Friday, 19 April 2019

Why Terry picked up a Penguin

Why Terry picked up a Penguin

Terry Waite
Kenton Theatre

MANY of us remember Terry Waite for his time as a hostage in Lebanon from 1987 to 1991, almost four years of which were spent in solitary confinement, much of it in darkness with no real idea of the passing of the days.

You and I might think that after such an experience solitude would be the last thing you would want to write a book about, but Waite still has stories to tell and wisdom to impart, which he happily did with us at a packed Kenton Theatre last Thursday afternoon.

His latest book is divided into three sections covering “Places of solitude”, such as the Australian outback and the people who live there; “Deceptive solitude”, such as that of the spy George Blake (who can be trusted?); and “Inescapable solitude”, such as that experienced by prisoners (Myra Hindley) or as the result of the actions of others (Svetlana Stalin).

Waite has spoken with many interesting people in the research for this book, but the stories he told us last week were mostly from his own deep experiences, even producing laughs when he revealed the title of the first book he was given to read in captivity — Great Escapes(!)

This was followed by one on breastfeeding and a copy of Dr Spock’s Baby and Childcare — after which Waite managed to communicate that any book with a Penguin on the cover would be appreciated far more, underlining the power of the symbol as well as the word.

As he has said before, his enforced solitude gave him the opportunity to make an inner journey, to know himself better. We are fortunate that Terry Waite has written Solitude, giving us all an opportunity to learn from his hard-earned experiences and those of the people he includes in his book.

Lyn Greenwood

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