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Take Me to London


I walk to and from work every day, about three miles round trip. Even in central Illinois, I seldom let weather stop me. My record coldest day that I walked was 8 degrees Fahrenheit. (-13 Celsius for our friends across the pond.) That was a cold day, but there was no wind. Wind, I don't do. Hot days in the Illinois summer are more likely to make me hop a bus, though.

Along my morning route is our local food co-op, Common Ground, where I buy coffee every day.

Then I go to London. Sort of.

I have an app on my cell phone called Tune In that allows me to listen to live radio from just about anywhere in the world. My choice is natural, given that all things UK-related are my fascination, and especially anything to do with London. (There's a map of London on my office wall.) After Googling the multiple BBC radio options, I settled on BBC Radio London. Of course, when I'm walking to work in the morning, I'm listening to the afternoon show that starts at 1:00 London time with Jo Good. She's about my age and her main focus is reminiscing about the past. The music she plays is "oldies but goodies". She invites call-ins, emails, and texts and each hour has a different question to discuss. Like "What's your favorite London cafe?" (Pronounced like it looks with a long A, not the French pronunciation.) "What's your opinion of the plan to close Oxford street to all traffic but pedestrian and bicycle?" "What was your favorite seventies band and did you ever see them perform in person?"

Jo also has a guest each day, most of the time an author or entertainer. Two weeks ago she interviewed a relative of Boris Pasternak who has just published a book called Lara, the story of the woman who inspired the character in Dr. Zhivago, and who was Pasternak's mistress. She took the brunt of the government's hatred for him, sending her a Siberian gulag, since he was too popular with the public and was considered untouchable.

The best part is it's all commercial-free and there is no mention of US politics, except occasionally in the two o'clock news.

I'm an escapist, you say? You bet. An escapist from Facebook and the US media monster and their false notions that an algorithm can decide what I really want to see and read about. Try it sometime. Pick a culture and study it. Read their newspapers, learn their language. You'll be glad you did.

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