A Century of Listening

One hundred years ago today at 6pm, BBC radio officially broadcast for the first time; a news bulletin read twice, the second time slowly in case listeners wished to take notes. The BBC is celebrating its centenary all year and of course including television. But today radio deserves the limelight.

Neither television nor the internet has left radio in the shadows. We got our first television when I was four, so I can safely say only radio has been with me all my life.

‘Lord Reith, first director general of the BBC summarised the BBC’s purpose in three words: inform, educate, entertain; this remains part of the organisation’s mission statement to this day. It has also been adopted by broadcasters throughout the world, notably the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States.’

Whether you turn on the radio for news the moment you return home or don’t even own a radio, BBC radio has almost certainly been part of your life. My son tells me about various interesting podcasts he has listened to, which turn out to be programmes I heard on the radio in the kitchen. My daughter could listen with ear phones on her smart phone to Woman’s Hour in the middle of the night while feeding babies. Surely all of us have been informed, educated or entertained at some time by BBC radio. Even if you have never set foot on these sceptred isles you may have listened all your life to BBC World Service.

It is not an exaggeration to say I probably could not survive without BBC Radio, yes of course we have commercial radio stations and for a while I was a fan of Classic FM, but we were driven apart by advertisements! Radio has been a great companion whilst at home with babies, housework, ironing, cooking, insomnia through to my recent widowhood.

For most of us radio was our first introduction to music, from Faure’s Dolly Suite, signature tune for Listen with Mother to British light music such as Eric Coates’ Sleepy Lagoon, still the signature tune for Desert Island Discs which has been going for one hundred years, or feels like it. It was first broadcast in the 1940’s long before my parents even met, but it was one of the backgrounds to my childhood. If you want something a bit more lively Calling All Workers, also composed by Eric Coates was the signature tune for Workers’ Playtime, broadcast as a morale booster for factory workers in World War 2.  

Now we listen to every kind of music on all the various BBC stations, from your favourite pop song as you drive to work to Radio 3 broadcasting every single concert in the long Proms season.

Radio is above all the spoken word with no need for pictures; our own home theatre, story teller and entertainer. Afternoon plays, half hour comedies and specials such as real time reading all day of the complete Ulysses by James Joyce.

Do you listen to the radio, what music evokes memories? If you do tune in are you listening for news, music, drama or comedy?

Forty Four Days – Digital Dialogue – 315

Well… what did she say?

Darling, you know that is confidential.

Yes, but you can tell your wife.

You know I can’t tell anyone, how many times have we had this conversation?

But these are strange times and you need someone to talk to, like Me. I bet Mama used to tell Papa a few snippets of her weekly audience.

No of course she did not, you know my Darling Mama took her holy vows and traditions seriously.

But you wouldn’t know would you, if she had told him he would never have let her down by giving the game away. So couldn’t you just tell me what you said to her? Just a little bit…

I said ‘Dear Oh Dear.’

That’s what they overheard you saying the other day.

It’s pretty much what I have said every time I have met the wretched woman. I did say more, but I’m sorry my Darling Cam Cams, you are never going to know. However, you can help me with my speech, I think it’s time I addressed the country again.

Yes, yes, you must… such a pity you can’t …well you would make a better job than the lot of them running the country.

I agree and perhaps… no no, I don’t want to be beheaded.

But that was only the first Charles, the second one they were jolly glad to have back again and so they will support you.

But he was only thirty, much younger even than Wills; I’m getting too old for all this business and I certainly didn’t think I would have to break in another Prime Minister so soon… unless I don’t have to because I abolish the office, just temporarily… oh damn it, why not go the whole hog and dismiss Parliament. Come on, let’s get that speech written; have you got your mobile handy? Call the BBC.

Tidal Thoughts of an Idle Scribe

Tidalscribe Palace

Whatever your thoughts on monarchy, wherever you live, if you are in a safe and comfortable spot and not dealing with war or natural disaster, you will be well aware of The Queen’s death and either following or avoiding the lead up to the funeral tomorrow. Though a sad time, it is also one of the greatest shows on earth, full of human interest from the folk in The Queue to the many royals, world leaders and assorted dignitaries arriving. If you get in a panic when you have a family gathering or visitors coming to stay, imagine the preparations for this get together. Of course plans are always in place for big events, but have to be tailored at the last moment down to the finest detail of diplomatically deciding who will sit next to whom.

