Blood Sage and Grace

BBC Radio 4 11th December 2014, 11.30am


Grace Dent’s personal take on  Lorna Sage’s classic memoir, Bad Blood.  It’s  a story about how books can be  passports out of the ‘hell’  of childhood.

When Grace first read it, it made a huge impact on her, forcing her to question her own childhood and her relationship with writing.  Bad Blood tells the tale of a strange upbringing in a haunted postwar Britain. ‘I’ve never read anything which explores with such biting humor and energy the way rage and frustrated desire are passed down the family line. I’ve always felt I have a great memoir in me but I’d have to wait for a lot of people to die before I could write it,’ says Grace.

She visits the Shropshire vicarage where Bad Blood is set and talks to Lorna’s daughter Sharon and to close friends and colleagues including  writers Marina Warner and Ali Smith who knew her well.

‘This is a fine programme, infused with gloom and mischief.’
David Hepworth, the Guardian

Available here till 11th January 2015


Human Cubans

BBC World Service November 2014, available here

Nick Baker and Anglo Cuban journalist Arnaldo Hernandez Diaz get to grips with modern Cuba and its people.  A vivid snapshot of Cuba  in three parts:

human cubans

 Above:  Arnaldo Hernandez Diaz, Jose Augustin (soon to be Adela) and Nick Baker

CUBA OFFLINE –  Cuba is one of the planet’s least connected countries.  Meet the people who would love to get online, as well as those who have never touched a computer.  Most Cubans can’t afford it, but there are ingenious ways to circulate downloaded material.  There are also benefits of not being connected. And dissent online….

CUBA LGBT  Fransisco had  to ‘come out’ to his wife and son. Mercedes is a lesbian activist.  Jose Augustin, exiled from family,  awaits sex change surgery.  Despite a homophobic past, Cuba’s keen to liberalise attitudes  thanks to the efforts of Mariella Castro, the President’s daughter, who explains why Cuba funds free transgender surgery.

EXPORT DOCTORS  Tachira and Jo have just qualified as doctors.  They’re Americans, among 20 students who  trained for free this year in Cuba, promising  to return to practice in poor communities in the US.  US training  would have cost $250,000.  We hear about their experiences as ‘honorary Cubans’.