In my own time
- I was bereft after completing Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, but my wife kick-started a rich new vein of reading when she gave me a copy of Arctic Chill by Icelandic writer Arnaldur Indridason. I think Nordic writers touch some sort of genetic trigger in me. I love their pared-back and uncomplicated prose, as well as their bleak landscapes and characters. The plots are intelligent, too; a glance at the Crime Writers' Association website will confirm that Nordic crime writers do very well in the International Dagger awards. Jo Nesbo and Hakan Nesser are also worth a read.
- I love the way that the great Scottish outdoors is enjoying far more exposure on TV. We're able to see cracking footage of wildlife and photogenic sports such as walking, climbing, cycling and kayaking. Programmes like Countryfile and The Adventure Show are now part of my staple viewing diet. TV is now more accessible through iPlayer and the like - a future project is to find out how to project these programmes through the larger screen TV. I'm told it's easy .
- My reading and TV viewing have taken me to Scotland and the Nordic countries; my chosen film genre will transport me to Arizona or Colorado. It's the western! I recently saw The Searchers on TV. I thought the script was weak and the dialogue stilted. John Wayne hadn't yet learnt to act as well as he did later in the Rooster Cogburn films, and his racist, vengeful persona was really unpleasant. Nevertheless, for a kid raised on The Lone Ranger, the magic of the western temporarily suspends critical judgment. The big American landscape is the star.