Thursday, 4 November 2010

Desert Island Discs

As some of you may know, the Desert Island Discs is the BBC Radio 4 programme, created way back in 1942 by Roy Plomley, and currently presented by Kirsty Young. To echo its own web site: "... the format is simple: a guest is invited ... to choose eight records they would take with them to a desert island." I am fairly sure a similar programme used to run on one of the (better) Belgrade's FM stations when I was (much) younger. Whether that programme also included current enhancements to the BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs - one book, and one other "comfort" object - I truly don't know.

What I do know, however, is that - unlike current British deputy PM, Nick Clegg - I will probably never be invited to the show. Which, of course, does not stop me wondering what records (and the book, and the object) I might have chosen had I been lucky (i.e. famous and/or important) enough. Also, in the safety of my in inconsequentialness, I can also decide that I, in fact, through my dual nationalityness, deserve to choose two sets of records. To make this unfair advantage ever so slightly fairer, I will consign my self to one set of ex-Yugoslav (and I mean SFRJ) records and one set of "world music" records. I will extend the same rule to books, too, but I will stop at only one object. Fair is fair, after all...

Difficult as the choice is for records, it is much more difficult for books - what with having be allowed only one (each). It is, by extension, even more difficult for the object. Therefore, I shall start with it - the object. First, I will assume that the desert island is a "proper" desert island, i.e. one with no electricity, phones, or even Internet (I do hope it's still one with enough food, drink, and facilities for essnetial ablutions). Unlike Nick Clegg, I don't think I also need to assume that there'll be fire (his "object" was a supply of cigarettes - very controversial and brave choice in this day and age). After all, I could conceivably (and happily) live off veg, fruit, and sushi (it is an island, after all, so I assume ample supply of fish - maybe even shellfish). So, without further ado (but after much deliberation), my object of choice ,to keep me company in my loneliness, is... wait for it... a writing set. Having already succumbed to the delusions of self-importance, and never the one to lose hope, I would very likely want to write down a kind of a diary stroke life story stroke cry for help. And if I am not rescued before I drop dead then I could at least leave my story behind - peppered with (more than) a few choice words for my "rescuers".

The "object" (I know, I cheated - but then Nick Clegg asked for more than one cigarette) out of the way, we come to books. For the "world" book I briefly entertained the thought of One Hundred Years Of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but as much as I love it, I think it would be very inappropriate on a desert island (and I assume it would be just me on the island, right?). Pretty much the same applies to No One Writes To The Colonel - even if I am not one. So, having been cheated by destiny, I decided to cheat a little bit myself and go for Dune, by Frank Herbert - all six of the original series. They do read like a single (master)piece, after all.

While the ex-Yugoslav book choice did not present such a conundrum, I still had to think long and hard. Do I go for Dorotej, by Dobrilo Nenadić - this being by far my most favourite book by a Serbian author, or maybe Igra s hudičevim repom ("A Game with the Devil's Tail") by Vitomil Zupan (Slovenia)? In the end, and again after (very) much deliberation the choice fell on S Krležom iz dana u dan ("With Krleža, day in, day out"), by Enes Čengić. I doubt the last one of the three was ever translated into any language, but if you happen to come across it (or the other two) in a language you can enjoy (no, it's not enough to just "know" it) do give it (them) a go. This, of course, applies to my "world" book choices, too!

And now, for something completely different...

Sorry. I got carried away a little. What's left to list are the records - not films, or TV shows. Although that would be interesting to do, too. But, let's stick to the format, and get on with the choices. At least with records I won't bore you with my uncertainties, and will just present you with two lists. And one caveat. Similar to the case of Dune, I have chosen to consider a double (or even a triple) album as a single record. I think that is very fair, seeing as you'd never accept coming back from the shop wiht just one record out of The Beatles' White Album, for example.

And now, here are the lists, the "world" one again being the first...

The "world" music Desert Island Discs:

The ex-Yugoslav music Desert Island Discs:

Right. I hope you enjoyed it. I also hope you'll try and find at least some of these (books as well) and give them a go. I know I do - often. Yes, I am the type who revisits favourite books every so often, and yes, I listen to my favourite music much, much more than every so often. Now, if only Kirsty Young invited me into her show...

I probably need to create another list of records: my favourite eight classical pieces. I will leave this exercise (no, not to the reader) for later, either as an update to this post or as a brand new one. For now, suffice it to say that my all time favourite classical piece is Mozart's Violin Concerto #5 in A Major (K219, or Turkish).