Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Sea Change (Or: You Learn Something New Every Day)

I spent six hours on the train today, plus an hour and a half in the car and half an hour walking. I had a two hour meeting. I can't wait to get to bed.

However, this did mean that I got a fair amount of knitting done and I listened to all of A Tale of Two Cities, as planned. Once that was finished, I turned to the Play of the Week podcast.

I love Play of the Week because you never know what you're going to hear.
I hate Play of the Week because you never know what you're going to hear.

It's a great way to discover new things but it's difficult to feel in the mood for something that could be in pretty much any genre. That sort of diversity is great in many ways but, when my brain is a bit full of work at the end of the day, there's a very good reason that I listen to comedies.

So when I finished A Tale of Two Cities while wandering the streets of Birmingham in search of sushi,  I looked at the latest PTW podcast on my ipod. Sea Change. Well that could be anything. Absolutely anything. Especially as it was from Radio 3 (which feels a bit like treason). But it was an hour and a half which is a very good length if you need something to occupy you between Birmingham New Street and Bristol Parkway.

Sea Change is a drama set in the years before the second world war. It focuses on several key figures in and around government and their fight against appeasement.
My first thought was: This could be interesting.
Second: This could be interesting and Carl Prekopp.
Third: Is it appropriate to be listening to steamy almost-sex scenes on the train?
Fourth: Bridgwater?!

Although the play starts and ends in London, a large section of the central part of the drama takes place in the Westcountry. Burnham gets a mention, as does Higbridge (I'll brush over the fact that this is in connection with typhoid). A key political speech take place in Athelney. Why? Because the key turning point of the story centres on the Bridgwater by-election of 1938.

As far as I knew, Bridgwater's significance to history ended with the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685. Idiot.

Thanks to Radio 3 and their interesting, absorbing and surprising drama, I now know that the people of Bridgwater took a stand against appeasement. They elected a sort of coalition candidate, supported by all the major parties, on an anti-appeasement platform. He held his seat for 12 years.

I'm stunned. Partly because, well, it's Bridgwater! And also because it's rather sad that I didn't know this. I'm not particularly stupid, I have a fair-to-middling interest in both politics and my local area. I shouldn't have needed to learn this from a random podcast. I feel like the people of Bridgwater should be reminded of the important part that their town has played. A by-election in a piddling little Somerset town was fought on a national issue. Just about the most important national issue imaginable. 

So thank you, Radio 3, for the much-needed lesson in how local history played a part on the national stage. And for teaching me that stations don't need a 4 in their name to have good drama.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Rebecca,

    Thank you for your kind comments on my play.

    It is available on download from Amazon:

    For those interested in the Bridgwater 1938 Bye-Election, Brian Smedley has done a first class website on it:


    John Fletcher