Happy Burns Night to all of you that are celebrating. Enjoy your haggis and whisky – although I can't think of too many meals that would more fill my heart with dread.
There are things in life that so many other people love that we feel real pressure to join in, even though we find them boring or disgusting. I do not mean Marmite, haggis, golf, HP Sauce or Jeremy Clarkson – they are all, by definition, a bit ... Marmite.
For me, whisky would be high up a pretty long personal Emperor's New Clothes list, to be closely followed by Guinness, the works of Wagner and several famous British poets – whose names I cannot reveal because I want my girls to embrace them at school. Then there are dogs (yes, I said it) to which I am genuinely allergic, ditto oysters, which I'd love to love. Next, there is Twitter, the alleged charms of the British countryside on a long, damp, grey weekend (aka every one I have ever spent in it). Did I mention EastEnders, Porsches and The X Factor? I am almost scared to name the next two for fear of fatwa – it is just not done not to be a fan, but I can hardly bear to listen to Radio 4 (I love 5 Live!) and, although I know he is very good at what he does, I don't really like Jeremy Paxman. I also remain perplexed by the charms of Pippa Middleton. Oh, and Lady Gaga.
I don't mean to make anything of my list – and believe me, it is a great deal longer than this. I don't ram it down anyone else's throat. These are just my quietly held preferences; times when I feel that I am swimming alone against the taste tide. Simon Kelner (who as you will surely know, loves Radio 4) touched on this feeling in his recent column about going to see The Artist. There are times when you just can't see what everyone else is raving about. I am due to see it by tomorrow. But, it must be good, right? It got 10 Oscar nominations...