I love doing radio and of course Radio 4 is la crème de la crème. There’s nothing else remotely like it anywhere in the world. And rather like our Town and Country Planning Laws (see The Making, p. 573), ‘we meddle with it at our peril!’ One of the things I enjoy about making radio programmes is the relaxed atmosphere, even if you’re not outdoors, on location, but are recording in the studio. The last time I did Making History was at the beginning of the current series and we recorded the interview at Flag Fen. The format of the programme includes two studio guests who say a few well-chosen words about the recorded clips. If you recall the studio commentators’ words that time were rather hostile to crowd-funded projects, and were, I thought a touch elitist.
This time it was to be my turn in the studio which was located close to the seafront at Brighton – an idyllic spot. The other guest was Dr Julia Laite of London University. Julia, it turned out was originally Canadian and we spent much time discussing her home country (where I spent nine extremely happy years), when, that is, the sound recorders weren’t actually turning over. The excellent presenter, Tom Holland, was crippled with indigestion following a dodgy curry, I think he said it was, but I was able to offer him a tin of Altoids – extremely strong but amazingly comforting peppermint pills – which he munched from time to time, again when the recording wasn’t underway. Now you wouldn’t be able to do any of that on television: no chatting about distant lands, no munching on Altoids. And as a result the programme was wonderfully relaxed. Nick Patrick, the Producer, is one of the world’s most laid-back individuals – and I think it shows in his programmes.
I don’t want to give anything away at this stage, because you’ll have to listen to it tomorrow afternoon: ‘Making History’, Tuesday 19th February, at 3.00 PM, Radio 4. But having said that, it was a very philosophical programme, more about the meaning of history and archaeology: how our thoughts today shape our perceptions of the past; whether there is such a thing as an absolute account of a given process or event, or whether everything is relative – which is what I personally favour. It was a programme that needs a Zen approach to get the most out of it. So I do hope you enjoy it. Then, may I suggest you listen again, on your iPod or computer, this time with a glass of wine or whisky to hand. It’s certainly worth a couple of hearings. Cheers!