Today On Ujima – The Last Show

Today was my last show on Ujima. I have really enjoyed doing it, but right now my life has other priorities. I need to devote as much of my time as possible to fighting the government’s plans to strip civil rights away from trans people. And of course to being ready to leave the country should it become impossible to live here any more. The radio show is great fun, but takes up a huge amount of time.

On the other hand, I think I had a decent last show. I had one interview, with Rebecca Manson Jones of the Women’s Equality Party. She’s their spokesperson on health issues, and we talked mainly about the care industry, which has become vital in this time of a global pandemic, but which is still grossly undervalued.

Something went a bit weird with the scheduling today. The first segment of my show cut out after around 7 minutes. The rest of the first hour was then off schedule. The scheduling system stuck in some music on automatic at the end of the hour, and from then on we ran as normal. I have no idea what happened. But at least we didn’t lose any of the interview.

Anyway, you can listen to the show here.

And if you’d like to join the Women’s Equality Party you can do so here. I note that WE are the only political party in the UK to have a Black person as party leader.

The full playlist for today, including a couple of songs that got lost, was:

  • Trombone Shorty – Dirty Water
  • ChiLites – Power to the People
  • Chic – Rebels We Are
  • Alicia Keys – Superwoman
  • Earth, Wind & Fire – Side by Side
  • Aretha Franklin – Respect
  • Sade – Please Send Me Someone to Love
  • Fontella Bass – Rescue Me
  • Dreadzone – Earth Angel
  • Amanda Lear – I Am What I Am
  • Saara Aalto – Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
  • Shawnee – Warrior Heart
  • Tegan & Sara – Faint of Heart
  • Jackie Shane – Any Other Way
  • Janelle Monae – What an Experience
  • Tracy Chapman – Across the Lines
  • Prince – Purple Rain

This Week on Ujima – C-19, Genetics and #BLM

As I mentioned yesterday, my Ujima show for this week got postponed until yesterday morning thanks to technical issues. It is now available on the Listen Again service, and you can find it here. That page might not say it is Women’s Outlook, but that’s because it is an automated system.

I only had one interview this week. It is with Professor Julian Gough who used to be at Bristol University and is at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge (MRC). He’s involved in a project to look at possible genetic links to COVID-19 susceptibility. This is obviously of interest at Ujima because of the much higher death rates in people from non-white ethnic backgrounds.

There’s a potentially contentious issue here because of the focus of people like Cummings on eugenics, but that’s medical nonsense. All human DNA is very similar. The difference between individual humans is around 0.1%, and we are only 1.2% different from chimps. So the racist nonsense that somehow white people are completely different and massively superior to all other humans is just that, nonsense. However, as Professor Gough explains, some genes are linked to specific diseases (breast cancer, for example), and sometimes those genes are more prevalent in some ethnic groups than others. Furthermore, if there is a C-19 gene, it might not be ethnically linked, but instead be widespread throughout the population, because we already know that systemic racism is a major cause of health inequalities.

A key part of Professor Gough’s work is that he needs data, and you can help. Or at least you can if you have had your DNA sequenced. It doesn’t matter whether you know whether you have had C-19 or not, or even if you’ve had no symptoms. And it doesn’t matter where in the world you live, because the pandemic is global. So if you have DNA data, Professor Gough would love to hear from you. You can join the project here.

By the way, I did ask about data security. UK universities are very strict about such things. Your data is far more at risk from the private companies that do the seqencing than from the MRC.

The rest of the show was taken up with me pontificating about statues taking dip in Bristol harbour, and playing lots of civil rights songs by Black artists. Here’s the playlist:

  • Tracy Chapman – Taking about a Revolution
  • Tom Robinson Band – Long Hot Summer
  • David Byrne – Hell You Talmbout
  • Bob Marley – Slave Driver
  • Black Roots – Bristol Rock
  • Amaal Nuux – Last Ones Down
  • The Specials – Racist Friend
  • Eddy Grant – Boys in the Street
  • Beyoncé – Freedom
  • Jimmy Cliff – Peace Officer
  • Prince – Baltimore
  • Alicia Keys – We Gotta Pray
  • Stevie Wonder – Living for the City
  • James Brown – Black and I’m Proud
  • Otis Redding – Change is Gonna Come
  • Janelle Monáe – Hell You Talmbout

Silence is the Enemy, and Sound is the Weapon.

