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A Point of View

BBC

Description

A weekly reflection on a topical issue
422 Episodes Play All Episodes
Invisible+Women
access_time8 hours ago
Zoe Strimpel questions some of the dominant gender narratives around the Me Too movement.

'The problem,' she writes, 'is that there is no space in all this for the lives and experiences of the many straight women who don't have this problem, who do not live in fear of men, and who are not sexualised at every turn.'

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Living+with+Group+Difference
access_time6 days ago
David Goodhart reflects on group identities in the aftermath of the Sewell report and argues that the mere existence of a difference is not evidence of unfairness.

He calls for a more nuanced understanding of group difference and the challenges this poses in an egalitarian age.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+Age+of+Infantilism
access_time14 days ago
'While self-righteousness loosens the tongues of fools,' writes Howard Jacobson, 'self-censorship ties the tongues of the wise.’

Howard argues that it's not autocracy that has bedevilled us in the past twelve months, it is levity.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
What+are+you+doing+here%3F
access_time21 days ago
Michael Morpurgo reflects on meeting the Duke of Edinburgh when he was 16 and the indirect effect that meeting had in shaping his views later in life.

'He realised', writes Michael, 'that investing in our young people is the most important investment we can make as a society' .

He says the Duke's passion for helping young people will be needed more than ever in the difficult months ahead, as we come out of the pandemic.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Reflections+on+my+Mother%27s+Kenwood+Mixer
access_time28 days ago
The K beater, the whisk and the dough hook are rattling around in the bowl, and I am tasting butterscotch Angel Delight on my lips."
Rebecca Stott relives memories of her 1970s childhood with one kitchen device taking centre stage.
And she sees a lesson for today.

Producer: Adele Armstrong


(This episode was previously broadcast on the 9th October 2020.)
The+Florida+Phone+Call
access_time1 month ago
Adam Gopnik on the intricacies of the generation gap.

It's highlighted, Adam argues, by what he calls the ‘Florida Phone Call’ - the call you get from your children ‘announcing that not only are you no longer fully competent to grasp contemporary life and its technology but there is no longer any chance that you will grasp contemporary life and its technology!’

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Is+that+Miss+or+Mrs+Wheeler%3F
access_time1 month ago
Sara Wheeler explains why online packages arriving at her house are now addressed to 'The Right Reverend Sara Wheeler'!

Sara looks back at the surprising history of the Mrs-Miss distinction and concludes it has no place in contemporary Britain.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+Year+of+Speaking+Dangerously
access_time2 months ago
'There is a theory,' writes Sarah Dunant, 'that we needed to pull back from too much face-to-face conversation because we had all got so damn angry with each other.'

The past year has certainly put a stop to much conversation, angry or otherwise.

Sarah imagines how conversation will be - once we're finally able to talk to each other again, face to face.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Sacred+Cows+and+Sushi+Rolls
access_time2 months ago
'The spell of the cities is now being broken,' writes John Connell.

On his family farm in Ireland - where he's returned after many years abroad - John reflects on the new wave of migrants to rural areas and how the pandemic is changing the face of rural communities.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
What%27ll+you+have%3F
access_time2 months ago
So far," writes Tom Shakespeare, "the pub has weathered the tides of history and adapted to every change so far."

But Tom argues that, in the aftermath of months of closure, this great British institution is now in peril and we all have a role in saving it.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
A+Sense+of+an+Opening
access_time3 months ago
As a psychotherapist, Susie Orbach spends her working days helping people find words to express their emotional dilemmas.

But the seesaw of the pandemic presents particular challenges.

"We are not simply able," she writes, "to breathe into a difficult situation, roll up our psychological sleeves or dig ourselves in without the emotional cost of feeling constrained, nervous, watchful, touchy."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Going+Underground
access_time3 months ago
Will Self reflects on a year of not travelling on the London underground and why he's starting to miss it.

"On winter days," writes Will, "when it's dark first thing, then twilight, then dark again, the tube achieves its most magical state."

And he says that, without the tube, the city seems to have lost its foundations.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
A+Sense+of+Fear
access_time3 months ago
As the government announces a tightening of Britain's borders, Zoe Strimpel tries to understand her very personal reaction.

