In My Own Time
As an English graduate, I feel nervous - as if I should have a list of highfalutin titles. There are standouts - The Wind in the Willows, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Kestrel for a Knave - and short-story writers like Sean O Faolain, Liam O'Flaherty, William Trevor, Frank O'Connor. Dickens was my first love, but the master is John McGahern. I've a weakness for Colm Toibin, Blake Morrison and Bernard MacLaverty. Wilfred Owen and Siegried Sassoon's poetry, alongside Patrick Kavanagh and Dermot Bolger, complete a fairly predictable shelf.
Maybe "wind-down" is the best description - I'm addicted to Holby City and Casualty, a sucker for police procedurals and BBC4 music documentaries. I go online increasingly for news and documentaries from Ireland and overseas. I'm a sports fan, but find there's too much for it to be regular viewing. The West Wing, Spiral and Borgen are required viewing. I'm loving An Island Parish on Barra.
I like Scottish bands such as Attic Lights and Frightened Rabbit. The reappearance of veteran Irish folk rockers Horslips made me very happy. Standout gigs have been Eleanor McEvoy, Teddy Thompson, Kevin McDermott, Sheryl Crow, and the Gerry Rafferty tribute at Celtic Connections. Tom Morton on Radio Scotland never stops introducing me to new sounds, and I have a soft spot for Kirsty MacColl.
My perfect film would be David Lean's Great Expectations or Bill Forsyth's Local Hero. I follow the programmes at Edinburgh's Cameo, Dominion and Filmhouse. Thoughtful and character-driven stuff with solid acting - Alan Alda, Meryl Streep. But I'm not averse to a romcom with Ben Stiller or Meg Ryan.