Saturday, 12 June 2010

Desert Island Disc-aster

Moan disclaimer: it has been commented in the past that I moan a lot on this blog. Let it be noted that I am blogging about this topic specifically because I was asked to by my friend Helen, not because I intended to.

There are bits of BBC's Radio 4 of which I am very fond. But there are certain programmes that I switch away from as fast as the radio's buttons allow - and one of these is Desert Island Discs. For those not familiar with it, a famous person (the 'castaway') is supposed to be washed up on a desert island with a solar powered music machine, a handful of records, a book and a luxury. Their choices are weaved into a discussion of their life and work, with snippets played from the records.

In one sense, my aversion is pure gut. I hear that awful theme tune (see below) and I just want to run and hide. There's no logic to that, simple knee-jerk reaction. If I try to analyse the dislike, in part it's that the format is so dated. It was started in an age of reverence for authority figures, and you feel the presenter should be dressed in a DJ (even though she is now a woman), as all good radio presenters once were.

My second problem is that the whole thing feels so false. The scenario of the castaway, certainly, but also the whole pally, 'Let's chat over a coffee and learn a little about your through the music that was important in your life,' makes me shudder. It's hardly probing and insightful.

Perhaps most of all it's because I'm not interested in 'famous people' (not that I've heard of half the people they drag on). If it were someone I knew personally, then, yes, I'd listen with interest. But what do I care that some obscure painter or orchestral conductor or politician or whatever was inspired at the age of 13 by Elvis Presley?

Is that Desert Island Discs I hear on the radio? Must dash, I've some paint to watch drying.

Image from BBC site


  1. Oh dear, I didn't intend to give you a complex about moaning and I feel bad now. It was only a lighthearted comment - I like your blog and if you're a bit Meldrew from time to time, that's all part of the charm. So, please, moan away as much as you like!

  2. Don't worry, Sara - nothing can stop the grumpy old moans.

  3. Thanks for heeding my request, Brian. I can't say I agree with you on most points, but you have made them eloquently, as usual! Keep the blogs coming, I enjoy reading them.

  4. Heresy! You'll be having a go at the Archers next.

  5. Now that you're doing Moans to order, can you tell me how I go about ordering one please? Will you cover all subjects or will you specialise? And in what sectors?

    Will you have a sign on your door saying "The Moaner is In" ?

  6. Thanks, Helen - I accept you can't expect everything to work for everyone. It would be boring if it did. For instance, I don't think I dare (in your presence) mention my opinion of jazz. Similarly I love Tudor/Elizabethan church music - but I realize it is boring/unapproachable to some.

    Henry - is it possible to have a go at the Archers? That DOES sound like heresy. But I know a woman who could.

    Ian - I will moan about anything, but my rate card varies dependent on topic. Rate card available on request from And Peanuts needs to catch up. In this modern, electronically connected world, the moaner is always in.

  7. I've been thinking for a while of doing a series of blog posts on my pet hates... women with noisy shoes who walk directly behind me; anyone with an umbrella; people who dither around on station concourses with wheelie bags that trip you up ... and after that it gets serious.

  8. I look forward to it, Henry. Perhaps we could have a follow up to the 'Grumpy old women/Grumpy old men' TV series... 'Grumpy old science writers'.