I’ve been in bed for the past couple of days with a nasty little dose of food poisoning. On reflection, it was probably the Stilton, bacon, and red onion baguette that did for me. It tasted wonderful at the time. Because of my illness I’ve been listening to lots of radio.
On Friday, as the nausea started, I tuned in to “Whispering” Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2. His personal Website is currently dominated by Harris’s tribute to his mentor, John Peel. Peel gave Harris his break, but Harris matured into a greater DJ. As I hunched over the sink on Friday night he played Fountains of Wayne’s nifty new wave-style skit “Stacey’s Mom” from earlier this year, and I muttered to myself, “It could be The Cars”. Then I thought, “and even back then they were making a synthed-up pastiche of 50s rock’n’roll”. Sure enough, His Bobness followed it up with The Cars’ “Best Friend’s Girlfriend”. That song is 25 years old now. I feel like a gouty old duffer in a Bath chair. The two tracks were the first I heard in an evening of musically varied and technically solid programming.
On Saturday BBC Radio 4 broadcast the last part a superb adaptation of Émile Zola’s L’Assommoir. The acting and the recording could not have been bettered, and that includes the probably inauthentic, but shrewd, use of regional accents. The music was slightly annoying, but the real problem for me, though, was the ending. Was it meant to be so perfunctory? Had the producers simply set the narrator to summarise the events of other volumes in Les Rougon-Macquart? If there’s a Zola scholar out there who heard it and knows I’d be grateful for some explanation.