044 | Jonn Elledge | A conversation on (not quite) everything

Why Britain never got over the empire, who of the French and the English killed the most monarchs and multiculturalism vs. universalism.

Isabelle Roughol
Isabelle Roughol

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Show notes

00:00:00 Intro
00:02:52 How one of the world's largest countries dumps its migrants on one of the world's smallest
00:05:25 Insular news and why you may never have heard of Nauru
00:07:12 A worldwide obsession with US news
00:08:34 It's appalling how little we knew or know about the EU
00:10:17 How Brexit gave rise to a pro-EU movement
00:13:00 We're finding geopolitical solutions in Star Trek
00:15:12 The nation-state is such a recent mythology
00:19:46 Countries that think too highly of themselves
00:26:02 How WWII mythology shapes current politics
00:31:31 Poppy season is upon us
00:33:32 Sign up for the new newsletter
00:35:02 Could we create a global nation state?
00:37:00 French identity, multiculturalism and things I pretend to be an expert in
00:44:20 Britain stopped showing its best features
00:56:50 Outro

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Transcripts are published for your convenience, but they are automated and not always cleaned up. Please excuses typos and occasional nonsense, and always check the audio before quoting.

[00:00:00] Jonn Elledge: I think World War Two is a big part of our national psychosis. That was a point in which Britain was unequivocally on the right side. And it basically burnt up its empire and its status as a global power to help save the world from fascism. But it means that that's kind of the narrative we get instead of the reckoning with the end of empire. And yeah, I think that does explain not quite all but almost all of the politics of Brexit.

[00:00:27] Isabelle Roughol: Hi, I'm Isabelle Roughol and this is Borderline.

[00:00:41] My friend Jonn Elledge joins us on the podcast today. Jonn is the man that you want on your team at pub quiz. One that you will never be bored sitting opposite at a dinner party and that you definitely want in your Twitter feed and in your inbox.

[00:00:53] He is the author of The Compendium of Not Quite Everything, a really fun book full of short essays about... not quite everything. Jonn is just someone who knows a lot about a lot of things. And I brought him on the podcast thinking, I'm not quite sure what we'll talk about, but I'm sure it's going to be interesting. And of course it did end up fascinating.

[00:01:14] He an Englishman, me a French woman, we ended up comparing our national mythologies, the legacies of our empires and why our national malaise feels quite similar in both countries. He even managed to maybe wade into a topic I usually back away from slowly and that's explaining differences between French universalism and British multiculturalism or US multiculturalism.

[00:01:38] So a conversation freewheeling in a lot of different areas that ends up being fascinating. We talked for over an hour. I cut a bit. But honestly, on a conversation like this, if you start making cuts in the middle, you really don't know how you got from point A to point B. So this is a one-hour episode. You can enjoy it at your own pace. I think you won't regret it.

[00:02:00] Here's my chat with Jonn Elledge.

[00:02:02] Interview

[00:02:06] Jonn Elledge: Hello,

[00:02:07] Isabelle Roughol: I have to make a confession, which is it is the first time in my career, definitely the career of this podcast, that I scheduled an interview no idea exactly where I want to take it but but I feel like we're going to end up somewhere fascinating in any way.

[00:02:27] Jonn Elledge: also, I I'm, I'm just chatting nonsense is, is kinda my, my, my main

[00:02:31] Isabelle Roughol: well, that's, that's wonderful.

[00:02:33] So, because of the topic of this podcast, which you're familiar with, I immediately jumped to the section on, section two, I believe on, on all the countries and the... It's called the human planet and the ligns we draw on it, which for a podcast called Borderline is, is delightful.

[00:02:52] How one of the world's largest countries dumps its migrants on one of the world's smallest

[00:02:52] Isabelle Roughol: And learned a bunch of stuff. I don't even know which one is start with. I was, and, that's, that's the marginalia that you saw me posting on Twitter that seemed to have pleased you, but I was amused to note in the largest countries and the smallest countries that it is one of the world's smallest country where one of the world's largest countries has dumped all the immigrants that it doesn't want. Um, namely, the island of Nauru, which hosts Australia's offshore detention centers for migrants. So that was a nice little tidbit.

[00:03:28] there.

[00:03:28] Jonn Elledge: I didn't, realize that. That's horrific there. that is, that is cause it's I mean, Australia is not, not short of space.

[00:03:34] Isabelle Roughol: No, it's not. it's adopted policies, you know, 10, 10, 15 years back now, that our own Priti Patel is inspired by and would delight in which is refusing any arrival by, by boat, any, asylum seeker to Australian shores. So they are captured and kept in detention centers on the Pacific island of Nauru, which has signed a deal with Australia. A very, very poor country, obviously. Very, very, few industries and, and very impacted by climate change so, the one thing that they have is a, is an Australian detention center where people can spend years and years in horrid condition.

[00:04:25] Jonn Elledge: I was going to, I was going to say, I mean, it, it, it, it is one of those countries that might literally physically cease to exist. Isn't it? on the those could be just be under the waves by the end of the

[00:04:35] Isabelle Roughol: Which you would think would give Australia a motivation to address climate change, I guess if nothing else.

[00:04:42] Jonn Elledge: But this is, this is kind of the horror of this kind of politics though, is like. It's you do kind of think that maybe that's, part of the sort of the, the, the, this is the opposite virtue signaling, vermin-signaling someone was called it. It's deliberately incredibly supervillain and horrible. Cause that's how, how our, if the Australian government wants to communicate to its, to its voters that it's being tough on, on, on immigration and tough on, on, on refugees, which is like the the idea that we would ever want to be tough and refugees is coming with quite seen in itself. but just like the idea of dumping people on an island that is going to be underwater possibly in our lifetimes. it's just that it's that it's proper kind of James Bond villain shit. Isn't

[00:05:25] Insular news and why you may never have heard of Nauru

[00:05:25] Jonn Elledge: it.

[00:05:25] Isabelle Roughol: It's something that I had never heard about until I moved to Australia a few years ago is very little covered in Europe. Even though we talk about immigration policy a lot, but we don't necessarily see how it's done elsewhere.

[00:05:40] Jonn Elledge: Yeah. It's I mean, I mean, particularly, particularly, but I suspect there is an element of it in much of Europe too. Like we're quite, we're so sort of insular, we kind of look a little, we look to the U S and see what's going on there, maybe a little bit from, from so Germany. but often, or a little bit from Australia, but like most we have no idea what's going on in most countries in the world.

[00:06:01] And suspect that's probably actually like, I wonder how true that is of a lot of other, I mean, I suppose if you're, if you're Luxembourg, then, then you kind of have to be more aware of, of what's going on around the place. And also you probably don't have that much of your own news to worry about, I suspect that kind of, the tendency to be kind of focused on a relatively small pool of countries and be completely ignorant about what the others I suspect is, is fairly universal.