"As a Jewish descendent of German Jewish refugees," she writes, "I have felt - for the first time in my life - a sharp edge of panic and fear."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Sacking+the+Capitols
access_time3 months ago
Sarah Dunant finds chilling parallels between recent events in Washington and the Sack of Rome in 1527.

"Both seemed to feel," Sarah writes, "that whatever the threat, 'God's Holy City' or 'the seat of American democracy', were somehow, by their very nature, inviolate. I mean nobody would dare, would they?"

Powerful first-hand accounts, the crowd fired up by wild stories and the use of new technology are all there.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+Power+of+Slow+Storytelling
access_time4 months ago
Rebecca Stott on why stories told over time seem so fitting for lockdown.

"In this third lockdown," Rebecca writes, "now that my grown up children have gone back to their flats, I am living alone for the first time. I miss our conversations over the dinner table. I miss mulling over the day with them."

But, she says, the cumulative power of slow storytelling is a perfect antidote. And, in particular, The Archers!

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Whose+Free+Speech%3F
access_time4 months ago
John Gray argues that the social media bans on Donald Trump pose many risks.

"The country is already divided between political tribes that hardly speak to one another," he writes. "More than any other advanced country, American has developed a dangerously binary type of public life. "

He fears curbing free speech - in the way the tech giants have done with Donald Trump - risks threatening America's very stability.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
A+Turning+Point+for+Democracy%3F
access_time4 months ago
Adam Gopnik attempts to make sense of events in Washington this week and argues that the attack on Congress was predictable.

And he explores "the fascinating mismatch between the cult leader and the cult".


Producer: Adele Armstrong
New+Year+Letter+from+New+York
access_time4 months ago
Adam Gopnik, cycling around Central Park in New York, explains why going round in circles suddenly appears not futile, but fortunate.

In the midst of the pandemic, Adam - like thousands of other New Yorkers - has taken to cycling round the park on a daily basis.

"The truth, revealed at the end of one more revolution is simple," he writes. "We feel lucky to be alive. That may be the one truth we didn't know before, or didn't know enough."


Producer: Adele Armstrong
Spiritual+Pick+and+Mix
access_time4 months ago
Bernardine Evaristo reflects on spirituality and syncretism.

"There are many people," she writes, "who are rock solid in a particular faith but others are more flexible or live with multiple belief systems."

Bernardine tells us why she loves the idea of the African-American celebration of Kwanzaa, founded in 1966 and designed to give African-Americans a winter festival that is uniquely theirs.


Producer: Adele Armstrong
Off+the+Map
access_time5 months ago
Sara Wheeler loves maps.

Taking her cue from a 1755 map on her desk, she asks how maps can help us navigate our contemporary crisis.

And she argues that - from cholera to covid - public health cartography has played a crucial role.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Confessions+of+an+Anti-Clasper
access_time5 months ago
Howard Jacobson reflects on hugging, past and present. He casts his mind back to his school days and one of his favourite plays, Moliere's The Misanthropist.

Howard decides that the play's hero, the misanthropic Alceste, is "the perfect citizen for our times - one who respects social distancing, stays out of pubs and similar places of entertainment, and compromises no other person's health."

And he believes that, were more of us to follow Alceste's lead, then the virus would have "nowhere to travel to and must at last give up and turn into a recluse itself."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Edible+Architecture
access_time5 months ago
Unusual conditions produce novel responses" writes Will Self. And Will's response is what he calls "edible architecture". Pounding the pavements with his son during lockdown, they imagine which of London's edifices would be most edible were they to be made out of food, rather than masonry.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Loving+the+Body+Fat-tastic
access_time5 months ago
Bernardine Evaristo discusses body image and the fashion industry. Why, she asks, do fashionable clothes still need to be marketed by "long-limbed, boy-hipped young women whose silhouettes have no womanly curves and whose body parts have no jiggle-factor?"

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Experience+Trumps+Facts
access_time6 months ago
In the week where his appointment to the Equality and Human Rights Commission has come in for criticism, David Goodhart defends objective facts over personal experience.

