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Manic life of the education minister

She arrived back from her tour of New Zealand on Tuesday only to get on another plane to Sweden before returning to her office yesterday.

But Wales's hyperactive education and lifelong learning minister, Jane Davidson, still has time to fit in a varied cultural life around her official duties - which next week will include a series of official visits, speeches and openings in Bangor, Denbigh, and Llangollen.

In today's Friday magazine, Ms Davidson admits to being a "voracious reader" - with a staggering 32 books beside her bed. Her favourite is The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, which the former English and drama teacher says changed her life.

Her favourite film and theatre choices reveal no fear of controversial or challenging material. She is a fan of Cabaret, the musical charting the rise of Nazi Germany and starring Liza Minnelli, and champions its "menacing" choreography.

But the Puccini-loving minister admits being left speechless by David Lynch's challenging and voyeuristic Blue Velvet - and, like most cinemagoers, is still trying to work out what happened in Mulholland Drive.

There is some light relief, though: Ms Davidson is looking forward to seeing Kiss Me Kate at Wales's Millennium Centre, when it opens in November, and enjoys relaxing to Welsh bands Catatonia, Stereophonics and Manic Street Preachers.

Friday magazine 19

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