Mino and I go back a fair bit.
Our obvious crossover point is music. To say Mino’s knowledge of music is encyclopaedic would be to diminish his remarkable talent for the subject. He has smashed so many of the music quizzes I’ve presented over the years that I’ve asked him to collaborate with me this year rather than win. Again!
But he’s also a top bloke (another cyclist too).
I’ve been involved in hiring him (and recommending him) more than once in a business development agency role, another, this time professional, talent that has few peers.
And he’s funny and engaging and full of stories – including his own lifeline.
He’s proud of his Italian roots and I think that shows up in his enthusiastic temperament that gets folk going, creates a drive and energy behind what he does and gets things done.
We need more Minos. But for now you’ll just have to content yourself with his fascinating cultural fix.
My favourite author or book
Michael Dibdin for his Aurelio Zen mysteries, set in Italy. Returning to Scotland after a few years living in Milan, I discovered these books – he just seemed to nail Italian characters, one after the other, dialling up all the traits that I instantly recognised, with a little black humour thrown in. The series also used societal events taking place in Italy as a backdrop, from Tangentopli and Berlusconi – it’s all there.
The book I’m reading
One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time by Craig Brown. So many books written about them, but none like this. Coming at it in so many new ways and angles. Their chance meetings, the coincidences, conflicting accounts of the same incident, tangents, personal anecdotes, the sad tale of Jimmy Nicol who was a Beatle for 2 weeks in Australia while Ringo was ill. Insights on Yoko Ono as a child Shirley Temple impersonator. So much to enjoy.
The book I wish I had written
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. He sells his jazz bar in 1982 to focus not only on his writing but, began running and kept going. Marathons, triathlons and more. Very, very cool.
The book I couldn’t finish
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – have tried 3 or 4 times on different holidays. Will try again.
The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read
I will one day, but as yet, I’ve not read anything by Alasdair Gray.
My favourite film
Broadway Danny Rose. Woody Allen plays a neurotic (of course) New York theatrical agent who gets caught up in a love triangle with his Italian American lounge singer, a lover and the mob. Worth it just to see Pee Wee the singing budgie.
My favourite play
Glengarry Glen Ross – not seen this on stage (yet), but the film adaptation counts. Ruthless, immoral, dishonest and desperate salesmen all vying for pole position as they try to fob off second-rate real estate to gullible buyers. Disgusting, horrible but very watchable.
My favourite podcast
Word in Your Ear with David Hepworth and Mark Ellen. These two have provided very useful cultural pointers through the decades from Smash Hits to Word Magazine to this excellent podcast that has got even better during lockdown.
The box set I’m hooked on
Shtisel – on Netflix. It’s about an ultra-Orthodox Jewish family living in Jerusalem. Ultra-Orthodox Jews are not the everyday characters that we see in TV dramas but, depicted as ordinary people, you soon caught up with very familiar family themes, the ups and downs, aches and pains.
My favourite TV series
Curb Your Enthusiasm – even the first few notes of the opening credits fill me with joy. From the episode 1 of Season 1 to the last. Never a dip in quality.
My favourite piece of music
Beyond the Missouri Sky by Charlie Haden & Pat Metheny. Recommended by a great friend of mine as the best music often is.
My favourite dance performance
In 2009, Michael Clark brought a new show to the Edinburgh Festival for the first time in over twenty years. The performance was set to the music of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and David Bowie. The standout was Heroes. The 1977 video of the song was used in such a clever way. Wherever he looked, the dancers would move there to meet his gaze. When Bowie looked ahead – the dancers were in front. When he slowly alters his position to look left, the dancers moved to the left. They wore the same tight leather jacket that he was wearing in the video. It was surprisingly moving.
The Last film/music/book that made me cry
Sonho Meu by Maria Bethania always get me going. So sad and moving. A song about deep longing and homesickness.
The lyric I wish I’d written
‘You can’t hide from yourself, everywhere you go there you are’ by Teddy Pendergrass. So obvious and true.
The song that saved me
I wouldn’t say that Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie saved me, but I think this was the first ‘serious’ single that I bought with my own money after seeing the video on Top of the Pops. Strange to think that nearly a decade earlier, the magic moment for many people was Starman on the same show.
The instrument I play
I play a little guitar and sometimes bass with a group of equally untalented individuals.
The instrument I wish I’d learned
The piano – if I’d had lessons, practiced 8 hours a day for 4 years I would have been absolutely brilliant.
If I could own one painting it would be
The Birth of Venus by Botticelli – might as well aim high.
The music that cheers me up
Whenever I need a little pick me up, Spread Love by Al Hudson & The Soul Partners. Turns rain to sunshine every time.
The place I feel happiest
Sitting under a tree in the shade.
My guiltiest cultural pleasure
Coronation Street. Sorry.
I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors
Boy George, Malcolm Gladwell, Gail Ann Dorsey, Larry David & Deborah Meaden.
And I’ll put on this music
Moon Safari by Air. Just joking. I think I’ll put on Synthesize the Soul: Astro-Atlantic Hypnotica from the Cape Verde Islands.
Here’s the 14 others in the series so far. Dip in, enjoy and share them