"Our knowledge of the world is usually some sort of balance between personal experience and abstract ideas," he writes. "But the focus on the primacy of subjective experience .can go too far."


Producer: Adele Armstrong
Perpetual+Lockdown
access_time6 months ago
Sara Wheeler reflects on lockdown for her brother - profoundly learning disabled - and others like him.
Books, she writes, "teach us that my brother's isolation and society's inability to embrace him as he deserves to be embraced have always been with us."
But she wonders if, in these times, books can also teach us to be kind.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Don%27t+Mention+the+War
access_time6 months ago
Howard Jacobson with his personal reaction to a monumental week in US politics.

In an attempt to define what's at stake, Howard turns his attention to Basil Fawlty, the Garden of Eden and Jonathan Swift's Big and Little-Endians.

And he has a brush with concussion along the way!

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Pets+Aren%27t+People%21
access_time6 months ago
Zoe Strimpel examines why so many people have become passionately obsessed with dogs. "We have moved," she writes, "beyond affection, beyond dog-is-person's-best-friend love, into a passionate confusion whereby we now seem to think and feel that there is literally no difference between pets and people."

She examines the roots of our attachment to dogs and argues that we need to re-discover a more "pet-appropriate variety" of love in relation to our pooches.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Brief+Encounters
access_time7 months ago
My mother tended to do it in shops and on public transport - my father favoured pubs "
Taking a leaf out of his parents' book, Will Self advocates a novel "practice" for our times.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+Great+Conjunction
access_time7 months ago
Big as it looks, it is nothing but gas and more gas, imposing its will on the sky by sheer bluster."
On a night walk through Manhattan, Adam Gopnik reflects on the appearance of Jupiter high in the sky and muses on the significance of this gassy planet today.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Reflections+on+my+Mother%27s+Kenwood+Mixer
access_time7 months ago
The K beater, the whisk and the dough hook are rattling around in the bowl, and I am tasting butterscotch Angel Delight on my lips."
Rebecca Stott relives memories of her 1970s childhood with one kitchen device taking centre stage.
And she sees a lesson for today.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+Pro-Mask+Movement
access_time7 months ago
As a fully fledged luvvie," writes Bernardine Evaristo, "practically every greeting and farewell is accompanied by a kiss or hug."
But these days hugs feel like a distant memory and, she argues, wearing a mask is the least we can do.
"It's an act of compassion, self-protection and a commitment towards the survival of our fellow humans, our country, our world."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
What%27s+the+Magic+Number%3F
access_time7 months ago
With widespread unease over the government 's handling of the pandemic, Tom Shakespeare proposes that ordinary citizens should be allowed a greater say in what rules we should be following.
"Then there would be no elites to blame," he says, "because the people making the decisions would be you and me, and our deliberations would be public."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Conspiracy+Theories+and+a+Good+Hair+Cut
access_time8 months ago
Facts have lost their meaning," writes Sarah Dunant. "In their place, belief has taken over."
Sarah discusses QAnon, widening social divisions, and her conversations with her hairdresser.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Having+the+%27Wrong%27+Politics
access_time8 months ago
As the culture war has heated up," writes Zoe Strimpel, "every word and tweet is vested with the insignia of identity, and neutrality is no longer an acceptable carpet under which to hide."
Zoe discusses how subjects which were, until fairly recently, little more than sources of minor disagreements now form "the basis of warring social groups."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Thinking+Otherwise
access_time8 months ago
As children return to school, Michael Morpurgo questions whether we are educating our children .or programming them.
"The pandemic has found us out," Michael writes, "shown us how ridiculous and absurd and sad" is the rigidity of a system of education so dictated and dominated by endless data gathering and exams.
He argues that we must use this opportunity - where so much is up for grabs - to take a serious look at what needs to change.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
A+Fine+Line
access_time8 months ago
At no time, in modern times," writes Adam Gopnik, "have we endured so much and understood so little."

But Adam reminds us that plagues have often, in the past, preceded times of plenty - the Jazz Age, for example, following closely on the heels of the 1918 flu pandemic in the US.

