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Cairo On The Radio

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Down the endless garden 
to a hand-built shed of wonders
and little me, sitting with my grandad
listening to all the voices
pushing through the static

What magic in those wires!
The narrow band, the wide
The squelch and the gain
The whistle and the whine
sounds I’ll never forget

The spectrum of a planet 
Such wisdom in rough fingers
so deft upon the dial
gently they’d spin the roulette wheel
and flip between tunings

I was constantly in awe 
at this window on the world
My ear up against the glass
of infinite possibility
and my grandad’s gentle teaching
explaining everything

We'd eavesdrop on conversations 
fizzing through the airwaves
speaking so quickly
in strange new cadences
We’d hear calls to prayer 
that sounded nothing like 
the tuneless church bells of home

‘Where’s the microphone’ I’d say
‘can we speak back?’
he’d remind me
‘the most important thing, sometimes
is just to listen’
O, I was learning…

And when we were done
he’d disconnect the aerial 
and gently warn me
how lightning storms
could blow up the receiver
O, how powerful, how dangerous
how exciting!

Charlie, Alpha
India, Romeo

Come back...




Photo isn't me sadly, haven't yet been able to find one.


Amateur radioham radiohamgrandadyouthchildhoodlearningexcitement

◄ Holly Hagg

The Causeway Between Our Hearts ►


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Tue 11th Aug 2020 12:46

Thanks for reading MC ? Yes, I had one of those crystal/cat's whisker sets too. Local radio in the north east of the UK wasn't particularly inspiring but I used to like the shipping forecast (for some reason) at a very young age. "This is The BBC home service" yes, I can still hear it being said aloud in my head. Cheers, Tom.

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 11th Aug 2020 11:50

Pleasing indeed. I'm taken back to the pulp periodicals of yesteryear
that featured adverts that occupied a whole back page - from a firm
in London that advertised all sorts of fascinating things to capture a
young imagination...including "crystal (radio) sets" - when costs were
measured in pounds, shillings and pence. My own childhood was
also marked by the radio programmes of the day, Like Ray, I have a
recollection of much from those distant days when radio ruled the air.
"This is the BBC Light Programme"..."This is the BBC Home Service..." - how readily those spoken words come back to me now.

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Tue 11th Aug 2020 11:47

Thank you Keith, Jordyn, Shifa, Branwell, Mark and Greg for the likes ?

Keith and Ray, I really enjoyed hearing your recollections. The radio was truly a source of magic back in the days before the internet and when there were only 4 TV channels... I have so many memories attached to radios but this one is extra special to me. My grandad was a wireless operator in the Desert Rats in WW2. He was the first great story teller I ever met and his war stories were always so vividly realised (even when they brought a tear to his eye). Listening to a world I'd not yet seen coming over his long range receiver in the late eighties was so exciting and I'll never forget it. I only wish I could talk to him now that I've seen the world for myself.

Thanks for sharing your memories and thank you so much for reading.

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Mon 10th Aug 2020 22:19

Descriptions of a world within a world, perfectly summed up, and reminding me of the same Tom. The Voice of America station with its Willis Conover hosted big band jazz for example in the fifties. Radio Luxembourg with its adverts. I actually believed that everything happened in the hot red valves inside.
A lovely poem altogether. I'm old enough to remember the sound of the air raid all clear interrupting the wireless too.


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keith jeffries

Mon 10th Aug 2020 18:59


Such nostalgia and a entrancing poem which quickly brought back memories of my grandmother who had a radiogramme, which was a large item of furniture. On opening the lid there were two compartments, one for playing records and the other for various radio stations. For some inexplicable reason I always wanted to know where hivershuim was as it stood out of the dial. The front housed the loudspeaker covered in a suitable material with a small draw beneath for the storage of records. My father had a record of Slim Whitman singing "On the Road to Mandalay" whereas my mother preferred the "The Count of Luxumburg". My favourite by far was "Goodnight children everywhere", which I think was sung by Vera Lynn.

Such was entertainment in those halcyon days. A good poem which took me back to my childhood.

Thank you for this

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