THIS is not a review. This is in memoriam. My mother-in-law died on Sunday morning. Early doors. No hanging around. She’d had a tough few years, a very difficult last few months. But the end, when it came, was quick and peaceful.

Emma Stewart, nee Monaghan, 86 years old. In her time she’d been a daughter, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother and a nurse.

She loved going to the bingo, Home and Away on the telly and Engelbert Humperdinck. She made some of the worst cups of tea I’ve ever tasted. She was a rock.

She came from mining stock. Labour stock. Some years back I took her to a photography exhibition on the Miners’ Strike in the Smith Art Gallery and Museum in Stirling. In one of them her brother Eddie - then Provost of the city (back when it was still a town) - could be seen on stage with Arthur Scargill and Mick McGahey. In her later years she was a fervent nationalist. The last time I saw her she sent me to buy her a paper.

Over the years she had to deal with losing her parents, brothers, her husband and her oldest daughter. Despite what idiot politicians and deluded sports fans will tell you, losing, is, sadly, the most normal of things. It’s built into the game we’re living.

Emma played that game as well as anyone.

What has this to do with radio? Nothing really. Except … Except on Sunday morning I was listening to 6 Music before I heard the news. And all that day, whilst picking up family members and ferrying them back and forth I would turn the radio on in the car in the times in between when I was on my own.


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It is an anchor on days like these, days when the world retreats, when we’re faced with the enormity of life and death. I’d turn it on just to remember the real world was still going on out there; the normal, stupid, frustrating, inconsequential, amusing irrelevance of our lives anchored in familiar voices sitting in London or Manchester or Glasgow or wherever.

It was the same for me during Covid. Broadcasts that promised the day-to-day world was still somewhere close by, waiting to be rediscovered when life, when grief, allowed.

On Sunday, after picking up my niece from the railway station and taking her to her sister’s, I came home and listened to the English football on 5 Live, just aching for a bit of that normality for an hour or two. Some teams won, some teams lost. It seemed important. It remains my favourite soap opera, I guess.

Liverpool manager’s Jurgen Klopp ended his time at Anfield with a gracious, funny commentary. (“He has done everything in that speech,” Mark Chapman noted after Klopp led a chorus of “Arne Slot, La, La, La, La, La” in tribute to his replacement).

Most of us don’t get the chance to say farewell. But we all go away in the end. Rest well, Emma.

The Herald: Anita Pallenberg with her son Marlon Anita Pallenberg with her son Marlon (Image: free)

I’ve been listening to the radio as I write this. Start the Week and Woman’s Hour on Radio 4. Anita Pallenberg, one of the topics of Woman’s Hour, couldn’t have had a more different life than Emma’s.

Speaking to presenter Nuala McGovern, Pallenberg’s son Marlon Richards talked about growing up with her mum when she was a heroin addict. He rather played down the otherness of his childhood.

“I saw other children who were friends of mine who had much more bizarre upbringings in a way. Usually their parents were bankers,” he pointed out.

But he then admitted he was estranged from his mum in his teenage years. She then came off drugs and reinvented herself, working in fashion and reconnecting with her children.

As for her role in the history of rock and roll, Richards said, “I think she would hate it to be known for her association primarily with the Stones. I think she would rather be known for her own style … I know she never wanted to be a muse to them at all. She despised that idea.”

What do you think she would want to be remembered as, McGovern asked him?

“More for her sartorial style and her wit … She really wanted to be an archaeologist when she was young and she regretted not going into that.”

On Cafe Hope (Radio 4, also Monday) Rachel Burden spoke to David Boyd who has set up a social enterprise in Belfast to help the city’s youth via mentoring.

“Everyone has been put on this Earth to make a difference,” he told Burden. “You just need to find out what your difference is and follow it.”

Listen Out For:

Scotland v the World, Radio Scotland, Monday, midday

More football. Andrew Cotter travels back to 1922 when Falkirk FC broke the world transfer record to sign the English international Syd Puddefoot from West Ham for £5000.