Les Misérables, Me and the Radio

Quite honestly, one of the nicest things that ever happened to me was this one time I finished speaking at an event and while small-talking with a woman I had never met before, she volunteered that my delivery was reminiscent of Ira Glass. This woman was unlikely to be in the pay of my father or Wife-unit or someone else inclined to bribe people to boost my self-esteem. But if someone were paid by someone who loves me to say something that would put a spring in my step, that is what they would say.

I have the uncommon ailment of early-onset middle-age disease. No need to offer me your herbal remedies, I am quite happy to have it. One of the symptoms is a growing love of radio programmes. Since I was born in the 1980s, I find it hard to locate an actual radio. I don’t let that stop me. Through secondary school in the early 60s my dad earned pocket money by selling home-made crystal radio sets to the other boys in his class. My radio-itch is scratched by considerably fancier means. I find myself listening to BBC Radio 6 and sometimes even BBC Radio 4 on my telly. I use my mp3 player to listen to Radiolab and a podcast by some geezers from a magazine I have never read or even seen called Books and Culture. So to be compared to the king of nerdy radio hosts, Ira Glass, even if it was by a woman who had alcohol in her hand, was a crowning moment of perfection.

In the last few years, I have started to go on the radio to talk about things, mostly God. I was in a debate with Richard Dawkins and he didn’t win. Neither did I. The listener did. And by listener I mean listeners. It was local radio and I think 17 people tuned in to hear me gush about how good the Blind Watchmaker is and waffle about how Dawkins fails the test Feuerbach presented us in the 1850s. If you fail the test that the granddaddy of atheism sets out, then your atheism might not be very good. Prof. Dawkins was unimpressed by that argument. Which is a pity. If only he had listened to me he would have saved himself a lot of bother and the chance to earn gazillions of euros and be adored by angry internet-men in auditoriums around the world.

By the way: “IF ONLY HE/SHE/THEY/IT HAD LISTENED TO ME!” is pretty much my most commonly used phrase. The only competition is “It’s This American Life, I’m Ira Glass. Each week on our show, we bring you a theme, and then present variations on that theme. This week…” which is what I say in the mirror about five times a day.

Last Autumn I made a radio programme for RTE Radio 1, which is the national radio station. However, it was a religious broadcast, sent out on Sunday morning and it may have been on an obscure digital version of the radio station. I probably doubled my debut listenership and got about 34 people to tune in. I am almost certain of that because I was wise enough to rope in my big sister to read things like the Bible and poetry and that meant that she got her friends to tune in. She was really good. She doesn’t have a lisp and she is a woman of serious dignity and that can’t help but leak out into the microphone, then out into the airwaves and then down your eartubes.

I enjoyed making that programme, in a large part because I got to deliver a lengthy, unedited sermon on air about the Bible’s best genocidal hero, Samson, that referenced Eminem, zombies and the poetry of R.S. Thomas.

A few weeks ago, the local radio station for the Carlow and Kilkenny region got in touch with me because they heard I knew things about theology and I knew things about movies. They wanted me to talk about Les Miserables on air. Patrick Mitchel told them to call me, allegedly. I just think Patrick was disinclined to watch any musical that wasn’t about Bob Dylan. Anyway, I went and watched the movie and then I spoke for a quarter of an hour about what I thought of it.

I mostly thought it was amazing. I mean, as a FILM it had many flaws, most of them serious and involving the worst crime possible which is sentimentality. But as a MOVIE it was great fun and I got caught up in all the singing! And the striding! And the little boy fighting the Revolution by crawling under things! As a result, and because I was keeping my crusty old curmudgeon personality behind a sound-proofed metal door, I suspect I come across as a lisping teenage girl with something, like, seriously important to say about things, like, you know what I mean?

I’d say I trebled my biggest audience with this one because if I know anything about taxi drivers in rural Ireland, I know they are always listening to the local radio station. Even if there is some idiot on talking about Hugh Jackman in terms that aren’t murderous.

So if it interests you, here it is, in poor quality mp3, just for you.

Your Correspondent, Has a helpful video that will evade all your questions.

One Reply to “Les Misérables, Me and the Radio”

  1. Your impassioned and informed analysis of ‘Les Mis’ – a film that I was, until now, only mildly interested in (mostly due to all the sound/music being recorded live) – has encouraged me to watch it soon.

    Kudos to, sir. Kudos.

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