, etc.), these things were merely taking up server space and students and teachers were never sharing their learning and teaching. Blogging has become the platform that has allowed us to instantly overcome this issue (along with helping us solve our space issues). Teachers and students are now constantly posting their work, whether that be in text form or using more of the digital literacies such as film, music etc. All of a sudden our podcasts became real podcasts that people from all over the world could hear rather than merely simulations.

This has had a flow-on effect into other areas of interest to me. I am a big believer in not teaching applications. Applications should only be learned at a point of need. When there is a demand, the learning becomes more effective and real. Staff and students are now demanding more use of digital video cameras because there is a real use for them rather than the trite reason of doing some subjects in teaching IMovie. All of a sudden, cameras that have been still for years are now constantly booked out and we need to buy more.

This sharing of learning and knowledge is also something that excites me. As teachers, we can move our profession on to a far deeper level if we combine our knowledge and it is through blogging that our teachers are able to simply and effectively do that. Successful lessons are filmed and instantly uploaded. This has also had the effect of introducing new communities to many of our staff and students. Social networking is how the internet has moved in regards to communication, yet it is still frowned upon by our educational institutions. The blogs have been a great introduction to many of our staff into the world of social networking and how it can be used beneficially.

The blogs have also been really beneficial in helping to link the various curriculums through the school. In my other role as a music specialist, I have always been keen to find ways to link specialist programs into the who life of the school (rather than merely be seen as an APT provider for classroom teachers). Now the students are happily blogging about what they might do in my classroom or their art programs and specialist teachers can video or record classes or work upload those files to whatever file sharing program you use, and then email the classroom teachers the relevant URLs which can be passed onto the kids. 

This has dramatically increased the specialist program and highlighted the student work. Parents can see, classroom teachers can see and plan accordingly. Of course, this also applies to our support teachers and their programs.

There are numerous other benefits such as pushing towards student-centered learning, authentic learning, greater display and pride in work, helping those with ICT phobia get onboard, etc. 

Kids as Composers: Some Examples

In my role as Head of Musicr, I am a big believer in teaching and empowering children to be composers. All children can naturally compose music, just as they do draw a picture. All that needs to happen is they need to be given some very simple starting blocks, and off they go. These starting blocks never need to be traditional western notation.

Here is an example of a piece written by a group of five-year-olds. They were given 45 minutes to write and perform this piece. They have been composing in my classes for about four years now, so they are very used to that task expectation. You can hear they have written a four-part piece of music, including an A and a B section. It totally rocks

Play Song

A School Music Program that Focusses on Student Composition.

The music program at North Fitzroy is a vibrant, stimulating program that embraces composition, creativity, participation, technology, and fun. The main emphasis behind almost all our work is to empower the students to believe that their compositions are worthwhile. Demystifying the role of the composer and valuing children’s composition drives much of the thinking behind our program. 

If our music department can do this, it will create a lifelong love of music in children. Rather than just being observers of music, these children will go on to be participants and, most importantly, creators.

Every child gets to participate in a generalist music class once a week. In this class, the core understanding of composition is taught to the child. We try to cover a vast range of concepts and presentation styles to allow for as many different learning styles as possible. These include sound sculptures, movie soundtracks, abstract compositions, loops-based composition, recording techniques, traditional notation, rap, and hip hop, and rock music. By teaching through composition, one can teach the basic concepts such as pitch, rhythm texture, and melody in a way that has personal relevance for the students and, therefore, will remain with them for their life. 

Other projects include instrument making, singing, and African drumming. 

Almost every class starts with a listening session where the children listen to various music and are encouraged to make comments on the compositional techniques and a personal judgment on whether they like it and why. Many of these “listening” exercises are now done using DVDs and a data projector giving children a more significant visual awareness of the music. On top of the generalist, lesson children are encouraged to participate in the ensembles that we provide. We run a mixed percussion ensemble for each year level. The ensemble comprises a variety of melodic and percussive instruments, including xylophone, glockenspiel, djembe drums, marimbas, and hand percussion. Learning by using your ears, not your eyes, is central to our pedagogy of small ensemble work. For example, when we learn a new piece, each part is sung to the whole group. A piece might have five different parts, ranging from bass, middle, high melody lines, and a rhythm section. The entire group would then sing each part before focusing on their individual parts. This provides context and trains the ear to hear things as a whole.  

To model our composition first approach, ensemble leaders initially compose all the music for the group before quickly handing that responsibility to the students. Improvisation in this ensemble is encouraged. 

We also run a couple of rock ensembles and a choir. Many opportunities are provided for the ensembles to perform within the school and outside the school. In addition, strong links have been made with the local high school and region where groups have been invited to our school for mutual concerts, and we have taken groups to other schools and community events. Finally, we also run an EYT (extend your talents) program for children who show a very keen interest and ability. In this program, they form their own groups to perform, record, and look at other areas of the music industry, such as advertising and management. They can also make their own short movies and animations using programs such as iMovie and iStopmotion. In this creation process, they are required to score all the music for their movies and animations.

We believe our program is innovative in several areas. Our core philosophy of valuing the idea of students as producers rather than just receivers of information is what drives all our innovation. We have fully embraced technology as not only an important learning tool, but we see it as merely being another valuable platform to allow for meaningful learning. A lot of our teaching revolves around understanding the role of music in various situations, but to fully learn, these children need to create those situations. With this in mind, the children work on a lot of multimedia projects such as filmmaking, animations, the creation of radio shows, and podcasting. Through programs such as radio waves, we have been able to podcast a lot of the children’s work on the internet, thus forming valuable relationships with other schools and community groups throughout the world. By doing this, we allow the children to produce work that has wings outside of the classroom. No longer are they producing work for merely one person, the teacher; they are now producing it for vast communities found and created by the internet. Technology is intricately woven into all aspects of children’s lives and therefore should be woven into all aspects of their school life. All of the children’s work is recorded and given back to them in the form of digital portfolios or uploaded onto the internet. This recording process is also handed over to the students in many instances.

