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The Glass Box for Tuesday

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Eddie Mair | 16:51 UK time, Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Welcome to the Glass Box for Tuesday - the place where you can comment on what you heard on PM, interact with other listeners and get responses from the people who make the programme. We hope this will be a useful tool for you and for us.

Just click on the "comment" link. If you've never commented on the Blog before - don't worry. There's a simple registration process you only have to go through once.

Don't worry either if you didn't catch the whole programme, or were busy doing other things and not giving us your full attention. If there was something that "caught your ear" we want to hear about it.

The Glass Box is named after the booth outside the PM studio where we all discuss the programme at 18.00 every weeknight. We try to be honest and constructive. Sometimes there is criticism, and the criticised get a chance to explain themselves.

And so it should be here. The people who make PM will read the comments posted, and will sometimes respond. Please feel free to post your thoughts. There is a link to previous Glass Boxes on the right.

Also on the right, you'll find lots of other links you might like. The Furrowed Brow for example is the venue where you can start talking about anything serious: The Beach is a fun place, and there are links to Blog entries with photos, audio and links.


  1. At 05:14 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    I'm sorry, Eddie & Rupert, but surely making the Diana story the top item, with only Mr Fayed's spokesman, Michael Cole, being interviewed is a bad decision. It has been Mr Fayed who has repeatedly delayed an inquest by repeatedly failing to believe the bare facts that his son and the Princess of Wales died in a car crash that was brought on by bad driving on the part of one of his employees whilst under the influence of alcohol. Investigations both here and in France found this to be the case. I'm sorry for him that he lost his son, but there is no reason to make this such a big issue. He will never be happy unless an inquest 100% blames the royal family, MI5, the French police and secret service for this, and I'm sorry, but it just doesn't add up. By putting this item at the top of the programme, It just makes it harder to close this case for good.


  2. At 05:25 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Bedd Gelert wrote:

    But what about Harriet Cass, Charlotte Green and Brian Perkins-Grange..?

  3. At 05:28 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Bedd Gelert wrote:

    Save Vaughan Savage !! Yay !!

  4. At 05:28 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Markmyword1949 wrote:

    Why are the BBC still insisting on giving the conspiracy theorists about the death of Diana the oxygen of publicity? Why are you still leading News programmes with interviews of the Press Officer for Al Fayd? The man and his employer are milking your naivity. Report it by all means - after the sports news.

  5. At 06:00 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Okay, now I've had a chance to listen to the whole programme (for once), I really think that the piece from Afghanistan should have been higher up running order. It's a unique piece that we wouldn't have got to hear anywhere else, I feel. It by far outweighs the Diana inquest situation.

    p.s. You craqshed the bongs again, Eddie! Ooops!

  6. At 06:02 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Frances O wrote:

    I'm relieved to hear that Eddie didn't leave a huge gap before the bongs. In fact crashing them was a huge improvement, but perhaps too enthusiastic.

    More seriously, I agree that the Diana inquest is probably not the most important news item of the day. But the 6pm news has just led with it, too, so who am I to judge?

  7. At 06:03 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Ruth Fitch wrote:

    How refreshing to hear some sense being talked about the dangers to cyclists! I cycle down a cycle lane every day and am often brought to a halt because of cars and lorries driving in it. They also sit in the extra bit near the traffic lights which is for cyclists. And the other day, I was almost wiped out by a bus which was beside me and turning left (though not indicating) as I didn't move fast enough for its liking...

    Keep the debate going. We need to get more people cycling - it's better for health and for the environment - so it needs to be made safer.

  8. At 06:07 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Truchavieja wrote:

    The discussion about cyclists and in particular the safety (or otherwise) of peddling through a red light misses a crucial point. PEDESTRIANS are the most vulnerable and overlooked group who have to use roads. A red light allows them to cross the road safely; this is not the case if crazy , and often high speed, bicyclists run the lights.

    Perhaps this should eb mentioned to those minority of aggressive cyclists who run red lights?


  9. At 06:16 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Annasee wrote:

    Rupert & Marc - the Dream Team.

    You made it safely to 1800 hours chaps. Well done.

    Frankly I could do with less about the Dodi/ Diana coroner. Who can blame the poor woman for not wanting to take on the task? Michael Cole - well whose opinions is he paid to represent? It's beginning to feel as though the inquest will never take place at this rate.