Coronavirus – Day #86

Social media is still buzzing away talking about dumping statues in the sea. I’m pleased to see that Avon & Somerset police are defending their wise decision not to attack the protesters in an attempt to save a statue of a slave trader. I’m sure they prevented a lot of violence, injury and damage to property by doing so. I’m also pleased to see Mayor Marvin and city notables such as Thangam Debbonaire MP and Cleo Lake standing up for them. I believe that Kerry McCarthy MP was trying to do so in a Law & Order debate in Parliament today, but the Tories have so thoroughly manipulated the parliamentary process that she probably didn’t get a chance to speak.

In stark contrast the government has been spitting furious. There’s no doubt that the likes of Bozo and his Home Secretary, Priti Patel, wanted the police to attack the protestors so as to precipitate a violent confrontation. Sadly the Police Federation has not behaved any better. And Bozo had the cheek to say today that Britain is “not a racist country”. In a YouGov poll released this evening 33% of respondents said that they thought we should have statues honouring slave traders.

In the midst of all this I have been putting together a radio show. There might be rather a lot of civil rights protest songs in it.

Today on Ujima – A Nalo Special

I was back on the radio after two weeks off today, and I must admit that it is getting hard to find guests for the show. People are either run ragged or thoroughly depressed by the state of the world. Fortunately I had done those two interviews with Nalo for the One25 fundraiser, and I knew hardly anyone had watched them, so I was happy to run those on the show.

Before I did that, I spent some time reflecting on the current situation in the USA. My thanks to Lyda for sharing her experiences of Minneapolis after the first night of rioting. I figured that things would have got worse by the time the show aired. I don’t think I had quite expected 45 to declare war on his own people.

The show also has some new music from Labi Siffre and from Lianne La Havas. It also has two songs each from the fabulous Canadian women that Nalo introduced me to. Measha’s Brueggergosman’s version of “Both sides now” is a thing of beauty.

Oh, and I played a song for Bozo.

If you missed the show you can catch it via the Listen Again service.

Here’s the playlist:

  • Prince – When Doves Cry
  • Lizzo – Like a Girl
  • Bruce Springsteen – Streets of Fire
  • Bob Marley – Revolution
  • Gil Scott Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
  • Janelle Monáe – Americans
  • Andy Allo – When Angels Make Love
  • Jimi Hendrix – Angel
  • Measha Brueggergosman & Martin Short – Misty
  • Shakura S’Aida – Brown Sugar
  • Labbi Siffre – Why Isn’t Love Enough
  • Lianne la Havas – Bittersweet
  • Linda Ronstandt – Lies
  • Measha Brueggergosman – Both Sides Now
  • Shakura S’Aida – This is Not a Love Song

Here’s the song that I played for our abomination of a government. (The first one.)

If anyone has something they’d like to promote on next week’s show, please get in touch.

Coronavirus – Day #79

Progress! The new Salon Futura is now online, so you can read some of the things I have been writing over the past week. I have also done a couple of online meetings, and got thoroughly depressed about the state of the world, and the USA in particular. Hang in there, American friends!

Tomorrow I get to edit together a new radio show, which means I need to talk about what is happening across the pond. That won’t be fun, but it is very necessary. Now more than ever we need to stand up in support of our PoC friends, in particular Black Americans.

Here in the UK the weekly rolling average number of deaths from C-19 has been more or less flat for about a week now. That’s after it had been falling steadily for over 5 weeks. So of course Bozo has picked this time to tell everyone that it is perfectly safe now. I’ve been seeing pictures of packed beaches on social media. I’ve also been seeing photos of large-scale demonstrations in support of our friends in the USA. I shall be relived, but very surprised, if we don’t see a sharp rise in the number of C-19 cases very soon.

And now, the Q.U.E.E.N. has a message for you.

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Up in the Sierras #GiveItUp125


I don’t have a lot of photos of my time in California because smartphones hadn’t been invented back then and digital cameras were still a bit dodgy. Also I seem to have spent most of my time photographing visits to science fiction conventions rather than tourist spots. However, there are a couple of records of tourist trips in Emerald City. This is one of them.

