The Farmer & His Wife
I could hardly believe my ears, John Taylor says.
YEARS ago, when my bairns were young, I came into our kitchen one afternoon when they were waiting for “Children’s Hour”.
I listened as someone told a simple, three-minute story. I later said to Anne that I could tell a better story myself!
“Do it tonight, then,” was her rather sarcastic comment.
I went back to milking in the byre, thinking. Could I?
I suddenly remembered that Robinson Crusoe, alias Alexander Selkirk, lived at Lower Largo. When I was young, each summer we made a trip by horse and trap to the seaside.
Grandad Taylor drove the five miles; Granny and I sat with our picnic in its wicker basket. As we jogged along towards the Temple, we passed the famous statue. Robinson Crusoe stood there, glowering down at us . . .
“When he hears Largo Church clock strike midnight he comes down and walks along the beach,” Granny would tell me.
I believed her for a long time. But no-one ever saw him move!
On my seventh birthday Granny gave me a copy of Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”. It’s one of my most precious possessions.
When the children had gone to bed, I sat down and wrote how Robinson Crusoe lived in Fife, got into trouble with the kirk and ran away to sea. How he ended up being marooned on a desert island, met Man Friday and was finally rescued. Anne said it was good. “What will you do with it?” “I’m sending it to Auntie Kathleen in from ‘Children’s Hour’.”
“You can’t. No-one will be able to read your writing. You’ll have to get it typed!”
Off it went, typed. The children were as anxious as I was to see what would happen.
In due course an envelope arrived. From the BBC.
Anne came into the barn where I was getting hay for some young bullocks. My hands were filthy, so she opened it.
“They like your story! Will you go to Glasgow to read it?”
She was so proud she gave me a big kiss.
I was delighted, but go to Glasgow to read a three-minute story? What a waste of a day!
To be honest, that wasn’t the real reason. I was scared stiff! I asked if Auntie Kathleen could get someone else to read it.
She wrote back, telling us when it would come over the air. In that week’s “Radio Times” was “Robinson Crusoe” by John Taylor. A well-known broadcaster by the name of Moultrie Kelsall was to read it.
We all crowded round the wireless that day and listened.
Moultrie Kelsall made my story come alive. The bairns were delighted. Dad had been on the air!