In the Imperial War Museum, in London, there is a marvellous 1940’s house, complete with (Dig for Victory!) veggie patch and backyard bomb shelter. There are ration coupon books on the dining table and in the front room the chairs are huddled around the Wireless. I’m sure living during a World War is about as far from idyllic as you can get, but I find this house utterly charming. I imagine a family on a winter’s night, knitting sox for soldiers, listening to the BBC, sipping hot tea. There is something so appealing about it…
You know what it is?….I think it’s that Wireless….
When I was a kid and supposed to be sleeping (I wasn’t very good at sleeping, I was much better at worrying and imagining and staying up very late over-thinking) I discovered Radio New Zealand on my clock radio. Then I stumbled across a particularly wonderful thing. An ongoing production of “Oracles and Miracles”, the best-selling novel by Kiwi author, Stevan Eldred-Grigg. Each week I’d tune in to the next instalment, keeping the volume low enough to go undetected by The Parent on his or her beat. Without a doubt, it was the best night of my week.
Another programme that gives me the same feeling and has been running since 1942 is Desert Island Discs by BBC4. Here’s the skinny:
Originally devised and presented by Roy Plomley, each week a guest (“castaway”) is asked to choose eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item for their imaginary stay on the island, while discussing their lives and the reasons for their choices
The music that leads you into the show features the squawks of seagulls and a dreamy, lulling classical melody, as if you too are drifting out on a raft, ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ style. Then, host Kirsty Young introduces her guest and castaway, in her soothing just-a-touch-of-Scottish accent. Castaways have included rock stars, writers, politicians, disgraced celebrities, sports people, an expert crossword puzzle creator. Wren and I listen to it over our breakfast. I like the sensation of peeking in on people’s lives and hearing their stories, she likes the music choices. Debbie Harry chose some tunes she could really groove in her highchair to.
So it’s not exactly 1940’s living. There is no veggie patch (rental apartment on the second floor, bit tricky); thankfully no need for a bomb shelter. No air raid sirens. No ration coupon book either. But we are huddled around a Wireless of sorts (podcast downloaded onto Mac Air) and I do have that happy feeling. Stories shared with family, british accents, hot tea being sipped…