River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Desert Island Discs

November 2001

Graham Forster offers his choice

How many readers, I wonder, listen to the very long running series on Radio 4, "Desert Island Discs"? I have to confess that I have been hooked on it, off and on, for about forty-five years. It is the format that fascinates me - to somehow select only eight records to take with you onto this imaginary island and at the same time chose one book (apart from the Bible and Shakespeare's works that are already there), plus a luxury item.

The invited guests to this programme cover the complete spectrum. In the majority of cases, they will be well known to everybody but there will also be people like the Astronomer Royal, the chief executive of a charity or the Colonel-in-Chief of the Salvation Army. This latter group I find the most listenable of all and their choice of music is equally interesting. Having said that, the invitees that stand out in my memory over the years are Kenny Everett, John Major, Cilla Black, Eric Sandon (of Antiques Road Show) and Elizabeth Schwartzkopf, who, after nearly fifty years, is the only person to select all eight discs of herself singing!

I have often mused about being invited onto Desert Island Discs, my claim to fame being nothing more than being an ordinary guy who has tried to enjoy life and made sure that those around him have enjoyed theirs. Trying to select eight records, though, is bordering on the impossible but I have made a stab at it, and they are:

If I was only allowed to take one, it would have to be Moonlight Serenade as it holds so many memories for me of a sentimental nature.

My one book would have to be a good-sized dictionary. It may not have much of a plot but I can browse through one for hours making up imaginary "Call My Bluff" programmes, and I would also need it for my crossword compiling that I would carry out on dried palm leaves.

My luxury would have to be a solar-powered radio. It would have to have Long Wave so that I could lie back in the sun and be able to listen to all the Test Matches.

As for how I would cope, I am not sure. I am reasonably resourceful so I think I should survive. As regards "would I try to escape", I think the answer would be "Yes". However, my DIY skills are not exactly legendary and any boat that I might be able to make would founder very quickly, I think.

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this article and I would like to think that there are other readers who might like to air their preferences for the items that fall within this radio programme's remit. So get thinking, put pen to paper and send them to Ray Thompson - you will find it great fun.

Graham Forster

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