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All the best: UUP's Mike Nesbitt on his favourite things

By Kerry McKittrick

The 58-year-old is an MLA and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. He lives near Belfast with his wife, journalism lecturer Lynda Bryans, and their sons PJ and Christopher.

My best moment

I have a couple. The first was about five years ago when Lynda, PJ, Christopher and I went on our last family holiday to California. There was a moment when we were up in the mountains looking at the Hollywood sign. I have a photo of Lynda and the two boys looking happy and relaxed. That is a great moment to look back on. Another was last October when my mother came to the Ulster Unionist party conference and sat in the front row.hat was a great occasion for me and for mum, too. My parents put a lot into my education, so it paid off then.

My best song

They say that Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous album was the best live album ever. I saw them in the Hammersmith Odeon when was I a student in England and then, when I came back, a friend bought me a ticket to see them in the Ulster Hall. Still In Love With You is the best song off that album.

My best way to relax

I cook a lot. It’s one of the few things that clears my mind of work. It started when I was a student as I couldn’t afford to eat in the canteen. My first dish was beans on toast, then spaghetti Bolognese, and it’s continued from there.

My best job

I have to say the current one. Four years ago, the party was pretty low and there was an idea that Ulster Unionism was in decline. We’ve just had our spring conference with over 300 delegates and the mood has transformed. It really pleases me. My other best job was as a sports reporter. I went to the two World Cups in the Eighties. Northern Ireland will play in France this summer — the last time they did it was 30 years ago and I was commentating on the game.

My best advice

A bin man called Benny Campbell told me “self-praise is no recommendation”. I had a summer job in Newtownards in the Seventies as a bin man. Benny, the head bin man, gave me that piece of advice after I had boasted about how heavy the bin was that I’d just emptied.

My best gift

My maternal grandmother gave me her late husband’s tie-pin, a little horseshoe of pearls, as a lucky charm. I wear it very sparingly and only on big occasions, such as election days. My sons like to borrow it, too.

My best achievement

Mine is a non-achievement. I did a lot of running at school and competed in the Irish Schools’ Championships, where I didn’t win a race I was supposed to. It wasn’t because the other athletes were better than me, it was because I didn’t give it my best shot. That has stayed with me for nearly 40 years — if you leave anything behind then you will really regret it. It was my own fault, I just didn’t turn up for the race with the proper mindset.

My best buy

It’s actually a book of poetry called Rage For Order. It’s an anthology of local poetry and a lot of it is Troubles-related. It went out of print, but my sister helped me to track it down over a couple of years. It’s the most fantastic collection of local talent, everything from Seamus Heaney to Paul Muldoon.

My best film

I’m more of a box set man these days but I always loved the film Arthur, with Dudley Moore. It was a very soppy, sentimental love story. In those days when I was young, free and single it was a test of a potential girlfriend — if they didn’t like Arthur then it wasn’t going to work.

My best book

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I like it because a woman, who as far as we know was a country spinster, wrote the best love story ever, just from her instinct and imagination.

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