My Aunt's Haft Sin. Happy Iranian new year to all my readers.

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"So what has been the Iranian response to the 15-navy personnel arrested yesterday?", she asked as I sat in a coffee struggling to hear through the chatter and poor mobile reception. "I'm not sure I'd like to speak on behalf of the Iranians but I've not really heard it discussed", I responded, "I mean, the Iranians are celebrating the new year and I'm sure news and politics are far from their minds".

Each time I get an international call, beginning with a silent pause and then a, "is that... of... doing?", my paranoia is refreshed. There's been a few of late and it still puzzles me why I'm selected among all the possibilities. I'm flattered, it's exciting yet I can't help but think there'll be troubling repercussions.

"Well, I think they genuinely must have been in Iranian waters as I'm sure it's too much of a politically tense time to make such errors or begin a blackmail campaign", I speculated during the pre-interview. "I mean, this will be politicised and not work to the Iranians' advantage", I regrettably added, certain that it would be the other way around.

"So you think they'll be released soon?", I was asked in surprise as I suggested it would blow over quite quickly. "I think there was a similar incident not too recently where the captives were released swiftly", I added, trying to remember if this was the case or not.

Coincidentally I was awaiting the company of a foreign journalist friend of mine who I was sure would enlighten me of an similar such events. "No, there was the capture of two journalists, French and German, they were fishing off an island, traveling from Qatar", he informed me, "Their maps stated they were not in Iranian water", he went on noting that there had been a dispute. "They were detained for 15-months and released at a politically advantageous moment". He then informed me of the UN Security Council meeting to be held later that day where further sanctions against Iran were likely to be passed – was this another politically advantageous time?

I'm sure many such intrusions of air or water space has been tolerated by the government here, not willing to contribute to the West's media circus

I then proceeded in my speculation and countered his thinking that this was an Iranian tactic. "I'm sure many such intrusions of air or water space has been tolerated by the government here, not willing to contribute to the Wests' media circus.", I went on, referring to Seymor Hersh's articles of US drone flights in Iranian air space. "Maybe claims by both sides about being in certain waters are correct in themselves, I mean, the navigation facilities on the British boat may have been tampered", I pondered, curious that this might have been extra-military activity. "Drop a word or two in the right ear and you'll see the Iranians taking the bate... and what great timing", I cynically added.

"Is it Seepa or Sepa?", came a voice on the phone interrupting the radio show as I awaited my turn. "I'm sorry, was that for me?", I responded. "Yes, Seepa or Sepa?", he repeated. They must have made a mistake, I had no idea what they were asking, "the bank", he then added – "Oh, Sepah", I informed him.

Just after we led into the story and they still mispronounced the bank name the presenter introduced me, using me my given name. "So, how do you feel about these new sanctions?", she asked. I sat in my pants, freshly awoken and only too aware that I was live. I'd written notes and was minimally researched but I wasn't at any point told that I would answer on this subject. A few more questions followed and although I filled the time with words and didn't 'um' and 'er' too much my response was poor. I'd mostly attempted to present the hypocrisy of the events, but was rather distracted by not wanted to discuss the matter at all.

"So what is your take on these 15-navy officers arrested?", she finally asked. "Well, it's a rather interesting coincidence, somewhat of an 'October Surprise' I might say". And just as I was warming up to allude to a parallel with the Iran Contra scandal, she interjected, paused a for a brief moment and that was me done.

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Russell Brand interviewing Iranian comedian Omid Djalili.

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Dear Russell, Matt and team (with Trevor being sadly missed),

I'm writing to thank you for the grand service you provide in cheering up a nostalgic ex-pat living in the Islamic Republic of Iran. A fine mix familiar tunes and juvenile behavior (made more so in the absence of Trevor) lifts the spirits for the working week ahead.

