Radio review: All in the Mind looks back over 30 years

Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann is an Irish News columnist and writes a weekly radio review.

Nuala McCann
Nuala McCann

All in the Mind Radio 4

Something Understood Radio 4

It was like running into an old friend. All in the Mind – the programme that keeps us informed about mental health and all things psychological – began with a greeting from the late Professor Anthony Clare – the original presenter.

It’s the programme’s 30th birthday and we were treated to a little of the mild mannered, polite Prof Clare and a very young Claudia Hammond.

How time flies. Claudia had a look back at lessons learned down the years.

Doubtless there were many profound ones.

But the psychology of eyes was a good one.

She drew a set of eyes on the paper bag with her sandwiches, left it in the communal work fridge and nobody ever nicked it.

The importance of civility was discussed – apparently agreeing and giving a little bit to your opponent makes them more able to respond and more ready to listen.

But people still find ways around rules of politeness. Take Prime Minister’s Questions – yes, take it.

There are rules banning words like guttersnipe, hooligan and rat and swine. You’re also not supposed to call somebody a liar ... but hey take a big dollop of sarcasm and more facial expressions than a cage load of monkeys and there are ways to make yourself understood.

The programme also looked into the impact of a year in the Arctic on your mental state.

It’s total darkness, you’re cooped up with a team of your colleagues and there are polar bears lurking outside.

What fresh hell is that?

Something Understood was a meditation on cars.

It’s not just about getting from A to B. Cars mean much more than this. But spiritual?

I had a friend who called his car Trish.

I talk to my car, stroke her bumper.

Poet Michael Symmons Roberts looked at the car as both a sealed-off private space like a monastic cell and a way of crossing great distances.

On his journey he had a little help from Janis Joplin’s “O Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz” with a small cackle of laughter thrown in at the end.

Poets Seamus Heaney, Colette Bryce and Les Murray came along for the ride too.

It was a sweet road trip.