There is a radio programme here in Britain called Desert Island Discs, It been running for decades and basically consists of celebs picking their best loved music. However, it always end with the question – what book would you take to your desert island other than the Bible and the works of Shakespeare?
Well, this week it was revealed that a strange parallel arose on the Island that imprisoned Nelson Mandela. Because one of his fellow prisoners was allowed to be sent one book. He chose the works of Shakespeare which was then disguised as Hindu scripture to prevent its confiscation. This book then was secretly circulated and each inmate annotated the passage that meant most to him. It ,must have indeed given sustenance for the long years waiting for freedom.
The question must be what would you take to an desert island or prison; what would give me strength for the journey?
When I was a wee boy, my granddad had one cherished record – it was the songs of Harry Lauder. In fact, when we had our morning break together – which he called ‘elevens’ – this LP would be put on and we would both sing along. One of my favourites was ‘Keep right on to the end of the road’.
Well yesterday I heard it sung for the first time in many a long year. But then I learned something about it for the first time. For, despite its rousing marching rhythm, it was written in bereavement. Because it was penned by Sir Harry Lauder, as he would become, in memory of his son killed in the First World War.
Maybe that was the reason that it became so popular for it had a message to all of us who miss someone special. It’s last lines are:
Keep right on to the end of the road,
Keep right on to the end,
Tho’ the way be long,
let your heart be strong,
Keep right on round the bend.
Tho’ you’re tired and weary
still journey on,
Till you come to your happy abode,
Where all the love you’ve been dreaming of
Will be there at the end of the road.