On my radar: Andrew O’Hagan’s cultural highlights

Andrew O’Hagan was born in Glasgow in 1968, grew up in a working-class Ayrshire family and studied English at Strathclyde University. His first book was The Missing (1995), which told the story of people who disappeared. In 2003 he was included on Granta’s list of best young British novelists. He has written 10 books, including Our Fathers and Mayflies, with three of his novels being Booker nominated. His most recent, Caledonian Road, a state-of-the-nation tale, is published by Faber. He will be talking at Hay festival on 30 May.

1. Poetry

May Day by Jackie Kay

At the core of this vital and wonderful book are Jackie’s activist parents, and the book is filled with marches, demos, protests, dreams of Peggy Seeger and memories of Hugh MacDiarmid pushing a pram. Here’s a beautiful writer at the top of her game and if I ran Britain I would give out copies on the NHS. It’s a sublime, joyous, pot-banging volume of genius.

“Nothing like a wee latte last thing at night:/you’ll always be my wee lassie – moon bright./I’ll kiss your forehead and turn out the light.”

2. Comedy

Henry Rowley

Henry Rowley: ‘sends up everything’. Photograph: Dave Benett/Alan Chapman/WireImage

Rowley is a TikTok sensation who will let his mind go anywhere, as minds should. He sends up everything from Harry Potter fans to posh students, and he likes his own banter, which is part of the infectious fun. I’m already signed up for his forthcoming Edinburgh fringe smash, Just Literally.

3. Fashion

Ritchie Charlton Tailoring

‘Nobody in Britain is better at making men’s clothes’: Ritchie Charlton at work. Photograph: Zoe Hitchen

Many men believe their car describes them, yet behave as if their body isn’t theirs and that threads don’t matter. I’d sooner have a good suit and take the bus. Nobody in Britain is better at making men’s clothes than Ritchie Charlton. Formerly of Hardy Amies, Kilgour and Alexander McQueen, he’s now out on his own and is a complete master when it comes to making sharpness look natural.

4. Music

Glasgow Eyes by the Jesus and Mary Chain

‘They create their own timeless momentum’: the Jesus and Mary Chain. Photograph: Mel Butler

The 80s feedback-merchants are moving up a gear. I loved them when I was a teenager and felt their Ramones meets Sex Pistols thing was everything. We used to go and watch them playing 15-minute sets with their backs to the audience and thought that was just the be-all and end-all of cool. On this new album, they prove the maxim that everything must change for things to remain the same. Glasgow Eyes is poppier, more experienced, with a driving pulse and a deep melodic fluency that recalls the Beach Boys. Like the best bands, they create their own timeless momentum and then share it.

Blinkist Book Summary App

5. App

Blinkist

Is life ever not revision? Isn’t every day a recap? My new favourite app gives you a series of major ideas as a more or less structured list of headlines, or “blinks”. On the edge of sleep, why lie back thinking of family grievances when you could opt instead for a quick 20 minutes of Hobbes’s Leviathan to remind you of how a social contract has to remain intact? In the morning, over the Frosties, you can listen to another political grilling on the Today programme or opt instead for a 15-minute sprint in the park with Simone de Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity. I’m now obsessed with it. Like most revision, its main function is not to give you knowledge but to remind you of all the things you don’t know.

6. Podcast

The Run-Up

Astead Herndon, presenter of The Run-Up. Photograph: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for The New York Times

The forthcoming American presidential election may prove, as advertised, to be among the greatest shitshows in the history of human affairs. I am due to be at the Republican national convention in Milwaukee in July, so I’m preparing – I hope equally – for the gravity and the comedy of it all. What will become of the anti-Trump Republicans? Who’s winning the money race? Will Robert Kennedy Jr prove to be a spoiler? And what if someone dies? Produced by the New York Times and presented by the excellent Astead Herndon, this podcast is chatty, funny and totally alarming.

The Guardian