AND relax. At a time when everything is seething fury, is that even possible?

There are times when what we want is David Lammy’s righteous anger on Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday morning in response to the latest Number 10 “back of a fag packet announcement” about a commission into racial equality.

And there are times when maybe we need to take a step back.

Down by the River on Radio 4 Extra last Saturday morning offered an immersive vehicle to do just that. A lazy, meandering journey that lasted for hours and took us along Britain’s rivers via the radio archive (John Betjeman and Bernard Cribbens, reading an extract from The Wind in the Willows, both turned up) and journalist Laura Barton’s elegant framing sequences.

For some, the three-hour running time may have been too much. But in an age when so much of radio is overly formatted (Radio Scotland anyone?), the idea of clearing all morning for something that stood back, that drifted away from all the drama and sank deeper into its own waterlogged obsession felt like a gift.

It was, to be honest, mostly an English journey. The Clyde did get a look-in at one point, but the programme was more at home on the Tyne and the Thames.

Still, it sounded wonderful. How could it not? All those watery lullabies as oar cut through water or river giggled over rock. No surprise then that Chris Watson, the doyen of sound recordists, turned up near the source of the Tyne capturing the squelch and suck of flooded fields and the call of common sandpipers and curlews.

In his wake, wild swimmers, rowers, poets, workers, and mudlarkers trickled and seeped into the listener’s imagination. And yes, it was all very calming.

At one point author Matt Gaw said that when you’re afloat on a river “all the white noise gets sucked away into the water.” That can happen on the radio too.

Listen Out For: Jo Whiley, Radio 2, 8pm, Monday to Friday: For those of you missing your annual festival outing, Jo Whiley is presenting a week of programmes on Radio 2 celebrating Glastonbury.