Radio review: The magical days of travelling Europe by Interrail

Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann

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

Nuala McCann
Nuala McCann

Sunday Miscellany RTE Radio 1

Takeaway: Stories from a childhood behind the counter Radio 4

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Interrail card, Tim Carey looked back on a magical era – one that, some might say, made us all Europeans.

Sunday Miscellany is a lazy morning mix of music, poetry and writing – as welcome a blend as a good coffee sipped slowly.

The card, he noted, has become a permanent feature of the life of Europeans, Irish for sure.

His memories of train conductors and border checks; the clips and the stamps that made your passport a work of art and a treasured souvenir: collected on long journeys across the continent raised a smile.

Getting lost in Venice; the disappointment on discovering that the River Danube in Vienna was not blue; walking up a hill in Budapest to the sound of Thin Lizzy blasting out in the air.

There was an endless train journey through Yugoslavia that triggered my own memories of women in headscarves lugging baskets of yellow and red peppers and squawking chickens in cages.

On a particularly long trip, Tim said that he got into an argument about the Birmingham Six which culminated with his opponent asking: “Are you calling the English justice system corrupt?”

“I answered yes,” he said, adding that months later: “I thought of him and presume he thought of me when the Birmingham Six were released unconditionally…”

There was boredom and tedium – the endless waiting for trains, getting off trains, lugging a rucksack, searching for accommodation.

But it’s a love story to youth and excitement, meeting strangers, forging memories that last a lifetime.

Angela Hui grew up working after school behind the counter of her parents’ Chinese takeaway in the Welsh valleys.

Like Cinderella when the clock struck 5pm, she had to be there.

The Lucky Star was opened on the luckiest day of the century, she said.

This is a very funny and touching account of her life.

She details the worst task of all - deveining and de-shelling prawns – in a gruesome but hilarious way.

But oh, the joy of getting hold of the meat cleaver to quarter the mushrooms and the prize job - bagging prawn crackers … “one for the bag; one for the gob”.

And picture that moment as she struggles with homework behind the counter and one customer observes: “You’re Asian, you’re meant to be good at maths.”