This piece is the result of a writing exercise building on the selection of items for the BBC Radio4 ‘ Desert Island Discs’ format. My recording selections and luxury item can be found at the end of the piece, see if you can relate each to the piece.
The heroic musical themes of the Puccini playing out over the ships loudspeakers seemed bizarre in the chaos as the last of we passengers hung onto the railings not knowing what to do for the best. The Messa di Gloria, a mass for glory seemed rather inappropriate but then it did its best, it could have been a requiem I guess. Another chap spoilt the delicious harmony as he screamed his way down into the sucking vortex of the ships sinking.
I had hung on as long as I did because I thought I could see through the waves as blip of some land getting closer but then I could have just been desperate.
In my head I was singing You Raise Me Up, as the largest of the waves pushed me over the coral reef and rolled my almost lifeless body onto the beach. The sand’s heat was welcome through the tattered remains of my dress suit. We have been attending a gala evening dinner and show. The spectacle of the chandelier falling to the stage during iconic excerpts from Phantom of the Opera proved to not be an effect but the start of the catastrophe.
Listening to the swish swash of the gentle wave fall around me, I didn’t really want to open my eyes for the fear of what might be there. Eventually though, as there were no other sounds to go by I forced the gritty lids to open. A sea of red made them snap shut and I cried out at the pain of crushed sea shells scratching my delicate corneas. Forcing them open, the red wasn’t the gore that I must have thought but a wall of of crimson poppies on the edge of the semi tropical undergrowth. Always musically minded, the opening bars of Andrea Bocelle, Amapola, Poppies, a love song, gently massaged away the pain.
The waves were retreating as the tide fell back towards the lagoon and I sat on a fallen tree trunk watching the large red crabs picking through the high tides bounty.
I had been lucky to have survived, I had to keep telling myself that singular fact although where things would go from here I had no idea. From a week or more of detritus being washed ashore, most of it damaged beyond use by the destructive, grabbing fingers of the reef, it did at least give me more than nature alone was providing. The most useful thing was a large container presumably from the kitchens. Being empty and the lid having somehow stayed on gave me an insect, reptile and bird proof receptacle for things.
A bottle of whisky from the bar had also run the gauntlet but seemed to go down far too quickly. I had taken to sitting to watch the sun go down watching the stars being born in the twilight and quietly singing a Barbara Streisand classic Evergreen, it seemed appropriate in this verdant if empty paradise.
After the amber liquid had run out my stomach was eviscerating itself as I found that you can’t live on coconut as a staple for very long, I forced myself to venture into the lush low jungle.
Surprisingly I thought I would have done this much earlier but the malaise that had settled, hoping to spot the grey white billows from the funnels of a rescue ship slicing through the horizon was fading with each sunset.
I hadn’t gone far along what seemed to be a natural winding path when I was transfixed by an obviously unnatural figure, a slab of rock fringed with creeping vegetation depicted a large figure some twelve feet high. An Armed Man. A warrior, I stood and stared, the jungle around me took on a very different feeling now and every twist of vine became a native limb, each flower became an eye. I tried to become part of the vegetation but nature rejected me and I fled.
Back in the exposed safety of the open beach I realised that my mind was playing tricks as it showed me the flailing blades of scissor like fingers slicing trough the greenery and bloodily into me, Jonny Depp’s portrayal of the misunderstood Edward sent a shiver through me although it was calmed slightly by the haunting theme of what was one of my favourite films. Common sense returned. The figure was obviously just part of a lingering history, hopefully now long gone.
My still tingling nerves reacted with an electric shock and I threw myself to the ground at the terrifying noise from behind me. A long bellowing cacophony of unearthly noise. Behind closed eyes my brain scrambled for an image to put to it; it found one but not before a hand grabbed my shoulder and tried to turn my screwed up face to the sunlight.
A soft French accent massaged my ears, “This one’s alive skip, come on my friend, let’s bring you home.”
Desert Island Discs
Puccini Messa di Gloria
Andrea Bocelle Amapola (Poppy)
Andrew Lloyd-Webber Night time – Phantom of the Opera
Claude-Michel Schönberg Bring Him Home – Les Mis
Barbara Streisand Everything – A start is born
Danny Elfman Theme – Edward Scissor Hands
Karl Jenkins The Armed Man
Josh Groben You raise me up
Luxury Large Large Waterproof Container