I tend to avoid analysis where matters of taste are concerned. Art, music, food, wine, literature – I prefer to accept my tastes for what they are. When analyzing tastes, I find I'm too likely to run up against fashions and social mores – tastes that are not mine, that did not evolve with me on my journey through life.
What I mean by this is that whenever we seek to analyse our own tastes, we inevitably compare them with some kind of standard. It is this comparison that I find untrustworthy.
I like robust red wines, plain food, jazz from the 1920s and 30s, the hills and valleys of Derbyshire and character-driven literature. I like strong coffee, the aroma of a good cigar (although I've never smoked) and a neatly turned phrase.
I like real ale, fresh bread, cheese, Persian rugs, log fires, virgin snow, early morning sun and the fusty smell of an old house. Clean sheets, old clothes, blue skies, shadowy abstractions and freshly boiled mussels sprinkled liberally with salt and pepper.
Female laughter, uneven teeth, steam engines, old wood, antique paper, three piece wine glasses, digital technology, haggis, slapstick comedy and sometimes a touch of kitsch.
I like buildings built to human dimension and maybe with a touch of modest grandeur, a dash of pretentious aspiration even. I like them to be largely traditional or elegantly bizarre. There is no middle ground for me.
I like art which does not seek to disconnect me from what I am, from all that subtle and sometimes mysterious mix of everyday influences that made me and formed my tastes from a seamless intermingling I could never untangle. Most art I find dull and uninteresting. If I don't find it dull or uninteresting then I prefer not to analyze why
Pickled sharks and Tracey Emin's bed really don’t fit the bill. I don’t even need to consider them - they are not of my world. It’s a matter of taste. My taste.