The Steeple Times asks restaurateur Russell Norman: “What’s on your mantelpiece?”
The Steeple Times shares “wit and wisdom”. What’s your guiding force?
I am guided by the usual human forces, but my permanent motivation is work.
“Don’t get even, get medieval” is, in our humble opinion, a great motto. What’s yours?
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow, but learn as if you were to live forever”. Also: “Don’t fuck it up”.
Kerry Katona was considered unacceptable in 2007. Who or what is unacceptable in 2013?
I don’t know who Kerry Katona is but I would say that the persistent trend amongst youths for wearing trousers waistbands below the arse is totally unacceptable in 2013.
Tony Blair misses being Prime Minister. What do you miss most in your life?
I miss my 1965 Triumph Herald 1200, my 1973 Mercedes 450 SEL and my 1968 Austin 1100 estate. Now that I have a family and responsibilities I can’t justify my penchant for classic old motors.
What might you swap all your wealth for?
Uninterrupted good health for my children.
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?
I hate the taxman and insurance brokers far more than I hate bankers.
What phrase or word do you most loathe?
“At the end of the day”, “for all intents and purposes”, “in actual fact”… The list goes on. I can’t bear lazy, meaningless idioms. In addition, I cringe whenever I hear the word “serviette” and I cannot say “croissant” without wanting to kill myself.
In the UK, some people consider charity to “begin at home”. What’s your view and what causes do you personally support?
My daughter is an outpatient at Great Ormond Street Hospital following an accident in 2010. I support the hospital in every way I can.
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?
We should be as embarrassed by our mobile telephones as we might be by nasal hair trimmers and only ever use them in private.
If you could fill a carriage on The Orient Express, who would be your fellow passengers?
We’d be a dull, bookish lot. Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Christopher Hitchens, David Mamet, Will Self and William Butler Yeats.
If you were unfortunate enough to end up on death row, what would be your last meal and where would you eat it?
A bacon sandwich and a mug of strong tea on remote hilltop, alone.
What time is it acceptable to consume the first drink of the day?
Not a moment before 6pm.
A Negroni, a martini or a cup of tea?
My three favourite drinks.
Whose parties do you enjoy the most and why?
I’m usually the most miserable person at parties. I didn’t used to be. I don’t know what happened.
Who is the most positive person you know?
There’s this incredibly chirpy barista in a Soho coffee shop. I have to avoid him when he’s working. He’s always so bloody happy.
What’s your most guilty pleasure?
Spectacles, wristwatches and stationery.
If a tattoo were to sum you up, what would it be of?
Pi to 100 decimal places or so; inconsistent but predictable.
If you were a car, what marque would you be?
Cilla Black presented Surprise, Surprise. Tell us the most surprising thing about you.
I don’t enjoy eating out in restaurants.
What’s currently sitting on your mantelpiece?
A mirror and 19 carved wooden apes and monkeys.
Russell Norman is a restaurateur and author of Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts). His restaurants include:
– Mishkin’s. Website: http://www.mishkins.co.uk
– Polpo. Website: http://www.polpo.co.uk
– Spuntino. Website: http://www.spuntino.co.uk
To purchase Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts), go to: http://www.guardianbookshop.co.uk/BerteShopWeb/viewProduct.do?ISBN=9781408816790
Follow Russell Norman on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/Ape451