Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Shipping Forecast

I spent the day with an old friend today and didn't realise how much I had missed them this past 6 months until now. This friend has informed me, entertained me, amused, shocked and surprised me, occasionally made me cry and more than often bored me to tears. This friend has kept me company for more hours than I care to remember and yet I had simply accepted, with regret, that when I left Britain I would be leaving such company behind. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that I could get Radio 4 live on the Internet. Hubby discovered it this weekend and now I am reunited.
It feels so utterly familiar to have it playing in the background. .. and it is so utterly British. It is slightly bizarre how you can be listening one hour to the afternoon play and then the next, hearing experts discuss whether it is a gyroscopic effect that helps motorcyclists stay upright at slow speeds, or others debate (again) how much Bob Dylan matters to modern song lyrics. They do fascinating profiles and monologues on regional places and interesting people. Sometimes it is utter twaddle! Sometimes it is surreal. I confess to loving the sound of the shipping forecast - try listening to it driving home at night in the rain... 
What I have always loved about Radio 4 is the quality of the news. There is certainly nothing that I have discovered could come close in America to Radio 4 or its news coverage. In fact - because we refuse to pay huge amounts for our TV package we only get local news and they don't report beyond NC state borders. The rest of the world could be dying in an apocalyptic style disaster and they wouldn't mention it. They would be there, all shiny and orange with big white teeth talking about college team sports while the world perished! National news isn't much better. I feel more informed today than I have for a while... well 6 months to be precise!
Listening to my old friend has also been slightly disconcerting because of the time difference. I've got no chance of hearing the 'Today' programme unless I become nocturnal! I used to listen to Today on my way to work. Every time there is a time update on the radio I find myself registering what my good friends and family in Britain are doing... cooking tea...kiddie bath time... first glass of wine  and instead of me feeling connected it makes me feel disconnected and strange. For a start it is far too early USA time for me to be joining my friends at home for a drink. I miss that quiet time before I would start working into the evening but after the children had gone to bed when I would pour a glass of wine, pick up the phone and talk to my friends.
My dear friend who also has two small children, also had a manic job. We would snatch time, over the phone, to share a glass of Chardonnay and laugh and sometimes cry at the madness of our lives. I miss that because even though we still talk we cant share in the moment, there being a 5 hour time difference. If she has a glass of wine and ready to relax and chat, it is mayhem here with my kiddies still running riot at tea time. By the time they are in bed, she is too!  
The rest of the world started back to work Tuesday after the new year. My friend didn't. She is about to embark on a journey similar to the one I am having where you turn your world upside down and give up work to focus on all the things you didn't have time for but had to find the time when you were at work. There is one advantage she has over me, Radio 4 can keep her company in real time!


  1. This for some strange reason made me cry. Its amazing how much your life has changed that end. But ours this end has changed too. Begging Richard to turn Radio 4 off because it bored the hell out of me. And him telling me and Jess to listen because we'd probably learn from it. With us both finding, we did!!

  2. So glad you have got something real about home even if it is a little late . the sound in the background is good , even if you are not really listening, then something registers and you are back home.You will proberly listen to more news than i do . yo can tell me whats going on . love sweetheart xxxx

  3. You could probably hear Nigel's scream in NC....

  4. haha, i still think radio 4 is shit.. just sayin'

    but i love you and miss you and glad youve found some home comfort :)


  5. Jess! You should listen to it! get enlightened! at least listen to the news. It will help you with your a levels! xxx

  6. at last now I know that all i need is some gyroscopic effect to stop me falling off my motorbike - you've got me converted! Although I do think that 5Live is more up my street

    I dont suppose the real reason i keep falling off is the stupid f**kwits in cars who cant see me?


  7. Read my reply to u on Jezblog...... U badly need to find your local NPR station..... public radio...... its the US equvilant of R4 when broadcasting the NPR feed from DC....... its a must...... weirdly I prefer it to R4 when u live in NYC or DC cos it has no Archers or cooking Programs...... mind u not so much North Carolina cos u will only have approx 3 hours a day of NPR the rest will be classical music...... but you will have it......... u need to find it otherwise u will be like Jess....... hehehe...... it is just like The Today Program (with my mate Justin Webb) or PM in the evening....... U will understand America so much better if you listen to it every day...... I will be testing you :-))

  8. Jess! You should listen to it! get enlightened! at least listen to the news. It will help you with your a levels! xxx

    Tony - 5live is too sporty for me!
    If you listen the the programme you may have imbalance because of too much body mass over the handlebars!!! x

    Jez- I'll check it out. You are right about the Archers! The only danger is if I understand America I cant write about it in ignorance and make fun!!!

    I sent an email to Home Planet (Radio 4) with a link to my blog. I got a lovely email back from the producer Toby Murcott. What a great Programme and Radio station! makes me more homesick than ever!