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Sadventure Completed #29: Radio Blah Blah...

Updated: Mar 28

I am not a fan of talking radio, I told him. In fact, it is not a rare occurence that, should I be driving, I channel hop between stations to avoid in the inane chatter of the airways.

When I first moved into my place here, pre my internet being connected, I was horrified to discover the only station I could get on my kitchen radio was Radio 4. Being in the Cotswolds, it is like living in an episode of midsummer murders anyway, and this wasn't helped by listening to several chapters of "The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency" as I unpacked the kitchen contents.

Thankfully, when I am driving around, I can tune in (mostly) to Oxfordshire's Jack2 - a no-talking music station, in which they interrupt the music to tell you it's a music only radio station. Still I am spared the intellectual discombubulation of Radio 4 these days.

I am unimpressed that I am now compelled, for 28 days, to have a daily dose of at least one programme of Radio 4.

Day 1

Finally, the sun is shining and I can get outside. Unfortunately, my extremely large apple tree is throwing down baby apples every which way so I headed to the far corner of the garden with my towel to bask in the sun comfortably and get this chore done.

First, I had to register. Why? I have no idea. After that faff, I settled down with the cat to listen on my phone to how a cattleshed became home to an opera hall in the Cotswolds. I have to confess riveting this was not. Although I was slightly bemused by a young boy who wore a spoon on his eye.

Shortly after that my low boredom threshold kicked in so I set about the task of counting how many petals there are on a daisy. Forty-four. So I repeated the experiment - gently tearing off each strip and forming them into piles of five. Now 45. Third time lucky? 47.

Then the internet went off. Never before have I been so grateful to have no reception. Then on, then off, then on. I gave up with my phone signal and came indoors and got it up on Sky. Unfortunately. By then it had moved on to Open Book - about queer nature writing.

Day 2

As I collapsed on my sofa following my early morning run, I figured I could multi-task: hyperventilate and listen. Desert island Discs was on - I've heard about it although I've never heard it before.

If someone was ousted to a desert island, and could only take with them eight pieces of music and one book (in addition to a bible and the complete works of Shakespeare supplied) what would they select and why?

Personally, if I was to be cast away, I'd want eight canisters of Raid and a Breitling Emergency.

That said it wasn't quite the arduous listening of yesterday. Emily Eavis' parents started the well known music festival Glastonbury. She talked a lot of her growing up on the farm and the role the festival played in her life. It was really quite fascinating.

And then there was the reading of Derek Jarman's memoir of his garden. Finally, it was BBC news at 10am. I have no news before lunch rule in my home - and idea supplied by Susan Jeffers in Feel the Fear, which is a constructive way of tackling anxiety and trying to be more positive about life. It's only when I listen to the news, that I wish I were stranded on a deserted island.

Day 3

With the heatwave, I felt the only thing that needed to be done was a load of laundry and a thorough weeding of the garden. Both very amenable to listening to the radio. I looked at the schedule and found it unbelievably depressing:

Looking at the small print in contracts.

So, not sure if this is cheating, but I opted for a podcast and selected Don't Tell Me The Score: David Cotterill.

Never heard of him but he was a Welsh footballer who is talking publically about his depression. Ah ha! A fellow sufferer - I thought I could learn something from him.

I learned his middle name was George Best. He's funny, articulate and has an interesting tale of growing up in the world of football. He talks of the importance of self-care: eating well, sleeping well, living in the day and good people management skills: patience, tolerance and genuine concern for others. Most notably, he talks about alcohol abuse. Just like George Best, he became an alcoholic.

I've long since known that alcohol is a depressant, and yet too many of us seek out alcohol to temporarily reprieve from the glooms. I did. Eventually, like all medications, its effects waned and, in fact, became extremely harmful. I thought by giving up booze, my depression would ease. It did, but it didn't eliminate the periods I was doomstruck altogether.

David Cotterill is now nine weeks sober, following a stint in rehab. It's too soon to say whether or not he'll get into long-term sobriety. He's set up Mental Health Anonymous, based on the same concept of Alcoholics Anonymous. It's early days. I wish him well.

Day 4

The Archers. Heard of it. Never listened to it. Today’s one hour is the Sunday omnibus of the Archers.

In February, 49 industry experts voted it the second-greatest radio programme of all time. 46 of them are connected to the BBC. Desert Island Discs came first. I am somewhat gutted to find that I’ve already peaked in my journey of discovery that is talking radio.

