Friday, March 19, 2010

Deserting this island discs episode 2

I am listening to Duncan Bannatine's Desert Island Discs as I write this; I can only presume that he is choosing them so that he will have to escape his island very quickly and get back to making millions.

You probably feel the same about mine but onwards and upwards. I have given up trying to download videos, I will be dead before I get eight records up so am going to add the youtube reference instead in the hope that you can just click on it if not you will have to cut and paste into google - sorry!

Me and Stewart had a long courtship with lots of separations while he was at college, we wrote every day and the letters are upstairs somewhere in the attic. This record sums up all those distant longings and it is great to sing along to; Louis Armstrong and Give me a kiss to buld a dream on

Then we got married and I love this song from Juno which I saw with Jess a year or so ago so this makes me think of young marriage and also my friendship with my daughter.

The music that I liked in the 60s and 70s and that has stayed with me through the subsequent decades revolves mostly around the folk scene which I was vaguely a part of. I visited the Jug o Punch Folk Club every Thursday and at last got close to the black polo necked bearded bohemians I lusted after; typically as soon as they started lusting after me I tired of them but I did love a lot of the music and even though I sing like a corncrake and was instructed by teachers at school to mime in assembly, I did and still do love bellowing out the choruses. I have wracked my brains for the song I liked best; I found this video and it will do: Wild Mountain Thyme by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

The 70s for me wasn't a time of dancing in discos or singing in folk clubs, well not after 1972 when I had Sam it wasn't; it is just a blur of child rearing and endeavouring not to go bankrupt on one very low salary. I did find time to run a national campaign about drug side effects however and politics were and still are big part of my life. One singer that I loved and still love was Carole King and Natural woman has resonance. I even had a perm a bit like Carole's except I could only afford the pensioners' special at the local salon and guess what it made me look exactly as it said on the tin.

The politics involved lots of marching against things especially into the early 80s, the bomb, the poll tax, unemployment, lots of Maggie, Maggie, Maggie out, out out; years of pounding the streets, leafletting and canvassing. To mark that part of my life and my lifelong feminism, here is Dame Ethel Smyth's The March of the women

My working years from the mid 80s to last year were all about the NHS, going on radio and television to defend the indefensible and running white water conferences. I loved nearly every minute and made some real friends along the way. Every conference meant a dinner and a dance and I am afraid I was famous for my enthusiastic dancing. To mark that how about Dancing queen by Abba

And then there was cancer and you know all about that if you have been reading this blog - a song for that - here you go: Always look on the bright side of life from Life of Brian

Friendship has come to the fore since my diagnosis. I have never been one for loads of friends but we have a few very very good ones and they have been with me every step of the way since September - in my back pocket awaiting the call from Kirsty I always had the Duet from the Pearl Fishers by Bizet as my music of friendship. Here it is sung by Jussi Bjorling, one of Stewart's favourites

OK so I now I have 8 already here and two yesterday but I am allowed to cheat a bit. One last one then - the tear jerker to end on; well how could I leave a dry eye

Billy Holliday singing I'll be seeing you

At this point on the programme Kirsty would turn to me and ask me what book I want to read before I die. The answer is the one I am reading now because if you think about it that confounds the fates and means that I will live forever. If Kirsty catches onto that then my answer would be Sam's book as I really do want to read it but it taxes all my lazy genes. It's The Birmingham Quaen by Sam Trainor and it's an epic poem, a novel, a commentary and about three other things all rolled into one. It's also very long so again it serves the purpose of life extension.

My luxury, not sure- either a daily massage or The Milkmaid by Vermeer.

What place do I want to visit? L'Esperance in St Pere sur Vezelay please , a long lovely lunch with all of my family around me

Finally will I try to escape my fate - you bet I will. So thank you Kirsty and sort the video technology will you.


  1. Well, this has little to do with desert island discs but you did mention working for some 20 years in the NHS amongst other things so there's the link.
    I like the comments in today's Mail Online from a former NHS doctor about Jade Goody's diagnosis:
    Good on her for speaking out. It will undoubtedly help others.
    I know you share her concerns.
    Mistakes happen in every country. Are there more in your NHS than over here, for example.
    Who can measure that. Purely by anecdotal experience, I would imagine.

  2. Yes Hi Zoe, I dont know what it is; rather than looking for things they often seem to be trying to avoid looking and fobbing off is a developed art form over here. I dont find the same attitude in France but then they are a nation of hypochondriacs!