This is a reading blog, and here am I writing a Saturday Reflection about radio?
Yes, indeed, but rest assured it has nothing to do with radio as it is so often in the modern day, loud and brash; in fact, the period about which I write was sixty to greater than eighty years ago. It was a generally more genteel age, long before the advent of television, with radio the main form of in-home entertainment (other than for visitors and family conversation, of course). It was a different time entirely.
Where we lived on the Far North-West Coast of Tasmania, we had no local radio station. The nearest stations, at Burnie, Devonport and Launceston, could only be tuned in spasmodically because of signal strength, many intervening hills, and strong magnetic influence in those hills. Dad strung up yards of aerial wire between the house and judiciously-placed poles that allowed us to tune in several stations, but they were located all the way across Bass Strait in Melbourne. He designed and built a broadcast/short wave/long wave receiver that allowed us reliable reception at virtually all times of day and night, except during the not infrequent electrical storms out over the Strait.
We listened most frequently to the two ABC transmitters, 3AR and 3LO, as well as commercial stations such as 3GL (Geelong), 3DB and 3AW. Which brings me, slowly, to the connection between radio and reading. My father died over ten years ago but, because I was already caring for an ailing wife, I never got around to checking through boxes his personal papers, a task I began only a couple of weeks ago.
In one carton, I found three books, but here – and I beg your indulgence – I turn once more to radio.
Every Sunday morning (from a personal perspective, I remember it well from about the mid-1940s until about the mid-1950s), Dad and Mum tuned in 3DB, to a program prepared and presented by The Philosopher, Monty Blandford. Monty began his weekly broadcasts in 1932 and they remained popular for more than twenty years ending, I think, about 1956. Monty wrote three compilations of excerpts from his program, some of it his own work, with the rest a combination of items he read elsewhere, as well as items submitted by listeners.
The three books I discovered are a joy, not just because of their content but due to the reconnection through a beloved parent to a broadcaster with a wonderful mind and a great radio presence. They were published by Australian company, Hallcraft, in Melbourne and are Philosopher’s Scrap Book (1950), Philosopher’s Note Book (1951) and Philosopher Reflects (1955).
I’ve had a lovely time reading excerpts and will read them through as time allows. Space does not allow me to provide lengthy examples of content but I might try to squeeze in the first few lines of Monty’s memorial, The Passing Of A Pal, on the death of his beloved bulldog, Wog.
Gentle-natured, faithful, loving, kind,
Can I believe behind those speaking eyes
Now glazed in death,
No soul existed;
Or that somewhere, in the vast spaces of the Beyond
One friend awaits me, patient, expectant-eyed,
As in life he watched my every step…
I am sure there are many among you who would enjoy more extensive reading but, sadly, I have no way of sharing the books with you. I looked online, however, and amazingly found a link that will connect all who want with at least one of the three:
Something a little different, something from which I hope you can understand my excitement at the discovery, and especially something that will provide you with some amount of pleasure.
Thank you for bearing with an old bloke reminiscing.