Giving up The Archers will be a real Lenten test

Biddy Collyer is denying herself the stories of life in Borsetshire.

Biddy Collyer is denying herself the stories of life in Borsetshire. - Credit: Archant

Biddy Collyer has set herself a real Lenten challenge - to give up her beloved Radio 4.

Give up sugar! Done that. Give up wine! Done that. Give up puddings! Done that too. The parishioners at St Stephen's in Ambridge have been encouraged to give up complaining as a Lent discipline. That's a new one. But what about giving up my beloved Radio Four as was suggested to me by a friend recently.? Now that will be a huge challenge.

My instinct, the minute I walk through the door, is to put on the radio. It goes on in the kitchen as I get breakfast, and switching it off is the last thing I do once I have popped the dog in her crate at night. Why do I do it? It provides background noise when the house is empty, allowing me to tune in when something interesting comes on. But the truth is I don't really pay full attention, usually doing something else like cooking, ironing or even reading, at the same time.

So, mostly I listen because it means I won't get bored. There is always something at hand to fill in the gaps in my life.

Jeremy Hunt said recently that he felt that social media is as bad for children as obesity. Quite rightly the government are considering legislation to protect children from mental health problems that could be caused by excessive use of such sites. But it is probably bad for all of us as we fill our world with more and more distractions. Apart from emails and using Google, I don't have an online presence like Facebook and Twitter. The constant pinging is bad enough as it causes me to check my phone frequently.

When did it become a sin to be bored? To have time to think without having to respond to an urgent 'message.' And if the adult world is in a constant state of digital arousal, why should we expect our children to be any different.

What we have forgotten is that the space being bored allows is where our creativity comes from. The day-dreaming, the 'looking out of the window time', means that we can then just let our imaginations take flight. Maybe Shakespeare's and da Vinci's amazing creativity flowed from their doodling!

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But the friend who suggested that I give up the radio for Lent had a deeper reason than just raising my boredom threshold. The space I would gain would give me the opportunity to tune out the world, and tune into God more. Rather than just pray in the morning, I could intentionally become more aware of His presence and guidance all the time. So, I am going to give it a go. The Archers will just have to get on without me till Easter!