My husband and I are at war over the radio. Will peace and quiet ever be possible? | Emma Beddington
There’s an ominous thumping downstairs as I write this, but it’s not the builders who moved in when our sons moved out in September and who have been here ever since. Finally, work is staggering to a long-overdue end, meaning days of drilling and banging are only occasional.
Everything should be quiet, and recently – for whole, wonderful hours at a time – it has been. I have sat near-delirious with happiness, hearing nothing other than the occasional sparrow chirrup. Not right now, though, because my husband has replaced drilling with BBC Radio 1.
He has bad tinnitus, which makes silence (and headphones) unbearable. He needs noise but I’m so noise intolerant that repetitive jingles, DJ banter about Lewis Capaldi and the death of Lilt turn me into Homer Simpson with the cymbal-clanging monkey in his head: crazed with distraction and stupid. In the interests of marital harmony I am trying to be less of a rigid shrew, so I don’t instantly turn the radio off. Instead I mutter things like, “I am 48. I should be listening to Melvyn Bragg haranguing academics about the Nibelungenlied, not Jordan North talking about farts,” and look pained until he gives in, which isn’t much better.
If there must be sound, I’d prefer Radio 4, but much of its output turns out to be inexplicable and indefensible to someone who didn’t grow up with it. “At 10 to 8 daily, a religious spokesperson tenuously ties current events to God for a few minutes.” “Ah yes, this is a 72-year-long audio drama, based around discussions of winter barley.” “It’s a weather forecast for fishers. No, no one understands it.” Don’t even get me started on Just a Minute.
What audio can a tinnitus sufferer and a controlling monster enjoy together? 6 Music should work for our demographic but something terrible always happens within 15 minutes of switching it on, usually jazz. The only acceptable compromise we’ve found is YO1 radio, a local station playing 80s and 90s bangers with mercifully little talking, but it’s still a poor cousin to silence if you ask me. Are we missing something? Please don’t say “podcasts”.