A Little goes a long way
Broadcaster and journalist Graham Little (28) works for UTV, Sky, Setanta and U105. He lives in Belfast and is dating Claire Forbes. Graham reveals all to Gail Walker
Published 08/07/2006 | 00:00
WHAT ARE YOU LIKE IN A RELATIONSHIP? ARE YOU A GIVER OR A TAKER?
What mum does for me and my brothers and sister is incredible. Even now if I go down to visit my parents in Co Fermanagh I'll always leave with a big bag of scones or something like that - mum thinks she needs to feed me because she believes there is no food in Belfast.
Claire and I met two years ago on February 15. She used to row for Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth Games, and the day we met I'd gone down with a crew from UTV to cover a competition she was rowing in on the River Lagan in Belfast. Oddly enough, UTV hadn't covered the competition for years but, as my luck would have it, they decided to on that occasion ...
Claire and I got chatting and it turned out we had a lot of mutual friends. We arranged to meet up a few days later.
Claire's family own Forbes Family Furniture in Magherafelt and she manages the shop. She divides her time between Magherafelt and Belfast. She has her own house, off the Lisburn Road, although she would also stay at my place a lot of the time.
Yes, it's a serious relationship in that I cannot ever see myself going out or getting married to anyone else. In fact, we are trying to buy a house together at the moment. We had one agreed but it fell through, so if anyone is selling give me a shout!
Claire probably thinks I'm laid back and reasonably good fun. We never fight or argue, we just get on really well together. We're both mad about sport, which helps, too.
ONLY CHILD OR ONE OF A CROWD?
There are four of us and I'm the eldest. Warren (26) is a hotshot lawyer, working in Leeds. Ruth (22) has just graduated with a first in history from the University of Nottingham and Andrew (17) is currently doing his A levels. I'm close to all of them, especially Warren since there are just a few years between us. Of course, we used to fight a lot when we were younger, but recently he was game enough to join my Elephant Polo Team. Our family home is in Enniskillen and, since I was 11 I wanted to work for our local paper, the Impartial Reporter.
I went to Portora and, while there, I also decided I'd quite like to join the Marines. I loved Portora - it's a great school. There were only 45 of us in my year and most of us are still great mates.
After that I took a year out, went to Australia and taught in a prep school there for a year. I took music classes and helped with things like dormitory duty. It was a private school so most of the kids were really nice.
I then travelled around the world before doing an interview for the Marines. Alas, I didn't get a bursary but they told me to come back after I'd done my degree - in English and Sports Science - at Loughborough. But by the time I'd graduated I'd gone off the idea of the Marines, and so I went back to Sydney to see if I could pick up some reporting work at the Special Olympics. I did some pieces for local papers back here and then, shortly after I returned to Northern Ireland, two journalists left the Impartial Reporter. The editor asked me to fill in on a temporary basis and then offered me a permanent job. I loved it - I did both news and features - and then 18 months later I moved to UTV. Once again, I was lucky - the post at UTV was for a trainee sports reporter/presenter. even though i'd been working on the local paper and learning a lot, i was conscious that i had no real journalism qualifications. in this case it didn't matter since they were offering a traineeship. Then, in February this year, I took the big step of going freelance - a move I haven't regretted.
ARE YOU CLOSER TO YOUR MUM OR DAD?
I'm pretty close to both of them. We've never had any major rows or fallings out.
Dad is a businessman - he owns T P Toppings, a LandRover, Rover and Ford garage in Enniskillen.
He and I would go skiing and play golf together.
And dad also has a boat on Lough Erne and as soon as I go home the first thing we do is head over to the island, which we have a lease on for 10 years, along with two other families. Dad has built a cabin on it and we stay over there.
Dad is the sort of man who works flat out during the week and then loves to unwind at weekends ... by going out to the island and starting to build things. Recently, he put in a water system and hooked up drains.
He has also put four donkeys on the island.
Mum is a nurse by profession but she took a career break when the kids came along. Now, she works part-time at the local Family Planning Clinic. She loves that - it's a way for her to keep in touch with the profession she trained for.
She's a busy woman - since my nan died two years ago she also spends a lot of time looking after my grand father. And she's also president of the local amateur dramatic society and heavily involved with the NSPCC.
Mum perhaps understands me better than dad would do and she and I are quite similar by nature. We both love going to parties and having people around us. Dad prefers his space.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
Captaining the Ireland Elephant Polo Team. Also, I'm proud of my brothers and sister - they are high achievers but really nice people, too.
Andrew is a very good footballer - he's already played for Northern Ireland in the under-17s, when he scored a few goals in the European tournament.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST ASHAMED OF?
Nothing major, just little things.
I was pretty wild at university, and after it for a while. I'd wake up in the morning and think about things I'd done the night before and wish that I hadn't ...
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO A LAPDANCING CLUB?
Talk about funny timing to be asked a question like this!
Oddly enough, in the interests of research for a programme I'm making for UTV about a girl, Shannon, who was in my class in primary school and who now works in Stringfellows, I will probably be spending rather a lot of time in those very places!
Cameramen at UTV were queueing up to work with me on this one. I was even asked if I'd need a lighting engineer - and I hadn't needed one of those for three years.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO A FORTUNE-TELLER?
No, I have not. It's not that I've made a conscious decision not to go to one, I've just never met one.
Claire and I did go to see the psychic Derek Acorah when his show came to Belfast.
She had watched him on TV and wanted to see more.
I was blown away by it at first - the way he seemed to be talking to the dead - and Claire believes in it.
But during the second part of his act I just fell about laughing. There was just too much smoke and mirrors and gimickry - without the flash suit and the diamond earrings it would all have been more believable for me.
HAVE YOU ANY PHOBIAS?
I'm a big girl when it comes to mice and rats. I genuinely hate them.
Sometimes I go running around Belvoir Forest Park in Belfast and there's a path I refuse to go on since I spotted rats on it.
At home in Enniskillen we have a stable behind our house and one day I was emptying out some shavings from a bag for the horse and there was a nest of mice in there.
As I tipped the bag, they all came running out, and I raced back, screaming, into the house. My mum laughs about it to this day.
DO YOU TIP IN RESTAURANTS?
Yes, definitely - though how much I leave depends on the service.
I don't like grumpy people, and for some reason in Northern Ireland service is not always a priority.
Some places are great here, but what I really hate is when places are unflexible - you know, when they offer bacon and chips or egg and chips and you ask for bacon and egg and chips and they say they can't do that. That really annoys me! Or if they refuse to let me move tables.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?
Yes, I was brought up to go to Sunday School and church.
My parents still go regularly, and they'd probably like it if I went a little more often, too.
But I remember reading that it's better to be on a moutain thinking about God than in a church thinking about the mountain.
I think that on a Sunday morning, if I would rather be out on my bike, appreciating the countryside around me and thinking about creation, then that's alright.
Claire and I are in a mixed relationship - I'm a Protestant and she's a Catholic - but it causes no problems whatsoever.
QUICK DEATH OR TIME TO PREPARE?
That's a really hard question, and I don't really know what I'd prefer.
I'd like to think I have another few years in me yet - both my grandfathers are in their 80s and really healthy. One of them is 85 and still growing all his own veg.
REGRETS ... HAVE YOU HAD A FEW?
Not that many. There are always things you do when you are younger that you later think 's***, I wish I hadn't done that'. Like just now, I wish I hadn't swore.
But I'd hate to be lying dying many years from now and regretting things that I did not do with my life. I want to try and do as much as possible.
I don't have any big regrets but then I'm only 28 so there's plenty of time.