Take 10

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - INTERVIEW -

1. What is your ear­li­est me­mory? As a small child my par­ents woke me, my brother and sis­ter very early one morn­ing and took us to Can­nock Chase, a nearby for­est, to see wild deer. I re­mem­ber it be­ing dark, then dawn­ing misty through the trees and I can still hear the re­mark­able sound of the male deer call­ing in the dis­tance. It was a mag­i­cal mo­ment for a child and has stayed vivid in my mind ever since. 2. Who is the most im­por­tant per­son in your life? My wife, Tracey. We met at a Christ­mas party when we were 16 and for me it was love at first sight. She took a lit­tle bit more time but a few months later we were dat­ing and this year we cel­e­brated our sil­ver wed­ding an­niver­sary. She has been my clos­est friend and the cen­tre of my world for over 30 years. 3. Shock us! Tell us some­thing sur­pris­ing about your­self? The thing that seems to sur­prise most peo­ple is that I’m a poet. In my day job I’m a com­puter pro­gram­mer and tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor of a soft­ware com­pany so peo­ple who know me from that field are of­ten shocked to dis­cover that I write and per­form po­etry. I wrote a line in one of my first per­for­mance pieces (I am not a poet) that summed it up. “Po­ets don’t look like me ... when peo­ple look at me they tend to think: Prob­a­bly works in IT”. 4. What is your great­est fear? The clos­est thing I’ve ever had to a pho­bia is a fear of be­ing trapped in a small space. Thought of a space where I can’t move freely is my ab­so­lute night­mare. 5. What makes you most happy? Cre­at­ing some­thing, ei­ther in soft­ware or in writ­ing. Fig­ur­ing out the code to make a com­puter do some­thing use­ful or fun or find­ing the best words in the best or­der to make an au­di­ence laugh or feel a strong emo­tion al­ways makes me happy. 6. And your big­gest re­gret? I re­gret that I didn’t start writ­ing ear­lier in my life. I wrote a poem in pri­mary school that was pub­lished in the lo­cal news­pa­per and was read out at the school as­sem­bly in front of ev­ery­one. Af­ter that I didn’t write an­other poem un­til I was well into my 30s. I had a no­tion all that time that I re­ally wanted to be a writer, but I was too scared and em­bar­rassed to ac­tu­ally give it a try. 7. How do you chill out? The place I al­ways feel the most re­laxed is in a book­shop, of any kind. There’s some­thing about brows­ing through shelves, hold­ing books and buy­ing them that soothes me. Read­ing them is also great of course but, hon­estly, I think I get as much plea­sure from just hoard­ing them and pil­ing them up. One day I will be found dead buried un­der a top­pled stack of pa­per­backs and peo­ple will say “it’s how he would have wanted to go”. 8. What’s the most im­por­tant les­son you’ve learned in life? Em­bar­rass­ment will never kill you but re­gret might. 9. The book and film that mean the most to you, and why? The book would be The Hitch­hiker’s Guide to the Gal­axy by Dou­glas Adams. I read it in about 1979 and still have that hard­back edi­tion (I think it ac­tu­ally be­longs to my Dad). The beau­ti­ful writ­ing style and the sense of hu­mour struck me as per­fect. The film I have watched the most would be The Ma­trix. The com­bi­na­tion of new, com­plex ideas, com­puter sci­ence and great ac­tion se­quences makes it al­most a per­fect film for me. 10. If you could change one thing about your­self, what would it be and why? I am, and al­ways have been, very clumsy. I would like to be more grace­ful and less of a klutz. To find out more or to book tick­ets, visit the­johno­con­nor­writ­ingschool.com

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