RADIO : They're awful, but we really like them

DO YOU remember being about 13? Your own mother was embarrassing enough, but not as bad as your friend's girlish parent, the one who pretended to like your kind of music. Bearing this sobering thought in mind, I asked my daughter about Mark and Lard, presenters of The Mark Radcliffe Breakfast Show (R1). "What?" she asked, from the depths of her school-bag. "Oh, yes. They're awful. I really like them." Well, that's well wicked: so do I.

Lest we forget, their predecessor Chris Evans was losing it before he left. Not only was he becoming increasingly, tediously offensive but his audience was deserting him. He would try to make a fool of anyone whose fame didn't prompt him to fawn: Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley simply make fools of themselves. They are consciously - conscientiously - northern and down-beat, virtually jingle-free and often very funny in a Morecambe and Wise-cracking way. The games they play with listeners are gentle and silly; the prizes they offer do not glitter - mugs, a foot-spa and, if they ever find it, a stolen van. Also, I am informed by an expert (and venture to agree), they play better music than did Evans. An appreciative fax came in during the first show: "You're crap, but 10 times better than the ginger thingy." Yes, in our house we think that's about right.

At the other end of the spectrum, Sounding the Century (R3) kicked off with a live Stravinsky concert (see Michael White, page 12). Stravinsky was a clever choice, tougher than Puccini, easier than Birtwistle. The "difficulty" of contemporary music was discussed by the evening's conductor, Pierre Boulez, talking to that nice Michael Berkeley during the interval. He was fascinating. He said it was like architecture: at the beginning of the century stone, wood and bricks made wonderful buildings, but now we can work with glass, steel and concrete and produce different shapes. As a young man, he had found Stravinsky's innovative arpeggios shocking and attractive, but he felt betrayed when the older composer reverted to more traditional forms. His own music is as far from the classical as a Venus fly-trap from a daisy ...

Also from America comes Patricia Williams, this year's Reith lecturer - incidentally, since Marina Warner and Jean Aitchison gave their lectures, we are no longer constantly asked to marvel that a woman is capable of it: hooray. Strident tabloid criticism greeted Williams's appointment, but the woman who spoke to Sue MacGregor during The Reith Interview (R4) was no ranting black feminist; rather, a sophisticated lawyer with a beautiful voice, a steady, measured delivery and important things to say about race.

Williams grew up in Boston, where she and her sister were the only two blacks at their school. She is the great-granddaughter of a slave who was bought and impregnated at 13 by a rich Tennessee lawyer, anxious to increase his breeding-stock: thus, of course, she is also descended from him. Her attitude towards race is suitably balanced. She knows that most blacks still perceive it to be an issue, that most whites believe it to have been cleared up by the Civil Rights movement. It is that gap in perception that she hopes to address in the lectures, so that we can talk freely about race without falling into paroxysms of guilt, anxiety or misunderstanding. The bizarre phenomenon of the OJ Simpson trials led her to coin a fine expression for those who sat through it all on television: she called them the "armchair jurisprudes".

Perhaps their forebears dreamt up the idea of banning alcohol in 1920, which led to 14 years of bootleg liquor and moonshine whisky, The Prohibition Years (R2). Genial George Melly, who seems to have taken up residence at R2 (better Melly than Mellors), introduced this pickled promenade through the jazz age in a voice that must surely have been generously lubricated over many liberal years. Mellifluous.

And Russell Davies has been across the water in pursuit of a plain-spoken, rough-talking singer, A Hustlin' Woman (R3) called Memphis Minnie. She seems to have begun as a riverboat washerwoman on the Mississippi, dabbling in a little light hustling "according to her needs". By the Thirties she was making tremendous blues records, playing her guitar like a man, they said. Or I think they did. This was a programme rich in atmosphere, vague in detail, hilarious in conversation. Even Davies, on the spot, had trouble identifying words in the low, slow, chuckling drawl of the old southerners who remembered Minnie, particularly in the case of Dan Curry, a sprightly, ancient, toothless hog-farmer.

Davies made the most of his trip and came back full of southern comforts and a thoroughly enjoyable series called You Is What You Eats (R3). He got the original recipe for Kentucky fried chicken, rich in cream, mushrooms and bourbon; he learnt all about the use of cornmeal for hominy grits and he was informed at length about the virtues of the pig. They eat every part of a pig in the south, they say, except the oinks, but you'd probably rather starve than try some things. Pig brains scrambled with eggs? An intimidating variety of brawn called hoghead cheese? Worst of all, chitterlings? As they described the preparation process, a miasma emanating from the bucket of "filth" they remove from these things - if you're lucky - before cooking seemed to seep from my radio. Yuck, shudder shudder. Not soul food: troll food.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Java Developer - 1 year contract

    £350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

    Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

    £17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

    £450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

    Project Manager - Pensions

    £32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone