The likes and dislikes of Ali from Whirld
Something to do with exploration, like an astronaut. I would love to go to Mars or something like that. I like the idea of exploring new and uncharted places. If we are talking fantasy, it would have to be in space. I have always been into science fiction and films and books about the great unknown.
I’m a songwriter. I used to run an open mic night back in Liverpool, where I’m from. I had to produce music for the evening and fill in any dead time. Sometimes no one came and it was just me and the bar staff, so I had to play for the whole evening. You would look up and everyone was ignoring you and some had headphones on. Being on stage knowing you were going to play your set to an empty room was depressing.
Best recent film
The Bohemian Rhapsody film. In many ways it was an awful film, but there were a few moments that really connected. It made me realise just what an incredible performer Freddie Mercury was. I came out of the cinema not so much a Queen fan, but a Freddie Mercury fan. Of course I knew the music, but this gave me a new appreciation of him as a person and artist.
Worst recent film
Actually the same film. Apart from those moments of connection it was terrible. Far too ‘Hollywood’, not very realistic. I was sitting here thinking, “That’s not how songs are written. That’s not how bands are formed, that’s not how it works.” It redeemed itself in the last few minutes with the portrayal of his Live Aid performance.
Favourite holiday destination
I went to Los Angeles last year and absolutely loved it. I was there for a couple of months on a song-writing job. Being there amongst everything, all the stuff you see in the films—it was great being there.
Favourite childhood dish
That was my nan’s scouse with beef, potatoes and veg. I’m not a big stew guy now, but I loved it as a kid. I’d have a couple of slabs of bread with it, with loads of butter on. It was great. I used to love going to her house to eat. I also ate a lot of pasties. I’m probably still half pasty now.
Spaghetti carbonara. It is a close run, I think, with jerk chicken because I enjoy them both and cook them a lot. But I’ll choose the carbonara because I think I’ve got that nailed down just a bit more than the chicken.
Worst cooking disaster
I’m not sure it counts as ‘cooking’, as it involves wine. I was cooking a Valentine’s Day dinner for a new girlfriend at a flat that I had only been in for a week. I think it was about the third date. I was opening a bottle of wine when the cork broke, so I decided to push it through. Suddenly the cork shot into the bottle and the wine came fountaining out like champagne. It went all over me, the table, the white wallpaper, it even splashed the ceiling. My girlfriend was due in minutes and the place looked like a murder scene, it was a horrible mess.
Best recent meal
That was a pub called the Sylvan Post. It is a small pub in a converted post office and I went for a Sunday roast there last weekend. It was the best I have had in years. It was all beautifully cooked and really tasty. It reminded me of roast dinners as a kid.
Favourite school subject
Drama. I guess I liked the performance aspect. Also, it was the only subject that we never had to write anything for and I loved that.
Least enjoyed subject
That was easily maths. I did not have a brain for maths at all. It just felt like such a chore.
I’m not really a drinker, so the drink I like most at the moment is coffee. I only got into it in a big way when I started working here. The coffee here is amazing—much better than anything I had before. I don’t think I can function without it now.
Actually that is the ski jumper, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards. I love an underdog, and I love the fact that he had this dream of appearing in the Olympics and he achieved it. The result didn’t matter: it was just about taking part. The fact that he got there by funding himself, with no official support, is inspiring.
Grace by Jeff Buckley. It was the first album I listened to and realised it was much more than a collection of great songs. It spoke to me on a deeper level. Some of the lyrics are brutally honest, but it was something I clearly needed at the time. It is the kind of connection only music can make, especially at that coming-of-age time.
I went to see Van Morrison a few months ago. I have been a big fan since I was a kid, and my dad was a big fan as well which made it even better. I have wanted to see him for years and he didn’t let me down. He is an incredible musician.
Favourite thing about London
There is a real sense of freedom about this city; a sense that you can do anything here. Everything is so accessible. There is just so much going on. The music, art, food, it is all here in such variety if you want it. I find that really liberating.
Worst thing about London
There can be a coldness here—it can be hard to get under the surface of the place. It can also be very intense. The noise, people and business of the place can be intimidating at first. But once you get into them, they become the best thing about this city.
Bottle of citrus-flavoured fizz and a pasty.