Category Archives: Radio

Off The Beaten Track 6

BBC Radio 4 has a morning Book of the Week slot on week days, it’s not my usual listen, but due to intriguing descriptions in the Radio Times I’ve recently tuned in.  I’ve been enthralled by the stories concerning two remarkable women, one trying to escape Nazi occupied France, the other honestly chronicling the effects of living with early onset Alzheimer’s. Both have deeply touched me and I will definitely be buying the books, although I admit that the subject matter are areas I would normally shy away from, finding them upsetting to think about. But the indomitable spirit of both these women shone through the readings, and I found myself eagerly awaiting the next episode, in a kind of “wondering way”. Those ten 15 minute slots taught me more about life, survival, history and compassion than anything I’ve seen on TV.  The books are as follows:

NO PLACE TO LAY ONE’S HEAD Francoise Frenkell (Pushkin Press, £16.99)

My interest was caught when the Radio Times commented the book was initially published in Geneva 1945, and then seemingly forgotten until discovered in a French attic in 2010. A second edition was issued in French and now an English translation has been made. A firsthand account of a Jewish woman’s survival and escape from the Nazi’s in France, printed perhaps in the first few weeks of Europe peacetime in 1945, and then untouched until re-discovered in a modern day world.  Wow!

Frenkell came from a Polish Jewish family, was highly educated to degree level (I believe) having studied in Paris, and ended up opening a French bookshop in Berlin on discovering no such facility existed. Her clientele was illustrious, business brisk and successful and the future looked bright in early 1930s Berlin. Then the rule of Hitler and the effect of his policies kicked in. I listened as her beloved bookshop managed to avoid destruction as it wasn’t on an official destroy list. How she had to leave it behind and flee in the night, traversing through Europe from city to city, always somehow avoiding major crackdowns, or invasion, by a matter of days. Her skirmishes with authority and her escape attempts to reach Switzerland, finally successful. Frenkell’s words seem to be beautifully translated into an eloquent yet matter of fact way, and I listened with my “heart in my mouth” most of the time. I punched the air when her escape was successful and breathed a sigh of relief. My overall feeling was one of admiration for Francoise and her determined nature to survive in an intolerable society. But there was anger as well at the same society for its blinkered rule of law. It seemed to conveniently ignore, no doubt because of her Jewish ethnicity,  the fact Frenkell had all the necessary documentation (residency papers, visa) to live peacefully in France and to travel with ease to Switzerland.  My listening ended with Francoise setting foot in Switzerland where she survived the war to write her memoir, about her life before Nazi rule in Europe and her escape from it. The French publishing company Gallimard discovered Frenkell passed away in Nice in 1975 at the ripe age of 86 but could find no relatives.

SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW Wendy Mitchell (Bloomsbury £9.99)

My listening journey with Wendy began with her describing a “fog in her head” and inexplicable falls whilst she was out running. Doctors suggested she could have had a stroke, having discovered a heart condition that was fixed through surgery. The fog continued and eventually a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s was made after a seemingly painfully slow series of visits with health clinicians. Her description of looking at online videos of people living with the condition was searing, the initial thought of “but these are old people nearing the end of their lives” before finding one of a man in his late 50s like herself, who described his experiences in a mirror like fashion to her own.

