It Really Is The Best Medicine

I don’t know about you, but life has been pretty serious and worthy of late. Since Christmas, with more month than money, the news full of grim stories and the weather not great, I have been in a cycle of work, a bit more work, sleeping, work, firefighting, work, conflict resolution, work …. you get my drift.

With some of my Christmas money, I treated myself to a pair of ear pods. I had to take instruction from the children, who told me what to do with these new toys in loud, clear voices. 

“Keep them in the case when you’re not using them, Mum. No, don’t press that. Yes, the blue light is good. That means they’re fully charged. Yes, they are a great invention, aren’t they?” 

Before the ear pods came into my life, my way of consuming podcasts and similar was to access BBC Sounds on my mobile, prop it up on the windowsill and listen to it that way while doing the washing up. Now, however, I can pop in the ear pods and enjoy whatever I like in private without requests to turn it down.

One of my very favourite radio programmes is “Gloomsbury” (a rhapsody about bohemians) written by the hilarious Sue Limb. I stumbled across it by accident, the magnificent tones of Miriam Margolyes booming out of the radio as I drove across Suffolk to a meeting. 

In case you don’t know, Gloomsbury is an affectionate parody of the goings-on of the Bloomsbury Set in the 1920s and 30s. Miriam plays Vera Sackcloth-Vest, writer, keen gardener and chatelaine of Sizzlinghurst Castle in Kent. Married to part-time homosexual and something at the Foreign Office Henry Mickleton, the two of them maintain their open marriage while squabbling about Georgian mustard pots and planting schemes. Lionel and Ginny Fox, their London-based friends, often visit and other great literary characters from between the wars drift in and out. DH Lollipop, TS Jellitot, Lytton Scratchy, Venus Traduces, Ernest Hammingway and Lady Utterline Immoral. 

I don’t get the impression that there were quite so many laughs with the real people being parodied. Vita Sackville-West, Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence and company wrote serious novels and behaved in ways which seem entitled and snobbish. But Limb’s writing genius is to take the essence of these people and exaggerate it for comic effect. If I could write something half as funny, I’d be over the moon. 

Writing funny is important to me. I’m publishing a series of Pride and Prejudice short stories this year and while there will be amusing bits in some of them, it’s not a funny novel in the same way that my other books are.  I love being made to laugh and listening to Gloomsbury and Just A Minute (new series alert, folks!) have cheered up an otherwise rather dull February. The ear pods mean I can take all that humour about with me, folding clothes, filing paperwork and making beds in between bouts of writing. 

When you’re listening to the radio, what makes you laugh? I’d love to know.

Images by Pixabay

Ruth is a novelist and freelance writer, the author of  the Isabella M Smugge series. She is publishing a book of Pride and Prejudice short stories in 2023. Ruth is also a freelance writer and blogs at She has abnormally narrow sinuses and a morbid fear of raw tomatoes, but has decided not to let this get in the way of a meaningful life. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter at ruthleighwrites and at her website,


Unknown said…
That podcast sounds absolutely brilliant. Just up my street, so I'm off to download some episodes now. Thank you for the tip off.
Ruth Leigh said…
I stumbled across it by accident and it has honestly put so much laughter into my life. I snort loudly several times every episode. Do let me know what you think.
Griselda Heppel said…
I ADORE Gloomsbury! so good to meet other fans. Sue Limb is a positive genius for creating such clever, witty comedy about a serious literary set without in the least attacking their achievements. I also love her Dulcie Domum Diary of a Housewife from years ago. And the Gloomsbury actors are terrific. They all get it and thoroughly enjoy themselves.

Oh yes, and Just a Minute too… perhaps I should invest in some ear pods now.

Great post, just up my street!

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