Desert Island Discs

*BORIS ON DESERT ISLAND DISCS – SUNDAY 30TH OCTOBER, 11.15AM, RADIO 4*(repeated on Friday 4th November, 9.00am)

Transcript of the Show

Eight discs chosen:

1. Beatles – Here Comes the Sun (Boris thought it was fantastically optimistic)

2. Theme Tune for Test Match Special – Soul Limbo, Booker T and the MGs (had memories of playing cricket in the yard with his brothers, although he wasn’t very good)

3. Bach – Ich will hier bei dir stehen – Here would I stand beside thee (of great sentimental value – “it fueled and fortified me” – listened when going through Mods exams – also was falling in love)

4. Rolling Stones – Start Me Up (His friend James Delingpole has long despised the Rolling Stones, but he should eat his words – “it may be corny, but it’s brilliant”)

5. Brahms – Finale of Brahms Variations on a theme by Haydn (father played it endlessly when he was ill as a child and recovering)

6. Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl (cheery and you could overdose on him – you can’t get enough)

7. The Clash – Pressure Drop (Joe Strummer, the leader of The Clash, was a good poet and a fantastic rock musician – it was a proud moment when, as an avid Telegraph reader, he wrote to Boris saying how much he liked an article he had written about hunting)

8. Opening of the last movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony (good when driving fast along an Autobahn)

He would choose Brahms and all the Variations if he had to choose only one record.

His book would have to be Homer to translate.

The luxury item would be a huge, supersized pot of seedy mustard as any meat tastes good with mustard.


“One of the most memorable and unpredictable MPs …. Boris Johnson in a moment …”

Sue Lawley – “you are prone to getting into scrapes – affair with one of your colleagues…” Questions about ambitions followed.

Boris was full of bonhomie and explained that he was always interested in being an MP. It is the single most interesting job you could do – it is such a broad canvas. He would also like to keep up journalism. If he had to choose he would choose being an MP. As far as politics goes he is interested in agriculture, trade – where he has had personal experience.

Apparently Boris’s ex mother-in-law claims that he always wanted to be PM. Boris replied that MPs are like crazed wasps in a jam jar. Of course everyone would like to lead the party he explained.

All politicians in the end are like crazed wasps in a jamjar, each individually convinced that they are going to make it.

My ambition silicon chip has been programmed to try to scramble up this ladder, so I do feel a kind of sense that I have got to.

Sue listed his academic achievements and Boris admitted he was a colossal swot – he strongly recommended boning up. “I’ve got a lot of energy and need to use it all up”. Time is ticking away and he feels programmed with a sense of duty and to climb up and achieve more – “we need all these grasping hacks to compete”.


After The Times Max Hastings rescued him and he owes a huge amount to him. He was Brussels correspondent (Daily Telegraph) for five years including the time when the Berlin Wall fell. He finds being Editor of The Spectator (since 1999) a wonderful job.

From this point on Sue presses very hard about “misdemeanours“. Boris said: “this isn’t talking about Haydn – this is being a hidin’ to nothing”. The image conjured up through this tenacious probing about his shortcomings was of a Boris pushed into a tight corner held up at knifepoint. After a few uncomfortable spluttering moments there was a response of: ” … okay, there have been misdemeanours – you keep referring to misdemeanours … but there are far fewer demeanours than there have been misdemeanours”.

Latest book (Seventy Two Virgins)

His book is about four suicide bombers from the North and the heroine is called Cameron, so it is quite uncanny. It is a comic thriller.
Roger Barlow rides a bike and is exercised by whether the papers will discover his extramarital affair – playing with fire – does that have any resonance with real life, asked Sue. Did he like playing with fire. Boris replied that if this was her theory about him then there might be an element of truth in this – but he wouldn’t take unnecessary risks.

He was asked whether he used comedy to override his ‘misdemeanours’ – or did he use charm to get by, taking into account his reported misdemeanours or mishaps. Boris explained that when he was young he should have used grommets because he couldn’t hear and he therefore developed an evasiveness.

So, finally alone, how would he feel on this deserted island? Boris would have a disciplined plan to rebuild civilisation. He likes making things with wood and recently made a treehouse for his children. He would sing a few hymns, march up and down and he would write. His aim would be to get to the heart of things – “It may sound pretentious” he said. He is writing a thesis on the meaning of nationhood at the moment and getting up very early every morning and it was knocking his brains about a bit. He was also working on a book about how the Romans ran Europe. Of course on an island there would be no data so he would download all he had and then start plagiarising it (Sue erupts into giggles).


lovely chirpy bird.jpg

A little bird told me a story, it happened just today

Sue Lawley and our Boris will soon have lots to say

We haven’t heard from Boris: no broadcasts for a while

But now he’s playing castaway; upon a desert isle

His favourite bits of music he’ll play, explaining why

I hope he’s into Mozart: because ; well, so am I

But it’s not so much the music: Sue really digs the dirt

Will she spare our Boris? I wouldn’t bet my shirt!


