My piece 'Grandma' featured on episode one of the StoryNotes podcast. It was reviewed by Fiona Sturges in The Financial Times
June 22 2020
StoryNotes, from Stabl, was initially dreamt up by the podcast producer David McGuire as a place to showcase his and his colleagues’ one-off audio projects. It has since blossomed into an anthology series devoted not only to telling single stories but examining how they were made (each piece of audio is bookended with conversations with its creator).
It’s surprising, on reflection, that there aren’t more series operating in this format. Podcasts traditionally arrive in seasons and many simply keep going with no end in sight. This is fine, of course, but it leaves little room for standalone works.
Released today, the opening episode features a piece by the audio producer Alice Homewood on her grandmother, Margaret, who, she says in her introduction, “lived through enough stories to fill several lives.”
Recorded on an iPhone, it finds Homewood’s father, John, interviewing his mother about her early life and the things she couldn’t talk about as a child, for fear of punishment. Startlingly, among the taboo topics was the subject of her parentage.
She describes a special friendship with a boy called Gordon, whom she discovered, aged nine, was her brother. There were further secrets. “No one said openly who our fathers were, we were never told. It was embarrassing — there was clearly some mystery and possible disgrace involved,” recalls Margaret. Decades later, she discovered that her mother had worked as a maid in a local household and had become pregnant by the estate manager’s son.
There are further revelations that I shan’t reveal here, but her stoicism in the face of hardship and repression is extraordinary. Her son’s compassion shines through in what is an extremely poignant piece of audio, and a vivid snapshot of a different time. Margaret died soon after these recordings were made. “It was about eight months before I could really bear to listen to them again,” John says, his voice wobbling. “It makes me emotional. Her voice is so familiar.”
Read the article here.
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