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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Era (02/03/11)

TITLE: England expects
By diana kay


The radiogram in a polished mahogany box has pride of place on the sideboard. It is decorated with a carving of a lighthouse, symbolising the concept of radio bringing enlightenment, education and culture across continents, as far as the radio waves could penetrate.

The invention of the radio in America in the closing years of the 19th century sparked a new era, the ripples from which spread across the Atlantic Ocean to England where the British Broadcasting Company BBC, was founded in 1922 and radiograms soon became the must have item in every upper and middle class home.

Arthur Miller was one of those who aspired to better things and on Christmas day 1939, he is fiddling with the dials of the new radiogram, trying to get a clear signal.

There are a few crackles and then the melodious sound of a Christmas hymn could be heard across the airwaves.

“Be quiet everyone, shush...” He says in an authoritative tone, to the assembled throng.

Earlier they had eaten a delicious meal of turkey with all the trimmings and the remains along with crumpled napkins and gravy smeared plates had been abandoned, like the Marie Celeste, as Arthur sailed into the parlour,like a great ship with his guests trailing behind like a flotilla in his generous wake.
His two children Susan and George are on their best behaviour as they hope to receive their Christmas presents once the broadcast is over.

George is uncomfortable in this his starched shirt. The collar rubs at his neck. He dislikes wearing a suit and tie. He prefers to be in the wide outdoors, climbing trees or playing with sticks in the farmyard. He is destined to become a radio engineer, repairing and servicing transmitters all over the country.

Susan loves writing and drawing, actively observing life and gathering material for her latest stories. She will become a famous script writer and her radio plays will be known all over the world.

But at this moment Susan is observing the adults clustering around the radiogram and the surroundings

The parlour has the rarefied pin neat feel of a stage set or museum piece but the brand new radiogram gleams like a homing beacon in the centre.

As it draws near to 3pm in another part of the country, King George V1 prepares to broadcast his Christmas message to the nation.

George V1 finds public speaking a trial, he never expected to be King, but the death of his father George V, who made the first ever Royal Broadcast, and shock abdication of his older brother, Edward, has changed the course of history and thrust him into the glaring limelight of monarchy. The burden of responsibility is a heavy weight on his shoulders and at times he fears it will crush him completely

1939 is a dark era in the history of Britain; the country has not fully recovered from the First World war or 1914-1918 and has been plummeted again into war with Germany

It is his duty as a monarch to unite people with a message of hope and reassurance

The words of Admiral Horatio Nelson spoken in 1805 on the eve of the great naval Battle of Trafalgar echo around his head like the sharp blows of a hammer.

“England expects every man to do his duty” The duty of the King was to bring clarity, leadership, courage, self sacrifice and determination.

He must wear these qualities like royal robes.

In the Millers parlour and in homes all over England the music is coming to a close. Susan observes the expectant hush but no one is aware that George V1 hands shake a little as he tries to quell his rising panic.

He takes some deep breaths and tries to focus on his speech therapists instructions.

Clearing his throat he begins slowly, hesitating at first, but rising clearly as he progresses.

Over the airwaves came the message people hope for giving strength and raising morale.

Over the years the radio continued to be that steadying beacon in a world of uncertainty and now in a new era, the annual Christmas broadcasts continue the messages are now on the internet and television as well as radio, with Queen Elizabeth 11, the daughter of George V1. Families still gather at 3pm on Christmas day to listen.

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This article has been read 388 times
Member Comments
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Norma-Anne Hough02/11/11
Lovely nostalgic read. Wonder how many people listen to the radio these days and how many more would know what a radiogram was.
I did hear a rumour last year that the Queen's speech might be only broadcast on TV in the near future:)
Well done.
Mildred Sheldon02/11/11
WOW! An enlightening trip back into history. I enjoyed this very much. Thank you for a history lesson from across the ocean. Very good writing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/12/11
This was a fascinating lesson in history and you told it well.
Melanie Kerr 02/15/11
Some wonderful descriptions in there - I loved the description of Arthur sailing into the sitting room with the flotilla of the others. Have you seen the film "The King's Speech"?
Maria Kana Santos02/15/11
You've written on the topic, 'era'. Your choice of writing a significant period in history in the life of England (after the First World War I) and its people made the story very meaningful and nostalgic. The Miller family had seen that special moment on the eve of Christmas morn.

I really find your description of the Arthur Millers home in their parlour (living room) very inspiring and sweet.

Thank you for sharing this bit of history and incorporating the family into it.

Very well-written.
Rachel Phelps02/16/11
Great creativity and character building in here. There were a few slips of tense that made a few passages difficult to follow, and there was a lot of telling surrounding the characters. Think of ways to show a character is uncomfortable, rather than telling us he is. You have a very strong voice - keep writing.
Kaye Swain02/25/11
Very interesting peep into history. My granddaughter and I are studying world history and about to reach this moment in time. I'll have to share this with her as well. Thank you for a fun read.