Francis Sedgemore is a 43-year old freelance journalist of no fixed abode and indeterminate nationality. After studying physics as a mature student, he spent a decade employed as a research scientist specializing in the Earth's upper atmosphere and space environment. Prior to that, he worked variously as a bookseller, labourer and psychiatric care worker. Francis blogs under his own name on his personal website, and as 'Jura Watchmaker' with the Drink-Soaked Trotskyite Popinjays for WAR. He used to write for the Guardian's Comment is Free, but came to his senses before it was too late.
Why do you blog? > For one thing, it's excellent writing practice. It has also provided me with a community of like-minded souls, some of whom I now mix with in real as well as electronic space.
What has been your best blogging experience? > The Guardian's Comment is Free. This pseudo-blog allowed me to write for a large audience about many and varied subjects close to my heart, and I earned a few bob in the process.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > The Guardian's Comment is Free. It is a moral and political cesspit, and debases all those involved with it. I finally resigned from the CiF roster after one of my pieces was spiked owing to my profound lack of mbunderstanding.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Tell us what you think about life, the universe and everything, but consider also the more mundane things in your own life and the world around you.
What are your favourite blogs? > Baroque in Hackney: a literary blog written by my friend Katy Evans-Bush. Baggage Reclaim: my Morris dancing friend and south-east London community blogger Richard Sanderson, who could write about anything under the sun, including his fine collection of spoons. George Szirtes: a poet who writes beautiful prose and is a keen observer of people.
What are you reading at the moment? > My friend Terry Glavin's The Lost and Left Behind. I'm also re-reading the poems of John Clare, having been inspired to do so after experiencing a recent performance by Kentish folk musician Chris Wood.
Who is your favourite composer? > Trad. Arr.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I spent a year of my life living at the peace camp outside the Molesworth cruise missile base, and as a result have an intimate knowledge of the police cells and magistrates courts of East Anglia. While I do not regret that now, my view of the cold war has changed much since that time.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Utilitarianism. Individuals are not expendable. This is one teaching of a certain Jewish heretic that I hope survives his religion.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia. This classic of libertarian political philosophy is flawed, but Nozick's thesis set me thinking about the right balance between individual and community.
Who are your intellectual/political/cultural heroes? > Heroism is intimately entwined with tragedy, and on a number of levels. I have no heroes, only a large number of people in all walks of life whom I respect.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > The complete dismemberment of the United Kingdom, and the integration of the home nations into the European Union as independent republics.
What would you do with the UN? > Appoint John Bolton as Secretary General, and abolish the Human Rights Council.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Religion.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > I do not see human evolution as a linear progression, but retain the hope that we will (a) survive and (b) advance in knowledge and understanding.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Keep banging the sticks together. If you don't get there in the end, your descendents surely will.
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? > Yes. People's political views often shift radically over the years, and relationships, if they are to survive, must endure such changes.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'Mony's a mickle maks a muckle.'
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Reading the Guardian.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Where my next commission is coming from, when my clients will pay me, and whether I'll get my tax return in on time.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > Yes. I would have absconded with my cat Charlie Brown when the folks decided to leave New Zealand in 1971.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > I have thought about it, but cannot decide where I'd most like to be. Wherever it is, it should be rural, on or near the ocean, and have a lively traditional music and dance scene.
What would your ideal holiday be? > A wilderness trek, with or without human company.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Indulging in traditional music and dance, both as player and spectator.
What is your most treasured possession? > Here in England, my small collection of musical instruments.
What talent would you most like to have? > The ability to play music to a professional standard.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Musician.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Charlie Brooker. He's both funny and wise, and watching/reading him is a cathartic experience.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > My own lifestyle would remain simple and thrifty. The bulk of the capital I would invest, and the profits I would use to anonymously fund large numbers of not-for-profit projects.
What animal would you most like to be? > It's an impossible choice between polar bear, whale and bird of prey. It's always a good idea to be top of the food chain.
[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.]