Back in time, in what really does seem like another universe, I used to “entertain” the patients of Kidderminster General Hospital. Radio Kidderminster Hospital Broadcasting Service provided three hours of music and conversation every evening. I looked after Mondays and amongst our auditory delights was a feature called “Laugh Along at 8”, a piece of comedy to brighten the lives of our captive audience. With stunning originality, this feature popped up at eight o’clock every Monday.
“I’m sorry you’re undergoing open heart surgery tomorrow, Mr Harris… Here’s some Jasper Carrott.”
It probably wasn’t the most subtle piece of broadcasting I’ve ever been involved with but I have very fond memories of hospital radio which kickstarted a career which continues, if no longer full-time, to this day.
“Laugh Along at 8” – laughter as a form of medicine – has been in my mind a lot recently. On Easter Sunday, my wife, my aunt and I called in to see Mum and as with most of my visits recently, Mum spent the time laughing…and laughing…and laughing. Harry Hopalot, (a white chocolate egg, since you ask), prompted the first gale and the only time Mum stopped laughing was to sing from our usual repertoire.
We left Mum with a smile on her face, and smiles on ours too. If I think too much about making Mum laugh by pulling faces and putting my glasses askew a la Eric Morecambe, the smile fades. Our relationship has come to this. But, for a short while, laughter really does seem a form of medicine – for Mum and for me.