Desert Island Discs
by Sue Haley
There is a long running radio show here called "Desert Island Discs" and each week a guest has to choose the eight records (discs) that they would take to a desert island. At the end they have to choose one from the eight as their favourite. They can take three books; The Bible, The Complete Works Of Shakespeare and one other book of their choice. They also get to choose one luxury which must have *no* practical use at all. The guest is usually a celebrity but I decided that Vincent should be the guest. So here it is...
DESERT ISLAND DISCS .... ... ... ... ... ... transcribed by Sue Haley
We are fortunate to have received the transcript of a programme
presented by Sue Lawley which was not transmitted in Britain.
SUE: My guest this morning is not well known, yet he is an extraordinary man who leads an extraordinary life. He was abandoned as a baby and was taken in by the community to which he still belongs and which lives away from modern society... but not completely separate from it. They help each other and are prepared to help anyone who is in need even as they helped my guest. He is Vincent Wells.
VINCENT: Please! call me Vincent.
SUE: Thank you. Vincent, your community lives apart from the city but it isn't wholly self-sufficient is it?
VINCENT:No, we have `helpers' who live in the city and who provide us with food and medical supplies which we are not able to provide ourselves. They also offer friendship and support to us which is invaluable.
SUE: So, could you survive on a desert island... alone?
VINCENT:I am probably better equipped than most people to survive but... like many, I would find the solitude intolerable after a while.
SUE: So you would be looking for a passing ship to rescue you?
VINCENT:I'm not sure! How would the crew behave towards a stranger they found living alone on an island?
SUE: Let's have your first record.
VINCENT:My first record is Schubert's `Unfinished' Symphony.
SUE: Is there a special memory attached to this piece?
VINCENT:Yes. It was whilst listening to this music that I learned the true beauty of a rainstorm.
SUE: That was Schubert's Symphony No8 in B minor - The `Unfinished' Tell me where you were educated.
VINCENT:In the community there are teachers, including my father, and there are also helpers who come to teach music, dance and so on. All the children are encouraged not only to learn but to teach the younger children. It works very well.
SUE: And do you also teach?
VINCENT:Yes, I do and I love it.
SUE: Any particular subject?
VINCENT:English literature and poetry but I teach all the subjects which are normally taught in schools.
SUE: Your second record now please.
VINCENT:Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. This holds both happy and sad memories for me. "God's favourite piano piece" my teacher called it. We have lost her now. It also reminds me of a little boy who had great promise. For a long time we thought he was lost but he came home.
SUE: That was Beethoven's Sonata No14 in C minor - The Moonlight Does music play a big part in your community?
VINCENT:Oh yes. We have regular concerts and some of the children have formed
their own `Concert Society' They always surprise us with their ability
and their dedication.
SUE: It seems the children are very responsible in your community?
VINCENT:Everyone who lives with us takes responsibility for themselves and for
each other and that includes the children as soon as they are old enough
SUE: Another record
VINCENT:This is a piece that the children performed for us at one of their
concerts. It's the Haydn Flute Trio.
SUE: That was the Haydn Trio No1. That's an ambitious score for children!
VINCENT:As I said they always surprise us!
SUE: So what was growing up like in your community? Were you punished for
misdemeanours in the same way?
VINCENT:Not in the same way - but yes, we were punished if we misbehaved.
My brother and I were often in trouble! Usually our `crime' was
atoned by giving up some privilege for a while or by extra chores of
an unpleasant nature. Really serious recurring offenders may be
subjected to silence for several days, even weeks... but that happens
rarely and the whole community must agree.
SUE: Do you ever send anyone away?
VINCENT:That has only happened once... a long time ago. People who live with
us do so because they wish to. If the life does not suit them they may
leave at any time.
SUE: And you don't prevent them?
SUE: What is your next record?
VINCENT:It's the Grieg Piano Concerto. I have always loved this music, right
from childhood. It's so majestic... and sad.
SUE: That was the Piano Concerto in A major by Grieg.
You have no television or radio do you? What simple pleasures do you
VINCENT:A walk through the park... especially after rain when everything
glistens in the moonlight. Reading and listening to music.
SUE: Record number five?
VINCENT:A Violin Concerto... It was difficult to choose which one. I cannot
play the violin - I have tried! I decided on the Mendelssohn because
it has great contrast and such a lively final movement. And I'd like
the recording by Itzhak Perlman please. We should not view people in
terms of their limitations but instead we should recognise that each
individual has his or her own strengths and abilities which others
may never be able to match.
SUE: That was the Concerto in E minor for Violin by Mendelssohn played by
Itzhak Perlman. Vincent, as I said you were abandoned as a small baby.
That was over thirty years ago. Do you ever wonder about your natural
VINCENT:Of course! Any child who is separated, for whatever reason, from it's
parents will wonder.
SUE: How do you feel towards them?
VINCENT:I don't know exactly. I don't hate them nor do I blame them. To give up
your own child is painful... Clearly they had a powerful reason why they
felt they were unable to raise me themselves. I doubt if they know that
I am still alive!
SUE: Let's have your next record.
VINCENT:I must have a waltz and this one is from The Sleeping Beauty. I chose
this because it also celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
SUE: Do you dance?
SUE: The waltz from The Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky. What kind of
people come to live in your community?
VINCENT:Many different kinds of people from all walks of life. We have those
who came to us because they were disillusioned, perhaps they had lost
everything... family, home and needed a place where they could heal.
Some had been mistreated by others, simply because they were different
and were not strong enough to defend themselves. Some, of course, were
born into our society and chose to remain. But please don't imagine
that there is a constant stream of people waiting to join us. We are
essentially a small community and only a few are added to our number
SUE: How do you survive?
VINCENT:We survive... because we are separate... because we help each other...
and because we have many helpers in your society who understand. There
is an "inner strength" in our community which is impossible to put into
SUE: May we hear your next record?
VINCENT:To relive many childhood memories this is Scheherazade. I remember
vividly the many stories that she told in order to stay alive. Even
as I grew up I never tired of hearing them.
SUE: Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov. People will want to know where this
VINCENT:I'm sure they will but... you must understand that for a place to be
safe it must also be secret. It's fair to say however that although
the community is in one place, it's influence is widespread and it has
helped people all over the world.
SUE: Just by being there?
VINCENT:Yes... just by being there.
SUE: We've reached your last record already!
VINCENT:My last record is very special. It's the Mozart Clarinet Concerto.
It represents for me a new inner peace which came with the acceptance
of my destiny. That contentment continues now for me... and for my
SUE: Are you married?
VINCENT:Yes. And I have a son.
(the transcript cannot possibly convey the joy in his voice - SMH)
SUE: That was the Concerto in A major for Clarinet by Mozart.
Traditionally, you must now imagine that a tidal wave comes and
washes away your records but you can save just one... which one?
VINCENT:The Mozart... without question.
SUE: Now you have the Bible and The Complete Works Of Shakespeare. You may
take one other book.
VINCENT:This was not a difficult choice... it has to be Great Expectations.
VINCENT:We all enjoyed reading this book as children but the real reason is
that it is the first book I shared with Catherine... my wife.
SUE: And your luxury?
VINCENT:You have said it must have no practical purpose?
SUE: That's right.
VINCENT:Oh dear! I wanted candles, lots of them. If I promise not to light
SUE: Well I shouldn't but... when you look at me like that how can I refuse?
Yes alright. You shall have candles.
VINCENT:Thank you. That means a great deal to me.
SUE: Vincent Wells, thank you for letting us hear your desert island discs.
Footnote: It has been suggested that Vincent could have asked to take Catherine
to the island as his `luxury' since she has no practical use whatsoever!
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