Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations

Christmas Trees…and Palm Trees

I didn’t mean to blog about Christmas trees but I was in Trafalgar Square the other day, and I had to mention this one. It’s the biggest I’ve ever seen, and each evening, leading up to Christmas, there’s carol singing under the tree, which is usually accompanied by much stamping of feet to keep warm.

Not this year, though. Just ten days ago, over on the Harlequin Community site, some of us chilly Brits were volunteering to exchange a few icy breezes with Tina Beckett’s warm ones, as the weather here in the UK was freezing! So Tina, if you’ve had a hand in the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having here for the last few days, thank you!

This year, it’s been warm enough to sit outside and enjoy a coffee, and to stop a while to watch the pavement artists.  Charlie Chaplin was in attendance, along with other mime performers, a piper and the Christmas Fairy, who magically came to life in order to smile and wave for the children.

But I digress. On to the palm trees, which was what I originally intended to blog about.

Christmas is a great time for party games, and this year, thanks to the BBC website, I’ve re-discovered a new angle on an old favourite. Everyone in the UK will know exactly what I mean when I say ‘Desert Island Discs’, but for those who don’t have have a clue what I’m talking about, let me explain.

‘Desert Island Discs’ was first broadcast by BBC radio in 1942 and it’s one of its longest running programmes. The format’s simple. Each week a different guest imagines themselves stranded on a desert island. In the first episodes they were allowed a gramophone with an unlimited number of needles and eight records. In September 1951 one luxury was added to the list, and since October 1951 the castaways have also been given a copy of The Bible (or another appropriate devotional text) and the complete works of Shakespeare and asked to choose one additional book to take with them.

Since then, the programme has continued in much the same vein, although today’s guests aren’t offered gramophone needles to play their tracks. And last year the BBC added a database to their website, which allows you to search and compare your own choices with those of almost 3,000 radio castaways.  Click here to see the castaways’ choices on the BBC website. 

It’s interesting reading. Some of the more outlandish luxury items include a stone from the stomach of a fossilised dinosaur, a blue vase, a snowglobe, a Chippendale cabinet, a solar powered vibrator, 20 tons of pine needles and two established vines with a tin bath to make wine. My own choices are a little less creative – I’m torn between soap (which has been chosen 23 times) and paper and pens (chosen 154 times).

Choosing one book poses much more of a challenge. Something I haven’t read? I’d be kicking myself if I found that I didn’t like the book. Something I’ve read and loved? That’s a very long list to choose from. As I only have one choice, and I’ll never cover everything I want to take, then perhaps I should go for something to keep me occupied. On the basis that I didn’t fully understand Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’ the first time I read it, then maybe a couple of years on a desert island would be long enough for me to crack it.

And what about the eight discs? Well I’m completely stumped with those. Do I choose from the classics, works which I’ve known and loved for years? Or perhaps the soundtracks of my teens and twenties? Remembrances of people and places? I started to make a list of all the tracks that I might want to take and gave up when I hit three figures.

Or maybe I’d take a more practical approach. Stranded alone on a desert island, I’d need music to lift my spirits, so perhaps some tracks I can sing along with, which will get me up and dancing in the sand whenever I hit a low spot. Not necessarily good music, or even music which I like the best, but something cheerful to help me face the day.

How would you choose? Or perhaps the musicians amongst us would do as Daniel Barenboim did and take musical scores instead of records? And do you have favourite party games for the times that your family gathers together to celebrate?

Whatever you’re doing this Christmas, I hope it’s a happy one!

Annie x

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14 thoughts on “Christmas Trees…and Palm Trees”

  1. Oh I love the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree. A gift from the people of Norway?? I think???
    Also loved listening to Desert Island Discs when we lived in the UK. But I severely doubt I could settle on any handful of things. Can I cheat and say access to the www? 🙂

    1. Yes, that’s right, Amy – the tree’s been a gift every year since 1947 and it’s decorated in traditional Norwegian style, with white lights running vertically from the tip to the base. It’s such a nice idea – something that so many people enjoy every year.

      You can definitely cheat! In the old days, they used to be quite strict about what you could have for your luxury, but they’ve loosened up quite a bit now. Two castaways have chosen the www – but they’ve only been allowed to receive, not send – so unfortunately you can’t email anyone to tell them where you are 😦

  2. Just popping in to wish all of you a Merry/Happy Christmas.

    I would not be able to choose just one more book. I’d have to cheat a bit and go for the complete works of Jane Austin to temper the Shakespeare. Is there an anthology that would include a book by quite a few authors?

    I think any eight songs heard over and over would drive a person a little bit crazy, Could I cheat again and ask for 8 audio books?

    Could my luxury Item be a solar powered ereader with a lot of books?

    1. Kaelee, thank you so much for popping in. Cheating’s definitely allowed on our desert island and if there isn’t a complete works of Jane Austen there should be – so the anthology’s yours. You are in good company – 27 other castaways have chosen to take works by Jane Austen with them.

      The solar powered e-reader and 8 audio books are yours too. Have a very peaceful and happy Christmas!

  3. merry Christmas everyone! Annie, I would have to take my collection of Austen. I am not a huge music person so nothing springs to mind but I would need Emma, Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. Amy, the ABC do Desert Island discs. Fiona x

    1. Merry Christmas Fiona! The complete works of Jane Austen are yours too. If pressed for one work of fiction, I think I’d choose Persuasion as well – one of those books you can read over and over again.

      So pleased to hear that Desert Island Discs has made it to Australia – I wasn’t sure whether it had or not.

  4. Merry Christmas, everyone!

    Annie, I’ve not heard of the Desert island Discs so I scooted over to the website and have just spent waaaaay too much time trawling though the castaways and their choices! What fun!

    I’d be torn about the luxury item too – maybe my guitar. Just think of all the practice time a castaway would have! Though soap sounds awfully good too… perhaps as part of a luxury shower stall – I know how fabulous it is to come home to the bathroom after camping out and washing in a bucket!

    1. Merry Christmas Sharon! I’ve been spending far too much time on the website too – some of the choices are fascinating aren’t they?

      Your guitar is yours, and since 57 castaways are taking theirs too, there will be plenty of music drifting across the seas from various directions. Perhaps we can arrange a nice warm bathing pool for you, with a gentle waterfall, clean water and beautiful surroundings – it is a desert island, after all so perhaps that doesn’t count as a luxury 🙂

  5. I would ask for a book – The Wilderness Survival Guide, and I’d ask for All of Beethoven’s works. I think that might do it. Oh, shoot, though, what about coffee? Oh, maybe if they gave me one special extra item I’d ask for a really sturdy air mattress. Me and the hard ground don’t work out so well.
    Fun blog and thought provoking.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Lynne. As it’s Christmas Day here, then the sturdy air mattress and the coffee are definitely both yours. Funnily enough, you’re the first person to choose The Wilderness Survival Guide – so I guess that we’ll know your island when we see it, as it’ll be the one with all the comforts of home, fashioned out of whatever raw materials are to hand 🙂

      Hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas!

  6. This one is tough. Music I would enjoy anything for the oldies good group-60s, 70s,80s. A book is really hard to narrow down. Shanna, Ashes in the Wind, Gone with the Wind. Sweet iced tea!!!

    1. Good choices, Susan! You’re the first to choose sweet iced tea – which sounds far more practical for a desert island than the 27 castaways who just chose ‘tea’ 🙂 Hope your Christmas is just perfect.

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