Culture vulture

7th January 2005 at 00:00
John Keenan has a penchant for Pasolini and Bach

Best book ever

Tarry Flynn by Patrick Kavanagh is a bleak, realistic picture of rain-sodden Ireland in the 1940s, very delicately written. I'm quite prey to the Irish disease of sentimentality, and Kavanagh is an antidote.

Best film ever

I like 1940s Italian realist films because, like PK, they deal in a naturalistic but intelligent way with a culture that is at a turning point.

My favourite director is Pasolini, and my favourite film is his Gospel According to St Matthew (pictured). His Christ is a compassionate, inclusive person who reaches out to lepers, prostitutes, criminals and tax collectors. Which contrasts with the Hollywood Mel Gibson film of last year, The Passion of the Christ.

Night-time music

I discovered classical music during the long nights when we had tiny babies and I walked them up and down, to calm them and let my wife get some sleep.

I guess it was the quiet and melodic I was looking for. Bach's unaccompanied cello suites were best.

Treat in store

I want to see the Raphael exhibition at the National Gallery. I love the way the Renaissance is about the recovery of a sense of humanness from the dark, international gothic of the middle ages. My favourite gallery off the beaten track is Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields, central London. It's a hotchpotch of the enthusiasms of Sir John, the architect of the Bank of England and one of those crazy 18th-century collectors. There are paintings, architectural drawings, classical statuary and fossils. My house is full of ordinary junk; I'd love to have a higher class of junk.

Best day out

An archaeology day with my daughter Christabel, looking for bits of clay pipe around the Thames foreshore. I think the Museum of London ran it. We found clay pipes and old bones that had been thrown overboard by ships'

caterers over the past 100 years, and shards of pottery. There were archaeologists on hand to identify and date the pieces. That was very exciting, handling broken porcelain that had had someone's dinner on it 200 years ago.

John Keenan, 49, is head of sixth form at Merton college in south London.

He was talking to Karen Gold

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