Iain Dale, Ken Clarke, And A Podcasting Time Machine

Over the last few months I’ve been walking a lot more, which has given me the opportunity to delve into my playlist of ‘podcast episodes I must get around to listening to’.

Nine times out of ten these have been engaging episodes that are relatively timeless, such as Women at Warp’s look at the themes of bigotry and xenophobia in Star Trek’s ‘Balance of Terror’ (a podcast episode, indeed an entire podcast, that I very much recommend). Other episodes feel like I’m still in the zone listening in real time but at my own pace (hello to David Dylan Thomas’ ‘Cognitive Bias Podcast’).

Then there’s the episode that magically transported me back in time, where I was looking forward to a better future.

That podcast was ‘Iain Dale’s All Talk’ and his interview with Ken Clarke. Recorded on Valentine’s Day 2020, and published in the following days, the first half is exactly what you would expect of an interviewer talking to one of the most recognisable politicians in the last fifty years; how their career started, moments of high drama along the way, and their decisions that have proven right or wrong when looking back in hindsight.

The second half is where the magic happened. As Clarke started talking about the current crop of politicians and the challenges they faced, he was talking about where they and the country would be in a few years time, I found myself able to see this future without necessarily agreeing that’s the direction I wanted to go. Wrapped in the conversation, I found myself wondering how accurate this prediction would be. Listening to that moment everything felt real, alive, and possible.. 

…at which point I felt myself physically snapped back to reality. This was February 2020. Clarke and Dale were talking in what’s best described as ‘the before times’, and were talking about a world where there would be no pandemic and none of the horrific scars we now have to live with for the rest of our lives.

It was a dizzying moment, brought on by a podcast. 

The power of podcasting is a nice bit of shorthand to talk about all of the emotions that podcasting can offer. It’s nice to be reminded of that once in a while.