Paul Anderson was born in Edinburgh in 1959 and grew up in Suffolk. He studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Balliol College, Oxford, then worked as a journalist on various left-wing magazines, among them European Nuclear Disarmament Journal (deputy editor 1984-87), Tribune (reviews editor 1986-91, editor 1991-93) and the New Statesman (deputy editor 1993-96). He is currently a journalism lecturer at City University and a sub-editor on the Guardian's comment pages. Author (with Nyta Mann) of Safety First: the Making of New Labour (Granta, 1997), he is now working on a book on the British left and the Soviet Union. He blogs at Gauche.
Why do you blog? > I read about blogging in the Guardian, decided to give it a go and couldn't stop. Oh, OK, the real reason is sheer vanity.
What has been your best blogging experience? > I get a warm glow whenever someone responds thoughtfully to something I've posted.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Deleting my blog template by accident while editing it.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > George Orwell, Cornelius Castoriadis, Edward Thompson, Dwight Macdonald, Victor Serge, Agnes Heller, Hans Magnus Enzensberger.
What are you reading at the moment? > Dogs and Lampposts by Richard Stott, and Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Johannes Gutenberg, Denis the Menace, Patricia Highsmith and a few hundred others.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad.
What is your favourite poem? > 'Paterson' by William Carlos Williams.
What is your favourite movie? > Some Like It Hot.
What is your favourite song? > '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' by the Rolling Stones.
Who is your favourite composer? > Beethoven or Handel - can't decide.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I was a teenage Leninist. Now I am a boring left-leaning reformist libertarian social democrat.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Secular humanism (if that counts as a philosophical thesis).
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Moral relativism.
Who are your political heroes? > Michael Foot, Dany Cohn-Bendit, Vaclav Havel.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > The emancipation of the working class can only be achieved by the working class itself.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Proportional representation for the House of Commons.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > Robin Cook.
What would you do with the UN? > Give countries that are not democracies 10 years to clean up their act or face expulsion.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Dictatorships with weapons of mass destruction and populist leaders of democracies.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I'm a cyclist, so guess.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Watching reality TV shows.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > New York.
What would your ideal holiday be? > A month in Barcelona.
What talent would you most like to have? > The ability to play the piano.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Tommy Cooper.
Who are your sporting heroes? > Cooper, Mills, Osman, Butcher, McCall, Thijssen, Wark, Muhren, Mariner, Brazil, Gates (Ipswich Town UEFA cup winning team 1981).
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd set up a publishing company.
What animal would you most like to be? > An elephant.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of previous profiles, and the links to them, can be found here.]