BRITISH poet and author Blake Morrison has earned a strong international reputation for his work, wining a string of literary awards along the way.
He can even boast that A-list actor Colin Firth played him in the film version of his best-selling memoir, When Did You See My Father? But when we speak it’s not his latest project or indeed his impressive back list he dwells on, it’s his Irish mother, Dr Agnes O’Shea.Born in Kilorglin, Co Kerry, she was one of 20 children. Seven of her siblings died in infancy or childhood. “My grandfather was a wool merchant and owned a pub. I think [the family’s] fortunes came and went, they weren’t hugely rich. They were a large Catholic family ... the father seemed to believe in educating his daughters.”
I’m still reasonably fit. Like everyone else, I wouldn’t mind being a few pounds lighter but I’m not really overweight. We are all vain — we’d all like to be thinner than we are. I play tennis two or three times a week... I’ve got a bit more serious about it in the last two or three years. Joining a club and playing more regularly.
Have you any health concerns?
Have you any health concerns?
I get eczema, which isn’t a major problem. I’m told as you get older your body doesn’t produce natural oils in the same way and I think it has all to do with that.What are your healthiest eating habits?
Plenty of fruit, plenty of vegetables and, at this time of year, plenty of salads. We’ve taken up growing vegetables in the last three years.. There is a lot of stuff in the garden at the minute — raspberries, courgettes, broad beans, spinach — we are finding it hard to keep up.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
I guess it’s alcoholic wine but I don’t even feel that guilty. I like particularly like a New Zealand Malborough white sauvigon. And chocolate — fruit and nut.What would keep you awake at night?
Trivial work worries that circles one’s mind. It’s not so much keeping me up but waking me early — sometimes, not often.How do you relax?
I play tennis, I garden. I sit and read. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
A rather predictable lot really. Dr Johnson, Samuel Pepys, Shakespeare, Philip Larkin, Helen of Troy, Mata Hari, and the first woman English playwright Aphra Behn.What’s your favourite smell?
It’s a toss up between peaches — after the first bite you get a nice smell — and tomatoes in a greenhouse.What would you change about your appearance?
I wouldn’t mind being about 4in taller. I’m about 5ft8in, but I feel small now amongst the younger generation.When did you last cry?
When my mother died in 1997 — she was 80 years old. I well up at ridiculous things like when a national anthem is playing — it’s just the whole business of somebody achieving something for their country.
What trait do you least like in others?
Bullying.What trait do you least like in yourself?
Defensiveness. Do you pray?
No. I don’t believe there is a God.
What would cheer up your day?
Sunshine — good weather always cheers me up. I like the summer.
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