Friday, July 13, 2012

In Our Time: Hadrian's Wall

It's all very strange. It must be like living at the time of Caxton - if you are at all aware of Caxton - I wonder how many won't be. But when this programme started about fourteen years ago, I imagined people in ones and twos of the autodidactic tendency and the intelligentsia variety listening rather guiltily to the radio instead of doing something more important - comparison with novels at one time being thought a frivolous waste of time and under no circumstances read in the morning - and not letting the neighbours know.

Last week, after our programme on Scepticism and an audience far bigger than any arts programme on television (including, alas, my own), we had emails from Singapore, Brazil, Vancouver, India, Morocco, Croatia, Sweden, Italy... What is the world coming to? Well, some of the world is coming to In Our Time and we're very grateful.

Hadrian's Wall this morning was an immense strain. I gave myself a medal at the end of it. How did I manage to say so little? I first went on to Hadrian's Wall with my first serious girlfriend when I was seventeen and we walked along most of it, with memorable stops at the youth hostel at Twice Brewed. Or was that Once Brewed? Which is the pub and which is the youth hostel? Because it was near where we were in the north of England - Carlisle is only a few miles away and it would eventually be uncovered as one of the greatest Roman cities in Britain - there was a feeling of ownership. As there was for the whole Celtic religious movement, with Iona so close and islands in the Lakes which had their own hermits who yearned to die on the same day as St Cuthbert (one of them, St Herbert, did, in fact, or so says Bede and who would question Bede?)