    A most thought provoking interview with the lawyer about the 12 yr old who was killed playing chicken with the motorcyclist. The intro made me think "surely not the motorcyclist..." which was obviously the idea. It was good to hear him speaking so thoughtfully about what was a tragedy for all involved.

  10. At 06:21 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Bank manager wrote:

    I work in the delightful city of Cambridge - a place that has its fair share of cyclists. Being a driver, I am always worried of the cyclist who sails up beside me at a red light. I am indicating left and they would have been able to see that from behind - so why put themselves in potential danger by riding down my left side. If they stayed behind me and indicated themselves to drivers behind they would be much safer. I have seen parents on a bike with children on their own bikes try to get down the narrow gap between me and the kerb. Drivers do try to be considerate, but it is a two way street - if you will excuse the pun.

  11. At 06:27 PM on 24 Apr 2007, sarah wrote:

    When will the press coverage stop giving air time to such hyprocrites as the cyclists who "pretend" to have the holier than though approach? The cyclist is the most outrageous road user, who believes that by going down the middle of the traffic is safe..! I can not count the number of times they DON'T have lights,reflective clothing and the like. Why do bicycles not come with lights on purchase? I cannot think that parents would not buy lights for a child's bike at the same time..we don't buy a car and purchase lights separately..! Goodness me where are we going?!

  12. At 06:28 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Steve Reynolds wrote:

    There seems to be a big difference of opinion between road safety organisations giving advice to cyclists and the Police. I live in Telford in Shropshire where a few months ago a cyclists was arrested and convicted for causing an obstruction. Specifically he was riding at 20mph and thus preventing cars from doing the speed limit of 40mph along a stretch of road with double white lines. Several cars overtook him, crossing the double white lines, so the police who witnessed this arrested the cyclist. The police argued that there was a cycle lane available on the opposite side of the road. The cyclist argued that this was a narrow dual purpose pavement and cycle path, great for kids but hardly suitable for adults doing 20 mph.

    I just wonder what would happen, in Telford, to cyclists who pulled out into the front of the traffic and impeeded their movement, as adviced by the persons on the program? I suspect the police would arrest them for obstructing the traffic.

    You can read about the original case here:

    or Google for Danial Cadden. I believe he later won an appeal, but the message has certainly gone out about cycling in Telfod - keep off the roads!


  13. At 06:46 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Graham West wrote:

    Your man who rides through red lights - carefully, cautiously, considerately (I imagine) and with priority given to preservation of life and limb over slavish adherence to laws drafted decades ago that ignore the reality of today's traffic - has my vote. I do the same. Most people who complain about this sort of riding are non-cyclists who have never had to pedal uphill from a light with a line of impatient vehicles behind them, nor had to sit in mid-junction waiting to turn right while vehicles stream by on the inside and from the opposite direction.

    The reality is that cyclists don't sit easily in the category of either driver or pedestrian, but transition between the two as circumstances vary. Is a cyclist who hops off a bike to walk it across a junction not showing common sense? And if, in the same situation, he or she instead rides it, very slowly, across the same junction, instead of walking it, what is the real difference, other than a legal technicality? Riding through a red light to avoid obstructing other vehicles being unnecessarily exposed to danger is not an act of selfish disregard for the law and other road users, it's a perfectly sensible solution to a practical problem, and benefits everyone.

    Here's a simple way the law should be changed.

    1. If you ride your bike no faster than someone jogging, you are to be regarded as a pedestrian. You may cross roads where pedestrian lights show; you may ride on the pavement. You won't alarm anyone by your high speed, you will be able to stop safely just as easily as a jogger, and you will be no more of a nuisance to other users of the footpath than someone pushing a wide buggy or riding a mobility scooter.

    2. When riding in this pedestrian mode, you nonetheless must give absolute priority to non-cycling pedestrians. This is actually the way most cyclists (again, myself included) behave when they ride on the pavement.

    3. Going any faster than a jogger, you are to be regarded as the driver of a vehicle, and should stay on the road and obey the rules of the road (in other words, obey the law as it currently applies to cyclists).

    Many cyclists operate to these rules already, and you may not even notice them; it's the ones that ride furiously that cause most complaints, and they will no doubt do so whatever the law says.