[00:06:25] Maybe.

[00:06:26] Isabelle Roughol: is at least, um, it's funny you should say that. cause it's a, it's a journalistic project I have a four Borderline of a new newsletter. You'll you'll hear it here first. I don't know when that's going to come out, but to do precisely that, kind of comparative, study of, of what's going on in the news.

[00:06:43] at least in all the, countries I've lived in it's, it's pretty insular. some less than other, you know, in, in, certainly in continental Europe, you get more news somewhat of the rest of Europe, but not really. it was fascinating in Australia that they are obsessed with American news in many ways. so, you would hear about some random crime in Florida, it's always in Florida. but not about, you know, very neighboring countries and in Asia Pacific.

[00:07:12] A worldwide obsession with US news

[00:07:12] Jonn Elledge: I think that's, I mean, I think, again, I suspect this is an obsession with the U s is fairly, fairly universal, but I think that's probably, I'm not sure that's actually irrational. Like it's. I mean, one can argue about what or how one defines. Yeah. I was going to say empire and boss pay too strongly, but certainly hegemon . It is a hegemonic power. What happens in the U S what happens in, in Washington DC and, you know, the presidential elections in us foreign policy and so on, does have an impact on, on the rest of us in a way that not that many countries politics do. I mean, obviously lighting much of Europe would have been paying a lot of attention to the recent German elections, for example, but, but most countries elections are not that relevant to most of the countries.

[00:07:55] Uh, whereas obviously American elections are going to have an impact on the rest of us. So I suspect between that and the kind of the, the cultural dominance of, of us products, means that I suspect that kind of spills over into like paying attention to kind of wacky crimes in Florida and that kind of thing.

[00:08:11] Isabelle Roughol: Yeah, perhaps, perhaps.

[00:08:13] Jonn Elledge: But it is, this helped keep track of how many is it now? 27 different countries in you. And plus like all the peripheral runs as, as the UK, sadly husband, has been relegated to.you can't keep track of all these things and fundamentally what the exact state of the Slovenian government is, is probably not going to impact your life.

[00:08:33] Isabelle Roughol: Fair enough.

[00:08:34] It's appalling how little we knew or know about the EU

[00:08:34] Jonn Elledge: So, yeah, I mean, I don't think it's that weird that... do think it's appalling that we don't know in this, in this country. I think there's appalling we don't pay more attention to, to particularly French and German politics because that obviously they, they, you know, be two big players in the EU. And I think it's, it's insane how little, how ignorant people were about how, how the institutions of the European Union work and what, what, what the work going on in Brussels was actually is. and I don't think that's, I don't think that that's very far from the only reason we ended up with Brexit, but I do think that. kind of ignorance, which people could project their kind of worst fears onto, was, was a big factor in where, why, why there was such high levels of, of your skepticism in this country that

[00:09:25] Isabelle Roughol: Certainly helped on by, by national politicians and and. Britain is bad, but, but certainly not the only one that's guilty of this. certainly seen it in French politics a lot where, because people know so little about how EU institutions work, it's very convenient when something unpopular has to happen or, you know, a politician doesn't get their way, blame Brussels, So to speak, to blame the EU, because it's, it's very convenient, in in election time.

[00:09:55] And we we're, we're reaping the, the consequences of that even on the continent. Though, I have to say that, what y'all have done here has, ,pulled back or, or, or slowed the tide of Euro skepticism on the continent because, it's not, it's not looking so good what Brexit looks looks like.

[00:10:12] Jonn Elledge: Yeah, honestly, that's great. I always want it to be a cautionary tale.

[00:10:15] Isabelle Roughol: No, it was good.

[00:10:17] How Brexit gave rise to a pro-EU movement

[00:10:17] Jonn Elledge: I mean, one of the things I find it's one of the things I find fascinating about Brexit and where it's taking British politics is it did take that vote to kind of generate a proper pro European movement in this country. and, and, you know, that's, that's obviously a,a minority, even of the the people who voted remain is quite a small minority, but nonetheless, I think there are a lot more people in Britain who would consider themselves kind of ardently pro European, then the word before that referendum, in a fetlock good, it's done this, but I do kind of wonder.

[00:10:53] The these things do sometimes kind of have unexpected consequences over the longer term. Don't they like, they're loving the protest against the Iraq war didn't stop the Iraq war, but then they'd help other movements, other protest movements. So I do see the wonder, what would happen to all that kind of energy from like the sort of the waivers, the society mad FBPE people, or just kind of this sort of it, or just the way it sort of energize liberalism more generally in this country?

[00:11:18] I think, I do think that there's probably going to be playing out in politics for, for, for quite a long time. It's just to be able to see it right now because we have this horribly liberatory government of an 80-seat majority.

[00:11:28] Those FBP people we should, we should tell. not everyone listening will know, especially to non Brits who, who they are. They're I don't even know who they are, but I know they retweet me a lot and they're very active in my mentions.

[00:11:41] Jonn Elledge: Yeah, it's a hashtag. It stands for, it stands. FPP stands for fullback pro Europe. It's a lot of effort went into that, into that acronym. Didn't it? but it's, it's, it's just people who sit on Twitter all day being like angrily, anti Brexit and pre repair. And like I'm, I've always considered myself very pro European by the founders of this country and the like, I I'd be quite up for European superstate.

[00:12:05] I'd be quite for world superstar. I think that's probably the way we need to go to solve some of our problems. I have no issue with the idea of like handing sovereignty over to Brussels. nonetheless, these people are a bit too pro-European for my taste. It's a bit Colby.

[00:12:18] Isabelle Roughol: Which is, which is saying something. Perhaps I'm a bit, unquestioning of everything EU, good, everything current British government bad, which.

[00:12:29] Jonn Elledge: Yeah, exactly that. And it's like, I think this country has been absolutely. It is an absolute disaster zone at the moment, but there are still things about this country that are, those are okay or even good.

[00:12:41] And there are things about bits of continental Europe that's not working very well. And there are things about like bras was, is quite dysfunctional in many ways.

[00:12:48] And I don't think you have to, I don't think it's helpful to kind of like, just start reading one side is as good in the other side, this is always terrible. I, I don't think that's needed to understanding.

[00:13:00] We're finding geopolitical solutions in Star Trek

[00:13:00] So you mentioned a superstate,I'm a, I'm a bit of a Federalist definitely,where Europe is concerned, but w world superstate. Tell, tell me more about that and why is that a solution?

