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[General curriculum vitae]

Simon Grant's general recreational interests

music | sport | culture | other pastimes and games

Music – active

This is my best developed interest at the moment. I have enjoyed from an early age singing (e.g. carols) at school and at home, particularly in harmony. I sung in the "Glee Club", though not the chapel choir, at Winchester, where I got to know many of the big masses and oratorios, and in various choirs in Oxford. Since then I have generally sung bass or tenor. 1988-1990 I sung with the University of Strathclyde Chamber Choir, under Alan Taverner. In London I have sung with the Camden Chamber Choir, and the 1993-4 season with the excellent Renaissance Singers (of London), at the time under Michael Procter. In Italy, 1994 to 1996, I sang with Geoff George in the European Choirs, and briefly with the Cammerata Polifonica of Milan, under Ruben Jais and Alfonso Caiani. In Liverpool, around 1999 I sang with the Renaissance Music Group (Morris Davies) and in Manchester, up to around 2004 with the William Byrd Singers of Manchester, an excellent chamber choir that was directed at the time by the aged but eminent Stephen Wilkinson. Around 2011 to 2013 I was singing with Duodecimo, a great chamber choir practising in Chorlton, Manchester. From 2015 to 2020 I was with a group called Divers Voyces, based in Lancaster University – though they are not the only choir of that name. The Covid pandemic put a temporary stop on choral singing. I had joined a choir in Belgium only for it to be disbanded very soon after the pandemic eased.
I am currently choirless, and I would particularly like to form small ensembles, one or two per part. I very much like music in more than four parts.
Much though I would be flattered, please don't confuse me with another Simon Grant who is a real professional bass singer...
I played the piano as a child. At Winchester I took some lessons on the organ.


Cross-country running, for pleasure, is something that I have kept on with for many years, and hope to continue, gently. I was in the teams at school and college. I have never yet run a marathon, but maybe one day.
at school and university.
Also much enjoyed over the years, and something I have often done with my children.
When I was young I did a lot of dinghy sailing at Bassenthwaite Sailing Club. I still enjoy sailing when I get the opportunity. I have never sailed on the open sea, but would enjoy it if the chance came. I have also tried wind-surfing briefly.
Racket sports
I've played tennis occasionally, and learned squash at school.
Team sports
I do not like cricket or rugby, due to unpleasant experiences at school. Football I play with pleasure, if little talent.


Poetry and literature
I'm rather a sporadic reader, but I like many classics. Of poetry and fiction, I have particularly enjoyed Donne, Herbert and other metaphysicals, T.S. Eliot, Tolstoy, D.H. Lawrence, Hermann Hesse, Primo Levi. I appreciate children's stories from the relatively modern author Margaret Mahy, as well as an old favourite, Rudyard Kipling. I have greatly enjoyed Dante's Divina Commedia, read in a mixture of English and Italian. Non-fiction relates more to my significant concerns: what matters to me more directly.
Renaissance Italian painting (up to and including Caravaggio); The "Pre-Raphaelites"; Constable and Turner;
Most pre-baroque architecture, and some modern. Having lived in Glasgow, I must say I like Charles Rennie Mackintosh and other Art Nouveau, but not so much Art Deco. I don't like things that come across as fake, including the usual Victorian "Gothic". Liverpool Cathedral (Anglican), on the other hand, I see as a masterpiece.
Some of my favorite films are European. I like Woody Allen and Eric Rohmer. I dislike explicit or meaningless violence. I do like meaning in films. Films I could watch every year:
Concerts and listening to classical music
I don't much like background music, or music while I work. It is better for me to listen and appreciate. I enjoy listening to the kind of music I like singing, particularly music of the renaissance: my favourite composers are probably Tallis and Gesualdo, followed by Byrd, Gibbons, Josquin, Mouton, Dufay, and similar.
Popular music
I have always liked the Beatles, since around 1964. At Winchester, I also enjoyed listening to Simon & Garfunkel, the Incredible String Band, Leonard Cohen. I like the occasional bit of pop music, when it seems to say something of significance.
Sport, television
I rarely watch any.

Other pastimes and games

I started, with gliding through RAF connections at school, at the age of 16. My first "first solo" was at Old Sarum airfield in a very old-fashioned winch-launched glider. At 17, I did a "flying scholarship" of around 30 hours flying with the Oxford Air Training School at Carlisle Airport (summer 1973), flying mainly Piper Cherokees. I was a member of the Oxford University Air Squadron 1975-1976, where I flew another 35 hours or so in total, in Bulldogs.
From 1977 to 1980 I was involved in the "Newbury Manflier" man-powered aircraft, at Greenham Common, organised by Nick Goodhart (Rear-Admiral H. C. N. Goodhart formally). We did actually get off the ground at least once, but the struggles were finally defeated by the arrival of cruise missiles, and we missed the Kremer prize.
In 1989, during my PhD, I did an Elementary Pilot's Certificate in hang-gliding at the Windlord school in Northumberland. Then a big gap...
I tried a day here and there of paragliding from 2005, then finally in November 2017 I trained up to UK Club Pilot level with FlySpain in Algodonales, Spain, and bought my own paraglider, an Advance Pi 2, in 2018. Since then I have tried to keep up my practice.
This was a strongpoint at school, where I was the school captain. I never played seriously at university or later.
An unusual past pastime, exercised at school.
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