Living on an Island, You’ve Gotta Fight For Your Right to Party. Here in the UK that’s exactly us, Britain as an Island, on the edge of Europe, sorta like Japan, on the EDGE of a huge continent, physically, and with the declaration of BREXIT, politically as well. It’s arguable the UK’s BREXIT decision, was partly driven by what some say is an ‘island mentality’. Perhaps that explains our love of books like Treasure Island, Childhood memories of a popular TV programme Robinson Crusoe, shot in German, dubbed into English, telling tales of survival, racism. Change and survival, another Island story. But long before this, survival alone had been a myth on a LONG, LONG, LONG, running BBC Radio 4 (UKs primary news and current affairs, drama, and documentary radio station) programme, Desert Island Discs.
In the Desert Island Disc scenario, a famous guest - and there have been many of seriously famous guests - or someone perhaps less well known, but highly respected in their field, ends up shipwrecked on a deserted island, they can have EIGHT records to keep them going, and a few other luxuries, but the emphasis is on music, and the reasons for their music choices. The conversation between guest and presenter, the current presenter is Lauren Laverne, one of the UK’s most popular voices, often traces the guests path and background, their formative years…
Most ‘guests’ on the Island are around baby boomers’ age, and their music choices are often familiar, sometimes well regarded, occasionally sneered at. Guests are regularly surprising, from the gambit of usually British ‘worthies’, and their music choices are always worth a glance. It’s an equanimous listen, with occasional dollips of emotion, no wonder it attracts the big names, perhaps in the way that in the US, Terri Gross’ Fresh Air can do too.
Watching the current political partygate fever sweeping across the UK, with UK’s equivalent of the WHITE HOUSE, or the ELYSEE PALACE, looking, feeling, and, by all accounts, sounding like the classic baby boomer brattish fantasy film, ANIMAL HOUSE, with BOLLINGER Boris in John Belushi’s roll as the instigator-in-chief of party central in 2020. In those early pandemic days with their sudden and draconian restrictions - literally everything closed - the old adage, ‘No man is an Island’ rang hollow, as we realised physically and psychologically that we actually were all islands, isolated, insulated, introverted. BUT… Together. Sure we had Zoom, Whatsapp, and Tic-Tok, but it was the intimacy we craved. The number of lockdown fixed penalty notices, testify to that. So, was it a surprise that our fun loving, irresponsible leader, BORIS, would be a party animal in his frat house in London. I suppose in lockdown there was an island, isolation, insulated mentality, that led to the almost Lotus Eater, a world apart, mentality that infuses more than a few Island communities. 10 Downing Street must have felt immune from the new restricted normal in those 2020 hot spring and summer days, an island, no prying eyes, no ears to the wall, their police doing what they are told, seeing only what BORIS told them to see, no sense of suffering or the pain endured outside.
More recently there have been reports of music on laptops, dancing in the kitchens and shuffling in number 10’s garden, and basement, a broken child’s swing, beer, wine, and perhaps cocktails flowing. Listening to the chatter, denials, and obfuscations, (that’s half truth’s, wrapped in a semi-fictional, partial reality, viewed through the mists of wistful delusions), this issue of parties, was Boris was there? I got to wondering just what music would BoJo have chosen? Looking at some of BoJo’s choices on Desert Island Discs, in 2005, I’m glad I gave the Boris party a miss.
Before checking the Desert Island Discs’ Web page, revealing Bollinger Boy’s selection, I did wonder would we find Phil Collins, Wham, was he a US rocker with ‘The Boss’, or Boston? Clicked the link and there were none of these, thankfully. Instead we had; Booker T and the MGs – Soul Limbo, The Beatles - Here Comes the Sun, The Rolling Stones - Start Me Up, Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl, The Clash - Pressure Drop, and three classical composers (coincidently all starting “B”, perhaps “B” for Boris), revealing? Surprising? Whatever. In 2005 he’d’ve had his eyes on the London Mayor’s job, and I’d’ve expected ‘London Calling’, but perhaps he wasn’t as craven then, as he appears now.
Looking at his 2005 choices there’s a couple of goodtime garden party tunes, Start Me Up, swigged down with cans of Stella, and as the evening progresses, Soul Limbo and The Clash awash with cold Red Strip. As the evening calms, the sun sets, shadows lengthen and lovers dance closer together with Brown Eyed Girl, floating on the ‘Summer breeze blowing through the jasmine in my mind’, we can get a feel for a Boris Party, suitcased in booze, wine and beer.
I’m left wondering what tunes he might have played then, or could choose now, as he considers an unprivileged lonely life outside Parliament. One thing I think we can all agree on is, it won’t be a ‘Semi-detached suburban Mr Jones‘ day for Boris, but he IS likely to be ‘Lazing on a sunny afternoon’ if things pan out as some predict. But will he be singing ‘I fought the law and the law won’ any time soon, we can only hope. In what may be Boris’s end game, that’s how it feels, he may regret adopting his ‘You gotta fight for your right to party’ attitude.
Perhaps the sadness, and sense of a clapped out performer, in the sunset of their professional life, embodied in Rick Nelson’s regret tinged hit, ‘Garden party’ - would be a suitable epitaph for Boris’s political career.