All dung and dusted

BBC Clare Jenkins and Cowdust Time
BBC Clare Jenkins and Cowdust Time

ANYONE who’s been to India will know that sunset is a special time, when the smoke from cow-dung fires wreathes its way across the fields, women start to cook, children to play and the air is filled with the chatter of green parrots.

What they might not know is that this time is also good for getting engaged or married, bad for whistling, and that it’s called “cowdust time”.

That’s the title of a programme on BBC Radio 3, made by a Sheffield broadcaster and academic.

Clare Jenkins and her journalist husband Stephen McClarence visited the Anand area of Gujarat, in the west of India, last summer to record the half-hour programme.

When they landed in Ahmedabad, however, they wondered if the programme would get made at all. “It was the middle of August, incredibly hot and during the monsoon,” says Clare, who’s also a journalism lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University.

“At times, our auto-rickshaws were wading through two feet of rainwater, which had washed any cowdust away. I thought it might end up having to be called Cowmud Time.”

In the event, though, the sun shone long enough for Clare to record the sound of the cows being brought home from the fields at the end of the day, village women singing devotional songs, worshippers in a Hindu temple, an iman calling the faithful to prayer from a mosque and a musician playing ragas on her sitar.

Painter and art critic Amit Ambalal, poets Jayant Parmar and Mahek Tantarvi, and musician Sugna Shah are among contributors. One of Sheffield Hallam University’s international students – physiotherapy postgraduate Noelle Vaz, from Mumbai – reads translated poems.

Between the Ears: Cowdust Time, BBC Radio 3, 10pm, Saturday, January 14.

Evie in limelight

YOU can’t keep starstruck Evie May Bradford off the City Hall stage.

The three-year-old daughter of Linda Kelly and Richard Bradford loved her spell in the limelight last spring when she appeared in Manor Operatic’s production of Carousel.

The born performer will be back on the City Hall stage when she turns four on Saturday for a rendition of Happy Birthday from the audience at panto Dick Whittington and to take part in the legendary bucket game run by dame Bob Spink.

Mum Linda, who is joint producer, director and choreographer with Richard, says: “Bob is a great family friend and Evie won’t usually go near him when he’s done up as Dolly Dumpling in his outrageous frocks and make-up. But she’s promising she’ll be back on stage on her birthday.”

Although she isn’t part of the cast this time, Evie is determined to get in the panto spirit. When Quidnunc was in the audience for Dick Whittington on New Year’s Eve she was sporting a Disney princess dress in tribute to favourite character Fairy Bowbells.

Dick Whittington runs until Saturday at the City Hall. For tickets, call Mabel Delamore on 01709 365108 or the City Hall on 2233752.

Tickets go on sale next week for Manor production The Wizard of Oz in May. Linda’s not ruling out a role for Evie but her West Highland terrier Cinders, who appeared in Anything Goes, is now too old to play Toto.