Kevin took me up into the Sierras to visit his mother. We timed to visit to coincide with a local Blues Festival, which I wrote about here. There are also photos here and here.

These days you can find good musicians on line, so here’s Craig Horton in action:

And here’s Steve Gannon:

Today on Ujima – One25, Greek Robots & Mental Health

My first guests on today’s show were Amy & Lu from One25. Amy explained why the women that One25 helps cannot simply stop doing sex work during the pandemic. Most of them don’t even have homes, let alone any other source of income. Lu then chimined in with details of this year’s fundraiser. I’m delighted to see that I’m now up to 78% of my initial target. What I’d love to see is us hitting 100% by launch time on Friday, and then I can set a new target for the 6 days of the campaign.

Next up was my new academic pal, Maria Gerolemou from the University of Exeter. Like me, Maria as a passion for ancient automata. Those of you who have heard my “Prehistory of Robotics” talk will have a good idea of what to expect. The rest of you, prepare to be astonished.

Finally I welcomed back Subitha from CASS to talk about two new mental health campaigns. You can find out more about the #SleepSoundBristol and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek projects at the CASS website. And do please write in to tell them about someone who has been kind to you.

This week’s show also includes tributes to two tiny giants of the music business who sadly left us in the past week. They were Millie Small, who hit #2 on both sides of the Atlantic in 1964 with “My Boy Lollipop”, and Little Richard without whom the likes of Prince and Elton John would have been very different musicians.

The playlist for the show is as follows:

  • My Boy Lollipop – Millie Small
  • Street Life – Roxy Music
  • Money Don’t Matter – Prince
  • Sun Goddess – Ramsey Lewis & Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Chrome Shoppe – Janelle Monáe
  • Dance Apocalyptic – Janelle Monáe
  • Dream within a Dream – Dreadzone
  • Everyone’s a VIP to Someone – The Go! Team
  • Long Tall Sally – Little Richard
  • Good Golly Miss Molly – Little Richard
  • Keep a Knockin’ – Little Richard
  • Lucille – Little Richard
  • Tutti Frutti – Little Richard
  • The Girl Can’t Help It – Little Richard
  • By the Light of the Silvery Moon – Little Richard
  • House of the Ancestors – Afro Celt Sound System

You can hear the entire show via the Ujima Listen Again service. It will be up there for a few weeks.

Today on Ujima – Dealing with the Virus

A day late, but this week’s show finally got on the air. This is one of the problems with not being able to go into the studios: tech-fail happens. Huge thanks to Miranda, our station manager, for sorting it all out.

I spent the first hour of today’s show talking to my good friend Paulette North. Paulette was the person who recuited me to Ujima, and Women’s Outlook was her show before it was mine. We talked about a whole range of subjects, including how she is coping with Lockdown, how Gloucester Road in Bristol is a great little community, and how the government is coping with the crisis. Paulette has never been one to hide her political opinions, so this one is well worth a listen.

Next up I spoke to Daryn Carter of Bristol Pride. He’s had a fairly nasty case of C-19 and is now in recovery. He talked to me about what it was like to go through the illness, and how recovery is a very lengthy process.

Finally I spoke to Aled Osborne from Brigstowe about how people who are living with HIV face additional problems in these unprecedented times, and how you can help Bristowe to help them. As I’ve said before, I think that the lessons learned by the queer community in surviving the AIDS epidemic will be of great value to the world as we begin to recover from C-19.

Because the show was broadcast on the wrong day, it won’t appear in the usual category on the Listen Again service, but you can find it under today’s 12:00-14:00 slot, which is here.

The playlist for today’s show was as follows:

  • Eddy Grant – Baby Come Back
  • Dina Carroll – Don’t be a stranger
  • Gladys Knight & the Pips – Help Me Make it Through the Night
  • Aretha Franklin – Chain of Fools
  • Sade – Hang on to your love
  • Gloria Gaynor – I will survive
  • Whitney Houston – My Love is Your Love
  • Dreadzone – Life, Love & Unity

The Book of Koli

Mike Carey has a new science fiction trilogy underway, and book 1 was officially published yesterday. Normally I would be jumping at this and reviewing it immediately, but I can’t because, as Mike mentioned in the launch event last night, I had a small hand in creating the book. There are a couple of trans people in it, and I helped out with a few details of their characterisation and story arcs. Advising other people about trans issues is, after all, something that I do professionally.