[00:13:12] Jonn Elledge: Oh, I just mean, so, so a lot of this is, is just being a nerd and having grown up on a diet of like TVs science fiction like star Trek or whatever, where like, you know, if you have like shows with spaceships in set several hundred years in the future, and they do tend to take it for granted that, that at some point there will be a, a single world state. And partly that's

[00:13:33] because otherwise you're gonna, it's gonna complicate your plot mechanics. But also it's because a lot of these shows tend to sort of use different alien races and so on. It's kind of like a metaphors for foreign policy and so on. And so earth is basically space America, isn't it. But nonetheless, that kind of, that does just sort of mean that's always on some level in my vision of the future.

[00:13:54] I think there are problems we face that we come and solve at at national level, like low. The, if you kind of look at sort of trying to manage, like this is a massive global tech companies, that are bigger and richer and more powerful than most actual nation states, I don't think that the architecture of 194 nation states isn't necessarily the best way of doing that. and there are times when collective action is needed. Like climate change is number one. there are, there are problems. I think we face that will be easier to solve if you didn't have different countries of, racing, competing in a race to the bottom, basically.

[00:14:30] but this is, this is an absolute pipe dream. This is not me saying this is where I think things are actually going to go, this has always been like this. This was a factor in why I've always been instinctively pro European, as, you know, as someone who like, I, I.

[00:14:45] Jonn Elledge: Seven years of school learning French. And I can barely speak a word. I can just about read newspaper. I have no European languages. I've never lived anywhere else or the UK. I'm quite parochial in many ways, but I've always instinctually been quite sort of internationalist and outlook. And I think this is basically I'm blaming star Trek for that.

[00:15:03] Isabelle Roughol: Maybe that's what we should do then in schools and teach star Trek,

[00:15:08] Jonn Elledge: that could potentially open us up to charges of child abuse, I suspect. But, but yeah,

[00:15:12] The nation-state is such a recent mythology

[00:15:12] Jonn Elledge: so like, the, the nation state is it relatively recently mentioned, isn't it? I mean, we often, a lot of our political debate of takes it as, I mean, again, again, like being parochial until when I say a political debate, I'm basically talking about this country. Cause I can't read it for a newspaper. but, but I do feel like a lot of the debate does take it as read that there is the nation is the net natural. Of, of politics and government for much of history, that's not been true. you know, for most of history it's been, you'd be, if you live in a city and you have city states, you have empires.

[00:15:49] and there's only been, and there's, I think at this end of Europe, and nation states slightly older, obviously both in Britain and France are more than a thousand years old and Scotland too. that's even in Europe, that's quite unusual, isn't it like a

[00:16:01] Isabelle Roughol: Yeah, and

[00:16:02] Jonn Elledge: lot of European nations are only a century or

[00:16:04] Isabelle Roughol: I don't think you could even, you know, define Frances a nation state until. Napoleon, maybe like

[00:16:14] before that is kind

[00:16:15] of,

[00:16:16] Jonn Elledge: they?

[00:16:17] Isabelle Roughol: yeah. I mean, French, French is a, is the Patois, the dialect of, you know, a tiny, tiny corner around Paris. And they were, there was, you know, different feuding aristocracy and, the current borders of France are, I mean, if you add, some voids, it's, you know, it's 150 years old.

[00:16:36] So, , we like to tell because you know, nations are mainly into stories to tell about themselves, right? So we'd like to, in Britain, you know, everyone talks about 10 66 and, and all of that. and back into Carta and doomsday, whatever I'm learning, I've only been here five years, but, but a lot of that is, is myth, right?

[00:16:56] It's mythology to, to build a nation more than, more than genuine history. And then you go into like the diversity of what these nations look like. And I think a lot of people on the right would be surprised.

[00:17:10] Jonn Elledge: Yeah. I mean, like took new national mythologies. It's like we talk about the, the, the Norman invasion of 1066 is kind of like the last time England was successfully invaded. And it's an absolute lie. Like we were invaded by the Dutch in 1688, but we just rewritten history to pretend to pretend that, William of Orange was, was invited and he was by one particular faction, which then took power because he became king. But it's not like king had before that the whole country was crying out to get this, to get this Dutch guy in.

[00:17:41] It was by any reasonable definition and invasion. and we just don't, we don't talk about it in those, in those terms at all. We just pretend it was something else.

[00:17:50] Isabelle Roughol: you know, when one story that I, that I keep hearing in England that was driving me crazy is these kinds of, cliches about, the, the bread. So the English specifically as, as these, nice people who don't riot and don't, kill their Kings and Queens versus the dangerous revolutionary French.

[00:18:09] And I actually did the math and you guys killed a lot more kings and Queens. And so we did, how many did we,

[00:18:16] I counted to accounted to beheaded. I forget who they are. Of course.

[00:18:23] Jonn Elledge: Charles Joseph's asked is the one is the one that everyone

[00:18:26] Isabelle Roughol: yes, that's the one.

[00:18:27] re Richard the second. is deposed and dies. Suspiciously. I think the same is true of Edward the second. there's a lot of that guy, but the.

[00:18:36] Jonn Elledge: Yeah. There's but you're right. It's all, it's all narrative. So I did the idea of silly piece of my, my newsletter, recently just kind of listing people who were by any reasonable definition, consider themselves at some point the monarch of England, but we just don't count on the lists, including, Louie abe, invaded in the 13th century and was welcomed by the city of London with open arms because, because king Jonn was so deeply unpopular, he was absolutely hated, to the extent that like, everyone was like quite happy to get the French king in and let him take over.

[00:19:10] we just sort of like, there was a six month period in which Louis V8 considered himself king of England. And we just, we pretend that never happened.

[00:19:17] Isabelle Roughol: Yeah, I'm sorry to say we are, we are pretty much cousins. I'm Norman too. So, you know, from the other side of the water, but we're, we're pretty much the same, the same people, um, mythology, non withstanding.

[00:19:30] Jonn Elledge: yeah, I wonder how it looks to the rest of the world, the lay like England and France, kind of like both kind of, define themselves against each other, to some extent for much of the last 800 years or something. but I suspect from the perspective, much less rest of the world, they look quite historically similar.

[00:19:46] Countries that think too highly of themselves

[00:19:46] Jonn Elledge: Actually, I suspect they don't look like radically cause you know, they were both very early nation states and then the related of Imperial powers, the women around the world doing, doing horrible things to people. and both they're both you know, pretty, pretty arrogant about their place in the world.

[00:20:02] Right.

[00:20:03] Isabelle Roughol: Yes. Well, it was, it was my theory when I was, when I was living in the U S that France And the us were so often at odds because essentially both thought way too highly of themselves. And the same can be said of, of, living in Britain now, I think, it's, it's all of these countries with very lofty ideas of what they represent to the world who end up quite surprised and, and hurt in their ego when, Uh, turns out not to be the case, which it feels like the current malaise in, in, britain. and certainly will sound very familiar to the French as well.

