desert island serendipityare you sitting comfortably?...

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I’d been involved in writing a children’s play, which featured the music used as the theme from ‘Desert Island Discs’.

Everyone knows the theme, but not its formal title, which we needed for copyright purposes. This was in pre-internet days, so I’d been to the main library in Manchester, to try to discover what it was called, without success. I’d even left a message at the BBC, but had had no reply.

I had completely forgotten about this when I visited my local branch library, a month or so later, to get some reading for my mum, who would be visiting for the week. She was an avid reader, and a  Dickens’ fan. So I went to the ‘biography’ section, and started looking under ‘D’.


I distinctly heard a voice saying: “look down right”. The voice was so clear, I looked around for its source. There was no one around. I heard it again: “look down right!”.

I realised the voice was inside my head. Puzzled, I did as I was told: I squatted down, and looked to the right. This took me to the ‘P’ section of the biography shelves, and there, straight in front of me, was Roy Plumley’s autobiography. I knew that he was the creator of ‘Desert Island Discs’. I reached for the book, stood up, and let the book fall open in my hand. It opened inside the front cover, and there, at the bottom corner of the left hand page, inside the dust jacket it said: “The music used on ‘Desert Island Discs’ is…”

Spooky?  Not really.

The brain has a tremendous capacity to keep working for you, without you realising it, or even
asking for it. That’s why:
• You can see connections – put two and two together
• You remember things
• You associate places and people with particular sounds or smells

While your conscious mind is working on one project, the subconscious part is also continuing to process and file other information – what many refer to as ‘on the back burner’. During my visit to that local library, my only conscious thought was to find a book for my mum; but clearly my mind had also registered I would be interested in other things too, and had scanned the shelving and made the connection for me, without me having a conscious thought about this at all.

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We know it’s a faff
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We know it’s a faff
And a bit of a pain;
But it really helps us
Stay on top of our game…