I’ve been listening to Radio 4 when I’m driving alone for so many years now that I don’t really think of it as a middle aged type habit but perhaps it is. It passes the time. I’ve learnt plenty, forgotten more. Sometimes they run really interesting deep content, about current affairs or history. This year I’ve particularly enjoyed Gabriel Gatehouse doing “The Coming Storm”, “A History of the World in 100 Objects”, and “The Digital Human”. All three have the luxury of time to gently unfold curious perspectives on things both ancient and modern and on human nature. I am a questioner, and I will always examine my information for motive and source, but while I’m driving some of the noise in my head is gone and I become perhaps a little more absorbent. So when they talk about books, I often go and buy them. It was so with Piranesi last summer, and I got through it in a day and revelled in the images I still carry in memory today. And it happened again today.
The day started with Spielberg on Desert Island Discs which was a coup considering he famously shuns interviews. His mum sounded awesome. I enjoyed getting under the skin of his lust for positivity. The big stories he tells always thrust towards a bright part of human nature. Even his songs were chosen mostly for how they connect him to the important people in his life. He came across as a kind man, and I’m glad of it. Then it was The Archers and as ever I mostly switched off. I could tell you loosely what’s going on but my driving brain can’t hold fiction as well as fact so I often just white noise through all the radio dramas. I enjoy it for the history and the fact that there are still some talented people for whom it is their whole career. But I’m never gonna hold it. There’ve been some natty little consumer programmes including one where they left three fans on with three batteries to see which ones lasted longest. Amazon basics were cheapest and died first but started flagging early, Duracell were three times the price for another hour and then some new super energiser type was another hour for like ten times. The science of batteries was useful to re-hear considering I’m having to try and enthuse people about that sort of thing when the acting is not happening.
Then this evening they had Katherine Rundell on talking about her new book The Golden Mole. It’s a book about nature. It’s kind of a modern Bestiary of Wonders. Her approach is full of love for nature and she’s carrying this joy for life mixed with a full sense that we all have to keep moving forward our benchmark for care towards the world. I bought it on Kindle immediately and I’ve been racing through it this evening. I’ve always wanted to raise my profile enough that I can do one of those “Actor talks about nature,” things to help raise awareness of how our actions trickle down to the smallest things and then back up to us. She’s gently moving things that way in her writings and her actions and I’m happy to have found another writer through Radio 4. Better perhaps than just the same songs on Spotify again.
I’m still feeling a bit peaky so trying for an early bed tonight. But maybe just a few more sections of the Bestiary first. Lemurs next… I used to love them in Gerald Durrell’s captive breeding programme in Jersey. Endangered even then… What have we done?