Julia Bradbury on cancer and speaking out

TO be honest I had to take a deep breath before listening to Julia Bradbury on Monday morning on Women’s Hour (Radio 4). The former Countryfile presenter had revealed at the weekend that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and this was her first broadcast interview.

As someone who has lost the most important person in my life to breast cancer, this interview conducted by Emma Barnett was always going to be a challenging listen.

But that’s as nothing compared to what Bradbury herself is going through right now. All the more impressive, then, that she was able to speak so plainly and honestly, albeit with some emotion at times. Understandable, that.

We are obsessed with the “how does it feel” question in journalism these days and Barnett did ask it. “You can’t but help fear,” Bradbury admitted. And when she began to talk about telling her young children of her diagnosis you could hear the catch in her voice. “It was the hardest conversation I’ve ever had in my life,” she said.

“One of my little girls said, ‘Can we still hug you mummy?’ I said, ‘Of course you can. I’ll need your hugs more than ever.’”

That’s a hard thing to hear, isn’t it? But what was really useful in this interview was not the emotion, but Bradbury’s desire to pass on information, to help others in the same situation.

“That’s why I’m talking to you,” she told Barnett. “Not because I want sympathy, but because I want people to get checked. I want women, if you feel uncertain about something, push for a diagnosis, push to get checked.

“Trust your body and get checked.”

Well said, Julia. Best wishes.

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There’s no easy gear change from that to anything else so let’s just acknowledge that and move on.

On Thursday a new show Slow Radio Comedy on Radio 4 recorded comedians and poets in the great outdoors (and in binaural stereo). I’m not 100 per cent sure why, but it was rather pleasant. And Simon Evans’s take on growing old backed by birdsong was fun and funny.

Radio does like the outdoors. All that sonic texture. Half the fun of listening to a programme like, say, Ramblings (Radio 4, also on Thursday) is to hear Clare Balding trudge along the Mull shoreline or take shelter from the rain in a cave.

Her companion for this latest episode was Wendy Lloyd who, like a few of us, has made the journey from Northern Ireland to Scotland to start a new life.

For all the obvious reasons. Scotland is not so very different from where we come from, but it’s different enough in all the important ways. Maybe on Mull more than Glasgow, Lloyd admitted, the city being a little too much like Belfast from time to time.

What was obvious was that Lloyd felt very at home on Mull. It made for an interesting contrast to Poppy and Rubina of the Brown Girls Do It Too podcast who turned up on Slow Radio Comedy later the same day.

Visiting the country was a much more problematic experience for them, it seems, whether it be choosing what clothes to wear (“beige khaki is too colonial”) or dealing with how people look at you.

“If you are brown and you smell like curry and you’re not wearing the right things you’re going to get stared down,” they suggested.

Belonging is a state of mind. So is not belonging.

Listen Out For: The Hidden History of the Window, Radio 4, Tuesday, 4pm. Rachel Hurdley on, as the title suggests, the story of windows. You don’t get that on GB News.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992