Radio: Where 'love' is a dirty word

Today's Agenda: supermarket, dentist, sex ... Sorry? Ah. You guessed. Yes, I'm pretending to be a real Nineties woman. According to Sex Lives (R5), we should copulate efficiently, variously and frequently - fitting sex into our rigorous schedule along with money-management and childcare.

Did you notice that word "child", in the last paragraph? Well, that was the only time it appeared in this programme. Who would imagine that childbirth might occasionally have resulted from sex? What an old-fashioned notion. Almost as obsolete as love. That word appeared only once, too, in the offensively inappropriate title of Loving Lists, a newsletter offering discrete adultery to nice middle-class couples.

And if discretion doesn't bother you and, hell, why should it, then off you go and swing. Strap on your 15-inch papier-mache penis and see what you can do with it at the club (possibly better not get there by bus). Oh Jenny Eclair, what's a funny girl like you doing mixing with such sad weirdos? Why say things like "fidelity is the sexual equivalent of anorexia"? It's not clever, or true, or useful. How tragic if anyone actually believed such hogwash.

Let comics be comic and historians tell the truth. In similar vein, Owen Dudley Edwards presented The Seven Deadly Virtues - Chastity (R4), mingling fact and fiction in specious and tortuous argu-ment, presented with ponderous humour. Arch and mannered readers mangled the words of HL Mencken, Andrew Marvell and even Agatha Christie in support of a wobbly theory that chastity had caused the deaths of Ophelia, Virginia Woolf and 600 virgins in 17th-century Transylva- nia. Mencken said that sin is a dangerous toy in the hands of the virtuous: the opposite is also true.

Another academic explained How the Magic Works (R3) on Monday. Professor Mark Geller wondered what Freud would have made of the incantations written on cuneiform tablets more than three millennia BC. This was surprisingly fascinating. The old Mesopotamians had just the same hang-ups as we have, but they blamed them on demons who snaked under doors, interrupting family life and casting a cloud of depression over their victims. What an excellent idea: after all, it's much easier to blame - and curse - a malevolent spirit than to admit you might be barmy.

A professional magician was the subject of Bob Sinfield's play about the life of Houdini (R2). The great escapologist was married to a woman, played by the brilliant Lorelei King, who couldn't bear the risks he took. As he tore his way out of a straitjacket, she shrieked "Oh Houdini, not wiz ze teece! I cawn't bear ze sought off a dentured spouce!". The story of his determined efforts to discredit the charlatan spiritualists who tried to summon up the ghost of his adored mother was well, if melodramatically, told, in the person of Arthur Conan Doyle, played by a touchingly naif Graham Crowden.

Houdini's occasional partner was the father of Buster Keaton, who died 30 years ago. Bob Monkhouse, sounding almost modest in such company, made a good fist of linking Keaton with WC Fields in Bob, Buster and WC. (R2). Both had miserable childhoods, a serious fondness for drink and an incapacity for marital fidelity (how very Nineties of them): both were wonderfully funny. Dick Vosburgh told a nice story of WC pausing in a hotel corridor to look through a keyhole, then turning to camera and marvelling "What'll they think of next?" Hopeless for the censor to complain: to the pure, all things are pure.

Finally, there is a superb new classic serial. Elaine Feinstein's adaptation of Women in Love (R4) was graced by witty, dangerous music by Anthea Gomez and a performance of furious intensity from Nicholas Farrell as Rupert Birkin. For the first time, it seemed completely understandable that the wretched, idealistic Hermione should bash Birkin over the head with her lapis lazuli paperweight. In such a fetid atmosphere of lust and duplicity, something savage had to be done. For, as Lawrence put it, to the Puritan, all things are impure.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the Jurassic World trailer
film

Video: The official full-length trailer for the Jurassic Park sequel has dropped – two days early

Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environment
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
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

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Central London, Bank

    £26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A truly exciting opportunity has ari...

    Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C++, Ruby/ Perl) - £40k

    £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Systems Developer (C/C+...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Systems Manager

    £22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Systems Manager ...

    Recruitment Genius: Rockstar Sales Executive - OTE £65,000

    £25000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, VC-funded star...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital