Monday 29 March 2021

All Ears


Pipistrello Illumination Snippet
The Psalter of Humphrey de Bohun, 1360-1400
Exeter College MS. 47

As ever, new technologies are slowly adopted hereabouts, despite Mr. P embracing the glitter of the new. So whilst the idea of podcasts and whatnots might be old hat in your own household, it has taken a bit of time for Your Correspondent to come around to the idea of doing something other than listening to music* when an opportunity for multitasking arises. But times are a'changing and I've now joined the fray.

A for inst. in the Multitasking Opportunity Department

I can, Dear Reader, finally report back on a handful of Free Entertainments - our favourite kind! - out in the interwebs which may pique your interest. So if you are All Ears in that department, do read on:

Slightly Foxed

The joy that is the quarterly literary magazine Slightly Foxed has been spoken of here before, and does  indeed require some pesos for subscribing, but they've been putting out a delightful & free monthly podcast (29 to date) where they chat about behind-the-scenes stuff and interview a guest on matters bookish. English.

Articles of Interest

Blogger Taste of France recommended this one in the Comments Department. This is a story of fashion(ability) in 12-episodes, where each episode unpicks a theme, eg: Pockets; Punk; or Plaid. The host is a Young Person, so a little bit gee-whizzy in her delving into the whys and wherefores, and covers a bit of territory which may already be familiar, but she unravels some fascinating tidbits and weaves a quirky history of each topic. American.

The India Hicks Podcast

India Hicks, daughter of Lady Pamela Mountbatten and granddaughter of the last Viceroy of India, chats with her nonagenarian mother about her life over 14-episodes. Thoroughly eccentric, gossipy and a sort of upper-crust Who's Who (doing what and with whom), with rambling insights into Our Queen's Commonwealth Tour in the 50s and the partition of India and Pakistan amongst other stuffs. English.

Handel's Operas

Do you like your opera Handel-flavoured**? The Göttingen International Handel Festival is screening their past ten annual operas through NDR Kultur, so there are visuals, too, which aren't particularly useful if you're looking to do something else at the same time and in no way add to one's comprehension of the German-subtitled Italian show tunes as they're truly whacky, but you can listen along. I'm presently working through them and am up to Imeneo, which I am indeed watching since it's staged with baroque gestures and choreography and is a candle-lit production and the costumes are amazing. Thanks to Sean in the Comments Department for pointing me in this direction. German.


This is an ABC Radio staple which has been going for years now and hence has about a gazillion episodes, so Richard Fidler has of necessity been joined by Sarah Kanowski in taking turns to interview an Interesting Person for an hour. When we painted our House by the Sea, Conversations formed part of the drum tattoo which kept our spirits from flagging as we slogged like slaves on the trireme Home Renovation. Some par examples: memorable interviews from the painting days are with Ken & Patricia Taylor, Ken being the Canadian Ambassador to Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis, and Yossi Ghinsberg's survival story of adventure in the Bolivian Amazonian jungle; and Mr. P, who listens more regularly, advises the recent two-part episodes with Tana Douglas, the world's first Lady Rock & Roll Roadie; and Will Oxley, the ocean racing navigator with incredible manly tales. Australian.

Futility Closet

Resident on the Flying With Hands sidebar is the Futility Closet and they are currently at episode #337 in their weekly podcast of stories historic, and a bonus lateral thinking puzzle to be thrown in as well. Another quirky gladbag of offerings. American.

There are more multitasking entertainments to be had in audiobooks, and I can't resist our back library of P. G. Wodehouse & Agatha Christie's which entertained us on our car journeys in times past (the latter restricted mostly to readings by either Hugh Fraser or David Suchet, because the reader makes all the difference), and I'm also third book into the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels by Patrick O'Brian (abridged versions are sufficing because a) they're read by Robert Hardy, a.k.a. Siegfried Farnon in the 1978 version of All Creatures Great and Small, and b) I don't know what in the heck is going on with the ship and sailing chatter but by golly they're exciting and I can't even tell how they've pruned the up to 18-hour unabridged readings to a much more comfy 3-4 hours) and am determined to get through the 21 books in my lifetime, for they are famously entertaining but said life is too short to sit and read them all!

* Although last year did provide for a solid listening and pruning of the CD collection, which did occupy some rather goodly amount of time.

** Mr. Wikipedia reminds us that Handel's operas were not universally acclaimed and languished unseen for some centuries after they often bombed at the box office. We Modern Things couldn't care less!

