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I didn't get to China yesterday, but last night I did tour the world via radio.

I had to listen to an insufferable amount of noodling jazz to get to it, but the Everywoman show on the BBC World Service delivered on all counts. Not as feminist as you might expect, but feminine enough to repel most men, the BBC World website tells us that Everywoman is
'for and about women around the world - but men can eavesdrop too!'

(Just don't give the show your full attention, lads.) And what are women around the world talking about, albeit in the clipped broadcasting vowels of presenter Shyma Perera? Chocolate, sex and cooking, of course.

To elaborate: the first item was about women growing cocoa beans in Ghana on Fair Trade principles... because every time we eat a $1 chocolate bar, we are fleecing some poor villagers in West Africa. A bit like shopping at the Trade Aid bookshop, this segment of the show made me feel righteous, without actually having to make any personal sacrifice to ease Third World exploitation.

Then the show moved swiftly on to an item on Marie Stopes, the Joan of Arc of contraception, who opened the first family planning clinic in London in 1921 with a message from God that condoms were bad... he told her men and women's fluids should be able to mingle. She also championed the stunning revelation that women were allowed to enjoy sex and, for her troubles, she apparently received over a thousand letters a week from relieved wives and mothers. (She also called off her own first marriage because she realised, after reading a number of books in the British Library, that it had not been consummated.) There's nothing prudish about the BBC.

Finally, Poppy was on hand to help make fried chicken, in Greece... not imitation Greek-style cooking in a BBC studio mind, they were on location with a frying pan bubbling away under the Aegean sun. Trying to attempt the recipe at home would he futile, as they both seemed remarkably unconcerned with the details and there's no way in hell that you'd get hold of some olive oil from your family olive grove.

Delicious. Fascinating. Worthy. Not too girly. Cheaper than a holiday. And all presented in the same flawless, boarding school English... except for the guests, who were authentically Ghanaian and Greek respectively. Ditto the cocoa beans and chicken fat.

They could have so easily cheated... it's just voices on the radio after all... but I bet they didn't. No trick accents or cheap sound effects for the BBC. This is the World Service and Britannia still rules the airwaves. (I totally agree with you on this Loony ed.)


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