Alarm Call

Not to make this blog a middle-aged moan but…something else has annoyed me and the New Year is still quite new. Sorry.

For many years now I’ve been woken from slumber by a soft whisper of Classic FM. I’m so clever that I set the alarm for four minutes past the hour so that I won’t hear the news. When I have to get up early, especially to get ready to lead reading groups in prison settings around the country, I need to awaken slowly and gently. I also have to admit that I tend to feel most unsteady in the mornings, when MS is taking its sweet time to bring my head into alignment. Slow and steady is the aim.

This detailed preamble is clearly leading to a terrible shock, isn’t it? One morning recently, instead of stringed instruments, a hideous (and loud) BUZZ shook me awake. It was incessant and just didn’t stop. It took several seconds to work out where (and who) I was, before I reached out and thumped the alarm. What was going on? I was cross all morning, grumpy over my bran flakes and even grumpier in rush hour traffic. It was just a terrible start to the day.

On researching the issue, having assumed my alarm clock was broken, it turns out that Classic FM no longer transmits on DAB radio. You need DAB+ now. Apologies again for sounding like an old biddy, but there’s nothing wrong with my little radio alarm – why do I need to get rid of it and buy something new? The answer, of course, is simple: capitalism. We live under its thrall and it’s ruling our lives with an iron fist. Built-in obsolescence? Check. Gadgets that no longer work after a year? Check. Inability to talk to friends and family, or do some work, until you buy the latest model? Check. It’s a bit depressing. In my day (sorry) we could open something up and get it fixed, keep things going for years. Now bulging landfills, everlasting plastics and cobalt mines are the only option. 

I was continuing to rant to myself until I approached the prison gates and remembered why I was there. Leading reading groups in these difficult places has opened my eyes to so much – about the world and about my place in it. Perspective is everything, and my hill of beans is very small indeed.