Living Books, Radio 4
Behind the Brel: The Story of a Musical Genius, Radio 2
Sunday 21 March 2010
Here's what the Human Library website says about journalists: "In human circles also known as the parasite. The leech that sucks your blood and spills your guts in a global forum." Thanks for that.
In Living Books, Sandi Toksvig experienced the Human Library for herself. The project, which began a few years ago in Denmark and now operates all over the world, involves people with very particular profiles – transsexuals, bank robbers, neo-Nazis, phone sex workers, atheists – being available "on loan" to "borrowers". The idea is that people confront their prejudices (hence the line about journalists, that being, bizarrely, how most people see us).
It can be very effective. A Christian fundamentalist admitted she'd believed atheists are simply "too lazy to do the work to develop a faith". After half an hour talking to one, she said, "I was asking myself why I wasn't an atheist." It doesn't always go as well. In another religious encounter, Toksvig got slightly tetchy with a devout Catholic in a polite ding-dong about abortion and papal infallibility. "It left me thinking I need to be much more prepared to stand up for my beliefs," she said. Still, she concluded, she'd always thought the answers to everything were to be found in books. "I just didn't know that some of the books might be breathing."
Having recorded an album of Jacques Brel songs, Marc Almond was the perfect host for Behind the Brel: The Story of a Musical Genius. There were a few too many hot-air encomiums to the great chansonnier, but Nick Currie, aka the wonderful Momus, pinned down Brel's performing genius. "Facing the audience for him was like a torero facing a bull," he said. "He had to go up there and subdue them."
Interestingly, that approach doesn't always work best for those who cover Brel. Almond played Shirley Bassey doing "If You Go Away" with her usual bombast. Then came Dusty Springfield's version, breathy, almost whispering. The radio moment of the week, it tore your heart out.
Sadder still was the death of Charlie Gillett, music broadcaster supreme. Radio is the poorer without him.
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Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 4 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 5 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
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Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs
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'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police