Of course there’s a lot more to the book than just those characters. Indeed, of all the reviews I have seen so far, only one has even mentioned their existence. And in my humble opinion the rest of the book is amazing. Koli’s voice does take a little getting used to, but once you are into the rhythm of it reading becomes very easy. The whole thing about murderous trees is fabulous. The weird place names will probably mean more if you are British and have a vague idea of what the original names were, but if you are not they will just sound like fantasy names.

For those of you who love maps, Mythen Rood is the small town of Mytholmroyd in the Calder Valley, not far from Hebden Bridge. English places names are remarkably bizarre at times.

Of course with us all stuck in isolation and animals starting to wander the streets of our cities, the whole setting of the books takes on a new significance. The books are set a couple of hundred years into the future, so sufficiently far for the current crisis to be merely a small part of what has happened to the world. Nevertheless, the books are set in a world that nature has reclaimed. Asked for a playlist for the book last night, Mike mentioned my favourite Talking Heads song. I think you will see why.

Today on Ujima – Small Businesses in Lockdown, the Hugos

Today’s show mainly features small businesses talking about how they are coping with Lockdown.

I started with Tara from Talk to the Rainbow, a new psychotherapy service catering to members of marginalised communities. Understandably, they are in a lot of demand right now, but are having to learn to do therapy remotely.

Next up were Graham and Esmerelda from My Burrito, who seem to be doing OK on remote ordering, but are having a lot of trouble with Deliveroo. If you can order your food via a different delivery service then they, and many other restaurants, will be very grateful.

Finally I talked to Dan from Storysmith Books, who are finding that people’s interest in reading has not waned, and may even be increasing.

For the final segment of the show I had a chat with Kevin about this year’s Hugo finalists. We didn’t manage to cover all of the categories, but hopefully we will have generated some interest in the Awards. Plus it was a chance for me to point out how female-dominated they Hugos are these days.

You can find the show on the Ujima Listen Again service.

The playlist for today’s show was:

  • Andy Allo – Superconductor
  • Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody
  • Liane La Havas – Unstoppable
  • Janelle Monáe – Tightrope (Mouche & Big Remix)
  • Chic – Good Times
  • Prince – Alphabet Street
  • Jackie Shane – Money
  • Parliament – Mothership Connection

Today on Ujima – Coping with Lockdown

Given the extraordinary circumstances through which we are living, I decided to devote the first half of today’s radio show to talking to some experts about mental health. First up was Subitha from CASS Bristol who are your one-stop shop for mental health support if you live in the Bristol area. She’s followed by Dr. Dominique Thompson who is a former GP and has written a number of books on mental health, specifically for students.

In the second half of the show I was delighted to welcome back Tamsin from the Popelei Theatre Company. She and her colleagues have launched a Women in Lockdown project, calling for 4-minute monologues featuring women who, for various reasons, are restricted in their movements.

I only had three interviews this week. I was keeping the fourth slot free for some boat-dwelling pals who were being treated very shabbily by Bristol Harbour. Thankfully we made enough noise on social media for them to get picked up by the BBC so they didn’t need me. I got to play some fun music instead.

You can listen to the show via this link.

The playlist for today’s show was:

  • Jama – Free Your Mind
  • Richie Havens & Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Trouble in Mind
  • Bat for Lashes – Peace of Mind
  • Bob Marley – No woman, no cry
  • Patti Labelle – Messing with my mind
  • Jamiroquai – Music of the mind
  • Dreadzone – Heat the Pot (especially for Aliette & Tasha)
  • Afro-Celt Sound System – Whirl-y-Reel 2
  • Donna Summer – The MacArthur Park Suite

Today on Ujima – Pandemic Special

Today on my radio show I interviewed a bunch of people from around the world about how they are coping with the cornavirus pandemic. These days my shows are all pre-recorded as I can’t go into the studio, but Miranda and the back office team at Ujima do a great job of getting me on air. Here’s the list of people that I interviewed:

  • Kevin Standlee (Nevada, USA)
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts (Hobart, Australia)
  • Celia Neri (Nice, France)
  • Sabrina Mittermeier (Munich, Germany)
  • Rhonda Garcia (Port of Spain, Trinidad)
  • Mihaela Perković (Zagreb Croatia)
  • Maria Turtschaninoff (Helsinki, Finland)
  • Juliet McKenna (Oxford, England)

Of those I think the government of Trinidad has probably come out of it best. Celia’s stories of teaching school kids on line, Sabrina’s need to flee the USA, and Mihaela’s story of the Zagreb earthquake stand out.

