The Humble Transistor – how to shed forty years.

It’s Bank Holiday Monday. As we wander round the shop, alongside people in shorts with trolleys of plants and barbecues, and kids clutching garden toys,  my husband whispers, “The older I get, the more I think we’re not like most other people.” Looking down at our replacement lampshade – I elbowed the old one while hoovering – and the oven thermometer, I tend to agree. We would ride high on these purchases for days. And that was before I saw the radio. I should point out that I am a radio lover, I am the daughter of radio lovers and I listen to the radio pretty much all the time. Not quite as much as my friend who literally has it on day and night (she can’t fall asleep without it – a bit like babies on washing machines) but still, a lot. I will never forget my first radio. I had it for my fourteenth birthday. Of course we had a family radio (and a television – I’m not that old) but it was plugged in and we had to listen to what my parents listened to (Radio 4 etc.) My new birthday radio was battery operated and portable so I could listen to it wherever I wanted to. That first Sunday night I listened to the charts half way up the stairs. Just because I could.




Well, the years passed and somewhere along the line, I stopped listening to the radio. Partly because we lived abroad, I suppose. Then, we came back to the U.K and I thought, Radio! A kind friend bought me a digital one. It was beautiful – all chrome with a wooden surround and shiny buttons. And the great thing about it, everyone said, is that you can listen to it absolutely anywhere. No interference, no balancing on one foot holding it somewhere above your left ear, then placing a step ladder in that position. It would work. Universally.



I was so excited. But the only problem was, in the most important room in the house, the room where listening to the radio is an absolute imperative for mental and moral sanity – the kitchen – it didn’t work! Unless I moved it around, lifted it up and down, got a ladder etc. In the early days I slightly damaged the aerial. So I bought a new one. In time I bought a new digital radio. To no avail. Whether it was the position of our kitchen, the position of our plugs, the position of the actors on The Archers, whatever the reason, I finally had to give in – the digital promise had failed me. So for years and years I’ve been listening to the radio on my laptop. A handy solution, you might say. And it sort of was. This is my preference for radio listening – Radio 4 . If nothing of interest (unlikely), Radio 4 Extra.. If nothing of interest (unlikely), Radio 2. if nothing of interest (likely, though I do have a guilty addiction to Jeremy Vine), Classic FM. It works well in the kitchen, and is a life-saver, especially at Christmas.


But there were still drawbacks. I mainly use my laptop at my desk in the bedroom so I was always carting it up and down to the kitchen. It takes a while to get going so if I’m thinking, “Oh, the 6 o’clock news!”, by the time I’ve brought it down, it’s time for the weather. Then, last weekend I went to stay with Fran. Now Fran has a little Roberts transistor radio not dissimilar to my first portable one, but a bit bigger. She has it on in the kitchen. She takes it into the bedroom. It accompanies her to the bathroom, the garden. Well, you get the idea.

“You mean, it works everywhere?!” I ask in amazement.

“Yup. It’s brilliant,” she says, “We used to have a digital one but it was rubbish.”

So I had already decided, in a ‘I-need-to-try-this’ sort of way, that I might investigate further, when we see one on the shelf right in front of us. A Roberts New Classic 993, 3 band battery portable radio (with mains option). The strap-line is “Sound for Generations”. It was £16.99. What would you have done?


It’s small. It’s portable. I can take it everywhere, and it works. I feel fourteen again.

Funny old life isn’t it? You spend a fortune on something you think you want yet, for some reason, it doesn’t bring pleasure. You go on holiday and get sick, you go to a posh restaurant and get indigestion, you buy a trolley load of plants, and get backache putting them in. (We need to do that too actually).

But £16.99 to feel fourteen again. That’s a great deal.

2 thoughts on “The Humble Transistor – how to shed forty years.

    1. You are so right Fran Hill. Simplicity is seriously underrated. My kitchen life has been transformed by Roberts – the Sound of Generations. (How true)


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