[00:20:40] Jonn Elledge: Yeah. I mean, I think a lot of our problem is we have, it's not even that we've not come to terms with empire. It's like, we just stopped talking about it. Like I think I found this very early on in life. Talk to Irish friends. Realizing the extent to which the history is taught in Irish school is, is basically just a list of, English atrocities who have used Scottish atrocities and then British atrocities. that is Irish history basically. we are not taught any of that here. And, you could, you couldn't be because like, we were also busy, performing atrocities in, in India and then latterly in Africa too. and, I don't, I don't know enough about how other European Imperial powers have kind of dealt with the legacy of this stuff, but we just do not talk about it, to the point we, at least we didn't.

[00:21:32] Isabelle Roughol: Um,

[00:21:33] Jonn Elledge: Campbell. this means we have no idea what their own history looks like. Like the history I was taught at school, just randomly because of the modules that were chosen by the teachers. did nothing between the execution of Charles the first in 1649 and the rise of Otto Von Bismarck in, in the 1860s.

[00:21:51] and there's quite a lot that happens in those two centuries. And most of it involves going around the world and stealing other people's countries.

[00:21:56] Isabelle Roughol: That's That's the years of British slavery, essentially that you just skipped over.

[00:22:01] Jonn Elledge: Yeah, it is taught in schools that Britain, the British Navy abolished the slave trade. And that is true. It just does ignore the fact that they also basically invented the triangular, transatlantic slave trade. and it's. Yeah, it's, we, we are just much more comfortable with discussing certain bits of a history level. I mean, how is this the same in France. How does it

[00:22:22] Isabelle Roughol: Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's quite similar. at the moment, it's interesting because you'll have the whole war on woke and all that has, unfortunately, crossed the Channel after it crossed the Atlantic. And it's definitely part of the conversation and. You know, it's something that I realized as an adult.

[00:22:41] I, I realized that I didn't learn anything for instance, or very little in school about the Algerian war. you know, I, I know that it was a peace treaty in 1962 and that, know, that was, that was,thanks to De Gaulle or at least that's how it's presented. but you know, torture colonization, we learned very little about colonization, you know, besides, oh, you know, it was a different time and it wasn't immoral at the time, which, you actually, you could argue plenty of people it immoral at the time.

[00:23:13] And during the 2017 campaign, Macron called, called colonialism a crime against humanity. and it was quite a lot of outrage about that, which, which I found fascinating because. I it from a family that was involved, my grandfather was in a colonial administration, obviously not in a colonizing time, more in the final years before independence. and and he stayed on in Africa in a, in a first decade of independence to, to work with, with local governments. And in a family like mine, it was not shocking at all. Like we have perfectly come to terms with the fact that colonization was wrong and that in that particular case, you know, my grandfather was saw he was doing the right thing, but was on the wrong side of history.

[00:24:01] Isabelle Roughol: But I think people who don't have a closer knowledge of what, what the empire was in a way, all they have in their head is the mess. and the very little that they got about it in school and very warped imagery that they got through through media and through culture.

[00:24:20] And so the notion is there's a word in the public discourse in France, and the knowledge I'll stop, but there's a word in a public discourse in france called the hood portals, which is, like you know, being overly, sorry, and repenting for things that you've done in the past. And essentially people think that's awful and that you shouldn't do it. And that, you know, what's in the past is in the past and let's move on without ever apologizing for it. Which I find just, I it's nothing. it's something, I mean, it's been in the discourse since I was a child and I never understood. I was like, if you've done something bad, you should apologize for it.

[00:24:57] Isabelle Roughol: That's what people do. Right. it's quite confusing to me.

[00:25:01] Jonn Elledge: Yeah, it smacks of insecurity, doesn't it? Like if you think your country is so great, then why can't you accept that, that there are times that it got stuff wrong, like, and it just, I don't quite understand the sense of that, that level of sensitivity that means you call, except for that, that the history is, is, has, has bad stuff in it as well as good, you know?

[00:25:25] Isabelle Roughol: Yeah. I mean, the reaction in this country to any suggestion that Winston Churchill was not just a hero of World War II, but it was also profoundly reviled in India for his role there. you know, the idea that there might be more than one side to the character, seems to really shock people, just like the, um, the National Trust report, about the connection of slavery, of, of some of these beautiful estates to, to slavery and

[00:25:51] Jonn Elledge: yeah.

[00:25:51] Isabelle Roughol: and to the colonial trade.

[00:25:53] it's like, it's impossible to hold two ideas in your head at the same time that someone can be a hero and a villain or something can be beautiful and extremely tainted.

[00:26:02] How WWII mythology shapes current politics

[00:26:02] Jonn Elledge: So I think, I think world war two is, as you will know, having lived in this country for five years, will go to is, is a big part of our national psychosis just, and they think it's that, you know, that that was a point in which Britain. You know, obviously we, we did the w there were plenty of things that we got wrong as well, but in the, in Britain was was unequivocally on the right side and it did a good thing, and it, it basically burnt up its, its empire and its status as a global power to, to help save the world from fascism.and so that becomes the narrative.

[00:26:39] Like we say, like, because we, because Britain was never occupied in the way France was, we didn't have, we didn't have a lot of the horror. So it's seen, it's recently treated as a bit of a sort the theme park. but, but it means that that's kind of the narrative we get instead of the reckoning with the end of empire.

[00:26:55] Like, we don't talk about the end of empire because it just kind of like faded away during and immediately after world war II. so, so instead of. Instead of kind of looking at this period in which, in which we would have had to come to terms with the fact that we'd been, we'd been, colonizing other countries and that's not okay, really.

[00:27:13] instead get this sort of heroic narrative, you know, Britain stands alone. So either nevermind the fact that's got a half a billion people, in this empire standpoint as well. it just means that that sets the narrative, rather than the end of empire. and yeah, I think that does explain not quite, all but almost all of the politics of Brexit.

[00:27:31] I think, someone, I think it was the one-time guardian journalist. Michael White said to me many, many years ago I was doing, student, most as dissertation on your skepticism in the bin, the British press. And he pointed out that there were only two countries in the EU 15. At that point it must have just expanded.

[00:27:51] it was around 2004. There were only two countries in, in the U as events did that had not been occupied at any point in the 20th century by enough of power. And they were the United Kingdom and Sweden. And both of those were right at the top of the year. It gets in Charles because it is much harder to conceive of, of firstly.

[00:28:13] Jonn Elledge: I think if, if, if you haven't been occupied by foreign army, it is easier to believe in the abstract notion of national sovereignty. And secondly, it is hard to see why you need, international cooperation sometimes.

[00:28:26] I mean it's

[00:28:26] Jonn Elledge: So I feel like babbling at your site.

