Arts Q&A: Author Glenn Patterson on Andy White, Citizen Kane and The Clovers

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, author Glenn Patterson

Belfast writer Glenn Patterson will be speaking at Lisburn's Island Arts Centre on May 30 Picture by Ann McManus

1. When did you think about a career in writing and what were your first steps into it?

The moment I wasn’t picked for the Finaghy Primary School football team, early 1973. I thought, OK, plan B. I can’t really remember a time now when I didn’t write, although almost the first thing I had published was my first novel, when I was 26.

2. Best gigs you’ve been to?

Ulster Hall, autumn 2011, the recreation of a fundraising gig for Good Vibrations record shop that took place at the same venue in April 1980. It was the climax of the film I had written with Colin Carberry based on the shop and the man who ran it, Terri Hooley. Richard Dormer, who was playing Terri, walked out on stage and sang Terri’s signature song, Laugh At Me, and I wept.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

I would love to have seen The Clovers, which was a fantasy band my elder daughter had when she was four. They had a song called Turn up the Temperature on the Machine of Love.

4. The record you’d take to a desert island?

69 Love Songs by Magnetic Fields.

5. And the book?

A La Recherche du Temps Perdu and a French dictionary ought to keep me going a while. Actually, the first page would keep me going a while.

6. Top three films?

I believe Citizen Kane is almost universally agreed to be one of them. I believe My Best Friend’s Wedding is not, but I still like it. And The Passion of Joan of Arc. I saw that for the first time about five years ago and suddenly realised where half the music videos I watched in the 80s took their inspiration – costumes too, some of them.

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

I have had too many heartaches of my own as a writer to slag anybody else’s work.

8. Favourite authors?

I like heaps of them for heaps of different reasons. Some of them I love for a single line.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

I recently gave up football. Oh, the sweet relief, after half a century of fandom (which was mostly spent hoping other teams would do worse than mine). I recently took up watching road racing for a film I am working on. Holy crap, there’s a sport.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

I like cities.

11. Pet hate?

Hate is probably a bit strong, but the countryside unnerves me.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? Dal.

Dessert? Fruit.

Drink? Wine.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

Andy White and I have been friends for 45 years (maybe it’s 44 for him, he’s a year younger). He lives in Melbourne now, so we only see each other when he is here on tour. He has a song, dedicated to my daughter (ex-Clover band), called Turn up the Temperature on the Machine of Love.

14. Is there a God?

Depends on whether you think the plot requires it.

:: Join Glenn Patterson for an evening of readings and discussion of excerpts from his novels and scripts. Glenn Patterson – Unapologetic takes place at Lisburn's Island Arts Centre on Thursday May 30. For more details see

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