It’s a relatively simple idea: you’re to be castaway on a desert island, and you must choose the eight records that you can have with you to while away the hours lazing under a palm tree next to the lagoon. Assuming of course that you haven’t smuggled your i-life with you.
This is the format of Britain’s longest-running ‘celebrity’ chat-show, which has been on the airwaves for getting on for 70 years – although we’re talking celebrity in the traditional BBC sense of the word: politicians, authors, scientists and the like. BBC Radio 4 is normally the domain of round-the-clock news, politics, current affairs and the shipping forecast, all delivered in a clipped and controlled Queen’s English that betrays no emotion and harks back to the days when invisible radio announcers nonetheless had to wear dinner jackets to read the news. However, for an hour every Saturday it opens itself up to the nostalgic musical tastes of its subjects. It’s the only time you’re ever likely to hear Eminem on Radio 4 (choice of Sir Clive Woodward, former World Cup winning England rugby coach).
So you get eight pieces of music, the complete works of Shakespeare, the Bible and a luxury item washed up on the beach with you. Hell-raising actor Oliver Reed requested an inflatable doll, while American author Norman Mailer said he’d take a supply of marijuana. Though surely you could grow your own on a tropical desert island?
I’m pretty sure I’d take a surfboard – a 6’2”, just on the off-chance that there’d be a smoking reef pass on the edge of the lagoon, like the one in that Tom Hanks movie. I’d guess that there’d be nowhere to develop camera film on a desert island anyway.
But there is no way I could settle on just eight pieces of music, in fact I reckon I’d struggle with selecting eight albums, because I could guarantee that the next day my mood would change and I’d be hankering for Metallica rather than Miles Davis.
Eight memorable waves? Too tough.
Eight memorable sessions? Well, perhaps I could recall and compile a list of my top eight surfs, although surely it has to be a list of seven being that one would have to be your first ever surf; the one that got you hooked on this whole endeavour.
You never know, perhaps your island would have that little kink or gap in the reef that, combined with the prevailing swell direction and trade winds would combine to produce your dream wave. All to yourself. Perhaps seven sessions out there would populate the rest of your list?
It seems to me that surfing is a pursuit that fills our brains with incredible memories, often fleeting periods that are difficult to recall in all of their wonderment as we’re so wrapped up in the moment. Can you really recall that “best wave ever”, in the same stark clarity with which you experienced it, every crystalline detail, droplet and glint of light refracting off the inside of that barrel? It only lasted a few seconds, so why not?
I love lists, but compiling this one is just too hard.
Go on – give it a go yourselves.