I'm grateful to Howard Leader of BBC Radio Lincolnshire for having taken the trouble to read my book 'James Fitzjames: The Mystery Man of the Franklin Expedition' and then to discuss it with me live on his BBC radio programme today. Howard's programme is on the BBC website for another seven days and if you want to listen to it the link is at:
Howard's chat with me begins 1:13:45 in to the broadcast.
Howard broadcasts a weekly programme on Sunday afternoons on BBC Radio Lincolnshire from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm which is a mix of nostalgia, music from the '40's and '50's and interviews with special guests. Well, this afternoon I was his special guest. He asked me a series of informed and sensitive questions about James Fitzjames and the Franklin Expedition. This was my first radio interview and Howard was great - he made me feel quite relaxed.
It's been quite a big day for me and of course I'm pleased to have the exposure. It might sell a few more books. But for me Howard's interview has a much deeper significance. That's because I didn't write this book for me. I know this may sound ridiculous, but what compelled me to write about the Franklin Expedition and about James Fitzjames was a gut feeling that posterity has dealt the men of the Expedition, and Fitzjames in particular, a poor hand. Having read so many of their letters and the records relating to them, I now understand that these men were neither insensitive Imperialists on the one hand, nor selfless heroes on the other. Instead they were real people who set out to do an outlandish thing - to sail the Erebus and Terror through those ice-choked waterways. They failed, but if their guts could inspire and earn the respect of a man like Roald Amundsen, as it did, then I feel that people in their homeland and their adopted homeland Canada should respect them too.
Howard gave me an opportunity to talk in public about James Fitzjames the man, and that for me will always be a privilege.