- I must have read most of the books in my school's library, where I worked as a student, but the first that I remember really moving me was Nevil Shute's On the Beach; I've read it many times. Another powerful book that I like to read regularly is John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany. After enjoying the television series The Crow Road, I discovered Iain Banks' novels. I've collected most of them now.
- At university, I worked as an usherette at a Glasgow cinema and watched many films that some of you may have missed. My favourite was Joe Versus the Volcano. I'd highly recommend it for a family movie that is uplifting and fun. Its moral is about living life to the full while you can. Tom Hanks is the lead but Meg Ryan steals the show playing several disparate characters. I still quote lines from this film 20 years later - I even have the soundtrack on my phone.
- I'm wary of sharing my musical taste as this is what really dates you, and I'm still very much in the 1980s. There is one band whose gigs I still attend; I first saw Love and Money at an anti-apartheid concert at the Glasgow Barrowland in 1986 after travelling down with friends from Inverness. We missed the last train home and spent the night in George Square, but it was worth it. Thanks to my new job at the University of the West of Scotland, I've been lucky enough to be treated to a songwriters' circle that involved their lead singer, James Grant. Hearing more about how he wrote some of his favourite songs was one unexpected perk that I could never have foreseen when selecting teaching as a career.