Sunday, 24 April 2011


The ship is sinking. You have to decide who will be in your lifeboat. It is your lifeboat because you had the power to take it and that is exactly what you did, for better or worse. You saw the panic and anarchy among the crew and passengers. You decided to make your move and now you have 20 seats available for people whose future is in your hands. Who will you allow in and why? I am sure you will agree this is a situation you hope you will never face in reality. No pressure then. It’s only a game.

Make a list of ten friends and family that you would share your lifeboat with. Then add ten people who you don’t know personally but who fit your criteria for having a place in your lifeboat. You might favour the young or the old depending on your own bias or you might base your judgement mainly on people’s abilities to make a useful contribution for the good of the group. You might decide that a mix of people’s values and skills would be the deciding factors in your decision-making.

I have used this little exercise on many occasions, within the setting of small group work with young people. It is a useful tool for exploring why we value some folk and not others and how our behaviour, as perceived by others, can have a huge impact on what is on offer to us. It is one way for a group or a couple to find out some fairly important things about each other in a relatively short time.

So, there we are, your good self, your twenty chosen ones and me. Oh yes! I forgot to mention I was here first. It was my island until you lot came along. But don’t worry I will go with the flow, for now. After all, I'm looking forward to all of it. Still, I don't suppose any one is going to let me get by just singing for my supper. I think I will have to pull my weight in other ways and get my hands dirty along with every one else. If I catch lots of fish and do lots of night watches please may I sleep in late?

No big Marshall stacks or even 80 watt Peaveys to reinforce my music. No big sound behind me to make it right and to obliterate any nagging self doubt. Just me and my voice and ….please let my guitar have survived the landing.

Last night I was playing with my new phone which has an application for helping a person get to sleep. It is basically a set of sampled sounds including the gentle lapping of waves on a tropical shore, rain fall, air conditioning fan, a stream and a ticking clock. Aaaaargh! A clock ticking is guaranteed to keep me awake. I hear a rhythm and then a bass line and it just gets worse and worse but, the ticking clock sends most babies to sleep.

The ticking clock evoked thoughts about a very crazy in your face song from the EBB album Superchip. The song is called Not so funny farm. It bashes along at quite a pace so that the words spew out as though there was only just about enough time to fit them in and that is how I remember it.

I began singing and speaking those words to the ticking phone in my hand. The phone clock ticks away at 60 ticks/beats per minute ( you knew that). This is at least half the speed of the Superchip track so that was a big change. Though slow and radically different from the original I could see how it might work. I realised that if I ever performed the song like this it would probably be the first time any one heard all of the words. It got me thinking about other new ways of doing things differently as part of my new show. I think I might be onto some thing.

Pass me a piece of roasted yam. Put some wood on the fire while I clean the fish. By the way, has any one got a charger for my blackberry?

Ah! ………………….That won’t work, will it?


p.s. I recently bought some fishing tackle from a Japanese supplier. He sent me an email with information regarding the shipping status of my purchase and added the quite poignant URL below at the end of his email to me. He is based in PLAT and is very anxious to assure me that my purchase will not be radio-active and that his part of the island is safe.


Anonymous said...


Why don't you get us started and tell us who you would have on your lifeboat?

Anonymous said...

I love playing about with arrangements. When it is just me & a guitar I have to. Sometimes the strangest things happen. I recently played the Beatles Help at half speed & funnily enough when I sang it I sounded like Neil Diamond.
My favourite bit of amusement is to play songs 'as Leonard Cohen might have played it'.
I discovered that you can do a lot of Dylan songs that way!

There's always a different way of looking at the fly said as it crawled up the mirror.


Tony H.

Anonymous said...

People in the life boat?
How about Ray Mears - Amanda Howarth (nurse of the year) - Polly Toynbee - Sir Chris Hoy - Rebecca Aldington - Rick Stein -Ellen MacArthur - Tony Benn - Adel and Edgar Broughton for a start? Oh and me.


Anonymous said...

What an interesting piece. Good game of Castaway?

edgar broughton said...

Ok here are a few likely candidates…...

His Holiness The Dalai Lama.

