Radio Archive

Accent on the journey

A tweet yesterday from the writer Melissa Harrison pointed me to a Radio 4 programme I missed when it was first aired last month. It’s A Journey Through English, a celebration of the diversity of dialects and accents you hear as you take the longest continuous train journey in Britain: more than 600 miles from Aberdeen to Penzance. I particularly liked the contribution from a Scot who said that she had spoken English since she was a child, when “you had one tongue for the hoose, another tongue for the street, and another tongue for the school or the kirk”. It was a programme that, in more ways than one, made Britain seem a bigger place. The guard, having reeled off the 43 stations the train would call at in between, sounded as though he needed a lie-down before the journey had properly begun.

On the river with Radio 4

Busy clearing my desk for a trip to the Canadian Arctic, I forgot to mention in advance Radio 4’s series of 15-minute talks this week on the theme of “The River”. Then I heard a contribution at lunchtime from the Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie on being transported back to the Bronze Age on the Tay. The beauty of modern-day radio, of course, is that you can catch up online when it’s convenient using the BBC iPlayer. Four talks are already on the BBC site and the fifth, in which the wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson follows the North Tyne to the sea, will be broadcast tomorrow.

Again on rivers, there’s a lovely piece by Melisssa Harrison on Shreen Water, in Dorset, on the excellent Caught by the River website. There, too, I’m reminded of the Shorelines Literature Festival, coming up next month in the Port of Tilbury. Contributors will include Rachel Lichtenstein, whose Estuary: Out from London to the Sea is due out next month from Hamish Hamilton; Deborah Levy; Patrick Wright; and those two cargo-ship crew members Horatio Clare and Rose George.

Kathleeen Jamie, incidentally, was joint winner in 2013 of the Dolman Travel Book Award for Sightlines, an extract from which you can still read on Deskbound Traveller.