Sunday, 30 March 2008

Libraries and heat

1. In the Parker the other day I was searching for a nice example of s. x/xi English Caroline from Canterbury. (Here it is:

The text is about whether women can take communion while menstruating, and it decides yes.) Because one of the two camera rigs in the main digitisation room wasn't working and couldn't be repaired for a bit, the digi team were taking it in turns to come up for a palaeography lesson so that they could read and understand more of the things that come before them. It was very pleasant, as the Parker always is. Here is Suzanne gently taking them through some Half-uncial -- the Lindisfarne Gospels I think:

And here is Neil urgently expounding some difficult but interesting fifteenth-century English legal text about some people who went into a church with an ungoodly countenance, and then went on from there to do bad things:

Majiec is pulling a face at it.

2. Working on the tills at M&S and being a research fellow at a Cambridge college have more in common than you'd think. In both cases the major drawback of the job is dealing with stressed and angry people, and the major benefit the occasional acts of random kindness that revive one's hope for humanity. But the biggest similarity is the opportunity to acquire an insulating layer of personal fat. At M&S the nightly sale of "waste", food that couldn't remain on the shelves the next day, offered all sorts of goodies for irresistibly low prices, with the knowledge that what wasn't bought would go straight in the bin. And in college the availability of a full roast lunch every day makes it hard not to indulge, especially when you've had a hard morning and feel like you deserve it. Surrounded as I am here by gelaterie it's unlikely that I'm going to claw back any of the slimness I lost in these two jobs (not to mention comfort eating during my PhD years when no other comfort was available), and consequently I am utterly dreading summer. Apparently it can get up to 40 degrees in June. I don't like heat, I like cold. Already I am happily walking around in bare arms while the Italians are still swathing themselves in those quilted Michelin-man coats, and Federica has been laughing at me for having bought a big fan in preparation.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

My recent life

1. When I was first thinking of coming to Bologna I thought I could happily live anywhere where it's possible to pop into old churches, and this is true. But I do miss England; maybe it's looking at all these charters, but my trip to the south-west over Easter instilled in me an intense yearning to get my hands on a modest estate of a few hides, with a withy stream, and some coppices, and perhaps a bit of dairy mead for a goat. It's so beautiful down there. This feeling that it's land that counts is very tenth-century of me. In the eleventh century, usually my preferred century, wealth was more about displayed objects: lavish ships, like the one Godwin gave to Edward, which gleamed on the water with purple sails; gospel-books in gold bindings, jewelled and figured; precious sword hilts and richly-caparisoned horses. But my charters are all tenth century and I seem to be imbibing their ethos. I wouldn't say no to a richly-caparisoned horse though, a sensible elderly one with a hairy chin.

2. Returning to Cambridge was very disturbing, much more so than would make logical sense. It's not like I'd been gone that long, but it was very very odd to be back. I caught up with quite a few people, especially the digitisation project staff. Various people offered to do photocopying for me and post it in future, which was really very nice of them. But rash, too. Most of the stuff I'm using at present is in things like the Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club, and the Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine. Or the Report of the Marlborough College Natural History Society 87 (1939), which the UL doesn't have.

3. Hurray for Shameless! I loved Paddy Maguire's gay brother Noel. Hurray also for Girls Aloud! The Tangled Up album is good.

4. Figaro seems to be larger than when I left, and has acquired a habit of leaping into the kitchen sink -- an impressive feat from ground level.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Go SuperTed!

I came to Devon by train. Not a long way outside Reading, certainly before Westbury, I saw a red kite. When I was a kid I had a small book and tape in which SuperTed fought villains who were raiding the nests of the highly endangered red kite in the depths of Wales. And now you see them from the train less than an hour from London. Well done SuperTed!

At the end of my train journey I was emotionally re-united with 4OD. I've been enjoying Shameless, and Skins is good stuff. I remember liking about the first series that although the kids are rubbish, the adults are at least as rubbish and basically just winging it. This seemed quite humane to me; I always feel like I'm winging it, and I'm definitely on the adult side of the line these days, though luckily I don't have any teenagers to let down. They also have a very good adult cast. The addition of Bill Bailey dancing with a red border collie has only made it even better.

