Proust Questionnaire 12: Tony Clayton-Lea


Tony Clayton-Lea is a music journalist for The Irish Times, and will be chairing the 33 Revolutions Per Minute discussion this evening at 8.30pm in Liberty Hall.

What is your idea of happiness?

It changes, obviously. Sometimes it’s as simple as reading a newspaper or a book while I’m having breakfast. Other times, it’s just breathing between starting and finishing a piece of work. Watching movies, for sure.

Where would you most like to live?

Anywhere in a mortgage-free house, to be honest. Wish-list locations, however, include New York, Provence, Paris and County Meath.

What is your favourite virtue?

Anything that mixes honesty and humour is fine by me. Honour? Humesty?

What are your favourite qualities in a man?

Politeness, intelligence, humour, a good cologne; the ability to laugh at my jokes is a bonus.

What are your favourite qualities in a woman?

Politeness, intelligence, humour, a good perfume; the ability to laugh at my jokes is a bonus.

What do you most value in your friends?

I love the way they contact me the day before a gig looking for ticket.

What is your biggest weakness?

Apple tarts, Brandy Alexanders, Zoolander.

What do you enjoy doing most?

I really love my work (and I’d like more, if you don’t mind…)

What is your most marked characteristic?

Haven’t the foggiest – although now I come to think of it I am quite organised in an almost worryingly robotic way.

What is your idea of misery?

At the moment, it’s filing copy every hour to The Irish Times via Citrix.

If not yourself, who would you like to be?

I love being me. It’s, like, so… well, me. Oh, alright then: just for an hour or so, the writer Kevin Barry in order to know how the flipping heck he wrote something as brilliant as City Of Bohane.

What is your favourite colour and flower?

Awww, c’mon! What is this – Smash Hits?

What is your favourite bird?

You’re serious, right?

Who are your favourite writers?

Old school: Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene. Current (kind of): Carol Shields, Lorrie Moore, Patrick DeWitt, Kevin Barry. I used to love Ian McEwan, but Jeez, he’s gone off the boil in recent years.

Who are your favourite poets?

Bob Dylan, Aimee Mann, Lily Allen, John Cooper Clarke.

Who are your favourite artists?

Bridget Riley, Salvador Dali; and some of Banksy’s work is amazing.

Who are your favourite musicians?

I have a sneaking admiration for Jack White. And while we’re on the topic – I HATE drum solos.

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in fiction?

Charles Ryder (Brideshead Revisited – although he’s not really a hero, is he?); Miss Haversham (Great Expectations – she’s probably the best written loneliest person in literature, don’t you think?)

Who are the heroes and heroines in your life?

My brother; my mother and my wife.

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in history?

Martin Luther King; Rosa Parks.

What is your favourite food and drink?

Probably a medium-rare steak and a glass of red wine; but you know, sometimes a Big Mac just hits the spot, doesn’t it?

What are your favourite names?

Angela, Sarah, Paul.

What do you most dislike?

Rudeness, discourtesy, people that you know quite well not replying to emails.

Which historical figures do you most dislike?

Hitler, and all those whose names escape me that tried to subjugate individuality and freedom of expression.

What event in history do you most admire?

Has to be the Civil Rights movement.

What social movement do you most admire?


What natural gift would you most like to possess?

The ability to crap gold bars would be nice, if quite likely uncomfortable.

How would you like to die?

Quickly, painlessly, without fuss.

What is your present state of mind?

It varies between beleaguered and becalmed.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

I loathe misogyny (and yet I really like the occasional sexist joke – go figure…)

Which fault in others do you most easily tolerate?

Let’s not go there, shall we?

Which fault in yourself do you most easily tolerate?


What is your motto?

Fair Play To All – it’s on the family Coat Of Arms, dontcha know…


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