Those of you who have seen my production of Hugh Hughes in…Floating will know that on 1 April 1982, the Isle of Angelsey separated from the mainland of Wales and floated out into the North Atlantic.
As I’ve mentioned before, there’s now a chance for others to hear about this remarkable event because I, Hugh Hughes have been working with BBC Radio 4 to tell the story as an afternoon play (broadcast this Friday, 9 September at 2.15pm).
Hugh Hughes in… Floating reconstructs this momentous event and tells the story of Anglesey’s subsequent journey. The event still remains little-known – indeed at the time it failed to grab a single headline.
Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time and she took the country to war in The Falklands on the very same day that Anglesey drifted away. So all media attention was focused on the South Atlantic.
And these days it’s not an event most islanders openly talk about for various reasons; primarily I think because of the possible negative effect it might have on the essential tourist trade. There’s a definite anxiety about how tourists might feel if they knew their treasured holiday location has been known to take its own course away from the mainland where they live. Some islanders are also embarrassed by some of the events that occurred when the island drifted off into the North Atlantic, when they were seduced by the patriotic notions of the self-appointed leader, Mr Morgan.
I am sure Anglesey is a safer place these days and that it is very unlikely it will disappear from the mainland again – after all, lightening doesn’t strike twice. Although my Uncle Dewi has witnessed an exception to that rule on his farm. His barn has been struck seven times within the last thirty years, although, as he points out, that’s no big surprise when you see how it has been wrapped in aluminium foil.
It has been a great experience making the radio drama for BBC Radio 4 and I am thrilled by the opportunity the people working for the corporation in London have given me. Meeting the people in the capital gave me great confidence in the interest other British people have in what happens in the more remote parts of Britain. I was also very encouraged by the support Cantorian Menai, my Aunty Glenys’s choir, offered in the making of the programme. The whole project has brought together a wide variety of people and suggested that we are all connected in some way to the places where we are born.
You could call it a documentary, a docu-drama, a biopic; it involves re-enactments and reconstruction, therefore you could call it a dramatic documentary reconstruction… It uses music and there are songs, so, technically you could call it a musical…although my friend Sioned would say “Hugh, it’s nothing like what you find in a West End theatre.”.
Hopefully having Hugh Hughes in… Floating on BBC Radio 4 will succeed in finally giving this extraordinary geological event the attention it deserves.
Don’t forget, you can tune in to BBC Radio 4 to listen on Friday 9 September at 2.15pm.