A year ago, award-winning author and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi sustained life changing injuries after a fall in Rome. Since then he has documented his experiences in a blog, which is to be turned into a memoir published in 2024.
Since Hanif came to the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre in the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, we have had the pleasure of getting to know him as he has experienced the garden and taken part in horticultural therapy activities and daily conversations with Head Gardener Ashley.
Exactly a year after his accident on Boxing Day, he guest edited the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, exploring the impact his injuries have had on his relationships and how his approach to writing has had to change.
Some of the interviews take place at Horatio’s Garden London & South East in what Hanif describes as a very special and meditative space for him as he rehabilitated, “a garden in which you can sit and try to contemplate the horror of what has happened to you is a wonderful and consoling idea.” Describing it as one of his great pleasures of his time at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Hanif talks movingly about how the garden has helped him contemplate what happened to him and the adjustment to his future ahead.
Hanif interviews head gardener Ashley about the solace of the sanctuary, about Hanif’s first experience of the garden in one of Ashley’s horticultural sessions and Ashley’s own journey to become guardian of this special space. You can watch a short video from this interview here.
Hear Hanif also being interviewed by one of the BBC Radio 4 Today’s main presenters Mishal Husain in the garden later in the programme as well as other interviews he chose to do whilst still being treated at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.
With huge thanks to Hanif Kureishi for his generosity in sharing his story and to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme team.
Listen to the full programme here with Ashley’s interview at 01:14 and Mishal’s interview at 02:45.