I'd also choose Ray Mears for obvious reasons and partly 'cos actually, he's a little bit of a fat boy.

Eleanor Simmonds because she is young and lovely, I'd love to meet her and she swims like a fish.

Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah poet and social commentator. Another perspective.

Margaret Haywood whistle blower and my favourite nurse though I love them all.

Janet Street Porter. Fun, clever, practical and creative.

Abhinav Bindra because he is young and a top flight Indian marksman... as long as he has a rifle or pistol with him.

Diane Abbott MP ...a good 'un. Quality values.

Monica Galetti is sous-chef in Michele Roux Jr's two Michelin star restaurant La Gavroche and a proper tough cookie.

Stephen Fry ‘cos he is a multi talented top chap and I’d love to get to know him.

Anonymous said...

ok lifeboat senario! So you say you would already be there Edgar as you were there first. So in that statement you have marked out your territory have you not? I am guessing you would have arrived with your lifeboat of 'your people'. What if 'my people' did not like 'your people?' and so on? We would try to get along as there would be no other option except war? Is that not just the same old, same old? A home from home? Somebody would soon assume control. If they were voted in then those who did not vote for them would form an oppostition. Before you knew it you would have a 'little Britain'.

What if it was just you and you had none of your people with you? What if your guitar playing and singing kept my people and others awake? We could kill you I spose and use you to make burgers! As we chased you, you could scream "I'm a celebrity get me out of here." As I don't think anybody would have elected to bring Ant and Dec in their lifeboat that would be you on the bonfire! But would this not again reflect what we had come from the majority stamping their authority on the minority? We could try to talk to you about your music then you would have the option or conforming or being an outcast on the outside of the group. It may well have been your island but are bells ringing - the majority with might take islands and land from the minority. In the case of the native american indian they take their land then rent it back to them.

If I were a sadist I could take, for example, 2 Muslims, 2 hindus, 2 athiests, 2 gays, 2 lesbians, 2 with down syndrome, 2 in a wheelchair, 2 black, 2 white etc. Set my camcorder and let it roll! A kind of Big Brother with a twist!


I would not take anybody on a lifeboat either for fun or for real just so they could endure the same on a smaller scale. Metaphorically I would be the captain and as is tradition I would go down with my ship and leave you to your island of dreams.

Ironically when I have posed this question of who would you save or who would you invite to a dinner party the two firm favourites are Jesus and the Dalai Lama. This is interesting as it is based on our perception of these people without actually knowing them. We feel we know them through history books and fairytales and media - Ant and Dec style! Its about how we perceive based on our conditioning but also about how we want these people to be so we project our perception on to their image and reflect it back as real. So could we interview these people before we allow them on the lifeboat?

Lets get all the lifeboats we have in this senario and break them up and make a big fire and have an almighty BBQ. We could have singing and dancing and workshops and allsorts - Hey lets do it lets have the First Supper as mentioned on the sleevenotes of the Rockpalst dvd all that time ago. Lets each bring something to the gathering. Lets not have 'your people' and 'my people' lets have 'our people'. In the words of the late great Alan Hull 'you need me, need you, need him, need everyone! Lets do it before we drown!

I guess nobody will invite me on their lifeboat now but even one lifeboat makes a big fire! Lol!


edgar broughton said...

Hi Yoni
"I guess nobody will invite me on their lifeboat now..."
You don't scare me. Nah! You've passed are in, mostly because of your name.
I'll kick the Indian kid out 'cos thats ironic if you get me lol. Any way he's forgotten to bring a weapon.

Anonymous said...

I was not trying to scare anybody just inject a bit of reality in to the senario see where it took us all! Do you not see the point I am making as this 'castaway' game has been played out on reality TV. Hey and what about the first supper it was a great idea of yours but if you have a nice tropical island somewhere then let us know and all of us can hire a boat to come and holiday with you! We could stop off at Richie Branson's for tiffin first! Don't kick the indian out he has no weapon as he comes in peace!

I thought I raised an interesting point but maybe you all would prefer to surround yourselves with celebs on the island. Your reply shocked me as I would have expected better than a jibe in fact I would have thought you would have relished the debate.

