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Keeping the Past Alive

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 07 July 2013

Samira Ahmed considers the value of reviving, re-examining and re-connecting with the past. She explores the significance of bringing back lost traditions, values, stories and memories in order to re-experience them in the present.

Brandyn Shaw is a young man who is recreating a 1930's life for himself in the 21st Century. He dresses in period clothes, sings Al Bowlly songs in 30's clubs and he even has an iron from the 1930's to get his shirts properly starched. For Brandyn, this is a life of escape into what he perceives as a gentler way of living.
So, can the past teach us lessons to address the challenges of the present? Or can it only offer moments of rose tinted, historical escapism?

The programme includes John Agard's poem John Edmonstone, Old Tongue by Jackie Kay and Nostalgia by Billy Collins. Plus music by Perotin, Joan Baez and Kate Rusby.

Produced by Rosie Boulton
A Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 4.

Music Played

7 items
  • Image for Pérotin

    Pérotin Alleluia Nativitas

    Performers: Hilliard Ensemble and Jan Garbarek.

    Officium Novum, ECM New Series, B003NBBNF4, 10

  • Image for Patsy Cline

    Patsy Cline She's Got You

    She's Got You and other Classic Country Hits, Replay Records - X5 Music Group, B008UC1TWI, 1

  • Image for Don McLean

    Don McLean Babylon

    American Pie, EMI, B001JIRM3K

  • Image for Andrew Davis / BBCSO

    Andrew Davis / BBCSO Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis – Vaughan Williams

    Vaughan Williams : Symphony No.6, Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis & The Lark Ascending - Apex, 2003 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK, B001LMDIS2

  • Image for Joan Baez

    Joan Baez The Trees They Grow High

    The Complete Joan Baez, NFM, 10

  • Image for Al Bowlly

    Al Bowlly The Very Thought of You

    The Very Thought of You, River Records, B0046PMPEY, 1

  • Image for Kate Rusby

    Kate Rusby The Village Green Preservation Society

    Awkward Annie, Pure Records, B004B6EB7C, 12

  • Readings

    Title: War on the Demolishers!
    Author: Victor Hugo
    Publication: n/a

    Title: Old Tongue
    Author: Jackie Kay
    Publisher: Bloodaxe Books
    Publication: Darling: New and Selected Poems
    ISBN-10: 1852247770
    ISBN-13: 978-1852247775

    Title: To My Friends
    Author: Primo Levi
    Publisher: Faber and Faber

    Title: The Ascent of John Edmonstone
    Author: John Agard
    Publisher: Bloodaxe Books, 2009
    Publication: Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems

    Title: Nostalgia
    Author: Billy Collins
    Publisher: Pittsburgh University Press
    Publication: Questions about Angels
    ISBN-10: 0822956985
    ISBN-13: 978-0822956983


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