Serial Is Going To Be On Radio 4 So We Test The ‘Where Were You Six Weeks Ago’ Theory

What exactly were YOU doing six weeks ago? We put it to the test...


by Stevie Martin |
Published on

Everyone’s walking into lampposts, missing their stop and running late thanks to Serial, the new podcast that has literally taken over the world. Following Sarah Koenig, a reporter looking into the case that eventually convicted 18 year-old Adnan Syed for the murder of his ex girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999, the podcast is composed of interviews, court recordings and frequent calls with Adnan himself (who is serving a life sentence) – it’s also highly addictive.

Oh, and having a real effect on the case itself – the investigation is set to be reopened thanks to the increased attention on whether or not Adnan did indeed strangle his girlfriend all those years ago

And now it’s going to be on BBC Radio 4, for the non-podcasters to enjoy, which is set to introduce it to a whole new audience. As in, people who listen to Radio 4. To commemorate this, we decided to ask three members of The Debrief team what they were doing six weeks ago (Friday October 24th) to see just how difficult it is, and how oh my god but is that why Jay’s story kept shifting? And Adnan can’t remember really important stuff (LIKE THE SMOKING GUN CALL)?

Where were you six weeks ago? No do it, and you’re allowed to look at your diary – but definitely not your bank statements, because everyone paid with cash in the ’90s. No contactless, for easy tracking purposes. And no social media tracking either...

Jess Commons, Culture Editor: ‘I have absolutely no idea. Probably went to work for 9.40am, got Pure for lunch and then went to the pub.’ [Twenty minutes later after we allowed her to look at her texts.] ‘Oh! I went to a gig! It was my friend Josh’s band. It was in... in... fuck. A music studio. Hackney? OH IN THE OFFICE NEXT TO... ERM.... FUCK. Oh god. Secret Cinema! The office next to Secret Cinema!’

Stevie Martin, Staff Writer: ‘Er, I will have written stories at my flat at around 7.30am (maybe, can’t remember), come in to work for 10.30am, eaten loads of free cakes for lunch, so felt sick. Hung around until around 5pm, even though I was finished by 4pm, went to Rabot 1975 in Borough Market for a meal with my boyfriend. I was really early, he was a bit late, we had a great meal, then went to his friend's house in Elephant and Castle, can’t remember what time or who was there. Stayed for an hour, then left and went to mine.

Sophie Wilkinson, News Editor: ‘I came to work – I think i was on lates, so came for about 10am on the Tube (I always get the Tube). Afterwards I stayed a bit later than I should have done, got the Northern line, bumped into Lauren and had a chat about a marketing thing. Then went to a pub in Camden for my friend’s 30th, arrived at 7.35pm after chatting to my dad outside on the phone. Stayed till about 11pm, was really hungry but can’t remember if I ate on the way home. No, I think I went straight home via the overground to save money. Bumped into my friend Lucy and we spoke about an advertising campaign. She was pretty drunk.’

Basically, this shows how we construct our memories around events – all of us had to look in our diaries, and could remember the events, but not anything else about the day (apart from Sophie, who everyone is now convinced is a superhero). ‘The sooner and the more often you revisit a specific memory, the more easily you will be able to access it in the future. Again, this is efficient because we let go of what we don't need and hang on to what we do,’ Catherine Loveday, a neuroscientist at Westminster University, told The Conversation. ‘Each time we “remember” we are effectively reconstructing that memory in the context of a constantly changing knowledge base and perspective.’

She continues, ‘However, this also means that our memories are prone to errors and contamination, which has particular consequences for the legal system. And we can sometimes reinterpret things differently in the light of new information so that the original memory is over-written with a new, slightly altered one.’

Terrifying, but also the whole point of Serial – the question of how easy/difficult it is to recall exactly what you did six weeks earlier. And when you reach for things, you immediately start looking guilty and as if you're trying to hide something. Essentially, Jess would be incredibly suspicious, I’d be very suspicious, and Sophie would – in Jess’s words – ‘never get sent to prison ever’. How do you fare?

Like this? You might also be interested in...

How Serial Has Changed Our Lives, Possibly Forever

Why You Need To Listen To Serial Now

Hae's Brother Has Spoken Out

Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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