January 21st, 2009


Are You Sitting Comfortably?

I’ve just bought this on eBay. I’ve been looking out for a copy and have at last found one that wasn’t too chewed up to be worth having. I loved listening to the stories on Listen with Mother. I don’t know what happened to my old copy of the book but I was interested to see if the pictures would bring back memories. I remembered the song, of course

and this picture (by A E Kennedy) was very familiar.

No fears, cat lovers; they're at a pet show.

I loved Daphne Oxenford reading My Naughty Little Sister: ‘And do you know what my naughty little sister did next?’ Dorothy Edwards' stories are still popular with children today, just like the Marmaduke and Joe books by Elizabeth Chapman.

Daphne Oxenford is probably better known these days for playing Steve in Francis Durbridge’s Paul Temple series, because the dramas are part of Radio 7's repertoire. Her voice sounds extraordinarily dated now, which just adds to the charm.

It's hard to think of anything nowadays that would be such a universally shared experience, even Blue Peter. When I was at secondary school, we were played in and out of assembly and one day the music teacher broke into the Berceuse from Fauré’s Dolly Suite. A ripple went round because to everyone there that music meant LWM. Then there's the incident in Susan Rushes In where Gabrielle, one of the ghastly Gascoignes, has a story accepted for the programme. (The frightful girl has already written for Children's Hour.) Jane Shaw could assume that all her readers would have listened to both programmes.

Later on, I was glued to Children’s Hour. My introduction to Winnie the Pooh was hearing the book read by lovely David Davis. I loved Toytown, Tai-Lu and a strange series called Mossy Bank Theatre, in which a little girl performed in a play with woodland animals. I didn’t know there was a book and was thrilled to find a copy at a boot sale a couple of years ago.

In 1964 BBC research showed that Children’s Hour was mostly listened to by middle aged women and the programme was axed, to a storm of protest. In the very last broadcast, David Davis famously read Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant. I don’t think it’s just nostalgia making me think that Children’s Hour was better than Go4it .