A couple of minutes after the programme ended, we got a cake! Not a BBC cake. Home-made by Alice Feinstein, who used to produce the programme and has now gone upwards. Gwyneth Williams, the Controller of Radio 4, then came in and I think our three philosophers were rather bewildered to be at a 500th birthday party, but they bore up with it very well. The party lasted approximately seven minutes.
We had just had time to get some wonderful quotations. Simon Blackburn quoted from Schopenhauer, who suggested that imagining we have free will is ''exactly as if water spoke to itself: 'I can make waves (yes! in the sea during a storm), I can rush downhill (yes! in the river bed), I can plunge down foaming and gushing (yes! in the waterfall), I can rise freely as a stream of water into the air (yes! in the fountain), I can, finally, boil away and disappear (yes! at a certain temperature); but I am doing none of these things now, and am of my own accord remaining quiet and clear water in the reflecting pond.''' Einstein (I think this was Galen Strawson) wrote: ''If the moon, in the act of completing its eternal way around the earth, were gifted with self-consciousness, it would feel thoroughly convinced that it was travelling its way of its own accord on the strength of a resolution taken once and for all.'' Darwin wrote of ''the great delusion of free will''. Galen himself said in the programme that he was betting on determinism being the prevailing view on this subject.
As with many of the subjects we do, I was relieved that we got so much in, but the three philosophers were not dismayed - are philosophers ever dismayed? - that there was so much else to be said. Perhaps another programme. Perhaps many of the programmes we do should have Part One and then, two or three years later, Part Two.
Out, then, from the tribe of philosophers and the tribe of BBC media folk on the way to the tribes in the House of Lords, by way of the gloriously cosmopolitan mix of London. Even a quiet walk down Regent Street is a stroll through the costumes of at least three continents.
I worry about the small cafes which have so many cakes and so many different sorts of breads piled in the window. Can they possibly sell all this? If not, where do they store it overnight? If they don't store it overnight, how much do they lose on it?
Why should I worry about bread in the window?
Into St James's Park, because I had a few minutes in hand, and a pelican path-block. Five of them. Magnificently occupying the path beside the lake. It was such a good chance to look at them in close-up. Their bendy necks. The little pink crest. And their almost incomprehensively long and highly coloured bills. What I had not witnessed before was their infinite patience. People crouched down beside them and stroked the crests and even touched the bill while they were photographed, often very demandingly, by their friends or relatives who insisted they get closer or stroke this or that.
Not a pelican bite. Not a pelican murmur.
The daffodils are out in force. The cherry blossom is coming out on some of the trees and a few hundred yards away is completely out on other of the trees. Into the Lords, once a very intense and hermetic aristocratic tribe - as it still was, to all intents and purposes, when I arrived there in the same year as In Our Time got on the air. Now it is much more of a mixed bag, although we all wear suits and ties. A brisk Question and Answer on prostitution, in which Baroness Trumpington called for brothels to be properly supervised, and on anti-Semitism, in which Lady Deech brought some disturbing figures to the attention of the House and was fully supported.
So a new day has begun.
Thank you very much for your suggestions of subjects. Both Tom and myself think that they were terrific (no flattery). We will certainly use some of them. The temptation is to use many of them and to pull back from our own contributions, but I think we'll manage to resist that.
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