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My desert island discs

December 28, 2013

No, I haven't been on my favourite BBC Radio 4 programme, and no, Kirsty Young

isn't here with me in Maafushivaru, Maldives (I've gone one, no, three, better– my wife and daughters (plus son) are here with me), but since today I have been on the genuine deserted neighbouring island of Lunobo, it is the one and only time in my life, or at least the first so far, in which I have the undoubted right to pick my desert island discs.


I suspect Kirsty's guests have weeks, if not months, to decide which records to choose. And selection criteria vary, including the desire to impress, the desire to appear cultured, and even, in the recent case of Ed Milliband, to send the right political messages.

I, though, don't have that much time to choose, have no one to impress, am not musically cultured, and don't mind embarrassing myself. So, here are my Lenubo island discs.


Abba, I have a dream

My musical tastes didn't develop much beyond Abba: their peak years coincided with my childhood, and I could choose any one of countless of their songs. Googling 'Abba songs' brings me back happy memories of Chiquitita, Fernando, The day before you came, and countless others, including the record which started it all for me, Waterloo, but my first selection is I have a dream. It came out in 1979, when I was sixteen or seventeen; most boys had moved on to rock, but for me it was still Agnetha Fältskog.


Olivia Newton-John, Hopelessly devoted to you


This blog isn't all about blondes, though with Grease (1978) being the first film I ever saw at a cinema, whilst the girls fell for John Travolta, the teenage boys' hearts were on 'Sandy'. I could have chosen 'I honestly love you', but instead have chosen 'Hopelessly'.


Queen, We are the Champions

My next choice is this 1977 song. Queen were about as rebellious as I got (which is to mean not very, or more precisely not all). When I won a chess tournament or something similar, feeling on top of the world, this was my anthem.

In opting for Queen, I ousted Debbie Harry/Blondie: 'Denis' or 'Picture This' were two long listed choices.


Lady in Red, Chris de Burgh

This 1986 song was Jane and my first dance at our wedding reception in 1992. It will always be one of my firmest favourites.


Streets of Philadelphia, Bruce Springsteen



I never got into Bruce Springstein as a teenager, but one of the films of 1993 was Philadephia, of which this was the soundtrack. It is hard to perceive now, but I think I was genuinely scared for the World at that time because of the AIDS/HIV epidemic, which at that time seemed uncontrollable and its breadth worrying. However, Streets of Philadelphia has also been chosen for my desert island because it was the song I played, over and over again, dancing around the lounge trying to get our first child, Tom, to fall asleep to. I should ask him sometime whether he likes this song, but it will always remind me of happy times.


Michael Jackson, She's out of my life



I don't particularly know why, or what the song means to me, but this is my favourite Michael Jackson song. It is about lost love, not death, but it was one song which gave me some solace after the death of my mother, however illogical: maybe I just needed sad songs at the time.

On another day, I might have chosen Chicago's if you you leave me now


James Blunt, You're Beautiful



One to remind me of my daughters.


Stevie Wonder, I just called to say I love you



Another one for Jane. I chose it in preference to 'Unchained Melody', the theme tune from Ghost, which came out in 1990 when Jane and I first met: it is one of 'our' films.


The one record to take with me


In the programme, the castaway then has to decide which of the eight records to take to the island, if the other seven are lost at sea.

In fact, choosing eight records is impossible. I could have had Sad Café's Love Hurts, Elton John's Candle in the Wind, Yazoo's Only You; any number of Bee Gees, such as Masschusetts. I could have had The Circle of Life from the Lion King (for the family), or Nkosi Sikelel (to give me hope) or Nessum Dorma; or others which I am sure I could think of. But I have to choose one of the eight, and I think it would be Abba's I have a dream, to be back with the family before too long.


Book and luxury


The castaways are always given a book (as well as the bible and the complete works of Shakespeare), and a luxury. I think my luxury would be a pair of nail clippers– as with many eczema sufferers, my nails are weak, and break all too easily. I could always carve a chess set out of shoreline timbers or from beach trees. And my luxury would be the complete set of Garry Kasparov's My Great Predecessors: who knows, I might not want to be rescued?


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