The jaunty short intro music which brings maypole dancing to mind, a thought I can live without, The Archers is supposedly an everyday story of country folk that has morphed into a cacophony of country rows. I live in a tiny hamlet in rural Oxfordshire. Thus far I have managed to avoid falling out with a single neighbour. I blame the lack of pub in my village.

As far as I can glean, The Archers hops from scene to scene, from argument to argument, affair to affair, money woes to money problems. There is not a single word of how this year’s abysmal weather has affected our gardens - the hot topic of conversation between me and my neighbours. Most of my neighbours haven’t even bothered to tell me their names, and if they have, I’ve promptly forgotten them. It helps periodically when someone orders something from Amazon and it is delivered to the wrong house (usually mine).

In the Archers, they also all seem to be in and out of one another’s houses - mostly self-invited. Last year a man walked into my kitchen and called me Mavis. I was really quite startled until he’d recognised that I was probably not Mavis, and this was definitely not Mavis’s kitchen.

In this episode, people were getting in a tizz about their summer fate. Personally, I think they’ve left the planning a little late. And not a single mention of who is going to do the maypole dancing.

Day 5

I listened to Start The Week - a compendium of topics discussed by Stephen Fry, Alison Balsom, David Hare and Lucy Hughes-Hallet, with Tom Sutcliffe keeping them all under control. In fact it was all too civilised if you ask me.

Today's mutterings were: Egotism, Greek Myths and Baroque Music.

In other words, one of those programmes which makes one feel terribly uneducated, then extremely erudite when it finishes - a phenomena which lasts only about ten minutes until I forget absolutely everything I heard. A memory like a computer? In my case like a broken sinclair.

Day 6

Oh, Good Grief! If I was to name the two most boring things on planet earth, with watching paint drying coming a distance third, I'd say Radio 4 and cricket. Today's offerings combined the two.

And then Radio 4 redeemed itself with Marie-Louise Muir unpicking the intricacies of Irish Satire. My favourite part was when they were discussing the menopause, and the release of women, from societal expectations...

"When our oestrogen level drops, when we hit menopause...and the lid that was kept on the anger we've all experienced but not been allowed to show because we are female and you're not supposed to do that, and then this lid comes off and there's this freedom...

I am raging. All that flashes are women just feeling that rage. Oestrogen kept us compliant and nice, and to stay at home to look after the children and there's no biological imperative to keep us compliant, we become more like men....and we don't give a toss, and we say things, and if you don't like me: 'up yours' because I don't have to have babies anymore, who cares, give me a pint. You can do all that stuff now, there's the freedom. Okay, you sit at home lonely stroking your cat because everyone's afraid of you. But it's a small price to pay...

Day 7

Women's hour.

Yay! There's twenty-four hours in the day, and we get a whole hour to ourselves. We represent 52% of the population but hey ho!

Why are the number of women dependent on cannibis? Twice as many men use cannibis, but three times as many men get treatment. Why this difference? The male expert explained that where addiction is concerned, women are much quicker to get addicted but it's still perceived as a male problem. Intervention, like most medical research, is based on studies of male addiction and treatment. I found it interesting but no real insights or solutions offered.

US tennis player discusses bipolar, her difficult relationship with her mother, and women not being paid to play tennis in the 60s and 70s.

Women discussing what to wear at parents' evenings - and their children saying 'you're not going out in that!' I'm sorry but I just cringed that even in 2019, we are spending time criticising the choices that women make regarding their attire.

Women's centres - set up to empower women but they are now responsible for punishing women as part of 'community service or payback' ordered by the courts. An economic decision because women centres are underfunded, as is the probation service. This diminishes the centres - no longer are they a safe place for women to discuss their challenges, because they are now being monitored and reported on. I completely agree. It's very hard to ask for help when one is struggling - if consequences are feared, then help is simply not obtainable.

And finally, a radio play about Daphne Caruana Galizia a Maltese journalist, murdered in 2017, who took on business people and politicians.

Soooooo: Mental Health, fashion, women's complex relationships, the erosion of women's support and a woman killed for speaking out. I found it somewhat depressing, and exasperating that our 'topics of interest' are still traditionally confined.

Day 8

Sketches: Stories of Art and People.

Stephen hit a tree. And did considerable damage himself. Left himself unable to walk. He talks about the grief of his life changing moment.

