A Cultural History of...

As we're now four months into our freelance adventures we've made sure to spend time not only working hard setting up our business but also making time for ourselves. A discovery I've made recently is the wonderful world of podcasts.  Until the launch of Serial (which surely everyone in the planet has heard of by now!?) I paid little attention to podcasts. Aren't they just the s**t part of the radio that people have to put up with to hear the music? Were they just glorified audio books that took away the joy of reading?

Serial, in part, re-educated my thoughts on the power of podcasts and so has "A Cultural History of..." a podcast dedicated to overthinking the everyday, narrated by two magnificent and intelligent women: Miranda and Cesci. If you too have pondered about colonial representation in The Great British Bake Off (I mean who hasn't), the psychogeography of Pokemon Go! or how the marriage plot formula of Jane Austen has been manifested in ITV's Love Island, then Miranda and Cesci are here to help... and make you literally laugh out loud.

Miranda kindly filled in this week's Q&A about why we SHOULD care about podcasts, how to overcome writer's block and why anyone who is thinking of going freelance should DO IT NOW.  And when you're done reading this then listen to their brilliant and witty podcasts here, you won't regret it. 

Miranda pondering the next theme of her epic podcasts...

Miranda pondering the next theme of her epic podcasts...

How long have you been freelance/working for yourself #goingsolo?

I’ve been working for myself on and off for years. Permanent museum jobs are VERY hard to come by (bloody arts cuts), so I’ve always filled in the gaps with freelance research. Currently though, I’m taking a career break to finish my doctorate AND edit a book. On the side, I’m presenting ‘A Cultural History Of…’ with my wonderful academic friend Cesci Peschier. It’s a podcast dedicated to overthinking the everyday: think QI presented by two drunk academic women. It’s a bit of light relief for us and a fun way to engage people with academic research, which I’ve missed since leaving museum work.

Describe what you do in five words… GO!

Historian, curator and podcast presenter.

What made you decide to take the plunge?

Cesci and I did a guest slot on a friend Nigel’s radio show. We got a lot of positive feedback and it ended up being his most downloaded episode ever. We decided we needed our own show!

What’s the best bit about being your own boss?

The flexibility. I can work when I want where I want. Hurrah!

What’s the biggest pain in the arse?

The flexibility! With so many options, it can be super hard to self-motivate.

What’s the grand plan/big idea?

We have grand plans for ‘A Cultural History Of...’ Our absolute dream is to do it as a BBC radio 4 panel show or even on TV (any BBC producers reading this, do feel free to get in touch). When I finish my doctorate, I’d like to go back to working part-time in museums. The rest of the time I plan to write books and do fun things like podcasting.

Do you get writer's block?

I do get writer's block. The only thing that works for me is just to start writing. Even if it's utter nonsense, at least it's words on a page. Pages full of nonsense are MUCH less scary than blank pages. You can always edit! 

What’s the best bit of advice you could give someone about to #gosolo?


If we could give you one thing right now (not a wad of cash) that would help your business out the most, what would it be? 

Some advice on how to get the podcast out to more people. We’re confident we have a kick-arse product, we just need to get it out to more people. Failing that, glowing iTunes reviews! 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing - discuss.

Hindsight is all well and good, but it would be much more useful to have foresight. If I could see the future I could probably persuade people to worship me as a God. That would be smashing.

What do you think you're offering the "podcast" scene that's currently missing?

'A Cultural History Of...' is presented by two funny, clever women. It will make you laugh AND learn something. What's not to like?

What’s your favourite quote to live/work by?

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967): ‘I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money.’

Graphics by the talented Hector Lloyd.