Robert Fisk on Desert Island Discs

Desert Island Discs (Sunday, Radio 4) Robert Fisk, prophet of doom about the West's involvement in the Middle East, turned out to be a fascinating Le Carrי-esque character, still obsessed with his father, and choosing, startlingly, Churchill's 'finest hour' speech, 'The Lord is My Shepherd', and the Israeli national anthem. Kirsty Young failed to follow through Fisk's startling claim that he recently felt that he had wasted his life but Young also pulled out some poignant childhood memories, he was bullied at school, and an admission that Fisk sometimes regrets that his career has precluded him having the ordinary things that most of us value most - a home and a family. And he loathed his father, an authoritarian trench survivor from the First World War. "Was he a tyrant?" It was Fisk who asked the question, not Young. And the fact that he didn't answer but just left that question hanging, told us everything about why he had moved as far away as possible. He had swopped the family battleground for those of warring peoples. And when his father lay dying in hospital, Fisk didn't visit the old man deathbed. But two of his selected records - Benjamin Britten's War Requiem and Psalm 23, The Lord Is My Shepherd - were chosen with his father in mind.

Does anyone actually believe that his eigth and final choice, of the Israeli national anthem, is anything other than a diplomatic one?

"If only the Israeli government could behave with the dignity of this piece of music" was the money quote.

Listen for Israeli national anthem:

Here is a BBC recording of Jewish survivors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp-- five days after their liberation by the British Atmy, with people still dying around them-- singing the Zionist anthem "Hatikvah" (The Hope), which become the anthem of the State of Israel.

Robert Fisk was on Desert Island Discs . His choices were as follows:

1. Dies Irae
Performer The Bach Choir & London Symphony Orchestra and Choir conducted by Benjamin Britten
Composer Benjamin Britten

2. Adagio for Strings
Performer City of London Sinfonia conducted by Richard Hickox
Composer Samuel Barber

3. This was the Finest Hour
Performer Winston Churchill
Composer Winston Churchill

4. Mellow Yellow
Performer Donovan
Composer Donovan

5. The opening of Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major
Performer Academy of St Martin’s in the Fields conducted by Neville Marriner
Composer Pachelbel

6. The Lord is My Shepherd
Performer The Huddersfield Choral Society
Composer Irvine

7. Beirut Hal Zarafat
Performer Fairuz
Composer Bechara El Khoury/Rabhani Brothers

8. Hatikiva – the national anthem of Israel
Performer Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra

Record: Adagio for Strings
Book: Thomas Mallory's Le Mort D'Arthur
Luxury: A violin
Morag ya big mental fanny ye, ye're back!

How's it gaun up in Castlemilk?

Are ye still drinkin the Buckie?
I was never a fan of Fisk. The Desert Islands thing did nothing to change this. However, I'm about a third of the way into a great big doorstop book of his. The detail he gives and the ability to go back and read earlier opinions has given him greater credibility. Whereas last week I might not have gone beyond his byeline, I will now read his article and make my own decision.
Not knowing the man- bar seeing his name on the bookshelves- I
listened to his life with an open mind.

Yes it was his recollection and therefore "coloured" and selective but informative none the less.

He seems to have had an interesting life but I didn't- and still don't- feel the urge to buy any of his books.

As for the style of interviewing during this style of programme?,
I don't think it requires hard hitting investigative questioning,
rather a knowledge of the person and some reasonable prompting,
to get some expansion of memories.

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