Thursday, 15 January 2015

Questions on a Postcard

Before they invented the World Wide Web and Google if you had a burning question you wanted answering, such as the origin of the phrase Dutch courage, you’d have to scurry off to your local library or bookshop (no Amazon remember). Or, this being the 1980s, you could pop your question on a postcard and send it off the John Dunn’s Answers Please on Radio 2 or to Radio 4’s Enquire Within.

Running for thirteen years Enquire Within offered listeners the resources of the BBC’s Reference Library to answer those “niggling little questions”. In charge of proceedings was Neil Landor (1978-87) and then Dilly Barlow (1987-1991).  In this edition from 21 March 1985 Neil Landor tackles that question of Dutch courage as well as gold braid oak leafs on the caps of senior officers in the armed forces. Riveting stuff or what!
The readers are Hilda Bamber and Christopher Douglas. Those of you with long memories may remember that both Neil and Hilda read the IRN news in the late 70s. The producer of this edition was Stephen Shipley, though I note that editions later that year were produced by a certain Andrew Parfitt, some years before his elevation to Controller of Radio 1.

Continuing this fine radio tradition Simon Mayo offers a similar service to bemused parents in his Homework Sucks feature on his Radio 2 drivetime show.

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