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Saturday Live: Alfie Boe and Andrew Motion's Inheritance Tracks

Friday 9 November 2012, 15:54

Sian Williams Sian Williams is a journalist, broadcaster and MSc researcher who's studied the role of media and mental health. Twitter: @sianwilliams100

Editor's note: Saturday Live is Radio 4's Saturday morning magazine show featuring extraordinary stories and remarkable people. You can listen to the show here. In this blog presenter Sian Williams gives us an insight into her week and looks ahead to the next show. - CM

Sian Williams

This time last week, I was in the US, collecting a race number, all ready for the New York marathon. Around twenty thousand foreign runners were urged to come to the city, to support it after the havoc of Hurricane Sandy. Carbo-loading away on Friday night, the waiter said to me: "You don't really need all that pasta, now the marathon's cancelled, do you?".

My fellow runners were furious that the decision was taken so late. One single mum, in tears in a hotel lobby, told me she had spent years raising money for the fare and entry to the race. The marathon was a lifetime's dream, she said, and she couldn't afford to come back again. On Saturday, many people, who'd been training for six months or more, ran the distance anyway, by lapping Central Park four times.

New York was a city divided. In Midtown, everything hustled and bustled as usual. But Downtown, people had no water or electricity and further away, on Staten Island, where the race was due to start, residents had lost homes, people had lost lives.

Could we have really run through districts, taking bottled water from a sponsor, when locals couldn't find anything to drink? Should the electricity generators be powering the marathon media tents or providing power for those cut off? Pretty soon, most runners donated their marathon gear and many offered to help distribute supplies. The grumbling stopped when they saw the devastation for themselves.

That hurricane hit many people's plans, including those of British tenor, Alfie Boe. He was on a tour of the US and had to pull out of a concert in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He's with us in the Saturday Live studio this weekend.

Alfie was discovered while he was an apprentice mechanic in a TVR workshop, singing opera for customers while he fixed their cars. We'll take him right back to when he was holding that greasy rag in Blackpool, with our listener's sound sculpture this week - the noise of a TVR exhaust.

We'll be exploring a day in the life of a circus ringmaster, hear from a teenager who's joined the British Legion and listen to the Inheritance Tracks of poet Andrew Motion. Roll up, roll up and open your arias for Alfie Boe et al, Saturday Live, at 9am.

Sian Williams and Richard Coles present Saturday Live at 9.00am on Saturday mornings on Radio 4.

    Visit the Saturday Live website and hear the most recent episode.

    Listen to Inheritance Tracks - the music that Saturday Live guests cherish and would like to bestow to future generations.

    Follow Radio 4 on Twitter and join the conversation by using the hashtag #saturdaylive.

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