When I was 10 the Fastnet Yacht race was a disaster and a lot of people died. I don’t really remember much in the news from when I was young but I remember this and the Whiddy island disaster because they seemed local catastrophes and my parents spoke about them. Along with the Tuskar Rock air crash which happened the year before I was born, they were background disaster news which was local to us. Even then, like all Cork people, I was a Cork partisan.
So, on that basis when RTE put out a radio documentary about the 1979 Fastnet race, I was curious to have a listen. The first thing that struck me was that many of the voices on the radio were old men who sounded just like my father – all restraint and composure and very Cork . These are people you don’t hear so much on the radio here – it’s mostly Dublin voices of all ages. And I heard some names I knew because this is Ireland, and my father used to sail a lot, and one of the people speaking was a colleague of a friend.
And I was surprised how very terrifying it was and somehow the calm, low level way these (mostly older, mostly men) spoke about it made is seem somehow more terrifying. I was fascinated. Highly recommended if you think you might be at all interested.
In a highly competitive field, I think that recommending a radio one documentary may be my most middle aged move yet.