Attenborough’s ‘surprising luxury’

3rd February 2012 | Daily Life, Musings | 3 comments

This morning we listened to a delightful edition of ‘Desert Island Discs’ featuring Sir David Attenborough, irresistible as always. What a lovely voice he has!

‘Desert Island Discs’ is a long-running radio series in which each ‘castaway’ chooses the eight records they’d like to take to an imaginary desert island. In between musical choices, they talk about their lives and speculate about how they’d manage on the island. At the end, they get to choose a book and a luxury they’d like to take with them.

During the week there had been trailers for the programme, mentioning that David Attenborough had chosen ‘a rather surprising luxury’. I was curious to know what it was.

And guess what? It was a piano. Since when is that ‘a rather surprising luxury’?

Yes, OK, as a musician I suppose I’d be bound to feel outraged on behalf of pianos. Perhaps whoever wrote the trailer only meant that it was ‘surprising’ for a naturalist to choose a musical instrument – though personally I don’t find it in the least unusual, given people’s breadth of interests. And if I were to be cast away on a desert island, none of my friends would be in the least surprised if my luxury were an raccoon or an otter to keep me company.


  1. peter

    I would certainly want to have a piano with me on a desert island.

    You may be interested in an old article by Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian newspaper, about his daily compulsion to play the piano:

    “And yet playing the piano – or trying to play the piano – is now such a part of my life that a day now feels incomplete without having sat at the keyboard for even two minutes. . . . All this may one day become clear. Until then I shall stumble on, feeling that the act of playing the piano each day does in some way settle the mind and the spirit. Even five minutes in the morning feels as though it has altered the chemistry of the brain in some indefinable way. Something has been nourished. I feel ready – or readier – for the day.”

  2. Susan Tomes

    Oh yes, Peter, I know that article. I always make a point of reading a newspaper whose editor plays the piano!

  3. Gareth

    It’s always a delight but rarely a surprise when someone chooses a piano as their luxury on Desert Island Discs (I say luxury, but for many of us a piano must be almost a necessity). After all, if you’re not a person who loves to play the piano every day already, you may view being cast away as an ideal chance to become proficient at playing an instrument that perhaps you abandoned in childhood. It’s interesting to look at the list of people who have chosen the piano, which one can do now on the Desert Island Discs Archive.


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