  14. At 06:52 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Anne bertram wrote:

    I caught the discussion concerning the saftey of cyclist. The comment made regarding the disregard of what colour the traffic lights are, is indefensible. All road users could make the same argument that it dosen't matter as long as there's 'a space', absolute madness, not to mention the danger to pedestians. I have witnessed some appalling riding by cyclists as well as some appalling driving by motorists and it is they who must ultimately take the responsibility for their actions if an accident ensues.

  15. At 08:41 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Thanks to all the team for the additional info on the Baghdad Wall. Temporary, eh? I wonder how long that means: well done Eric for asking, even if no reply was forthcoming.

    The bicycling item was definitely interesting. I have to say that as a bicyclist, I agreed that my priority is keeping myself alive! I just don't think that running down pedestrians by illegally jumping red lights is the best way to avoid being run over by lorries turning left. Not standing about in the path of a lorry has always seemed to me to be the best way to avoid being killed by them. Maybe that's too simple, though I noticed that the bicyclists' advocate also suggested at one point that undertaking people in cars and lorries may not be the best survival tactic on the road.

    I *hate* cycle-lanes: they aren't wide enough, they encourage, even force me to be in a dangerous position relative to other road-users when there are traffic-queues, and they tend to have broken glass in them, swept to the sides of the road by cars going past. And that's before we even mention the people who stop on them "just to unload, won't be five minutes", so that the bicyclist has to pull out into the main stream of traffic unexpectedly, and the way they end just at the point where they might be most useful, and let's not even think about the ones that are only twice as long as a bicycle, there to add to the mileage of cycle-lanes in a council's area. :-(

  16. At 09:01 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Otter wrote:

    Justin Webb's report from Washington and the hearings on Pat Tillman was very good. Jessica Lynch and her testimony was particularly powerful. It is good to see the American system still has the ability to find the truth.

    The report by Marine Rich Robertson from Helmand province was also excellent. Very intense and honest, especially right at the end when you realise how their nerves have been affected by the constant bombardment in Sangin.

  17. At 09:52 PM on 24 Apr 2007, Rupert Allman wrote:

    Hi..thx for the comments. Pls take my word that we don't looking for royal stories - but it remains my view that the decision by Lady Butler-Sloss to jack it in was worth putting high up the news pile. Why? Well, it was new. Her view that she "lacked the experience required to deal with an inquest with a jury." surprised many and underlines the tensions between the country's former top woman judge and the other parties concerned. I admit it's not to everyone's taste - but it was also the top story on Radio 4's news at six, and the lead for our colleagues on the six and the ten o'clock TV news. This doesn't make it right - but I'll stand by it. We did try to tempt Tony Hall on the prog to talk about why he'd been chosen to lead the inquiry into the sailors held by Iran selling their stories..no dice and the Lucie Blackman verdict had been well reported earlier in the day and it hadn't moved on from lunch time.

    We did try to bring you some colour from Moscow and Yeltsin lying in state - sadly he, like our broadcasting kit, was rather off colour and fell off the end of the prog.

    We also tried hard to rack up a debate on the merits or otherwise of teaching English history before 1035. That's AD not AM. I'll be making poor decisions later this week so it might still make it on air yet.

  18. At 09:59 PM on 24 Apr 2007, stewart M wrote:

    Cyclists do tend to have to ride defensively in towns. I don't cycle as much as I'd like but being a cyclist I feel I am more aware. As for jumping red lights, well all signalled crossings should be approached with caution. So even a green light does not guaruntee nothing is coming the other way!

    Report on Giles van Colle interesting. Police appear to have been in the wrong and should have offerd more help. He was a regular contributor to an optometry, e mail based discussion group (a blog forerunner) and whilst he was still young he was already respected in his chosen profession.

  19. At 11:15 PM on 24 Apr 2007, lurker wrote:

    As a former cyclist, I can say that every time I was knocked off my bike, (four times) it was by.....another cyclist, ignoring the rules of the road. I still have some of the scars. So the lycra louts do not have any sympathy from me.

    I no longer cycle because I have no place to store my bike at home or at work.

  20. At 06:29 AM on 25 Apr 2007, Belinda wrote:

    Brilliant Editoring, Rupert.

    The Diana story should have been third or fourth at best - newness is no excuse. I broke my finger nail just after Butler-Schloss made the announcement, should that make it to the headlines? I would stand away from it a little, Rupert, if I were you.

    Good Questioning on the Iraq 'temporary-they're-moveable-hoenst! wall story.

