The Mysterious Disappearance — podcast

It all started on a cold evening of 3 December 1926. A couple had a fight. First, the husband left home to spend time with another woman. Then, the wife left, leaving her daughter with their maid, got into her car, and disappeared. At once, the police organised a big search for the woman, who was none other than Agatha Christie, the best-selling mystery writer of all time. Her disappearance prompted a massive police manhunt with over 1,000 police officers, 15,000 volunteers (including Arthur Conan Doyle) and several aeroplanes searching for the author.

Exercise 1. Listen to the recording and decide whether the statements below are true or false.

Tapescript

1. Agatha's Christie's car was found abandoned near a spring.
2. The writer went missing for almost a week.
3. She was eventually found safe and well in a hotel in Harrogate.
4. Christie checked in there under an assumed name.
5. During her stay at the hotel, she behaved like a typical amnesiac.
6. Before she was found, she had no idea who she was.
7. In all probability, the writer suffered memory loss as a result of the car crash.

Exercise 2. Listen to the recording again and fill in the gaps.

Agatha Christie's car was found the following morning in the state of dishevelment on the edge of a quarry near the Silent Pool. It was feared that the writer drowned herself in the spring, but the main suspect at the time was her unfaithful husband Archibald Christie.

Eleven days after Christie disappeared, she was found in a spa hotel in Harrogate, where she had been staying since the day after her disappearance with no ____ (1) of who she was — she checked in under the name of Neele, which was the surname of her husband's mistress. As an eye witness reported later, Christie enjoyed herself there, playing the piano, singing, and reading newspapers in the library. She didn't know her name so she didn't recognise herself in the newspapers. She didn't even recognise her own photograph.

The writer remembered nothing of the past 11 days. She confessed that she'd had a severe ____ (2) on the head from the car accident, but that was rather unlikely to cause her to ____ (3) her memory. The ____ (4) will try to find out who they are and where they are and she didn't behave like that at all. It's possible that Christie had dissociative fugue, formerly called ____ (5). People suffering from this disorder lose their sense of ____ (6). They go on a fugue to escape from an intolerable situation and wander away from their usual surroundings. Although they may experience amnesia, outwardly their behaviour seems completely normal.

There are different theories about what happened on that cold evening of December 1926, yet no one really knows the truth. More than 90 years later, Agatha Christie's disappearance still remains a mystery.
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Exercise 3. Answer the questions.

  1. Is there any evidence in the recording to suggest that Agatha Christie’s short-term memory was functioning during her stay at the hotel?
  2. Did she seem to have any explicit long-term memory?
  3. Did she seem to have any implicit long-term memory?
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