This is a snapshot. Not my Top Ten. Or Desert Island Discs (even though I love that programme I’ve always wondered how people can narrow it down to eight songs, one (only one!) luxury item and one additional book to the Holy Book of choice and the complete works of William Shakespeare).

Since I’m both an introvert and a party animal, depending on the day and the occasion, I’ve read hundreds of books, listened and danced to thousands of songs, been to dozens of gigs and seen more films than I can count.

But here are some of the things that reflect different moments in my life – of joy, of pleasure, of sadness, but always of meaning.

I am a proud daughter of immigrants. My parents were Windrush generation. Both from Guyana, my father was a policeman in Georgetown who came to study for the Bar and my mother had been a teacher. When she was expecting me she read the Complete Works of Shakespeare in a large black bound volume throughout her pregnancy. My father is sadly no longer with us but my mother and I both treasure Shakespeare to this day.

As tempted as I am to mention my own two books, Without Prejudice and Until Proven Innocent, as favourites, a book that has shaped my thinking is Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth by Professor Derrick Bell. Its title completely reflects its content, and it describes exactly how I try to conduct myself professionally and personally.

Podcasts I feel are one of the best recent inventions ever. What I listen to will depend on the time of day. For example, if I’m driving to court one of my favourites is Writer’s Routine. As an author I love to learn about the writing process of others. Among writers, plotting versus ‘pantsing’ is a real thing! I also often listen to podcasts last thing at night: my current favourites are (you’ll soon spot a theme) Front Row Classics: A Hollywood Golden Age Podcast, You Must Remember This (the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century) and Sass Mouth Dames (celebrating the era of women’s pictures in Hollywood (1929-59)).

Music is the most difficult selection due to being overwhelmed by choice, and also this is one area where, with the songs I’ve chosen, joy and sadness are fellow travellers. Brave New World by Andy Williams is based on Sonata Pathétique by Beethoven. It was one of my father’s favourite songs and we played it at his funeral. And Fantasy by Earth Wind and Fire, an old school R&B classic that I’ve sung along with and danced to with my friends, including one of my best friends Tony who died in December. It was played at his cremation.

A film I always enjoy which makes me feel happy without fail isn’t an Oscar winner, but I love it: Under the Tuscan Sun. Great Italian scenery, uplifting storyline, and a happy non-cheesy ending.

A special mention must go to the beautiful Cayman Islands where I lived for over five years when I was the Territory’s Complaints Commissioner. I even lived for a time on Seven Mile Beach which was as idyllic as it sounds. Nevis was also a standout. However, in terms of the most memorable place/experience it was ascending through the cloud cover as I climbed Machu Picchu.

I have been on three Soul Train Cruises and they were all brilliant. Every time I go to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival I have a good time (and have even danced up close and personal with Gregory Porter).

For art, I love the V&A, for its exhibits permanent and temporary, as well as the building itself.

Sport? Has to be tennis – both to watch and to play.

And luxury item? My choices are not really that luxe (I didn’t think a pilates reformer machine and personal instructor would be allowed) but I couldn’t live without an endless supply of notebooks; fountain pens (and ink); and Uniball fine nib pens of every colour – to journal, to doodle and, who knows? Maybe even write another book… 

Until Proven Innocent (Penguin 2023) is Nicola Williams’ gripping new courtroom thriller following Lee Mitchell in her most controversial case yet. As a young barrister from a working-class Caribbean background: in the cut-throat environment of the courtroom, everything is stacked against her.

On her doorstep in South London the 15-year-old son of the pastor at the local Black church is shot, and the local community is shattered. Lee has to defend the infamously corrupt, racist police officer Sergeant Jack Lambert, to whom all evidence points to as the irredeemable suspect. His own boss is certain he is guilty.

With cries of ‘Black Lives Matter!’ echoing in the streets, Lee is at the centre of the turmoil as lies, anger, and mistrust spiral out of control.
Ascending through the cloud cover climbing Machu Picchu © Harald Von Radebrecht/ imageBROKER/Shutterstock
How to live a life of meaning and worth by Professor Derrick Bell
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London © Xinhua/Shutterstock