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Home+from+Home
access_time7 days ago
'Over the centuries', writes Michael Morpurgo, 'we have been a safe haven to so many, and they have helped make us the people we are today - at our best, a deeply humanitarian people. I fear we are not at our best today'.

Michael argues that, although we need to address the issue of people smuggling and deaths from dangerous Channel crossings, we must not lose our capacity for kindness and 'generosity of spirit' towards those who need our help.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Sound: Peter Bosher
Production Coordinator: Gemma Ashman
Editor: Hugh Levinson
The+War+with+Words
access_time14 days ago
'We must never underestimate the power of words to shape public opinion and politics', writes Bernardine Evaristo.

This comes in the aftermath of a call from a school authority in South Dakota for the banning of her novel, 'Girl, Woman, Other' on the grounds that it - and four other novels - are unsuitable for seventeen and eighteen-year-olds.

Bernardine argues that we should avoid vocabulary that fosters outrage and try instead to find words that convey our exact, and reasoned, argument.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Sound: Peter Bosher
Production coordinator: Gemma Ashman
Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
Basic+Instincts+in+the+House+of+Commons
access_time21 days ago
In the aftermath of recent headlines coming out of the Commons, Sarah Dunant explores sexual equality through the ages.

She looks in particular at the idea that 'women are temptresses who cannot - by definition of their sex - be trusted'.

"So ingrained is this within Christian culture," Sarah writes, "that it defined attitudes towards women for millennia".

Biblical accounts, renaissance sculpture, fairy tales and politics are all put under the spotlight.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Sound: Peter Bosher
Production Coordinator: Gemma Ashman
Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
Reconsidering+Cannabis+and+the+Law
access_time26 days ago
Will Self presents a very British solution to the issues surrounding the legalisation of marijuana.

Considering the pervasiveness of cannabis in the UK, he says the question that should currently be preoccupying us as a society is not whether marijuana should be legalised, but how.

"My model here would be the old Tote," he says, "a form of nationalised gambling that for many years mitigated its worst effects by limiting opportunities and hence possible losses."

He says that we must avoid the "commercialised free-for-all that's emerging in the US and parts of Canada."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Sound: Peter Bosher
Production coordinator: Gemma Ashman
Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
The+Unlistened-to+Story
access_time1 month ago
It is a terrible thing to be in possession of a truth that people don't want to hear," writes Howard Jacobson.

By way of Primo Levi, the great chronicler of the Holocaust, Coleridge's 'The Ancient Mariner' and stories emerging today from Ukraine, Howard argues that stories of truth must be listened to, no matter how uncomfortable or challenging we find them.

"No deceit is ever so perfected," he says, "that it doesn't require the connivance of the deceived".

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Sound: Peter Bosher
Production coordinator: Gemma Ashman
Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
What+is+a+Woman%3F
access_time1 month ago
Zoe Strimpel asks the seemingly simple question 'what is a woman', but finds no simple answer as she explores the question through a brief history of feminist thought.

She explores the ongoing controversy over trans women in women's competitive sport, and the reluctance of public figures to define what a woman is. while revealing her own views on the issue.

"As the history of feminism itself makes clear, gender and sex are genuinely complicated. That overconfident or oversimplified definitions of woman - which apparently we're all supposed to be able to produce - can be limiting and crude. Not just in relation to trans women but biological women too," she writes.

She continues: "The bitter debate about trans women versus women is a debate about the meaning and realness of biology. And yes, biological difference matters, sometimes hugely. It is certainly real. But there is room for nuance: indeed, there is a necessity for it. Without it, I fear a relapse into arguing that women are defined by their biology beyond the swimming pool or the cycling track or the locker room."

Producer: Sheila Cook
Sound: Peter Bosher
Production Coordinator: Janet Staples
Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
A+View+From+Russia%3A+All+I+Have+To+Say
access_time2 months ago
The everyday repression of life in Russia, as experienced by an anonymous dissident playwright.

In this essay, she reflects on the war in Ukraine and asks what role she and her fellow Russians might have played in it, what they might have done to stop it - and what Ukrainians must think of them now.

In turn, she explains how the Russian state is actively controlling the narrative about the war - and reveals the harsh consequences for those who dare veer from the approved 'truth'.

"They arrest protestors for carrying blank sheets of paper. It doesn’t matter what’s written on it, only that you are carrying it. If you are suspected of opposing the government, then you must be guilty."

Reflecting on Russia's history, she weighs up how life today both mirrors and is profoundly different to the harshest days of Stalinist rule, while pointing out the numerous violations of the country's constitution.

The essay is translated and read by poet and translator Sasha Dugdale.

Producer: Sheila Cook
Sound: Peter Bosher
Production Coordinator: Gemma Ashman
Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
Helpless
access_time2 months ago
'Perhaps, like me,' writes A L Kennedy, 'you can now only picture Cabinet meetings as gatherings where ministers and staff sing la-la-la with their fingers in their ears while dancing between the wine fridges.'

In the midst of a lot of bad news, Alison finds some room for cheer.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Sound: Peter Bosher
Production Coordinator: Gemma Ashman
Editor: Richard Vadon
Tolstoy+in+Our+Time
access_time2 months ago
Adam Gopnik seeks enlightenment for our time in Tolstoy's War and Peace, finding parallels in Tolstoy's thinking for today's war in Ukraine.

Reflecting on how Russian characters in the book converse in fluent French, Adam considers how mixed identities should not undermine national integrity, writing that the composite nature of Ukrainian identity does not cast doubt on its integrity as a country.

He also explores Tolstoy's debunking of the 'great man' theory of history, and a reminder that 'history lies outside the control of any one hero, or heroine' while conceding that heroism is in itself a plausible concept, and 'if great men and women do not cause history, they surely make history. We seem to be seeing it made in action right now.'

Producer: Sheila Cook
Sound: Peter Bosher
Production Coordinator: Gemma Ashman
Editor: Richard Fenton-Smith
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