On the downside I have decided that Book Forum is rubbish, in an earnest American way, talking about metafiction. And my mother has wrong-footed me by moving on from eccentric shopping practices like only buying things which alliterate to the more sensible and correspondingly more rigid rule that nothing may contain hydrogenated vegetable fats or be over-packaged. We went to Morrisons and it was very trying, because everything there contains hydrogenated vegetable fats or comes in an extra unnecessary plastic box.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

The personal and the political

1. My aunt, the excellent sensible one, is a doctor in a family planning clinic in Oxford. She loves the work, because she likes helping people in a practical way, but with seniority has come increasing administrative duties which have made her life difficult. Family planning is always under threat in budget terms -- family planning and mental health are the two areas where there have been big cutbacks recently. This is utterly ridiculous. My aunt says something like two out of every five pregnancies in this country is aborted, and given that some people will just go with it and have the baby anyway something in the region of half of British pregnancies must be unwanted. And this seems terrible to me. Anyway, amid the constant round of threats of closure, reductions in salary, sudden moves to new premises confusing the people of Oxford, my aunt and other managers received a directive that they must all have a blackberry. So each of them was given a blackberry and made to go on a course to learn how to use it. When all my aunt wants is to be allowed to do an extra shift of actual clinical work, and be paid properly and given administrative support to do it.

2. My uncle, the difficult sexist racist one, has recently returned from a tour of duty in Basra. He's a Lieuftenant Colonel in the Territorial Army, because he's a surgeon. Now he's not an easy man to deal with, and he was really very unkind to me when I was a child, but I have to give him credit for doing what he sees as his duty, viz. going out and patching people up in foreign wars. I suspect that he is pro-war, though I haven't asked, but whatever your position on the war you can't deny that it's better for there to be surgeons there than not, and he gives up his NHS work, for which they replace his salary, and his private work, which is the major part of his income anyway and for which he gets no recompense, to go out and try to make better some truly terrible injuries. This is his third time out there, and now he's 65 I hope they might let him off going again. My mum met someone who had been out there with him the other day, and she said he had a reputation as the person who didn't turn away from the terrible things but always tried even on the cases which many people found hard to face. On previous occasions most of his work has been with civilians, which has had its own stresses, but this time he was actually on the front line, with constant if intermittent shelling, and no small number of near misses. He said one man there was killed by a single piece of shrapnel no larger than a five pence piece, which went straight to his heart. He was telling me (he must have been badly shaken, to be capable of chatting on the phone rather than his usual monosyllables) that they would read the British news and it would say "1 dead in Basra" or something like that, but they'd know it was really 5 dead in Basra, or more, he'd have seen the bodies, but only one of those was British -- the rest would be Pakistani or native people working for and with the British, and they didn't get recorded.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Dickens and such-like

1. I had a pleasant and unusually active weekend, with chat! This was very good; I have missed chatting, since so many of the conversations I have here are about Issues.

2. I also finished Bleak House, which I hadn't read before. About a decade back I decided that since I didn't enjoy Dickens' I would make no effort to read them until middle age but a few weeks back I read a cheap copy of David Copperfield and loved it. (This is just one of many indications that I have reached middle age.) I find it uncomfortable to recognise various types in Bleak House, as well as the long-running entangling dispute of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Dickens can't write women like Hardy though. Lucetta in The Mayor of Casterbridge, who decides that actually now she prefers Farfrae to gruff old Henchard, is much more like a real person than any of Dickens' saints or caricatures.

3. Also, hurray for BBC Radio! Radio 4 has intellectual comedy in the form of The Museum of Curiosity, and Radio 6 has Adam and Joe. This week's Song Wars features Adam's father, Baaad Dad, which is quite good, and also they played this song here, which I am linking to on YouTube because Universal has disabled embedding on it. Smooth singing but the lyrics are wierd and a bit disturbing.

4. Here is Figaro doing a Christine Keeler. He was standing there on his hind legs waiting to swipe at interesting things through the hole in the back of the chair.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Witterings on Pynchon and other stuff

1. A remarkable thing about hard work is that you can sit there doing it, thinking how much you are enjoying it, how it's the real satisfaction in life to work through a task steadily and intently, how glad you are to be getting on with things, but at the same time overwhelmed by a feeling of almost unbearable fidgitiness and wishing to stop. All today I have been struggling against a wish to blog about how much I am enjoying working hard. Now that I have stopped work for the day and am allowed to blog I don't really want to.

