Nick Barlow was born and raised in Redditch, a town so anonymous many of its own residents forget it exists. He then spent a year living in Ohio before going to Swansea University, where he got a degree in politics and became politically involved for the first time, rising to the heights of the NUS Wales National Executive Committee. He lives in Colchester and commutes into London at the weekends to work night shifts as a travel news reporter, while trying to write a novel during the week. Nick blogs at What You Can Get Away With and A Fistful Of Euros.
Why do you blog? > Originally, it was because I'd created a website to store various photographs on and wanted a way to add other content to it regularly. I continue to do it because it's fun and a good way of filling those dead hours in the middle of the night when there's no work to be done.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Getting to know, and in some cases meet, various interesting and amusing people who I'd never have known otherwise.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Getting stuck in pointless arguments over semantics in comment threads.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Have fun and don't take it all too seriously. The vast majority of blogs are read by the internet equivalent of Neasden FC's fan base and there are much better ways to change the world, if that's your aim.
What are you reading at the moment? > China Mieville's Perdido Street Station; it's taking me a while as I don't seem to have much time for reading at the moment! When I'm done with that, Charles Seife's Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea.
What is your favourite poem? > Adrian Mitchell's 'Back In The Playground Blues'.
What is your favourite movie? > Withnail And I.
Who is your favourite composer? > A strange two-headed man who goes by the name of Jagger Richards.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Mill's On Liberty.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > The idea that there's some kind of invisible friend watching over us and we should live our lives according to the rules set down years ago that someone believes will please it, no matter how insane those rules may be.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that; hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.' (Martin Luther King)
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Replacing the various electoral systems throughout the country with the Single Transferable Vote. Just doing that would change the entire nature of our political system.
What would you do with the UN? > Either make it into a genuine force for promoting democracy, freedom and human rights throughout the world or just replace it with a randomly selected panel of bloggers, as they seem to think they have all the answers.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > It's a close race between poverty, apathy and environmental collapse.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > I'm an optimist, so I think the best is yet to come. I'm also a cynic, so I think we'll find a way to mess it up once we get there.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > 'It's just a ride...'
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > I have enough problems having long-term relationships with people I agree with politically, so probably not.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > A sense of humour.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > People who take pride in their own ignorance of a subject.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Until a few weeks ago, I'd have answered 'cryptic crosswords', but I've recently been bitten by the bug and I'm suddenly finding them very addictive.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Somewhere in the Lake District.
What would your ideal holiday be? > Six months in New Zealand.
What talent would you most like to have? > I'd love to be able to play a musical instrument of some sort, but all my efforts to learn in the past have failed because of my lack of co-ordination.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > I'd like to be able to earn enough from it to write full time. Or just to be employed as a reviewer of luxury hotels throughout the world.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Dead - Bill Hicks or Peter Cook. Alive - Chris Morris.
Who are your sporting heroes? > Steve Bull, David Gower.
Which English Premiership football team do you support? > As the new season hasn't started yet, I can still say Wolves here. Otherwise, no one, especially not Sandwell Town.
What animal would you most like to be? > A cat. They seem to have it easy enough.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of previous profiles, and the links to them, can be found here.]