At times of flooding, I’ve heard it reported that the East Midlands is, landscape-wise, in a kind of shallow bowl1, the bowliness of which gets moreso further south into Northamptonshire, and west to Cambridgeshire and the Fens2. Wrongly or otherwise, I attribute the poor radio reception to this topographical quality also – although this could be a far more localised effect, being low and river-plained as we are, and surrounded by a curious muddle of houses built where the orchards, the cow-sheds and Agnes’s tended acres were.
Occasionally in my life I’ve turned to a radio scanner for entertainment, a low-level and distinctly untechnical interest that began as a child when my Uncle Colin showed me how to listen in to police radio on a normal wireless. My dad said we would both ‘be shot’, and thus the appeal was assured.
As a single pre-Internet adult I invested in a Radio Shack PRO-71 from the last of a Tandy’s in Crossgates in Leeds, and, benefiting from a high point (the only one in my life at that time) location in clear sight of the Emley Moor transmitter, could listen at whim to the nightly adventures of the South Yorkshire police, including such favourites as The Horse in the House, The Pillow Fight That Turned Nasty, and The Beer Garden Tables Theft, which was particularly poignant as the crime (the beer garden one) was being played out at the very boozer it was my business to visit as a Free Trade Sales Rep the following day. I didn’t mention it during the call, and neither, strangely, did T_____ .
Here, today, when a man’s thoughts turn to air traffic, they turn naturally also to radio scanners, and yesterday I charged up the old beast with Poundland batteries, but, in this bowl, got nothing but white noise as per the last time my thoughts turned that way. In my heart I know I’m still chasing stories of horses and pillows, but not to extraordinary lengths.
From those radio days and repping, I moved south and to this landscape with a new job and then, for a few years, it was my business to manage (as I mentioned on Monday) ‘the beer innovation brand/technology boondoggle called ARC’, whose formation of beer-ice-crystals was kindled by the dispense being zapped with a sonic trigger at 65 kHz.
1 I check with Geologist David by text and receive: Not really a bowl as such, in the sense that it isn’t surrounded by, say, a range of hills all of the same geological nature. However, you could argue that it is bounded by higher ground- the Peaks / Pennines to the north and west, the Lincolnshire Wolds to the east and then the higher ground of Charmwood to the south (actually on a band of Oolitic limestone. Oolitic – marvellous!) Separately, I assume I live in the Lichfield Corridor, but can report no heightened level of flyover.
2 Along this route, part-ways, a census says that Agnes Winson’s older sister, Emma (b. 1828), formerly nurse in Darley Abbey, travelled to become housekeeper to Lord and Lady Batemans at Northampton’s Kelmarsh Hall. The degrees of separation of that historical titbit to my life are great, but it seems, somehow, such a wonderful thing, and wonderful knowledge to have received.
© Steve Mitchell, Fisher Lane