1. Josef Beuys prints
I own three Beuys signed lithographs. They are examples of his chalk-on-blackboard drawings, and for me they epitomise the restless enquiry at the heart of all his work. Beuys is the modern artist I most admire.
I have hundreds of books. Some I have never even opened. If I started to read all the unread books I own I’d probably die before I got to the end. And to make matters worse, I add to my collection almost daily. But although the unread books act as a constant reminder of how little I know, and how much reading I need to do, there is also pleasure in simply owning them. And there’s a real thrill in finding that a book I bought 10 years ago, is suddenly useful.
Life without music is unthinkable. Problem is, I’d need to name a few hundred records before coming close to listing my favourites. I like a wide variety of music, but I’m allergic to conventional, over-familiar musical formats. I like music that goes into areas where I’m surprised and unsettled. I don’t go to music for relaxation: I go to be energized. The closest I have to a favourite record is Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch. It stands for everything I want from music: awkwardness, atonality and a hint of the sublime.
When I was a kid, my dad drove me mad by talking about ‘views’. Look at that view, he’d say. But I never knew what he was talking about. It was just land – a place with some sky above it. But now I see what he saw. I see landscape and I’m enchanted by it. I like mountainous and flat terrain. I like deserts and seashores. I like rugged and I like smooth. Landscape puts me in touch with ancient things, and stuff that matters. And now I drive my own kids mad by saying – look at that view. Of course, in writing this I also realise that I like cities and architecture, too. So if I had a sixth choice, I’d choose some of the worlds great cities: Chicago, LA, Tokyo, Mumbai …
5. My bike
I own a car and a bike. I have no interest in my car. I barely know what make it is, and driving it is a chore. My bike on the other hand, is a delight. I like everything about it. Riding it, cleaning it, maintaining it. I’m not nostalgic about bikes – I like the hypermodern carbon ones that look as if they’ve been designed by NASA. And yes, I’m a MAMIL. Tragic, I know, but it makes me happy.