The Evenings of Certain Lives

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The image accompanying its description in the Radio Times in 1965

The Evenings of Certain Lives is the last[1] of the four Inventions for Radio created by Delia in 1965 in collaboration with Barry Bermange, in five movements, "An attempt to reconstruct with sounds and voices some of the hazards of growing old" in five movements.[2]

The programme is about life at a certain age, not at the extreme point when people ‘just give up and wait’ but, perhaps more poignantly, at the point where old age begins and the body just won't work like it used to and the eyes just won't see, the ears just won't hear, and the memory of what you were is dim.

The Evenings of Certain Lives is about the sense of isolation. And the private agony.[1]


These are the words spoken in the first clip broadcast on Sculptress of Sound, of two minutes and ten seconds, alternating between half a dozen different male and female voices:

“My present age seems to go very slowly. And when I look back over the years, they seem to have jumped very quickly. I can remember things that happened to me when I was fourteen years of age, when I was twenty-four, thirty-four, forty-four, and I used to dread being fifty-four. Now it comes to sixty-four and over and it seems to get longer as the years go by. Time seems to spread out.

It seems to be going very fast with me. Maybe it's according to the condition that I'm in or how I feel at the time but that's how it appears to me.

It seems to go very much quicker.

I find time goes very, very fast.

It's going too quick.

Very, very fast indeed.

I don't seem to get enough hours in the day to do all I want to do.

I've never got time to do all my things.

I've found time moves around quick since I've retired.

I thought I was going to have a lazy time, but it's going too quick.

Weeks simply fly by.

They seem to fly by.

Time passes very, very quickly.

Time never worries me at all.

I don't seem no older now than I was 60 year ago.

Time passes away for me. As long as I've got something to do to occupy my mind and keep on doing it. Time is nothing to me.

The weeks go, from Monday morning you don't realise it then it's Saturday again. Time never hangs on for me. It never has done.

Some days it's a bit boring but I don't think the time drags. Not at all.

Maybe it's according to the condition that I'm in or how I feel at the time.

It seems to be going pretty fast with me.”


  • First broadcast on the Third programme on the 15th September 1965 at 8.45[3][4] and repeated on October 5th. It was not included when the other three Inventions for Radio were rebroadcast in 1993.
  • It is on tape in the BBC Sound Archive as TRW 6351 on 4 reels: reels 1 and 2 contain the completed programme; 3 and 4 "Makeup - Speech Final".[4]
  • It is also on BBC tape TLO 537/918.[4]
  • The transcription copy was on TRW 6946[5] and a trailer on TRW 6372.[6] but the tapes are missing.
  • The last ten minutes of BBC cassette Third Words: The Radio Feature, in various libraries and on Attic tape DD003,[7] is either about, or contains extracts from this piece.
  • Two short clips from the above, the first two minutes ten seconds long and the second 11 seconds, were broadcast during the Sculptress of Sound radio programme.
  • The movement about Seeing was included in Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone broadcast Sun 23 May 2021 20:00].[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 DD110010: A blowup of the Radio Times article in DD110002.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone broadcast on BBC Radio 6 on 23 May 2021 at 20:00 - 51 minutes into the programme.
  3. DD110002: A Radio Times clipping from September 9th, 1965 with The Evenings of Certain Lives at 8.45
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Tape Library List's entry for TRW 6351: "Evenings of Certain Lives".
  5. The Tape Library List's entry for TRW 6946: "Transcription copy - listening only. (Tape not found)"
  6. The Tape Library List's entry for TRW 6372: "Evenings of Certain Lives - Trailer (Tape not found)"
  7. DD003: A cassette tape labelled Third words: The Radio Feature 11/10/1996