A discovery. Yes, yes, I know. I feel suspiciously like a woman whose husband has been having an affair with the babe across the street for the last 10 years and she's finally found out what everybody else has known since day one. But I don't care if the whole world has known about this for the last millennium. I still want to shout it from the rooftops.
I clicked onto Radio 4 the other day looking for ... something. A spot of impenetrable English comedy, perhaps, or an update on the comings and goings in Ambridge. Anything to make the mountain of washing-up more palatable. And what I found was a mountain of pure gold.
A History of the World in 100 Objects. One hundred 15-minute programmes, each dedicated to a single item in the British Museum, each enabling a piece in the jigsaw of world history to be fitted into place. In the time it takes to make and drink a small pot of PG Tips, I you will hear the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, tell the story of an object, along with the story that object tells. An Egyptian shoe-label, a panel from the city of Ur, a jade spearhead, a tablet telling the story of the Flood. Each is fascinating not only in itself, but also for what it tells us about the times in which it was made and, in some cases, for the way in which its discovery changed our perception of history.
It's everything Radio 4 does best. Perfect descriptions, excellent history in digestible gobbits, memorable anecdotes (Victorian amateur historians taking their clothes off...), affection for a great British institution, fabulous soundtrack (Jan Garbarek?), and relevance, always, to the present day world. Plus a female announcer with an uncanny resemblance to the Voice of the Guide...?
Fifteen minutes well spent. And I heartily recommend it. All we expats need now is a reliable supply of PG.