I learned to read incredibly easily, but it's been downhill since
then. I haven't actually read a book in years, and if I allowed you
to visit my hovel, you would struggle to find a single book.
I often find the themes in literature and drama distressing.
That said, I read "Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
several times, most of the William Gibson "Cyberpunk" novels, and I
once read Dickens's Hard Times" during a very brief dalliance in
the Social Sciences - as well as "1984" and "Brave New World"
I even managed to fail my English O level the first time (I got an
A in French), and ungraded in English Lit (I enjoyed "To Kill a
Mockingbird", but "Romeo and Juliet"- yuck ! -).
I once bought a copy of "Ulysses" in the doomed hope that I could
learn to love literature as much as music, but found it just as
suffocating and depressing as if it had been conventional in
Since I'm learning French, I bought a copy of "Le Nez Qui Voque" a
few years back after hearing a very abridged and atmospheric
reading on "France Culture", but I haven't got very far - I
certainly won't be reading any Camus or Sartre.
I occasionally enjoy radio drama and book readings.
I dislike "movies" - apart from the likes of classics like
", "To Kill a Mockingbird
" and inevitably as a Francophile I like Tati
(with someone to hold my hand I
might be able to cope with watching "Jean de Florette
" a second
time) I've never seen "Star Wars" or "Indiana Jones" and have no
In terms of non-factual TV, I used to like detective series -
"Morse", "Law and Order", "CSI", etc, - though the subject matter
is ultimately too disturbing for me.
In spite of being squeamish, I watched every "House" episode more
than once, and embarrassingly fall back on Star Trek TNG &
Voyager and latterly "Big Bang Theory" for comfort fodder.
I'm on the cusp of seeing if I can live without endless repeats of
"Time Team" and "Air Crash Investigation" and thereby slim down my
cable package. (The programmes classed as "factual" on the
Discovery channels would be laughable if it wasn't such a scary
reflection on the beliefs of the average American)
French TV doesn't so far seem worth the expense ... their speech
radio on the other hand sometimes makes even Radio 4 seem a bit
My TV finally packed up at the end of 2014 and I haven't missed it
- so I will be cancelling my cable package.
I was actually once dragged out to see "Coco Cabana" and didn't
actually hate it.
I saw a fair few Shakespeare, Ibsen and Chekhov plays at the Old
Vic one year so at least am familiar with the experience of
I find Shakespeare too sexist, racist, crude and violent -
spectacular though the word-play may be. (perhaps there are also
too many words - I'm not keen on Mozart either)
"One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain"
Actually in the particular case above, I need to be in a very
comfortable place to hold back the tears.
For me it's like being on a drip. It helps keep me sane, it helps
me zone-out the traffic noise drifting over from the main roads as
I cycle to work and back - as well as being worth a few extra
If I didn't share an office I would have it playing 24 hours a
I was raised on the likes of Vaughan Williams and Ravel ...my
parents were seriously into singing (madrigals, lieder) and made me
join a church choir (I soon did a runner) ... I even "played" the
clarinet as a child, and briefly attempted to play "jazz" later,
but I have absolutely no talent for making music ...but I can
generally make some sort of vocalisation in tune.
I don't mind a bit of Bach - or perhaps EARLY Mozart, but full-on
classical and worse still "romantic" music with its German drinking
songs leaves me cold.
In the 70s, encountering Motown, Pink Floyd, punk (a fairly brief
dalliance in my late teens) and especially dub reggae changed my
tastes for ever.
Hearing "King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown" on John Peel in 1977 was
My favourite vocal album is Joni Mitchell's "The Hissing of Summer
Lawns" which I have been known to sing along with in its entirety.
(Ironic since its narrative is not something I would relate to in
literature or film)
These days it's mostly "ambient electronica" - which probably means
so much more to me because I spent many Saturday nights dancing
myself skinny at local raves in the late 90s.
I feel incredibly spoiled these days.
Those of us who enjoyed minimal / avant-garde/electronic music in
the 70s and 80s used to have to really scrape around for it - we
had Tangerine Dream, Steve Reich, even resorting to the
instrumental bits of Genesis albums ....
