Monday, 13 October 2008

Desert Island Discs

Well, I listened to a really excellent short talk yesterday morning on Radio 4's Point of View. Lisa Jardine, who's always good value, had some good insights into how our homes reflect changes in family living over the decades. It's excellent stuff and leaves us to draw our own conclusions on how the current housing market reflects modern ideas on family. It's only a ten minute programme, and well worth a listen.

I do have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Radio 4, I can't remember when I've listened to a decent, newly commissioned, afternoon play...they're always either unyieldingly grim, or outrageously unfunny. However, there are many programmes which are, and have always been, wonderful. I do love the Book Programme, Just a Minute, Woman's Hour, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue (I hope they bring it back, even though it won't be the same without nice old Humph at the helm) and recently the whole family have been howling with laughter at Bleak Expectations. Actually, I've always enjoyed The Archers, often listen to PM and the Morning Service and think Desert Island Discs is fantastic listening. So I shouldn't complain about the afternoon play, really, but I'm English, so if I'm not complaining about the weather, I must complain about the BBC, it's part of the national psyche...

Well, I'm in serious danger of digressing so far off the original point of this post and sending you, gentle, loyal reader, off to sleep, that I feel I really must get on with it. "On with what?" I hear you ask. Well, I've always though the Desert Island Discs concept would make for good blog fodder. For those of you not in the know, on the programme a guest has to choose eight pieces of music which he or she would choose to take with them if they were ever stranded on a desert island. They also get to choose a book (they already get the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible) and a luxury. Anyway, here are my choices, I'd love to know yours if you are to willing to divulge.

It's so hard to choose just eight tracks, but these all have sentimental value to me and I feel they've stood the test of time, in terms of listenablity!
A Lark Ascending - Vaughn Williams
So beautiful, I used to listen whilst I was pregnant, lying down next to the stereo and watching the baby kick in side me.
Ladies of the Canyon - Joni Mitchell
Honestly womanly, I think, gentle and no pretensions, it inspires me and I love it.
Atmosphere - Joy Division
Much of the stuff I listened to as a teenager I still think is good...but this is the track which I think is truly great. Maudlin, but wonderful and displaying proper, not forced, emotion.
Ponderosa - Tricky
I know suburban, respectable Christian ladies aren't really meant to like trip-hop, but I do. I can do a splendid and embarrassing mum-dance to this song. I'll need something to dance to whilst on the desert island.
Dyson's Magnificat in D
"My soul doth magnify the Lord..." nothing more beautiful has been written, and Dyson's setting somehow reflects the courage and gentleness of the Virgin Mary.
Matty Groves - Fairport Convention
I had to include a Fairport track. I like Matty Groves because it exemplifies what I like so much about English folk music, the NARRATIVE. You can't listen to an English folk song without there being an illicit affair or someone getting run-through with a sword. Matty Groves has both. My children love to act it out with wooden swords whilst they listen to it. I'm not sure if this is a good thing.
The Way You Look Tonight - Fred Astaire
Frank Sinatra has done a good version of this song, but Fred's is better as it sounds as though he means it. I don't seem to associate "The Chairman of the Board" with the kind of tenderness this song expresses, but Fred has the sensibility to pull it off, even if he doesn't have Sinatra's splendid voice.
O Taste and See - Vaughn Williams
I would want a recording of my husband and daughter singing this. I'd be able to cope all alone and on a desert island if I had this with me.

After much, MUCH, deliberation I've chosen Middlemarch, by George Eliot. I know she's bugger to read, but she's so worthwhile. She has the ability to express her empathy for her fellow human beings in prose in a way which I believe to be unequaled, she's compassionate and intelligent. Also, she is able to write convincing character and dialogue, and not every Victorian writer managed this. Importantly, when I get homesick I can read Middlemarch and get a picture of the red earth and broad vowels of my home county.

This is easy. I'd need a change of underwear, particularly a good quality bra. I would plan my day around finding food, reading, listening to music and washing and drying underwear. This routine would so resemble the routine I have at home that the devastating affects of being stranded on a desert island would be lessened by the familiarity of laundry and books. Also, I simply could not cope without lifting and separating the Domum two.

Well, I got to my point in the end, didn't I? Of course now it's your turn, I'd love to know your desert island choices. Oh, and here's link to what the celebrities featured over the years on the programme have chosen.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm music? Argh too hard to pick just eight, but here are some favourites...

