You know an episode of Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 is going to be a cracker when the synopsis opens with: “She’s apologised twice in parliament for failing to find a suitable person to head up a child abuse enquiry, a minister in her department claimed working with her was like 'walking through mud', and then there was the controversy over the vote on the European arrest warrant...” Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be, Theresa May!
Yes, that’s right, we’re casting our minds back two whole years to when Theresa May joined the likes of Tom Hanks, Ray Winstone and Stephen Fry, by recording her very own Desert Island Discs. (If you don't know the premise of Desert Island Discs then here it is: you reveal to everyone what essential CDs you'd take with you if you were being sent to a remote island to starve to death and die alone.)
Now, you can tell a lot about a person by the music they pick on the show. For instance, Tony Blair picking Bruce Springsteen’s “4th of July” is a window into the soul of man with an unhealthy obsession with Americana, and David Cameron’s claim he listens to Radiohead is a window into the soul of a man who really wants people to think he listens to Radiohead.
So, what better way to peer into the soul of our dear new leader than to dissect her own bland explanations of songs she values more than life itself. What can we learn about Theresa May from the playlist she would put on for eternity, if we were all trapped on an island with her – which, somewhat ironically, is what has now happened.
SHE'D REALLY LIKE THINGS TO BE MORE LIKE THEY WERE IN THE 60s
Before we continue, I must give you some context, because the reason this playlist even exists leaves a stained legacy on 2016. You see, this very rare non-political media appearance is the exact moment Theresa May and her team embarked on the long and spinning road of convincing the British public that she may actually be a human with a personality – and therefore a potential leader of the future – and not simply a penny clockwork machine that stamps the word "DEPORTED" on anything you place infront of it. But the beauty of this episode is how drastically far away she is from achieving the status of charming anthropoid. When offered the profound and gaping question of "What keeps you awake at night?" to inject with some searing pre-rehearsed anecdote, she responds: "I sleep quite well at night."
And so to her first song: a very early nostalgic leap to "Walk Like a Man" by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. All I'll say is this... The destiny of arts funding in the UK is hidden somewhere in this next sentence: the new leader of our country, who banned Tyler the Creator from stepping on British soil, says her favourite song is a 1963 single from the musical Jersey Boys because "it reminds me of many happy evenings in the village hall with friends."
SHE’S WILL TAKE US ALL TO CHURCH
Okay, probably not a newsflash for anyone who already knows May is the daughter of a vicar, but loads of her most precious songs are proper Jesus-y. And not the rib-shaking gospel church, not the wildly offensive Westboro Baptist Church, not even the mad new age people-speaking-in-tongues-on-television church. No. The most boring church of all: The Church of England. The church of Songs of Praise, weak milky tea, and shit biscuits. The church of tangled bunting, garden parties and plastic cricket bats. The church of old women with crutches complaining about iPads, of long Easter weekends and smelly community halls used by alcoholics anonymous and youth workers. Imagine her getting the aux cord at a house party.
SHE'D REALLY LIKE THINGS TO BE MORE LIKE THEY WERE IN THE 1700s
Picture this, you're trapped on a desert island. It's just you, Theresa May and a Mitre football that she's put lipstick on and named Maggie. The sun is going down, and you hate it when the sun goes down, because that's when she forces all three of you to perch around a small fire she's managed to light with photocopies of the Human Rights Act, and have – as she calls it in her mating fox-like shriek – "A sing-song!" But Theresa's not up for "Drop It Like It's Hot" or "Club Tropicana". Nah, she wants to sing The Queen of the Night's aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute in full German. "DER HÖLLE RACHE KOCHT IN MEINEM HERZEN!" she bellows – the ground beneath you trembling, the campfire glinting in her eyes – which roughly translates as "Hell's vengeance boils in my heart!" This, my friends, is the future of Britain.
SHE'D LIKE THINGS TO BE MORE LIKE THEY WERE IN THE 1200s
You'd think a few minutes of Mozart would satiate her desire for some classical, but no, this baby is staying in reverse. Next stop: 12th century latin hymns. I guess this is the one Theresa’s going to play when she finally gets the prime minister’s office to herself, isn’t it? The last of her aides will wish her a good night and back out the room, closing the door behind them. Theresa will switch off the lights, strike a match and illuminate the corners of the room with candles. She’ll push her shoes off her feet, pour a chalice of deep, dark red wine, and sink into a leather throne. She’ll tug a black notebook out of her blazer pocket, it’ll stubborn at first but give way with a second pull. She will open it to a picture of David Cameron, withdraw a black wax crayon as thick as her thumb, and draw an ‘X’ across his face. Then Theresa, softly at first, will begin to laugh, and laugh, and laugh.
ONE OF THE EIGHT SONGS SHE CHOSE ISN'T EVEN A SONG, IT'S A CLIP FROM AN EPISODE OF THE 80S BRITISH SITCOM 'YES MINISTER'
Disconcertingly, her idea of a big belly laugh comes in the form of a short audio snippet from an episode of 1980s political sitcom Yes Minister, the central joke in which is built around NHS cuts. I mean, it’s worrying enough that our new prime minister would make an excerpt of dialogue one of the 8 records she’d take to a desert island, but even more concerning that it takes talk of a failing health system to really get her chuckling.
SHE DOESN’T GET ABBA
Theresa explains this one by saying she wanted something to “jig up and down to.” Now, I don't want to get all Rap Genius on everyone, but you can tell a lot about someone by what they think of ABBA – and this is the worst thing anyone could possibly think. ABBA are not just fluffy, wedding reception fodder Theresa, okay? There is more pathos and heartbreak packed into ABBA Gold than in a thousand latin prayers. “Dancing Queen” is not just about "jigging up and down". It’s about the passing of time and the fragility of youth. “Dancing Queen” is a song about death. It is one of the most evocative, sensual, delicately poised pieces of music ever constructed and if you can’t see that, then frankly I’m not sure you have the nuance of mind to run the country.
NOT BEING HARSH OR ANYTHING, RIGHT, BUT SHE’S JUST REALLY BORING
The biggest takeaway from this entire thing is that she will surely be the most boring prime minister our country ever has to endure. Seriously, the state of these selections. They’re not even exciting pieces of classical music. There’s no main room bangers, like “Hall of the Mountain King” or Holst’s “Jupiter” from the Planets Suite. There aren’t even any effective sad-lad classic tear-jerkers like a bit of Gorecki or a bit of Grieg. Her Desert Island Discs playlist is the soundtrack to a dull Sunday in your Aunt's as drizzle patters against the window. Music for unfinished Sudokus and conversations that only get as far as: “Don't let me forget I need to buy some cress.” That said, after everything that’s happened this summer, maybe ‘boring’ could be quite... nice?
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You can listen to Theresa May's entire 'Desert Island Discs' right here.