My keyboard is currently being tapped away with tears trickling over it and blurring my eyes. Stephen Sutton was, is, and always will be an inspirational teenager. To take on cancer at such a young age the way he did was something else.
It’s so, so unfair, yet he never showed one iota of bitterness or pity. He lived his life regardless of what was thrown at him and showed us all what being selfless really is. He will certainly inspire me to get through my own ills, which of course pail into insignificance compared to what he faced with such courage, zest and humour.
Stephen Sutton – always remembered, loved and missed by all.
I’ve taken a walk on the wild side today after my earlier walk into town. I’ve actually put the radio on, purely as a change of routine. It doesn’t sound that big a deal but it is for me.
For years, radio was my preferred media over everything else. I’d listen to it from the moment I woke up, right up I arrived at work. Then afterwards, straight back on for the trip home and on for the rest of the evening. Even as I went to bed, the radio stayed on through the night, as I went through a phase of not being able to sleep without a background noise.
It was, of course, an addiction, and as with every addiction, there’s side effects to go along with the enjoyment you get from it. It took a long, long time for me to realise it, too.
With the music stations, I was always put off by the presenter telling everyone how great you, they, the station and the music was. Radio 1 and all the commercial stations were awful for this. Maybe they still are.
The music is, of course, strictly monitored, even down to the amateur local radio stations. One of my closer friends showed me an e-mail from a station he worked at voluntarily last year. In it, a director complained about him playing listener requests before songs their advertisers wanted. Even at the bottom step, money talks, it seems.
I soon drifted away from music, with the emergence of downloading sites, and became a fan of phone-in shows, of talk radio. It was the perfect platform for me. I’m interested in the world at large as well as the more trivial.
Before long there were all number of commercial and national stations giving their twopenn’orth as well as inviting the public at large to give theirs (call and text charges apply). At first it was fine. People were giving balanced views to balanced arguments on all manner of issues. It really added something to my daily living.
Before long, though, it seemed that the overwhelming aim was simply to get people calling or texting in. The easiest way to do that was to always play Devil’s advocate to anything. It was guaranteed to enrage plenty of people, and for many to ring and text their displeasure.
I never quite fell into that trap. One or two angry texts I may have sent, but they soon stopped when my phone credit whittled away. I carried on listening, though, becoming irritated, cursing under my breath as I heard more and more provocative posturing from behind the mic.
Even when the radio switched off, the bad mood would continue well into the working day. Then I would curse myself, allowing myself to get wound up like that. With it being addictive, though, I couldn’t bring myself to not turn it back on going home. I needed that radio hit.
After the anger subsided from these shows, I began feeling morose, beating myself up for being taken in by shock-jocks squawking away for their paymasters. It took hours and even days away from me each week, all for an end result of making me feel low, and the radio stations money.
Eventually, I grew tired of feeling so angry, so down, so empty just by tuning a radio dial. Instead of a radio station through the night, I put on comedy dvd’s as a background noise. Comedy mp3’s then became the preferred choice of daytime listening.
The effect on me was dramatic. I was immediately happier, livelier, chirpier, at least during times when the depression wasn’t taking me. There was another issue, of having a tv screen blaring away gaudily in the night while I was trying to sleep, but the good was outweighing it.
As for music, I began composing my own playlist, a mix of cheesy pop and deep meaning tracks, which make me feel happy and inspired having heard them. It’s something I still do today.
And as I hear the radio this moment, with all their ads, their jingles, their chat designed to get you going, I can smile now, both happy and rueful. It validates the action I took to stop me feeling so low. It also means, though, that they’re still successfully trapping people into feeling the same things I used to.
Radio can be, and often is, a wonderful addition to people’s daily lives. The talking stations are a different kettle of fish though. Elvis Costello, who inspired today’s title with a song lyric, was right.
“The radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools.”