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Editor's note: Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the sun. As always the programme is available to listen online or to download and keep

Hello

(Note for Ingrid, who always types these messages for me: this will be longer than usual, but all will be explained at the end of the blog.)

This morning’s programme has already been commented on widely, partly because all the contributors were women (although this has happened many times on the programme before and Tom Morris, the producer, did a headcount recently where he found that – without in any way trying to be politically correct – the gender balance was about 50/50), partly though because the three contributors were profoundly knowledgeable and yet delivered their opinions and their information with such a light touch, and of course they became quickly collegiate.

Anyway, I learned a great deal and I hope you did.

The other day, after lunch with a pal, I wandered across to Westminster and came into contact with a crowd. It was the day of the arrival of the Tour de France in London itself. People were dressed for summer on what had promised to be a summer day. All ages, children in pushchairs, elderly people in wheelchairs, young lovers entwined, families searching for opportunities to plant their picnic somewhere near The Mall, dogs, the bells ringing out from the Abbey, Big Ben keeping its quarter as it did in the day of Mrs Dalloway, yellow umbrellas indicating the guides to the event, polite security guards – what more heartwarming, I thought, than a huge crowd, amiable, capable of closing down The Mall and wholly occupying the constitutional centre of London: us lot, out in friendly force. Few things more amiable than being in a congenial and happy crowd. Few things worse than being trapped in an ugly mob. But that was not what happened on that cycling day. Even when it began to rain – and quite heavily – and I scooted off to the Lords and arrived quite soaked, it was still a good day.

The attendant at the Peers’ Entrance told me that the warmest room in the House of Lords was the Gents. It’s rather a grand Gents. There’s a shower room, dressing cubicles, a shoe-polishing stand and the usual facilities. I found a chair, sat down, took off my soaking jacket and read about the Sun. Or rather I meant to, but I couldn’t get out of my head the deep friendliness of that crowd. And the splendour and simplicity of the event. Vast, double blanket-sized Union Jacks flew along The Mall. St James’s Park was host to scores of mobile loos. Tiered packs of global cameramen were precariously perched here and there. And there seemed to be even more French people than usual. Eventually I heaved up and went into the Chamber of the House to listen to the discussion on child abuse, which was certainly sobering.

As for today? Well, the pelicans are still on the rock facing Horse Guards Parade. Oxford Street has been more or less pedestrianised. Trafalgar Square is now permanently en fete. Soho’s pavements get narrower and narrower for the human traffic. How changed that is in my lifetime. Now, I’m told by a resident of Soho, there are more chocolatiers than brothels. There are enormous processions in and out of Westminster Abbey whenever I pass by and the Thames still glides as it did in the time of Spenser.

I started doing this some time ago when – and for reasons too trivial to go into – decided that I would dictate it as I was walking along, and (this may seem perverse) that I would not read it. (Again, too boring to go into.) I’ve loved doing it and thank you very much those of you who have responded so warmly. But this will be my last blog for In Our Time. BBC Radio has to make economies and as resources are scanter than before, it needs, rightly, to concentrate them on programmes. But I’ve enjoyed sharing my wanderings with you over the years. Thank you for reading them.

And it’s thanks to my producers Tom and Victoria, but most of all, of course, to Ingrid, who has been first-rate. She is, to my mind, the representative of all that is best about the BBC. And now, at last, Ingrid, you are free! Free! Free!

Best wishes

Melvyn Bragg

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  • Comment number 34. Posted by All for All

    on 24 Jul 2014 10:10

    John Thompson @33
    "unicorn
    symbol of
    IOT series

    Like the unicorn, seen best in the mirror of comment? Should we see as for Melvyn's blog so for IOT, 'in the end' - by renewal of that Second Dispensation, to Eve in Eden, made mortal but immortalised - the same doom, a spirit bidden 'to go forth', to in live or to die in the minds of the entertained, 'to multiply' as it may?