Do you really think everybody would live happily ever after? Why would they suddenly change? If I took Maggie Thatcher in my lifeboat you would be ok with that? Salman Rushdie and Yusuf Islam together on an island - I like them both but you think they would just bury their differences because I chose to bring them together. Maybe in time who knows - never say never but you cannot deny there would be issues. You see when I have taken part in these exercies before we have always explored the downside and the conflicts that may arise so I assumed this would be where this post went. Sorry book Johnny Depp on my lifeboat then and bring on the beers!


Anonymous said...

PS Edgar you said I was in mostly cause of my name - whats a name? Adolf Hitler had a name! What if I had posted the same and my name was Janet? Poor Janet would be left languishing in the sea! Or what about if I were a man? Perceptions again and the image conjured up by my name!


Anonymous said...

Obviously you were not trying to scare any one. Don't take it so seriously. Your points are well made and I think Edgar is just playing. Let see what others have to say what ever it is. I think the Indian marksman , who came in peace would probably have been delegated hunter and with out a weapon not fir for purpose lol.
We all know about conflict. How the differences are fear making instead of valued so I just hope we would manage to survive for a while. No one said any thing about building a society nor a little Britian. It's a game and probably should be played as described in the original post.
I get the feeling Edgar is leading some where with this but I don't where


Anonymous said...


Thank you I love you already!

I am sure Edgar is playing - well at least I hope he is!


Anonymous said...

Hello Yoni , are you Ruth?

Deja Vu.

Frank Matcham

Anonymous said...

Hello Frank, not Ruth I'm afraid. Why is she impersonating me? But Deja Vu classic album lets stick Neil Young on the lifeboat with Ronnie Van Zant:

"I hope Neil Young will remember a Southern man don't need him around anyhow."

Hmm maybe not got enough problems trying to keep Salman and Yusuf apart. Lol!


Anonymous said...

Yoni go back on this blog and read Ruth's stuff, especially if you ARE Ruth then you might see why Frank was asking. We would never have got a list for the lifeboat from Ruth. She always had something else to say and admonished people on here who thought her attention seeking diversions were a pain in the bum.

She lectured us and went on and on about how we should take a homeless person into our homes for Christmas dinner. When some one asked her how it went she decided the first supper was not for her and disappeared. She had said this on several occasions but had subsequently re-appeared.

She clearly demonstrated that in her opinion we were not worthy and not quite up to her level of thinking. It was no surprise that when Edgar interceded to calm things down she took it as a compliment. I am not comparing her behaviour to yours but I think there are similarities in the way you set out your stall. Actually I think you write very well though I think sometimes less is more.

Moving on. Surely we don't need to interview the Dalai Lama or Ray Mears to know they might be useful to us. Also people will tend to choose celebs for the 10 people they don't know so that others might discuss and understand why.

I hope most of us would understand that in survival mode it would be better to accept the human condition and it would be counter productive to try to change the nature of our fellow castaways. Finally, in my experience survival is more about management than evangelising.

Please can we wake up or get rescued? The sooner the better I say.


Anonymous said...

Well said Angela.
Me Id go in a life boat with any of you. It wouldnt be boring.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Angela for noticing the similarities between Yoni / Ruth's comments. Very similar construction, adversarial approach, take bat and ball home.

Might be wrong.

Anyway, it got me thinking - who would be the worse twenty people you could share a lifeboat with - it's a masochist's delight?

Here's mine (they have to be living)

Donald Trump
Colonel Gaddafi
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Yvette Cooper
Nicolas Sarkozy
Robert Mugabe
Arsene Wenger
Paddy Ashdown (Paddy will do)
Michael Leary
Damien Hurst
Heston Blumenthal
Michael Gove
Michael Mackintyre
Tony Blair
Cherie Blair
Fern Britton
John Terry
Russell Brand
Huw Edwards
Nick Clegg
and anybody else who knows me.

You take the lifeboat, I'll take my chances.

Frank Matcham

Anonymous said...

Now theres a list. What a motley crew.

Anonymous said...

Yes great list. Its a good game.caused some discussion in our office at lunchtime.