'My advice to teens: don't develop a taste for sausage sandwiches'
Published 16/12/2012 | 06:00
'James Larkin' by Emmet Larkin. It's a brilliantly written biography of a man who combined fierce values with a high level of charisma. He once said that he had a "burning desire to close the gap between what ought to be and what is", and that's a phrase that has always seemed to me to be what we should all be aiming at.
The three in my car are 'A Black and White Night' by Roy Orbison and Friends, 'Heartattack and Vine' by Tom Waits, and ' Harry Chapin Live'. Chapin was an American singer who died in 1972, not really remembered now, but a great storyteller.
When I was a kid, my father would take us on the bus from Dublin to Enniskerry once a year (three of us – my twin sister Finola and my younger brother Hugo).
Then we'd walk for hours up through Glencree to a lake called Lough Dan. There, Dad would produce huge sausage sandwiches, wrapped in tinfoil and smothered in tomato sauce, which we'd eat accompanied by water from the lake.
On the walk back, he'd suddenly remember that he had a bag of bull's eyes in his jacket pocket.
Favourite piece of furniture
I have a battered old chair at my desk that I stole from the office I used to occupy in the old Workers' Union of Ireland building in Parnell Square.
The building used to be Vaughan's Hotel, and my office was up under the roof in what used to be the reading room of the old hotel.
Some of the old furniture dates from the early 20th century, when the hotel was a favourite haunt of Michael Collins. So I call it the chair I stole from Michael Collins.
First, last and always, my missus, Frieda. Then Mandy, Vicky, Emma and Sarah – four women who learned from their mum how to do whatever they set their minds to.
Also, I worked for 15 years for Dick Spring, and he remains someone I admire enormously and like a lot.
what advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Don't ever develop a taste for sausage sandwiches – you'll spend the rest of your life carrying too much weight.
I was 13. It was in Bray. Not going further than that.
what characteristic in yourself do you like the most and least?
Most: I'm still here. Least: I'm still overweight.
Dark red wine – Shiraz or Cotes du Rhone. We brought back six bottles of really cheap Chianti because it was made on the farm where we stayed in Tuscany a number of years ago. It tasted great there, and it gave me a taste for red wine.
I've kept the last bottle for 10 years, but I'm afraid to try it now.