Sunday, October 04, 2009

Ellen MacArthur retires on Desert Island Discs

The morning Ellen MacArthur announced her retirement on that long standing British institution, Desert Island Discs.

The Vendee Globe sailor and round the world record breaker is to switch her attention from competitive sailing to protecting the environment. It was on a visit to South Georgia as part of the campaign to protect the albatross that she had one of those life changing moments, when she began to get scared.

A woman who was fearless in the southern oceans became, like me in this post, increasingly scared about our future - that our planet that seemed so huge when she was just a 4 years old is finite and increasingly struggling under the load of billions of humans.

And so a new life begins as a campaigner for planet Earth.

It was also interesting to hear on Desert Island Discs what her 8 choices were, namely:
  • OutKast - Hey Ya!
  • Don Henley - The Boys of Summer (Ellen's fav)
  • Phil Collins - I wish it would rain down
  • Manu Chao - Me Gustas Tu
  • Thomas Newman - Any other name
  • Dido - Here with me
  • Spandau Ballet - Through the Barricades
  • Coldplay - Fix you
One of the strengths of the program is that the music is chosen not just for its own sake but also its associations, which then helps explain part of the guest's life. So for example the Manu Chao was for a time when she was training with Foncia in France.

These associations can be very personal, and not always obvious. For example the Dido Here with Me reminds her of the Vendee Globe, but not because she listened to it on the way round. Rather it was the sound track of a documentary made about her voyage, in particular for the home coming.

So its a retrospective memory association - a bit like how our memories of a holiday become over time more and more based upon the photos and videos we took there and look at afterwards.

Strangely enough having seen that documentary I have exactly the same association and when ever hear that song of Dido I think of Ellen finishing the Vendee too.

If you have a chance, it's well worth listening to the program on the BBC iPlayer.

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