In My Own Time

Alastair Seaman is the Grounds for Learning programme manager


The real world holds more fascination for me than the fictitious, and I love books that open up the many real worlds and cultures that the mainstream media ignore. Blood River by Tim Butcher is a great example, describing a hair-raising expedition down the Congo through one of the world's most dangerous and forgotten regions, while unpacking African history and some of the events of the Great War of Africa that killed over five million people. William Dalrymple's Nine Lives is another: informed and warm-hearted stories of rural life and faith in the Indian subcontinent, the narrating beautiful.


Having lived and travelled abroad, "world music" fills much of my library. Favourites would be Ali Farka Toure's classic Talking Timbuktu, which illustrates the roots of blues in West Africa's traditional music, and the fantastic Buena Vista Social Club from Cuba, the best-selling world music album of all time. For me, U2 have been an outstanding band, charting an almost unique path of music that challenges prevailing pop culture of narcissism or nihilism. For musical brilliance, lyrical depth and something unlike anything you've ever heard, go now to and download my album of the year completely free.


Apart from the occasional sporting highlight, TV is a waste of time. I lived my pre-kids adult life without a telly and call on all sane people to cut the plug off their box and do something more enjoyable and enriching with those 30 hours (the average UK adult weekly TV fix). Go to the pub with your pals, invite your neighbours round for dinner or Google "microadventure" and have fun doing one.

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