Wendy worked as a NHS administrator known for her powers of recall and organisation skills. Slowly she had become aware that her grasp on things wasn’t the same. When she told management of her diagnosis the only thing offered was early retirement, there was no procedure to try and enable her to work within her remaining mental capabilities, which were still considerable. Her co-workers brilliantly rallied around to make tasks less stressful and more easy to deal with, enabling Wendy to continue in her job as long as possible. With unexpected early retirement foisted upon her Wendy decided to use her time attending conferences, doing speaking engagements and becoming a leading advocate for those living with Alzheimer’s & Dementia. Through this work she hopes to educate people to have a better understanding of the condition. I was certainly educated as I listened to excerpts from Mitchell’s book. Hearing how familiar things can suddenly seem strange and confusing, city living becoming too noisy to deal with, the use of technology to help try and trick her condition, the coping strategies Wendy uses to deal with the sudden onset of panic. It was illuminating to literally “see the world through Wendy’s eyes” and to hear how her condition is slowly taking over her mind. Her articulation is heartfelt, honest and at times perhaps unconsciously funny with a wry humour, like her wonderment at experiencing a gliding session and how quiet the flight was, whilst knowing she wouldn’t remember a thing about the safety video if disaster struck. The realisation “if you don’t use it you will lose it” after taking a three week break from her work and finding the computer keyboard incomprehensible for a few hours. How the person she is today is someone she doesn’t really recognise anymore, yet for the joys she has lost (like TV shows, long novels, cooking) an appreciation for new joys (short stories, poetry, old familiar films). I shared Mitchell’s sadness and resigned acceptance when her extra income from government support was removed, having been deemed fit enough to function on a daily basis.  Much of the “medical tests” used depended on the person remembering how they were before, a ludicrous concept when you consider the nature of an Alzheimer’s condition. Wendy’s resilience and determination to live life to the full for as long as possible was utterly compelling. Once again I had found a woman living in a difficult situation, making the best of it and triumphing in a way against the odds. Somehow both Francoise and Wendy made me feel empowered too.

In closing, I will mention a book that has been on my bookshelf since 2001. It’s called HAPPY TIMES by Lee Radziwill (sister of Jackie Kennedy Onassis). I read about it in a Sunday newspaper supplement, and asked my husband to look for it in America when he visited a few weeks later. There is little dialogue in it and is mainly a gorgeous photo book, rather like a family album. I’ve delved into it many a time, but only really read the dialogue this week. I’ve been happily updating my photo album with recent activity pictures, and from Wendy Mitchell’s book there is a strong element of how important photo’s can be for memories. We live in such uncertain times; I’ve chosen to look for the joy in things as much as possible. Photography is a passion and a joy, and my husband suggested I look at Happy Times again and actually read it. A quote in the introduction says it all for me: “I believe that without memories there is no life, and that our memories should be of happy times. That’s my choice”.


Talking Of Football On Hospital Radio

Football and radio in the 21st century remain intrinsically linked through Hospital Radio Broadcasting and share many similarities. For decades, volunteers have provided live action coverage of games broadcast directly to hospitals, for patients to enjoy. You may wonder if such a service has any relevance anymore, and I would say it is as vital today as it has ever been.  You may also like to read my other blog concerning hospital radio here:

Hospital radio as a concept was born in an era when TV was barely an infant, a personal music player, mobile phones and the internet were futuristic science fiction ideas, and radio was king of entertainment. Patient stays in hospital were far longer, visits severely restricted and contact with the outside world minimal. The BBC only had three programs, commercial radio did not exist, and the only real way of following your football team was to attend the match on a Saturday afternoon.

The core ethos of hospital radio was to provide patients with a service not easily found or available elsewhere.  The development of hospital radio was really to provide a much needed personal, message orientated light entertainment program that was easily accessible by patients. In fact, many hospital radio stations began their existence because of an overwhelming desire to provide sports commentary relevant to local teams, as the BBC didn’t provide a sufficiently detailed service.

The organisation I volunteer for, Radio Leighton in Crewe began as a direct consequence of an experimental broadcast of a Crewe Alexandra FC game in 1966. Our archives don’t record the details of that inaugural broadcast, but I know equipment was borrowed from Forward Radio in nearby Stoke who covered both Stoke City and Port Vale games. An internet search of the 66-67 fixture lists suggest Crewe v Bradford City (1-0) on 8th October 1966 could be a candidate, as both Stoke and Port Vale played away that week.  A second Crewe game was apparently covered on January 7th 1967, a FA Cup game against Darlington (2-1).  Both broadcasts proved so popular that the Mayor Councillor Herbert P Vernon convened a meeting to hear all about these activities.  And so it was on May 4th 1967 in the mayor’s chambers the Crewe and District Hospital Broadcast Service was conceived. Fund raising began and in 1968 on April 20th the Crewe v Wrexham game (0-0) was broadcast using our very own equipment. The following November a full broadcasting program to patients began.