Men in a shed. All of whom are struggling with the after effects of illness or physical catastrope. Found fellowship in woodwork. There are over 500 men's sheds around the UK.

A woman's love for starry nights. And the universe.

The News - a thoroughly depressing affair about stuff in politics

The Diaries of Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years. Episode 9. Unsurprisingly, I haven't got a clue what's going on.

You and Yours: A discussion of William Hill closing stores, which will hit our poorest areas hard - making several thousand unemployed. However, one wonders why betting shops are so prolific in our lowest income areas.

Day 9

Will this ever end? At least someone is thoroughly enjoying this.

Today's non-stop excitement was a woman talkng about a man who enjoys raping women - not sure why I came into the programme to the end, and the Secret History of Science and Religion. Gripped I was not.

Day 10

How cruel! This Radio 4 challenge means I am listening to a programme about sweet pastries - sugar, butter, sugar, butter, sugar. Strawberry Tarts. Salted Caramel. More sugar. White chocolate granache. Jam. More sugar. Pies, Tarts, Cakes.

They also debated the best recipes for strawberries. The classic, of course, is strawberries and cream. Only one pundit goes on to say that, in fact, grass is the best combo for summer strawberries. I'm off to mow my lawn.

FML! <<<< What I'd say if I was still 15.

Day 11

A roundup of the week's news, the headline being that Trump is a wassock (I'm paraphrasing) according to Our Man in the US.

This is not news.

And then on to the Archers. "Emotions run high at Greenacres" was the description.

"Have you got another straw bale lying around?" he asked.

Stressful stuff not being able to see a straw bale.

Day 12

Monday morning's joy: Hotspot on going bust.

"That's a nice ring you've got on your finger" said the official receiver. Making the point that when people go bust, it is a terrifying experience, humiliating and shameful. Life becomes a day to day reality of managing fear and avoiding people, post and places.

Next: The Fens: Discovering England's Ancient Depths.

The fens are somewhat short on mountains. I love a bit of understatement. In the 19th century, you could get malaria in the fens. But Dr. Francis Pryor, in 1971, discovered Fengate's Bronze Age Farm, with remarkably sophisticated farming methods for the middle ages. They assumed that native Brits would not be capable of this, so it must be Roman. They were wrong.

I turned it off when Women's Hour came on: Preparing your child to transition between schools. Is this not a parenting problem? Why women's?

Day 13

Back home in time to listen to most of Women's Hour, alas. Today was a lively discussion about 'girl codes' for dating. I learnt that amongst lesbians, it is a cert that you'll date your ex's ex because the pool of women is so much smaller. However, amongst twenty something heterosexual women there's a lot of unwritten policies where dating is concerned. Something triggered by "Love Island." No idea - listening to Radio 4 is punishing enough.

Day 14

I just noticed that the "Radio" tab, sits just after the "Adult" tab. Makes the point about how grown up one must be to venture this far in to Sky TVs selection. Way further than I'm used to.

Today's programme is Today. News and current affairs. I learnt a new word: Prorogue.

The hot topic of today is: Boris's threat to suspend government in order to get his Brexit bill through. The word for this is prorogue.

And they invited John Major in for commentary who expressed his disappointment that cricket is no longer on terrestrial television.

The BBC has prorogued cricket. I am delighted.

Day 15

Women's hour again. This time talking to a Sue Eismann whose child, Nicola Fellows, was murdered in 1984, more commonly known as the 'Babes in the Wood murders'. It took 34 years for the murderer to be convicted.

22% of Mumsnetters are reluctant to enquire about companies' policies for parental leave, and schools to give menopause lessons.

Then Dead Cert - a pseudo comedy whodunnit. I didn't concentrate on it for long enough to have a clue what on earth was going on.

More interesting was the a report on Jamal Kashoggi's murder, still unresolved, but linked to Saudi Arabia, which was followed up on the reality of Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria, and the horrendous impact it has on babies' chances of survival. And then, what to do with all the trash that's littering Mount Everest - 60,000 people go there annually with their water bottles which are burnt after, as long as they bring them back. Lighthearted Radio 4 is not. It is always a relief to turn it off.

Day 16

D for Diagnosis - what's in a name? We look for labels to find out what's wrong with us, especially when we are suffering. I've always believed that it's a good thing I've never trained as a psychiatrist because I'd have diagnosed myself with everything going.

