From trains to titles

Plus: boomers vs millennials

Singular They

Episode: "No Title" | Podcast: The Allusionist | 58m12s

Live performance of a podcast episode about how deeply embedded notions of gender are in the English language. It ranges widely through the past in an attempt to explain the fundamental inequalities of how we address each other: why is it that a woman's title must reflect her marital status, and why does an honorific need to signify a gender anyway? There are compromises that we try instead — "Ms" and the use of "they" as a singular pronoun, notably — and although imperfect they have a surprisingly long history (58m12s)

All Aboard

Episode: "The Flying Scotsman" | Podcast: Slow Radio | 29m30s

Recording of a journey from Manchester to Carlisle on the footplate Britain's "favourite locomotive", the Flying Scotsman. Apart from a short introduction, there is no narration included, meaning that the listener is immersed completely in the ambient sounds of passengers boarding and coal being shovelled. Once the train is underway, the rhythmic puffing of the engine's pistons is hypnotic and even meditative. An excellent way of escaping the present just by putting on headphones and closing your eyes (29m30s)

Baby Boomers

Episode: "R. U. OK Boomer?" | Podcast: Another Day Above Ground | 34m11s

There is no better summary of this podcast's subject or style than its own tagline: "A show for, by and about Baby Boomers — it's the podcast for people who have no idea about how to download a podcast." The humorous, humble take of these hosts on later life makes a pleasant contrast to the confrontational way generational differences are usually addressed in the media. This episode is about how identities emerge for particular age cohorts and why millennials and boomers struggle to get along (34m11s)

Bonus pick: There's a new episode of my own podcast about murder mysteries, Shedunnit, out now. This one is all about "impossible crime" stories and the work of writers like John Dickson Carr, Christianna Brand and Agatha Christie. Listen now.

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