47 thoughts on “Desert Island Discs”

  1. Er, excuse me Dave Weeden but Mac went to school when they wrote on slates and so did I. Mind you Mac’s posh school probably had paper and ink. Even so, with such a wealth of experience and talent, to quibble over a little forgotton punctuation is insupportable! You could just point out the mistake and allow us to learn (or remember) 🙂 Now if I could remember where I put the mouse I’d click it…….

    Honestly, the attitude to an ageing population today, I blame Labour!

  2. Thanks Jaq ; I need all the backing I can get!
    When I went to school , we were all so poor , we couldn

  3. When I were a lass we couldn’t afford words like “academic”, “extracurricular” and “punctuation”. That was getting above thyself and putting on airs. All the girls started their bottom drawers at the age of 13 and learned words like ‘elbow grease’ and phrases like “be seen and not heard”, “speak when you’re spoken to” and “a lady doesn’t notice such things”. The other thing I heard older women say was “I don’t agree with all this equality, there was nothing wrong with women having the upper hand”. Ah we did laugh.

    Did you notice that stupid woman Theresa May open her gob and put her foot in it today? Francis Maude’s speech warns not to have a go at single mothers so May has a go at ALL mothers. I think I might just vote Labour if Brown gets in.

  4. JUST YOU DARE ! There would be a falling out if you did. I didn’t see the offending piece,(T. May), putting ANYTHING in her mouth. For some reason , I don’t like watching self flaggelation, it just is not my bag. Perhaps when they get down to some reasonable debate , I’ll have a peep.

  5. This thread is obviously in the hands of professionals! For my own humble attempt I do recall that when John Prestcott said “We are all middle class now” someone on the BBC said “What does he know about growing up being middle class – the violin lessons, extra tuition, going to the theatre…………….. He’s had it easy!”

    Carry on Jaq and Mac!

  6. Anyone notice Boris on The Daily Politics I think it was on BBC2? He was the only one at the conference talking sense! Mind you, the way he was sitting I thought he might be auditioning for ‘Fame’.

    Anyone see the Euro thingy on 2 later on last night? As we’ve been discussing Hitchens on a previous thread I was interested to see him in action. His body language seemed at odds with the character presented in discussion on this blog. He sat knees together and hands on knees, very prissy and looked as if he was sucking a lemon. He sported a gorgeous tan (St Tropez or airbrush I wonder) and whenever he did speak, which wasn’t often, his point had me bouncing on the sofa in agreement and it caused strong reactions on screen too. I’m going to have to read his book(s) and happily he tells me I can get them on inter library loan so can anyone recommend a starting point? Which one should I read first?

  7. Looks like some people fell out the wrong side of bed this morning.
    And I don’t mean Macarnie.

  8. I fear reports of my being shot are premature, though in the event there will a long list of suspects.

  9. Supermarket Sweep Up is reporting that Boris made an outburst about Tesco yesterday. Why no mention of it on the site? Whay DO you think Boris?

  10. V Ray

    It was only a quip at a conference fringe event…
    saying we should avoid supermarkets and buy products at local markets instead.

  11. Didn’t Boris mostly talk about dandruff at the conference? Not that there’s anything wrong with that – obviously he made some good points about dandruff, and I’m sure he’ll manage to sneak in a bit of good old Tory propaganda on Desert Island discs, looking forward to it!

  12. ps I can’t tell you how much some Great and Good have hoped to be invited – strong and powerful as they were on the political scene – but not a squeak from the Desert Island Discs team. Yet our Boz manages to arrange it in a jiffy!


    You rank in the top five guests of Desert Island
    Dics, other favourites include Otto Preminger,Sophia Loren and David Hockney.


  14. Boris fans distraught at having missed this unfortunately can’t use the Radio 4 “Listen Again” facility. I have a copy of the audio if anyone would like it… Contact me through

  15. Thanks to Melissa for the summary? It was almost like having one’s ear to the radio.

    Sounds like the Black Country lass met her match. She’s a bit of a Miss Demeanour herself isn’t she?

    I thought I’d seen it all when I saw Michael Ancram playing Blowing in the Wind with acoustic guitar in hand at a Tory party gathering. But Boris in leathers pogoing to the ultra-leftist Clash – that would be a sight to behold.

  16. Who needs a tele, or a radio even, when we’ve got Boris’s site? I find these pages very instructional, amusing, and entertaining. Here we find some bigots, some sensible people, and of course there’s Boris. I have long been an admirer of Boris, I think he must be one of the most enlightened politicians of our time. Although I am not a Conservative, I find his points of view very refreshing. I do find that his admiration of The First Lady (?) a little bizzare to say the least!

