round table on the odd profession


Myles Burnyeat: On 24 April 1993 I took part in a popular weekly BBC radio programme, entitled Ad Lib., chaired by Robert Robinson, in which people in odd professions talked about what they did. Once upon a time, when I was a young fellow at University College London, the BBC would regularly broadcast interesting philosophical talks by the likes of Gilbert Ryle, David Pears, and Bernard Williams, and publish them subsequently in a wonderful weekly journal (sadly, now defunct) called The Listener, which would appear on the newsstands alongside the Economist, Spectator, and New Statesman. Then we were mainstream, not an odd profession. But now the BBC had reclassified us as an oddity, worthy of Robert Robinson’s splendidly acerbic attention alongside two varieties of psychotherapist (broadcast in alternate weeks, lest they fall into a quarrel), lighthouse keepers, and other queer folk. We did not complain. For a moment, queer as we might be, we had the attention of the whole country.

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