Monday, 7 August 2017
The Benefits of the Wireless
Now OK, I realise most folks call it a 'radio' today but I always find the word 'wireless' appearing in my head and so I might as well use it. When young we did indeed have a 'wirelss,' a great big box with an aerial that looked like a bent birds cage which hung outside the window do obtain a good reception. I wonder if this was obtained second hand or possibly through my aunt who worked in 'Jenners' Edinburgh's principal shop, the one where all the rich women spent much time drinking tea with their pinkie sticking out and discussing the merits of other women's lives. My mother did not have the cash for that pleasure and merely gossipped with the neighbours.
Anyway I recall, possibly before I began school, a large 'Radiogram' appearing in the corner. This vast cupboard had a lid which when lifted exposed the large dial for the wireless on one side and a record layer (ten '45's at one go!) on the other. This my elder brother and sisters much enjoyed though I also took happily to their choice of 'Rock & Roll.'
On the large dial, over a foot in length and several inches wide, there was a list of foreign places from far away. I cannot mind now but I suppose both Long, Short and Medium wave were available on their however if we listened to the radio we most probably only had three stations at that time, the BBC 'Home Service, the BBC 'Light' programme and Radio Luxembourg which in those days played music young people wished to listen to, the BBC remained rather stuffy until the pirate radio ships gave them a shove in the 60's. I spent many a Sunday afternoon with my head up against the speaker listening to the 'Billy Cotton Band Show,' 'The Goons' with their 'pictures in the mind' and other comedy shows that abounded in the afternoons. During the week the 'Tony Hancock Show' brought in an audience of 25 million! This of course before TV was common and then did similar when transferred to the telly later on. Those days have long gone and even the dreadful 'soaps' only get 13 million by adding the two showing of the programmes together.
The Internet has been a blessing regarding listening to the wireless as the BBC iplayer allows me to catch programmes I usually miss and indeed many of those programmes once hear while munching mums salad rolls on Summer Sunday afternoons. Now we possess the updated (though the names do need updating once again) Radio's 1,2,3,4, plus 5Live, the rather juvenile station, plus the World Service once the best of them all now dumbed down and as PC as the rest of the BBC and Radio 4 Extra, a station that plays old programmes, mostly sad to say dramas, stories and pap. However via the iplayer I can catch some wonderful programmes and today I have been working my way through the Radio 3 excellent 'Essay' series. In particular I have been enjoying some of the 'Free Thinking' programmes, I listened to the 15 minute ones where one person spouted their opinion on a topic (many wide and varied) and dis so in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. I did not always agree, some were spectacularly wrong, but I had to listen and wanted to hear more. There are so many talk shows on Radio 4 that are decidedly middle calls and usually aimed at women with problems that when you hear grown up women talk on Radio 3 you wonder if it is not time for a change in the programming layout somewhere. Maybe the Radio 3 audience is more open to reason?
I must confess that I have had a fill of thinking talk for a while and may well retire to the West Wing and place my dull ear to the speaker again and listen out for something that either takes me out from this box or makes me laugh, I don't as yet now which. Either way it will be better for me that glueing my face to the box in the corner where 50 channels, when they work, offer me little of value. Once again there I must reach for the TV iplayer and seek something worthy.