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Saints Stranded

Updated: Feb 24

This week Harriet St Pier has been stranded on an island and forced to pick three songs, a book, and a luxury item. What would you choose?


I actually come from a 25-square-mile island where I frequently only have Kirsty Young for company, so have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about my Desert Island Discs. I just think it’s good to be prepared should she ever give me a ring. 


However, I’d like for nobody to ever actually send me back to Guernsey to see how well I fare. Trust — I know from experience it wouldn’t be pretty.


My first antidote to madness would be Billy Joel’s ‘Vienna’. My mum is from Derby; however, she raised me on Billy Joel with the vehemence of a bona-fide New Yorker. We spent months last year creating our definitive ranking of his albums. The Stranger was our winner (alongside every music critic ever). Every song is a lyrical masterpiece, and ‘Vienna’ is invariably the one I turn to when I need a reminder to breathe a little deeper, live a little quieter, and move a little more slowly. 

I was introduced to Moby in the coolest possible way: the Edexcel GCSE music syllabus. His 1999 album Play expanded my horizons into the world of electronic music, and it was literally impossible to take the exams without tapping my foot whenever ‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?’ came on. It’s a gloriously textured song featuring soaring samples from a 1950s gospel choir that will never fail to make me groove. 


‘Sign of the Times’ isn’t my favourite Harry Styles song. However, watching him perform it live at Wembley Stadium in 2022 was the closest I personally have come to divine experience. It poured with rain, he cried, I cried, there was lightning, there were fireworks: every time I hear it I am reminded of the complete euphoria of seeing live music.


Reading Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible was transformative. I’ve not read anything else that has transported me so viscerally into its pages, and it completely changed the way I think about the world. It’s the kind of book you carry with you, and everyone should read it.


My luxury item would be a surfboard, or perhaps a snorkel. If I’m on a desert island I might as well make the most of it; after all, I’ve got a carefully-cultivated reputation as an island girl to maintain.


Illustration by Ruby Pitman

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