In My Own Time
One band I listen to a lot is the magnificently underrated (and relatively unknown) The Appleseed Cast. Brooding, moody guitar and screamingly anguished vocals. Check out "Marigold and Patchwork" from their The End of the Ring Wars album - and make sure you play it loud. I have a passion for collecting live recordings of Midnight Oil: raw passion, raw politics and raw, raw guitar. Peter Garrett, who was their singer, is now the Australian education minister.
I've just finished Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy. Apart from the all-too-neat ending, they were gripping. For something more thought- provoking, I'm reading Seth Godin's education manifesto, Stop Stealing Dreams. While a touch idealistic in places, he makes a convincing case for educational change to prepare for the future, rather than the past. I'm in the middle of further research on the Great War for a novel and that means I'm never far from Martin Middlebrook's seminal The First Day on the Somme. If you only read one book about the First World War, make it this one.
I love documentaries but, with a six-year-old son, the TV programme I see most is Phineas and Ferb. Fortunately, it's a funny and inventive kids' show. Similarly, most of the films I've seen at home of late have been from Studio Ghibli. I can't remember the last film I saw in the cinema - probably the final Harry Potter - but I try to keep myself informed by listening to the podcasts of Kermode and Mayo's Friday film reviews from BBC 5 Live. Thanks to them, I've seen films as diverse as Of Gods and Men and Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins. As a loyal listener of the show, I'm duty-bound to finish with a quick: "Hello to Jason Isaacs!"