In each edition, a personal selection of things of value: we ask each contributor to nominate their favourite book, film, piece of music, work of art, restaurant or pub, and place. This week: former president of the Educational Institute of Scotland, Rose Galt
I have been an avid reader all my life, which is probably just as well since I spent 30+ years teaching English. My tastes have always been pretty eclectic – Ian Rankin and Michael Connolly – my favourite crime writers, are in there with the classics. But I give you 'my three Bs’: Banks, Boyd and Barnes. If I could take one of each to that desert island, they would be Iain Banks’ 'The Crow Road’, William Boyd’s 'Any Human Heart’ and Julian Barnes’ 'A History of the World in 9 1/2 Chapters’. All are beautifully written and all are life-enhancing. If I were put on the rack and forced to pick one, it would be Any Human Heart which I finished in a hotel bedroom in South Africa sobbing my heart out while my friend Nancy was trying to get to sleep.
My other lasting love is the movies. My daughter, who knows about such things, says that 'Citizen Kane’ always comes out top in these best-film-ever-made polls because people are too ashamed to say 'Police Academy 1’. To select one film from 70 years of cinema-going is impossible. Now the worst would be easy – anyone else for 'Titanic’? But dipping into the box marked 5-stars, I have three. In no particular order as they say in 'Strictly’ they are: Shakespeare in Love, a beautiful, witty and star-laden fantasy on the bard’s lost love; Brokeback Mountain, a heart-rending story of two gay cowboys in the 1960s Midwest, which disgracefully was denied an Oscar by the old men of the Academy; and Some Like it Hot, which needs no encomium from me.
My favourite place is Umbria, the green heart of Italy, particularly the area round Lake Trasimeno. You can drive round the lake fairly easily, starting at the gem that is Castiglione del Lago, and passing through a string of lovely villages. Perhaps because Umbria is land-locked, it is a much quieter place than its neighbour, Tuscany, but it contains the delights of Assisi, Perugia, Spoleto and many more. One of its mediaeval hill towns, Citta della Piave, houses one of my favourite paintings.
Favourite work of art
The city’s most famous son is the artist known as Perugino. His masterpiece, The Adoration of the Magi, is housed in the tiniest church I have ever seen. It’s smaller than my living-room. Such is the casualness with which the business of caring for this work of art is approached, if it’s shut when you get there, just go next door for the key. The painting covers the whole back wall and shows sand and camels and knights in armour, as well as the usual attendees. Right at the back, bizarrely but beautifully, you can see the sparkling waters of Lake Trasimeno. To say that I am not a religious person would be a major understatement, and friends fail to understand my passion for Italian Renaissance art. All I can say is that there is nowt as queer as folk.
Cumbernauld where I live is does not have a culinary reputation. However about two years ago we were lucky enough to acquire Milano’s, situated somewhat remotely on the Airdrie Road near the Auchenkilns flyover. It is Italian, of course, but a million miles away from the chain trattorias that encircle the globe. As well as the familiar pastas and pizzas, it serves fish and shellfish to die for and traditional country dishes like osso bucco. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming and the well-trained staff smiling and helpful. I recommend it unreservedly.
Favourite piece of music
Finally….music. The week I gave birth to my daughter, Benny Hill gained the much coveted accolade of the Christmas Number 1 with his deathless masterpiece Ernie the Fastest Milkman in the West. She blames me for blighting her life. Sorry, love.