Taking inspiration from Susan Sontag’s diaries, writer and director Bruce Robinson shares his list of likes and dislikes, covering everything from French words to gooseberries and Margaret Thatcher
WHAT I LIKE
Rainbows, coal fires, sealing wax, toadstools, swearing, junk shops, moulds, bluebells, owls, ghosts, second-hand bookshops, pies, oysters, expensive red wine, fireworks and sniffing used fireworks, abandoned buildings, abandoned railway lines, seaweed, actors, writers, painters, vicars who don’t believe a word of it, gales, herbs, saving earthworms from a dehydrated fate, voles, moles and molehills, primroses, Draculas, Voltaire, Michael Davitt, Ventolin Inhalers, the art of cooking, discovering rare books, the philosophy of Robert Ingersoll. Bob Dylan, Charles Dickens, Shelley, Hine, Kenneth Patchen, Henry Miller, the unbelievable fucking genius of Shakespeare. Getting drunk and reading Hamlet, The Beatles, George Harrison, the old reading room at the British Museum, the 30-foot tapeworm in the Natural History Museum, nightingales, ink, Aston Martins, Popeye, The Bash Street Kids, watching ants, inventing things, IBM typewriters, the illustrations of J.J. Grandville, George Cruikshank, Ralph Steadman, Steve Bell, anchovies, skulls, Keir Hardie, Suffragettes, Oscar Wilde (though not his poetry), Winston Churchill (though not his politics), Boris Johnson (though fuck knows why), Edith Piaf, Al Bowlly, Hendrix, Irish accents, David Davis MP (the only Tory I would vote for), the genius of Galton and Simpson, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, redcurrants, candlelight, moonlight, pulling up an onion, watching snow fall from a warm bed, forget-me-nots, France and almost everything French, learning new French words, the word gooseberry (in either English or French), freshly sharpened pencils, my wife’s cooking, upstairs on the front of a London bus, obscure tools, atheism, clockwork mechanisms, mending clocks, barometers, Yorkshire puddings, George Galloway, pretending I’ve got Charles Dickens in the car with me, Charles Dickens freaking out as we hit 90, the history of the Irish struggle for freedom, Michael Collins, the paintings of Atkinson Grimshaw, the rage of Russell Brand, living in a haunted house, Zola, Cuban cigars, falling asleep, meadows, wild flowers, runner ducks, sparrows, forensics, Dylan Thomas, The Rolling Stones, Les Fleurs du mal, seaside towns in winter, fish and chips (wet through with vinegar), the first few days of arriving in Los Angeles, my agent, the Victoria & Albert Museum, wild roses, full moons, silent phones, the tears music can get you with (ditto Shakespeare), Lenny Bruce, Naked Lunch, my friend Andrew Birkin’s pickled bunion, George Eliot’s magnificent phrase “Consequences are without pity.”
WHAT I DISLIKE
National anthems, all religions, processed food, glue on the first sheet of a toilet roll. The word ‘toilet’. Two for the price of one. Buy one get one free. “How may I help you?” H when pronounced as ‘hayitch’. Football. Autopsies on lost football matches by ex-footballers. Plastic windows. Phoning me to sell me plastic windows. Propaganda sold as news. Zombie-speak from politicians. Grant Shapps. Eric Pickles (this effortlessly foolish fat man is Secretary for Communities yet can’t even look after his own body). Junk food and the vile liquids sold with it, killing more Americans than the wildest dreams of al-Qaeda. The mind-numbing absurdity of Tories bleating about ‘sovereignty’ while selling every asset this country ever had. Squandering our railways, post office, gas, electricity, to the flagrant disadvantage of the British. Selling the fucking rain we drink (Londoners pay a 25 percent tithe to some outfit in China every time they flush their lavatory). Selling Rolls Royce, Bentley and Jaguar for a quick buck rather than investing in them on behalf of the nation (can anyone imagine Germany selling Mercedes to India?). The impending environmental catastrophe (and rip-off) of fracking and high-speed rail (the British will pay for both and both will be sold off to foreigners). Spivs disguised as bankers. “Lessons will be learned” (the habitual get-out clause for the culpable), but never a “Lesson taught” (i.e. prison for some of these bastards). Almost everything Margaret Thatcher thought was a good idea. The House of Lords (corruption sold as tradition). Prince Andrew (the Mark Thatcher of the royals). The royal family on the balcony waving at 2nd World War aeroplanes. Arms dealers and their associates laying wreaths at the Cenotaph. Camouflaging US nukes with the nonsense of an “independent British deterrent”. Trident missiles. “Shock and Awe” and the nightmare that has evolved from it. Sir Malcolm Rifkind and his preposterous security jive. Geoff Hoon, Jack Straw (and his fabricated stutter). Alastair Campbell whining about his depression/alcoholism with six hundred thousand dead in Iraq. Pretending nobody knew what Jimmy Savile was up to. Sir Jim Savile. The impossibility of speaking to a human at British Telecom (unless you want to buy something). The constant dissemination of fear, except in adverts where everyone’s in the suburbs of heaven. Communism, salad cream, Tony Blair, “veg” instead of “vegetables”.
This article appears in Port issue 16 – out now