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October 26th 2002 - The Times, UK Print E-mail

My cultural life: David Gilmour

Pink Floyd's David Gilmour wants Ray Mears to be his friend but would like to see the back of Terry Wogan

Music

The chap that I am into now is a fellow called Mike Skinner who calls himself the Streets. Whenever I am up in the big city (London) I try to listen to the radio station XFM in order to keep up with what’s going on in music. And that Streets’ track, Let’s Push Things Forward, jumped out at me. He does things that I don’t think that I could do. It doesn’t fit into what I would call a normal groove.

I am also listening to Leonard Cohen’s The Future, which I think is the best album of the past ten years. But what I listen to most is a CD called Sweet Dreams, which is a set of classical pieces aimed at children. I have a very young daughter and it sends her to sleep.

Art

For me, the greatest artist of the past 100 years is Picasso. The Matisse/Picasso exhibition in London was superb. Picasso was stupendously talented from a very early age. There was nothing he was afraid to try. He started off able to do everything, but then pared his art down to the emotional core, almost discarding technique in the process. Quite brilliant.

Television

I don’t watch too much television at the moment because of the baby, but I did read a diatribe by Sir David Attenborough recently bemoaning the dumbing-down of the BBC, and I have to say that I agree with him.

The BBC shouldn’t have to pander to viewing figures that much. It should be disseminating wisdom and culture, instead of pandering to baser instincts. One programme that I try never to miss is University Challenge - when you get to my age you need to keep your brain active. And I like that survival expert, Ray Mears. I want him to be my best friend so I can go on those trips. He must be good at his job if he can pile on pounds in the jungle.

Film

The European film industry seems to possess so much more integrity than Hollywood. Take the original version of Vanilla Sky, Open Your Eyes, which also starred Penélope Cruz. Another great movie that was debased by Hollywood. I suppose I do prefer older Hollywood films such as It’s a Wonderful Life, but I also like Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni.

Books

I have been going through an American phase recently. I am not really that fond of modern writers, but William Maxwell, Cormac McCarthy and Kent Haruf have captured my imagination. Haruf’s Plainsong (Picador, £6.99) is magnificent. It comes from that tradition of "big land, big sky", which follows on from writers such as John Steinbeck. But my favourite book has to be Master I Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (Koch, Neff & Oetinger, £6.99), which works on many different levels.

City

Rome is a fantastic city. Lawrence Durrell’s wonderful expression, "spirit of place", which encapsulates that feeling of walking through a city and being reminded of all the people who have walked the same steps as you, captures exactly how I feel about Rome. The south Turkish coast is incredible, too. Turkey is studded with all these beautiful ruined cities, such as Xanthar, with scarcely a person to be seen.

Pet hate

Radio DJs chattering moronically - especially those who have sycophantic sidekicks to laugh at their jokes. I know DJs have always been poor but this new trend is frightful. Oh, and Terry Wogan.

David Gilmour was interviewed by Paul Connolly. His DVD, David Gilmour in Concert, is out now

 
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