Shove over

There’s a thing I’ve just written for the On This Day column in Radio Times that I want to tell you about: I’m really in two minds whether to submit it to the mag so you may only see it here. Because On This Day is meant to always be about television history and of course never about me but this one entry, April 30, is about radio and sort of about me.

But before I tell you that, thank you very, very much: I’m in Birmingham Central Library and just nipped back to my On This Day database to check I was telling you the right date and I was. But I’d entered it into the wrong date on the database. I’m not sure I’d have caught that mistake if it weren’t for you so I appreciate that.

Anyway, I’m in that library and I’m a bit rattled because I’ve just come across a feature in the 27 April to 3 May 1958 edition of Radio Times which begins: “Drop in at Birmingham Reference Library almost any Friday and you will see a thick-set, bearded man poring over dictionaries and volumes of poetry.”

Well, okay, that’s 49 years ago, it’s Saturday today (though I’d have been doing this yesterday if it weren’t for the Bank Holiday). And also the library’s moved in those five decades. But still, I almost turned around in my seat to see if that was the fella currently occupying my favourite spot next to the Radio Times shelves.

The fella in 1949 was Edward J Mason, who’s a novelist and playwright which I’d say was like me except he was considerably more successful, and he also devised the radio quiz My Word! which is what he would research on all those Fridays, all those years ago.

It’s easy to say it was eerie reading that. But I also felt proud to be carrying on some kind of tradition. I felt certain, I feel certain, that I and On This Day will of course be as forgotten as My Word! in five decades. I’m proud of Birmingham’s library system. I’m reminded how fleeting this work I love really is. That could make me think it’s worthless and yet instead it makes me want to cherish it.

Anyway, the feature is in a dried and dusty old copy of Radio Times and it makes me feel alive.


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