339 - London gin tours: Shake, Rattle and Stir!

Leon Dalloway (Standard British/mild Midlands accent)

My name’s Leon, Leon Dalloway, I am head honcho at Shake, Rattle and Stir, and I have a few booze tours around London. My gin tour I kicked off with was the Gin Journey, which is basically a voyage into the world of gin, an exploration into all that’s amazing about gin, you learn about the history of gin, about production of gin, you’re chauffeur-driven around town, in a gin carriage to five different gin-inspired venues, including one working gin distillery in East London, you try five different gins throughout the evening with a lot of tasting techniques along the way, you have five different gin cocktails, and generally you just have a lovely time, that is the main idea!

(Leon Dalloway was talking to Mark Worden)

339 - Recommended Reading: Scott McCloud

Scott McCloud (Standard American accent)

My name is Scott McCloud. I’m an American cartoonist and author and my new graphic novel is The Sculptor, it’s a nearly 500-page story about art and love and death and a whole lot of other big ideas! It’s... it’s, I hope, moving, but it’s... it’s also very funny and it has a lot of big ideas but a lot of small moments as well. I wanted to tell a story that was engaging. I wanted... I guess, above all, I wanted to give people a page-turner, something that compelled the reader to keep moving forward. I’ve been known for most of my career for writing books about comics, I felt that it was high time I simply told a story, and that’s what I’ve set out to do.

(Scott McCloud was talking to Mark Worden)

345 - Recommended Reading: Lord of the Flies

Rob Anderson (Standard British accent)

The story is that some public schoolboys are… are stranded on a desert island and it’s a story of how they organize themselves. They’re obviously free to create whatever structure of… of… of society they want and it’s a classic book to… to do with young people, of course, because the… it’s… it’s… the question that… that you can put to young people is “Well, what would you do if were free, totally free, to decide how to behave etc. etc. ?” And it’s very interesting in that Golding presents first of all a democratic society. They elect a leader and the leader attempts to direct them here and there, but very quickly this breaks down into factions and… and violence raises its head as well, but it seems to be… to be about rules and regulations and whether they should be followed or broken and people’s responsibility to those rules and regulations.

(Rob Anderson was talking to Mark Worden)

346 - Recommended Reading: Shakespeare revisited

Matt Haig (Standard British accent)

Hello, I’m Matt Haig. I’m a… author, I’ve written two… two novels based around Shakespeare – my first two novels – and my very first novel in English was called The Last Family in England. And... it’s… it’s a very strange book, I suppose, but it’s based on an obscure-ish Shakespeare play, the first Henry IV play, Henry IV Part One, and… but my… my play – my novel, rather – isn’t set in the past and it doesn’t involve kings; it involves a family and it’s told from a perspective of a Labrador dog. So it’s… it plays fast and loose with Shakespeare, but the great thing about Shakespeare is the themes are universal, so even though the specific people he’s talking about may be historical figures, and they may be set in a certain time and place, the themes apply to 21st century families as much as they did to royal families 500 years ago. The other… my… my second novel was based on Hamlet, which is obviously a more… more well… widely known play, and it was called The Dead Fathers’ Club. Again, it was set in contemporary times, it was set in England, the town I grew up in, Newark-on-Trent, and it wasn’t about a prince, it was about an 11-year-old boy and… but facing the same dilemma about whether to kill his uncle, after his uncle had moved in with his mother. So, yes, Shakespeare, I… I could have spent a whole career just copying Shakespeare, but he was… if… if you’re going to be taught by anyone and if you’re going to be influenced by anyone in the English Language, I think you can’t go wrong with Shakespeare!

(Matt Haig was talking to Mark Worden)

347 - Recommended Reading: Not on the Label

Felicity Lawrence (Standard British accent)

I’m Felicity Lawrence, Guardian journalist, and author of Not on The Label, which is a book I first wrote in 2004 about the global food system, and looking at how all aspects of our food had been completely revolutionized and industrialized, and how much power had shifted to the big retailers and, in response to that, how the processing sectors had concentrated, and we move further and further away from the simple, unprocessed food that’s good for our health, and in industrializing our food like that, we’ve had enormous impact environmentally, we’ve got a kind of agriculture that leads to environmental degradation, that in many, many countries of the world is built on exploitation of labour, and particularly drives migration, and uses people who are very vulnerable to produce cheap food, and has been nutrionally disastrous: we’re… we’re creating a diet which makes people fat and sick, and sucks a lot of the money and resources away from the poor up to the rich.

(Felicity Lawrence was talking to Mark Worden)

348 - Recommended reading: Shakespeare and Elizabeth

Helen Hackett (Standard British accent)

So my name is Helen Hackett, and I’m a Professor of English at University College London and I’m the author of a book called Shakespeare and Elizabeth: The Meeting of Two Myths. The basis of this book is I came to realize through various ways of doing research on Shakespeare and teaching Shakespeare that very often he was brought into contact with Elizabeth I. There are lots of stories, lots of images showing him reading to Elizabeth or Elizabeth coming to see a play of his at the playhouse. For instance, in the film Shakespeare in Love we see Elizabeth coming to the playhouse to see a Shakespeare play and I came to realize there is really no evidence that there was ever any direct contact between Shakespeare and Elizabeth, and in fact it’s a sort of English and British national myth and I became interested in why there’d been a desire across the centuries to bring these two very great, very prominent figures together and what forms that had taken, and so my book sort of tells that story and tries to analyse why we’ve wanted Shakespeare and Elizabeth to have contact, to be friends, sometimes even in some versions to be lovers, and what different forms this has taken in different media, in literary criticism, in novels, in films, running through a kind of very rich vein of English and British culture, and American culture too because it increasingly takes hold there as well.

(Helen Hackett was talking to Mark Worden)