Is a diagnosis for mental health worth it? First up is a self-diagnosed passive ADHD sufferer. Tobias is the guinea pig for this programme. He's now given medication following an affirmative diagnosis. He feels relieved to have the label.

Then quite a long section on the cultural and social factors which influence diagnosis. Women's hysteria, for example, is incredibly sexist but the basics of early psychiatry. And once homosexuality became a 'label', then it bore a load of treatments, e.g. immersion therapy, complete with electric shocks with which to inflict suffering.

Psychiatric expertise can also be manipulated to detain people who oppose the state views, a phenomena common in oppressive regimes.

Day 17

Why is this not over yet? Today's delight was combating violence in El Salvador...hideous descriptions of families torn apart. Followed up with how Papua New Guinea's Turuvians adapted cricket so it met half way between being a borefest and a massacre between rival tribes.

Day 18,

With a phenomenally busy day, a 13.5km walk, followed by an experimental dinner, the F1 and Wimbledon, it was quite a chore to slot listening to the radio in.

At 11:00 last night, Radio 4 transmitted a radio documentary made for the US National Public Radio, complete with an American host, who sounds like he's reading one a bedtime story. Today, he compiled a load of stories about the five senses, and current findings and research into them. Sound, sight, taste, touch and smell make for compelling listening I learn.

Of note, was learning that one should always obtain permission before sniffing someone's armpit. Clearly, he's never been on the London Tube then.

Day 19

The Untold: Worth her weight.

Grace Dent goes about narrating the story of women entering "Strongman" competitions. I was exhausted just listening to how they train, as I was trying to train to do a poxy 9k race. Yokes, kegs, and sleds are hauled about the place. For me, dragging my arse around the place is arduous enough.

The woman that featured in the documentary, discussed the role of her relationship breakup in setting her on this new direction. A boyfriend told her she couldn't eat chocolate anymore. Sensible woman she is, she dropped him. It makes sense that she became a "Strongman" - all the better to lamp him.

"Toning up" is just the fitness industry's euphemism to attract women to the gym, because we don't want to "bulk up". However, "Strongwomen" are depicted very negatively in public media. The focus of this documentary wants to challenge these notions. Much more my cup of tea.

Day 20

Translunar Injection: Radio 4's highfalutin name for a programme about Apollo 11's five day journey to the moon. I watched 'To the Moon and Back' on BBC2 last week and thoroughly enjoyed it so this seemed at the very least bearable. It was performed by actors based on NASA transcripts. It was bearable but only for the fact it wasn't Women's Hour.

This was followed up with Moonbase 2029 - a programme looking into the feasibility of going to the moon and staying there. The lengths some people will go to avoid Radio 4, I guess. I'm almost considering volunteering.

The moon has water on it. Ice, as well. That's the game changer - Scientists are working out astronauts can grow their own food. Surely they could just send up a Tesco's? Or a McDonald's? Instead astronauts will pee and redistribute it over their Spinach.

Scientists wish to return to the moon for commercial and environmental reasons. Note the order of purpose! I couldn't help thinking of what we've done with farming on planet Earth, that we wish now to convert the moon into a plantation of palm trees.

Day 21

Yay - only seven more days to go.

Today's listening was: The Remarkable Life of the Skin - made me very confused because it began with the speaker's overambitious run, followed up with the fable of Icarus landing in the sea. That two minute intro was the lead-in to a discussion on sunburn and tanning.

If you want to get a suntan eat tomatoes and carrots, I learned. I eat a ton of them. Quite why I remain looking like I've been resurrected from the dead suggests this isn't a universal reality.

The was an interesting segment on anti-aging products. From sperm whale brain's used by a 19th Century Austrian queen, to the ridiculously overpriced fads of today. Botox, however, is effective at slowing the signs of aging. Albeit much mocked by those who don't or won't, or can't afford to, indulge.

Then it was on to the news. Trump's a racist. This is not news. Again. Then UK politics. then football, and then more football. Susan Jeffers was right: never, ever listen to the news in the morning.

And finally: Women's hour. Today's topics were more woman-centric I'm relieved to discover. The House of Lords, which is standing in in the absence of Stormont, to vote on the legalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland. Whilst same-sex marriage may be introduced quickly, any decision to implement abortion rights will take much more time due to more resistance.

