Archive for the ‘Radio’ Category
The reputation of the private investigation industry has taken another turn for the worse this week. News that the detective firm Southern Investigations had placed the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens under surveillance has been greeted, quite rightly, with indignation. The notion that the most powerful police chief in the land can be spied upon by private eyes – and remain completely unaware that this was happening – throws into stark relief the sheer audacity of private detectives in Britain.
Last July I presented a Radio 4 documentary called Crouching Low, Hidden Camera, about the shadowy world of private investigators. Over a period of some months I intensively researched the industry, speaking to detectives both on and off the record, and even joining a team from an agency called Answers Investigation on a surveillance operation. What I discovered was rather shocking. In Britain, there is no regulatory system for private detectives. Yes, you read that right. Private eyes are free to do as they please. 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)
It’s not often that Radio 4 clears its entire drama schedule for a week and replaces it with a single nine-hour radio play. Yet on the week of the 18th September that is precisely what will happen. The play—Life And Fate, with Kenneth Branagh in the starring role—is an adaptation of the postwar novel by little-known Russian writer Vasily Grossman.
Although Life and Fate centres around the moribund physicist Viktor Shtrum and the epic battle of Stalingrad, the novel weaves hundreds of interrelated stories and characters together to show a vivid cross-section of life under Stalin. Grossman was a high-profile frontline reporter during the war, and his fiction displays the same perceptiveness and honesty for which his journalism was renowned. Stories and characters arise and subside like waves in the broad river of humanity, winding through the horrors of the Eastern Front; the result is a novel that manages to be at once sweepingly panoramic and minutely detailed.
Life and Fate, by all accounts, is a work of colossal genius. Martin Amis called Grossman “the Tolstoy of the USSR,” and the historian Antony Beevor—speaking on a special Grossman edition of Start The Week on Radio 4 today—described the book as “one of the greatest Russian novels of the twentieth century.” Mark Damazer, the former controller of Radio 4 who commissioned the drama adaptation, was more laudatory still, calling Life and Fate “the best and most important novel of modern times.”
Grossman completed Life and Fate in 1960, but because of the novel’s dissidence—it dared to compare Nazism and Stalinism, for example—the manuscript was confiscated by the KGB, who famously seized the typewriter and carbon paper that Grossman used to write it. A decade and a half later, a small group of radicals managed to smuggle a microfilm version of the book under the Iron Curtain; an English edition was finally published in 1985. Frustratingly enough, by that point all eyes were on Solzhenitsyn and Pasternak and Life and Fate was eclipsed.
This new radio adaptation should bring the work to light again, though for the best parts of Life and Fate, you have to read the book. Continue reading on the Prospect Magazine website
Listen to the audio (6 mins 3 secs)
“Britain is often described as a nation of animal-lovers, usually cats and dogs. Australians, however, can have wilder tastes. Jake Wallis Simons met one who feels much more at home in the jungle than he does in the big city.” NOTE: this recording includes JWS impersonating a post-coital baboon. The full story
Listen to the audio (16 secs)
On Saturday 23rd July, at 11:30am, Jake will be appearing on Radio 4′s From Our Own Correspondent. The story he will be telling is an unusual one, involving parrot worrying, puma taming, and . . . the call of a post-coital baboon. In this short clip, released by Radio 4 on Twitter as a teaser, Jake can be heard making like a baboon and generally being a bit of a pillock. At only 16 seconds in length, that’s got to be worth a listen.
Hear more (you mean you haven’t heard enough?)
Listen to the audio (2 min 54 secs)
In this short clip I am interviewing Peter Allison, the animal tracker, adventurer, explorer, daredevil and writer, about how to understand the language of the animals. You will be able to hear more of this story very soon on BBC Radio 4 (though this was just recorded on my iPhone). Let me say this: Peter Allison is extraordinary. On the left is a picture of him tickling the tummy of a traumatised puma (click to enlarge). Stay tuned. –JWS
Listen to the audio (5 mins 55 secs)
“The island of Malta does not exactly have a central bus station. Instead, it has the Funtana tat-Tritoni, an open-air fountain in the middle of the capital city Valletta, which is home to a frenzy of bus-related activity. From early morning until late at night, fume-belching buses sweep around the fountain, picking up passengers, negotiating log-jams and stopping for the odd half-hour rest.
As well as the crowds of Maltese commuters that could be seen thrusting their way around the vehicles (office workers, school children, elderly nuns), I also noticed a good number of nerdy-looking tourists who were photographing the buses, recording mysterious details in little notebooks and generally getting in the way . . .” Read the transcript
Listen to the audio (5 min 17 secs)
“People came in ones and twos until the place was packed. Somebody closed the door to stifle the breeze. Then Father Angelo Seychell — a short, rotund priest in a spotless white robe — glided in, positioned himself beneath the crucifix, and began Mass. The congregation followed the proceedings automatically. But when it came to the sermon, there was an unexpected change . . .” Read the transcript
On April 7, Jake Wallis Simons will be speaking at the Royal Society of Arts as part of Radio 4′s exciting new series FOUR THOUGHT. He will be talking, unscripted, for 15 minutes on the subject of “what you didn’t know about Tibetan Buddhism”. Other speakers include Jonathan Sumption QC, the Independent columnist Christina Patterson, and the political scientist Professor Phil Cowley.
There will be a live studio audience. Find out more
Listen to the audio (5 min 54 sec)
Just ten minutes’ walk from bustling downtown Jerusalem is the district of Meah She’arim, home to the most inaccessible ultra Orthodox Jewish community in the world. It is a labyrinth of narrow, winding alleyways, and the apartment blocks are rickety, cramped and overcrowded. This is a poor community where life is dominated by religious conservatism and a dislike for outsiders. Enter this neighbourhood improperly dressed, and you risk being pelted with rubbish or stones, or even attacked with mace gas.
In the heart of this labyrinth is a prominent building with a large black flag hanging horizontally from the roof, symbolising a state of perpetual mourning. On the walls are signs in Hebrew, English and occasionally Arabic: “Zionists are not Jews, only racists,” says one. “Arabs yes, Zionists no,” says another. “Zionism is the holocaust of the Jewish nation,” says a third, and finally: “we mourn the 62-year existence of the state of Israel.”
This is the headquarters of the Neturei Karta, or “Guardians of the City,” one of Israel’s most controversial radical sects. Their male followers look no different from other Ultra Orthodox Jews, wearing black coats and hats, and bushy beards and ringlets. They live in Jerusalem and have been there since before Israel was established, but they have always maintained that the State has no right to exist.
Inside the building, amidst the sound of chanting from a distant room, and surrounded by bookshelves that strain under the weight of leather-bound scriptures, sits Rabbi Meir Hirsh, the leader of this organisation. A diminutive man in his late forties, he conducts himself with an air of considerable gravity. “God exiled us from our land two thousand years ago because of our sins,” he tells me in a surprisingly sonorous voice, “and He forbade us to return until the Messiah comes. The Zionists have rebelled against God’s will, captured Israel and turned it into a secular state, destroying the very root of Judaism. For as long as the State of Israel exists, “ he continues, “I will be telling the world that true Jews hate Zionism and everything it stands for. This is my life’s mission, like my father before me.” Read the rest of this entry »