The Starlight Express - Excerpts Edward Elgar
28 April 2015, 00:01
Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has told Nick Ferrari about his desire to take up the drums again, and how he sees music and arts education progressing in the future in an interview with Classic FM's Nick Ferrari.
Asked by Nick Ferrari if his coalition government has done enough for arts and music in education, Clegg described his vision of an easier future for schools wanting to teach those subjects:
"I think there is a great deal of fantastic music and arts across the school system. Some schools do it better than others, frankly, and some schools have had to make savings on sports and music and so on."
"It's why I'm so anxious that now we're finally getting through this pretty rocky phase of having to balance the books, to be really clear with schools and nurseries and colleges that they can plan with peace of mind for the future."
Clegg played the piano, but he'd like to give the drums a try
"I have played variously piano - I think I played until maybe grade three or four, I can't quite remember - guitar and drums. I would love to take up the drums again."
"And now you can buy these drum kits [where] you put your headphones on. So maybe one day I'll splash out on a drum kit because I enjoyed that particularly."
Clegg is into kickboxing, too: "I go to the gym once a week - six o'clock in the morning, usually on a Monday, and there's a wonderful bloke who used to be a very professional kickboxer and he puts me through my paces. But I'm no good at it."
And whose face does Clegg imagine when he's throwing punches and kicks?
"I try not to put a face on the things that I'm striking with my feet and my hands… Well, sometimes Ed Balls might flicker through my imagination."
The Deputy Prime Minister is still searching for religion
"I'm actually not and never have been a rigid Atheist. I was asked once, do I know whether God exists or not, and I'm actually quite agnostic. I don't know.
"I very, very strongly believe we are spiritual beings. I do believe in a spiritual side of human existence. I also believe in the huge importance of it. I just happen not to be a sort of man of faith and, in one sense, I regard that as much as a fact as a shortcoming.
"So I'm not a practising Catholic but I would describe myself more as searching rather than being absolutely fixed in my certainties about what does or doesn't exist. And I like to think that's actually what most open-minded people are."
Clegg also opened up on his struggle with smoking
"I have not touched a cigarette or a vapour thingy in weeks… I thought to myself, I'm 48 now, my youngest kid is six and I want to be able to play football and tennis with them and be around, active, with them well into their adulthood.
"I'm just saying, you never know. I might lapse, but I will try not to."
Clegg's mother is hugely inspiring to him
Nick Ferrari asked the Deputy PM about his mother's time in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Indonesia:
"I now realise that what my mum clearly decided was that she had, in a sense, the innocence of her childhood taken away from her and she wanted to protect the innocence of our childhood. And she fostered a very, very happy atmosphere for my brothers and my sister and myself."
Clegg doesn't want his kids to go into politics
"You don't want to go into politics. It's not a vocation for the faint-hearted. The most basic paternal instinct is to be protective of your children, so you don't as a natural decision point your children towards vocations like politics."
The Deputy Prime Minister won't be drawn on who might form a coalition government
"I follow the instructions of the boss, and the boss is the British people… Since no-one's going to win an outright majority, I think it'll be for Miliband or Cameron - the one who's got the edge on the other one - [who] has in my view the legitimate right."
Nick Clegg thinks David Cameron has a good sense of humour
"He's got a good sense of humour, and he doesn't lose it under pressure. But no doubt I could say that about other politicians from other parties as well."
Nick Clegg's music choices:
"Every time I listen to her I think of the campaign five years ago. Every time I'd done my hours of canvassing, delivering leaflets and hustings, I'd get back home, put this on full volume, and it was a fantastic catharsis."
"When we first met, [Miriam] used to play this, and it's such a romantic Chopin waltz, so every time I hear this I always think of those amazing days when Miriam and I first met."
Nick Ferrari is also interviewing Labour leader Ed Miliband at 7pm on 29 April on Classic FM.