Thursday, February 29, 2024

Daniel Patrick Quinn: What’s on your mantelpiece?

The Steeple Times asks explorer, composer and writer Daniel Patrick Quinn: “What’s on your mantelpiece?”


The Steeple Times shares “wit and wisdom”. What’s your guiding force?

As a composer, I aim to make the next album simultaneously more commercial and more experimental – and I always ‘follow the drone’. As a gardener, I aim to grow as many edible perennials as possible that can withstand the Hebridean gales though this is a project that I have only very recently begun. As a hiker, I just look up at a hill and go and climb it. As a wine-maker, I aim to never have to buy any commercial wine ever again.


“Don’t get even, get medieval” is, in our humble opinion, a great motto. What’s yours?

“Bubbington”: It has no meaning but when I utter it I am able to break free of daydreams. If you meet me in person you’ll see it’s how I begin many sentences.


Kerry Katona was considered unacceptable in 2007. Who or what is unacceptable in 2014?

This may take some time. The demonetisation of what people now call ‘content’, all forms of religion, Kerry Katona, equal temperament tuning systems, electric fences, adult humans who don’t understand or acknowledge the self-serving bias, chord changes, faith schools and the lack of northbound train services on the West Coast mainline on Sunday mornings.


Tony Blair misses being Prime Minister. What do you miss most in your life?

Attractive young women from Java. And custard apples. Actually I live on my own at present and in a remote part of the world so I miss humankind in general.


What might you swap all your wealth for?

A magical turnip.


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?

The world of finance is, like the world of football, very low down in the list of humankind’s achievements. They ought to be the minimum wage jobs.


What phrase or word do you most loathe?



In the UK, some people consider charity to “begin at home”. What’s your view and what causes do you personally support?

Back in 2007, I worked for a spell at a charity call centre near Old Street with lots of out-of-work actors. Various charities were involved with lots of different campaigns. As you might expect, these out-of-work actors were pretty good at their job. Down at the other end of the spectrum, I got sacked for refusing to ask an old-aged pensioner for the third time if she would increase her monthly direct debit donation after she had told me twice that she simply couldn’t afford it. I’m happy to support most charities as long as they don’t harass and bully people either down the phone or on the street.


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?

Each to their own as long as they keep the volume down. Mine registers and announces the arrival of new email messages three seconds before my laptop does so, if I’m sitting at my desk overlooking Stornoway airport runway, it’s a three-second warning.


Daniel Patrick Quinn
Daniel Patrick Quinn

If you could fill a carriage on The Orient Express, who would be your fellow passengers?

A really large version of Ray Mears and a really small version of Jonathan Rubblebiter running an avant-garde karaoke at one end of the carriage. In actual fact I prefer talking to random members of public than celebrities so I’ll just wait and see whoever’s on there on the day. A great idea for a television chat show would involve in-depth interviews with people picked at random off the street – far more entertaining and less contrived than the usual ‘celebrated’ folks with a tawdry agenda.


If you were unfortunate enough to end up on death row, what would be your last meal and where would you eat it?

A macaroni cheese pie garnished with nasturtium leaves. On a flying carpet hovering next to the electric chair. Listening to one of Jon Hassell’s albums.


What time is it acceptable to consume the first drink of the day?

Whenever you like if it is for creative purposes. JG Ballard used to get inspired pretty early with the Scotch of a morning.


A Negroni, a martini or a cup of tea?

Herbal tea for me. My current favourite is sage and lemon myrtle from Holland and Barrett. Alternatively a home brew tipple such as nettle and cinnamon, strawberry and banana or sugar kelp. I have nine gallons in the kitchen.


Whose parties do you enjoy the most and why?

The best party I have been to in the last twelve months was in Pangandaran on the south coast of Java. I sipped Shadow Tea in a beach bar with an American friend and laughed my brains out. So the answer is the parties of the owner of the Shadow Canteen because the aforementioned ‘tea’ has some mesmerising ingredients in it that are not of this solar system.


Who is the most positive person you know?

Probably Madam Latham, an old school friend from Lancaster. He can be very easily cajoled (with alcohol) into behaving like a friendly goblin with a childlike mood of wonder at the world and a sinister yet playful laugh.


What’s your most guilty pleasure?

At the moment, it’s having a glass of wine too many and buying unnecessary packets of exotic seeds on Amazon.


If a tattoo were to sum you up, what would it be of?

I’d probably get a reproduction of one or two of the fairies from Richard Daddss masterpiece ‘The Fairy-Feller’s Master Stroke’. Just because I like the painting immensely rather than it having anything to do with me. Either that or maybe Socrates’ head.


If you were a car, what marque would you be?

If I were a vehicle, I’d be an illegal silver spray-painted Bajaj running people back and forth across the congested city of Jakarta, and with lots of tales to tell.


Cilla Black presented Surprise, Surprise. Tell us the most surprising thing about you.

I’m not wearing any knickers.


What’s currently sitting on your mantelpiece?

About fifty CDs, two ammonites from Charmouth beach and some books on foraging.


Daniel Patrick Quinn lives on Stornoway and is an explorer, composer and writer. He is the founder of Quinn’s World of TEFL and the lead writer and editor of His 2014 expedition project, ‘Making Tracks: Researching the Mountains of Malaysia and Indonesia’, was supported by the Royal Geographical Society.



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    1. One of the funniest mantelpiece interviews I’ve read yet and I’ve read them all. This guy is plainly on to something … Or on something.


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