Four Trees


When they hear the words “radio four” and “play” all in the same breathe, many people seem to recoil with the speed and determination that even Mo Farrar would envy.     That’s unfortunate because they then miss many gems amongst which is a quite remarkable story that was broadcast last month.     Although a regular radio 4 listener, I actually missed the transmission and was only alerted to it by a member of The Compassionate Friends, a support group for bereaved parents.       I don’t know how I would have reacted to FOUR TREES DOWN FROM PONTE SISTO, if I had heard it before Josh’s death, but I like to think I would have been equally moved by what I now consider to be one of the best shows on radio … ever!        Here’s what the BBC blurb has to say about it –

“Twenty five years ago in Rome, an American student named Geoffrey Charde fell to his death from a wall above the river Tiber, late at night and with no witnesses, four trees down from Ponte Sisto. Since then, his mother, the poet Sharon Charde has been writing her way through all the dimensions of her son’s death; writing her way back to life through a series of poems that combine her fearless examination of specific details and events with deep philosophical insights into the close proximity of death within every aspect of life.”

Jane and I listened to the play on the way back from Scotland recently.    Potentially a distressing and painful experience, it was perhaps a slightly dangerous thing to do while driving one of Britains busiest motorways.    But we both actually found it quite comforting to hear bereavement dramatised in a way that seem to mirror so accurately much of what we have been going through since Josh died.    Hopefully you will find it as life enhancing as we have, though to have a box of tissues nearby wouldn’t go amiss … and do give yourself time – the play is 58 minutes.

FOUR TREES is no longer available from the BBC as a download but you can listen to it here (hope we’re not infringing copyright or anything) – unfortunately because of file sizes we’ve had to split it into two parts

click here to listen to the first part - FOUR TREES PART ONE

click here for the second part - FOUR TREES PART TWO

the links will take you to a new page – use your browsers back button to return for part two.


and these links are good to check out

Four Trees Down From Ponte Sisto (blog by Gregory Whitehead who adapted Sharon Charde’s poetry for radio and composed the sound design)

Sharon Charde’s biography (

Originally broadcast on 29th June 2012,  FOUR TREES DOWN FROM PONTE SISTO was  adapted and composed for radio by Gregory Whitehead.    Performed by Anne Undeland.   Producer Jeremy Mortimer.


Anne Undeland recording Four Trees Down