Football clubs can vary from Premiership status to lower league county level and consequently differ in size enormously. Likewise hospitals can be huge complexes spread over several sites down to small county establishments. Teams can have anything from a global appeal to a much more localised support. Similarly hospital radio can be (in theory) available to a worldwide audience through internet broadcasting, cover a wider broadcasting area through FM or AM licences, or just be heard by patients within a specific hospital using an internal loop system (Radio Leighton). Clubs can be run on enormous budgets with huge staff numbers, going down to relying on a small cohort of people to run things on shoe string finances. Larger hospitals can rely on a wider geographical area to find volunteers and have a better chance of attracting sponsorship to enable, for example, 24/7 manned hospital radio stations. Radio Leighton being situated in a small town hospital very much runs on a shoe string budget and relies on a relatively small team of volunteers. Our organisation is indebted to both the Mid-Cheshire Hospital Authority and Crewe Alexandra FC. The hospital authorities ensure we have studio space and cover our daily costs, whilst Crewe Alex finance the costs involved in maintaining our phone link between the studio and stadium. In return for this, our football commentary team link also provides visually-impaired fans full action description.

Modern technology offers unlimited entertainment through streaming and instant connectivity and interaction with the world.  There is a lot of assumption in society that EVERYONE has the means to interact with this modern communication phenomenon. But the average age of patients today still finds the biggest majority of them without this capability, or the funds to sustain a service (such as Hospedia TV) during a longer than expected stay in hospital. In this instance, those excluded from the mobile technology world rely on whatever form of entertainment is provided within a hospital complex. That is why a free to access hospital radio service still remains important and an invaluable social service in the 21st century.

Hospital Radio in the 21st Century

Not everyone engages in today’s modern technology phenomenon where entertainment, news, family and social interactions are accessed in an instant. Society assumes that the majority of us have the means and capability to use modern communication devices (mobiles, laptops etc). However, as a ward walker for hospital radio, I know that there remains a large majority of patients who do not have this facility available to them. Many come from a generation who neither understand nor like or can afford modern devices. Those who do have mobile technology gadgets may not find them particularly easy to use in hospital. Mobile phone usage may be prohibited; the phone/data signals poor to non-existent; keeping phones charged a nightmare; Wi-Fi access unavailable or at a cost, so a longer than expected stay may prove expensive. Consequently those excluded from the mobile technology world, rely on whatever form of entertainment a hospital complex provides. That is why hospital radio still has a role to play in the 21st century. It can provide local news, cover local sports in more detail, convey personal messages and play a much wider more varied selection of music than national/commercial radio stations.

As a ward walker taking patient requests I’ve found myself in a mix of roles over the years. At times I’ve been a patient’s only visitor, other times I’ve felt more like a councillor, social worker, priest, confidante and friend. The music presenter part comes last of all. Through hospital radio a patient has a friend at the bedside, the lonely find companionship, those feeling frazzled by the demands of their illness find a reassuring calming presence and friendly voice on the radio. Having spoken to the patients before I go on air, I’m sure they feel a sense of community and belonging when they listen to me, and have a palpable sense that someone somewhere still does care about them. Speaking for myself, I know that money cannot buy the feelings I’ve experienced over the years serving the patients of Leighton Hospital. It remains an absolute privilege and pleasure helping those who are unwell, feel a little better and more comforted.

Modern technology offers connection and interaction with the world, yet maintains a clinical remoteness as well. Perhaps that’s why many users of social media still claim to experience feelings of great loneliness. By comparison, hospital radio offers an incredibly personal interaction with patients both face to face and over the airwaves. This is a priceless attribute that should be protected and nourished. Long May Hospital Radio Reign.



Four years ago I fulfilled my London 2012 Olympic volunteering duties at Old Trafford. The next day I was doing my regular shift for hospital radio, gathering requests and airing my “Angie’s Allsorts” music show. This is my very own dedicated tribute to the Olympic Games ideal, with Olympic year hits, Olympic sports trivia and musical references to every decade of the modern day games since the 1900s.


