Saturday, April 24, 2010

Radio Waves

I always have mixed feelings about radio programmes, and I certainly never thought I would be writing a post about Laurence Llewlyn-Bowen, but on Sunday afternoon his 'Escape to the Country' slot on Radio 4 is about Feargus O'Connor and the Chartist Land Plan:

"Our tendency to idealise the countryside hasn't always reflected the reality of rural life. But it provides a fascinating glimpse of our dreams and fears as a society.

Out of the insurrection and radicalism of the 1840s came the idea of the countryside as a place of freedom and independence from the squalor and sweat of industrial servitude. In 1842 Feargus O'Connor, the charismatic leader of the Chartists, drew up the Land Plan, which showed how ordinary people across Britain, could plough their own furrow.For O'Connor a plot of rural land had the capacity to deliver financial independence and social dignity to the poor."

Although I am pleased to see Chartist land scheme given coverage - the intention of the Chartists was not to make the poor financially "independent and dignified" but an attempt to transform the relations of production at a time when the relentless enclosure of common land had impoverished vast numbers of people, who were being forced into wage slavery by the privitisation of land, state terror, and the transformation of the economy by industrial capitalism. It will be interesting to see the context in which the programme sets the land scheme.

Also worth catching is the Radio 3 'Words and Music' programme on Sunday(10.15 pm), which brings together a series of short readings under the heading The Rebel:

"From the Paris Commune to the American teenage rebellion of the 1950s, from home life to public life, David Bamber and Gillian Bevan explore the defiance of personal rebellion and collective uprising."

There is enough potential in this subject for a whole series of programmes, but I will be listening in particular to hear the reading of Louise Michel's poem 'L'oeillet rouge'.

The real treat of the week for me, however, is the repeat of Richard Mabey's series of five essays on the theme of "The Scientist and the Romantic" at 11.00 pm Monday to Friday on Radio 3 - flawless prose, in which Richard explores his lifelong relationship with science and nature.