Pod and chips

Here’s another roundup of podcasts I’ve caught recently. The Guardian’s weekly round up remains my only real source, although there is a certain amount of nose-following going on, so only two of these were recommended on there. I’ll say it again: discovery is as challenging with podcasts as it is with books and music. The algorithms, as we know, are shite, and trustworthy humans are in short supply. 

For what it’s worth, then:

  1. West Cork (Yarn FM)

This is one of those true crimers, and I am more or less sworn off these, but somehow it ended up in my feed, and it’s quite a good story, because you hear directly from many of the people involved, including the prime suspect. There’s one ding against this because it’s about a murdered woman (enough already) but it’s well produced and quite twisty. But there’s also a ding against it because the story has so clearly been padded out, that you feel a bit exploited. Still, you can set up your player to skip intros and outros, and you can also skip forward through the ads, just to punish them back.

2. Shedunnit (Indie)

Not a true crime podcast, but a very interesting and excellent idea for a show: about classic crime fiction from between the wars, often written by women, and sometimes inspired by true events. This show, presented by Caroline Crampton, considers the generation who were considered (in some constructions) to be ‘surplus women’ and how they were both responsible for and portrayed within classic works featuring favourite detectives like Miss Marple, Poirot, Lord Peter Wimsey etc. It’s a wide ranging show, considering also aspects of queerness, and is well researched and well produced.

3. Getting Emotional  (Acast)

Another good one, also presented by a woman (Bex Lindsay), which is a lively look at a range of emotions for which we lack vocabulary. We all know the old saw that there’s a word in German… but this show goes deeper and further. For example, the episode on limerence was really insightful and made me think of The Great Gatsby and a way that you might conceptualise the difference between the titular character and the object of his obsession. Each show is no longer than it needs to be, so even if your commute is only 15 minutes, like mine, you can fit one in quite easily.

4. Off the Page (Impact Magazine) (Soundcloud)

I don’t recommend this podcast, which can be cringeworthy as well as badly recorded, but there is a personal connection, because one of my kids appears in an episode, reading a short story. The podcast comes from the Creative Writing Society at the University of Nottingham. It’s an excellent short story, and luckily it’s right at the beginning, so you just have to cringe through the painful introductions and then switch off before you get to the next bit. The episode you want is the one from 31 January.

5. Winter of Discontent (Anchor)

Finally, where would we be without yet another Beatles podcast? This one is a proper deep dive, into the audio tapes from the January 1969 Get Back sessions. You’re either interested in this or not, right? I’ve never felt the slightest inclination to sit through hours and hours of studio chat and minor tension, but others have. I was never really that interested in Beatles bootlegs, because I tend to think they put all the good stuff on their records. They’re not Bob Dylan. There’s a written blog that goes through these ’69 sessions, but here’s an audio version. You don’t really hear much from the Beatles, and the presenter deliberately edits out all but a few notes of the music, but it is an interesting commentary on these seismic events, in the year that we’re hopefully going to get a less depressing film than Let it Be. What are the revelations? Nothing we didn’t already know if we’ve managed to climb off the Lennon-is-best train. On the first day (all episodes so far have only covered the first day), Lennon tries to teach Harrison a song, who picks it up quickly. Harrison tries to teach Lennon a song — and he gives up immediately, as he tended to do with George’s songs. McCartney arrives late, and immediately demonstrates that he’s much better than John and George at communicating musical ideas. But the feeling that none of this ought to be taking place in front of the cameras is also strong: what, really, is the point? One for the obsessives.

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