[00:28:28] Isabelle Roughol: no, no, no, not at all. Not at all. We're we're definitely, it's interesting because we're, we're seeing the same thing, you know, even in our countries on the continent that have been occupied, which is because that generation that has known this has pretty much died off. And the generation of children who grew up. With their parents remembering the war is, you know, that's my parents' generation and they're getting older. and so there is an, even in a political discourse, you know, there was certainly a strong return if it ever went away of anti-Semitism, that is and and spoken out loud, of anti migrant and anti-refugee sentiment of, of anti European sentiment, that you just wouldn't have heard 20, 30 years ago.

[00:29:17] but because there was less and less of that lived experience, you know, my generation, we all had, pretty much all had a Holocaust survivor or world war II veteran come and talk to us at school. Kids today don't get that, and so that experience is slowly fading away and the you can see it in the, in the political discourse.

[00:29:40] a discussion is probably not quite the right word. Hasn't been much of a reckoning with, with Vichy and whilst chunk of Southern France basically collaborative in those years, the blind blind? The way we have blind spots

[00:29:52] Isabelle Roughol: no, I think that is pretty, that is pretty acknowledged. it wasn't any, you know, years immediately following the war, apparently. I mean, I wasn't born, but it's pretty much acknowledged now. There was a wonderful, french TV show, Videsh hall. Say a French village. I don't know what they translated it in english, but that was running for many years. from French public television, it's looking at one village through the occupation. So it starts when, when the Nazi. Kind of when the war, until deliberation and, and, it's looking at one village and how people behaved and it's extremely detailed. and no one is a hundred percent good. No one is a hundred percent evil either. and so that, narrative, and that was extremely popular in France. And so I think that narrative is, is pretty, is pretty well accepted. I think we have at least got that.

[00:30:47] Jonn Elledge: that's that's interesting because yeah, like you mentioned Churchill, and how he is just kind of treated as this uncomplicated heroic figures if he wasn't, you know, by not even by modern standards, by the standards of his own time, he was a racist as well. but also even leaving that aside, can make a fairly strong argument that, that it was decisions he made that were responsible for the Bengal Thurman of 1944, which killed millions of people because of the way he wanted to redirect resources from, from, from what's now sort of Eastern England, India, and Bangladesh to, to, to the UK, to, to help the war effort.

[00:31:25] and yeah, it's, you, you, you cannot say, you cannot say that about Churchill without getting absolutely piled on.

[00:31:31] Poppy season is upon us

[00:31:31] Jonn Elledge: also, also later told me you were about to go into poppy season. You were

[00:31:35] Isabelle Roughol: Oh,

[00:31:35] Jonn Elledge: season.

[00:31:36] I, you know, I, I lived in America, post nine 11, I lift, and through the Iraq war. So I'm well familiar with the displays of, visual, patriotism,

[00:31:49] Jonn Elledge: It's a slightly room tone though. Cause I think compared to both the U S and I think even france and much of Europe, like we don't really deal in for, you know, public buildings, not generally display flags, people did not really kind of like have their own. We don't tend to go in for those to the public.

[00:32:05] Patriotism, but for those who aren't familiar, every November 11th is remembrance day, which is the day we were meant to remember the war dead. And if that one remembered Sunday, this the closest Sunday to that, there's a minute silence and so on and the parade and those kind of things. but, but though the Royal British Legion, which is a charitable body raising money for veterans, has for first-line was anyone can ever remember been selling, paper puppies as a way of raising money. and. as you get into sort of mid to late October, you start getting like public figures who appear on TV without wearing a poppy. We'll get pylons on social media. biggest thing showing support for a veteran it's, it's, it's insane. Unlike like it's, you know, when I, when I was a kid, I always used to buy a pop and I always used to wear it because they're quite nice objects apart from anything else.

[00:32:56] but now I feel like I don't want to do that anymore. I, because I don't want to, like, I, I will give that I will make that charitable contribution, but I do not want to kind of look like I'm taking that sides in a culture war. And I wonder if, to some extent, this is because we have got, we are getting to the point, there are, there are almost no veterans of the war, of Devin.

[00:33:16] Jonn Elledge: There's any veterans of world war one at this point. but I think there are very, very few of world war two and all in the nineties and so on. I think it's because it is receding into the past that other actors have moved in and kind of like politicize this for their own motives.

[00:33:29] Isabelle Roughol: We'll be right back.

[00:33:32] Newsletter ad

[00:33:32] Isabelle Roughol: Hey, it's Isabelle. I want to tell you about something new that's available from Borderline.

[00:33:37] I read a lot about the issues that Borderline is concerned with: immigration, free movement, globalization, global trade, geopolitics and anything to do with life beyond the nation state. A lot of these things I read, I want to share with you. So from now on, on Wednesdays, you can receive a newsletter that is a curation of exactly that.

[00:33:57] And I promise it's not one more annoying email. I'll keep it short and snappy. Just a two-minute read of the top news you must know, the most interesting reads, as well as what I call long story short: one issue, broken up in pour five bullet points that just really clarify it for you.

[00:34:14] This week, we're talking about the actual reasons that the UK is running out of lorry drivers and that's coming from the mouth of an actual Polish truck driver. We're talking about Squid Game and the rise of local global television. You'll find out what that is. We're talking about Afghan refugees stuck at the borders between Poland and Belarus, as well as what's happening to them here in the UK. We're talking about US travel restrictions changing, all of these things that are very practical and concrete in our lives. And then for fun, I guess we're talking about how Estonians came to be seen as white people, which they didn't use to be and how Silicon Valley is taking over a corner of Honduras.

[00:34:51] It's all at borderlinepod.com/ subscribe. Let me know what you think, you can reach out to isa@borderlinepod.com. Now, back to our conversation with John Elledge.

[00:35:02] Jonn Elledge:

[00:35:02] Could we create a global nation state?

[00:35:02] Jonn Elledge: I do think like people are. Don't realize quite what a recent invention nation state was and how like, you know, in, in, in the, in the, 19th century, nationalism in europe was. was seen as the progressive force, but it was about self-determination. It was about people kind of taking, know, having taken control of their own affairs from these kinds of multi-national empires.

[00:35:25] but for much of history that has been the sort of unit you don't necessarily expect to be in, in kind of a political unit where everyone is from the same kind of ethnic or linguistic group as yourself. there there's a relatively, there's a relatively, recent recent thing. and, I, if, if you kind of look at this at a grand sweep of human history, I do not necessarily think that there is a reason to imagine that the nation state world is going to persist forever. and I think it probably does get replaced by something else, somewhere down the line, even if we don't know what that is. I interviewed, really early on in the story of this podcast, author,called Hassan Damluji, and he's written this book called a responsible globalist, and it subtitles is what globalists should learn from nationalists. And he essentially looks at how the nation state was born and, and why it was such a great success and how you could try and essentially replicate that at a global level and create that same feeling of, you know, weird tribalism and belonging to a nation, but at a, at a global level, at this size of humanity, essentially. the challenge is, as you were saying, you know, with, with star Trek, it helps to have an alien race to somehow create some kind of us versus them dynamic. It's very hard to unite people without a sense of, uN other, that's, that's out there that we need to unite against even without going to war, you know, but that sense of, we have something in common that others don't.