    These Cyclists/Pedestrians/Motorbikes/Motorists stories are fine but they are rarely informative as everyone goes into the discussions with their mind made up. The day these type of things will become interesting to me is when a Cyclist/Pedestrian/Motorcyclist/Motorist says "Oh yeah, I haven't thought of that! Good point.".

    The Moira Stewart piece was very welcome although I can't help pointing out that Peter Sissons and Michael Buerk have both been retired off in favour of the younger crowd who can read the news AND walk around all at the same time. I don't think this is as much a sexist issue as it is ageist in my opinion.

  21. At 08:47 AM on 25 Apr 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    I still haven't altered my opinion that the Diana crash was a booze and drug fuelled accident pushed on by Dodi urging the driver to go faster and faster. So why expect Fayed (NOT AL-Fayed) to change his opinion. Every investigation so far has come down on the former side and not his. He is just a sad old man who cannot accept the truth, especially because the actions of the driver and Dodi reflect badly on him as an employer and father. But this hardly rates as front-line news. I'd add my voice to the others here who think it was a mistake to lead with it.

    Marines in Afghanistan, great stuff and decent reporting from a non-professional. Long on colour and short on detail perhaps? Good, nonetheless.

    Congressional hearings on Tillma/Lynch; Good stuff and powerful testimony from the participants.

    I cycle for pleasure, but hardly ever on the roads. They are death traps for the unprotected. I sympathise with those who do their best to cycle to work when they can, especially in big towns and cities (Hi Sequin!). But crashing red lights because you can breaks the law. And the chap who said that there was no such thing as a 'suicide zone' to the left of the driver's cab was in denial. It may be the case that NEW vehicles are fitted with mirrors which eliminate the blindspot, but they are still in a minority on the roads. And you're relying on the drivers to use them. Not much use in protesting that the driver didn't use his mirror when you're dead.

    The lady who said that she asserted her place on the road and used the centre of the lane was, of course, quite correct. And the Highway code states that motorists are to overtake being fully in the adjacent lane, not by skimming past 3 inches away from your pedals. But that ignores reality too.

    My prime hate on this score is cyclists who use the pavement. Cycles are road vehicles and banned from the pavement. Even as the package was being transmitted I was parked in Norwich and watched a teenager skim at high speed past me on his bike, across a T-junction without observation or redusction in speed, narrowly being missed by the car which was even then braking for the junction. Insane riding.

    Ruth (7);
    The only way to make cycling safer is to separate them entirely from vehicular traffic and pedestrians.

    Re: the intro about the motorcyclist and the dead boy. Snap! I had thought exactly the same way as you.

    WHy don't bikes come with lights attached? So that you have to pay out more for them!

    Steve R.;
    in the late 80's the police in Cornwall prosecuted a number of mechanical digger drivers who were out in the rush hour blocking the roads into Plymouth on their way to work each morning. 'Driving without due care and attention' was the charge, I think. I.e. lack of care to other road users, when long, long queues built up behind them.

    If you are right about being nicked for obstruction then on that basis every goods vehicle, bus, coach and invalid carriage in the country would be prosecuted, since none are permitted to reach 60 m.p.h. on a single carriageway road in good conditions.


  22. At 09:10 AM on 25 Apr 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Well, last night was the first time in months I have heard the entire programme (bar a few interruptions from the traffic news).

    The order in which items are broadcast doesn't bother me - I never see the first item as being the most important.

    When I cycled around Bristol a lot, my problem was that cycle lanes were always full of pedestrians. Of course, when I was on foot the pavements were always full of bicycles. Nowadays I have nowhere to store my bike at work, so it is little used. I don't think I should have said all that, believing the glass box is there to discuss how the programme went rather that issues it covered. And I was glad to hear the item.

    I thought I heard Eddie say something about "...fleas; use the blog." That puzzled me.

    THen there was the crashing of the bongs. If the idea is to avoid this, can't the techies fix up a large clock with a sweep second hand that shows the last few seconds? All that stuff about "From all of us here" could be omitted when time is short. After all, we know you are all there.

    Finally, I noticed a mistake by the meteorologist on Monday's programme (too late to record it on Mon's G/B now). He should have said it was disappointing that we had had so little rain, not so little sunshine. We really don't want the ground to be cracked in April.

  23. At 09:38 AM on 25 Apr 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    Glad I missed Diana piece - would probably have switched off. Enough already and will end that there as many others have made my point for me (thanks!)

