Forget Christmas for a moment, and consider instead the lovely bookish week that lies ahead on BBC Radio. There are some real treats in store on Radio 4, starting with Mark Forsyth’s The Etymologicon, which is being featured on Book of the Week. This takes a look at the hidden connections between words and is on my To Be Read list, so I’m looking forward to listening. Next up are two old favourites: a serialisation of AS Byatt’s Possession is the latest Women’s Hour Drama, while Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love is the Book at Bedtime. Each episode of each book is aired for just 15 minutes, but all three programmes have an excellent track record for their productions, and usually provide 15 minutes of quality time – and the lovely thing about radio is that unlike film and television it leaves your image of characters and places intact.
On Tuesday and Wednesday Black Hearts in Battersea, Joan Aiken’s classic tale for children, has been adapted into a two-part Afternoon Play, while the offering on Friday afternoon is Christmas Eve, based on a Gogol story where a witch teams up with the Devil to steal the moon and stars, and I still have to catch up on Sunday’s Classic Serial, Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Rabelais.
Apart from drama, Michael Rosen is back with a new series of Word of Mouth, scrutinising words and the way we use them, and in Cat Women of the Moon writer Susan Hall is exploring the treatment of sex in science fiction, while over on Radio 3 throughout the week there is The Essay: The Writer’s Dickens.
Meanwhile, since UA Fanthorpe is a poet of whom I am particularly fond, and I enjoyed listening to UA Fanthorpe’s Christmas Card Poems on Sunday, today’s Advent window opens on to one of her poems, taken fromUA Fanthorpe Collected Poems 1978-2003, published by Peterloo Poets:
This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future’s
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.
This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.
And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.