This happens mysteriously in mid winter. Peaty air wafts from my state of the art Logitech V20 laptop speakers which are audibly producing the BBC broadcast "Around Shetland". As the Scottish radio announcer lets us know that the weather has "deterrrrriorated" with gales and gusts causing the cancellation of the Scouts meeting in Tingwall and the Alcoholics Anonymous session in Scallaway, the comfort of an earthy fire warms the room. The Shipping Forecast is up next.
A big fan of Les Blank's old smellaround films where you could sit in the movie theatre watching AND smelling beans and rice, I am not at all surprised that the BBC can bring these wild islands in northern Scotland right into my kitchen. They do amazing things.
I work at home a lot. Although there are long days when I really don't want to hear another voice, there are many more when some grounding in life outside is encouraging. The BBC is, thanks to the miracle of internet, my best friend. I can start my day with The Latest News Bulletin and BBC 4 . When I need a cheery break it's off to Good Morning Scotland; although it is already noon in Glasgow. Switching back to BBC 4 (my true love) I get the News at One, and on Sundays a read through of what's in the papers. The BBC offers many of their listings on play it again status. Midday gets me Woman's Hour and the Afternooon Play, with timely interjections of The News.
By early evening I'm ready for a break and the Archers. I used to think Jill Archer was a total drip, but she is doing a surprisingly thoughtful job of raising her annoying husband's dead lover's son Rory.
By nighttime it's Traveling Folk or a BBC4 documentary on global warming or hiking with Rambling Claire and in the very late hours, there is always local news from the Borders or Highlands or peaty Shetland. Sometimes I listen to Radio Wales or Radio Devon or Radio One. When I just want background comfort I dial in Radio Gaelic which is almost always an incomprehensibly speedtalking rather impressive woman who I imagine walking around her kitchen with a microphone clipped to her apron as she throws together a plate of clooty dumpling and giant haggis, dashing over every now and again to spin a disc. She plays nice faraway music like accordians and lonely fiddles.
Here's the thing about the British Broadcasting System(which also includes tv). Approved by a Royal Charter it mandates that programming must appeal to a "diverse" population. Nationalized means that it is owned and run by the state, and not by the whims of a profit making public. It offers 54 radio stations and eight excellent tv channels (BBC1, BBC 2 etc) nationwide offerings are dedicated to a particular key stations including sport, Muslim and Hindu prayers , comedy, drama, talk, news and music, music, music. There are no ads. None. BBC stations are paid out of taxes. Each television in the entire nation is taxed at the substantial rate of 131.50 pounds for a color tv, 44 for black and white pensioners over 75 pay nothing and blind people pay exactly half.
When we're in the UK my husband listens to BBC 5 (sport) on his battery radio while he's taking a shower. When I travel long distances for work I download a day of BBC on my Ipod and listen to Rambling or News at 8 , Book of the Week or the omnibus edition of the Archers all over again. Back when we had a Subaru Forester I was content just listening to PBS and the instant weather channel but now the Toyota radio is just a conduit for my Ipod. Sometimes I have to shake off a poncy britedge to my yankee speak when I get to work.
Such a deal.
It's a national treasure.
BBC Radio 3
Classical, jazz and world music, drama and arts