Radio Review: 15 September

Louis is intrigued by the 1960s story of a drifter
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the radio is on most of the time in my house. Every so often, something emerges from the chatter, stops me in my tracks and makes me listen intently.Louis-Barfe-colour-176

One such item was from a 1963 edition of Woman’s Hour (R4, weekdays, 10am). Being interviewed was a 36-year-old woman, Rachel, who had jacked in her job as she felt ‘in a rut’. Rather than finding another job, and, remember, this was the era of full employment, she took to an itinerant life. Rachel, maybe not her real name, travelled the country, living in hostels, doing whatever casual temporary work she could and frying kippers for breakfast in public parks. 

The male reporter said she had left behind a family, but she indicated that she had already left the family home some time before, due to domestic issues. She added that her relationship with her three children was probably better than if she had stayed. Rachel had obvious pride and outlined how she went to some lengths never to look like a ‘tramp’. 

Topping and tailing the piece, the excellent Jane Garvey wondered what had really happened in Rachel’s life, and suggested that listeners get in contact with their thoughts. Garvey said that she had a theory of her own, and that the 1963 interviewer – Ronald Lloyd – had reached his own conclusion. Garvey’s tone suggested that they were not the same conclusion. 

Perhaps, somewhere, one of Rachel’s children was listening, Garvey wondered. Sadly, there seems to have been no response, the listeners being more concerned with the item on migraines. However, like Garvey, I’d absolutely love to know more about this proud woman and her fascinating story. So much in the report was left unsaid. 

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