[00:37:00] French identity, multiculturalism and things I pretend to be an expert in

[00:37:00] Jonn Elledge: Would you think that's, I mean, you were saying earlier that like France as it is now really only kind of comes, comes to be in the Southern pony or liquor era. Do you think a function of that with the required? There are quite a few years in that time when like everybody else in Europe was at war with you. Do you think that was factor in the kind of creation of a French identity? The spreads were far beyond Paris.

[00:37:22] Isabelle Roughol: Well, the French identity I think it's something, and I'm by no means an expert scholar of this, but I think is very interesting because it's something that was very largely consciously manufactured in the 19th century. because people used to be much more closely, attached to their region and their local, their village. People up into late into the 19th century very frequently spoke their local dialect much more fluently and frequently than, than they spoke French.

[00:37:55] And what the third Republic did so that's the kind of the second half or last quarter really of the, of the 19th century was, have, free and

[00:38:06] Jonn Elledge: Um,

[00:38:06] Isabelle Roughol: public schools that in French and took kids out of their families to teach them not only the language, but also the values, the Republican values kind of against the church, which still was very powerful.

[00:38:20] And so that sentiment of belonging to the nation, which is also a sentiment that is very Republican, in the, you know, Republic sense of the world, not the American Republican sense of the word, that was very consciously created. And so what's interesting is that, essentially anyone can be French as long as you adhere to that.

[00:38:42] Isabelle Roughol: Which is why, you know, there's French language, skill tests to pass, to get into, to get citizenship. and you know, I mean, there's been much written about any English world about,Lacy T and this idea of secularism and why you can't wear a hijab in a French school. So in a way, anyone can be French, but as long as you very strictly adhere to this notion of what it means to be French, which was, which was created in the 19th century.

[00:39:10] So it's very different fromEnglish or American multiculturalism. And it doesn't necessarily adapt very well to the 21st century into what the population of France looks like today, which is why there's a lot of tension around these things at the moment.

[00:39:27] Jonn Elledge: It feels to me that like, like, France and Britain have very different experiences of, of multiculturalism. There feels to me the like Britain's from, from ethnic minorities are, are more prominent in, in top positions, in, you know, media or entertainment or even politics. I mean, two of the great offices of states are helped by, sorry, two of the four great offices of state.

[00:39:56] the challenge is we're in the home secretary, are held by, by people of Indian heritage. and it am I right in thinking that it's not there, isn't really a direct parallel for that in, in front of.

[00:40:06] Isabelle Roughol: Um, no, it certainly isn't. I mean, the country is also, you know, just, if you look at the demographics less diverse done, then, you can certainly in London. but there is also, well, there's two things. One is, is, yes, there are still there is still certainly, an institutional racism though, even though if you say that word in France, I will start over.

[00:40:29] Ugly debate, but there is certainly institutional racism. there's also just kind of a different notion of, of what it means to, be a diverse society. multiculturalism is kind of a dirty word. The idea is that when you come to friends and you become French, you kind of shed what differentiated you.

[00:40:51] so I have many issues with that because that essentially, is a lot easier to do if you're a white Christian immigrant. And if you are a black Muslim immigrant, for instance, but, but essentially, those, those differentiations aren't made in the same way. You don't, you don't hyphenate, You know, you're not, you're not Indian French in a way that you can be, British, south Asian or you're not, they're very, very different, notions. My gosh, I really, we need a scholar to explain this, to explain this better. but yes, there was very, very much fewer minorities in government and in positions of power. and even when they are there, um, tend to not draw attention to, to that difference.

[00:41:41] Jonn Elledge: I should say, cause I could have started you down this road. I should say this is not me saying like Brittany's like a multicultural paradise where like we then did racism was I absolutely don't think that, that's absolutely not my, my position. but it is kind of fascinating the way, like. Pretty much every country or every country over any diversity of population in it does seem to issues kind of like racism and prejudice and

[00:42:08] Isabelle Roughol: Oh,

[00:42:09] Jonn Elledge: but they do, they do manifest completely different in different countries in a way I find like weirdly fascinating.

[00:42:14] Isabelle Roughol: It's a really fascinating conversation and debate that's happening. Unfortunately it's not always done with a very calm demeanor or attitude to it, but, you know, essentially a lot of people in France see multiculturalism in the British or the American fashion arrive in France. And certainly gen Z is much more his influenced by American culture and is certainly much more of that perspective on things, which in France has called essentialist, which is essentially defining people by their origins, by their skin color, et cetera, versus France aspires to be universalist, which is essentially everyone is the same and those differences don't exist, which is you know, a nice and lofty ideal, but it's not actually how people treat one another.

[00:43:06] It's certainly not how the state treats people. So a bit like an, I don't see color kind of thing, which isn't real. but, but that, French institutions still very much hold on to, and I have, I have some sympathy for it, because how to expresses... I do feel sometimes, you know, and that's the French in me, that those differentiations are too exacerbated in a public discourse, to the point that it becomes the only thing that you start to see about people. And that makes those conversations very difficult to have across communities.

[00:43:46] and so they end up being a bit siloed. But, I also think that the French way you really won't and cannot last, because that's certainly not how younger French generations see it today, but that makes sense.

[00:44:03] Jonn Elledge: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yes, sir. My brain is completely gone home.

[00:44:11] Isabelle Roughol: No, I mean. we, we went, we went in a completely somewhere else.

[00:44:16] Jonn Elledge: we've been all

[00:44:17] Isabelle Roughol: That's going to be an interesting edit.

[00:44:20] Britain stopped showing its best features

[00:44:20] Jonn Elledge: one of the things I find, I mean, one of the many, many, almost infinite number of things I find depressing about Brexit and everything that has come from it, one of them is that. like, in some ways like Britain is Britain is I think it might be the most multicultural country in Europe is certainly near the top. There's plenty of, you know, young, black, British men particularly are going to face loads of racism. And so it's not like we don't have huge issues, but you can also point to certain things and say, okay, there are bits of this we are doing quite well. and none of that Is is the narrative we are, we are telling about ourselves because It's all...

[00:44:55] I mean, I suppose, I suppose to some extent, the Brexit vote worst, to some extent, a kind of reaction against the success of, of multiculturalism and liberalism and, you know, and those are, cause these, these qualities can get tied up with bound up with London as a city, which is in,as, as you'll know, living here, you know, it's a huge international city it's and you can be from anywhere and be a Londoner.

