I’m a loyal listener to Desert Island Discs, usually by way of the podcast, listened to on long journeys, or during wakeful spells in the middle of the night. It is a favourite game to play with friends to both comment on the choices of the guests and to compile lists of what we will ask Kirsty to play when it is our turn for glory.  How would we feel about sharing the Island with some of the more arcane choices of the ‘great and the good’?

‘Did you hear that Ian McMillan chose John Cage’s 4’33?  That’s silence, you know.  Isn’t that cheating?’

‘Yeah, but didn’t he also have Donald where’s yer troosers?  You’d be needing a bit of silence after that.’

‘Guess what Alice Cooper wants for his luxury.’


‘No! Some sort of golf driving range thing.’

‘Oh dear.  I’ve gone right off him, now.’

My choice of discs would change depending on which day you asked me; I have never managed to reach a decision on what book I’d take;  I’ve had debates about whether or not I could have a supply of spoken word podcasts as my luxury, or if they would have to be included in the quota of 8 discs.

More recently I have fixed on the idea that I could use the opportunity of ship wreck  to learn to draw, something for which I until now I have felt an occasional enthusiasm unsupported by any kind of aptitude.  But I do quite fancy the idea of learning how to use pastels.

And now I have had my bluff called, as I received the gift of a box of pastels and sketchbook for Christmas.  As I scribble ‘shading’ on the page I recall an observation made by a tutor on a writing course I attended some while ago that everything I did was extremely neat, and that I should practice making a mess in my notebook and free myself from the constraints of the straight line. Maybe after 6 years I’m finally doing what she recommended.

My cack-handed sketching and my indifferent piano playing (and slightly off key singing, while we’re at it) will only ever be for my own entertainment, but I can see how they all feed the well and release some of the constraints of neatness and of always writing in straight lines.

Sketching, singing piano playing: it makes me sound a bit like a character in a Regency romance destined for a spot of consumption in Act 2.  It’s much more likely that I’d have been the maid emptying the chamber pots and blacking the grates, if I was lucky.  Or if I was less fortunate, one of the crook back workers hoeing in the spring and summer and gleaning behind the harvest threshers on the estate farm in the autumn.

Now there’s an untidy idea that came out of ‘nowhere’.

Leave a comment


  1. margaret nickels

     /  January 11, 2011

    my luxury would be a solar powered toaster ! and endless supplies of very naughty thick white bread ! M.x.

    • See, that’s where there could be a problem – I don’t think the luxury can be a foodstuff. Isn’t it meant to have no practical purpose? I think I’d award you the toaster, but not the bread!

  2. learning how to play and making a mess were some of the hardest things I have had to re-learn in recent years. Didn’t Picasso make some comment about having to learn to draw like a child? Scribble away, Rowena. it will lead somewhere of value.


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