Archives for January 2013

Radio Phoenix

So I was trying to clear out the garage and came across a small portable radio that my Mum had sent us a few years ago so we could pick up the BBC World Service in Italy. I switched it on – nothing. Abandoning my tidying (doesn't take much) I took the little radio to the kitchen, replaced the corroded batteries and switched on. Still nothing. I then remembered how it had come to be in the garage in the first place. It had unexpectedly stopped working, but I was too sentimental to throw it away.

I re-examined the battery compartment with its idiot-proof diagram of four batteries, two on top, two beneath. There were plus and minus symbols to show the position, but on closer examination I had got these the wrong way round. (Duh). I realised the old batteries had also been in this position, I'd made the same mistake twice and the poor innocent radio had been condemned to a life of silence ever since. I reversed the batteries and closed the back. A green light snapped on as I hit the switch. Problem of many years standing solved!

I swooped through the channels to find Radio Italia Cinque our local station, which we listen to in the car. There it was, with its honey-voiced presenter and its “chef -in-un-minuto” recipes. Plonking my treasure on the kitchen windowsill next to an experimental let's-see-if-a-plant-will-grow-from-a-pineapple-top-oh-it-has-wow, I pulled outs its long aerial and made a vow to switch it on every time I was in there.

There are lots and lots of songs on this channel, some are British or American, but the majority are Italian. I don't mean to generalise, but Italian songs do tend to have a bit of a formula. They start very quiet and slow and then they get faster and LOUDER and LOUDER and LOUDER and then they stop. “Calm down, dear,” we chorus, Michael Winner-style, as the gravelly-voiced vocalist begins the inevitable, anguished, heartrending ascent through the chords.

Italia Cinque has ads for local companies (mattresses, cars, vegetable shops) and events and a very curious evening programme where a man from the local forestry commission talks about the latest legislation. The news comes on the hour e un minuto! But it is the weather I really love. The presenter is jaunty and exceptionally polite. “Thank you so much for listening” he says at the end of a forecast in which he has dramatically announced “attention, attention, anti-cyclone Morgana hasn't finished her snowy attack on Italy.” I don't remember anti-cyclones in the UK having names.

I'm so pleased I rediscovered the little radio and brought it back to life. It's added a whole new dimension to the day. It's made me feel more Italian. And like the seven-year-old boy said: “the pictures are better on radio.”