Culture Club

Issue 73

Healthwatch Newcastle and Healthwatch Gateshead provide an independent voice for people who use health and social care services in these two areas. Here, Chief Executive Officer Siobhan O'Neil tells us about her taste in music, art and culture.

Who is your favourite author and why?

It all depends on my mood. Some books I can read again and again such as Frank Herbert’s Dune series (and I can’t wait for the film to come out) If I read crime books then I particularly love the books by Whitley Bay author – Anne Cleeves. Anne of course penned the character of Vera who is now regularly seen on our TV screens. I also like Ed McBain, John Irving and not forgetting Douglas Adams for pointing out that a towel is just about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can carry.

What would be your three Desert Island Discs? Neil Diamond, Crackling Rosie – “Crackling Rosé” is the name of an inexpensive sparkling wine and it is thought that this is where Neil Diamond got his inspiration from. The song was his first USA number one.

Prince, Star Fish and Coffee – I’m a great fan of Prince and this song is about a little girl and what she has for breakfast every day. Roberta Flack, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – I love the lyrics in this song. Very touching.

Who is your favourite film star and why?

I can’t pick a single one as I have a wide taste in movies and watch a variety of genres. I guess it depends on my mood at the time.

What are your top three films ?

If you looking for the classic sci-fi movie you can’t forget Aliens starring Sigourney Weaver and that scene with the exploding stomach. Silver Linings Playbook is a lovely film. It’s an American romantic comedy-drama film with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence and also Robert De Niro. Ice Age – the new breed of animated films are fantastic to watch for kids of all ages!

Which poem left a lasting impression on you? The Hill We Climb, Amanda Gorman was written to celebrate the 2021 inauguration of Joe Biden as 46th President of the United States. I like it because it looks at the USA’s real problems and doesn’t sugar coat them.

What box sets have you enjoyed?

I’ve just mentioned the President and I could watch The West Wing, over and over again! Grace and Frankie stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the title roles of Grace Hanson and Frankie Bergstein, two unlikely friends who are brought together after their husbands announce they are in love with each other and plan to get married. I enjoy the humour but also the subject matter is important to me as I believe in equality for everyone regardless of sexuality, race, age or any other form of discrimination. Derry Girls is so funny and the characters are very much larger than life. Line of Duty has to be on everyone’s choice, it is so well written and every episode leaves you wanting more. I’m also a big ER fan – much more gritty than Casualty or Holby City! I wonder if there is a Healthwatch Chicago?

Who is your favourite artist or performer?

Again, like movie stars, it depends on my mood… the one I’ve seen the most is Prince.

What is your favourite venue?

St James’ Park, Newcastle. Which musical instrument do you particularly enjoy? I’m not musical at all.

From the world of Arts and Culture who would be your ideal dinner party guests?

Bob Ross, Toby Ziegler, Margaret Atwood, Hannah Gadsby, Douglas Adams, Millicent Fawcett.

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