The Week in Radio: Jarvis Cocker's night crossing is the stuff of dreams

 

I'm not quite sure how I missed Radio 4's Wireless Nights the first time around. This is the late-night, awards-strewn show in which the Pulp frontman-turned-national treasure Jarvis Cocker reveals the peculiar stuff that British people get up to under cover of darkness. (Oh, stop it, not that).

Wireless Nights is a catalogue of witching-hour weirdness and it's just my kind of show. It could actually have been pitched to commissioning editors with a picture of me, all sleepless and needy, hoisted on to a mood board. In the last fortnight, I've been catching up and it's been wonderful. I suspect I've spent more time with Jarvis lately than his own nearest and dearest. Many is the evening that I've been tucked up in bed, lights off, with him murmuring woozily into my ear.

In the first series, he could be found lurking in an allotment with a Hastings schoolteacher and waiting for badgers to emerge, which is not a euphemism and is pretty much what you'd imagine a man like Jarvis to be doing with his evenings, radio show or no radio show. He has also shadowed a shepherdess watching over full-to-bursting ewes in lambing season, loitered with all-night poker players and hung with pilots on the red-eye from Las Vegas.

More recently in the second series, he has ensconced himself on Hampstead Heath with 28-inch telescope for a night of stargazing –"Well what else did you think we were going to get up to in the middle of Hampstead Heath at this time of night?" he smirked – and has helped track foxes with a farmer in Essex.

Most alarmingly, he has stood in as the night watchman for the 36-floor Euston Tower in London. I say alarmingly not out of any terrible incident, but because of the chilling isolation of a job that entails pointing torches up and down blackened corridors at night and staring at a series of screens showing pictures of empty rooms. "It's all too much like The Shining," he observed nervily, possibly before whimpering for his mummy.

This week, in an episode entitled "Nights of Passage", Jarvis was on a night ferry from Dover to Calais. "Tonight, we make a night crossing under cover of darkness," he said spookily. He introduced us to Billy, a retired fisherman who was sailing for 50 years and worked on summer nights catching sole. "I get frightened in the dark," Billy said. "There's no street lights out there, you know."

He also heard from Jeni, a young woman who had been travelling on a night ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam two years ago when, while looking out to sea, she leant on the railings and tumbled overboard. Jeni described the terror, the isolation and the appalling sense of insignificance as she watched the ferry chug away from her, a tiny speck on the surface of the North Sea. Then she described the sudden whoosh of cold air as she was hauled on to a lifeboat and then into a helicopter. Her friends had been told she couldn't live for more than a few minutes in the water and yet, for half an hour, billowing air pockets in her jumper had kept her afloat.

These aural portraits of people's everyday lives are startling and wonderful, not least because they are, to the majority of us, so very far from the everyday. There is rarely any glamour to these tales and yet they are as strange and unlikely and otherworldy as if we'd passed through the wardrobe into Narnia. They are the best kind of bedtime stories – heart-warming and yet tinged with darkness. Sweet dreams.

twitter.com/FionaSturges

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...