[00:45:18] And no, no, one's really going to question that and it's kind of possible to switch allegiance to a different city And where you can't switch nationalities quite so easily. so like to an extent, Brexit was an older generation kind of kicking back against the fact that their kids are a lot more diverse and liberal than they are.

[00:45:37] but nonetheless, it does kind of mean the face that Britain has shown the world recently. And England particularly is, is that of kind of like a sort of like aging middle-aged reactionary. whereas I think from a liberal internationalist perspective, I think there are, there are a lot of things about this country that we, we we can actually be quite proud of, but there's other ones that we've, we've foregrounded the top recently. We've just got this there's nasty, the nasty people hate foreign isn't church. So

[00:46:06] Isabelle Roughol: Yeah, it's been, it's been extremely dissonant for me as an immigrant here.

[00:46:11] Jonn Elledge: When did you arrive by the way?

[00:46:12] Isabelle Roughol: So I arrived. I got my contract to move here on the day of the Brexit referendum. Yeah, So it's easy to remember. I was living in Australia at the time. and I had, you know, already my, my company moved me here, had already had that conversation with my boss and I was already emotionally invested in, in moving to London.

[00:46:31] And, and I got the contract on the day of the referendum and kind of watch the news, you know, it was, it was daytime in Australia, watched the news, watch my contract was like, what do I do? but I was, I, you know, I was, I was like, oh, they can't possibly, you know, Dell, Dell, Dell Brexit, but not really eat. I'll stay in the single Martin and CA you know, they just did just shot themselves in the foot, but it won't be that bad. you know, didn't see the next five years coming. but

[00:46:57] Jonn Elledge: I mean, I sort of think it was sorry I interrupted, but I, I saw the think it was the, it was because it was quite a close vote that, yeah, it was like a couple of points could move. So you can make a compelling argument that almost anything could have swung it the other way. But I think one of the weird side effects of this is, the, the, the pro-Brexit leaves sides kind of had to go around talking as if it was an overwhelming mandate. Like, I think the very narrowness of it meant that they didn't feel they could compromise, which is not,

[00:47:30] I'm not saying this is good behavior, but I can sort of like, see how, how it happens in her life.

[00:47:34] If it had been 60 40 for leave, it probably would have been much easier to kind of, cause they wouldn't have been that insecurity about whether or not it was actually going to happen because you know, that we use, you know, there were, there were several years where it genuinely felt like maybe we could walk it back.

[00:47:49] Isabelle Roughol: Yeah. When you think that today, if you did the vote again, you know, it wouldn't pass. if, if you citizens that live in the UK had had the right to vote the same way that Commonwealth citizens did, it wouldn't have fast. If 16 year old had had the right to vote, who are being, you know, who are young adults now impacted by it?

[00:48:08] it wouldn't have happened either, but it has been really, really dissonant

[00:48:13] Jonn Elledge: Yeah.

[00:48:15] Isabelle Roughol: how wonderfully welcoming London has been and diverse on probably of all the cities that I've lived in. I've lived in many, the place that feels most easy to be myself in as a. As a French woman, who's, not French enough and two feminists for Paris. and as a, I mean, it's just, it, you know, it feels right. The city does, but in the country really doesn't and I've often considered leaving and I'm still decide, because the politics have been so hostile to people like myself and has been made so much more complicated by literally having to have an Excel spreadsheet where I counting the days that I spent outside the country. So I don't lose my eligibility for settled status and for citizenship next year. So it's yeah.

[00:49:10] Jonn Elledge: There's as we were talking about at the top of the show load that Australia dumping all its refugees on the island country an hour, it, it's the same kind of impulse you see in the British home office to deliberately make things as unpleasant and as difficult as possible as a signal to, both, to, to, you know. both as a signal to say, to tell people not to come here, but also as a signal to particular voters that it just being hard-lined on this stuff.

[00:49:38] it's yeah, it's just awful. I mean, they do kind of feel like you said, you sort of imagined we'd stay in the single market. My sort of suspicion is that long-term we probably end up back in. the single, I don't, I don't imagine whatever, if that makes it a grand unified theory of Brexit is that like whatever happens in, however, the vote had gone in 2016, our long-term destiny is to end up in, in the single market, but not in any political union.

[00:50:04] Jonn Elledge: Like even if li even if remain had won that referendum, there will, at some point be a country called Europe and Britain would not want to go into that, but they do kind of think the economic logic of, of being part of the single market will, will over time, become overwhelming. I think we're probably just going to very gradually rebuild our position in, the single market piece by piece. what that means for, for, freedom of movement. I don't know. I spent probably a way of being able to walk that one back, but spare, they do kind of think we would, you know, too much of our trade is naturally going to be review Europe. and this one's going to be hard because there's going to be loads of there are going to be empty shelves because you can't get products into.

[00:50:41] Isabelle Roughol: I'm I'm, I'm going home. I've booked my ferry tickets. I'm going home for Christmas. Knock on wood. provided, rules don't change again. I'm going, I'm going home with my car. so I'll come back with a car full of food. So, you know, take your orders now. I'll, I'll make sure to do my part like Dunkirk style two to supply, to supply England with a much needed food and petrol.

[00:51:08] Jonn Elledge: Please, please. We need all the help we can get right now.

[00:51:12] Isabelle Roughol: Oh, well, I mean, that's, that's a whole other, that's a whole other episode potentially, but, I'm fascinated with how the backlash on globalization ends up destroying free movement, but maintaining. Ultimately we'll maintain free trade because there's too much money at stake. and capital won't let it happen.

[00:51:33] but so I find it fascinating that essentially people are rightly identifying all the problems of capitalization, but they're taking it out on migrants instead of taking it out on, you know, re you know, global capital that's run amok.

[00:51:48] Isabelle Roughol: It's yeah, that's a whole other episode, as I said,

[00:51:52] Jonn Elledge: Yeah. it's going back to the state of play last winter, it was literally easier to get into this country as a virus than it was as a human being. which, which feels slightly the wrong way round. but we all, we all, we all should like, should I, sorry, just conscious. I, the name of the book or something,

[00:52:11] Isabelle Roughol: Yeah, absolutely. Tell us, tell us about the book please. Shamelessly, uh, plug it.

[00:52:19] Jonn Elledge: Yeah. So the book is called The Compendium of Not Quite Everything. It's out now from, from headline. and it's about a hundred sort of mini essays on all sorts of topics. Just random things that I find interesting, really. So it starts with some creation, lifts, and then my sort of 800 word summary of the big bang and the creation of the universe and evolution.

