Martin was born in east London, grew up in Essex and studied at Cambridge and Manchester universities. After a number of years running community education projects, he now works in higher education. Brought up a Methodist, briefly a Catholic, these days he describes himself as a secular humanist with spiritual tendencies. He's been blogging since March 2007 at Martin In The Margins.
Why do you blog? > To help me work out what I think, and because I got fed up being a passive observer of blogging debates.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Seeing my posts quoted by (and receiving nice emails from) bloggers I admire.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > The first month or so when there were very few hits: like speaking to an empty hall.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Blog early and blog often.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Antonio Gramsci, Mikhail Bakhtin, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jessica Benjamin.
What are you reading at the moment?> Charles Taylor's A Secular Age, Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française and Robert Caro's The Power Broker: Robert B. Moses and the Fall of New York.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Jan Vermeer, Rainer Maria Rilke, Fernando Pessoa, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis by José Saramago.
What is your favourite poem? > At the moment it's Pessoa's 'Un Soir à Lima' in Richard Zenith's translation.
What is your favourite movie? > Either Les Enfants du Paradis or Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew.
Who is your favourite composer? > A toss-up between Mozart and Thelonius Monk.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Israel/Palestine is the most recent. Like many on the left, I used to be one-sidedly pro-Palestinian but now acknowledge that there are legitimate claims on both sides.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > 'A lie that brings a smile is better than a truth that brings a tear' (or words to that effect) - spoken by Kris Kringle in the remake of Miracle on 34th Street.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > E.P.Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class gave me a lifelong love of social history and an enduring sympathy with the socialist humanism of its author.
Who are your political heroes? > Tom Paine - and Gramsci again.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > A constitutional settlement that would abolish the monarchy and House of Lords, disestablish the Church of England, and establish a federal British republic with a Bill of Rights.
What would you do with the UN? > Limit voting rights to countries that passed an annual human rights inspection.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Fundamentalism plus technology.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Improvements in attitudes to women, homosexuality and disability in the past 20 years are enough to confirm one's belief in continuing human progress. But further progress is not inevitable and needs to be fought for every inch of the way.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Just do it.
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? > Probably not, but I'm intrigued by the way that being in a long-term relationship leads (in my experience anyway) to a meshing of political opinions.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Imagination.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Self-absorption.
What would you call your autobiography? > I Haven't Started Yet.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Robert Redford.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > New York City.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Full-time writer.
Which English Premiership football team do you support? > I'm not really a football fan, but there's a visceral family attachment to West Ham United.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd give up full-time work and finally get round to completing that unfinished literary masterpiece. Perhaps.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]