In this week’s interview we talk with the DJ, producer, writer and broadcaster David O’Reilly (Rigsy). This week he is launching his debut novel, Lottie the Raven. David (41) lives in Belfast with his wife Lisa (37), a PR consultant, and their seven-month-old daughter Lottie.
Q. Tell us about your childhood?
A. I grew up in Newcastle. My dad Terry is a retired bank manager and mum Anne is a retired nurse. I have an older sister, Karen (45), who lives in Mexico and works in the relocation of refugees, and a younger brother, Mark (30), who is a teacher and lives in London.
I had a great upbringing and my parents gave me everything I needed, but I really hated school. This was mainly because I was bullied, although I was my own worst enemy — I might as well have had a target on my head because of some of the stuff I did and said.
Q. What are you most proud of?
A. That I’ve got away with it for so long. I made a pact with myself when I was about 16 that I wouldn’t do a ’normal’ job, whatever that is.
I grew up listening to BBC Radio Ulster’s Across the Line and always had an appreciation for the show and wanted to contribute to it. I did bits and pieces for Radio Ulster and eventually in 2002 became a presenter of the show.
My full-time job was promoting the Limelight and last year when I left Across the Line after 20 years I also gave up the job in the Limelight. I still DJ and work as a freelance producer and presenter with my own production company Sketchy Limited. That said, the real answer to this question is my gorgeous, silly little newborn daughter, Lottie.
Q. The one regret you wish you could amend?
A. I was very awkward and over-thought everything and was a bit of a worrier as a child. I worried a lot about stupid things and just wasn’t very chilled — it’s not something I have grown out of at all.
I’m not very good at networking and really bad for not going to events that I should go to. If I could go back, I would give the teenage me a real shake and tell him to stop over-thinking everything.
Q. What about phobias. Do you have any?
A. Talking on the phone. I’ll text, Facebook, email, WhatsApp and whatever else all day long, if you like. But I’ll cringe when the phone rings.
Q. The temptation you cannot resist?
A. I don’t think I could ever give up drinking. I don’t drink that much and thankfully I don’t have a problem, but the idea of not being able to have a beer or a gin or something when I feel I’ve earned it is very distressing.
Q. Your number one prized possession?
A. Lottie, obviously. I don’t know how, given her parents are the two most highly strung humans in Belfast, but she is super-chilled, good as gold and has caused us zero stress during her seven months on the planet.
She is also ridiculously cute and just the right amount of daft.
Q. The book that’s most impacted your life?
A. Weirdly, it’s Brian Keenan’s An Evil Cradling. Apart from the fact it’s an incredible read, I have a very odd, slightly unhealthy obsession with the concept of being kidnapped and trapped in isolation.
I’m not saying it has appeal — but I’d definitely be mentally prepared.
Q. If you had the power or authority, what would you do?
A. I’d make it the law that every school needs to be properly integrated and mixed. Such a no-brainer. I will never understand the reason segregated schools still exist in this country.
And separating boys and girls? It’s socially unhealthy, plain and simple. I know people who when they went to university found that they had no experience of talking to girls. I was lucky as I played in an orchestra and also had football so I mixed with people outside of school.
Q. What makes your blood boil every time without fail?
A. Our politicians, specifically those belonging to the two main parties here in Northern Ireland.
Also, the comments you read beneath local news articles online which illustrate why they’re still in power. I’m the type of idiot that’ll be on his phone at 4am following two complete strangers arguing with each other beneath an article about flags.
On a more day to day level, people being late. My uncontrollable impatience is a curse.
Q. Who has most influenced you in life?
A. I spend an unhealthy amount of time watching sitcoms I’ve seen dozens of times before. Frasier, Friends, Alan Partridge, the US Office — stuff like that.
I could waste away an entire day in front of the TV watching those shows if I let myself. They’re therapeutic. So in a roundabout way I’ve spent more time with the guys and girls who wrote those shows than anyone else. As for a real life person? I’m a total mummy’s boy.
Q. Your top three dinner party guests, dead or alive, and why?
A. I rarely enjoy the company of strangers and I’m not good with small talk. So I’d go with any three of the group of school mates I’ve had and kept since about 1992.
At the moment I only really see them when someone gets married — and given we’re all married now I’m worried I’ll only see them at funerals when we start to die.
Q. The best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A. An old boss once told me to not be so hard on myself. They were about 20 years too late.
Q. The unlikely interest or hobby that you love?
A. Running and coaching at the women’s football team that my wife and I set up in 2017. There is such a positive energy around women’s football in general, but the vibe that dominates the Belfast Ravens is really energising. Grassroots football in general is such a huge part of my life.
As well as the coaching I play — at a very low level — with Newtown Forest thirds. Football is a release and complete escapism for me.
The hero of my book, Lottie, is half based on my work with the team and my awkward teenage years, it’s a strange style of a memoir.
Some of the traumatic and dramatic things that happen to her are things that happened to me. Her social ineptitude and awkwardness is based on my own childhood.
The advice she gets from her father and friends and how she deals with things are what I wish I’d known when I was growing up. I always wanted to write a book but never had an idea, but when I decided to write about women’s football I sat down last summer and hammered the book out in just four days.
At the time I was going through changes at work and in my life and when I finished the book it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
It’s kind of a box ticker for me and it’s fantastic to have done it. I got really good feedback from my editor which was really exciting.
The book is out this week although we are having an official launch on October 17.
Q. The poem that touches your heart?
A. Not to make everything about me, but I wrote a poem when I was nine that was basically moaning about my mum for trailing me along when she went shopping — how she took too long and would gossip with everyone she met.
It’s framed and on the wall at home and it still makes me smile. It even won an award back in the day. I had to read it in front of everyone at Newry Arts Centre. Needless to say mum was absolutely mortified.
Q. The happiest moment of your life?
A. It’s too boring to say when I got married or Lottie being born so I’ll go with shouting at REM bassist Mike Mills from the front row at Slane in 1995 and him hearing me and waving back.
Q. And the saddest?
A. Losing my maternal granny, Annie. She was in her 80s when she died. She had 12 kids whom she reared in a farmhouse outside Draperstown, nearly 40 grandchildren and remained the most chilled out person I’ve ever known right until she died.
She was forward thinking and liberal and completely in charge, yet I never once saw her get annoyed or raise her voice.
She wasn’t bossy — but she was the boss. We all idolised her.
Q. The one event that made a difference in your life?
A. When I was in my 20s, the band I was in played a sold out show at The Ulster Hall — we were supporting a bigger band.
It gave me a brief but unforgettable insight into what it’d be like to be an actual rock star. It’s worth noting that you’ll find every single music journalist or broadcaster is a failed musician.
Q. What’s the ambition that keeps driving you forward?
A. While I’ve always worked really hard, I don’t consider myself hugely ambitious. In fact, I wish I pushed myself far more than I do. I’m happy enough to just be getting away with it and staying afloat.
Q. What’s the philosophy that you live by?
A. Always work hard. Also if anyone asks me for advice about music or broadcasting I try to make a real effort to talk to them.
A couple of people did it with me back in the day and I feel it is important to help people in our industry when you can. Also try to get back to everyone. I think that is important.
Q. How do you want to be remembered?
A. As a good father. I guess that’s all that really matters now.
Lottie the Raven by David O’Reilly costs £8. Find out more and order at www.lottietheraven.com
In this week's interview Stephanie Bell talks to BBC Breakfast sports presenter Holly Hamilton (34) from Greyabbey, who lives in Manchester and is married to Connor Phillips (38), who works for Radio Ulster.