“Our Late Member” by Ernest Raymond was the prize for getting top marks in the exams in 1976. Published in 1972, the novel traces the story of a Liberal Member of Parliament through the 1930s and the Second World War until he loses his seat in the Labour landslide of 1945. It is more than thirty years since I read it yet its storyline remains fresh. Roddy’s life is marked by tragedy and grief; one son is killed on active service, the other is hanged for murder; his years of constituency work are of no avail in the changing political climate; and finally his wife, the only person he has left in the world, is in danger of losing her life through illness. Yet the character triumphs and finally delights in little victories.
The novel, the lessons of which have too often been forgotten, was important in teaching the value of those little victories, the value of things that might be of no great significance to anyone else, but bring happiness to you.
Having a set of twenty monologues that followed the story of Jesus rejected by the religious publishers Columba Press and Veritas in Dublin, and by Lion Hudson in England, led to a feeling of despondency, but the twenty, plus two extra ones, will be broadcast on Downtown Radio across Northern Ireland between Advent and Easter – including five of them, edited down to ninety seconds each, on the breakfast show each morning during Holy Week.
No-one important or powerful or influential will hear them, it’s not like being on the BBC, but very large numbers of ordinary people will. There won’t be a single cent in remuneration, but they were never written to earn anything.
The producer sent a proposed broadcast schedule this afternoon, with names of who would be recording each piece and the transmission date. It made tangible what had only previously been discussed.
Of course, it is of no significance. It would not be the sort of thing that would come to the attention of anyone outside of those of us who produce the pieces and the working people who might listen. It is an especial delight that there will be five prime time slots, I could spend a lifetime in the pulpit and appear on endless worthy BBC or RTE programmes and never reach as many ordinary people as on those mornings next April.
Having infinitely more to be happy about than poor Roddy in “Our Late Member”, (available on Amazon for 16 pence), it is good to also be able to delight in the little victories.