Archive for the ‘BBC World Service’ Category
One of the highlights of my professional life is the work I do for Radio 4′s From Our Own Correspondent. I don’t get to contribute as often as I’d like, mainly because the BBC does not pay my travel expenses. Nevertheless, the programme offers an unrivalled opportunity for uncovering those fascinating stories that are normally drowned out by the big headlines. This, to me, is journalistic heaven.
Contributing to FOOC – as it is known – had long been an ambition of mine. I remember the moment when I was finally commissioned for my first story, in 2010. I was on my mobile in downtown Jerusalem, describing the story to the producer. He gave me the green light, and I almost jumped for joy. Then, with a great deal of apology, he told me how much I’d be paid. Continue reading on the Telegraph website
This edition of From Our Own Correspondent is entirely devoted to a special essay by Jake Wallis Simons on the private and gentlemen’s clubs of London. They are an elitist and very exclusive world, still places for the social elite to huddle together, where – over a fine malt whiskey – you might bend the ear of government.
Jake Wallis Simons recently visited several of the capital’s finest clubs, and learned a good deal about pleasure and privilege.
But is modern Britain really still as riddled with class distinction as its reputation and history might suggest? And what role are do clubs play in the endless ebb and flow of power and influence? Listen the the audio (8 mins 37 secs)
Listen to the audio (5 mins 5 secs)
“A single error can have far-reaching consequences, both in political life and on the football pitch. In Sweden, the prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, of the centre-right Moderate party, recently got himself into the sort of hot water that will be only too familiar to many politicians in Britain. In a classic gaff, he carelessly used the term “ethnic Swedes”; this provoked widespread accusations of racial intolerance. Meanwhile, in Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, Mayor Ilmar Reepalu is having problems of his own after making comments that were perceived to be anti-Semitic. This, commentators have suggested, has exacerbated racial unrest in the town.
Sweden has a population of approximately 9.4 million – in demographic terms, roughly the size of Greater London – and the influence of this smallness of scale can be seen everywhere. It is relatively easy, for instance, to get signed up by Sweden’s professional football teams, at least in the lower leagues (though you won’t get paid very much).
The political processes, too, are often less formal than in Britain. The prime minister, for example, can appoint whomever he likes into cabinet positions, whether they are members of parliament or not. Nevertheless, the media controversies of recent weeks have demonstrated that Swedish public figures are often scrutinised just as much as their British counterparts.
It was against this strife-ridden backdrop that a football match took place in Stockholm between the England Writers’ Football Team and the Swedish Writers’ Football Team. It is a little known fact that writers group themselves into national teams and play football against each other. Many end up injured, as writers are generally not used to strenuous physical activity. Invariably, there are comic moments. And notwithstanding occasional moments of acrimony, Writers’ Football games are, on the whole, perfect examples of diplomatic harmony and cultural exchange . . .”
Listen to the audio (5 mins 13 secs)
“Church bells have been ringing in England for more than thirteen hundred years. The English ringing technique – in which a bell is swung through a full 180 degrees to allow it to sound mouth-up, projecting its voice upwards out of the tower – is quite unique; it can only be found in the British Isles, a few former colonies, and the area around Verona in Italy.
Traditionally, English bells are rung to summon the faithful to worship, to celebrate weddings and festivals, and to mark national thanksgivings. At funerals, and at times of disaster, the bells are sometimes muffled; during wartime, it’s agreed that church bells will not be rung except as a warning of invasion.
One cold January Saturday, I came across the oldest bell of this kind in the world, which dates back to the year 1260. It is a handsome treble bell, cast in solid bronze, its face mottled with the distinctive grey-green patina that has protected it from centuries of atmospheric corrosion.
Surprisingly enough, this bell is not kept in the British Museum, or in any museum for that matter. Instead, it still hangs in the belltower of the tiny Hampshire church for which it was originally intended more than seven hundred and fifty years ago . . .”