One minute with: Tony Benn, politician and diarist


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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

In my bedroom – on the street are London plane trees dripping with rain, and a youth hostel opposite.

What are you currently reading?

I have just started An Officer And A Spy by Robert Harris. I greatly admire his work particularly The Ghost, which was a clever exploration of the legacy of a British Prime Minister through the eyes of his ghost-writer.

Choose a favourite author, and say why you admire her/him

Ralph Miliband – because of the power of his intellect and his capacity to convey his argument.

Describe the room where you usually write

I have a small flat and one room contains a desk, a comfy chair and a television set, and on the bookshelves are most of the tea mugs and other mementoes I have been given over the years.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

No fictional character could have as many faults as I have.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Nelson Mandela – for his physical and mental courage. He ended up subduing his subjugators. I once had the great privilege of meeting him very briefly in the House of Commons.

Tony Benn's 'A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine: The Last Diaries by Tony Benn' is published by Hutchinson