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March 31, 2014 / Tina

The Radio by Brian Browne

The Radio

A radio sits on its purpose built shelf beside the window: this shelf is quite high up and the radio bears the brand name of Philips, which I am told means that it came from an exotic place far away called Holland. On this particular day the news is on and it’s that time of year when the Pope gives his blessing called “Urbi Et Orbi” which means “To The City and The World” Now we live in a home steeped in a strange brand of Catholicism which is unique to Ireland and consequently when the announcer says “And now we have the Popes blessing” Mother instructs us to get down on our knees and be ready to receive this precious gift from the pope himself. We dutifully do so and are filled with a sense of wonder at the solemnity of this strange sonorous voice reciting the familiar phrase of the benediction “in nomine patris et filii et spiritui sancti”.
The announcer then informs us that the Taoiseach Mr Eamon De Valera has said something to the effect that we must accept our responsibilities as good citizens and put up with some further misery or other (the more things change the more they remain the same) The radio receives its power from a fitting which was actually designed to take a light bulb. This fitting was pressed into service to supply power to any and every electrical apparatus which found its way into the living room, whether the socket was suitable or not. In most cases the appliance should not ever be plugged into an unearthed two pin light socket, none the less it was the only source of electricity and therefore the clothes iron was duly plugged in there when the washing had dried sufficiently. This iron was already an ancient contraption and prone to break down, when it gave trouble father would take it apart with relish and play with the elements, which resembled sheets of stiff silver paper in the exact shape of the iron.
Father’s universal fix for anything electrical was the silver paper from the Sweet Afton packet. He would carefully re-make broken connections between the elements and then reassemble the offending item. The result of these repairs was that if and when a hand came in contact with any of the metal parts of the apparatus there followed an electrical shock. Nor was the iron the only appliance in the house which was quite literally shocking. He also went so far as to wire the house in similar fashion to the wiring of the universal source in the living room. The result of this endeavour was that the electric cooker was a stimulating experience for anyone who used it, especially if a metal spoon was employed in the stirring of the contents of a pot or a pan. The radio was perhaps the one thing which was not amenable to the “fix” of silver paper, its interior glow of strange lights were responsible for its magical ability to be more of a portal to the outside world than that of the window it sat beside. The window after all only showed us the yard while the radio showed us the world only limited by our own imagination.

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