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20 November 2007


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Oddly, I listened to far more radio when I was working than I do now. I had my car radio permanently tuned to Radio 4 as I drove around Devon. Now I tend only to listen when I have the house to myself.

What do you think of Woman's Hour's dramatisation of books instead of straightforward reading? I haven't decided whether it is an example of the Beeb's dumbing down or a reflection of the pace of modern life, where no-one has time to listen to a beautifully written piece of prose and so settles for a truncated dialogue.

I much prefer the original Woman's Hour approach M; I don't think you can beat a good reader. (Nigel Anthony, the son of a family friend and a longstanding BBC regular, is one of the best.) However, on this occasion - because it is Dickens and Geraldine James - I'm prepared to make an exception!

On reflection, I can't recall the rationale for the change, can you? I do agree that the Beeb has made some odd and misguided decisions in recent years (eg shortening the Afternoon Play) but, for all, that, it still manages to deliver large quantities of brilliant radio programmes, for which (as an isolated, home-based, rural writer) I am eternally grateful.

A fellow addict, I listen to Radio 4 here at the southern tip of Africa via my laptop (but not as much as I'd like to due to work commitments). It makes me feel less isolated, more connected with the bigger world. I cannot listen to the local radio because it is too depressing, and I haven't had a TV for the last 5 years. Viva Radio 4, Viva.

I love Radio 4, despite the changes in recent years. I think some programme makers underestimate their listeners at times. They have swallowed the popular notion that our concentration is limited to a few minutes hence we get magazine type programmes packed with lots of short articles, people being cut off in mid-sentence and simplified or abridged versions of books and drama. Shall we mount a campaign to bring back the excellent readers?

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Thought for life

  • The House of Breath, William Goyen
    We are the carriers of lives and legends - who knows the unseen frescoes on the private walls of the skull?

Thinking about . . .

  • Daniel Klein, Travels with Epicurus
    I too listen to music more and more. Throughout my life, music has stirred me more than any other art form, and now, in old age, I find myself listening to it almost every evening, usually alone, for hours at a time.
  • Julia Blackburn, Thin Paths
    I began writing because I liked to write things down. I learnt foreign languages because they seemed to enter my head by a process of osmosis.
  • Joan Bakewell, Stop the Clocks
    I live contentedly alone. It's better that way and I am often thoughtful about what has been and what might have been. There are many like me.
  • Patti Smith, M Train
    Oh to be reborn within the pages of a book.
  • Patti Smith, M Train
    Why is it that we lose the things we love, and things cavalier cling to us and will be the measure of our worth after we’re gone?
  • Judith Kerr, Observer Magazine, 22 November 2015
    I don't believe in God. I find it much easier to believe in ancestors. I like to imagine they are pointing us in the right direction.

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