ELBOW with FIRST STEPS (2012 BBC theme tune- 2010s)

Request (outside usual time slot): BUDDY HOLLY with IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE (1950s)

ELVIS PRESLEY with IT’S NOW OR NEVER (best seller of 1960-Rome games- 1960s)

Linking Lyrics Artist of the Week: ENYA

ENYA with ANYWHERE IS (2000s)

ENYA with ON MY WAY HOME (2000s)

Rarity Record of the Week:

OLYMPIA BORONAT with LES HEUGENOT from Meerbeer (recorded 1908-London’s 1st games)

CELINE DION with MY HEART WILL GO ON (reference to 1912 and Titanic sinking-1990s)

AL JOLESON with I’M SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD (1920s- big star in 1910s as well)

BANGLES with ETERNAL FLAME (for the Olympic torch/flame-1980s)





THE NEW SEEKERS with I’D LIKE TO TEACH THE WORLD TO SING (best seller 1972-Munich)

GARY BARLOW/COMMONWEALTH SINGERS with SING (2012-London’s 3rd games)

Duration: 1 hr 18m 27s

If you would like to listen to my show you can stream it from here:


Summer Festival at Radio Leighton

7.37-8.37pm: Duration 1hr 1m 17s

My show includes a musical reference related to a major news item, three birthday artists spanning a wide range of music genres, a new song from Neil Diamond’s latest album Melody Road and a current top ten hit from the UK charts.



Linking Lyrics Theme: Pluto (news)


Rarity Record of the Week: 3. TORNADOS with TRIP TO PLUTO

The New Horizons mission successfully made a fly past Pluto at lunchtime on Tuesday 14th July. The close encounter with the dwarf planet came within about 8000 miles of Pluto’s surface as New Horizons hurtled past at approximately 31,000 mph. The first message sent back from the craft took 4 hrs 25 mins to traverse 4.7 billion kilometres of space. The arrival of this data indicated that the New Horizons craft had survived the encounter intact. Other mission data will take even longer to arrive as New Horizons continues its journey away from Pluto. New Horizons is the fastest craft to have left the Earth’s orbit and has travelled the furthest distance across space.

Birthday: Professor DAME JOCELYN BELL BURNELL astronomer & astrophysicist 72

  2. NEIL DIAMOND with (OOO) DO I WANNA BE YOURS (from new album Melody Road)

Birthday: TREVOR HORN 66 record producer-co-writer, vocalist, percussionist for…


Birthday: LINDA RONSTADT 69 country singer


Birthday: JULIAN BREAM 82 guitarist & lute player

  2. BIRDY with WINGS (UK chart no. 8 on 12th July 2015)

You can listen to the show here:


