Thursday, December 09, 2010

Let's have a regular BBC radio 4 programme for elderly reminiscences.

As a GP, I used to mourn the fact that I did not have enough time to listen to my old patients' life stories. I always try to find something out about my patient as a person, especially if they did something interesting like farming. I got snippets, and one or 2 written biographies, but what I wanted was for someone to go and put a microphone under their nose and get them to talk for an hour or so. Which is what my patients wanted to do, so I had to tear myself away.

The recordings would be edited, and then put out on radio.  I say radio because that is possible, and cheap. TV is too expensive and poncey, they laugh in the faces of oldies, but radio would be attainable.

Broadcasting has loads of incentives for young peeps to listen,  (for understandable reasons) but has little or nothing for the oldies (unless you count snooker). 

So I have tried several times over the years to get local radio interested in delivering a regular programme say 30-60 mins once a week devoted to reminiscences of elderly folk. I envisage a success, because most elderly peeps have radio and or TV on, for company. The programme would be self sustaining, because the listeners would write in and say "Yes, I remember that, and what's more, in my village we had this..."

It would be educational for the young, too, to learn for instance that kids used to walk to school and wear knitted bathing costumes (not necessarily at the same time). And that milk camr round in big urns. And rag & bone men had horses, and we had to run out and collect the horse shit for the garden. Stuff like that.

The reason I am v keen on this is not just to catch more living history, but also to give the elderly a sense of self-respect and self worth. Like it or not, broadcast media is perceived as significant in our culture. "He's been on Telly" = "He is a significant person".  Therefore, for an elderly person to be on radio, and for the elderly generally to know that they have airtime devoted to them would be beneficial for their self esteem.  Which would reflect on their happiness and indeed their health.

So far, my approaches (which have been sporadic) have just been met with vague responses saying "we do that anyway, here and here". I tried to get Joan Bakewell interested when she was Elderly Czar, but all I got back was a message from her flunkey saying she doesn't do emails.  (What's the pint of a czar if people cannot communicate with them?)

I tried to raise the matter within the Seniors Group of the European Green Party, but the response was "We already do that in our country", so poor old UK was left, as usual, limping along behind.

I will try again to get local BBC interested, maybe with Age Concern and some professionally qualified peep. Maybe if I keep trying, it will be actually happening in time to catch my deathbed confession.


DonkDonkDonk said...

I think thats a great idea, I love hearing interesting stories from old people and about how life used to be in general.

Like the audio version of watching silent black and white archival film footage from a long time ago... fascinating.

I'm only 20 too.

Anonymous said...

A couple of days after reading your post, I stumbled on this ReadWriteWeb article about spoken history recordings.

Might be worth dropping Rob Peaks an email?

DocRichard said...

Thanks guys. I will follow up the lead.