The Allusionist 52 | Sanctuary

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The Allusionist Episode 52 – Sanctuary

For the last two weeks, The Allusionist’s Radiotopia stablemate, 99 Percent Invisible, has been looking at Sanctuary Cities.

So, this week, Helen Zaltzman takes a look at the etymology and history of seeking sanctuary. Along the way, she talks to John Jenkins from the University of York and Canon Rosalind Brown and discovers a fed up lion on Durham Cathedral’s front door.

This episode has one of my favourite Allusionist quotes:

John Jenkins:  So you could – and there are occasional examples of people getting out of unwanted marriages by claiming to have killed someone and then fleeing the realm.

Helen Zaltzman: What’s worse: that, or breaking up with someone by text message?

Get the full episode here:




Myths & Legends | Thor – Hammer Time


Myths and Legends Episode 62 – Thor: Hammer Time

In November, the latest Marvel Comic-based film featuring the Norse god Thor will be released. In Thor: Ragnarok expect to see our hero smashing his way through a host of enemies.

Far more interestingly, in this episode of the Myths & Legends podcast, you can find out why he should (but almost certainly won’t) be depicted with a huge whetstone sticking out of his forehead.

Loki is up to his usual tricks. The giants of Jötunheimr are plotting. It’s Hammer Time.

Listen now by clicking here!




The Allusionist | The Key II – Vestiges



Number 43 – The Key: Part II – Vestiges

20 September 2016

I’m a bit behind with reviewing this show – it went out more than a week ago. This week, Helen Zaltzman ‘smears a thin layer of language over the lens so everything looks a bit nicer’ and looks at how to decipher ancient languages.

In part one of this two-part special, Helen looked at the Rosetta Stone and its crucial role in deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics.  This week, Helen asks what do you do when there is no Rosetta Stone to help you out?

In doing so, she explores the challenges of deciphering southern Italy’s Oscan (a language that succumbed to the popularity of Latin) with Nick Zair and considers  why monolingualism is a modern aberration with Julie Tetel Andresen.

Listen now! Click here for the episode details

Criminal – Episode 51 – Money Tree



Episode 51 – Money Tree

23 September 2016

Criminal is one of my favourite podcasts. I just shared it with my husband and it has quickly become one of his favourites too. In fact, he gorged himself  on the available episodes so that he was ahead of me!

This episode is easily one of my favourites. There is a wonderful chemistry between host Pheobe Judge and the main subject, Axton Betz-Hamilton, a victim of identity theft.

Victim of identity theft does not, in fact, do Dr Betz-Hamilton justice. I won’t say anything more out of fear of spoiling what is a pretty perfect episode.

This episode weaves a strong narrative through a singularly tragic set of facts. In the end, I was left more aware of the cost of identity theft and absolutely impressed by Dr Betz-Hamilton’s strength and work.

Listen now!  Click here for the show details.

Freakonomics | Has the U.S. Presidency Become a Dictatorship?


Freakonomics is topical and provocative with this week’s episode asking ‘Has the U.S. Presidency Become a Dictatorship?’

In the hot seat is legal scholar and University of Chicago Professor Eric A Posner. Professor Posner argues that whilst the US is not a dictatorship in the way that we’ve come to understand that term from the 20th century, it has strayed a long way from Madisonian constitutional ideals.

In a memorable part of the podcast, Professor Posner puts his views into very plain English:

With the benefit of hindsight, the whole constitutional system seems pretty nutty.

And it turned out to be pretty nutty for many of the South American countries that followed the constitutional pattern laid out by the Founding Fathers. Emulating the American system produced

Emulating the American system produced first gridlock, then anger and finally the strongmen who got things done by ignoring the constitutions. So why has the US not descended into similar chaos?

So why has the US not descended into similar chaos?  The answer is a combination of strong presidencies, an evolving role, Executive Powers and use of the ‘bully pulpit’.

Has America gone too far? There are plenty of constitutional purists who would say yes.

Making History | The refugee crisis – Restoration style


\What would happen if you took the Calais ‘Jungle’ and moved it to the heart of London? Is this a dystopian view of a post-Brexit Britain? Or a fascinating look at an overlooked part of the Great Fire of London’s impact on people.

Today, Finsbury Circus is home to some of the world’s most important financial and corporate names. It is in the heart of the City of London, sandwiched between Liverpool Street and Moorgate.

In 1666, the area was Moorfields and it was the nearest large open space to the tightly-packed and overpopulated Square Mile. It was a natural refuge for Londoners fleeing the blaze.

It became a refugee camp and, amazingly, was still housing dispossessed people eight years later.

This week’s Making History from BBC Radio 4 continued the refugee theme by focusing on Hungarians fleeing the failed uprising of 1956. Sixty years later, the BBC catches up with Bob Somogyi for a vivid account of his teenage life in Budapest and in Britain.