I remember as a child being curled in bed late at night underneath the blankets, ear pressed against the speaker of a radio that I had been given by my grandmother. It was second-hand and well worn, but that didn’t matter, it was my radio, the first I owned. In the 1970s you could get the obvious BBC channels and a local station or two, but in East Kent even picking up the BBC stations on my radio could be a challenge. Being on the coast and on the wrong side of a hill the French, Belgians and Dutch also took up airspace and more often than not overlaid what I wanted. So most of the time the tired old radio would sometimes get the BBC and what seemed like half of Europe, but also something else that I put down as atmospherics and interference or French. It didn’t matter though, as it was my radio and I loved it.
So here I am many years later, still with the same metaphorical radio; slowly twiddling the tuning knob and making do with what I can pick up best, which these days seems to be Radio 3 playing obscure classics and Hungarian folk music. I live further inland now, so thankfully most of Europe is out of range, but there in the background is a slight layer of noise, a gentle hiss that peaks, whistles and crackles as atmospheric conditions cause their own interference. Alongside that is something else that I can never quite make out such is the fickleness of my ageing radio with its battered antenna and wonky dial.
Settling in one fine summers’ day the signal fades, the radio crackles and pops, the BBC channel has gone, atmospherics cease and then over the airways with perfect clarity finally comes that underlying something else. I listen more carefully, turning up the volume in order to allow it to break through to my senses and…
There… It… Is…
A drum and bass with the rhythm that matches my heart, a ballad that soars and causes an ache so intense that I need to cry, a disco dance beat that fills me with energy filling my limbs and soul with an infinite sense of lightness.
The music mesmerises and hypnotises, it has always been there and yet I was never able or ready to hear it and…
That… Is… It…
Wait a while.
Wracking, soul wrenching sobs, shuddering and shaking, an emotional pain so intense I think that it is time to die.
Gentle, yet deep breaths.
Live, just live.
Open your eyes.
Everything, but everything, seems so different now.
The signal that had always been there quietly in the background minding it’s own business isn’t noise or atmospherics or the French or whatever. It has always been there. Submerged and hidden, lost in the noise, but there, ever present, struggling to be heard but never giving up; and I never want to lose that sweet oh so sweet music ever again.
As Kylie unforgettably sang: “I can’t get you out of my head”.
My name is Claire and it always has been.
by Claire (@claireoneday)
Bush radio image: AurigaM36 [Public domain].