Day 22

A forum on lying - apparently we lie 2.7 lies per day, especially when we are trying to impress people we've just met. Children start lying at aged 3! At 4, they are masters at misinformation.

The more your children lie, the higher their cognitive abilities are. Yay! We peak as liars as teenagers - a way of striking out and being accepted by peers at a time when their self-esteem is very brittle. And we become righteously indignant in our early teens when we discover our parents' lies.

During divorce, it's very hard to know when to lie to children - the advice is: if the children are likely to find out the untruth, then don't tell the lie.

Children know they are lying just as much as adults do. Punitive measures don't prevent lying, but praising children if they re-tell the truth if offered a second chance really helps. Harsh, strict families breeds lying.

Social media, of course, is lying manifests as 'real life'. All we can do is remind ourselves that the pictures we see are a result of a multitude of photographs taken, the best of which is selected, then airbrushed, adapted and re-configured. There's no doubt that such imagery can have a crippling effect on one's self-esteem and expectation of others.

On average, we encounter around 200 lies per day. Blimey.

Next up: I'm off to run a marathon, followed up by an organic superfood lunch.

Day 23

Oh, bore - the segment of my day into which Radio 4 falls is Women's Hour. But actually, today I found it relevant and lacking in condescension.

First up, with the success of women in sport, and at long last it being available on mainstream TV, there is a focus on encouraging more women to take up sport. Long overdue, even though I'm a sport loather, I cannot bear how sport has traditionally been used to put women down. "Men are better than women because women can't run as fast" - how often I've heard this. This year, England's women footballers have proved we can get further in championships consistently than our men can. Netball, a traditionally women's sport, has finally made it as a sports item to be reported on. I hope it continues, and it can only continue if their success trickles down into the schools, families and the social psyche at large.

Next up - Jessica Pan, and America living in London, who wrote "Sorry, I'm late - I didn't want to come". She's an extreme introvert: shy, awkward in social gatherings and most comfortable on a sofa reading a book. She decided to take a year out to be an extrovert. One challenge included talking to strangers on the Tube - she had to ask them "I'm sorry, I've completely forgotten but who is the Queen of England?"

"Queen Victoria," he said.

She asked a second man.

"Queen Victoria," he also said.

And finally: Part 5 of man's first landing on the moon. I have no words.

Day 24

What began as a laughfest of things that make us cry, especially random things, like one lonely baked bean left in a tin shifted to a survivor of the Children of God group. It proved to be an energetic discussion on how difficult it is to survive in the early years after escape by a woman who has gone on to acquire a masters in psychology.

"When you're safe, the trauma leaks out". And that's when alcoholism, depression or suicidal ideation realises. Her personal experience gave her the fascination with what she calls 'the messy middle'.

The messy middle occurs post the 'traumatic situation' ending, after one has one sunk into pits of despair, and after the emotional rock bottom which ends the downward spiral. It describes the early years of post-trauma recovery, before serenity or positive acceptance kicks in. I liked her a lot: The 'mental health profession that swears' as she depicted herself.

It was over way too soon.

Followed by a woman who fell over, broke her leg, and then had it amputated. She talks about dating and trying to work out the etiquette of when to let a possible date know.

And then back to the discussion on ridiculous things that make one cry. Steam trains is one woman's trigger. And then I ruined a perfectly good Saturday by listening to the news. Followed by yet another 'special edition' on the moon landings.

Day 25

To celebrate the last three days of Radio 4, I decided that it would be a waste of time to listen to the Archers to find out what shocking discovery Clarrie makes. Instead I figured I'd venture further into the realms of Radio 4 and check out some of their podcasts. Scrambling through a load of stuff about the moon, I found 'Beyond Today: How can one woman change the law?'

Gina Martin was upskirted at a festival - a 6 foot something man took a photograph of her genitals whilst she was stood in front of him. It wasn't a crime because she was wearing knickers. Had she gone commando it would have been a crime but her knickers saved them from prosecution.

Humiliated and angry, she reported him to the police at the time. They dropped the case four days later. As she points out, getting your arse grabbed, being touched up and generally sex-shamed is part and parcel of being a woman.

She had, incidentally taken a selfie with the boys in the background, so she sex-shamed them back by outing them on social media. Facebook took it down when it when viral - because it was harassment of them. She was committing a crime.

