Category Archives: Music

How to win the coming culture war in 2017

A version of this article first appeared in The Big Issue magazine in January 2017. Journalism worth paying for. Available weekly from street vendors or subscriptions here. History rarely falls into neat numerical decades. I would assert the 1980s (yuppies, … Continue reading

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I Dressed Ziggy Stardust – revisited

I Dressed Ziggy Stardust is getting a re-broadcast on Radio 4 on Saturday afternoon. Here’s a bit about why: When I pitched I Dressed Ziggy Stardust to Radio 4 back in 2012 there was nothing more to it than a … Continue reading

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Ice, ash and fury: A meditation on eruptions from Mt St Helens to the Temple of St Paul’s Cathedral

Since I made The White North Has Thy Bones a year ago about our obsession with the Arctic and the North West Passage I’ve realised January has become a favourite time of the year. For this Something Understood the starting … Continue reading

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The Teen Within…

This week’s Something Understood gives voice to people who I reckon are rarely heard on radio. Teenagers. The readings are all done by young actors and much of the music and poetry you’ll hear was written by them, or about … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Children, Culture, France, Germany, History, Media, Music, Radio, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Bye Bye Baby: The Bay City Rollers & the lost innocence of the 70s

Three ageing rockers are holding up big glasses of milk in a toast. There’s always something poignant about seeing how teen stars have aged, but the Bay City Rollers really were angelic faced teeny boppers, and I am stung by … Continue reading

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Leaving home: The 60s and getting out

The roots of this Sunday’s Something Understood for Radio 4 are in one song – The Beatles’ She’s Leaving Home and one time: the 1960s. Over the course of the decade young people found greater opportunity through a huge growth … Continue reading

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Plankton of the midsummer air

This week’s Something Understood takes its title Inebriate of the Air, from an Emily Dickinson poem about the insect heavy honeyed thickness of midsummer light and air. And insect and bird sounds (swifts) dominate this programme. Entomologist Ross Piper helps us … Continue reading

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We gotta get out of this place: Small town boys & the curse of pop stardom

“I used to scrump apples in the grounds here here,” says Jim Dale, smiling that boyish smile as we sit for our interview in a grand medieval manor house. Now a country house hotel it used to be a school … Continue reading

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Desert worlds: JG Ballard, Lawrence of Arabia, Dune & the story of Ishmael

My latest Something Understood for Radio 4 on Sunday April 19th was conceived as a sequel  to The White North Has Thy Bones, about our fascination with the Arctic and the North West Passage. Together with producer Natalie Steed we … Continue reading

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The Bronte heroine who hated bouquets

For this week’s Something Understood producer Lucy Dichmont was keen to explore the elaborate Victorian coded language of floral bouquets. Unexpectedly I found myself pulling out memories and stories that I’ve been carrying around for decades. I’ve also created a … Continue reading

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