Eurovision at 60: a Celebration


My playlist is a musical odyssey around Europe to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Eurovision. Some winning songs, lots of contest trivia and places visited will take you from France to Vienna in 14 songs.
Eurovision began 60 years ago in the Italian speaking canton of Switzerland in the city of Lugano. The European anthem heralds the start of the show.
1. CHARPENTIER’S TE DEUM PRELUDE (Noel (NOT Nigel) Rawsthorne on a church organ: France)
Ireland the “Emerald Isle” the most successful country with seven wins. So I will assume for this show that Dublin could be considered the “Emerald City”.
2. SEEKERS with EMERALD CITY (Ireland; tune Ode to Joy by Beethoven-Germany; Seekers-Australia)
Australia invited to participate in the 60th anniversary contest. Aussie DNA runs through the contests history really, especially since Seekers member Keith Potger formed and managed the New Seekers. They represented the UK in 1972 coming second with Beg, Steal or Borrow. Other UK representatives with Australian roots include Olivia Newton-John in 1974 coming 4th and Gina G in 1996 coming 8th. And Ireland’s Mr Eurovision Johnny Logan with 2 singing and 2 composer Eurovision wins is also Australian born!
3. DANA with ALL KINDS OF EVERYTHING (Ireland’s first win in 1970)
Ireland has been happy hunting ground for the UK with two of our five wins (81, 97) being there. We have also won in Austria 67, Spain 69 (first equal with Spain, France & Netherlands) and in The Netherlands 76.
4. DANA INTERNATIONAL (Israel win in 1998)
Israel was the last country to win on British soil and the difference in style between the two “Dana’s” is marked. The 28 year difference gives the Israel song the advantage of disco, big ballad, dance and possibly trance elements within it.
Nana Mouskouri represented Luxembourg in 1963 coming in 8th.
Considered the most important song from Eurovision is the Italian entry for 1958 which came in third. Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu sung by Domenico Modungno went on to win the Grammy Record of the Year and Song of the Year. It has been recorded by several artists and is better known by another name Volare.
6. DEAN MARTIN with VOLARE (Italy)
The least likely place for the contest to be held is in Portugal, as the country has failed to secure a win since participating for the first time in 1964.
The UK has held the Eurovision Song Contest eight times although we have only won it five times. 1960 London Royal Festival Hall; 1963 London BBC TV Centre; 1968 London Royal Albert Hall; 1972 Edinburgh Usher Hall; 1974 Brighton Dome; 1977 London Wembley Conference Centre; 1982 Harrogate International Centre; 1998 Birmingham National Indoor Arena. But although the UK has won five times the country has come second 15 times so all in the UK is probably the most successful country in the competition statistically. At least two of those second places was by a mere point-Sir Cliff Richard with Congratulations and Scott Fitzgerald with Go. At least Scott came second to an artist who became a global star Celine Dion (1988 Switzerland-Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi).
The Netherlands was the scene for Brotherhood of Man winning with Save All Your Kisses For Me. In the twelve point era (adopted in 1975) this has been the song with the highest percentage of marks 80.39% (164 from a potential 204 points). Other songs have scored higher but at a time with far more countries participating and voting. Ironically as there has been no “nul point” country since 2003, the UK’s only zero scored song Cry Baby by Jemini has gained the lowest score statistically as well.
When the UK has held the contest France has been the most successful with two wins (60, 77) with Spain (68) , Luxembourg (72), West Germany (82), Israel (98) and Sweden (74) being the others. I inadvertently left out Denmark’s win in 1963 during my show and wrongly attributed a third French win instead (they had won in 62).
10. NICOLE with A LITTLE PEACE (West Germany win in 1982)
Great alumni of the Eurovision Song Contest who have represented the UK include Matt Monro (64), Kenneth McKellar (66), Sir Cliff Richard 68 & 73), Mary Hopkin (70), The Shadows (75), Bonnie Tyler (2013), Engelbert Humperdinck (2012).
Engelbert Humperdinck was 76 when he performed but is not the OLDEST PERFORMER. That accolade goes to Emil Ramsauer the 95 year old who represented Switzerland in 2013. In contrast the YOUNGEST WINNER is Sandra Kim singing J’Aime La Vie for Belgium in 1986.
12. ABBA with WATERLOO (ABBA for Sweden 1974 win and Waterloo for Belgium)
The Vienna Boys Choir was the interval act when Austria held the contest in 1967 and Sandie Shaw won for the UK with Puppet On A String. I wondered if the interval act this year might involve the Boys Choir or the Lippinzer White Horses (possibly a bit messy). Of course Vienna would be an ideal place for a ball room dance perhaps involving Austrian composer Mozart. In 1974 the interval act was very British.
13. THE WOMBLES with MINUETTO ALLEGRETTO (UK dancing to a Mozart symphony)
The 60th anniversary Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Vienna on May 23rd. Can Electo Velvet find success there as Sandie Shaw did in 1967? We shall have to wait and see. My musical journey ends here…
14. ULTRAVOX with VIENNA (Austria)
You can listen to my show here:


Off The Beaten Track 5: FA Carlsberg Trophy Final 2015

On Sunday March 29th at 1330 North Ferriby United faced Wrexham on the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium to contest the FA Carlsberg Trophy final. Both teams started brightly but Wrexham quickly imposed their league supremacy, when Louis Moult opened the score line in the eleventh minute. From what I could ascertain from the BBC Radio Wales commentary, Wrexham remained dominant at least until half time with the score remaining at 0-1. The game appeared to be beyond North Ferriby’s reach when Jay Harris scored on 59 minutes, or at least that was the impression given by the Radio Wales commentary team who implied Wrexham were in “cruise control”. However, that did not take into account the heart and guts displayed by the “little men” from the East Ridings of Yorkshire.