    Otherwise a very enjoyable programme; the bicycle piece was good. Well reasoned by differing viewpoints.

    Good piece from Justin Webb; quite eye opening and very brave of Jessica Lynch to speak out.

    Iraqi wall - amazing how many wors can be used to not say very much! Who train these guys? Well done Eddie for persuing the issue/nature of temporary.

    All in all - 8/10 (extra point for bong crashage as it made me smile!)

  24. At 09:46 AM on 25 Apr 2007, Carl wrote:

    BONG!!! Watch out Eddie, Big Ben is after you... or at least it should be!!

  25. At 09:47 AM on 25 Apr 2007, Belinda wrote:

    I had forgotten the story about the US Government's tendency to use elaborations of military operations as a publicity stunt - thanks for the reminder, Si.
    The over-riding impression (probably mistaken) I had from the story is that the Government has not changed their war or media strategy since around the 1800s. The rest of the world, due to improvements in communication, has finally caught up to the fact that some, if not most, stories of the 'official line' are simply falsehoods...however there are elements of the administration who do not seem to realise this, or do not wish to admit it.

    Nor is this a US-specific story of course as every government acts like this, but it is an interesting reminder of how out-of-touch the big wigs are with today's world.

  26. At 10:14 AM on 25 Apr 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Good programme - the order of stories didn't bother me - as the Afghanistan was more of a report on an on-going story rather than current breaking news, and the Diana story would have been higher in the relative agenda.

    As I've said before, as long as all the stories are good and colourful they can be placed anywhere within the time frame.

    I wasn't within an accurate clock to check why Eddie crashed the bongs - however after doing a check on 'listen again', Big Ben's chime started at excatly the same time as on Monday. So I'd say it was Eddie crashing in to Big Ben rather than t'other way round.

    However - to be on the safe side 'why do we need to have Ben's fader up so high whilst Eddie is still talking? Keep it lower - that way it sounds perfectly okay if the chimes start underneath Eddie.

    The production techniques to make Radio 4 sound good are incredibly simple - I'm not sure why there is often an air of 'everybody having to stand to attention' - certainly around several of the junctions throughout the day.

    Has anyone stumbled across the hourly junctions on the BBC World service recently? They are force fed to us after Radio 4 closes down - but Mark Damazar could take a hint.

  27. At 11:17 AM on 25 Apr 2007, The Reverend Green wrote:


    'Ahem' (BONG) - hard cheese, old boy.

    Mind the Gap! It's all being recorded you know.

  28. At 11:24 AM on 25 Apr 2007, Fiona wrote:

    Sadly I missed most of the programme due to work, only caught the last 20 mins or so. Thought the cyclist piece was quite interesting. Have to admit I am really glad I missed the Diana inquest story. Please - with all due respect - ENOUGH ALREADY! It was a tragic accident and nothing in the last 10 years has suggested anything else. Incidentally who is paying for this long drawn out inquest??

    Anyway however I would just like to point out Mr Mair as I am sure no-one else noticed so it can be our little secret.........you crashed the bongs!! Oops! As I say don't think anyone noticed really... But it made me chuckle so cheers for that.

  29. At 12:21 PM on 25 Apr 2007, Bedd Gelert wrote:

    Forgive me if I don't dwell in the 'Glass Box'. Having worked for many years in an 'Open Plan' office, my experience is that one is only asked to 'pop in' to a 'Glass Box' to be told something that one would not wish other colleagues to hear.

    Inevitably that one's project has been canned, or is going 'pear shaped', or that senior staff have some 'concerns over performance'. And that they aren't brave enough to dish out a rollicking in public.

    So if you have got something to say to the PM team, then don't be a coward and hide in the Glass Box - tell it to the world !

  30. At 02:38 PM on 25 Apr 2007, David Causby wrote:

    I know this may be a bit late, but an item on the BBC website has just been brought to my attention. Kryptonite has been found in a mine! Of course, since krypton is an actual element and there is no krypton in the rock it has to be called something else. But if it so rare for a fictional rock to be found to be naturally occuring, surely the occasion should be marked appropriately by giving it a more significant name - like Kalelite (after Superman's real name, Kal-El)?
    I know - a bit geeky.

  31. At 07:28 PM on 25 Apr 2007, Kal-El wrote:

    David Causby (30)

    I agree with everything you say. Perhaps though, you could have left "a bit" out of your last sentence.

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