RADIO: Dogger? Fisher? The Louise Woodward trial?

Last weekend I had a surreal experience late at night with R4. I switched on as the mantra of the shipping forecast was being recited, but questioningly, sadly, like a roll-call of the dead: "Dogger? Fisher? German Bight?" and - how creepy - no further information about those romantic sea-areas was vouchsafed: they were listed and left, unweathered. Then, with no warning, came brisk advice about administering medicine to a pet: mix it with butter and put it on the animal's nose. Just as I was thinking suppose it's a goldfish, another voice described a winter trip on the outside of a coach, to spend Christmas at a family mansion. Then there was some Chopin.

Look, I don't know what it was all about, but it's true. I leapt from the bath and wrote it down to tell you - and wondered if I in the wrong job, or just not getting enough sleep. If you heard it too, you might inform me and save my sanity.

It can be confusing to switch on the radio, especially when you're late for the news. This was Wednesday morning: "... a stiletto heel, with the toe resting on a man's naked buttocks. BBC, Radio 4." And this was Tuesday lunch-time - in the carefully-modulated tones of the World Service, no less: "... and costume jewellery. And that is the end of the news." How could these sentences have begun? Do I need to know?

Nick Clarke surely knows what makes news. There he was, on The World at One (R4), talking to Stuart Higgins, editor of the Sun, a man ablaze with a fiery zeal to reveal the true story of Louise Woodward, whatever it costs him. Never mind whether it's really news, or that she is a convicted criminal: it is in the public interest. Clarke challenged him: "Call me naive if you like," he said (as if anyone would) "but surely the public interest doesn't just mean what the public are interested in?"

He was right. But it was that kind of a week when the public was clearly so interested in the Woodward case that Lorraine Kelly on Talk Radio linked up to WRKO Boston Talk Radio allowing every pocket philosopher in the western world to express immoderate views as she struggled to umpire; it was the week when a whole hour of R5 was devoted to awaiting and contemplating the words of Judge Zobel. A hapless reporter, desperately filling in time, told us in awestruck tones that camera crews had reached The Rigger from, can you believe it, the Yorkshire Post. What, across the Pennines? It must be important. Later, with 20 minutes still unfilled, he was heard to ask, "So, where were you when you heard the news?" "Erm", replied a harmless, nameless drunk "Erm, well, I was in the pub." Undaunted, he pressed on, "And which bit of the pub?"

Under the tolerant control of Michael Buerk, The Moral Maze (R4) had a go at picking its way through the Woodwards and Eappens. For once, David Starkey could find no extreme stance to adopt, so a really interesting discussion ensued: even Fr. Oliver McTernan was allowed his say, developing his earlier Thought for the Day about human solidarity. The argument was, of course, inconclusive, but it avoided re-hearing the trial and it raised many of the issues that have made the case, frankly, so gripping.

Issues like whether the tabloids stir up public concern or vice versa. Matthew Parris tackled this subject in The Politician, the Actress and the Bishop (R5). He interviewed Julia Stent, the mother of Tim Yeo's child, who told a shocking story. She had refused to name Yeo, but the hacks were onto her. One morning someone phoned her mother, who was baby-sitting, telling her that Julia had suffered serious head-injuries in a car-crash. Could she give him the child's father's name and address? This horrible lie eventually led to Yeo's exposure and resignation, for all the good that did anyone: he was re-elected in May.

The power of the tabloids to topple politicians - eight of John Major's ministers, or their aides, departed within three months of the announcement of the ill-fated Back to Basics campaign - was examined by Jeremy Hardy in Power and How to Get It (R4). Endearingly, he admitted he was a useless interviewer: "I couldn't get anyone to admit to anything ... I'm bad at confrontation and completely unable to say oh come off it." He then demonstrated this by allowing John Nott to say outrageously, that the Falklands War did a lot of good and adding ruefully, "as I said, I'm not a very good interviewer".

But he had fun with the power-crazed image consultant Mary Spillane, who needed no prompting to boast that she had helped engineer a few marital break-ups, by giving politicians the confidence to get rid of "dull appendages". Hardy was back on form, Dull appendages? She couldn't mean Ffion Jenkins, cited by her fiance as evidence of his exotic multiculturalism. And he's right, said Hardy. After all, Ffion's Welsh and, as far as he could see, she has black roots.

The most terrible power is wielded by those who send young men to die in battle. This week sounded a sombre echo of the Gulf War as the crisis in Baghdad rumbled on (taking second place to Woodward in most news bulletins, of course) but an earlier war was evoked by Ruth Prince's superb Remembrance Day programme Flanders Fields (R2).

Tony Robinson narrated the story of Passchendaele which ended in the mud 80 years ago this month. An old soldier recalled that lethal mud. If you fell off a duck-board, exhausted or wounded, you drowned and your body rotted fast, so the mud had a sickly-sweet smell and a viscous quality not like porridge, he said, but like a monster: it sucked at you. When Haig's chief of staff visited this boggy swamp for the first time, after the battle was over, he wept. "Good God," he said "did we really send men to fight in this?"

During a visit to the Toc H house ("Abandon rank all ye who enter here"), Robinson met an old lady who could not forget the death of a young man, gassed before her five-year-old eyes: cue Paul McGann quietly reading Owen, "in all my dreams, before my helpless sight, he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning ..."

To him, and to many more, a War Memorial was erected at Aldershot in 1950. It has recently been vandalised but its indomitable creator is restoring it. Josefina de Vasconcellos, now 93, was on Woman's Hour (R4), talking as she chiselled and filed the stone from which the face of Christ calming the storm is emerging. It will be a gentler Christ now, she said, bringing peace to the world. Amen to that.

Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Commonwealth GamesEntertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
The actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
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

    BI Manager - £50,000

    £49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

    BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

    £48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

    VB.Net Developer

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

    SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game