  17. i dont think Boris really even knows he has this site. i saw him at the Party Conference and told him what a great site it really was. to which he replied something like, “oh i didnt know anything about it.” hmmmmm

    [Ed: Lucy, he must have completely misunderstood you as he showed great interest in setting it up and writes personal notes for it. Perhaps he thought you were referring to some other site – after all there are a whole host of sites using his name: Boriswatch, Boris Fan Club, BORIS! and many, many others. This is the official one]

  18. ok we must have misunderstood each other. lovely he was, anyway.
    either that or we were bowled over by the sheer vision of eachother’s blonde-ness.

  19. Field –

    “Sounds like the Black Country lass met her match. She’s a bit of a Miss Demeanour herself isn’t she?”

    Am I right in presuming you mean Sue Lawley?

    I know this is very sad and trivial and will probably mark me as a complete airhead but Boris really does have the sexiest voice doesn’t he? Or is it me? Maybe I should consider therapy. Ho humm

  20. Found Boris’s post about the Terrorism bill and Cherie Blair very interesting, Boris puts the subject in the context of Cherie’s comments and others in way that really brings out the ludicrous nature of the Bill.
    PS Boris enjoyed your Desert Island choices and you had MS McGregor eating out of your hand, I suspect spankies and suspenders in the dorm later in the day!
    all the best

  21. Not very PC Field : the black country lass indeed. Sounds like something from Mandingo!

    Hector : Your naming the
    glamorous presenter, Sue Lawley, as Ms. McGregor , would not , I’m afraid, give you many points at an identity parade. Your apparently personal choice of nightwear, is however

  22. Mac – the Black Country is a region of the midlands, now long gone really. It comprised Cradley Heath, Blackheath, Old Hill, Brierly Hill and Tipton. It was one of the most untouched regions from invasion and therefore sort of had it’s own language for the longest time. For example: singing like a gleed under a door refers to the harsh scraping sound a cinder from the fire makes when caught between the door and tiled floor.

    Just thought I’d share that with you. I didn’t know Sue Lawley was a Black Country wench.

  23. Jaq: for the record, I am , and was, aware of the nomenclature of that particular area of the Midlands. It was merely my bent sense of the ridiculous emerging, when purposely misreading, and misquoting, field’s description of Sue Lawley, that encouraged me to make the remark.

  24. Boris

    I just happened to notice that there is no mention of the wonderful women who have meant so much to you in your life: for example your mother, your wife, your sister…..

    btw this is not feminist thinking, just a feeling that it would be nice to hand them a proverbial rose

  25. Mel, there was mention of one of his loves – his first wife if my suspicions are correct. And then someone with brown eyes? He certainly made me think his loves matter to him and I’m not talking of his ambitions, though he did convice they mattered too.

    I disagree strongly with the Mail that Boris declared his intention of securing a position in the shadow cabinet as if he cared nothing for his editorship of the Speccie. He did nothing of the sort. He sat firmly on the fence and reminded Sue he’s ridden two horses with some success actually.

    The track playing on my dukebox reminds me of Boris – John Martyn: it’s hard to hide when you’re living on Solid Air. I’m quaffing the dying embers of a cheeky little pinot grigio and thinking that in todays society, perhaps we should just live from moment to moment: crank up the volume, dance with our children and just enjoy today.

  26. I think that Boris acqitted himself well in the interview with the gorgeous Sue L. He didn’t chose the questions, even though the records were his of his choice. There was just sufficient bumbling to let us know that it was indeed the Boris we all follow, but I think the ease with which he either evaded, or slightly redirected, the questions was superbly “

  27. Jaq and Mac

    I am at your feet and am totally with you – I must’ve had one of my hyper-critical moments.

    There certainly was a magic about the programme and we wouldn’t want the essense of Boris to be any different.

  28. Mac

    Re-reading your poem I thought you were remarkably prescient about Sue Lawley and her ‘digging the dirt’ credentials. I had thought of her as a sedate lady – almost imagining her having a glass of sherry during the show while interviewing her castways in a true Roy Plumley style.

    Now I feel that she has really bust her gut (I mean all that pressure and repeating of questions…) and it wasn’t the impression I had. Perhaps she is auditioning to replace Jeremy Paxman?

  29. Melissa: I have listened to Sue L. on countless occasions and with many castaways and she has never followed ,( thank goodness ), the slightly fawning footsteps of the Plumlet . She has the journalist’s nose, and does not hesitate, rather like a drugs dog, to poke it into delicate places . I rate her highly: much more so than Paxman, although he’s not so bad either.

    By the way , I have a sneaking suspicion that a certain columnist on the Express cribs from the Blog. Today’s piece about Boris almost guaranteed it

  30. Oh no, I didn’t think they took much notice…and I’ve likened one of the top journalists to a bacon sandwich. Oh well, could be worse I suppose – I could be vegetarian!

    If Boris was a food what would he be do you think Melissa? I was thinking rare British Beef.

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