Desert Island Lists

by | 6 Apr 2014

I love lists. Apparently, I’m not alone. Last year I discovered that there’s a regular event in London for list lovers (click here to read about it). I thought about going and then decided against. I’ve got enough lists in my life already – my competitive instincts just don’t need it.

And when I’m talking lists, I’m not talking run of the mill ‘to do lists’. Oh no. I abandoned those years ago and – do you know what – things still get done. No, my lists are not destined for any crossings out. I keep them in books by my bedside: from the countries I’ve visited to the films I’ve seen; from the little things I find to bless in each day to the big things I still want to achieve in my life…They are my very own biblical texts.

Maybe my love of lists is one of the reasons that I also love Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. I dream of the day I’m invited on to list my eight favourite tracks. And just in case you’re thinking (as I am) ‘Jessica, dream on’, I am encouraged by the fact that they often have people on in their eighties so I’ve still got forty years left to do something worthy enough of being cast away.

Anyway, last week Kirsty Young interviewed Dame Claire Bertschinger. What a woman! For those of you who don’t know who she is (and I confess I didn’t) she’s a modern day Florence Nightingale who has dedicated her life to supporting humanitarian causes as a nurse around the world. Most famously she was interviewed by Michael Buerk in the midst of the Ethiopian Famine of the 1980s. That landmark interview resulted in Live Aid.

Like Florence Nightingale, Claire has never had children. But, for once, Kirsty didn’t labour the subject (if you’ll pardon the pun). Claire simply said: ‘My priority in life was never to get married and have children.’ So I guess the pursuit of motherhood never went in her list-book and I couldn’t help thinking of all the people she’s helped around the world who are truly blessed for that.

So if you have a spare 45 minutes, sit down with a cup of tea and click here to be inspired.

And for this week’s question – go on – tell me about your Desert Island Lists!


  1. Joanna Norland

    hmmm. . . lots of troubled Russians
    Shostakovich-Piano Quintet (Op. 57)
    Prokofiev- Romeo & Juliet & Peter and the Wolf

    Some grizzly Germans
    Beethoven — 5th & 7th Symphonies
    Bach – Bridegroom Cantata

    Joni Mitchell-Songs to a Seagull & Don Juan’s Restless Daughter

    The Scottish folk song ‘Mairie’s Wedding’ – because it’s about contentment with a simple life

    Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares for Me

    And Sara Melson’s ‘My Own Most Beloved Child’ about coming to terms with infertility and solitude. A friend who recently had an IVF miscarriage found this one inspiring as she grieved

  2. Dee Armstrong, Natural Fertility Coaching and IVF Support

    Now I know I shouldn’t piggy back on your list, Joanna, but another vote here for Maire’s wedding – my sister had it played as she walked back down the aisle:)

    And oh my goodness that Sarah Melson song is amazing – spot on and so moving. And actually very good therapuetic advice. Thanks for that – I will share it with the women I know going through the same stuff.

    • Joanna Norland

      Glad you enjoyed the song!

      • thepursuitofmotherhood

        Hi Ladies, thanks for your comments as always. Sorry for slow reply only just back from a week away with no internet access. Love your choices and that Sarah Melson song is great – I’m going to tweet it, everyone going through infertility should listen. Beautiful.
        Until tomorrow…..whatever that will bring….