An Unspeakable Act, World Service, Tuesday
Making Tracks, Radio 4, Tuesday
The dark heart and darker ways of DR Congo
Every hour, according to reports, 48 women are raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo, making it only the second most dangerous country in the world for women. (The first is Afghanistan). It can be hell for men, too, as the reporter Will Storr found out.
The second instalment of his harrowing documentary An Unspeakable Act dealt with male rape in DR Congo, and, as with the first, about female rape, I listened to most of it with my head in my hands. The testimonies were grim, physically revolting, a litany of shattered lives – and just as disgraceful were the denials, from government officials and even aid agencies.
What's worse, Storr found, is that there's no understanding there of non-consensual male sex: the very concept of rape implies a female victim. And you're only classed as homosexual if you take the passive, "female" role; the aggressor's manhood remains unimpugned. It was the kind of programme that made you despair of our species; no catharsis, no happy ending, no light in the abyss of human nature. But what a service Storr has done in dragging the issue before the listening public.
It was with relief that I turned to Paul Morley's Making Tracks, in which visits to famous recording studios serve as springboards for typically thoughtful explorations of the history of music. He was at Abbey Road, and I was half-expecting a slew of Fab Four anecdotes, plus the one about a fat, bald Syd Barrett sidling in unrecognised while the Floyd were making "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". In fact it was a fascinating look at the different ways classical and pop use studios – the former in pursuit of sheer fidelity, the latter as laboratories of sound.
Thanks to what Morley refers to as "the monstrously capable computer", the studio as we know it is dying out. But Abbey Road still thrives, and the TV theme composer Daniel Pemberton works there regularly. He told Morley about going in one day, thinking to himself, "Abbey Road again". Then he caught himself: "I've just become slightly blasé about recording at Abbey Road. That's absolutely brilliant. That is a sign that something must be going right."
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