Rajiv Hasan, Nottingham Hospitals’ Radio – Head of Patient Interaction

Born in India, I moved to Nottingham with my family at age 3 and have lived here ever since. An early talent for mimicry eventually led to me becoming a linguist and a voice actor. Starting as an impressionist on Alistair McGowan’s sports sketch show, ‘The Game’s Up’ on BBC Radio 5 Live in the mid-90s – among the roles I voiced were Richie Benaud, Geoffrey Boycott, Alan Shearer & Gary Lineker.  Later, following a spell as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language, and Italian, I became a home studio-based voice-over artist. My most successful recording was probably a ringtone version of the Spider Pig song – from the Simpsons movie, which reached the top of the national ringtone charts, so I like to claim I’ve had a UK Number 1!  In recent years, I’ve been attempting to scratch a few old musical itches – composing piano pieces and indulging in song-writing – some of which has been encouragingly well-received, though I’m not expecting to appear on MTV any time soon!

I joined Nottingham Hospitals’ Radio in January 2000, where my roles have included presenter, trainer, sports commentator, fundraiser, ward visitor, chairman – and currently head of patient interaction.  A rollercoaster at times, NHR has provided so many formative memories, friendships and experiences, that it has become a defining part of my life.  It has also allowed me to develop professional skills such as microphone technique and audio production.  Personally, one of the most rewarding aspects has been ward visiting – the chance to communicate directly with patients and staff – where we can sometimes make a genuinely positive difference to someone’s day in hospital – be that by playing a music request, having a chat, or just sharing a little humanity.

So on to my book choices.  Let me start by saying that over the years, I have been more a reader of non-fiction – especially biographies and journals – than novels. My book choices reflect some of my more enduring obsessions – including sport, music, and identity.

Fire in Babylon: How the West Indies cricket team brought a people to its feet by Simon Lister

This is the fascinating true story of how a group of condescendingly-termed ‘Calypso cricketers’ became the most successful team in the history of the sport. The politics of race is never far away, and its importance as a motivating force for the West Indian players was evident – notably their response to a provocative news interview by then England captain, Tony Grieg, who spoke of making them “grovel”.  In terms of my own experience of it all, I had always enjoyed cricket as a child, but one summer’s afternoon in 1976, at my friend Khalid’s house, my eight year old eyes were opened to the true, glorious potential of the game, as I sat and watched the wondrous exploits of Viv Richards, Andy Roberts, Michael Holding & co.  Compared to the rather stiff, predictable style of the England team of the time, seeing the exuberance, joy and athleticism of the Caribbean cricketers was like going from black-and-white to technicolour in an instant. Having always rather wrestled with my identity, I was happy to adopt the ‘Windies’ as my team – and this book would bring back many happy memories of their thrilling journey towards global recognition and respect.

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

I’ve loved Bruce’s music since my teens and have followed his career closely ever since. This revealing and, at times, deeply moving self-portrait lifts the lid on the stories behind the man, the music, the glory, and the demons. The way he describes his relationship with his father – and his own struggles with depression – are particularly poignant. He writes with the same cinematic detail that’s present in some of his lyrics, and the juxtaposition of his ancestral Irish and Italian influences resonated with my own cultural confusions. It’s such an honest book, and, for all the soul searching, ultimately a very uplifting one, with plenty of humorous anecdotes, too.

1982 Brazil: The Glorious Failure by Stuart Horsfield

I’d always enjoyed playing and watching football as a child, but the Spanish World Cup of 1982 was when I first truly fell in love with the game. There were some great matches and fabulous players in that tournament, but above all, there was the greatest team I have ever seen – one that is revered to this day, even though they didn’t even make it to the semi-finals. The Brazil of Zico, Falcão, Socrates, Cerezo, Eder and Junior played with a style, grace and joy that captured the imagination of everyone – both on the school yard – and across the world. Their eventual loss to Italy is sometimes referred to as the ‘Tragedy of the Sarria’. As a ten-year-old, the author was four years younger than me at the time, but it brought a smile to read that we shared the same habit – of rushing home after school to see Brazil matches on the telly. This is a beautiful recollection of the story of that unforgettable team – and gives the lie to the cynical belief that “no-one remembers the losers”.

On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers

As a bit of a navel-gazer – and having had some therapy myself – I’m fascinated by what makes us who we are, and how personalities and identities are formed. Carl Rogers was a pioneer in the field of person-centred therapy, and this book has many insightful examples of how listening to people describe their own inner struggles can help in the healing process. Empathy, rather than judgment, is the key.

Uno, Nessuno e Centomila (One, No-one, a Hundred Thousand) by Luigi Pirandello

The sister of an Italian friend gave me this during my student days in Pisa. Through a series of experiments carried out by the protagonist, Pirandello explores concepts of personal identity – how we perceive ourselves, how others perceive us, and how our interactions change depending on whom we are with. More navel-gazing, but brilliant all the same!

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

I used to be able to recite Hamlet’s ‘To be, or not to be’ soliloquy, but that was about it as far as Shakespeare was concerned.  As I’ve grown to love the English language, I’m sure I would enjoy delving into the Bard on the beach, albeit I might need a table on the sand to rest it on, as it’s probably quite heavy.  I would probably aim to read it out loud, in the style of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, obviously…

Nottingham Hospitals’ Radio has been brightening people’s day since 1974.  Head over to the NHR website where you can listen live, find information on all the shows and also submit requests for your favourite tune to listen to or dedicate.  You can also check out the NHR Podcast on Spotify or Apple with Desert Island Book interviews and other station content.

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