I think most humans love some pageantry and colour in their lives; history, art, music, beautiful horses and dear little choir boys all come together and lift us above the seedy world of politics and the mundanity of everyday life. The monarch and the government have a responsibility to defend their country and their people. The monarch is the chief of the armed forces, hence the wearing of military uniform by so many royals; no, I don’t know how they manage to acquire quite so many medals! Alas we know that a peaceful world is still unattainable, we need our armed forces and they are proud to be marching.

However, the solemnity of the occasion does not stop me having irreverent thoughts. When will the Lego or Playmobil Royal Funeral sets be coming out? Think of all the colourful characters to collect.

Where do the royal family and all those other officials who dress up, keep all their uniforms?

Dipping in to the endless chat on the radio I heard a presenter talking to some important military person about the funeral procession. When he mentioned the Royal Canadian Mounted Police taking part she asked him if they were bringing their horses and he said he wasn’t sure! How would they bring them, but how could they not bring them? Would they have to borrow ponies from the local riding school?

It was feasible that I could have jumped on a train at Bournemouth, up to Waterloo Station and sauntered down to the South Bank to join The Queue, a long walk to the end of the queue, but not as long as the slow walk to finally cross the River Thames and approach Westminster. I am impressed by those who have gone and it seems most were making new friends and having quite a jolly time. When they interview those who come out after their few moments passing by the queen’s coffin they all seem to have found it an amazing, solemn experience that will stay with them forever. But I didn’t go, I never have gone to London for the big crowd events, I have enough trouble deciding what to wear or take for a normal day out.

If any of you have been to pay your respects in any part of the country during The Queen’s journey from Balmoral, tell us how it was. Or will you be watching the funeral tomorrow at home or perhaps on one of the big screens local authorities are putting up so people can watch together?

The Queen’s final resting place will be at Windsor Castle.

A Strange Week.

This is where many of us feel we have been this past week.

For many the summer holidays are over and a new school year has started. After having all the family visiting, not quite at the same time and being away helping with tiny Tidalscribes last week, I am keen to start my autumn term in the blogging world.

Apple Harvest

Strange goings on at Chez Tidalscribe

Beach you can eat.
Children should be neither seen nor heard.

But as Prince Louis and my youngest grandson both started school and my eldest grandson became a teenager, there were far greater landmarks about to happen.

The death of Queen Elizabeth 11 on Thursday September 8th seemed to come suddenly. It was only on Tuesday that our new prime minister, Liz Truss, had been pictured meeting The Queen, who as tradition demands, asked her to form a new government. She looked frail and the meeting took place at Balmoral to spare Her Majesty the journey to Buckingham Palace, but it was only when we heard news later of her family rushing to Balmoral that her health was obviously worse than the public knew.

A drama and a moment in history that no script writer could have made up. The only monarch most of us have ever known had lived to see her platinum jubilee and just long enough to ‘see off’ Boris Johnson, as he put it.

King Charles 111 spoke movingly and seems so far to have people’s support. Whatever your own religious beliefs, the Queen took her oath sincerely to serve God and her country and Charles spoke of God Almighty and his faith. It is surely welcome that royals, unlike politicians, acknowledge a higher power. I always envy those people who brave the crowds, bring their flowers, chat to the press and make memories that will last. Many more of us have been following on television. It is a sad occasion, but also full of drama; from the many people of all sorts on the streets, to the interesting traditions, mostly involving colourful uniforms, coming into play as we lead up to the funeral.

I see no reason why Charles should not be a good king and perhaps at his weekly audiences with our new prime minister he can steer her down the green and humanitarian route we so badly need. My grandchildren will hopefully live to see three kings in their life time.

To round off a strange week this single rose had appeared in my garden when I got home on Friday.

Writers’ Wooden Sheds.

Marina Sofia at Finding Time To Write has a fun Friday post where she finds a selection of pictures with a theme. From ‘which castle would you like to live in’ to ‘how about one of these unusual libraries?’ Today she posted pictures of writers’ sheds in the garden and unlike castles and mansions I do actually have one of those. We call it the Aunty Evelyn Memorial Summer House in memory of the aunt we all thought had no money, but left seven of us equal shares. Enough to buy my little retreat. Alas it is currently full of stuff belonging to other family members, so you are not privileged to peek inside. I do also have a beach hut, a six foot wooden box ( not a coffin ) that sits on a piece of concrete rented at an exorbitant rate from the council. Most beach hut people use their hut to get changed, boil the kettle, eat, read and sun bathe, but I also try to get my money’s worth writing / scribbling.