"Deep Mix Moscow" radio is my daily cycling soundtrack :-
The nearest to a full-on "rave experience" these days is when I'm
sprinting home slightly uphill on the railway path with Orbital or
deep House on the cans.
Doing it to a samba beat is a particular pleasure :-
Aphex Twin :-
LTJ Bukem :-
Basic Channel :-
; Joni Mitchell
; Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
; Augustus Pablo
; Miles Davis
; Basic Channel
; Goa Trance
; Ulrich Schnauss
; LTJ Bukem
; Larry Heard
; Andy Sheppard
; Boards of Canada
; Pink Floyd
; MC Solaar
; Cocteau Twins
; Soul II Soul
; Weather Report
; Airto Moreira
; cheb mami
; steve hillage
; MC Conrad
(select, right-click, choose "open link")
I spent my late 30s dancing by myself in Bristol (at the back of
the room wearing earplugs). I came to the "rave" scene very late.
My ears were at the time attuned largely to modern jazz and the
early UK rave music had sounded like massed Stylophones... and then
there was all that driving around the M25 - all totally alien to
me. Then I heard the Aphex Twin on late one night Radio 3 , and
also noticed the legal "repetitive beats" events that were
happening within walking distance.
I never met my dance partner in this "vibrant" city of
By the time I turned 40, the scene had soured and I'd had enough of
paying £10 or more to spend a few hours in a smoke-filled room with
a load of boozed-up youngsters.
So I returned to my gardening and since then have had to dance at
home - or in my head.
Mostly I "dance" on my bike at 15MPH. (I see a lot of my cycling as
some sort of dancing or meditation.)
I tried several different Salsa classes, but found it cheesy and
contrived out of the context of Cuba (maybe I was also too unhappy)
... I prefer slightly moody samba influences in my jazz and dance
I managed half a lesson of Lindy (the instructor was built like
Wayne Sleep, but just a little more elastic) and CeRoc (I did a
runner from both after half an hour - after the latter I was
reeking of cheap perfume - the venue with its keg beer should have
given me a clue )
I repeatedly wonder about Zumba, but it seems a bit too much like
line dancing, and then there's "urban street dance", but to be
honest, I can't see myself fitting in...
I reckon I just need to find the right partner - and give real
meaning to the dance.
-------------------------- DIET ----------------
I was a dietary vegan throughout my 20s and 30s, (never seen "Star
Wars", never eaten in a fast food place) but thanks to Ray Mears
and Hugh Fearlessly Eatsitall, and a desire to be more sociable, in
my early 40s I started dabbling in fish (At least /attempting/ to
catch one first was a prerequisite I set myself), and latterly
French cheese and free range eggs (I've always had far more of a
moral problem with dairy and eggs) , but my diet is still nearly
always vegan and I could happily eat tofu and salad sprouts all day
...It's quite possible that I will revert (I dream of looking more
like an Okinawan and less like a Tongan !) I like sushi and do
nearly all my cooking in a wok, but I pick and mix.
Update - a summer binge on oily fish shows that I appear to be
prone to gout - another evolutionary "joke" ... so I am vegan again
until further notice.
I'm not a "social" drinker .. sadly it's almost always solitary -
most nights - therefore "often" - but in moderation - 1 glass a
night - and only ever as an accompaniment to food ... I like half
decent southern French red wine - Cotes du Rhône, Saint-Émilion etc
- though it brings the associated danger of cheese.
(not good for the waistline and I always had more moral issues with
dairy than fish)
A lot of my excess calories actually come from those
I lack any great enthusiasm for cooking, but I know what to do with
I mostly cook in a wok. I like "oriental" / Mediterranean - but in
the main quite simple / bland food - I splosh tahini about
I make my own heavily seeded wholemeal bread and spread crunchy PNB
and Vitam-R yeast extract on it.
I'm very particular about my tea and coffee too - Oolong blend
during the week at work, Guatemala single estate on weekends
(Aeropress inverted method) I'll settle for an Earl Grey teabag
when out on a Sunday bike ride.