I was invited on to a radio show last week and, to add some novelty to the interview format, I had twelve questions thrown at me. As I have the memory of a sieve, I may not be able to recall all of them, but as a break from the usual book related stuff I thought I might reprint here the ones I can remember, along with my answers. So . . .
Easy one, this. Cinnamon, and the smell of turf fires. My grandparents’ farm in Kerry had a small turf bog, and I always associate the smell of burning turf with my childhood. Now that so many people have central heating and gas fires, you don’t get that wonderful smell so much anymore. As for cinnamon, well, it’s just my spice of choice. I have a mild addiction to cinnamon buns. Sad, really.
Worst Dating Experience
Oh dear. I once dated someone who told me that she liked me so much she’d come off her medication. Although flattering for a second or two, this does beg the question of a) what medication are you on?; and b) is it really a good idea to come off it? She was very sweet though, so perhaps that wasn’t so much the worst experience as the most memorable line from my dating adventures.
Most Overrated Activity
Strangely, I nominated getting a haircut, if only because I once dated someone who had an orgasm while having her hair washed in a salon. Now, I’ve had some good haircuts in my time but nothing to could compare to that. You could rub my head until Doomsday and it wouldn’t even cause a tremble downstairs, although if it did you’d never get me out of the hairdresser’s chair. I guess it just goes to show how differently men and women are wired.
Favorite Thing About Ireland
Kerry again, or north Kerry in particular. Less touristy that south Kerry, and a bit less scenic, but lovely people and Ballylongford, the village in which my mother grew up, is still one of the most welcoming places I know.
Probably Portland, Maine. It’s certainly one of the few places other than Dublin in which I could imagine living. For flying visits, though, it has to be New York.
Who would you invite to your last supper?
Well, I could figure out who I wouldn’t invite. I can never understand people who nominate Jesus as a guest at their last supper. After all, He probably wouldn’t be keen on coming after the first one, and also it would be hard to trump Jesus at dinner table conversation.
“So, I went to the Bahamas for my holidays.”
“Well, I came back from the dead.”
See? It’s a no-win situation.
Most respected politician?
I think politicians are increasingly pragmatists rather than idealists, so I found it hard to choose a living one. Instead I nominated a deceased Irish Labour politician named Frank Cluskey, who used to come to our house when I was a child. He was the first politician that I ever met, and committed to those old style ideas of socialism and equality that are anathema to the modern British Labour party, at least.
Literary villain(s) and literary hero
Well, in common with at least one fellow author, I have a problem with adults who are obsessed with Harry Potter books. You know, it’s like Kerplunk and hula hoops. It’s for kids. Read it if you want, and by all means enjoy it, but don’t dress up as Dumbledore and queue for hours outside a bookshop, or tell me that the books represent some level of profundity for adults. If you’re an adult learning stuff from Harry Potter books then you’ve missed something along the path of life. Equally, if you think that they’re the best books ever written then you just haven’t read enough. I’m sorry, but there it is. I wish J.K. Rowling only the best, and I absolutely the support the right of adults to read whatever they choose, but even Rowling must sometimes shake her head at the excesses of her older fans.
The hero would probably be Ross Macdonald, for reasons explained in an earlier edition of this column.
Beatles or the Stones?
Beatles, every time.
Biggest Fashion Disaster
Spoiled for choice here, really. The one my friends refuse to let me forget is a jacket with writing on the back that I wore only once. I think it advertised some fictitious flying company.
“Are you really employed by the Caribbean Flying Corps?”
End of story.
Trait that I Most Dislike in Other People
Meanness. I really despise it. I think people who are tight with money tend to be miserly in other ways too. It’s a symptom of a deeper malaise. One of my favorite insults relates to meanness. As the great Brendan Behan once said of a particularly stingy acquaintance: “If he was a ghost, he wouldn’t give you a fright.”
Song that Most Irritates Me
Gosh, there are so many, but if I had to pick one it would be an Irish ballad called The Fields of Athenry, which is just a dirge and now appears to be everywhere in the way that cockroaches and flies are. I’m a huge Liverpool fan and they even sing a version of it on the terraces at Anfield. I’d ask them to stop, but I’d probably get beaten to a pulp.
This week John read:
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
and listened to:
Witching Hour by Ladytron