The new editorial team has been appointed for the summer vac and Michaelmas term and we are all excited to get to know The Oxford Blue writing community as we work with you over the next few months.
By way of introduction, we thought we’d give you some insight into what we really love by asking the question ‘If we were stranded on a desert island, what 10 pieces of culture would we bring?’.
To join The Oxford Blue writing community join the Facebook culture writer’s group here. We are always open to hearing your pitches so get in touch with any of us with your ideas!
GRACIE BOLT – TV and Film Editor
Trinity College, French and English
I think A.A. Milne’s poetry book, When We Were Very Young would be a great comfort to me on a desert island. I’d also bring 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die by Steven Scheider as I would love to properly sit down and look at what critics have to say about some of my favourite films. I recently bought a copy of Maya Angelou’s Life Doesn’t Frighten Me with illustrations by Jean-Michel Basquiat, which I think would also be great on a desert island as I find her poetry very uplifting and I love his art.
Charles Trenet is probably my favourite French musician and The Extraordinary Garden would be a soothing soundtrack to desert island life. Other than that, I’d find it difficult to decide on a single album but think that Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast series, Revisionist History, would be very interesting to listen to and ponder on a desert island.
I think I’d resort to some cheesy but comforting viewing if I were stranded on a desert island. Whilst strictly a (criminally underrated) Christmas film, Nativity! never fails to entertain me. I’d also bring Searching for Sugar Man as it’s an inspiring story and would allow me to listen to the music of Rodriguez, one of my favourite musicians.
Theatre and Performance
I recently rewatched The Sound of Music and have decided that it has everything you could ever want from a musical so would definitely bring it along. I honestly don’t think any other play or musical is needed.
I’m tempted to say that something like The IT Crowd or Gavin and Stacey would provide enough light entertainment to get me through the days. But what would probably fill me with the most joy is Would I Lie To You, particularly any episode featuring Bob Mortimer.
GEORGE KING – Visual Arts Editor
Mansfield College, Geography
For times when I am in need of light-hearted entertainment, I would take Iris Murdoch’s A Severed Head. It has so many twists and turns and is very funny. I would also take Nelson Mandela’s Conversations with Myself as it is full of wisdom and insight from letters, diaries, and interviews during and after his imprisonment on Robben Island.
When it comes to music, I think that variety is the spice of life, which would be very difficult on a desert island. I would have to take a few albums by the Specials which would remind me of fun times with close friends. On a similar vein, Whenever you’re around by The Dave Clark Five would transport me back to the people who mean the most to me. For songs to brighten up my days alone, I would have to take Bob Marley’s Exodus Deluxe Edition which is cheating a little bit but has so many of my favourite songs on it.
I really love Bong Joon-ho’s The Host although I’ve never quite grasped what it means. There is a huge monster, a fictional virus, and a sinister organisation with poor environmental practices, all woven together into this darkly satirical metaphor. What the metaphor is, I am not sure, but I will have lots of time to think about it as I watch it over and over on the desert island.
Theatre and Performance
I once stumbled across the Ealing jazz festival and saw a performance by Ruby Rushton, a contemporary jazz band. This wasn’t something I’d normally listen to, but it was mesmerising – I couldn’t look away. The energy of the performance and the virtuosity of their playing was impossible to ignore. On a desert island, it would be amazing escapism.
Recently I have been obsessed with the cult classic Life on Mars to the point that I have been growing my sideburns out to unnecessary lengths. It is such a clever series – darkly humorous, highly stylised and with a great soundtrack. The main character, Sam, wakes up in 1973 after being hit by a car. Maybe on the desert island, I would be hit by a falling coconut and I’d be returned back home for a while at least.
CILLIAN SHEEHAN – Theatre Editor
St John’s College, History & Economics
Possibly just because I’m in the middle of it, but Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall would be my first pick for what to bring with me to a desert island. I’ve read the first two and am about to start the third, and I have found them to be an incredibly immersive experience, and the picture Mantel paints of the Tudor court is so detailed that I feel that I could read them again and again and appreciate them even more each time.
I think a Bob Dylan collection would be my first choice for a few reasons. First, (as he’s been going since the 60s) there’s a huge volume of work to draw on, and you can see the different styles and moods he’s opted for over the years. As well as this, he has songs for every occasion, for when you’re feeling optimistic and hopeful of rescue to when you just want to be melancholy on the beach.
I’m drawn towards something beautiful and majestic like Lord of the Rings as everything from the soundtrack to the cast to the wonderful visuals of New Zealand mountains helps put me in a good mood. If I was feeling in the mood for something a bit more comedic, The Death of Stalin would also be a great shout.
Theatre and Performance
I saw the play Mary and Me a few years ago and it had a profound effect on me. Consisting of just a single character describing her experiences as a teenage girl growing up in conservative 1960s Ireland, it’s a bit of a wild ride, and the closing minutes have stuck with me as some of the most powerful theatre I’ve witnessed.
If I’m going to be stranded there for a long time, I need a show that comforts me but still manages to entertain with endless rewatches, and no show fills that particular gap in my heart as well as Peep Show.
EMILY WEBB – Art and Fashion Editor
Gabriella Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude would definitely be on my list. Set over a century I think that the book would provide enough food for thought, whilst its beautiful imagery and magical character would offer comforting escapism. I’d also bring Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, for its mesmerising portrayal of time and beautiful descriptions. Italo Calvino’s The Complete Cosmicomics is a truly joyous read! Based on a series of recent scientific discoveries, Calvino combines them with galaxy crossing comic tales that would offer a whimsical relief.
Sufjan’s Stephen’s Carrie and Lowell would be a necessary requirement for any time I spent on a desert Island. Stephen’s dulcet tones and soft reassuring strings would prove ideal company during a period of isolation. However for something more upbeat I’d probably bring along some jazz such as Cykada’s Ophelia’s Message to have a lonesome dance to.
A film that I can imagine myself constantly wanting to return to would have to be The Handmaiden by Park Chan-wook, a beautifully shot thriller set in Japanese occupied Korea. Deniz Gamze Ergüven heart warming work Mustang would definitely prove to be a good watch whilst being stranded on a desert Island due to the hope and determination of its characters that would leave me uplifted in lonely times. Finally another great work would be Juzo Itami’s Tampopo! A truly delightful film, it follows the protagonist Tampopo’s journey to make delicious ramen. Would highly recommend it!
This may be somewhat cheating, but in terms of visual art I would attempt to bring with me the Institute of Contemporary Art. Situated in London, the gallery never fails to highlight interesting contemporary artists whilst also presenting figures such as Kathy Acker. The Gallery also has a lovely caffe and shop, alongside a small cinema that also holds regular talks.
Gilmore Girls is my favorite comfort tv show. Plus its 7 series would definitely keep me occupied.