I am a regular and enthusiastic listener of In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg on BBC Radio 4. It's been my preferred form of entertainment recently. Over the last month or so I've probably gone through a quarter of the archives (I spend a lot of time in the car).
It was Melvyn who broke the obsessive Chrome loop I'd worked myself into.
Ok...maybe not completely.
The topics are usually interesting ...and sometimes even those that aren't of obvious interest to me turn out to be really engaging...the Tale of Sinuhe is a recent example. (though I'm probably gonna take a pass on Photosynthesis...I can't for the life of me even pretend to have any interest in that). Some are just dead boring...Medici, Absolute Zero and shockingly The Amazons (how do you make Amazons boring?). The range of topics, the expertise involved and Melvyn's ability to pleasantly dictate the course of conversation...generally make for a delightful 45 minutes.
Has it always been this way?
I just tried to listen to the episode on Modernity from 1999. I could only take about ten minutes of it. It should have been called why Roger Scruton is a Dickhead...because that was the topic. Now, some of you may, I'm almost certain that some of you do, think that Roger Scruton is a dickhead. Do you want to spend the next 30 minutes contemplating that fact? You gonna hunt that up on the radio? Be sure to look under the sub-heading Modernity so you don't end up listening to a discussion on Baudelaire or Joyce.
If they ever discussed Modernity it was after point 10.01. I think Scruton had about 15 seconds before he was interrupted, by Indignant Academic, and called an elitist for not considering the importance of Afro-Caribbean beats to the Modern Era and focusing too much on the likes of Schopenhauer and Eliot, etc (by the way, if you're interested all of these "dead white men" have been featured on an episode of In Our Time...with Melvyn Bragg...still waiting on the episode for Dub or Hip Hop).*
The real problem seemed to be that Roger had made a distinction between Popular and High Culture...Oh Aunt Fanny...how could he? And on a radio program that regularly features housewives discussing Big Brother and Eastenders.
Maybe it got better...maybe Scruton committed suicide on the radio and everybody was satisfied. I don't know... sh*t was irritating and spoiled my usual Friday afternoon nap...as I've been writing instead.
I will talk about Yankees at Cracker Barrel next.
*Am I the only one here who sees the Modern Era as a distinct, though hard to pin down on the timeline, period in History that is not to be confused with the Contemporary?