2. I rewatched the Pussycat Dolls vs Coldplay video that I posted before. I like the way that the Coldplay tune underneath brings out the poignancy in the tale of this relationship. It starts well: she's his "favourite girl", and she says "my baby's sexy for sho, I had to have him when he walked through the do". It is not without its spiritual element: "he only wants me for my body and soul". But then Timbaland makes the classic mistake of leaving messages on her answering machine claiming that in return for his gifts she now owes him sex. "Why you be buggin like I'm some kinda ho?" she complains. The Pussycat Dolls are a remarkable phenomenon, not the less so for the TV series about the search for a New Pussycat Doll which gave a glimpse into the wierd world of what it's all about. They are like a plastic simulachrum of sexiness, pitch perfect and exact and not at all like anything real. They all look like very good male-to-female transvestites, for one thing. There's a bit in this video where the lead singer looks back at Timbaland from on the hood of a taxi while wiggling her rear at him which reminded me suddenly of the bit in the latest Pynchon about Mouffette the sexy lapdog. (This got him nominated for a Literary Review Bad Sex award.) The only Pynchon I have never reread is Gravity's Rainbow; I tried once but I gave up at the part where the flirty lipsticked twelve-year-old starts seducing people on the boat. But maybe I will try again, when I unpack my books this autumn, and think of her instead as a Pussycat Doll. It will probably make more sense that way. I wanted to record this because even though I have googled I have found no other instance of the Pussycat Dolls helping anyone to a better understanding of Pynchon. The reason it works is that Pynchon is a great writer and writes about things that are true.

3. Also on the theme of things I've posted about before: I went to the Pinacoteca again and took some photos. Here's the best I got of the mysterious half-smile I talked about:

4. In my classics appreciating mood I reread The Mayor of Casterbridge. I loved and devoured Hardy at the age of about fifteen and spent a happy summer writing an essay about him on a bench in our garden. The bench was overhung with honeysuckle and surrounded by buddleias so that there were butterflies everywhere and I kept having to sit very still because they had settled on me or on my book. Then after that I felt like I had grown out of Hardy, and his misery. His books divide roughly into tragedies and comedies; in the tragedies everyone dies, and in the comedies everyone dies but the young lovers. (One of my great aunts claimed that when Hardy was very young he was present at and may have caused the accidental death of some relative of hers, and that this was why he was always so moody, but I think his biographers have taken other lines on this.) So apart from The Return of the Native, which is my favourite, I haven't read any Hardy for ages. Anyway, early on in The Mayor of Casterbridge Elizabeth Jane is specifically attracted to Farfrae because of his lack of a sense of humour; he makes himself loved by singing nostalgic songs with the men in the pub, but he won't join in with their jokes. I am now collecting instances of a GSOH being an unattractive thing in the past. I think humour is over-rated, myself.

5. Here is Piazza Maggiore after dark. I like the graininess of my camera phone.

When I saw how the light was coming out I took this over-zoomed one of the bronze Neptune.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Life being a bit like that

Here are just a few of the things that have annoyed me today
1) the Italian course I was trying to enrol on has been cancelled. This is bad because my Italian is actually getting worse at the moment, as I point my brain at Old English boundary clauses. The other day I saw the words "in merce" on an Italian shampoo bottle and immediately thought "ah, in mærce, 'in the boundary', or possibly a scribal error for in mersce, 'in the marsh'". This is not good. Yesterday when Federica asked me whether Jack the Ripper was really a relation of Queen Victoria, and I said I didn't think we would ever know for sure at this distance, and she said surely as a historian I had to believe in the possibility of recovering past facts, I found it very hard to sustain the conversation even to the limited extent I would have managed a couple of weeks ago. It's a good thing she's here, with her combined curiosity and forceful assertions, making me try to express difficult things.
2) I went to a guest lecture at the Residenza, partly because I was interested and partly because I felt it might be politic to show my face, given that I don't live there. (I asked a question for roughly the same reasons, which made me feel a bit bad.) Now I can see that an hour on Origen's Christology and Soteriology might not be the most engrossing thing ever for many people, but it was disgracefully rude how some people were chatting and blatantly reading books. To daydream or make some unrelated notes is one thing, but to talk or completely ignore the lecture seems very rude to me. It wasn't a primarily Italian audience, but a very international one, and the English-speakers were the worst. I thought the lecture interesting myself, mostly because I was sincerely shocked by Origen's heterodox views. My uncle (the sensible, nice one) was once asked to be part of a sermon series at St Alban's Abbey on My Favourite Heretic, and chose Origen. Recently someone tried to persuade me that Mariology, which I'm afraid I have a tendency to interpret in old-fashionedly Freudian terms as rooted in men's wishing that their own mother was a virgin, is an essential part of incarnational theory (I remain unconvinced); so I asked the speaker about Origen's Mariology. He didn't really have one, apparently, so either that goes to show that it's not necessary at all, or that not having a Mariology was where he went so terribly wrong.
3. I went to the HyperCo-op (pronounced eeper-co-op), which is right next door to the Residenza. When I go to supermarkets I take my backpack to carry things home in and to save on damage to the earth in the form of plastic bags. At the HyperCo-op, however, if you take in any bag at all they put it in a large blue plastic bag and heat seal it shut. Then at the checkout you have to rip your backpack free hurriedly, destroying the plastic bag beyond possiblity of reuse. This annoys me.
4. Also I've been feeling daftly homesick, though not for Cambridge. At Cambridge I miss good company and library access, and nothing else, and I miss them in a sensible sort of way. But all this poring over maps of the Wiltshire Downs is making me yearn for the South West and the English countryside. I can't wait to go back at Easter and tramp around the fields with my parents, watering alpacas. (Many years ago my parents named me after Rebecca in the Bible specifically because she was nice to camelids.)

