Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The joy of ... Radio 4

For various reasons I've spent more than usual time on my own in the car recently and I've been tuning in to Radio 4. Each time I do I think I must listen to the radio more often as it's always interesting. Subjects that I wouldn't consider watching on television are made more fascinating.

Two items particularly intrigued me.

One was about the way ours has become more and more of a self service society. From DIY online banking to supermarket shopping we do far more for ourselves these days than we ever did in the past. Years ago if you wanted to pay a bill you went to a bank and asked the cashier; if you wanted butter and tea you went to the corner shop and an assistant would serve you. (Not so much choice but probably simpler for that.)

Someone (no doubt funded by a worthy institution) had worked out that on average the work we now do that would have been done for us in the past is worth £3,600 per person. On a national scale that translates to £5.4 billion. (Husband wishes to point out that there are all sorts of flaws in this argument but I think it's interesting nevertheless.) The moral of this story being: never undervalue yourself; you are worth £3,600 at least!

The other topic was a short report that was part of the Battle of Britain commemorations about women who flew planes during the war. Not into action but from factory to base and so on. There was an interview with a 92-year-old who reminisced about her experiences and the difference between flying a spitfire and a hurricane. 'It was so light. You only had to touch the controls and it would go where you wanted it.'

She remembered them as good days but did get in a quick dig at the way women, after the war, were expected to return meekly to the kitchen sink.

As well as these snippets there was a really good play on one afternoon when I was baking. It told the story of the radicalisation of a young Scottish Muslim girl. When I've listened to news reports about young women fleeing to Syria with their children so they can fight for ISIS I've been aghast and slightly unbelieving: how on earth could that be possible? What could have happened to make women living in the freedom that this country gives be willing to relinquish it for a cause that would probably mean death for their children? The play explained it very well, made it seem plausible, reasonable even. (Unfortunately I don't remember the name or any more details and I can't find it on iplayer.)


nick said...

The strange thing is that although we do more and more for ourselves, the services we're accessing keep going up in price. Someone somewhere must be coining it.

I'd be interested to know what are the flaws in the £3,600 per head statistic. It sounds convincing enough to me. The cost of manually processing something the customer could be processing online must be considerable.

Jay, Sparking Synapse said...

I think things were simpler when you went to the grocer and asked for what you wanted. We weren't tempted into buying all kinds of things that aren't good for us, either! Ours didn't stock much in the processed food line until Christmas, when you could buy all kinds of good things from him: crystallised fruits, chocolates, puddings and cakes ... and if our parents bought us a rare bottle of 'pop', it was expected to last the week! Do you remember Corona? The lime one was my favourite.

Radicalisation is scary, but - without having heard your play - I imagine it's similar to the dark magic that Hitler wove on the population. He was, apparently, so charismatic that people wanted to believe what he was saying and didn't question it. We really need to keep our wits about us, and for goodness' sake, bring our children up to question, question, and question what they hear, then make their own decisions. Only then will we have a population strong enough to resist such blandishments.