The stir got her on TV. Rather than relying on the passive "someone should do something about this (but not me!)" she devised a marketing campaign to target influential people to share the petition to get the law changed. She then asked a lawyer for help - pro bono. She did her research, she took on advice, and she went to Parliament. Meeting over three hundred politicians for six months until one MP put forward a private members bill, and despite one male MP objecting - which made national headlines, she built her army and with her lawyer worded a law that remains unchanged today.

You have to work within power structures in order to change it. That's what she learnt. The trolls she encountered along the way on social media also taught her a lot. Threats of rape, and her being 'unrapeable' abounded. Never respond actively is her advice, especially when drunk. But it also proved to her that so much more work on women's safety and welfare is required.

Gina Martin. I salute you.

Day 26

How to ruin a perfectly good Monday: Listen to Radio 4. Got home just in time for the news at 6pm.

Decided that the only way to bear this was to bask in the garden.

After that, "this is why we love Mondays," said the announcer introducing "I'm sorry I haven't a clue". They are in Windsor, a borough of Slough.

First up, change a letter of a song: 'I'm dreaming of a shite Christmas' said Jo Brand, which set off 'I can pee clearly now' and 'It started with a piss'. Good Golly Gosh - swearing on Radio 4.

Round 2 - singing the lyrics of a well known pop song to a different tune. "The Hockey Cokey" to the funeral march, for example. Quite fun.

Round 3 - I round involving naming famous people. I have no idea of the point of it because I zoned out when the instructions were given.

Round 4 - historical events that didn't happen.

Round 5 - a scene between a patient and a doctor. Then two fireworks having a convo. Puns galore. Did raise a titter.

Round 6 - playground rhymes - but with alternative endings. "Booby one, Booby Two...I was quite alarmed when the third one grew." 'Tis all quite rude - I am truly shocked, albeit not from Tunbridge Wells. I may have changed my views on Radio 4.

Day 27

Hallelujah this is nearly over. As I lounge in my garden in the three-day summer that is 2019, I thought I might as well get my Radio 4 chore complete - thus proving that I can, at a very simple level, multitask.

Only to discover, Radio 4's obsession with cricket continues. This time, Street Cricket in India. Cricket: How to ruin a perfectly good summer's day. So I set off for a podcast, and stumbled on Jon Ronson's 'So you've been publicly shamed'.

First a warning: contains very strong language'. Yay! Then again in the intro the warning was repeated for the heard of reading...

Golly Gosh again!

Unfortunately Jon Ronson's speaking voice is like an uncle trying too hard to read a bedtime story to his sister's kids that he's not comfortable being around. Still, he quotes tweets using all the rainbow of 'sentence enhancers' the English language affords so I like him.

The phenomena of public shaming is when your twitter collective gets together and expresses its outrage. Like when the Daily Mail's Jan Moir made derogatory remarks about gay marriage following Stephen Gately's death. It lead to Nestle pulling its adverts on the daily mail. Nestle! Itself shirked by the socially conscious.

Quite a portion of the first two episodes are concentrated on Jonah Lehrer, a writer and, it turns out, a plagiarist, who invented quotes and behaviours by Bob Dylan. Michael Moynihan was the blogger who discovered this. It gave him a story when he was hard up for work, but he regrets the devastating impact it had on Jonah Lehrer.

Behind Jonah's live apology speech were live tweets streaming. Initially they were supportive, encouraging and sympathetic but quickly turned into vicious attacks, a tidal wave of abuse as Jonah's apology speech drifted on, an activity he was paid $20,000 to deliver. It became the story of the story. Jon Ronson describes the living hell that became Jonah Lehrer's life after the public shaming. The modern day stocks.

By this time, I was really quite enjoying this. I quite like a good scandal, and I'm particularly interesting in human feelings: the human story behind the headlines and supposition that is modern, judgemental media. Well done, Jon Ronson, you've got me to willingly listen to Radio 4. Next up: Justine Sacco, a PR chief, who sent some horrendously obnoxious tweets whilst flying from America to South Africa. By the time she'd landed, the twitter world had lit up. She was fired from her job, her career over at aged 30. When Jon Ronson met her, she was still angry about her lynching.

Episode 4: the public shaming of misogynists. Hank made some 'tech in jokes' which had strongly euphemistic undertone involving big dongles. Overheard by Adria, also the conference, just at the segment on encouraging more women into tech, she tweeted their conversations, and later wrote about it on her blog. Two ordinarily anonymous people, both of whom lost their jobs because of their actions, were mauled online. Adria particularly was subjected to the vilest of discussion forums: how she was to be raped for her actions. Hank got another job straight away - at a tech company that does not have any women employees. Adria remained unemployed.

