Tag Archives: Today Programme

Goodbye John Humphries, James Naughtie, Sarah Montague et al…..Hello Madeleine Miller And All Who Will Follow Her!……….

……….I’ve spent the early part of the week commuting into the city – not the norm for me – and as a result I’ll be starting a new job at the end of next month. While going in and out on the train and the Tube this week, I’ve been reading ‘The Song Of Achilles’ by Madeleine Miller (it’s brilliant by the way!).

Normally I go to work by car and so my early mornings are spent with the Today Programme on Radio 4 – and have been for about 10 years! But from August I’m going to be swopping the car for the commute into London to work – and among the things I’m most looking forward to are reading every day on the way in and the way back, making homeward bound detours to Waterstones in Oxford Street or to Foyles at Charing Cross or to the many independent bookshops all over the city, and I’m looking forward to having the chance to go to author talks in the early evenings in venues across the city.

Reading On London Underground

For the last few days I’ve been struck by just how many people read while commuting – the trains and tubes are full of people with their nose in a book or a Kindle! Among the books I saw were Chad Harbach’s “The Art Of Fielding” (in my TBR pile), Ian McEwan’s “Saturday” (liked it but not the best of his stuff!), William Boyd’s “Restless” (another in my TBR pile), Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” (not my thing really!) and Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit From The Goon Squad” (I didn’t like this at all though I know others who loved it). Obviously I’ve no idea what those who had Kindle’s were reading – although I have to admit that each time I saw someone with a Kindle my brain pondered “Do they look like they are reading Fifty Shades????????!’. Bizarre I know – even more bizarre was I thought some of them were – prejudice in overdrive I fear!!!!

My favourite though was the woman I saw at Liverpool Street still reading, book in front of her face, weaving from the train platform, across the station concourse and down onto the Central Line – she put her book down only to swipe her Oyster card – apart from that she was on a kind of automatic pilot and it was up to everyone else at rush hour to swerve and weave out of her way! I had to admire her sense of direction, her disregard for the rest of the commuting world and above all her obvious passion and enjoyment of her book! (Couldn’t see what it was – might she have been a Fifty Shades reader?!?!?!)

I’m looking forward to the commute by train and tube – although I’ll have hassles like everyone else, it’ll allow me to use the journey time to indulge in something I love – reading more and more books! At the moment, the car journeys are ok when you’re moving – but let’s be honest around the M25 and London ‘traffic’ and ‘moving’ are almost contradictory terms!!! Once I’m stationary, it always seems like such an awful waste of precious time!

However, while I won’t miss the traffic jams, I’ll miss the Today programme on Radio 4 – or at least large parts of it (I’ll still listen in over hurried breakfast and getting dressed if I can!). It’s one of the things that I think define me as “getting older” – my family prefer Christian O’Connell on Absolute Radio  in the mornings – and I admit any time I listen in I think he’s hilarious. Twenty years ago he’d have been my morning radio choice without a doubt – but now I’m fifty and I’ve got grey hair and my knees creak, I feel at home with Radio 4! (Sorry to any fellow R4 listeners who are offended by the implication that we’re mostly getting on in years!).

Radio 4 Today Programme Presenters
John Humphries – The Best Voice On Radio Sarah Montague – and my favourite Scotsman, James Naughtie

But nothing beats listening to the Today programme to start the day – I look forward to John Humphries baiting and devouring politicians and their egos for his breakfast, I could listen to Sarah Montague’s fabulous voice reading the telephone directory aloud, I love the spark and energy of Evan Davies, the measured deep tones of Justin Webb, and above all I think James Naughtie is wonderful – whether it’s politics or the arts or just the weather, he’s bright, intelligent, engaging and always sounds like he’s enjoying whatever he’s doing! If he and Alex Salmond were put in charge of the Scotland football team, we might win the World Cup!

Though I’ll miss them, I now have more time than ever to spend reading. Which is just as well, as my To Be Read shelf has never been longer (in fact it’s no longer a shelf – it’s now more like two and a half shelves!) and my What Next list would use up every penny I earn if I was to buy everything on it! As my start date is still about a month away I don’t know what will be my first book to mark my new commute – if anyone has a suggestion for something apt or just plain fantastic, let me know!

While I can predict I’ll read more than ever, I’m certain that for as long as my commuting goes on, I don’t think you’ll ever see me doing this!

Reading Fifty Shades of Grey

Scientific Breakthrough Solves Mystery Of Why It’s Raining Cats And Dogs Every Day……..

……..I’ve written before about how awful our weather is in London and the South East at the moment – we’ve had rain almost daily for weeks and weeks. Only this morning I heard a news item about a flooded Wedding Dress Shop in Surrey – and this is May!

However there was a news item on the Today Programme on Radio 4 this morning which purported to have the answer!

The BBC Science Editor David Shukman went along on a scientific research plane which flew into cloud banks and emerging storms over the Irish Sea. The plane sounded very high-tech with several scientists on board sitting at consoles, taking readings, analysing data from various instruments attached to the plane, processing data to extrapolate to possible conclusions and to be honest this bit was a  bit technical and I didn’t really understand it!!!

The team was led by a Science Professor from Manchester University and during his interview  he explained what the researchers were measuring and how they intended to use that to understand cloud formations, water content, movement etc. There was a lot of very high-tech science language to accompany the very high-tech instruments, which was about density and humidity and vapour and to be honest this bit was also a bit technical and I didn’t really understand it.

However, as I couldn’t really follow the technological and meteorological stuff, what I really wanted to know was “Why is it so wet at the moment?” And good old David Shukman asked that question, asked exactly that! (Maybe David Shukman couldn’t follow the technological or meteorological stuff either!)

But he asked that simple and direct question and he got a simple and direct answer. Science has solved the mystery of why it’s so wet at the moment. It went like this

David Shukman: Why is it so wet at the moment?

Clever Manchester Uni Science Professor On Plane Full Of Weather Scientists And Technology: Well not that long ago people were asking when were we going to get some rain? After a period without rain, we are having rain now. Essentially you get a dry spell and then you get a wet spell!

And there you have it! Science to the rescue. The reason its been so wet during April and May is because it wasn’t that wet during February and March!

Now why didn’t I think of that??????????????????????????