I have just finished watching Art of Persia, a three-part series on the BBC (still available on iPlayer). It is a stunning portrayal of an amazing country and its fabulous historical and cultural treasures and it made me long to go back. Visiting ancient archaeological sites and beautiful mosques and learning about the Sufi poets, Samira Ahmed was the perfect presenter - interested and enquiring, but making her presentation all about the sites she was seeing and not about her. She reveals how narrow the West’s understanding of Persian culture is. Yet, for 3,000 years, Persia has influenced culture across the world. This was one of the few nations to defeat the Roman Empire. Yet, for most of its existence, Persia was isolated, not least because it held on its own language, even when overrun by Islamic, Arabic-speaking, invaders. Even today, Iran is the only non-Arabic speaking country in the Middle East. The ethos of being Persian is still an integral part of Iranian culture today. Whatever your political views, it is a country well-worth visiting and the local people will welcome you with open arms and generous hospitality.
Great to hear an old friend, Kim Collis, on ‘The Listening Project’ live from Swansea on BBC Radio 4 earlier today. In an all too brief appearance, Kim, who is the County Archivist of West Glamorgan, took part in the programme hosted by Fi Glover, which reflected on the Welsh relationship with language and literature. Kim expressed a hope that the rise of digital content will not mean the loss of personal contact in archives and libraries and emphasised the joy of serendipity in making chance finds when looking through the archives themselves and not relying on a search engine.
‘The Listening Project’ is ‘capturing the nation in conversation’ and is an ambitious oral history project to gather a picture of life in contemporary Britain in which individuals volunteer to have a conversation with someone close to them about something they’ve never discussed before. It is a partnership between BBC Radio 4, BBC local stations and the British Library.
Currently enjoying the “Museum of Lost Objects” series on BBC radio 4, which is tracing the stories of ten artefacts or sites in Syria and Iraq that have been lost through damage or looting, including the winged bull of Nineveh, the temple of Bel in Palmyra (see also my post of 12 September 2015) and the minaret of the Umayyed mosque in Aleppo. Having visited both Palmyra and Aleppo I found this particularly poignant.
Great to see Sophie Clapp, the Boots archivist, featuring on this BBC2 programme and such a natural in front of the camera! The concept of the series is that a family give up all their modern technology and live life as if in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and so on, where they find, of course, that their lives – and roles – would have been very different. Sophie talked about the revolution in makeup and how it started to become a necessity, rather than a luxury, for women.
Interesting piece on BBC radio 4’s “Today” programme this morning that a “lost” story by Beatrix Potter – “The Tale of Kitty in Boots” – has been uncovered and will be published later this year. The presenter referred to the find as being in a dusty archive but the researcher, Jo Hanks, swiftly replied that the V&A [Victoria & Albert Museum] look after their archives!
Then, only about 30 minutes later, there was another piece referring to archives! One of the latest files to be released by The National Archives (TNA) is about an MP’s proposal to Churchill that the UK should introduce a McCarthy style search to root out communists in the BBC which, thankfully, did not happen.
My thoughts, views and musings about what's happening in the world of archives and records management, information and governance, heritage and culture