I tried to make the music choices fit as best I could with our current circumstances. Here are the songs I played.

  • Heroes – Janelle Monáe
  • Say a Little Prayer – Aretha Franklin
  • May the Force Be With You – Bootsy’s Rubber Band
  • 4 Leaf Clover – Erykah Badu
  • A Little Help from My Friends – Ike & Tina Turner
  • We Are Family – Sister Sledge
  • When You’re Lonely – Labi Siffre
  • Dancing in the Streets – Boney M

The show will be available via our Listen Again service for a few weeks. You can find it here.

As I have a bit of free time on my hands thee days I am planning to do more shows to help keep our listeners entertained over the period of lockdown. If anyone has anything Bristol-related that they want to feature, please let me know.

A Taste of the Wild

Red Deer Stag

In early April Kevin and I were due to take a vacation on Vancouver Island off the west coast of Canada. Obviously that won’t happen now, but I’ve mostly been able to have today off and I took the opportunity to catch up with the BBC’s 2017 wildlife series, Wild Ireland: The Edge of the World. Like Vancouver Island, Western Ireland exists on the north-eastern edge of a great ocean, and it too has a wonderful assortment of wildlife. This two-episode series has the usual focus on mating and murder, but it also has some absolutely stunning photography. There are gannets, puffins, dolphins, red deer, pine martens, basking sharks and much more. It is well worth a look.

The thing that really struck me, however, was a story. Years ago a group of men from the Blasket Islands were on their way home in their curraghs when they heard an unearthly sound coming up through the bottoms of their boats. One of the men was a musician, and that night he made a song that, as best as he was able, captured the sounds he had heard. It is called Port na bPúcaí (the song of the pookas) and it became a very popular slow air. Here it is:

For a long time this was assumed to be nothing more than a fairly tale, but now we have had the opportunity to study such music we know exactly what magnificent creatures made it, and what a good job that ancient Irishman made of reproducing their song.

Humpback whale

Today On Ujima – LGBTHM and IWD

Today’s radio show sat on the cusp between the end of LGBT History Month and the arrival of International Women’s Day. (International Men’s Day is on November 19th, thank you for asking.) I began the show by looking backward and running an interview with my friend and sometime colleague, Dan Vo, that I had recorded in Cardiff over the weekend. Dan is a professional Queerator, that is, someone whose job it is to go around museums and find queer stuff in their collections that they can use to be more LGBT inclusive.

In the second slot I welcomed Rebecca from Watershed who is part of their cinema team. In particular she has been helping put together their International Women’s Day programme which features the Feminista Short Film Festival. There are also some great women-centered feature films coming up. Rebecca is also involved in QueerVision, the Watershed’s regular celebration of queer cinema. There’s a short film festival coming up for that and she’s looking for submissions.

Slot three should have been a feature on drink spiking featuring Andy Bennett from Avon & Somerset Police, but some sort of operational emergency claimed his time and I had to fill in with the chat and extra music. Hopefully we can do that piece another time.

Finally I welcomed Sian and Laura from the Bristol Festival of Women’s Literature. They have loads of great talent lined up for this year’s event, including the very wonderful Juliet Jacques talking about memoir writing. You can find more details of the programme here.

An event of particuar interest to me is the launch party at Spike Island on the 27th as it is being run in conjunction with the wonderful people from Comma Press who are publishing Europa 28, an anthology of writing about the future of Europe by women from all over the continent. It is political essays rather than SF, but these days the one quickly shades into the other. And of course much of the content is translated.

If you missed the show live it will be available through our Listen Again service for a few weeks. Go here to listen.