"So what lies before us may be parched austerity and continuing depression or champagne at midnight in Gatsby's garden."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Tolerance%3A+the+Unfashionable+Virtue
access_time9 months ago
The strange kind of liberalism that is currently in fashion," writes John Gray, "has rejected tolerance in favour of enforcing what it is sure is the truth."

He says these new "illiberal liberals" who allow freedom of expression only to those they regard as progressive, risk smothering "the contradictory and enlightened ideas that make us human."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+End+of+Progress%3F
access_time9 months ago
The writer, Katherine Mansfield, was diagnosed with TB in 1917. She travelled across Europe - trying all sorts of therapies - until her death. But it would be another twenty years before a cure was actually discovered.
Will Self questions whether - if it takes years to find an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID 19 - we will still manage to maintain our faith in human progress.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Gender+in+the+Blender
access_time9 months ago
If we accept that gender is something imposed on us," writes Bernardine Evaristo, "as opposed to intrinsic to who we are as humans, then what does it matter if people want to switch genders?"

Bernardine discusses the "gender revolution" and our attitudes to the disruption of traditional gender roles.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+Big+Benefits+of+Smallness
access_time9 months ago
There's nothing wrong with ambition," writes Linda Colley, "but coming to terms with our inescapable geographical smallness would be helpful."
She says historically there's been a tendency to kick against this awkward fact and an obsession with the idea of a global Britain.
Linda argues that we should recognise the advantages of smallness - nourishing a nation's innovation and agility.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
A+Hazy+Shade+of+Winter
access_time10 months ago
Once in a blue moon," writes Rebecca Stott, "new technologies become available that make it possible to open up ancient, long-shelved historical mysteries."
Rebecca tells how modern science has explained the events of 536 AD when the sun 'disappeared' and a devastating pandemic followed.
And she ponders what scientists - hundreds of years from now - will be able to tell about our current pandemic and our environmental crisis.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Legacy+Bottle+Opener
access_time10 months ago
Will Self on why a novelty bottle opener - with little plastic seahorses floating in an acrylic handle - is his idea of a perfect inheritance.
"The security that financial inheritance may convey is merely relative - and divisive," he writes.
So, instead, Will suggests leaving behind something ordinary .and useful.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
10%2F07%2F2020
access_time10 months ago
Weekly reflections on topical issues from a range of contributors.
Why+Black+Lives+Matter
access_time10 months ago
We need to challenge how we historicise the past and give it a thorough spring clean," writes Bernardine Evaristo.
Bernardine discusses the UK's response to Black Lives Matter, "a necessary moment in our political history."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
A+Word+of+Advice
access_time11 months ago
There is a piece of advice that my white British friends seem never to receive but which I have had the good fortune to be given on many occasions - 'If you don't like it here, you can always leave'".
Zia Haider Rahman reflects on what lies behind the comment.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
The+end+of+university+as+we+know+it%3F
access_time11 months ago
Mary Beard asks if the iconic university lecture might have had its day, in the aftermath of the pandemic.

"I reckon that over my career I've done getting on for 2000 of them .I doubt I'll be doing another before I retire."

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Inside+Out
access_time11 months ago
It seemed to occur to nobody in the Cummings hunt that the greater good would almost certainly have been served by down-playing the story".
David Goodhart examines the accountability and transparency requirements of modern institutions and the impact they've had on the government's handling of the pandemic.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
I+Like+It+Here
access_time11 months ago
I put myself under lock and key a week before everyone else after a clammy jogger in a pink velveteen suit panted in my face in Hyde Park".
Howard Jacobson takes a wry view of life under lockdown.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
Waiting
access_time11 months ago
However different our days are, we are all waiting," writes Rebecca Stott.
Via Samuel Beckett, a walk in Norfolk and a discussion of the three stages of twilight, Rebecca reflects on the waiting of lockdown.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
In+Praise+of+Cleaning
access_time12 months ago
Others may thrill to the serendipity of bacon-and-eggs," writes Will Self, "but it's the determinism of dustpan-and-brush that I exalt".
Dusting, wiping, vacuuming and sweeping in lockdown, Will ponders the Great British Wipe-Up.

Producer: Adele Armstrong
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