Where is your favourite spot to write? Do you like to be connected to electricity or scribble first drafts on paper?

This is where T S Eliot wrote The Wasteland while convalescing in Margate, Kent.

Print Your Own Tablets

No more trips to the chemist to collect your prescriptions? No more standing in a queue while the beleaguered pharmacist looks for lost medicines and other customers collect paper sacks full of their repeat prescriptions?  Yes, no more trying to say your address and post code, your voice muffled by the masks we are still wearing in a ‘health care setting’. I heard the other day that in future we will use our 3D printers, which we will all have by then, to print out our tablets, probably combining more than one drug. Leave your computer on overnight to calculate the exact dose to suit your body mass and genetic make up. These tablets will be far more efficient, your doctor or consultant will no longer have to guess a dose that will work, but not blast you with bad side effects. Of course there is always the possibility we patients might accidentally give our computer the wrong instructions…

One thing many of us probably know about breast cancer is that you have to take tablets for five years after your main treatment, probably tamoxifen which comes from Yew trees. Looking this up I was rather disappointed to discover that it is taken from the bark of the Pacific Yew from North America. I had always fondly imagined scientists at dead of night picking berries from ancient yews in English churchyards. The early Christians built their churches on Druid sites; the Druids planted Yews as they regarded them as sacred; proven right because the Yew held the magic of healing.

It turned out that I am prescribed Anastrozole and I can’t find any romantic or ancient origins for it. Like tamoxifen it is a hormone inhibitor to protect against the types of breast cancer that love oestrogen. This is a tiny tablet to take once a day and because oestrogen is good for your bones I also have to take a very big tablet twice a day called imaginatively Adcal – D3, full of calcium and vitamin D3! Luckily these big tablets are chewed.

On my final appointment with the oncologist he said five to seven years, funny, he said five years earlier on! Perhaps I will be on Anastrozole long enough to be printing out my own tablets. Every breast cancer patient is under the hospital for five years after the main treatment, with breast care nurses at the Ladybird Suite – at my hospital, presumably other hospitals have other cute names – who can be contacted any time.

With one in seven women getting breast cancer ( six in seven Not getting it! ) at some stage, the system seems to run on very efficiently, with charities like Breast Cancer Now providing a great deal of information and help, from leaflets at the hospital to phone and on line help always available.

Breast Cancer Now | The research and care charity

Idle Notes from an iPad

A strange place to put a gate? Rather like the internet, many of us don’t know which gate to go through, if we should go through it or what to do when we get to the other side. At present I am still using igate -I mean iPad orMePad…. and I don’t trust it with too many words….

So let’s go underwater for a change. I know there are bloggers who actually go underwater, but I just listened to BBC Radio 4. Book of the Week in five parts and I only needed to listen to the first part to learn something about an amazing creature…

Picture may not be accurate representation of the ocean floor.

Philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith explores what is known about octopus intelligence in ‘Other Minds: the Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life’. The first part concluded with the words ‘Your best chance of meeting Alien Intelligence is to meet an octopus.’

To protect its identity octopus is played by an actor.

The gist of what I have heard so far is this. Octopus seem to be very intelligent, even when assessed by our limited land based human perspective. Our common ancestor was a very basic tape worm living at the bottom of the sea many trillions of years ago. Since then humans and octopus have evolved along totally different lines. So intelligent life has evolved in more that one totally different species; all life on earth has not been totally about aiming towards a human pinnacle of excellence. If any of you have met an octopus or perhaps just eaten one please add your enlightened comments. If any reader is actually an octopus it will be very interesting to read your comments.

Happy Floralia

Floralia, the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, was held from 27th April to 3rd May during the Roman Republic era 509 BC to 27 BC. I think we should resurrect this fun week, so my Chreastermas Tree has become a Floralia Tree. I tied a ribbon on for everyday of Lockdown and I am now taking one off everyday. Welcome to the famous Gardens of Tidalscribe.



Friday Fantasy Fiction – Meeting The Dragon

Today I woke up excited as it is Saint George’s Day; Saint George is the patron Saint of England. Then I remembered nobody is quite sure why he is our saint, or what we are meant to do to celebrate. Fortunately it is also William Shakespeare’s birthday and we can all celebrate that. In honour of our great poet and playwright here is a not very good ballad I wrote years ago, still relevant…

From the molten depths of the Iceland peak

Many gathered to hear their lord speak.

