On my radar: Anna Meredith’s cultural highlights

The composer and performer on collaborative board games, an emotional audiobook and the comforts of MasterChef

Born in London in 1978, composer, producer and performer Anna Meredith studied at the University of York and the Royal College of Music. A former composer in residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, in 2016 she released her debut studio album, Varmints, followed in 2019 by Fibs. She has also provided soundtracks for the film Eighth Grade and Netflix series Living With Yourself. Meredith tours the UK from 3 Feb in Leeds to 10 Feb in Hove.

1. Music
Solstices by Georg Friedrich Haas

Riot Ensemble: ‘Dramatic, theatrical and really intense'
Riot Ensemble: ‘Dramatic, theatrical and really intense.’ Photograph: PR image

I went to this amazing performance by contemporary music group the Riot Ensemble. It’s quite a long, complicated piece and they do it in complete blackout, to the extent that they covered the fire escape sign. It was that kind of dense dark that starts to feel a bit like velvet and you feel a little claustrophobic. For a start I don’t even know how they hit or played their instruments. The music wasn’t meditative minimalism or something – it was dramatic and theatrical and really intense, hitting metal bins in complete darkness.

2. TV
MasterChef, BBC One

Masterchef, from left: Monica Galetti, Gregg Wallace and Marcus Wareing
Masterchef, from left: Monica Galetti, Gregg Wallace and Marcus Wareing. Photograph: BBC/Shine TV Photograph: Production/BBC/Shine TV

I find that as my world gets more strained by anxiety I seek solace in the most bland, inoffensive, low-stakes telly I can find. I just need something where I can watch real people being happy (but not Love Island). This is the thing that has probably brought me the greatest pleasure in the past year, with twinkly-eyed Marcus, and firm-but-fair Monica, and… Greg. It’s also a bit weird because I’ve sort of gone vegan, so I’m watching people brutally butchering all this meat and making all this dairy stuff and I can’t eat any of it.

3. Restaurant
Temple of Seitan, London

Vegan fast food at the Temple of Seitan
Vegan fast food at the Temple of Seitan. Photograph: Temple of Seitan/Instagram Photograph: Temple Of Seitan / instagram

My whole day revolves around food. It’s got harder since I’ve tried to go vegan, but I’ve dedicated the best part of a year to seeking out cheese replacement things. I don’t live near a Temple of Seitan, but I go to get their mac and cheese with a disgusting regularity. I basically engineer detours past it – I tell myself “this is the best route”, even if I’ve just had lunch. I did it yesterday: I was meeting my sister for dinner and I still just popped in for a quick mac and cheese as if it’s having a quick glass of water.

4. Audiobook
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The author John Boyne
The author John Boyne. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian

I feel sad about it but I am struggling to sit down and read books in everyday life. Audiobooks really help me: there’s some British politeness gland that means when someone is actually talking to me, I listen. I really loved this book, which was brilliantly read by Stephen Hogan. It’s about a gay Irish guy and it goes through different stages of his life. It opened my eyes to a lot of stuff I didn’t know about homosexuality during the 80s in Ireland. I did the full gamut: I laughed, and towards the end I was weeping on the train.

5. Board game
Pandemic: Legacy

Pandemic Legacy: ‘Characters die and it’s really dramatic’
Pandemic: Legacy: ‘Characters die and it’s really dramatic.’ Photograph: Handout

I’ve got into playing games with a bunch of friends quite regularly. We’ve been doing these cooperative games where you’re all working together against the game rather than each other. In this game you’re trying to prevent diseases, which might even have sinister origins, from spreading around the world. It evolves through the year: you start in January, then stuff will happen, and in February you scratch off things, you open boxes and you stick stuff on the board, characters die and it’s really dramatic. It’s quite a commitment, but I’m hooked.

6. Film
Knives Out (Rian Johnson)

Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas in Knives Out
Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas in Knives Out. Photograph: Claire Folger/Lionsgate via AP Photograph: Claire Folger/AP

I’m very excited to see Knives Out. I’ve deliberately not looked it up yet so I don’t really know a huge amount about it – I’m hoping it’s some kind of sexy Cluedo but I have no idea. It seems like perfect festive fodder to me. At this time of year, what I want to be watching is a good whodunnit with a glamorous cast wearing carefully chosen outfits, and this looks absolutely perfect for that. I’ve actually got plans to dedicate a whole day to watching it.


Kathryn Bromwich

The GuardianTramp

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