However, one of our major innovations is to integrate the music program into the classroom program. If you can do this, you are mitigating against the risk of your music program being marginalized, a program that falls into line well behind literacy and numeracy. Instead, it becomes valued as a nessasary aid to those things. We have done this by pushing the value of multimedia projects because they work with visual literacy. We have run many PDs teaching the classroom teachers various music programs such as Garageband, iMovie, etc. By doing this, the fear of music has been removed from the teachers, and they are confident to allow the students to integrate music into many of their projects. We have encouraged teachers’ ideas and tried to provide the infrastructure for them to do this. All classrooms have five computers in them, and we have a Mac lab of 20 Computers and a small recording studio.

The impact we have is an exciting one. On a very grassroots level, many of our students go into high school with the innate belief that they are creators and their creations are valuable. They are not content to merely play a role but want to have very personal involvement in creating that role. Many of our rock bands, formed when the children were only ten, have maintained and are now gigging professionally. We have developed significant relationships with local community groups such as the Old Colnialist home for the elderly and the Croxton Special School. 

Finally, a special project is being run with the Croxton Special School where 10 of our students are working with 10 of their students every week for a term playing music and ultimately leading to a performance. The students have also chosen to film and edit the process and final performance. That will be presented as a DVD ready for purchase by the broader school communities.  

Tour Posters



Here are tour posters for gigs and tours I have coming up
The first one is for my band Des Peres
Quite unlike anything else you will see in Australia
and the second one is for is for CW Stoneking.

He is a great storyteller, song writer and guitar player and quite unlike anything else you will see in Australia

You can see what I count as important in life Things that aren’t like the other things you’ll find in Australia.

How to Earn A Considerable Amount of Money Each and Every New Year’s Eve

The experiences of a musician for hire are the same the world over. A never-ending uncertainty concerning every single gig and added to that a general sense of weirdness surrounding almost every gig. Here’s a tale that gives you a taste.

Once a year, on the 15th of December, I get a phone call. The man on the other end of the line is a fat, very wealthy restaurateur who never has any idea who I am despite the fact he has called me every year on this exact date for the last 5 years.

“Hi is this ahhh how do you say your name? 

Kynan is it?” he says with what might be described as the tone that emanates from a fellow regarded as Jolly. 

“Yes, it is” I reply. “Hello, Alf. Good to speak to you again.”

“Ah, good. Hi Kynan, you don’t know me. Adam Simmons gave me your number. You see, we have a new years bash at my house every year, lots of fun, my wife likes to have a brass band at it, I want Adam Simmons, but it seems he’s swamped. He’s an excellent guy, that Adam. I love listening to him. Anyway, he tells me you might be able to organize something. Is that something you could do? Get my wife a brass band for my New Years’ bash.”

“Of course”

“Good good good, now go get some trumpets, saxophones drums the whole lot play some music, have a drink you’ll love it. Now I want American Patrol – you know that song Da Da Da dumda da. Of course, you know it, the wife loves it, so play that oh and also the Peter Gun tune play that. I don’t care what else you play. Actually, if you just want to play those two and keep playing them, that’s fine with me, especially Peter Gun. What do you play?”

“Trombone”

“Oh right, oh, OK, bring one of those along…and some drums saxophones, oh I’m sure you know what you’re doing, just get American Patrol, OK. Right, see you then but 11.”

And the phone goes dead.

This conversation comes around like clockwork every year, word for word, and no matter what I try to do each year, big Alf blocks me from his memory without blocking the routine.

So I make a few phone calls get a baritone sax, a trumpet, and two marching band drummers, and we show up at his mansion at about 11.00 on New Year.

The party atmosphere is unchanging from year to year, with about 15 people sitting around looking fairly unenthused despite the surrounding madness. When we enter the house, pushing past the collection of choristers that are lining the staircase getting ready for their set Alf come s striding up, arm outstretched, huge feathers sticking out of what must be regarded in some quarters as a hat, shirt open revealing the grey haired mat on his leather chest.

“You must be Kynan, he bellows.

“Yes, sir, thats me, the same as last year.”

“Right, heres the routine. After the choir finishes, you guys come on for about an hour set, that be right with you? Great, what do you think of my hat? I got this at the set of Pricilla Queen of the Desert. I’ll put my fireman’s hat on in a while. Help yourself to anything; you want to come out and see my Lamborghini? What do you think of my chandelier? Had it imported from Italy, I hate it. I’ve got some costumes I want you to wear, go get changed in that spare bedroom. The chandelier cost me thousands, hundreds of thousands. The wife wanted it. See you when you’re ready.” 

Despite possessing an impressive overweight voice, Alf still has to speak louder than usual to be heard over the police bagpipe and drum band performing in the kitchen. This would seem like no place for a police outfit unless you were wearing a skirt that these conveniently are.

Same drill as last year, which we follow to the letter.

And come out charging, determined to blow the 15 drowsily drunk guests off their feet. We start with a calypso number that draws an immediate response from Alf at its conclusion.

“Alright, boys, enough of that. Just give us American Patrol followed by Peter Gun and loudly.”

So we do for the next hour, at which stage it is the comedian’s turn.

When it’s all over, Alf stuffs wads of 50 and 100 dollar bills into my hand tells me he loves it. And says. “I don’t think we’ll bother with that Adam Simmons next year. We’ll just get you.”