Did you hear Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 this morning? If not, listen now. Here’s a link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07djzyq#play . And I don’t normally push links onto my blog readers so, believe me, you really should listen to this. Wherever you live, whatever your age, listen. If you’re in the midst of A Levels, listen straight away; it will both console and inspire you.
I love Radio 4 in part because it provides a window onto the lives of interesting people, places and experiences. David Nott, it seems, is a genuine, genuinely important person, rather than a “celebrity”. Would that we were more aware of the people like him, and of our own individual potential to be interesting, important, genuine.
Why does Desert Island Discs work? I used to set a Year 7 homework project early in the autumn term, where children researched the premise of the programme, analysed tracks that had been chosen by its guests, and then prepared their own list of Desert Island Discs. I learnt about the impact of music in the lives of my new pupils, just as they learnt about the impact of music in the lives of important people – people who often had careers or media coverage that did not involve music. David Nott’s interview provided further insight into some of my recent gripes about the teaching of music and how we describe those who are involved in music (see my previous blog, published earlier in the week). I do not teach music because I want a few people to become musicians. I teach music because I hope that everyone can find music in their lives, and experience it in the way that David Nott did after his pancake-fire mishap. I teach music because it helps us to be more human.
Today’s programme was not just about music, but about humanity: David Nott, his loved ones, his colleagues, his patients, the Queen. I was far more aware of their humanity, their strengths and frailties, than I would be through any news bulletin. The beauty of the format is that the music gave him (and therefore us) the space to acknowledge that humanity. And what music! Who else found themselves humming along to the second track, reflecting that air travel seems so much more amazing, so mythical, when the lyrics are in Welsh? Who else, by the time the Coldplay track came on, had stopped what they were doing because of the tears in their eyes? Who else, regardless of their political affiliations and opinions about the monarchy, felt a little bit more admiration for the Queen after the corgi story?
Listen. Laugh, smile, cry. Feel thankful for your life and the people in it. And feel thankful for the David Notts in our world. May we all be more like him.