There’s a lot of surviving going on these days – you can’t escape it on TV. Whether it’s Help I’m A Jungle, Get These Celebrities Out Of Me or Bear Grylls Walking with President Obama and having a pop at Neil Morrissey in Mission Survive, someone, somewhere, is looking ragged in the wilderness.
That got me thinking – what if you were a modern Robinson Crusoe, stranded on a desert island (classic survival scenario) and only had things from the office to keep you safe. What would you need to make it?
If you want to get the attention of a passing plane, you’ll need something to reflect the sunlight. Aluminium foil is perfect for this, plus if you happen to stumble across a group of fearsome islanders, you can show them how to do steamed fish with julienned vegetables. Sharing the culinary arts could herald fruitful cooperation.
One of the hardest things to go without on a desert island will be music. We need music to motivate us, to lift us when we’re feeling down and to remind us that there’s always hope. That’s why you should make a paper flute. OK, the tone won’t be amazing, but you’re almost guaranteed to be the best flautist on the island.
Brooms are super useful. They allow you to brush sand away from your camp and you can hunt with them, too. Simply sharpen the end of the broom into a point and you could spear some stray creature for a barbecue. Also, if for some reason you ever need to disguise yourself as a walrus, simply hold the broom upside down and pretend its bristles are a massive moustache (you’ll need chopsticks for the teeth).
That mesh wastepaper bin in the corner that so readily receives your important files? It would make an excellent fishing net. Simply tie some string to the sides and you can drag it through the water, picking up minnows (or shopping trolleys, if you’re stranded on an island in the middle of one of London’s canals).
OK, I know what you’re thinking. You need a first aid-kit, right? Yes, but I’ve got a different idea. If you have enough plasters you can actually weave them into a waterproof/healing blanket. Keeping you sheltered from the rain and covering any cuts and bruises you might have.
(You might have to roll around on the beach a bit to un-stick yourself from inside the blanket in the morning.)
The Swiss-army knife of bins-that-you-need-on-a-desert-island, this big wheelie bin has multiple uses. On a stormy night, put it on its side and crawl in for shelter. On a calm day, climb in and put to out to sea* for some gentle fishing in your improvised bin-boat. If you find a bumper harvest of coconuts, strap some planks to the wheels and pull your bounty along the beach back to base.
*Seaworthiness not guaranteed.
You could write messages asking for help, or draw plans for fortifications and inventions. But where’s the fun in that? I think a much better idea is to cover yourself in markings like the women from Duran Duran’s Rio and prance along the beach singing along. Plus, if you spot a passing cruise ship you can earn your passage to safety by being a backing dancer in their nightly cabaret show.
Does this make you want to set out to sea in search of adventure? You’ll be well equipped to deal with any eventuality with a few judiciously chosen office supplies.