Dialling In 

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I am grateful for them because I miss Radio Four a lot. I can listen to it over the Internet, but nothing can quite replace the delicious sloth of a Sunday morning in bed listening to Just a Minute, Desert Island Discs and The Archers Omnibus in bed.

A while ago I heard a Scroobius Pip podcast where he interviewed a quietly spoken and unassuming man, who was that rare thing: a writer who actually loves writing. Most writers love having written, but will claim they find the process as enjoyable as eating glass. The man’s name was John Osborne (not that one) and he had co-written a comedy series with his friend which had been picked up by Craig Cash (the late Caroline Aherne’s writing partner). If we have had the show, called After Hours over here in Australia, I have not seen it but then I rarely watch TV and don’t have cable. One of his books, however, intrigued me. I googled it, ordered it and finished reading it last Friday.

For anyone who has enjoyed the company of a radio, Radio Head is a book I would recommend. It set up is simple: he chooses one station or programme to write about for each of the thirty odd chapters of the book, and when he listens to the station, he does so for the whole day. As he does so, though, we share the highlights and learn about the tiny details of his unfulfilling job as a data entry clerk is an office. An office stamped from whatever particular brand of hellishly boring template that makes it instantly recogniseable and shudder-inducing. As we learn about his sandwiches, his endless trips around a local electrical store on his lunch break, and his shy interest in Poppy, the girl with the bright red tights with whom he occasionally dares to strike up a conversation, we too escape through that day’s radio adventure.

It is beautifully observed, gently comic, simply drawn and a love letter to the enduring power of radio and the magic that is created between a broadcaster and his listener, which when done well, will think that the program has been made just for him. I really enjoyed it.

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