Radio: Kate Chisholm

By Chisholm, Kate | The Spectator, July 19, 2014 | Go to article overview

Radio: Kate Chisholm


Chisholm, Kate, The Spectator


You might (if you're over a certain age) still think it pretty amazing that TV not only allows you to watch Mario Götze put in that amazing goal, live, as it happened, in Rio de Janeiro's Estádio Maracanã, but also that you can witness so immediately and tangibly the passion, the drama of that moment -- you on your sofa in twilit Surrey, Somerset or deepest Sutherland watching those emotions fleeting across the individual faces of traumatised Argentinians as they come to terms with bitter defeat.

The impact of that extraordinary connection across the continents is nothing, though, when compared to the intimacy and immediacy of radio; the way a single voice can invade your thinking mind, take over your thoughts, make you believe that you are listening to someone who is talking just to you, no one else, from wherever they might happen to be. This week we heard from two such voices, vivid, visceral, demanding attention, their connection with the listener instantaneous and startling.

In The Weekend Documentary on the World Service, Satish Kumar asked us to relive with him the pilgrimage he took 50 years ago from New Delhi to Washington DC via Moscow, Paris and London on a mission to bring about nuclear disarmament. He and a friend (Prabhakar Menon) were inspired by hearing about the mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell, who at the age of 90 was arrested and jailed for one week after taking part in an anti-nuclear protest in south London. This was 1962, just before the Cuban missile crisis, and the Russians were experimenting with above-ground nuclear bombs while the Americans were building up their own nuclear arsenal against Moscow. 'We must do something,' Kumar thought.

He and Menon decided to visit the capitals of the four nuclear powers on a peace pilgrimage, delivering their personal message to the four premiers. But how to ensure they made an impact? We must go on foot, said Kumar, 'then it will be a human story'. They carried with them no money, no food, nothing to help them on their way. Wars begin and end in fear, Kumar explained, 'but peace begins with trust'. If we have no money, we will have to trust in God, in the people we meet, in the universe, in ourselves.

On 1 June 1962 he (and Menon) stood at the grave of Gandhi in New Delhi at the beginning of the journey. Two years (and 8,000 miles) later he was standing beside the grave of President Kennedy, too late to deliver his packet of peace tea to that president. …

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