Radio review: Tracey Emin's admirable honesty in the face of aggressive cancer

Tracey Emin

Woman’s Hour Radio 4

Liveline RTE Radio 1

Mooney Goes Wild RTE Radio 1

Modern art meh.

Yes to Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North, not so keen on Damien Hirst of the diamond encrusted skull and the half cow in formaldehyde and alas Tracey Emin and her unmade bed was too much and probably too like the shame of the student bedsit years.

Emin was one of the leading figures of the Young British Artists of the 1990s – hers is a provocative open style.

The Tracey Emin, who came on Woman’s Hour to talk about her cancer, was open as ever.

Her honesty – not so appealing on the bed – was stirring and admirable.

She has had aggressive bladder cancer.

It was a sudden and vicious attack, three weeks changed her life utterly.

“I’m laughing, it was pretty shocking.”

She had to have her bladder removed, her uterus, her fallopian tubes, her urethra, part of her intestine, her lymph nodes and half her vagina.

It read like a menu as the surgeon went down the list of what needed removed… it read like a bad joke.

“Luckily they saved my clitoris,” she added wondering if she could say that word on Woman’s Hour. She could.

If you want positivity, here it was.. a whole bed full of it:

“I’m really happy getting my life back, I’m not being greedy,” she said.

“I was so happy to be alive - now I’ve got to get on with the consequences of it all.”

The consequences of the menopause lit up the phone lines on RTE Radio 1.

Joe Duffy’s Liveline was taken a little by surprise at the sheer volume of calls from women ringing to talk about how their lives had been ruined by sudden hot flushes, sleeplessness, incontinence – with urine running down one woman’s legs, brain fog that reduced them from confident speakers to losing the run of what they were saying and doubting their abilities to continue.

It was like lifting the lid on a pressure cooker … so many needed to be heard.

And fighting to be heard too are all those birds out there who rise with the sun.

There are dawn choruses a-plenty to choose from.

RTE’s dawn chorus came from Cuskinny Marsh nature reserve in Cobh as featured on Mooney Goes Wild.

At a time when joy seems in short supply, a forest of birdsong is a beautiful deep breath of fresh air.

Mooney might just have the best job on radio.


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