Tickets are now on sale for another gig I’m very excited about! At 7pm, on Thursday 11th August I shall be in the National Portrait Gallery on St Martins Lane as part of their Late Shift programme. I performed Tongues Of Flame for them last year and it’s such a fantastic place to tell stories! While I work with the words, all around me the portraits of the great and lofty dead look on patiently. And they are such good listeners… To book tickets visit here.

On this occasion I’ll be telling the story of possibly the greatest Englishman you’ve never heard about – Allan Octavian Hume. A.O Hume – The Unseen Force is the story of a man who, when still young, began his career as a Civil Servant working in India for the Raj. He was tasked with extracting maximum profit for the British Empire from India. But Hume was altogether too good a man to simply do that. He fell in love with India and Indian culture and began to work hard for the interests of Victoria’s Indian subjects. He was not doing this for show, indeed, he had to be discrete, because he began to work directly against the interests of Queen and country. Hume had to be an unseen force. He was, and spectacularly so; he helped change both British and Indian history.

I will be aided in my telling by Nafees Ihrfan, a tabla virtuoso. You will hear him play, but you won’t be able to see his fingers move! I’m really excited about this – I love tabla and it’s going to add so much to the story. For a little taster of his work you can listen here.

We will be performing in Room 20, which is filled with portraits of people connected to British rule in India. But where is A O Hume’s portrait? Ah, come along and I’ll tell you.

Story is a great way of sharing history, and his story is great enough to share – do come! You can hear the beginning of an earlier version of this story, commissioned by the South London Botanical Institute, which Hume founded in his retirement in Norwood, and recorded at Resonance FM,  below.

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