Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Happy birthday M1

In spite of everything … happy birthday M1. Wishing you 50 giant candles lit along the crash barriers, light jams and pleasant widenings (or unwidenings, if any road protestors are reading this). I have a cough and a spit in this documentary, M1 Magic, which was on Radio 4 earlier today:

Not that I will be listening myself. Lord Reith once said that only those with ‘a claim to be heard above their fellows’ were worthy of appearing on the BBC. God knows what he would have made of me.

Here is an ode to the M1, inspired partly (I think) by my book:

And a postscript to my earlier post about Richard Hoggart. Penguin has just republished The Uses of Literacy, with an excellent introduction by Lynsey Hanley. There is also a foreword by Simon Hoggart in which he refers to his father’s appearance for Penguin in the famous obscenity trial over Lady Chatterley’s Lover:

‘Penguin asked Dad to write the introduction to the first “legal” edition, and his name is still preserved on the Penguin tea mug of the title. He was paid a flat £50 fee, a fact which rankled slightly when sales rose to £3 million – though as we pointed out to him, not one person bought it for the introduction.’

Hoggart Jr. offers no hard evidence for this assertion. It might even be what Karl Popper would have called ‘unfalsifiable’. But I think he’s on pretty safe ground.

And here are the first few lines of David Hendy’s Life on Air: A History of Radio Four, which I’m currently reading:

‘In May 1988 an elderly woman caught a bus from Blackpool to London, marched into Broadcasting House, pulled a revolver from her handbag, and shot at a BBC commissionaire standing in the reception. Her gun turned out to be a replica and her bullets turned out to be blanks. No one was hurt. But it was the cause of her complaint that struck many observers as most worthy of comment: she had been driven to violence, so she said, by her inability to receive Radio Four.’

Needless to say, I’m already hooked.

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