The playlist for the show was as follows:

  • Duffy – Rockferry
  • Tracy Chapman – She’s Got Her Ticket
  • Selecter – On My Radio
  • Rihanna – Only Girl in the World
  • Janet Kay – Silly Games
  • The Weather Girls – Its Raining Men
  • Bat for Lashes – Horse and I
  • Thelma Houston – Don’t Leave Me This Way
  • Janelle Monáe (feat. Grimes) – Pynk
  • Aretha Franklin – Until You Come Back

Sian and Laura, this is the famous Monica Sjöö painting that was one of the inspirations for Janelle Monáe’s video for Pynk.

Because I’m going to be in Canada with Kevin for the first part of April, my next show will not be until April 15th.

Today on Ujima: #LGBTHM, Feminist AI and Time to Talk Day

I was live on Ujima again today. It was a bit of a scramble getting the show together and huge thanks to those guests who came on board yesterday. Also huge thanks to my old pal Valentin who used to run the desk for Paulette back in the day when I was a trainee presenter. As Ben was on holiday this week, Valentin stepped in to help out. Ben messaged me to say he was listening to the show online, which is incredible devotion to duty, and probably means that we had a listener in Kenya this week.

The first hour of the show was devoted to LGBT History Month events in Bristol. First up I was joined by Claire from Aerospace Bristol. They, in conjunction with The Diversity Trust, OutStories Bristol, and South Gloucestershire Council are putting on an event specifically aimed at engineers, and the aerospace industry in particular. The headline speaker is the wonderful Caroline Paige, and I’m particularly looking forward to the panel with the young people from Alphabets who will be discussing what they want from employers in the future. That event is on Saturday. I will be there with both my DT and OSB hats on. Full details are available here.

Next I welcomed back Karen from M Shed, along with Zoltán from Freedom Youth. I’m not curating the M Shed event this year. We’ve turned the whole thing over to the young people, and they have done an amazing job of putting together a programme. You can find details of their event here. It is on Saturday 22nd, and sadly I will be in Salzburg that weekend, but I hope some of you will go along and let me know how it turned out.

We also mentioned two other great events coming up in Bristol this month. The leading civil rights lawyer, Johnathan Cooper, will be at Bristol University Law School on the evening of the 19th to talk about, “Policing Desire: LGBT+ Persecution in the UK, 1970 to 2000”. Tickets are available (for free) here. Also there is the Black Queerness event that we covered in last month’s show. That’s on at the RWA. It is officially sold out, but there’s a wait list that you can get onto here.

The second half of the show began with my being joined by Coral Manton from Bath Spa University. Coral describes herself as a “creative technologist”, which basically means that she gets to do fun things with computers all day and gets paid for it. One of her projects is Women Reclaiming AI, which looks to do something about the sexist bias in electronic personal assistants.

We all know that most of these things (Alexa, Siri, etc.) come with female-coded voices, and that’s because the companies who make them decided (probably after some market research) that customers wanted a subordinate and submissive identity for their personal assistant. (Interestingly SatNavs work the other way: male drivers won’t take instructions from a female-coded voice.) Because these software constructs are maninly created by men, the personalities that they have are not based on real women, but on what men want their female assistants to be like.

This leads us down all sorts of feminist rabbit holes. Most notably, before Coral and her colleagues could create a “real” female personality for an AI, they had to decide what it meant to be a “real” woman. Part of the process has been running workshops in which groups of women get to have input into the process of creating the AI personality.

It turns out that one of the things that they asked for was that the AI would have the right to decline to help every so often. Real women can’t drop everything and help their families whenever they are asked to do so, so artificial women shouldn’t either. That sounded good to me, though I did have visions of Hal 9000 saying, “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that”; and possibly of Portia from Madeline Ashby’s vN saying, “NO, you will obey ME!”

I could have happily have talked to Coral about this stuff for the whole two hours. Hopefully you find the discussion as interesting as I did.

My final guests were Ali & Loo from some local mental health charities, and Shani, a poet who works with them. Tomorrow is Time to Talk Day, on which people are encouraged to talk about their mental health issues. There’s a whole lot going on in Bristol tomorrow, and you can find links to it all here. I particularly love Loo’s event making pom poms to support the Sunflower Suicide Prevention Project.

