In Neil Gunn’s great novel, Highland River, the young protagonist, Kenn, sets out to explore the Dunbeath Water right to its source and in doing so journeys deep into the heart of his own self.
Sunday Feature: Along the Highland River - Tomorrow, Radio 3, 7:45pm
Archive on 4: Collar the Lot - Tonight, Radio 4, 8pm
The Jungle Book - Tomorrow, Radio 4 Extra, 9am
This echoes the pioneer environmentalist John Muir’s famous comment about how “going out, I found, was really going in”; and also Gunn’s own later comment, in his autobiographical The Atom of Delight: “Often when looking for a thing, I find something else. I knew what I was looking for, but what I found was surprising.”
In SUNDAY FEATURE: ALONG THE HIGHLAND RIVER, poet Kenneth Steven, long fascinated by Gunn’s book, follows Kenn’s footsteps along the river and into the peatlands of the Caithness “flow country”. In doing so he taps into Gunn’s inspiration, the writer’s interest in culture and Zen philosophy, and finds the river becoming symbolic of what endures and what is lost along the way.
Questions of culture and identity also arise in tonight’s ARCHIVE ON 4: COLLAR THE LOT, in which the Paisley-born actor Tom Conti investigates the story of how 4,000 Italians resident in Britain – including his father – were rounded up overnight and interned after Mussolini declared war on Britain in June 1940.
The programme’s title comes from Churchill’s order to “collar the lot”, so far as “enemy aliens” were concerned. In fact, most of the Italians arrested had lived in Britain all their lives, and were shop-keepers, ice-cream sellers, café owners or hairdressers, at the heart of their adoptive communities. Conti’s father was a hairdresser, married to a Scotswoman, but was taken from his home and interned on the Isle of Man.
The actor visits the internment camp site on the island and explores the BBC archives to hear recorded accounts from the internees.
Meanwhile, for some light relief, Radio 4 Extra is re-running the BBC’s adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s THE JUNGLE BOOK, featuring Nisha Mayer as Mowgli, Freddie Jones as Baloo, Jonathan Hyde as Bagheera and the late Eartha Kitt as Kaa.