Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Thursday 29 October 2015

Guilty Pleasures and the Original Blogger

Sometimes we have to find our guilty pleasures where we can; sometimes, we have to cram them into the oddest corners of our lives or sneak them in when we think no one’s looking.

The husband and I work for ourselves… We work for a lot of people and a lot of companies, one way or another, but the bottom line is that we are selling a service, or, sometimes, our skills and we are what is generally referred to as self-employed. That means that paperwork has to be done every so often, which sometimes involves accounts.

Every three months, I sit and post a lot of numbers into spreadsheets. I can’t claim that I really do accounts; I have various people who do all that, but I do some of the leg work by entering figures for accountants to sort out for me. This takes time and is mostly very dull.

I use the time it takes to do this stuff to indulge one of my guilty pleasures and catch up with an old habit.

As a kid I listened to a lot of radio.

Do people still do that?

My brothers and sisters had their favourites, including some of the old pirate radio stations, Radios Luxembourg and Caroline, and Radio 1 for the chart show, of course. The kitchen radio was tuned to Radio 2 for Jimmy Young in the mornings and then to Radio 4 for the other twenty-two hours of the day.

Radio 4 was my constant companion at University. Of course, we’re talking about the days pre-personal-computer. Most students didn’t have a television either, and the TV room in student halls wasn’t used much, except for big sporting events and movie nights, when we were packed in like sardines, regardless of fire regs.

There were a lot of great shows on Radio 4… There still are, but I don’t listen regularly any more. For years, I had a radio in the kitchen tuned to Radio 4, and listened while I cooked, which was usually around the time that the big news programs, The World at One and PM were being aired. Now, I listen in the car, from time to time.

Most often, if I listen to Radio 4, it's while I am feeding numbers into spreadsheets. I have it running in the background, streaming on demand, and I pick and choose my way through the best of the half-hour programs that happen to be available when I need something to listen to. I can blast through any number of them in the time it takes to do all that drudge work.

One of my very favourite programs growing up, and I remember it from being a very small child, listening to my mother’s radio long before I had a radio of my own, was a series that was first commissioned for thirteen episodes in the spring of 1946, and went on to run for 58 years. The program was weekly and ran to almost 3,000 episodes, each written and delivered by one man, and all by the same man.

The blog, when it is done well, is always about ideas, is always a comment of some kind, on some subject or another, sometimes on something very specific, but, I think, often on more general things that affect all of us: Life, Love, Adversity, Politics… That sort of thing.

The blog when it is done well, is universal, can be read and understood by almost anyone, and will often engender a response, either agreement or dissent, approval or opprobrium.

Blogs are a relatively new phenomenon… Except that they aren’t, are they? Not really. People have been entertaining us with their thoughts and opinions for a very long time, and they’ve been doing it well, and consistently.

One of my very favourite Radio 4 programs was Letter from America, written and delivered by Alistair Cooke every week for almost six decades. He told stories, and he talked about sport, his beloved golf, and politics. He was always charming, often funny, sometimes bullish, but well-mannered and erudite.

BBC Radio 4's a Letter to Alistair from his Producer
While I was banging in those numbers, yesterday, One of the programs I chose on Radio 4 was A Letter to Alistair from his Producer, and it allowed me to listen to Alistair Cooke again. It was such a nostalgic pleasure, and I feel no guilt about it at all. If you remember Letter from America it’s well-worth taking a trip down memory lane, and if you don’t, listen to it anyway, you might be surprised, and you might just pick up some tricks for your blog.

The one thing I was struck by, almost as much as the nostalgia, was that if Alistair Cooke was a young man now, he’d be a phenomenal blogger and a YouTube sensation. He might have enjoyed the idea.

If you've come here looking for my free novel, click on this title Addled Kat part I

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