after the piano, the valve radio was the second most-important audio icon in my childhood home. though the youngest of three boys, i was the first to discover ‘Caroline’ pirate radio, in the early 60’s off-shore broadcasting.
the old radio knob grasped, turned right,
mysterious, that emerald lotus-like light
lit-up, a hum emerged, energy slowly
unlocked – this moment almost holy;
my devotion finely focussed, solely;
on Tintawn carpet, I kneeled in adoration,
thrilled with discovery of each new station,
herringboned stigmata impressed bare knees
– mesmerised by pop’s sweet melodies.
impressionable, i pressed adolescent ear
against loudspeaker latticed fabric, to hear
BBC radio plummy accents, safe and assured,
or chirpy pirate DJs, broadcasting from moored
ships tossed about on high seas, such drama lured
audio-adventures, this pre-teen “pop picker”
peered through grille, saw valves glow and flicker,
radio-reception in cycles, faded then flared,
those sixties songs had my soul well-snared.
later, a leatherette-covered portable PYE radio
accompanied me everywhere, an audio halo
that helped me escape reality; my hippy-head
filled with fantasy, wandering Quaker co-ed
boarding school, kissing girls in dark sheds,
earning multiple stints in Saturday detention;
summed up by French master’s acerbic mention:
“in classroom, Louis can frequently be found
with his transistor… aimlessly hanging around”.