‘Centuries under the mountain we’ve lain,

centuries passed since my brother was slain.

Now is the time to return to the isles;

my son must fly across the miles.

Now is the time to forgive and forget;

the wingless, cold creatures may need us yet.’

Now with the day longer than night,

the prince bade farewell to all at first light.

With heavy heart he heard them roar,

as up into the sky he soared;

sun glinting on scales, colours unreal;

emerald, indigo, turquoise and teal.

Below, icy peaks turned to ripples of green;

Many miles he flew before land was seen.

Crowds cheered to hear the outsider had won;

George Saint now the new mayor of London.

The whole of London he wanted to reach,

Embrace the millions in his speech.

‘Tomorrow we celebrate the greatest city on Earth,

Tomorrow we remember Shakespeare’s birth;

On the South Bank on St. Georges Day

We’ll celebrate London in a wonderful way.

George worked late that night in City Hall,

Plans for tomorrow, he reviewed them all;

At the Globe, a prize winning play

Written by young Annie Hathaway,

How the dragon rescued the beautiful maid

From forced marriage, kept her safe in his cave.

At Tate Modern, in the great turbine hall

Meeting the Dragon installation art for all.

From City Hall’s glass walls George looked out

As he left the building, descending round about.

Saw the shining city, Thames at low tide,

Alone by the river his heart filled with pride.

Beneath Tower Bridge saw a fiery glow,

Strange shape moving down below

On the river bank, heard a sighing,

Amazed, George saw a dragon lying.

No one in sight, down the narrow steps he trod,

Heart pounding, saw the giant head nod

In greeting, snorted flames and then it spoke

I have come to visit the wingless folk,

Whom do I have the honour to address?

His father had told him politeness will impress.

On hearing George’s name the dragon trembled,

But no fierce knight did this puny being resemble.

Misunderstandings soon swept away,

George and Dragon talked, soon it would be day.

Many thoughts tumbled inside George’s head,

The magnificent dragon must be sheltered and fed.

As dawn came at Tate Modern, the young artist paced,

His new creation could not fill this vast space.

Suddenly a long shadow fell upon the hall,

He heard the Mayor’s voice urgently call.

Turning he gazed up and up with awe,

Was the most wondrous creature he ever saw;

Though he trembled with fright he just had to gaze

As rainbow scales shone in the Sun’s first rays.

Together they planned how to care for their guest,

Vegetarian food was what he liked best;

That’s lucky quipped the artist, for my art installation

Is made entirely of fruit and vegetation.

As people swarmed to the South Bank that day,

From the Wheel to Tower Bridge, all the way;

Musicians, magicians, jugglers, living statues,

At the Festival Hall free concerts to choose.

On T.V. the Mayor promised finale at Tate Modern,

Broadcast to the nation, Londoners surged in.

Crowds made the Dragon nervous but he bravely stood his ground,

The Mayor stood beside him and spoke to all around.

‘Today London welcomes a visitor unique,

no city ever will enjoy such a week;

but first pray silence from everyone I ask

for I must perform a very solemn task.

On behalf of all England, new bonds let us forge,

Pray forgive us for your uncle’s slaying by the wicked knight Saint George.’

The Dragon’s voice enchanted all, with his speech urbane and witty,

The Mayor of London thanked him with the freedom of the city.

Each morning Londoners thrilled at the sight

Of the Dragon soaring gracefully in flight.

But not just for fun, he was on a mission

Reporting to George on the City’s condition.

Spotted Battersea power station derelict and sad

Had an idea to make George glad.

No fossil fuel needed at a dragon power station,

At Battersea restored, his flames could heat the nation.

At City Hall George held his press morning,

TV and papers full of dire warnings.

The Mayor refuted the wicked claims

That the Dragon’s father had issued the flames

That started the Great Fire of London.

‘I trust completely this fine dragon,

he wants to help us of his own free will

and his carbon footprint will be nill.’

Elections for Mayor of London take place on 6th May; as one of the candidates is Lord Binface, a self-proclaimed interplanetary space warrior, who has challenged both Boris Johnson and Theresa May in general elections, George Saint probably stands a good chance.

London mayoral race 2021: The candidates standing in this year’s election – BBC Newshttps://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-55748037

The House of Windsor

We never lived in Windsor, but the town, in the Royal County of Berkshire, was one of our favourite days out when we lived by Heathrow Airport. As the American tourist said ‘Why did they build a royal castle so close to the airport?’ – old joke. Along with many tourists and local families we enjoyed all it has to offer. ‘Long Walks in the Great Park’ – From the Castle gate to the foot of the statue of King George III (The Copper Horse) The Long Walk measures 2.64 miles in length. But the Windsor Great Park extends far beyond what you can see from the castle.

