Fly Me to the Reverend Moon, Radio 4
The Essay: Running The World, Radio 3

Moonies were odd – until seals began running marathons

These days, if you saw a poster inviting you on an all-expenses-paid trip to New York to attend a "conference for the future leaders of the world", you'd probably assume it was a timeshare scam.

In 1973, with idealism still in the air and a New Age allegedly around the corner, the young, at least, were Looking For Something, and organisations such as Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church were busy hoovering up the lookers and the lost.

John Waite, who would later ascend radio's dizzy triple peak of presenting You and Yours, Face the Facts and Pick of the Week, was one of the 120 British students who fell for the "conference" line and found himself more or less a prisoner at the Moonies' HQ in Tarrytown, New York. In the riveting Fly Me to the Reverend Moon, he went back. Having once refused to let him out, now they wouldn't let him in, but he did meet one of his former keepers, Alan Wood, who remembered the Brits well.

"You guys were a bad lot," he told Waite. "You were not malleable." Especially the Scousers, it seems, who were truculent from the start. "I remember the Liverpool contingent were frankly hilarious at times," said another then student, Robbie Lowe. "At first I thought they were very rude, but then I thought they were doing a good job disrupting this nonsense."

Lowe was, in fact, the hero of the piece, taking charge of what became the escape committee, negotiating with the Moonies while bolstering the waverers and the weak – of which Waite was one. Now, Waite said, he feels ashamed at having been taken in. "I really came home licking my wounds," he admitted.

"We all took a battering," Lowe told him.

If you're reading this over breakfast, 35,000 pairs of feet will at this moment be taking a fairly substantial battering, pounding the streets in the London Marathon. Their owners might have gleaned some inspiration from The Essay: Running the World, in which, over five days, the runner and geographer Hayden Lorimer explored what running means to us and what it can do for body, mind and spirit.

Lorimer brought the concerns of his day job to his hobby and expressed them in faultless prose: describing how, as a student at Loughborough, he would run on "long woody rises topped by exposed, shattered ridges"; or how he experiences a medley of terrains beneath his feet, his mood governed by the surface; or how these days, he regularly halts mid-run to watch a mother seal and her cub playing in the sea. He notes "the sharp, sibilant spat that sounds when the seal surfaces, muzzle-first to snatch air, the elongated swoop of its form in motion."

If there was a lesson to be taken in preparation for today's ordeal, it would be to become at one with your surroundings, even if the medley of terrains will range only from Tarmac to paving stone, and the only seals you're likely to see be will be giant-sized, with a human being inside, running the marathon.

"So absorbed by the effort, there can come a point when it becomes effortless," Lorimer purrs, encouragingly. Then reality kicks in. "Rare moments, these ...".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on