You’d always assumed that Desert Island Discs was purely theoretical. The unsmiling men that greet you upon your exit from the recording studio, however, appear to have other ideas. As you are sackclothed and bundled into a series of vehicles, each echoing more than the last, you conclude that accepting an invitation from that friendly radio producer was probably a mistake. You finally pass out in what you are pretty sure is a cargo hold, awakening an indeterminate amount of time later to the sound of waves crashing against your terrible Wednesday morning.
Tropical solitude. It had sounded like such bliss. Sand against your shoulders, a light orchestral serenade, herring gulls, your arm squinting out the sun. As ever, life in your dreams looks brighter than your life really is. The sweltering atmosphere waits for rain that won’t rain. There is little to see and even less to do. Worse still, it’s embarrassingly evident that your choices were ill-advised: the crate of Easter eggs you’d requested as a luxury are melting, while the book of short stories by the Edwardian satirist Saki contains scant useful information on desalinating seawater. At least there is the portable record player, you think, but six recordings and 22 minutes later you regret opting for quality over quantity. Tubular Bells Part One alone is 25 minutes long. You could have learned to love it. Or why not American Pie? It goes on for about half a day. You suspect that your future holds little except malnourishment and onanism. “I’ve made it through worse scrapes than this,” you remark to a crab that isn’t really paying attention, but no examples spring to mind.
As you daydream about Kirsty Young and how you will sue her, a throbbing in the distance announces the arrival of Trouble. Three black dots menace the horizon for the whole four minutes and 34 seconds of Disco 2000, before revealing themselves all at once to be a trio of skiffs. Their crews, shimmering in the afternoon, are armed no matter how much you pretend otherwise. “This isn’t going to end well,” you tell a pile of rocks. It’s unclear whether it agrees.
After the Trouble, before the endless wait to come, between handfuls of slurried chocolate goop, you reflect on how you’ve been abusing the word ‘unspeakable’. Nothing you have done in your life has been truly unspeakable until now. The bodies. The burnt lips. The things you just did. You wouldn’t even know where to begin. Wiping the blood off the player, you put on the final record, grimly satisfied that you brought the right song for the moment after all. The needle finds the groove while you stare at nothing in particular and wait for rain that won’t come.
What song do you listen to and what do you do next?
Originally published in Oh Comely Issue Thirty-Two.