The other event that I had to mention is the one coming up at Foyles in Cabot Circus on the evening of the 25th. That will be Emma Newman, Emma Geen, Liz Williams and myself in conversation with Kate Macdonald on the subject of women in science fiction. I understand that it is sold out, but there is probably a wait list. Details here.

You can listen to today’s show via the Ujima Listen Again service here.

The playlist for today’s show was:

  • Faint of Heart – Tegan & Sara
  • So Strong – Labi Siffre
  • Two Old Maids – The Vinyl Closet
  • Cream – Prince
  • Come Alive – Janelle Monáe
  • Are Friends Electric – Tubeway Army
  • Dock of the Bay – Otis Reading
  • I Need Somebody to Love Tonight – Sylvester

And in case any of you haven’t seen it, here is the wonderful video for the Tegan & Sara song. Watch carefully and you will spot Jen Richards and Angelica Ross in there as well.

Talking of Angelica, I see that there are rumours that she’ll feature in the Loki TV series. There have also been hints that Sera, one of Marvel’s current openly trans characters, will be in Thor: Love & Thunder. It is tempting to tie the two together, but what I really want to see happen is for Angelica to play Loki alongside Tom Hiddleston, because it won’t be proper Loki without some gender-flipping and it would be awful if they put Tom in drag for that.

Today on Ujima: Feminism, Black Queerness & TV Careers

Today was my first day back at work that involved leaving home. I was back in the Ujima studios for another Women’s Outlook. It had been a bit of a challenge pulling this one together because no one was answering email before Monday, so I had two days. Nevertheless, we had some guests.

The first slot was empty so I played some music to talk about the unpleasant prospect of at least 5 years of the UK being ruled by Blue Meanies. I then played a few songs to send a message to a certain orange-faced person over in the USA.

My first guest was Carolyn from Bristol Women’s Voice. There was a time when people like me were distinctly unwelcome at that organisation, but I’m pleased to report that they have turned a corner and are happy to include all women again. Carolyn was particularly there to promote their Volunteer Network Event later this month, but we also discussed current campaigns, and of course the International Women’s Day event in March.

Next up was Helen from Royal West of England Academy. She was on the show to talk about the amazing Celebrating Black Queerness event coming up in February, and the associated Africa State of Mind exhibition. Celebrating Black Queerness is a joint event with Kiki, Bristol’s QTIPOC organisation, and will feature luminaries such as Lady Phyll and Travis Alabanza.

My final guest should have been Jo from Diverse Insights, but she suffered a transport malfunction on the way to the studio so I had to fill in for her as best I could. The event she was due to talk about is Screen Futures 2020, which is an amazing day of workshops for people interested in pursuing a career in television and radio.

You can listen to the show for the next few weeks via the Ujima Listen Again service.

Here’s the playlist:

  • Ike & Tina Turner – A Little Help from My Friends
  • Aretha Franklin – Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • Angelique Kidjo – Once in a Lifetime
  • The Temptations – War
  • Culture Club – The War Song
  • Eddy Grant – War Party
  • Alicia Keys – Superwoman
  • Chaka Khan – I’m Every Woman
  • Little Richard – Good Golly Miss Molly
  • Bessie Smith – A Good Man is Hard to Find
  • Bow Wow Wow – TV Savage
  • Andy Allo – If I was King
  • Janelle Monáe – We Were Rock ‘n’ Roll

Today on Ujima: The Deep, Interculture & Trans Women in Sport

That was my final Women’s Outlook show for 2019. This is what we talked about.

First up I re-ran my interview with Rivers Solomon from last year. We talked mainly about The Deep, and it is published in the UK tomrrow. I’m sure there are a lot of listeners who might buy it but who have forgotten about the interview by now. If anyone wants to see my review of the book, you can find it here.

My first studio guest was Lisa Whitehouse from Interculture. She’s currently crowdfunding for money to run three series of courses that are aimed at bringing various cultural groups in Bristol together so that they can get to understand each other better. Lisa and I spent quite a bit of time talking about whiteness and how we, as white people who work a lot with BME communities, can avoid making everything all about us.

