Many years ago when I lived in eastern France as a young and naive student, my fellow students and I used to take the mickey out of French radio and TV programmes – they were boring, repetitive, really old-fashioned. We listened to German radio stations instead (American Forces Network – it was that long ago! – played what we then considered decent music, and you also got to learn ‘today’s phrase of the day’ in heavily accented German which was also good for a laugh, and SWF3 aus Baden-Baden was as close to Radio 1 as we could get). Since we’ve been in Obernai Dee and I have listened to a lot of France Bleu Alsace, and I have to say that not only has French radio not improved, they don’t even seem to have changed their basic playlist since the1980s. They play the same songs over and over again, changing some of their stock titles on a weekly basis, but still peppering the airwaves with a regular dose of Barbra Streisand’s Woman in Love, Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street, The Beatles’ Hey Jude, and just about everything in Boney M’s back catalogue. Once or twice last week I nearly lost the plot at yet another repetition of Vive le vent d’hiver (to the tune of Jingle Bells) but mercifully I only heard Silent Night in alsacien twice, or I might have done serious damage to our otherwise rather marvellous radio and iPod dock.

All that said, during the Chertsey days before we crossed the channel we were getting a bit fed up with Radio 4, not least because when you have the radio on constantly, you realise just how much repetition of programmes goes on. That’s despite having heard what is surely now a legendary episode of the Today programme when James Naughtie lost the plot and completely corpsed with laughter just before the 8am news following his unfortunate Spoonerism when introducing Jeremy Hunt the Culture Secretary.

Thank goodness for all the episodes of Prime Suspect that Dee uploaded to her laptop before we left – excellent evening entertainment.

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