How much Radio 4 is too much Radio 4?

I’ve been unemployed for 14 days now. I’m starting to panic.

There’s no real reason to feel like this, I have money left over from when I was made redundant last September. I have money from the job I have just left. In the last two weeks I’ve had three phone interviews, met a tonne of recruiters and applied for more things than I can remember. But I’m still freaking out. I think my key worries can be split into two areas:

1. The uncertainty of it all – the up int the air ‘please like me’ part of job hunting and interviewing – even for roles you don’t really want.

2. How to know if you’ve overdosed on Radio 4.

For the latter, I think the tipping point might be when you start to know the names of the characters in the Archers, and have a firm stance one way or the other on the Bypass. I’m not quite there. And I still don’t understand the Shipping Forecast – so maybe I’m safe for now.

I started my last job 7 weeks after being made redundant in 2014because I treated it like a military operation:

Dining table work station set up by 10am ish, Radio 4 on, coffee made, job sites open, and then trawl away for the day. Or at least that’s how I like to think of it. In reality, more and more often by the end of those weeks I was swapping that coffee for a gin and tonic or white wine by 3pm, then 2pm, then let’s call it 12pm. And I painted the hallways, and the bathrooms, and my bedroom. But, still, I did send a lot of applications.

My tireless applying wasn’t actually even what got me the job in the end; it was a recruiter calling me out of the blue. But at least I felt as though I was making things happen.

Back then I lived in a big London warehouse conversion with 10 other people and there was always a welcome distraction, and a reason to turn off the radio. Someone wanting advise on a sculpture they were making, or arriving back at 11am from a date (immediate de-brief essential). There were a surprising number of power cuts, the obligatory noisy neighbours and most unwelcome of all; the housemate who fancied himself a DJ. But no one could deny it was interesting.

This time it’s a different beast. I live in a real house, like a real grown up, and am usually up and at my computer and ready to go before 8.30am with Radio 4 on the kitchen radio. Every morning Woman’s Hour it jolts me because, in my mind, the show represents the start of the day and I’ve already been at it for hours.

With my new dedicated listening, I’ve started to notice how often they mention the station being for older people – yesterday Woman’s Hour was offering “Top Heatwave Tips for the over 50’s'” and there was an afternoon debate about funding since it’s audience is so clearly ‘white, middle class, and middle aged.’ at 27 I’m none of these things, but can’t help feeling their nice soothing voices are going to be key in me not having too much of a mental collapse.

The Archers will be coming on soon, maybe I should go to the park for a while. But, that might mean I miss From Our Own Correspondent. Thank God for podcasts.


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