I thought I would have a bit of fun this week. Please excuse me if this seems a bit indulgent.
I have often wondered what records I would choose in the unlikely event of being a celebrity guest on Desert Island Discs. (For anyone from different shores, Desert Island discs is a weekly radio program on BBC Radio 4 that has been running for many years and is almost a national institution. Each week a ‘castaway’ is asked to choose eight records, one book – in addition to the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare – and one luxury item that they would take to the island, whilst discussing their life and reasons for their choices.)
It’s quite hard to narrow your choice of records to eight..eighty would probably be better but here goes:
Song 1 Yellow Submarine The Beatles
There is quite an age gap between my sister and me. I was thirteen when she was born and she became my sweetest little shadow. At night she would often wake and would only be soothed by me singing a (wobbly) version of Yellow Submarine. I don’t think I ever knew the words all the way through but often just singing the first few lines over and over again was enough to keep her happy. These days I only need to hear the opening bars of the song and I am transported back to her little room in our house in Somerset.
Song 2 Your Song Elton John
Leaving home for the first time was a very emotional time. I was eighteen and about to start my nursing career in Bristol. To me it was momentous. I had dreamed of being a nurse ever since I was a little girl but now the time had come I was full of trepidation and already homesick. The months before I left were full of plans, preparations and the realisation that life was changing for ever. ‘Your Song’ was in the charts during those days before I set off for Bristol; I loved it the very first time I heard those poignant opening chords and still do today.
Song 3 Maggie May Rod Stewart
I started my nursing training. Before long I was wearing the nurse’s uniform that had been laid out on the bed for me in my spartan room in the nurse’s home. I got used to starching the cap every night, and wrapping myself in the cloak always worn by nurses back then to keep out the chill of the draughty hospital corridors. I made new friends that I still have to this day. I soon came to realise there was a lot of hard work and long hours involved! Sometimes it was hard but I kept going. I can still remember some of my patients to this day, and the sadness and the humour encountered along the way.
Several times I had noticed a dark and handsome dental student smiling at me, his white surgical coat flapping in the breeze. He had a certain nonchalant look about him which intrigued me. We met properly at a hospital dance; me in a long hippy dress and he in a flowery shirt and loon pants. That was it. We have been together ever since. And Maggie May is the song that always transports me back to that incredible time. (I could mention Carole King and Neil Young here if I was allowed, but that would be cheating).
Song 4 Livin’ On A Prayer Bon Jovi
I could pick so many songs that remind me of my two sons. I think the happiest times in most parents lives are the ones related to their children. Through all the different phases of childhood and beyond, music seems to play an important part. I remember all the musical genres with affection …yes sometimes it was loud but it meant they were home. One really happy memory is of the two of them bundled together in the hall listening to Bon Jovi at full blast. The younger one was only about three at the time but whatever his brother liked then so did he!
Song 5 This Guy’s In Love With You Herb Alpert
Although this is a romantic love song it really reminds me of family. I remember listening to this many years ago with my mother. It reminds me of sunny days and of life as it was many years ago. It’s one of my all time favourites and it has stood the test of time.
Song Six Home Thoughts From Abroad Clifford T. Ward
To me Clifford T. Ward was a singer/songwriter of immense talent. Sadly he died at a fairly young age of multiple sclerosis but his legacy lives on in his wonderful words and music.
Home Thoughts From Abroad is one of the most beautiful songs in the world. If you have some time listen to the song and then download the lyrics. They are perfect. They talk of love and missing home. They manage to weave thoughts of everyday life with sublime poetry. They are wistful and poignant. I have most of Clifford’s songs on my i pod and never tire of listening to them.
Song Seven Going Back Dusty Springfield
For Brian. Because he loves it. Again, good lyrics.
Song Eight Jerusalem Words by William Blake Music by Sir Hubert Parry
This is more than a hymn. It is almost our National Anthem. It takes one back to school assembly, to singing one’s heart out in church, to the Last Night at The Proms, and to all things patriotic. Wherever I was in the world this would always remind me of home and bring a tear to the eye.
Well there we have my eight desert island discs. I realise there is nothing remotely up to date here. I promise you I like lots of modern music too and there are lots of greats I know I have left out. I could leave you a very long list but that wouldn’t be sticking to the rules.
My book of choice would be Mariana by Monica Dickens because I loved reading it as a young girl and I have re-read it many times.
And my luxury item? Difficult choice between mascara and lip gloss but I think mascara wins. Then again I wouldn’t have a mirror….