From plagues to dreams

Plus: a canyoneering trip in Utah

The Pestilence

Episode: "The Plague Of Justinian" | Podcast: Futuremakers | 55m45s

Part of a series about plagues of centuries past. This one, from the sixth century, is often considered to be the first "plague pandemic", spreading through the eastern Mediterranean and northern Africa and eventually killing millions in Europe. It is named for the Emperor Justinian because he is thought to have contracted the disease and then recovered at the outbreak's height, when around 10,000 people a day were dying in his capital city of Constantinople. Medical historians here put this in the context of other, better known, disease events (55m45s)

Sweet Dreams

Episode: "Session One: Initial Dream Investigation" | Podcast: The Sink: A Sleep Aid | 24m17s

Part 'help to sleep' meditation, part dark comedy sketch show, part binaural soundscape. This show is difficult to define, which is why it is such a pleasurable piece — even for the most jaded and omnivorous listener, it will be surprising. The humour is akin to the peculiarly British bleakness of something like The League of Gentlemen or the work of Chris Morris. Familiarity with ubiquitous wellness apps like Calm or Headspace can add an extra layer of enjoyment, since the writer is parodying our desire for dreamless oblivion (24m17s)

Bonus pick: Is it still worth reading a whodunnit when you know who done it? The new podcast episode from Listener editor Caroline Crampton looks at how spoilers operate in the world of murder mysteries. Listen to Shedunnit now at or in your podcast app.

Cautionary Tale

Episode: "A Tribute To Fiona" | Podcast: The Sharp End | 49m39s

Conversational podcast about mountaineering accidents. Each episode features climbers with a story to tell, which the host gently teases out as a way of helping others in the sport avoid disaster. This one sees three friends describe how the fourth member of their group died during a canyoneering trip in Utah in February 2020. Lots of tears, plus details about carabiners and rappelling systems. Not necessarily a listen for an emotionally fragile moment, but worth it if you can: the concept works surprisingly well (49m39s)

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