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The fine art of political phrase-making

Antony Jay’s Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations – entitled Lend Me Your Ears – is now in its fourth edition. To mark its publication, I went to interview Antony – perhaps best known as the co-author of the “Yes, Minister” series – at his home in Somerset. You can hear the whole interview by clicking […]

Continue Reading · 17 November 2010 · history and politics, humour, podcasts

Summer Reading Choices: John Grindrod

John Grindrod was born in 1970 in Croydon and still lives in South London. Last year he published Shouting at the Telly, a book in which a host of comedians, actors and writers wrestle with such weighty issues as:  Is Freddie from Scooby-Doo a colossal pervert? What does Howards’ Way tell us about the eighties? […]

Continue Reading · 18 August 2010 · history and politics, humour, podcasts

38. Poland – a country in the moon

My guest on this week’s programme is Michael Moran, author of A Country in the Moon: Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland. Michael first visited Poland in the early 1990s after the collapse of Communism as leader of an ill-assorted crew of British teachers charged with introducing the Poles to the delights of […]

Continue Reading · 10 January 2010 · biography and memoir, history and politics, humour, podcasts, travel

The cat and the cockroach

I have begun asking my interviewees to recommend a book which is a particular favourite of theirs. First up is Jan Zalasiewicz, who appeared in programme 34, “After We’ve Gone”, talking about his book, The Earth after Us. Here is his book choice: When one digs for a living amid the rubble of deep geological […]

Continue Reading · 9 November 2009 · humour, literature, poetry

32. What made Greeks laugh?

“I’m trying to use laughter as a kind of prism, I suppose, through which to examine certain features of the broader culture… “Greeks talk a lot about laughter and so there are a lot of perceptions and representations of laughter in prose texts and poetic texts… It’s used all over the place, it’s referred to, […]

Continue Reading · 12 October 2009 · history and politics, humour, podcasts, religion and belief

Vic Reeves’ Vast Book of World Knowledge (II)

Atlantic Books have just published Vic Reeves’ Vast Book of World Knowledge, and last Tuesday I visited him at home in Kent to make this short film. I put up a rough cut last week; now here is the final version:

Continue Reading · 5 October 2009 · art and music, humour, video