I fell out of a healthy reading habit on leaving university and have struggled to get back in. Once upon a time I could never be persuaded into fiction (except Ian Fleming as a boy) and mine was the only copy of Jo Grimond's biography I saw on holiday last year. I have been drawn into Stieg Larsson - despite being squeamish - although the "biography" of Jerusalem awaits me next. On a desert island, though, it would be Tintin every time.
I lived for a year in Italy and liked to imagine life might pan out like Cinema Paradiso or Mediterraneo. Those were the first non-English films I ever really understood in their own right; it was bittersweet to discover the joy of other languages only after leaving full-time education. But once I recognised them as a pleasure and a tool for life, like driving a car, they led me in unusual directions - and still do.
I'm still coming to terms with the loss of America's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart from a regular UK weekday slot. Irrespective of its cheeky Democratic Party leanings, it is the best example of how to combine ruthless political satire with effective topical comment. The research and inventiveness behind its treatment of political and public figures has led to real changes in public policy - unlike 10 O'Clock Live.
Having a Colombian wife and two kids adds a welcome Latin diversion to traditional music tastes. The last three live non-classical events I have seen were all Latin and, yes, the most recent was Shakira - it was odd to hear snippets of Colombian cumbia echoing across the pre-fab expanses of Glasgow's SECC.