Airing Her Views

By Louis Barfe

Gillian Reynolds's superb critical judgment when it comes to radio is well documented, so it comes as no surprise to learn from her desert island discs (available on BBC iPlayer radio) that she also has excellent taste in music. she chose September by Earth, Wind and Fire as her opener, explaining that at parties she used the threat of dancing to make her children behave. A modern jazz fan since her teens, she chose a Godchild from Miles Davis's Birth of the cool, recalling that she first heard it on the light Programme’s jazz club. she said that 70 years after it was recorded, ‘it is still as original as the sun rising’. She also went for What’d I say by Ray Charles, which is no disgrace.

Listening to Reynolds, who was recently head-hunted by the Sunday Times after 40 years writing about radio for the Daily Telegraph, it underlined the impression I always get from her writing, that she’s enormous fun and a delightful human being. The wartime stories of her family of Liverpool market traders made me wish she’d write a memoir, which as far as I can tell she hasn’t.

She admitted that sometimes she gets her criticisms wrong, but I’d be prepared to bet that the ratio is lower than any other critic. Best of all, she hates the word ‘curate’ or rather its modern overuse and abuse. As an aside, I was listening to the show while driving, and I stopped briefly to put petrol in the car. rather stupidly, I put my wallet on the roof as I was filling and drove off without realising until some miles later. I would like to thank Jakub the young Polish chef, who found my cards strewn all over the A38 and made contact with me through a friend’s business card in the wallet to arrange its safe and prompt return.

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