In my own time

11th March 2011 at 00:00
Ronnie Summers, Headteacher, Musselburgh Academy


I cherish Jonathan Raban's Old Glory for its languorous and descriptive prose, and prefer his travelogues to his novels.

The book charts Raban's 2,000-mile passage down the Mississippi River in a 16-foot boat, capturing his panic as he realises his diminutive boat is endangered by the leviathans of merchant shipping churning up and down the river.

His journey starts only with book knowledge of the river - Huck Finn and co - but he learns real river knowledge on the way. He is a wonderful observer of the quirks of human nature, speech and small-town America. Read it slowly.


Where Raban is companionable, Miles Davis was cantankerous. My favourite jazz musician, his 1959 recording Kind of Blue - only five tracks long - is the highest-selling jazz album of all time.

From the opening bars of So What, it is the epitome of cool jazz, where less is more. Here, trumpeter Miles gathered together musicians of the calibre of John Coltrane and Bill Evans.

Miles's genius is to give skeletal outlines of the music and allow everyone space to improvise around those outlines - he experimented all his life and refused to be pigeonholed. This is your entry to black classical music.


I'm a huge admirer of Tim Roth - Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction - and really like his series Lie to Me.

Based on the idea of reading facial expressions and body language to determine whether people are telling the truth or not, Cal Lightman (Roth) has established the Lightman Foundation to do work for the police and other bodies.

Although each episode is self-contained, it becomes clear over the series that Lightman is a complex character with a great deal of baggage from his past, involving his work with British intelligence and the manner of his mother's death.

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