Walking at Windsor Great Park | Windsor Great Parkhttps://www.windsorgreatpark.co.uk/en/activities/walking

Windsor also has a theatre, a swimming pool, good shopping and the River Thames. A foot bridge takes you over the river to Eton where the famous school is spread out as part of the little town. You can also take a peaceful walk along the riverside very different from the bustle on the Windsor side.

You can go by train from Waterloo and arrive at Windsor and Eton Riverside station, or take the little line built for Queen Victoria, a one stop ride from Slough station  ( direct line from Paddington ) which takes you into the heart of the designer shopping centre and exits opposite the castle.

Tourists the weekend after the wedding of Harry and Megan!

Windsor Castle | Windsor Castle Tours and Tickets

Before the terrible castle fire in 1992 more of the castle grounds were free to the public to wander. We used to take our young children for a walk and show Australian visitors around. Under the archway, past the chapel, stroll up the hill. Our two year old once dashed into the guard room and was chased out by the guards. One side of the castle faces the town, but walk downhill to the river and the castle is high above you on a steep bank. When our daughter was a toddler she nearly gave a Japanese tourist a heart attack; he gasped in horror as she raced towards the turreted wall on the steep side of the grounds. She didn’t topple over, it was a safe height. Another time we peered through a gate and saw Princess Diana bring her two little boys out to watch the soldiers parading.

When we moved away from Heathrow we still visited Windsor on mini breaks to see our friends, usually staying at The Windsor Trooper, a great little old pub with bed and breakfast; bedrooms slightly crooked with sloping floors. 

‘In 1917, the name of the royal house was changed from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor because of anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom during World War I. There have been four British monarchs of the House of Windsor since then: George V, Edward VIII, George VI, and Elizabeth II.’

Windsor Castle made the perfect setting for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, especially for the many of us who know Windsor well. The Duke apparently did not want a fuss and got his wish as the long miles of procession and crowd lined streets had to be scaled down to a ceremony within the castle precincts; a dignified walk down the hill with socially distanced military bands lined up with precision on the immaculate green.

The Band of the Grenadier Guards led the funeral procession and family members followed, Princess Anne in a long black coat and the men in morning suits. Following a coffin on foot seems dignified and respectful and it’s always good to see men smartly dressed. The Queen followed in her limousine.

I get nervous when I see The Queen walking unsteadily by herself, especially that day as she stepped out of her car and I wondered why she could not have formed a new bubble. Any other very elderly lady with strapping sons and grandsons would surely have been offered a strong arm to lean on. The Duke was her bubble, but she still has HMS Bubble, the loyal staff who have been on duty three weeks on three weeks off at the castle looking after the royal couple. Dog lovers will be glad to hear that The Queen, despite deciding a while ago not to breed or acquire any more dogs, has done what lots of people have in covid lockdown and acquired two puppies, a corgi and a dorgie, which she enjoys walking.

Inside the chapel were the regulation thirty guests and the emptiness perhaps enhanced the beautiful singing of the choir of four and the playing of the trumpeters. The royal family stuck by all the current funeral rules; we cannot compare their splendidly choregraphed event with bleak funerals at the local crem., livestreamed from one camera, but like other grieving widows The Queen sat by herself. After the service the family all strolled up the hill in the sunshine, ignoring the unnecessary fleet of cars lined up for them, though of course The Queen returned in her limousine. I like to think that once back in the royal apartments they all ripped off their masks and didn’t bother with social distancing!

Whether you watched the funeral avidly live on television and followed the highlights in the news later, or avoided all mention of it, there was more to the Duke of Edinburgh than most of us realised. The blanket comprehensive coverage of his life revealed a refugee from a broken home who saw real active service in the second world war. A life that did become privileged, but how many of us would want their whole life mapped out? Unlike lots of rich people he used his position to make a difference. He highlighted the plight of wildlife long before others were interested and created the Duke of Edinburgh Award to give ordinary teenagers the chance to take on all sorts of challenges. Those from a variety of countries who have spoken about meeting The Duke and how the award changed their lives will remember him and not the many politicians and world leaders who come and go.

Did you watch the funeral? Have you visited Windsor? Have you met any of the royal family?