Sheena McDonald. ponders the special qualities that mark out a good castaway for Desert Island Discs.
Is this a record‘.’ No. it‘s Sheena McDonald waxing lyrical
about a certain radio programme. ‘Most of all’. confessed my friend. wistfully. ‘l‘d like to do Desert Island Discs‘.
lt‘s not exactly a bid for immortality. In termsof ambition. it's neither mighty nor exclusive. We‘ve all idled the passage of a tedious journey in the selection of those eight essential pieces of music. picked not so much for their own merit as for their translucence. 'l'hrough the silken agitation of (‘hopin. or the exacting vibration of Beethoven -— or. indeed. the state of the art forgettability of Balearic Deep l louse. or whatever the maylly yogue of the tnoment is — may be glimpsed our unique and shining souls.
What tnakes the exercise anything more than radio-to-leave-on-while- you-hang-wallpaper—in-another- part-of—the-country-by is the occasional participation of Someone Honest. who. without guilc or self-aggrandisement. confesses their true taste and enthusiasm. in all its unbalanced and half-considered chaos.
You missed that one‘.’ Mm —l haven’t heard it either.
'l‘here‘s an unpleasant and thoroughly enjoyable party game which appears to share the same premise that individuals may be symbolically or associatiyely identified by likening them to inanimate objects or non-human lifeforms: ‘lf this person were a colour make ofcar type of accommodation holiday item of clothing etc. what would he or she be'.” Well may your toes ettrl up as you find that the other team has you framed and nailed as grey llillman lmp hutch long weekend in Lancaster girdle! Revenge. mind you. can be sweet come the next round. (‘ome to think ofit. I hayen‘t been inyited to many parties recently.
But what Desert Island Discs offers is something much more insidious than the opportunity to reduce and humiliate your nearest and dearest. What my friend hankers for is the freedom and luxury of legitimiscd vanity. which. it turns out. is not least amongst the glittering perks on offer to the rich and famous.
So what'.’ Perfectly natural. you think‘.’ A tolerable human weakness'.’
Perhaps. but beware. Desert Island Discs can datnage your health.
For a start. the principle pleasure in idling the passage of Famous Names' tedious journeys through their reminiscences and (alleged)
record collections is actually another manifestation of the basic squalor and lowliness of human nature: namely. taking malicious pleasure in others‘ inadequacies and self-delusions.
PAT} ll.i'l‘l(‘! We trumpet. happily. as the captain of industry or football team. or the luminary of hoards or boardroom selects yet another musical stonker- ‘. . . Waterloo by Abba. please. which always brings back such happy memories of fatnin yachting hols around the Dodecanese particularly that year the twins came down with schizophrenia. . .‘—or. worse— ‘. . . and I would particularly like to hear Jessye singing it as she sang it fora small private party I was lucky enough to host after the Proms oh it must be what five years ago now but what an eyening ofcoursc a recording is never quite the satne but it will remind me of so many things good food good wine above all good friends as I sit listening to the Mistral or whatever it is blowing its lonely Aeolian harmonies through the palm trees what‘s the word hurricane I suppose it might even be Hurricane Jessye by that time ha ha what'."
Do you really craye to be that gink‘.’
And as for the questions! If Britain is stacked with would-be guests. their tally is probably pipped by would-be hosts— ‘. . . how could she ask that‘.’ What a piece of pretentious twaddle! (iiye tne strength! — AND she gets paid for it?‘
All in all. given the evil broth of human responses produced by the superficially innocuous ingredients ofthis wireless classic. it‘s hardly surprising that a retired clergyman biffed his wife into the next world after an argument over whether or not listening to the darned thing was a reasonable use of any portion of one‘s declining span. (She thought not -— thereby. most unfairly. shortening it radically). 'l‘he penitent parson has been sentenced. rather sensibly. to an enforced stretch of wireless-free rehabiliation within the austerity of a closed order.
We are warned. Both mental and physical damage are not far down the menu for Son-of—Plomley addicts. Listen if you really must. but keep the hair-shirt on to be on the safe side.
Or. better. reform the argument. Why not make a choice ofeight things which cannot falsely endow your character with spurious worth or learning”? What about Desert Island Flowers. or Desert Island Main Courses. or even Desert Island Animals?
Not so much fun. eh'.’ Less to scorn. scoff at. barrack. mock and yilify‘.’ Boy. you’re sick! What a mind! (‘ome to think of it. your choice of music might be pretty interesting — can we pencil you in for (iood Friday?
I Photos De Mode. Georges Tourdimann‘s Hommage a Paco Rabanne is accompanied bythe works of Frank Horvatand Francoise Huguier in this French Institute exhibition which looks at the world at high lashion. See Arts page 53.
ITheJekyll and Hyde Follies. 'And which part is i he playing now?‘ asked Noel Coward oiSpencer Tracyin ‘DrJekyll and Mr Hyde'. Amemberolthe Natural Theatre Company is seen here astheralher obscure characterinthe R.L. Stevenson novelwho goes around in Raybans. bathing cap and floral swimsuit. See Theatre page 24.
r‘ 2 é ' -. i, I" in .,," ' ' t‘ r ,4 fr '7
Your guide to the next fourteen days starts here . . .
i I Hatchards Literary
Lunch. Let‘s hope Anthony Burgess. one olthree
2 authors who will be
I delivering postprandial
l perorations. has improved
his table manners since this
photo of him was taken
; some years ago. See Books
I Magical Moonshine. A
show in which some olthe
characters literally get itin f the back of the neck. but
then. asthey‘re only i puppets itdoesn‘tmatterso much. See Kids and Theatre