Podcast: Parallel histories

Harry Beck's 1933 tube map. Image: public domain.

“Is there a podcast this week?” Someone tweeted me yesterday. “Is it about trains? I’d like it to be about trains.” Oh boy have I got good news for you.

The first half is very much about trains – or at least, the tracks they run on, as I tell Stephanie what I learned when I accidentally wrote a history of the London Underground. (Honestly, I just meant to do the line names but it kind of got out of control.) Quick précis: there’s a huge gap in the 20th century, and the British state is obsessed with bloody royalty.

Then Stephanie tells me about her favourite crazy article she’s read this week: this 2015 piece in the Daily Mail which imagines what London would look like had the Gunpowder plot succeeded in 1605, thus undoing the Reformation and turning these islands back into a Catholic country. 

Never mind that the last 400 years of British, European and World history would have been different, the article says – let’s just assume that a few if London’s buildings would look a bit French.

Then I get a bit ranty for reasons you’ll understand when we get there.

The episode itself is below. You can subscribe to the podcast on AcastiTunes, or RSS. Enjoy.



Podcast: Uber & out

Uber no more. Image: Getty.

Oh, capitalism. You had a good run. But then Transport for London decided to ask Uber to take some responsibility for the safety of its passengers, and thus did what 75 years of Soviet Communism failed to do and overthrew the entire economic system of the Western world. Thanks, Sadiq, thanks a lot.

In the unlikely event you've missed the news, the story so far: TfL has ruled that Uber is not a fit and proper company to operate cabs, and revoked its licence. Uber has three weeks to appeal before its cabs need to get off the road.

To commemorate this sad day, I've dragged Stephen Bush back into the podcasting basement, so we can don black arm bands and debate what all this means – for London, for Uber, for the future (if it has one) of capitalism.

May god have mercy on our souls.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason. 

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