At the end of this moving peroration, there was a small but very sticky silence, before the hapless Purves explained that Mr Buergenthal was, in fact, a Czech.*
I was so embarrassed on the guest's behalf that I had to turn the radio off and sing loudly to myself to blot out his awful humiliation. How could he live with having made such an ass of himself on national radio? Surely he'd want to crawl away and die? It's true I'd heard the beginning of a booming laugh before the radio cut out, but that, surely, must be no more than a sounding brass, to mask his terrible anguish?
Later in the day, I found out who that guest had been, and it was, quite literally, a blessed relief.
A Brian Blessed relief. (The mountaineering reference should have been a tip-off.) Blessed is, perhaps, the most pachydermous man in Britain, and the only person I can think of guaranteed not to give a hoot at having got it so wrong. I feel not only relieved on his behalf, but also strangely grateful to him for being that way.
*ETA: Of course, it turns out to be more complicated than that. His parents were German, the part of Czechoslovakia he was born in is now Slovakia, he grew up in Poland, and is now a US citizen.