Search This Blog

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Wireless Connection? Just ask Bill!

Ninety-five-year-old Bill Palmer pictured with DJ Alex Dyke in The Times newspaper this week.

When 95-year-old Bill Palmer married his wife, Sheila, last year after 30 years of friendship, life seemed perfect. Little did he know that his desperate loneliness would soon make him an internet sensation.

The plucky pensioner hadn't reckoned on the power of his own voice when he joined a phone-in on BBC Radio Solent when he had 'no-one else to talk to.'

Bill, it seems, has been been living alone  in their bungalow since Sheila, 85, had a bad fall. She was taken to hospital and then then on to a nursing home, suffering from dementia.  'Every day is hell, he confessed to disc jockey Alex Dyke. ' She's just so happy when I see her.... (but)  oh, I feel so alone.'

How did the disc jockey react?  He sent a BBC car to pick up Mr Palmer and take him to the station for a cup of tea and a piece of cake.  The emotional moment, captured on the radio station's facebook page, has been viewed almost 200,000 times.

Dyke, who was sadly too busy to see Bill when he visited the station last year said it was his 'nicest moment in 30 years of broadcasting.'

Meanwhile Bill has been inundated with offers of companionship, from Sunday lunch to a private concert by a ukulele orchestra -  and a message from someone in North Carolina.  When his wife found out what had happened she told him. 'We're the talk of the nation.'

 I like to think  this feel-good story is one with a mission, proving it wasn't always better in 'the good old days.'  Local radio is the unsung hero of the airwaves these days keeping whole communities in touch with each other and, as a result, looking after their wellbeing. Only last year I was fortunate enough to be interviewed on BBC Radio Lancashire when DJ John Gillmore organised a 24 - hour interview marathon to raise money for Children in Need.

 These acts of kindness are actually going on all day every day all over Britain.  So don't forget to support your local radio station. You might even be saving someone's life.


Monday, 12 October 2015


'Jesus wants a little wee' my young daughter once sang in Sunday school, her slight muddling of the words casing much hilarity.

Yet it seems even the most well-read adults still make basic mistakes when it comes to pronunciation. According to today's Times newspaper, Don Quixote (that's Don-Key-Hoh-Tee to those in the know) has topped a list of literary names that people struggle to say correctly. 

Quixote is joined by Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones and Hermione from Harry Potter, 'both of which may be tricky for some but are less likely to be still causing readers problems in 400 years' time.'

Astonishingly, a survey of 2,000 people aged 18-65 found that 39 percent had pronounced the names of literary characters incorrectly.  Some, it seems, even struggle over the name of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. The poll follows the Harry Potter author JK Rowling's recent disclosure that Voldemort is actually pronounced 'Vol-De-Mor' - advice that does not seem to have been followed by the film's actors.

Even the names of the authors themselves can be a  problem for some people.  Eoin Colfer,   author of the Artemis Fowl books, for example, is pronounced Owen Colfer and JM Coetzee, (twice Booker Prize winner) is pronounced Cut-Zee-Uh.

Most of us can remember a 'lightbulb' moment  when we finally realised we had been mispronouncing a well-use word since childhood.  Mine was the word tragedy which I had pronounced as trage-ty until the age of twelve when I saw the word written in huge letters in the headline of a tabloid newspaper.

In case you are wondering,  my daughter should have sung Jesus' little ones are we. Meanwhile, if you have spent years of your life mispronouncing a word, I would love to hear from you.