What cheered me up:
I had a reply from the Queen of Charters, who is editor of seven of the thirteen volumes which have come out so far in the series for which I am writing my charters book. She says my boundary clause work is good! Or at least, that it can go off for linguistic comment without much work. This is the most tremendous relief because I have been feeling it's absolutely on the border line of what's possible for me. Luckily it seems that I have got onto the right side of that line. I have been worrying about it so much that on reading the message I picked up Figaro and did a little jig. He was unimpressed, though he can never help but purr when cuddled. Here is a picture of him in full teddy-bear mode as a sort of blog-based apology. (Apoblogy?)

Sunday, 9 March 2008


I don't understand this, though I'm sure it's full of meaning. I like the music though.


My dad's safely back from plant-hunting in Vietnam. I asked him how it went and he told me some long story of a knoll with an odd distribution of podacarps (?) and taxus something or other. I have no idea what it all meant so I had to act out responses of interest and pleased surprise at what seemed like appropriate moments but it's made him happy, so thank-you, Vietnamese podacarp knoll.

Also: five furlongs is one kilometre! This gladdened me, and I wish there was someone with whom I could share the pleasure. When I explained it to my mum she sounded pretty pleased about it, but she may have been responding like I did to my dad's podacarp knoll. I feel quite good about the way that families pretend interest in each others' pleasures; there's something about this amiable pretence that speaks more of affection than if we actually all shared the same interests.

Other things

Here is Figaro expressing his disapproval of Old English boundary clauses by sitting on them. I've sent a few off today, and I'm beginning to feel more like they're a possible thing. So I'm going to blog about culture instead.

1. Museums. From the Pinacoteca's art collection and the sculpture fragments in the medieval museum I get a sense of what the Bologna art style was in the late middle ages. Faces have thin, almond-shaped eyes like you see in painters like Giotto, only where Giotto's saints often look stern or even angry, these look like they're sharing some sort of happy mystery with you. Saints in the polittici hold open books and point at them; above the books they hold their faces in three-quarter profile and smile at you like someone imparting a secret. There's a sculpture of Justice (I think) in the medieval museum with just the same smile. I find this style very engaging, even moving.

2. Yesterday was Ladies' Day here in Italy. It seems that this is an international thing which Britain has somehow missed out on. I didn't notice until a supermarket gave me some sprouting bamboo as a tribute to my status as a lady. Now, remembering that women have had to fight some nasty prejudice in the past, like good old Woolf not being allowed into Trinity College Library, and such is all very well; but it seems mostly to be a day for giving flowers to The Ladies. Ah, the ladies, bless them! Where would be without them? A toast to the Ladies! So I don't think I'm going to campaign for its introduction to Britain any time soon. These two possibilities are wonderfully encapsulated by Russian examples on the Wikipedia page about the holiday, which is worth looking at: first a 1930s poster of a babushka crushed under symbols of household cares being helped to her feet by another woman, as together they fight the tyranny of stereotypical gender roles; then a much later card of some pretty flowers.

