15 October 2020, The Tablet

Much candour about cancer


Goodbye to All This
BBC World Service

Sophie Townsend’s World Service podcast (episodes available on BBC Sounds) begins in a coffee shop in a Sydney suburb where she and the other school-run mothers gather once a week for refreshment, group chat and, you infer, a certain amount of therapy. If what follows is largely a tale of family trauma, then the communal opening seems horribly appropriate, for it is here on the Friday morning get-togethers that things start to go horribly wrong.

Goodbye to All This recapitulates Sophie’s husband Russell’s diagnosis with lung cancer, his treatment, death and funeral and their effect on his widow and daughters. Although there are occasional expert witnesses – Sophie’s friend, Nicola, and the former’s mother – most of what follows is straightforward soliloquy, distinguished, on the one hand, by its barely concealed anguish and, on the other, by its absolute candour.

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