“Copenhagen Put Me On a Footing to Rebuild My Life”: James Churchfield in Conversation

JAMES CHURCHFIELD hosts BBC Radio Cornwall’s breakfast show. He tells us about the past few months, why he’s never taken a long-haul flight, and how he fell in love with Scandinavia…

Local radio has been very important recently. What have the past few months been like?

Very strange. At the start of the year I was presenting with a colleague and our show was three hours. I’m now solo and it’s increased to four hours. I worked right the way through lockdown, though the vast majority of my colleagues were working out of the office. Being out and about, and the other things we took for granted, haven’t been possible. Some of the stories of people helping their community have been heart-warming, but at other times it’s been hard to find the stories at all. So it’s been a pleasure, particularly when people couldn’t leave their home and we were the only ones keeping them company, but it’s also been a mental strain… just keeping the happiness up can be tough when you, like everyone else, have good days and bad days.

Are there any similarities between Cornwall and the Nordic countries? It’s probably an odd comparison.

Well it is and it isn’t! One of my greatest weaknesses is cookbooks. I think I’ve got virtually every Scandinavian cookbook going. What I love is that every staple of Scandinavian cooking seems to be a staple here too… there’s a very high reliance on fish particularly. The Nordic simplicity mirrors Cornwall’s. I think the fact the Cornish – historically at least – constantly battled against the weather is a trait we also share with the northern countries. You’re made by the environment you live in.

Where did your interest in Scandinavia come from?

I’ve always been interested in European history and I’ve never done a long-haul flight because there’s so much of Europe to explore. My first love was Italy, then I gravitated northwards. People have wondered if I’m Nordic, with my blue eyes and blonde hair. I’m not, but I want to be!

You’ve travelled in Scandinavia a couple of times. Tell us a few anecdotes.

Although I probably prefer Sweden over Denmark, Copenhagen has a special place in my heart. I’d been in a long-term relationship that sadly came to and end, and my trip to Copenhagen was the first trip I’d made on my own. I went in early December, there’d been a bit of snow so it looked even more magical, and I bicycled into the square in front of the Amalienborg Palace. I remembered feeling the happiest I’d felt in absolutely years. I’d never felt such a sense of peace within me. I live in an old Victorian house, and I have a Copenhagen tribute on my mantlepiece: a ‘Dannebrog’, a toy soldier and a candle. I look at it every morning, and it reminds me of that time. Copenhagen put me on the right footing to start rebuilding my life.

JAMES CHURCHFIELD hosts Breakfast on BBC Radio Cornwall, airing weekdays from 6am – 10am via 95.2 and 103.9 FM, digital radio and BBC Sounds.

This article is a Fika Online exclusive.

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