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Friday, October 7, 2022

The week in audio: Law of Attraction Changed My Life; Black and the Union Jack; Monday Night Club | Radio

Law of Attraction Changed My Life (francescaamber.com) | apple.com
Black and the Union Jack (BBC Radio 1Xtra & BBC Radio 5 live) | BBC Sounds
Monday Night Club (BBC Radio 5 live) | BBC Sounds
5 Live Sport (BBC Radio 5 live) | BBC Sounds

Always good to broaden your horizons, open your mind, grapple with your prejudices, try out someone else’s for size. With that in mind, I’ve been listening to Law of Attraction Changed My Life. Manifestation is having a moment, and this is one of the UK’s most popular manifesting casts, hosted by the irrepressible Francesca Amber. Amber claims to have manifested her ex-husband (she put specific features into a dating website, he came up but was no longer on the site; later they met on a blind date), and changed the gender of her twins (the hospital phoned her and told her she was having twin boys, which she didn’t want; she thought about this, then the hospital called back to say they’d made a mistake and she was actually having twin girls).

For those who don’t manifest: it comes out of the belief that your mental approach to life influences how well you negotiate its difficulties. The contemporary, highly monetised version is mostly based on 2006 bestseller The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, and usually means you keep asking the universe for what you’d like. Like praying, but to a different god.

Amber, 37, from Essex, is a manifester par excellence. Or, as she describes herself, a “basic bitch making shit happen”. She also turns out to be an excellent, if highly sweary, podcast host. “I’m a busy bitch, but also a lazy bitch,” she informs in one episode. In another: “I don’t know about you, but keeping a fucking gratitude journal, writing in it every day?… I ain’t got time.” Amber prefers techniques – manifesting hacks – that don’t really involve much time or energy. Put a pound coin in a red bag under your doormat for a quick feng shui cash-encourager! Record your daily affirmations on your phone and play them when you’re having breakfast! Plan out your day the night before, and plan your week too! She isn’t quite Oprah, but she is a great communicator, in that tell-all-show-all manner of an Insta influencer or Love Island contestant. She reads a lot of books on her subject, and has a subscription podcast where she discusses them.

Anyhow. You can’t change your circumstances but you can change how you feel about them. You can build in daily habits so you have a life that works better for you. All true, and I certainly hope that Amber, and her followers, become happier through such techniques. I’m less convinced by the idea that there’s a fail-safe a + b = c formula that will magic up the life you desire. Rocketing house prices may well thwart that equation, for a start. And all this preparation for the life you want, this boob-jobbing, Invisaligning and positive attitude-ing is too gendered for me. How many men are patiently dreaming up their prince(ss)? Still, Amber’s admirable determination to manage and improve her own life while encouraging everyone else to do the same makes her an inspiration. A strange inspiration, but one all the same.

Femi Oluwole.
Black and the Union Jack guest Femi Oluwole. Photograph: Mike Pinches

Some more learning: Radio 1Xtra and 5 live have a new series, Black and the Union Jack. Hosted by 1Xtra Talks presenter Richie Brave, this five-episode exploration of what it’s like to be black and British goes out live at 9pm every Sunday on both stations. Last Sunday’s opener was a little hit and miss: sound problems with all three live guests meant the start was jumpy and hard to hear. Once this settled down, though, there was much to spark thought.

Guest Femi Oluwole’s description of the California accent he spoke with when he was young – because The Fresh Prince was the only real role model he had – was an eye-opener, as was his comment that parents who speak Yoruba to each other can separate themselves from their children, who might already be feeling like outsiders at school. And George the Poet’s pre-recorded description of his approach to life, and why he refused an MBE, was quite brilliant.

Also on 5 live, I enjoyed last week’s Monday Night Club discussion about the farcical French staging of the Champions League final. Beautifully hosted by Kelly Cates, with Chris Sutton, Karen Carney and Adam Crafton, the dismantling of Uefa and the French police’s version of events was exemplary. Delyth Lloyd, on 5 Live Sport at the same time on Tuesday, proved just as deft when getting her guests to discuss the forthcoming clash between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the French Open. When it comes to learning and audio, it’s all about the host: how they welcome guests and listeners, how they explain, when they allow people to speak. Cates and Lloyd are operating at the top of their game; Brave and Amber are pretty darn close too.

Kelly Cates.
Kelly Cates. Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

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