My essentials: Sylvana Debono’s cultural picks

107 | Sylvana Debono, 59, Artist and communications specialist

1. Book

The Six Wives of Henry the Eighth series by Alison Weir. A serious historian in her own right, Weir brings to life these six Tudor queens in a fictional yet historically accurate setting. Her insight, fostered by years of research into the subject, renders the characters of these queens relatable and totally understandable, making the reader also empathise not just with them but with this controversial monarch. Weir captures the zeitgeist of the epoch accurately and in a very readable manner

2. Film

I recently managed to watch The Remains of the Day, based on the eponymous book by Kazuo Ishiguro. Stevens, the central figure is played by Anthony Hopkins in a sublime rendition of the imperturbable British butler who turns a blind eye to his master’s nazi sympathies. Stevens is also in love with the housekeeper, Miss Kenton, a love which is never openly acknowledged. Hopkins is brilliant in portraying Stevens’ obsession with dignified restraint which leads him to accept what he knows is not right in his master’s behaviour and costs him the love of Miss Kenton. Riveting.

3. Internet/TV

While I do watch some TV, I choose here to celebrate influencer Sosa Zerafa. Her able use of short videos, always imbued with fun and colour, brighten up anyone’s day. True, one may say that this is materialism and superficiality but in truth, we do also need some fun in our lives and less sanctimonious judgement. So, go girl, you rock it!

4. Music

My taste is pretty eclectic. Anything by Nat King Cole, Michael Bolton and Shirley Bassey is very much up my street. The rich mellow baritone of Nat King Cole soothes the roughest of days while Michael Bolton revs up the mood with elegance. And then there is Shirley Bassey – what a voice box. Although her songs are so well known, a thrill still runs down my spine when I hear them. Then there is the more serious music such as Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie, which is my ringtone – need I say more?

5. Place

I love castles and stately homes wherever they may be. I have been to Highclere Castle, Chatsworth, Windsor and Haddon Hall in the UK, Versailles and Monbazillac in France, Schonbrun in Vienna, Neuschwanstein in Germany, and planning more! The architecture and seeing the use of space and the solutions which people found to the technologies they had available leads me to appreciate more the achievements of the ages.