The next episode focuses on Lindsay Stone, who took a picture of her mimicking a scream and giving a middle-fingered salute at Arlington Warm cemetery. Tasteless, yes. Fired, yes. It led to Lindsay learning how to bury her own bad news, to languish in internet banality, by making use of software designed to execute the right to be forgotten. Great if you have money.

The sixth episode explores why we so love a good public shaming. Why do "Your speed" signs make us drive slower, when we already have a speedometer in our cars? By focusing on the shamed, Ronson makes the case that public shaming is an overload of punishment, Stupid mis-steps, he calls them, have terrible consequences far greater than conventional legal remedies. There are two types of people in the world: humans and ideologists. Humans are mistake-makers, but currently ideologists are bullies in a modern form. I quite agree.

Day 28

It's finally arrived. Not the British summer, but the last day of Radio 4. Women's Hour. Again. Something that has riled me so much in the last 28 days.

Today: Amika George who started #FreePeriods

She's a teenager, and a highly influential one who has campaigned to have free tampons and pads offered to girls in school. Period poverty: when a girl, or woman, cannot afford to leave the home because they can't afford sanitary wear. Having been successful here in the UK, she's looking to take this issue globally.


This amazing teen managed this whilst studying for GCSEs and A-Levels. And ended up at Cambridge. This led to a discussion the unique challenges for black teens to get into OxBridge, with the introduction of Ore Ogunbiyi, co-author of #TakingUpSpace - the Black Girl's Manifesto For Change.

Likewise, she has worked hard to change the perception of black people in the media. She focuses on the black students, who number a mere 15 of the entrants of her year's of Cambridge's intake. More students are accepted from Eton, than there are black men at Cambridge. The barriers black students face range from a very simple pragmatic level, for example, finding suitable hairdressers to the really invisible barriers: assimilating into an elite culture, overcoming feelings of 'imposter syndrome'. Really thought provoking stuff.

The seque was then Stormzy: the Grime artist who has created scholarships to assist black students getting into Elite universities, something that Ore remarked - it's very nice of him, but it ignores the systemic weaknesses that need to be addressed by the institutions and government. So we moved onto the role of Grime - how it's proving to be a positive entreprenurial force speaking up the issues facing young people from inner cities. Grime is poetry in music - clever linguistic arrangements, striking at the chord of disaffected youths.

Alas, then we went on to Love Island. I mean, really. But actually, it was a feminist as well as black women's take on how it shines a light on how we may want to handle situations knowing what we know now. Especially, gaslighting: How being told we are something, (usually a stereotype) changes our behaviour to NOT be whatever someone says we are being. Rather than saying 'these are MY feelings. I am okay to feel these things.'

Like when someone says 'stop being so dramatic/You're just like your mother' and so on. Actually, we're bloody angry, and my mother has nothing to do with what is making me angry.

Reflections on 28 days of purgatory:

I still hate the 'drone', I mean things are better now that we don't exclusively have renounced pronunciation - but a myriad of accents and speech imperfections. I suppose I have always associated Radio 4 with the BBC World Service of my early years. The only bearable thing was a thirty minute segment of the top ten hits. The rest was aural torture.

The news which punctuates on the hour every hour is really a borefest. As a means of trying to overcome depression, I was told to avoid the news until at least mid-afternoon. Listening to the radio means you can't really avoid it.

Women's Hour really isn't for me. In fact it gives me a good solid dose of menopausal rage. I am very interested in women's rights and issues. This programme seems to hark back to old-fashioned ideologies of a woman's role in society. It has short segments (because we can't concentrate for a long time?), so there's a lack of depth or real analysis. There is also

a strong emphasis on parenting (because, yup, we still must all be parents, despite the bulk of women not currently raising children). In all, I found it condescending and pointless.

That said, Radio 4 got me into podcasts. I've never really bothered with them before. I quite like how you can stream them, or download them for later, it's very useful for rural dwellers like me. Since I've been training for running 5k I've appreciated listening to audiobooks, podcasts save you the price of an audiobook. I got myself hooked on 'So you've been publicly shamed' and now I'm listening to the full audiobook.

And I still have no idea what's going on in the Archers.

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