Andrew West turned up in 1983. He now lives in Stratford-upon-Avon, where he tries to avoid local campaigners and militant swans. In 2007 he started a part-time photography degree at the University of Westminster, and when not behind a lens he can usually be found Ballroom/Latin dancing, playing the guitar or, occasionally, at his day job repairing computers. He is ever so slightly obsessed with Strictly Come Dancing. Andrew blogs at wongaBlog.
Why do you blog? > Because blogging is lovely. It lets me: write in 'public' without imposing myself on anyone; interact with interesting people; geek out on programming and web design; get rants out of my system without upsetting the neighbours; post monkey pictures in the middle of the night. What's not to like?
What has been your best blogging experience? > I've twice completed National Novel Writing Month, owing largely to the support/potential shame of doing it in public. But more broadly it's the drip-feed of advice from knowledgeable commenters that's undoubtedly changed my life - I doubt I'd have started university without it, for example.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > I've upset a few people.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Write for yourself, or at least your one ideal reader. I get terribly nervous upon discovering I'm read by people I admire, but if I let it get to me I write nothing. You can't predict what people will like, so let it go and write what you want to write (and stay away from the stats).
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Richard Feynman.
What are you reading at the moment? > Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson. And the fifth volume of Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' series.
Who are your cultural heroes? > James Randi, Aaron Sorkin, Stephen King, Bill Watterson, Jonathan Ross.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Not a clue. But going by emotional reaction, little has surpassed The Time Traveller's Wife.
What is your favourite poem? > John Fuller's 'Valentine', although I feel like I'm betraying Byron.
What is your favourite movie? > I've genuinely had more fun watching Armageddon than any other film. I've yet to find anyone who shares my enthusiasm, but that's because I have freakishly superior tastes.
What is your favourite song? > 'Blue Piccadilly' by The Feeling.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I thought it was wrong when that lady had a child at 63. I came to my senses.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > That the scientific method is the only game in town.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > That there are beliefs which cannot be questioned.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins. It opened up a universe of wonder, and catapulted me into the world of science and scepticism.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Ditch faith schools. They're indefensible.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > I'll say Stephen Fry. He's consistently brilliant and fiercely decent. He has some weird aversion to dancing, though, so would be vulnerable to character attacks. Maybe if he had Anton du Beke as Ballroom Minister.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Poor education.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Most definitely yet to come, because we're smart and we're able. Every day we know more about the psychology of behaviour, the most effective methods of education, the best ways to feed the planet and how people can be together without killing each other. Nanotechnology is coming. So is gene therapy. Stem-cell-grown organs. Space elevators. GM crops that grow in horrific conditions. For most of the world's population, things are as good as they've ever been, and where they're not, we have good ideas about how to fix them. We're nowhere near the peak.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > 'History is made by those who show up'.
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'm told this will change as I get older, but right now, no. I just see too many links between political ideology and general morality.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > A functioning moral compass.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I have issues balancing the need for a military with a visceral hatred of its structure and methods. I bristle at the one-dimensional glorification of anybody involved. I think there are valid points to be made, but I have to make sure I'm not blind to genuine virtues.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Reading and writing negative reviews, where the flaws are purely artistic. If other people enjoy this, wonderful, but I really, really don't.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Regret. Viruses. Attic hobos.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > (Resists...) Woody Harrelson.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Manhattan. The daydream that won't go away sees me moving there for a year, once my degree's finished.
What talent would you most like to have? > On-the-spot wit. Closely followed by even a femtobit of singing ability.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > No question: a doctor. I'd need a complete personality transplant to manage it, sadly. Failing that - and while I'm dreaming - a stand-up comedian.
[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.]