I'm not quite sure I'd want to translate that British citizens are calling a radio show pleading for advice on how to avoid friends pissing on their legs

Listening to the show is quite a laborious task and not made any easier by the circa 1998 connection speed. Dodging the IT guys hawking building in search of the culprit responsible for bumming all the bandwidth is a frustrating deviation from your verbal ramblings. Then having to explain why I'm folded over, ripping the earphones out in tears of suppressed laughter is my next problem. The strange looks from my colleagues who are poised with concern is a tad embarrassing. I'm not quite sure I'd want to translate that British citizens are calling a radio show pleading for advice on how to avoid friends pissing on their legs in the showers or about the reasoning for dolphins hooking their cocks on the slack of one's shorts.

Speaking of piss, work and living in strange places, I've just recently been kicked out of my grandmother's where I suffered a temporary stay while seeking new residence. Her official reasons for not wanting to endure me any longer were: 1. that I piss standing up (back-splash I guess, although I do wash the surrounding area of the hole in the ground) and 2. that I spend too much money. I found these reasons odd as she is unable to verify either. My next available living option adds an additional 3-hours commute to my day and quadruples the travel expense, thus nullifying 50% of her argument – I'm not sure I'd want to contest the other.

OK, it's been a sore subject for me lately and one I actually contemplated calling and pleading "help!" over.

Congratulations on being the number one downloaded Podcast, I hope you get around to finally dishing out some promised ice-cream and all the best of luck in your campaign of freeing Tibet from Chinese occupation.

Keep up the good work.


Russell Brand's weekly radio show on BBC Radio 2 can be found here.

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Watch that 'q' change to an 'n'.

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"So back over to Tehran. Tell us, would you say that your writing would be different if you were sitting in London?", came the voice on my mobile as I paced the cold echoing hallway having nipped out from the Latin beat and salsa of a Thursday night gathering. I wondered if my anonymity was a good enough example while conducting the cosy conference call of three – plus the few hundred thousand tuning in maybe. A friend then opened the door to see where I'd gone, "Daveed?", they shouted. Damn that echo.

"Yes", was my simple answer before elaborating further, "but it's not necessarily the establishment I adapt for, I worry about antagonising with the people and their culture". I've pondered this matter for a while now and am amused at how my 'freedom of speech' is not restrained by a well placed few, but maybe by the ideology of the mass – it's chickens and eggs though. "But there are ways to present things to... you know?", I semi-smugly added in conclusion.

Also on the BBC I see much the same thing but from the other end. As the homepage repeats 'Iran' (watch that 'q' change) with greater frequency I've taken to visiting its 'Have Your Say' public comments section, a forum for all manner of sqitted mush. Of late there's been a few of the, "How should the world deal with Iran?", "What now for Iran?" and a "Here's a neutral question about Iran, how on earth can you say it's anti-American?".

"45-minutes away, Yellow Cake, Alooominum toobs, satellite images – do they think we're stoopid?"

I use these features as a measure of sorts, a measure of how much stronger the Americans are at the game. Oddly enough when 'Have Your Say' first appeared it was the measuring point that frustrated me. As the entries are monitored and were previously measured before posting, we witnessed a for, against, for against series and no indication as to what the mood was. "There are surely some matters that clearly get a weight one particular way?", I wrote to the Head of News around the time, indicating that maybe their tweaking distorts the picture. You might for example have had 8-displayed responses to, "45-minutes away, Yellow Cake, Alooominum toobs, satellite images – do they think we're stoopid?". Four of these responses might say, "let's blow those sand monkeys further down the evolutionary ladder", and four-hundred could have said, "read the receipts!".

Things changed.

Fourth in the 'most recommended', backed by 179 people to date – John, NYC, USA:
"Another question set up so this "Have Your Say" can become a US-bashing forum. Why should we fear Iran having nuclear weapons? Because they are a fundamentatlist, theocratic state which severly curtails freedoms and human rights. The US, on the other hand, is still a bastion of freedom and human rights despite what is highlighted by the foriegn press. Which do you fear?"

In first place, backed by 261 people to date – Russell, Winnipeg, Canada:
"The world should do nothing about Iran. Iran is a sovereign nation and it is entitled to have nuclear power consumption. Just because the USA is war-mongering doesn't mean the world has to listen to their made up lies. The country the world should fear is America! Their government is crazy!"

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