The new kitchen radio

July 29, 2004

Who would have thought getting a new kitchen radio would bring such pleasure? For years now I have only had an AM mains radio in the kitchen, FM doesn’t work on it, and so I have tended to listen to talk-radio; total idiots spouting about the news, an assemblage of knee-jerk reactions by brainwashed members of the public phoning in, with the occasional voice of individuality. I don’t know why I listen to it, although I do like the odd programme where the author of a book about aliens and UFOs comes on and the nutcases come out the woodwork.

I’ve been meaning to get a new radio for some time. So what a turn up for the books that what eventually persuaded me was news about the Government’s new booklet to be delivered to all UK households on what to do in case of, apparently, anything from nuclear strike by terrorists to a broken arm. 22 pages, goes into some depth. But two points from the booklet mentioned on the radio are sound sense, have some bottled water in the house and canned foods, plus a battery-operated portable radio.

Suddenly I thought, my two radios are both mains, should there be a suitcase nuclear bomb and the lights go out I won’t know what’s going on, I won’t know whether it’s safe to broach the streets for Polo mints and Mini Cheddars and Bombay mix, a few bottles of Nastro Azzurro, down at the newsagents at the end of the road, could be plutonium clinging to those hailstones. If I couldn’t chance going out into the garden I wouldn’t even know if central London was a raging fireball without standing on the bath to look out the bathroom window, could easily slip and have a household accident. If there’s ashes in the garden what can I tell from that, maybe Stromboli has erupted, and it’s sunspots that have knocked out the national grid, don’t want to panic now do I, over nothing. Yes, sound advice, a battery radio would come in handy.

Now I haven’t bought a radio in over 20 years, I’m out of practice, so at first I went to Dixons and saw a fairly inexpensive model that said ‘3-band radio’ and one next to it twice as much that said ‘12-band world radio’. I thought, I like the design of the 3-band, but surely if I was stuck under a table and didn’t know what was going on a world radio would be much more useful. So I got that. Basically 9 shortwave bands full of people talking in Dutch, French, and German. Somehow, it wasn’t what I was expecting, this opening up to the world’s frequencies from my kitchen; the best was a Turkish station, and that’s down the road in North London, on FM. I was kinda hoping to tune in to WABC New York, quite enjoyed that when I heard it on the internet, bigotry always sounds more engaging in a Brooklyn accent.

Shortwave. Pah!

So I took it back this afternoon and got my money back. By this time I’d done a bit of research and saw that Argos had the ‘Freeplay Ranger’ wind-up solar-powered FM/AM radio at five quid off. Now I’ve always wanted a wind-up radio since I saw Trevor Baylis demonstrating his invention on Tomorrow’s World in 1994. Brilliant! Thirty-five quid, I’m going to get me a wind-up radio I said to myself, a spring in my step on the way to Dixons for a refund.

I love my wind-up radio!

So I’m back listening to Classic FM in the kitchen again, frying beech-smoked tofu to The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, browning it to Also Sprach Zarathustra, kitchen door wide open, warm evening, and if there’s a terrorist strike knocking out the electricity I needn’t worry about having to go out and loot AA batteries I can just wind it up. I’ll be able to sit it out listening to Mozart until either the national emergency subsides or I pack my tent and sleeping bag in my rucksack and head off into that ole post-Apocalyptic landscape where the world of work no longer exists, power structures have lost their meaning, and there’s every chance you might meet some great people in the rubble. Get me out the house.