Life

Radio review: Bringing Up Britain looks at summer holidays

Nuala McCann

Bringing Up Britain Radio 4

Late Night Woman’s Hour Radio 4

What do you do with your children during the long summer holidays?

“God bless the ‘puter” as a small child I know was once heard to say at the end of his night-time prayers list.

Presenter Mariella Frostrup has a real connection with the listener – she knows what it’s like to entertain small children for hours on end.

Her own childhood holidays were “feral”, she said – wild and basically unsupervised in the savage beauty of Connemara.

Her strength is in her intelligence, her understanding and her wry wit. I’m also in awe of that gravelly voice.

On the subject of summer activities, we heard one woman talking about “learn and leave” – you set up water and mud and sand activities for the children and then you leave them to be creative. It all sounded very Radio 4 hip.

But we also heard about the problems of the long summer holidays – where parents are forced to take their annual leave at different times – not together - to cover the child care.

Some children miss out on important nutrition in the summer because they don’t get free school meals.

One mother spoke frankly about how she could not afford to take her children away on a break because the washing machine broke down and she needed the money to replace it.

In a world where children are swept off to Italy and France and Spain and Greece every summer, this mother dreaded the return to school and that inevitable question: “What did you do in the summer holidays?”

Late Night Woman’s Hour has more of a laid back intimate feel – and that goes for the topics too.

Anxiety disorders featured recently. One in ten people are thought to experience them and those under 35 are particularly vulnerable.

Perfectionism, failure, dread – is this the price of modern living?

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