“Online, on digital and on 88 to 91 FM. This is BBC Radio 2“.
The mellifluous tones of Ken Bruce (on digital) were nothing short of a joy as I dipped chocolate biscuit after chocolate biscuit into my Ikea cup of Yorkshire tea after a chilly cycle back from Beida today. (Beida is the affectionate abbreviation of Beijing Daxue which is Peking University). I completely and utterly enjoyed the process of getting angry that Ken Bruce appeared to be covering for Steve Right in the afternoon before remembering I was being played fool by the eight hour time difference. A long wait for Drivetime lay ahead of me.
‘The Classic FM of pop music’, as some would describe it, conjured in that moment wonderfully familiar images of after-school glasses of orange squash at the kitchen table which were sometimes accompanied by the exciting promise of chicken pie for dinner later, bourbon biscuits, saying things like ‘the nights are drawing in’, the Sunday-evening depression made worse by the combination of the Antiques Roadshow theme tune battling against the Paul O’Grady radio show on in the other room, news of accidents on the A3 on dark rainy car journeys in a gridlocked Guildford to piano lessons, more bizarrely, Craig Revel-Horwood on Strictly Come Dancing and also of positive things – most potently, my parents, Fran just down the Dell and other lovely friends from home.
The only differences were that the biscuit-tin lid I safely clutched was part of an ex-mooncake tin, the biscuits themselves would consider themselves more at home in my local ‘world commodity living museum’ rather than in an aisle at Sainsburys, I’d used chopsticks to punish, drain and dispose of the teabag and most of all, that I’m here in my flat in the capital of CHINA. Tomorrow morning I will be woken by the blaring soundtrack of Tai-chi music and look down to see several groups of chinese men and women alike, out at the crack of dawn, harnessing the power of qi.
In all seriousness, the artful diplomacy of Jeremy Vine is just one extremely pleasing aspect of the institution that has been a solid cornerstone in my life so far – the BBC. It brings us salts of the earth such as David Attenborough, Claire Balding (did she ever move to channel 4?) and Riz Lateef. Today, it is a home comfort that I am very grateful for. I thank all at Shepherds Bush or wherever the new broadcasting centre is now. You are wonderful, creative, right-minded people.