[00:52:40] There's a lot of stuff about galaxies and stars and planets and stuff, or how many countries are in the world. And that one of the biggest islands and bits on the history of numbers and mathematics and this person particularly stupid wars, that's a fun

[00:52:54] Isabelle Roughol: That is a fun one. A lot of them about cows,

[00:52:58] Jonn Elledge: There's certainly, there've been surprising. Number of wars where the cows, although my FA my favorite of the stupid wars is the, the, the EMU

[00:53:04] Isabelle Roughol: the EMU war. Yeah. Yeah. Especially the EMU one.

[00:53:08] Uh,

[00:53:08] Jonn Elledge: which she, Australian army went to war against some large flightless birds lost twice. it's one of my favorite stories from all of history.

[00:53:16] but yeah, there's, the, the very nice line in, in, in, the review in the, daily mail. So the, the it's very unlikely. You'll be interested in everything in this book, but it's extremely unlikely. You will be interested in something, so, you know, please buy it, please buy it for anyone in your life. You don't know what to get for Christmas because they will hopefully enjoy it.

[00:53:32] Isabelle Roughol: I will, I will second that. And I think for listeners to this podcast, I was saying earlier, the, the second section is, is fascinating. I appreciate that as an Englishman,

[00:53:44] you are English, right?

[00:53:46] Yes, you are.

[00:53:47] Jonn Elledge: boringly English. I live in, I live in the east end of London. I once tried tracing my, my, my family tree and I got back as far as my great, great, great grandfather, Jonn Elledge, which is the same as my name who lives in the same postcode as I do now. So like all that's happened in 200 years as that I've learned to misspell my own name.

[00:54:10] Isabelle Roughol: Well, I we're, we're big into genealogy. My brother has gone back to like the 13th century, I think. And the, and we're French. It's extremely boring. We're friends. All the time, like there, you know, we've moved a bit from, essentially we've, at some point people went up to Paris to try and get rich, which they did, but then they got poor again.

[00:54:32] but it's just a story of many families really. but no, I appreciate that in the book, as an English man, you, you recognize how absolutely bonkers the Imperial system of measurement is.

[00:54:43] Isabelle Roughol: it's

[00:54:43] absolutely insane. It is the

[00:54:45] one

[00:54:46] Jonn Elledge: there's no internal logic to it

[00:54:47] Isabelle Roughol: none.

[00:54:48] Jonn Elledge: So yeah, there is an entry that's just to me getting increasingly furious Imperial

[00:54:52] Isabelle Roughol: Hmm.

[00:54:53] Jonn Elledge: and like the metric system is one of the best things that France has

[00:54:56] Isabelle Roughol: it.

[00:54:56] Jonn Elledge: the world. Towering intellectual achievement.

[00:55:01] Isabelle Roughol: We make, we make up for it by counting and really weird ways. so do you know how you see 90 in French? I mean, you've taken seven years of French. It's a

[00:55:13] Jonn Elledge: I can do that's the bit I got.

[00:55:14] Isabelle Roughol: it's Katelyn Vandy. So it's four times 20 plus.

[00:55:18] Jonn Elledge: Yeah.

[00:55:18] Isabelle Roughol: is the weirdest way of saying 90. So we do have some quirks as well.

[00:55:25] Jonn Elledge: Well, isn't that what makes a nation really?

[00:55:28] Isabelle Roughol: Well, that's, that's a good line to end on. Thank you so much, Jonn really

[00:55:32] appreciate this,this conversation of not quite everything, we didn't do quite everything, but almost

[00:55:39] I appreciate it.

[00:55:40] Jonn Elledge: That's very, much. My vibe is just like, I'm just trying to work out how to kind of monetize talking notes in this about random subjects. That's kind of like plan for the

[00:55:47] Isabelle Roughol: Well, and, and you do it very well. and we should say you have a newsletter of the same source as well that people can sign

[00:55:54] up for.

[00:55:55] Jonn Elledge: because the newsletter is not quite everything, is, you know, the brand and the gene,

[00:55:58] Isabelle Roughol: Yeah, you've got a brain there.

[00:56:01] Jonn Elledge: there has also been, the podcast is not quite everything, which we've just, we've, we've just finished the first season of, in which basically have a fairly rambling conversations like this. And he, with me as the interviewer with, with an expert.

[00:56:13] So I spoke to, people like the historian, Alexandre kinsmen, or the comedian, the hair Shaw, or a guy called , who's a German astronomer. Who's the guy, who's the first man to take a picture of a black hole. So it's, it's completely random. It's just based on me finding interesting people I wanted to talk to, which is the dream really as a journalist.

[00:56:30] Isabelle Roughol: I mean, that's, that's why we chose this profession. Right. So we'll make sure to put all the links in the show notes so people can go and buy the book, sign up for the newsletter, listened to the podcasts, all with my warm recommendation. Thank you so much, Jonn.

[00:56:45] Jonn Elledge: Thank you much for having me.

[00:56:46] Isabelle Roughol: My pleasure.

[00:56:47] Outro

[00:56:47] The Compendium of Not Quite Everything by Jonn Elledge is available now from headline. And I can confirm that it definitely makes for a great Christmas present because yes, we're already there thinking about Christmas presents, for people with a curious mind in your life.

[00:57:04] You'll also find links to the podcast of, not quite everything and the newsletter of not quite everything in the show notes.

[00:57:10] This is also my opportunity to tell you that if you buy the book from the link in the show notes, or from Borderlinepod.com, you will be supporting Borderline. I've opened a bookshop, simply an affiliate program with bookshop.org, which supports independent bookstores in the UK and the U S and through this affiliate program can now also support this independent media.

[00:57:32] You'll find books from guests on the podcast, anything that's referenced or talked about here, as well as other recommendations that I think Borderline listeners and readers will enjoy. All you need to do is click through the Borderline bookshop, you'll buy the books in just the same way as you usually do, but it will help support this podcast.

[00:57:51] As I mentioned last week, I'm back in school, learning how to grow and improve Borderline. I am testing new products, including this new newsletter, and I am therefore extremely pressed for time.. Podcast production takes an insane amount of time, I can't even tell you. And unfortunately is taking me away from doing a lot of other things and from writing. So the podcast is going to go biweekly in order to give a little breathing room for other projects to emerge. I hope you'll stay tuned. In fact, from talking to a lot of you, I know many have a backlog of episodes to listen to because these are quite dense and long. So giving you a little bit more time as well to get through the archives.

[00:58:31] Let me know what you think. You can always reach out to me at ISA at Borderline pod.com or through the Borderlinepod.com website.

[00:58:39] I'm your host, Isabelle Roughol. Music was by Ofshane. Borderline is a One Lane Bridge production, and I will talk to you in two weeks.

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Isabelle Roughol Twitter

Journalist, podcaster, media consultant. Telling stories & building better newsrooms. Writes The Lede. Ex- LinkedIn News, Le Figaro, The Cambodia Daily. 🎓 Mizzou '08, Birkbeck '25.