As I write, it’s local elections day here in England. There are elections in large chunks of the country, but to my shame I’ve only really been paying attention to two: the London borough ones (where there’s a lot of tension around how they might go for the various parties), and the Sheffield City Region mayoral one (where there’s no tension whatsoever because we’ve basically known that Labour’s Dan Jarvis was a lock for months now).
Anyway. I talk about those, briefly – but because we won’t have any results until some silly time this evening, our main feature this week is something else entirely.
Caroline Crampton was for many years in charge of the internet here at the New Statesman, and is one of the hosts of our pop culture podcast Srsly. Last year, she took on a new role as head of podcasts, and moved to Merseyside to write a book about the Thames Estuary.
So, all things considered, I thought it was about time I invited her onto Skylines to talk about it. She tells me how her parents’ journey from South Africa and her childhood in Kent inspired an interest in the estuary; how and why its human, natural and economic geography all differ so radically from the proper Thames, up-river; and why the towns of the estuary keep showing such an enduring enthusiasm for right-wing populist racists.
She also tells a frankly horrific story about 600 Victorians who drowned in sewage. It’s a fascinating conversation.
Next week, in all likelihood, will be the local election post mortem episode. See you on the other side.