The critical point of the game seems to have been the 72nd minute substitution of Dean Keates the Wrexham captain, when my audio feed began to describe the Welsh side as disappearing! North Ferriby Utd also seemed to have altered their formation to 4-4-2 compared to Wrexham’s 4-3-3. Suddenly the two front men for North Ferriby were causing trouble and Wrexham were struggling without a natural sitting midfielder, as all three on the pitch were inclined to go forward. Under this resurgence North Ferriby forced Wrexham’s keeper Coughlin to concede a penalty and captain Liam King slotted home to bring his team back into the game. It was now 1-2 with 76 minutes on the clock. With new found confidence North Ferriby (known as The Villagers) put increasing pressure on their opponents and were rewarded, when substitute Ryan Kendall scored to equalise four minutes from time. At 90 minutes the score was 2-2 with four added minutes on the clock. North Ferriby still pressing hard could have pulled off another goal to seal victory before regulation time was called, when Clarke’s last gasp effort produced a fantastic over the bar save from Coughlin. This ended a catastrophic fifteen minute period for Wrexham where they failed to peg back their opponents. At the 90+ minute boos rang out from the Wrexham fans end of the stadium.


I wondered if the better fitness of the Wrexham team (known as The Dragons) would play a part in extra time, especially with the Welshmen having fresher players on the pitch. And although The Villagers appeared to be dead on their feet they kept running none the less. Wrexham’s right-back Steve Tomassen had no real support from the second half onwards, and endured a particularly torrid time from the pace of Jason St Juste. It was from this area that St Juste supplied the cross into the box for Kendall to head in North Ferriby’s third goal. A bit of a fluke with the ball having taken a wicked deflection, but a downward glancing header from Kendall ensured Coughlin picked the ball out of The Dragons net. For the first time North Ferriby were in the lead at 3-2 on 101 minutes. Just before the first fifteen minutes were indicated, Wrexham’s Manny Smith just missed connecting with a toe poke to equalise. Despite coming agonisingly close to scoring Wrexham fans once again indicated their displeasure at the team.

During the second period North Ferriby heroically soaked up the pressure from Wrexham who had all their team in the opposition half for much of the time, with as many as seven players in the box at one point. The Villagers Nathan Peat cleared off the line and Danny Hone put in a brave sliding tackle just before Wrexham’s Bishop pulled the trigger. It was inevitable though that this Welsh onslaught could not be repelled forever. On 118 minutes a vicious half volley from Louis Moult gave Wrexham an equaliser to make the game at 3-3 after 120+ minutes.


Here is a breakdown of how the penalty shootout panned out with each team having to take SEVEN penalties to find the winner. Which keeper would turn out to be the hero of the hour Wrexham’s Andy Coughlin or North Ferriby’s Adam Nicklin?

North Ferriby went first.                                 Wrexham went second

Liam King SCORED 1-0                                    Wes York SCORED 1-1

Nathan Jarman SCORED 2-1                        Andy Bishop SCORED 2-2

Ryan Kendall SCORED 3-2                             Conor Jennings SAVED 3-2

Jason St Juste SAVED 3-2                               Neil Ashton SAVED 3-2

Tom Denton SAVED 3-2                                   Louis Moult SCORED 3-3

Matt Wilson SCORED 4-3                              Blaine Hudson SCORED 4-4

Nathan Peat SCORED 5-4                              Steve Tomassen SAVED 5-4

FA TROPHY WINNER North Ferriby United: 0-1 ht; 2-2 ft; 3-3 aet; 5-4 pens.

Going into this match North Ferriby were in ninth position in the Conference North Division and Wrexham fifteenth in the Conference Premiership Division. Never before until now had a Conference North side beaten a Conference Premier one. North Ferriby certainly punched way above their weight but deservedly won the trophy. It was Wrexham’s accolade for the taking but they inexplicably conceded their advantage.

North Ferriby is a community in the Kingston-upon-Hull area with a population of just under 4000. No doubt many of them were in the 14585 crowd at Wembley where they witnessed a dream come true. I’m sure Jason St Juste was happy to live the dream and receive a winner’s medal, having given up the opportunity of representing St Kitts & Nevis in an international qualifier against Turks and Caicos Islands, to appear at Wembley.

I heard all the action unfold using a battery operated analogue AM radio because I was out of range for the Welsh DAB radio service, and I had no reception for my phone so was unable to use the BBC Radio player app. Thank goodness for old technology, as it was certainly an unforgettable experience listening to the commentary as The Villagers won the FA Carlsberg Trophy. Well done lads and many congratulations on your wonderful achievement.