I agreed to do Desert Island Discs, thinking it would be one of the most enjoyable and truly cool things I’d ever done. The invitation is really charming. They explain how the programme works (“you have to imagine you’ve been marooned on a desert island … etc.”) as if you didn’t know, as if you haven’t been planning your appearance, choosing your records at regular intervals all your life. I wonder do they do that with knighthoods (“in olden times, there were men who dressed up in metal armour. You won’t need to do that yourself but …).
The people were also charming – patient, encouraging and very funny. But … doing the show is a really sobering experience. A bit like joining in a parlour game only to find that you have in fact turned up for The Last Judgement. For one thing, you only get to do it once (unless you’re Peter Ustinov or Arthur Askey) so there’s a real feeling of mortality and finality about it. Choosing your eight records is like shopping for your gravestone, packing for the Next Life. And obviously once you’re done, you regret your choices. Because the truth is you don’t chose your eight favourite records. You chose eight records that allow you to talk about yourself. I think there’s one of the eight that I would actually play now. But it’s too late. I have to live with them now. No second chances. And I will be forever in the archive as the man who did not take any Dolly Parton to his desert island. Or any Johnny Cash. Or Half Man Half Biscuit. Or Thomas Tallis. Or Buzzcocks (ad lib and fade).