One thing I've been doing a little more of since I've been locked away, like some character in a Charlotte Bronte novel, is listening to podcasts.
I'm not quite ready, even yet, to write about how it's been socially isolating when you've been socially isolating since before it even became a thing. I don't know if I ever will be. Or perhaps it will be my breakout novel, get it?, once things get back to the new normal, written while I've been on enforced leave or something, locked away in my attic.
I've been a fan of The Rewatchables for a while now. A podcast that disects popular movies that are rewatchable. The kind of movie you'd be more than happy to find on some commercial channel at odd hours, or indeed search out on a streaming platform.
I've never been a big fan of true crime podcasts, for some reason my friends seem to think I'd like My Dad Wrote a Porno, but I am yet to tune in.
A new one I have discovered is the BBC 4s' Desert Island Discs. It's not new. Indeed this "podcast" has been happening since 1942. It was recorded on January 27, in the bomb-damaged studios of the BBC. Freelance broadcaster Roy Plomey asked well-known people: "If you were to be cast away alone on a desert island, which eight gramophone records would you choose to have with you, assuming of course you had a gramophone and an inexhaustible supply of needles?"
In September 1951 the stranded celebrities were allowed to add a luxury (the first luxury was garlic) and then the next month they were allowed to bring a book (apparently the Bible was already on the island, perhaps delivered by The Gideon Society, as was the complete works of Shakespeare - now which one would you set alight first to start your fire?).
So, in 2020, more than 3000 editions of Desert Island Discs have been broadcast.
Guests have included such luminaries as Peter Ustinov, Vera Lynn, Stirling Moss, Spike Milligan and Margaret Thatcher. In more recent years Debbie Harry, Bear Grylls, Sir David Attenborough, Tim Minchin, Daniel Radcliffe, Billie Jean King, David Beckham and Sheryl Sandberg have all been guests.
It's got me to thinking, in these times where I've been doing a lot of thinking about what is essential to us, about how much we would actually need to survive if we had to pare it down to the absolute basics, what I would take to the so-called desert island.
So here you go. Eight tracks. One Book. One luxury.
Eight tracks. Where to start? Music has the capacity to transport you. Even if it's nothing more than a little poppy Ed Sheeran number.
So we'll start there.Castle on the Hill. It makes me remember where I came from, the people I grew up with, where we all thought we were going and how few of us actually got there. And you can dance to it.
So, 1. Castle on the Hill, by Ed Sheeran.
No 2 is Alanis Morrisette's Ironic. Because how ironic, or coincidental, would it be. And we all end up meeting the man of our dreams and his beautiful wife.
Boys stir up the next few ones as well: No 3 Give Me One Reason by Tracey Chapman, No 4 Feeling Good by Nina Simone and No 5 Des'Rees Kissing You from Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet.
And then I'll get over all that sop and belt out a song my dad and I used to kill, No 6. Me and Bobby McGee by Charley Pride.
Seven and eight will be dedicated to the kids. But where to start. Their favourite songs now? Or songs they liked when they were little? Even further back ... songs I couldn't get enough of while they were in the womb. No 7 (As much as it irks me to have a Nicole Kidman/Ewan McGregor duet on this list) Come What May, from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. And No 8 U2's much underrated Electrical Storm, which was the same length as the trip to the obstetrician and a fitting summary of the boy who electrified my life from the day he was born.
A book. This was the hardest. James Michener's Centennial, The Bees by Laline Paull, Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, some bad Jack Reacher novel, anything by Meg Mason, or a classic such as Pride and Prejudice or Great Expectations.
No, in the end, and this might tell you where my luxury is heading. I shall find a copy of Nigella Lawson's How to Eat among the wreckage.
Or, if I'm stranded post October 2020, a copy of her upcoming book, Cook, Eat, Repeat. Ingredients, recipes, stories. Because, really that's all we'd need.
And a luxury then. There's a list of luxury items selected by past guests. Bejesus David Beckham what use will all your England caps be? Or, with all due respect Sir David Attenborough, a piano?
I'd want my luxury to be somewhat practical as well. (Not quite as practical as our own Tim Minchin whose pick was a robotic sex doll.)
So then I think I'd choose a cast-iron frying pan. I have found, you may have guessed, some solace in the daily ritual of cooking during these crazy times.
I think the same thing would apply on my island. To pause and come to the fire, flames leaping thanks to Exodus, to the tune of Nina Simone, wondering how on earth tonight I might saute that fish I caught with my bare hands in the lagoon and seasoned with a spot of toasted coconut.