In My Own Time
With so much to do, I am always surprised by the amount I manage to read. An English teacher to trade, books are important to me. My favourite is A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell, which I love for its lucid prose, panorama of history and ideas, and forensic insight. I recently reread Gore Vidal's collected essays and appreciated them even more the second time - especially his efforts to capture the truth of various phases of American history. I also regularly revisit the writings of Kenneth White and Seamus Heaney, not just for their poetry but also for their sense of its value to human beings. For diversion, I mostly read European crime fiction (Andrea Camilleri, Arturo Perez-Reverte, C.J. Sansom and Fred Vargas are particular favourites) and pop science books on how the universe works. Sometimes I think physics writers like Paul Davies are more fantastic than novelists.
I love Transatlantic Sessions on BBC4 - a Scottish production we should treasure. We listen to a lot of radio in our house. I catch I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue when I can and enjoy Fighting Talk and Sportsweek on weekend mornings while undertaking taxi duties. For current affairs, I enjoy listening to Derek Bateman and Angus Macleod on Radio Scotland.
l This bit's hard, because I love lots of music. If pushed to choose, I'd go for Richard Hawley, Madredeus and Nina Simone: all beautiful and poignant. On journeys, I listen to The Fratellis and Belle and Sebastian with my kids in the car.
Having lived in Madrid for four years, the films of Pedro Almodovar are really special to my wife and me. They're extravagant, challenging and stunning. Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now remains my favourite film.