- Claire Sawers
- 7 August 2008
This article is from 2008.
Life-enhancing event from ex-hostage
When Alan Johnston was kidnapped at gunpoint in Gaza and held in solitary confinement for 114 days, he used an imaginary wooden life raft and a mind-game called the River of Time to keep himself sane. As the last western journalist who had stayed to report back on the chaos of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, millions of people – including news channels like Al Jazeera and his colleagues back at the BBC – watched and waited to see whether the Army of Islam would show mercy and free him.
It’s been just over a year since he was released and flown back to his home in Loch Goil on the west coast, and the courageous Scots broadcaster is coming here to talk about his life-changing ordeal. It’s likely to be an emotional event, as he looks back on the violence and anarchy of the area he’d been delivering dispatches on for three years.
As Johnston explains in his stiff-upper-lipped and deeply moving book, Kidnapped, he’s come to think of the experience as a sort of ‘dark education’. He was allowed to listen to BBC radio during his captivity and heard ex-Beirut hostage, Terry Waite, giving him some long distance advice. ‘The words gave me a tremendous psychological lift. He said that the mind and body were extraordinary things, and that I would find more strength than I might think I had.’ Audiences can expect hard-hitting, yet heart-warming and life-affirming stuff in this talk chaired by the BBC correspondent, Allan Little.
14 Aug, 6.30pm, £9, (£7).