Let's Write a List
Texts and music on the theme of list-making, including Shakespeare, Melville and Martin Amis read by Jon Strickland and Emma Powell, plus Mozart, and Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Let's write a list. From the week's shopping to the Ten Commandments, from the pop charts to people of the year, life is full of lists. This exploration of our obsession with list-making includes Mozart's Don Giovanni's conquests, Maria's Favourite Things from the Sound of Music, Polonius's advice to Laertes, Bridget Jones's New Year Resolutions and Herman Melville's catalogue of whales. Readings by Jon Strickland and Emma Powell.
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
Polonius advice to his son Laertes (from Hamlet) read by Jon Strickland
Bridgets New Year Resolutions (from Bridget Jones Diary) read by Emma Powell
F Scott Fitzgerald
Gatsbys guests (from The GreatGatsby) read by Jon Strickland
Choosing a house (from Mrs Beetons Book of Household Management) read by Emma Powell
Choosing Tristrams Breeches (from Tristram Shandy) read by Jon Strickland
For I will consider my cat Jeoffry read by Emma Powell
Species of Whales (from Moby-Dick) read by Jon Strickland
the mock-turtle and the gryphon (from Alice in Wonderland) read by Emma Powell
Fog in London (from Bleak House) read by Jon Strickland
Witches recipe (from Macbeth) read by Emma Powell
list of things the infantry carried (from The Things They Carried) read by Jon Strickland
Miss Flites Birds (from Bleak House) read by Emma Powell
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? (poem) read by Emma Powell
Producer's Note: Let's Write A List
Producer’s Note: Let’s Make A List<?xml:namespace prefix = "o" ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Lists are a functional part of our lives, from the shopping list to the holiday packing, but they also appear in more exalted form in songs, poetry and prose in many contexts.
This programme weaves a whimsical path through lists from the mundane to the sinister, the sublime to the ridiculous. Christopher Smart’s poem about his cat, Jeoffry is a list of his pet’s many delightful characteristics; the ingredients of the witches’ brew in Macbeth on the other hand is a macabre mix of body parts. Love has a way of inspiring us to list-making – Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s exquisite poem “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways” is contrasted with Ian Dury’s knockabout hymn to enjoying modern life - Reasons To Be Cheerful.
Gilbert and Sullivan created a comic villain in Koko, the Lord High Executioner in the Mikado, whose song I’ve got a Little List comes up with reasons for doing away with pretty well anybody who has ever slightly annoyed him.
From two great Victorian novels, come more lists; the opening of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House builds an oppressive sense of foreboding by listing the many ways that fog insinuates itself into every corner of London; and from the same book, eccentric Miss Flite lists her extraordinary collection of names for her caged birds. From across the Atlantic, Herman Melville catalogues and compares the various species of great whales, in Moby-Dick. Two 20th century American authors are featured: F Scott Fitzgerald’s description of the motley assortment of guests who attended Gatsby’s parties in The Great Gatsby has a melancholy absurdity in its deadpan adumbration of dodgy characters and sticky ends; while Tim O’Brien’s description of the many things that US infantrymen carried on their persons in the Vietnam war starkly conveys the sheer physical hardship of going to war.
On a lighter note, Bridget Jones confides to her diary all her many New Year’s Resolutions; Paul Simon sings about just some of the Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover; and from Alice in Wonderland, the Mock-Turtle describes all the classes he took at his under-sea school (from Reeling and Writhing to Fainting in Coils).
Producer: Philip Tagney
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