Saturday, August 19, 2006


This is not a ‘what I’m like’ profile, but a ‘what I like’ profile. From these interests and obsessions you can judge for yourself.

I like good coffee – Lavazza or Illy, I like eating out at a good curry or pizza restaurant. I particularly like a goodly sized portion of chips, murdered with tomato ketchup. I like Japanese food because it is simultaneously tasty and beautiful to look at.

I’m a big music fan and have been since my teenage years. The Arctic Monkeys have recently grabbed my attention for their northern verve, colloquial lyricism and humour. Wordsmiths are generally what hold my interest, particularly when combined with am adventurous approach to music making. Those who for me fall into this bracket are Nick Cave, The Smiths and Tom Waits, Lately I’m rediscovering the shear musical / lyrical wit and irony of Sparks. The Mael Brothers seem to me to be the Gilbert & Sullivan’s our their era, now entering their fourth decade of innovative music making. ( This only touches on my music obsession, for more see 40 FAVOURITE SONGS )

I’ve had a passion for history almost from birth. As a child I read history books in preference to fiction, because fiction for me wasn’t real. My earliest historical obsession was with Ancient Egypt. Today I have an interest in the mediaeval period, 13th Century Monasticism and architecture. I love visiting monastic ruins, castles and Parish Churches. I particularly like the historian Eamon Duffy’s books, ‘The stripping of the altars’, and ‘The voices of Morebath’.

These days I do like reading fiction, but I have to say its quite a few years since I felt overwhelmed with admiration for a fiction writer. Anything by Donna Tart or Peter Ackroyd I reckon is a good investment. The mediaeval murder detective stories of C.J.Samson. The stories of Ronald Firbank always amuse me immensely when ever I re-read them. Generally I like a story, rather than a mood piece or a coruscating dissection of the narrative form. Lately I’ve been reading books from my partner David’s book collection, such as William Gibson, Clive Barker and Iain M Banks.

I keep a record each year of the books I read. Its interesting to look from 1973 onwards and see my interests flare into life and then move on. These days non fiction and biography are primary. I expect this is a return to my interest in real life rather than fiction. My enthusiasms recently have been anything by Studs Terkel or Tony Parker. I love beyond reasonable limits anything by Anton de St Exupery or Bill Bryson. I like the exploratory world of Archetypal Psychology, so anything by James Hillman, Thomas Moore, David Whyte or Shaun McNiff.

As a writer of poetry I obviously can’t leave poets out. Since I first came across him in the late seventies I’ve admired Edwin Brock. For his earthy humour, perception and poetic structure, I’ve learnt a lot from him. Others worth a mention are Vladimir Holan, Walt Whitman, Pablo Neruda, Rumi, Ryokan, Baudalaire, Dylan Thomas and Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

As a practicing Buddhist I obviously have had an interest in reading the Dharma. As my first introduction to eastern spirituality Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity I still hold in fond regard for that reason only. The books of Sangharakshita, as the founder of the WBO, have obviously had a profound influence on me. He has certainly formed my view of Buddhism indelible. At the same time I have to admit his writing style is lacking in rich imaginative metaphor. To counter balance his dry rigorous intellect and analytical interpretation, I have to go to Zen. For these writers and teachers speak to my heart and inspire me. Dogen is a huge influence in this regard, speaking simultaneously to heart and mind.

I go regularly to the cinema. Films I’ve liked in recent years were Christopher Guests’s -Best in Show, anything by Pedro Almodovar, particularly Talk to Her. I must say that generally I find film emotionally a cool medium. I go to the cinema or watch DVD’s because it’s a cheap form of entertainment. I love the theatre passionately and would go more often if it were not so damned expensive. Some of the most inspiring, moving and life enhancing evenings have taken place there. Seeing the performance artists Laurie Anderson and Rose English. Seeing a Jan Fabre production for the first time. Any Shakespeare play at The Globe in London, The National Theatre’s productions of The Orestia and The Mystery Plays. Any production by Lindsey Kemp or an Arthur Miller play. I recently saw the Almedia theatre’s production of Festen, which was simply a stunning piece of theatre. Managing to be both contemporary and revive the ghosts of Greek Tragedy.

My favourite artist’s are a bit of a mixed bag but are long lasting enthusiasms. Van Gogh, Paul Klee, Emile Nolde, Kurt Schwitters, Hans Arp, Juan Miro, Richard Long, Andy Goldsworthy, David Mache, Christo, & Gilbert & George.

Favourite places to visit are anywhere on the North Norfolk Coast, or Shingle Street in Suffolk. I’ve not traveled abroad much, but I am fond of Valencia which I’ve visited twice.

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