Desert island discussion

Saturday 11th June 2011

MUST have missed the ferry to that island by now, but, after listening to much music lately, it’s time for a list.


Do I: choose a cross-section? limit myself to one track per artiste? pick those which evoke certain memories? include spoken word? go for length? attempt to discover which pieces I really would never tire of by listening to them so many times I eventually tire of them?

Perhaps, instead, I could ask for an iPod as my luxury item. With everything imaginable on it.

The eight gramophone records I’ve gone for are:

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
Every Grain of Sand
by Bob Dylan
Washington Square by Counting Crows
When I’m Gone by Dick Gaughan
Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye
Play It As It Lays by Patti Scialfa
Goin’ Home by the Rolling Stones
You’re So Cool by Hans Zimmer (from the film, True Love), which I’d have as the ‘if only one’: the ideal accompaniment for strolls round the island and long sunsets.

Books are harder. Obviously delighted with The Complete Works of Shakespeare and can’t be bothered to have an alternative to The Bible – solid fiction, some great passages – but what else?

The complete Oxford English Dictionary? an encyclopaedia, companion or book of quotations? novel, history, science? collected letters, poetry anthology like Heaney and Hughes’ The Rattle Bag, or biography like Knowlson’s life of Samuel Beckett, Damned to Fame?

Would I be more likely to dive into works I know – Brecht jostles with Homer, Eliot and cummings – or prefer a large tome I’m still waiting to savour: DeLillo’s Underworld or Boccaccio’s Decameron?

I settle for Canopus in Argos: Archives by Doris Lessing, but if they won’t let me take all five volumes, it will have to be Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.

The luxury item is easier than I’d expected.

Bath tub, tobacco, bicycle and tomato ketchup are also-rans. I even dismiss the thought of an unlimited supply of paper and pens.

I must sort through those photographs of family and friends, just in case.




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