SO much radio is really just a form of commentary. News reports, phone-ins, football coverage, DJs regurgitating what they’ve read in the day’s tabloids. Sometimes, though, it can be a form of contemplation.

Granda Harry and the Coathanger Horse (Radio 4, Thursday) was just that, a memoir that was also an act of imagination, one weaving in family history, fine art and David Bowie. It was radio as texture, a soundscape of voices (mostly Northern Irish) and music, memory and fantasy.

Harry in this case was Reggie Chamberlain King’s grandfather, a working-class artist from west Belfast who shared a bedroom for the final 13 years of his life with Reggie when his grandson was a boy. Harry had attended art school in Belfast in the 1930s, but he spent his life as a painter and decorator. He once painted murals on the SS Canberra.

Chamberlain King explored his grandfather’s life through the letters he wrote, one full of failings, full of anger, full of his struggles with cancer.

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But his grandson also used the programme to imagine the conversations he never had with his grandad and even conversations between Harry and Bowie, a lovely conceit. Bowie once travelled on the Canberra. Did he see Harry’s murals, the grandson wonders?

I’m a sucker for Bowie and a sucker for the Northern Irish accent (it’s the sound of childhood, a hug of a thing. There’s a reason why I’ve chosen that accent for my Sat Nav. It sounds like my Auntie Phyllis) and so I was primed to like this, I admit.

Did it work? Not totally. It painted at best a partial, slightly obscure picture. But the colours it teased out now and again, well, they were fine; a vision of a life now lost, fading away and yet here and there suddenly flaring up vividly again. Just for a moment.

Listen Out For: Summer with Greta, BBC World Service, tonight, 7pm

A year in the life of the teenage climate activist in her own words.