Radio: In Living memory | So You Want to Be an Exorcist | This Solitary Bird
The name Tristan da Cunha has become a byword for remoteness, but the world's remotest inhabited island made international headlines in 1961, when the volcano at its heart erupted for the first time in recorded history.
Tristan da Cunha may be a mere dot in the south Atlantic Ocean, 1,750 miles from South Africa and 2,088 miles from South America, but it remains a British overseas territory. So, when the eruption forced the evacuation of the island's population, it was to a bemused UK they came, with accents and manners which hadn't changed too much in many generations.
IN LIVING MEMORY sees Jolyon Jenkins revisit the episode and discover how the islanders became the subjects of intense scrutiny – not only by the media, but by medical science, as half of the 264-strong population suffered from asthma.
Jenkins also delves into Colonial Office files which reveal that the British government wasn't going to let the islanders return home, and also that some of the islanders didn't want to return either, but were pressurised by their fellow-evacuees.
Torrents of green bile, rather than red-hot lava, is what we tend to associate with the shady business of exorcism, thanks largely to lurid Hollywood special effects, but on Friday the intrepid Jolyon Jenkins crops up yet again, in SO YOU WANT TO BE AN EXORCIST, investigating an alleged rise in cases of demonic possession, as demand for exorcism services increases in the 21st century.
Jenkins sounds out a yearly course on exorcism run by a Catholic university in Rome, as well as "distance learning" courses offered by the American Association of Exorcists and by an evangelic pastor in Britain. Entering a world where witchcraft, levitation and possession are regarded as par for the course, he attends an exorcism in a Margate hotel.
Radio Scotland's play THIS SOLITARY BIRD deals with the rather more immediate blight of homelessness on the streets of Edinburgh, as an ambitious young journalist, played by Kim Gerrard, encounters a down-and-out (Finlay McLean) and their increasingly intense relationship reveals dark, but not supernatural, secrets.
- This article was first published in The Scotsman on July 30, 2011