J’aimerais parler français vraiment bien mais j’ai besoin de pratiquer beaucoup plus. Le problème pour moi est je vis ma vie dans la solitude donc malheureusement je ne parle pas le français. Mais j’espère un jour j’améliorai et commencer a lire tous les livres que j’aime en français.
Back to English, then. What three albums couldn't you live without?
The three albums have changed all the way through my life. There was a time when it would be Heroes, Low and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Another time it would be the Love It To Death album by Alice Cooper; Sparks' Kimono My House and Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd.
Again there was a time when it would be Shot By Both Sides by Magazine; The Scream by Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Tubeway Army album by Gary Numan. And there have been times when I have stepped away from music for a while to give myself a break. At those kind of times it has been mainly instrumental stuff from Brian Eno, Harold Budd and Steve Reich. I don’t listen to albums as much as I would like to: everything is shuffle, which is a shame, but that’s the way it is now.
What were the first and the last records that you bought?
Most recently, Our lives on Wednesdays by I’m Not a Gun. It is an instrumental album but really lovely. It makes me feel great. I feel among friends. The first record I ever bought was Suzy Quatro, Down in Devil Gate Drive.
And not that this is at all relevant, but feel the need to champion the Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde. What a band and what brilliant songs.
What was the first live gig that you went to?
I can’t remember. It might have been Queen at the Empire in 1978. I have no idea and it is annoying me because it is so important. It is like remembering your first kiss.
Was it Peter Gabriel? It could have been Ultravox in Eric’s, or Magazine.
I need to be put into regression to really find out. But I do remember being at a Peter Gabriel gig in the Empire and shouting out to him that I loved him, and he said that he loved me too. Everybody laughed but it meant the world to me. I don’t care how sad it sounds or pathetic it seems to people, it is the truth and, as it happens, I still love him for helping me connect to music in a way that I have never connected to anything else before or since.
And the last?
I went to see Mark Knopfler in Toulouse. No personalities drenched in ego or celebrity, just pure music and great songs. I had to stop myself getting on the stage and asking him if he could let me improvise along with him and his band.
What tune is running around your head?
We Are The Dead by David Bowie. Also Hurt, as sung by Johnny Cash. That for me is the genius of songwriting. You just don’t get any better than that.
What newspapers/magazines do you read?
Thanks to the internet I can read The Independent, the Guardian and The Telegraph and The Times. I miss being near a library. A big library like the Picton in the centre of Liverpool with loads of lovely books in English. Or the Liverpool University library, full of magazines and databases you could search for hours and then go and get the journal. I am sorry to say, but I lust after that experience.
I need to get my act together because for me the French write the best novels so I should get reading them in the original language. The trouble is I am impatient, as I am still only at the level where I can read French books for ten year olds. I need to have a word with myself.
What word do you most like the sound of?
Moist delicious ricochets dancing off the walls of freedom. I like all those words and a million more. Butterfly makes me flutter. Yes butterfly and flutter and sensual liquorice folding its arms around your flushed face.
I could go on like this forever. Words and language are just streams of emotion symbols and messages.
Living in France has made me appreciate the richness and depth of English. It is truly beautiful and vast, except when I hear someone close to me say the word kecks and then I just want to curl up and die.
Which website do you visit most often?
BBC Online. I always look to see if there is any news about Everton. The When Skies are Grey site, for obvious reasons, and Toffeeweb. The Scientific American also. I love all that stuff about the brain and the fact that we know so little.
Do you do internet radio or listen to local French radio stations?
I have just got broadband here so I want to try to start listening to the radio over the web. I am a Radio 4 junkie, and Radio 3 and Radio Five Live if Everton are being covered. Although I wish I could have a word with Alan Green; not that I think he would listen but to me there are certain things he could improve upon.
And I wish that they wouldn’t raise their voices as though the ball is going in the back of the net when it is only really approaching the corner flag. It is like the vocal orgasm but it is all fake. I would prefer the vocal orgasm only took place when it was a goal or nearly a goal at the very least.
What was the best television programme ever made?
Fawlty Towers because it was and still is pure genius. Also the Royle Family. I have always had a mad crush on Caroline Aherne. I hope she gets to be Dame soon. In fact I would like Caroline
Aherne and Eddie Izzard to be our new king and queen or at the very least start a new political party and make Britain great again.
What book in childhood made the biggest impression on you?
I didn’t read as a child but I was still a child when I was 18 and I read The Immoralist by Andre Gide. Because of that book I realised that everybody just told lies and pretended the truth wasn’t happening.
I come from a Catholic grammar school called De la Salle in Liverpool. I loved the school and will be forever grateful to the Salesian brothers and teachers for giving me so much of their time and expertise but it was difficult for me because there were so many questions to ask. And to be given Catholic, toe-the-line responses was just not good enough for me.
The Immoralist changed my life. It felt like it was the first time someone was honest with me and actually told me how it was for them what it felt like and to hell with society and its norms. It was a major turning point.
My life would never be the same again, and so I started to seek books like Colin Wilson’s The Outsider and Knut Hamsun and Herman Hesse and that was it. There was no going back. I knew which gang I wanted to be in and it certainly didn’t include the Pope, the politicians, the mafia, the liars, the warmongers the smooth talking business sociopaths and the means-to-an end cronies who linked themselves to the evil Stalin even though they knew how bad he was. Sorry I am getting angry.
I will breathe and think of garlic spaghetti and remember what Ecclesiastes said at the beginning of his book – everything is dust, or, if you like, everything is meaningless.
What's your current book at bedtime?
Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I was expecting to hate it because my friend said that she hated it. I can see why because it is not human beings at their best, but at their most flawed. But his level of honesty, and the way he uses the words to show how ugly and beautiful he is at the same time, is absolutely incredible.
Also The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. It is a brilliant book also but very harrowing. It is about a young boy and his family and their relationships with their dogs. They run a kennels. It is gripping but I hate it when pure evil comes through. However the relationship between the dog and the boy is astonishing and real. It makes me cry just thinking about it.
Who or what makes you laugh?
David Walliams and Matt Lucas and Ricky Gervais. The three of them would be in my emergency cabinet if I was prime minister not that I ever will.
Which public figure do you most admire?
Mahatma Ghandi because he showed us the way. Sayed Pavez Kambaksh the 23 year old journalist who dared to download an article about women’s rights in Afghanistan and now faces 20 years in prison. A real hero and I sincerely hope he is freed.
Bono because, whether you are a fan of his music or not, he has done so much to save people's lives in Africa. The man is showing his humanity and love. I couldn’t talk to the powerful people he talks to and not want to slap them across the face with some limp cabbage or something but he manages to have dialogue with these elite and as a result saves the lives of millions of meek and humble beings. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Also Elisabeth Fritzl who suffered for so long at the hands of her evil father and is trying to rebuild her life with her children. The fact that she has somehow survived and hopes to see the light in her life is nothing short of miraculous and a total inspiration to us all.
What single work of art do you find the most moving?
Too difficult. I love J W Turner, but I couldn’t miss out Egon Schiele or Gustav Klimt. And there is a sculpture of a goat by Degas which moved me to tears as soon as I saw it. And Rodin fills me with awe the level of talent and ability. There are just too many.
What is your favourite piece of architecture?
The terraced houses in Walton because they were and still are full of invisible heroes, and are the inspiration in my life.
Know any good jokes?
The level of tolerance and humanity shown by so many world political and religious leaders. Oh and the music business.
As told to Angie Sammons
*The Lotus Eaters are playing at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on Saturday 25th July 2009. Tickets here
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