I have been listening to ‘The Archers’ on and off for years. There was a very brief time, when the boys were small, when I would actually have both of them in bed by three minutes past seven and this would be the time to start again in the kitchen for the adult meal preparation, just as the music started. Then I would feel a certain sense of achievement. (The eldest would usually choose that moment to appear at the kitchen door and ask for a drink, complain he couldn’t sleep, or that he had ear-ache etc.)
My husband rarely made it home for bath time, in those early days, and some evenings it felt like a complete slog to feed, entertain, bath and read bedtime stories all by myself to two small exuberant boys. But just as you feel your life will never move forward slow changes happen – seasons change, the evenings get longer, the eldest starts to read independently, and suddenly they are both teenagers. In all this time ‘The Archers’ has been a feature in the background. I remember words being made up, sung lustily along the theme tune…. ‘”Is he taken to the zoo, does he wear pyjamas?” being one of the lines I seem to remember as copious amount of bath water found its way onto the floor.
And in all this time of listening, or listening with half an ear, I hadn’t knowingly seen any of the actors (except Tamsin Greig, who was excellent in ‘Black Books’ with Bill Bailey) in anything on TV. Indeed this was the way I preferred it, not knowing what the characters really look like in real life. It’s what adds another dimension to radio broadcasts. A subliminal cognition of what you think they may look like and be like in real life.
When I started blogging it was through the Message Board for Louise Doughty’s “Novel in a Year” column for the Saturday Telegraph.
I was an intermittent contributor, and felt I ‘got to know’ in some small way, several of the other contributors. After the column came to its natural conclusion I had assumed that would be it.
Far from it.
After “Novel in a Year” there was another column and another message board and after that there was the regular MyT competition for which Louise became the judge. Several of those regular original contributors continued to contribute. Some of them still contribute here on Boa’s Chariot, on my own blog and some still contribute to the completely changed MyT site, though generally only venturing out to the ‘Creative Writing’ side. Some of them have small photos as their avatar,which gives away as small part of who they are.
A couple of weekends ago I met up with a few of these contributors. I won’t say who… each can identify them self if they wish… but what struck me was that there were no surprises. Each of them appeared in the flesh to be pretty much how I had expected: and what jolly fun it was. Nothing like meeting the actors who play radio characters!
It was at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, where I went primarily to attend a three hour workshop with Louise Doughty. It was excellent. I learnt and understood a great deal in that short time. Louise was open and engaging, knowledgeable and fun. She kept up a good pace without rushing. What else could one ask in a tutor?
At the end I went to the desk and introduced myself. She seemed genuinely delighted to meet a ‘follower’ and that I would be meeting a few others at lunch time.
At the end of the afternoon reading which nearly all of us who had met up attended, we all went up to get our books signed and to say ‘hello’ shortly before my lift arrived and I had to say an abrupt goodbye…. well until next year anyway.