BBC Radio 4, 11-15 March 2013
Fred Kitchen (1890-1969) was a Yorkshire farm labourer who chronicled
fifty years of his life in diaries. David Hunter's 15 Minute Drama production covered a perior during the 1920s
and 1930s, when Kitchen and his family led a nomadic existence, moving around the north of England in search of work and suitable
accommodation. Times were hard: there were several occasions when they could not afford the rent and had to move elsewhere;
and matters were not helped by Fred's ever-increasing family. Circumstances forced his eldest daughter had
to stay with relatives, as there were simply too many mouths to feed in the family.
Despite such hardships, Fred eventually discovered a talent for writing. This
started off as a desire to record his experiences in journals; but later developed through regular attendance at the local
WEA as well as through regular visits to public libraries. Eventually Fred plucked up sufficient courage to send material
for publication both in local and national periodicals; sometimes his efforts were summarily rejected, but on other occasions
he experienced the pleasure of seeing his name in print. This might not have been a lucrative pastime, but it did wonders
for his self-esteem.
Stephen Wakelam skilfully assembled the journal entries into a series of five fifteen-minute
episodes, each focusing on Fred's daily life as well as charting his progress as a creative writer. Ralph Ineson - whom
I have to admit has become one of my favourite (as well as most recognizable) radio voices - portrayed him as a strong character,
possessing the kind of mental equipment to be able to cope with everything life threw at him. Even if he experienced
the disappointment of rejection, he had sufficient present of mind to continue writing, both to record his experiences for
posterity and develop his latent creative talent.