I was sat in the car, coming home from school with my mum. I’d have been about 11 or 12 years-old and the car stereo was tuned in to the radio when the strangest noise came on the airwaves. It was a woman sighing, breathing heavily and finally, wailing with pleasure. I had a very good idea what the sound was, but I asked my mother anyway. There was an awkward pause before she slowly said four words with purse-lipped disapproval: “A woman in ecstasy.”
Despite being many, many years ago I can recall that moment very clearly. I don’t think either of us said another word to each for the rest of the journey, me feeling highly amused and my mother, I suspect, feeling very awkward.
You’re probably wondering what radio station we were listening to. Believe it or not, it was the Steve Wright in the Afternoon Show on BBC Radio 1. Even by today’s standards that was a racy few moments of airtime and I certainly haven’t heard anything like that on the radio since.
That radio show was a big part of my younger years because it was always on the stereo during the afternoon school run. My mother put it on and I just didn’t argue or demand to listen to anything else, although the choice back then was much more limited. With my children getting older and developing their own tastes in music, the radio is becoming an increasing part of their lives and a part of every car journey.
Given a choice, I would listen to BBC Radio 4 because I’m a news junkie. That said, we live in a time where listening to the news is like being sucked into a toxic, hate-filled vortex. As a result, I’ve found myself being pulled into the direction of stations like Planet Rock. Judge me all you like, but I’d much rather listen to AC/DC than hear about Boris Johnson’s inability to use a mop.
Do you think I get the chance to listen to one of my chosen stations when the kids are in the car? Oh no, I have no such luck.
Pretty much each and every car journey starts with my kids piling into the vehicle and demanding their favourite radio station. That’ll be Kiss for the eldest and Fun Kids Radio for the youngest.
After a period of dubious negotiation, one of them gets their way with the promise the other child will get their choice of radio station for the return leg of the journey.
This has been going on for a couple of months and, to use a technical phrase, it’s doing my head in. The arguments in the car I can just about cope with, but I have to listen to highly commercialised pop and dance music on every car journey. The odd bit of respite comes in the form of a Billie Eilish or Jess Glynne song.
Yes, I know this is going to sound like a stereotypically dad thing to say, but at least Glynne and Eilish are proper songwriters. I can actually really enjoy their music but the other stuff my kids like to listen to, oh my word I can’t stand it.
If I try to take back control of the car stereo and put on BBC Radio 4 or Planet Rock, I simply get an incessant commentary from the back seat telling me how bad the music is or how boring the news is. Nonetheless, I think I’m going to make a greater effort to take back control of the car stereo and get the kid slistening to what I want to listen to from time to time.
Maybe I’ll start playing more audiobooks. Maybe I’ll start playing ‘teach yourself French’ lessons, something I used to do but have fallen out of the habit of doing. All I know is I’m sick of listening to Old Town Road and if I hear that tune one more time I’m likely to implode.
One thing’s for sure though, I think I’ll be sticking clear of the Steve Wright in the Afternoon Show. I don’t want to end up in the position my mother did all those years ago.