The Steeple Times asks author Alex Preston: “What’s on your mantelpiece?”
The Steeple Times shares “wit and wisdom”. What’s your guiding force?
Books, cooks and good looks.
“Don’t get even, get medieval” is, in our humble opinion, a great motto. What’s yours?
“Do no harm; or if you do, make sure it’s beautiful harm”.
Kerry Katona was considered unacceptable in 2007. Who or what is unacceptable in 2013?
Nigel Farage – the (seemingly) acceptable face of fascism.
Tony Blair misses being Prime Minister. What do you miss most in your life?
I miss those youthful uplands when the world was all before me. Ageing is the closing of a shell.
What might you swap all your wealth for?
A good death.
Donald Trump was once a case of: “If you owe the bank a thousand, they close you down; but if you owe the bank a billion, you own the bank”. What’s your view on the banking crisis?
It was a moral crisis as much as a financial one. We are still only dealing with the outer skin of the onion. There was an opportunity, some time in late 2008 or early 2009, to make meaningful changes to the way the world operated. Unfortunately, due to weak-willed leaders (Obama and Brown), we let the moment pass.
What phrase or word do you most loathe?
Drone. A word whose dull abstraction reflects the banality of evil behind it.
In the UK, some people consider charity to “begin at home”. What’s your view and what causes do you personally support?
One of the things I try to instill in my kids is their absurd luck at having been born where and when they were. So much of the “charity begins at home” line is a screen for xenophobia. Charity begins in empathy, in feeling our way into the suffering of others whether they’re on our doorstep or thousands of miles away. I give to Oxfam and Médecins Sans Frontières.
The judge in Law Abiding Citizen states: “I can pretty much do whatever I want” before being blown up whilst answering her mobile phone. What’s your view on the appropriate use of such devices?
Mobile phones or IEDs? I loathe them equally.
If you could fill a carriage on The Orient Express, who would be your fellow passengers?
Michael Ondaatje, Joanna Newsom, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Noam Chomsky, Elif Batuman, Simon McBurney, Dimitar Berbatov and Hermione Lee.
If you were unfortunate enough to end up on death row, what would be your last meal and where would you eat it?
I’m not sure, entering into the spirit of the thing, that’s I’d be allowed to choose where. As to what, a towering, multi-layer plateau de fruits de mer, with shots of vodka and calvados in ice alongside the crustacea.
What time is it acceptable to consume the first drink of the day?
When the kids are in bed. This sometimes mean they’re in bed before lunch.
A Negroni, a martini or a cup of tea?
Anything but tea. I’ll drink tea when I’m old.
Whose parties do you enjoy the most and why?
I like my publisher’s summer parties in a leafy Bloomsbury square. The air-kissing, the literary celebs, the drunken unraveling as darkness falls.
Who is the most positive person you know?
What’s your most guilty pleasure?
I try not to do guilt. It gives you wrinkles.
If a tattoo were to sum you up, what would it be of?
It would be one of the tattoos I have – a Chinese symbol on my left shoulder. Done aged 16, I’d asked for my Chinese birth sign, but when I found out it was Horse, I thought Tiger would be cooler. So Tiger it is. It looks naff and I’ve often thought of having it removed or turned into something more impressive, but have never gotten around to it. So regret, fraudulence, a lack of courage – there’s me in tattoo form.
If you were a car, what marque would you be?
Jeremy Clarkson has made me hate all things automotive. I’d be a bicycle.
Cilla Black presented Surprise, Surprise. Tell us the most surprising thing about you.
Steven Seagal tried to steal my girlfriend at the Villa Barclay nightclub in Paris in 1997. The surprising thing was that he failed.
What’s currently sitting on your mantelpiece?
A bronze angel by the Lithuanian sculptor Aleksandras Aleksejevas.
Alex Preston is a credit derivatives trader turned author. His first novel, This Bleeding City, was published in the UK and in twelve other territories by Faber and Faber. His second, The Revelations, is out now. Preston is also a regular on the BBC2’s The Review Show.
View Alex Preston’s website at: http://www.alexhmpreston.com
Follow him on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/ahmpreston