Clive Davis was born in Bath in 1959. He studied Modern Languages at St Catherine's College, Oxford, but acquired his real education at the Tottenham-based paper, West Indian World, where he discovered he was not as left-wing as he thought. He writes for The Times and the Washington Times, and has made Radio 4 documentaries on Richard Wright and William L. Shirer. He was a media fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford, in 2003 and 2004. He and his wife Mohini have three sons, Shivan, Krishan and Anand. Clive lives in Berkshire and blogs at Clive Davis.
Why do you blog? > Because I'm opinionated, hate pitching ideas to editors over the phone and love the wide open, un-cliquey spaces of the blogosphere.
What has been your best blogging experience? > After choking on my cereal over a pro-appeasement op-ed about Ukraine in the Independent, I wrote a short piece and saw the link turn up in a pro-democracy blog in Kiev in the space of an hour or two. That was very good for my blood pressure. In the old days, I'd have been bottling it up all day.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Blogger.com, which I've just left, was great most of the time, but when it played up I felt like some figure from Greek mythology subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > I'm still a novice. I have to keep reminding myself to write about what interests me, not what I think other people are interested in.
What are your favourite blogs? > Roger L. Simon for non-wonkish politics. About Last Night for its arts coverage and the feeling of speeding over Broadway pot-holes in a yellow cab. Harry's Place for a reminder that there's still a decent Left out there.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Norman Podhoretz, Shelby Steele, C.S. Lewis, Richard Pipes. I know it's a cliche to say George Orwell, but I can live with that.
What are you reading at the moment? > I've just started Randall Kennedy's Interracial Intimacies and I'm in the middle of a very short biography of my favourite French singer, Georges Brassens. I haven't been able to stick with a novel in the last couple of weeks. When that happens I often go back to dipping into The War of the Worlds. I think H.G. Wells is amazingly underrated, and not just as a science fiction writer.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Stanley Spencer, Tobias Wolff, Glenn Gould, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Jerry Seinfeld. I love Kingsley Amis, but can't figure out why I've never been able to finish Lucky Jim, whereas I never get bored of revisiting That Uncertain Feeling, one of the very few novels about modern marriage to contain the authentic smell of nappies.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Trollope creates the most intriguing characters, but in terms of purity of style and sustained imagination I'd have to go for Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
What is your favourite poem? > 'Lights Out' by the First World War soldier-author, Edward Thomas. It's about sleep, a subject I've been researching for a novel that I hope will get written one of these days.
What is your favourite movie? > John Frankenheimer's Seconds, is the most unsettling movie I've ever seen. My favourite comedy is a toss-up between City Lights and Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid. Jean de Florette has the perfect landscape. What gives me most pleasure is watching my favourite oldies with my sons and finding that they enjoy them too.
What is your favourite song? > There are too many to choose from, but my all-time favourite album, without a doubt, is Caetano Veloso's tribute to Fellini, 'Omaggio a Federico e Giulietta'. Veloso is the greatest musician in the known universe. Ray Charles and Sinatra can make nearly anything sound great too.
Who is your favourite composer? > Bach. The Goldberg Variations must be the ultimate masterpiece.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I used to be a loyal Guardian reader, so I've spent the last decade learning that almost all the ideas I held about America and life in general were 99 per cent wrong.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > I've read Albert Speer's Spandau Diaries four or five times. I know he doesn't tell the whole truth about his Nazi past, but the book still contains all you need to know about solitude, memory and the power of bad politics.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > I would lock members of the cabinet in a darkened room with bread and water until they agreed to give George Walden, Melanie Phillips and the Sutton Trust's Peter Lampl the job of rescuing our pathetic education system.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be President, who would you choose? > Charles Krauthammer.
What would you do with the UN? > Suspend America's Security Council veto for a year, give China six extra votes and then see how long the peaceniks enjoy the new world order.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > America's inability or unwillingness to explain its policies to its allies (it's not just a Republican problem, by the way), combined with European ignorance of the US political tradition. Not forgetting the European elites' infantile view of neo-conservatives as big bad bogeymen.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Generosity.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Pomposity. At a much more petty level, I'm driven crazy by friends who always reply to emails without answering questions I've asked them. I'm sure I've done it too. (I wonder if Rich Hall has invented a word for that yet?)
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Watching any TV programme hosted by Jonathan Ross.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > How to pay school fees. How middle-aged is that?
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I always regret not having studied history or politics at university. I feel I've been trying to catch up ever since.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Deep in the French countryside, within hiking distance of the village of Marciac, home to one of the world's great jazz festivals.
What is your most treasured possession? > Possibly a signed copy of Fahrenheit 451, a memento of a wonderful interview with Ray Bradbury about 15 years ago. He was still bubbling over with ideas.
What talent would you most like to have? > To play the piano like Glenn Gould, Count Basie and Ahmad Jamal rolled into one.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > I once took a liberal friend to see Jackie Mason on Broadway, and he loved him as much as I did, in spite of all the anti-Clinton jokes. Rich Hall is also fantastic when he's playing his alter ego, Otis Lee Crenshaw, the musical jailbird from Tennessee.
Who are your sporting heroes? > Muhammad Ali, no contest. Sonny Liston was a fascinating maverick too. (Not a hero, perhaps, but a great fictional character.)
Which English Premiership football team do you support? > I've always had a soft spot for West Ham United, going back to the days of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd buy houses in southern France and New England, and an apartment in Greenwich Village.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > How about Charles Dickens, Chekhov, and Alfred Brendel to play a little piano on the side? Trouble is, these dinners rarely work out. Richard Pipes once managed to get Edmund Wilson, George Kennan, Isaiah Berlin and Arthur Schlesinger Jr around the same table, but all he could remember of a dull evening was Schlesinger picking up a whole cutlet with his fork and Wilson and Berlin discussing the different ways of saying 'necktie' in Russian.
What animal would you most like to be? > Cats seem to have just about the perfect life.