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  • Comment number 33. Posted by John Thompson

    on 24 Jul 2014 08:40

    I was very moved by the valid comments on the demise of the newsletter.Can't we still return to a
    "Comments on the Programme" section like you used to have up until the Industrial Revolution
    programme,where that seemed to come to an end,and you just had the blog of response to the Newsletter? I looked up my comments on the programme on the Unicorn and want to requite:-

    The unicorn is a creature of the heart.All love of the non-proven,non-graspable.All belief in the value and reality of what the heart has created from itself through the centuries,is what is praised in this creature.The unicorn has ancient associations with virginity,which were honoured during the Middle Ages.In the tapestries of the 15th century we know that though it isnonexistent for the profane,it comes into being as soon as it appears in the“mirror” which the virgin holds up in front of it and “in her”,as in a second mirror that is just as pure,just as mysterious.

    It could also be said Melvyn that the unicorn could be the symbol of your IOT series:

    “they nourished it,not with grain,
    but with the mere possibility of being.
    And finally this gave it so much power

    that from its forehead a horn grew.One horn.
    It drew near to a virgin,white,gleaming---
    and was, inside the mirror and in her” (Rilke Sonnets to Orpheus).

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  • Comment number 32. Posted by Russ Wylie

    on 19 Jul 2014 06:32

    Very disappointed with the loss of the blog. Each week the blog took my mind's eye to London to move along a panorama of parks, ducks, swans, tourists and the comings and goings of people and seasons -- all through the thoughtful, insightful and gentlemanly observations of Mr. Bragg.

    Thank you, Ingrid, and thank you, Mr. Bragg.

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  • Comment number 31. Posted by Lawrence Jones

    on 18 Jul 2014 18:57

    Mr Piers Bradford (documentary commissioning editor on Radio 1 and Radio 1Xtra) is interviewed on today’s edition of ‘Feedback’ (18th July 2014) and points out that the radio licences for the above, specify the inclusion of documentaries within the station(s) output (apart from music).

    The Radio 4 service licence [1] states:

    ‘The broadcast output should be supported by a complementary online service,
    including some use of visual enhancements, and listeners should be encouraged to
    interact and communicate with the station. Radio 4 should use new technology to
    ensure its audiences have the maximum opportunity to access programmes as and
    when they want.’

    Radio 4’s support for it own messageboards was virtually non-existent and it was always clear that R4 controllers, commissioning editors and producers were hostile to the contributors. The station appears to be continuing it’s lack of enthusiasm for its own on-line community and service licence with the removal of Lord Bragg’s blog – and very disappointing to hear ‘Feedback’ trivialising the issue on today’s programme [2].

    I think it might be helpful if ‘Feedback’ devotes a feature to investigating the role of broadcasting service licences.

    References

    [1] Radio 4 Service Licence April 2014 p3
    [2] Feedback BBC Radio 4 18th July (23:40)

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  • Comment number 30. Posted by NiagaraFan

    on 18 Jul 2014 16:35

    This is the first time I have commented in a BBC Blog. I'm motivated by regret and sadness. I'll greatly miss the weekly (but definitely not weakly) Newsletter. As a former English resident the Newsletter seemed like a labour of love that renewed my memory of a past time and place.

    Thank you!

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  • Comment number 29. Posted by William Blaikie

    on 18 Jul 2014 16:02

    If it wasn't for In Our Time I wouldn't know Marx from my elbow. A very disppointing decision to remove Melvyn Bragg's related blog.

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  • Comment number 28. Posted by Will Watts

    on 17 Jul 2014 09:23

    HEar hear to all the above comments! Please, please do find some way to continue the newsletter. The BBC is a Public broadcaster and this is what the Public want!!

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  • Comment number 27. Posted by Ann Russell

    on 15 Jul 2014 18:17

    I am a retired Executive Assistant/PA with editing experience and a great love of the English language and IOT - I have already sent an offer to take over Ingrid's 'work' for free to the IOT programme - I just hope that Lord Bragg has seen it and will at least give me a hearing!

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  • Comment number 26. Posted by Forget It

    on 14 Jul 2014 13:04

    T H A N K
    Y O U
    Melvyn your ambulant blog shall be sourly missed
    sob.

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  • Comment number 25. Posted by Denise

    on 14 Jul 2014 12:18

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

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