Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Radio Review: 22 July

A timely look at the perils of sudden transitions

Written by Louis Barfe
There’s something in the air. Uncertainty and fear loom large. There is a feeling that either we’re on the brink of something or we’ve already gone over the edge and not realised it. The scariest part of all is that nobody really knows where all of it will land.

That something in the air is increasingly the subject of things that are on the air, and lying in bed on a Sunday morning, I heard the mordant yet warm and funny AL Kennedy talking about the disturbing nature of transitions for Radio 4’s A Point Of View (Fridays, 8.50pm, repeated Sunday, 8.48am).

Kennedy began with the handful of photographs rescued from her grandfather’s care-home room when he died nearly 30 years ago, remembering the speed with which the traces of his whole life were removed. She hadn’t been able to look at them since, but when they turned up in a house move, Kennedy was glad they were there. Something reliable. Something constant.

Similarly, when her furniture went into temporary storage, Kennedy enjoyed the brief freedom and simplicity, but knew she wanted all of these items back. ‘Somehow, my belongings allow me to belong.’

One transition that has already occurred is from the free education and skilled, confident, solvent workforce of the 1970s to students piled high with debt and families just one unexpected bill away from the food bank. Nothing reliable. Nothing constant. Kennedy said it was a myth that good people are always rewarded, because it can only mean that those who don’t prosper are not good.

This, then, she observed, is the context in which ‘violent illusions of certainty’ look attractive and hatred grows. She says that we should be doing the opposite: ‘If reality won’t be kind, surely we must, always.’

Louis on Twitter: @LFBarfe or email: wireless@cheeseford.net 

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