Next in the studio was Sammy Walker, a young trans woman who has been a key part of this year’s Rainbow Laces campaign. She’s a very good soccer player, but is currently playing for Bristol Panthers, an inclusive LGBT team with mainly male players, because she doesn’t want to have to deal with all the politics around trans women in sport. The conversation expanded from football to trans women in sport in general.

I had a really bad coughing fit at the start of the interview with Sammy. I’ve just listed back to it and it isn’t too bad, but my apologies again to everyone for that, and thanks to Ben the engineer for his bottle of water.

The conversation with Sammy went on for about 45 minutes and I filled the rest of the time with a bit of Christmas music because it is that time of year. Here’s the full playlist:

  • The Deep – clipping
  • Americans – Janelle Monáe
  • Money – Jackie Shane
  • Unstoppable – Lianne la Havas
  • We Are Family – Sister Sledge
  • My Feet Keep Dancing – Chic
  • Run, Rudolph, Run – Chuck Berry
  • All I Want for Christmas is You – Maria Carey
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen & Sleigh Ride – The Ramsey Lewis Trio

You can listen to the whole show here.

Today on Ujima – Books, Theatre, Trans Pride & Tobias Buckell

My first guest on today’s radio show was Kate MacDonald of Handheld Press, a wonderful local publisher based in Bath. Kate will be familiar to people on the UK SF&F circuit as she was at FantasyCon and BristolCon. She doesn’t just publish SF&F, but when she does it is pretty spectacular. You will have heard me enthusing about her Vonda McIntyre reissue, and she has had great success with a Nicola Griffith book. On the show we talked about a book by Rose Maculey which inspired Brave New World. John Clute gets a starring role in the story of how Kate got to publish that one. And if we’d had more time we’d have talked about the new Sylvia Townsend Warner book, Of Cats and Elfins, which has a Greer Gilman introduction and a Neil Gaiman front cover blurb.

That was hard to top, but for the second section of the show I welcomed Nick Young from Creative Youth Network and two wonderful young actors who will be performing in The Edge, a play about the dangers of reality TV. The play is written by my friend Edson Burton, and will be staged at Colston Hall later this month. As the advertising says, it will be an immersive live performance. You’ll have to listen to the interview to find out just how clever they have been.

In part three I welcome Lowie Trevena, the new LGBT+ Affairs correspondent of Bristol 24/7 to talk about the upcoming Trans Pride South West. Lowie did a preview of the event for the paper yesterday, and we went a lot more into detail on that. We also talked about what it means to be a non-binary person, and how non-binary does not mean androgynous.

Finally I re-ran parts of my 2014 interview with Tobias Buckell to celebrate his win (along with Paulo Bacigalupi) in the World Fantasy Awards last weekend. Their book, The Tangled Lands, won the Best Collection catageory. In the 2014 piece Tobias and I talk about hurricanes in the Caribbean, climate change, and some interesting regional politics that allowed Tobias to create a unified Caribbean state for some of his work.

You can listen to the show here.

The playlist is as follows:

  • Pipe – Christina Aguilera & Lewis Hamilton
  • World in Union – Ladysmith Black Mambazo (feat. PJ Powers)
  • Screen Kiss – Thomas Dolby
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott Heron
  • History – Shea Freedom
  • Sticks and Stones – Jackie Shane
  • Hurricane Season – Trombone Shorty
  • 007 – A Fantasy Bond Theme – Barry Adamson

Happy Samhain

The holiday that we call Hallowe’en is something of a mash-up between the Celtic Samhain, the Catholic All Souls Eve, and the Aztec festival in honour of their goddess of death, Mictēcacihuātl. Being a Celt (whatever that means), I tend to stick to our version of things, and therefore it is my duty to warn you that tonight the walls between the world of mortals and the world of the sídhe are thinner than at any time of the year. If you wish to avoid being abducted, you should take care not to accept any mysterious invitations.

Here’s a little music to help you out. First up, Steeleye Span with “Thomas the Rhymer” (and I’m pleased to see that whoever put this on YouTube used the original Thomas Canty cover art from Ellen Kushner’s brilliant novel).

And secondly, here’s Horslips from The Book of Invasions with something a little more scary, “Ride to Hell”.

Stay safe, people.