Feel adrift in the home renovation store? This screwdriver business leaving you confused? Billy Bragg (and Phill Jupitus, Stewart Lee, and many others) feel your pain. (Vevo version)
King James Bible readings by top UK actors - free podcasts London's National Theatre recently staged a series of live readings to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible and the glorious language that book contains. The actors taking part included Lindsay Duncan (Genesis), Patricia Routledge (Psalms), Maureen Lipman (Isaiah), Mark Gatiss (Luke) and Simon Russell Beale (Revelation). There's 12 readings in all, each of about 80 minutes, and the National has three available as free podcasts already, with the rest to follow soon. As a bonus, it's also offering Melvyn Bragg's talk on how the King James version was constructed and the main sources it drew on. I saw Bragg delivering this talk at the Cheltenham Literary Festival earlier this year, and it's well worth hearing.
"No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that a rubbish dump being created would, in the space of a century, become a protected area. Yet that is exactly what happened to what has come to be known as Glass Beach, just outside Fort Bragg in California." [more inside]
LONDON, the Metropolis and Glory of the Kingdom, was anciently the Seat of the British Empire; and since, stiled commonly, the Royal Chamber of our Kings. The Kings Chamber, the Heart of the Commonwealth, and a Short Draught of the whole Kingdom: As it was once described by Sir Edward Coke, sometime Recorder of this City. It may boast it self to be the largest in Extent, and the fairest built, the most Populous, and best inhabited (and that by a Civil, Rich and Sober People) of any in the World. And for a general Trade throughout the Universe, all other must give her the Precedence. [more inside]
The Big-Nosed Bastard from Barking has been very, very busy. In the past month, Billy Bragg has won the Classic Songwriter Award from Q, then collaborated with Beethoven (some of the B-Man's fans mutter darkly), and taken the hand of a small, matronly admirer before kindly giving it back to her, along with an autographed copy of the score. (He's prepared for the fallout: "I'll probably get struck off Morrissey's Christmas card list." ) [more inside]
In Our Time Faced with a wet weekend indoors, I realised it's time to dig into the archive of In Our Time, the most unashamedly intellectual radio discussion series every produced. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and hosted by Melvyn Bragg (sorry, make that Lord Bragg), the show's format is simple: Take a topic that's shaped our world, invite a handful of academics who specialize in that field, and chat. But remember: Commercially suicidal program(me)s like this wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for the unique way the BBC is funded.