Radio review: Some spend their whole lives waiting

Nuala McCann

Ian Samson is Waiting Radio 4

We seem to spend our whole lives doing it... at check-outs, in airport lounges, at the end of a phone where a recording assures us that our call is important to them.

Waiting? Cue fingers drumming on a table, long laborious sighs.

Writer, critic and presenter of this programme Ian Samson does stylish, tonsil waggling sighs. He has a rich world weary voice and, like the rest of us, he has lived a long life of waits.

He served up waiting – in music, film, paintings, drama. It was full on.

From the schoolboy chants of “Why are we waiting?” to the story of Penelope who waited 20 years for her husband's return, weaving a shroud all day and unpicking it every night, to Lou Reed waiting for the man and the fix, to Tom Waits waiting and Greyfriar's Bobby forever at his master's grave.

You can't do waiting without Godot and Sam Beckett either.

Some musicians spend their whole lives waiting.

Ian took us into the orchestra pit to meet Sam Staunton, a percussionist with the Ulster Orchestra.

During a certain performance, Sam found himself waiting all night to come in and play his few notes right at the end. But hell, it was worth the wait.

It's about delayed gratification.

With old vinyl records, it was such a difficult job to skip to the right moment, that particular piece you wanted to hear, so you ended up listening to the lot, said Sam.

Looking back, he realised that the waiting and listening gave him so much. Nowadays, you can skip easily to the tune... but what are you missing?

Sam Staunton had a point.

Wendy Erskine is a writer who has no truck with waiting for the muse to seize her ... it's more about seizing the muse.

There was so much to explore in this programme – we hurtled through it – no time to wait about!

And we were treated to that Charlie Watts quote about his career with the Rolling Stones – five years' rock n roll and 20 years hanging around.

Cue Jagger crooning: “I'm not waiting on a lady... “ – so worth waiting for.

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