During these strange days of lockdown, I have acknowledged that I am a binge listener. This is something I have been pondering since my last post about getting through difficult days and the importance of having someone who will listen when that is what you need. As much as I miss offering the practice of reflexology itself, I also miss listening to my clients, many of whom have become trusted friends who have also graciously listened to me when I have needed a supportive ear.
As I have mentioned before, when I’m not working and when I am driving to and from clients, I usually put the radio on or have a podcast going, and as much as I love music, I rarely listen to it during the day. It is voices that I crave as I miss being with people. I think my brain absorbs things best when I’m listening, and I seem to learn that way, but most of all, I enjoy hearing about people and getting lost in fascinating stories of their lives. While most people have been catching up on tv shows over the past few weeks, I have been doing lots more listening as a way to keep calm and relaxed. Here are a couple of my favourites. I have supplied direct links but all can be found on iTunes.
‘Desert Island Discs’ is a BBC radio show that has been running since the 40s, and which has been a favourite of mine for years – in fact it feels like a comforting fixture in my life. I have mentioned it to clients in the past, but now would be the perfect time to discover it, as it is based on the premise that the guest is stranded on an island with 8 pieces of their chosen music for company. The conversations around their choices open up to the host in the most unexpected ways – funny, heart warming, moving – and there is a phenomenal archive of guests to explore. This is fortunate as, rather ironically, the show is currently on a planned hiatus. Often it is the people you have never heard of who prove to be the most engaging, but sometimes you learn so much about someone you thought you knew. Here’s a selection of clips from some of the funniest moments and her are some of the most moving. I highly recommend listening to the whole interview with Dr David Nott and also a more recent one with firechief, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, neither of them famous celebrities but with incredibly life-affirming histories to share.
A more recent discovery, also from the BBC, is ‘Don’t Log Off’ which began pre-internet days as ‘Don’t Hang Up’. The host, Alan Dein chats to random people all over the world and has a wonderfully engaging and empathetic manner with the people he speaks to. Over the course of each series you get to learn so much about their lives, but at first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hear about how people are living through the experience of Covid-19. In fact, the current shows have been truly wonderful, giving all kinds of insights around the world and remind us that we all in the same, but also very different boats, as we navigate these new waters.
For people wanting to hear things that will inform but also make them laugh, I suggest giving The Adam Buxton Show a try. It can be a little hit and miss, but he is such an appealing host with a unique style, and some of his conversations have been both fascinating and laugh out loud funny, as exemplified by his long chat with American humourist and writer, David Sedaris.
So it seems I love to listen, and as I was thinking about writing this post, a poignant piece of news came this past weekend. When I first moved to the US, I had a hard time finding my way – everything was so much more foreign than I had imagined. I had expected England with an accent, and it was something of a culture shock to discover it was so very different. I was quite homesick for a while, but yet again, I took solace in listening. The first thing that helped me feel I would be just fine was discovering our local public radio station, WNYC. For the first time I heard voices that sounded dependable, calm and informative, and the people behind the voices, the hosts and newsreaders, became my first ‘friends’. That’s why it was such a sad shock to hear the news that one of the people behind those voices, Richard Hake, had died suddenly last Friday. Of course I never knew him, but I feel as though I did, and strangely as if he knew me – there’s a big hole in my world knowing that he has gone. No matter how bad the news of the day was, I always felt better if Richard was reading it. He knew this place so well. New York born and bred, Richard seemed to understand the complexities of life in NY, and showed such respect for the diversity of its inhabitants and their wide and varied experience of living here. No wonder the remembrances have been so warm. He had such a steady manner about him that you always felt things would be ok. Twenty years later and I am a citizen who has literally found her feet here, and listening Richard’s voice day in day out helped settle me. Listening to Richard was part of my routine and I will miss him very much. RIP, Richard Hake. Your colleagues loved you, but I hope you knew that you made a big difference to many people’s lives, including mine.