I've been interested in history and in finding out how things came to be, basically for as long as I can remember. My parents unwittingly fuelled this interest by dragging my sister and me to every museum and historic place of interest we encountered on our many travels, and buying me every book I so much as glanced at...and I was invariably drawn to the books that had pictures of Greek and Roman buildings in them. I remember being particularly fascinated by the remains of Roman acqueducts in France, how 1500-odd years after having been erected, large bits of them were still standing, sometimes even still working. I also loved storytelling, and being told stories that went back to the mists of time - legends, sagas, stories of the Dreamtime, and I've always taken an interest in people and through them, in cultures and civilisations. And eventually, it was all these interests combined that led me to becoming an archaeologist.
My Mum owns the biggest music collection of anyone I've ever known. She started collecting albums in the 50s, and by the time I was born, already had hundreds of records. To date, she has a grand total of 5,874 albums, a couple of hundred cassette tapes and (going with the times) about 50 cd-s, and she keeps on adding to the collection every chance she gets. She also still has a lot of old, sadly rapidly deteriorating, tapes that she plays on an old 60s tape recorder -- I'm sure you know the type: it's a box with two spools and a few knobs, and although it's called a portable, it weighs a tonne. Our house was always filled with music. Unfortunately for me though, my Mum was, and remains to this day, a fervent country & western fan. Hank Williams, Slim Whitman, Marvin Rainwater and many, many others of their ilk make up the bulk of her collection. My Dad, on the other hand, liked Japanese music and jazz -- not the experimental stuff my Mum enjoys, but the stuff you can dance to. He had a small, and entirely personal and private collection which he only played on very rare occasions. Mostly when my Mum was away, because when she was at home, she owned and hogged the stereo. She did her best to instill a love of c&w in my sister and me, and has succeeded up to a certain point with my sister; but me, I couldn't find anything I liked about it. The simple, predictable melodies, the whining voices, the stupid cowboy hats, and most annoying of all, the steel guitar -- I hated every aspect of it. And I was forced to listen to it every single day of my life growing up! Except for weekends late at night, when I was in bed, and Mum and Dad were in the sitting room together listening to the dulcet tones of Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey, or my dad's favourite: Papa Bue... I love big bands because the music's flowing and intricate, the sounds pleasing and uplifting, and because it couldn't be further removed from c&w.
Of course, later in life, I learnt to appreciate certain types of c&w. And other types of jazz. And, because of my early interest in storytelling, I automatically prick up my ears to pick up on a song's lyrics. I like songs to tell a story, to be about something. It doesn't have to be a political manifesto or a universal truth; it can be about the everyday, the mundane and it doesn't have to spell it out; it can be cryptic and disjointed, but on the whole, I prefer a song like Yesterday to a song like She Loves You, purely on lyrical content.
Anyway, from when I was about 12 years old, I started to develop my own taste in music. And I found I liked soul, r&b, pop, rock and folk.
I like Common Rotation because of their music and their clever lyrics. I like the sound of their instruments and the sound of their voices. I like how they sound individually and how they blend together. But most of all, I adore the love and enthusiasm they bring to their music, their performance of it, and their fans. They're the most interactive band I've ever come across, and their approachability and their genuine interest in reaching out to their audience and share that enthusiasm with them is what makes me love Common Rotation so much.
When I was young(er), I loved the Fourth Doctor. Now, I love Nine. And I love the new series because it deals with relationships far more than with scary aliens trying to take over the world.
I wanted to be a knight when I grew up. I wanted to ride a horse and hack my enemies to pieces with my trusted broadsword. Then, I saw Errol Flynn swashbucklers on TV, and I wanted to be a pirate wielding a cutlass. And finally, I saw The Three Musketeers and wanted to learn how to fence. And so I did, I thoroughly enjoy it, and I take immense pride and pleasure in having mastered the épée, a weapon that suits my personality much better than the foil or the sabre.
I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was 16. I spent the next year or two reading every book Tolkien ever wrote, and taking them much too seriously. My interest has waned somewhat, but I still re-read The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion once every so often, and I was most impressed by Peter Jackson's film trilogy. I must get the DVD box one day...
I developed a taste in classical music (baroque, rococo, Mozart) by listening to late night radio programmes in my late teens. In my early 20s, I became curious as to what the music of earlier times sounded like, and started going to specialist music stores and recitals given by musicians who specialised in Renaissance and early medieval music. Through my interest in church history and the annual Festival of Ancient Music in Utrecht, I became aware of Gregorian chants and the polyphonic Ars Nova. I love the simplicity and the complexity, the melodies and the freshness, and the vibrancy and virtuosity of this older music.
Really, my interest in palaeontology is just an extension of my interest in archaeology. Once you've satisfied your curiosity into the origins of human civilisation, the logical next step to take is to go back even further in time and study human origins.
robin of sherwood
How could I not love this 80s TV series? It's got it all: swordplay! Archery! Funny, snarky Sheriff of Nottingham. Stupid, incompetent Guy of Gisbourne (Robert Addie, RIP). Pretty pretty Robin...well, the first Robin was pretty (the second was blond). Good writer, too, in Kit Carpenter.
I just love a good night out. Going to the theatre is one way of ensuring that I have one.