3. I haven't blogged about books for ages, so this is going to be mostly a list to help me remember later. I finished Julian Rathbone's Mutiny, which is good but not the best of his books. I think he suffers a bit from not being sure if he's writing a novel or history or something in between. It's a pretty horrendous subject anyway, if you think about it seriously, with terrible atrocities on both sides, and I think this held him back from his usual insouciance. Then I read The Bloodstone Papers by Glen Duncan, which was good but oddly downbeat. At least it educated me about Anglo-Indian culture, about which I knew nothing. I can see that the Anglo-Indians must have been in a strange place when the British left India. The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes was good enough fun that I will probably read his next one. Then I discovered that in Italy you can buy those green two quid Penguin Classics for three euros sixty, so I read Mansfield Park, David Copperfield, and Kim. I don't know when I've enjoyed novels more -- it reminded me of the fact that Classics can be hard work, but sometimes the tag is simply a shorthand for no-risk quality, unlike modern fiction where your money may or may not bring a return of reading pleasure. My favourite Austen is Persuasion, but I've always had a soft spot for Fanny in Mansfield Park, whom so many people dismiss as dull. It made me wonder when a GSOH became an essential for romance. Nowadays it would be hard to imagine a relationship which didn't involve shared jokes, but this must be quite a recent point of view. In Mansfield Park a good sense of humour is Mary Crawford's fatal flaw, with her talk of Admirals, rears and vices, because it indicates a superficiality about what's important. (I recently heard someone on Radio 4 talking about a history she's writing of personal ads, so maybe that will enlighten me.) I've also read a biography of Dante by Barbara Reynolds, which was very interesting. He spent quite a bit of time here in Bologna. I get the impression that Barbara Reynolds, like her god-mother Dorothy L. Sayers, is an interesting and combative old bird in the old British style. I also read Alaa al Aswany's The Yacoubian Building, which was good; its cover design probably helps it sell, but gives a false impression of triviality. A Dog About Town, by J. F. Englert was quite fun, though I dislike the fact that people are beginning to write books with animal detectives, like that German sheep one as well, because it means that when I get round to my rat detective series it'll all be old hat. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith is reliably comforting; this series, like the Harry Potter books, has suffered from its massive hype. And I read Odd and the Frost Giants, a little book by Neil Gaiman, of which I approve, because it's part of the World Books Day scheme. Now I'm reading The Siege of Venice, by Jonathan Keates, because I thought I ought to know something about the Risorgimento. It's quite well written and enjoyable, and it's also interesting to find out about the people behind the street names, like Ugo Bassi and d'Azeglio. All Italian towns seem to have the same street names, in my limited experience.

Friday, 7 March 2008


Hurray for the interweb! And I'll tell you why.
1) There are tons of resources out there for someone trying to edit the Anglo-Saxon Charters of Wilton Abbey. E.g. Bosworth and Toller (the old Old English dictionary) and the Toronto OE Dictionary (needs a subscription and has only got to G); Lewis and Short, and the Latin word analyzer; the Ordnance Survey maps thingy and Google Maps, which lets you build your own maps, like this one of most of Wilton's estates; and Edina Digimap which is brilliant but requires further registration beyond Athens because they want to be sure you're really serious about it; the Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England so I know whether or not I'm just making up a name in a way which would make Prof. Page huffy; my very own Revised Sawyer for bibliography, mostly so I can see what I should have photocopied while still in England; the OED's etymological details; the Unbound Bible for sourcing Bible quotations; and more. I could do with some Old English grammar online, though, cos I can't remember any paradigms and forgot to bring Mitchell and Robinson. The only one I can still remember is this little table of noun endings which I offer to you now, and which can actually get you a surprisingly long way:


Andy Orchard told us that when he handed us over to the Prof. for Old English in our first year, and we used to scribble it on the top of all our set texts for reference in moments of panic.

Furthermore the www (the only abbreviation which takes three times as long to say as the phrase it abbreviates) offers us entertainment! I've been doing another YouTube trawl for mash-ups, specifically those by Pheugoo and PartyBen. Here is Christina Milian, in one of the most offensively lyricked songs of all time, turning into something rather mellow over the top of Jimi Hendrix; here is Gwen Stefani vs Martha and the Vandellas; here's Dead or Alive and Justice; here's Led Snoopelin; here's Madonna vs Destiny's Child; here are Nirvana and Daft Punk. You've got to love Nirvana, it was so long ago, though it's hard now not to be forcibly reminded of Chris Morris singing Panty Smile (also as Sukie Bapswent). Below I have put a mix of Coldplay and the Pussycat Dolls. After all, if Coldplay and the Pussycat Dolls (featuring Timbaland) can live together in perfect harmony maybe there is hope for the rest of us; maybe we could all just get along.

