Radio review: Gentle listen touches a chord

Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann

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

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse, BBC Sounds

Women Talking About Cars, BBC Radio 4

SOMETIMES you need a little light relief from the real world.

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse is a gentle listen that makes you smile.

Perhaps some might put it down as whimsical, but it touches a chord.

It was written by Charles Mackesy who also reads it in a way that adds to its appeal.

There are elements of realism too – when the writer’s dog walks over one of his illustrations or he sets a coffee cup down on it and leaves the tell-tale coffee ring stain.

But what the story offers is the kind of wisdom that comes from books like Antoine de Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince.

There is gentle humour courtesy of the little mole who loves cake and insights about kindness and friendship and vulnerability from the fox who says little but is nevertheless a loved friend and the wise horse who is afraid to confess that he can fly but takes off.

It’s an antidote to news, that escape into another kinder world – one we all need.

Comedian Jo Brand is very grounded in this world. She has a great ironic drawl and a winning brand of dry humour.

Victoria Coren Mitchell hosts this second series about women and their cars and opens with the very direct question: “Have you ever been involved in a road rage incident.”

“Yes I have,” said Jo.

She said a woman wound down a window and gave her a torrent of abuse once. She replied with bells on and then the woman ended up chasing her for about 40 minutes.

“I eventually lost her in the back streets of Norwood … phew,” she said.

Brand’s current car is a Saab Aero – it’s named after a bar of chocolate, what could be better?

But people look and are slightly respectful of it and also, you can put the foot down, she said.

Brand has her international rally driving licence but rally cars are very uncomfortable, like being in a metal chastity belt, she pointed out.

Before being a comedian, Brand was a psychiatric nurse and perhaps as a result of that, she found that people just told her their “deepest, darkest bits of stuff”.

Once, she said, she was in a cab and the driver told her that he had murdered his wife.

“What do you do in that situation?” asked Coren Mitchell.

“Say, ‘Can I get out here?’” came the reply.

The man had been convicted and done time in prison, it wasn’t like he’d just done it … thankfully, she added.

Frankly, you can’t go wrong with Jo Brand whether she’s looking at a half baked, madly iced cake or talking cars.

The Boy, the Mole, The Fox and the Horse is the recipe for a gentle smile… Jo Brand on cars will have you snorting with laughter.