How I fell in love with radio
When we went to relatives on Sunday afternoons for tea, I used to ask, ‘What’s for tea, Uncle Jim?’ He always replied, ‘Bread and dripping.’
It never was. It was always bread and butter, a slice of spam, a lettuce leaf and a tomato. I don’t know how my six year old self and Uncle Jim struck up that repartee. Nor can I remember how it came to be that my grandfather always said when I left him, ‘See you later, alligator,’ which elicited the shout, ‘In a while, crocodile,’ from me.
There was little humour in my nuclear family. One of the cover ups of meal time silence was Radio 4. Weekend lunches coincided with comedy – Round the Horn and The Navy Lark. There was repartee within those shows, and my affection for the back and forth chat with my uncle and grandfather began to spread to radio.
On his death, Uncle Jim’s wireless, as he called it, was given to me. I’d have been about nine years old. In the turbulence of my upbringing, radio became the comforter to which I fell asleep.
As I grew, radio became a surrogate friend. We sat together in my room for hours. It talked to me, I talked to it, and nothing I said was ever wrong. It took me to places, ideas and images that beckoned me to leave home and move into a richer world. Radio was my story teller, guru, comedian, tempter and hope-giver.
Pictures of spam and batteries? It’s all in the cause of art, don’t you know.