Ragtag Tuesday: Any Questions?

I was brought up on Any Questions, a topical radio debate programme which has been a firm part of the BBC Radio 4 schedules on Friday evenings for getting on for 70 years.  Our family always listened when I was younger, but I don’t these days as it does terrible things to my blood pressure when right-wing Daily Mail readers take to the podium.

All the same.  It was coming to Masham, the town-next-door.  A loose cohort of us got free tickets.  That’s not quite true.  Malcolm and I didn’t, but meeting in the pub beforehand, we started to feel left out, and managed to snaffle two late-returns.

Getting ready for the action in Masham Town Hall.

You have to turn up easily an hour ahead of transmission. If you want to, you write a question which might get included. You have to be warmed up.  Radio Leeds presenter Andrew Edwards schooled us in the gentle art of clapping, cheering and booing to make our views clear to the listening audience (‘No heckling please’).  The lucky questioners were announced.  Two of our team made the cut, though in the end, only passionate 17-year-old ‘It’s our future’ Charlie had her question dealt with on air. I made the nearly-got-included list.

It was all fascinating stuff.  Star of the show was probably the CEO of Siemens UK, Jurgen Maier: measured, lively and likeable.  A Remainer, but desperate for business certainty, he’d back the current Brexit deal.  Leaver Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister, actually said  ‘I don’t think any of us knew what we were going to get when we voted Leave….’, but nevertheless isn’t in favour of a People’s Vote on the Final Deal which Lord Adonis is campaigning for.  There was Labour’s Shadow Brexit Minister, Jenny Chapman  and the other MP was John Redwood (‘fervent Brexiteer’).  He really is from the Dark Side.  Uncivil, dogmatic, he didn’t attract much enthusiasm even from those who subscribe to his reactionary, long-held views in favour of Leave.

Charlie needed her selfie with Andrew Adonis.

If you want a flavour of the debate, you can listen here if you’re eligible to listen to BBC transmissions.

And the next day, we went back to Remoaning in Harrogate again…

A pavement poll on the People’s Vote.

Today’s Ragtag Challenge is ‘Broadcast’.

Dogger, Fisher, German Bight ….

I’m  a reluctant and easily sea-sick sailor.  Yet a backdrop to my life has been the hypnotic daily rhythms of the shipping forecast on Radio 4.  I love to listen to those poetic names of the areas round the British coast where seamen find themselves as they tune in to hear what the weather will bring.

Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, Portland, Plymouth, Biscay, Trafalgar, FitzRoy, Sole, Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea, Shannon, Rockall, Malin, Hebrides, Bailey, Fair Isle, Faeroes and Southeast Iceland.

Shipping zones round the British Isles (Wikipedia)

Yesterday, the Shipping Forecast was 150 years old.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/embed/p04l37bw/41030909

A public service since 1867, it’s been broadcast since the 1920s, with a break during World War II.  Never more than 380 words long, it always follows the same strict format.  The late night broadcast, preceded by ‘Sailing by’ is a bedtime story, a soporific sleeping pill to many land-based listeners.  We couldn’t do without it.

Look!  We even have a cushion, and a breakfast mug dedicated to our beloved shipping forecast.

Walking on the radio

Looking across Nidderdale from the Nidderdale Way.

I’ve been out for the day with Clare Balding again, for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Ramblings’ programme.  Last time, her producer Lucy was looking for a local rambler to lead the Ripon to Ripley section of the Jarrow March, and she ended up with me.  Last time, as the walk finished we fell to talking about local long distance walks, such as The Nidderdale Way.

And lo!  Now they have a six-programme series in the bag, waiting to be transmitted in May and June, on …… the Nidderdale Way, all 53 miles of it.  She invited me to be part of the last leg, together with Chris and John.

Let me tell you how it works.  We walk.  We chat.  Lucy walks beside us with her muff-on-a-stick, recording little and often.  Clare stops from time to time and paints evocative word pictures of the scenery, the sights, smells and sounds, the passers by.  She chats to us about everything from geology, to history, to walking, to long-lost industries, to living near Nidderdale.

Lucy records Clare describing the countryside.

We see our local landscape through fresh eyes.  Instead of its being the backdrop to our daily lives, it becomes vivid again, and we remember the wonder and the intense pleasure we experienced when it was new to us too.

Lucy pursues John for a soundbite at Brimham Rocks.

Clare loves people.  At Brimham Rocks, where we insisted she take a detour, she chatted to children with their families and took part in their photos.  Later, she hung over a drystone walls and talked to a farmer.  She patted dogs and enjoyed a few moments with their owners.

Clare even interviewed this pig. Well, she grunted for her, anyway.

Just as well she’s good at this sort of thing.  When we arrived at Pateley Bridge, she became a sort of stand-in for the Queen.  She was whisked from shop to shop, always leaving with a little local speciality -a pork pie, some home-made fudge.  With Lucy, she was given a newly-minted badge for completing the entire Nidderdale Way.  They got flowers, a book by a local historian, hugs and handshakes galore, and repaid all this attention with genuine interest and friendship.  Pateley Bridge by the way is in the thick of preparing for the Tour de Yorkshire 2017, which goes through the town – and past our front door – on Saturday 29th April.

Flowers, badges, and a round of applause for Lucy and Clare.

Please listen to this series when it comes out: it’s available as a podcast even if you don’t live in the UK.  The first programme will be on BBC Radio 4 on  18th May, and the programme featuring our team will be transmitted on Thursday 22nd June.  You’ll make immediate plans for a holiday in Nidderdale after you’ve listened.

The shadow of a drystone wall on a stretch of road near Blazefield.