Image credits: 1: Bodleian Library; 2: Flying With Hands


  1. We watched a tv history of China tonight, written and presented by a European. This promoted a discussion of which history we can trust most - one written by a local (which will be biased in one direction) or one written by a foreigner (which will certainly be biased but for different reasons).

    I listened to Ken Taylor, the Canadian Ambassador to Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis. He gave coherent eye witness, so I trusted his perspective. But who knows? Did he have a vested interest in the story? Did his ministerial boss in Canada stress the party line?

  2. There are so many ways now to listen or watch ..... Netflix, Prime, Britbox, podcasts, Sky on your phone, Sky on your IPad, Sky on the tv, to name but a small proportion. I find it quite overwhelming and often wonder why we need all of these platforms as well as the old fashioned tv channels! I understand that it gives us more choice but, is it all too much ? You have shown us a lovely, diverse selection so I must go and delve into what’s available a bit more. XXXX

  3. Hels: A bigger picture need always be painted from multiple angles but in terms of armchair history, a good presenter is usually the catalyst for wanting to go off and put some more meat on the bones. So I'm all for the likes of Lucy Worsley putting a spin on say Russia. Then over to your own initiative to dig further. I guess the same approach needs to be done with a timeline of research, too, as contemporaneous accounts will inevitably be biased, and further perspectives are added when information is declassified or political allegiances change, and on and on!! ... Ken and Patricia Taylor were such an engaging and interesting couple to be interviewed and I remember it was on the heels of the movie "Argo", which everyone seemed to have seen at the time.

    Jackie: Yes, so much choice!! And there needs to be a real sorting of the wheat from the chaff and is it really worth the effort? I, for one, fall back on re-listening or watching my favourites most of the time. The Great CD-Prune, for inst., showed I'm still devoted to music from my 20s. Recommendations are key, I must say, but I do like nice long periods of quiet, too! xx

  4. Other than reading, I mostly listen to music. Just yesterday my Spotify page disappeared, and I can't retrieve it. What on earth will I do without it; listen to CD's again I suppose!

  5. Cro: Disastro! I do love my CD's and haven't made the great technology leap to the musical intangibles.

  6. Hello Pipistrello, I love the Exeter bat. If you haven't noticed, the favicon (the small logo at the top of the tab) for my blog is a bat, in my case taken from a 19th century engraving. You should think about creating a favicon for yourself. It is very easy to do these days. The main trick is to start with a square image without too much detail.

  7. I like Handel Opera
    The Live from the Met HD did a fantastic version of "Agrippina" it is worth the renting.

  8. Jim: You're sending me down a rabbit-hole! No, I hadn't noticed yours and, indeed, hadn't stopped to think why some sites have the icon and others not, so favicon has become my New Thing Learned Today, thank you! Off to do some plotting ...

    Ur-spo: R-r-renting?!! "Agrippina" is, indeed, next on the playlist for me after I've exhausted "Imeneo", so maybe I could prise open the pursestrings and do myself a Compare & Contrast? The lure of the Free Stuffs, however ...

  9. I've never really found the time to subscribe to podcasts but the one by Lady India Hicks has piqued my curiosity. Lord Mountbatten spent several years in Malta when he was Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean fleet.

  10. Loree: Yes, all these threads that connect us in the Commonwealth! The Mountbatten chats are very much in the vein of "tell us the story again about ...", so not very taxing and rather like eavesdropping on a family reminiscing.

  11. I sometimes feel rather sad that I am unable to multitask when listening carefully. I get so involved with what I am hearing that I gradually slow to a stop.

  12. Jenny: It's very true that multitasking sometimes works best in theory than practice :)


    I SO WANTED TO DO THE INDIA HICKS PODCASTS WITH HER MOTHER........I didnot hit the button!Let it slip!
    NEVER DONE A PODCAST BEFORE......I just cannot keep up with all this stuff!!

    I wanted to do the INDIA HICKS PODCAST with LA MAMMA!!

  15. Contessa: Dear, you may have misread, ToF recommended the Articles of Interest podcast, not presented it - I'm not sure she'd have time to put one together! The simplest way to listen to a podcast is to click on the red phrase 'The India Hicks Podcast' and it will take you to a website with the episodes listed in reverse order. Find an episode you wish to hear and click on the arrow icon and it'll come through your computer's speakers. I think some people use fancier ways to listen to podcasts on their phones, for inst., but these things I know nought about. Hope this helps! xx


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