*Lamb of God - (Agnus Dei) - Barber
*The Altar and the Door - Casting Crowns
*Take Me In - Kutless
*Give Me Jesus - Fernando Ortega
*Underneath the Stars - Kate Rusby (can I not just take Kate with me?)
*Suite no. 1 in G major prelude, Bach (Maria Kliegal on cello)
*Moonlight piano sonata no. 14 C sharp minor - Beethoven
*I Will Be Here - Steven Curtis Chapman
*Romeo and Juliet, suite no. 2 op.64 montagues and capulets Prokofiev (very rousing and hurrah!)

Opps that's nine...oh well. I'll have to hide some contraband music in my suitcase...


Yikes. Errrr. Lol can I take the complete Sherlock Holmes? I really don't know, can't choose, can't choose...this is taking me longer than I thought...if I'm feeling gloomy Far From the Madding Crowd...if I'm feeling jolly I'll have The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul...

Oh I know, I'll take LOTR, if it's the only book to read I'll definitely finish it!

Luxury item - a DVD/TV player and the complete Morse collection.

Anonymous said...

..that's Inspector Morse, lol, not some morse code thing

Zillah said...

Oh, I love Middlemarch, that would be mine too. There's just so much in that book. Have you read Scenes from Clerical Life? Great Eliot, and very Warwickshire.

Luxury - cold pressed olive oil. Cook with it, use as beauty product, oil the moving parts of the boat I will construct to get myself off the island!

Now, the tricky bit -

1) St Matthew Passion, J S Bach - McCreesh conducting
2) A late Beethoven string quartet - don't make me choose which right now!
3) Some Benjamin Britten sacred choral work (again - don't make me choose!)
4) You Make Me Feel so Young - sung by Frank.
5) Goldberg Variations - J S Bach - Angela Hewitt at the joanna.
6) Something from Count Basie.
7) Tamacun - Rodrigo y Gabriela
8) Blow the wind southerly - sung by Kathleen Ferrier. Or Elsie Marley - Nancy Kerr and James Fagan

Wow, that was hard, and only 1-3 are certain!

By the way, I'm going to be on radio 4 next Sunday - on the Food Program talking about the Fife Diet.


Dulce Domum said...

Hi Sarah
My husband wants to be Inspector Morse. All of that choral singing and beer drinking and solving of sordid middle-class murders. He wants the vintage car too, but if he waits another few years I'm sure the Phoebster will be classed as vintage.

I had to laugh about you choosing LOTR. I can not finish that book either. In fact I'm pretty sure that the only way I could finish it would be if I were stranded on a desert island, and this seems a bit extreme.

Hi Zillah
Ah, so much to respond to in your choices, I don't know where to start. First, yes Britten's choral work, lovely. You may want to check out Jeanne's blog "A Bluestocking Knits" it's on my sidebar. Her choir are working on "Hymn to St Cecilia" at the moment, it must me difficult to sing. Secondly, olive oil. It would depress me not to have fat, so that's such a good choice, I'm still sticking with my underwear though (which is probably better than sticking to my underwear). Also, "Scenes..." yes, very N. Warks. My church is "Milby" in the book. Have you read Kathryn Hughes' biography of George Eliot? In it she describes Warwickshire girls as having "thick Warwickshire tongues (and) broad butter-making hands".

Finally, it's so cool that you're going to be on the Food Programme. Are you a mover and shaker in the Fife Food project or a happy participant?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Midsommer Murders doesn't quite live up to it does it for middle class murders, vintage jags and beer drinking.

Anonymous said...

This is goes:

1. In Christ Alone - Stuart Townend
2. Don't dream it's over - Crowded House
3. Too many classical tracks to choose just one!
4. Lifted - Lighthouse Family
5. Only when I sleep - The Corrs
6. Praise you in this storm - Casting Crowns
7. Sing (Your love) - Hillsong
8. Loves great adventure - Ultravox

Book - Every Living Thing - James Herriot....(I love losing myself in simpler times)

Luxury item...lot of essential oils to put in my bath (sea) water! *takes a deep breath in* ahhhh!

Dulce Domum said...

Hi Sarah
I say "pah" to Midsommer Murders and "pah" to Inspector Barnaby!

Hi Tina
Nice choices, especially the essential oils. My mum is a huge James Herriot fan, and I used to love the programmes when they were on the telly.

Zillah said...

Oh, just a happy participant!

Very cool that your church is Milby!