Monday, 3 March 2008


1. Sunday was ridiculously warm here. I went with Francesca and some nice Italians to what they say is the best icecream place. It was pretty good but the queues were long, and inside they had leaflets telling you the glycaemic index of all the flavours, which annoyed me. The Italians I was with seemed to think it wasn't the correct weather for icecream as the sun was making it melt.

2. I am working on Old English boundary clauses. From my window I can see S. Luca with its lit porticos snaking up one of the hills outside Bologna, and nearer to hand a large scooter park where Italian youths congregate of the evenings, but on my desk it's all about the coombes and lynchets of Wiltshire. Now, Old English boundary clauses are proper scholarship of the best precise antiquarian kind, and as such I constantly fluctuate between a strong affection for them and feelings of intense boredom and inadequacy. They do have their own dry poetry though. They describe the area of an estate by detailing the landmarks you'd follow to walk around it, and a lot of the time you go along the old way to the hoar oak, and from the hoar oak to the standing stone, and then down the valley to the fox stream, etc etc. On the Wiltshire chalklands the Anglo-Saxons were constantly encountering the marks of much older cultures, so a lot of mine involve going from the broken barrow to the stone circle to the earth fort along the old dyke, etc. There are also more grim markers like the gallows (literally villain's tree) stood on Wansdyke (Woden's dyke), and a murder quarry (morth crundel); and the oddest so far, the place where someone slew a man for his billy-goat. I intend to visit at least a few of these estates on foot, probably with my parents, in the hope that we'll be able to match up these old markers with modern features in some cases -- often the modern parish boundaries still follow estate bounds laid out over a thousand years ago. My dad is a proper forester and knows something about landscape, but still I can't help but feel that what's needed here is a national treasure.

3. Here is a picture of Figaro (Feegy for short) pretending to be a cushion on my sofa. I took several pictures without waking him. When I get in I shout out Ciao! and Giorgia and Federica shout Ciao! and Figaro goes Miao! and it sounds just like he's joining in. When I get a dog I might call her Bella and then when it's dinner time I could call out Chow Bella. That would make me happy every single time.

4. I've been listening to stuff while wrestling with the damnable boundaries and the exact difference between a coombe and dean. I downloaded all of Adam and Joe's old podcasts, including the ones where they talk about new music, which I didn't expect to like. It's been a long time since I got all excited about hearing new bands. (Indie bands, that is, not pop.) However, I have discovered some good stuff off that. There's a song called "Monster in a Shirt" by a band called Headland which sticks in my mind, and I keep going around singing dah dah dah dah dah, Monster in a Shirt, doodoo doodoo doodoo doodoo, Monster in a Shirt, because I can't remember any of the other lyrics. You can find a preview in itunes. Plus a rapper called Frazer is quite good and has a MySpace page with a fun James Bond thing on it and some more serious songs too. Also good, but from other sources, are Annie, whose fantastic Chewing Gum song is listenable for free on her myspace page, and Hercules and Love Affair. Here is the video to their single Blind, featuring Ray Winstone's daughter stumbling over some sort of ancient smokey orgy. It's like a disco-ier McAlmont and Butler, and the Hercules theme is good too. And Roisin Murphy's Modern Timing is brilliant. I got hold of it free quite legally somehow, I think by subscribing to a newsletter. I do think she'd do better commercially if she didn't wear such ridiculous hats.
Róisín MurphyModern Timing

I do like Adam and Joe, they're quite funny. Other good podcasts include some ancient American radio adventures of Hercule Poirot (Zis is... muerder! musical sting); poor old Stephen Fry feeling utterly miserable about his arm; and the BBC radio 4 news quiz podcast. Also on Radio 4 but not as a podcast is a good thing with Bill Bailey called the Museum of Curiosities. I don't think the first episode is up any more, but it had Brian Blessed on shouting about yetis, which was pretty unique. I quite like Russell Brand, reluctantly, but I can't believe his predictably sex-obsessed podcast is from Radio 2! Does Wogan use the same microphone? I'm not so keen on both "Collings and Herrin" and Ricky Gervais for the same reason, which is that they seem to score off other people as part of an ego-bolstering thing.