Desert Island Discs – part four

Helen Annetts give us her choices to be stranded with.

To my delight I’ve been invited to imagine myself on Radio 4 and put together my own Desert Island Discs list. My delight instantly turned to low level anxiety – choosing favourites is never easy – and so after some (much) internal procrastination, over a pleasant 48 hours in lockdown my brain began to churn out songs that reminded me of different moments in time and I decided if I were to find myself on a desert island it is these memories of friends, family and experiences that I would want my music to remind me of. So here goes.

1. Simon and Garfunkel: Feeling Groovy
This was my mum’s cassette tape and it lived in her car. As children we would ride around in her white Nova as she, and eventually us three (me and two brothers), would sing along at the tops of our voices. The whole album reminds me of days out and school holidays. And should we arrive on the drive mid-way through any track on the album we would of course all remain in the car, singing, until the track had ended. Whilst all those songs take me back to childhood Feeling Groovy in particular makes me smile, my brothers and I thought it hilarious to change the lyrics to “feeling goolies”, incredibly childish and as a pre-teen incredibly funny!

2. Transvision Vamp: I want Your Love
As a teenage in the late 80s, early 90s, I definitely wanted to be Wendy James. The nearest I would get was the right shade of lipstick. Transvision Vamp conjures up a couple of memories, first off a school trip to Strasbourg – there is much I could say about this trip from smoking in cafes to having to climb off a broken roller coaster ride to my ‘gang’ and I having to apologise to the whole trip – in French – at breakfast one morning (don’t ask why), Transvision Vamp was the soundtrack to our trip (although it did go a bit pop-tastic at one point, see choice 3 below). Secondly, whilst I avoid singing karaoke at all costs it is in fact mine (and my husband’s) karaoke song of choice. On one of our first holidays as a couple – at a family resort in Portugal, out of season – we wowed the assembled holidaymakers of all ages with our rendition. I am sure you can image the opened mouthed horror.

3. Jason Donovan: Too Many Broken Hearts
That same school trip to Strasbourg brings another musical memory. On the last night of the trip all the pupils put on a variety show. My friends and I staged a mini Top of the Pops – one hosted as Bruno Brooks and the rest of us performed, there was of course a Wendy James and a Madonna, the girls with the attitude to pull it off, whereas my best friend and I opted for Holly Johnson and Jason Donovan respectively. I like to think my Jason Donovan was pretty impressive (white t-shirt, pale blue denim jeans and a cardboard tube for a guitar).

4. Shed Seven: On Standby
I love Shed Seven, I love their northern-ness (although not from my bit of then North but close enough) and I love that most of my friends from university encountered them at some point in a kind of one-step removed way. I think they were one of my first without an adult gigs, in Leeds, with my oldest best friend. I’ve seen them many times, most recently last year in Birmingham.

5. The Charlatans: How High
I have seen The Charlatans many times. More times than I can actually remember at small venues, large venues and festivals. But not as many as one of my best friends, who has photos of herself with Tim – old and recent – and so in part my love of them is a love of going to see them with this friend. Every time it’s an adventure, with several steps to the journey and inevitably low-level drink induced disaster along the way. Choosing one song of theirs has been the hardest of all my choices but the mere thought of How High makes me want to dance!

6. Morrissey: Everyday is Like Sunday
I love The Smiths and Morrissey and this was the music of my late teen years and well, to be honest, ever since. I have seen Morrissey many many times – although I confess never The Smiths. One of my biggest regrets is not seeing them in Leeds in my late teens. My oldest best friend did and she to this day treasures a piece of Morrissey’s shirt – gold mesh – which she rescued from the crowd. It lives, in a box, under her bed. This is my favourite of all his songs, I can listen on a loop and recently have taken to listening to it in the car in Spanish performed by Mexrissey.

7. Oasis: Slide Away (acoustic)
Amazingly I can remember every place I’ve seen Oasis (the years are hazy) – Knebworth, Wembley, Glastonbury, Birmingham. As with any good gig each of these was an ‘event’ with stories and anecdotes to accompany each – and not appropriate for sharing here. Just last year we saw Liam at the NIA, I was dubious but it was a perfect unexpectedly drunken night out, packed with many Oasis songs, and a fitting end to a day that had started at a funeral in Yorkshire. I could choose many songs but I choose an acoustic version of Slide Away sung by Noel (my favourite brother), which was our first dance at our wedding in 2007.

8. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory sound track: Pure Imagination
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of my all-time favourite books. I also love the movies, and while the original always comes out top I am just as happy to watch the 2005 remake. My children have names from the book – Charlie and Joe. My youngest developed his own obsession with the films and for a couple of years we watched them practically on a loop resulting in the inevitable purchase of the soundtrack for journeys in the car. He is word perfect as he sings this song – I am not permitted to join in – and of course if we are midway through the song when we pull up on the drive we wait until the song is finished. If I am deserted on a desert island it would nice to listen and think about the boys – and from the midst of lockdown where we are together ALL the time – it would be nice to miss them!

All that remains now is the book and object. Almost impossible to choose.

Object: I am going photo album. Old style with actual photos. Of course, I’d miraculously have an album that had a selection from every decade of my life to date! I used to be meticulous about photo albums, numbered, with names, dates and locations on the back of each picture for when my memory is gone. It’s been a long time since I printed and sorted any pictures.

Book: Choosing a book has almost been my undoing. So, I’ve chosen the last book I read that is still running through my mind. I’ve read some since this one but I still keep thinking about it. Elif Shafak’s 10 Minutes 38 seconds in This Strange World. The book follows the idea that in each minute of the 10 minutess 38 after your death your mind remembers a moment in your life and all that goes with it.