Easter, and all I wanted to do - apart from break my non-existent Lenten fast by scoffing industrial quantities of Crunchie bar - was listen to the radio. The medium lends itself to Easter, an oddly pottering kind of a holiday now that its religious connotations have so little resonance for most people. On Radio 4, however, all the output seemed to be about the Queen, who is celebrating her 80th birthday. On Saturday, for instance, Archive Hour was devoted to royal tours. The programme looked at such delicate matters as whose hand gets shaken first and - crikey! - which colours should not be worn. I did not tune in. Beside this stuff, crown green bowls starts to seem naughty and illicit.
On Easter Monday came the first of five extracts from biographies of Her Majesty. This was more up my street. It is interesting how such books have grown less deferential with the passing of time. The Little Princesses by Marion Crawford ("Crawfie", Elizabeth's governess) was controversial when it was published in 1950, yet to modern ears it sounded spookily gentle - publicity for which Mark Bolland, formerly deputy private secretary to the Prince of Wales, would have paid good money. Also beginning on Easter Monday was Inside the Queen's Head, in which the poet and wordsmith Lemn Sissay visited five pubs called, yes, the Queen's Head, where he "wove a rich tapestry" - it says here - of modern Elizabethan life. Save me. If there is one thing I fear more than radio "poets" (you know who you are), it is radio "wordsmiths".
To keep my forelock from any more tugging, I turned to Radio 2. For years now, people have been saying that Radio 2 is the new Radio 1, aimed at thirtysomethings in Converse All Stars rather than sixtysomethings in washable slacks. But only in the past few months have I really started to believe it. It is not just that Chris Evans has, as of Tuesday, taken over Drivetime, nor that Stuart Maconie will, by the time you read this, be running Saturday afternoons, where he will stage the Betamax Challenge quiz, in which listeners can test their knowledge of Slinkies and Spangles. Even when on more sedate territory, it seems to hit the right note (with the exception of Elaine Paige on Sundays - even if I wore washable slacks, I would not want to listen to her).
The Radio 2 Easter was delectable. On Saturday you could listen to Liza Minnelli choosing her favourite Kander and Ebb Broadway hits, and it was a relief, now that the weird husband has been despatched to Hawaii, to hear her sounding quite her old self - her voice as rich as any chocolate. Even more enjoyable was The Record Producers, a documentary about Trevor Horn (Easter Monday). One of the great things about nearing 40 is that you can admit to loving the Horn. You can download Buggles on to your computer, play it all day and not give a damn - which is pretty much what I did after I'd listened to the show.
Did you know that Horn used to play in Bernard Manning's band? Or that it was the bass player from the Blockheads who came up with the riff on "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood? Since my mother threw away all my Smash Hits, I can think of no other way I can so easily get this kind of pub-quiz info. Plus the series has a great presenter in Richard Allinson, an old-school professional whose voice can take you back to the sixth-form common room in the space of half a sentence.
He's a little bit Smashy. He's a little bit Nicey. But mostly he's just a little bit Gary Davies.