Or: I’ll be your mirror. Or: I got it from Clare.
Not so much a chain letter as a chain interview. Carrie interviewed Clare; Clare interviewed me; and I might (I said might) interview you.
More on that later. Now for the much more interesting topic of, er, me.
1. What role does music play in your life?
Two different roles (but they’re starting to converge). I’ve invested quite heavily in recorded music for quite a long time; I can still remember the smell of my new copy of Aladdin Sane, the first time I opened out the gatefold sleeve. Sudden Sway, the Fall, Family, Underworld, Faust, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Hatfield and the North… these I have loved. Music has always been around, and it’s often tended to be quite difficult music; I remember reading about copping-off tapes and wondering what on earth people put on them. (I mean, I can’t stand Dire Straits, or Simply Red…)
I’ve also sung songs, if not all my life then certainly since before my voice broke. And I can play the flute, not particularly well. What’s happened in the last couple of years is that I’ve started singing for an audience (mostly at my local folk club) and subsequently writing my own songs. Probably because of this, these days I’m more likely to listen to James Yorkston or the Earlies – or Love or Nick Drake or the mighty Bob – than Kid Koala or Flying Saucer Attack. Still not much copping-off-tape music, though.
2. What role does politics play in your life? For instance, does it influence your personal relationships?
Yes and no. I’ve often wondered about this: it would be easy to say, for instance, that I could never be friends with a Tory, and at one level it would be true. As a statement of fact, though, it would be ludicrous – apart from anything else, I have actually got friends who are Tories (or say they are). I really don’t think I could be friends with a racist or a homophobe, though – then again, I feel the same about animal liberationists.
My political beliefs (which are broadly Marxist, in the sense of being vehemently opposed to most existing forms of Marxism) are very important to me. But I’ve never had much luck using politics as a basis for choosing friends – or even people I could trust within a shared project. This is partly because there are so many issues & angles & nuances involved that it’s really quite hard to tell whether someone else’s beliefs are the same as yours, but mainly because the substance of your beliefs isn’t really where you start from. It’s more important to find people with the same kind of attitude as your own – an idealistic but critical and rather grumpy attitude, in my case. (Although I suppose some beliefs are fairly fundamental – “all human beings are equal”, for example.)
3. Have you ever written / would you ever write a novel?
No, and I doubt it. I’ve written short stories, some of which have been published, but not for several years. I feel quite comfortable with the short story form – I can’t imagine having an idea big enough for a novel.
4. What time do you get up in the mornings?
Ha! Too early; much, much too early. I’m currently in a rut of waking up before my wife’s alarm goes at 7.00, lying there pretending to sleep and feeling utterly knackered for another 25 minutes, then falling asleep and being woken up by my alarm at 7.30. Actually my problem is the nights rather than the mornings; if you fix the time you get up, your body’s supposed to start telling you to go to bed early enough for you to get enough sleep. My trouble is I don’t listen; I get a second wind around 10.30 and then I’m fine until midnight or later.
5. In the last twelve months, what (if any) activities have put money in your pocket? If none, what activities have emptied it?
I left my last full-time job (editing a small IT magazine) at the end of 1998, but got a part-time job last October; I’m researching & documenting sources of statistics for sociology students at Manchester University. Up till then I divided my time between freelance journalism and writing a doctoral thesis. I’ve completed the thesis (hurrah!) but I’ve kept the journalism going in a small way. In the last twelve months I’ve written
six feature articles for the magazine I used to edit
ten jokey columns, ditto
one book review for the Independent
four Web ‘micro-sites’ for Channel Four
I also went to Normandy for GMTV, just before the D-Day anniversary; I was on screen for about two minutes at 6.30 a.m., introduced as “Phil Edwards, military historian” (which I’m not). But it was an interesting trip, and they did pay me money, so I’m not complaining.
Cheers, Clare. Here’s what happens next:
1. Leave me a comment on this post saying “Interview me.”2. I’ll respond by asking you five questions, by email. I’ll spend some time reading your blog first, and then try and make the questions interesting for you and your readers.
3. Update your blog with the answers to the questions and leave the answers as comments on this post.
4. Include this explanation, and an offer to interview other people, in the same post as your interview.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you ask them five questions in the same way.
Over to you, Gentle Reader.